Saturday, June 30, 2012

Doting on the Daughter and Her Craftiness, Again

The daughter has been super busy sewing lately. Especially now that school is out for the summer, and it's stinking HOT outside. Thought I'd take a moment to dote on her progress.  She really deserves it.  Remember back here when I posted about a book called "Super Cute" by Parragon and the projects she started making?  Gotta say, WOW!  She's off trying her own things, now.  One of the last projects finished was this adorable bunny.  She got the idea for the body construction from a pattern we found for a Pointy Kitty from Wee Wonderfuls.  (ADORABLE PATTERN that you must check out!!)  After a few attempts with felt and other fabrics like cotton quilt fabircs, the daughter decided to switch to using polar fleece scraps.  She found it much easier to work with.  (I don't blame her.)  ;)

Here is her steampunk'd version of a mushroom inspired by the book.  Again, she used polar fleece for the body.  She made the felt top hat when we attended the Steampunk Invasion of Scarborough Faire back in April.  :)  (Between us, I think this was a ploy to take the mushroom with her to faire.  She decided to make it part of her own costume.)  ;)

Here's the mushroom (sans hat) with his fruit/veggie friends, baby carrot (with diaper) and cherry.


Her first experiments with polar fleece were these figures (from left to right:  a mini of herself, a "yetti", a monkey, and a tooth pillow.)  I simply LOVED the twist tie glasses on her mini-self!  But, the "yetti"is pretty cute.  Reminds me of something that should be in the Monster's Inc movie.

Here is a pic of an older version of herself in felt with a stitched yarn ball and a bear.  I was impressed at her determination on her embroidery work.  I thought she was going to give it up about half way through.  I know I have very little patience for hand stitching, myself.  Being only 9 years old, I imagine her attentions span is still very short, but she persevered.

These were some cute figures inspired by the book.  She made a brown bunny, white chick and pink pig.  I like how she's trying different treatments on the seams, eyes, ears and such in her work.

After her experiments in sewing with thread, she also gave yarn a try.  Here, she stitched some knitting loom experiments together to make a cupcake with decorations.  She stitched up a sock character with a drawn on face and put eyes and chopsticks on a ball or yarn. She also made a first attempt at crochet in the little white ball with eyes.   

Speaking of crochet, she has started to take an interest in it.  I gave her a pile of small balls of leftover yarn to play with.  After hiding away for a long moment, she came running back all excited that she was "crocheting".  When I saw her attempts at a crochet chain, without instructions mind you, it was wonderful!  (Wish I could find what she did with it.)  She almost had to figured out!  Better than I could say of my own attempts with instruction.  But, I thought we'd look up some "other" techniques just to broaden our skills. ;)  We also looked up how to make crochet amigurumi animals.

After making a few test pieces, she decided to make stuff out of the samples.  Here's an ice cream cone with face.  So happy she's enjoying herself making things.  She went to visit her aunt and cousin this weekend and took a bag FULL of her projects to show off.  :)  Now she and her cousin are making some stuffies together.  Can't wait to see how they turn out!

I know I promised some more reworked felt hats made by the man this time.  I'm working on getting some good pics.  It's hard to get him to pose for me, and my styrofoam head isn't large enough to hold them.  Until then, happy crafting!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sharing Our "Hufflepuff Love" with YOU!!

If you've been over to my Facebook page, you'll know that the Daughter and I entered Not Literally's "I ♥ Hufflepuffs" Photo Contest.  Their getting ready to announce the debut of their new Hufflepuff Music Video and are celebrating with a bunch of giveaways and contests.  We're receiving SO many likes on the image above that we entered. Thought we'd share the love with all of you.  First off, here's a list of captions we'd considered putting on the poster.  It was a tough call, but we decided to go simple.  :)

HUFFLE'D PUFFS PHOTO Alternate captions:
1. Don't badger me til I've enjoyed my HUFFLE'D PUFFS!!
2. Mornings can't help but start better with Huffle'd Puffs
3. HUFFLE'D PUFFS - Grab'em before they get away!

