Last month in our gift guide, we featured an amazing Hellraiser-inspired necklace from artisan Johnny Blades. This was one of our most popular gift guide entries, and with good reason: it is beautifully crafted, subtle ode to everyone’s favorite Cenobite.
But Pinhead isn’t the only horror-inspired pendant Blades creates (though it does happen to be this year’s best seller.) Every Halloween, he adds six new horror-themed hearts to his collection. There is The Exorcist pendant with an inverted cross painted green; Texas Chainsaw Massacre features Leatherface and chainsaw teeth; Nightmare on Elm Street is a slashed-up striped sweater; Candyman has hooks on it; Dexter is wrapped in plastic; and two different Saw pendants: a hacksaw commemorating the first, and gears commemorating the traps of the sequels.
“I choose my favorite characters, ones I want to see come to life not through the screen, but through my fingers. I also listen to the fans and ask who they would like to see,” Blades tells us. As a horror fan since childhood, it seems like a natural direction for his art to go in. From there, his designs come to him like a flash of inspiration. “I have to recreate what I saw [in my head] or I have trouble sleeping,” he admits.
Blades individually sculpts each pendant by hand, then adds accents like knife charms or pins. “I don’t use tools anymore. I grew my fingernails into claws and use them [to do the detail work.]” Blades says this technique “makes it more difficult.” He seems to take pride in it. And Blades certainly doesn’t believe in taking the easy way out: he works 140 hours per week in order to keep up with demand. Most of his creations are custom orders.
“The most unusual request I have had has to be the ‘Death Stone’ piece,” he explains. “Once upon a time, a young lady came to me and told me both of her parents had passed away and asked if I could do anything with the ashes. I told her I would work her fathers ashes into the clay and I would turn her mother’s ashes into a gem so the father could always hold her inside and she can keep them both with her at all times.”
Next up for Johnny Blades is a Friday the 13th pendant he is designing exclusively for HorrorMerch.com. He is also working on an American Horror Story: Asylum piece, inspired by Bloody Face. That one is a custom order, but hopefully it will make it into his regular inventory.