Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oogie Boogie Pillow Decoration

We're big Nightmare Before Christmas fanatics around here, but due to the same budgetary restrictions just about everybody else on earth seems to have these days, we can't go off willy-nilly buying all kinds of trinkets and such.  So I try to make my own decorations and dolls and things when possible.  When I found a pumpkin carving pattern of Oogie Boogie's silhouette on the moon (from "This Is Halloween" at the beginning of the movie), I knew it was perfect: super simple and cheap to make.  Here's how you can do it:


One sheet of black felt
Two sheets of yellow felt
A tube of Super Glue
A Silver Sharpie
A Black Pen
Yellow Thread
Black Thread
A Needle
A Saw Tooth Hanger

First, print out 3 copies of the pattern.

Click to embiggen!

Then, cut out the whole circle, Oogie Boogie's shape, and then his eyes and mouth:

You're going to want the silver sharpie for tracing Oogie's shape onto the black felt.  It shows up beautifully, as you can see:

Cut out all the traced shapes from the felt.  Glue the eyes and mouth onto the black shape with a couple drops of glue.  This will make all the difference in the world when you're stitching them down.  There'll be no need to try and hold them in place.  Just remember to be VERY sparing with the super glue.  If there's too much, it will leave white crusty stains.  All you need is a few drops in strategic places.  Then use your yellow thread to stitch the face parts down:

And use your black thread to stitch Oogie Boogie down to the moon.  Make sure it stays nice and flat while you're working so the end product doesn't end up bunched up and full of wrinkles:

Next, use the cut-out pattern again to make another yellow moon, and stitch it to the back of the first one, leaving a hole in the side so you can insert the stuffing:

Don't stuff it too fat, just enough to give it some poof:

Once you've stitched it closed, work your fingers around to spread out the stuffing and make it nice and even.  Then, stitch a saw-tooth hanger to the back:

You're done!  Hang it on the wall!


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Papercraft Shadowbox - Elegant Lady

There's no pattern for this one.  I made it from scratch, but it's a really simple build:

I did more of a side view to try and show the depth.  It only sort of worked.  Oh, well.  Anyway, here's the rundown:

First of all, I got all the parts of the image from EKDuncan - My Fanciful Muse, which is a blog full of all kinds of lovely vintage images free for personal use.  Here's the link:

I inserted the theatre proscenium into the gold frame via Photoshop, and printed it out as one image.  Now I'm kind of wishing I had changed the color of the proscenium, so it wouldn't blend so much with the frame, but that's what second attempts are for, right?

Next, I added sticky jewels to sparkle things up a bit.  If you're looking for shinies with sticky tape on the back, I would try Michael's craft store.  I find them mostly in the dollar bins.

Next, I built the shadowbox itself.  Here's a better view:

Doesn't get much simpler than that.  The great thing about this kind of project is that you can hide all the bones behind a fancy frontspiece, so there's no need to get complicated with the build.  I took some printed paper (the kind they make for scrapbooking), cut it up, making sure the two sides and the bottom were all exactly the same width, and plain old scotch-taped them together.  Be sure to leave the top open with this kind of project, so the light can shine in from above.

Here's a close-up of the lady:

I fixed her in place by folding a strip of cardstock into a square, gluing one side to her back, and then gluing the other side to the back wall of the shadowbox.  I find this works better than making a stand for the feet of the figure, because it's considerably sturdier.  Even if the square behind her starts to sag over time, her feet are against the floor, so there's nowhere lower for her to sag to.

Hopefully this will give all you papercrafters ideas for your own little shadowboxes!


Friday, April 25, 2014

Black Is The Color

I've always wished that more people considered graphic novels to be real literature.  Not every one of them is going to be a masterpiece, of course.  (Take, for example, the extravagantly designed and inexplicably award-festooned "Return of the Dapper Men":  lovely art....terrible, muddled, underdeveloped story.)  But you can say the same for any type of literature.  A lot of graphic novels provide transcendent reading experiences, because they do focus so much on the visual.  One of my recent favorites has been "Black Is The Color", by Julia Gfrorer.

