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11  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Zombie Barbies on: January 21, 2010 11:37:46 AM
I somehow forgot to post these at Halloween so here they are a bit late...

(Ended up displayed by family photos- which many people thought made them funnier)

I used dollar store Barbie knock offs and polymer clay for the exposed bones and brains. I saw this idea on another site back in October but made some changes.

I added the victim's head later using one of the dolls that I didn't think turned out as well so I just hot glued the head on to the hands.

Very easy to make BUT even low temp glue gun will melt the cheapo Barbies skin and hair so be careful-I burnt my fingers several times making them!
12  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Disney Mickey Mouse Eared Wreath on: November 13, 2009 11:31:22 AM
A  years ago few we spent a wonderful Christmas at Disneyworld. To commemorate our trip I wanted to have a seasonal decoration we could use every year and saw a wreath online from the Disney store that I loved but at $35 plus shipping I felt I could do better myself.
Using a fake evergreen wreath (leftover from last year), wired pine garland (also on hand) and two candle wreaths ($1 each) I made my own.

The candle wreaths came with some hideous fake fruit that I removed and discarded then used the garland to secure the candle wreaths as ears. Extra garland was used to fluff out the wreath and ears and some picture hanging wire was strung across the back of the center wreath to hang it. A bow made out of salvaged ribbon added a bit of color. We have used it 3 years now and it still is a great reminder of our trip.
13  Halloween / Halloween Decor and Parties / My Amazingly cheap Halloween Party decoration Tons of Pictures! on: October 28, 2009 09:37:55 PM
Our first ever Halloween party was this last Saturday. We really had a super tight decoration budget (but an impressive amount of decorations on hand collected over the years) but wanted to show off our new house. So with alot of creative re purposing, and many many many trips to every dollar store witihin 30 miles my projects finally took shape-best of all  I still have $2 from a $25 budget.

The blackout curtains along the windows were cheap $1 trashbags unrolled trimmed on the bottom to make a nice flat doubled plastic rectangles layered to cover the entire window. 2 $1 shrouds added a curtain like detail when tacked up to top of window sill. The thick black drapes to the sides and swag on the top were 3 $1 plastic tablecoverings gathered and thumbtacked around window to frame it. The tablecloth was a queen fitted sheet (mine) with 2 more shroud clothes for texture. A black upholstered chair from my livingroom props up a skeleton we got on clearance 5 years ago. The orange was also a $1 table cover cut in half and draped to add some color.

This shows the side view of the table-- a kitchen chair with some empty boxes draped with more trashbags made a nice platform  for a tombstone. The buffet table had a spiderweb table runner from a few years ago and with the wrought iron candlestick from my kitchen and $1 worth of artistically dripped candles looked great but still too cheerful under the fruit painting. I really did not want to remove my everyday things when I could just make them spookier so I dug out one of last years projects- the death angels. The angels were originally a paper mache Christmas decoration my mom had had around for years. I had campaigned to throw them out several times and just when she agreed to pitch them I decided to remake them. Painting skulls over their angelic little faces and  their wings black then draping the shrouds over them (inspired by mourning statues in cemeteries). They fit perfectly over the picture with the shrouds hanging down made the whole area work well together.

this overlooked the living room with a reaper made from pieces of several old Halloween costumes and the backdrop cut off a long roll of scene setter material from a party years ago.

This was another old costume fleshed out with padding, hangers, and a patio umbrella stand. There was a strobe light  on her but she was scary without it too (she was 6 1/2 feet tall!)

This bookcase held the witchy specimen bottles and potion bottle and had strategic lighting to highlight different items in the darkened room. All the bottle contents were made with things on hand this one is my favorite

Feel free to ask any questions if you are curious as to how something was done-- I love questions!
I had several other cool projects in this room that I might add to another shorter post. Look for my Psycho bathroom in the
home section.
14  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / $5 Psycho bathroom makeover on: October 28, 2009 08:44:41 PM

I did this intending it as a Halloween temporary thing but decided I liked it enough to keep it up year round.

