Monday, September 29, 2014

It Starts....Images of Fall

We have been having nice dry weather lately with tolerable temperatures for a pleasant change.  I have been traipsing around taking pictures of the local flora and fauna in all their glory.  

Some unidentified bush in the woods with glorious purple berries in clusters along the stems.

Defoliated cotton fields near where I work.  Although the smell may stink to some people, the defoliant scent is what I associate with fall since it was what I grew up with and it always comes towards the end of September.

Beautiful pumpkins.  Went to the curb market and they had a wonderful assortment this year and all were pretty.

Pink pumpkins! I love these!  They weigh a ton though, much heavier than they look.

Gourds in tons of beautiful shapes and sizes

I had planted some gourd seeds earlier this year and was griping because they seemed to be making nothing but foliage but as some of the leaves withered away, this guy showed up sitting pretty in the flower pot!

Nectar of the Gods...Mallow Cream pumpkins!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Glowing Chinese Lanterns

Contrary to popular belief, Chinese Lanterns will not grow out of control anywhere, my yard is living or rather dying proof.  I love them, I think that they're beautiful and have envisioned a bed of wonderful little papery lanterns adorning my garden.  I read an article about a little girl who would catch lightning bugs and put them in the lanterns to see them glow like ornaments in the summer night.
Fat chance, can't even get them to grow decently much less bloom.
So not to be daunted, I saw some LED branches at Big Lots a while back and with a little gumption, some leftover moss and a pot and a wall wart, I made this...I turn it on when I want to feel Hallowe'eny.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

High Holy Day Craft...Tree of Souls or Cool Skull Jewelry

Tree of souls with friend

Tree of souls with little skulls glowing happily in the darkness

I bought a little metal tree from an import store a while back and although I liked it, I didn't know what to do with it.  I have always loved the little skulls that are synonymous with the Mexican Day of the Dead and then it kind of hit me when I saw the article what to do with my little tree besides slash my shin on it when I leave it in the floor.  If you don't have a deadly metal tree full of rust and tetanus hanging around, you could use some branches and hang them from that which would look quite nice I would think. Not only are these really cool as little ornaments, they would be great as jewelry for Day of the Dead or Hallowe'en.  A couple of findings and you could have little skull earrings or a bracelet or necklace. I wish I could take credit for this but I have to thank Martha Stewart for the bead tutorial in her October issue (not much else though, I was a bit disappointed in this year's Hallowe'en issue). Although I couldn't find a link to a tutorial, I'll show you how I did it...

Tree of Souls

Reaper of souls, otherwise known as Karma the Kitteh

Ooh pretty...I MUST MURDER IT!

Karma making a case why we can't have a Christmas tree
Materials needed:
  • Fimo clay (I used glow in the dark)
  • Small thin nail, thin metal skewer or even a straight piece of wire
  • Pin with large head
  • Something like a very small flathead screwdriver

Fimo Glow clay, hard to deal with until you get it warmed up in your hands then it's pretty fun.

Make a marble sized ball....
Mold and pinch it a bit on the bottom to add a chin...
Use the end of a pin to make an eye socket.
Make another eye socket.  Don't worry if it doesn't look perfect.
Make two little slashes for the nasal cavities.

Make a line and then add teeth using an instrument like the screwdriver I have here.

Removed the pick through the brain...notice the head is a bit flat looking.

Head after gentle remolding back into shape.

Finished head prior to baking in regular light and dirty work table.

Skull glowing brightly with features really pronounced!
Now make a whole bunch of them and bake them according to package directions.  If you're making them as beads or ornaments, you're all set when they come out and cool.  For earrings, you might want to embed a very small metal loop in the clay before baking so you can attach the posts to them.  Hey, I have piercings, I know what I'm talking about!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The High Holy Season Approacheth....A Vintage Project to get you in the mood!

Rather than whine about how life gets in the way, I'll start by saying I've missed y'all!  I'm going full throttle on this year's Hallowe'en and the first thing I'll share with you today is the construction of a vintage-type paper lantern.  