I find myself returning to this book over and over.  It's a quick little read unless you linger over the images, which reveal something new every time you look at them.  The tone is beautifully melancholy and dark.  The mermaids are nothing like the Disney type everyone's gotten used to;  They're much more....real, I guess.  Much more like actual sea creatures, with black eyes and sharp teeth.  They are like modern versions of the sirens of ancient myth, concerning themselves mostly with music and the making of it.  They talk like hipsters, and humans are an amusing curiosity to them.  Even when one of them discovers a shipwrecked sailor alone in a dinghy, waiting for death, she passes time with him like a cat would with a new toy.  She seems to genuinely care for him in some way, but her overall detachment is always at the forefront.

The dialogue throughout is simple and to the point, and the ending is poignant and sad, as the endings of all good graphic novels should be.  Highly recommended, especially if you're new to the genre and want to start off with one of the better, more artistic offerings.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ouch, My Heart

For the last bunch of days I've been attempting to organize my books.  My many books. very many books.  This has, of course, led to the rediscovery of a lot of stuff I haven't looked at in years, in particular, the hard copies of my old blogs and webjournals.  I blogged nearly every day from the time I was pregnant for my son until he was 6 or 7, and printed all.  that.  shit.  out.  All of it.  I have stacks of folders.  Most of it is not worth re-posting.  I realize, looking through it now, that I was mostly writing for my own sense of prosperity, because there's an awful lot of rambling stream of consciousness stuff that would really interest no one but me.  But here and there, through all those years of writing, pops out tidbits of the real deal.  Here's an old MySpace entry from the days when I was actively doing the young artist thing, churning out prints and having shows and whatnot.  This is from when I was first starting, and couldn't even draw that well yet.  (I was self-taught.)  The medium is cut paper.


That visit to the gallery yesterday had a profound effect on me.  When I came home, I was re-energized with the ambition to carry on the high school series, but hit a wall trying to figure out Eleventh Grade.  Ninth Grade was the easiest.  I spent the majority of the year doing things related to drama club, and it was easy to bring forth memories of all the time I spent backstage, poring over scripts, working on sets, having heated "discussions" with my drama coach about one thing or another that we violently disagreed on.

Tenth Grade was much harder.  Ideas certainly came rushing into my head, but I couldn't use any of them.  I'm still sort of disappointed that I chose such a benign scene:  myself stranded in class, any stupid, boring, pointless class, always in the back of the room to avoid being called on so I could read or draw or write a letter.  (I got most of my leisure reading done in class that year.  I always had a Paul Zindel book in my lap.)  I'd originally had visions of all kinds of brutally honest scenes, but realized that RedHeaded Girl couldn't be a part of any of them.

RedHeaded Girl has come to represent a lot of things to me.  She's really become, I don't know...the ideal me.  She's come to embody the things I wish I could be.  One day recently, I was blindsided unexpectedly with the reason why I've never given RedHeaded Girl a face.  Or more specifically and much more importantly, a mouth.  Nothing ever comes barreling out of her mouth that could make her look like a bitch, or a jerk, or an idiot.  And I don't mean that in the sense that I'm silencing her on purpose.  I mean...she just doesn't ever say anything unless it's...interesting, or kind, or really devastatingly hip.  She's the kind of girl that everyone wants to be friends with, everyone wants to date...  She is, first and foremost, eternally serene, a state of being that I've never in my life been able to achieve, and probably never will.  She's certainly not always in control of the situation, but she'll always be entirely calm in the face of it.  She's almost always melancholy, sometimes even very, very sad, but she's never shrill, never bossy...  She's full of flaws:  she hides from things, contemplates taking scary actions...but because she's so killer cool, she's never annoying.  I gave her my flaws, and took it a step further.  RedHeaded Girl can deal with them in a way I've never been able to:

She can keep her big mouth shut.

