Wednesday, May 2, 2018


I shaved my head for charity last year. For a small number of donors I offered thanks in the form of a mystery gift, built around a theme of their choosing. This isn't the first one I've started, but it's the first one I've actually finished.

I was inspired by Hari and Deepti's light boxes and I'm just thrilled with how mine turned out.

This theme was "cats" and I know this particular person likes fables and fairy tales, so I started with the illustration of the Jabberwock from Through the Looking Glass.

Step by Step (including some trial and error)

Hello pen tool, my old friend.

Add some happy (stock vector) trees.

Figure out some basics for layers.

Add some detail.

Start to think about how the environment might look. Also realize those layers are completely impractical and consolidate all of the Jabberwock into a single layer.

Test cut several practice Jabberwocks (not by hand! I have a Cricut.) and struggle with the size and amount of detail until it looks right. In the process, enlarge the box from 8x8" to 10x10" to avoid sacrificing detail.

Find and trace an illustration of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Put the Cheshire cat into the design.

Find illustrations of Puss in Boots, who will be our hero. Settle on this one, trace most of it, then modify the arms and put a sword in its outstretched paw.
Image found on Pinterest
from a Flickr account
originally from what looks like an out-of-print book called
Dean's Gold Medal Book of Fairy Tales by Janet & Anne Grahame Johnstone

Add Boots to the design where Alice was in the original illustration. Also realize Boots looks great and the Cheshire cat looks like a Jack-o-lantern. Add some fluff to the Cheshire and make some edits to the eyes so they don't look quite so different.

Fiddle with the trees. A lot.

Add some ground in between the trees. Continue to adjust trees.

Roughen the ground, add some (stock vector) grass detail.

Get all the pieces cut out...

....assemble them, alternating paper and a border of foam core...

...and take a moment to appreciate the fact that it actually turned out exactly as expected.

Fiddle with lights...

... and come to the decision that the Cheshire cat and the Jabberwock are a little too floppy. Move some trees around to address the issue.

Finalize the design. REJOICE.

Re-cut, re-assemble. REJOICE.

Measure the thickness of all the glued-together pieces, glue slabs of foam core over the edges.

Get fancy with LEDs and a 9-volt battery by adding a switch.

I thought I wanted the whole back section with the battery and wiring to come off to connect or change the battery, but I couldn't find an attachment method that didn't also leak light. So I cut a little door into the back and glued the whole thing shut.

I found some great shiny silver poster board, did some math and measuring, and made a little box frame for the whole thing, including a slice of acrylic as a window pane.

Package, mail. Celebrate!
Final product in its new home.

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