crafts

All posts tagged crafts

Costume-palooza: Princess Leia

Published October 14, 2017 by admin

Some more Halloween costume fun for the weekend:

This was actually made for a Star Wars party, but I’ve worn it off and on for some Halloweens, so I’m counting it. I was a huge Star Wars geek growing up, and though I’ve burned out some, I’m still always going to love the originals. And Leia is always going to be one of those characters that I always love. It’s weird, because growing up I was Vader and a Jedi for Halloween, but I never really fathomed myself being Princess Leia. Somehow that felt beyond me, that I was too geeky or awkward or plain or whatever. I don’t really know why it took me so long to do this outfit, but it was a long time coming.

And no, it’s not the outfit you’re hoping for.

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This took more picture research than I would have anticipated, and the friend who helped pattern it with me and I did change it slightly. The original is done as a big giant T with the side seams sewn, but there was no way I could find white stretch jersey that had that kind of wingspan. So, we added the sleeves on separately. I also had to double up the fabric to make it opaque, and figuring out the hood attachment and the neck was a little bit of a job, too. Boots are borrowed, wig is bought, blaster is actually one of the sound effect toy storm trooper blasters that I sanded and painted and now can never take anywhere without huge disclaimers. The belt is a vinyl base, with silver vinyl over car liner and some convenient look alike buttons I found. I can’t remember the total cost of this one (it’s been a while ago), and I still need to actually buy my own set of boots for wearing this out (I’ve cheated and worn black flat boots if it’s dark out when I’m wearing it. The real versions are flat white boots and if you’ve ever tried to source those, you’ll know how fun it isn’t).

I’ve worn this one while handing out candy in the past, and I’ve gotten some great reactions over it (except the mini Vader who cried because he thought I wouldn’t give him candy when I opened the door. That was nearly a galactic emergency). I’m a little particular with this one since it’s gleaming white, but I love it and love wearing it.

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Project Pics: My Little Trenty

Published September 16, 2017 by admin

Alright, something fun for the weekend!

So, I am blessed and cursed to have friends that forget nothing and love to never let me forget anything, either.

Yeah, I now have photographic evidence of the time I made a Closer-era Trent Reznor My Little Pony for a friend’s birthday ten million years ago.

I would like to take time to heartfeltly apologize for bringing this into existence.

No, I am never doing this again (unless heavily, heavily bribed). Mostly because (at least at the time, maybe circa 2004-2006) that small of scale got to me. Now, maybe if I did something more to my liking, I might be alright. I’d have to test it out again, but I remember this specific project being pretty tedious. I’m sure part of it is I’m used to a much larger scale (usually human and above), but I think part of it is that the more modern MLPs are just that hard to work with (at least for a novice like me). It took me at least two goes, because in order to change out the hair you have to slit the head off, and I remember slipping enough the first time that the head wouldn’t fit back onto the body, and it was just a mess.

Yep.

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So, basically, I boiled the original hair out of the head, and made sort of a larger-scale needle threader to pull the hair through the existing holes. It’s about as much fun as you think. The tail was somewhat easier because it’s basically one bunch and it’s enough to actually grab onto. I can’t remember, but I may have scalped a doll from a craft store or a generic dollar store Barbie for the hair. Yeah, I know, I feel horrible just typing that.

Eyebrows, eye color changes, the NIN cutie mark/tramp stamp, and I think the boots were all done with model paint (maybe the silver boot detail with silver sharpie – that stuff is pretty magical). I just couldn’t get the hang of the molding I’ve seen on a lot of other custom ponies, and I was working on a schedule, so I played to my strengths and what I had on hand. Plus, back in my day, MLPs wore actual fabric clothes, so I’m a purist.

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If you have never tried patterning out a vinyl coat & pants and fishnet shirt for a freakin’ miniature toy horse, you’re missing out on a life experience. Granted, my original MLPs are some of the few things that have made it in tact through the years, so I likely patterned off some of the clothes I had for them as a kid (God bless the 80s). I think the shirt was the easiest part – I either crocheted or knit that on a really loose gauge then seamed it up on the body of the pony. the bandages on the forelegs are just muslin, I can’t remember if I bothered to hem the raw edges, but it appears that I did. The vinyl for the coat and pants is something I had on hand, so I did my best off of stills from the Closer music video. Because that is apparently what I was doing with my free time back then.

