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1  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Discussion and Questions / Broken glass cools the throat on: April 12, 2018 11:23:13 AM
EdelC's junkyard photograph reminded me of this doll house diorama (made by Caroline Hamilton, I think--it's been ages since I read/scanned the book I got these photos from) that used broken glass for the ice that all of the fish are resting on in this vintage fishmonger's store.  I distinctly recall the author mentioning that she, and her friend, both elderly women, were throwing and shattering glass on the pavement of a parking lot, much to the confusion/amusement of onlookers, to make all of the ice that they needed for this piece.  If imagining two old gals cackling and having a ball obliterating glass objects in public doesn't amuse you, then you've got a cold mackerel for a heart!  Grin

Anyway, the point of all this is that, if you ever need to make some tiny ice for a diorama, or perhaps for a miniature drink, broken glass is a great, and inexpensive (i.e., free) thing to consider.
2  NEWS AND DISCUSSION ABOUT CRAFTSTER / Craftster Itself / Unicornucopia on: April 07, 2018 07:39:56 AM
I haven't seen a thread about it, or maybe I just missed it, but I just wanted to thank the Craftster staff for this year's magical horsey nonsense April Fool's gag (and I also appreciate that you ran it for a day afterwards, as I wouldn't have gotten to see/experience it otherwise, due to the Easter holiday).   Zombies were fun, but the unicorns topped that in my opinion!

Speaking of which, Rainbow Dash isn't even a unicorn, but I noticed that she weaseled her way into the proceedings twice!

This is her excuse, but I think money exchanged hooves . . .  Grin

Because of course I did (everyday is Unicornucopia at my house), I tried to save all of the images for posterity.  So, for those of you that missed it, enjoy!

Site header images:

Temporary avatars (I got the Rainbow Dash one above, of course):

(And pretend that every fifth word or so of what I just typed was replaced with twirled, glitter, majestic, etc.)  Roll Eyes

3  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / My Little Pony Dream Castle Replacement Flag on: March 29, 2018 07:47:35 AM
Recently, Joyful Clover's mother sent her the old 1980s My Little Pony Dream Castle playset that she enjoyed playing with as a child, but, Joyful Clover wasn't sure what to do with it, so, she sent me a private message and generously asked me if I'd like to have it. I wasn't sure if I had the room for something that large, but Rainbow Dash took it upon herself to clear some space with a few well-aimed kicks and threatened me with punishments so terrible that I can't even type them here if I failed to acquire her the castle that a pegasus of her lofty stature so rightly deserves, so I agreed. Joyful Clover even shipped it to me for free!

Now, some of you, especially those of you that have small children, may fancy that you understand irritation. Try spending several weeks having this conversation every thirty seconds. Stuffing your ears with cotton balls and then duct taping them shut helps . . . a little.

The big box finally arrived on my front porch on March 8th. I was a bit surprised by the size of the package. While I roughly knew, from photos of the castle that I have saved on my computer's hard drive, how big the castle really is, I also tend to mentally default to the dimensions of the current G4 ponies (they're much smaller than the original G1 MLP horses), which messes up my sense of scale.

Like most felines, Princess Butter Crumb, our cat, can't resist a box. Besides, she's a princess, so castles are in her blood!

I have to say that I'm getting a little concerned about the company she's keeping though (Garfield & Grumpy Cat). Those two just can't be a good influence.

Just FYI, Princess Butter Crumb gives TERRIBLE doll pedicures.

Anyway, Hasbro released the My Little Pony Dream Castle playset in the early 1980s (between 1982-1984 if memory serves) and it was naturally on many little girls' birthday and Christmas wish lists. Aside from being a fabulous medieval environment for all of your little vinyl horsies to socialize in, it also included the regal white unicorn, "Majesty", and every pony's favorite reptilian sidekick, "Spike" the little purple dragon. Here's a shot of the original box and another photo of everything that was included in a complete set:

Now, Joyful Clover's castle was acquired from a yard sale when she was a little girl, and many years have passed since then, so, it's understandably not complete. The only accessory she had was Majesty's blue throne, and there's some relatively minor structural damage and wear-and-tear on the building itself as well.

