Friday, May 26, 2017

Creepy Felted Easter Eggs

This is the last post about Easter stuff, at least until next year.  I've already covered zombie bunnies, this time it's creepy eggs.  The color mix of wool is the same as the bunnies for the rotten flesh, blood and bone.
[One great thing about hiring a zombie hand model for a photo shoot is paying an hourly rate for just the hand.]  

For the brain I started with an egg shaped.  Then I alternately snake rolled and needled felted pieces of pink wool until I had a long rope of it.   I swirled it around the egg and tacked it on with a few pokes.  Then I mixed some red and black and poked it into the crevices.

The eye started off as just a white egg.  And then the magic wool fairies showed up.  I really don't know what happened, I didn't expect it to turn out this good. 

The bunny skull also started out as an egg.  I thought if the egg was very loosely felted I could just felt the features into it.  Maybe I should have built the skull up around the eye and nose sockets instead of just trying to hollow them out.  Also the egg being narrower on top didn't help.  Those eye sockets are felted rock hard. It's so hard, I broke a needle.  Maybe I could have cut into the sockets to make them deeper. I just decided to quit before I made things worse. Oh well, better luck next time and I'm sure I learned something from the process even if I haven't quite figured out what it is yet. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Felted Zombie Bunnies

Last time I wrote about how I learned to felt using basic shapes.  Bunnies are no different.  In fact I made the simplest bunny ever.  One body ball, one tail ball, couple of eyes, a nose and two ears. 

And then I decided enough of the cutesy crap, school time is over.  Let's get into the good stuff. I started with simple shapes again for the zombie bunny. Sphere head, flat triangles for ears; long cones for arms, legs and body. Note that the neck and where the arms and legs will attach is not as firmly felted.  It's easier to attach bits if you leave the wool a little wispy. 

You might think pink is an odd zombie color unless you are making brains.  When I thought I was going to make the most awesome hamster ever I bought a small package of pink wool for the ears and nose.  A small half ounce package is actually a lot and I had all this pink left over. I thought I could get away with using it as filler, which is what I did will the ball bunny. It looks mottled because I used pink as the base with white over the top.  I didn't realize how much I'd have to cover it in white for the pink not to show and decided it wasn't worth it anyway.  It's already cute, it might as well be pink too. For my zombie bunny I decided to use that to my advantage.

I went with a mixture of green for the zombie bunny's main color.  It's a lot of olive green, with some green green, a bit of tan and a smidge of dark green.  I just pulled bits of wool and randomly layered them together and did that a few more times to mix it all up. Don't ever feel like you have to use one color at a time, in fact I think it's more fun if you don't. 

Originally I bought just a few colors of wool for specific projects, but  then I ended up buying these multi-color rolls in the brights, pastels and earth tones.  Various craft stores carrying them packaged under different brand names, but as far as I can tell it's all the same stuff.  By mixing the colors I can get close to any shade I want and I have a better idea of which colors I use enough to buy separately. 

Update: Now that warm weather is upon us, I've been hitting the local farmer's markets and there is a lot of wool roving popping up.  The prices are better than what I've found in the stores, with lots of colors to choose from.  I'm no expert, but the quality seems better too.  The store bought seems a bit matted in comparison, maybe a result of the packaging process? Also pay attention to the type of wool.  My eye always travels to the Merino wool which is gorgeous and silky, but from what I understand is difficult to needle felt and used more in wet felting.  Romney and Corriedale seem to be the most popular for needle felting.  

And here is where I covered the pink pieces in the green mix. Some areas the layer of green wool was a little thin and after felting it disappeared into the pink wool.   

Here more green has been added until everything was as thick and firm as I wanted it. [I feel morally obligated to insert a "That's what she said." joke here.] All the pieces have been attached and just starting to poke in a few details.

After that everything came together so fast I didn't get pictures. More green wool was added to the face to fill out the cheeks, add brows and a nose. The teeth and bones were made with white wool mixed with a little yellow and brown. The eyes are a mix of red and black. 

The bloody bits are mostly red with brown and black. Needle felting is naturally conducive to making bloody wounds.  Whenever you poke the needle in it creates an indent.  If you want to make a smooth ball you have to keep moving it so you poke evenly all the way around.  If you want a bloody gash, you lay down a bit of red wool and concentrate your needle in that area. 

I don't have many pictures of this guy.  Sadly I had used up all my pink, so he started out as a white ball. Overall I think he's an adorable zombie bunny, but I have to say I prefer having meaty pink undertones showing through here and there.  Not at all ironic that in trying to use up the pink wool, I've found a use that will lead to me having to buy more pink wool.

He was just going to be a toothy zombie bunny head, but I didn't really think that through. It kept tipping over because of the big ears, so I gave him a body.  I used familiar shapes from my unicorn days.

Here is the white ball covered in zombie green.  I poked a line where I wanted the mouth to go, cut along it with small scissors to open it up and then kept poking the inside of the ball until the mouth was big enough. 

