Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

Here's Magoo in his phoenix costume. You've seen the mask/hat before, but here's the full costume. It's a little disco fabulous, a little Blades of Glory - but he loves it. And yes, that's me behind him. Oh, I love a matchy-matchy costume set.

I didn't intend to match him this year. Mike always teases me that my relationship with my boy is a little too much like Lucille and Buster Bluth from Arrested Development. But Magoo wanted to be a phoenix and I already had my costume. I made it years ago when I took a mask making class in Boston. How could I not use it?!?!? That would be crazy! I got a lot of stares on the street and made two little children cry. :0

We met up with O & G, who were dressed as a ninja and Indiana Jones. Then we hit the streets. Oh - they were excited boys dashing for house from house. Halloween is a very spazzy time for boys and even though Magoo knows he can't eat any of the candy he collects, he still has a blast getting it and then trading it in at the end of the night. (This year he got Star Wars Mighty Beanz and a bag of Fritos in return.)

And here's what happens when you eat too much candy on Halloween night, boys and girls:

You toss your guts!

Hope you all had a fabulous Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lil' Scary Monsters

A few days ago my buddy Angela posted about making clay beasties with her kids. It looked like SO MUCH FUN I had to rip the idea off completely and do it with Magoo and his friends.

And as fun as little clay beasties are in and of themselves, I thought it might be even MORE fun to add a haunted house.

Monster Roll-Call!
Here we have the Bride of Frankenstein and Kirby. (On day 2 of clay beasties, the characters got less scary and more video game oriented.)

Ghost and Alien. (The ghost is a direct rip off of Angela's awesome ghosts.)

And Wolfman and Emerging Zombie. (I'm particularly pleased with how the skull on the tombstone came out.)

I think it's safe to say that I had just as much - if not more - fun than the boys making these. I could have gone on and on. But I think this may simply be Year 1 of Beastie-making. I have to leave some creepy critters for next year, I suppose.

So thanks to you, Ang, for the awesome idea!

And here's just a shot of the house in it's poster board cut-out form, to give you an idea of how to make one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

It was my birthday on Tuesday. Mother Nature gave me the gift of a GORGEOUS day! 70's. Colorful. Light breeze. Perfection. (Thanks MG!) Normally I would be working, getting this and that done. But we were having new windows installed so I had no choice but to go outside, chill on my hammock, and read a book. (Poor me!)

But I insist on having cake on my birthday - everyone must! So I made a cake0-ish treat. Double decker brownies with coconut/honey frosting in between.

Pop a little fresh homemade coconut ice cream on top - OH BABY!

I wanted Dansko clogs and I got 'em! That was Mike's gift to me. Magoo picked out the socks. Aren't they just the best socks ever?

And it will please you all to know that the unicorn joke lives on.

My friend, Jessica, gave me this:

Yes, I have an awesome Parts of a Unicorn T-shirt. This pic is from the Perpetual Kids site, but it's the exact T-shirt. (Mine is in the wash.)

And she got me this:

This is what it says on the back of the box:

OMG unicorns are so freakin' magical!
I love their beautiful manes and those
crazy horns coming out of their heads.
Chew this gum and you'll totally poop
sunshine just like them!!!!

Thanks so much for all the cards, gifts, and good wishes (via Facebook.) I am lucky to have so many fabulous friends and family. I am always blown away by the generosity and good humor my peeps throw at me and I hope to always whip it right back at them!

Monday, October 25, 2010

SUBURBAN NINJA: A Cautionary Tale

Due to the length of this comic, I have reverted to the much easier stick-figure format.

This happened on Saturday:

What you might be wondering:

What the heck happened?

I turned on the wrong burner. Oops. And even though there was a burner cover on the front burner, it was slightly askew and there was a pot holder on it. Bad, bad me.

Did the fire alarm go off?

Eventually. Yes.

Where were Mike and Magoo?

They were walking home from a friend's house when all this went down. As soon as I put the fire out I started opening windows to let the smoke out. That's when they came home. We kept Magoo outside and then took him over to a friend's house to eat dinner so he wouldn't breathe in the smoke.

