Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Hallowitchy!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Just wanted to stop by with a li'l witchy illo, and wish everyone a safe but as-happy-as-it-can-be Halloween.

Also, I wish I could take my cats out for a walk on a leash. That would be the cutest.

Instead, they stay indoors where they like to lick the pumpkins I carved.

Speaking of which, as an added Halloween bonus, here are some pumpkin (and cat) filled pictures that went unposted due to yesterday's technical error.


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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Carving Cat

This morning, I carved up a whole bunch of pumpkins for tomorrow. I had some help (as you can see). I took a bunch of pictures, too, having had the plan to write up a nice blog post all about pumpkin carving.

But for some reason (I'm guessing it's the horrible Sandy's fault?), the pictures just won't upload, and my computer, with its ancient processor, is not supported by the handful of other picture uploading methods I have.

And time is of the essence, given the seasonal subject. And we could all use a cute cat to look at today, right?

So, a cruddy, single-picture pumpkin-post from my phone it is. It's ok. My kitty's cuteness makes up for it. Pin It

Thursday, October 25, 2012

La Calavera: Take Two

So we meet again, La Calavera! And this time I am digging your color scheme much, much more than the last time around.

First you met her here, right before I started up a color scheme willy-nilly and ended up disliking it (she was blonde, for starters, and it was a yellow, orange, purple, and red scheme that ended up drab and muddy). 

So I decided to try again, this time with some more planning on my part. I did not forget, and it worked! I am so digging the pink, purple, and yellow palette.  It's daintier and prettier than what I had the last time around, going along with the whole "pretty, but a bit creepy" thing I mentioned in the La Llorona post.

And now, it's time for something else (my guess: it'll be something Halloweeny). Pin It

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Plush Pumpkin Trio

Sitting in my studio the other day, I decided, on a whim, that I needed to make some plush pumpkins.  For decoration!  Why not? So I did.  And here they are.

What's odd about this to me is that, despite my absolute love of Halloween, I didn't used to be one for doing much in the way of Halloween decoration. And yet, nowadays I find myself in the midst of Halloween decor projects (when I most definitely should be doing something else) just because. I have a hunch on the why of this sudden interest in Halloween decorating, though...

Growing up we had our jack o'lanterns and maybe a couple of cardboard cutouts to hang up, but that was pretty much it. We would always head over to a friend's house for Halloween. In my apartment dwelling days, I considered myself festive if I carved a pumpkin or two.

However, I would like to point out that we never had trick-or-treaters at the house I  grew up in (too far removed from the neighborhoods teeming with kiddos), nor at any of my apartments, despite my buying candy each year and hoping they would show up.

But ever since we have been in a house in an actual neighborhood, there have been trick-or-treaters! And where there are trick-or-treaters, a festive Halloween spirit follows.

How can I open my spookily decorated door to dole out candy and not have any display of Halloween funnery on the inside of my home? Being a candy giver-outer means all the fun sights and sounds of Halloween are on the other side of the door.

Which means, I find myself sewing up pumpkins to make my environs for Halloween night a little bit Halloweenier.

So that growing Halloween collection that rivals our Christmas things collection (which is fun, except for the storage space part)? That's all the trick-or-treaters' fault.

But I do love it all. I love our spooky yard, I love our skulls and black cats filled home, and I love my little, for-no-real-reason-at-all, plush pumpkin trio.

And for those curious as to how I made these guys, I simply used a standard ball pattern cut from fabric with a bit of stretch and cut proportionally for each different size, and then faces are just cut black felt that I then appliques on. That was it!
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Luminaries

Our neighborhood has a pretty cool, good old-fashioned, house-to-house-on-the-night-of-Halloween Trick or Treating system going on. And we love it! So far, we have participated in the spooky decor every Halloween we've been here (this will be our second).

However, last year my incredibly ingenious and Halloween loving friends lent us many of their own homemade props and creatures and spooky stuffs with which to decorate: lights, rats, spiders, tombstones, etc., etc. This year, they will be unable to help out, so I'm trying to make a bunch of my own spooky decor to add to what we have already, without breaking the bank.

So instead of solar Halloween stake lights, or my friends' ultra cool creepy lanterns to light the sidewalk, I did some research on what I could do for my own DIY luminaries. I came upon this post by Designs by Sharon. So many luminaries I looked up were painted or printed on the bag, but I liked the way her cut cardstock luminaries looked in the light. Plus, I already had everything I needed!

What the inside looks like.

She used her Cricut to make spooky shapes on cardstock to stick on the inside of an illuminated bag, but I decided I would just wing it and draw up and cut out my out frightening facial features for my luminary guys and ghouls.

I used a rolling sticky tape I have had sitting around (but I've never used), stuck the designs on the inside of the bag, found another use for my yard full of acorns (to weigh the bag down and set the LED candles on them), and stuck two LED flickr candles inside. They actually give off a decent amount of light (despite being difficult to photograph with my phone - too lazy to get the camera out today).

