Thursday, August 15, 2019

Witch Finger Coffin

In the coffin is a witch's finger.  The only clue to who she was is the picture on the front, courtesy of the Graphics Fairy by the way.

This is one of those projects that's been a decade in the making.  I made this finger ages ago during a Girl Scout outing.  The girls earned their pottery badge at a place that uses a wood fired kiln, which was pretty cool to learn about.

While the girls were making their pottery, I spotted this discarded little log of clay.  I can't take much credit for making this finger, because it was practically a finger before I even picked it up.  I formed the nail bed and added the fingernail and a few knuckle lines, but that's it.  I painted it with acrylics after firing.

All this time I've had this finger, waiting for inspiration to strike with a creative way to display it.

The coffin was an after Halloween clearance purchase.  It wasn't very exciting, so the first step was to fancy it up. I found this video and this video by Sage Reynolds on how to line a box with padded velvet to be very useful.  It's definitely worth a run through even if you do like I did and not pad the liner.  Also at some point you are going to want to paint the inside of the coffin.  I suggest using a color similar to your fabric to hide any tiny gaps or imperfections in the finished lining. My fabric was a clearance priced remnant.

Trace the outside of box on paper and then measure in the thickness of the sides to figure out the inside dimension. From there measure out the height of the sides to create the tabs.  I used paper first, to make a template.  It's easier to make adjustments on paper. Keep in mind you do have to make some allowances for the thickness of your final insert and fabric.  I used a cereal box and a thin fabric.  I scored the cardboard so the sides folded up easily.  

Test your insert, trim as needed.  You want it to fit nicely, but not too tight, you'll need room for the width of the fabric.  At the corners where the sides meet you should have just enough gap to accommodate your fabric.  Again mine was thin, so I trimmed just a hair's breadth.

Cut a piece of fabric the size of the insert and glue it down. I normally only use Elmers school glue for papier mache because it's too watery for much else.  Here it's thin consistency was an asset. I was able to apply a very thin, even coat on the insert and the fabric laid across it perfectly smooth.

Once that's dry you can trim around the insert, make sure you leave enough fabric to fold over the edges. I used double-sided sticky tape to keep the folded edges in place.

My liner ended up fitting perfectly snug, so I didn't glue it down. Also I'm fickle and might want to try my hand at a padded liner at some later date. Repeat the above process to line the lid of the coffin.

The next step is to add some dimension to the top of lid. Below is the template I created. This is actually the fourth one I made before I was happy with it. Again working with paper first is a lot easier to fine tune your template.

The red line "B" is the outline of my coffin.  It's important that it's outlined exactly the way it will sit on the top of the coffin. Until I started this process I would've sworn the coffin was symmetrical.  It's not even close.  

The inside line labeled "A" is 3/8 inch in from the red line. 
The outside line "C" is 1/8 inch from the red line. 
The little red lines "D" are drawn perpendicular to lines "B" from the corners. I've denoted the right angles in blue.  
The little black lines "E" are drawn from the corners of line "A" to the points where lines "D" intersect lines "C".  
Cut along lines "C" and "E".  
When you cut out the final piece on cardboard also score along lines "A".  
I hope this all makes sense.     

Tape the corners together and try the template on for size. After I knew these were the exact measurements for the shape I wanted, I went through the whole process on a piece of cardboard instead of tracing the template for a more precise fit.  

To make it a little sturdier I stacked and glued craft sticks, broken to fit down the center underneath. I put glue around the edges and used tape to keep it in place.  After it dries you can papier mache over it.  I chose texture past under a layer of lace, which I scored on my last thrift store excursion.  I may have gone a bit overboard on the decorations, but I stand by creating a raised lid.  It's a nice addition to an otherwise plain cheap coffin.  

