Gothic Batwing Cocktail Hat

BATWING-MAIN

This gothic batwing cocktail hat is one of my all-time favorites! I used a combo of black craft paint and clear acrylic spray paint on worbla to achieve a very bat-like texture on the wing.  Sadly, this is the best full photo I took before I shipped the hat to it’s new owner.

BATWING-PIECES-1A     BATWING-PIECES-1B

I started by sculpting my pieces in worbla.

BATWING-TEXTURE BATWING-INSIDE BATWING-TRIM

Then I painted the underside black and covered the cap piece first with felt and then with a swiss dot tulle. This left an ugly edge inside which I later covered with black rickrack.

BATWING-ASSEMBLE

Once everything was painted and/or covered, I assembled all my pieces and some embellishments including rhinestones and beaded chains.

BATWING-RHINESTONES      BATWING-EMBELLISHED

Using hot glue and tweezers I (painstakingly) applied every tiny rhinestone after attaching the wing to my cap. Tedious but worth it! ❤

BATWING-TOP-2     BATWING-BACK-2

I finished it up with a spray of swiss dot mesh behind the wing.  Seriously, I loved this cocktail so much it was difficult to send it away to its new owner!

How-To Make a Unikitty Hat: Adventures in Unikitty Cosplay

This is a pretty involved DIY project that takes at least 2-3 days to complete  mostly because you have to let papier-mâché dry- ugh!!). I suggest setting aside a weekend to tackle it depending on how quickly you paint. So strap in and be ready to get messy.

On top of that, I also had to go back to my original design and make some major changes to improve stability!

What you’ll need:

  • Cardboard and/or poster board to construct the shape of the ears and head and horn.  Shoe box cardboard is ideal.
  • Craft foam- 1 sheet
  • Masking tape
  • Hot glue gun & hot glue sticks
  • Pencil & black Sharpie marker
  • Craft Paint for your Unikitty palette (see below)
  • Clear acrylic spay paint- I recommend Rustoleaum  Crystal Clear Acrylic
  • White primer spray paint
  • A variety of paint brushes. This multi pack of paintbrushes worked for me. Most important is the angled brush for all the hard lines and a half inch wide flat brush. You may want to invest in extra angled brushes to clean up edges without having to rinse out your brush.
  • 100% acetone nail polish remover
  • A plastic cup you don’t mind destroying
  • Papier-mâché supplies:
    • Newspapers (or an old phonebook!)
    • Flour
    • School glue
    • Water
    • Whisk
    • Large mixing bowl
    • Trash bags
    • Masking tape
    • Optional:  latex/vinyl gloves

Unikitty-Palettes

I have made waaaaay too many papier-mâché projects in the last year. Believe me, if you don’t think it through, it can be a bitch- if you’ll pardon my French. 🙂 My Papier-Mâché Tutorial  will help you avoid some large messes and mistakes I made along the way.  ❤

Fabricating Your Shapes:

 

pieces

I used cardboard to build the shapes for the head and ears, poster board for the horn, and craft foam to build the round lego gasket piece that attaches the horn to the head.

To make the horn, I rolled up poster board until I got the cone shape I wanted.

If I could start over and do things differently,  I would make sure that the width of the face block (from front to back) was as wide as my head so I could just cut a hole in the bottom, stick it straight on my head and be done…

…but I didn’t think of that until it was too late so here are the actual dimensions of the hat I made:

Round lego gasket: diameter 3.25″ – Horn height: 9″

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Cover Your Shapes in Papier-Mâché

Cover each INDIVIDUAL SHAPE in papier-mâché except for the foam gasket piece.

Check out this article for detailed papier-mâché instructions.

papier-unkiitty
These are just stacked up- not glued together yet.

 

After my  papier-mâché horn was dry I wrapped it in masking tape to give it spiral ridges:

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Prime Your Pieces

Once your individual papier-mâché pieces are totally dry, cover them evenly with 2-3 coats of white spray primer. (Whatever it takes so no newsprint shows through.)

When using spray paint it’s best to apply one light coat at a time, letting them dry to the touch in between.

Sketch the Unikitty Face

This is where things start to get tricky. You will need to be able to sketch out your Unikitty face on your headpiece so you can paint it.

I sketched my face by hand, but you could also find an image online and then blow it up to the size of your hat.

