Category: Arts and Crafts

Designing the Toy I Wanted When I Was 5

Disclaimer: In today’s post, I talk about a current Kickstarter run by the company my husband co-owns. My opinions may include some biases.

My husband is and was the toy person in our family. “Is” in that he is a professional toy designer, first at Hasbro and now at Boss Fight Studio. “Was” in that he has been thinking about action figures, how they work, and what makes them better or worse than others since long before I knew him. I was not the type of kid who actively sought out features like more articulation in my toys. But I did sometimes think about what the toys I had could or couldn’t do, if not always in the most realistic ways. And my husband and I have had plenty of discussions about the toys of our childhoods. In a recent one, we realized that the toys available to a young fan of horses back in the 1980s were rather lacking.

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Firefly, many kids’ first pony and mine as well.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a sizable collection of My Little Ponies back in the day. I loved my little horse-shaped lumps of colorful plastic and played countless games with them. But even then, the fact that they’re not very poseable crossed my mind from time to time. The only “point of articulation” on most of the ponies was the neck. The head wasn’t really designed to turn, but you could get it to. There were ponies with shiny eyes, ponies with iridescent wings, fuzzy ponies, baby ponies, sea ponies and more. But rarely did you see a pony that could move its legs, sit, or lie down. Manes and tails that could be styled were a bigger priority. Continue reading

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Beat the Winter Blues: Get Crafty

If you’ve been reading along you will have seen both Smalerie, and The Red Menace give their tips for beating the winter blues; coping mechanisms are so important y’all! Now it’s my turn. Those who know me IRL know that my crafting obsession almost borders on manic. If it’s crafty, I want to try it. Yarn, glue, paper, wood, beads, it’s all my jam. For me crafting can really hits my goal oriented brain center, plus then you have a cool thing to show for your work. That sense of accomplishment can be critical when you are cooped up inside feeling like you may never get outside again.

Because the general realm of crafting is so vast and wide there are thousands of options, and price points. You don’t need to drop a mint at Michael’s or some other craft store to take on projects. One of my favorite things to do is to comb thrift stores or dig around though what I already have and then re-purpose it into something better.

Someday this will be a mitten.

Knitting-
Ah, my old standby. When I was little, my grandmother tried to teach me to knit. It’s didn’t go well. But I picked it up again in college and things really clicked. Knitting has a relatively low start-up cost, especially if you can get your hands on some used needles and sale yarn (it’s always on sale). Knitting has also become much more popular so chances are you know someone who knits and can teach you, otherwise, YouTube. I’ve learned many new stitches and refreshed myself on some basics via the internet. All you need to know is the basic knit stitch and you can make a scarf. I personally find the repetitive action of knitting soothing and a bit meditative, maybe you will find it the same.

 


Gluing things to things-
Oh yeah! This is probably my favorite type of craft because it’s the broadest and I think most fun. Get yourself some good glue (I like e-6000), some found objects and go to town! Cover old containers with buttons or rhinestones, decorate a lampshade, make magnets…below are two of my favorite gluing projects. I wanted a 3 tier plate for a Downton Abbey themed tea party I was hosting, however I did not want to spend the money on one. Take one trip to a thrift store, plus one thing of glue, et voila, a 3 tiered plate that cost less than $7! The “bug” is the result of a broken clock I bought at a yard sale, dismantled, and then spent a very focused afternoon turning the pieces into some sort of sculpture. Again, super affordable and very rewarding!

 

Paper crafts-
I can’t draw, at all. But I can cut, glue, arrange, and stamp. Plus, making your own cards is much more fun and flexible than ones you get at the drugstore. If you’ve ever even walked past a Paper Source you can see how vast and varied the things you can do with paper are. I also think paper crafting lends itself to being social and sharing supplies really well….(prepare for shameless plug), and that’s why we are hosting a Collage Card Workshop at Comicazi on February 10.

If paper crafts are something you are interested in join us at our Collage Card event! We bring the supplies, you bring the creativity.

General craft resources-
Ready to dive into the sea of crafting? There are tons of resources out there but here are 2 of my favorites.

Craftster– The Old Dame of craft resources! I think every craft possible exists here. From knitting, to food, to soap, to cross stitch this bulletin board community give tutorials, help, discussion and general encouragement about crafts.

