Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4th


For the 4th of July I offer this "monster".  It's pure coincidence that all the pieces and parts came together in what could be interpreted as a commentary on the political climate here in the good old USA.  It's also mere chance that it was created just a few days prior to this significant date during my first time playing Bears Vs Babies.

Which was super fun by the way. Although that might have more to do with my fellow players than the actual game. I can't honestly be objective about the game itself, because I think we had more fun checking out each others monsters than actually trying to win the game. You need to be with the right crowd to truly appreciate and marvel at your monster creations. The cards we were using included the NSFW pack, and it definitely takes the right kind of people to appreciate three hairy boobs or a penis playing a banjo.

Also noteworthy is that until right before my monster battled the babies the eagle head was hidden behind a black ski mask. Oh and the saucy sombrero doubles points, so it won and got to eat all the babies. 

Who knew this game was so deep? I'm thinking it would be fun to do tarot readings with these cards. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Edible Slimy Worms: Part 2

Today boys and girls we will be learning how to slime our caramel worms
This episode is brought to you by the letters "S" and "W" and by the number "13".

Does anyone remember the adorable worm, Slimey?
The truest test of a grouch's character is how he treats his worm.


Worms breathe through their skin which needs to be kept moist and that's why they are coated in slime. And now you can eat that slime. I modified a basic Edible Slime recipe from PBS.org or at least I thought I did until I realized their recipe says teaspoons, not tablespoons of tapioca starch. Oops. Oh well, I love the way my mistake turned out and it actually tastes pretty good.


Tasty Worm Slime

1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon tapioca starch (same thing as tapioca flour)
1/4 cup sugar (finely ground will dissolve faster)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine water, sugar and tapioca in small saucepan, stir until combined. Cook over medium-high heat while constantly stirring. It's done when it starts to thicken and turns from opaque to clear. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to small bowl and let cool. It will thicken as it cools. Cover, refrigerate and use within 3 days for best results. 

I think the flavor and consistency improved after sitting overnight, so I would recommend making it a day in advance. At the very least it should be completely cooled before dipping any worms.

This will produce a slime that is very close in consistency to what I've observed on real actual earthworms. If you want a slime that's a little more substantial doubling the starch to 2 tablespoons will give you a more jelly-like thickness.

A few notes for people who cook as badly as I do:

Stir constantly. Not stir, go do something "real quick" and then stir some more. I'm awful about that, I get sooo bored mindlessly stirring. You just have to suck it up and stay focused. You can do this, it's only for a few minutes. At least that's what I kept telling myself.  Otherwise it gets clumpy and nobody wants clumpy slime.

I always get confused with starch puddings and such that say to constantly stir, and cook for a certain amount of time after it starts to boil. If you are constantly stirring, you stir away the telltale bubbles that indicate it's boiling before they get a chance to form, so how can you tell if it's boiling unless you stop stirring? Which is why I didn't put any of that nonsense in my recipe.

This slime took a total of 8 minutes to cook. After 5 minutes steam was rising up from the pan and it was just starting to turning clear. 2 minutes later it was clear and then I cooked it one minute more, just because. My daughter said it looked like egg whites and it had that same thick but runny consistency. When it cools it will be very stretchy, shown below in Zombie Victim Red.


I think opaque is in the eye of the beholder. To me, once it becomes clear it still looks a little opaque when it's all in the bottom of the pan. Take your spoon or my favorite tool, the spoonula and lift some up out of the pan, you'll see it is indeed transparent.

If you're thinking well I have cornstarch I'll just use that. Tapioca starch produces a clearer slime. I did read that cornstarch is more stable, but I didn't do a side by side comparison. I can say that this slime only keeps for a few days. I kept some on the counter at room temp and some in the refrigerator, both lost their elasticity by the fourth day.

The next part is sliming up the worms. This proved to be more challenging than I expected. The moisture from the slime will break down the caramel. The first few worms I slimed and then put in air tight containers got really mushy. It doesn't affect the flavor, but I thought the texture was off-putting. The outside of the worm was the consistency and flavor of caramel sauce and the center still firm and chewy. Maybe that doesn't sound terribly horrible, but it was. Also the segment details were lost.

