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21  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Brock Samson says: "Hey. Happy Birthday." on: September 08, 2009 12:00:10 PM
This is a quick card I drew up for my guys birthday. Yeesh, Im useless with pencil crayons, but its cute anyway and he liked it! One of these days I'll have to learn about blending colours Smiley

Only Brock could rock a mullet and jean shorts like that ^_^

Quick back story: When the boy started spearfishing a few months ago, we were sitting around chatting about how badass it looks, what with the spear gun and knife strapped to the leg. It dawned on us that, if Brock Samson went fishing, hed totally go spear fishing.

And he so would, too.

22  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / A Sassy Conspiracy logo painting :) on: August 28, 2009 08:24:00 AM

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend an event hosted by the city along with several other artists. We were asked to set up a display of our goods and to actively do our craft so that the conference attendees could see us in action and talk to us about our respective work. We were asked not to sell at the event, but were invited to hand out business cards to prospective buyers so that they could contact us outside of the conference.

So I've never had a business card before. A little back story on my business's name: I have an affinity for ravens - they're amazing birds, crafty, intelligent and they hoard shiny things! I didn't really want to use the word raven in the name of my business though, so I finally settled on A Sassy Conspiracy (conspiracy being an antiquated term for a group of ravens). I love the name, I think it really embodies the personality of what I want my business to be, and I always enjoy a little word-play.
Since then I've been trying to come up with a raven logo to go with the name.

Inspiration finally hit me at 10:30pm the night before I had to send my cards to the printer to do one of my propaganda style paintings with a pair of raven silhouettes on it, then glue/sew crystals and chains hanging from their beaks. By 1:30am I finally had the raven design drawn up, and all the angles for the sunburst rays measured out and I was exhausted. I admitted defeat, scanned my line drawing and popped it into Illustrator to make a digital version of the logo. My Illustrator skills are laughably poor, but it turned out good enough Smiley

So off my design went to the printer, the cards came back and everything looks groovy.

I still wanted to finish up my painting to display at the show though, and the process of making the digital version sort of helped me better visualize how the final painting should look. I scrapped the idea of hanging jewelry from their beaks and, instead, decided to embellish their branch. If I were a raven, I'd totally bling out my tree Wink The branch is painted metallic silver and embellished with rhinestones, metal stars and star confetti. One of the ravens also has a large rhinestone in its beak. I also changed the beaks a little - after I sent it to print I realizes that ravens don't have hooked beaks. ah well Smiley

A Sassy Conspiracy
10x12" acrylics, with rhinestone, metal star and star confetti embellishment.

and here are a few closeups of the branch detail:

Im really pleased with how the branch turned out: its hard to see in the photos but the branch is painted metallic silver, and the stars are actually a shiny silver. The photos seem to flatten the things I want to be shiny, and have glare on the things I want to be flat. ~sigh~ I always spray my paintings with a sealer but Im starting to wonder if its necessary - it creates a lot of glare, and makes solid colours look uneven in photos (like the black - I promise you, its uniformly black in real life!). Anyway, you get the drift of it Smiley

So there, after a year of putting it off, I finally have a logo. And business cards!
hehehe, I feel so mature and stuff Wink

What do you think?
23  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / An afternoon in the beeyard, and subsequent sticky adventures on: July 15, 2009 09:21:03 AM
On Sunday we headed up to the lake with friends to enjoy a bit of sun and get some swimming in. A cursory check on the bees was on the schedule for the day, but little did we know that wed end up processing gallons of honey! Luckily with friends on hand, quick work was made of a sticky job (thanks ladies!!) The thought didnt cross my mind at the time to take photos of the entire process (stupid), but we did manage a few shots, thanks to the talented Aeramel, so Ive put together this little photo essay for your entertainment.
We currently have two beehives - here is our intrepid beekeeper opening the larger of the two (and discovering sticky bounty!). This is a particularly enormous hive - approximately 90,000 bees - and scary as all hell to this suitless onlooker Wink I particularly love the shot with the smoke - look at all the bees in the air! (these first two shots were taken by the lovely and talented Nven).

