Last year marked a decades worth of Halloween craft parties, this year called for a change. It's funny when the kids were little they took their crafting seriously, hunkering down with their projects, only coming up for air to occasionally snack on some eyeballs.
The last few years as tweens they've been a bit less dedicated to the craft and more ravenous eating machines leaving a wake of discarded supplies and half finished projects. Not to mention, they are sooo loud. One can barely hear the demonic voices in ones head because of the din teenagers create with their endless chatter.
So this year it was adults only, and it was fabulous. Don't get me wrong, I treasure the many years of adults and children crafting side by side. And those little adolescent brains inspired me more times than I can count and for that I thank them. Certainly once they revert back into human form they can rejoin the fold. But for now I will just enjoy the simple things, like not having to shout to carry on a conversation or wondering what kind of savage doesn't put the cap back on the glue.
I also split the party into two days, which is weird for a party. But I wanted to give people a chance to play with texture paste, so we needed some dry time. We spent a Sunday afternoon creating diabolical things and the next Thursday night painting them. Prior to Thursday night I offered to paint a base coat on the projects. Choices were either black or white, and that left more time for creative painting the night of.
Before the party I premixed texture paste. [ Note: As far as I can tell for this purpose gesso and paint are interchangeable, as is mod podge and glue. Also I had used up my spackle and switched to joint compound which is thinner than spackle, so I ended up adding baking soda as a thickener also.]
Joann's carries a brand of cheap gesso (really cheap with a coupon) that worked well for our projects, both mixed into texture paste and used straight up as a base coat. I bought a 32oz white and a 16oz black.
I had containers with thin texture paste (gesso, mod podge and joint compound), slightly thicker paste (thin texture paste with more joint compound and a bit of baking soda), really thick texture paste (thicker texture paste with a lot more baking soda). Then just for fun, sand texture paste (thin texture paste with actual sand texture, but you use any sand or even glitter to get a similar texture) and of course my favorite dried tea texture paste (thin texture paste with dried tea).
Also helpful is having lots of those small 1/2cup snack size containers with lids so people can take individual portions to their workspace. That way you can keep the large containers covered so they don't dry out. Also it helps to keep the different mixtures from getting cross contaminated with other mixtures and other crafting detritus. And everyone can customize their own mixtures as needed and keep them sealed when not in use. Even when it's just me, I work out of separate containers, nothing worse than picking up glitter or feather wisps on your brush and not realizing it until after you just contaminated a brand new bottle of Mod Podge.
The one problem I didn't foresee, even though I knew better was the plastic bugs not sticking. If you have all the time in the world you can work one side of your bottle at a time letting it dry in-between making sure all the creepy crawlies learn their place and keep their legs in line. When you only have 4 hours and you are trying to work all sides of a three dimensional object you don't have that luxury. In hindsight, if you are pressed for time, I would suggest hot gluing those little bastards on first and apply texture paste around them.
Even without the usual chaos I still didn't get pictures of everyone's creations, but this time it was because I was busy crafting, so I hope that rates me a pass.
I'll start with the easiest project, the spider shown above. It started out life as a simple plastic spider from Target. It's a nice tarantula size, inexpensive, it has lovely legs and other details that generally get skimped on. I painted everything but the eyes with a mixture of black gesso and dried tea. The tops of the legs got a second coat to make them a little "hairier". Otherwise all I did was add a little red to the eyes and coat them with clear glossy acrylic paint. From drab to fab with a little texture paint.
This book was inspired in part by some of my texture samples. There's texture paste, plastic scorpions, bottle caps, decoupaged glass marbles, keys, swirls of scrap wire, fake petals, tiny rhinestones and even a molded piece made from a button that a friend gave me from an estate sale.
This bottle is wrapped in what used to be my daughter's swimsuit cover up. It didn't really cover anything, it was more of a weird holey fishnet accessory. The picture doesn't do it justice but the texture is absolutely amazing, there is something almost Lovecraftian about it. In the center is a molded piece from the Ornaments Mod Podge mold.
This bottle is topped with a plastic red gem set into a cork, the lip is trimmed with...well trim. Again one of my daughters old shirts. The piece used is just a small part of a larger design. When I saved it, I honestly had no idea how cool it was until I saw what my friend did with it. The bee is another molded piece made with the Royal Mod Podge mold.
I love the texture of the fun fur yarn here, like so many tiny tiny little legs.
Also another Ornaments molded piece.
The eye is a decoupaged glass gem.
The image is from Orestes Graphics Creepy Eyes Vol. 2
I love the folds around the eye.
The picture in the center comes from the British Library collection. If you like vintage images without copyright restrictions this is a great source of material. This one in particular is in their Ghost & Ghoulish Scenes album.
The rest of the bottle is covered in tea bags. Had I covered the entire bottle it would have taken six tea bags to cover this 250ml bottle. Yes, that's a question that came up. No, I'm not entirely sure this information will help you gauge the number of tea bags needed for any given bottle. I did paint over my tea bags but I would like to say they had a lovely tea stained color that would have done quite nicely on it's own.
On top of that in some areas is a mix of texture paste with the dried tea. Other areas are texture paste spackled over the tea bag strings. The purplish color is from a hair color wash that was for my son's costume a few years ago. Watching a few of Marta's Junk Journal video's has really made me think of different ways I can use things. And it's also made me more of a hoarder. I did force myself to toss the actual trash items I had saved for the party that didn't get used. And I am no longer saving my used tea bags, the practice of which had me feeling a bit like a Discworld goblin.
Here we have some more plastic bugs. Those beautiful swirls were done freehand with hot glue. There's another bottle, another friend did, with swirls of hot glue that I didn't get a picture of. So apparently this isn't an anomaly, being able to do detailed work with hot glue, but it's beyond my comprehension. The only thing I can consistently do with a hot glue gun is burn myself, so I'm pretty much in awe of their skills.
This is the skull I did using stenciled texture paste on tissue paper and a few pieces made with both the Ornaments and Royal molds.
I didn't take this picture, stole it from a friend, because it shows the lovely details up close. The rim of the bowl is decorated with pieces of a necklace she desecrated. I just love how it turned out.
And here are the crappy pictures I took that don't quite show how lovely all the textures look in person. Besides the bits of jewelry there are some skull beads, spiders, washers, yarn and some of paper that I had previously stenciled with texture paste.
My punk vulture is an old project, but he got some new bling this year. My lovely neighbor brought lots of bits of old jewelry to share and I snagged a pair of earrings. I couldn't believe how perfectly eye-like the dangly pieces looked. He just has the one sparkly eye and his twin, when I finally finish him will get the other.
Another craft party come and gone and once again I'm left with all sorts of new ideas inspired by my crafty friends. This weekend one of those friends had a Halloween party and I got see some other really cool decorations she made after the party. It makes me happy to see that creepy inspiration insidiously spread itself around.
Also I want to know how I get Ice-T on my guest list for next year.
The man can craft.