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1  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / All eyes on me! on: November 03, 2014 11:51:44 PM
Our Halloween plans this year included going to see a great band, The Midnight Serenaders, that plays 1920s and '30s-style swing and jazz, so I wanted a retro-themed costume. I found a black fringed flapper-style dress at the Buffalo Exchange, but I wasn't going as an ordinary flapper. I wanted to go as the Googly-Eye Dress Flapper!

The local Dollar Tree has packages of 125 assorted-size googly eyes. For about two and a half weeks, I would sit every night with a curved, large-eyed upholstery needle, thread a strand of fringe through it, pierce the plastic shell of the googly eye, and knot the thread three times to secure it. I did this for roughly three hours a night. (Yes, we have Netflix.  Grin )

After a few days of this, I stood back from the dressmaker's dummy and asked my boyfriend: "So, do you think it's done? Does that look like enough googly eyes?"

He's usually wise to that trick, but this time he felt the answer was obvious, so he said, "Yes, yes I think that's definitely enough googly eyes."
Then I frowned at it a little more, and said: "No, I think it needs more googly eyes."

You see, part of the problem was that as the dress would shake, the eyes would turn around to show their plain white backs. So on the back of each googly eye you can see, I glued a second googly eye, using quick-dry fingernail glue.  I also had some flat-bottomed glass gems in assorted colors (also from the Dollar Tree) and glued some of these randomly to the backs instead, to give the beads some weight and sparkle.

So after a few days of this, I asked again: "So do you think this is enough googly eyes?"

This time, he answered, with confidence: "Yes, I see what you meant about it needing more before, but this is definitely enough googly eyes."
I frowned at it a little more. "No," I said. "I think it needs just a few more googly eyes."

So exactly how many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop is "enough" googly eyes? Well, I ended up buying 18 bags of 125, plus the two extra-large ones I already had, from when I tried to put them on the robot vacuum. (It didn't like them.) By my rough count, there were about 250 eyes left over at the end, and I estimate maybe 150 more ended up lost to breakage, donated to a pumpkin-decorating party, or batted under the couch by our cat, Oreo. So I feel comfortable estimating that there are at least 1750 googly eyes on the dress, in total.  Shocked

I love the way it turned out, and that it sounds like being inside a rainstick when you walk. And so much fun for dancing! To fully appreciate it, you really have to see it shimmy.

Hey! My eyes are up here!  Roll Eyes

Thanks for checking out my entry!
2  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 88 ENTRIES / Suncatcher (nosy neighbor window screen) on: July 07, 2013 10:56:07 AM

The sheer curtains in my front room are nice during the day, but I've been a bit worried about passers-by on the street seeing in, especially since my boyfriend and I were both raised by hippies and tend to be a bit cavalier about the whole walking-around-naked thing. So in order to shield the neighbors from  Shocked I decided to make a suncatcher to hang in the window and provide a bit more coverage.

My dollar store materials list ($10 total):
4 rectangular plastic trays
2 oval plastic trays
2 little boxes made of flexible plastic stretched over a wire frame, which I took apart for the colored bits
1 bag of assorted color flat-bottomed craft/floral marbles
1 roll of clear packing tape

First I used crafting shears to cut the rims off of the plastic trays. This was the hardest part, and sent little shards of plastic flying everywhere. I recommend eye protection, and also not doing this in your living room unless you seriously enjoy vacuuming.

Once I had the flat bottoms of the trays, I used long strips of packing tape to tape them together, and glued the marbles on where I wanted them as accents. Then I cut the colored plastic into shapes to cover up and disguise the gaps of tape between the trays. I could have been a bit more precise about cutting/measuring to make it look more like stained glass, but by then it was getting late and my living room was entirely covered in little plastic bits and I couldn't be bothered. Finally, I "laminated" the whole thing with more strips of packing tape. Here are a few pics of it completed and hanging in the window.

