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1  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / The RobertBlue Halloween Spectacular on: October 02, 2005 12:48:32 PM
Now that I've finally maneuvered my schedule around to allow adequate preparation time (one weekend) and participation time (Halloween Night, of course), I can fully go ahead with my extravagant plans for Halloween.

Halloween is pretty much the one holiday that I give a damn about and I have made a huge deal out of it my entire life.  Four years ago I staged a coup and captured full creative control of the family's yard decoration, and haven't turned back since.  Even last year, my first year at college, I went back home for a weekend to set everything up.  I am a huge fan of lighting, sound, motion, and other special effects.  As much as I can, I make the stuff myself.  I'm not talking about fog machines and strobe lights - those I'll purchase.  I'm not crazy enough to screw around with electronics just for Halloween without proper training.  I'm talking about life-sized props, practical special effects, and compelling visual illusions orchestrated within an inch of my life.

This year, I am revisiting some elements from Halloween 03: Enter the Night.  Unfortunately then, my parents purchased overpriced items that they insisted go into the yard, forcing me to compromise my vision.  Instead of the hand made witch: a cheap scarecrow one on a post sitting in a bale of hay (which I'm highly allergic to), but I made it work.  And that was just one change.

This year, a new theme: Into the Heart.  The handmade witch is already mostly constructed (did that three weeks ago in a day) from an old chair and some hobby wood.  I've already cut out the pattern pieces for her cloak and hat, all ready to be sewn up and altered as necessary.  I have the cauldron that I used in '03, but I have to build it upward for the fog cooler.  That's right, I will also be constructing my own fog chiller to keep a constant flow of smoke close to the ground, bubbling out of the cauldron while the witch hovers over, an ever watchful eye on the yard.

But that's not all.  I haven't even started the construction of her familiar: a cat constructed out of a wire form and draped in a menacing, flame colored animal print.  I have yet to stop by the discount book store to take advantage of their "All the books you can fit in a bag for $10" deal for the witch's shelves of spellbooks and potions (the bottles I also haven't picked up yet).  I have the supplies set for her prisoner, but haven't even begun designing the exact layout of his cage and body position within.  The 1" thick foam board just got to my house for extra decoration purposes, but I haven't even given a thought to what I'm doing with it.  I have the rope set up for the giant spiderweb, but haven't even planted a stake in the ground.  And what to do with the perennial favorites: storebought Christmas light based Halloween decorations.  Sadly, that's not even half of what I have to do in that one weekend, just for the yard.

As for my costume, I will be going as Dwight from Sin City.  And I will be recreating the black and white effects of the film through hair, make-up, and costuming.  While I already own adequate black basics (shirt and pants) and the exact converse used in the film (I'll have to clean them up a bit to maintain the purity of the white, but that's not too hard), I will be sewing the trench coat for the costume.  Whatever pattern I get I'm going to have to heavily alter anyway, so that's even more work.  And, if I have enough time, I will be working with prosthetics to alter my own facial features to echo those of Dwight's.

I will have some design sketches and pictures up soon in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for more halloween excitement.
2  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / Trying To Find Removable Wall Decoration Company on: August 06, 2005 05:36:58 PM
I remember reading a thread here a few weeks ago where someone linked to a website that sold removable wall decorations.  It appeared to be some sort of plastic decoration that clung to the walls and was easily removable, causing no damage to the walls when removed.  Some of the designs included human faces, robots, monkeys, geometric shapes, and space invader designs.  If anyone has any idea what I'm talking about at all, I'd appreciate a little help.  I swore I had bookmarked the site and now can't find the link or the original thread I saw it in, even with the search engine on this site.
3  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Go Fly a Kite Tote on: July 28, 2005 02:13:58 PM
This is a tote bag I made for my mom from some extra quilting squares that I didn't know what else to do with.

4  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 3 ENTRIES / Amour, or La Passe Murraille on: June 30, 2005 09:13:44 PM
I love dioramas, but haven't made one in years.  When I found out about this craft challenge, I knew I had to participate.  After the colossal failure of my first challenge attempt (did not post it because it just didn't work), I knew I wanted to make something spectacular.

After much thought and consideration, I wound up being inspired by one of my first loves: musical theater.  At the 2005 Tony Awards, a little show called The Light in the Piazza was considered by many a complete underdog in the Tony race for everything but Best Leading Actress.  However, it went on to win for best score among many other awards, and just came short of winning Best Musical.

