Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Zombie Jesus & Bunny Brains


Not that I was trying to make good on my threat to do Easter in July, but my little buddy here didn't get finished until after Easter and then summer showed up and if I don't post about him now, I'll forget by next Easter.

Since we're talking about Easter, I finally got around to watching the second season of Happy! and it is to Easter what season one was to Christmas.  It is so wrong, and bound to become a Creepster holiday classic.  It's Rated TV WTF: Weird Situations, Tasteful Nudity, F***ed Up Bunnies, Viewer Discretion Is Advised.  And the trailer below, it's a bit graphic, so you know, probably don't watch it if you have kiddies or co-workers around.



I know that no amount of palm weaving tutorials are going to keep me from going to hell and I'm ok with that.  I grew up in a very Catholic family, which as you can probably tell, has had some influence on my art. As a kid I accepted all that was Easter, from the resurrection of Christ to the magical rabbit that hid eggs and put treats in baskets.  As an adult, I'm just in awe that we celebrated all that crazy wrapped up in one holiday without anyone batting an eye.

As tribute to the holiday mash up of my childhood,
 I offer Zombie Jesus Eating Bunny Brains.


I don't really do tutorials on felting, once the stabbing starts it's hard to stop and take pictures. But I'll run through the basics on the off chance it gives someone ideas of their own.  For reference Zombie Jesus is about 8cm tall.  He started out as a white oblong sphere.  I added a layer of zombie green over the top for his head.

Zombie green is a mix of olive, sage, green, evergreen, or whatever else I feel like throwing in.  Except for black and white, I rarely ever use just one color of wool.  The red robe, brown hair, pink brain are all a mix of at least three different shades.  Even the bunny is a mix of yellow and white.

Because A) I like to think it looks more interesting, B) I like buying multi color sample packs from local vendors, so I have small amounts of lots of colors C) It takes a lot longer to run out of specific colors and D) When I do run out of a color, I never worry about having to buy an exact match.

The robe I added in sections.  This would be easier to explain in pictures, but I'll give it a shot.  When I want a thick straight edge, such as the bottom and sides of his robe, I lay down some wool flat and give it a few shallow pokes to set the fibers.  Then I fold over an edge and give it some more shallow pokes. Shallow pokes because you are trying not to poke the fibers all the way through.  It can't be helped completely and that's why it'll need to be flipped, given a few more pokes and then flipped back again, more pokes.  At this point you can set it on your object and poke with abandon to attach it.  I just did this for the sides of the robe and filled in the rest by laying wool directly on his little body.



The white washed Christ of my youth always had burgundy robes and long brown hair. A friend let me raid her stash of Merino wool for his luxurious locks.  Merino has a smoother shaft, and I like it for fur or hair.  

This video shows how to layer wool for long fur.  It's pretty close to what I did  except I did way too many rows, too close together.  I wish I had taken a picture so you could see what Zombie Jesus looked like when he had big beauty pageant hair.  

It was pretty easy to fix, I ran an eyebrow comb repeatedly through his hair to thin it out.  The tines on the eyebrow comb are fine enough to grab the wool, I just had to be careful to thin it out evenly and not pull out any big sections. Then I gave him a haircut with cuticle scissors, which have never even seen a cuticle, but I love them for needle felting.  

The following is a quick and dirty brain felting technique that I came up with on the fly.  Sometimes I get a little too caught up in the details and I did not want to stress over proper placement of brain ridges on this teeny tiny brain.  This method enabled me to avoid the part of my brain that makes me mental.

I imagine the first part of this process is similar to spinning wool into yarn. That is if you were to ignore all the time tested techniques that result in a strong uniform yarn.  Like I said, quick and dirty.


Step 1:  Lay wool fibers out in a line and roll back and forth until you have some that resembles a loose string.  Add more fibers to the ends to make it longer, add more fibers to the entire length to make it thicker.  I use some pretty hi-tech equipment for this, namely my hand and my thigh.  Also wearing pants helps the process.  That's right, in a seated position I roll the wool up and down the top of my thigh.  Pants provide a grippy surface to work the wool against.