I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to my favorite holiday.  It's ok if you like blood and guts and UFO's and stuff for Hallowe'en, it just isn't my cup of tea.  A few years ago I fell in love with vintage Hallowe'en items (with the exception of vegetable people, I don't understand that concept at all), particularly items made by Beistle, Dennison and others.  Luckily, Beistle is making reproductions of vintage Hallowe'en paper items and the quality is great.  This is the base for this lantern project from their Hallowe'en Silhouette Tabletop Standup, taken from original lantern designs from the 1920's. Instead of a standup, we are going to make a lantern. 
Here's a materials list:
  • a Beistle Hallowe'en Silhouette Tabletop Standup
  • an X-Acto knife with a couple of blades
  • Vellum of your choice of color (I chose orange, of course.  In case you might not know what vellum is, it is a paper substance that is semi-opaque, frosted looking if you will, and comes in many colors.  Stationery stores sometimes have it, as well as some larger arts and crafts stores.  I had to order mine online and fortunately it wasn't too expensive at all).  It's fun and beautiful for a lot of crafts.
  • Stick glue (I used heavy duty because it was what was hanging around the house)
  • black spray paint
  • black heavy mat board (small piece)

This is the first thing you'll need to get, don't worry, it ends up great!
Okie Dokie, the first thing you will need to do is to determine the back and front (give you a hint, the glossy side is the front).  With the front upward, CAREFULLY cut out all of the orange.  The front and the back will not exactly match but don't worry, it's no deal at all. Take your time, your hand will get cramped and you'll have to put it down and come back to it.  This is the hard part.  When you have it all done, it looks something like this....
You will notice that there are white edges along all your cut marks.  This is where the black paint comes in...paint the paper with several very thin coats on both sides.  I suspended mine with a piece of wire and gently misted it with several coats of paint.  This removes all white edges and makes it look very professional.
This is Elmer's Stick glue.  It's what I had laying around but it seems to work great.  In the background is a sheet of orange vellum.
Coat the edges and the design on the WRONG side of the paper (the formally non shiny side).  Get the edges, the design, everything.

Lay the vellum sheet on top of the design carefully and trace along the design only with your finger to make sure the glue is making good contact with all surfaces.  You can cut off all of the excess vellum a little later. 

See all the areas where the glue is stuck to kitty?  That's a good thing!

Then do the witch...
Then glue up and do the devil.  I don't know why I took these pictures upside down?!
I sandwiched mine between two pieces of wax paper and weighted it down to let it dry.  The vellum looked really wavy from the glue but don't give up, it pulls pretty taut when it's dry.
Once it's thoroughly dry, simply trim the excess vellum with your knife.  Notice that the wrinkling is a lot less pronounced now. 

This is optional....if you want a flat base, score the bottom very lightly on the RIGHT side with your knife, you don't want to go through!  If you don't want a base for it, skip down to the picture after the one with the cans.  Why wouldn't you want a flat base?  You might like the design, you might like to simply place the lantern over a light, you might be fed up of my over explaining things ad nauseum...

Now, turn over and bend up along the score lines.  Bend up the sides of the lantern along the factory score lines now.  

 NOW THE REAL HARD PART...cut a triangle out of the heavy mat board to go on the bottom.  I can't help you with this, math and I are mortal enemies and I had to do this by trial and error.  Yes, I know it is simple but you see, I hate math, math hates me and we like it that way.  Note the lantern standing by itself in the back.  I did mine by measuring the sides and marking them on a strip of paper and then folding the paper into a triangle and transferring that onto the mat board.  It worked but I went the scenic route....And a tip...the triangle is NOT equilateral!!!  The middle section (the cat) is slightly larger than the witch and devil.

More glue stick action on the scored tabs on the bottom. 

Press the triangle down on the glued tabs.
Last tab mooshed down on the glue.

Looking down from the top of glued bottom in place.

And weighing it down with a couple of cans of rutabagas and turnips because that's all these cans are good for (bleh!).  The wax paper on the bottom keeps it from sticking to the table.

We are on the home stretch...cut a small piece of mat board and score it down the middle. This will take care of the opening in the side.
Bend it to the approximate angle of the side of the lantern.

Gob on the glue and stick to one side....
And then the other.
Downward view, you're sticking the sides together and covering the light gap.

You're dying to go ahead and stick a light in it but try and be patient, you want everything to be good and dry. 

Guess what?  You're done!  You now have a beautiful reproduction vintage Hallowe'en lantern!  And I'm supposed to tell you to NEVER to put a lighted candle in this, to ALWAYS use an electric tea light. I'm also supposed to tell you to always use eye protection (which I actually do, if you count my glasses) and a host of other stuff to keep you safe.  Use the common sense that you were given when you do any project so you will make it to yet another Hallowe'en!