Teaser

Hello All,

I have been working on and off all week to get the decorations up. Truth is… I’m still not done. I won’t say I bit off more then I can chew… just that there aren’t enough hours in the day! Also, I still have a few more DIYs coming your way.

But for now, a tiny little teaser of what I have done so far. Gotta say I’m excited about the lights!

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Stay tuned!

Cheers,

BG

A Note about Streampunk

Hello All,

With the house and yard starting to shape itself up, let’s turn for a post to another topic.  I have been slowly looking at and buying pieces to build my steampunk botanist. I mean, what the point of building up this plant nursery without a mistress to run it?

The basic idea behind steampunk is the product of a particular sect of the Science Fiction community. It is largely based in the Victorian Era, but with a kind of industrial revolution feel to it. It is largely got a technological feel, with the brass and gears, but with the values, and social “settings” (if you will) of the 1800s. Think the Sherlock Holmes Movies. Or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Or Jules Verne books.

I spent a lot of time researching not only the culture, but how to build these costumes. I spent a lot of time trying to decide what exactly I might want. I thought about sewing it, and my momma and I talked about it in-depth. We looked at patterns and at prices for material. Eventually, we decided that it would be best (and cheaper in the long run) to just piece it together with pre-made costumes pieces, then possibly make the accessories. And so I decided to that, to me, the essence of the costume came down to three things. I knew I wanted a corset, a bustle skirt, and a headpiece of some sort. I just figured that if I’m going to do this, I want to do it all out. I want the costume pieces to be big and period specific. I mean, when I watch historical movies or shows, I spend more time paying attention to the costumes then the actually plot. (It drives GL crazy :P) I wanted my color palette to be greens and browns in varying shades. It speaks to the profession of my character, who would naturally be very in touch with the earth as a botanist. I wanted some subtle patterns, maybe slightly mismatched. Lots of rich fabric, lots of layers.

Well… I have the basics of the costume worked out now. I already had these brown boots with buckles that I knew would suit the theme, so I started with them. The first thing I ordered was a skirt piece with a bustle on the back. I was super excited, but it turned out that it left a very significant gap on one side that was not “family friendly,” for lack of a better term. I fixed that problem with a modern green maxi skirt. It gives it that pop of green I really wanted. My shirt was actually a homemade piece from another costume that Mom and I had made a few years ago (pirates… yo ho ho!). After searching for quite a while, I finally found a corset I was happy with on eBay. It is a under-bust, with rich brown texture. Best part was already embellished, so less work for me! Here is what I got so far!

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Quite Happy so Far

I am still looking for the perfect headpiece. Everything I have seen has been more expensive than I wanted, so I have a feeling Mom and I will be building a little while I am down south visiting. Sounds like fun to me. 🙂

Cheers,

BG

DIY: What’s your Sign?

Hello All,

Ok… this project is slightly more involved, but I LOVE it because it is a method that you can use for anything (and not just Halloween)! In fact, I used it  to make these shields that hang outside my house. They are painted with the Scottish Seals for the three clans Green Lantern and I descend from!

Anywoo. Let’s get to it.

The first thing you need is wood for your sign. If you are comfortable using powertools, feel free to cut it into the shape you want. Since my hubby doesn’t trust me with a saw (and probably for good reason since I can barely operate a kitchen knife :P) I bought my wood pre-cut from a craft store. I left my wood raw because I want it to wear while it’s outside, but you could stain it if you want here.

The next step takes place on the computer. Figure out what you want your signs to say, or what design you want on them. I used Adobe Illustrator to create and manipulate type, but you could even use office just to type out fonts or use clipart. I chose a font with an old-world, steampunk-y kind of feel. Make sure that whatever you are using has thick clear lines that will be easier to follow during the transfer step. You might want to double check the measurements of your sign to make sure everything is sized appropriately. When you are satisfied, print it out. This becomes your stencil.

I like to cut down the excess paper from the stencil so I can place it better on the sign. Flip it over, and using a pencil, color over the back side of the words. DO NOT do this on top of the wood sign! You will end up with shadows of backwards letters on the sign… not the best effect. 🙂 You might have to do a couple of layers to get a good solid color. Place the stencil on the sign and tape it in place when you are satisfied with the placement.

Stencil in Place for Tracing!

Stencil in Place for Tracing!

Now you trace. In the case of my letters, which are thick, I did the outside of the letter, and the inside to create the internal spaces. When you press down on the top of the image with the point of your pencil, the graphite from the back with make a shadow print on the wood. Make sure you get all the lines!! There is nothing worse then picking up the paper and realizing you missed a section! Once you get through all of that, you can pull the paper stencil off and throw it. You will have a perfect guide on your wood to follow.

It will be light, but if you look closely, you can see my graphite guide!

It will be light, but if you look closely, you can see my graphite guide!

