Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

I was saved time this year as three out of four of my kids opted to wear a ready made costume for Halloween, either that we already had or that was given to them as a gift (thanks Granny!), so I only had one costume to worry about, or so I thought...

My eldest son received a last minute invitation to a Halloween Party on Saturday evening - he is the one I was making a costume for, and it wasn't ready yet, so I had to come up with something fast - I found this on the internet and loved it!

He's a "Smarty Pants" - geddit?  Yes, his trousers are a little on the short side, this is why they were chosen for the glue gunned smarties, they will be thrown out afterwards...

As for the main costume (to be worn at school and for Trick or Treating in the evening), we came up with something a bit similar, as it is another "play on words" - he is going as a CEREAL KILLER!

Now, this costume may be nothing new to you folks in North America, but I certainly had never seen or heard of it before and when I found it online it made me laugh - and it's so easy to do!

We bought an oversized black t-shirt from the thrift store (so we could fit layers underneath for warmth) and splattered it with red paint.

While the paint was drying on the t-shirt, I got some plastic knives and tried to make them look more authentic by painting the handles with black craft paint, then wrapping the "blade" with foil.  I took a bunch of small cereal boxes and glued then closed, then used an exacto knife to make a slit in each, and put a knife in, securing it with hot glue.

Then I went back to splattering, this time over the boxes/knives.  Finally with a brush I painted around the spot where the knife meets the box - it makes it look more like a wound, and it covers the hot glue too.

And finally, we glues the boxes in place on the t-shirt using hot glue - I put a garbage bag in between the front and back layers of the t-shirt before starting this, just in case the glue seeped through and glued the shirt together!

For school today he is wearing just the t-shirt, when we take them out Trick or Treating tonight I am going to have some face paint "blood" on his face, and stick a few pieces of cereal around his mouth too!

Nikki x

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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Fall table runner...kind of!

I wanted to make a nice Autumn table runner for our kitchen table, so decided to cut out some leaf shapes from felt.  I went with the traditional Autumn colours of brown, orange, red and yellow, but also decided to mix it up with some different shades of brown (from very dark brown through to light beige) a bit of green (well, there are SOME green leaves on the ground outside...right?) and even a couple of shades of purple.

I drew some basic leaf shapes, after checking out the garden to seeing what was around!  I came up with 3 shapes - one is supposed to be a maple leaf (there are a LOT of maples around here!) but don't ask me what kind of trees the other two come from!  Possibly an oak for the leaf on the left?

I ended up cutting out 28 leaf shapes from the various colours.  It took me about an hour to pin the template, cut, re-pin etc.  The perfect job to do while watching your favourite TV show...

And this is what I ended up with.

I had originally planned to artfully arrange these into a runner for the table and then either sew or glue them together (although after all that cutting, I'm pretty sure I would have ended up using hot glue - super fast!).  But as I played with them, I started to see the potential for leaving them unattached.

1)  I can arrange them in all kinds of different ways, whatever takes my fancy (see pictures below);

2)  Craft felt doesn't wash very well - if there was a spillage at the table (and with 4 kids, they are not exactly rare) I am hoping I can scoop up the few leaves in the firing line - if they get ruined so be it, at least I don't have to thrown the whole project away!

3)  I can make a few new leaves every year to add to the pile - maybe one day the pile will be big enough to require a garden rake :O)

So, here are the ways I tried - I'm quite sure the options are almost limitless though (sew them into an Autumn mobile?  Put them in frames for Autumn artwork?  Make a bunch of them into an Autumn wreath?) - my ideas are all to do with the table.

Spread them out randomly to cover quite a long distance...

Gather them closer into the middle of the table...

Or even try to arrange them around a centrepiece.  Obviously, I don't have a centrepiece in this picture, I'm planning to carve my pumpkin with the same leaf shapes and sit it on the table too, so that would work.

Those sharp-eyed readers amongst you may have noticed that 3 of my leaves have some embellishement.

I added some veins to the purple leaf, I outlined the orange (in blanket stitch - a tried and trusted favourite of mine!) and on the yellow one I did both.