Possibility of falling down a craft based rabbit hole for the rest of the winter: HIGH

Pinterest– If you aren’t quite sure of the project you want to tackle, go to Pinterest and search “crafts”. You will get an amazing array of option, all visually lovely. So yeah, there are lots of pictures of possible crafts on Pinterest, but the directions and links are not always super reliable (see Pinterest Fails). I like to cruise the pics for ideas but then maybe head to another resource for a second opinion on reliable directions.
Pinterest is a particular danger zone because it doesn’t just have crafts…it has everything! You could start looking at it at the start of the next snow storm and not come up for air till the plows are done.

Possibility of not emerging until the hibernating bears do too: HIGH

Beat the Winter Blues: Theme Party Edition

Last week, Smalerie mentioned that we’d be doing a series on how to stick it to Old Man Winter and actually get some enjoyment out of a season that, here in New England anyway, can be best summed up as “grey.” Sometimes the outdoors is a frozen wasteland, other times it’s warm but muddy, but no matter the temperature and precipitation, winter can just seem a bit ho-hum. Once the holidays are over, there’s just a lot of staying indoors, dreaming of warmer, drier days. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. The depths of winter are scientifically* proven to be the best time for a theme party. Plus, planning a party fits in well with several of Smalerie’s blues-busting tips, including starting a project and having accountability. And hey, if you host, you don’t need to actually leave the house!

We’ve had a few posts on this subject before, but here are a few we haven’t yet shared that you might consider specifically for shaking the winter doldrums.

Stalingrad, 1942

Granted, this particular theme appeals to a slightly morbid sense of humor – unsurprising, given that my husband, Mr. Menace, was responsible for dreaming it up. When the snow is thick on the ground and the air is frigid, what can be better than a reenactment of the Soviets surrounding the Germans at Stalingrad?

We were fortunate to have this party hosted at the home of our dear friends, who have a spectacular fire pit in their backyard, which allowed us to create a hard-core bonfire. If you are not so lucky, even a small fire pit will add the right amount of flare and sell the idea that you are huddling for warmth on the front. (We were also aided by the fact that this party took place in the February 2015 – winter where the Boston area saw about 8 feet of snow pile up on itself in rapid succession, followed by a deep freeze. Authentic!)

Cheap fur hats from the party store are also a must. Here the goal is less about authenticity, and more about a sense of fun and staying warm.

The Red Menace and Tiny Doom stayed in the warmth, mostly.

As for the most important part of any theme party, the food, this is your chance to put out an assortment of hard meats, cheese, and vodka, and call it good. At our hosts’ request, I also made piroshki, which are Russian buns filled with meat and onions.

Tasty meat and onion buns.

Meat, cheese, vodka, and hats – a recipe for pulling anyone out of a slump.

Vikings

The Red Menace and Tiny Doom as Glamour Vikings.

The very next winter, our friends with the fire pit hosted another vaguely historically themed party – a Viking raid! This was a ton of fun to figure out costuming for – and a great excuse to break out the fur and cape from my Red Sonja costume from a Halloween party long past.

To host a good Viking party, consider offering mead, more of that wonderful meat and cheese, and an assortment of dried fish, if you’re feeling fancy. Horned helmets are not historically accurate, but if you change the theme a tad, you can host a 19th-century Romanticist opera revival party and the helmets are totally on brand.

Giants

The giant seeks her chicken.

Our latest party was a long time coming, and one of my favorites to date. For years, Tiny Doom has dreamed of hosting a “giant” party. The concept was that everything at the party would actually be extremely tiny – thus allowing the party participants to feel like giants. (Tiny Doom is, as her name suggests, pretty small herself, so getting to be big is a novelty.) For years, we discussed this party – what food we would serve, the tiny plates we could use, the props that we’d have – and we kept not hosting the actual party. Finally, after nearly half a decade, I decided to make it the theme of my annual New Year’s Eve gathering. 2017 was a pretty tough year all around, so I thought we could all use an excuse to feel bigger.

Tiny Doom devours a whole baked potato in one bite!

This party was heavily centered around two things – the food, and the table-scape. What’s great about this theme is that many appetizers are already small, bite-sized versions of regular food. You just have to make sure to play up that similarity – so cocktail weenies aren’t served in sauce, they’re lovingly encased in tiny buns. Sliders are regular burgers, a Cornish game hen is a whole roasted chicken, and so on.

The Burger Patrol serves the giants.