Eleventh Grade.  It was really hard to come up with a piece for that year, because to be 100% honest, I don't remember very much of it.  I spent the school year in a haze of apathy and medical problems, and as a result, my memories of that time period are very cloudy.  But this afternoon, it suddenly hit me.

Niagara Falls.

I started spending at least 50% of my time in Niagara Falls near the end of eighth grade, and that percentage steadily increased as high school progressed until I was 18 and living there.  Niagara University theatre, Artpark, Clifton Hill, Maple Leaf Village (while it was still around), Shaw Festival, The Rainbow Mall...  There was one spot in particular that stuck with me, even after I moved away to Central New York and stopped going to the Falls:  The exact middle of the Rainbow Bridge footpath.  The spot where they have that little plaque that tells you you're straddling the line between The U.S. and Canada.  Every time I walked across that bridge (and that was a LOT of times), I had to stop on that line and look at the Falls for awhile.  Night or day, sunny or cloudy...  I would stand on that line and grip the rail and stare.  Not intensely or purposefully or anything.  I just... I would stand there and feel like there was something that was supposed to be happening inside me that wasn't.  Like I should be having a powerful, cathartic revelation that would change my life in some way.  The deafening roar of the Falls, the violent churning at the bottom, the insane rush of the river before it fell over the edge, the heavy mist that obscured the view and hovered over everything...  all that power....I felt like I should be having some kind of mystical, soul-stirring experience that would re-set my brain and my heart and I could walk away from there feeling 100% better about...well, everything.  It never happened.  But I always had this sort of grim, quiet kind of hope that next time it would.  It was enough, at the time, you know, when I was 16, 17 years old.  It felt good to know that it might be out there, that it might end up happening for me.  And it did, years and years later.  Something clicked over inside me and I found my even keel, but it wasn't the Falls that flicked that switch.

I only get to go there once in a great while now, but I still have a squishy, gooey, mushy, bloppy soft spot for Niagara Falls.  Even with those horrifying casinos. (Maple Leaf Mall!!!  Where have you gone???)  At least Clifton Hill is still there.  Ahh, Clifton Hill...  may your gloriously cheesy neon shine on forever.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Can I Offer Anyone A Lemon Scone?

My mom has subscribed to Victoria Magazine for ages.  It is all things quaint, lovely, and sophisticated....the kind of magazine that requires a slow flip-through with a cup of raspberry tea near a picture window that looks out on bird feeders and flower pots.  Through one of their back issues online, I discovered one of my favorite things:  paper house templates.  And of course, this being Victoria, the templates are sweet and old-fashioned.  Here's a link to the page where you can download them:

And here's the final result of my experiment with one of the templates:


I didn't come up with the idea to make it into a decorative box; I saw that on a blog, but all the design stuff is my own.  I don't know what I'd do without super glue gel, seriously.  A minuscule dab on each hoof and you can even get a 2-dimensional deer to stand up straight as a board.

It helps tremendously to print the template out right onto printed paper, if you want to be able to skip the painting steps.  There are no helpful tabs for assembly on this one, so be prepared to do a lot of glue dab-dab-dabbing on some very thin surfaces.  How worth it, though!  This project turned into one of the nicest-looking things I've ever made.  I'd also recommend, if you want to embellish with jewels and such, to glue them on before assembling the house.  Getting those stars up there near the top was an exercise in frustration.

For anyone that would like to try this:  send me photos and I will post them on the blog!

Send to:


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Giving The Scissors A Workout

Libraries can be perfect places to find books full of craft patterns.  As long as you've got a scanner and a printer, you're golden.  The craft section at my local library led me to discover this great book called "Paper Cuts" by Taylor Hagerty:

The book

Here's the link:

When I used to be a for-real artist (gallery showings, selling prints, all that biz), my main medium was paper, so any time I see something paper-related, I'm on it.  This book does not disappoint.  The style of almost every project in it is whimsical in the best way possible.  I decided to try my hand at the princess and the frog scene, and the fairy ornament.  Here are my results:

It's hard to see in the picture, but the fairy ornament is actually four-sided and hanging from the ceiling.

