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1  The Last Tsars in Halloween Costumes by mandanak on: November 07, 2012 07:40:45 PM
I normally don't go all out (at all!) for Halloween, but my best friend informed me that this was the year to go as the Romanovs. He's been working on his costume for years; I had about a month. But since this felt like quite an honor, I really had to turn it out. And, if I do say so myself, we looked awesome. LOTS of people took our picture when we went out and about.

I'm only entering MY costume; his is also awesome, but he did it all himself.

Here's us!

(Edited to add: here's a full-length picture of my costume! The train is up on my arm; I sewed a loop in it for mobility.)

And here's who we were going for (Nicholas II and Alexandra were the last Russian Tsars, overthrown in the Russian Revolution in 1917):

The dress was a little tricky to figure out; official Russian court dress was, apparently, very specific. Tight slightly off-the-shoulder bodice, an overskirt open to reveal an underskirt, and those curious split sleeves. There's also the jeweled crown called a kokoshnik, in that Russian halo shape--and married ladies have a veil attached to the back of the crown.

I started with these raw materials: A cheapo Goodwill wedding dress I had used as purchased, for a costume a few years ago:

... A pile of bling (from H&M, thrift stores, and craft stores), and a pile of other wedding dresses (used-by-the-pound store):

After hacking apart all those wedding dresses, I saved the bodice from the original dress, made an overskirt out of the skirt of one of the dresses, and made an underskirt from scratch. Here's the dress sans sleeves:

The sleeves were hard to get my brain around -- unTIL I found a tutorial for something unlikely: a dress from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies! The *top* of the sleeves, and the split, was just perfect; they only somehow needed to be way longer and pointed at the bottom. Lots of self-drafted pattern trials later, I came up with my final product:

I also made the the (important) jewelry myself, of which I was very proud: I cannibalized a homemade choker to make another pearl choker, and I frankensteined a bunch of necklaces and pendants together to make that Blingtastic necklace:

The first "Halloween" (ie, Saturday), I was crownless ... BUT the next morning I found the one thing I needed, that I didn't even know existed -- Flat Aluminum Floral Wire! Who knew?!? And it was just the thing to build a crown with. Genius!!! Thank you, Cliff's Variety! You truly DO have everything I need.

I made a form out of cardboard, and then built the crown around it, using that awesome flat wire. The pearls on top, I made out of pearl fimo, built around head-pins; I also used glass pearl beads, faceted gold glass beads, some gold glass seed beads, a thrift store rhinestone necklace basically un-changed, and lots of thin beading wire. The veil was a piece of the tulle overskirt of the *original* wedding dress (which handily had beaded lace motifs on it) -- I just cut it off and clipped it to my hair.

Pearls in progress: Aliens? No, going into the oven.

Crown in progress:

On Ma Haid:

Ready for my Xtreme Closeup:

Thanks, everyone! ;o)
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2  T-Shirts become . . . Fishdress! Halloween Costume Extraordinaire. in Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by mandanak on: October 29, 2009 12:08:05 AM
This probably could go a lot of places, including Halloween costumes . . . BUT everything involved has been recycled, so it's a recon!

Inspired by an extreme case of procrastination, a "Fishnets" Halloween party theme, a serendipitously discovered small bag of pre-cut scraps, and the memory of making my Completely Awesome Parrot Wings, I created the FishDress!

It does, admittedly, also look like a BirdDress . . . but that's cool too! Smiley
All the scales are made with T-shirt scraps, layered over each other (starting from the bottom hem) and sewn onto a base: an old skirt lining, and a soon-won't-fit bra, both the same color, amazingly enough! (I'm wearing it over purple sweatpants, which are not a part of the look, fyi; don't worry.)

Here's a closeup of the skirt, so you can see the layered scales better:

It MAY be accompanied by some sort of waist-cincher belt, and/or fishnet stockings and gloves and knee-high Doc Martens (I might decide to be a goth fish -- a fish wearing fishnet, haha). We'll see. But at least I made myself a costume, goshdangit.

I'll try to post a picture of my Super Awesome Parrot Wings, cause they're really pretty great. I don't know where they came from inside my head, but they're made with the same technique: fabric scraps cut, laid out in a layered feather pattern and sewn onto a base fabric.

Enjoy! Smiley
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3  Re: Tiny Homes (like Tumbleweed) in Crafty Housewares: Discussion and Questions by mandanak on: February 09, 2009 12:34:24 AM
If you're looking for sustainable, easy-to-heat options, this is not exactly moveable (as in, not portable AT ALL Shocked)  -- BUT, we stayed in an Earthship in New Mexico, and it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. (minus the sort of bizarro name.) SO COOL.

They're made of recycled and/or mostly natural materials (tires and sand and cardboard, cement and cans/bottles--for tiny windows, adobe, etc), get all their heating and cooling from the sun and the earth, all their power from wind and solar, all their water from the rain, and are pretty much off the grid.

AND, the one we stayed in, their flagship example ("The Phoenix") was 5000 square feet, and had an indoor jungle in the living room, plus birds flying free in the attached greenhouse -- where they also grew a bunch of food in the garden like tomatoes, broccoli, and BANANAS. We had coffee in the jungle while it was snowing outside, and we were perfectly warm. It was all handmade and an amazing labor of love AND work of art. 