If you remember Shanes Killer Cupcakes, she used a thin glaze to make her worms look wet.  Depending on how you want to use your worms, that might be a better option for you.  But the challenge here was to make slimy worms, so...

...I did a little experimenting. I won't bore you with all the details, just the important stuff:

- For instructional purposes a "lightly" slimed worm is one that is dipped in slime on a fork and then the fork is tapped over the bowl to let the excess slime drip off.
- A "moderately" slimed worm is removed by fork but the excess is not tapped off.
- A "heavily" slimed worm is one that is completely submerged in slime.  That will quickly result in worm soup and is not recommended unless you actually want worm soup.
- It's easier to slime the worms with room temperature slime.
- Do not keep the worms in an enclosed container. In an open container the slime will eventually, hours later, dry out. A lightly slimed worm will dry to a tacky sheen. A moderately slimed worm will be tacky on top, laying on a thin sticky layer of it's own caramel goo.
- For the first hour there isn't much change whether the slimed worms are refrigerated or sitting out, in fact it isn't until about the third hour that the refrigerated worms are noticeably less deteriorated than room temperature worms.


After my experiments I took my two control worms that hadn't yet been slimed. The one on the left was then lightly slimed, the one of the right moderately slimed and laid on cookie crumbles to simulate possibly one day performing in a Broadway production of "Dirt 'n Worms". 

After the worms started to break down I added a tiny bit of raspberry to spots with oozing caramel just for fun. That was taking it too far. It looked way too much like worm guts squishing out.  


Seriously, I had to take a deep breath, and mentally prepare myself to eat them. Texture wise they weren't bad. The lightly slimed one was firmer, but even the moderately slimed one wasn't terribly mushy. I think the cookie crumbs absorbed some of the moisture.

I didn't have high expectations for the combination of cookie crumb and slime. It was edible, but I didn't like the two textures together. While the slimed worms were fun, for Dirt 'n Worms, I will use plain caramel worms. I think the slimed worms would make a nice garnish, maybe resting on some lettuce leaves. Throw in a few edible flower accents and you would have quite the Martha Stewart array.

I didn't care for the hint of raspberry with the caramel either. A bit food coloring might work better, but I would not suggest trying.  *Don't make edible worms with their guts oozing out, it looks way too disgusting.* The only reason to do this would be for a short film or photo op or to eat in front of someone just to gross them out. Like take them to work and eat them for lunch on April Fools Day. Or if you really like caramel and don't want anyone else to eat them, then by all means go nuts on the guts. 

The bottom line is if you are having a fancy dinner party and want to serve a plate of slimy worms for hors d'oeuvres, you should make the slime a day in advance, but not more than two days, bring it to room temperature before using and then wait until right before serving to slime and plate the worms. If you have to make them in advance, refrigerate them uncovered.

[Update] I had an epiphany in the shower.  That's where get a lot of ideas, the one place I can't write them down.  I suppose that's alright, the lesser ones wash away down the drain forever forgotten, but the ones that survive are usually keepers.  It occurred to me that you could just serve the slime separately, like a dipping sauce, in tiny containers with a couple of worms on the side.  I think the under 12 crowd, would probably be your target group for this method.  Also I'd probably serve them outside, because I see this getting messy.  Fun, but messy.

All this worm testing reminded me of How To Eat Fried Worms , a book I thoroughly enjoyed as a child. It's about boy who has to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days to win a bet. When it starts to look like he just might do it, the losing side starts to play dirty and shenanigans ensue.

In middle school I read Squirm, a very different sort of book and instead of eating worms, the worms eat you. It was years later that I stumbled on the movie that the book is based on. The movie is pretty cheesy, although at the time I thought they used earthworms.  I had no idea the actors were working with fanged venomous worms, which makes the movie a lot more horrifying.  Here's the abridged MST3K version, which if your squeamish doesn't show the scenes using thousands of Glycera Worms [This link on the other hand does have a short video showing one of these worms baring it's fanged proboscis].