Over the next few days I am planning to grab a few leaves whenever I have a spare half hour, and eventually do one of the above to them all - it adds a little texture and interest, I think.  They don't all have to be done, even just a few "accent" pieces would be nice!

I will be sure to post a couple of updated pictures once I am done!

Nikki x

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Sunday, 23 October 2011

a twist on the Perpetual Calendar

Just a quick, picture lite post today - and completely non-Halloween related!

I am a big fan of Bon Temps Beignet and loved one of Liz's recent posts for making a perpetual calendar from a picture frame.

Now, the last thing I need in my house is another calendar having ordered one myself for 2011 and we received several more as gifts.  However, I decided to alter the idea slightly and voila!  Now I have a great way to keep track of the kids' school activities and after school bits and pieces too!

If I could change one thing, I think I should have used papers with a bit more contrast, and may re-do it at some point.

It won't have to be adjusted too much during the school year, and if I do need to change anything, I find a cotton wool ball and some nail polish remover is a great eraser (I used a sharpie for all the writing)!  I have this in my kitchen so I can see at a glance each morning who needs gym gear, when homework is due back and when I have to hunt for the kids' library books!

AND it looks so much better than the limp piece of paper which I had stuck to my kitchen wall with all this info last year ;O)
Thanks for a great idea Liz!

Nikki x

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Friday, 21 October 2011

Complete Halloween Mantle

So, I think my halloween mantle is complete!

We picked up this mantle a few months ago through Freecycle, you'll notice (obviously) that I have yet to come up with a permenant idea for the space, and our "hearth" is a shelf we bought from the hardware store and cut to size so the mantle wasn't simply sitting right on the floor.  Anyway, that big glaring gap is a project for another day ;O) 

Here is the top half, including a few of my blog crafts:  my BOO artwork, Halloween Countdown Blocks, Papier Mache Pumpkin, Spooky Spiders and web.  I decided to off-set the mirror from the centre and quite like it, and my spider is kinda filling the gap above the other half.

The kids and I also make a ghostie garland, and used the leftover bat embellishments from my Halloween Wreath to make a pattern above them.

Here is the lower half, on the "hearth"

A friend of mine was throwing out the little green foot stool, so I thought I would try to make use of it!

You'll notice there is a particular author who is a favourite of mine - with the dust jackets off the colours are nice and muted for the most part, and the books help to fill up a bit of that empty space.

I added some seasonally coloured books on the other side to add a bit of height - the bowl is a papier mache one I made a few years back.

I'd love to know your thoughts on the overall look - I look at it one minute and think "Hell yeah, it looks awesome!" and then the next time I look I think the combo of the top half and the bottom half makes it look too busy!!

I guess now that this is finished, I need to start thinking about Christmas crafts...!

Nikki x

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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

BOO Halloween artwork


I had a bunch of cheap wooden frames from Michaels ($1 each) left over from a craft themed birthday party so decided to do some more halloween decor.  One of the frames had been partially painted by one of the kids, but no problem, this should be covered up with the black paint!

These frames didn't come with glass or even plastic, but they did each come with a piece of card in the gap - I ripped 3 pages from a book called "Spells, Charms and Talismans" which I thought was appropriately witchy and therefore good for halloween, and mod-podged each piece of card onto one of the pages.

After the two coats of black craft paint were dry...

I cut off the excess paper from the card...

And put the car back in the frames.

I toyed with a few ideas for the letters for BOO, including cutting out black felt and then making small white felt pumpkins to make the gaps in the B and the two Os, but discovered I used up all my black felt on my Halloween Countdown Blocks, so back to the drawing board!

In the end I decided I wanted to finish these super fast so I had a look online for free halloween fonts and found a good one where all the letters were made from bones, and adapted it a little (including adding some shading) - I drew them freehand using a fine tipped sharpie.

I like the way they turned out, you can still see the majority of the text as the letters have not been filled in.

I also like the fact that the letters are not too in-your-face BLACK black but a more subtle black, they almost feel like a part of the print.

