Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Revamped Ceramic Skull

A few months ago I went to an estate sale for the very first time.  I've had more than one friend just happen on an estate sale and find the most awesome "potion" bottles.  I did not have such luck. I only found one interesting bottle, but I did get a skull for $0.50. I almost didn't buy it, it was rather cheesy looking and I had absolutely zero inspiration for what to do with it.  But it's really hard to pass up a skull for fifty cents. I mean you can always find a use for another skull, right?

It also made me wonder about my future estate sale.  I know the kids will keep a few of my prized possessions for sentimental value, maybe a severed body part or a zombie creation, but I'm sure most of it will have to go.  I can even hear possible future spouses, "No. I know you loved your mother, but that thing is not coming in the house."

At my estate sale there won't be one lonely skull on a table amidst other holiday stuff.  There will be a whole table of skulls, next to the table of skeletons, between the body parts and potion bottles, right across from the table full of spiders.

This is the before and after of my skull.  It's a ceramic skull.  There's a big open area in the back so you can put a tealight in it and a smoke hole on top.

If you've been following along, you know I started obsessing over altered bottles last year.  It's like collaging in 3D.  There are so many different ways to go about it and I've only touched on a few so far.  Any method can be used to cover much more than just bottles.

One method I've been bouncing around in my head is using molded components.  HomeTalk has a nice video using this technique on ornaments (Creepmas anyone?)  Except I didn't have any molds and there's so many to choose from.  Investing in yet more crafting stuff requires a commitment I wasn't ready to make.

The Fates decided to intervene and I happened upon some Mod Podge molds on clearance at Michael's. I picked up the Ornaments and Royal mold.  The mold's are small, a 9.5cm square and less than $3, so not too much of a commitment in money or storage.  They are meant to be used with glue sticks, but they're silicone molds, so you can use just about anything.

For my first go-round I used a spackle glue mixture I had leftover from an ornament project.  It had lost quite a bit of moisture and was a really thick putty.  I used it for the three pieces on left which have some imperfections, but I believe that's called character.  Then I added a little water to thin out the rest, which was a huge mistake. It got all clumpy and no amount of kneading would smooth it out.  I used it anyway pressing it very firmly into the mold, but after it dried it broke into pieces when I removed it.

I also had leftover paint and joint compound mixture from my pirate ship. These pieces were lighter and more detailed, albeit a little pockmarked.  Maybe because of the sand texture?  They were also a little flexible.

A few things about these molds in particular.  Most of the impressions are pretty shallow, so whichever medium I used they were dry in a few hours.  The two domed areas on the "Ornaments" (left) mold needed to dry overnight.  You can see I got impatient and lifted them too soon.  Many of the objects on the "Royal" (right) mold were difficult to remove without breaking. Namely the top left scroll, the bee's little legs, the key and the boarder at the bottom.  For my purposes this didn't matter. Any defects just add a worn, aged appearance as far as I'm concerned.

I ended up making another batch of 50/50 white glue and spackle to make additional pieces.  Leaving a thin layer across the back of the mold made it easier to remove pieces without breaking them. It was easy to crumble off if I didn't want it, but I found I liked it.  The glue/spackle mixture isn't waterproof, so it does soften when you lay it on wet glue.  Using a small brush, wetting it if needed you can blend that thin layer onto your working surface.  

Here's the skull covered with a layer of the paint mixture to give me a good surface to work on.  The teeth and other cavities had a hard straight edge from whatever was used to cut those areas out.  I used additional layers of the paint stuff to build up and round out those places.  The "eyes" are just me playing around with pieces.

Then I started gluing stuff on, using white craft glue. The laurel wreath cut in half made a nice mustache.  I cut apart the boarders from both molds into individual pieces.  I took apart some old flowers.  I love that it doesn't matter what color they are because everything gets a coat paint.   The glass eye is just a cheap plastic gem.


I even used up most of the crumbly broken pieces on the back.  

Then I put some spackle glue in a disposable icing bag and piped it on to build up areas and fill cracks so the molded pieces didn't look like they were just sitting on the surface.  I used a wet paint brush to further move it around. There was some shrinkage after it dried so I went back and touched it up with more spackle glue.

After that dried it was onto paint.  I started with a solid layer of dark brown.  It took three coats to get every little nook and cranny coated, turning it every which way to make sure I didn't miss a spot.  The paint has to protect the spackle glue so you have to have good coverage. I liberally sponged on a tan coat, then a slightly lighter tan on and finally finished off with a few white highlights.  

This angle reminds me of Shakespeare, which is fitting since we did share an "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio..." moment while I was painting him.  

It just happened that after I finished, one of my air plants bloomed! 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Deluxe Dirt 'N Worms

Last week we had Dirt 'n Worms for Mother's Day, again. It's one of those things I started innocently enough and now I'm contractually obligated to make every year. I changed it up a little this year to keep things interesting and it was declared to be the best dirt 'n worms ever.  Which probably means my contract has been amended to say "Deluxe Dirt 'n Worms".

I added a layer of brownie at the bottom and some sour gummy worms (not pictured). 

This is the basic Dirt 'n Worms recipe and this is the Best Fudgy Cocoa Brownie recipe, from CafeDelites.com that I used. My brownies were baked to perfection in 20 minutes. These are not cake brownies, these are ooey gooey with a nice crust brownies. For the tablespoon of oil I used coconut oil and it gave the brownies I nice mild coconut flavor, if you're into that kind of thing.  I kept the brownies, pudding mixture, worms and cookie crumbs separate, and assembled single portions right before serving.  