Now the fun part…. Painting! Depending on the size of your sign, the size of your brush could change. Since I had a lot of little details, I chose a small flat brush. Depending on how intricate you design is, it may take you a while to paint. I did three signs spread over a couple of days just because I didn’t want to rush it, and because I was working on other projects.

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If you are making a normal sign, that’s it! Go you! For me, I wasn’t quite done. Obviously my plants are carnivorous… They kill things. SO… I needed a little blood. Using red paint, I applied it with a combination of two ways. The first was spatter painting. I used a paintbrush (but a toothbrush would work better) and ran my finger across it quickly across the bristles while pointing it down. Very easy. After I was satisfied with the amount of splatter, I got a bit more hands on. I actually painted parts of my hand to leave prints and drags across the signs. It really gave it that Halloween feel I was looking for. 🙂

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Bloody Good!

The last thing is deciding how your sign will be displayed. The first was easy for me. I attached it to a yard stake which I got from the hardware store. The other sign, which I intend to hang, was a little more tricky. Luckily my next door neighbors are good sports, and he handled the hardware. Basically we used a long piece of chain (also from the hardware store) and screwed it into the back of the signs. Each sign (since it is two hanging together) has four points on the back where a screw is attached through a link in the chain. We left the top long so I could hang it from the ceiling of my porch. Here the finished products!

Hanging and Stake Garden Signs for my Evil Botanical Babies <3

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Back to work I go!

Cheers,

BG

DIY: The “Eyes” have it!

Hello All,

I had a big photography project come through so I got a little behind on my Halloween Projects. But never fear! I’m back at it and working like crazy! As the inside of my house slowly transforms, I am getting the outdoor themed stuff made as quickly as possible. Which leads us to the DIY for today.

Way too pretty to be in my  nursery right now!

Way too pretty to be in my nursery right now!

Now, as a reminder, we are working with this steampunk botanist theme, so obviously what I needed was some mutated plants. Because I don’t want them to all be mutated the same way, obviously I still have some work ahead of me. But the first mutation is super quick and easy!

So I found some eyeballs at my local craft store. Already painted, bloodshot and red on the back, and just perfect for what I was needing.

After clearing out the clearance rack of flowers, I chose the sets of flowers that DO NOT have a visible center (i.e. not the daisies or cornflowers). I peeled the petals so they would not be in the way, covered the back of my eyeball in hot glue, and pressed them directly into the center. After letting it dry for a couple of minutes, I pulled the petals back so they would cup around the eyeball, making it look like it was growing out of the plant. It is THAT easy. Can you believe it? Here it is in a couple of different flower options.

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So obviously I am using this for my themed house, but it has the versatility of being used in a number of situations. Centerpiece for a halloween table? Check. Being a ghoulish bride for your party? Wrap some green floral tape around a few different types and make yourself a bouquet. Be creative and have fun with it!

Anyway… back to work I go. Still lots to make!

Cheers,

BG

Boxes of Parts and Doodles on a Page

Hey All,

So. An update on the Halloween Happenings around here. Even though I have been SUPER busy, (My first Dance Showcase is THIS WEEK…. insert hyperventilating noises here) I have managed to get some work done. It’s really a good thing I decided to document it here… it’s keeping me motivated. lol.

My little orange helper... my kitten Ivy

My little orange helper… my kitten Ivy

We had three boxes and a tupperware hidden around the house with our existing Halloween decorations.It took me a while to find them, but once I did, I split them between three big bins. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t kinda excited about it. Some of this stuff I hadn’t seen in years; Donations from my Momma, Phoenix,  who was more then happy to give them to me since she mostly just decorated when I was young to appease us kids. It brought up for me little waves of warm recollection as I slowly unpacked the little pieces of my childhood…. but that is a completely beside the point.

What I was really trying to do was separate the stuff out into categories. The first bin was for stuff that didn’t fit the theme. Basically that will just end up being the stuff I used to decorate the house. The second was for stuff that was usable, and not in need of any alterations. Things like the fog machine, the big fake spider, plastic skulls, the cobweb-y cloth, etc. The last bin was for stuff that needs to be edited or fixed up. The pieces and parts, if you will. There wasn’t a whole lot of that to begin with, but Green Lantern and I have buying little things here and there to add to it. You know… fun stuff like body parts, pots and silk flowers for my soon-to-be mutated plants, ping pong balls which will become eyeballs, and baskets which will soon become the cage for my new “pet.” So excited. 🙂

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Two of the Sorted Bins… Sans Ivy

The other things I have been doing with my time is sketching. Lots and lots of sketching. I think that is the graphic artist in me. We were taught in design school to make thumbnails or draw out our ideas so we can get a clear picture of where we are going. I have never really let that go. I was a sketcher from way back anyway, so it just helps me clear my head of all the jumbled mess of ideas I have for this. Likewise… I would like to make a note and say I love Pinterest for this. It has give me a great inspiration for what kind of creepy contraptions to build. More excitement.