Mr. Menace helped with the decor by getting two different sizes of figures – 1/6 scale GI Joes and 1/16 scale Star Wars figures – and strategically placing them around the food. The result was a sort of Lilliput-England-Brobdingnag vibe with the Star Wars guys as Lilliputians, the Joes as the humans, and us as the Brobdingnagians. It was pretty darn magical, and shockingly simple to pull off.

Guarding the forest of pie.

Ultimately, that simplicity makes this a perfect winter project – you don’t need to dress up or get too fussy with the decor to create a good time for your friends and help snap everyone out of a funk. After all, everyone needs to feel big sometimes.

These cakes were beautiful but less edible than one might want.

Finally, it’s important to note that while we did this party on New Year’s Eve, it works on any random winter night equally well. How about you all – any other whimsical ways to punch Old Man Winter in the face?

*The science is extremely limited.

Chocolate Bubble Gum Cocktail: We Are All Doomed

I’m the worst at writing intros for my posts. Honestly, it’s terrible. Happily for you, I’m not going to spend too much time struggling with it. Instead, I’m going to just say that it’s a pretty great time to be an Invader Zim fan. We’ve been getting our fix pretty regularly with the not-too-shabby Invader Zim comic, but then about three weeks ago, this was posted online. YES, my disgusting worm-babies, we are all doomed.  And frankly, I couldn’t be more pleased.

Added bonus, this gives me another excuse to create an adult beverage based on one of my favorite fandoms.

Brace yourself people, and behold my inspiration.

There were a lot of different ways I could have gone about this. At first I considered tracking down some chocolate soda to make a very traditional Slurpee. Then I thought about creating a very traditional ice cream soda made with chocolate and bubble gum ice cream. I had two road blocks here. The first was that both initial ideas involved ingredients that were a bit hard to find. The second block was that if I was going to drink this thing, I didn’t want to use a ton of dairy.

My solution to both of these problems was to create an adult beverage. Making something smaller and using alcohol would give me an excuse to tailor it a bit more to my taste and maybe come up with something (prepare your pretension filter people) more sophisticated. And yes, even my eyes rolled as I typed that last sentence.

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This is the point where I truly began to question my life decisions

Ingredients:

Unsweetened cocoa powder
Godiva chocolate liqueur
almond milk or regular milk
vanilla
Bubble Gum flavoring
simple syrup
optional: cream

Pro-tip: Before you make this drink, create some ice cubes out of milk (or in my case almond milk). This will prevent your drink from getting watered down as you drink it.

There aren’t a lot of instructions here. All these ingredients can be adjusted to taste. For the sake of understanding my results, I will say that I used about 1 cup of frozen almond milk and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. In order to help things blend, I dumped in a splash each of the vanilla and simple syrup. For the booze, I used one shot glass.

The bubblegum flavoring goes a VERY long way. I used a drop from an eyedropper.

Once you blend up your drink, taste it and add any adjustments. I used a little extra sweetener as the dark cocoa powder made the finish a bit too bitter.

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Yeah, no light is getting through this. And yes, I know exactly what it looks like.

I know you’re wondering what this tasted like. The truth is that it wasn’t too bad. It tasted like a Tootsie Pop. If I ever make it again, I think the plan would be to create a pink bubble gum sugar rim and to see if I could make something that is less like a mudslide and more like an actual slurpee or even a Slush Puppie.

Not a complete failure, but not something I will be adding to any sort of rotation for dinner parties. I think I will just keep it in my pocket to bring out again when the Invader Zim movie/special airs next year. But frankly, who knows what monstrosity I will have come up with by then. I can promise you this much, it won’t include adding soap to waffles. Maybe I’ll add tuna instead.

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That is gum, not teeth.

Chocolate Bubble Gum Cocktail of Doom

2 tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1.5 oz Godiva chocolate liqueur
1 cup almond milk or regular milk frozen into ice cubes
1 tsp vanilla
one drop Bubble Gum flavoring
1-2 tbsp simple syrup
optional: 2 tbsp cream

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed. Serve immediately with an evil grin and promises to take over the world.

Puppetry Tips and Tricks

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If you joined us for our puppet making event, you’re now the proud owner of a unique, handmade puppet. If you didn’t, you may still have a random puppet lurking around your house somewhere. Or maybe you’re looking at that sock that doesn’t seem to match any of the others in the laundry basket and wondering if it’s meant for better things. Wherever you are in the puppet making process, it’s important to remember that building the puppet is only part of the experience. Here are some ideas for what to do with your newly made felted friend.

