Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Needle Felted Monster Cactus

A long, long, long time ago Lady M asked me how long it takes to make one of these felty things and I had no idea.  This is the one project where I actually paid attention to the time.   In total, it took three hours, that included snacks, drinks, chatting and moving the eyeballs three or four times.

All you see here took an hour and a half and most of that was spent on the details.  Making the flower took the rest of the time because I felted each petal individually and it's harder to needle felt thin flat objects.  Sometimes wet felting is a better option for thin pieces but you do have to wait for them to dry.

Size wise you can see what three hours got me.  There's a trade off with size, obviously the larger an object the more stabbing that's involved.  But it's easier to do the detail work, which gets fussier the smaller you go.

This is what he would look like with flaming red curly locks.

I should say for safety purposes you should never needle felt distracted, angry or under the influence.  The needles are very sharp.   That being said, we generally have cocktails on Stabby Nights and on this particular night we had Raspberry Mimosas which were quite yummy and as a bonus I now have this awesome bottle to use for potions.  

The inspiration for this cactus came from Woolbuddies.  I don't have any experience with the kits, but the book is awesome and I think the style is easy for beginners to pick up.  Many of my stabby friends started out making the simpler Woolbuddy creatures.  There are a few how-to videos that are worth checking out.  The frog and the penguin are favorite among my friends.   

Monday, January 13, 2020

Mini Creepmas Frames

This Creepmas I saw a few different references to the lovely ornaments at Me and Annabel Lee.

While mine are nothing like those, I rather like theirs better, they were the inspiration for me to finally use these mini frames I picked up at a garage sale years ago.  My frames are approximately 5x7cm, outside dimensions, so perfectly suited for my tiny Creepmas tree.

The frames where already dark in color, highlighted in bronze but they were too shiny and perfect.  It made the metal frames look like plastic.  I covered them with a flat black and randomly highlighted the raised areas.  I also added some rhinestones, clearance purchase of course. Even the black ribbon was bought on clearance, thrifty down to the last.

I went with what I consider to be Creepmas images.  The image of the vintage creepy Santa is all over the internet.  As is the dapper owl, who in my mind looks perfectly attired for Victorian holiday festivities.  The skeleton child with her goat seems very Yuletide to me and this altered image is by Kelloween.

And on the subject of Yule goats, I really love the goats in this video.  

Monday, January 6, 2020

Creepmas Cookies

I said I was going to try making Yeti cookies and I did, but it wasn't quite the effort I put into the Krampus ones. The kids had their cookies to decorate and I had to make some "normal" ones, so there wasn't a lot left for me to play with. To be a honest my Yeti's are kind of a bust, but I have high hopes of doing better next year. I do like the one in the middle, he turned out pretty cute. For him I used an upside-down snowman cookie cutter.

I tried some mouth/tongues similar to the Krampus with rolled out gumdrops and black sugar. The horns are peppermint candy corns. The center Yeti's nose is a piece of Buncha Crunch, which is a nugget of Nestle's Crunch. If you have low expectations for peppermint candy corns, these will meet those expectations. They also infuse the Buncha Crunch with their lackluster peppermint flavor. But boy do they make cute little festive horns.

Here are some of the kid's cookies, upper right is a gingerbread man bleeding from multiple stab wounds, below that is a Death Snowflake, the candy corn being it's death ray and the skulls and tombstone representing the number of planets it has destroyed. At the very bottom with a candy corn tie is a mobster snowman, and above him is a vampire snowbat with candy corn fangs. They might taste like minty crap, but those candy corns sure are versatile.

Next year I plan on making more ghosts, I like how he turned out with the black skulls for facial features. The coffin on the left is my second one, definitely an improvement compared to the one on the right. Word of advice don't try to edge a coffin in one continuous band of frosting, it almost looks like a flipflop.

Second word of advice, less is more when it comes to color. 
I like the Creepmas garland, but I should have made it with fewer colors.

This was going to be a Yeti and somehow it ended up as an angry Yule goat. 
I think I need more of these next year too.

And more unicorn snowbat creatures, with bone arms.

I thought these bats were cute too.

And just to play fair I made holly with a bat cookie.
It would probably look more like holly if I had bothered to make green frosting. 

I used my usual recipe for the cookies and frosting. I don't believe I've ever made buttercream frosting in advance, but time constraints necessitated it this year. I just let it come to room temp and whipped it again before using. It was kind of nice not having the mess of making frosting on top of the mess of decorating cookies, I don't know why I've never done this before.

Another thing I liked this year, and maybe this has been around for a while and I'm just finally noticing, was the little $1 packets of holiday sprinkles at Michaels. It was nice buying a variety of holiday cheer in reasonable amounts that will get used up in the next two years. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Rare Siberian Long Necked Yeti

Welcome to Creepmas Day 12 5/8, because no I'm not done yet.  Let me introduce you to my little friend.

