Saturday, March 26, 2016

Grim Grinning Ghosts Come Out To Socialize

I love ghosts.  The old-fashioned kind:  melancholy, half-transparent spirits that float around mourning lost loves and earthly regrets.  Ghosts with alarming messages for the living.  Ghosts trying vainly to communicate as if through sound-proof glass.

The Ghost Tarot delivers.

3 of Wands 
The Chariot
10 of Swords
8 of Cups
5 of Pentacles

This deck is definitely now in my top five.  I wish the cards were slightly more durable, but on the whole, they're not nearly as slippery and thin as some other decks I've reviewed.  It might be best for an intermediate to advanced reader, as the names of the cards aren't very noticeable in the minor arcana, and totally nonexistent in the major.  You really can't beat this deck for aesthetics, though.  Perfect for Halloween or reading in a romantically gloomy atmosphere, most definitely by candlelight.


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

So Happy Colors! Such Delicious Pretty!

I am tickled to DEATH by this one.  Seriously.  These are the cutest, sweetest, happiest things you can make out of felt.


I'm not great at making beautiful patterns, but here's my best shot.  Click to embiggen.

Start out by tracing the pattern onto your felt and cutting it out.

IMPORTANT:  Make sure to cut a slit in the middle of the "popsicle bottom" piece before you start stitching it together, in order to accommodate the popsicle stick later.

Stitch together the popsicle pieces.

If the middle strip ends up being too long, you can snip off the extra.  Be sure to leave one side open on the bottom, so you can get the stuffing in.

Next, stitch together your stick.  Now, I didn't bother to make it solid, because I knew I was going to be making these into a mobile, and wouldn't need to hold them by the stick.  If you'd like to make them into actual play food, you're going to want to use real wooden popsicle sticks.  Realize, though, that you'll still have to make the felt covering for the stick, because you'll need a way to attach it to the top part, and the flaps at the top of the felt version of the stick are integral to that:

Insert the stick into the slit you made in the bottom of the popsicle.  A few little drops of super glue on each flap, and your stick will be attached.  If you've put a wooden stick inside the felt one, don't worry if it sticks up past the flaps, it'll be invisible anyway.

Next, stuff your popsicle.  Be careful not to stuff it too fat.  Work the stuffing around and try to keep the sides from bulging out too far.  Then, stitch up the opening.

And there you have it!  Popsicle!  If you'd like to take it further and create a mobile, make lots more colors and string them up to an embroidery hoop.

The nostalgic kid-happy is overwhelming with this one.  I put mine in my kitchen, but it would also be super perfect for a kid's room or an ice cream shop or for a sun room in the summer.



Sunday, March 06, 2016

Spinny Hangy Things

I am a pathetic sucker for mobiles of all kinds.  It's really bad.  I try to reign myself in a little now, but back in the day, my entire bedroom ceiling would be just covered.  (In fact, I think I may have even posted about that a bunch of years back.)  Anything that can hang from the ceiling, turn slowly and move in any whiff of air that happens to pass through the room....maybe make some little chime-y tinkle-y sounds....  It just feels so calming and magical.

Mobiles are easy to make, but very time consuming.  I'll be working on even a simple one, and suddenly look at the clock halfway through and realize two hours have passed.  You have to have a lot of patience for repeatedly tying up and snipping off thread, and possibly re-doing a bunch of strands if the length comes out wrong.  Here are some examples of ones I've made:

A couple of mobile-making tips:

- Snap up Christmas ornaments when they inevitably go on sale for 70% off two weeks before Christmas even arrives.  You can often buy whole sets for a couple bucks during these sales.  If you go for the colors and designs that are less Christmas-centric, you can make mobiles to hang all year round.

- Look for sales on necklace pendants and spacer beads.  Especially look for metal and wood components that have holes for stringing on both the top and bottom.  The first photo above is of a mobile I made pretty recently, and it includes necklace pendants, chandelier baubles, keychains, tiny bells, pieces from bracelet kits, metal flowers, and a cardstock Alice from Alice in Wonderland meant for including inside a greeting card.  If it's got a punch hole in it or a jump ring attached, go nuts.  

