Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Freddy's New Hand and Hat

I never liked the original hat I had for Freddy. It was like a cross between a fedora and a porkpie. Freddy needed something bigger, more like Indiana Jones' hat.

I ordered this new one from Amazon the other day. It's a part of a Nightmare on Elm Street-licensed costume, but it is so flippin' ugly.

I'm trying to convince myself to NOT buy another new hat.

Freddy only gets seen at Halloween and he'll be in the dark...so I shouldn't spend another $40 or so on another, better hat. Right?

Anyway,  you can see here that he has his new hand now. The mannequin's original right hand had the fingers molded together. To put the glove on him, I'd drilled holes between the fingers and tied the individual glove fingers onto the back of his hand.

I'm still having problems getting his arm to stay up the way I want. Hell, I used some good epoxy this evening on his arm, and it still slid back down like this. Freddy has kind of a rotator joint inside the arm at his shoulder. It's a separate round plastic cap looking thing that sits on a tab on the shoulder, at his torso. There are grooves around the cap, like an American coin, and I'm thinking the hole for it inside his arm is just too big, because those grooves can't catch on anything, to hold it steady.

At this point, I decided my best bet would be to wrap the hell out of his shoulder with Duct Tape, to get his arm to stay where I want it, Ace Bandage style.

I ordered a new set of hands from Amazon the same time I ordered the hat. It was actually cheaper to order a set of hands, than it was to order just the right hand. Shane cut the mannequin's right hand off tonight for me with his band saw (I think), just below the wrist.

I knew the mannequin was thin plastic but I was surprised how thin it was, once I was looking down the inside of his arm from his wrist!

Because it was so thin, epoxy wasn't going to work to secure the two pieces together. Instead, I used a couple short pieces of Duct Tape. I gave a little twist of his new hand before securing it, because I want to make sure the glove is seen.

However, getting those stiff vinyl fingers into Freddy's glove was almost impossible. I had to really wrestle them in and I was afraid the new hand would snap off his wrist. It's holding quite sturdily.

What I'm thinking I should have done was order a woman's right hand, because it would be a little smaller and would have fit inside the glove easier. I ordered male hands, but it wouldn't have mattered because you can't see his hand with the glove on anyway.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Another Weird List

So for some weird reason, I like making lists. I've got lists in here of movies, of concerts, of comedians. I don't know why. Maybe it's like some kind of weird stat thing for me.

That being said, one more list...the cons I've attended! I thought I'd already made this list, but I guess not.
  • Ring of Fire, 2015, Virginia Beach, a hotel
  • Tidewater Comicon, 2015, Virginia Beach Convention Center
  • Tidewater Comicon Video and Kickstarter Event, 2015, Virginia Beach
  • Galacticon, 2016, Virginia Beach Central Library
  • RavenCon, 2016, Williamsburg, a hotel
  • Ring of Fire, 2016, Hampton Convention Center
  • Tidewater Comicon, 2016, Virginia Beach Convention Center
  • Richmond Wizard World, 2016, Richmond, conference center

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Grinch in the Christmas Tree


A couple of weeks ago, my sister sent me a picture from Pinterest and asked if I could make it for her daughter, as a Christmas decoration. It's the Grinch, his rear end sticking out of a Christmas tree, as he presumably gets ready to steal it.

Like a fool, I said yes. Seriously, what the hell was I thinking? 

Of course, I couldn't find a pattern online for this monstrosity. So, I had to wing the whole thing.  

Prepare for swearing.

The shopping was going to be the easy part. I could break down the various parts in my head before I cut a single piece of fabric. I knew right away the Santa coat would be made from a Christmas tree skirt. I picked one up at Target for $15.99. I think it was 48" across.

The 2 yards of green polar fleece, Fiber Fill and wooden dowels came from Wal-Mart. The feathers were from A.C. Moore. The two Velcro ties came from Home Depot. The thread I used was already mine. I even used the leftover polar fleece pieces as stuffing in the body. None of that green fleece was wasted.

The fact that the Grinch is not a regular person took a lot of the pressure off me. I decided to use a variation on the poppet pattern from Good Cookie Creations. I sketched out enlarged versions of the legs (stopping at the ankles), front and back pieces with a Sharpie marker on the fleece and cut them out.

For the feet, I still had enough green fleece, so I decided to stick with his natural green feet and not make Santa booties for him. I traced around one of my Converse Chuck Taylors on a piece of cardboard. Then I enlongated it and thinned it out, giving it a pointed toe. I made one of these for each of his feet, as kind of an insole.

I traced around those pieces, twice each. One piece became the bottom of his foot, and the other became the top of his foot. I used a small rectangle of fleece for the back of each foot. For the sides, I roughly sketched out on the fleece what the sides of Chuck Taylors might look like.