And there you have it, Halloween luminaries! Simple, spooky, and cheap, just the way I like 'em.
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

La Llorona

I'm back! And La Llorona is back, too, redrawn, and in color this time around!

I figured I'd post a few pics of her for the sake of the whole process of trying again and re-doing things until you like them, but then also I realized in my post-dinner world wide web perusing that the theme for this week's Illustration Friday is "water," which, you know kind of works for this piece!

I figured, "What the hey?!" I was going to post some color pics tomorrow, but why not now and squeak under the deadline for IF instead? it may mean poor photo taking lighting, but I can deal with that if it means I can play this week.

So that's what I'm doing.

And if you are not familiar with the mythology of La Llorona, you can read about her here

I went for a more "beautiful lady"approach after my research led me to mostly scary and terrifying looking versions of her. I like the idea of her being sad and a bit scary, but still beautiful, and I took a similar approach to my piece of La Calavera (that is still awaiting color). Pretty and Halloweeny.

Media tidbits on this piece: pencil and watercolor on paper.

And with that, good night for reals this time. Until next time! Pin It

If At First You Don't Succeed...

...Do it over.

I added the watercolor part of the mix to my La Calavera piece from the last post (pictured here underneath the other sketch). And I was not a fan. So guess what? I started her over again (that's it on the top). Yup! That's how we do it.

Some artists do it the clever way, by scanning linework, doing color studies, digitally editing things, etc., etc. But I was just too eager last time and dove right in, only to regret it. But this time around, I hope to think things out a bit more before jumping in. For both La Calavera and her new sister, La Llorona.

I want to redo her as well.  Her linework is too heavy handed and steady for my likes. It needs more variation.

Also, as a hilarious sidenote, my phone likes to correct "Llorona" to "Kilotons." So she will also be known as La Kilotons.

Anyway, that's what I am about to do – redo things! And this is how I do it, and this is how it gets is done.

Back to work!
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Monday, October 15, 2012

La Calavera

Just posting a little sneak peek at what I'm working on today - Rives BFK, pencil, and some watercolor are getting ready to mix it up.

And it just so happens that Ms. La Calavera here goes very nicely with the new and improved Alicia Policia blog banner/header I just put up.  It was about time, wasn't it!?!? I have to say, I'm very thrilled to finally be rid of the plainness of yester-blog.

Now I hope I can manage to keep changing it up when it needs it. It only took me 5 years to change it in the first place, so that shouldn't be a problem should it....

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Friday, October 12, 2012

A Lifelong Dream Fulfilled: My Acorn Doll

I am ending this acorn week by fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine: making an acorn doll.

I know, I know. It sounds like a ridiculous exaggeration. But it's not.

Here's the story of an acorn doll twenty something years in the making...

You see, growing up our family housed the 1950s set of encyclopedias that my mother had growing up, The World Book Encyclopedia. Which, quite simply put, was AWESOME.

Volume D of the World Book Encyclopedia even accompanied me to college, where it got painty.

Volume D was the coveted book amongst us. I mean, come on! What children of the 80's didn't argue about who got to read the 30+ year old encyclopedia? Answer: all of them, except us, apparently. To my brother, the animal obsessed, it was of interest because it housed the entry (and full color plates) on DOGS.

We mostly loved the fact that the illustrations included our newfoundland, Reina.

For me, it was awesome because of the brightly colored illustrations depicting DRESS throughout all the periods of time...

What nerdy, history, and period-fashion obsessed girl wouldn't just love this?
..but more importantly, for the doll maniac little girl I was, World Book Encyclopedia Volume D was all about the entry on DOLLS.

The dolls entry ran an unprecedented eleven pages. It included all the pertinent information about the history of dolls, types of international dolls, how dolls are made, etc., etc., but my favorite spread was the one about the homemade dolls.

And that's where the acorn dolls come into the picture.

Little doll-obsessed Alicia would read about each type of homemade doll and beg her mom to make some. Yes, we did make the paper dolls, and the stocking doll, but the dolls I really wanted to make were the acorn dolls, at which point my mom would always conveniently suggest, "Why don't we make something else?"

I think it was something about the illustration, how sweet and silly and simple the World Book acorn dolls looked. And that burr oak acorn hair? I totally thought that was awesome (alas, there were never any burr oaks around during my childhood).

Thus, I knew one more answer to the question of, "What can I do with acorns?" Make. Dolls. World Book style!

And so, that's what I did.

And I quickly discovered why my mom always was all, "Let's do something else!"

Because drilling tiny tiny holes into tiny, tiny, tough but fragile little acorns is a full out pain in the butt, not to mention it's dangerous, pokey business!

Somehow, I managed to poke in the little neck, arm, and leg holes(that somehow involved a large upholstery needle and lots and lots of patience and persistence). I abandoned the World Book suggestion to use matchsticks (too thick!), and instead used pipecleaners.