If you make enough worms, you can make words. Worm words.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Edible Slimy Worms: Part 1


So...after I posted about Dirt 'n Worms and complained about the worms, because gummy stuff is gross and super gross when mixed with chocolate, Lady M suggested we should figure out how to make slimy worm candy.  I decided to tackle it before I forgot and found myself on the cusp of yet another Mother's Day with nothing to show for it but a lousy bag of store bought gummy worms.

I found many wonderful things on the internet, none of them quite what I wanted, but still very inspiring.

In the best looking worms category I give you: Shane's Killer Cupcakes - Maggot & Worm Cupcakes.  By far the best looking worms, but alas they are made of fondant, which is icky.  I do wonder if the Scuptable Frosting that I used for my Krampus and Zombie cupcakes would work if you added a bit of cocoa powder for coloring.  Cocoa powder might even cut the sweetness back a little.

In the categories of best tasting and easiest to make, check out: Good To Know - Halloween Worm Cupcakes.  Rolling out caramels and making a few indents is about as easy as it gets and they look pretty good.  It goes without saying that the flavor would marry nicely with chocolate.

Honorable mention goes to this cake just for looking awesome: A Little Piece of Cake - Worm & Maggot Fear Factor Cake. This uses modeling chocolate for the worms.  I haven't used modeling chocolate, which is a bit of misnomer since most of the recipes I found use corn syrup and candy melts, no actual chocolate.  Sugar Geek Show does provide recipes for both the candy melt and a chocolate version in this post, but most of the information and pictures (Go look at the pictures, she does amazing things with this stuff.) seem to be using the candy melt one.  

I went the easy route and used caramels. I also think the flavor will go well with the dirt 'n worms. I borrowed from Shane's worms and made the signature band (clitellum) around the worm.  Did you know that the band indicates a sexually mature earthworm? Now you do.  It is also generally located about a third of the way down the worm's body if you are wondering about placement.

For more worm info this is an interesting read. If you just want a worm fact quick fix try this FAQ. I was surprised to learn a few years back that earthworms are not native to Wisconsin, and are actually bad for the forests. I still love seeing big adorable earthworms in my garden.  Thankfully I haven't seen the super invasive Jumping Worms.   For a visual on why they are called Jumping Worms check out this quick video.  This video is a short claymation film that shows just why they are so destructive.

Ok class time is over, on to making worms.  I tried both Werther's and Kraft caramel's.  Oddly despite the fact that the Werther's where harder to roll out, they didn't keep their shape and spread out over time.  Just to make sure it wasn't because of my manhandling I unwrapped a Werther's and set it out.  Sure enough even without me doing anything, the caramel slowly spread. It's a shame because I think the Werther's tasted better, and I was excited about having two different colored worms.

Caramel Leeches?
The Kraft caramels are much easier to roll and keep their shape, so that's a win, win as far as I'm concerned. The lesson here is that whatever the brand you use, leave a piece sit out unwrapped for a few hours and see what it does.  It would be a shame to make twenty worms and have them all flatten out before your eyes.  Should you not heed my warning and your worms spread, maybe you could call them leeches.



Making worms is super easy.  Start to roll each caramel into a log shape. Cut off a little piece and set aside. Continue rolling out your log until desired length and width and make sure the ends are smooth.


Now press the little piece you set aside into a small ribbon, make sure it's long enough to wrap around the worm.  Remember this will be placed about a third of the way down.


To make the segment indents use the dull side of a vary thin paring blade.  If you push gently you can roll the worm with the back of blade as you make the indents, thus getting your lines to go all, or at least almost all of the way around.  If you don't worry about perfection it goes really quick. If the worms are too soft to roll nicely, refrigerate for a few minutes to firm them up.


These are the types of knives I'm talking about. I have those exact ones in fact and wouldn't recommend getting that brand. I've had two handles break, more like disintegrate, in my hand.  I lost my good ones and I can't remember where I got them.

Add the clitellum.  Place the worms with the clitellum seam side down.   


I think the worms look really good, maybe even a little too good.  It took some convincing to get my son to try them, after which he pleasantly surprised.  No amount of coaxing, begging or "Look your brother likes them." will get my daughter to eat one.  She says they look too gross.  My kids are teenagers.  I  think younger kids, at least the twisted ones, would gleefully enjoy the gross out factor.

Stay tuned until next time when we get to our slime on.

