Sunday, November 30, 2014

Skull Hemp Jewelry Series: Round 3 - La Calavera Catrina Pendant

This pendant requires  the square knot, the larks head and vertical larks head knot, the oysterman knotthe vertical half hitch, the double overhand knot and the surgeon's knot. If you've been following along, we used the squared knot for skull necklaces and larks head knots for skull bracelets.  If you have ever made friendship bracelets then you are probably well acquainted with the vertical half hitch. The double overhand knot is very easy and while the oysterman knot isn't difficult it is worth practicing a few times before getting started.

You will need:

The following are all 20 lb. cords or similar in thickness:

1 - 14 inch (shown in yellow)
2 - 18 inch (shown in green and pink)
1 - 20 inch (shown in purple)
1 - 34 inch (shown in blue)
1 - 8 inch (shown in blue, this cord can be any color it wont be seen on the finished pendant)

The following are 10 lb cords:
exhibit A

1 - 28 inch (shown in white)
1- 20 inch (shown in orange) Note: I usually use the same color as the 28 inch cord because I like the way it looks, [see exhibit A]. I used orange in the example for instructional purposes.

1 - 12mm skull bead
1 - 15mm 16 gauge jump ring

Craft glue
E6000 glue
Small sharp scissors
If needed apply a thin coat of craft glue to the ends of the cords to keep from fraying.  This might only be needed to thread the skull bead onto the white cord.
In the middle of the white cord make a larks head knot around the metal ring.
 Create vertical larks head knots down both sides almost all the way around, 18 knots in total.
 Line up the center of the orange and yellow cords with the exposed part of the ring.
Join the orange and yellow cords with the ring using a larks head knot in the center of the purple cord. Make a vertical larks head knot on either side of the purple cord with the white cord that covers the ring and both the orange and yellow cords.
Make a vertical larks head knot with the orange cord around just the yellow cord on both sides.

Make a vertical larks head knot with the blue cord next to the orange knots creating a loop behind the purple cord.
 Make vertical larks head knots with both ends of the orange cord next to the blue knots.
 Make vertical larks head knots with the purple cord, creating loops.
 Again make vertical knots with both ends of the orange cord.  Next make vertical knots with both ends of the blue cord creating two loops.  Then make vertical knots with both ends of the orange cord, but this time the knots should encompass both the yellow and blue cords.
 Make two more vertical knots with the purple cord creating two more loops.  Then create two vertical knots with the orange this time encompassing the yellow, blue and purple cords. Set this aside.

In the center of the red cord create a series of four oysterman knots.  Leave just enough space between each for a larks head knot.
A little off from the center of the green cord create a larks head knot next to the first oysterman knot.
 Create a vertical larks head knot in between the first two oysterman knots, then just half of a vertical larks head knot between the second and third oysterman knots.
 Finish the vertical larks head knot around the white cords from the other piece.

Continue creating larks head knots with the green cord around the remaining oysterman knots.
 Push the red and green knots up snug against the other piece. 
 Thread the skull bead onto the white cords. Turn the whole thing around so the skull is facing away and then pull the red and green cords together by creating a square knot with the white cord.
 Making the knots facing this way creates the best tension for framing the face.  See isn't she beautiful? I think when the cord matches the bead it gives the illusion of neck bones. 
 Turn it all around again.  This time make one square knot using the yellow, orange, blue and purple cords over the red, green and white cords.
Using the blue cord coming out on the right side create vertical half hitch
You could stop here.  Tie off the blue cords, and glue and tuck in the ends.  Then trim the hanging cords to a desired length and knot the ends.

