Sunday, October 20, 2013

Spiced Vines and Desert Graves

This is one of my daughters creations and I think she's stumbled on a few techniques that are worth recreating. 

Some friends donated their old spice jars complete with old spices to our cause.  Rather than dump the spices and just use the jars, I thought the kids would have fun using them to brew up their own  potion concoctions, which they did. My daughter also decided to use them for something else.

She spread glue on her paper and sprinkle on spices and herbs.  She added skeletons, bugs and piled on more spices.  Then she added more glue and more spices. For me it brings to mind shallow graves out in the desert, for her she just kept giggling about oatmeal and trying to get people to eat it. I have no idea, there was no oatmeal.  I love the way she used dried beans for eyes in the shrunken apple head, small corks in a sort of Frankenstein monster bolts kind of way and shoved the skeleton leg in its mouth, like it was devouring it.

It was a very fragrant project, at first it made me hungry for Indian food, but after awhile it became a little overwhelming. So I decided to take a few liberties with it, and transfer the contents to jars and that's when I noticed her spice vines.  The small seeds and herbs had attached to the lines of glue, and resembled leaves and the ground spices filled in the spaces to give it a dried vine appearance. 

This wouldn't be practical for a big project, but for these jar dioramas, it's a perfectly cool way to use up old spices. To recreate her vines I started with a plate covered with a layer of her spice mix, brown and orange ground spices with some small seeds and green herbs. On top of the spices I squeezed out lines of glue. I used Aleene's Fast Grab Tacky Glue. On top of that I sprinkle just the seeds and herbs. It's not important to completely cover the glue with them, but the ground spices stick the most so you want to make sure you get some seeds and herbs in the glue to get that vine effect. After you've sprinkled on the seeds and herbs, you can cover any white spaces with the spice mix and then let it dry.

For the demonic soul eating apple I poured some of the spice mixture in a jar and placed the items on top. I feel a little safer now that he's confined to a jar.  

For the other two I opted for a ship in the bottle look.  I cut sections from her paper the size of the bottom (side) of the jars. I added glue and spices to any bare areas on the paper. The skeletons were already glued in place from her original design. I just tweaked the bugs a little, lining them up along the middle and spacing them out and I also added some vine.  After dripping some glue down the inside of the bottle on what now would be the bottom, I rolled up the spiced paper like a long skinny skeleton taco and fed it through the opening.  It helped to have a long bamboo skewer to push the paper into place and reposition the insects. Then I added some more loose spices on top. 

The beetles were done the same way it was much easier because the bottle was shorter with a wider mouth. This was a very messy, pungent experience, but totally worth it.  All the bugs came from the "Big Bag of Bugs" available at Walgreens.  For cheap plastic bugs, they look really good in my opinion. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Meet the newest addition to our toilet paper roll family, Peter & Madeline Smith. Named for the actors that played Dr. Frankenstein's monster and his love interest in Young Frankenstein.
I would  have assumed a monster would inherit its creator's surname, but in this case they prefer the anonymity. There tends to be a lot less angry villagers with pitchforks and open flames when the "Smith's" move into the neighborhood. 

For the body basics check out my TP Mummy

To give his shoes platform soles, I cut out two pairs of feet using the template and filled the space in-between with an inch wide loop of cereal box cardboard for support. Then I surrounded that with paper clay and after that dried, I applied a thin layer of air dry clay and used a comb to give it texture. After I painted it I applied an acrylic varnish.  I do foresee the possibility that the air dry clay could chip off, I'll just have to see. 

There is an awesome wolf head tutorial over at 102 Wicked Things To Do.  I'll pause while you go check it out.  Incredible isn't it?

There is some great advice on working with fake fur such as combing a part before you cut and making sure the fur is laying in the right direction.  Nothing earth shattering, but it's exactly the type of thing I wouldn't think of on my own until I was halfway through butchering a project.
Probably doesn't matter much for the few inches of fur I used, but I did follow her advice while working on Madeline's hair piece. 

Mrs. Smith's hair sections were stapled together wrong side out, the bottom edge was hot glued under and then I turn the whole thing right side out and tucked the top into itself. I just happened to have some black fur and a few scraps of white on hand, but I think she would look just as awesome with an updo of any kind of thickly textured fabric, like a heavy corduroy or cable knit.

Her eyelashes were a last minute touch, made of the same fun fur used for the dream catchers.  I like the way it looks and will definitely be pairing it up with googly eyes again in the future.

Update: To see the latest additions to the family check out Igor and Frankie

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Peanut Butter Eyeballs

There are better looking eyeball recipes out there, but these
are just as tasty, if not tastier and very easy to make.

For the record I don’t eat cardboard, but if I did, I suspect it would taste a lot like graham crackers, it just wouldn’t get as soggy in milk. I’ve tried quite a few different brands and haven’t found any that really taste good, but there’s enough sugar and peanut butter in this recipe to gloss over their shortcomings if you choose to use them. On the other hand, BelVita Golden Oat Breakfast Biscuits taste the way I imagine graham crackers wished they could taste. That is if they actually enjoy being eaten. Maybe resembling cardboard is just part of the graham cracker's natural defense against predators. 

Peanut Butter Eyeball Recipe

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter room temp
2 - 1.76oz packages of crushed BelVita Golden Oat Breakfast biscuits (can substitute 3/4 cup of crushed graham crackers)
2 cups powdered sugar
12 oz. white chocolate
20 red candy melts

Cream peanut butter and butter together and then mix in the crushed crackers. Finally mix in the powdered sugar, a half cup at a time. 

Refrigerate until its firm enough to work with and then scoop out the mixture using a small (2 tsp.) cookie scoop and roll into balls. I like to make an indent in the center of each ball so the M&M iris will sit a little lower. Refrigerate again, or if you want to work on them fairly soon pop them in the freezer for a few minutes.  

Microwave 6 oz. white chocolate for one minute in glass bowl. Let stand for a minute, then stir until smooth or microwave in additional 15 second increments if needed. Stir until slightly cooled and then coat half the balls. Place the coated balls indent side up on parchment or wax paper. Repeat with the remaining 6 oz. of white chocolate for the other half. 

Put the candy melts in the corner of a small plastic freezer bag. Freezer bags can take the heat and won't split a seam when you squeeze them. Microwave for 30 seconds, knead the candy melts to mix. Microwave another 30 seconds, and knead again until smooth, microwave an additional 15 seconds if necessary. 

Snip a tiny bit off the corner of the bag. Drizzle the candy melts every which way over the eyeballs. Not the veiniest veins that you will ever see on an edible eyeball, but it takes seconds to finish which is about a half second longer that it takes for these to disappear.  Once you have enough veins, squeeze a little red into each depression to glue on the M&M’s.  

Makes about 46.

I make these in advance and freeze them.  They do sweat a little right out of the freezer, but seriously they get eaten up so fast I don't think anyone cares. 

Here's a few labels I've used in the past so people know what they'll be biting into. The zombie font is Ghoulish by Sinister Fonts and the peanut butter font is Noises in the Attic by KC Fonts