Friday, April 26, 2013

Petrified Poison Orange

One day at work I discovered a forgotten orange hiding behind my monitor.  I don’t make a habit of losing fruit in odd places, but I’d assume most fruits left to their own devises would get gross and moldy.  This orange was perfectly dried, which I found fascinating because I’m easily amused.  So I kept it in a little box, with other strange curios.  All it needed to come back into the light was a jar and a backstory. 
That’s where Genuine Artifacts comes in, purveyor of historical oddities.  They are based out of Yalgoo, Australia.  Yalgoo means “place of blood”. [Other sources differ, but in this case I think “place of blood” sounds better for business.]

Without further ado I present to you the Petrified Poison Orange.  This relic dates back to the 16th century when the poisoned orange was commonly used in spells. Then in the early 1700’s it quickly fell out of favor when poison apples came into vogue for the upper class witch.
The label is glued to cereal box cardboard for structure.  I used a textured canning jar, with an area of smooth glass for affixing labels.  In this case it serves as a viewing window.  Spanish moss provides a nice cushion and the lid is aged with acrylic paints. 
These days I do occasionally dry fruits on purpose and I find on top of the fridge is the most convenient place to do so.  It’s a warm, dry area and as a bonus items are up out of the way, since they can take weeks to completely dry. I've had good success so far with oranges, limes and shrunken head apples. For whole fruits make sure they are free of dirt, mold, soft spots and the surface is dry.  Rotate them once in while and check for mold.  Since the shrunken heads are peeled, I check them daily for the first two weeks until most of the moisture is gone. If you do get a little surface mold, just wiping it off with white vinegar should do the trick, but if anything goes soft it needs to be tossed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Draught of Living Death

Leticia Somnolens’ Draught of Living Death is based on the Harry Potter franchise.  Leticia didn’t invent it, but she’s well known for having used it.  I felt having her name on the label gives it more credibility than “made by Morris the dwarf troll (he has a very interesting lineage) that lives in my basement”.
It’s a little four inch bottle from the craft store.  I painted the inside with acrylics in metallic black, green and glitter.
Originally I had plan to just swirl the paint around the bottom two thirds of the bottle, to give it that partially filled look, but with the tiny narrow neck it just takes too long to dry.  Beside you have to keep rotating it so most of the paint doesn’t wind up at the bottom.
I ended up alternating between setting it upside-down to drain excess paint and right side up to recoat the inside as it dripped back down.  I also added a little purple faux stain glass paint and some clear micro beads just for fun.
Once it was well coated and mostly dry I left it to finish curing in the depths of my secret laboratory where I wouldn’t be tempted to watch paint dry.
After forgetting about it for a sufficient amount of time it was finally completely dry and I was then able to move on to the next phase of filling it with floral water gel.  This was also a bit painful since the already narrow neck was reduced even further by the buildup of paint.  After a few tries in which a bamboo skewer was useful in removing unintentional gel plugs (those can be heated and reused), I was able to get a thin steady stream going, which created little bubbles and filled the bottle. I also shook it up a little with my thumb over the opening for good measure and created a couple larger bubbles.
Overall the contents were a big nuisance, but it was worth it.  Pictures don’t do it justice, but it’s murky and glittery and when you hold it up to the light you can see all the little air bubbles.
The skull on the bottle is a cheap plastic ring painted to match the metal chain, which I raided from my jewelry supplies.
I glued the label to a cereal box for thickness and used a 1/8” hole punch. The fonts used are Vtc-NueTattooScript by Vigilante TypeFaceCorp and Misfits by Ravenous Media. If you look closely there are tiny Jolly Rogers added to the vine circling the frame. Skulls are like glitter, you can never have too much and they look good on everything. I also coated the label with three coats of acrylic varnish to make it shiny.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

North American Rough Skinned Newts

These are North American Rough Skinned Newts in pure olive oil, brought to you by The Happy Medium.  The inside label states, “Loaded full of tetrodotoxin our newts are sure to cause paralysis and even death if used properly.  A must have for any Zombification ritual. “
Rough Skinned Newts are not only adorable, they are highly toxic.  Tetrodotoxin can indeed cause paralysis and death.  Whether or not you can use it to make zombies hasn’t been proven, but luckily my potions don’t fall under FDA regulations. 

I imagine The Happy Medium is just that, a cheery sort that prefers tea leaves and tarot cards, but she has a crystal ball on display, because clients like to see that sort of thing.  This potions bit is just something she does on the side out of her kitchen, which works out quite well except for that unfortunate incident with the ingredients mix-up while making tea cakes for the church bake sale. 
I also imagine she has a penchant for decorating with doilies, which probably explains the label.  It’s all pink and purple with swirly flowers and starry fonts, which by the way is 101! Star Lit Nght by Nght’s Place. 

I like to repurpose cereal boxes for folded labels.  They are just the right thickness and they already have nice straight folds along the sides.  I used a 1/8” hole punch, with some raffia to attach it to the bottle.
For newts I used soft plastic fishing bait. They reacted with the floral water gel and infused it with their beautiful green hue, but they also curled up, shrunk and sunk to the bottom.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pipe Cleaner Skeleton

This is my version of a pipe cleaner skeleton created years ago to make a little boy happy.
Why was this young man obsessed with skeletons? Pyrates.  Not POTC pirates, but MegaBloks Pyrates. Later MegaBlocks did make a few POTC sets, but they didn’t have the same magic.
Here’s a little taste of that magic where you can see the whole skeleton crew in action.

Enough about pirates, it’s time for skeletons.

You will need 6 pipe cleaners or chenille stems, 2 googly eyes and a bit of glue.

Step 1 – The Skull
Make a circle with the center of the pipe cleaner, leaving a 2.5" tail on either side.
Fold the end pointing down, across to the left.
Then fold it in half, tucking the end back around to front. Now your circle should be smushed into an oval, with a smaller portion (the jawbone) hanging below the fold.
Shape your smushed oval into a skull shape, and make sure the tail you just wrapped around is flat and tight. Now take the remaining tail, give it a little squiggle and twist the end around the top of the skull.

Step 2 - The Pelvis
Leave 4" of pipe cleaner for a spine and make a small loop for half the pelvis.
Make a second loop and wrap the end over and around at a diagonal to hold everything in place. If this picture made you giggle, we all know what you're thinking.
Fold a half inch of the spine over the jawbone and give it a couple of good twists.
Step 3 - The Arms
  Find the middle of your pipe cleaner, leave a little neck room and twist it around twice.
Step 4 - The Ribs
For the first two ribs start by making a half inch bend at the end of a pipe cleaner. Point it down, against the spine.
Give it twist all the way around and then pull it to the right.
Bring it around to the left making a loop.  To gauge the size of your loop, loosely wrap the remainder of your pipe cleaner around to make two loops about the same size, then go a tad smaller than that for your first loop.  Secure it in place by wrapping the pipe cleaner around the spine again.
Make your second loop, and again wrap the end around to hold it in place.
Repeat again for second set of ribs.  Start by wrapping around the half inch bend.
Make two more ribs, securing them with a full wrap around after each loop.  Place two fingers inside the rib cage and pull in opposite directions to the side to shape them.
Step 5 - The Legs
Find the middle of a pipe cleaner and bring through both sides of the pelvis.
Wrap the legs around once to secure them.
To finish up make a little horseshoe bend to make a hand.
Then twist the end or the thumb around to keep it in place. 
Bend the shoulders, elbows, knees and feet.  The last touch is to add the googly eyes with a dab of glue. He's actually a durable little fellow, we have a rainbow of skeletons that have been joining us for Halloween the last five years with only the occasional minor reshaping.