Thursday, December 27, 2012

the zwinky that ate my life

Not to get dramatic or anything, but it did. Every year I ask my niece to draw me a picture of what she wants her Halloween costume to look like, and then we make it for her. This year, the internet interceded.

As anyone with girl children probably already knows, you can go online to one of several sites and change up fairy and animal and people avatars with different colors or noses or outfits. When visiting, my niece did several animals, pink zebra-striped dogs, birds with gemstones for eyes (and other girly things), while I was watching. I chose this time to remind her that I needed her sketch for her costume that year.

She worked on the dragon above for less than thirty seconds. Declaring it finished, she printed it out and I agreed, sure that she was just having fun with the options available to her on the site and that the fiddly bits weren't what she really and truly wanted. However, my most reasonable questions were all met with bizarrely well-reasoned responses:
"Are you sure it needs wings made out of bone?"
"It's a death dragon. Yes." 
"Do the see-through bits really need to be see-through?"
"They're bone wings; if there's no skin then you wouldn't put heavy stuff on them." 
"Do you really want it to be navy blue?"
"It's a death ice dragon. Its breath freezes you and then it eats you while you're still alive,   but too frozen to move!"
Et cetera. Don't underestimate the imagination of a seven year-old, 'cause it's probably a heck of a lot faster than yours, especially if it's getting what it wants. 

So, we measured and measured and measured her, and I got to work altering a pattern for a kangaroo outfit whilst my better half made the wings.  

He bent wire into long pieces and then molded an air-drying polymer clay around them. 

Then he fitted them inside a flattened poster tube and wired this into place. Inside the poster tube I ran a length of sturdy, thick elastic that I'd made sleeves for out of the same felt that I used for the suit. It went on kind of like a backpack.

 I used boning to make the spines on the tail stand u straight and then sewed these directly on either side of the thin, diaphanous material for the ridge on the tail. The fleece hood, spats, suit and tail were otherwise as made in McCall's M6106 Kangaroo Costume pattern, and drew on scales. Adding triangular fleece cut-out "claws" to the spats, hood and a pair of navy glove liners completed the outfit. The mask was bits of crafter foam on an elastic cord.

Unfortunately, I have no photos of the final on her. Anticlimactic, but definitely works as an example of why this kid is worth me spending four straight weekends on a costume she's only going to wear once.

Hope you enjoyed seeing the final product, and in case anyone out there has a kid that really wants to look like a scary blue swamp-thing on Halloween, here you go!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Alice in Wonderland Photobooth

Alice in Wonderland is a great party theme. It just is; think of all the photo-ops! My lovely lady chose it for her birthday theme, and I knew immediately that I wanted to make her a photobooth. 

My muses were the Annie Liebovitz image from Vogue, along with a child's photobooth, and a color palette Pinboard that the birthday-girl decided on, below: 

Vogue image here, Alice child's booth here, and color inspiration board here

The first thing we needed to do was to get a cardboard box that was big enough to lounge in.

Unluckily, our method of asking for cardboard boxes and then adding "do you have one that someone could fit in comfortably?" yielded no results, so my better half cut a few other ones down and made a huge one out of it:

I'm sure he'll love the lower pic of himself.

The next bit was to line it. I found a couple of lovely wrapping papers, and the boys applied them so that we'd have a logical place for a chair rail:

Next we got out supplies and made faux art and tiny framed photos, adding them to the walls to give it more depth:

Spray glue is your friend here - anything else seemed to leave puckers. 

The chair rail was a definite find! Dollhouse molding we colored with a bit of brown paint, rubbed into the crevices to bring out the details:

Next, we added this with wood glue and staples, using books as weights to make sure it dried flat to the surface of the walls:

The rail did not want to stay put.

We used a couple of large sheets of paper to make a flat, clean-looking ceiling and some very small actual molding and to neaten the edge as well:

The frames were punch-out ones from a scrapbooking store - a lifesaver!

Then we painted the floor with the same brown paint we used for the railing, and made teeny curtains and attached them to the photo "window."

If you use better glue, your friends don't have to stand there holding things on as long :-/

Finally, the boy worked some boy-magic and made lights that worked. Color me impressed! I made the chandelier gadget out of a toy I found in my stash:

We found some doll house furniture left it loose so that people could interact with it. C'est finis! This was a lot of fun to take pictures of people in, and the lighting turned out just spooky enough for the theme (it is rather a dark novel). Here are some pictures from/in the final product:

Enjoy and happy crafting!

- F

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pressed Flower Picture Mats

These make a lovely gift, and they don't cost any money. Pressing flowers is easy and takes no time at all, and then you can slap them onto whatever you want. 

You don't need any special equipment here; a big, heavy dictionary will do. Of course, a real flower press is really easy to make, but if you're just starting out, Fine Gardening has a really easy tutorial for doing so in a book's pages here. 

You can line these with single-ply tp or newspaper to soak up more of the flowers' liquid.

After you've pressed your flowers, arrange them on the surface you'll apply them to, reconfiguring them 'til you like how it looks.

Texas wildflowers (with the exception of the abutilon in the top right), gathered from a local meadow.

For these I decided to enliven some picture frame mats that came with a couple of frames I wanted to give my friend for her birthday. The outer edge had to be cut off, but I like how the one above bled over, so I left that one intact. 

Delphinium blossoms and fern leaflets given to me by a boy ;)

That's it. Just apply glue to the back with a small brush and stick them on, but for the love-of-all-that's-holy, use matte glue; otherwise you'll be able to see each smear when you finish it. 

And now for a gratuitous kitty shot:
Noodles investigates!
Happy crafting!
- F

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Realms of the Unreal and a Fabric S.O.S.

