Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Layers of vellum and diecuts, with a sticker strip, stamped backgrounds.

Thing 2 had a birthday party to go to. Guess who helped me make this card? :D I've got to remember to STAND on big stamps to get solid impressions.

Foam stamp, gingerbread girl embossed. Liquid Pearls make awesome frosting. Cuttlebug snowflake diecuts. For Thing 1's secret santa.

I actually didn't manage to get ANY pictures of the Christmas cards I sent out. I'd do another, only THE DOG ATE MY FOAM CHRISTMAS TREE STAMP!! A cat knocked it off the table, and the dog ATE IT!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Get Inked! -- January

The following card was made using some of the techniques I wrote up for the January Get Inked! kit at Queen Kat Designs.

The Love, Hearts, and Be Mine stamps are part of the kit as well. If you haven't signed up yet to get in on this neat new kit -- what are you waiting for??

The scanner didn't do the greatest job of capturing all the embossing, or the resist very well, nor did it really capture the hologram-look of the embossing done on the edge and in the center heart, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I feel all sparkly

Surgeon General's Warning:
The surgeon general warns you that the Pooka is thoroughly medicated thanks to a doctor visit today and while I can almost, ALMOST, type, getting anything ELSE is going to be a several hour-long trial. Be patient, get the rum and the popcorn.... and be ready to run.

It may be chilly or downright cold some nights and there But I'm a firm believer is that, if can pretty yourself up, that you're going to feel better, especially while being trapped, bound, and gagged from usefulness.

Sure, there's seasonal goodies thrust madly into faces, mothers doing the old fabric applique trick on sweat shirts that get hurt when you don't wear it All The Time.

Don't leap to conclusion by me having a new blog entry, You can leap. So, here in this little.... "retro rook"

Dancing Dragonflies.

Sold to a lovely Hobbit lass in the UK. Matching earrings. The long center silver dragonfly is jointed, so each segment moves. The silver and pearl strand is part of the necklace design and is attached at the clasp, which is also a dragonfly. You can only see one of the earrings hanging from the chain -- also made to match. Model: my eldest Thing 1.


Model: Thing 1. Full set: earrings, necklace, and bracelet. The smallest rounded coin shapes are actually glass designed to look like the jaspers and agates that make up the other stones. Swarovski crystals and tiny glass beads as spacers. The looser look to the bracelet is deliberate. Since the earrings and necklace were all very clear and clean in form, I wanted something a little looser for extra texture, so I took more of the long block agates, paired them with the larger jasper coins, and made a double/single strand, with some wire visible to give it a feel of motion.

Indigo swirls.

Inspired by a pattern in Margot Potter's Impatient Beader book. Even the above dragonfly necklace took some inspiration from her, seeing that she had two necklaces that focused on my favouritest insect, so I combined to make something that worked for me, and then it obviously worked for the woman who later bought it.
The big sparkly disco ball cluster that inspired this particular piece wouldn't have worked for my eldest, who was wanting something darker and deeper. We found these blues, and she went berserk -- yep, that was it.
The bulk of the design is built around blue sodalite, including the pendant. Swarovskis and seed beads complete the design. It's not as hard as it looks, it's just time consuming and definitely requires having a plan ahead of time.

Said and aforementioned Thing has another of those swirl necklaces, all in red and white, I believe. I had one in amber, agate, citrine, and red jasper, but I think it may have gotten sold. There is, however, a small problem (an eleven year-old problem) which may be the reason why that necklace cannot currently be found -- considering that Thing 2 really has no idea where ANYHTHING she owns is, much less something she "borrowed." Lemme tell ya, THAT gets old.

And now, my Ambien is saying that it now needs to sleepy time.

Clear Ether! (I will personally make sure a present is sent to the first reader that knows where that phrase comes from)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Round Robin Blog Party News

Queen Kat Designs is happy to announce it's first ever Round Robin Blog Party or RRBP. It will begin on Jan 2nd at the Queen Kat Designs Official Blog for a day of fun and stamping. Each blog after that will have 3 days to party!