I never really figured out a great way to do the goggles on that scale, so point deducted for that, I guess. But yes, this exists, probably to be immortalized for all time now. It is honestly pretty cute and seeing it after all these years does amuse me, but man oh man did it take some finger gymnastics to get this thing done.

Project Pics: Paddlelump

Published September 5, 2017 by admin

So for once in my life I don’t have any columns or reviews to share – some things are scheduled, but nothing new at the moment. I did put up the new flash stories under the free reads page, updated the books page, and I’m working on getting all the other pages on this thing up to date, as well. So, let’s just get the shameless promotion out of the way:

Buy My Stuff

Okay, now that that’s done, I figured I’d show some more project pictures today, and believe it or not, they’re actually tied in with my other work.

So, when Olde School released it was in the back of my mind what I could do to get people to my table at events, or at least get their attention. I don’t really accomplish a lot by acting like a carni barker at my table, and I’m short, so in a crowd, it’s easy to be overlooked. However, I do have a special set of skills that others don’t have…

Meaning I’ve spent the bulk of my career making big giant stuff. So I figured, why not make Paddlelump Stonemonger, the main character of the book, and let him walk around handing out swag and terrifying people into coming by my table?

At the time I was juggling a lot (switching day jobs, one of my best friends was passing away, I was still doing a weekly podcast and was prepping for the first Imaginarium), but I managed to find free time for store runs (the sheer amount of times I’ve been questioned/encouraged to leave hardware stores because they think I’m trying to be funny is amazing), sewing, and building the head in my backyard. Seriously. I nearly got in a fight with a dog over that head, its success is well-earned.  Also a huge thank you to the friend who made Clyde for me because I was literally working on Padd up until the night before Imaginarium.

Because this is so close to my professional work, I’m not really going to go into huge detail, but I think from head to toe he took maybe a little over a month (because I was cramming in the work in between everything else). Since then, he’s shown up at various events in different states, and people either love Padd or flee in terror (which is pretty close to the book, so I must be doing something right). All of these shots are by my friend/editor/wrangler Robin Blankenship, who’s amazing in her own right and puts up with so very much from me.

 

padd and me booth

At a book fair, because I bring only the best booth babes, 

 

padd library

 

padd and clyde

Clyde also tends to make appearances, because what’s a book event without the personification of evil in a cute little bird?

 

padd jumping

There is a 99% chance something like this will happen as soon as my back is turned and it always freaks me out to see the photos later. Yet I was the one who ended up in urgent care that day.

 

padd bookshelf

Product Placement at its finest

After all this, if you’re curious about Paddlelump, Clyde, and Kingdom City, might I suggest going here for more info on the book (including buy links), as well as interviews, free shorts, and other fun stuff involving that world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project: Plush Hooded Figure (Welcome to Night Vale)

Published June 3, 2015 by admin

The hooded figure that accompanied us to the Welcome to Night Vale live show was actually a Christmas present I’d made for my friend this past year. It’s ever proof that with some fleece, reference pictures, and imagination, you can really do anything.

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I ended up using fleece from Jo-Ann’s to do both the body and the cloak for the figure – I really love the way it lays, the fact that it’s durable, and it gives drapey things a little bit of body. I got the idea for this from seeing different crochet hooded figures. Originally I was going to try to knit one, but i just couldn’t get myself motivated, and I’m fairly good with building plushies if I’m in the mood and can clearly see what shapes I’m working with (or have enough material to make mistakes and fuss around with).

I quickly settled on purple for the robe because, hi, Night Vale, and I saw a few images with a figure with that creepy grin, and of course I wanted to incorporate that. Basically, all this really involved was making a tube with a circular base, making a circle for the head, making little arms that ended in mitten hands, stuffing and putting all of that together, then designing a cloak and hood that snugly fit over him. I think it took me a couple goes to get the body shape right and the head proportionate, but it didn’t take less than four hours, tops, start to finish. I hand-stitched felt on for the grin, and tacked the sleeves and hood in place. With fleece you don’t necessarily have to hem the edges, but I’m anal-retentive, so I wanted it to have a polished look.