- Use black thread instead of, well, any other color when stringing your mobiles.  Unless they're hanging in very bright light all the time, black thread will be almost invisible, and makes a huge difference when it comes to the aesthetic of the finished product.  Also, once you've tied something off, try to cut the tail of thread down as far as possible, so there won't be little visible bits of it everywhere.

- The easiest way that I've found to make round mobiles is to use embroidery hoops.  They're cheap and sold anywhere that has a craft section.  Using really cool vintage found objects as bases for mobiles is the fantasy, but unless you hit up estate sales and such with the enthusiasm of a pub crawl, it can be very hard to find ring-or-round-shaped things like that to use.  Don't even worry about the embroidery hoop colors.  With the help of some glue or double-sided tape, they can be wrapped in whatever color ribbon you like.

- This one bears mentioning for absolute beginners:  String your base and hang it to work on it.  Add a really long string and hang it from the ceiling or a hook or whatever low enough so that when you're standing in front of it, it's at a height where your arms won't start painfully aching as you work.  If you need to be able to sit, hang it even lower so that when you're sitting in a chair you can comfortably reach it.  Hell, hang it above your bed to work on it, so you can REALLY be comfortable.  (I do this a lot.)  When it's done, you can shorten the string to whatever height you need.

That's about it.  Enjoy!


Friday, March 04, 2016

Make A Felt House Doorstop

I see a lot of sort of generalized craft ideas around Pinterest and blogs and such that make me want to squee and immediately make, but I realize pretty quickly I have no actual use for them.  This time, though,when I started seeing felt house doorstops, I knew I needed one.  Our bedroom door, man.  It's like a ghost lives behind it.  I've been throwing a messy box of knitted arm warmers in front of it for something like a year now, but no longer!  My door ghost is finally thwarted.  I didn't follow a pattern or anything to make mine.  Here's some illustrated instructions:

You'll need:

felt sheets


a bag of the plastic beads that you use to fill the butts of stuffed animals so they'll sit upright

a needle and corresponding colors of thread


To start with, you'll need to choose your colors, and if you don't have what you need at home already, you'll have to go out and buy some felt.  For those of you who've never worked with it before, it comes in 8x10 or 8 1/2 /11 sheets just about anywhere they sell craft supplies.  And it's wonderfully cheap, (like sometimes 25 cents a sheet) so making things out of felt can be a very inexpensive hobby if you're strapped for disposable income.  So, anyway, you'll need colors for the house itself, the roof, the windows, the shutters, and the door.

Take the pieces for the house part, fold them, and cut them in half.  Two sheets of felt will be all you need for four pieces.  What I did for the roof was, I cut the sheet in half, and then halved the halves.  You'll need the roof pieces for the sides to be triangles that will be the same height as the front and back.

Next, you'll need to make the windows and door.  I did this mostly by eye, because I was interested in a less polished look, but you can make a template out of cardstock if you like, and trace it on to the felt.

Now you're going to have to stitch down all those windows, shutters, and the door.  As I'm sure you can imagine, it'll take a while.  I tried gluing them down first, by using a paintbrush and glue, but that didn't work even a little bit, so it was Needle And Thread Time.

After the windows and door and such are on, start stitching together the sides of the house and roof, leaving an open seam on one part of the roof for filling later.

It'll end up looking something like this:

Next, you need to attach a floor.  Measure the width of the sides of the house, and use the measurements to make yourself a square that fits right onto the bottom.  Stitch it on, making sure there's no openings anywhere in the seams for anything to fall out, because that's the next step.  Dump in the plastic pellets.  If you don't have access to plastic pellets specifically made for stuffed animals, you can use rice, or dried field corn, or even rocks.  Whatever's going to make the bottom of your house heavy enough to hold open a door.  Fill the rest of your house with stuffing, and then stitch up the opening in the roof.