One of the castle's white plastic flags was also missing, so, I decided to fabricate a replacement. Here are the papier mache flag pole components unassembled and assembled (but not permanently glued together yet). I ran an unbent paperclip through the hollow shaft for added strength, but everything else was fabricated from scratch out of nothing but newsprint, cardboard from a cereal box, tissue paper, and white glue.

Sometimes things work out a little too well. Once I had finished assembling and gluing together the five separate components of the replacement flagpole, I decided to do one last test fit before painting it. Well, I pushed the post a little bit too far down into the hole in the conical castle tower roof, the tabs (not shown in the images above, because I hadn't made them yet) cleared the hole, caught on the circular lip underneath, and snapped into position, exactly like they're supposed to, permanently locking the flagpole into place. That being the case, I couldn't remove the flagpole again without also ripping and shearing off said tabs and I sure wasn't in the mood to redo the bottom section of the flagpole, so, I just had to paint/seal things like that and call it a day. It's really not a big deal, as you can't see the unpainted end of the flag post unless you remove the tower roof and look way up underneath it, but even so, it shouldn't have happened. I even mentally warned myself not to push too far/hard so that the unpainted flagpole wouldn't lock into place, but I ended up doing just that anyway. Rainbow was not pleased.

Finally, here are the three finished flagpoles together, can you guess which one is the fake? The two original flagpoles were missing their purple labels, so I made new decals, out of painted newsprint, for all three. I really should have taken a photo of them in their "naked" state, for comparison purposes, but, it's hard to remember things like that with an annoying blue pegasus zooming in circles around your head telling you to hurry up. There was still some sticker residue left on the plastic flags, which was actually helpful, as that gave my new decals something to adhere to, as white glue doesn't bind that well to smooth plastic otherwise. The purple paint I used was too dark, compared to the original manufacturer's hue, which was more of a magenta, even though I tried to lighten it up by mixing in some red, but, it doesn't really matter. Oh, and the answer to my initial question is that the flag farthest to the right is the one I made from scratch.

This is what the closed, re-flagged Dream Castle looks like from several angles (the flag I made is on top of the left front tower). Something that kind of bugs me about this castle's design is that there's no way for normal horses to actually get up onto the second floor. Sure, pegasi can fly up there, but what about horses that can't? Hasbro should have incorporated a ramp or something. Sometimes multi-floor doll houses lack a staircase or elevator too, which also bothers me.

Here's some more pictures of the castle populated with ponies. The smaller horses are all McDonald's G4 (Generation 4, the current toy line) ones, because I just happened to have a big plastic bag full of them handy, and the plush are likewise G4. The castle itself is Generation 1, but, alas, I don't have any of those vintage horses (I currently only have G3, G3.5, and G4 ponies in my collection). Try to ignore that some of the same characters appear multiple times in the second photo-- Rainbow Dash has some kind of cloning operation going on, which she assures me is "totally legal", and its best not to ask too many questions about it. While I do have a lot more ponies than this, in various sizes/styles, I was too lazy to dig them all out of storage. And by "storage" I mean teetering, unstable piles of toys, books, and other crap that may collapse on top of me at any moment (it's like Jenga that can kill you--hoarding is exciting like that). I did want to take a photo of all of them together, with the castle, and some text reading, "How many ponies is too much?", and then Rainbow Dash replying "As long as the weight of your toy ponies doesn't exceed the weight of a real pony, you're within the legal limit.", but, that would have been just too much time/work to set up.

