Saturday, October 31, 2015

Turkey Under Glass

turkey and nuts in shadow box
Here's a Thanksgiving shadow box I (somewhat accidentally) put together the other day.
turkey cookie cutter
It started with this plastic turkey-shaped cookie cutter that I found. It looked so sad and orange, I decided I'd give it a 10-minute makeover by wrapping jute twine around it.
turkey cookie cutter
After 10 minutes of searching for -- and not finding -- my roll of twine, I moved on to plan B: wrapping it in string. Then after 10 minutes of attempting to wrap an orange cookie cutter in white string -- and seeing lots of orange plastic peeking out in between the strands, I moved on to plan C: spray painting the cookie cutter white first.
turkey cookie cutter
Thirty minutes into my 10-minute makeover, I discovered wrapping a cookie cutter with string is not as easy as it sounds ...
turkey cookie cutter
... at least not if your cookie cutter has lots of wonky indents and corners. If you use too much string on those spots, you get a weird bulge in the silhouette. If you don't use enough string, there are obvious gaps in the coverage. And unfortunately, the more I handled the cutter, the more the white spray paint wore off.
turkey cookie cutter covered in string
When I finally had the whole cutter wrapped in string, I touched up the orange spots that were peeking through with off-white craft paint.
shadow box backer board
At this point, I decided I had invested so much time in the cookie cutter that I should showcase it in a shadow box. But my shadow box had been used many times before, and this is what the backer board of it looked like. All the pin holes and glue spots needed to be covered up.
old dictionary
 I pulled out an, old falling-apart dictionary, and thought maybe I could use a couple pages from it to cover the mess. I looked on the "turkey" page and the "Thanksgiving" page, hoping to find a definition with a picture, but I struck out. So I started flipping through, looking for a good random page to use ...
old dictionary page
... and look what I found in the F's.turkey shadow box
 I rubber cemented the pages to the backer board and popped it into place.
turkey shadow box
Here's the full shadow box. It has a hinged cover, so it's really easy to work with.
turkey shadow box
 I positioned my turkey so the picture of the turkey was inside him. But the shadow box looked a little empty.
old suitcase
 I knew I had some great fall filler inside an old battered, tattered mini suitcase.
nuts and acorns
 I picked out the nuts I wanted to use...
turkey shadow box
... and filled in the open space around the turkey with them. 
turkey shadow box
Then I put the cover on the shadow box and stood it upright. The nuts were packed around the cookie cutter tightly enough to hold it in place.

My 10-minute craft ended up taking a little more than 10 minutes, but I'm happy with how it turned out.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Joker

finished Joker costume
A couple years ago my son found himself in need of a purple suit. And not just any purple suit. He needed a purple suit with a long coat, in the style made famous by his favorite villain/Bruce Wayne's arch nemesis. After searching high and low and finding no purple suits of any kind to be had, we put our heads together and decided if one couldn't be bought, one would have to be made.
grey suit before painting
I am not a good enough seamstress that I could sew a purple suit from scratch, but I told my son if he bought one standard-issue grey suit plus one standard-issue grey suit jacket from Goodwill, I would attempt to paint them purple and piece them together into Joker-appropriate style.

The two suit jackets he bought (sorry, only one pictured here) were the same size and roughly the same color and style. The main difference was that one of the jackets had flaps on the front pockets.
grey suit pants before painting
(Word of warning: These are photos from my pre-blogging days -- which means they were taken on my old point-and-shoot with only the camera flash as lighting.)

I bought two big bottles of purple craft paint (and used both) and one bottle of textile medium.
purple paint with textile medium
I mixed the craft paint and textile medium in a 2-to-1 ratio. The textile medium prevents the paint from cracking after it dries.
painting a suit purple
I had to really saturate the fabric in order to get the paint to cover the grey suit. To keep the paint from seeping through the fabric, I put a scrap piece of white foam board inside it.
Joker Halloween costume
 I did the same with the pants.
painting a suit purple
The foam board was too wide to slide inside the pant legs, so I flattened an empty saltines box and used that to block the paint from bleeding through there.
Joker Halloween costume
 I painted one section at a time, sliding the foam core/saltines box along as I went.
sewing Joker costume
Once I had everything painted, I cut the jacket with the pocket flaps off above the armpits and threw out the top portion. The bottom portion I positioned along the bottom of the other jacket to fashion into a long coat.
sewing Joker Halloween costume
 When I had the jackets lined up, I put a row of pins in to hold everything in place.
sewing Joker coat
 Then I stitched the two jackets together. (I went back and touched up the paint later.)
painting the vest
 For the vest, I started with another Goodwill find.
green paint and textile medium
I didn't have the right shade of green on hand, so I mixed a little white paint in with the green I had to lighten it up, and then added the textile medium, just like I did with the purple.
painting Joker vest green
Again, I had to really saturate the fabric to get good paint coverage, so I put the white foam board in between the front and back of the vest to prevent seepage.
Joker vest Halloween costume
 I painted right over the buttons.
Joker Halloween costume
Once I had everything painted, my son tried the coat and vest on to make sure it all fit and he could move in it. He said the fabric was a little stiff, but not bad. (No, the jeans and the red lumberjack shirt are not part of the ensemble.)
finished Joker costume
Here's the finished look, right before my son headed out to Freak Fest in Madison. (He even dyed his hair green, which is a little hard to see in the dim lighting of the parking garage where this photo was apparently taken.)

