"This used to be a wedding dress shop," he said, showing off the industrial sewing machines. "It's like twice as much space as we had before. We really couldn't be happier with where we are now."
The extra space comes in handy. The process for one of Morton's creations can be lengthy. Sometimes companies or schools send him specifications for what they want. Other times, he has to create costumes from scratch.
Completion of a costume is done in stages and takes weeks, sometimes months to finish. Morton works on several projects at once, and he doesn't work alone.
"My cousin Travis works with me," he said. "He's a great artist in his own right."
After the design is approved, Morton sculpts the head of the costume out of reusable oil-based clay, which is later made into a mold. From the mold, the shape is built up using papier-mâché and fiberglass to create the basic form. Felt, artificial fur and paint are added before the mask is finished.
"For costumes we sell to the South, like in Florida, the costumes have to come with a cold vest and a fan that goes in the head," Morton said.
Otherwise, an actor wearing a heavy turtle character costume outside a shopping mall in Miami might be cooked alive in less than an hour during the summer season.
The typical mascot costume, Morton said, has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. "But that really depends on how well it's taken care of."
Most of the work Morton gets comes from corporations, but he also works for individuals. Some of his jobs come from the science fiction and fantasy convention crowd who are looking for premium cosplay costumes to take with them to conventions like the annual DragonCon in Atlanta.
Morton still considers himself part of that scene. He hasn't lost interest in science fiction, fantasy and horror, though with a wife, two children and a business to run, it's hard to get away sometimes.
"I love going just to get ideas and to see what other people are doing," he said.
Of all the things Dale Morton Studio Mascot Costumes can do, there is one thing it doesn't: rent or lease its wares.
"Magic Makers can do that," he said. "It just doesn't make sense for us."
Still, with the new space on Main Street, Morton aims to turn his shop into more than just a workspace for him and his cousin. He thinks it would make for a nice, little tourist attraction.
"We get walk-in customers anyway," he said. "And we love visitors."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.