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She almost didn’t get it for Christmas because I had way too much fun creeping people out by putting him under chairs, next to table legs, the works. Unfortunately, I don’t have pics of those hijinks, but I’ve made up for that with other things since then…

The Lost Manuscripts: Here’s an idea for Mother’s Day!

Published May 11, 2012 by admin

So my early childhood writer self did not, in fact, remain limited to fantasy stories. Nope, I also decided that it was my destiny to be a self-help/instructional writer as well. So today we are visiting my short essay on a project you can do with everyone in your life. In fact, I highly suggest you do this as a unique Mother’s Day present this year. I remember my mom loving things like this when I was a kid so why shouldn’t she love it now that I’m…not as much of a kid on the outside? Try it and see how speechless you can make your mom!

And as usual, unless they really make me cringe I’m writing these verbatim so remember that my spelling and grammar have improved somewhat since I was ten.

HOW TO MAKE SILLY LOOKING ANIMALS

(By SJ age ten)

This is how you can make your own silly looking animals. You will need paper, a pencil, and some crayons. First, get out one piece of paper and fold it in half. Second, think of two animals, like a camel and a dog. Next, draw the first half of an animal on one side. Then, draw the last half of the other animal on the other side of the paper. Now, unfold the paper and see your silly looking animal. Finally, color and name your animal.

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Man, wikihow here I come! What amuses me about this is that I was so procedural. In an ironic twist of fate when I was eleven (a year later than when this was written) we had a class assignment that was similar where we had to mash-up animals and name our creature. In that instance everyone in class did the two animal thing and I think I actually may have put together the parts of like forty different animals and written a whole dissertation about the creature’s habitat, food habits, and hobbies. Don’t ask me what in my brain changed from age ten to age eleven, but apparently I decided that typical methods were not for me within that time! I wish I still had that picture – it was a riot. All I remember was that it was some sort of four-legged thing with a giraffe neck and part of the head was like a gator with these really shiny silver teeth because I was in love with my silver crayon and I may have tattooed its butt like a My Little Pony. So compared to eleven-year-old SJ, this ten-year-old version is truly the lame how-to craft book author version. But since your mom may not want a forty-animal hybrid picture for Mother’s Day, or in the event that you’re not feeling comfortable with being that off-the-cuff, I suggest with sticking with the tamer version. Though I would write a little poem to go with it and sign your name at the bottom – moms dig stuff like that. Add some flowers picked from your garden (especially dandelions) and you’re golden! And in the event if your mother is not thrilled with receiving this sort of thing on her special day…well…remember that this advice is coming from my ten-year-old self via time travel and scrapbook.

Slave to the (knitting) needle

Published December 9, 2011 by admin

I try to save myself from this every year. I can usually make it through most of the rest of the year….winter is hard, but the holidays are the hardest. Everything is so cozy and happy, but I’m usually busy with performance obligations so I have to keep my head clear. And spending money on guilty pleasures isn’t something I should be giving into this time of year, either.

But it’s so hard to ignore the craving. I told myself I wasn’t going back to this place, no matter how good it might make me feel. I get that every day it’s a battle and a process. I’ve tried so hard to deny myself and get back to being a whole human being, to not be driven by one, blinding obsession.

But all I want to do is surround myself with one thing and one thing only:

Yarn.

I want it more than anything. Sure, I have enough, but there’s sooo many choices out there. Bamboo, Alpaca, Merino, eyelash….the choices that are so soft and sleek and colorful that it could bring a grown woman to her knees (and some men, too.) I want to buy bags of it, stab it with long sticks, and run my fingers through it over and over until I absolutely have to work with it.

That’s right. My name is Selah Janel, and I am a knitter.

Sigh. Sure, you may think it’s an innocent hobby, but dude, once you start you will get your soul sucked away. If you are one of those people who can just be content to knit scarves or the occasional holiday present, then I applaud you. You are amazing and your moral center in incredible.