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

So Long, Summer

I know the calendar said summer ended a month ago, but in my mind, it's not over until the last vegetable has been harvested and the ground is regularly freezing at night.
fern with pumpkins
I try to stretch out the season as long as possible by covering the plants in my garden and bringing the potted ones into the house overnight when those first freezes are forecast. But once we get into mid-October, it becomes a losing battle, and I have to admit defeat.
Swedish ivy
A lot of my green plants still looked gorgeous when I carried them in for the long winter earlier this week, so I snapped a few pictures ... because I knew they were going to start turning brown and dropping leaves the second they crossed the threshold into the house.
Swedish ivy
This Swedish ivy is two years old. It spent last winter in my living room, dying a slow death. There was almost nothing left of it by spring. Once it got warm enough that I set it back outside, it exploded back to life.
lipstick plant
This is a lipstick plant. It's supposed to be a houseplant, but I set in on a shady spot on my front porch over the summer, and it loved it.
lipstick plant
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly plants grow outside.
I can't remember the name of this plant, but I've had it for about five years. Every spring when I set it out on the deck it grows like crazy. I used to let the vines trail down over the edge of a plant stand, but there's so much weight on the bottom now, I started setting it on a table, so the vines are supported.
asparagus fern
I've had this asparagus fern for a couple years. Some of you might remember from this post that it was in sad shape when I first brought it up from the basement in the spring.
cat with asparagus fern
Here it is then, in all its glory. Calvin didn't mind that the plant was half-dead. He turned his back on the healthy, organic cat grass I had grown for him and started noshing away on the poor sickly asparagus fern.
cat with asparagus fern
So it was no surprise that as soon as I carried the now-healthy plant into the house the other day and set it on the dining room floor, he immediately walked over to investigate -- and started chowing down.
I also dug up a few plants that were in the ground -- like these tiny succulents -- in hopes that they would survive the winter indoors.
butter crock as planter
I had picked up this butter crock at a thrift store a few weeks ago, thinking it would be the perfect size to plant the succulents in.
gravel provides drainage for plant
Because there are no holes in the bottom, I put a thin layer of gravel on the bottom to provide some drainage.
succulents in butter crock
I filled the pot with cactus potting soil and put the tallest plant in the back.
succulents in butter crock
 Then I potted up the rest of the plants.
succulents in butter crock
Aren't they sweet?
fern on porch with pumpkins
Of all my plants, I think this fern is my favorite -- mostly because I've never been able to keep one of these alive all summer before. Here's hoping that it survives the winter for me, too...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pumpkin Makeover

Over the years I have collected a hodgepodge of fake pumpkins and gourds from thrift stores and garage sales.
Some are Styrofoam. Some are plastic. One is really heavy (and I have no idea what it's made of).
 This year, I decided to give them a makeover.
pumpkin craft project
I started by basecoating them all in white. (I used gesso, just because I had a bottle of it stored in my basement that I bought for a project a couple years ago. I'm sure white craft paint or primer would have worked just as well.)
newspaper pumpkins
I liked the white, but I wanted some variation amongst the pieces, so I decoupaged newspaper strips on a few.
decoupaged pumpkin
The newspaper was a little heavy and hard to work with, especially around all the curves of the pumpkins, so I scanned part of a newspaper page into my computer and printed it out onto a piece of tissue paper -- which is harder than it sounds. I had to tape the tissue paper to a piece of regular 8 1/2" x 11" paper to get it to feed through my printer, and it took more than a few tries before I managed to get a piece to emerge from the printer un-torn.
pumpkin craft
Decoupaging on the tissue paper was easier than working with real newspaper.
decoupaged pumpkin
After I ran out of the newspaper-printed tissue paper, I remembered I had some tissue paper with faux handwriting on it, so I dug that out of my stash.
decoupaged pumpkin
I decoupaged the faux handwritten tissue paper onto a few of the pumpkins and gourds.
white pumpkins
On the remaining plain white pumpkins, I dripped and splattered some paint on, using browns and blacks and beiges.
decoupaged and painted pumpkins
I wound jute twine around the tops of the pumpkins. To make the twine spiral, I dipped it in watered down Mod Podge, then wound it around a pencil until it dried.
decoupaged and painted pumpkins
I had pictures of that process, but they were taken on an old point-and-shoot digital camera during the time when I couldn't access my iPhone photos. And then I robbed the memory card out of the point-and-shoot to use in my work camera. And then when I downloaded the work pictures, I apparently deleted the blog pictures. Grrr.
pumpkin crafts
Anyhoo, I'm much happier with how the pumpkins and gourds look now than they did before.
before and after
An old crackle pumpkin (that I always set in the back because it seemed a little garish) now looks like this:
crackled pumpkin
The number 4 is from an old perpetual calendar that I bought at a thrift store. I repurposed the calendar part long ago, but the numbers were still in a cabinet, waiting to be used. I may tie a few more to some of the other pumpkins.
This fakey fake big orange pumpkin has now been transformed....
white pumpkins
 ... into this. I like it ever so much more now.
decoupaged pumpkins
I did this project about month ago. It just took me forever to get photos rounded up and get everything together because (if you read my last post you know) my life was kind of in chaos from about Sept. 14 through about yesterday (knock on wood). I started a new job, was taking a night class and my home computer died.
pumpkin crafts
I also somehow managed to get Mod Podge on the lens cover of my old point-and-shoot when I was attempting to use that as a backup for my iPhone camera. Now the lens cover won't open at all. So my old Cannon Power Shot may be joining my old Windows Vista PC in technology heaven.

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