Jacoby’s in for a Fright with Local Artist’s Small Sculptures

“Crimson Ghost” will be on display at Jacoby Arts Center Oct. 26 through Nov. 2.  Photo courtesy of Nick Williams

“Crimson Ghost” will be on display at Jacoby Arts Center Oct. 26 through Nov. 2.
Photo courtesy of Nick Williams

These handmade pumpkins will be on display during the opening ceremony Oct. 26 7 to 11 p.m. at Jacoby. They will also be for sale. Come enjoy the spooky and celebrate Halloween!  Photo courtesy of Nick Williams

These handmade pumpkins will be on display during the opening ceremony Oct. 26 7 to 11 p.m. at Jacoby. They will also be for sale. Come enjoy the spooky and celebrate Halloween!
Photo courtesy of Nick Williams

Spooky-fan Nick Williams of Alton, Ill., knows a thing or two about bringing horror to the table. Several of his sculptures, made of epoxy clay and stone, will be on display for Phantasmagoria at Jacoby Arts Center Oct. 26 through Nov. 2. Also, check out some of his handmade pumpkins opening night of Phantasmagoria 7 to 11 p.m. Oct. 26; they will be part of the decor for the night and for sale.

These pieces are inspired by his love of spooky stuff. Some of his pieces are inspired by one of his favorite bands, the Misfits. They are the personification of the things that scared him as a kid. Check out his pieces “Crimson Ghost,” “Creeper,” “Undead” and more.

1. Do you lean toward spooky art? I remember seeing some other paintings that weren't spooky. I get a feeling you like the scary/unknown — especially after writing a book with zombies. :)

I’m all spooky all the time. Almost. Most of the work I’ve done over the years, model kits and the like, have all been horror themed. Spooky stuff has always been a big part of my life, in fact, I actually met my wife doing zombie makeup for a Red Cross zombie mob-themed blood drive.

That being said, I do a lot of non-horror themed work for kids. For example, my daughter Violet and I have a project we worked on all summer called Story Stones. They are cute little pet rocks that kids have to read to in order to feed and care for them. We adopt [stones] out to kids 5-12 for free along with a free book. We set up at the Alton Farmer’s Market as often as my schedule will allow.

“Creeper” is part of Warm Soda’s art show Phantasmagoria. Photo courtesy of Nick Williams

“Creeper” is part of Warm Soda’s art show Phantasmagoria.
Photo courtesy of Nick Williams

2. How long did it take you to make “Crimson Ghost,” “Creeper” and all your small sculptures? What inspired you in the process? Could you explain a little bit about the process of creating them?

One of the things I find most interesting about my latest works like the “Crimson Ghost” and “Toil and Trouble” is the time it takes to make them. I use an epoxy clay with a very short work time. There’s about a 30 minute sweet spot where the clay is perfect. Start too soon and it is sticky. Take too long and it’s too stiff to take detail. It forces me to work fast, trust my instincts, hone my skills. It is challenging. So, the short answer is about 30 minutes for the sculpt and maybe a couple of hours to paint.

They are inspired by my love of spooky stuff. “Crimson Ghost” and “Evil Eye” are inspired by one of my favorite bands the Misfits. “Creeper” is part of a series of monsters that I’ve been experimenting with for years. They are the personification of the things that scared me as a kid. For example, the “Creeper” has these really long arms and legs, so he moves by leveraging himself up with his arms, and when he lands he goes “Bump” in the night. “Toil and Trouble” is, of course, a reference to Shakespeare, but really I think that the reason why the images of witches frighten us is less about black magic and more about our fears of aging and senility.

3. What medium do you use/enjoy the most? Do you like to experiment?

“Undead” is made of stone and epoxy clay with paint and hair, all made by Alton local Nick Williams.

“Undead” is made of stone and epoxy clay with paint and hair, all made by Alton local Nick Williams.

I enjoy sculpting with polymer clay the most. I can take my time and really get into it. I do mold making and casting as well. When I do a nice piece in polymer clay, I know I can mold it and cast copies of it in resin plastic. It’s fun. That being said, I love to experiment with different materials. That’s how these current works came about. I found that I really enjoyed working with stones, I like the natural forms and finding ways to compliment those shapes and colors. That’s why I never paint over the stone itself. I’m always adding things to my sculpts: Hair, cloth, string, glass, bandages, etc.

4. How long have you been making art?

I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember, but in a professional capacity maybe 20 years. I didn’t get seriously into sculpting until about 2005. I went to model-making convention with my brother and the work there blew my mind. I said, “I have to try this!” My very first attempt was a horror-themed model kit of a grim reaper that was based on the Kennewick man mummy.

5. What's your favorite horror film?

Tough question! I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just one favorite. I go through phases. Right now, my top three would be “Eraserhead,” “Dead Alive” and “The Funhouse.” Best I can do.