If you want to keep going, make a series of knots with the other blue cord.  About 3/8 inch down make your first knot.  I don't know if this one has a fancy name, but it provides the right amount of spacing between cords. Make sure to do the loops in the same direction each time and they'll all line up nice and pretty. 
Make a loop under the next cord.  Note the end of the blue cord loops underneath itself.
Then pass the blue cord over the orange and through the loop and pull it snug. 
Finish all the way down the line. 
Make sure the bottom blue cord is lined up the way you want it and then make double overhand knots on the cords hanging down to keep the blue cord from slipping down. 
Use the 8 inch cord to tie the ends together.  I should have used a different color than blue to demonstrate this, sorry for not thinking ahead. 
Fold them under and behind the pendant and gently tug any cords that need to be longer so the bottom has a nice curve.
Once the cords are the length you want, turn it around again, fold the ends over and use the blue cord to make four square knots to hold everything tight. Knot the ends securely, I prefer a surgeon's knot with a dab of E600. Then trim all the ends.   
Also use a surgeon's knot to tie the ends of the original blue cord at the top together.  Before tightening it, turn the piece around and make sure you are happy with the way it looks and shorten or lengthen the blue cords accordingly. Tighten the knot and add a dab of E600.
 Tuck the folded end underneath the knot made by the original blue cord.
Turn it around one more time.  Make sure the ends are trimmed and tucked high enough that you can't see them. Anything behind the half hitch knots and above will be hidden.  Once it looks good, dab on a little more E600 to keep it in place. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Delightfully Twisted Artwork II

The 13 days of Creepmas are coming up, and I have a bunch of half written posts sitting in limbo.  So I'll try and clean house before December 1st rolls around, otherwise they probably won't happen until next year. 

Rather than think of this post as being embarrassingly late, I'd like to think it's ingenious to take a walk down memory lane during the July heat when I was sweating my balls off, cuz baby it's cold outside now.

This isn't a complete list of everything I fell in love with at the big art fair this summer, just the stuff that appealed to my darker side. There is a special place in my heart for happy little trees, but that twisted part of me loves when people bring out beauty in things that aren't normally thought of as beautiful, or when they let us peek into the dark worlds between worlds that exist in the recesses of their minds. 

But first lets take a look at a few creepy elementary school projects from our in-house artist.  For the record at home she paints pictures of horses, not skull horses, not mutant spider horses, just regular ol' ordinary horse pictures and sometimes I draw pictures of kittens.  I'm just saying we're well rounded that's all.

I've love the art program at her elementary school and I've been a big fan of this hand project from seeing hallway displays long before my daughter got a chance to do it. The kids are able to get so creative and take it in so many different directions. Even if they incorporate all rainbows and kittens, it still looks a little creepy because its a hand. The haunted house was an October project, I love how the shape of the paper literally takes it to new heights.

The clay mask is an homage to Hedwig, the owl from the Harry Potter series.  The other mask is cray pas and she decided to make a sugar skull for me, but with a twist and that's why it has a pink mustache. This was another project that I got to see a lot of the other students' work and they were amazing. I haven't used cray pas since I was in elementary school and I forgot or maybe never realized just how wonderful they are.  I was blown away by all the different effects the students were able to achieve depending on how the cray pas were applied and blended. 

So on to the art fair, there were a lot of ravens there.  Not real ones, like a scene out of a Hitchcock movie, but creepy or not it seemed like a high percentage of artists had at least one piece with some sort of black bird present.  There were also a lot, but not as many rabbits.  To be fair I think we just noticed those more because one friend mentioned how rabbits in artwork always seemed creepy and another friend was talking about the huge mutant rabbits that had taken to congregating in large numbers on her lawn in a silently menacing sort of way. 

Ryan Myers Ceramics - I loved the wonderful skull painted busts.

Andrew Mosedale - Very trippy pictures, my favorite is the one of Chicago with what looks like the Weasley's car flying through the air.  

David Burton - I wish there was a picture on his site, but my favorite was this huge framed collage of pirate themed objects. In his bio mentions Louise Nevelson, who is also a favorite of mine, as an inspiration and it definitely shows in his work. 

Tiffany Ownbey - Her paper mache doll creations totally freaked me out. Some of them had the most beautiful adornments, but one look into their blank faces and I just knew they were biding time until the witching hour when they would come alive once more....

Mikel Robinson - His photographs are haunting, I loved the mixed media framework. 

Jef Raasch  - His sculptures always bring to mind Clive Barker's 'In the Hills, the Cities' even though the two are really very different, but that's how my mind works.  The "Battle" animals are my favorite.

Mary Lou Hager - I have a soft spot for bugs, frogs and lizards and these are so brightly colored and beautiful.

Frank Strunk III - I just love all the hard edges, the kinetic heart was really something to see in action.

Dakota Pratt  - Who wouldn't want to bounce up and down on a big banana?  But of course it's the bottlecap skull that speaks to me. 