I sewed the front and back pieces together. I think once or twice, I went back over my stitches to take some of his "girth" in.

When I sewed his legs together, I actually ended up making them a little shorter than originally planned. If I hadn't, his legs would have been longer than mine! Instead of using joint buttons, I sewed the legs into the body like I was making a leotard with skinny leggings, and flipped the whole thing right side out.

I sewed the feet pieces together, flipped them right side out, and slipped in the cardboard insoles. I stuffed them firmly, folded over the top edges of the feet and whip stitched them to the legs.

At this point, I inserted a wooden dowel into each leg and started firmly stuffing around the dowels. At the very top of the dowels, I used Duct Tape to attach them to each other for extra stability. While the dowels do go all the way into the ankles, these dowels are really what makes the Grinch stand by himself. I did try stuffing the legs without dowels, and his just fell over. I think the dowels I used where just over 1/4" wide. I didn't trim them for length.

When I got his legs completely stuffed, I started whip stitching the top (just north of his rump) halfway closed. After I had him stuffed completely, I finished sewing him closed. It didn't matter how neatly this as sewn, because it got covered up anyway. I went back and after adjusting the Fiber Fill, I was able to take his hips in a little more, which actually helped to get that booty of his under control.

Once the entire body was stuffed and sewn shut, I draped the Christmas tree skirt over his hips and rump and started whip stitching that into place. There's no real way to describe how I did it, other than just folding and adjusting the skirt as I went, so that it looks like the bottom portion of a Santa Claus jacket.

But because I can't ever be satisfied with something the first time, I hot glued some green feathers to his ankles, just to hide how they are stitched together. Plus, I wanted another texture on him. In watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" this year, I couldn't decide if the Grinch was furry or had feathers. I didn't bother watching the Jim Carrey version for source material, because I wanted this to look cartoony.
 
Do you know how hard it is to hot glue feathers to polar fleece while your cat is trying to molest you??? Of course, THAT'S when she wants attention! :)
I also whip stitched a Velcro tie to each side of his front, to help secure him to the tree, once he arrives at my sister's house. He's going to be shipped out on Tuesday.

I literally have his ass cheeks sitting on the top of this chair. I am 5'4" without shoes. This thing's "waist" is damn near as tall as mine!




 

Today Has Been A Productive Day

Today has been a good day. The whole weekend has been good, but I've been especially productive today.

  1. I finished Freddy's face (previous post).
  2. I picked up the last few things, and a ginormous box, for a Christmas decoration for my niece (upcoming post).
  3. Wrestled and cussed at the new window shade I bought for the bathroom, but I finally got that bitch hung, BY MYSELF! :)
  4. Replaced the dish rack in the kitchen sink, and replaced the tub stopper in the bathroom.
  5. Sent two cards off in the mail today: a thank you for an interview I had earlier this week and an aunt's birthday card.
  6. Sent an email over to the guy making my X-Wing pilot vest.

Freddy's New Face

Now that Halloween has come and gone, as has Thanksgiving, you'd think all of my Halloween decorations would be put away by now.

If you thought that, you'd be wrong. :)

Something about Halloween and our yard just didn't click with my this year, so I'm still dicking around with my Freddy Krueger. He's still downstairs in our second bedroom.

We made one quick fix to him before the trick or treating started this year. I had Shane pull Freddy's sweater up from his chest, while he was standing behind Freddy, and I blasted his chest with black and red spray paint, plus some brown shoe polish and some brown craft paint. This is the sweater I bought for Freddy originally (although I did buy it from Spirit Halloween, in person) I realized there was a lot of unblemished skin showing through the holes in the sweater. I also blasted Freddy's left hand with color as well.

But I still wasn't completely happy with him. I never was going for Robert Englund as Freddy. I just wanted a decent haunted house Freddy, if that makes any sense.

Here is the before of his face, from Halloween this year.




The red burns on that healthy colored flesh was pretty stark and it just wasn't working for me.

And then I decided to try the brown shoe polish on the mask. It was something I learned from Cosplay Chris: brown shoe polish can be used to weather and age just about anything!

I ended up doing about 3 coats on Freddy's face, and about 4 on his chest. The chest inserts are made of a different kind of plastic than the mask, which is actually latex. I also went in with some black craft paint (to "burn" one of his ears) and some brown craft paint, just for some more detail.

I had actually bought a very pale pink paint as well, because I thought I'd layer the paints to give the face and head some depth. That pink really didn't work at all. It dried chalky and looked like I had rubbed Pepto Bismol on his face. I had to wash that shit off.