In an effort to keep the pipecleaners  (or as those fancy-pants crafting folk like to call them, "chenille stems") non-mangled, I was had the notion to mount my acorn doll to a stand (does that make it an acorn figurine instead?)

A few bits and bobs of felt and ribbon and buttons later, and ta-daa!  My very own acorn doll!

I think it's super cute. And I have to say it is very satisfying to strike a lifelong crafting desire off the list! An added bonus: I have confirmed that there is something else to do with acorns.

Which gives me an idea that maybe it's time I actually try making that World Book cornstarch doll that I never made...

And who, adorably enough, appears to have an acorn doll of her own. Good for you, cornstarch doll!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Felt Acorn Coasters

It's acorn-o-rama over here! Further adventures in getting into a fall type mood include these sweet little felt acorn coasters I stitched up.

I was inspired by these perfect felt fall leaf coasters by Lilifish Studios that popped up in my Pinterest feed, and I figured, "Hey, why not make some acorn coasters?"

And so I did. I drew up my own little acorn pattern, cut up some felt, used a little lop of ribbon for the stem, and then (somewhat sloppily) stitched them together, and there you go! Fall themed protection against water rings.

Now I just need to get some cider to put in the glasses to rest on the coasters...

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Acorn Wine Charms

Today's craftiness is brought to you by acorns! Again!

However, unlike yesterday, these acorns are not so great for eating (unless you're a squirrel), but they do go great with a nice bottle of wine.

A friend's recent Facebook status about types of acorns and the ensuing conversation from her friends of "What does one even do with acorns?" that followed got me thinking, "Hey, what can I do with acorns?" Hmm...

I have collected acorns and set them in a bowl to look pretty before, and when I was a child I liked to crack and smash them open just for kicks, but that's pretty much it. Otherwise I've collected scads of them (like a good little Totoro) with the intention of doing something crafty, but ultimately, they just sit there.

Until now! My recent little acorn brainstorming session led me to the idea of wine charms, which I thought would be super cute for fall parties and get-togethers.

I grabbed some neglected acorns from a couple of years ago that were already all nice and dried out and prepared for crafting. I then painted them each with a different color metallic craft paint (I know that two of them look like the same color, but one is actually brown and one is orange), made a little wire loop to poke out of their cap, and hot glued it all in place. Then I gave them a quick spray of sealant (I'm not so into the glossy look, so I used matte).

All I had left to do was to string the acorns and some beads on some small sized memory wire rings (loop one end with round nose pliers before stringing to keep your beads from slipping ofa, and then loop the second when everything is on there), and that was that.
Voila! Super cute wine glass charms for fall!

And there you go. That is what I can do with acorns.

Which is cool, because my yard is full of them. Like, super full. As in, "I think I know what I can make everyone for Christmas this year" full.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Acorn Cookies

Fall is upon us! Which means it's the season where I am very much reminded of just how much I love the wonders of the internet.

Why, you ask?  Because without the internet, these adorable acorn cookies and the even more adorable squirrel cookie jar would be lost to me.

You see, one evening way back in the year 2000, my housemate, Jess, made some little cookies that she shaped like acorns, dipped in melted chocolate, and rolled in walnuts.  Not only were the adorable, but they were totally addictive, too. I loved them!

Years later I would still sometimes crave those little brown sugar shortbreadish cookies, but alas, I never did get the recipe. Web searches turned up every other type of acorn cookie of which you could think. Every one, except the one for which I was looking.

Then one day not too long ago (in 2008), a blog post about acorn cookies by Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane popped up in my feed, and there they were!  The acorn cookies! YESSS!

Since then, when fall rolls around, I get a hankering to make (and eat) some acorn cookies.  I thought I would share this year's crop, and send you all over to Heidi's recipe if you would like to give it a go yourself.

Heidi's recipe, like Jess', is vegan. I opted for butter myself, as that is what I keep on hand, but I just wanted to let it be known that vegan acorn cookies are an option.

Otherwise, everything else is pretty much the same. To get the shape, I just rolled the dough into balls, pinched one end into shape, and set them on the baking sheet point up.

And I didn't want nuts on all of the cookies, so for some I just did a plain chocolate dip, and let the chocolate swirly flip on top stand in for the stem on the cap, and on some others I added a single piece of walnut for the stem. 

I think they turned out pretty cute!

However, they are not as cute as my cookie jar, which is not only thematically tied by acorns, but is another story championing the finding of lost memories via internet.

My grandparents on my dad's side had a cookie jar just like this when I was little, but I have no idea where theirs is now. It is one of the very distinctive memories I have of their house, and I was determined to make that memory a part of my own household, too.

And, lo! The internet did not fail me. A web search here and there every now and then finally led me to the right cookie jar on eBay. Huzzah! The internet wins again!

As for now, I am pleased to say that both the lost acorn cookies and the acorn holding squirrel cookie jar are here with me every year to brighten up my fall.

Too cute, y'all.  Too cute. Pin It