Step 2:  Once the fibers are matted enough that the string isn't going to fall apart, start twisting it one direction.  Twist tightly enough that it twists up on itself.  To tame all the loose fuzzies you will have to do this a few times, stretching out the string and twisting it tighter. If you want it really smooth you can dip it in soapy water and then twist, essentially wet felting it.  If you decide to get it wet, make sure it's completely dry before moving to the next step.



Step 3:  Spread out the brain matter and lay a bit of darker wool over it.  Poke it a couple of times to tack it to the brain.



Step 4: Roll the brain matter into a little brain ball around the darker wool.  Poke it a few more times so the brain ball stays together.  Then poke it a couple more times, just for the shear joy of stabbing a brain ball.



This bunny was kind of a pain.  I feel it's a bit too large in proportion to Zombie Jesus, but still small enough to give me a headache.  His dastardly tiny limbs and ear were difficult to needle felt without stabbing through the other side or my fingers.  After I needle felted them into the general size and shape, I dipped them in soapy water and rolled (limbs) and pressed (ear) to wet felt them.  This gave them structural strength without drawing too much blood.  

[Note: All crafts require a blood sacrifice, as demanded by the gods.  Some, such as needle felting, just require more than others.]

After the bunny was assembled I used my trusty cuticle scissors to cut open his little head, partly insert the brain and then stab it into place. A fine needle was used to poke in any stray dark red fibers and then some bunny flesh was built up around the brain.  After all my careful work my brain still wasn't perfect, there was a low spot.  That was easily filled with a little tiny ball of pink and no one is the wiser, except for us of course.


Is it just me or from this angle does it look like Zombie Jesus is breastfeeding a dead bunny?  Maybe he just likes to slow dance with his food.  Anyway, the final touches were to add a face to the bunny and arms so Zombie Jesus could hold his feast.

Of course none of this helps me understand why a rabbit would decorate eggs. But I think I figured out how the Easter Bunny manages to fill all those baskets in one night.  I mean Santa gets magical flying reindeer and a sleigh to carry everything while the Easter Bunny has to hop the whole way and doesn't even have opposable thumbs. But Jesus is just a baby on Christmas Eve, he doesn't even have his super powers to turn water into wine yet, so Santa needs all that extra gear.  On the other hand by Easter, Jesus is an able bodied zombie and he can totally give the Easter Bunny a hand.  Not only that, but by then he has his super powers, and they probably only have to carry one basket of goodies and just duplicate it fish and bread style.

Now that I understand it all, I feel a little bad about having Zombie Jesus eat a bunny brain.  But he looks so cute eating his little bunny brain.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Creepster Easter Felting


I realize I'm running late on the  Easter posts, but Easter starting it by being late this year.  Truth be told, I still have a few Easter or Creepster projects to finish so don't judge.  Or judge, I don't really care, it's my blog and if I want to do Easter in July, I will.



My first contribution is Bunny Cthulhu, isn't he adorable?  

I really like needle felting, it doesn't take a whole lot to get started, a felting needle, some wool roving, a surface to felt on and the desire to do a lot of stabbing.

They make brush mats for felting or you can use foam. I bought an inexpensive upholstery foam remnant from Joann.  My local store has a bin in the back full of remnants.  The piece I got was big enough to cut into plenty good sized blocks to share when I have friends over.  The three inch thickness is probably overkill, but I like it.  Most blocks sold specifically for felting seem to be 2 inches.

I started out with a single needle a friend gave me.  That's how they get you addicted you know.  It just takes one needle.  And I did a lot with that one needle, but needles dull or break and it is useful to have different sizes and types.  I have a set like this that I really like.

My experience in buying wool roving is limited to local craft stores and farmers markets.  The chain stores all carry the same stuff.  Literally the same exact product, just with their store brand on the packaging.  Yorkshire Rose Farm is a vendor at one our local markets and they always have a wide variety of colors and wools, including curly locks.  The one mistake I've made is accidentally buying Merino wool.  It's very smooth and silky so it's better for welt felting than needle felting, but it can also be used for hair/fur.  There's ton's of info on all the different breeds and how the different wools felt up but I've found Romney seems to be the most readily available for needle felting.