Because I then decided I wanted kind of an oozy, moist look to Freddy's skin (I don't know why, since Freddy didn't look like that in the movies), I sprayed a light coat of high gloss clear coat over the mask.

Before putting it back on the mannequin, I used Duct Tape and some Fiber Fill on the inside of the mask and stuffed the nose and ears, to help give them a little more definition. Before, they were kind of floppy.

I can't do anything about the mask's jacked up teeth, so I'm leaving that as it.

The clear coat made the latex a little stiffer so I had to really pull to get the mask back on the mannequin's head. I used a more Duct tape to hold the mask down on his neck, to give it a little more of a natural shape. Through the slit in the back of the head, I stuffed more Fiber Fill into the mask, around the cheeks and jawline to fill it out a little more naturally.

While I now hate the hat he has, Freddy looks better to me. I'm going to end up replacing the hat, I'm pretty sure.

Ignore the droopy right side. His arm wouldn't stay in the position I want, so I took it off and will epoxy the shoulder in place next week. Thankfully, I've left Freddy to come apart at the waist, for easier transport and storing up in our attic.




While he looks a little more like beef jerky right now, I am happier with how he looks. The burns seem to have depth to them, and they don't look as fresh anymore. Jesus, did I actually just write that like it's a positive thing?

I was going to weather the store bought glove, bought from Spirit Halloween as well, but in order to that, I'd really have to prime it. I just don't want to do that because I'm feeling lazy. I'd have to mask it off from the glove and that just seems unnecessary. But fixing Freddy's face was necessary?

I am going to buy him a new right hand. The hand that came with the mannequin has all the fingers together. I'm going to cut it off and replace it with a hand with the fingers spread. That will be a separate post, though.

Until then, sweet dreams.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Chucky Gets His Own Platform

This last October, I ordered a Chucky doll from Spirit Halloween. I've been pretty happy with him. I had been thinking about making one out of MDF board for Halloween, but duh, Chucky is a doll and that's the form he should be displayed.

I had actually been looking for a used Chucky from either eBay or Etsy, but as it turns out, Spirit had them new and in much better shape, plus, he was cheaper there, even with shipping. I didn't want a talking Chucky, but I did want him to be a good, realistic size, so this version of him fit the bill. The Mezco brand of  dolls actually reminded me of Jack Nicholson. I think it was his hairline.

I will admit, his hair does leave a little something to be desired. In fact, that was something he got negative points for in people's reviews on Spirit. Some people thought it looked too girly. In my case, my problem was that it seems to fall out too easily. But when your face is as jacked up as his, do you really care about your hair?

But anyhoo, we had him out for Halloween this year and he tipped over a few times. Before the night was done, Shane said we needed to make a stand for him, since he didn't come with one. I figured getting Shane to make a stand for him now would be about as likely as me getting a day off right now. But as soon as he mentioned it, I thought it was a damn good idea.

I played around in the wood section of Michael's a few days ago, thinking I'd get three trays or something, in staggered sizes and with routed edges. I couldn't find what I had been envisioning. I stumbled across a small wooden slat box (I think it may have been balsa wood) and inspiration struck.

I've been watching Cosplay Chris's YouTube channel lately. What I came up with for Chucky's stand is really just a rip-off, errrrrr, inspired by, the stand he made for his BB-8 and his First Order Stormtrooper.

Just a cheap little box, flipped upside down and spray painted black. I picked up a wooden dowel, cut it in half, and drilled appropriately sized holes in the box to line up with the back of his feetsies. They go through the box all the way and actually sit on the floor, same as the box.

I picked up some gravel from a new housing development out in Chesapeake. I could have used sand, but since Chucky is/was from Chicago, sand didn't make sense (but a murdering doll, inhabited by the soul of criminal makes perfect sense), so I looked for roadway gravel at the end of a road. I used a healthy amount of Modge Podge and laid the gravel in it. After it dried, I sprayed just the top of the platform with some clear coat, to help secure the smaller pieces.

Right up the pant legs. It makes me think of Deadpool here, grabbing his ass after he had been shot. "RIGHT UP MAIN STREET!" I might need mental help to make that connection here.

"Ya wanna play?"
I liked this little project. Minimal cost, because I got the with a coupon, and I already had the paint and glue.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Jake the Dog For Christmas

Right now, my crafting room (and part of my house) looks like it has thrown up on itself. I'm just coming off a consumer trade show that lasted 10 days, with 2 days for move in for the exhibitors and a half day of move out. Tomorrow, it will be a 15 day stretch of working before I get a day off.

During that time, I had a half-assed attempt at trying to be crafty and finish a couple of projects. But no such luck, until tonight.

