Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Orb

I work for a marketing agency that specializes in rare diseases, and for a significant chunk of last year I'd been spending a lot of long hours working on one specific brand. My office has an annual Halloween party, and last year a few people dressed up as concept art they had worked on. My official Halloween costume (Zoolander) was too much work for the middle of the work day and I liked the idea of coming up with something (relatively, for me) quick and simple that would only make sense in my office.

So I made an orb.

This is a piece of cover art for a brochure I spent a bazillion hours on. It's for a drug used to treat a condition that has to do with neurotransmitters not properly sending signals to muscles. The illustration of how the drug works is what's hovering in the orb.

Supplies: clear plastic sphere, lots of colors of tissue paper, Crayola modeling clay (love that stuff, it's nice and light), Tacky Glue for adhesion and tissue paper forming, clear beading thread, dark beads, and generous amounts of hot glue.

Finding the clear plastic sphere was pure dumb luck. The week before we visited some friends, one of whom may as well be named Mrs. McCraftsy. I asked her if she knew where I could possibly find a clear plastic sphere that came apart that was a bout yea big. Her answer was, "oh, I have one of those in my craft room, you can have it." Best guess is that candy came in it.

Tissue paper base to set the shape

Muscle tissue

Muscle tissue with neurotransmitter receivers

Drug molecules

Drug molecules doin' their thing

Shape for the thing that produces neurotransmitters

Tissue paper for color and bulk, the round base made the frame
and was easy to poke beading thread through

It went over really well! The rest of the team knew what it was immediately and thought it was awesome, everyone else got it as soon as I held up my printout of the cover art.

I won Most Original in the costume contest. ( ^_^ )

Me and the Account team staging the cover art photo
This photo was sent to the client, who thought it was hilarious
The orb now belongs to the art director that developed the concept

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Emoji Stories

My company uses an instant messaging program that allows users to put an emoji next to their name. I noticed that one of our editors changed his every day for several days, so I asked if he had been telling a story. He hadn't been, so I started to.

I keep a list, and when I have both time and inspiration, I write a little scene incorporating those emoji in the order they appeared.

This is the first one:

black joker, new moon, saxophone, chicken, piggy

Black Joker never removes his garish jingly hat. He wanders around the starlit barnyard, barely seen under the new moon.
He plays a somber, keening tune on the saxophone, a request without words for a volunteer. Chicken does not meet his eyes, she remembers last time a little too vividly. Piggy is skeptical, but seems drawn to the music. Could this be the chance for adventure he’s always wanted?

I put the whole collection on Imgur.
(Click the image to go to the album on Imgur, where they will appear large enough to read)

View post on

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Zoolander and Mugatu

I'm working on a number of projects at the same time, so we went low key and high fashion for Halloween this year as Zoolander and Mugatu from Zoolander.

Mugatu is wearing the finest 

  • thrift store sweater with felt letters glued in place (with Tacky Glue) and tubes of black fabric hand stitched to the cuffs. The collar didn't actually need to be attached, it just plops in place when the sweater is zipped up
  • waist cincher from the internet
  • black pants that are unremarkable except for being part of this fabulous ensemble
Makeup consists of black eyeshadow and pencil eyeliner
Hair done with silver hair wax (he is naturally a ginger)

Zoolander in the most chic

  • basic black tee shirt and jeans covered with strips of black trash bags and duct tape
Makeup was kind of trial and error based on low-res screen shots and these two YouTube tutorials. Supplies were my regular foundation, black eye shadow and pencil liner, white cheap-Halloween-palette greasepaint, purple Ben Nye theatrical greasepaint, and this awesome Mehron glitter gel.

Hair achieved via Tish & Snooky's temporary color gel in black. How effective is this stuff, you might ask? I used it to make my hair dark on Thursday for my company Halloween party (I will post about that because I made a prop, but I can't share it yet), washed it out for Friday (see selfie), and spiked it up for Zoolander on Saturday.

A day after using the gel to be a brunette

It's strong enough to make my hair stand almost straight up but also washes out completely. I've been really happy with it!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tuber Placeholder Gift

I ordered some dahlia tubers for my mom as a birthday gift, but they don't ship until later in the month, so I made a placeholder gift for when we celebrate.

On its own, the flowers were a bit top heavy, so I added scraps of cardboard and a ton of hot glue to the bottom to balance it out.

Blossoms: shiny origami paper and this tutorial
Stems: green pipe cleaners
Pot: half a toilet paper tube covered in construction paper
Dirt: a couple chunks of compostable padding that came in my meal kit delivery

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bast and Anubis

This year's costumes were the Egyptian gods Bast and Anubis.