And voila, you're done.  If you'd like a more polished look with very flat real-house-like surfaces, line the insides of all the pieces with cardboard (using double sided tape) before you stitch them together.

You can embellish this in infinite ways, which I'm considering going back and doing.  You can embroider designs above the windows, add fabric flowers around the bottom, make some cute little felt birds for the roof.  You could make it a haunted house by choosing appropriate colors and then cutting out skeletons or ghosts etc to add around the walls.  Just some ideas.



Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Round And Round And Round....Uugghh....My Stomach.....

Here are a couple of tiny papercraft carousels.  I hope I didn't already post these.  Get out your X-acto knives!

Click the images to embiggen.


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

A Pet Zombie To Mow My Lawn

I can deal with all kinds of monsters:  werewolves, vampires, swamp creatures, demons, ghosts....but I can't do zombies.  Even though they are the most popular monster in years, I admit, here and now, that zombies bore the crap out of me.  I do not watch The Walking Dead.  I am not preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.  I do not dress as a zombie for Halloween.  I've never seen any of the Evil Dead movies, or even sat through Army of Darkness from beginning to end.  No zombies for me.  Yawn.

Having said all that, the Zombie Tarot must be one hell of a cool ass deck, because once I got a look at the box and few examples of the cards, I had to have it.  The examples I scanned to post here are on the less gruesome side, but rest assured, if you love the zombie gore, this deck delivers.  Body parts, rotting flesh, and gnawed brains/bones galore.  Anyway, here are some of the cards:

The deck tells a story as it goes along, of the zombie apocalypse, the fallout, and then the new normal (where humans end up using zombies as housemaids, gardeners, and general slave labor), all taking place in a kitschy mid-20th century setting.  Even with all the rot and yuck, the atmosphere of the whole thing is incredibly charming.  On the physical side, the cards are good and sturdy, good for shuffling.  This is the kind of deck to use for someone feeling iffy about having a reading.  I can't imagine anyone not getting a kick out of it.

Here's the box:

Monday, February 29, 2016

Make Curtains Out Of Bandanas

Here's how you can make curtains out of $1 bandanas that can be found well, pretty much anywhere.  Over the years, I've purchased them from Walmart, Target, Michael's, and JoAnn Fabrics.  The great thing about using these for curtains is that the edges are all already hemmed, so if you position them right, you can eliminate a big step of the project.

To start, you're going to have to decide how many to buy, unless you already have a pile at home.  If you already have even one, you can measure it, measure the window, and then do a little math to see how many will be needed to make long enough/wide enough curtains.  I did it by eye, holding up one bandana near the top by the curtain rod and gauging approximately how many I'd need.

Once you buy the number you want to use, they'll need to be washed and ironed.  I didn't wash mine first, and the end result came out pretty stiff, so I'd highly recommend washing them to soften them a little.  If you want a more distressed and/or faded look and you're not itching to assemble them right away, wash them over and over.  Definitely iron them to get rid of the creases.

Since the window I was making the curtains for is the smallest window in the house, I decided to cut mine into fours to maximize the number of colors I could use.  

Next, you'll need to lay them out to arrange your colors:

When it comes to the sewing part, you can stitch it together however you're comfortable doing it.  What I did was stitch together each horizontal pair first:

....and then stitch all the pairs together:

It turned out I miscalculated, and it came out too long.  To remedy this, I folded down the top row and hemmed it as if I'd planned all along for the curtain rod channel to look like that.  Shhh...don't tell anybody.

