Monday, April 27, 2009

Zinnia

There is a small cemetery around these parts that I have always been drawn to.  About 6 months ago, I found a story about it online that has now been burned in my brain.

It’s the story of Soledy, who was the first person buried in this cemetery.  She was born on the same day (not year) as my grandmother, and died 10 years later on the same day (again, not year) as my son’s birthday.  She lived from 1864 to 1874 a few miles up the road from my very modern suburban neighborhood, in a town that no longer exists, only the cemetery remains.  Why this is important, I don’t know, but it just stuck in my head as I tried to come up with a name for my first zombie. 

I named my first groundbreaker Frank, after Mr. Sinatra, and that was fine, but for some reason, I can’t seem to name this zombie Soledy, I guess because it seems disrespectful to a little girl.  (But apparently I am free to disrespect Ol’ Blue Eyes?  No rhyme or reason, I tell ya)  So I’m naming her Zinnia, after my favorite garden flower… but I bet I will always think of her as Soledy.

4-27 004 This is a much smaller pumpkin than I normally do, it would fit on a dinner plate.  I’m going for realism on this…. pumpkin… zombie…. yeah.  whatever.

And the cute little dress that Jaybo scored for us at the Goodwill for $1.50… I feel bad taking this gorgeous thing out of the hands of a cute little could-be-wearing-this-dress girl, but… its all in the name of the haunt, right?

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It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the detailing on this is just amazing, down the arms, and the trip, etc.  Its going to be a shame to rot this one up.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I’m Addicted to My Mache Paste

I have a problem, and should really seek help.  Although, I don’t think I will find Papier Mache Paste Anonymous in the phone book.

Now you think I’m crazy, and that’s ok, because I will explain it.  Not that you won’t still think I’m crazy at the end of this post, but you will understand WHY I’m crazy.

First, let me say that when I began learning papier mache techniques early last year, I faithfully followed the instructions and recipes of Stolloween found here.  (His recipe is about halfway down the page in yellow italics print).  I can only say this – I am SO glad to have found him, and benefited from his trial and error of the many recipes out there, because this is the only one I have ever tried, and will ever use… no need for a lot of experimenting.

Having said that, I also tend to over do things…. even directions.  Stolloween said that because it is a flour based recipe, and can tend to mold if left out too long, you can “add mold inhibitors such as salt, bleach or anti-microbial dish detergents to extend the life of paste”.  So, I usually add a bit of ALL of those things, haha… better safer than safe, right?  (I hope he’s not reading this and rolling his eyes at me right now… haha).  Bleach actually gives me a raging headache, if I smell it too long – like, long enough to scrub the entire bathtub/shower… so I was adding less and less bleach each time I made paste.  (it really doesn't take much in the paste, but it doesn't take much to trigger a headache for me, either) so needless to say, I hated the way the paste smelled.   (I’m getting to a point, I promise)

Last week, when making my batches, I was out of dish soap and reached for my hand soap next to the sink – my FAVORITE smell in the whole wide world, Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint.   It’s in the “Stress Relief” category of their aromatherapy section, and man, does it work on my stress.  :)

So, I put in about 5 squirts of that soap, and mixed it up like normal.

Oh my.  I’m in heaven.  Every time I pop the top on that coffee cannister, I just thank the stars that I get to papier mache for that moment in time – all the stress goes right out the door.  With every strip, you get a little whiff of that scent… it’s amazing!

(Yes, Yes, I know, its not anti-bacterial.  I don’t care about that part anymore, haha!)

POINT:  If you have a favorite soap scent, try it.  I cant say it will do much for anti molding properties, but… it just might put a smile on your face!

(Maybe this is a chick thing.  Sorry guys.)  :D

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Progress… Slow and Steady

I love starting on props in February, it allows for you to work on several projects at a time, going from project to project when you need a break or a fresh perspective, or your kid breaks your gargoyle and you want to throw it in the trash.  Don’t throw it away, just put it in the corner, promise to come back to it next week, when you can do it without cursing, and start on a pumpkin.

Having said that, I bet you can assume that the Gargoyles are currently in the “pissed off” category.  Another project in that (ever increasing) category is the cauldron.  I’m about to make the largest trash bin that our house has ever see out of that thing.

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Never let it be said that I’m not an idiot who takes all the stuffing out of a mache project before its ready…. or strong… and that the bottom wont cave in, so that when you lay it on its side to keep from having the bottom fall OUT, it then warps into an OVAL shaped cauldron.  Ugh.  Jayson had it right when he wanted to go buy the garden bucket… NO!  I will NOT give up!  I will put it in the “pissed off” corner, and move on.  It’s April, I have TIME!  (right?!?!  oh dear.)

The candles, on the other hand, are coming along splendidly, I just forgot to take a picture of them.  I am just finishing up the wax drips, then a coat of paint, and then Jayson gets them to do some kind of LED magic on them.  I get to make a kabillion flames out of silicone, and stick a fork in them.  Sweet.  Something according to plan.