Ill prepared as we were, our uncapping knives were off-property so we had to get a little crafty. Heres G working away at uncapping a wheelbarrel full of frames with a fork which worked surprisingly well. Each frame weighed about 10lbs, and the honey is a beautiful light colour, I think our nicest harvest to date.

We have a badass old-fashioned, two-frame hand extractor (a fantastic xmas gift from mom & jim - even more badass is look where its from!) The trick is to have two frames of relatively equal weight otherwise it can be difficult to manage. Each frame is spun twice (to spin out each side). In the second photo you can see the 6″ or so of raw, unfiltered honey at the bottom of the extractor. This is a pretty crude process - you get honey, wax, bees, and pollen all mixed together in the bottom. You also get covered in a fine sticky mist during the spinning process Smiley

Here is the beekeeper looking mighty pleased with the haul (even the pregnant lady couldnt escape manual labor!). Sadly, at this point in the process, we all became too sticky to touch the camera so the rest of the filtering/bottling process remains undocumented. Suffice it to say, we filtered the honey, then bottled it (and did ample sampling as we worked!) Other missed photo opportunities: poor boyfriends swollen ankles and wrist (the bees werent pleased with him), and the fine coating of honey on the arm hairs of our spinners. Oh and the bumblebee that came to rob, that was pretty cute, too Smiley

And now, on to the haul! This represents maybe a 20th of what we harvested. We got a little creative and whipped up cinnamon honey butter, and pumpkin spice honey butter, too. It was our first time attempting honey butters and the recipes we tried to follow were terrible (1/4 cup honey in an entire batch of honey butter?! I think not!). So we did our own thing and the results are fantastically rich and flavorful. yum!

Here are the jars with the labels I designed for our honey. I havent designed labels for the butters yet, but I think theyll just be a variation on the same design.

Now, on to the wax! I use a lot of beeswax in my mixed media stuff, but weve never actually attempted to properly render the wax. Usually I just toss some chunks of honey comb into my mini crock pot and go from there, but its messy and the wax itself can be full of gunk. A good half dozen buckets worth of wax cappings and burr comb have also accumulated in my spare bedroom, so it was time to get to business.
The first step of the rendering process is to throw all the dirty wax into a big pot with water and boil the hell out of it. It looks a lot like oatmeal actually Smiley

We didnt have a wax screen to filter the boiled wax/water, so a quick run to the hardware store and a few slightly frustrating hours later, tada! Wax screen! It may be a tad shoddy in construction, but it worked like a charm.

Here is the strained wax/water solution. Left to cool overnight, the wax floats to the surface and hardens. The dirty water is then dumped and the wax disk is broken up into small chunks, melted again and strained a second time, this time through cheese cloth to get any small impurities, then poured into the bottoms of milk cartons to set into bricks.

The gunk that the wax screen filtered out is mostly bee bits and cocoons - in the future we wont use old comb because there is just too much junk in there to make it worth while. However, a nifty tip I found online said that this gunk makes excellent fire starter, either for your hive smoker, charcoal bbq or wood stove. As I know folks who use all three, the gunk will not go to waste Smiley

The end. Smiley
24  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / One-eyed kitty pendant :) on: July 03, 2009 10:39:29 AM
Meow! This little kitty may be missing an eye, but shes still all kinds of cute! Shes hand cut from sterling silver, with a little Dix gold heart soldered to her chest (I love how the positioning of the heart also mimics the shape of a kittys chest). 