On another note, Joyful Clover also included this yellow structure, but it's not part of the Dream Castle playset, and, to the best of my knowledge, I don't think it's from another My Little Pony playset either, although I could be wrong. The walls detach from the roof, and it looks like there's supposed to be a floor section that's missing. I get the impression that it might have gone over a train track, or be the upper floor of a larger structure, but I really don't know. Do any of you recognize it? There aren't any copyright markings on it anywhere that I can see, as such, I'm completely clueless as to what toy line it might be from or who manufactured it.

I had grander plans for repairing and sprucing up the Dream Castle beyond the flags, but, unfortunately, life got in the way and I just didn't have the time or energy to follow through (it took me a little over two weeks just to make that one flag!) I promised Joyful Clover I'd publish a thread on Craftster about her gift by the end of the month, and, since I can't be online again until Monday, due to the Easter holiday, it had to be today.

Thank you very much again for your generous gift, Joyful Clover! Every magical horsey should have an enchanted castle for a home (so much better than a boring stable!), even if a certain rude little blue pegasus I know doesn't really deserve one . . .
4  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / Anybody else remember these sewing cards? on: November 01, 2017 01:41:17 PM
I can recall that one of my younger sisters had some of these when we were kids, but, when I asked my Aunt about them, she insisted that they were animal-themed, not these Barbie ones.

Anyhoo, Monday morning I found this complete Barbie set at a local thrift store, and it was free to boot!  The box is pretty banged up, but all six cards and the yarn threads (which have shoelace ends to make them easier to thread through the holes) were all there and in nice shape.  The six cards were already finished except for the Ken/Barbie one with the yellow yarn, so, I completed that one before shooting these photos (finally: a sewing project that even I can't screw up!)  I bet, for a lot of young girls around my age (there's no date on the box, but I'm guessing it's from the 80s), this may have been their very first sewing experience.

The one above with roses in Barbie's hair is my favorite.  I wish that ColorForms/Mattel had tried something a little more creative than just outlining the figures, like making some simple shapes, but, for aspiring artists, it's as good a start as any.
5  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) / Forget the wolf, feeding them after midnight is 1,000 times worse! on: October 18, 2017 07:39:43 AM
Here are a couple more ATCs, but, rather than exchanging them as usual, this time they were just gifts. A fellow Craftster member is having some serious health difficulties in her life, so, some individuals put their heads together and decided that it'd be nice to send Gozer a little care package of cards, to boost her spirits, and asked me to contribute an ATC(s), which I did.

I'm not very good at touchy-feely stuff, nor do I really know Gozer all that well, so, I didn't want to end up inadvertently saying the wrong thing, as such, I decided to just pick a couple of themes that Gozer had listed when she participated in Craftster's July 2017 ATC swap.

For the first card, I made Gizmo from the Gremlins films. Who doesn't love fuzzy little mogwai?

And for the second card I selected Red Riding Hood.

6  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Jem Misfits fan art on: September 23, 2017 07:17:37 AM
I got a PM asking about my new avatar, but, since Photobucket changed their image sharing policies recently, all the images on the Jem fan art page on my web site don't work anymore, so, I'm uploading those four drawings that I used to make said animated GIF here, even though they're pretty old (I did most of them back in college, well over a decade ago).  Since it's been a while, I don't remember for sure, but I think they were done with colored pencils, markers, and watercolor paint.





I uploaded a bunch more to my gallery, but even that isn't all of them Tongue
7  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) / August ATC quartet on: August 25, 2017 11:05:00 AM
All my swap partners have received their cards, so, it's safe to post a thread without ruining anyone's surprise now.

For my first card, which went to Ohio, I chose BigBangMomma's "Cute Monsters" theme (she also listed "Cute Animals" as another option on her list, and, as you can see below, for some reason, I got the two mixed up while I was filling out the back of the card). I decided to illustrate a Nacht Kobold (German for "Night Sprite/Spirit"), based on the adorable design found in the Shin Megami Tensei (Super Reincarnation of the Goddess): Devil Children (renamed DemiKids in North America, doubtlessly to avoid controversy) Gameboy Color/Advance video games. The Devil Children titles are intended for a younger audience, thus, the mythological monsters are significantly "cute-fied" compared to the more realistic/graphic artwork used in the "normal" Megami Tensei games.