Although sightings are rare, the Siberian Long Necked Yeti is most notable of course, for it's long neck.  It is also easily distinguished from other species of Yeti by the silky tresses that cover it's large round feet. Another interesting trait of this Yeti is the absence of arms, but that is generally considered an advantage for these cave dwelling creatures.

As I've said before it's too hard to do tutorials about needle felting.  For one I don't generally know where I'm going until after I've done it and for another the urge to repeatedly stab is too strong to stop and take pictures. I love this cross stitch pattern, the sentiment is the same for needle felting.

I did however happen to take two pictures during the felting process so I could consult experts to ensure I was being anatomically correct.  The first being whether or not my proportions were accurate for the average Siberian Long Neck Yeti and the second on whether or not I was making the feet excessively hairy or the correct amount. Apparently all that fur is necessary to protect their rather tender, delicate feet.

The first picture was taken at the Crucible.  Have I mentioned how awesome it is that we have a local bar that hosts Dark Arts & Crafts every Sunday afternoon?

This video by Sarafina Fiber Art on how to needle felt a gnome gives some excellent advice on using curly locks starting at the 24:00 minute mark.  It also gives some excellent advice on making a gnome.

For my Yeti's very hairy ahem, feet, I cut my locks in half.  And then I folded those in half before felting them onto his feet.  I used the coarser locks underneath and saved what she calls the pretty locks for the top rows.

Because of climate change and loss of habitat over the last decade there has been an influx in sightings, especially in urban settings.  

The inspiration was this Yeti I found on pinterest.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Creepmas Millipede Ornament

I feel like this project should rate me some sort of title. It's not quite up to par to earn say, Queen of Crafty Recycling, but maybe Lady of Reused Refuse or Dame of Gluing Things Together That Anyone In Their Right Minds Would Toss.

I feel the back could be so much better, but I had no idea where I 
was going with this at the time and it is the back, so nobody look at it. 

Today is Creepmas Day 12 1/2, because I say it is.  And I got a little distracted with this project yesterday, so Yeti cookies are still not made, therefore Creepmas is still not over.  But when the old gods provide a perfectly shaped dead bug, you must act accordingly.

The following are a couple of pictures before I added a couple of nice glossy topcoats, because it's easier to photograph when it's not all shiny.  Layers from bottom to top:

The base is cut from a Yogi tea box.  The inside of the boxes have henna inspired designs.  I colored the design with a Sharpie and covered the other side with eggshells and paint.  See more about using eggshells here.  I got a little sloppy painting the eggshell side and had to get creative with the henna side to cover the areas I smudged paint.

Next layer is a clothing tag wrapped in fake spider webbing and painted.  See more about using spider webbing for texture here.

In the main the letters are painted alphabet pasta.  The large "C" is a dead millipede I found in my basement.  I liked the coloring, so left it au naturel.  

The little grommets, I bought on clearance years ago and they have come in handy quite often.  The black stars and ribbon that will magically appear in later pictures were also bought on clearance.

The grommets were originally inspired because of the hole in the clothing tag.  I then chose to make a corresponding hole on the other side.  I shouldn't have put them through both layers because they looked out of place on the back.  The grommets with the ribbon through them made sense, but the two middle ones I decided to cover up and that's where the star gems come in.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Santa Sydrome

I refuse to acknowledge this as the last day of Creepmas.  Among other things I haven't made my Yeti cookies, or finished my needle felted Yeti.  So I'm going to call this Creepmas Day 12 1/4.

This past year I read the book The Woman Who Swallowed Her Cat: And Other Gruesome Medical Tales by Rob Myers.

Overall I didn't care for the book. The stories are supposedly based on cases from medical journals but they are written in a way that makes them sound like a Goosebumps short. There was something smug about the way the author wrote about these tragedies that rubbed me the wrong way and I have a pretty dark sense of humor.

But one story peaked my Creepmas interest. In The Santa Syndrome a robbery goes wrong and this guy gets stuck in the chimney.

"In the intensive care unit, Spencer lay on a stretcher. The main muscle groups of his body were now gangrenous and infected. His limbs were swollen to three times their normal size causing further pressure within his damaged tissues, a condition known as compartment syndrome.

Five days later, the doctors had no choice but to amputate Spencer’s arms and legs. Overwhelmed and poisoned by the myoglobin released from his dead muscles, his kidneys failed. Just one week after he was saved, Spencer suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

Spencer fell victim to the little known Santa Claus Syndrome where a person becomes accidentally trapped in a chimney, air duct or heating vent, and suffers, as a result, positional asphyxia, compartment syndrome, and often, burn injuries. Within eight hours of being trapped, muscle death begins. Almost all cases involve ill-fated attempts at burglary."