The original plan was to do raised scrolls in texture paste, somehow that ended up being random zipper swirls. I daubed a thin texture paste in between the zippers to make the plain cardboard more interesting.  Then I slapped on two coats of black paint, wiping it off the zipper teeth so the metal shines through.  I was going to highlight the different textures, but I thought it would look too busy.  They don't show as well in the pictures, but in person the textures speak for themselves.    

We have a charity thrift store in town where you pay by the pound.  Basically all the stuff that doesn't sell at their main outlets goes there.  All the clothes are in these huge bins that you have to shift through.  I went there years ago with a friend looking for clothing with interesting zippers/buttons. One of the workers kindly pointed out that we were sifting through bins that had been picked over for awhile and pointed where the "newer" stuff was.  Since we were going to destroy anything we bought, it was actually nice to know that we were sifting through the rejects of the rejects.  I didn't spend much and I still haven't used all the items I salvaged.  If you have anything like that in your area I'd check it out.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Frozen Boozie Maggots & Undead Pops

Boozie Maggots with black raspberries.

As promised, Boozie Maggots. I did try making alcoholic zombie popsicles, but because the alcohol results in a softer freeze it was difficult to unmold them. The act of peeling back the molds erased some of the finer details and they all lost their heads, which just looked like balls by the time I worked them out of the mold. Note that any simple popsicle mold would work, I just like maggots. 

I supposed I could have played around with less alcohol to find a suitable ratio that would result in perfect zombies, but it's easier this way, everyone knows the zombies are kid friendly and the maggots have rum. Also I don't get any sideways glances from friends by saying crazy things like "less rum".  [Honestly, and I could be completely talking out my rear, I do not have what one might call a sophisticated palate.  But I feel the rum enhances the other flavors and just a smidge as a flavor enhancer would ok in my book.]

This article on How To Turn Any Alcohol You Like Into Tasty Frozen Pops is what I used to figure out ratios using rum that's 40% alc/vol (ABV). You can substitute with any alcohol with a 40% ABV, but anything else and you'll have to refer to the article and do your own math. These quantities are also based on the maximum amount of alcohol you can use and still have your popsicle freeze properly. By all means use less if you like. Wherever I've rounded numbers to simplify, I've always rounded down on the amount of alcohol to ensure adequate freezage.

The short answer is if you are using 40% ABV, it comes out to 4 parts cucumber mix to 1 part alcohol.

You can use my Cucumber, Mint & Lime Mix, either as is, because the alcohol will cut the sweetness or with added extras, plus alcohol. The following blend is our current family favorite. The coconut milk adds a nice flavor and the avocado really gives the popsicles a smooth, creamy texture. Here I'm using part of the recipe for non-alcoholic zombies and part with rum to make frozen maggots. You could make as much as you want with rum just stick to the 4 to 1 ratio.

Refreshingly Undead Pops
Makes 24 oz

One batch (18 oz) Cucumber, Mint and Lime Mix (for more details see previous post):
2 cups peeled, diced and seeded cucumber
1/2 cup lime juice with zest
1/2 cup mint infused simple syrup

4 oz (1/2 cup) coconut milk (Note 1)
2 oz (1/4 cup) avocado (Note 2)

frozen raspberries (garnish)

It works best to use room temperature ingredients or the coconut fat solidifies. Blend all ingredients except raspberries. 16 oz of this delicious nectar will fill two sets of zombie molds. Poke a few pieces of frozen raspberry into the molds, not only for a touch of color, but it tastes awesome too. Reserve the remaining 8 oz for Boozie Maggots.

Note 1: If you're making frozen treats because it's hot out and you have the air conditioning on, the coconut milk fats are probably solid. If you are starting with an unopened can of coconut milk I suggest putting it in a bowl of hot tap water for a few minutes. Otherwise gently heat the coconut milk in the microwave just until it becomes completely liquid. Slowly pouring the coconut milk in while the blender is running will help it evenly incorporate too. Worse case scenario if it does solidify, you wind up with a slightly grainy texture to your popsicle.