At Phoenix’s suggestion, I am entertaining the idea of just building my shop outside of the house and not a real and actual “haunted house” in the garage like Green Lantern and I had originally planned. The point is that I probably just don’t need as much space as we needed for our original theme. So I have played around with layout a little, and have in place a working vision of what I think I would like it to look like. I think it might still be a little ambitious… but what is life without a little risk, right? Maybe I won’t get all the way there… but I will have fun trying anyway.

An Early Concept. Don't want to give it all away!

An Early Concept. Don’t want to give it all away!

So I’m not expecting to have any updates on this for a little while. It is gonna be a killer week (which I might feel the need to comment on later), and my focus is going to be entirely on work and dance. However, I am hoping to maybe have a project to talk about next time. Way cooler, right? Have a good week everyone!

Cheers,

BG

The First Step

Hello All,

It’s August! And you know what that means! It’s time to start thinking about Halloween!

Ok… Well maybe you’re not ready to start thinking about Halloween yet. The kids aren’t even back in school yet. But for me, it definitely is. See, this is a big year for us. It is our first Halloween back in the states together, and the first year where we would really be able to celebrate the way we wanted. Green Lantern and I are definitely Hallow’s Eve Enthusiasts. You know, the decorate the front yard/House and carve pumpkins and get costumes and watch scary movies all month and maybe even turn our garage into a haunted house kind of Enthusiasts.  And to top it all off, we had come up with the absolutely perfect theme. Like… literally perfect from the garage design to the costumes. The point is… when you have to make everything from scratch, time is key. Starting early is a must.

But… that didn’t happen. Because, as happens when you are married to a super hero, the universe called and the world needs saving AGAIN. So Green Lantern went off on his surprise second deployment a few weeks ago, leaving me in our (relatively) new house alone for the third time since we moved in. And this time, for much longer. Hooray military. Whenever you make plans… they go up in smoke.

Anyway, needless to say the plans had to change. That really awesome perfect theme (Which I will be filing away in the back of my mind and not saying here because SOMEDAY my Lantern will be home and we will do it) had to scraped. It just isn’t feasible for me alone to make it work. I needed something a little easier. Probably with a little less mechanical work. Definitely with less heavy lifting. I wasn’t ready to give up… I still wanted to make something amazing and impressive, and I still wanted a theme. So I started going through the normal themes that would be easier to pull off. Pirates. Witches and Covens. Alien Crash Site. Spider Queen. Cemetery and maybe Ghosts. Zombie Virus. Arkham Asylum. When Green Lantern and I started discussing ideas, I had settled nicely on either Nightmare before Christmas or a Demented Alice in Wonderland. However, I have to give credit for the actual theme all to my Lantern. He had literally come up with the perfect theme for me to run alone that combined a whole bunch of things I loved.

So… my 2014 massive Halloween undertaking is…. (Insert drumroll here)…. The Mad Botanical Genius.

Ok…. so it might sound a little out there. Maybe it could even be considered a bit of stretch. But let me paint a picture. In her garden of mutated plants, the botanist takes on an aura of Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy in the Batman Universe). She has an intense love for plants and a passion for science. Her experiments lead to these mutants… abominations that are half plant – half human. This is truly a perfect fit for me. Poison Ivy is my favorite villain in the comic book universe. But the theme also allows me to incorporate my theatre love… Little Shop of Horrors. I can just imagine an Audrey II, maybe holding the candy in his mouth, as the crowning jewel of my lab.

The last piece of the puzzle though, what makes it truly original, was made at Green Lantern’s brilliant suggestion. My flower shop isn’t struggling to survive on Skid Row in the 50s or 60s. Oh no. Mine is a little more… turn of the century. In order to create a comprehensive theme that was clear and easy to understand, all the way down to my costume, we decided that a little steampunk would really add to the ambiance. Personally… I love this. I love everything about it. It allows me to create a whole character and persona to embody, and that can only add to the strength of my theme. The best way to get people to go along with it and buy into it is to commit completely… and I can definitely do that.

I have decided to use my blog here as an outlet for the process, and a way to measure my progress. I am planning some really cool stuff, and it would be nice to share it with someone since my Lantern is off being busy. Hopefully, I will be able to document the whole process from start to finish, and maybe even include some how-tos for some of my prop making. I know it is going to be a long and drawn-out process. Let’s face it, other than my Necronomicon last year (for the production of Evil Dead the Musical), I have never  really taken on a really huge project. And this… well this is bigger. But… It’s good to have goals, right? I simply cannot wait to take this frightfully fun and delightfully creepy trip with all of you. So stay tuned… and I will definitely be updating this soon. I have to go sort through my Halloween collection and see what can be used.

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The pile of Halloween Stuff we have acquired over the years. As good a place to start as any.

Well… wish me luck. 😛

Cheers,

BG