Voil! A pretty Suncatcher for my window and no more scandalized neighbors. Thanks for checking out my entry--Dollar Store challenges are my favorite!
3  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Re: Take a page from my book...gown! (img heavy) on: January 27, 2010 03:11:53 PM
Hi, I'm just bumping this back up to let those who were interested know--the book is now available! You can order it online from the links at my website, or find it at your local bookstore.
4  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Re: Take a page from my book...gown! (img heavy) on: October 18, 2009 04:52:53 AM
Thanks, everyone, for all your kind comments about the costume--and the book! If you're on Facebook, you can join the group for the novel and I'll send you a message when it's available.
5  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Take a page from my book...gown! BOOK NOW AVAILABLE!! on: October 16, 2009 05:30:39 AM
Edited to add: The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet is now on sale! I don't want to break the community rules by linking to it here, but you can find it in your favorite online or brick-and-mortar bookstore.

As a writer living in Portland, OR, I always look forward to Wordstock, the city's largest annual book festival. One of the festival's highlights is the Text Ball, a literary-themed costume party thrown by the Independent Publishing Resource Center. Guests of this prom for word geeks are encouraged to attend "with text as part of their attire," and the theme for this year's ball was A Novel Idea.

As it happened, I had a three-inch-thick stack of my own "novel idea"--the second-pass pages from my upcoming historical novel, The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet. Second-pass pages are the final step before a book is bound into ARCs (sometimes called "uncorrected proofs" or "galleys") and sent out to reviewers. They have the layout and typeset of the finished book, but on unbound, single-sided printer pages.

I was watching Project Runway's paper dress challenge when it came to me--I should make my Text Ball costume out of the pages of my own book! It semed like a creative and fun way to promote the novel at the festival. I would invite people to pluck a page at random off my skirt to keep and read!

First I printed black-and-white images of the cover art onto the backs of the first-pass pages by running them face-down through my printer. Then I cut the pages down to the actual book-size, a bit smaller than the printouts.

I had the green velvet renaissance-style gown and lace-up bodice already (I used to perform twisting balloons at children's birthday parties, and have a ridiculous variety of odd costume pieces in the back of my closet, "just in case."). But how to attach them to the gown so they could be easily removed? The answer: six boxes of fancy brass paperclips and my trusty needle-and-thread.

Yep--I hand-sewed more than 250 paperclips  individually onto the dress, one-at-a-time. I also made a "fringe" around the bottom of the bodice, then stuck in overlapping layers of promotional postcards to give it the stiff shape of an Elizabethan farthingale, to match the book's Shakespearean theme.

The stick-on letters wouldn't stay stuck to the velvet bodice, so I sewed them down as well. Then I curled each page around a pencil-thick dowel to give it some shape and volume and began hanging them from the paperclips.

I finally finished the project with barely an hour to spare before the ball. (Where are Cinderelly's mice when you really need them, right!?)  Here's a pic of me modeling the final result:

Of course, I then had to remove and carefully pack the gown into trashbags to take it to the ball (well I certainly wasn't going to be able to drive in the thing, or even sit in a cab!). Here's me getting dressed in the parking lot of the venue, which on a cold and rather windy night was a barrel of laughs, let me tell you. I lost a page or two to sudden gusts. But at least it wasn't raining!

The dress was actually quite comfortable, and the pages held surprisingly well until they were plucked, though every time I moved I made a sound like an Aspen tree. I was even able to dance, though I felt a bit like Ginger Rogers in Top Hat when I did!

Best of all for a shy, introverted writer-type like me, I was able to promote my book without having to approach people--strangers came up to me and asked about it! Everyone wanted to pluck a page, and since each one was different, there was a fortune-cookie feel as well, with people asking each other "What didja get?" or saying "Ooh, mine's a sex scene!"

Here I am back home again at the end of the night, stripped of all my pages. But now that the hard part--sewing on all 250 paperclips!--is done, it would be a relatively simple matter to make new printouts and re-attach them for another event. I really enjoy these sorts of weird-materials costumes--I don't think I've had this much fun with a craft project since my Dollar Store Wedding Gown!