Hell, I've even emailing Comodo, trying to get my blog unblocked. It was blocked for having "prohibited content" for several days. I'm not sure how far reaching that blockage was, and I don't know if my emails to Comodo did anything. All I know is that when I went back into my blog through the admin portal, I removed a YouTube video of a Pizza Hut commercial, it seemed to open me back up for business for a short period of time. But now, I can't see it again.

In fact, if anyone can see my blog, would you leave a comment for me? I'm starting to wonder if I need to stop this one and just move to a new site and link to this one.

Anyhoo, during the show, I started crocheting in my down time, which there was a decent amount. I decided to make, or rather, remake Jake the Dog. Last year, I wrote about my tiny Jake that fell off my backpack while I was on my scooter. I'll probably make another one that size, but for right now, I worked up Jake to keep me company.

I actually made Jake here about 1 1/2 times, because I just wasn't feeling it. I used this amigurumi crochet pattern by VACH. There's nothing wrong with it. I just felt like tweaking my version of Jake as I went.

I eyeballed his arms and legs, and I went back and pulled them off to shorten them. I also redid his nose roll. I was just having a hard time getting him to really look like Jake.

For his eyes, I actually did those three times. The pattern calls for crocheted eyes and then stuff them slightly as you stitch them on. Then I used iron-on patches to create his eyes. They still didn't look right. On my last try, I used white and black felt and blanket stitched them together and on his face. I like that better.

The same went for Jake's nose. It was supposed to be crocheted. I wasn't feeling that, so it became a felt nose.

I didn't really know what I was going to do with him. As I was finishing him up tonight, I decided to use him (and the Finn the Human I'm currently working on) to do a little good for Christmas this year.

I met a couple through the trade show, new coworkers but only on a temporary basis. They have two kids and both of the parents were working every shift they could get. The wife told me her 13  year old daughter likes "Adventure Time," and the mom actually knew who Jake the Dog is when I told her what I was working on during the show. She said her daughter has a little bit of a developmental delay.

I got to meet her daughter and thought she was kind of a fun kid. I also happen to have their address, based their daughter's letter to Santa, written and "sent" during the show, because I'm the one that is sending the replies. So after Finn is done, I've decided he and Jake are going on a new adventure together. I'm sending them both to their daughter, with another letter from Santa.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

A few years ago for Thanksgiving, Michelle the Cook brought over roasted Brussels sprouts. Man, they were so good. And it's taken me, literally, a few years to find a good recipe for them. But it finally happened: Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts by Ina Garten.

Full disclosure here: I think Ina's show, the Barefoot Contessa, is a bit obnoxious for some reason. I don't know if it's her or the show's format, but I don't really care for it. That being said, I have good memories of watching her on TV with my mom when I was last with her. we watched a lot of Food Network those two weeks.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core
  • 4 ounces pancetta, 1/4-inch-diced--I didn't have any pancetta.
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, including some of the loose leaves, which get crispy when they're roasted. Add the pancetta, olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, toss with your hands, and spread out in a single layer. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, until they're tender and nicely browned and the pancetta is cooked. Toss once during roasting. Remove from the oven, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again. Taste for seasonings, and serve hot.

Damn it, that Ina Garten is good! :) This turned out as good as my friend's recipe did, and I believe she had bacon in her sprouts.

My husband doesn't like Brussels sprouts so I had leftovers and actually finished them off for breakfast today while I was waiting for the cable guy to show up. :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Artichoke Chicken Stuffed Pizza/46 Recipes Down

Supper tonight was one of those happy coincidences when you know what you want to make and just happen to have everything you need to make it.

Tonight, it was Artichoke Chicken Stuffed Pizza by Sam the Cooking Guy. I saw him make this on his tv series so I was able to hunt it down on his website, which is why I'm sharing it here.

Two crusts make this a crazy 'deep dish wonderland of chicken and artichokes' - it's great.

Ingredients

  • One Pillsbury 11 Oz Thin Pizza Crust or enough pizza dough for approximately two 10" circles
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 14 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
  • 1/3 cup spaghetti or pizza sauce
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Grease a 9" cake tin or pie plate
  3. Roll pizza dough into two 10 inch circles and lay one circle on the bottom and up the sides of the tin
  4. Sprinkle crust with Parmesan cheese then add chicken & artichokes and top with Alfredo sauce
  5. Add second crust on top and pinch both crusts together around the edge
  6. Spread pizza sauce on top of the crust, and sprinkle with mozzarella
  7. Bake about 35 minutes - or until golden brown.
What did I learn from this recipe? 
So I learned it's wickedly easy to make a stuffed pizza. This thing would be amazing with some ground sausage or beef in it, along with some mushrooms.