Aside from Rob Myers and the person that wrote this article about two women, I couldn't find any usage of the term Santa Syndrome in reference to people getting stuck in chimneys. A lot of Santa jabs at people who get stuck in chimneys yes, but actual syndrome references no.

But it still got me thinking. There's no shortage of stories about people getting stuck in chimneys, but they generally gloss over the details. When I hear of someone getting trapped anywhere, I immediately think of claustrophobia, dehydration and starvation. What I don't think of is muscle tissue slowly dying as blood flow is restricted by the physical pressure of being stuck. I think of suffocating in a confined space in terms of depleting the amount of oxygen available in the air, not the physical inability to draw sufficient amounts into the body. At least not in a space large enough for you to crawl into. It's not like a building collapsing or an automobile crushing you.

And now that I have thought about it, it makes completely, horrifying, logical sense. While I didn't find anything exactly like Spencer's incident, I did find enough information to make the already terrifying notion of being trapped in a chimney even more nightmarish.

I'd like to take a moment to be thankful that back when I volunteered to go caving with a bunch of middle schoolers, none of this information was in my head.

This death by compression asphyxia didn't occur in a chimney, but I imagine the confined space involved was similar.

This is the webmd list of all the different ways you can die from asphyxia.

More information on compartment syndrome and gangrene.

WARNING GRAPHIC PICTURES: Here is a case of gangrene caused by compartment syndrome.

This is a long, but very informative read about children chimney sweeps and the awful conditions they faced.  Worse than any Creepmas horror story, the holidays only served to exacerbate the already gruesome conditions these kids were forced to live in.

In my merry search for Santa Syndrome, I found the term is mostly used by conservative Christians. I didn't even know there was a Conservapedia which has branded itself "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia". It's interesting to say the least, and this what they have to say about Santa Syndrome.

I personally think it's funny that what they've diagnosed as a psychological syndrome, I would consider the development of critical thinking.

I also found one reference to Sick Santa Syndrome which doesn't have anything to do with dirty old men who like enticing children to sit on the their laps. It refers to job related conditions that might effect seasonal Santas. I think it brings up a valid point, but I don't think that's an actually recognized syndrome either.

I mean we're all familiar with the running joke about mall Santas getting peed on, but when you think about it there are lots of occupational hazards. Bell ringers being exposed to the elements, frostbite and all that standing on cold concrete, is bad on the joints. Not that mall Santas have it cushy, sitting for long periods isn't any good either and having those kids clamber up and down, with their sharp knees and elbows. Sitting on you with those bony little butts. If you've ever had a toddler climb on your lap then you know they are squirmy little meat sacks full of sharp edges. And to make it worse they are coated in cooties. Just covered from head to toe in cooties.

Makes you wonder why anyone would want to be Santa, even if you don't find yourself dying a slow hideous death stuck in a chimney.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Grinch Hatchling Cookies

Usually I muck with recipes, but the only thing I did with this recipe was rebrand it for Creepmas.  The recipe is for Matcha Amaretti Cookies by Love and Olive Oil.

I love the look of these with the green cracks like little budding grinches trying to break free.  The green color comes from the matcha green tea powder.  I used Carringtonfarms matcha powder because it was bright green on the package, and other brands at the store looked tan.  The actual powder is not the bright green on the package, but it is a deep alfalfa green.

I also used Bobs Red Mill super fine blanched almond flour.  The blanched part is important, they also have unblanched but that would affect the color.

The recipe recommends layering two cookie sheets together for baking.  I just used one and baked the cookies for 20 minutes.  The recipe doesn't say you can freeze them, but I did.  There's a lot going on, so I am very slowly getting my Creepmas baking done, everything goes in the freezer until it's all done.  So I'll report back how well they froze when I finally get around to dishing them out.

Not surprising given the matcha, almond flour and almond extract, these cookies taste like a sweetened almond flavored green tea.  I drink green tea, but I've never eaten it, so it was a different taste sensation for me.  I think I'll have to try a couple more before I decide how I feel about them.  I'll be interested to see what my Creepmas victims think.  My daughter thought they were "Meh."

I love the color, and will definitely be trying a few more recipes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

GingerDead Village Massacre

I may not be decorating any gingerdead this year, but I might have unintentionally influenced this piece.  With permission from the artist, I offer you these pictures.  As it was told to me, the large green creature, lying atop the house in shambles, is responsible for attacking the village and killing all the villagers.

The following picture has been altered in case anyone is trigger by possibly inappropriately shaped village terrorizing green monsters.  The smaller one had nothing to do with the destruction and for all you know could just be a small, slightly odd shaped tree.

