Folsom artist really gets into Halloween

Shelley Spranza's yard display is well known, but she's also a ceramic art teacher and offers wares at Apple Hill
By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Shelley Spranza’s home is decorated with family photos and knick-knacks, not unlike many other homes, but upon closer inspection, the Halloween theme comes through loud and strong. Antique Halloween-themed postcards are framed, hanging on the wall, while decades-old light-up plastic jack-o-lanterns line a high shelf over the dining room. The married 44-year-old ceramics instructor and artist moved to Folsom from the Los Angeles area and working in the dental field at the time. After a ceramics class at Folsom Lake College, she said she was hooked. “I’ve been doing ceramics for about four years,” she said. “I do Halloween-themed ceramics from June through the season, then transition into fine art.” Spranza’s work has been in the Feats of Clay, held in Lincoln, and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. She has also taught ceramics through Folsom’s Parks and Rec department. Spranza has a booth through at least the second weekend in November at Abel’s Apple Acres at Apple Hill. For Spranza, the leap into clay wasn’t too much of a stretch. “I’ve always drawn, so it was relatively easy to move into a 3-D area,” she said. Spranza tosses around terms like “high-fire stoneware” when describing some of her pieces. A skull-like creation, along with jack-o-lanterns and a platter bearing a raven design, sit on her dining room table, getting ready to make a trip to Apple Hill. “I find it interesting how people respond to my work,” she said. “Some say it’s interesting and other say it would give them nightmares.” Spranza’s creative outlet isn’t limited to art. She also hosts a segment on a popular podcast called “Hauntcast,” giving her a chance to express her passion for Halloween all year long. “When I was in L.A., I thought it would be cool to be into art and into radio,” she said. “Now I’m doing both.” The podcast features information and interviews on how to create animatronics and special effects for haunted houses and yard displays. “On the show, I’m able to get into Halloween history and the vintage stuff, like Halloween postcards,” Spranza said. Does Spranza hand out candy on Halloween? “Of course we give out candy,” she laughed. “I think kids are missing out with trick-or-treating (not being as popular). I grew up in the heyday of Halloween, which was the 1970s.” Spranza “pumped out 40 or 60 jack-o-lanterns” this season. “I’ve done some custom jack-o-lanterns as well. This year, I’ve also been doing some plates.” She said the public is welcome to view her yard display on Halloween night. Spranza is also quick to point out she isn’t limited to one holiday. “I have my regular ceramics as well like cups and plates and wine chillers,” she said. “I offer things that make thoughtful gifts for birthdays or Christmas.” ----- KNOW AND GO Shelley Spranza’s Halloween yard display When: Dusk, Oct. 31 Where: 105 Swain Square, Folsom Online ceramics store: