Vincent Van Groovy

8 Oct

Another Dollarama canvas has been transformed! Like the canvas from my earlier Mona Lisa makeover, this one had a black and white, paint-by-numbers-esque line drawing of Van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” painting. I toyed with the idea of doing another steampunk painting, maybe with clockwork flowers, but I was finally inspired by the beautiful felt artwork over at Checkout Girl’s blog. If you have not seen it, you are missing out!

I completely covered the canvas with fabric, so the black and white sketch didn’t really help me as far as layout goes. I just cut a bunch of felt into sunflowerish shapes and layered them together in a pleasing way. The buttons were a last-minute addition, because I felt (ha) that something was missing. I think they help pull the whole colour scheme together.

When I hung this on my wall, I couldn’t help but think that a little bit of the 1970s had worked its way into my living room. Something about the orange, gold and brown hearkens back to the days of this and this. In a completely pleasing way, of course. I am now considering painting my dining room orange. According to the crazy psychologist people, orange is a good colour for digestion…is that why A&W does so well?

(Mrs. A)

+3 to Charisma Skirt

28 Sep

I present my Level 11 Skirt of Cunning, +3 to charisma!

If you are not a dork, you will probably not get that. And if you are not a dork, you will probably look at this skirt the way many people did earlier- with one eyebrow raised, head tilted, mouth contorted in a confused grimace.

“What is on your skirt?”

“Dice.”

The person will either say something like, “Oh yeah,” and continue on their way, or ask what kind of dice have that many sides. When I explain that the dice are from the game of Dungeons & Dragons, several responses might be heard: “Awesome!” “You’re funny.” “Oh.” Or the person might just look at me like I have two heads.

I suppose this was all inevitable when I decided that I should wear my new skirt to work at the library during the day, before heading off to battle a succubus, an ogre and bar thugs at night.

This skirt took a long time. Many movies featuring embroidering heroines were watched, to encourage me on my progress. Despite my slight contempt for the boring six-sided die, I think my dragon-embellished version is my favourite. I do actually have a few dice like this one in my D&D bag, and they have caused some arguments:

“12 damage!”

“No, the dragon represents a 1. So you do 2 damage.”

“What?! How can a dragon represent the lowest number on the dice? Dragons are awesome!”

You can probably tell by now that my friends and I have very serious, philosophical discussions.

(Mrs. A)

Empire Cookies Strike Back

5 Sep

How have I never thought of this before! They are called EMPIRE cookies! Inspiration finally hit when Mr. C and I were discussing the possibility of opening a comic book shop slash bakery, and I decided that every baked good must have some sort of geeky reference in the name. Stay tuned for Wookie Pies.

Empire (Strikes Back!) Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. icing sugar, plus extra for icing
1 c. corn starch
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. almond extract, plus 1 tsp. for icing
seedless raspberry jam
decorating gel

Cream butter with icing sugar until fluffy. Add corn starch and cream again. Stir in almond extract. Gradually add the flour and mix well until soft. Roll out dough on floured surface to about 3mm thickness. Cut into desired shapes (Death Stars! Well…round, actually) and place on lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden. Let cool.

Next, sandwich the cooled cookies with a spoonful of seedless raspberry jam. To prepare the icing, mix a couple of cups of icing sugar with enough warm water to make a thick paste-like consistency. Add a few smears of black food colouring and the rest of the almond extract and frost cookies! Decorate with gel (I made whole Death Stars here, but feel free to make the Death Star II work in progress). Let sit for a few minutes to let the icing harden, otherwise they will become a huge mess if you stack them!

EAT! And may the Force be with you.

Beaver Paper Bag Craft

1 Aug
Paper Bag Beaver Craft

Beaver Puppet

Are you looking for another woodland creature craft? How about the friendly beaver? This craft is simple and in the end it’ll give the kids a puppet to play with.

Supplies required: lunch sized brown paper bags, black, white and two colours of brown construction paper,  cardboard, a black marker, two large googly eyes, scissors and a glue stick.

Step 1: Create a template of the head, nose, arms, teeth, tail and wood as seen in the picture below.
Step 2: Using the templates, trace and cut out the head and arms from the construction paper that is the lighter of the two browns.  Cut the nose out of black construction paper, the teeth from white and the tail from the darker brown construction paper.
Step 3:
Using the final pattern, cut out the wood from the cardboard.  
Step 4: Draw on the additional detail, such as the space between the teeth, the mouth and ears, as seen on the final example of the craft pictured above.
Step 5: Glue the head onto the folded part of the paper bag. Glue the tail to the back of the paperback and then glue the teeth underneath the fold of the paper bag so that only a small portion of the teeth can be seen.
Step 6: Next glue the googly eyes and the nose onto the head.
Step 7: Finally, glue the cardboard behind the arms and then glue the arms to the front of the paper bag.

Beaver Teeth

Beaver Teeth

Your beaver is now complete. For my sample, instead of using construction paper for the nose and

teeth I used foam paper. You may also be wondering why the beaver’s teeth are so long. Beavers actually have very long teeth partly because their teeth never stop growing. According to Canadian Geographic animal fact sheet (http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/kids/animal-facts/beaver.asp) chewing on tree trunks and branches help prevent a beaver’s teeth from getting too long. It’s a fun fact that you can throw in there while the kids are making their puppets.

Beaver Craft Template

Template

Recommended Reading: Beaver is Lost by Elisha Cooper (wordless picture book)

(Mr. C)

Pride & Prejudice and Dungeons & Dragons

26 Jul

WARNING: The following entry contains profane language.

I am currently two Jane Austen film adaptations into the embroidery on my Dungeons and Dragons skirt. It started with a need for more Alan Rickman (after Harry Potter two weeks ago), so I watched Sense and Sensibility while I beaded the giant d20. I enjoyed pretending to live in Regency England so much that I watched Pride and Prejudice next. The tinkling piano melodies and romantic entanglements of the landed gentry go exceedingly well with needlepoint crafts.

However, I do not think the living rooms of Barton Cottage or Longbourn Estate ever rang out with cries of “Fuck shit fuck me!” or “Fufufufu blerrrrr!” (when I was trying to control my use of profanities, for the cats’ sakes). The embroidery needle is fat and sharp, while the beading needle is impossibly thin and a million times sharper, giving me a wonderous variety of pokes and stabs throughout the day.

I have great respect for women who, in the past, had to complete all of their sewing by hand. It is tedious and time consuming, but I must admit, it is rewarding to look down and see a d20 emerge from what was once an ordinary dodecahedron.

(Mrs. Effin’ A)

Snitch Skirt

16 Jul

If Harry Potter took place in 1950s America, students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would probably wear something like this on their Butterbeer dates in Hogsmead. At least, I like to think so.

I knew I needed to wear something good to commemorate the very last Harry Potter movie, but a black cloak and house tie just wasn’t going to cut it. So I made yet another circle skirt, this time embellished with a giant golden snitch! I honestly don’t think I’m going to get bored of these circle skirts. They are way too easy, and there are so many ways to embellish them. Just you wait until I finish my Dungeons and Dragons themed green-beaded dice skirt!

People loved this skirt, and even the people who have been living under a rock and don’t know what a snitch is still thought it was “retro cool” (in the words of one crazy old guy at the library). Oh, and if you can’t quite see it, I was sporting a Slytherin badge and a Dark Mark, to show my love for dear Severus Snape. Love him.

And here is my shoddy Microsoft Paint template. One of these days I’m going to remember to actually make a real template before I sew everything together. But you get the idea.

(Mrs. A)

Crazy Hair Craft

12 Jul

Have you ever gone to work with crazy looking hair because you didn’t have enough time to fix it in the morning? Do you need a valid excuse to explain why it might look unkempt? How about a crazy hair themed story time? There are some really good stories about hair out there and you can try this fun craft.

Supplies required: construction paper  in flesh tones, scissors, a pen or a marker, glue, tape and a Popsicle stick, stir stick or straw and something that has a hair-like quality such as feathered thread or yarn. Remember, the more colours you have as an option for the hair the crazier the hairdos can be!

Step 1: Create a template of the head, eyes and mouth as seen below.
Step 2: Trace and cut out the head template on flesh toned pieces of construction paper. Cut the eyes out on white paper and the mouths out on black.
Step 3:
Draw on any additional detail on the cut pieces such as pupils on the eyes and nose on the face.
Step 4: Cut various lengths of hair material.
Step 5: Glue mouth and eyes on a face.
Step 6: Choose however much hair and whatever colours you like and glue them on top of the head. Some creative kids might even choose to add a bit of facial hair as well.
Step 7: Let it dry.
Step 8: Once dry you can attach the head to the stick or straw using tape.