One last thing, a word of warning.  Searching for pictures using variations of "chocolate", "caramel" and "worms" is not for the faint of heart.  Once I eliminated "gummy" from the search I had to wade through a lot of pictures of larvae infested confections.

Not quite as prevalent, but just as graphic, are candies made with real insects and larvae.  I realize that they are not only a viable food source, but a healthy one at that.  Marcus Leach has an interesting read on eating insects along with recipes.  The Mealworm Fudge doesn't look half bad, but I think I'll cling to my vegetarianism. Which is really just an illusion, insects and larvae are probably the least disgusting things that I am already unwittingly ingesting.

From the FDA Defect Levels Handbook:

Chocolate and Chocolate Liquor

Insect filth
(AOAC 965.38)

Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined
OR
Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments

Rodent filth
(AOAC 965.38)

Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examined
OR
Any 1 subsample contains 3 or more rodent hairs

Shell
(AOAC 968.10-970.23)

For chocolate liquor, if the shell is in excess of 2% calculated on the basis of alkali-free nibs

DEFECT SOURCE:  Insect fragments - post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Rodent hair - post harvest and/or processing contamination with animal hair or excreta, Shell - processing contamination
Significance: Aesthetic

 

 

 

 

Feel free to peruse the rest of the handbook later, maybe if you have free time during lunch. It's always nice to keep up on your egg, larve, filth, excreta, rot and mold consumption.

I do have a box of spicy larve, because I think it looks cool. I've offered to share but oddly no one has been tempted to try them.

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.



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Altered Ornament


After the holiday season I bought a big package of shatterproof ornaments on clearance.  This is the first of them to succumb to my devious whims.  During my journey down the rabbit hole of altered bottles, I also saw quite a few ornaments using similar techniques.


Lace and fake flowers seem to be popular along with a mix of found objects. I decided to not get too crazy and limited myself to some small flowers I partially dismantled, buttons, PVA glue mixed with spackle and tatting. I started with a layer of watered down glue and tissue paper and let that dry to get a nice base surface to work on.  Throughout this project I used a banana holder to hang the ornament while drying.  


What's tatting you might ask, well it's lace made by knotting thread. I don't remember how it came to be on my radar. But once I saw it, I decided I was going to learn to do it and then create the most awesome skull design ever. No skulls yet, but I finally have the basics down.

I highly recommend TattedTreasures.com to get started if you have any interest. Also the Tatted Treasures channel on youtube. Very easy instruction to follow and I love the fact that she did a video for Lefties.  It really hurt my brain trying to learn how to flip stitches left-handed while watching right-handed videos.


I've been trying out snowflake patterns. All the ones pictured are variations of the same pattern. White is a good beginning color because it's easy to see the knots and snowflakes are generally easy patterns to follow. I had given one of my better ones to my mother-in-law and when she found out I bought a bunch of cheap ornaments to play with, she inquired if I was going to glue my snowflakes to them. The ones I've made are too big for the ornaments, but it did get the wheels turning.


I attempted to modify a pattern into a design that would wrap around an ornament. Besides my alterations, which didn't really work, I was very distracted that day and made numerous mistakes. I was a little peeved with myself for dorking it up. But then I thought maybe it doesn't have to be perfect. So I glued it on an ornament anyway, covered up the mistakes with flowers and buttons and built up some areas with spackle-glue. I think it turned out alright and now I know what to do with my other tatted practice pieces.


I added some swirly texture with my fingers in the spackle-glue. I think I'll have to play with this technique more in the future.


It was hard to tell how it was going to turn out until I did a base coat. Before that it just looked like a big mess and I thought maybe I was wasting even more time on a doomed project. I painted half of it at a time because I was holding the other half, so I could really push the paint into all the nooks and crannies. There were a lot of little nooks and crannies. It took four tries before I couldn't see a speck of white no matter which I turned it.



Here's a few more shots of the finished project.  My daughter said it would have looked pretty if I hadn't used such dark gloomy colors.  I used a matte black for the base, sponged on gunmetal gray, then dry brushed on silver and added a touch of pearl white for accent.  It is rather dark and gloomy, but dark and gloomy makes me happy.  




I think the bottom looks like a cabbage.