Sunday, October 15, 2017

Spoopy Craft! Little Stuffed Pumpkins

These adorable pumpkins can easily be turned into jack-o-lanterns by gluing on eyes and a mouth. I rate this at the beginner level- if you can thread a needle and tie a knot, you should have no difficulty with this craft.

You will need:
Orange felt
Brown felt for the stem
Yellow felt to make jack-o-lantern eyes and mouth
Glue Gun
Needle & black thread or embroidery floss.
Poly-fil Stuffing

Optional: Beads for the stem

1. Find something round, 3.5” or larger in diameter like a flower pot, coffee can, bowl or large mug. Trace around it onto paper or freezer paper to make a pattern, or trace directly onto the felt and cut out.

2. Thread the needle, doubled up for strength, and make a big fat knot the end. You will need a looooooong double thread, as long as your outstretched arms. If you are using embroidery floss, you only need a single thread.

3. Begin stitching around the circle, close to the edge, varying the length. You don’t want tight stitches here.- just a large basting stitch. The more random the better.

4. When you get back to the beginning, grab enough poly-fil to fill the pumpkin and place it in the center of the circle. Pull the thread to gather the edges of the pumpkin around the stuffing.

5. Hold the gathers in one hand and tie a knot on one of the edges with the other. It should stay gathered when you let go. Don’t cut the thread yet!

6. Bring the needle up through the stuffing, through the center of the top of the pumpkin and back down around to the bottom several times all around the pumpkin to create the lines. Pull the thread tight so it squishes into the pumpkin a little.

7. When you have all the lines you want,, bring the needle up through the middle one last time (if you are using beads for the stem, thread them now) and back down through the middle, pulling tight to squish the pumpkin a little. Tie a knot on one of the edges and cut the thread.

8. Measure the opening left on the bottom of the pumpkin, and cut a small circle to fit over it.

9. Hot Glue the small circle to the bottom of the pumpkin and squish it down to stick it good. Fluff it back up when the glue hardens.

10. Roll up and glue a small piece of brown felt like a sushi to make the stem (if you didn't use beads), and glue it to the top of the pumpkin. 

11. Cut out eyes and a mouth out of the yellow felt and glue them to the pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern!

Try making different colored pumpkins! I made some white ones and sparkly orange ones and experimented with using beads for the stem. I also made some smaller ones. Make it your own and have fun!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Spoopy Craft! Dangling Construction Paper & Pipe Cleaner Spiders

I made these for the October bulletin board in the office where I work. This is a super easy one, probably would be fun to do with the kiddos.

You will need:
Construction paper or craft foam
Pipe cleaners
String or yarn
Optional: hole puncher, googly eyes

1. Print and cut out this pattern for the spider body and trace onto the construction paper or foam.

2. Cut out spider body and decorate however you like. I used a coloured piece of construction paper to write birthdays on and made paper eyes, but you could use pompoms or googly eyes or anything else.

3. From the back of the body, poke 4 holes down either side about 1/4" away from the edge with the pencil or punch holes with a hole puncher for the legs.

4. Thread the pipe cleaners through the holes from the back of the body and bend them however you like.

5. Tie a string around one of the legs on the back and hang!

Bonus Craft: Small Pipe Cleaner Spider

1. Cut 3 pipe cleaners in half. You should have 6 halves.

2. Stack four of the halves together and wrap another half around the middle of the stack to make the head

3. Wrap the ends of the last half around the head and leave a loop in the middle for the body. Optional: Add a pompom to the loop for a fuzzy body!

4. Bend the legs however you like, add googly eyes and string to hang!

Here are the directions for you to print out:

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Spoopy Craft! Lighted Message Coffin

Every Halloween I like to elaborately decorate the apartment door. I got this skeleton couple and cardboard coffins at Michael's. 

Here is how I made the lighted message coffin:

*You will need pretty good knife skills for this.

You will need:
- Cardboard coffins (I got mine from Michael's)
- Craft paint and paintbrush, or whatever you want to use to decorate your coffin
- Craft knife
- Pencil
- Ruler
- White glue
- Hot glue gun
- Battery operated flameless flickering tea lights (check the dollar store)
- Tissue paper (any colour you like that you can see the light through)
- Velcro

1. With the ruler and pencil, draw lines from the top and bottom corners of the inside of the coffin lid. Draw a center line. This is where your message will go.

2. Draw your message in block letters, backwards, on the inside of the coffin lid, so that it reads correctly when viewed from the front of the lid. If you need to, cut the letters out on paper and then trace them onto the lid.

3. Cut the letters out with the Craft knife. Go slowly and be careful!

4. Paint and decorate.

5. Cut a piece of tissue paper large enough to cover the letters and glue to the inside of the lid.

6. Hot glue small pieces of velcro to the bottoms of the tea lights.

7. Turn on the tea lights then hot glue them on the other side of the velcro and stick them to the inside of the coffin.

8. Put the lid back on the coffin and enjoy your spoopy message!

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Big Year - Brian Canini Review

I got local creator Brian Canini’s “The Big Year” comic on Kickstarter. It is a daily journal comic over the course of a year. I laughed, I cried, I felt the feels. The comic was done in 2015 and into 2016, two years ago. He was buying a house and getting married. He had a kid, a good paying job, friends and loving family, and another kid on the way. He has the perfect life and expresses gratitude on several pages yet sometimes still feels disconnected, anxious, depressed, unfulfilled and out of control.