Extra coconut milk can be frozen by the tablespoon in an ice cube tray to easily measure out for recipes or smoothies.

Note 2: This is for my daughter's friends after hearing about their avocado woes. California Avocado has lots of good info. Avocado's won't ripen in the fridge, but once they are ripe pop them in the fridge and they'll keep longer.

If you really aren't going to use them anytime soon, freeze them. I will finely dice or puree them with a little lime juice and freeze in single serving sized mounds on freezer paper before transferring to a freezer bag.

You don't have to use an avocado up all at once. Cut it in half lengthwise and give a twist. Whichever half the pit remains attached to cover in plastic and store in the fridge. The pit doesn't have any magical qualities, but air isn't going to get to the surface it's covering. When you finally get to cutting pieces off that half try to keep the pit in place for as long as possible.

Cut whatever you want off the remaining half, skin and all and again plastic wrap and refrigerate the remaining part. Peel the skin off the piece you want and slice, dice or puree and enjoy. Notice I didn't tell you to rub lemon or lime on anything that's being stored. In my experience citrus only delays the inevitable. Even the plastic wrap doesn't create an air tight seal. After a day all cut surfaces brown, no matter what. Just accept that, scrape the brown off and eat the creamy greenness underneath.

In summary a perfectly ripe avocado can last a long time around here, though it might pray for a quick and merciful death.

Finally getting to Boozie Maggots. Remember my Thanksgiving Maggots and Creepmas Maggots? I love the molds I got at Michaels last year and I'm glad I had the foresight to buy four of them. I am hopeful they will bring them back this fall. The maggot shape makes them super easy to fill and unmold, no matter what food stuffs you are using and who doesn't like maggots? The only downside is they need some sort of support when moving the filled molds prior to baking/freezing. They also smell faintly like mint now. Scrubbing with a paste of baking soda and dish soap seems to work the best, but I guess silicone really absorbs odors.

Boozie Maggots with red raspberries.

Boozie Maggots

8 oz Refreshingly Undead Concoction
2 oz of 40% rum
frozen raspberries

Combine and fill molds. The maggots hold one tablespoon each, but you need to allot for expansion as they freeze. 10 oz should be enough to fill 24 maggots. Garnish with frozen raspberries.

It's very important they be frozen. Frozen berries break down faster and give better color. The very first picture with black raspberries, I was impatient and didn't wait for them to freeze all the way. The above picture has red raspberries that were completely frozen, and have a better color spread. Below I used fresh blue berries and the skulls have fresh red raspberries and they just don't look as good.

To serve: I filled small dixie cups with a few maggots and kept them in the freezer until it was time to serve.

Boozie Maggots with fresh blueberries.

Boozie Skulls with fresh raspberries.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Minty Cucumber Zombie Popsicles

It all started with my first trip to the local Night Market.  Even though I knew it wouldn't be, I was secretly hoping it would be like the Floating Market in Neverwhere.  And it didn't disappoint, which is to say it was nothing like the Floating Market in Neverwhere.  

But it still held it's own charm and one of things that caught my eye was a popsicle vendor, Chrysalis Pops, with it's array of unique flavors.  Now if you think the combination of cucumber, mint and lime would taste like a cool breeze, under a shade tree, on a warm summer's day, you would be correct.  Mostly.  I'll explain:

While my cucumber, mint and lime popsicle did indeed invoke all those sensations, my initial lick gave me pause. It tasted like dill pickle, or at least that's what my brain initially jotted down.  Then it extrapolated all the data from my taste receptors, did an analysis, put it all into a spreadsheet, I think there was even a cute little pie graph to denote the individual flavors and cheerfully concluded that the original assessment was wrong.  It was indeed cucumber, mint & lime, no dill pickles present.  

But once in while the essence of dill pickle would pop back up, only to disappear the moment I tried to pin it down. Much like an optical illusion, or Gestalt switch for taste buds. Yes there's a reason I'm telling you this, and I'll get to it.  Eventually.