When I was happy with the face, I folded it in half and chose the best side to be my template for tracing.

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Paint, Paint and More Paint!

Paint all your shapes the appropriate colors, and then fill in your face sketch.

Sounds pretty simple, but I have a few tips for you:

  • Apply colors from lightest to darkest.
  • Let each color dry to the touch before the next color
  • Use the acetone to completely clean your brushes when you switch colors
  • I like angled brushes best for getting clean edges (or touching up edges) on my shapes.

Seal and Gloss

When your paint is totally dry, apply 4-5 coats of Rustoleum Crystal Clear Acrylic to really make your hat look like a plastic lego piece.

REMEMBER: When using spray paint it’s best to apply one light coat at a time, letting them dry to the touch in between.

Congratulations! You have a giant Unikitty head…but not yet a hat. Let everything dry and cure for 24 hours before moving moving on to the next step.

sanity

 Now it’s Time to Build Your Hat

As previously mentioned, if I could start over and do things differently,  I would make sure that the width of the face block (from front to back) was as wide as my head so I could just cut a hole in the bottom, stick it straight on my head and be done…

… but that is not what happened.

When I debuted my Punk Princess Unikitty cosplay at Wondercon 2014, I did cut a hole in the bottom so the block was somewhat contoured to my head.

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I ended up attaching the Unikitty head to a thin little headband because my hair wouldn’t have covered much more and I wanted the illusion of the block just poised on my head.

It worked JUST OKAY.

I had to stand perfectly straight and not turn my head too fast or it would fall off… just how you want to be at a con all day, right? o_O

Luckily I used to train in ballet, so that was helpful but a few hours into Wondercon and my neck was killing me!

Here is what the janky headband rig looked like:

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Seriously it was so bad, lol!

How I Stabilized My Hat

First, I made a curved piece out of worbla thermoplastic with elastic straps and attached it to my hat with super glue:
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 To wear the hat I pull the elastic through my wig. (This wig is from the Rhapsody Collection from http://www.dolluxe.com/ <—-srsly great wigs!!!)
I also bought a pink wig for a super kawaii version of Unikitty…but for now I’m enjoying the platinum. 🙂
You can see from the pics below how you could easily get through the wig between the wefts:
 wigwig_inside
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 I just pull the elastic snug and secure behind my head with a safety pin. Between the snug elastic and snug wig, my hat is perfectly stable all night long! Even dancing all night at Club Cosplay with Jack of All Nerds!
unikitty-final

Some Special Recognition ❤ ❤ ❤

When I made the Unikitty hat, I never intended to write a tutorial… hence the extreme lack of step by step photos (sorry).

A special thank you goes out to Cindy A. for inspiring this tutorial. As the first person to ask for details, my emails to her forced helped me to organize my thoughts. 🙂 Then Cindy and Katherine made AMAZING Unikitty and Angry Unikitty hats of their own!

Using the  wig for a snug fit has worked like a charm. ❤

Cindy-&-Katherine

I’m Not Dead!

Well, Halloween 2013 was pretty dope, you guys. Then “THE HOLIDAYS” came and pretty much sucked my will to live- and craft. What with the presents to wrap and things to decorate, you would think that my crafting little heart would love Xmas- etc. but alas, no.

Maybe it’s because my alter ego, daytime-job-self works in marketing…maybe it’s just because I own a TV and have eyes…but during “THE HOLIDAYS” I just get so overwhelmed with the pushy media-ness of it all. I don’t like listening to 27 versions of “Jingle Bells” on repeat from October 30th to January 3rd. I’d rather not have to commit to a knife fight to win a parking space at Target. And I would rather die than attend any sort of Black Friday, Gray Thursday, Cyan Tuesday, Periwinkle Monday, or whatever.

So now it’s March 2014 and I finally feel somewhat recovered. To be fair,l things have also picked up on the Clark Kent side of it all. Major changes at work have landed me extra responsibilities- hard !- and new opportunities -exciting !- but more than anything I’ve really been blowing my whole creative load in the office. Which means when I’m home it’s all I can do to tackle my part of the housekeeping, put away my laundry, drink a glass of wine and crash. If it wasn’t for Boyfriend I would have perished of starvation long ago. (Let’s all say a silent prayer of thanks for Boyfriend.)