Shes approximately 1.25″ long, and hangs from an 18″ 1.5mm sterling rolo chain.
25  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Iggy Pup ring on: June 15, 2009 11:18:22 AM
Took a stab at making another ring with my rectangular ring stock. With the Repo ring, I did not yet know the awesome power of my fat boy torch and actually started to melt the ring, resulting in the band being narrower at the solder point. This time I got it juuuuust right ^_^ One thing I learned is that if I file the two ends of the blank at a slight angle (not perfectly perpendicular), they join up better and I end up with an invisible joint.
The letter spacing is still a little on the whimsical side, but the impressions are much deeper and clearer so Im pleased. It says Iggy Pup - it was for friends birthday, who has a Boston Terrier named Iggy.

heh, I see I should have polished it better before pictures happened (damn you finger prints!!).
26  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / As Strange as it Seems... (mixed media assemblage) on: June 01, 2009 07:54:59 AM
In exchange for the delightfully macabre needle felted two-headed kitten that corduroy cat made me last month, I made her this mixed media assemblage in an old cigar box I picked up at a flea market last summer. Our theme was circus sideshow/pickled punk, so I focused on some of the more famous sideshow acts in circus history. Everything is assembled using beeswax from our hives, and I even added in a chunk of honey comb from last season and a small vial of bees collected this spring when we reopened the hives (no bees were harmed during the making of this project! These poor ladies didnt make it through the winter).

As Strange as it Seems

and a few closeups:

The Circus Queen

The Wolf Man

The Twins

The Fiji Mermaid

There is also The Armless Woman, The Bearded Lady, The Four-Legged Woman and The Grand Circus - there are more closeups on my blog for those who are interested. Please keep your fingers crossed that it makes its way safely to England (soo nervous...)!

Thoughts and opinions? I'm pretty happy with how it turned out - its very colourful ^_^
27  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Pavi Largo and Amber Sweet on: May 17, 2009 09:42:15 PM
So Friday night was the showing of Repo! The Genetic Opera! that I've been getting ready for the last few weeks Smiley

I've already posted about some of the costume pieces here:
Pavi's Greatest Face: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=304855.msg3489971#msg3489971
Zydrate Anatomy Bra:
Zydrate necklace:
and of course the amazing O-ring cage skirt, zydrate purse, and employee ID that the talented Smashu made for me in the Repo Swap:

First up: Pavi Largo

I attached the mask I cast from my face using liquid latex and spirit gum, and globbed liquid latex on the exposed skin around the perimeter of the mask to make the burned/scarred flesh. I cut 6 metal "hooks" from some nickel silver and attached them with liquid latex as well. I'm covering the mask with a layer of foundation here.

Unfortunately the real wig didn't show up on time, so here is the costume with the makeshift wig.

And the finished ensemble (please ignore the disaster going on around him!)

Now, Amber Sweet

And us together at the theatre Cheesy

Looking forward to getting the proper wig for him, and I have a few ideas to improve on his makeup application for next time, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it all. Cheesy

Hope you like!
28  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Pavi Largo's Greatest Face (in progress) on: May 13, 2009 01:27:18 PM
Dear boyfriend will be dressing as Pavi Largo at this Fridays midnight showing of Repo! The Genetic Opera, which presented a really interesting crafty challenge for me. Pavis distinguishing characteristic is his obsession with women, and more specifically, stealing their faces and wearing them. Ive wanted to try my hand at mask making and prosthetics for a while now, and I thought it would be fun to make a mask of my own face for him to wear.

A lot of research went into figuring out the best process. I also wanted to keep this within a certain budget so I opted to do this with whatever materials I could find locally (though honestly, I may have gotten a better product for the same budget if Id ordered specific mask making supplies online you know if Id planned ahead and all). The initial plan was to do an alginate mold of my face, apply plaster bandages to support the alginate, do a plaster positive from that, and finally a negative mold (also in plaster) to pour the latex into. This plan failed, badly, because we couldnt seem to mix the alginate correctly and it set up too quickly. Eventually we abandoned the alginate plan and went the simpler route of doing a plaster bandage mold of my face.