Now you have some puppets with some crazy hair and a reason to mess yours up a bit!

 

Recommended Reading: Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman Illus. by Dave McKean
Aaron’s Hair by Robert Munsch Illus. by Alan and Lea Daniel

(Mr. C)

Monster Magnet Craft

29 Jun

Monsters under your bed? In your closet? Forget about it! They’re now on the fridge! Make various monster faces using miscellaneous monster parts. This craft is inspired by magnetic poetry, but instead of rearranging words to make new sentences you’ll be rearranging noses, eyes and mouths to create new monsters.

Supplies required: foam paper in various colours, scissors, a marker, glue and magnetic strips (though old fridge magnets that companies often give away can also be used).

Monsters Crafts

Step 1: Design various monster pieces such as eyes, mouths, noses, hair and horns. See the pictures below for some ideas. Remember, the crazier they are the more fun they’re going to be.
Step 2: Trace and cut out the pieces on different colours of foam paper. Construction paper will also work though it won’t be as nice.
Step 3: Draw on any additional detail such as pupils on the eyes as needed.
Step 4: Cut magnets to appropriate lengths and glue them onto the back of each monster piece. You can purchase the magnetic strips with sticky backing which work much better than glue.
Step 5: Place the pieces randomly on the fridge or some other magnetic surface.
Step 6: Now the kids (or the kids at heart) can make monster faces  by rearranging the pieces. The combination possibilties is limited only by your imagination. If things get boring, add additional pieces. Maybe a nice purple beard or a blue mustache? How about some orange eyes?

Have fun and stay creative!

Recommended Reading: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

(Mr. C)

Monsters Craft


Pinch Me!

21 May

I finally made my skirt of the summer- a blue check circle skirt with a giant cooked and delicious lobster. Maybe I should have appliqued some butter on there too….mmmm……

I got a lot of compliments today, and a lot of weird looks. I am proud of both! I even had one woman ask me if I had a crinoline on “under there.” A little personal, but I obliged and said yes. She looked shocked and impressed that a young thing like me would be wearing practical undergarments. But really, a circle skirt needs a bit of poof underneath, otherwise how are you going to see the kitschy applique? (The reason I am holding out my skirt in the picture is because the wind was blowing like mad, and I wanted you to see the actual lobster, and not a red blur).

Again, this is the easiest skirt to make, ever. I posted it before, but here is a very helpful website: http://www.whatthecraft.com/tuts/circ.htm

Oh, and here is the template, for all those wanting to sew a big fat crustacean on something.

(Mrs. A)

Dragon Eggs (a late Easter post)

4 May

To celebrate International Chocolate-Eating Day, sometimes called “Easter,” we decided to make our own cream-filled chocolate eggs! Even though the amount of fat and sugar in these babies probably rivals that in the store-bought variety, making our own just seemed more wholesome.

We happened to be in the middle of an intense Dungeons and Dragons game over the Easter weekend, so we decorated these eggs accordingly (see the Mister’s lovely d20 in the centre?) and dubbed them “Dragon Eggs.” If only dragons really did lay chocolate eggs…but that’s just fantasy.

Now for the recipe!

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle brand!)
10 c. icing sugar
1 tsp. liquid yellow food colouring
1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Your choice of decorations! We used coloured molding wafers.

Beat butter, salt and vanilla until fluffy. Add sweetened condensed milk, beat some more, and then start adding the icing sugar. It helps if you have a super-powerful, sexy KitchenAid stand mixer like I do! The icing will start to get stiff, and may burn out a less sexy hand mixer. Add the sugar gradually, beating well after every cup or two.

Set aside 2/3 of the icing. Add yellow food colouring to the remaining 1/3.

Shape the yellow icing into round “yolks” and mold the white around the ball, forming an egg. Let set for a few hours in the fridge, as this stops the cream from melting when you dip the eggs in the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or a stainless steel bowl over a boiling pot of water). Dip the eggs into the chocolate and place on lined baking sheets. Let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.

Decorate!!!

WARNING: These eggs are extremely sugary! Consume slowly, or face the consequences.

(Mrs. A)