$29 - nelly.com
$35 - theiconic.com.au
$18 - johnlewis.com
OMG, I am so in love with this project! I’ve made like four of these for my “Circus of the Damned” Halloween party. They are super cheap and high impact. Plus because they’re battery operated you can put them ANYWHERE! I am hanging them above various party “stations” such as the Drinks table, the Snacks table, etc. I found super awesome free circus fonts to go with my theme, but you could easily change up the color scheme and lettering for a casino night fundraiser or a Vegas themed party. Oooh or a vintage Hollywood theme…or Broadway!!! Sorry, I just had a theatergeekgasm at the thought of a Broadway theme party, lol.
Here’s a fun fact for you: Did you know that Broadway (between Union Square and Madison Square) was one of the first electrically lit streets in the U.S.? It earned its nickname “The Great White Way” because by the 1890′s the section of Broadway from 23rd Street to 34th Street was so crazy illuminated by all the electrical advertising signs.
Boom! You just got knowledged. You’re welcome.
CRAFTING BONUS: Whatever theme you choose, you can just cover the labels with new labels for a different theme and re-use these suckers again and again.
WHAT YOU NEED:
Black Spray Paint
Scissors and/or Crafting Knife
LED String Lights (Battery Operated)
3/8″ Drill Bit
Decorations: Paint, Letters, Etc.
Papier Mache Supplies (Click here for my Quicke Papier Mache How-To)
Optional: String or wire if you plan on hanging them.
Before you start: Open up your LED lights, make sure they have batteries and turn them on to make sure all the bulbs light up.
Cut out a shape for your sign out of cardboard or foam board.
TIP: Dig around recycling bins and maybe you’ll get lucky, and like totes save the planet while you’re at it. Someone was throwing out an arrow shaped, cardboard yard sale sign so I swooped it up!! (But you will still need extra cardboard)
These are the dimensions of my rescued yard sale sign:
Once you have your desired shape trace it out on cardboard. Cut it out and spray paint both sides black. It will henceforth be known as the Backing. Set it aside for later.
TIP: Well, this is not so much a tip as a confession. I cheated at Step Two. I found a really awesome super sturdy sheet of black paper in the painting section at Michaels. I think it was for watercolor painting…it was about 5 bucks and perfect, but I can’t remember what it’s called. I really did try to find if for you, but as I have mentioned elsewhere, the Michaels website is just about useless- except to find a store and go look for yourself, lol.
Count the bulbs on your LED light string. Draw a diagram to figure out how many bulbs per side of your shape. (Most small battery operated strings have about 20, like the ones I used.) for smaller signs you can get away with one string, or use multiple strings for bigger signs.
Here’s what I did for this specific sign (brace yourself this contains actual math):
In the end, for my shape I ended up spacing my bulbs about 2-2.5″ apart. You can get all crazy with measuring if you want, but I just eyeballed it. I’m gangster like that.
Create a “cup” to hold your battery pack and a spacer to hold your Backing way from the wires. For this shape I cut a 1.5″ x 6″ piece of cardboard and a 1.5″ x 7″ piece of cardboard. (Doodle 1)
NOTE: If your shape is using more than one battery pack, you will need a “cup” for each one and bigger shapes will also require more spacers.
Hot glue your battery “cup” to the somewhere near the bottom of your sign about 1.5″ from the edge of at least one side. (Doodle 2) This will henceforth be known as the “Front Inside” portion of your sign.
NOTE: The battery cup needs to be near an edge because you will need to be able to reach in to pull out the pack to turn it on/off and change batteries when necessary. Remember that you will be putting the Backing on the sign!
Spray paint the Front Inside black and let dry. Flip over and paint your sign as desired. When applying your lettering, remember that you need to leave about an inch around the edges for the light bulbs.
Remember that handy diagram you made in Step 3? On the Front Inside, use a pencil to mark an “x” where you want each bulb. Place your drill point at the center of an “x” and drill baby, driiiilllll!
Repeat for each “x.”
Place your battery pack in the battery cup. Gently insert the first bulb closest to the pack into the closest hole (geez, LEDs are such sluts, right?) so that the widest part of the plastic bit beneath the bulb is visible. About 1/8 of an inch, for you measurement Nazis. Work your way around the sign until all your holes are filled. With bulbs you sicko!
TIP: If any of your bulbs seem loose you can use a tiny bit of hot glue around the base to keep them in place. Or just add the glue around the base of all the bulbs just to be sure.
Once all your bulbs are in place, use some string or tape to gently pull all the extra cordage between bulbs towards the center so that it doesn’t poke out around the edges of your sign.
Apply hot glue to the edges of your battery cup and spacer, line up your your backing and firmly press in place.
To hang your sign simply loop string or wire underneath the top. Slide out the battery pack to switch them on and off. Ta-dah!
You can see more pics of the signs I made for my circus party on Instagram.