I applied generous amounts of Vaseline to my hairline, eyebrows and eyelashes, but it just wasnt enough. I cant stress enough how important it is to use lots of Vaseline. Cover every bit of hair. Then add more for good measure. Some of my books suggest using a bald cap when doing face casts and thats actually a very intelligent idea - I know Ill be doing that in the future

This is the inside of the plaster bandage mold of my face (complete with my poor eyelashes). Its freaky looking - it looks like youre looking at a positive, not a negative which is what it actually is. You can see one of the eyes didnt cast right but that doesnt matter since I will cut eye holes into the mask. I mixed up some plaster and, with a small paintbrush, I filled in any cracks or spaces left by bubbles so that there would be a smoother surface for the latex. I also touched up anywhere the bandage gauze showed through with a light coat of plaster. I used a little bit of Sculpey to plug up the nostrils, and was ready to pour.

I set up a little stand to hold the mold level, then filled it full with liquid latex and let it sit for about 20min. During this time, a skin forms where the latex is in contact with the plaster mold. After the time was up, I poured the latex back into its container, which left behind a skin a little less than 1/8″ thick. Using a pin, I popped any visible bubbles in the latex, then let it set for a few hours before peeling it out of the mold (in this photo, the latex mask is sitting on top of the plaster mold, so its a bit distorted). Trimming the mask was probably the biggest pain in the whole process. I tried xacto knives without success (the material was too springy), and finally did it with scissors, though its a bit rough.

Here is the stage the mask is at now. Its naked latex - I dont have any paints or inks specifically formulated for use on latex rubber, so Im going to apply the mask to his face with spirit gum on the day of the event, and then apply real makeup to it. Ive tested it on a piece trimmed from the mask and it seems to work very well, and will probably make it look even more like a stolen face than if Id painted it. I used more liquid latex to permanently adhere some false lashes to the mask. Im dying to stick it on him it is a little small, but I think thats sort of the point. Once Ive got it stretched on and well stuck down with spirit gum, Ill use liquid latex on the border of his real face and make it up to look like burnt/scarred flesh. Im also going to cut little clips out of metal and then use liquid latex to attach them to his face once the mask is in place.

I'll post some photos of the mask makeup'd up and in action after the show ^_^
29  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Amber Sweet Zydrate Anatomy Bra on: May 13, 2009 01:12:13 PM
This is a costume piece for my Amber Sweet Zydrate Anatomy costume. The original bra runs in the neighborhood of US$295 which I thought was, quite frankly, ridiculous. Instead, I ordered 10 gross of 4mm economy hotfix glass rhinestones (from http://shop.dazzlemonkey.com) and picked up a bra from the Bay (I had a coupon AND it was on sale, yay!!). It turns out that the process is both tedious (which I expected) but also incredibly delicate. The bras fabric, which Id say is more or less standard fare for a bra, melts instantly from the heat of the application tool and my poor bra looked a little mangled from inevitable slips. Luckily the bling pretty much completely masks the burn marks, but I have to say I have a lot more respect for the vendors of the original bra now that I see how finicky the process is. I chose not to completely encrust the cups with rhinestones like the original - I initially feared Id run out and had planned to go back and fill it in at the end but I decided I actually prefer the look of this. I have a little over half of the rhinestone order left over, too! A lot of the bra gets covered up by other costume pieces, but Im still pretty proud of this piece. A lot of hours watching Lost were passed while working on it.

30  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Shiny! on: May 04, 2009 10:45:20 AM
Made this pendant for my friend Carolinas 15th birthday. Shes been helping me out with my anatomy classes for a few years now as my assistant, so I figured she deserved something special for her birthday. Shes a big Firefly fan so it seemed appropriate. Smiley
For those not in the know, in the Firefly universe shiny is slang for good, great, neat, wonderful, etc. (according to the Firefly Cortex lexicon). Its doubly fun because ya know the pendant is shiny, hehehe. I know, I know, Im so clever.

The pendant is hand cut from sterling silver and is hung on an 18″ 1.5mm sterling silver rolo chain with a small lobster claw clasp. I soldered the jump ring for the clasp closed on this - its something Ive been meaning to try, since itll make the chains much sturdier, but had been finding excuses not to do. Im glad I finally did it because it turns out its pretty easy, especially with the pickle to clean it up with after, and it really does look more professional.

thoughts? ^_^
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