You're most definitely going to have to own an X-Acto knife to even begin to attempt these projects, and if you go in as a beginner, be sure to buy a self-healing mat to do the cutting on.  I'm considerably more deft with scissors, so my knife cuts are, well, you don't want to look too closely.  But I think the end results are pretty cool, one way or the other.  I got all the little circles done by using a spring-loaded punch.  It makes an ungodly amount of noise, and I didn't have enough of a variety of sizes to do the canopy justice on the princess and the frog, but cutting decent circles with an X-Acto knife is a skill I gave up on long ago.

I'd highly recommend trying this book out, even if you've never cut paper in your life.  It includes projects that go from simple things like paper tea aprons to complicated shadowbox scenes.  You don't even need to worry about having printed paper.  I did the princess and the frog on plain white cardstock.  Give it a shot.  A lot of the projects in this book would make lovely and impressive gifts.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Mysterious Cottage

Here's another papercraft house for you to print out and build.  No people, birds, or gardens on this one.  The inhabitants of this cottage keep their curtains tightly shut at all times.  There are endless local legends about what goes on inside.....


Here's the pattern:

Click to embiggen!

Thank you to Just Something I Made for the house template!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Colors - Silver

Silver got the most votes in the poll, so here we go:

Silver is for girls, plain and simple.  It's all about everything feminine, including matters that are usually associated more with women than men, the softer aspects of human nature revolving around empathy and maternal instincts.

Silver is one of the colors associated strongly with goddess figures, mainly The Great Mother, the all-encompassing female creative force that runs the engine of the universe.  White is another common color used to represent the Mother, but personally, I tend toward silver because I see white more as a general symbol of purity and innocence, regardless of gender. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Silver is also the color most associated with the moon, for obvious reasons.  And since the moon is most often thought of as female, you'll usually see references to the moon alongside references to many goddesses.  Women and the moon are often seen the same way:  mysterious, graceful, and containing a darkness that is calculated and cunning.  Women are intimately connected with the moon in more physical ways, as well, both running on nearly the same monthly cycle.

As mentioned above, the color silver is commonly associated with traits that are usually thought of as feminine, and "understanding" is a good umbrella term for stuff relating to empathy and compassion for others.  If you've got a loved one in your life that drives you crazy, silver can help you get past the anger and slide into "understanding" territory.  It's easier to deal with people problems when there's an understanding of *why* that person does what they do.  If you're into the idea of using colors to help ease your path through life, and that crazy-driving loved one is something you can relate to, try using silver to help you chase away the anger that can cloud your judgement and influence your actions.  If you have photos of that loved one, put them in silver frames or border them with silver ribbons.  Pick a silver charm, pendant, bracelet or ring, sit quietly with it for awhile, thinking calmly through your emotions and making an attempt to figure out why the person might be acting the way they are, and make it a gift to that person.  Any little bit helps.

Silver is also the color of connection.  We live in a world where we are becoming more and more isolated from eachother, and the sad thing is, we're doing this to ourselves, choosing to sit in a darkened room in front of a screen, cloaked in anonymity,  rather than putting ourselves out there emotionally in front of others.  If you have this problem, you can use the bright, shiny motivation of silver to help yourself make that leap.  Choose a favorite silver item that's small enough to carry around with you, and squeeze it for confidence when you find yourself shrinking away from connecting in a real way with other people.  And I don't mean to use this as a way to meet new people, I mean use it as a way to connect on a real, open level with people already entrenched in your life, people you may be keeping at arm's length.  Picture yourself and the people in your life wound together by a silver thread, and try to let that image guide you to living in a less emotionally isolated way.