In German folklore, Kobolds are entities that take up residence in houses, mines, and on ships. If their human "hosts" treat them well and with respect, the Kobolds will bring them good luck and even do chores or provide other helpful assistance, but, if you behave badly towards them, then the angry Kobolds will cause all sorts of misery and misfortune instead. Regardless of how you feel about the supernatural, the lesson in clear: Do onto others as you'd have them do onto you.

I selected "Figure Study or Nude", from Texan Rockingbearranch's list of themes, as my second ATC project. I had to do similar, albeit much larger, figure studies quite often when I took illustration classes in college, but my professor could never get any naked models to pose (and, at times, nobody at all, which resulted in my classmates and myself being the models instead--fully clothed mind you). You see, my alma mater was cheap and only paid minimum wage for both clad and unclad models. Short of being an exhibitionist, why would you take your clothes off when you got exactly the same amount of money for keeping them on? Obviously, none of the faculty in the art department minored in business. But, then again, I often skipped class anyway, so maybe I missed out on all the full frontal nudity. Speaking of which, a former friend of mine, whom also took the same illustration classes that I did, but during different semesters, claimed that he was present when our professor did manage to somehow find a male nude model, who became aroused on the job, and our saintly teacher felt compelled to hide the offending member with an (artfully) placed towel. My ex-friend was a habitual liar though, so, I put little faith in his story being true.

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My third card went to BigBangMomma again, this time for her "owls" theme. I used several photos of those birds, that I have saved on my hard drive as reference images for modeling, as a basis for this piece. I really liked this one and had a hard time parting with it, but, I told myself: "You can always just print yourself out a copy and glue it onto cardstock if you really want to."

My third card went to BigBangMama again, this time for her "owls" theme. I used several photos of those birds, that I have saved on my hard drive as reference images for modeling, as a basis for this piece. I really liked this one and had a hard time parting with it, but, I told myself: "You can always just print yourself out a copy and glue it onto cardstock if you really want to."

And one final picture of them all scanned together before I sent them off to the four (okay, three) winds:

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8  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Something smells fowl in here! on: July 17, 2017 12:57:42 PM

I "fake-joined" the "Bird Bee Butterfly" Swap at Craftster, which simply means that, while you still have to follow the rules for said event, instead of actually exchanging the item(s) that you made with another member, you're creating them for yourself. The object of said swap was to create three items, one focusing on each of the three critter types named in the swap's title.

For my bird project, I decided to make a "Skeleton Duck" enemy monster from Capcom's classic 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game DuckTales (it was also ported to the original black-and-white Gameboy in 1990), which was based on the hit Disney cartoon show of the same name. A hi-definition, remastered version of said title was also released for the PC, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii U in 2013.

In the game, billionaire Uncle Scrooge McDuck travels the world (The Amazon, The Himalayas, Transylvania, African Mines, and even the Moon!) collecting even more riches to line his already super deep pockets (the Japanese adaptation was re-named Naughty Duck's Dream Adventures which is much more descriptive of that greedy old bird's activities if you ask me!) And, naturally, Scrooge's many enemies, including The Beagle Boys, Magica DeSpell, and Flintheart Glomgold, try to thwart Scrooge's efforts to maintain his status as the richest duck in the world.

Only found in the Transylvania stage, Skeleton Ducks mindlessly scamper about the rooms and corridors of Dracula Duck's crumbling castle. None too smart (their brains rotted away a long time ago after all), Skeleton Ducks frequently collide with walls, and other solid structures, and those impacts cause them to fall apart into a pile of bones, but that's only a temporary setback, as they soon magically reassemble themselves and give chase once again. Like most of the enemies in the DuckTales video game, Scrooge can easily dispatch them with a single blow from his versatile pogo cane, so, these bony adversaries aren't much of a threat to the rich old bird, who's surprisingly agile for a geriatric fowl. I'm sure he'd tell us that the pursuit of money always makes him feel and move like a spry duckling again . . .