I tell myself every year that I don’t have time to make presents for everybody and I sure don’t need to add challenges for myself that I’m never going to finish. Ditto to the projects that I know will drive me out of my mind (This would be most sweaters. The sizing challenge on sweaters makes me want to kill myself, though I can usually get them to turn out decent…though not without some destruction to my soul and emotional center first.).

I have to lock away any extra money before going into a craft store, especially the crafting supercenter that is too close to where I live. Not only does it have aisles and aisles of yarn, but aisles and aisles of fabric…oh it’s bad. It’s a bad, bad den of temptation. And I want to Be At One With Everything In It. I want to run down the aisles and grab EVERYTHING, because only I can make everything in that store achieve its true purpose!!!

Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Crafting addiction.

It starts out innocently enough: one or two hats for myself since those I have are getting ragged. Or maybe a few lacy scarves for extra presents. Maybe a couple small clutch bags. Some ornaments. A plushie. And somehow it morphs into all of the above, a sweater, a blanket, a cozy for my car, and life-size replicas of all my friends with embroidered features.

Okay, maybe it isn’t THAT bad, but there are days I wonder about myself.

I’ve stopped checking out random knitting books and hitting up blogs. I now page through them as fast as I can to determine how many patterns there are that I can actually use. And then I weigh these new temptations against the pile of projects I have waiting for me…those poor, neglected, half-formed mutants that just need a little finishing, a little work, a little love. And yet they get passed over for the new shineys, the new challenges that will take my art form to epic highs. Poor, sad little creatures.

I also tend to forget what’s in my stash. And I have a beautiful yarn stash, although I always see things I want and think ‘Maybe…maybe just this once…Oh think of all the things I could do with THAT…oh if only I could sink my hands into THAT…oh what glorious things we could make together, that yarn and I!’

okay, maybe I’m not quite that bad, but I still get yarn mania from time to time. And yarn mania combined with fabric mania is just a nightmare waiting to happen. The next thing I know I’ll wake up on the couch all contorted in a pile of yarn and forty-seven different needles, with five different pattern books laying on my lap. And just when I think I’ve reached a new low, I’ll look over and see it: that horrible plastic bag full to the brim of fleece, lining material, and knit apparel fabric that I didn’t really need. And seventeen patterns that looked good at the time. And that awful compulsion, that horrific drive to try new things in an attempt to get higher than before, better than before wars with the shame of all the projects yet to be finished…and I think maybe, maybe if I try really hard and don’t sleep for a week I can get it all done. It never works out, friends.

Don’t let this happen to you or someone you love this holiday season. If you have a crafter in your life, be there for them. Keep an eye on them. Take away their sales brochures (but do so at your own risk – we’re dangerous if you take away our tools. If you ever want to potentially lose a limb go up to a knitter who has nothing else to do and take away her needles. She can be the nicest, most patient person in the world as long as she has her knitting but take it away and watch yourself lose a limb.) Make sure they have a plan, a schedule, a lifeboat when things get to be too much. Comfort them when they get overwhelmed. If they get that telltale gleam in their eye, hide their materials and let the air out of their tires so they can’t buy more. Because if they take on too much, you won’t see them again until at least April. If you want to make sure you actually get to spend time with the crafter in your life this holiday season, be prepared to lock them in a room without their pattern books. But even then you’re not safe, oh no. They will resent you. They will hate you for depriving them of the ability to knit you ten zillion sweaters. They will cry at the thought of all the little children missing out on the little hats they could be making. Just the mere sight of anything holiday-related is enough to send a crafter into fits of nostalgic-fueled work overload. If you know you are prone to these temptations, this unconquerable addiction, just remember all those who love you. They want to spend time with you this holiday season and not just the things you create out of yarn, no matter how magical and how spectacular.

Let’s face it, the heathens never appreciate your talents enough anyway, so why waste your time when you could be plowing them with snowballs and stealing those ungrateful jerks’ Christmas cookies?

So to everyone, a final reminder: be careful. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.