Tristan Gause lives in a world of mushrooms, fairies and mermaids.
No, not the kind of mushrooms that induce visions of fairies and mermaids, but fungi statues that populate the 27-year-old’s bedroom.
“I just like mystical stuff,” the cosmetology student said, adding that her bathroom is decorated in a mermaid theme. “I like mermaids, but I love fairies.”
Her passion for the magical will be on full display Friday morning during Horry-Georgetown Technical College’s Halloween mannequin contest, which challenges freshmen cosmetology students to tap into their creative reservoirs and decorate the heads of mannequins for prizes. Afterward, around noon, the school will be open to the public to provide free last-minute tips on Halloween hair and makeup.
HGTC held a similar contest several years ago, but college officials hope this event becomes an annual affair.
“It’s going to become a tradition here,” said Mary Cox, director of the personal care program at HGTC. “Because it allows the students to express their inner creativity.”
Students had to complete half of their projects before Friday’s contest. During the Halloween competition, they’ll put the finishing touches on their best fake faces.
Students will be judged on their creativity, the quality of their makeup work and, of course, hair treatment. Each student is also required to create props for a mannequin’s background and write a brief summary of the theme. The contest isn’t all fun and games, either. Images of the students’ handiwork will be included in a portfolio that they’ll send to potential employers.
Much like Halloween costumes, the mannequins sport a variety of looks, from the scary to the artsy. They include a demon, a Geisha, Medusa and a member of the rock band KISS.
“Every one of them is original,” Cox said. “There are no two that are alike.”
For some students, their designs evolved.
“It started off as a demon, and then it wasn’t enough,” said 19-year-old Chance Ard. “So then I added glitter to it and it looked more like an alien. That’s where it’s at now.”
The side of his mannequin’s silvery dome sported spikes that resembled a meat hammer.
“I don’t like doing conventional,” Ard said.
Kelsey Todd, 18, ran into some cognitive dissonance with her original idea.
“I was going to call it headless something,” she said. “But she has a head.”
Todd stayed with the scary approach. And she’s still ambitious.
“I was going to make it look like somebody chopped her head off,” she said. “Then just have it spinning.”
Gause’s mannequin is, appropriately, a multi-colored mermaid. The head sports purple hair on top and pink hues on the lower strands. Using fishnet stockings and eyeshadow, she created scales on the side of the mermaid’s face.
“She’s going to have shells and pearls,” Gause said Thursday. “She’s going to look a lot better tomorrow.”