Otherwise the rotting green fur, the bloody bits and the crusty teeth use the same colors as the other bunny.  I used a mix of pink, red and black for gums and to attach the teeth.  He has a bunch of teeth you can't see in the picture. He also has a lovely neck gash you can't quite see that I'm quite proud of.  For the eyes I went with the cataract zombie look.  A little bit of light blue, grey and white over black balls.

While I'm on the topic of zombies and bunnies, I got the best book from the Easter Bunny this year, Pat The Zombie by Aaron Ximm and Kaveh Soofi.  Now I don't love just anything that's been zombiefied, a girl has to have standards, but this book is awesome.  It stays true to the original while creativity embracing the zombie theme.   

This book is so much fun, but one of my favorites is the scratch n' sniff remains.  I recommend getting someone else to scratch it, because the putrid smell lingers on your fingers, even after soap and water.  Reminds of that one time in Mallrats.

I don't know why, maybe it's the bloody trail, but the last page of Judy's survival manual makes me giggle. "Sss-sh! Bunny is creeping!" In the original it was "Bunny is sleeping."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Needle Felting

Frog Selfie in Hell
I couldn't get enough of zombies this Easter, some would argue tis the reason for the season.  But before I post about felted Easter zombies I'd like to share about my needle felting journey.

Way back, when my daughter was all into hamsters, I got it in my head to make her a toy hamster.  A friend suggested needle felting, which is poking roving wool with a barbed needle until it magically turns into something.  She gave me a needle and some felt and I proceeded to make a hideous looking hamster head. Which I then over-felted trying to fix it, until it was rock hard and completely unusable.  On the upside I was inspired to make a Cthulhu, but that was the extent of my felting until recently. 

I was at the library* researching another project when I came across Woolbuddies by Jackie Huang. I've seen his frogs before, but it never dawned on me that I too could make such wonderful creatures. Per the instructions, to make a frog all I had to do was make a ball, or three actually if you include the eyes, so I figured I could handle that. There isn't a lot of detailed instruction, but there are pictures of each completed step.  Since the Wool Buddies are basic shapes put together, with minimal but effective details, I don't think a lot of instruction is needed.

*Although I love the vast sea of knowledge the internet affords, sometimes I like to wade around in a small pond where the water is only knee deep and I can see to the bottom.  Thank you little local library.

Here are the frogs when they are not off touring Hell.
This is a video for the frog. Someone commented that it should be time lapsed but I disagree. I think one of the hardest things about felting, and maybe this is just as a beginner, is finding that sweet spot of where it's felted enough but not over-felted. You want it to be firm but not rock hard like a hideous hamster head we won't speak of.  The video gives you a realistic idea of just how much poking is involved.

The other thing I have a hard time with is gauging how much the wool will be compressed once it's been firmly felted. In the book every project lists the quantity of wool needed in each color, which I think would be helpful if you actually followed it.  Of course I ignored that, because that's what I do.  I made smaller versions because if I screwed up I didn't want to waste a bunch of wool. More wool also equals more poking.  The downside is if you go too small it's hard to fiddle with the smaller pieces and details.

These two buddies are perfect examples.  The dog's snout is about twice as long as it should be, so I had to add big feet to keep him from falling over.  And if I had made the shark the recommended size, I think I would have done a better job with the teeth. 

I finally tackled the elusive hamster.  The book shows how to make a guinea pig.  I made it a lot smaller, without the feet and added a tail, which resulted in the hamster on the far left.  The other two are later versions.  And then there was that one time they decided to vacation in Hell because their frog friends told them how much fun they had on their trip. [Scenic Hell was created at last year's craft party.]

Hamster Selfie in Hell.

Of course hamsters were so two years ago, now it's narwhals.
After the shark, a narwhal was super easy to make. 

And then she said, you should make a turtle...Which again not too difficult, now that I understood breaking it up into shapes.  Circle for the head and eyes.  Oval for the shell.  Cylinder for the legs and neck.  I realize that concept is Art 101, but it wasn't until now that it really clicked for me. 

Another thing I really like about the Wool Buddies are the eyes.  They have that crazy look, that I love, but they are also so easy to make.  I've made a few attempts at other eyes with mixed results. Starting out you can't go wrong with bulgy eyes and pinpoint pupils.  I also appreciated that many of the Wool Buddies had asymmetrical eyes.  I can't make eyes any other way, so it was nice to have an excuse to embraced that. 


I realize now my first hamster attempt failed because I went straight to complicated details, when I should've remembered KISS [Keep It Simple Stupid].  It also helps to go with the flow. This started out being a cat, then ended up looking like an owl.  But it didn't look enough like an owl to actually be one, so I had to go rogue and now it's whatever this thing is.  The point being if you don't confine yourself to reality, you can make anything work. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Catnip Zombie Peeps

The only thing crazier than being a crazy cat lady is making Peep catnip toys when you don't have a cat.  I love cats, but I guess since I married a guy with cat allergies I must love him more.  Not only did I marry a man that's allergic to cats, but he comes from a long line of feline allergy prone males and together we even spawned a human male with, you guessed it, cat allergies.  So no cats for me.

I on the other hand not only come from cat people, but I have numerous friends with cats. Which is good news for me because then it's not quite so weird that I'm making catnip toys. Right?

