For some police officers, finding a hobby to decompress from their job can vary from skydiving to running or golfing to gardening.
For La Habra Police Officer Paul Martinez, he finds a sense of Zen with craft glue, Styrofoam, a hot knife and celebrating one of his favorite holidays of the year – Halloween.
Just after summer, as drug stores begin to stock bags of Halloween candy and decorations, Police Officer Martinez begins to take orders from people who are looking to bring spooky scenes of Halloween to the front lawns of their homes.
Martinez, 46, a police officer with LHPD for 15 years, creates Halloween décor made from Styrofoam, which he hand carves by hand, razor blades the details and pieces everything together with Gorilla Glue to create larger pieces.
He then hand paints each piece and leaves them out to dry.
It’s a layered process, says Martinez.
But, the end result is movie-worthy Halloween sets that people place in their homes to create the spookiest house on their block.
From tombstone pillars to skulls, creepy graveyards and the must-have bats, Martinez brings his love of All Hollows’ Eve to every piece he creates.
“My love of Halloween goes back to when I was a kid, “said Martinez, who has tattoos of the Nightmare before Christmas on one of his legs. “I love how everyone dresses up, goes trick or treating … just the whole day is fun. As an adult, I still love it. I take the day off, give candy out the kids.”
Martinez, is a self-taught artist who began to create his own cemetery scenes back in 1995. Always one to seek out a challenge for himself, he began to make his own Halloween decorations after seeing something about it on television. He already had experience creating Tiki masks and creating tropical décor for his Tiki-inspired backyard, he thought he could make the transition from tropical to spooky, which he did.
“I just love doing this stuff … it relaxes me. It’s my happy place,” said Martinez, who received 40 orders this Halloween season for his décor. “People love it and at a certain point, I have to start turning orders down. This isn’t something I want to make into work, because then it won’t be fun anymore.”