Posts Tagged ‘fae’

Posted: October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Up there is one of my gnome hats. It’s the first thing I created from start to finish with pretty much zero help– no online tutorials, no patterns to follow. I had the idea, figured it out, and got… well, THAT.

I’ve been a fan of Brian Froud for a long while, and many of his illustrations of gnomes and faeries have the little dudes wearing pointy hats. They almost look like acorns. I loved them, and at the time I was writing a book on fairy-inspired crafts, so I decided to figure out how to make one.

I started with blurry memories of how I made hats in Home Ec in junior high. They were beret style floppy hats (this was 1994, after all), made from triangles and a band around the edge. I thought a while about why they didn’t stand up like little Hershey’s Kisses– it was all about the size of the triangle.

So I started sketching. I knew the shape I wanted. I took measurements– of my head, of the distance from my forehead to where I wanted the point to be and so on. I drew and drew until I had a testable pattern.

It failed. So, so hard. I had to make four trial versions before I had something that resembled the hat above. It was another three or four tries before I had something I was comfortable showing anyone else. And that, as a matter of fact, is how I got started selling on Etsy– I wound up with this PILE of gnome hats and I only have one head.

They were pretty popular. And why not? They were unique, the design was solid, and I paid attention to things like “What’s the average head size for women? Men? Kids?”

My point is that I had to keep going. I could have given up after the first pattern, or the second, or the fifth. But I wanted to hold the hat that I could see in my head.

I still haven’t figured out how to get a candle to balance on the end of one of my hats. But that’s a challenge for another time.

Don’t give up. Try things out. Make mistakes. Make BIG mistakes that make great stories later. I learned so much with those bazillion gnome hats. I learned the best way to cut and sew corduroy, and how to make my machine jump through hoops, and a lot about math that I figured I’d never use once I left high school.

And if you’d like to stick your tongue out while wearing a flannel batik gnome hat, you can scoop it up from my Etsy shop.


Dryad Wall Sculpture

Posted: September 10, 2012 in Artwork
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I am interested in paper mache. However, I hate hate HATE the look of paper mache. Same with polymer clay– I only like it when you can’t tell what it is.
So when I read about fabric mache, I was super intrigued. The master of fabric mache (online, anyhow) is Dan “The Monster Man” Reeder. He has a blog all about his sculptures, which are often fantastical (like a light-up Maleficent trophy). Lookit the detail!

Dan’s blog is here:

The idea is to use fabric in place of the paper. The mache part stays the same.

I also had a big empty spot on my wall that needed fillin’. I’m not really into dragons. The fair folk, on the other hand….

Ignore missing wall paint.

The process was really lengthy– done in stages, it took about two weeks. Admittedly I wasn’t working on it the entire time. But I was sure THINKING about it a lot.

I knew I wanted to do a dryad. I also knew I didn’t want to sculpt out a face, so instead I used a wig head as a base. My boyfriend cut it at an angle so that it would sit flat against the wall.

Once I had the face, I taped it down to some cardboard. I used masking tape and unused pizza boxes. Then I started forming the shape of her hair and body with wadded up newspaper. This took some messing around– I had to try and hide the edge of the wig head while not making everything too bulky. For a while it looked like she was wearing a turban, but I mushed the paper down and all was well.

After the paper was in place, I cut up strips of fabric (a weird stretch material that kinda looked like bark, and some cheesecloth), dipped them in slightly watered down white glue, and started covering the form.

Circular L-R: Glue mess, Dryad in progress, cardboard mess, paper mess.

I also added in some actual sticks so the form would be more realistic.

I did a few layers of fabric, letting it dry well in between (usually overnight). Then I glued in some fake leaves, added more twigs, roots and layers of fabric, and let it all dry again. I secured the leaves and twigs with hot glue because I didn’t trust the mache to hold it in place. That turned out to be a good call, because I lost a few twigs that weren’t glued down. I also used a stick (seriously, just a stick I found in the backyard) to make some bark-like texture on her face and neck. I wish I’d done more!

If you’ve ever tried to spraypaint styrofoam, you know how BAD an idea it can be. The paint sort of melts the foam, and since I wasn’t making a Night of the Living Trees dryad, I had to protect the foam before painting. Luckily, I had some liquid latex, so the face, neck, and all the leaves got a few coats of that. The bonus was the texture that the latex gave– it was much more skin-like than the shiny, crisp foam.

After the whole thing was built, I hit it with matte black spraypaint. If I’d gone out and bought decent paint (read: NOT the stuff that costs $.89), it probably would have taken one coat. But since I used crap paint, it took two and a half cans. Ah well. Spraypaint was needed to get in all the crevices– it’d have taken forever to use a brush.

At the finish, I used drybrushing (which is where you dip your brush in paint, then wipe off most of it onto a rag, then paint with it) to put some color into the piece (green and brown) and then added a bronze haze to most of it. I really like how it turned out.

Time spent: A ridiculous amount. Cost: About $10, but I had most of the supplies already.

I used coils of fabric to make “vines” going up her neck and off the edges of her hair.

I quickly glued a ribbon to the back for hanging (and I’ll probably make a more sturdy one in the future) and hung it up. My empty wall breathed a sigh of relief.