I’ve been doing A LOT of papier-mâché crafts lately and I thought I should write down my tips and tricks. Putting papier-mâché on balloons to make globes is a time honored elementary school tradition, but you can do some wicked awesome things with it, and brace yourselves, you don’t always have to use a balloon. What!?
YES. Papier-mâché is useful for tons of other projects besides hollow globes. Personally, I like to use it to change the texture on cardboard, poster board and foam. You can cut any shape out of these materials, but firstly, your shape is not going to be very sturdy and secondly, even if you paint it… it will still look like cardboard, poster board or foam. Once you have applied papier-mâché (PM), your shape will be hella sturdy AND will have a nice plaster type texture.
Newspapers (cut into 1-2 inch strips)
My Handy Suggestions:
Trash Bags/Plastic Drop Cloth
Optional: Phone Book Pages
TIP #1: I’ve found that phone book pages torn in half and/or quarters is a GREAT for covering large surfaces!
TO GET STARTED
First you need to have something to add the PM to such as the ubiquitous balloon, or some other shape you have cut out or crafted in some way. (I’ve seen some really awesome animal head PM projects!)
Once you have your shape you should find an area you can get messy and keep messy for a few days. I personally have a large folding table that I set up in the garage when I’m in the mood to get my PM on.
When you have your space, cut open the trash bags and lay flat (or use your drop cloth) to cover the area. Tape down a couple edges so it stays put.
Also, tape down some plastic elsewhere (I use the floor) to have a place to lay your project out to dry. This is especially important if you’ll be working on multiple pieces.
NOTE: This project is really messy, but the good news is the flour and glue are totally washable! But you should wear gloves because it can get really sticky and it will be impossible to do simple things like operate a door handle and use the restroom…
TIP: Crafting/Beauty Double Whammy: you can try my Miracle Cuticle Fix before you slip on your gloves to moisturize while you craft!
Add approximately 2 cups flour and 1-2 table spoons glue to your bowl. Slowly pour in water, whisking the mixture together until it has a smooth “soupy” texture. You want your paste to be slightly thinner than pancake batter.
NOTE: I never actually measure this mixture, I just eyeball it. The most important thing is the consistency.
Gently dip your strip of newspaper or phone book page in the mixture. Use your hand to smooth the mixture over the entire piece. You want it to be covered, but not so saturated that it falls apart.
Lay your paste-covered paper over your desired shape or cut out. With smooth, gentle motions smooth down the piece and press down the edges.
Repeat until all of your shape (except what is resting on the floor) is covered. Make sure your strips/pieces of paper are overlapping generously.
Let dry to the touch and then cover whatever part was resting on the floor.
Note: If you are working with a flat shape, let it dry to the touch and then weight down the edges so that it stays flat while it continues drying, Otherwise there will be warping…which can be a really cool effect if that’s what you’re going for.
TIP: Depending on the size of your piece you can hang it from string so that you can cover the whole thing at once (this will reduce warping and speed up your project).
STEP FOUR: (Optional)
Repeat the whole process (Steps 1-3) laying your strips/pieces in opposing directions to the first layer. This is good to get a really sturdy piece- especially if you’re doing something hollow like a balloon.
Once your piece is completely dry it’s ready to be painted an decorated!!!
Ok, so this one is going to take a little explaining. Firstly, let me just say I have two dads…but not how you think! I have a very long complicated home-life story (which maybe someday I’ll tell in it’s entirety) but basically through a combination of foster care, marriage, and divorce I belong to one of those amazing Frankenstein families that’s more about people choosing to love each other than actual blood relations. I happen to think its a pretty special thing.
Anyways, so my dad, Craig (pictured here) happens to be a heterosexual male, well into his 60′s, is a decorated veteran of the Marine Corps, served in Vietnam, drives giant Harley Davidson motorcycles, cusses like…well, like a Marine, and also is the most mischievous person on the planet. Thanks to him I was actually kicked out of a Las Vegas hotel like a boss when I was still in middle school. How? He was teaching me to throw paper airplanes in the Luxor Hotel’s atrium!
Back in the day, when I still lived with my parents, I made this super awesome detailed Snow White costume. About a year after the last time I wore it to a party, my dad comes sauntering down the hallway wearing one of his Harley t-shirts, sweat pants…and my princess skirt. Somehow he had opened the back and wedged it around his waist. I’ve never laughed harder in my life than when he was batting his eyes and fanning his face “because someday his prince would come.”
Obviously he had to be Snow White for Halloween! I made fancy light blue princess sleeves for a regular dark blue t-shirt, he commandeered my skirt, we added my wig and my cape and it was a done deal! Of course he wouldn’t shave his handlebar mustache, so yeah, that happened… He ended up not just wearing the costume on Halloween night, but also to get kicked out of both Disneyland AND Disney World for sporting it in the parks.
That’s right. In the name of mischief he got himself kicked out of The Happiest Place on Earth. Twice. That take’s commitment.
