Friday, October 15, 2010


I admit it.  I had trouble coming up with a project for this posting.  The material for the last two posts practically fell into my lap when, almost simultaneously, my colleague asked for sewing advice and I discovered that September was National Sewing Month.  The project was also a no-brainer - since she cooks I decided to sew an apron and tried to cover the various steps involved in creating a finished craft project. This time around however, I had a subject but no idea of a what or a how. Oh no! I was stuck at  my own instruction: "Step One - decide what to make." This was a new concept for me!! I usually have a "how" at least (...and these days it is usually knitting) so, I ask myself, what is the process of coming up with an idea (out of the blue) in the first place? 

I started with what I knew - my subject - I wanted to recognize the onset of Autumn.  So I went to our library shelves to explore the possibilities for Fall crafts.  I quickly discovered a couple things.

First off, after getting over the shock of not finding many on our shelves I found that our, ever so on the ball reference staff had set up a special display that celebrates Fall.  Much relief!!!!!

Secondly,  while there are numerous books dedicated to Christmas decor and crafts there are far fewer that cover Fall, and many of those seem to be specifically Halloween or Thanksgiving oriented. You can find many books and magazines that concentrate on costumes, pumpkin carving or food.  I am not going to do that...except to share with you one of my father's pumpkin creations.  My dad doesn't tend to go into all that fancy carving that you see these days yet, somehow, I prefer the zany characters he creates. They always tickle my fancy. Here is one from a year past.

I didn't want to do just turkey or ghost and spider projects.  Also, because I had just finished a sewing project, I didn't want to use sewing as the method this time around (although I did find some really cute Halloween and Autumn themed fabrics...hmmmm).  This is not so easy when you can't start by looking up a specific craft and then figure out what to make following instructions for it.  A Craftster's mind almost never stops thinking or envisioning possibilities, except when it comes to a deadline.  Then it can all go dry.  I was really wracking my brain - did I want to use clay, papier-mache, paints?  A project for Halloween , Thanksgiving, or just Fall in general?

Since Halloween is fast approaching and you may be up a creek regarding ideas for little Halloween projects, I have decided to post some relatively quick and easy Halloween projects for now. In a few days I will continue with my Fall themed projects.

Here is a group shot of some of the things I created for this blog

Some of the crafts I discuss here were inspired by projects found in various Halloween books we own at our library, while others are either from my head or from free projects sheets I found at our local Michaels store.  When trying to come up with quick and easy projects your local craft store is a great place to explore.  Not only are there often free project sheets, there are so many types of products available that allow you to create any of the projects you've seen in the Halloween books in many different ways.  That's the fun of crafting - nothing is finite.  Use whatever you have, experiment, and enjoy yourself.

Egg Carton Spiders - when my kids were little I would hang these from our chandelier.  They are very simple to make.  Cut the cups out from a cardboard egg carton - poke a small hole in the top (for hanging thread if you intend to hand them up) and 4 holes on both sides (for the legs).  Paint the cup black inside and out. Attach thread at the top.  Cut 4 lengths of black pipe cleaners for the legs: push a piece from the outside to inside of one leg hole on one side of body then through the other side of body from inside to outside - one piece becomes 2 legs.  Repeat with the rest of the pieces and bend to shape.  (If preferred, cut 8 smaller pieces and affix individually - glue in place from underneath.) Glue googly eyes to front.

Creepy Crawler from Styrofoam ball -  Use toothpicks or craft stick to connect two balls for a head and body.  Cover with craft clue and small pieces of tissue paper.  Once dry, paint it black.  Cut four pipe cleaners in half for legs and insert 4 legs into each side of the body.  Thread 1 bead for each eye onto a large head straight pin and press into the spider.

Glue gun Spider Web - Every spider needs a web to crawl on.  This one is amazingly simple.  When I peeled mine off of the parchment paper I felt a sense of wonder at how easy, yet effective this project was.  To create: Using a glue gun, "draw" an L shape, with both sides the same length, onto parchment paper or non-stick baking sheet.  Starting at corner, draw a series of lines, the same length as first lines, radiating outward (the creates the spokes of the web).  "Draw" scalloped lines across these to make spiderweb.  Make sure all the rows are touching.  Let dry, then peel off.