I couldn't help but compare his life to mine. I must admit feelings of envy and inadequacy while reading this (much like spending too much time on social media.) I felt sort of unaccomplished and worthless, like his darker pages where he expresses his frustration, apprehension and existential angst. About the only things we have in common are that we are both newlyweds who love our spouses with our whole heart, and we both love IP comix.. After reading this book, I felt a connection with the author and also equal parts depressed and motivated about my own life, and a little less alone, and also happy for him. The beautiful life experiences he illustrates, from the mundane to the miraculous made me a little more hopeful about the future and my place in it.

from the Introduction by his buddy Derek Baxter from Drunken Cat Comics

This book inspired me to try making a comic again, like I did back in 2014 with ‘FML’ and ‘Bird Brains’. I want to do a daily over a long period of time like he did. Maybe I can make a connection with someone on the other side of the panels.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Newark Strawberry Festival

I love going to small-town summer festivals, so when I heard about the Strawberry Festival in Newark OH, one of my old haunts and about a 45 minute drive from our home in Columbus, I got excited. I love festivals, I love strawberries, and I loved that this one wasn’t that far away, so there was a possibility of getting a booth there next year. Bonus: they were open on Sunday, so my husband could come with me.

When you hear “Strawberry Festival” one would expect the downtown streets to be filled with farmers’ booths, strawberry-themed games, and people lined up for strawberry confections. That was not the case with the Newark Strawberry Festival, held June 2-4, 2017 in downtown Newark, OH. My husband and I attended on Sunday, the last day of the festival. I was looking forward to coming home with a quart of fresh, locally grown strawberries, and perhaps a strawberry plant. I was anticipating sampling strawberry desserts and jams. I was expecting to see at least some strawberry-themed items, examples of different varieties of strawberries, or maybe even the biggest strawberry or food-art contest. There was a picture of what looked like trays of strawberries with cups of dipping sauce on the Facebook page and the website.

There was none of that.

There were no farmers’ booths, there was only one sad-looking food truck set up among the usual deep-fried carnival fare that even had strawberry desserts. The festival was sponsored by the local Kiwanis, selling 50/50 raffle tickets. I went to their information booth to ask where the strawberries were. The old dude pointed me toward the sole strawberry dessert truck described above, which if there wasn’t a sign with the word “strawberry” on it, you never would have known they had strawberries; there weren’t even any on display. 

Now at lunchtime on a Sunday one would expect there to be lines at the many concession vendors at the festival. I saw maybe two people walking around with food. There were about 75-100 people there who weren’t working (and I’m being generous). There was a good musician on stage while we were there, doing acoustic pop covers. There were the usual carney games. There were a lot of chinese-made junk and direct sales booths, and only a handful of actual craft/small business vendors. There were desperate salesmen selling basement sealant, gutters, siding, etc., local political groups, churches handing out bibles, social aid and community groups. There were lots of rides set up  for the kiddos. While we were there we saw some had one or two riders, but most were empty. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Where were all the people?

To our delight there was a miniature golf set up in a side parking lot. 2.00 for 9 holes. My husband and I love us some mini-golf, so we had to try it. It was basically long wooden boxes with fake turf on them. Some of them were pretty torn up. The parking lot wasn’t completely flat, so some of them were slanted a bit and our balls, though putted straight, rolled off to the side.  It was far from regulation, but it was fun for about 15 minutes. We were at the festival for about 45 minutes. With no strawberries and not really any art or crafts to browse through, there was really no point in sticking around. We left, dejected, without tasting a single strawberry or seeing the magic show.

Newark is an ultra-conservative, economically depressed town rife with drugs, poverty, homelessness, obesity, elderly and physically and mentally handicapped folk. There is a ten commandments statue that stands like a tombstone in the town square. Many of the downtown shops are vacant, some have been remodeled recently. I could not tell you one major manufacturer in the area aside from Longaberger, who went out of business years ago.

We headed over to neighboring town of Heath, where most of the retail businesses in the area are located. We visited a few stores including their very empty, dying mall. I won’t be surprised if it’s completely closed within a couple of years. At least their Spencer’s is still open (looking at you, Lancaster.)

To curb our depression and disappointment we headed over to the Newark Earthworks, a national landmark and sacred site made of mounds built by the ancient Hopewell and one of my favorite parks in the state. At this particular location, only one of three mound sites in the area, an 8-foot tall mound encircles a 1200 meter diameter meadow speckled with trees. Aside from the people at the shelter houses outside the circle and a friendly man walking his dogs, we had the place to ourselves. One is able to walk along the perimeter on top of the mounds, but at the time they were in desperate need of mowing and I didn’t feel like getting ticks on me. We opted to walk in the inside of the circle next to the mounds, where the field had been mowed, and there were a great variety of mature trees providing a wonderful respite from the heat of the day. 

I love going to small town summer festivals, and I am extremely sad to suggest that this is one to be skipped. But to end on a positive note, I am pleased to report that, for all the town’s flaws, at least the people we encountered were friendly.