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Smalerie Attempts Nail Art

If you follow any of the Ladies on social media, you’ll notice that we are having our second View and Chew event coming up in a couple of weeks.  This event is going to be even more crazy than our last as we prepare to celebrate all things Supernatural.  As part of our preparations, we have been making prizes, choosing the perfect plaid clothing items to wear, and having extremely detailed conversations about the best way to paint demon traps on everything from our toilets to our own finger nails.  As someone who really likes to theme her nails in line with various Comicazi and Ladies’ events, it seems only natural that I am not only prepping special nails for our event, but have been experimenting with the best way to create theme-appropriate nails for future events as well. And as I suffer from all this trial and error (and acetone fumes), I am going to share with you what I have learned.  PS –  If you are dying to see the finished product, you should really get your tickets to our event, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram (Krebstar5) if you are not local.

The Goods – Believe it or not, I don’t feel like I have enough nail supplies.  As soon as I hit a stride with something, I discover something else that I REALLY want.  Also, I never seem to have enough colors and random things to glue to my nails.  My last practice session looked like this:

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And I still want more!!!!

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Pretty Pretty Pancakes

Pancakes have been on my mind a lot lately.  Part of it was looking over some of my past posts in search of motivation, but the larger part of it was probably the epic Facebook debate Tiny Doom and I had over the superiority of pancakes or waffles.  I am staunchly on Team Pancake.

And so I wanted to prove the versatility and superiority of pancakes in a very Ladies of Comicazi kind of way.  And so help me, that way is going to be fancy!  It’s time to do some Pancake Art. *cue awesome power ballad

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I have become an immortal pancake!

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Cartoon Sara Draws Stuff – Smalerie’s Birthday Card 2015

I haven’t done an art process post since the Usagi Yojimbo one almost two years ago. My output remains sporadic, but I did just undertake a project where I’m pretty pleased with the results. So it’s time for round two.

Tools

Not much has changed since the Usagi pic. I still work almost exclusively digitally on my Cintiq monitor, and I still use Pixelmator. My Mac Mini remains fairly functional and my desk is still a mess.

Subject

I sometimes draw digital birthday cards for people I like, including the other Ladies. I had an idea for a Labyrinth themed one for Smalerie kicking around for a while. So when February rolled around and her birthday was approaching, it was time to get to work.

Process

Reference

Sir Didymus movie reference

I have never drawn any of the characters from Labyrinth before, so reference was essential. I quickly discovered that the internet does not have sufficient Sir Didymus and Ambrosius reference. Most of the image from the film I found were on the small side, fanart is of questionable accuracy, and – as Smalerie pointed out when we visited the Center for Puppetry Arts – the remaining puppets are not all in the best condition. So I had to dig out my DVD and get some screencaps of my own to sort out what Didymus’s hat looks like or how his knee guards are attached to his legs. (They really aren’t.) Continue reading

Halloween 2013 – The Magic Continues

Last year at this very time, Tiny Doom wrote a post that, when I look back at it, marked an historical moment for this little blog: it was the first time the Ladies had ever revealed our faces! Of course, there were only three of us – our mighty quartet only became complete in the new year. And some of the faces (okay, mostly mine) were rather obscured by the costumes we chose. But still, it was a milestone, and here we are a year later, still keeping this blog chugging along, bigger and better than ever!

And yes, we still really love Halloween.

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L-R: Cartoon Sara as Sally, The Red Menace as Starman, Tiny Doom as Speedy, Smalerie as Louise

Our love, perhaps, has different depths and comes from different places, so I won’t speak for all of the ladies in this post. (I’m pretty sure Tiny Doom loves Halloween WAY more than I do.) But however we got there, we’ve all embraced the holiday.

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Peanut Butter Fozzies: Soul Sucking Snacks of Anguish and Doom

See these guys?

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Notice how they are innocently looking away in an attempt to avoid my angry gaze…

Pretty effing cute huh?  How creative and filled with all-american “can do” spirit, right?

Ugggghhhhhh…..  *thud

Believe it or not, from start to finish, these guys took six hours.  SIX HOURS!!!  And during those six hours of blood, sweat, and (mostly) tears, I learned a few things I would love to share with our dear readers.

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