Houses: the ultimate craft! Shocked)

Here's a picture of the living room (all the couches were repurposed furniture; though the slipcovers all matched each other, underneath they were all different:

Here's the greenhouse, doubling as home heater with all that south-facing glass (and yes, that's SNOW outside!):

Here's what the tire/dirt/adobe walls look like, in an unpolished state (this is in the underground part of the house, where cool air comes from -- and a storage area that doubles as basement/garage):

And, here's the inside of the house, looking all pretty: this is the view from one of the bedrooms into a bathroom, with the sun shining on the bottle/cement wall. Pretty!

Cool, huh?
The guy who designed these sells books that outline exactly how to make your own Earthship, ranging from a simple round 200-ish square foot dwelling, up to and beyond the 5000 square foot Phoenix. When we spent the night there, we watched a short documentary of some people building their own basic 200 square foot model; it took them something like 2-4 weeks and cost $2500.

An Earthship info home page: http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/earthship.htm

Looked like a lot of work, but the concept (and from what we could tell, the execution) is super cool.

Food for thought! Shocked)
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4  Ideas for the "chorus line" puppet? in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Discussion and Questions by mandanak on: October 24, 2008 10:56:52 AM

Don't know how many puppeteers are lurking hereabouts, but Craftsters have proven to be creative geniuses, so: I'm directing an improvised puppet bollywood show, and building all the puppets. On my list is a puppet that would essentially be the "chorus" -- a lot of dancing girls (or boys) that can all move together. Could be one, two, or a whole chorus line.

I've built a bunch of puppets, and I have a lot of puppetmaking books, but understandably they're centered around making a *single* puppet. Smiley Anyone have any experience with the multiple-puppet puppet, with do's (or don'ts!) learned from that experience? Any brilliant ideas for a mechanism that could make multiple puppets dance?

I suppose there's always the string/marionette option, but I'm afraid of them getting tangled backstage in the dark. We'll see, though; it's not off the table yet.

(This is something like what our puppets currently look like -- mostly your "hand and rod" muppet-style ones; we have some monsters, some human-looking ones, and some are teeny and some are huge. There'll be people performing alongside them, like Sesame St. or more like Avenue Q, since we won't be trying to hide the puppeteers.)

Thanks in advance! All ideas are welcomed, including and specifically ideas that you think might be "dumb"; that's the best kind of brainstorming! Don't rob yourself of an idea just because you think it might be silly or wildly implausible! Smiley That's where all the best inspiration comes from.

Thanks guys! Smiley
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5  Girly puppets -- For Puppet Bollywood! in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by mandanak on: October 22, 2008 12:43:41 PM
Woot! New puppets!
I'm directing a show for my theater company -- it's The Great Puppet Bollywood Extravaganza! And because the gender balance for this show is surprisingly leaning toward the male side, we therefore need more female puppets. I've been learning as I create, so these two new lovely ladies are the best puppets I've made so far, both externally and internally -- mouth mechanism etc.

It's amazing how there aren't that many female puppet characters, so I'm trying to actually develop different *kinds* of women, rather than just Token Girly Puppet. So, I hereby present:


AND, Nila:

Look! Puppet Cleavage!

They're both made from foam internally (we got it donated last year from a local company), and externally it's good old anti-pill polar fleece. Rita's hair is an actual wig, cheap cheap from a pre-Halloween Joann's sale, and Nila's hair is yarn, partially wefted as per the poppet hair tutorial, and partially (because her head is so ginormous) sewn to her head like a center part, and covered with the updo.

I made some puppets last year for the first improvised puppet show we did. They're starring in this show too -- wow, puppets are fascinating. And addictive. Here are:

Evelyn & Poodle:

Petal, all wrapped up in her pinky plaid sari:

AND, ME! With Dungeon, still my favoritest puppet ever with his endearing underbite and monster teeth, and Hidalgo with the awesome creepy eyes and devilish soul patch. And just a few of my fellow improvisors and puppeteers. We're all dressed up Bollywood-style for the photo shoot.

Thanks for looking! Comments welcome, plus any puppet questions you might have. Woot!
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6  Puppets Puppets Puppets! for an Improvised Puppet Musical! in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by mandanak on: March 05, 2007 12:31:13 PM
Hee hee hee! I made puppets. I am so excited.
My improv theater company in San Francisco is trying something new: a full-length improvised puppet musical. Neato! This came about largely because last year I was sitting around and suddenly thought -- hm. I'm gonna make a puppet. Made two, brought them to rehearsal, where everyone freaked out with joy. Flash to a year later; now I'm directing a whole show with them! So gosh dern it, I better make some more.

This is three or four of them that have been made, thus far--can't post pictures yet because I'm a longtime lurker but I'm slow to post (not for want of a huge backlog of crafts TO post). Marcel, the cheeky fellow in green and yellow, is the second of my two original puppets from last year. He really seems to be a hit with everyone.

Pictures pictures! Can't you just picture these guys singing and dancing?

(Update 2011 -- hahaha, I posted this FIVE YEARS AGO and *just* got PMed for, I guess, having some sort of off-craftster link? . . . that is kind of hilarious! Sorry guys, didn't mean to promote; I just wasn't allowed by Craftster to post any pictures then! ;o)  Here are the pics . . .

Along with lots of other inspiration, I made some of these puppets based on a series of nicely-made video tutorials here: http://hobbies.expertvillage.com/videos/building-a-moving-mouth-puppet.htm

AND, I'm working on some techniques outlined in "The Foam Book," by the guys at Grey Seal Puppets. (foam book, get it! it even has "yellowed pages." ahaha.) And let me know if you might have any other construction questions . . . I've really just started doing this, but I *am* learning fast.

Woo hoo! And have a great day.  Smiley

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