How's the kitchen?

Cleaner then it was before! It took Mike and me about 2 - 2 1/2 hours to clean it up and pitch the food that had been on the counter and all that jazz. The flames never reached the ceiling so there is really no damage. We just lost a pot holder. I did go to Home Depot to buy an air purifier though. It's hard to clean the air.

All in all, we got off easy. The whole thing went down in probably less than a minute and I think I caught the fire pretty soon after it had started. And now I know how to use a fire extinguisher. AND I bought a second one just for the kitchen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Leaf Lovin'

Yesterday when I went outside to pick Magoo up from school, I marched straight back into the house and got my camera. The colors are so gorgeous right now. I had to snap up some of that autumn-y goodness.

(Above) This is my favorite shot. This tree is right outside Magoo's classroom. The gold and orange leaves popped against the bright blue sky.

Even though I took a lot of shots of trees in full color, I found the ones that read the best in 2D were the ones with a contrasting color nearby.

There's no autumn colors here but I LOVE the shape of ginko leaves. And the sun was shining through them and they were casting shadows on each other. (Gush) I love it.

I'm sure Mr. Mark, the crossing guard, thought I was nuts.

This tree is just a few houses down from where I live. The red is so intense it's like the tree is on fire!

And here's the view of my street as Magoo and I round the corner to come home.

I often think of how lucky I am to be able to walk my son to and from his elementary school. Not only do I appreciate the routine/tradition of it, but it is a lovely walk in every season.
And, of course, the exercise does me good, too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Brisk, Baby

Last Saturday we went to the Gramma's house.

Going to Gramma's house usually means 3 things:

1. Hitting the Book Barn, where I spend most of my time in the children's department picking out books for Magoo.

2. Eating chip and Mary's homemade salsa. (insert Homer gurgle here.)

3. Visiting the beach!

It was brisk on Saturday. Cool. Windy. It was also very blue and pretty.

And, I guess, a little green, too. (Man, I LOVE bright green moss growing on rocks!)

Magoo climbed, ran, and chucked rocks into the water. All the good things that high-energy boys need to do after watching hours of Cartoon Network. (We don't have that channel at home.)

Did you have a good time, Magoo?

I think he did.

Me, too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dragon Battle: The Board Game

My close friends know that I enjoy making games (The Game of Love, anyone?) and not too long ago Magoo and I had some time on our hands so we created a simple board game where knights fight dragons.

I drew a course around the board and Magoo was in charge of dragon art.

The rules are simple: roll a dice and move your knight*. If you land on a W, you choose a weapon card for your arsenal. When you get to the red zone, you must battle the dragon. You battle the dragon by rolling the dice again. If you roll a number that coordinates with one of your weapons (maybe your sword has a 5 on it or your mace has a 3) then you win and proceed. If you roll a number and you don't have a weapon for it, then the dragon has defeated you and you must fall back to an orange dot. You keep going this way until the front-runner reaches the castle - you win. The End.

That said, Magoo and his buddies change the rules often - as they should. But that's the basic break-down of it.

The gameboard:

Yikes! Those are some terrifying dragons!

The pieces & cards:

*These knights are new. I just made them out of polymer clay. Originally we used bottle caps.

I drew the images for the cards and scanned them in on the computer. Then I colored them and printed up batches. If you don't feel like doing this, just give your kids some index cards and markers. They'll make AWESOME weapon cards. Just remember to number them 1 - 6.

So far the boys have really enjoyed this simple game. If you have all the supplies, the making and playing of it can occupy hours. Perhaps a thought for the next rainy day, hmmm?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ninja Attack!

I don't know if there will ever be an official plush version of Wink, but I'd been wanting to make my own stuffed ninja for awhile now. But sometimes you need a good kick in the butt before the wanting becomes doing.

A coupon kicked me in the butt.

I got a 40% off coupon for Borders, so I went to the craft section and just started looking around. Through my meandering I found a few books on stuffed animals and I found a pattern I could alter to make a ninja. In all honesty, I probably could have made this pattern myself - but I don't really make dolls and I haven't worked with cotton jersey much. (Its stretchy!) Sometimes it's better to follow someone else's rules for the first couple times before you fly solo. So that's what I did.