The size of the show, the subject matter, and overall style reminded me of one of my favorite little-shows-that-couldn't of all time.

In 2002, a little pocket music finally made the transition from France to America, bringing with it one of the most original, beautiful, enchanting, melancholy yet hopeful musicals to hit Broadway in years: Amour.  Amour told the classic story of a mild mannered civil servant, Dusoleil, who discovers one night during a storm that he has developed the ability to walk through walls.  He suddenly realizes he has the power to change his life and get the attention of the woman he loves, Isabelle.  Dusoleil becomes a public avenger, who is dubbed by the local paper Passparteu.  However, he soon realizes that Isabelle has fallen in love with his alter ego and not himself, and exposes who he really is to the woman he loves.  If you know the musical (or the story), youll know what this scene depicts.  But even those who do not know the true ending of the show will be able to see how romantic the scene is of Dusoleil passing through the wall to his beloved Isabelle to try and be together. 

Full Shot

Dusoleil Goes Through The Wall

Dusoleil Finds His Isabelle

An Artist Finds His Inspiration

The Heart Fountain Jumps For Joy

What A Beautiful Day For Young Lovers

Truthfully, I have never heard a score for any show that has effected me quite as much as this one.  The cast was magnificent and the show opened me up to the wonderful world of composer Michel Legrand (if the name sounds familiar, perhaps you know of the amazing film musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg).

Unfortunately, on Broadway, the show was plagued with many technical problems throughout previews.  The logistics behind the set design and achieving realistic representations of a very surrealistic idea with Dusoleils ability resulted in the show being a critical and commercial failure, lasting only 17 performances on Broadway. 

Likewise, my diorama project has been hit with many problems and setbacks.  Clay figures smashed apart, walls collapsed, paint spilled, boxes warped, trees refused to retain color, painters refused to sit upright, and many others.

However, the piece finally came together today and I couldnt be more proud.

The cardboard was painted with a mixture of acrylic paints and a half water/half glue compound, much in the style of watercolors.  The backgrounds colors are intentionally heightened and, at some points, unrealistic, to try and capture some of the whimsy and pure joy of the scenario depicted.

Dusoleil, Isabelle, the Painter (a featured character in the show who finally finds inspiration through Dusoleil), the easel, stool, and canvas are all Sculpey clay painted with a blend of acrylics and my paste paint.

The trees are Styrofoam cones filed down with a hairbrush to create a leaf like texture, dipped in a mixture of green and red paste paint and patted dry.

The wall is simple craft wood, painted with ceramic style water-based acrylic paints, marbleized by simply putting on a gray base coat and blending in red with a light tapping motion on the brush.

The fountain is two thick cardboard containers, one circular, and one heart shaped, painted with paste paint (turquoise base; green, tan, and blue marble).  The water is iridescent origami paper glued to the cardboard.

Even though the show was not long for Broadway, it was nominated for 5 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Book, and Best Score.  The cast album for Amour is a worthy investment and is still widely available today.  A new professional mounting outside of New York City is currently scheduled for a run in late summer, and is a total restaging of the show.  Hopefully, when sufficient time has passed, a Broadway revival will be stagedwith me as the lead, of course.  Smiley
5  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Swamp Thing Desk on: June 13, 2005 09:50:56 AM
I started completely redoing my room about a week ago.  I've already bought a new bookshelf and a new TV stand from IKEA, but I didn't have enough money left over to replace my really crappy, ugly desk.  It had a black plastic/metal (can't tell) base with a stained, bubbled up, chipped, cut-up white 1/4" particle board top (black edging).

I dug around in the garage and found some extra bright green fluorescent spray paint I had meant to use for a different project last year, as well as a couple bottles of black (I always have black).

After thinking for a short while, I decided that my desk would be bright green and black.

But there was a problem: the green spray paint was defective.  The paint didn't come out evenly and didn't just shoot out of the hole in the front. 

So with a little creativity, a cloth rag, and a lot of luck, I came out with this.

And a top view, just so ya'll can see how awesome the top looks.

In the end, I thought it looked less like radioactive waste and more like Swamp Thing.  This will go perfectly in my room's theme when I finish redoing it.
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