Tag Archives: craft

Happy Halloween!

halloween crafts

Spooky, Creepy, BooOooOoo! BooOooOoo!

My friend the Vampire Bat used to send really elaborate care packages on Halloween and Valentine’s Day, handmade cards, candy, little seasonally-appropriate presents, the whole megillah. They were pretty special, to be honest, and I loved receiving them, but over the years, reciprocation became difficult. I had a family and work and didn’t always notice when holidays were coming up, let along make time in my schedule to plan for them a month in advance. And I guess I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t show my appreciation properly, and eventually she announced that she wasn’t going to put forth the effort anymore.

So now, sometimes, just to mess with her, I do send her handmade holiday gifts.

These little images—the “Spooky” owl, the “Creepy” spider, and the “BooOooOoo! BooOooOoo” ghosts—are from the packaging of some stickers that came in one of her last Halloween gifts to me, and they were so cute that after I stuck the stickers on things (what did I stick them on? I have no idea) I save the boxes with the intention of using them for some All Hallow’s Eve crafts for my friend. That was years ago, but when I found a random pair of metallic silver skeleton mermaid socks at Target (Target really goes all out with weird sock designs) I realized this was the year.

While playing around with the pieces (too bad I cut them up before this idea came to me) I realized that I could make a tiny card (the Vampire Bat likes tiny things) and then I realized I could make tiny books!

Unfortunately, I had used up all the printer paper printing out draft versions of a new comic book and neither The Man nor I work anyplace where we can reasonably steal printer paper anymore, so I had to use heavy card stock for the paper. It was harder to cut and my notebooks would have fewer pages, which would be hard to turn, but I soldiered on. What you do is you line all your pages up, clamp them together, and then apply liberal amounts of glue on one side. When it glues, the pages are basically bound together. Then you glue a bit of ribbon over that glued edge, to reinforce it. I used ribbon to bind the covers together and shore up the cardboard, and then I glued the paged into the cover. Viola!

For the card, I just used a piece of manilla folder to bind the 2 sides together. Lately, I’ve been trying to use up, rather than hoard, the vast quantities of art/office supplies I have been carrying around the country for 2 decades. The ransom letters and all the other words came out of a single issue of The Smithsonian.

My friend liked the gift (of course!) so now I can share it here.

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Dragon Silhouette in a Rainbow Sunset

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I think this picture speaks for itself. Rawr.

My mother and I took my brother’s kids to the art museum, where they had tables set up for kids to do crafts. The suggested activity was to create a replica of a striking painting of a church using cut paper. Obviously, we did not do anything like that. I made this dragon silhouette flying across a rainbow sunset. One of the kids is super artistic, and he picked up a pencil drew a very good picture of a chubby dude in a La-Z-Boy. One of the kids isn’t artistic at all, but he drew an accurate picture of a video game controller. And then the little one took my idea of the rainbow strips, but instead of a dragon silhouette, she added an insane and possibly sentient piece of pizza out of colored paper.

My mother talked with the employee who was staffing the table until said employee very abruptly announced she was going to go stand somewhere else and relocated to another table.

I just realized that this image kind of mirrors the late, great mosaic table I made in the ’90s.

I’m finishing up a lengthy editing job and working on my big project, which is coming along apace. I’m also thinking about 2 upcoming scholarly comic projects in which I’d like to participate, once for a forthcoming anthology of Bonnie Jo Campbell criticism to which I was invited to contribute, and the other is for a forthcoming anthology about comics in academia.

Here Comes the Sun!

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This blog is on fire. And it’s lit.

Even though teachers in Arizona are walking out on Thursday #RedforEd and don’t know when they’ll be back, it was time to change out the early spring bulletin board for the late spring bulletin board. The cool, blue aesthetic of the early spring bulletin board did not reflect the reality of the temporal environment, and also the letters were coming off. This design is more accurate for the next month. The fox there is something foreboding in the color scheme, like: WARNING! Arizona summers are brutal. But I like them.

This piece was pretty straight forward. I used a protractor, a ruler, and a folded piece of construction paper to get the shape of the red bottom layer perfect. Then I used that layer as a guide to get the middle orange and top yellow layers to match up, and cut the random little sparks that I added on top for more depth. For the lettering, I drew freehand and then cut all the layers at the same time. I doubled up the paper for the letter that repeated, meaning that the letter E involved cutting 12 sheets at the same time. One of the Hs is upside down and the centering is a bit off but otherwise the lettering is my favorite part. The image took 4 hours and the lettering took 3.

Tomorrow I’ll go back with the rubber cement and the stapler and make sure everything’s tacked down. Although this board will probably only be up a month before I do the summer one, it’s a little known fact that rubber cement becomes increasingly less adhesive the closer you get to 100°. And it’s getting close to 100° around here.

Road Trip Memorabilia

The day before we left on our epic Grand Canyon adventure, I was at Target looking for things to entertain kids when a thought occurred to me. The Man doesn’t use printed maps anymore, depending entirely on his phone for directions, so I thought it would be fun for the kids to buy a state map and mark our route on it as we traveled. It could provide a sense of perspective that you don’t get from a 5.7 inch diagonal display (The Man is a fan of his ZMAX phablet).

But what would we do with this map afterward? Would its destiny be to moulder amongst other forgotten relics of road trips past?

Perhaps influenced by my Trickster’s Hat experiments, I had another idea. I saved up all the ephemera from the trip (national park handouts and such) and printed out a couple dozen photos. (When was the last time I printed out photos? Maybe 2006! We didn’t even print our wedding pictures.) Then I mounted the photos on the map.

6 days of no holds barred sightseeing, compressed into a single rectangle.

6 days of no holds barred sightseeing, compressed into a single rectangle.

As it turned out, there wasn’t room for the ephemera. There were empty spaces, but none big enough for the inset maps or other things. Instead, I printed out a second round of photos with small details like flowers, petroglyphs, and animals, and added them like marginalia.

Close up on (most of) the route.

Close up on (most of) the route.

Then I remarked the route, color-coding it by day so you can easily see where we drove on each leg of the journey. We were gone for 6 days, which allowed me to make the color code a rainbow. Then I bordered each photo with the corresponding color so you can easily see on which day any particular image was taken.

Use this product to stick things to paper.

Use this product to stick things to paper.

This project is perhaps a bit craftier (rather than artier) than the stuff I usually do. As evidence, I present this glue product. I wasn’t sure what to use, so I asked the Cat, who is an accomplished scrapbooker. She recommended this stuff, which is a very sticky glue loosely affiliated with a waxy tape. You just run the device over the thing you wish to glue and the glue transfers effortlessly from the tape to your picture, and doesn’t wrinkle the paper like some glue does.

You have to be careful because it is extremely sticky. If you run the device over a spot you’ve already gotten glue on, it can jam the works; and once you place your image, it’s pretty difficult to get it back up again, so you need to get it right the first time.

I had the map professionally framed, because it’s a weird size and there was no way I could buy a frame off the rack. Although lately I wonder if I ought to learn how to frame things myself. They mounted it and made it look quite professional, and I picked it up this afternoon. The kids loved it. The framers loved it too.

Detail from days 5 and 6: hiking Boyton Canyon and the Sinagua ruins near Sedona.

Detail from days 5 and 6: hiking Boyton Canyon and the Sinagua ruins near Sedona.