My ninjas very soft and very cute. They are ever-so-eager to run and hide in the bushes or behind your toys - they're stealthy like that. Right now there are only two - but I will make more. Magoo wants me to make Master Zutsu for him. Hmmm. Master Zutsu will be a challenge. (Oh come on - you know I'm totally going to make it for him.)

Right now, the ninjas are being very good and sitting on the shelf, patiently waiting to go to Open Studio Weekend in November, where they will hopefully be squeezed and loved and taken home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Little Monsters

No, I don't mean these guys.

Over the weekend, my buddy Heather and I went out to Michael's craft store for our own crafty needs and found some little balsa wood caskets. We HAD to get them! And we also scored some little wooden people pegs. We got some liquid acrylics, laid out some paper, and let Magoo, O & G at them.

Hard at work ...

There were only three caskets but there were six people, so Heather and I got to play too. I made a Vampira sort of gal and Heather made a Undead Fisher-Price Grandmother. Too awesome!

Here's the goulish scene.

I love Halloween!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fables: The Lion and the Mouse & The Grasshopper and the Ants


We all remember how this one goes, right? A lion is sleeping and a mouse scurries too close and wakes it. It pins the mouse by the tail and the mouse begs for mercy. It says that if the lion lets it go it might be able to return the favor someday. This amuses the lion so he releases the mouse. Some time later, when the lion is caught in a net, the mouse comes to its aid and chews threw the rope.

I'm super pleased with how this one turned out. I painted the ochre paper for the lion's face and paw and I love how it came out looking kinda like suede. Using green paper in the mane was my "risk" factor - but because it's an earthy tone, I think it works and adds interest. Then the blue background really makes the orange eyes pop.

The biggest challenge was probably playing around with the patches above the eyes to get the expression I was going for - powerful, yet curious. Like he hasn't quite made up his mind yet.


As autumn approaches, a grasshopper sees a group of ants carrying food back to their hill. He asks them if they can spare any. He's hungry and he hasn't stored up any food for himself because he's been busy singing all summer long. They ants basically tell him to take a hike and if he likes to sing so much he can eat his song.

I don't know if ants would technically collect a leaf for food - probably not - but I thought it would look good and maybe this ant is a little more like Ferdinand the mouse - he wants something colorful and beautiful to look at during the long winter months.

Speaking of months, it's a month until Open Studio Weekend. I'm in pretty good shape. Basically, I have enough to put on the wall - I just have to cut mats, frame and wire the pieces. I also have to make cards, make prints, make t-shirts and finish making the pendants. This is the not-super-fun nitty-gritty stuff and I will try to do a little every day. I probably should make a schedule. Will I? Perhaps.

(But I also have one more fun thing to add to the show.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thumb Wrestling

It all started with an iPod.

My friend Heather gave me her old iPod with a bunch of kid's shows on it and one of those shows was TWF Thumb Wrestling Federation. Magoo loved it!

The other morning, he asked if he could make a thumb wresting puppet. Immediately, my crafty mind went to felt, glitter glue and all the wonderful creations we could make. But that seemed a little excessive for a school morning. Instead, I went down into the basement and found an old turtleneck in the scrap fabric pile. I cut out a rectangle on the upper fold of the neck (so there were two pieces of fabric) and sewed a quick "hilltop" shape. Flip. Boom - white thumb wrestler ready to be colored in with Sharpies. (I love Sharpies!)

That went over so well I made a few for his buddies O&G - who come over every morning pre-school.

And here's what they made.

That was all fine and good until Magoo decided (later that evening) that he wanted to make a movie. So I made my own character - The Sleeper - and we shot something on the fly. Then I uploaded the footage into iMovie and spend a bit of time figuring out how the new version (of iMovie) worked.