And my personal fave:
4. 210% more MAGICALLY DELICIOUS than the leading brand of Leprechaun made Breakfast Cereal.

And, you guys were so very kind that I  wanted to thank everyone who voted for us by offering you a Huffle'd Puff of your very own (those little puffs running for their lives in the pic).  First come first serve 'til we run out of 'em!  Just email me your addy where you want one sent, and I'll get one out to ya (my email is in my profile).

Plus, if you like, feel free to print out the cereal box cover image to make you own Huffle'd Puffs box complete with nutrition info.  One side of the box reads, "They're GR*R*REAT!", while the other reads, "They're M*M*MAGIC!".

If you haven't been over there yet, come check out the entries and support your favorites.  Voting will continue to be open 'til June 30th!  (I think your allowed to "like" vote more than one.)  Come share the love, too!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Steampunk on the Cheap - DIY goggles from stuff you have

I just want to provide some more examples of how you don't have spend a great deal of money to put together a Steampunk outfit.  If you're interested in the Steampunk scene, you've probably discovered that it can get expensive putting a 1st costume together, especially if you purchase finished pieces from steampunk artists.  But, even if you decide to DIY but don't possess or have access to a lot of fancy tools for working metal or leather, you still may spend a pretty penny.  The good news is you can fake a lot of this with a bit of glue and patience.  And, the best and most visible accessory to start with is a pair of goggles.

I've posted about our goggle tinkering before here.  But, I wanted to stress that you don't even have to scour flea markets and 2nd hand stores or drop $10 at the hardware store on a pair of welding goggles to make a customize version of this common accessory. I'd like to inspire you to try some other materials you may already have in your possession. Some of the best goggles I've seen around were made from the oddest and most unique materials.  They can be made at next to no costs for supplies from stuff you may have around your house.  (I seem to say this line a LOT on here, don't I?!)

You may have seen my own previous attempts with aluminum cans/bottles and scraps of leather.  I made them from what I had on hand.  Granted I did have a budding leather worker to steal bits from.  (You can read more about the monocle here and the beer goggles here.).  But, say you don't have leather scraps lying around.

Long before my attempts, my own sweety got a wee bit creative on his own with a pair he made out of hearing test headphones, a cheap pair of dollar store plastic binoculars and some other assorted parts.  (I've been meaning to post better pics of these for some time as I'd promised.)  They're my favorite pair of all that we own, and I claimed them to wear on this reshaped old felt cowboy hat.  The brass filigree on these goggles was cut with tin snips from a lamp and the strap and cups around the eyepieces are scrap from a faux leather belt and some elastic.  (See, and at the time these were made, we didn't even have real leather to work with.)  Everything was bent, glued, screwed and sewn on the best he could. 

Gotta be one of the most original pair I've seen, and they were his first pair of goggles and FIRST steampunk accessory!  No previous costuming experience here.

But, you don't have to get this complex with found parts when making your own goggles, either.  If you don't have access to broken clock, lamps and other items you don't HAVE to go shopping.  Just look around for what you DO have.  Open every cluttered draw and dig in every dark corner, closet or even recycle bin.  You never know what is waiting.  Just check out this pair made with Prescription Bottles by Billy Mitchell (Picture courtesy of Christopher Ruth of Gypsies Welcome).

Yes, they're made with these:

..and what looks like some can tabs and a purse strap.  It was such a wonderful idea!  The top of the bottle is a perfect size/shape!  Hat's off to your sir for the genius "upcycler" you are!

But, even if you don't have any of these bottles, there is still hope.

Most recently, I made a pair out of juice jug tops.  Here's a pic of a friend sporting his new juice jug goggles on a hat he made himself.  I used the top portion of two 2 qt. plastic juice bottles (I think these are Northland brand juice).