What is the point of all this? Just to holla at you, boo. Let you know I’m still alive. That I’m gonna post all my Halloween adventures on Instagram for you (remember I made my 60+ dad an Ariel costume?). Oh and I totally did a craft last weekend, so come back in a few days and thou shalt have a DIY article to check out.

Happy Springtime, Bitches! XOXO

Last Minute Hippie Chick Costume

Last minute Halloween costume from items already in your closet!

Keep your hair long and loose, your makeup natural and use a yellow or white eyeliner pencil to draw a peace sign on your face. Bam! You’re out the door.

Bonus: You don’t have to shave your legs!

Hippie Chick Costume

Gringo evening dress
$65 – fashion-conscience.com

Cognac sandals
target.com

Opal bracelet
etsy.com

Nars cosmetic
barneys.com

Quickie Papier-Mâché Tutorial

Papier-Mache-Projects

Over the last year I’ve done  A LOT of papier-mâché crafts.

These are my papier-mâché tips and tricks.

Papier-mâché projects are sturdy and have a nice plaster type texture. I rarely use it on balloons, elementary school style.

Instead I use papier-mâché technique to change the change the texture of cardboard or poster board shapes for cosplay props and party decorations. (Mostly Halloween decorations. Because obviously.)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

The Essentials:

  • Newspapers (cut into 1-2 inch strips)
    • TIP #1: Finally a use for those useless phone books they won’t stop delivering. I’ve found that phone book pages work just as well as newspaper and are easier to come by. One phonebook will get you through several projects and the pages torn in half and/or quarters is a GREAT for covering large surfaces!
  • White Flour
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Water
  • Whisk
  • Bowl

My Handy Suggestions:

  • Latex Gloves
  • Trash Bags/Plastic Drop Cloth
  • Masking Tape

GETTING STARTED

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 papier-mâché on.

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I mean REALLY MESSY you guys!

Cut open the trash bags and lay flat (or use your drop cloth) to cover your work area. Tape down a couple edges so it stays put. You’ll thank me later!

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.

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Don’t skip the gloves. You want to be able to take a potty break, don’t you!?
  • Tip #2: Stay Clean.
    • This project is REALLY MESSY, but the good news is the flour and glue are totally washable! HOWEVER, 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 #3: Crafting/Beauty Double Whammy.
    • This is the perfect time to try my Miracle Cuticle Fix before you slip on your gloves. Moisturize while you craft!

INSTRUCTIONS

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STEP ONE: Mix your paste.

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.

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STEP TWO: Dip your newspaper strips.

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.

STEP THREE:  Apply your strips.

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 steps two & three until all of your shape (except what is resting on the floor) is covered. Make sure your strips are overlapping generously.

STEP FOUR: Let dry.

Once you’ve covered every part not resting on the floor, let it dry to the touch and the repeat steps 2 & 3 for the part resting on the floor. When done let dry overnight.

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 #4: Use a string for small pieces. 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).

(OPTIONAL) STEP FIVE:  Add a second layer for sturdiness.

Repeat the whole process (Steps 1-4) 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 or something that needs to be very stiff like a weapon blade.

Once your piece is completely dry it’s ready to be painted an decorated!!!

JoJo’s Note: This post was edited 10.4.14

My Dad; The Prettiest Princess of Them All

DadAriel_1Ok, 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.”DadArial_3

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! You’re welcome.

A love note from JoJo: This post was updated on June 12, 2014

Craft Tool of the Week: Crafting Knife

Hobby KnifeOkay, 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:

  • They are SUPER sharp. Was I clear about that?
  • Always make sure the blade is locked in place
  • Never attempt to cut something without scrap cardboard or a cutting mat underneath
  • Children should be supervised unless you prefer your children with less than ten digits or otherwise maimed

TIP: When cutting cardboard or other tough/thick materials a “sawing motion” is often more effective than a “slicing” motion.

Here’s why:

  1. When you slice you are applying force in a linear direction. If you get stuck, have to apply extra force  and your hand slips, the follow through is likely to intersect with a surrounding person or object. When you are sawing you are applying force downward so that if your hand slips or you have to apply extra force, you are more likely to hit your mat or scrap cardboard.
  2. Cardboard, especially, has a grain. When you are slicing, it is very easy for your blade to get caught in the grain and stray form your desired cut.  Sawing eliminates this problem.

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.