6  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 42 ENTRIES / Re: $10 Tiffany Lampshade--plus Bonus Art! (img heavy) on: September 05, 2009 04:21:40 AM
Thanks, everyone, for all your kind comments! To answer a few questions: I have a compact fluorescent lightbulb of a fairly low wattage in the lamp, so it doesn't really get all that hot. The candy-coated lampshade I was using before was about the same shape and size and I never had a problem with the glass overheating, so I don't think I will with this one either.

 As to how it's attached, you can kind of see in a few of the pictures that there are three adjustable screws in the base that tighten around the top of the shade to hold it in place. So as long as there's a bit of a "lip" around the edge of the lampshade opening for it to hold, it can accomodate a variety of sizes. Very handy when you want to switch out the shades, or, like me, broke the original!
7  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Re: Necktie Couture--a "Hermes" original on: September 04, 2009 04:33:29 PM
Thanks everyone for all your comments! I'm pretty sure all of the ties I used are real silk. I usually handwash the dress with my cashmere sweaters and dry it on my drying rack--mostly because I don't trust my own sewing skills enough not to have my seams fall apart in the wash!
8  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 42 ENTRIES / $10 Tiffany Lampshade--plus Bonus Art! (img heavy) on: September 04, 2009 04:14:56 PM
Those of you who have been around Craftster a while might remember the "stained glass" lampshade I made out of candy and fruit roll-ups for the grocery store challenge:  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=271783.0.

Well, as it turns out, though the shellacked candy lasts surprisingly well, its color doesn't. (Probably a good thing--can you imagine all those dyes in your stomach!?) After several months, the vibrant colors had faded into a uniform yellowish shade--BORING!

 Time for an upgrade--to real glass!

At the Dollar Tree I spent my $10 on:
     1 clear glass vase
      1 small 8"x8" square mirror
      1 package of "jeweled trim"--clear dangly beads sewn onto a ribbon, 1 yard.
      7 little net bags of glass "accent gems " for aquariums/flower arranging

Taking my trusty glue gun (also a Dollar Store purchase, though not this trip) I set to work. I was a bit worried about the heat of the lamp melting the glue, but when a few test gems stayed put, I soon began to cover the entire vase, using the ribbon trim around the bottom to make a fringe.

The results:

When I was done, I still had lots of gems left over, and I hadn't used the mirror at all. So I decided to step it up a notch (I am defending my Dollar Store title, after all! ;-) )
Inspired by the amazing broken glass mosaics created by local artist (and friend) Cecilia Cannon (http://www.ceciliacannon.com/--honestly, check her out, she's incredible) I decided to make a companion "art piece" for my new lamp.

Some more glue gun action:

And voila!

I think they look quite happy together.

Thanks for checking out my entry--and happy crafting!

9  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Necktie Couture--a "Hermes" original on: August 29, 2009 01:28:49 AM

        I made this necktie dress a while back, but never got around to posting pictures. I didn't want it to be stiff and heavy like the necktie skirts I've seen, so I took each of the silk ties apart and removed the batting inside, then washed the ties and ironed them all flat before sewing. It's very light and comfortable!

I didn't really use a pattern--I just sewed them together until I had enough to fit around me,  then tucked in the narrow ends of the ties and hand-sewed the back to fit. For the straps, I simply sewed together the ends of the two ties on either side of the bodice, to make a halter.
(You can see the famous Oreo there on the porch as well.)

For the center of the bodice, I made a little necktie-detail from the end of an Herms tie I found in a thrift-store bin for $1.

It's particularly apt, since my own last name is Hermes--no relation to the Parisian designers, unfortunately! (When people ask, I usually say, "No--I'm related to the  god.") But I can with all honesty say that this dress is indeed a one-of-a-kind couture hand-sewn "Hermes" original!
10  CRAFTSTER CRAFT CHALLENGES / Craftster Craft Challenges / Re: Craft Challenge #42 - Dollar Store Challenge Round 3 - Due Sep 1 - Sep 5 2009 on: August 04, 2009 02:28:46 PM
Oh boy! I'll have to come up with something to defend my title!  Grin
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