It's not pretty. It's not perfect. But it's kinda fun. Enjoy!
(For some reason the blog only shows 2/3 of the screen. To see full screen, click the link to YouTube.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Phoenix Rising

About a month ago, the conversation turned to Halloween costumes. Magoo and his buddies threw out some ideas and somehow Magoo landed on a Phoenix - a fire red bird that rises from its own ashes. Most kids know it from Harry Potter. I thought it was a super cool idea and one of the great things about Magoo is once he settles on something - he settles on it.

So I started to sketch. Now, I probably should say how very giddy I am about this whole thing. I decided long along that I wasn't going to force my craftiness down my child's throat. If he wanted to wear a plastic Power Ranger Costume from Cheap-Mart, I was going to let him do it because it's his Halloween - it's his time. And there certainly have been years when I haven't had to do a thing to make his costume. Last year he was Indiana Jones so we threw some stuff together and I bought a whip and hat. The year before he borrowed his friend's Darth Vader costume. But this year - this year I get to go whole hog craftastic and I'm loving it!

I did some mask making in my younger years so I knew just what to do.

Step 1: Make a cardboard skull cap to fit Magoo's noggin.

Step 2: Using wire, wire mesh, and cardboard - form bird head. (This is a fairly tricky step.)

Step 3: Paper mache'.

You can see that I've started the paper maching process on the far side. I like to use brown paper grocery bags and mod-podge. I used plastic Easter eggs for the round eye forms.

After the paper mache' was dry, I painted it white with gesso.

Then I pulled out my ancient acrylic paints and started painting. I used a photo of a hawk to help with the shading of the beak and eyes.

I planned to cover the back with red feathers but it's still a good idea to paint it red. Then you don't have to worry about complete feather coverage or a feather falling out and exposing a patch of white. Nothing kills the idea of a firey Phoenix more than bald patches!

Here's a well-lit shot of the finished project.

I also added some red sequins around the eyes b/c the fabric I bought for the wings is fairly glittery. Magoo is going to be a disco-fabulous Phoenix, for sure! But he likes it so far so I'm tickled pink.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Day

We've been going to Rose's Berry Farm for our pumpkin/apple picking needs for about three years now. The first year we went solo - and although Mike, Magoo and I have lots of fun as a family of three - Magoo has even more fun when we do things with the Brudz family and their two boys, O & G.

As you can see from the photos, there was some face painting involved this year. Magoo asked to be made into a vampire and was super psyched by the results.

The boys were eager for the hayride/corn maze so that was our first stop. Magoo and his buds have now reached an age where we can turn them lose in this corn maze (it's not super huge) and they had a blast running and hiding from the adults. It was a funny/weird experience for me as I could almost constantly hear the children - but I couldn't always get to them. Then Magoo picked out a big honkin' pumpkin and we headed back through the fields to eat lunch and play on the playground- where the kids surfed down slides and rode tricycles through pipes.

After being there for a few hours we decided to skip apple picking and head home to chill.

We had crisp weather, blue skies, and although it had been raining for two days - the ground soaked it up and it wasn't even muddy. All in all a success autumn traditional trip!

Friday, October 1, 2010


I like to add new items to my Open Studio Weekend inventory from time to time. A few years ago I started making t-shirts and those went over well. This year I'm adding jewelry.

A few years ago I got into beading a bit - but I never felt like I could just do a little jewelry stand along with my collage & watercolor art. It would be like a game of "One of these things is not like the other" - yanno? But this summer at West Hartford's big art fair an artist had made mini copies of her work and applied them to pieces of cardboard which she covered in resin and made into jewelry.

What a great idea!

It took me awhile to find the kind of resin that one would use to do small pieces like this. If you google "resin" you get all sorts of heavy duty stuff. But as I was flipping through craft books in B&N I found a craft that used resin and I wrote down the brand - ICE resin - and I was on my way.

Then I bought bezels (the "frames"), and made a few test pendants. They came out well so when they were throughly dried, I went to Michael's, bought some chains and findings, and made my first batch of necklaces.

Here's a close-up of The Crow and The Pitcher.

And here's Solitary Goldfish.

I'll have about 10 necklaces in total and I just bought a couple stands to display them. I'm pretty excited about the new additions. I hope they sell. Now I just have to figure out how to price them - I guess I'll do a little research on Etsy.