Each of the 10 Royal Court Members will host 3 challenges during their mini crop. You'll have a chance to win a mini stamp set on each of their blogs. So, make sure you play through the month and win a set!

Below is the list of when and where for our party. Come and join us to celebrate the new year and the next 12 months of new stamp designs.

Jan 2: QKD Blog
Jan 3-5: Penny

Jan 7-9: Jen
Jan 10-12: Nina

Jan 14-16: Tanis
Jan 17-19: Nancy

Jan 21-23: Vicki
Jan 24-26: Bev

Jan 28-30: Jules
Jan 31- Feb 2: Pooka

Feb 4-6: Anam

Visit our blogs to see what we have going on right now. We love comments so feel free to leave some love. Happy Stamping and Merry Christmas from Queen Kat Designs.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What a card!!

Right, I'm feverish and punny, and that's never a good combination. So instead of trying and failing to be witty (just half-witted here tonight) ...

Charcoal cardstock. Asian coin mosaic stamped onto watercolour paper, embossed, then watercoloured. I just love my watercolour pencils. Pearl-Ex blended to make the coins metallic.

Yep, more watercolours! Dragonfly postcard stamped onto watercolour paper, and then painted. I got a little carried away with adding the mulberry paper punches. Ooops. It happens to the best (and worst) of us.

Done for a challenge at Queen Kat Designs. The card isn't blurry, it's my scanner, which hates dimensional accents. Gold is Pearl-Ex added to Versamark stamped images, with a wooden button as a clasp for the door.

Thank heavens DG gave me my Christmas present early. I now have a functional digital camera to solve the image problems.

2008 Queen Kat Royal Court

Hear ye, Hear ye!

Queen Kat Designs is proud to announce the 2008 Royal Court! Please help us welcome everyone to the castle and re-welcome those who have signed on to stay.

We're very excited to introduce to you our new designers...

Tanis Geisbrecht aka Paperprincess
Nancy Grant aka Inkcicles
Jen Pohl aka Jen
Nina Patena aka cbpatenaand...

And our wonderful returning designers...
Bev Douglas aka Sierra Grannie (that's me!)
Juliet Diley aka Jules
Penny Hartley aka Penny
Suzeanne Peak -- ME ME ME ME ME!
Anam Stubbington aka Kihaku

and of course, last, but NEVER least ... Vicki Beland aka Queen Kat!

A new year is coming, so don't be left out!
We have some fun things planned, including an upcoming Round Robin Blog Party, our new GET INKED kits, and a whole lot more.
Stick with us to join in the fun.

The NEW Queen Kat Designs "GET INKED" kit is revealed!

This is a new concept in kit design!! This is for the stamper at heart. We have come up with an awesome kit that will please every palette from beginners to advanced inkers (stampers).
Each month, you will receive a kit that has a different kind(s) of ink, a tool or two and techniques on how to use your kit. Below is the list of what we have in store for the next 12 months!

January: Heat Embossing
February: All about Versamark
March: Learn how to Distress
April: Add some sparkle
May: All about Chalk Inks
June: Learn to use Re-Inkers
July: Stamping w/ markers
August: Resist Stamping
September: Paint Stamping
October: Brilliance Ink
November: Versa Magic
December: Memory Mist w/ chalk ink

(subject to change at our discretion)

As you can see, we have a year of fun and INKING planned! You can't go wrong with these kits. You're sure to learn alot as well as collect a wide variety of different inks, tools and supplies. Each month, we will feature an EXCLUSIVE stamp set from Queen Kat Designs that has been designed just for the Get Inked! Kit that month. The stamps are not available any where else!
January's kit will feature embossing powders of all kinds..

Here's what you'll get in the first installment of Get Inked!.

1 Stamp Set
1 Full Size Embossing Ink Pad
1/2 oz. Black Embossing Powder
1/2 oz. Ultra Thick Clear Embossing Powder
1/2 oz. Worn Lipstick Distress Embossing Powder from Tim Holtz
1 Technique News Sheet written especially for the Get Inked! kit

(Note: Many of the techniques come from my own little crayon box -- yes, I share!)