Here's a closer look at the Skeleton Duck game sprite, without the background graphics, that I animated. The poor thing can't seem to keep it together:

Following are some photos of the papier mache modeling process I used to create this action figure:

And this is the completed model:

Newsprint, tissue paper, cardboard from a box of cereal, wire twist ties, white glue, and acrylic paint.

5.1 cm (2.0") wide x 6.0 cm (2.4") tall.
(*Please note that the numbers given can vary a bit, depending on how the figure's joints are positioned.)

Neck, ribs, vertebrae column, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hips.

Three days: July 4th, 7th, and 9th, 2017.
9  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / It's good to bee queen! on: July 17, 2017 12:45:39 PM
I "fake-joined" the "Bird Bee Butterfly" Swap at Craftster, which simply means that, while you still have to follow the rules for said event, instead of actually exchanging the item(s) that you made with another member, you're creating them for yourself. The object of said swap was to create three items, one focusing on each of the three critter types named in the swap's title.

For my bee project, I decided to paint/draw a "Queen Bee" enemy monster from Vic Tokai's 1995 Super Famicom ("Family + Computer", the original Japanese name for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System) video game Princess Minerva [other versions are also available on the PC-98 computer (1992) and PC Engine CD console (1994); however, none of said variations were ever released outside of Japan].

The titular character, Minerva, not content with the "normal" boring life of a princess, sets out on an epic adventure, with her entourage of eight friends in tow, to save the land from the forces of evil. Princess Minerva is equal parts pro-feminist and cheesecake, as the vast majority of the characters in the game are female, including all nine of the protagonists you control, as well as most of the "monsters" you fight, but they also tend to be scantily-clad or topless/naked.

In the screenshot above, "Kui-n Bi-" is the Japanese katakana phonetic equivalent of the English "Queen Bee", and the player characters surrounded by the quartet of Queen Bees are three of Princess Minerva's comrades, Blue Morris (center), Tyrolia (left), and Elan (right) ["Buru- Morisu", "Chiroria", and "Eran", in Japanese katakana, respectively].

I was going to make a 3-dimensional figurine of the Queen Bee, but I ran out of time (and ambition), so, I just painted/drew her instead, using a photograph of a real woman, from an issue of Vogue, as my still-life reference model (obviously, I added the wings, stinger, etc., as she certainly didn't have those!) The actual illustration faces left, but I decided I liked the Queen Bee better facing right, so I horizontally mirrored the image in an art program.

Acrylic paint, graphite/colored pencil, and ink, on white paper.

10.0 cm (3.9") wide x 17.0 cm (6.7") tall.

One morning on July 10th, 2017.
(A day past my deadline--don't tell anybody!)

This isn't really relevant, but, I'll stick it here anyway. It's just a quick portrait of a woman, that I did completely in permanent marker, which was the last thing that I drew prior to the Queen Bee:

Now, for some bee extras. In my experience, bee stuff is a bit harder to come by than birds and butterflies, probably because people tend to not like things that can harm them, which makes them presumably less popular subject matter for merchandising (well, birds can hurt you too, as anyone who's ever been pecked or nipped can tell you, but they rarely do that, so, for most individuals, the worst you have to fear from a bird is perhaps having some bird poop dropped on you or your car).

First off is a 2012 Bakery Crafts bee ring. This likely originated as a cupcake decoration and was obviously intended for children (it only fits all the way down on my pinky fingers, I can't even get it past the second knuckles on either of my ring fingers!)

