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.