The key to this project is the shower curtain that I have seen in catalogs for years but could never shell out the $29.95 + shipping to get one. This year I decided to try to make my own using a frosted shower curtain liner from the dollar store and some black acrylic paint. I am not an artist so I had my son lay on some craft paper holding a butcher knife and traced around him to get the proportions of a real person then added a bun and a dress to make it 'Mrs. Bates's' shadow on the curtain. I taped the curtain down over the craft paper and had no trouble seeing the outlines that I filled in with 2 coats of black paint (one coat tended to show brush marks) on the rough side of the curtain. Be careful to not get any extra paint on this side of the curtain because it is impossible to remove no matter how quickly you try. The blood drips were $1 each for 3 at a dollar store and cheap towels were 3 for $1 with BATES MOTEL written on the bottom in black sharpie. I would have liked to do a bit more but ran out of time and money before the party but may add to it now. I never imagined the curtain would end up looking so much like the expensive ones! All my other Halloween part decorations are listed under holidays but I think this room should stay here as I think I am leaving it up for a while. Let me know what you think.
15  Halloween / Halloween Decor and Parties / $ Store Dead Fairy Halloween decorations (with pics) on: September 07, 2009 11:40:30 PM
 I have always loved fairies and over the years had collected quite a few of them. One of my favorites is a fairy ornament that is displayed under a glass cover that looks like we managed to trap her there. So last year when I was taking down our every day display items to get out the Halloween decorations I had a brainstorm and decided to replace the everyday fairy with a Halloween counterpart.

My Dead Fairy was made using just a few things I had picked up from the dollar store:

A Skeleton Garland (4 Skeletons per package)

and black silk roses (3 to a stem)

First I cut the roses off of the wire stems and took each layer of petals off (these roses had dew drops glued on to highlight the petals but they peel off very easily)

giving me 3 sizes of petals.

After playing around with all three sizes I found I liked the smallest piece best- then used a few dots of hot glue to help fashion the petals into the fairy wings by gathering the center a bit

This was actually much trickier than it seemed because I wanted the bottom two wings to be smaller and thinner than the top set as well as to have a slight fold to give the wings more shape. I just played around with them until I was happy with them.

Then I removed one skeleton (they are only tied very loosely with twine to form the garland) and used a bit more hot glue to secure the wings to the middle of the back (don't use more than a tiny drop of hot glue because your excess will turn almost white on the black of the petals and be very noticeable)

Front view

To "hang" the fairy I used a length of the twine that came as the "garland" and tied a small hangman's noose. I think that the pictures are not nearly as cool as these guys are in real life. Although I made only one for that specific display last year I have decided to make a few more to put all around the house because one bunch of roses gives you 9 petals and buying 2 strings of garland and I can make 8 for a total cost of $3. I am also thinking of putting one in one of the jars my son catches his tree frogs and walking sticks in (with a stick and a leaf) so it looks like it was caught outside and did not fare well in captivity.
 *****I am really impressed with all the suggestions and comments! If you make your own fairies I would love to see some of the photos of changes, improvements or how you are displaying them!!!! Thanks to Craftsters you all  ROCK!!!!!*****
16  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Ruby Slippers Decoration (Tons of photos) on: August 11, 2009 01:41:18 PM

These are paper mache ruby slippers made to look like the legs and feet of the Wicked Witch of the East after Dorothy's house landed.

A few months ago I cam across paper mache shoes at Micheal's on super clearance. I had no idea why but at a quarter each I bought 4.

They sat there in my craft supplies forever until I finally got an idea. My Mom has always had a thing for the Wizard of Oz and has always admired a friend's doormat with the witch's feet printed on them- so I decided to make her a 3D version.

I did several coats of white as a basecoat , then penciled in where the shoes should be. I did two coats of red on the shoes and black on the bottoms. Once that dried I used glitter glue to add sparkle. ( The glitter glue was kind of a pain to try to spread evenly and took 3 coats but it left a smooth finish to the shoes and added an extra layer of sealer so they could be used outside on Halloween).

Using brown craft paper in layers for strength I added tubes to the tops of the shoes with masking tape to form legs. This was just trial and error until they seemed sturdy and somewhat smooth on the surface.Then I basecoated them with white ( to prop them up while they were drying I used empty wine bottles it worked great!)and sketched out the stripes at about 1 1/4 inches apart.

Using leftover craft paper from the legs I cut 3 inch strips about 6 inches long. I then folded the cut ends to the middle to get 1 1/2 inch by 3 inch strip that I glued together painted red and glittered. I then cut a thinner strip for the center of the bows and painted and glued them as well. I left about an inch of overhang to use as a handle when painting and sealing the bows then cut them off when I finished.

