Saturday, November 25, 2017

Zombie Turkeys

It just isn't Thanksgiving until the zombie turkeys ravage through the local fowl population.

For those of you who haven't been following along for last umpteen years, I'm contractually obligated to make rice krispie turkeys every Thanksgiving.  It never goes according to plan.  There are always casualties...and blood, so much candy coated blood.

This year two days before Thanksgiving, at precisely the exact moment I was going to make krispie turkeys, I realized I had everything except candy corns.  No worries, I had lots of errand to run, surely one of my stops would have candy corn.  No such luck, but my last stop was near a Piggly Wiggly, which for those of you outside the Midwest is the actual name of a grocery store chain.  Not even lying. 

Anyway, I thought I had struck out there too.  I was on my way out when I saw a fairly deserted "seasonal" shelf and there was candy corn.  Not real candy corn mind you.  That's to say not Brach's candy corn.  Yes, I live with candy corn snobs.  That's a real thing too.  But it's still candy corn and they probably wouldn't notice. I knew that was a lie as soon as the thought entered my head, but if I embraced it I could finally go home.  Next to the candy corn was mixed candy corn.  There was the traditional orange, yellow and white, but there was also ones with some brown and others with red.  I knew in my heart my turkey connoisseurs won't be fooled by the store brand candy corn anyway so I might as well go for broke and have colorfully feathered turkeys.

Lets just say I will not be buying Piggly Wiggly candy corn again.  The traditional ones flavor wise were suitable.  The brown, yellow and white ones had sort of a caramel flavor that was acceptable.  I don't what flavor I expected the red ones to be, but cherry never crossed my mind.  It was wrong.  Sticking them into rice krispie balls would have been nothing sort of criminal.  The worst part was how soft they all were, fine for eating, if you're into that sort of thing, but not for poking into krispie balls. I had a lot of points smush and some corns even split right down the middle.  I ended up poking holes into the krispie balls with the tip of a potato peeler and then pressing the candy corns in.

No matter what there are always some candy corns that won't stay put. I've learned to embrace this phenomenon buying gluing them in with red candy melts.  Some of the bloodied turkeys get to be team Zombie and the rest are team Victims.  The poor schmucks below don't have a clue to what's going on, but ignorance won't save them.  In the end they all get eaten, even the zombies.

I used last year's recipe and at least one person described them as being akin to biting into Heaven. Your mileage may vary.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Hiss & Hearse Bottles

And the obsession with altered bottles continues...

I really just wanted an excuse to try different textures, so I made a couple of simple labels.  Images are courtesy of the Graphics Fairy.  Font is Carnivalee Freakshow by Livin Hell.

I was inspired by another Russian bottle. I love the way the bottle has it's own persona.  I hope I've been able to create that with this lovely couple.  I can't decide if they are dressed for a courting stroll among the tombstones, maybe fancy dress for a mourning party or perhaps the dirge of nuptial bells signals wedding attire.

Both are plastic bottles that I didn't even bother to remove the original labels from. I just Mod Podged a layer of tissue over them. Yet another thing to love about this style of bottle.

From top to bottom: Hiss is a wearing a cork & bottle cap hat inspired by a skeleton at this year's craft party.  The bottle cap didn't make quite a wide enough brim, so I flattened it a bit with a hammer.  Then the brim wasn't tall enough so I lengthened it with tinfoil.  It's a beautiful thing all the flaws that can be concealed with a coat of paint. The brim is adorned with a little plastic bat that I bought on clearance years, and I mean years ago and I finally used it! A piece of elastic cut from a cheap plastic mask gave nice lines as a hatband.  Have I mentioned you can use anything on these bottles? The middle of the bottle is textured with eggshells and there are a few smidges of cheesecloth to complete his ensemble.

Using eggshells is one of those techniques I've been dying to try.  There are a lot of different ways to lay out the shells. You can break them into small pieces and individually place each piece.  You can lay out large pieces and press them flat, creating many tiny cracks. This looks especially cool with alcohol inks which get into the fine cracks.

I went with the method were you place large pieces of eggshell on a layer of glue and then split them into smaller pieces with a toothpick.  You can use your fingers but I think the toothpick gives you better control and it can also be used to space out the pieces as you go.  It's kind of fussy, but it looks cool.  I would not have the patience to do a large surface this way, but doing a section of this small bottle went quickly.

The hardest part was cleaning the shells, specifically the thin membrane attached to the shell.  I used raw eggs so I don't know how hard-boiled might differ.  I rinsed the shells with hot water.  By grabbing a broken edge you can peel a fair amount of the membrane off.  Anything that remains will easily rub off.  I know it doesn't sound hard. The problem is without the membrane the shell becomes very fragile, so you have to very gently rub off the remaining bits if you want large pieces to work with.  You can't skimp on this step.  If the membrane is still on when you break the large pieces into place it will be impossible to space out the smaller pieces unless you cut that membrane.  The good news is gets easier with practice to clean the shells.