I cut the top off with a pair of sharp scissors.  Then, trimmed them til they matched and fit the contour of my face.  The strap is simply black waistband elastic.  I didn't get a chance to decorate these with any extras because they were made last minute for an event.  Just gold/bronze spray paint, shoe polish to stain/age them sealed with clear acrylic spray paint and the green 2-liter bottle lenses.  But, I think they look pretty cool on their own.  And, as with the aluminum monacle's brown A&W bottle lenses, which had a screw off lid frame, the lenses are removable.  So, he can change out the color to match his outfit.  :)   If I'd had more time, I probably would have added a molding around the eye pieces on these for better comfort.  But, since they will most likely never leave the crown of the hat to ever be worn on a face, it really isn't necessary.

There are so many materials around the house that can make cool goggle bases.  I've seen other goggles in many different styles made with pipe fittings, old sunglasses, assorted bits of gears and leather.  Smaller caps could be used as vents or smaller lenses.  Plastic can also be cut into shapes like gears that could be attached by melting, glue or even a brass brad fastener. It's fairly easy to work with plastic, too.  You can use sharp scissors, utility knives, or a soldering iron to cut and pierce the plastic and bend it to your will.  It's just up to you and your imagination to make them even better.  Will you be a professor, a mechanic, a pilot, or traveler.  It's all up to you.

I'd like to continue working on yet another pair with a larger round topped juice jug.  (The tops are in the pic above.)  But, first I need to finish up some overdue tutorials and do some much needed cleaning in the craft room, again.  In the meantime, I've got a few posts to make on my sweety's hat making progress and the daughter's sewing projects.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I've entered yet another Craftster Challenge - Please vote!

I'm determined to win a cool Craftster t-shirt.  Plus, Elmer's is providing $50 worth of supplies as an additional prize!  So, if you'd like to help me, please help me out and go put in a vote for me here (  Who knows, if I won, I might just be using the supplies to make you something someday.  (nudge, nudge, wink, wink...)  Or, if there's enough interest, I could have another giveaway, this time for a paper hat...if I win.  ;)

I've copied and pasted the submission below:


For my paper challenge entry I give you an "upcycled" red riding hat made mostly of cereal box cardboard and tissue paper.

Even the decorations are mostly crepe and tissue paper, minus the couple of earring embellishments, the feathers and the veil (This veil is made from those net bags you get on produce at the grocery store.  I think these red ones are from Lychee at the Vietnamese Store.).

I made this cereal box cardboard hat as a pattern back when we were trying to work out the black leather version here.  But, I'd been wanting to go ahead and work it into a hat of it's own ever since.  It's just been sitting in my craft room in pieces for ages.  So, this challenge has motivated me to pick it up and put it together.

Being a paper challenge, I tried to use mostly paper.  This is why I covered the whole thing in wrinkled red tissue, which gives a nice leathery texture to the surface what you cover.  We have a LOT of red tissue from many a Christmas gift from the past.

I used a few other product to finish the hat, as well.  I painted over the tissue with red acrylic craft paint and then stained the red with a dark brown shoe polish from Kiwi.  I'm beginning to favor this stuff over acrylic paint as a stain.  It's a nice color, goes one easy and has a pleasant smell, too.

I must say, I was excited when I read Elmer's was sponsoring this challenge.  How fitting that I glue the whole thing together with my daughter's Elmer's school glue she brought back for the summer break.  I adore Elmer's white glue.  At our house, we use it for so many purposes.  Smiley  (Thank you, Elmer's, for helping make us successful on so many projects throughout the years.)  This year we got the daughter the newer clear school glue.  I tried the clear glue to apply the tissue to the bare cereal box cardboard.  It worked great.  It's not really tacky and dries fairly slow, so the paper can be pushed around and doesn't stick too badly to your hands.

The flowers in back and cockade in the front were fun to make.  I experimented with different flower techniques I found online.  That's why none of the flowers are the same.  Most are made from crepe paper.  Though the carnations are the easiest/quickest of these flowers to make, I like how the far right one turned out, which is made from a thinner cardboard from a saltine cracker box.