Next are a pair of Bumblebee dolls from Mattel/McDonald's 2016 DC Superhero Girls collaboration (why don't they just call them Superheroines?). While it looks like they'd swivel, their left arms are permanently raised in the air, which is kind of annoying, and something that Mattel has been doing for a while now with their fast food dolls, especially Barbie. I've also got a couple of Katanas and Supergirl, but I still need to get a Wonder Woman and Batgirl to complete this assortment.

Speaking of Barbie, here's her 2013 "A Boo-tiful Halloween!" storybook (not to be confused with "booty-ful" Cheesy). This is relevant because one of her younger sisters, Stacie, dresses up as a bumblebee, which Barbie describes as "bee-utiful", of course. And Barbie couldn't decide if she wanted to be a bat or a ballerina so she decided to combine the two and become a "baterina" which is kind of clever. Even better, various elements on the pages glow-in-the-dark and two sheets of glow-in-the-dark stickers are also included. It's Halloween in July, y'all!

If you prefer more scientific literature, here's the 1997 "Insects and other Invertebrates" volume of "Wonderful World of Animals". Bees are addressed in the chapter on communication, and their "bee dancing" in particular. This book is okay, but it's intended for younger readers, so, it's pretty general in scope and doesn't contain enough in-depth information for my tastes, but budding scientists gotta start somewhere.

Lastly here's a simple, rubbery bee toy figurine. There's no copyright information molded on its body, so, I have absolutely no idea where it came from, who made it, or when it was manufactured. It may just be a cheap prize from one of those vending machine things. It's cute, but I wish it had some antennae.

10  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Mom told me about the birds and bees but neglected the butter-smeared insects on: July 14, 2017 11:23:03 AM

I "fake-joined" the "Bird Bee Butterfly" Swap at Craftster, which simply means that, while you still have to follow the rules for said event, instead of actually exchanging the item(s) that you made with another member, you're creating them for yourself. The object of said swap was to create three items, one focusing on each of the three critter types named in the swap's title.

For my butterfly project, I decided to make a "Bread-and-Butterfly" from Disney's 1951 animated adaptation of Lewis Carroll's (the well-known pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) 1871 Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. While mostly on target, Disney's interpretation of the insect's physiology varies a bit from the description Carroll gave in his book:

'Crawling at your feet,' said the Gnat (Alice drew her feet back in some alarm), 'you may observe a Bread-and-Butterfly. Its wings are thin slices of Bread-and-butter, its body is a crust, and its head is a lump of sugar.'

'And what does IT live on?'

'Weak tea with cream in it.'

A new difficulty came into Alice's head. 'Supposing it couldn't find any?' she suggested.

'Then it would die, of course.'

'But that must happen very often,' Alice remarked thoughtfully.

'It always happens,' said the Gnat.

Following are some photos of the papier mache modeling process that I used to create this figurine:

And this is the completed figurine:

I still don't have a "proper" Alice doll, so Liv Sophie gets to do the honors this time. I think the dress is a Beauty and the Beast Belle one, but, I'm not certain. It's blue and white, which is close enough to what Alice wears in the Disney film to suit my purposes. I had a black satin hair ribbon . . . somewhere . . . but, I don't remember where I stuck it after my last Alice photo shoot, as such, I made her a "new" one out of a combination of an elastic hair band and some electrical tape--MacGyver eat your heart out! Technically, there was a Target-exclusive Liv Sophie doll done up as Alice, but I don't have her, or, at least, if I do, I don't have her Alice outfit (I've accumulated a LOT of Sophie dolls over the last 3-4 years, so, I honestly don't even know anymore).

Newsprint, tissue paper, white paper, cardboard from a box of cereal, wire twist ties, white glue, acrylic paint, and permanent marker.

5.7 cm (2.2") long x 5.7 cm (2.2") tall x 5.1 cm (2.0") wide.

Three days: June 29th, July 2nd and 9th, 2017.

Rainbow Dash isn't allowed in Wonderland anymore . . .

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