At first we were ambitious and swore to do a different Disney Princess costume for him every year…but you know, things happen and we got sidetracked. We did make him a full Cinderella costume, which he wore very well, but once me and my wig collection moved out on my own, I’m not sure if he’s worn it since.
This year, we bought his very own bright red “Ariel” wig and it is game on! The tutorial (and pictures which you will never be able to unsee) will be up soon.
Okay, so there are like billions of gadgets, gizmos and tools out there aimed at crafters….and also some very handy items hiding in plain sight you may not have thought of for crafting. Each week or so, I’ll share with you some of my favorite tools for crafting plus review new ones I’ve never used before.
My favorite tool of All Time Ever is the mighty glue gun (you can read more about that here) and if I had to choose a second favorite, it might be the crafting knife (a.k.a. Exacto Knife, a.k.a. Hobby Knife, a.k.a. Utility Knife, a.k.a. Boxcutter) …but who’s got time to go ranking every craft tool ever? Plus I don’t want to hurt any of their little tool feelings, even thought they’re like children: you say you love them all equally but you know you have a favorite…
So back to the crafting knife. Wicked sharp and extremely useful for
A) cutting detailed shapes
B) cutting cardboard & foam
C) cutting detailed shapes in o cardboard & foam.
If you’ve ever attempted to cut even simple shapes from cardboard with ordinary scissors, you know how difficult it can be to get clean edges without bending the stiff cardboard- never mind the cramping and occasional blisters because cardboard does not heart scissors. Like at all.
Not only are crafting knife blades super sharp, they’re also perfectly shaped to maneuver around curves and corners, they down on hand cramping (especially when you’re working with cardboard or foam) AND they have replaceable blades so you don’t have to worry about getting them sharpened or ruining the blade.
Here’s some things to remember when working with a craft knife:
TIP: When cutting cardboard or other tough/thick materials a “sawing motion” is often more effective than a “slicing” motion.
I recently used my craft knife this weekend, making some awesome creepy carousel unicorns for Halloween (more on that when they’re finished) and took the opportunity snap a quick video of my sawing technique, which you can check out on my Facebook page! Cuz I’m nice like that,
Now go get yur craft cutting on!
Ps. You can find crafting knifes (knives? Whatever…) at plenty of major retailers. I even took the liberty of picking out some good ones for you online at Walmart, JoAnn’s Fabrics, and Home Depot. Michaels Crafts also has great ones… but their website is very nearly, almost entirely, useless. So they miss out on a link.
These are my shopping suggestions, techniques and advice on how to execute the design for my Steampunk Rainbow Dash costume, requested by my friend, Cat Fernandez. Love you, Cat! Thanks again for the great inspiration!
NOTE TO READERS: WordPress just started inserting links to ads in my posts…I suppose I can upgrade, but I started this blog because it was free and there were no ads. IMO, it’s pretty shitty to wait a month before dropping in the ad links, suddenly and with no disclosure. There, my rant is over, please continue.
Hat: http://www.spirithalloween.com/product/ht-worn-black-top-hat/ + cheap can of brown spraypaint
TIP: For an aged leather effect lightly dust the hat with the brown paint rather than going for full coverage. To do this, hold the can at least 12” away and apply in sweeping circular motions.
Wings: http://www.spirithalloween.com/product/sl-14-blue-club-wings/ + brass/copper gears & rods from your local hardware store
TIP: Apply with metal elements to wings with super glue or epoxy glue.
Gloves: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Wrist-Length-Fingerless-Gloves/dp/B002LN5Y64/ (these do come in white)
These were some great finds on Amazon that were not too expensive and also items you could use again either in real life or other costumes!
Garter stockings: go to Amazon.com and just search thigh highs and garter belts, there were SOOO many options!
Gloves: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Wrist-Length-Fingerless-Gloves/dp/B002LN5Y64/ (these do come in white)
Vest , Shorts & Belts: Head to a thrift store for a vest and some slacks you can cut into shorts. The tweedier the better. Also look for leather belts.
TIP: Ladies, you’ll probably find leather belts more easily in the Men’s section.
THINGS YOU’LL HAVE TO MAKE:
Bangs, Mane & Tail: You can actually make very awesome horse/pony tails out of acrylic yarn. It’s cheap and very easy! Sometime in the future I will do a full How-To article on tails, but for now you’ll just get the basics. Don’t worry, if you get totally lost just google it. J
Supplies: Acrylic yarn; Scissors; Stiff brush; Flat Iron for Hair
For the bangs and mane to go on the Steampunk top hat, use shorter pieces of yarn in smaller bunches. Glue directly to hat and then cover with Steampunk goggles.
Supplies: (1) Sheet White Craft Foam; color photo print out of my Steampunk Rainbow Dash Cutie Mark; Various brass/copper chains from your local hardware store.
Optional: Simply cut out the photo and have it laminated.
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