Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

Posted: September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
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I haven’t posted here much lately, because I’ve been working on (drumroll with associated antici……pation)…

A CRAFT BOOK.

FOR REAL, DUDES.

Here’s the cover:

darkartscoverfinal…seriously, I can’t believe it’s done. It was many weeks of writing, crafting, photographing, learning to edit things, fixing formatting issues, and now FINALLY IT’S DONE.

It’ll be for sale tomorrow, October 1, in my Etsy Shop. Just in time for Halloween, if you’re not the type to make creepy things year-round. Here’s a teaser of a few of the projects:

Top: Mourning Brooch. Bottom left: Fairy Gothmother Ear Cuff. Bottom right: Mercury Belt Bracelet.

Top: Mourning Brooch. Bottom left: Fairy Gothmother Ear Cuff. Bottom right: Mercury Belt Bracelet.

Are you excited? I AM EXCITED.

No costume yet? Check the links below for some nifty Halloween mask DIYs.

Sew up a bat mask, thanks to Living With Punks.

These bat masks would be fun for kids, or for wearing while you ride your bike to school. Just sayin’.

Beak mask from SmilingSilverSmith’s Gift Ideas.

This paper beak mask makes me think of old plague doctor masks. And, y’know, birds.

Tulle/Paint masquerade mask from Sprinkles in Springs.

What a fantastic masquerade mask! It’s done with tulle and fabric paints. Enterprising artists could design their own, and everyone else can download her handy template.

Storm Trooper mask from Filth Wizardry (winner of my “Best Blog Name Evar” award)

Nerds on a budget rejoice. This Storm Trooper mask is made from a pair of plastic milk jugs.

This last mask is more for my own reference than anything else– my son, now 11, wants to dress as a ninja about four times a year. Who can blame the kid? Ninjas > Zombies any day (he likes to dress as a zombie, too, though. And sometimes a zombie ninja).

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.

My daughter calls all animals “friends.” “Mom, lookit! A little squirrel friend!” So of course I use the same phrase. I decided I needed some spider friends for my bookcase, not least of all because my boyfriend is completely arachnophobic. You have not lived until you’ve seen a 6’2″ man jump a foot into the air, flailing his ball cap around him.

The pith helmet is required. We have big damn spiders.

Anyhow.

You’ll need:
-Some polymer clay. I used a mix of translucent, neon green and glow-in-the-dark.
-Some wire. Mine was 20 gauge. That or slightly thicker (say, up to 16 gauge) will work, depending on what you’re after.
-A stamp or two. I used a flexible clear Halloween stamp from Joann.
-Pearl-Ex or other pigment powders (optional, but awesome)
-Acrylic craft paint to use as patina. You can use whatever color you like– black or brown will give a dirty look, red is more bloody, metallics can make your spiders look even more tech-y.

Step 1: Soften up your clay and roll two balls. One ball should be shaped into a sort of flattened teardrop. The other is just a ball. This is the spider’s body and head.

These can be any size you like, but keep the head smaller than the body.

Step 2: Press the head onto the body. If you like, use a pin to scuff up the places where the two bits will meet. After they’re pressed together, lightly press the entire thing onto the table to make it flat on the underside. Flip it over and use a tool (my version is a ball-headed pin stuck into a pencil eraser) to blend the seam.

This step is optional, but helps to keep the head attached.

Step 3: Chose a stamp. I used a clear stamp so I could see exactly where I was stamping. I decided not to use the acrylic block with mine, because it gave me greater control over how deeply I pressed the stamp, and allowed me to curl it along the edges.
Stamp the top of your spider. You can do the head AND body, or not. On one of my spiders, I did a separate stamping (of a miniature spider. Har har) on the head. If you’re using Pearl-Ex or another powder, you can add it now. I used a mix of Spring Green and Yellow.

Spiderweb stamp from Joann ($1)

Stamped spider.

Step 4: Cut 8 pieces of wire to be the spider’s legs. They can be any length you want, but it’s better to cut them a bit longer than you think you’ll need. You’ll lose some length during the process. Mine were about 3″ long.
Use one piece of wire to poke holes into the spider’s body where you want the legs to go. You’ll need four on each side. I like to do two in the front and two in back, but you can evenly space them if you prefer.

Step 5: Bake the spider according to the manufacturer’s instructions– usually about 30 minutes at 275 degrees.

Step 6: Apply your patina. I used black acrylic craft paint. I coated the entire spider in it, making sure to get it down into the crevices made by the stamp, and then wiped it off with a damp rag.

Patina applied.

Patina finished. This process can be repeated to get deeper colors, or to give different effects (I’d like to see a black spider with orange/green markings).

Step 7: Once the patina is completely dry, we’ll add the legs. I like to secure the legs with super glue. You can skip that bit, but the glue really helps keep the legs in (and pose-able).
Grab some superglue and put a dot on top of one of the leg holes. Insert one of your pieces of wire. Make sure it’s pushed in as far as it can go. Repeat this step with all the legs. Don’t glue your fingers to the spider like I did.

I poked my holes at the angle I wanted the legs to be.

Step 8: Once the glue is dry, bend all the legs up, toward the body.

This looks painful.

Grab a pair of pliers (needlenose work best) and bend each leg down, starting the bend a bit away from the body.

Use your pliers to curl the ends of the legs into tiny loops. This keeps the wires from being pokey ouchie.

You’re all done! Admire your spider friend. Name him, if you like.

Quick, everyone get to the branch! The flashing light monster is back!
(L-R: George, Raul, Sammy, Ginger)

To me, bleach is the watercolor paint of fabric decoration. It can be messy or precise, opaque or sheer, and it’s not entirely predictable. The difference, obviously, is that you’re taking color away rather than adding it.

If you want some basics on how to use bleach to make designs on fabric, you can check out Eve S. on Cut Out + Keep, who made this smashing skeleton shirt:

The one thing I’d do differently: dunk the shirt in a vinegar/water mix when you’re all done painting. The vinegar will neutralize the bleach and help get rid of the stink. Also, wear gloves.

While I have huge heart eyes for that shirt– especially because the entire thing is painted freehand (really nice job, Eve)– I was thinking of something more along these lines:


Either could be done using freezer paper stencils with a bleach spray.

The problems:
1. Those would be some intricate bloody stencils.

2. On the tank, the lettering is lighter than the shirt, so the stencil would be made by cutting out the letters and blocking off the background. On the dress, the letters are dark and the background is light, so each letter would be blocked off and the background sprayed with the bleach solution.
I’m not sure which would be easier.

3. I don’t actually have the time to make either version, because I have twelve art projects to finish up. But if any enterprising bleach fanatic feels like giving it a go, please do report back with your results.

Dancer of the Dead

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Artwork
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Dancer of the Dead

Watercolor/Ink.

Glowstuff!

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Glowstuff!

It’s nearly Halloween, which means I’m dropping all sorts of fun and creepy stuff in the Etsy shop. Click the picture to visit!