These frames came with a little dowel each that can be inserted in the back to make them free standing, or they would look nice attached to some black ribbon and hung on the wall - mine are just set up on the mantle.

Nikki x

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Monday, 17 October 2011

Doctor Who TARDIS finger puppet

Here's one for fans of the Doctor (who knew he would be appearing on my blog again so soon!) - finger puppets!  Easy to make with basic sewing skills, and the craft felt and thread are very inexpensive.  This tutorial is for the TARDIS, but if you have a look at the end, you will find another bunch I made too!

Here is the TARDIS pictured with a Cyberman and a Vashta Nerada (the three were my last order through my Etsy shop, which is now defunct)

You'll need some blue, yellow and white (not pictured) craft felt, and matching craft threads or embroidery floss - also a small amount of black thread.

The first thing to do is make a paper template - draw a rectangle measuring 4cm x 7cm, and then add the little extra piece at the top where the TARDIS light goes!  Pin the paper to the blue felt, and cut out three of these.  At this point, I also used a scrap of white felt to cut three small squares and a narrow band to go across the top.

Pick out which of your three shapes will be your front, this is where you will be doing most of the work!

Using your black thread, attach the narrow band (this is where it says "Police Public Call Box" on the actual TARDIS, the black thread represents the words in this case.  Once done, leave the black thread unfinished at the back for a few moments.
Thread your white thread and attach the three white squares - each is held with a stitch in each corner.  Then, re-thread your black thread and put the "writing" on the lower of the white squares.

Thread your blue thread and make the "panels" on the windows - each window has one line horizontally and two vertically.  From there, sew a line starting underneath the white band, almost to the bottom, which will be where the TARDIS doors meet.

Go back and sew on the outlines of the remaining squares in the same blue thread.

Take a tiny scrap of yellow felt and cut it to the same size as the little light piece at the top - put a couple of stitches in the bottom, the rest will be secured when you sew around to complete the puppet.

To finish it off, take the remaining two TARDIS shapes - and line them up all together with the front on top - pin them to keep them in place while you sew.

I used blanket stitch on my puppets as I like the way it looks.  Sewing through all three pieces, begin to blanket stitch around the shape - however, DON'T FORGET when you get to the bottom of the puppet (where your finger will go) to continue with the blanket stitch but ONLY through the front and middle pieces.  Pick up the back piece again when you reach the far corner.  This ensures your finger actually has somewhere to go, and all the messy thready bits that you sewed are now all hidden between the front and the middle pieces!  When you've gone all the way around, finish by threading through to the far edge and snipping off the thread.

Hours of fun for Who fans, big and small!  I have included some pictures below of the others I made, they are all based on that original 7cm x 4cm shape, with some shape adjustments to fit each character.

Here are Amy Pond (in her police uniform), a Dalek, the 11th Doctor (complete with Fez!) and a Cyberman...

Vashta Nerada, the TARDIS, Rory Williams in his hospital scrubs, and an Ood...

And finally, the 11th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver, an Adipose, the Master and a Scarecrow!

Nikki x

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Friday, 14 October 2011

Pumpkin Carving

I think it's a little early to carve this years pumpkins, so would like to share the pumpkins I carved last year! 

We had 5 last year, as myself and each of the kids planted a pumpkin seed at a local farm in June, then went back to collect our haul in September.  We decided to do something a bit different than normal, and we all chose something for our pumpkin before I got to work.

A bat...

A whole bunch of love hearts...


As for the last two (belonging to me and my eldest son), well I must confess that we are pretty big Doctor Who geeks, so we both chose something Who related.

The 11th Doctor's logo for my son...

and finally, a Dalek for me - he looks very cool in the dark, you'll see further down in the post ;O)

I took some pictures with the lights off and the pumpkins lit with candles on the inside - please excuse the picture quality, when I took these last year I wasn't expecting to be blogging about them at some point!

And all of them together!

I knew Doctor Who would be mentioned on this blog sooner rather than later, and probably not for the last time...

I wonder what ideas we will come up with for this years pumpkins?  Watch this space to find out in the next week or so!

Nikki x

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