And a bonus! Everyone who purchases a Get Inked! kit will have access to a free download that has more embossing techniques in it.

Each month, we will have a new download with additional techniques for you to try and keep. Access to this feature will run from the 1st of the month through the 31st. You will receive an email on the 1st with a link to the download.

Kits ship on the 10th of the month if not before. If you sign up for a monthly subscription, your card will be billed between the 1st and the 10th of each month. Also, if you subscribe to our monthly kit club AND the Get Inked! kit, BOTH of your kits will ship on the 8th of each month of before! Get your Ink on even faster by subscribing to both kits!

For a limited time, if you subscribe to a 12 month card kit or scrapbooking kit and a 6 or 12 month subscription of the Get Inked! kit, you'll get 10% off your subscription each month of the Get Inked! kit.

Have you inked today? Kits on sale now!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

QKD is releasing a new kit!

Queen Kat Designs will unveil a NEW type of kit in January, in addition to the other monthly kits already available. It's called "Get Inked!"

Can you guess what it's for? It's for all you inkies out there. :) First one to guess correctly will win a kit for free! Post your answers here.

Here's a hint -- I'm involved.

ALSO -- have you signed up for our monthly newsletter yet? Why not? Don't miss a single newsletter from Queen Kat Designs! To subscribe today, send an e-mail to Make sure you put Newsletter in the subject line.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Movie Review: Grindhouse -- Planet Terror

Break out the wine and crackers, boys, we got us some cheeeeeeeeese!

I used the charming On Demand feature last night, and finally saw Planet Terror. I have a feeling that in a little while, I'm going to watch it again, because, well, I can. I will own this. And DG will give me The Look and just shake his head sadly.

For those that didn't grow up with the Grindhouse B-movie, this film is probably going to go whooooosh and not be fully appreciated. If you're into Splatter Comedy, you've probably already seen it, and own it.

Every Single B-Movie Cliche is present in this. All of them. Shameless, blatant, and deliberate. The cheese factor is so high that nachos come easy, just add chips. Having a shameless adoration for good cheese in a splatter comedy, I loved this movie, giggling madly through pretty much the entire thing.

This is not a movie that takes itself seriously. The script is appropriately atrocious, the nonsensical close-ups of hair flips and ridiculous glamour in the middle of a zombie fight are SO classic grindhouse, the plot is so thin and has enough holes you can fly a 747 through them, the acting is all completely over the top with the actors chewing so much scenery you wonder how they have a set left to film on, explosions that make utterly no sense whatsoever, and the grainy, warping visual completes the attempt to bring back Camp. There is no shortage of gore (gouting fountains of blood, anyone?), and if you don't recognize the tributes to old splatter, you've been living under a rock or don't like watching this sort of thing anyway. It even has the pre-requisite Creepy Ass Kid.

I want to know just how much fun the actors had in making this movie. It's truly no-holds-barred insanity, from start to finish.

Oh, and I never really thought much of Rose McGowan, but damn, she's hot in this. If you're familiar with other films by Rodriguez, then you'll recognize a whole lot of these faces.

There's even a segment of "Missing Reel", just like you'd expect from a grindhouse feature that's been played so many times, the film is falling apart.

It's hard to imagine that a movie can be this much utterly stupid fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gasp -- I've been Carded!

Can't resist a good pun -- or a bad one for that matter. ANYWAY, before this digresses further, a few cards.

I love making cards, really, I do. I'm not much into the scrapbooking -- I usually leave that to my mother, who thinks Sandi Genovese is a goddess (my parents even have a really cheesy pic of my dad with Sandi, go figure). And actually, the cards sort of ... evolved, you might say, through my other crafting. You know how it is, one thing just leads to another. Jewelry and collage both lend themselves rapidly towards card making, especially once you start accumulating goodies. And let me tell you, you don't want to see what my work area looks like.

On with the pictures, because I do begin to ramble at 1 am.

I love ink. And adhesive. And of course, stamps. The Dream card was actually my first card done on completely white paper. No colour at all, till I added it. It went to my youngest daughter's teacher, who was wonderfully helpful during a period where we were quite broke, and she went and bought some of the school supplies that were not listed in the requirements but were still needed.