After you've created a channel for the rod, make the curtain for the other side the same way.  Here's what I usually do to make sure that both curtains are exactly the same length:  Lay the second curtain on top of the first, finished curtain, and make sure the bottoms match up perfectly.  Then, fold down the top until it lines up with the top of the finished curtain underneath and pin the crap out of it right at the fold, so that when you stitch down the channel for the rod, it won't be able to move and become uneven:

Now you're all set to hang them.  Mine are looking a little misshapen and stiff, as I mentioned  (wash them first!), but they fit just right:

Here they are pulled back.  I used matching ribbon and a thumbtack to pull them back, since we don't usually close the bathroom window curtains.  (The glass is frosted.)  If you'd like to be able to open and close yours, use scraps from the same bandanas you used for the curtains to make tie-backs, and if you create button holes near the ends, you can attach them to hooks.

Yay new curtains!!  They put me in mind of the old Raggedy Ann and Andy books we had as kids.  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Pincushion In A Box!

Another nifty little pincushion, this time all snug in a box!  I struggled with this one a bit, but I did do it without a tutorial:

For you, though, dear readers, a tutorial.  Here's a good one that gives instructions on not only how to make the cushion, but also the box:


Friday, February 26, 2016

Framed Pincushions!

In need of a new pincushion?  Here's a fairly easy way to make pretty much the coolest pincushion in town.  Your sewing circle will be so jealous!

Here's the one I made, myself.  It's Halloween-themed, because of course it is.  The frame came from the dollar bin at Michael's:

And here's a link to a step-by-step tutorial on how to make it.  With pictures!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

101 Songs - What Good Is Love That No One Shares?

A mash-up of This Bitter Earth by Dinah Washington and On The Nature of Daylight by Max Richter.  Where the original version has a peppier vibe musically, and ends on an optimistic note, this version is considerably darker and much more emotional.  It was used to suitable effect at the end of Shutter Island.  I blubbered.  Well, I blubbered pretty much through the whole movie, but that's another blog entry.


Monday, February 22, 2016

An Unsettling Little Horror Story By Christopher

Here's a tiny horror story about madness written by Christopher.


The place is the same.  It does not change.  New people show up from time to time and cause chaos.  I don’t like new people or chaos or the mess.  I tell them all that I’m not in pain, not suffering.  Break it!  Suffocate!  I keep my house well lit with scented candles, and I like to eat food, like chocolate.  The water is toxic…burns the throat and sears the mind.  I like to dream about freedom here in this free country, again, again, again.  Birds are chicken.  I caught one yesterday and ate the chicken.  Locked the door.

So, police came to my door, asking about my friends.  I told them I’m not in pain, not suffering.  They asked to come in and look around, I said the place is the same.  It does not change.  Then chaos happened and I made two new friends.  I told them again about freedom in this free country.  Again.

Sometimes I go to the wall person and ask if he is okay.  He never responds right.  I try to ask him to be my friend and join my Facebook pile.  But he always asks me that same thing at the same time.  He is in pain and is stupid for not being my friend.  Half his face is red with blood all the time.  I say hey, what’s wrong with your head?  Then he points at it and I fall asleep.  Almost every time.

I gave my good eye to my friends.  The truth is I did not need it anymore.  I said hey Facebook, have my good eye.   Then I took it out with a butter knife.  Put it on the pile.  Everyone was so happy that day.  Later, after I lit all my scented candles, I was still bleeding.  Then I went to sleep.

I try to get the bad one out with sharp things.

One time, I killed the bad one.  But then I fell back asleep and he laughed at me when I woke up.  I told him about freedom in this free country and he knew I was right.

Sometimes I find animals in my Facebook pile.  They eat my friends.  So I shoot them and eat the animals for revenge.

I am not in pain, not suffering.

I am not in pain, not suffering.

I am not in pain, not suffering.

Want to join my Facebook pile?

Want to be my friend?

The place is the same.  It never changes.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Adventures of Prince Achmed

The earliest surviving animated film.  It's worth watching the whole movie.  Achmed wasn't much of a hero, I have to say.  He got upstaged pretty much constantly by a badass hairy volcano goblin.

(1926) Lotte Reiniger - 'The Adventures of... by FILMandCLIPS

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