Then I put 4 coats of clear sealer on to help make them a bit more moisture resistant. To get them to lay properly with the heels down I used a bit of rice in a ziploc bag to weight the heel and keep it stable.

My mom loved them so much I doubt they will only be used as Halloween decorations.

17  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Boys Link / Legend of Zelda Costume on: August 11, 2009 10:45:55 AM
I made this years ago and just found some pictures on disc. When my son was 4 (2003) he wanted to go as Link for Halloween. There were no premade Link costumes even for adults and definitely none that would fit a 4 year old. Realizing that there was no way to talk him down to Thomas the Tank Engine, or Bob the Builder like every other 4 year old chose that year, I knew I would have to get pretty resourceful to make it happen (and we were flat broke as usual so cost was important.)

This was a super easy costume to make (I don't sew). I started with a dark green short sleeve knit shirt that I borrowed (stole) from my husband. It had a rounded neckline and 3 buttons on the front. First I had my son try on the shirt and cut it down to a good tunic length, leaving a bit of fabric to glue under for a hem. Then I enlisted my mom and her sewing skills to use the green shirt scrap to make a cap ( it took her about 5 minutes so it must not have been very tricky). Then I cut off the buttons from the front of the shirt and cut a small slit in place of each one then threaded a leather cord through the buttonholes. The sword holder (not shown  Embarrassed )was made from an adult sized plain black belt- belted to fit from shoulder to hip that was anchored by threading the bottom through a black childs belt worn normally.The shoulder strap had a riveted metal loop attached to the back to slide the sword into.
The leggings are little girls white tights from the Dollar Store. My biggest coup was finding an old suede jacket in the garage- by cutting the sleeves off at the shoulder seams I got a nice flared end that came to a slight point. When we had my son wearing the tights but still barefoot we had him step right into the sleeves (shoulder seams down) put on tennis shoes and folded the edge of the sleeve down to cover the shoes to make instant boot spats!

The shield is a wooden toy that I covered with posterboard and painted with the triforce symbol that I copied from a Legend of Zelda video game case.

Using what I had on hand made this super cheap! Total out of pocket cost: $1 for tights, $1 for posterboard =$2
Every year I strive to top this costume but I never have even come close!

18  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Harry Potter HBP movie treat boxes on: August 11, 2009 04:32:43 AM
This year the movie release for Half Blood Prince seemed to sneak right up on me. I knew I had to do something but we all had our costumes and props from previous parties so I knew I would have to come up with something a bit different this year (as well as cost effective because we are on a tight budget this summer). With only a week left before the movie release I knew I would  need to put alot of thought into my project but also make sure I could get it done quickly. After a couple of sleepless nights I finally hit on the idea of a treat box full of candies mentioned in the books. I was not up to making cockroach clusters from scratch or most of the other great recipies I found online, so I took a few shortcuts and then you can see what we are left with.

First was a vial of Felix Felicis potion (also known as Liquid Luck)

The vials were emptied glass bead containers with the lids colored silver via metallic paint pen. Iridescent cake decorating powder was mixed with regular honey to add motion and shimmer and vials were filled 3/4 of the way full. Although the lids could have been hot glued shut we opted to be able to open them for a sip if we were short on luck.  A small label printed on the computer on parchment paper was attached and a strip of red ribbon secured on each end by the labels reinforced the lids against accidental spills.

Next comes the candy. I actually purchased the Drooble's Best Blowing gum last minute because I thought the boxes looked a bit empty.

The Fudge Flies were actually sold as a Harry Potter branded candy- I only took one rather pricey box and divided them between the 6 boxes I needed. When the divvied up piles seemed even I folded them into wax paper envelopes with a clip art label again printed on the parchment paper, they were then glued to the wax paper.

The Acid Pops were simply Charms Sour Blo-Pops that had been unwrapped rolled in Pop- Rocks  and tied into a candy maker's bag/

The Leprechaun Gold pieces were also only purchased golden wrapped chocolates

This next one is my favorite!