I had a more clear vision of what I wanted for Anubis, so I started there.

I opted to build it on a baseball cap instead of as a mask to give the appearance of a longer neck, and that was definitely the way to go.

Clumsy paper template, edges removed from the hat bill, then a less clumsy paper template to get the basic shapes right.

Translation of paper shapes into craft foam shapes

Articulation of the cheekbones and brow ridges (so it wouldn't look so much like a duck).

Lights in the eyes: a strip of red LEDs wrapped around the baseball cap under the foam face. The foam cheekbones aren't glued down to allow access to the lights just in case it was needed. The LEDs are diffused by a few layers of packing foam. In real life you can see the points of the lights, but it photographs well.

Ears added, some black paper clay added to smooth out the shapes, then layers and layers of glues to seal it. Not as smooth as I would have liked, but looked fine from a distance.

The nose is paper clay that had started to dry, which gave it the perfect dog nose texture completely by accident.

Paint! Acrylic paint, gold glitter paint, and a thick spray lacquer. The LEDs were covered with masking tape during this step.

Headdress to hide the extra lights and give a little more Egyptian god flare, made of squishy foam to smooth the back of the head, covered in a royal blue spandex fabric.

Gold ribbon added to the blue headdress, small Velcro bit added at the cheekbones to keep the fabric close to the head but still allow access to the cheekbones and lights if needed.

Beaded collar. I started by tracing the front and back of a tee shirt to get the right not-quite-half-circle shape. Then I used a lot of hot glue and added shiny gold rope and short strings of beads. For the bead strings, I drew a line of glue, placed the beads in it, used a needle to put the beading string through the fabric, then hot glued the knot. If the hot glue gave out, the thread would keep it in place, and vice versa. Craft wire was sewn to the ends as a super simple clasp.


Another clumsy paper template, refined through a ton of trial and error (and modification of Anubis's cheekbone template). The forehead never quite worked out in paper.

The forehead was pure trial and error, but it turned out all right.

Shapes approved, make it again in black!


During the paint process, I added a headband. I had thought I was going to wear a black bodysuit and hood and attach the mask by magnets, but it didn't work out that way, so...headband!

I bought a variety pack of EL wire to help me decide which color I wanted to line the eyes. EL wire is great to work with! It doesn't do acute angle corners, but it's forgiving and easy to sew or glue. Nice and light, other than the battery pack. The batteries were too heavy to attach to the mask, but it worked out well enough being clipped to the back of my dress. It messed with my night vision, so I backed it with tan felt, and that helped.

I set out beads to figure out how I wanted it to look. At first I thought I was going to bead the entire necklace, but then I came to the realization that I had neither the time nor skills to do such a thing, so three cheers for hot glue!

The fabric shape was traced from a tee shirt collar (not quite a half circle, a little squashed), and then everything was both sewn and glued in place. Glue to mark the spot, short bead strings laid in the glue, then the thread was pushed through to the other side of the fabric, knotted, and glued in place.

Because I was going to wear that black bodysuit, clothing plans were to make myself a skirt and belt and embellish a bra akin to a belly dance costume, but that didn't end up working out. Husband opted for formalwear for Anubis, the color scheme for which tended toward black and red, so to be different I opted to emphasize blue and white. If I did it again, I might choose differently.

I got lucky and found a white dress with an appropriate fit on the clearance rack of a GUESS store.

The Egyptian look often has a wrapped skirt or belt with a flap hanging down the front from the waist. That was easy enough to replicate (at least enough to give the right impression), and this would also allow me to add a couple pockets to carry my phone and ID/money/etc.

I used some gold satin to make a belt, no pattern, all trial and error with wrapping and pinning.

The fabric hanging down the front lent itself best to pockets. One at the top for the phone, one along the side for ID, money, event tickets, and whatever else I might need to carry. I thought I was going to have the pockets stacked, but I didn't have time to plan it properly and ended up having to improvise a little.
Judging by the reactions I got when I wore this to the office party,
the pockets were the most exciting feature of the whole costume.
I was sure it wold be the lights in the mask, but no.

Bracelets and arm bands were made by the same method: cut foam into rectangles, line the top and bottom edges with craft wire to hold the shape, glue in sequins and fancy blue ribbon, and wear!

Then discover that the craft wire is incredibly annoying to wear and replace it with elastic (last image).

Details: heavy eye makeup (I didn't wear the mask over my face all the time) and teal/blue nail polish with gold sparkles.

All in all, I'm happy with how the Anubis head came out, but I don't feel like this has been my best work. Maybe I'll be satisfied with my efforts next year.

Onward, to next year's costume!