So, whatcha think?  Do I have a chance?  :)  Thanks for looking! Now, go vote, please!  I really appreciate the effort!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Custom Flask Holsters

Check out the new flask holster:

The same camp mate from our GSC who supplied the color copies for the banners that I shared in the last post about Flipside, a regional burn in Texas, also decided to gift our camp members each their own hip flasks.  When he mentioned his plan to me, I thought it was a great idea.  Sounded fitting.  I mean, we're gonna need something to transport our personal supply of the multitude of yummy liquor concoctions around with us while off adventuring.  But, he almost nixed the idea when it was found to be too costly to have the flasks engraved or otherwise personalized for the camp.

I thought...hmmm...the Mod Podge transferring was so much fun. Let's try some flask holsters with some smaller images on the front!  Working with what I had on hand, a couple more color copies and a little help from the family we assembled 25 of these, which cost about $1 each in supplies to make.  After punching lots of hole; attaching a few strips of elastic band with a handful of rivets, staining with shoe polish; and sewing the backs on, we have these:

To wear it, the holster slides onto a belt through the slits on the back.  The flask slips in/out pretty easily when needed.  Though, when these were passed out at camp, I noticed that many of our camp mates have exceptionally wide belts that they ended up just sliding between the flask and leather backing of the holster.  One member even slipped her phone in front of the flask.  Cleverly inventive gypsies!

I went through a few different prototypes before I was satisfied.  My original design was all one piece folded around the bottom of the flask with lacing on the sides.   I'd also intended to use some scrap canvas instead of the leather as you can see the start of here:

But, the leather and elastic looked and functioned much better.  And, surprisingly, the image transferred much cleaner, too.  The transferred image seems to be staying on the leather quite well.  I made a sample and put it through some abuse with water and stretching.  It held up great.  But, we'll have to wait and see how well they hold up over time and heavy use. But, they seem like they'll do just fine.  Who knew transferring with Mod Podge actually worked really well on leather!  How cool! 

The best part was that our camp members seemed very please with their gifts.  And that made me a "happy camper".  :)    Next up, I should be posting about making your own inexpensive goggles out of stuff from around the house.  Should be interesting to the DIY steampunk'er in some of us, I hope.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DIY Low Cost Banners

We just attended our second regional burn event, called Flipside, over this past Memorial Day weekend. (These regional events were created after the original Burning Man event in Black Rock City, Nevada.)  With around 2500 people, it was lots of fun even in the almost unbearable Texas heat.  You may be asking, "What is a burn event?".  If so, I'll get to that later in this post.  I have a feeling it's going to be a long explanation.  :)  But, the main point right now is that we got to camp again for three nights in our "Yurtle" with our themed camp, "Gypsy Steam Circus".

In planning for the event, I wanted to make some signage for our camp that we were sorta lacking at Myschievia, our 1st burn back in Oct.  Voila!  This is what I came up with:

I'll explain how I made them in a moment.  Now, for explaining what a "burn" is for those not "in the know".  Being so many things to so many people, it's difficult to define. But it's partly about "radical self reliance", artistic expression and being a part of a unique temporary community.  I think it's best described as a temporary escape from and letting go of the "real" worlds daily stresses to live ever so briefly in the moment.  Probably the toughest concept for most attendees to get their heads around is that at these events you are not allowed to sell/barter ANYTHING.  The only thing you may purchase there is ice.  You have to bring enough supplies to survive for what could be up to 6 days.  And, if you bring it in, you have to take it back out with you, including trash (well, minus what you deposit in the port-o-potties).  No commercialism or capitalism from the outside world is allowed.  Everything is on a volunteer basis.  Even safety and maintenance people are volunteers.  They refer to what is created as a "gift economy".  Everyone chips in their part to help out.  And, everyone seems to have something unique and wonderful to offer whether it be food, drink, clothing, art or entertainment.  These smaller regional burns may not have the population or number of art installations of the big one (at 20,000+ attendees), but it was still amazing.  What we think makes it so special is all the many themed camps that gift out their own specialties to attendees.  Some of our favorites were the dance floors, arts/craft stations, breakfast and probably best of all hair washings.  There was even homemade popsicles in odd flavors such as Bloody Mary (with stuffed olives), Pickle Juice, and Cantaloupe.   Honestly, with all the camps serving food and drink to try, we brought way too much for ourselves and our camp!

