Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fascinators? Are Fascinating!

 Fascinators are hair decorations that often include mini hats.  I wanted to try making a hat from regular craft felt, and I found some instructions online.  I used a plastic cup to block my crown, and sized it with white glue.  The brim was steamed into a flat shape and then I sewed the two together.  I finished it with ribbon.  Getting the ribbon to be relatively smooth around such a small circumference brim was a bit of a challenge.  But steaming the ribbon into a circular shape, and steaming it again after it was stitched did the trick.
 The flowers are made from polymer clay.  I rolled some Super Sculpey semi-translucent clay very thin using a pasta maker, cut out the flower shape and rolled it up.  And of course, I made a place inside the flower for an LED.  I used some tin foil as a reflector inside a cone shape that makes the base of the flower.  I made a hole for a small LED in the bottom, and some holes for sewing on the side, and then baked it.  I sewed the LED to the hat first, placed the flower over it and sewed it in place.

 Close up of the hat.  The fluffy parts are two different types of tulle, layereed together and gathered.
The battery is on the inside with a snap acting as a switch.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Halloween light up Sunflower

As I mentioned in my previous post about the zombies, we had a Plants vs Zombies theme.  My daughter wanted to be a sunflower that would light up.  I'd just begun to play with soft circuits at this point, so I said, "okay!"  In February I started researching what I would need and ordered some El Wire to figure it out.  The El wire was actually pretty easy to use once I had played with some.  I ordered a driver for it, soldered the El Wire to a little plug and it was ready to blink.

Next I created a paper pattern.  I used a soccer ball as my head model and for a long time had soccer ball with a paper flower taped to it hanging out in the living room.

I started the head piece with craft foam to provide structure, but still be soft.
I sewed satin with an organza overlay for the petals.  I had to really baste it to keep it from moving all over.
Next I hand sewed the El Wire to the edge of the flower petals on the satin, and then flipped the organza layer over the El Wire.  (I haven't trimmed the inside edge of the flower so it won't fray while I'm handling it to sew on the El Wire.)
 I sandwiched the flower petals and the flower "face" in between the two sides of the headband.
 Here you can see the El Wire under the organza, and the face of the flower in the unfinished head band.  I put velcro on the head band to close it under the chin.  I also had to add some clear elastic to the back of the headband to keep it from slipping forward.  I finished the face with eyes created from the bowls from two black spoons, with a white highlight painted on.
 Here are the basic elements of the pot.  The pot had a rim that was supported with thin (1/2") upholstery foam.  And then a rod of fiberglass to form a hoop to keep the circular shape.  The bottom of the pot was basically a skirt that fell from the rim of the pot.
I enclosed soft rope in the hem of the "skirt" to help it hold its shape while hanging, but allow it to flex for walking.  
 I made the roots by applying a two part clear resin to bits of rope that I'd frayed.  The resin helped the roots keep their shape.
This is how the pot was tied on and formed the "dirt" of the pot.  This was a straight piece that was added to the Pot rim.  (I sewed it on before I sewed the rim and enclosed the foam.) It also serves as the channel the fiberglass rod was threaded into.  The top is gathered on a shoe lace which ties at the waist.  
 The leaves also used craft foam inside to give them body.  The stem is basically a "vest" that fastens in the back with velcro.  The bottom of the stem is tacked to the "dirt."

Here is the video of the El Wire blinking in the head piece.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Halloween Zombies

Last year after Halloween we started talking about having a family theme, and came up with Plants vs Zombies.  My daughter would be a sunflower and my son and husband would be zombies.  (I wasn't sure what I would be, but usually I don't have time to make anything for me anyway.)
Here is the zombie mask process I went through.  It stared with paper maché on a balloon.  I blew up the balloon--and made sure it was bigger than my son's head.  Then I taped the eye forms to it.  I used an Icee lid for the big eye, and newspaper covered in tinfoil for the little one.  I drew the mouth shape on the balloon so I would know where to stop, and where to apply the teeth.
It took several weeks (working on weekends) to build up the masks to solid thickness.  There were some surprises.  I had the mask out in the sun to dry, and the heat caused the balloon to pop.  For the first mask it was okay, it was thick enough and dry enough that I just needed to stuff it with news paper (inside a plastic bag) so it would keep it's shape as I added more wet paper.  The second mask's balloon popped way too early and it suffered some deformation.  I had to do some paper maché surgery on it to reconnect a broken jaw.
Once I had the masks to the thickness I wanted, I painted them with white gesso, and applied a band of fabric to the bottom to finish the edge.  (the fabric is the green in the photo below--it hadn't been gessoed yet.)

I had to get the height right to make sure the mouth was sitting at the person's eyes.  For that I wadded up newspaper for padding and glued a sheet of newspaper in the top of the mask to hold the padding in place.  The coffee cans have aquarium gravel in them to add some weight while the glue dries.  Next I glued in a foam head piece since the masks were bigger around than the heads they were going on.
The foam head piece.  I also drilled small holes in the sides and sewed in some clear elastic to function as a chin strap.  At this point I glued some window screening into the inside of the mouth to obscure the human face inside.
The next step was mixing up a batch of "zombie green" acrylic paint and painting the masks.  I added shading and highlights to accentuate the details.
This mask is the "deformed" one, so it has a little more "character" than the other one.

Here is the whole ensemble.  My son wanted to be a bucket head zombie.  The bucket is made from craft foam, which was painted with metallic paint.