As die-hard horror fans, I think it’s just programmed into our DNA that we must collect and all cool looking horror related stuff. But sometimes, these hobbies of ours can get expensive! While there’s always a slew of companies producing amazing sculpts, busts and model kits, what alternatives are there for those of us that might be a little strapped for cash? Both James Bonner and Hyaena Gallery in Burbank, CA have got you covered! While they do in fact sell amazing bronze sculptures of Bonner’s work, they also offer a much more affordable “candle” version of his iconic horror sculptures. We spoke with Hyaena Gallery owner Bill Shafer about how these incredible collector’s items ended up on his store shelf.
Blumhouse.com: Obviously the gallery has always thrived on expanding beyond just art. When did the sculptures become a part of it?
Bill Shafer: I like art in general, no matter the media. I started showing these coldcast bronze sculptures by James Bonner because he is such a brilliant sculptor. He wrote and directed a film called Trap along with a few others back in Detroit. Moved to Hollywood to get into the business and did some gaffing, boom work, and other production jobs. Ended up in practical effects and hated it. He didn’t like having to repeatedly sculpt someone else’s vision. He eventually broke away from that and went into fine art sculpting. He’s a beautiful renderer, really talented, and he knows how to capture a person’s personality through expression. He’s made a living now doing what he loves. It’s very similar to Hyaena. I show what I like. He makes what he likes. We met each other, and it totally jived.
BH: Did it start with just the statues? How difficult is the process to make a bronze like the ones you sell here?
BS: Well, the sculpting process is as long as it takes to sculpt it. It can take him a year just to get something right, depending on what it is. I’ve seen him work 6 months on something and then tear it down. And then re-sculpt it in a month. Because it all makes sense in his head and he figures it out. Some of them come together quickly, some of them don’t. It’s just the nature of creating art. He does mostly coldcast bronze, which is different than solid bronze. Solid bronze would be foundry cast. You make the mold and then it gets brought to a foundry where they then pour it with the bronze. With cold cast bronze, it’s a resin cast with heavy bronze powder put it. So it still has a weight and a luster to it. You can polish it up a bit, but it’s a lot more affordable. A solid bronze cast of his Edgar Allan Poe could be $2000. But we can do a cold cast for $350. So it’s just more affordable and it has a lot more fine art appeal than a simple resin casting which you almost associate with a toy or just something you’d do something else with. Not fine art.
BH: They’re all beautiful pieces, but the great thing you guys came up with is the idea of making candle versions of these sculpts. For people who can’t afford a bronze statue, these candles are very affordable and they look great. When did you guys come up with this idea?
BS: Again, it fits the whole vision of the gallery, which is to make art affordable and accessible to everyone. We have art in the gallery for $5 bucks to $10 grand. We’re trying to teach people that you can afford art, no matter what your price range is and you can have it around you and that it enhances your life. It just goes to our model of the gallery making art accessible and affordable. So, he experimented and he found out that you could use the same mold to pour the cold cast and actually make candles out of them as well. It’s brilliant. He spent a year researching candle pouring and figured out everything that goes wrong and counters it. I’ve seen him do it. He pours them outside, he calculates the temperature of the day, the humidity everything. He has it down to an exact science. I’ve never seen anyone pour candles as detailed and as nicely as he does. It’s part of that obsessive compulsive artist thing, I think. He’s so proud of the work and wants to be represented in the best possible way, even if it’s just a $30 dollar candle. It has to look as good as it possibly can.
BH: These have done really well for James and the gallery! And although you can use them as actual candles, I never would! These are just great display pieces.
BS: They’re wax so they’re not permanent. But if you can’t afford a $400 dollar coldcast bronze, it’s such a great alternative.
BH: You’ve got ERASERHEAD, an ALIEN chestburster, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Hitchcock, H.P. Lovecraft, Ash from THE EVIL DEAD! THE THING. So many cool horror-centric candles. Are these his personal preference? Or things people requested?
BS: A little bit of both. I’ll talk to him sometimes about what I think will make a good sculpt. And if he likes the idea, he’ll do it and if he doesn’t he won’t. (Laughs) I don’t force my ideas on the artist, because I like what they do. He really likes film directors so he did Hitchcock. He loves horror writers so he did Lovecraft and Poe. He wanted to do an iconic David Lynch sculpt so he did ERASERHEAD. He loves Rob Bottin, one of his biggest influences, so that’s why he did THE THING, which is great. He also did the rabbit from THE TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE as a giant 4 foot sculpture and it’s brilliant! He has an Ash, the sleestak from LAND OF THE LOST and Alice Cooper from PRINCE OF DARKNESS. William S, Bouroughs. We did Charlie Sheen for our Charlie Sheen show and Charlie’s got a bunch of these. (Laughs) They’re always slightly different colors, so we sell mostly in store, but I will accommodate anyone who wants one. If they email or call, I can tell them what we have in stock for that day.
Be sure to visit the official Hyaena Gallery website at http://hyaenagallery.com/
And the Hyaena Gallery Facebook page right here.
Call 1-818-972-2448 for inquiries regarding James Bonner’s statues and candles!