Think of silver like a bead of mercury:  smooth, shiny, heavy...calmly sliding with only a small amount of movement.  Beads of mercury join together seamlessly, with no resistance, and create a larger whole.  Being more at one with the feminine aspects of the universe....empathy, understanding, connection....can only help us as humans, I would think.  I mean, not to get all new-agey and hippie-dippie on you guys, but.....well, actually I guess I did get all new-agey and hippie-dippie there, didn't I?


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nope. Wrong.

The other deck I forgot to review before my huge hiatus:  The Anne Stokes Gothic Tarot.

King of Cups

Knave of Swords


The Magician?

Anne Stokes' work is all over the place.  And I mean ALL over the place.  Hell, a bunch of the images from this deck adorn decorative tiles that can be bought at the vendor fair in one of my local restaurants, a place that is frequented by mostly senior citizens and the after-church crowd.  That is not a dig, by the way.  I eat there a lot.  I'm just saying, Anne Stokes has managed to get her work out there into the smallest, most out-the-way corners of Middle-Of-Nowheresville.  No surprise, then, that this deck is basically a re-hash of all her most popular images, not unlike the Royo Dark Tarot or Tarot Favole by Victoria Frances.  Most of the images don't have much to do with the card meanings, but whatever, because really, how awesome are the images?  Stokes' work is very polished and, even....goth for the mainstream...but I have to admit, I still really like a lot of it.

There's pretty much only one thing about this deck that dumps it squarely into my "Decks I Collect For The Art But Would Never Actually Use" category, and that would be the Magician card.  If this were the first time I'd seen this, I'd be like "Hmm...they got that wrong", but I've seen it many times, and I seriously don't get it.  Public service message for tarot deck publishers:

The Magician is male.  Always.  Never female.  Male.  A guy.  The Magician should always be a guy.

Whew.  Feels good to get that out of my system.  But seriously, the core meaning of the Magician card has to do with all things testosterone-addled and manly.  That red-winged faerie up there is super cool looking, but the absolute opposite of what the card's supposed to represent.

So, anyway, yeah.  Buy this deck for the art, but use a real deck for readings.


Monday, March 24, 2014

I Tarocchi Classici

I'm back!  It's only been, what, two years?  I'm actually really surprised everything's still here and the format of Blogger seems to be pretty much the same as I left it.  I'd like to start posting regularly again, but we'll see how that works out, since my whole life has been completely flipped over and turned around since the last time I was here.  I've got a household and a family to look after these days.  I'll do my best, though.  We're settled now and things have quieted down, so it shouldn't be too hard.

Anyway!  We'll start with a tarot deck review, since I recently re-discovered some decks in my collection that I never posted about.  Here's what Lo Scarabeo refers to as "The Classic Tarot" or "I Tarocchi Classici":

The Empress

The Star

The Sun

Two Of Cups

You really can't go wrong with this deck, seriously.  The Classic Tarot is perfect for times when you want to feel all old-world and archaic while doing readings.  I'm not even going to complain about the unillustrated pips, which is usually a grinding pet peeve of mine, because they're so awesome looking, as you can see by the example of the two of cups above.  This deck is also really great for situations where you're going to be leaving cards laying out for awhile.  Ancient-looking images, numerous foreign languages, simple, sort of primitive color scheme....makes them nice and mysterious without being too dark for the average person's comfort.

The cards themselves are nice and sturdy.  They were obviously meant to be used.  This is one of those decks that you just know has become the go-to for many readers, especially people who enjoy the historical feel of the whole thing.  Once you shuffle the hell out of them, pick them up off the table by the corners a hundred times, and drag them around with you everywhere you go for awhile, you know the images in this deck are going to jive perfectly with the weathered look the cards are going to get.  I know it should be more about the feeling and meaning than the aesthetics, but sometimes....well, we can let it be about the aesthetics SOMEtimes, can't we?

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