First a quick shout to some of the other night marketeers: Artery Ink for awesome anatomy based art, they even have a coloring book and Green Goat Apothecary, who has ensnared me with their blood orange scented goat's milk lotion. It makes my skin feel silky and the smell is divine, nothing like the headache inducing artificial scents that a lot of popular lotions seem to favor.

But back to popsicles, pickle or no pickle my curiosity was peaked and I wondered what life would be like if I could make my own cucumber, mint and lime popsicles.  I found a recipe that looked promising and realized it would be much easier if I procured actual popsicle molds.

That's when I found these lovely Zombie Molds by Tovolo.  I bought two sets online from Target, for $10.99.  Of course they are sold out now.  There are a few vendors that carry them on Amazon but they cost a bit more.  Each mold holds 2 oz and there are 4 zombies per set.

Pros:  They make zombie shaped popsicles! And the popsicle handles are zombie legs! And the part of the handle that goes into the mold, is a rib cage! So you literally eat the zombies down to their bones!

Cons:  The mold is a flexible silicone, which is fine, but tricky to peel off.  I find it best to push down on the top of the zombie heads while peeling the mold off inside out.  This works fine for all the zombies except the one zombie with his tongue hanging out.  Half of the time I break his head off.  (Quick fix: Rub a little water on the neck, push the head on and stick it back in the freezer.)

Or maybe it's just me.  Hungry Happenings not only has a raspberry cheesecake pop recipe, but they have better quality pictures and a video that makes demolding look like the easiest thing in the world.

Silicone apparently really absorbs odors.  This is the first time I've made anything with a strong scent and now all my molds smell like mint. I tried baking soda and I tried vinegar.  Both reduce the odor but do not completely remove it.  I'm not sure how much mint flavor would even transfer if I made something else with the molds.

While the zombie legs are adorable, they do limit the number of full bodied zombies you can make.  (If the legs are otherwise occupied, good old wooden popsicle sticks will do.  Cover the mold with a layer of tinfoil to provide stability and poke the stick through it.)

The recipe that I tried is from  The flavor was spot on, including the random phantom dill pickle.   But never let it be said that there was ever a recipe I didn't bastardize.

First I don't like recipes that give a number of fruits/veggies and not an actual measurement, that had to change.

And I got rid of the phantom pickle flavor by steeping the mint, this also reduced the mint odor left in the molds. Most of the pictures are from the first batch and show green flecks of mint. Most of the zombies using my version were eaten before I could get pictures. 

The Chrysalis Pop popsicle I bought had the most perfect balance of sweetness I have ever had in a popsicle. The Sense and Edibility recipe was way too sweet for my taste. Rather than figuring out the proper amount to decrease the sugar, I decided it was more fun to add additional ingredients. So I consider my modified recipe to be a base mix.

Cucumber Mint & Lime Base Mix
Makes 18oz of mix  (Total of 24oz when combined with additional flavors)

2 cups peeled, diced and seeded cucumber (see Note:1)
1/2 cup lime juice with zest (see Note: 2)
1/2 cup mint infused simple syrup

Mint Infused Simple Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup packed mint leaves (see Note: 3)

To make the simple syrup gently manhandle the mint leaves to release the oil.  I like to press them firmly between my finger tips as I pluck off the leaves or you can spank them if that's what you're into.  After measuring, I transfer them to a small glass dish and again apply a little more pressure, but not enough to crush or tear the leaves.  In a small pan bring the sugar and water to a boil.  Simmer for one minute, remove from heat and pour over the mint leaves.  Let stand for an hour. Strain before using.  Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.  It's great to have on hand for a mojito or glass of limeade.

Puree the cucumber, lime juice and half a cup of the mint syrup.