Bonus points if your friends hate Peeps and get to watch them being mauled by an attack kitty. 

I found the original craft at I scaled the template down to two different sizes a slightly smaller 4.75 inch and an even smaller 3.75 inch. My neighbor cat tester was given both sizes and in his esteemed opinion, size does not matter. 

I made bunnies with pink, yellow, blue, purple and green felt.  I have only seen green Peep chicks in the wild, never bunnies.  Of course the only logical explanation is that green Peep bunnies are infected with a zombie virus and quarantined deep in the bowels of the Peep factory. I submit this video as evidence, at the 1:25 mark green infected bunnies as far as the eye can see. I believe Peep is a subsidiary of the Umbrella Corporation

Warning: The zombie bunny on the far left has eyes, stitches and bloody bits made out of wool roving that has been needle felted on.  I would think an animal could potentially pull those bits off and possibly swallow them. This bunny is stuffed with stuffing and is just for me to play with and not animal safe.  The other two are filled with catnip and decorated with Sharpies. 

This is how the "normal" bunnies turned out:

And then I thought the zombie bunnies look really hungry and should have brains.  Not having any embroidery experience this is what I came up with:

[The brain bunny isn't filled yet I just tucked the loose ends inside for the picture.]

Because I like numbers and quantities:

I was able to fit two 4.75 and three 3.75 inch bunnies on each 9"x12" felt sheet.  I used the ironed on freezer paper method for cutting them out.  I was going to cut them out as needed, but I noticed after a week or so the freezer paper was starting to come loose.  Rather than have to drag out the iron again, I cut them all out before they completely peeled off.  [After the Marines I swore I'd never use an iron again, which isn't realistic but I do manage to use it quite sparingly.]

One thing of embroidery floss in each color was plenty with some leftover. I didn't sew all of them but I cut thread for each of them and sandwiched it between two slices of bunny and packed it all away for next year.  I cut about 4.5 feet for the larger bunnies and 3.5 feet for the smaller ones. 

The 3.75" ones held about a teaspoon of loose catnip.  The 4.75" held about twice that. A rough calculation based on potential number of Peeps, actual Peeps filled and the amount of catnip leftover leaves me to believe that I could have easily filled all 25 felt Peeps with 0.5 oz. of catnip. I bought a whole ounce which might not sound like much, but it is.  I've read storing it in the freezer will help it keep, but can't find a consistent answer on how long it will keep. 

During my catnip journey in Google land I also discovered that people eat, drink and even smoke catnip. I'm always leery of medicinal properties assigned to herbs and other natural substances that haven't been fully vetted. If they just didn't work that would be one thing, but some substances can end up be downright deadly.  [As my mind tends to wander I think an Edward Gorey style ABC book of natural poisons would be brilliant. A is for Arsenic, B is for Belladonna, C is for Cyanide...]

Disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional, some would argue that I'm not even sane, so I am not responsible for any actions you take based on the rantings of a catless madwoman. 

Catnip is supposed help with everything from menstrual cramps and headaches to indigestion and insomnia. The one consistent trait that everyone seemed to agree with is that it has a sedative effect on humans.  For this reason drinking it before bedtime seems to be a common practice, although I read it also acts as diuretic.  So it'll make you really sleepy and have to pee a lot?  Why doesn't that sound like a good match?

Curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't find anything to suggest that catnip would kill me, damage any internal organs or cause unwanted hair growth, so I made tea with it.  I steeped one teaspoon of dried catnip in a mug of hot water.  I've tried it steeped for 5 minutes and for 10 minutes. The longer steeping time didn't make much difference in flavor. To me it tastes like a mild green tea. I will definitely drink it again when I want a caffeine free tea.   

I'm probably not the best test subject for any "relaxing" tea, I'm pretty mellow. Any more mellow and I 'd be comatose.  Maybe that's why when I tried it before bedtime, I felt a little fuzzy around the edges.  I've had similar experiences with valerian root and chamomile. Or maybe it's because I was already tired or maybe it's just all in my head.  I tried it during the day and I was totally chill afterwards. Of course that being my natural state, I was already chill before I drank it.  And I did have to pee, but that's not uncommon when I drink tea or anything.  Yeah, I'm probably not getting the Nobel prize for my extensive scientific research on the usage of catnip. 

Here are a few of my favorite zombie Peeps:

Walking Dead entry in the Washington Post diorama contest. There's also an homage to Twin Peaks. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Palm Weaving More Cowbell Edition

A few years ago a wonderful woman, who has been like a mother to me, invited me to join her and her friends in weaving palms on Good Friday and I've been going every year since.  It is a religious craft, but I haven't burst into flames yet, so don't believe everything you see in the movies.  It also works out that most of the people in my life that don't appreciate my creepier crafts, love getting these palm weavings. It's nice, if not a little weird, to see them genuinely excited over something I've made. 

This year I combined the crown of thorns I learned from the ladies, the flower I figured out last year, and a cross weave tutorial I found on the internet.  In other words, a palm cross with more cowbell. 

And here is another variation on the cross with more loops.