For wet felting all I use is bubble wrap and a dish towel. I don't do a lot of wet felting but it's useful for thin pieces.  Since I just make small embellishments I start with needle felting to set the fibers in place before wet felting.  I believe any type of wool can be wet felted.

The best part of needle felting is all the stabbing.  Occasionally I have friends over for Stabby Night, it's very therapeutic.  Now kids, you shouldn't drink and stab, but we do.  That's also why I keep band aids and Neosporin in my stabby kit.

Unfortunately the worst part of needle felting is also all the stabbing.  There comes a point where all the angst leaves your body and your hand starts to cramp.  It does help to only stab as deep as necessary.  If you stab through your project and push the fibers out the other side, you then have to stab them back in, which is just more work. Only stab with the barbed part of the needle, going deeper doesn't get you anything, except maybe hand cramps.  

I also want to give a shout out to a club that just opened up this year, Crucible.  They host a wide variety of events that you are not going to find at your local sports bar.  Every Sunday afternoon it's Dark Arts & Crafts (and Games).  There's no cover and you can bring projects to work on or play games.  I love that a club supports us crafty folks by offering up their space so we can carry out our craft addictions.  As much as I love hosting Stabby Nights, having a place to meet up with friends is pretty wonderful too and it's because of Dark Arts & Crafts that I got these two projects done.

I would have more felting done, but my friend sidetracked me with Pysanky eggs (that'll be another post).  She got quite a few of us addicted and the Crucible has been very supportive of our large group of egg people and helping us get enough tables to set up.  I can't say enough how awesome they are.


It's hard to take pictures of the felting process, because the urge to just keep stabbing is so great.  My first felting post, and my zombie bunny felting one have a little more info on felting.  The Bunny Cthulhu basics are as follows:

  • two balls one for the head, one for the body
  • two wings,  first needle felted for general shape, then wet felted, then needle felted to polish the edges and add detail
  • two ears, basically the same as wings with less detail work
  • five tentacles that started out as three logs, alternating needle stabbing with rolling them like clay to shape them, cut the logs in half, the sixth piece can be used as an appendage on something else
Attach the head to body by adding some loose wool between the two and stabbing.  Attach the tentacles by layering loose wool, the cut end of the tentacles, and more loose wool onto the face.  Stab the loose wool into a pleasing (or nightmarish) shape around the tentacles to hold in place.  Stab in details with small balls of felt such as black soulless eyes or dark pink beauty marks.




A couple years ago I felted a few creepy eggs, one of which was an eyeball.  I wanted to make another one, just a little bit fancier this time.


See flowers, that's fancy right?  


It's not very egg shaped from the sides because of how I built up the eyelids.  

The vines are made by rolling small amounts of wool roving into tiny strands before felting them on.  You can keep adding more wool overlapping the ends to make the vines as long as you'd like.  I roll the wool down the top of my thigh. I like wearing jeans or pants with a bit of texture for this.  If you want tighter vines get them wet with soapy water and then roll and twist.  Either way, always work in the same direction.  The flowers are little balls, the leaves are little mice turd shaped rolls.  Using a finer felting needle for these details helps a lot.  


Couldn't resist asking my favorite zombie hand to model my new eyeball egg.  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Woven Palm Creations


A little bit belated Easter, a little bit belated Mother's Day, this post is for my mom.  I gave a bunch of palm weavings to her and she's been passing them on to her friends and they've been asking questions about how they were created.  Hopefully I'll answer those questions.

If you've been following along the last few years you'll know that once a year I take a break from creepy crafts to do some palm weaving.  If you are here for the palm weaving, you might not want to stray too far. This blog is filled with things and some of those things have sharp teeth and tentacles.  You have been warned.

This year I played around with all the things I've learned how to make so far. I'm not really sure what the Catholic Church's stance is on hot glue, but that's what I used for the most part to put things together.

The weaving above consists of a rustic plait base (all that's visible of it are the two ends sticking out the top), also at the top are two rustic plaits with loops, following down are some rosesstar flowers with rose centers, a couple of braids and a decorative sprig (see note at the end of star flower tutorial). 