To use: I find a 3 to 1 ratio of cucumber mix to whatever non-alcoholic flavor your heart desires results in the perfect amount of sweetness.  I would keep to mild flavors so you don't overpower anything.  Some suggestions: avocado, coconut milk, more cucumber puree or plain yogurt.  It takes about 3 tablespoons of diced cucumber to equal one ounce of puree.  You don't have to make the whole batch one flavor, try a few different combinations.  You could just dilute with water, but where's the fun in that? Unless it's frozen water. Blending it with ice cubes to make a slushie instead of popsicles would probably be amazing.

One set of zombie molds will hold 8 oz, so 6 oz cucumber mix plus 2 oz of whatever.  Once your mix is complete, fill the molds and for a special touch add a frozen raspberry.  Even if you have fresh raspberries, freeze them first.  Freezing breaks down the cell structure so when you insert them into the molds they start to thaw in the mixture and diffuse their lovely color before they freeze again.  The raspberry adds a nice flavor boost. I like to break it into halves or thirds and then poke it down into the mold with a chopstick. It's always a delight to see how it turned out after the unmolding.  Does the back of this guy look like an exit wound or what?

Obviously this all makes way more than you need for one set of zombies.  So plan accordingly.  I didn't just make zombies, I used my other silicone molds to make skulls & maggots and even utilized an ice cube tray.

I specified non-alcoholic because alcohol requires a different ratio if you want it to freeze and even then it doesn't freeze solid enough to properly unmold zombies.  Which is why shortly I will introduce you to Boozie Maggots and also my favorite flavor combination for frozen zombies.

Note 1: The original recipe calls for those long skinny cucumbers in the shrink wrap called English cucumbers. They are shrink wrapped because their skin is so delicate. They have smaller seeds and are supposedly sweeter. But I think a fresh cuke from the garden or farmer's market could give them a run for their money. I think either type makes a tasty pop. Apparently the trick to further reducing bitterness of any cuke is to cut off both ends prior to peeling.

Note 2: I always zest limes, even when the recipe doesn't call for it. Why just toss that extra flavor? The original recipe calls for 6 limes, I get more juice than I need with 4 average sized limes. First start with room temperature limes. Zest them and then firmly roll them a few times on a clean hard surface until they feel soft and squishy. After all that man handling they should be practically bursting with juice. In fact slice them in half over a bowl because they will ooze out juice when you cut into them. I use a simple hand squeezer. If you follow this tip and slice off the end before juicing, you'll get a lot of juice. After you've squeezed two halves, if you put them both back into the squeezer and give them another squeeze you should get just about every last drop of juice. Toss the zest into the juice and any leftovers can be frozen in an ice tray.

Note 3: Whenever I use the word mint I am referring to spearmint.  The easiest way to tell what kind of mint you have is to taste it. 

As far as my dill pickle experience, I think part of it stems from my lack of exposure to fresh mint.  I'm used to mint that has been refined to an extract or oil or is just plain fake.  Because what I was tasting wasn't anything like dill.  A comparison of real dill made me realize that's not it at all, but I think that's the closest thing my brain had on file to relate to.  (Kind of like in my mind Corey Hart looks just like James Hurley, but side by side they are obviously two different people.  But thank you random internet person for unknowingly validating my feelings.) For the record my daughter had the same experience, with the dill/mint that is.  She's never seen Twin Peaks and doesn't understand why I wear my sunglasses at night.  

But over-muddling, does release bitter chlorophyll which is often described as a grassy taste.  Which is why I chose to steep the leaves in the syrup rather them blend them in the cucumber mix.  The downside is losing the visual appeal of all those little flecks of green.  Below you can see the difference. Don't think that because the leaves have been steeping in sugar water that they are no longer bitter and can now be chopped up and added back in for curb appeal. Bite into one if you don't believe me. That might be a good experiment, chlorophyll might not taste as strong to you and if the flavor doesn't bother you, who doesn't like a little extra green in their zombies?


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.