I really do love the gingerbread man staked to the top of the house.  And I will unapologetically steal that idea the next time I do decide to decorate gingerdead.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ornament Creepmas Makeover

I gave a few ornaments a makeover.  I really should spend some time learning how to properly photograph, but I haven't, so you'll just have to take my word that they look better in person.

Here is how they started out:

Each ornament contained the same image on both sides, the front side having more decorative elements.  The ornament on the left shows the back side and the ornament on the right is the front.

This is how the back of the right one ended up:

The surface of the frame on this side was completely flat.  I mixed paint with black pepper to add texture to the inner oval and the black areas between the "C" shaped elements.  The only reason I used black pepper is because I'm lazy and I was close to the pantry. But pepper does have a nice chunkiness to it, that I think I'll probably use again in the future.  

For this one I added herbs and then a little pepper to get the texture I wanted for the inner oval on the backside.

This one was almost perfect before I touched it.  I doubt if the original artist meant to make a tentacle bow, but that's what I see.

This one I actually prefer the less blingy side.  I think the pearl-like ring compliments the tentacles better.  On the blingy side I didn't like the gaps between the bling and filled them in with textured paint.  In hindsight I should've done a better job, but it is what it is.  

At least I've rid them all of whatever bright cheeriness they might've held.  Now they can feel perfectly at home on the Creepmas tree.  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Creepmas Stories

If you're looking for a good book to curl up with this Creepmas, here are a few I've read over the last year that are fitting for the season.

I'm still a big fan of printed books, but I am growing to appreciate having access to thousands of books in the palm of my hand. Some of these books I own in the physical realm, but all the books I have listed are available for free with a valid library card through the Wisconsin Public Library online. If you haven't already, check out your own local services, you might be pleasantly surprised at all the goodies available.

And don't underestimate the joys of listening to sinister audio books while doing your Creepmas baking.

Not the first time I've read this and it won't be the last, Agatha Christie's Three Blind Mice, is one of my favorites.  I believe this was the first of her stories that I read as a wee lass and I still love reading it.  The idea of being isolated in a snowstorm with a murderer is chilling to say the least.

If you like Christie, then you'll probably also enjoy another English mystery maven, P.D. James.  The Mistletoe Murder And Other Stories, is a mostly holiday collection of four short stories.

The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley is a relatively new book (2010) but it reads like an old Gothic novel.  There's a castle, a mysterious guardian, secrets and ghosts in a cold isolated landscape.  If you're looking for an old fashioned wintry ghost story, this would be an excellent choice.

Undead & Unfed, a two book series by Kirsty McKay, starts out on a school field trip in snowy Scotland that quickly turns to mayhem when people start turning into zombies.  These were fun books, with lots of festive dashing through the snow, albetit in the course of avoiding the undead.  Yes it's zombies and death, dire situations and bleak circumstances, but there's a lot of humor and it's not forced or unnatural, it just rolls right through.  The characters on the surface are the teenage clich├ęs we're all familiar with, but they each show they run a little bit deeper than that while still staying true to their nature.  My only dig is the books felt like they were leading up to a trilogy that never materialized.  

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror (v2.0) by Christopher Moore
This is the third book in the Pine Cove series.  It isn't necessary to read the previous ones to enjoy this, unless you want to learn more about the weird happenings and strange residents of Pine Cove.

There's murder, an angel and zombies. The zombies are like Creepmas sprinkles on a book of fruit cake.  That's the best way to describe this book, like fruit cake. It has an odd flavor, with a weird texture and kind of a funny aftertaste.  But if you have a warped sense of humor, it's a fun story.
Last year after discovering one of the neighboring towns has a restaurant named Wendigo, there's even a cannibal burger on the menu, I happened to read a reference to Algernon Blackwood's The Wendigo. It seemed like the elder gods were trying to tell me something so I decided to give it a go. Written in 1910, it has some cringeworthy racism and stereotypes. It reads like a campfire story, which takes place around a campfire. For me it was more interesting to see what passed for supernatural writing in the early 1900's. Some of it was eerie and suspenseful, some a bit corny and yes there was the old timey racism that I'm sure didn't even raise an eyebrow at the time.  I'm glad I read it, but I'm sure there are better Wendigo stories to be had.

Back to this restaurant, I still have not ventured to eat there, so I can't comment on the dining experience, although it looks like they have some decent vegetarian options. But I am intrigued by the name. I'm trying to imagine applying for a loan to start a restaurant named after a cannibalistic monster. I can't help thinking this would be the perfect setting for a midwest Sweeny Todd, except of course here the twist is the owners are being completely transparent about the cannibalism but everyone assumes that means it's a joke. That's a Wendigo story I'd love to hear.