I made a lot of small roses this year with this technique, using strips of palm that were about 0.5 inch/ 1 cm in width.  Depending on the length of the palm and size of rose, I could make 1-3 roses out of one strip.  If I ended the rose mid-palm, I would cut the palm and wrap the end around the "stem".  Holding it tightly I would fold a piece of painters tape over it.  If the rose used up the strip all the way to the end I would wrap and then tuck the end.  If there was enough leftover I'd make little loops and finish up again by folding tape over the top and bottom.





The reason for all the tape is to keep the rose intact as it dries.  The palm shrinks as it dries so if you just secure the ends the rose coils will lose tension, not that it's a bad look.  If you want the coils to stay tighter and remain flatter though it needs to dry that way.  Both flowers on the left started out relatively the same.  The one on the far left was just secured at the stem and the other was secured flat with tape.

For these I used the roses and bundled scrap pieces to decorate crown of thorns


Slight variation, with ribbon.



The crosses were made using this technique. If that video goes a bit too fast, this shows the same basic cross, without the added loops on the cross bars.  The ones on the ends have this type of braid and the center one uses this rustic plait which I've added loops into the weave.  Each cross contains two separate braids, the joins are hidden by the roses.  


For these I hit my stash of dried leaves and flowers.  
The pressed wine & roses weigela flowers are layered 
with a small cross on top and a larger one underneath. 


More crosses, wispy strands bundled and pressed dry, with small roses.


A few more crosses, a bit simpler.  The one on the left is two crosses layered. 


Still more crosses, playing with different styles.  


This last one is just a small rogue bouquet, with a 
bundle of wisps, a couple of braids and a single rose.  

Whether you are one of the curious that actually received one of these or you just stumbled in off the internet I hope this was at least somewhat useful in your future palm weaving endeavors.  

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day


In this house Mother's Day is synonymous with Dirt 'n Worms.  Back by popular demand we made Deluxe Dirt N Worms with caramel worms thanks to last year's experiments. Not surprisingly caramel tastes way better with chocolate than that gummy nonsense. 

I still had to get gummy worms and sour gummy worms, because my children obviously got their taste buds from the postman.  I even had to get gummy sharks.  So watch out for land sharks the next time you're gardening because apparently that's a thing.   

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Creepmas Monster

Like I said in my previous post the Creepmas Monster had a late arrival this year.  But as one neighbor exclaimed it was "Worth the wait!!!" [Note: Neighbor is still two exclamation points shy of insanity...but really it's a slippery slope once you get past that 3rd one.]


Another neighbor managed to get a picture of the elusive beast out in the wild.   


In previous years I've always painstakingly pinned garland, lights, ornaments etc onto to my ghillie suit, which then needed to be unpinned because all the lights and sparkle kind of ruin the camouflage effect for Halloween.  I've known for some time I need to do things differently but wasn't sure how.  Then Spooky Little Halloween did a post on Halloween Christmas Garland.

I picked up some plain garland on sale.  I hate to say it but I felt bad for Christmas.  The store shelves were empty, raped of their Christmas cheer and it was still a week before Christmas.

I zipped tied a bunch of stuff to the garland and wore that over the ghillie suit. It's still a work in progress, I had like ten minutes to throw this together.  This week all sorts of stuff has gone wrong, I think there are Gremlins behind it.  But I have some good solid ideas for next year and it was so quick and easy to glam up the ghillie suit and undo it afterward.  Never let it be said the Creepmas Monster doesn't know how to accessorize.  

Also new this year Halloween clearance Krampus (devil) horns!  I had been thinking of making my own, but figured I'd be time and money ahead buying these.

A couple more pictures I didn't get around to sharing during Creepmas:



Our local CVS has a Creepmassy sense of humor.  Meet Fergot McFlushot.  



And at the grocery store they were selling Grincsfa Trees.  

I guess now it's time to start being blissful and merry or a sugar plum or something...

Friday, December 21, 2018

Orange Cranberry Skull Truffles


Seems I had one more Creepmas recipe in me.  It also helped that the Creepmas Monster didn't make it's rounds until earlier this week, so I had more time.

I think I've hit my Creepmas creativity wall because for the life of me, I can't think of anything clever to call these.  They are based on yet another cranberry truffle recipe that I wanted to try.  All these recipes that I want to try and then I never can just follow the directions. The original recipe is here. I've left out the spices and added a lot more orange.