Pumpkins.  Did I mention we are doing Zombie Pumpkins as a theme this year?  I liked it because I had not heard of it being done before (and if YOU have, please, PLEASE don’t tell me, or I will wanna change, and then I WILL end up at divorce.com, haha) and the pumpkins could easily be reused in other themes in years to come.

So, I need a lot of pumpkins.  Not 100 of them like a fellow forum member is doing, but… still… a lot.  Its April, and I’m up to 4.  I think I should be concerned, but, nah.  Not yet.  (Have time?  Right?)

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Since these are still in the “working” pile, I haven’t started on the angel in the background yet, or any of the new graves.  But I’m sure that I will get tired of pumpkins and want something new for a week or two.  That's the joy of April.

And speaking of the “joy of April”, I just want to say how appreciative I am to live in Texas, as these were blooming throughout my yard this morning, and I just want to share two of the shots with you, in case your roses aren’t in bloom yet.

Off to a make & take tomorrow, so we will talk to you soon!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Store Bought Items and Clay Recipes

Have been watching the thread at Halloween forum where Terra describes the her version of the 'Beloved' Tombstone, and absolutely fell in love with the way the dress pleats, creases, and curls underneath the monster mud and Drylok.  I decided to start drawing up some sketches and doing some online research of Cemetery Statuary to be able to incorporate a dress, while coming up with something completely different from Terra’s version.  I also started hunting dresses, looking in thrift shops, Craigslist, etc.  and believe it or not, found my gem on Ebay.  After a few tense days, I won this one for $10.00.  Bet the seller didn’t like me too much, heh.

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I never knew how hard it is to photograph a white dress in a white house.

 

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Sorry I can’t post some of my inspiration cemetery statue pictures, but I steal from ALL over the internet, and heaven only knows what kind of trouble I would get into for throwing some of those out there without the proper permission, haha.

Another find was at Michaels, while picking up a new glue gun and some Sculpey. 

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7 inches tall, made of resin, 5.99 full price, but I used my 40% off coupon to get her for 3 bucks.  (Made Jayson use his 40% off coupon for my new glue gun – he got the crap end of that stick, lol).  Now she just needs to get dirtied up…. fast.  :)

A note on my clay.  I have gotten some emails asking the recipe for the clay.  I’m going to post it, but with a word of caution.   This is NO WHERE NEAR as good as Creative Paperclay, or Sculpey or anything… it is pliable and easy to work with, using water as your smoothing solvent, but if you put it on too thick, it cracks.  It also breaks if your 13 year old son accidentally kicks a gargoyle over and it hits the garage floor…. hypothetically, of course.

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Lost the tip of his ear, and a chunk at the base of his ear.

BUT.  Having said that, it is also cheap, easy as pie to make, smoothes out pretty nicely, and can have a purpose, as long as you know its short comings.

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Showing cracks during the drying process.  I found a solution for this, see below.

 

One Of Many Homemade Clay Recipes:

3 1/2 – 4 Cups Flour (depending on humidity.  I tend to use 4)

1/2 C Salt

1 TB Cream of Tartar (powder in a small jar, found on spice aisle)

2 C water

2 1/2 TB Oil

1 TB Vanilla Extract – Optional.  Kinda makes it smell like Play Doh, and it’s just for fun.

Boil the water.  Place flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large bowl.  (I use my largest Tupperwear bowl).  Measure out your oil and vanilla, and have it ready.

Once the water is boiling, pour directly into flour all at once.  Pour the oil and vanilla in, and stir to combine.  It may seem a little bit dry at first, but don’t add more water yet.  Wait a minute or two for it to cool if you are a pansy like me.  Once cool enough to touch, start kneading.  This is SOOO therapeutic.  If I could knead warm dough ever day that I don’t have to worry about baking and having it be too tough, I would be a happy girl.  If it is still too dry after kneading for several minutes, add a bit of water a few drops at a time.  I have never had to do this.  Knead until it is no longer sticky at all, and has the consistency of, well, clay.

Stores in a plastic container with a lid.  (This size batch fits PERFECTLY into a large Cool Whip container.  I’m just sayin….)

If you apply this to a prop, and notice hairline cracks the next day when it is drying (it is air dry, not to be fired) you can cover those pretty well by using a brush, and painting some papier mache paste over them… this smoothes it out.

I have another recipe to try that involves glycerine, so as soon as I find that at the drug store, I will be testing again.  Will let you know how that goes.

If anyone uses this clay on a prop this year, I would sure like to see it… hint.  hint.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Halloween Forum

There is a brand spanking new Halloween forum on the scene called Twisted Nightmares. Not a lot of content as of yet, but a great bunch of people running the board. Drop in and help them out. Oh, and make sure to check out the chat room in the evening. Lots of good natured banter going on! Tell Bear and Kid that Jaybo sent you.

 

Twisted Nightmares

     

UPDATE: Sorry guys, the only thing up at the site right now is the forum. Like I said, this is a brand new website. There are a few dead links on the site because they have not fleshed out the whole site yet. I have changed the links in this post to take you directly to the forum.

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