These enchanted toffees were invented by the Fred and George to pull pranks; but it ended up being sold in their joke shop Weasly's Wizarding Wheezes This taffy however was a $ store find and broken down into the small clear confectioner's bag with a Computer printed tag of cardstock. I embelished the labels by tracing over similar colors with glitter pens to really look fun and make the lettering pop. Each label was then stapled to a bag with two toffees.

The lemon drops (actually lemonheads) were divided into the little clear bags then tied closed eith a blue ribbon that also ties the computer printed label to the candy.

Finallly when all the candies  were assembled I took some translucent folding gift boxes (6 for $2), Printed a self stick label that came with a nice gold scalloped edge (also a $ store find) and finally took some metallic silver and a star printed tissue paper and lined each box before filling them.

Everyone loved them so much no one took them to the movie to snack on. Go figure.
19  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Some Harry Potter Wands for HBP movie opening on: August 11, 2009 02:01:10 AM
Die hard Harry Potter nerd that I am I try to commemorate each book and movie release by doing a few craft projects. Here are a few examples that I have come up with over the last few years...
This was made to be a wand for my son who went dressed as Draco Malfoy

These were mad for the Deathly Hallows book release and were almost made as afterthoughts the day before the book release. The long tapered wand section was made from the handle to a paintbrush (set of 8 from the $ store). Using pliers I gently removed the metal top portion that held the bristles and then had the nice tapered body section to the wand. Then I had to use some sandpaper to give the prefinished handle a good scuff to make sure it would accept stain. For the handles on the wands I went to the craft store in the turned wood section and found some turned candlesticks that were a good size for the wands. After gluing the paintbrush handles upright in the candlestick where the candle would normally have gone, I let the whole thing dry overnight to make sure these would be able to be handled and not just displayed. When glue was completely dry I lightly sanded the candlestick/wand handle and then used a black wood stain marker to stain the entire wand. The prefinish sealer on the paintbrush handles took the stain after a good sanding but the color would rub off when being handled so I went ahead and used a 3 in 1 coat clear waterbased sealer to seal in the stain but was very happy with the end result-- shiny, glossy, black wands with subtle woodgrain visible. To finish it off I glued a round flat sided gem from the craft store to the flat bottom of the candlestick/wand handle. Although this made it impossible to display standing up later- the gem added a great detail when being used as a costume prop.
Here 'Draco' is in costume with an unpainted wand.

I had to make several more wands because there were quite a few of us in costume. All Deatheaters wands were made the same but had different color jewel on the bottom. The most of the rest of the wands were constructed the same way (although the lengths varied due to the nature of the paintbrush multi pack- we tried to match characters to longer or shorter wands using hints from the books.) I also set these wands apart by leaving the natural wood color of the paintbrush handles (mostly to get out of all the sanding that staining them would have required), and staining the handles various shades of black and brown again using the wood stain markers. These I left flat on the bottom to be displayed upright later on.

A final variation was made by gluing  several wooden unfinished "spools" together with a decorative finial on the end of the handle while setting the shaft of the wand into one of the pre drilled holes in the wooden spool. This one was left unstained to keep the natural pine color.

Although I was happy with the look of this wand it was by far the most fragile with the joints between each wooden bead proving to be a weak point. Next time I will use a small rod to thread all of the beads on to add support and then gorilla glue the rest. It does look great in my Harry Potter display though, even if it wasn't very functional.
20  COOKING / Dessert / Watchmen Cake on: August 10, 2009 08:41:16 PM
This is my first posted project so forgive any screw ups!

This is the cake I made for my son's 10th birthday over the weekend. My husband has celiac disease (allergies to all wheat products) so I have not made a cake in at least 5 years- but this turned out better than I imagined.

I used a box mix and regular round cake pan. The yellow is a homemade marshmallow fondant (that my sister showed me),  made with melted marshmallows, powdered sugar and a gel food coloring. The mixture is then rolled out and placed over the  frosted cake (the frosting helps the fondant stay in place), stretched to cover all edges of cake with one large piece, smoothed to eliminate wrinkles, then trimmed of excess. The smiley face and blood spot were free handed with decorating gel.

My son was so thrilled he wouldn't let us put candles in it and made us wait 3 days to finally cut a piece!
Without my sister's very patient almost saintlike help this cake would not have been possible, leaving me to order another grocery store cake that looks like everyone else's and costs an obscene amount of money for a cake we were never truly happy with. Thank you Jamie.
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