Julie Adams - I look forward to seeing her work every year, her paintings are so delightfully off-kilter and beautifully done.

Joachim Knill - His painting are fabulous, but I love the rattlesnake the most. 

Tai Taeoalii - He appeals to both the geek and the freak in me.  I totally geeked out on his Sandman inspired print this year. 

Green Chicks Studio - They do a lot of just plain cute, I love the cartoonish style animals, but this Alien is totally creepy cute. 

JB Farmer - Such cool bugs, I especially love the camera insects. 

Sarah Kaufman Not so much creepy, but  I don't know what the word is for that unbalanced feeling you get when you come back down after being drawn into the story of a painting.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Amaretto Brains

This is a modified Pink Panther version of my Bailey's Skull which is a modification of Boris O'Sanchez'sHand.  I love the Pink Panther.

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons whole milk
3 oz sweetened condensed milk
3 oz half n half
½ tsp vanilla
3/4 cup amaretto
1 tablespoon grenadine
cooking spray
6 Wilton Brain and Eye candy molds*

Makes 2 1/2 Cups or 16 brains.

Prepare the molds with a light coating of cooking spray. 

Pour milk, sweetened condensed milk, half n half and vanilla into a small saucepan. Mix until the condensed milk is incorporated and sprinkle with gelatin. Whisk the mixture well, then let it sit for 3 minutes.

Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently to insure that gelatin dissolves.

After the gelatin completely dissolves remove the pan from heat, pour contents into another bowl and let the mixture cool for about 20 minutes. Stir in the alcohol and grenadine.

Stir well and pour into the prepared molds. Chill until firm.

*It takes 6 molds because there are only three brain cavities per mold. You could make a few eyeballs and use less molds, just know that they will look more like nipples than eyeballs. 

Here are a few different place cards depending an how you want to swing it.  The font is Charons Obol.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Craft Party 2014

Here are a few highlights from this years craft party.  There was a lot of stuff I didn't get pictures of, but each year I get a little better.  Even though I'm just getting around to posting about it now, it always takes place either the first or second weekend of October each year before things get crazy busy.  I'd like to take a moment to thank all the people that helped to make this a success.

Voodoo dolls were very popular this year.  I was told the doll on the left is from the 80's.  Apparently eyelash yarn also makes great Pat Benatar.

Shrinky dinks were a huge hit with the adults.  Oh my god, did they get excited.  I love to see people get giddy. The spider web is from, the sugar skull is from, the owl is from Naxuo The little monsters are from  .  I forgot I had some Crayola glitter markers in with my permanent marker stash, but it turns out they work really well for adding a little sparkle.


Potion bottles never go out of style.  A friend brought a bunch of bottles from an estate sale and colored sand.  The sand not only colored the water but foamed up when shaken.



This is one of the estate bottles complete with an earwig embedded in what can only be a hard lump of earwax.  You may have heard that earwigs don't actually invade peoples ears, but that's just what the earwigs want you to believe. You probably already have an earwig that's eaten its way into your brain and you just don't realize it. 

This was another gift, a bottle full of gummy teeth.

A very popular potion bottle this year was the drowning skeleton. It wasn't a planned craft, but a collaborative effort that started with a rubber skeleton that just wouldn't stay properly drowned. Tying a nut or washer to weigh them down worked great.  By the end of the day there were a half dozen different versions.

Helpful hint: Weather permitting, having loose potion ingredients (spices, herbs, beans, pasta, sand) on a table outside makes for easy cleanup. 
There were spiders and other random things... this cute skull is from and Thing 1 and Thing 2's creepy cousin.

I made Bailey's Skull again, this time without the vodka and with little hand molds. I also modified the recipe to emulate a Pink Panther cocktail to make little brains and hopefully I'll get that recipe posted soon. 

Update: Here's the recipe for Amaretto Brains.

The following are two crafts I decided to add at the last minute. 

I didn't have a lot to offer by way of example except for a few random pictures of toilet paper roll owls, but I love the way the owls turned out, especially thanks to my friend who let us use her paper punches.


Another friend cut out the templates for this bat while I was frantically running around like a decapitated cockroach at the last minute. The tutorial for this can be found at