I really like the combination of cranberry and orange in everything from sweet to savory, but I feel bad that orange is always treated like a side-kick.  So I went full on Super Orange with a slightly less intense cranberry riding shotgun.

This is a two part recipe because it requires candied orange peel. That may seem like a lot of work for the some truffles.  But here's the deal, it's not just for the truffles.  What you do is make a batch of candied orange peel in October.  It's a beautiful orange color, which is very fall/Halloween.  It's also a beautiful orange flavor which pairs very well with other fall/winter foods.  Cranberries of course, but also pumpkin and sweet potatoes.  It adds a nice flavor to breads, cookies and chocolates.  In fact just dipping it in chocolate is a lovely treat, not to mention a very classic orange and black color scheme.  Even just tossed into a bowl along mixed nuts or Chex mix, it adds a little extra excitement for your mouth.  Oh and you can eat it plain, like candy.

I used this recipe for candied orange peel from tiphero.com.  The only change I make is to surpreme the orange, you might remember this from my Krampus Clusters.


Orange Cranberry Truffles

8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon orange extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons finely diced candied orange peel
3 tablespoons finely diced dried cranberries

8 ounces of chocolate, white or dark and/or candy melts (All depends on the look you want) to coat molds

In a microwave safe bowl combine chocolate, butter, and heavy cream.  Microwave for one minute at 50% power. Let stand one minute, then stir until melted and smooth. If needed microwave at 50% power for an additional 20 seconds. 

Add orange and vanilla extracts, orange peel and diced cranberries, and stir to combine.
Let cool at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

Melt 4oz of chocolate to coat the molds. Start with microwaving for one minute at 50% power and add 20 second increments as needed.

You may or may not need that much chocolate, it really depends on the size and shape of your molds.  I used some lovely silicone skull molds that I got from Michaels with the maggot molds which of course are no longer available.

If you use straight up chocolate you will have to temper it, you can refer to my method or find a more reliable source.  If you mix the chocolate with candy melts or use plain candy melts, tempering isn't so much an issue.  As I've mentioned before they are infused with voodoo magic.

Chill after coating your molds, fill with truffle mixture.  Chill again, melt more chocolate, coat the backs and Bob's your uncle.  Last truffle recipe I went into more detail if you need it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Bloody Snowdruff


Pushing the boundaries of good taste...I got three stitches in my head today.  Seriously, no big deal.  But I can't wash my hair until tomorrow and as I was flaking some dried blood off over the trash I realized I was missing a once in a lifetime (hopefully) opportunity.  

So a quick sketch later and I have a winter wonderland of bloody snowdruff ala Ally Sheedy.  
(Sketch and bloody snowdruff have been disposed of. No one has to worry about receiving an unwanted DNA riddled Creepmas card.)

https://gfycat.com/fresharcticguillemot

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Krampus Brownies


I made a lot of different Krampus treats last Creepmas, but I didn't feel like any of them truly embodied the essence of Krampus. These brownies on the other hand are like Krampus himself melting in your mouth.  It's almost a religious experience.  Take of his body and it's rich chocolatey gooiness, take of his blood and it's sweet fiery bitterness, take of his horns and all of their caramelly delights.

So now that I've completely overhyped them, they are fudgy brownies, drizzled with a bourbon, maple syrup, espresso sauce and then topped with caramel horns.

I used the same Best Fudgy Cocoa Brownie recipe from CafeDelites.com, that I used for my deluxe dirt and worms. Feel free to substitute your favorite brownie recipe, the secret is, as they say, in the sauce.

If you do make these brownies, do line your pan with parchment paper.  I would also refrigerate after cooling and not try to cut until they are cold.  These are so soft and wonderfully gooey.

After cutting, plate them, drizzle with a generous amount of bourbon sauce and top with horns.  If you will be giving these as gifts transfer them to cupcake liners.  They can be made in advance and frozen.

