Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Mrs Ogg

Every year, I love to carve something a bit more detailed onto my pumpkin for Halloween.
This time around, I racked my brains for ages! I'd done a cat, Dracula, Death (of Discworld fame) and more cats, and Frankenstein's monster.
Being a Discworld fan, I ended up opting to make a stencil of Nanny Ogg, one of Discworld's witches.

I scanned a picture from Nanny Ogg's Cookbook and used the Photoshop stencil-making method that I explained last year.

The pumpkin isn't all that big (large pumpkins seem to be in short supply this year) so the stencil ended up being just 15cm high!

Due to all the little details, this took me just under 5 hours to carve. Phew!

Of course, I made pumpkin soup with all the innards. This year I added (a little too much) curry powder, and subsequently blew everyone's socks off!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Big Agate Necklace

Months ago, I bought a big agate slice for £2 at a local charity shop, with one intention:

“I’ll make a giant necklace!”

Then it sat in a drawer for ages, partly wire-wrapped, because I hadn’t really decided what I was doing.

Eventually I put this necklace together using an old chain belt, some jewellery chain, small pieces of amethyst, embroidery thread, spikes, and the usual assortment of jump rings and clasps :)

My necklace was inspired by Assad Mounser’s ‘Wild Horses Mega Collar’ (F/W 2011 collection):

Obviously mine is much smaller!

I utterly love Assad Mounser’s designs. Sadly there’s no chance of my affording any of them! So I was happy to be able to pull my own necklace together. It took about a day and a half to get finished--weaving all that chain together with embroidery thread took ages!

Agate slice: charity shop, £2
Chain belt: charity shop purchase, ages ago
Jewellery chain: from crafting stash (left over from another project)
Amethyst: bought last year at a Christmas fair (I used some on my Amethyst collar!)
Jewellery wire: from stash
Spikes: from a necklace (given to me)
Embroidery thread: from stash (given to me)
Findings: from stash
Glue: from stash

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Wool Cape for Winter

Capes have been in a lot of fashion magazines recently, tipped to be the 'thing' for Autumn/Winter.
Happily, I'd been planning to make one using some fabric I was given :)  And here it is!

I made a muff to go with it, too.
This cape cost me just £2.50 to make, because I am jammy.

The outer fabric is 'All Wool Made In England', according to the selvedge! It was free.
The lining is part of an old blanket, £2.50 from a charity shop.
Buttons were free (given to me, like the fabric!) and the press studs were left over from a pack I bought for something else.

The muff is just an offcut of fake fur with a piece of blanket inside for extra warmth, and some grey polycotton over the top! The velvety ribbon is from a reel that my Mum bought me years ago!

I'm pretty pleased with how well this turned out, considering I went at it with a completely gung-ho attitude!
I didn't use a pattern, and drew around a cloak I already had, straight onto the blanket. It took me two whole days to put this together! Of course, there was a bit of seam-ripping and cursing done a few times ;)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Halloween Printables

free halloween printable BOO!

Halloween is creeping ever closer, and since I felt like playing around in Photoshop, I made these printables!
First off is the bog-standard BOO!

free halloween party printable dracula quote printable

And Halloween wouldn't be complete with a famous quote, so here's one from Dracula. 

free halloween printable halloween menu

Finally, because I was feeling silly, a 'Halloween Menu' of grotesque grub.

The rose brush used is one of my own; I tried to make the spider webs as a brush too but Photoshop wasn't having any of it, so it's a separate layer!

To save or print any of these, either right click and save as for the size you want, or click to print straight from your browser--all links will open in a new tab!

These printables are 100% FREE for non-profit, Personal Use. That means your mantels, vignettes, parties etc. Please do not re-upload these onto other websites without my permission!

Will be linking up to some of the parties listed below!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A Top Hat for Halloween

To continue from my recent post about customising hats, here is another that I got my hands (and glue gun) on.

This time around, my inspiration was the hats of Kikirara Shoten, a fantastic purveyor of weird hats, unusual corsets, and unique accessories in Japan.

The hat is a basic top hat from a fancy dress shop. Sadly it’s a bit tight on my head, but I love how it turned out!

I used multipurpose glue to attach gathered lace trim around the brim. This hides the ugly brim edge that screamed ‘I bought this from a party shop’! Then I added a piece of ribbon (to replace the hideous plastic one) and glued on a strip of marabou. 

Everything else is attached with a glue gun. Hooray for glue guns!
This little picture frame feature on one side is my favourite part.

I didn’t buy anything specifically for this hat: aside from the frame and bats, everything was left over from other projects. The frame came from a charity shop (more recently I used another one to make a necklace) and the bats were amongst my Halloween decorations.

Admittedly the bat side doesn’t look as ‘cool’. I didn’t want this side of the hat to draw too much attention from the picture frame, so went for something simpler. In hindsight, perhaps I should add some extra decoration!

Here are some unusual hats I’ve found online that have particularly tickled my fancy.

Will be linking up to the parties listed below!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Creepy Fingers Tiara

As a cheap Halloween headdress one year, I knocked together this quick, cheap and easy ‘creepy fingers tiara’.

Here’s what I used:
Nine ‘witch fingers’
Alice band
Hot glue & glue gun
Spray paint

First off, I cut a piece of cardboard with tapered ends, wider than the alice band, to give it more of a ‘tiara’ shape and appearance.

I glued this on with hot glue and then added the witch fingers in a slightly arched shape, again with hot glue.

After that, I just gave it a few coats of silver spray paint!

This is a really cheap and somewhat ‘slap-dash’ project, but easy to cobble together at the last minute for a fancy dress party, or for a silly accessory to wear when answering all those calls of ‘Trick or Treat’! 

Will be linking up to the parties listed below!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Changes to Commenting

Just recently I've had an influx of spam comments on this blog!

I'd already changed the settings to prevent anonymous commenting - which eradicated a small spam problem I'd had in the past - but lately those spam bots have got cleverer. Bah.

So for now, I've enabled word verification.

I'm sorry that all you real people that read and comment will have to fill out the word verification as I know they're a total pain in the bum! Word verifications on comment forms annoy me but spam is equally annoying and a lot of those spam comments include links to websites that could contain potentially harmful content.

So I apologise for this massive inconvenience!

Have a picture of a disgruntled cat as consolation.

Riley does not like spam either.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Feather Hat Makeover

Hats seem to be a ‘thing’ in fashion at the moment, especially when you look at some of Louis Vuitton’s ad campaigns (seriously, can those hats get any bigger?)

Inspired by this and a hat I saw in a fashion magazine, I customised one of my old hats with some bits and pieces I had in my stash!

The original hat (a charity shop purchase, naturally) had a wide brim and a fairly shallow bowl, almost what is known as a ‘floppy hat’ but with less flop!.

To change the shape and height of the hat, I cut a rectangle of fabric about 1.5x a loose measurement around the bowl, and just over twice what I wanted the new height to be.
I stitched the long edges together loosely and pressed the fabric slightly so that the seam was in the centre back. Then I put a widely-spaced running stitch through the centre in order to gather it.

I wrapped it around the hat and sewed the ends together (folding in the raw edges).
Then I stitched it to the brim, with a few stitches in the bowl to hold it better. 

I then put stitches in to hold the fabric together at the top of the hat and create more shape, and added a length of velvety ribbon around the centre, stitching it to the hat at the back.

All of this was done fairly carelessly, if I’m honest--I didn’t even use the ‘right’ side of the fabric! I wanted the hat to have a slouchy, uneven appearance. 

When it came to the feathers, first off I used a short off-cut from a cheap feather boa, which I had left over from a fancy dress costume. I stitched this on with the same level of care (hah!) as everything else, and then added the ostrich plume on top.

The plume is pretty old. Apparently it came from my grandma’s place and has some link to funerals. Cheerful, right?! It’s slightly damaged and a little faded but is far more luxurious than the modern one that I stuck in the back of the hat! 

Admittedly, the modern feather was chopped in half in attempt to make it look ‘fuller’. I hope to eventually replace this feather with a number of them as I think it will look nicer!

Sadly I haven’t had the chance to wear this hat out yet--the British weather has predictably turned very wet! 

Will be linking up to the parties listed at the bottom of the page!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Haunted Halloween Escape

Games aren't something I would usually write about here. I'm not much of a gamer at all, but I do love escape room games!
Recently I discovered Haunted Halloween Escape, a fun and seasonal game by TeraLumina.

I played this on my iPhone, but you can also play it online

The object of the game is to collect items that enable you to escape from the room. Along the way you have to find thirteen bats (this means bonus points!)

But of course, escape the room games aren't that simple. To gather many of the things you need, you have to find clues to unlock coded drawers and discover keys.

This game is peppered with all the typical ghouls and ghosties of Halloween--skeletons, vampires, ghosts, witches, spiders and black cats and pumpkins; even the Grim Reaper pops up!

There is also the typical Halloween soundtrack - a portion of Bach's tocatta & fugue in D minor (yes, I googled that :D) plays at the opening of the game. Gameplay itself is accompanied by a spooky soundtrack of howling, wailing, thumping heartbeats and more.

Once you've solved all the clues and unlocked the door, there is an extra surprise waiting for you :)

My first play through of this took about fifteen minutes and only one of the puzzles tripped me up a little.

A short but fun game, the puzzles aren't hugely taxing (I played this with a brain fogged up with a cold!) but still require some brainpower!

Great for the Halloween season :)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ryu Murakami

I figure it’s time for another book post!

This time around I'll write about some books written by Ryu Murakami.

I’ve only read a few of his books; however they are the kind generally referred to as ‘page turners’!

This book centres around a character named Kawashima. He is married and has a baby girl...and voices in his head that urge him to commit murder.
As the story unfolds, we discover the truth about Kawashima’s past, and he starts planning to fulfil his desire to stab someone. Through his plans, Kawashima meets the equally disturbed prostitute Chiaki.
The two meet in Kawashima’s hotel room, but nothing goes as he planned...

This is a creepy book with a storyline that is simple, but chilling in that it’s told from the point of view of the psychopath. As I read it I found myself both horrified by and sympathetic towards Kawashima (which was in itself pretty horrifying!) which shows Ryu Murakami’s brilliance in writing psychological thrillers.

In the Miso Soup
Another psychological thriller set in Japan. In this tale we learn about Frank, an obese American tourist. He employs Kenji, a somewhat unofficial tourist guide, to show him around. Kenji, with his Pidgin English and knowledge of the seedier side of Japan, begins to notice that Frank behaves strangely. A number of murders occur in the area and Kenji begins to wonder if Frank is responsible.

Another disturbing book, this one told from Kenji’s point of view. Yet again the descriptions and storyline are chilling, the ending even more so.

Coin Locker Babies
This is the first of Ryu Murakami’s books that I ever read. I found it fairly different compared to the two previously described.
Coin Locker Babies is the story of Kiku and Hashi, two boys that had been left, as babies, to die in the coin lockers at a train station. Luckily they were discovered and taken to an orphanage, from which they were then adopted. At sixteen, the pair find themselves in a part of Tokyo’s underbelly known as Toxitown. Bisexual Hashi becomes a rockstar whilst Kiku becomes a pole vaulter. Whilst Kiku and his girlfriend Anemone search for a substance known as Datura, Hashi and his manager D seek out Hashi’s new mother--and discover Kiku’s in the process.  