I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of gummy anything, so my opinion is completely biased, but I think there should be laws against combining gummy worms with chocolate.  And sour gummy worms with chocolate?  I don't even want to think about it.  But my spawn likes the gummy stuff and loves the sour gummies even more. For actual consumption I  recommend dirt 'n worms without the worms.

But the visual aspect of the worms is undeniable. I think I like the way they look laying across on the brownie,sticking out from under the pudding goop, better than the traditional route of sticking them on top.

Of course if all the worms were under the goop, you would need something to decorate the top.  A tombstone perhaps? I've seen where people use Milano cookies with iced epitaphs as gravestones .  Wouldn't it be fun to honor horror Moms?  Bates, Voorhees, White...

So brownie, worms, pudding and whipped cream mixed together with crush cookies, topped with more crushed cookies, topped with yet another cookie decorated with icing.  Nope, that doesn't sound excessive at all.

Speaking of Creeptastic Moms...Watching mother themed movies for Mother's Day isn't something I had considered before, but some channel was promoting their marathon of mom related movies of the overly contrived lame comedy variety, which I felt was decidedly lacking.  Especially when you can catch the aforementioned moms in Psycho, Friday the 13th and Carrie.   Not to mention kickass Sci-Fi moms, like Sarah Connor.  And what would the whole Alien's franchise be without a mother's love? [I love this Aliens Mother's Day card by the way.]  For those that truly just want a light hearted comedy, they could always binge on Santa Clarita Diet.

We went middle of the road with the creepy, but not gory, ever fabulous Coraline. It's a great movie to watch with the kids, because no matter what your failings are, as long as you are not a soul sucking monster who likes sewing buttons on children's eyes, they'll be grateful that you're their Mom.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

From The Depths of the Deep Blue Sea

It's about time I finished this bottle, which I started back at the last craft party.  The contents were done, but I didn't like the lid.  I could've just painted it black and called it a day, but I had a vision and sometimes those bastards are persnickety.

I found a nice simple template for the boat at MollyMooCrafts.   I made mine on a much smaller scale of course. Actually I made two, slightly different sizes, because I wasn't sure what I wanted. When cutting out the pieces, instead of cutting all the way around, I left tabs sticking out here and there to aid in the assembly process.  After all the pieces where glued in place and dried, I set the boats on top of the lid and there they sat.  For a really long time.  A really, really long time, in a slightly mocking manner.

See, being made out of printer paper they were too thin and flimsy to just paint. And the thought of reinforcing their teeny tiny little hulls with paper mache seemed torturous. So they sat.  That is until The Great Nerf War of 2018. 

An epic battle some say, even though the only casualty was a living room wall.  Since I had to get everything out to patch a hole, I decided to also tackle the Father Vs Son WWF Match dent and the Ninja Sneak Attack dings.  The thing is, I live with animals, but as a result I've become a bit of a drywall repair goddess.  So there's that.

When it comes to drywall stuff and paint, I never work out of the original containers, I always just take out a little more than I think I'll.  So after everything had been repaired, I had a little bit of this and a little bit of that leftover.  I felt bad about just tossing it, so I mixed it all together.  It was maybe (didn't measure) 3 parts all-in-one primer paint, which is really thick and creamy, to which I had added some sand texture, 1 part joint compound and just a smidge of fiber reinforced compound.  Well it was all consolidated in one container now, but what to do with it? And there were those two little boats staring at me.

Well it turns out this stuff was perfect for little boats. 6 thin coats, inside and out and my little boats are nice and sturdy, with a uniform thickness I wouldn't have been able to achieve with papier mache.  On a few passes I scraped the side of the brush against the top edge of the boats to make a thick ridge.

The fabric draped over the lid and used for the sail came from my daughter's old mermaid costume.  Sometimes it pays to know someone who's been through a princess phase.  I've been using pieces of her worn to death costumes for years.  They have layers of different textured fabrics that have come in handy more than once.  This piece is some kind of synthetic satiny material. For the sail I distressed it by setting a toothpick on fire, blowing it out and using the glowing embers to burn tiny holes in it.  I started out using an open flame on the pieces hanging over the lid but that was too hard to control, stuff burns like crazy. Which leads me to realize how lucky we were that her "Princess, Sponge Bob, Jellyfish, Snake & Worm Party"*, full of princess garbed little girls, didn't play out like a scene from The Towering Inferno.

*That's the kind of stuff you end up with when you ask five year olds what they want to do for their birthday.

Continuing on, the mast is a toothpick with a few small beads on top, and is set into a small grommet.  The "water" is glue, fabric and tissue paper.  There's a little bit of cheesecloth down the sides.

If I were to do this again I would start with the lid and then add the contents.  As it was I had to cover the jar in painters tape, and keep it upright so as not to jostle the stuff inside.  I was too scared to take the lid of and work on it separately.  Things have grown in there since last year.  I can only imagine the aroma that would ensue from opening that jar. I do love the murky effect.  Yes for once that's not just crappy photography on my part, that haziness has been organically grown.  There's even an interesting line of rusty colored growth.

I rather like the idea of my pirate, decomposing next to his treasure, looking up from the murky depths of the ocean floor, contemplating whether or not it was worth it.