Realms of the Unreal is a beautiful documentary on the book that a man quietly spent his entire life developing. This on the author himself, via Wikipedia:

  • Henry Joseph Darger, Jr. (ca. April 12, 1892 – April 13, 1973) was a reclusive American writer and artist who   worked as a custodian in Chicago, Il.  He has become famous for his posthumously-discovered 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the story. Darger's work has become one of the most celebrated examples of outsider art.

The illustrations themselves are beautiful composite collages with Darger's own drawings superimposed about them and, once seen, have a haunting quality that makes it impossible to get them out of your head.* The book's elaborate mythology includes the "Blengigomeneans;" gigantic horned, winged beings who occasionally take human or part-human form.

These images from the book are some of my favorites of the "Blengins":

image via victorialeif's blog

image via joo young choi's blog

image via empty kingdom magazineI wanted to wrap myself up in this one particularly.

image via curated magazine

In a wonderful, serendipitous act, I got funds buy clothing. I knew how to spend it; straight onto Spoonflower to have fabric made out of my favorite of Darger's illustrations:

Two full yards of a luxe cotton-silk blend! 

Mmmmm. Isn't it gorgeous? I love it. However, it has its complications ...

A. It's an incredibly busy print:

B. Its scale is rather large:

C. It's a difficult fabric to pair because of the weight and sheen of the blend:

D. It wasn't cheap. Worth it, but it's not something I can afford to cut up only to be underwhelmed by the result. The garment pattern needs to be well chosen.

I want to make a dress, but I'm having a hard time deciding what will work best with the fabric. Considering the busyness, I'd like to pair it with a plain fabric rather than making a whole dress out of the print alone.

I've gathered a few pattern options that I'm mulling over:

The Colette Macaron Dress:
colette macaron pattern image via Colette Patterns

The Gail Dress:
gail pattern image via BurdaStyle

The Kristen Dress:
kristen pattern image via Burdastyle

So, what I want to know is ... what would you recommend I do with it?
What fabric for contrast? In what color?
What garment/pattern/look? One of these, or another?

What do you think? I'm all ears :)

*See more beautiful images from the book at the American Folk Art Museum's site here

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Mother of Invention

I wanted a fusion of the 20's and 80's for a headpiece to wear to an upcoming wedding, but had a really limited color palette due to the wild fabric from which I'd made my dress. I also wanted bling, but only a diamond-colored brooch was available.

Luckily for me, markers made my diamonds into rubies:

colored-in with a regular permanent marker

after a couple of "coats" of marker ink, applied with the pen

... and slapped onto a quickly-made feather pad

C'est finis! Took all of, oh, five minutes?

The red came off with nail polish remover later too, so now it can turn into sapphires, or emeralds, or imaginary stones of whatever shades I could wish. I wouldn't do this for sale-able pieces, but it's been great fun for personal costume-y things!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fascinating New Things

When my lovely lady fair/co-blogger decided to marry this summer, she asked me if I'd make a hair piece for her to wear to get married.

I got so excited about the excuse to go craftstravaganza on this that I offered to make a fascinator for each of the bridesmaids, each to her taste as (hilariously) described by the bride. She thoughtfully sent me a brooch she'd chosen for each bridesmaid's piece, and another for her own, to use as a starting point:

Then I got even more excited.
Then I told everyone I knew about the project. 
Then I bought supplies.
Then I started to freak out.

I mean, I was so totally flattered, I can't do it justice, but seriously; there's going to be more pictures of you on this day than any other, and you want to be wearing something I made on your head in them?

On that front though, it means it needed to be as close to perfect and to exactly what she wanted as it could be. She's no slouch when it comes to preparation though, and gave me a great trove of ideas and direction. I wanted hers to be elegant and whimsical ... without taking over her entire head. This was my first inspiration board:

from top left; feather flowers by twigs and honey, small clip by myrakim, of twigs and honey, bleached
and curled peacock swords by belaregalo, curled goose biots and white goose nagoire by kimonos

I gathered my materials and started playing around with the shape of each piece. Step one; curling the straight,boring goose feathers:

curled with a knife, and much better for it

Step two; culling and curling the useful feathers from the bizarre, crazy frou-frou feather thing found in Joann's. Running a knife along the back of the feather (like you'd do to curl ribbon) is all it takes. Proceed gently and repeat until fabulousness occurs:

curling goose biots

Next, I gathered my materials and messed them about:

ostrich feather, gold clip and feather flowers in top right from plumule


worn fabulously by the one and only Denise Eiser,née Gass. 

The other ladies I used inspiration boards for as well, mixing and matching things to their described tastes:

top left inspiration image from flowersbythevase,
bottom left grey silkorchids, right image final

top left inspiration image from the drool-worthy ban-do black label collection,
background progress/materials pic, middle overly heavy first attempt,
bottom image final - many wild collected feathers used (and sterilized ;)

top left image a la twigs and honey, top right from the lush materials
at MaryNotMartha, bottom image final - combs on each side to attach

Feather pads are oft used to make fascinators, so I wanted to make sure that where I did use them, they stood out more and didn't look canned. Here's the inspiration board for Mary Kate and Beth's:

far left images ban-do, center images , and products used, and from
bellaregalo, grey "vogue"goose nagoire feathers from kimonos,
gorgeous gold pheasant plumage from lamplight feather

Mary Kate and Beth:
left top, MK's materials in progress, left bottom MK's final
right bottom Beth's in progress, right top Beth's final


lovely ladies

Hot glue, string and feathers are a good time to be had - I can't wait to start making more! Thanks again to D for letting me run away with myself with these.