Polymer Clay ghosts, pumpkins etc. - Polymer clay (such as Sculpey brand) is a soft clay that is moldable until baked in an oven.  I used white clay and then painted it because that is what I had on hand, but you can purchase this clay in a wide variety of colors to create pieces that do not need to be painted.  To create these pieces simply push and pinch the clay into the desired shape.  I used the side of a toothpick to create the indents separating the pumpkins sections.  If you want to hang the item like an ornament, insert a small hook or curved section of wire prior to baking.  I used wire cutters and snipped off the small section of a paper clip for mine.  I also used pearlized paint on a couple of the ghosts.

Sheer Stand-up Ghost (or you could attach invisible thread and hang it up) -  I have seen this ghost made with cheese cloth.  I had some old sheer fabric leftover from something else and I thought this would be a good way to recycle it.  This was very simple!  Find items to use as a support - I used a tall vase, added foil "arms" because I wanted the "arms" to stick out (if you don't, just don't) and a giant ball of masking tape for the "head" (you could use a bowl - I just happened to have, oddly enough, a giant ball of masking tape that was left over from when I painted a room.  One of my sons, who has a great sense of humor, thought it would make a great pen holder and stabbed a number of ball point pens into it, quietly leaving it for me to discover.  I thought it was a riot and have kept it - great recycling and actually, a great pen holder!).

That's my form on the right with the giant masking tape ball.  Note: Cover the objects with plastic wrap so they don't get ruined and so the completed project doesn't stick to them. Also, place the assemblage onto a waterproof surface that you can move or where it can sit while it drys. Coat the fabric with fabric stiffener following the directions on the bottle (you can find this at your local craft store) and drape it over the form you have created, arranging it however it pleases you.  Allow it to dry; remove it from the form; if desired, paint black eyes and mouth on it. 

Styrofoam Eyeballs - Here's looking at you kid!  I painted small balls of Styrofoam with white acrylic paint hoping it would give the eyes a uniform look all around, I then painted the iris, followed by the pupil. I finished up by drawing in the veins using a fine red marker.  Note: Styrofoam is very porous and is not easy to paint. "Pouncing" the paint on rather than brushing works better. Coating it with glue and tissue, as with the spider, might have been a good idea...but I wanted to do something different here, and the eyes are fairly small so it wasn't really a big deal.  If you are tackling a bigger project you might do something different (as I did for my next project.)

Styrofoam Candy Corn Cones - There was no way I was going to play around painting the cones, I would have been there forever!!  And I didn't want to do the tissue and glue thing again, although it would have worked fine.  I decided to try a product I bought a long time ago because it seemed neat and I just never got around to trying it.  This blogging thing is continuously getting me to try new stuff!  The product is called plaster cloth and it a 4" wide strip of cloth that is pre-plastered.  To use it, cut it into lengths you want, dip it in water and shape it onto the form you want to cover.  Pretty much like papier-mache except the strips are pre-treated.  I covered two different sized foam cones using this product and set it to dry.  Once dried, I painted them to resemble candy corn.  Pretty neat!  Note: I wanted mine to have a rustic look to them so I didn't mind the ridges left by the plaster cloth.  If you want a smooth, more candy-like, finish you could coat the cone with air dry molding clay before you paint it.

Let me interject here: whatever you do, when you are gluing tissue paper onto something, or using plaster cloth, DO NOT ANSWER THE PHONE.  My next blog may well be titled, "Decoupage your phone - What a great idea!"

Candy Corn Earrings - Paint purchased unfinished wood shapes and paint them to look like candy corns.  Glue pierced earring posts to back. Ta da!

That is all I have for you this Halloween season. I hope you feel inspired. Flip through some books or magazines.  Go to your craft store.  Let your mind ponder the possibilities.  If you have any questions about these crafts please feel free to email me (the address is in the About Me section).  I'd love to hear from you!  Comments are also welcome - just click on "comment" below.

Some of the books I utilized for this post were as follows (as always, clicking on the titles will link you directly to our catalogue):

Halloween Celebrations 2 separate books from the Woman's Day Special Interest Publications series:

vol. XVII, 2007 - inspired my polymer clay ghosts, pumpkins and witches hats

vol. XVIII, 2008 - inspired my glue gun spider web

 Gooseberry Patch Halloween, 2010 - inspired my Styrofoam spiders

1 comment:

  1. A maybe: If not much re "Fall" ... check out "Autumn".
    For REALLY GOOD EYEBALLS, open up empty cans of Guiness Stout. The things that float and rattle inside and make it foam when poured look exactly like white eyeballs. All they need added are the pupils.
    Your blog is incredibly good!