Eggshells open up a whole other avenue of crafting using paints, dyes, alcohol inks, decoupage and I'm sure many more techniques that I haven't seen yet. I have a smattering of cool Halloween napkins that I picked up with decoupage in mind, so you'll probably see me do this sooner or later, but for this I just painted the whole bottle with acrylics.

On the subject of eggshells, while researching techniques I fell in love with two mosaics by Linda Biggers.  One being this murder of crows  and the other this gorgeous, yet spooky tree.

From top to bottom: Hearse has on an acrylic gem, which just happened to set nicely on a large eyelet. You can't see it, but a circle of braided cord covers the eyelet.  She's wearing black netting that used to be a bag containing plastic bugs.  Over that is a layer of lace.  I think I would have preferred the look of a more delicate lace, but I'm not frilly or fancy so this is the only lace I had in my stash to work with.  Now that I'm looking at her, I think maybe she needs some pearls.

That's two more bottles down and 53,716 more to go (give or take a few).

Monday, November 6, 2017

Altered Potion Bottles

I'm obsessed with altered bottles.  I blame the Russians.  I got sucked in by their pinterest which led me to  According to Google Translate it is:  Country of Masters - a site about applied creativity for children and adults: crafts from various materials with their own hands, master classes, competitions.

The variations of bottles is endless and I want to make all the bottles with everything.  As I mentioned in my craft party post you can use anything to decorate these bottles, the hardest part is choosing what. Before the party my daughter and I each created a bottle using different items and techniques to use as examples.

The bottle above is my daughters creation. She worked too fast for me to get before and after pictures.  She started with a layer of Mod Podge and tissue paper.  Our city recycling program can't accept tissue paper, so I always save it for projects like this.  She chose to hot glue her items on.  She used twine, beaded garland, and broken jewelry; bit of chain, charms and links.  There are faux pearls, some wavy bits that are pieces of shell and of course smaller whole shells.  There is a bit of mesh packing paper, which has some neat texture. She used fabrics and even some vinyl from a repair kit which also had some interesting textures. Most items where attached before painting, but you can see some were added after for a pop of color.

I had seen bottles like this using dried plants and was curious to see how that would actually work.  I also wasn't sure what medium they were using to set the plants into.  After reading through a few translated how-to's I decided to go with a mixture of Elmer's white glue and spackle.  I added a little glue at a time until the spackle was the consistency I wanted.

First I started with a layer of Mod Podged tissue paper to give the spackle mixture a better surface to cling to.  After the tissue paper was dry I added a rough layer of the spackle gunk with a tongue depressor  and started pressing things into it.  I used twine, dried ornamental grass, wood beads and the seeds my hamster doesn't like from her treat mix.  Towards the end I stuck on a glass gem with a skull picture from the previous craft party to try and show how those could be incorporated too.  It doesn't really work here, and looks every bit the last minute add-on that it is, but it's still a valid idea.  Next time I would  make the gem the focal and work the design around that.  I would also build up the medium more around the gem.

I love how a sloppy application of spackle adds interest to the surface of the bottle.  Being able to set things into it makes them part of the bottle as opposed to merely laying on top. The downside is the longer drying time.  I let my dry overnight before painting.  Gluing items worked better for the craft party, but if you have the time, the spackle method is certainly rewarding.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Homicidal Maniac Meets The Last of the Zucchini

Ding dong the vine is dead! I am plagued by zucchini no more, (five metric tons of shredded zucchini in freezer conveniently forgotten.) The remaining survivors have been sliced, stabbed, poked and gutted.  Their tiny little heads on display as a warning to other squash, summer or otherwise.

I remembered I had pumpkin carving tools and while I tend to snap those flimsy little saw blades on real pumpkins, they are quite perfect for the soft flesh of the zucchini. 

From left to right: Plastic Eyeball Zucchini (because original carved eye looked like crap), Held Together By Toothpicks Zucchini (because froze and cracked on vine and then was dropped on the way outside after carving),  Fires of Hell Zucchini (sadly not fires of hell, just a red tea light), Pomegranate Aril Iris Bug Eating Zucchini (just because), and last Broken Pasta Teeth Zucchini (because there was no way I was going to successfully carve that itty bitty zucchini, and I got lazy).

It's hard to believe that isn't really hell fire and just a mere tea light. Scratching the surface of the zucchini with the saw blade gave some nice texture.  

And just because I love my daughters mini pumpkin
and it's evil grin in the faux hellfire glow.  

If I ever get zucchini amnesia and plant another one,
I want to hang with these ladies on zucchini day.