This book has a far more convoluted storyline and is somewhat longer, but is still a good read. It is filled with tragedy and taboo, and you’ll still be thinking about it long after you’ve put the book down.

A few years ago a film adaptation of this book appeared on IMDB, but has since disappeared, so I can only assume the project was scrapped!

If you only read one of these books, read: In the Miso Soup. It’s probably a good place to start and has a simpler storyline.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Removable Shoulder Embellishments

Following my intention to do more stash-busting, rather than buying new things to craft with, I made these removable shoulder embellishments to add to my accessories collection.

This is actually a project I’ve been thinking about for ages, but it took me a while to gather together enough buttons!

Originally I was inspired by a picture on the cover of a record in a friend’s collection. I forgot about the project until I saw a little customisation feature in Company magazine (October ’12 edition - said feature involved embellishing the neckline of a t-shirt. It looked good!)

I’m pretty pleased with the outcome, which can be fixed onto the shoulders of just about any garment.

It’s really simple to make these, so here is a tutorial.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Darren Hayes - The Secret's Out Tour

I’ve known of the immense talents of Darren Hayes ever since I first heard Savage Garden and have always loved his voice and his lyrics!
So when I heard my friend Sazz had a ticket going spare for his concert in Brighton, I snapped it right up!

Sazz doesn’t live in the area, so came down the night before and stayed over for the weekend, so we could attend the concert and squeal together. :)

Until this Saturday just gone, I never had the chance to go to a Darren Hayes concert (or a Savage Garden one, for that matter). Now I have, I feel utterly blessed that I was able to be there and witness that fantastic voice in person!

Before the concert started, we headed to the merchandise table. I ended up buying a signed vinyl single of Bloodstained Heart. I have a turntable and a small collection of records, along with a small collection of autographed items and an enjoyment of how music sounds on vinyl, so it seemed like the natural choice :)

Opening Act: The Candle Thieves
The show started with a 30 minute set performed by The Candle Thieves, who are a pretty awesome and fun band. Their music has a bit of a retro sound and incorporates keyboards and a number of more unusual instruments along with the standard guitar/drum/bass combination. At one point the keyboardist had a plastic bin, and a bit later a harmonica!
They were truly entertaining and after the concert I ended up buying their most recent album, Balloons.

Main Act: Darren Hayes
Before Darren Hayes or his band appeared on stage, a piece of classical music was played through the speakers. I think it was No.29 (Finale) from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a gorgeous piece of music.

After that tension-raising piece of music, the show began properly, with the band and backing vocalist walking onto the stage, and finally Darren, armed with his LED umbrella. He immediately launched into God Walking into the Room, a song from his most recent album, Secret Codes and Battleships.

Darren sang a great variation of songs from his works, including Savage Garden songs. This probably made me the happiest of all, since when I was a teenager I utterly lamented that I couldn’t go to a Savage Garden concert!
The songs he performed from that era were some of my favourites too, such as To the Moon and Back and I Don’t Know You Anymore. The performance of the latter song was particularly powerful!)

A few times, Darren stopped to talk to the audience, explaining who he’d written songs for, sharing anecdotes, and being ever grateful for all of the people that have supported him in different ways to get him where he is now. He is a very buoyant, energetic performer and he definitely loves being in the spotlight, but through these little interludes it was clear what a genuinely nice guy he is. :)

Here's a YouTube video I found from the concert! This was the final song of the set.

The full extent of Darren’s musical talent is far more apparent when seeing him perform live than on a recording. He sounds fantastic on CD or mp3, but live in concert his vocal range and strength are utterly staggering!

The band and backing vocalist were also fantastic; I’d make a note of their names here but my memory is terrible for things like that!

Darren Hayes is one of those musicians with the ability to truly perform, to dance around and sing with all his heart and let the emotion behind his music reach out and touch the hearts of everybody listening. I alternately got goose bumps and found myself ready to tear up at his performance. It was an utterly fantastic, memorable concert!
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