Our own camp's main contribution was to serve some of our members' specialty homemade alcoholic beverages such as "Gypsy Potion", Mead, "Johny Jump Up", "Apple pie" and Skittles Rum among other mixed drinks from our two bars.  We all took turns manning the bars just as the sun started to go down each night.  Before the event, some of our camp member got together and made the pair of terrific portable bars that were painted with circusy red/white stripes. We also had scheduled events throughout the weekend such as a steampunk gadget workshop, glam station with costume trunk free to all, and and an impromptu iced water gun shootout.  I was blown away by all the individual talents each of our more than 25 members brought to our camp.  We even had an abundance of fire spinners/eaters, belly dancers, jugglers, hoopers, name it.

With a group this large, we needed a presence.  We looked into having banners printed, but it was pretty costly.  We had planned for a few banners at about 2x3 ft for our bar area, which would have cost us well more than $50 a banner.  Yikes!  My brain got to working and I figured we could make them a LOT cheaper.

I decided to use old bed sheets for our banners.  I found a few for a $1 a set at the thrift store.  I ripped to size, hemmed, and primed them with latex interior paint.   My original idea was to just paint the designs by hand, but that was going to be way too time consuming.  So, I opted for a different  quicker solution.

Now, I've transferred images with nail polish remover before.  I may have mentioned this in many previous posts including the spellbook here. But, I kept seeing posts on other craft sites and blogs about using Mod Podge or gel medium, that stuff for decoupage. My original thought was just to transfer my b/w laser copies to the sheet to be painted in with color.  But, low and behold, I found out one of our camp mates works for a copy center!  Ho ho!  I had access to cheap color copies!  Yay!  I sent them files that were tiled to fit on 11x17-sized paper that I could tape together before transferring.  The important part, that I almost forgot, was that I needed the image to be a mirror of the original to be legible when I was done.

So, after I primed the sheets and trimmed/taped my backward tiled image together, I glued it to the primed banner face down.  Now you're probably thinking, "What?!  You just screwed up you banner, man! You glued it face down?!".  Or, maybe not.  Anyway, this IS what you're supposed do.  Once it dried, we got to work dampening the paper and rubbing it off gently so that only the image was left on the banner.  Pretty cool, huh?!  Yeah, I thought so.  Plus, another camp mate was also a graphic designer and came up with another banner design, which we also transferred:

They were really fun and kinda stress-relieving to make.  :)  It took a few attempts to get all the paper off.  And, some of the image did come off with it giving it a very old and weathered look.  Though, after a few banners, we realized that rubbing with the grain of the paper helped to get it off cleaner while removing less image.  When finished, I sealed the image with more Mod Podge and then a coat of waterbase indoor/outdoor polyurethane varnish.  Here's a cost break down:

One twin bedsheet $.50
One Gallon Indoor Latex Paint (clearance) $9
Paint Brush/Roller (on hand)
Tape (on hand)
22 11x17 color copies (gifted) but would be about $11
8 oz. Mod Podge Gloss (with coupon) $3
8 oz. Waterbase Polyurethane Varnish (clearance) $4
12 1" Grommets  (dollar store, not shown in the pics $1
TOTAL COST for two 2x3 ft and one sign 1.5x4.5 ft = about $30

WAY cheaper than the printed banners, right?!  And, I've probably got enough left over to make a few more, which I was going to make until all the costuming and another project stole my attention and time.  I'll tell you more about that in my next post, shortly.