The bourbon sauce is from this sweet potato recipe I tried for Turkey Day.  I've never made anything like it and figured I'd either love it or hate it.  Well I loved it.  It was wonderful with the sweet potatoes, but I would also pair it with any winter squash or carrots.  I could see this drizzled on just about anything sweet, ice cream, cheesecake, bread pudding...anywhere you might normally use a flavored syrup, sauce or glaze.  I would lick this stuff off of Krampus' cloven hooves.

I would lick it off a mouse,
I would lick it in a house,
I would lick on a box,
I would lick it with fox.
I would lick it here or there,
I would lick it anywhere,
I would lick it like a boss,
I do so like my bourbon sauce.  

This is the recipe for the sauce which I am now unofficially rebranding "Krampus Sauce".  This recipe makes way more sauce than you need for the brownies. It's easy enough to just make half.

For once I actually followed the recipe, minus seasoning it with salt and pepper.  But I've added some notes for minor alterations I might make in the future and issues I came across that I'm too inexperienced to know if it's the recipe or me.


1 1/2 cups strong hot coffee (Note 1)
9 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/3 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Stir coffee, maple syrup, sugar, and espresso powder in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil; cook until thickened and reduced by half, 6-7 minutes. (Note 2)
Remove syrup from heat; add bourbon and 2 tablespoons butter. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is reduced to about 3/4 cup, 40-45 minutes (mixture should be thick enough to coat a spoon, but not sticky, and will thicken as it cools). DO AHEAD: Sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm before serving. (Note 3)

Recipe Notes

1.  I used instant. Taster's Choice House Blend to be exact, which says it's a lighter roast, not sure how it compares to other instants, it's just what my father-in-law likes.  According to the internet 2 teaspoons per 8oz of water equals strong coffee, so 1 tablespoon can be used for the 1 1/2 cups needed.

2. It took a lot longer than 6-7 minutes to reduce. It took more like 20 and most recipes say to bring to boil, then reduce heat.  This stuff doesn't just boil, it starts to bubble up and expand, so you are going to want to turn the heat down a little.  Reducing by half means about one cup by the way.

Next time I'm going to use the same amount of instant coffee, but only use 1 cup of water instead of the cup and half called for and see if I can save some time with the reduction.

3.  My sauce crystalized around the outside.  It was fine for a while once it reached room temperature and then it started to develop crystals. Refrigeration made it even worse. The first time I thought maybe I messed something up because I halved the recipe for Turkey Day.  But it happened the second time too.

After doing a little research I found this happens when there isn't a high enough percentage of liquid in a sugar syrup. Since you do want this reduced, more liquid isn't an option. Reheating melted the crystals again, but the more you reheat it the more liquid that is going to evaporate.  If you are going to be reheating more than once I would add a little bit of water the next time.

My suggestion is to drizzle it over the brownies once it's cooled to room temperature before it gets a chance to form crystals.  If they are just starting to form, give a good stir and you'll be fine.

For the horns I used Kraft caramel squares.  When I made worms I discovered some caramels lose their shape, Kraft does not.  Tootsie Rolls will also keep their shaped, I'm not a huge fan, but I did play around with using them too for a little extra color.


Divide one caramel square in half and roll each piece into a long worm, taper the ends.  You can see where I've scored lines on one of them, it's not worth the effort, by the end they've all but disappeared. Cut each worm in half.   


 
Twist the two halves together and roll them just a little more in a cone shape.  Give them a curve and you have tasty horns.  


If you want you can mix a little edible black glitter dust with alcohol and paint the horns.  Most people use vodka because it doesn't impart any flavor, but since I had bourbon and these were going to be paired with a bourbon sauce, that's what I used. 



Here I twisted a thin worm of Tootsie Roll in for color. 


I like this one better where I marbled the Tootsie Roll
 into the caramel before making the worms.


I started to wonder if I was just being too picky and how it would look just folding the worms instead of cutting before twisting.  [Halfway through making horns my attention started to wane and started looking for any way to speed the process up.]


This how they look rolled out a little more.  If  you look at the plate of brownies, it shows a mix of all the variations and I think they all look pretty much the same, so do whatever is easiest for you.  

I hope you get a chance to make your own Krampus Brownies. They are so sinfully delicious, they're sure to earn you a place on the naughty list.  Merry Creepmas everyone!