The next one, the Love card, was done for a darling and wonderful woman, known to the world as Sierra Grannie, of Queen Kat Designs. She had surgery a while back, so I put this one together to give her a little smile while recovering. I can never resist an excuse to send out a RAK (for those living on another planet and not In The Know, that's a Random Act of Kindness. Or Kardness, for the punny.).

This next card is relatively unisex, because it was a birthday card for my father, who has determined that he's going to regress in years instead of advance, because the idea of me being 40 just sends him into a serious late-midlife-crisis.

As you can see from the last two, I love my Sizzix. The leaves, AND the embossing plates for the second card, are all Cuttlebug, used in my Sizzix.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Murphy. Pooka Murphy

Thing 2 is an 11-year-old today.

An 11 with a broken arm. Which she broke last night. Yep, day before her birthday, kid falls while playing in a monster leaf pile and breaks her friggin arm.

This is the most stoic kid in the world, though. Thing 2 handles pain pretty darn well, and DG said she was a really big girl about it in the ER, (cough) ESPECIALLY once they got her all doped up on Lortab.

When she came in, she was holding it and complaining a little about it hurting, but she never really complains much about pain. I had her put ice on it, take a Motrin, and just try to sit for a while. When an hour or two later, she was STILL complaining, and it was nearing bedtime ... Took a look, it was starting to swell up, and changing colour a little.

Right. I sent em to the ER, while Amyrantha and I sat here and fretted a bit and worked on getting pages cut for her to be making new journals. And of course, we get the news I was expecting.

Of course, with the new insurance, the ER's referral isn't good enough. Now she has to see her own doctor BEFORE we can take her to the orthopedic to get it properly set. For now, she's just in a plaster splint.

Way to spend her birthday, lemme tell ya. Oy. We did keep her home from school today, though. I guess that's something.

And Amyrantha and the DaddyGod BOTH leave today, leaving me alone with a kid with a broken arm for her birthday. This means I am going to be called on for some major distraction and entertainment to keep her happy. She was already mad at DG leaving -- the Yarn Queen leaving too ... hoo boy. Hee.

Poor kid.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Domino Art and Ranger

I am Ranger Industries bitch. I know it, and I accept it.

I realized this when I was looking at the stuff strewn about my craft area. Ranger's Distress Inks, Ranger's Alcohol Inks ... it just keeps going.

And I LOVE the alcohol ink. My mouse is the next alcohol ink project to get worked on, that's for sure. I've even considered doing my monitor. Hmmm ....

I would also really really like to be posting images of the latest domino pieces, however, for some reason my computer - or Blogger - is being a pain in the butt and won't let me. I'll try again later on another machine and see if I just need to update my Firefox, which is entirely possible, nay, probable.

Apparently it was Firefox -- go figure.

This particular green one is going to be part of a bracelet for myself, however, finding the appropriate water-themed stamps in a good size for domino work is proving rather vexing. Phoey.

The red ones are a few of the dominos done as a bracelet for my eldest daughter (the one fluttering around as a goth faerie several posts back). To say she is obsessed with all aspects of Asian Culture is a very British understatement.
The kid definitely takes Otaku to all new levels of weird. To my dismay (and yet, vast amusement), her high school allows her to wear ears to school. Not merely her own attached to her potentially empty blonde-by-nature head, but cat ears, rabbit ears, you name it. I want some of what her principal is smoking. But at least he believes in letting kids do their Thing and being unique individuals instead of forcing them into vast conformity.
I haven't scanned the matching pendant, complete with Geisha upon it, since my scanner doesn't particularly like dimensional pieces, and it has a coin attached to the front, with Swarovski flat-backs along the sides. I'll have to borrow her camera at some point and get a good picture of it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

QKD is looking for new members of the Royal Court!

Queen Kat Designs
Royal Stamping Maid Application

Queen Kat Designs Clear Stamps is looking for an active and exciting “Royal Court” member (design team member)! We are a 1 year old stamp company that’s looking to show our customers what our stamps can really do! We’re looking to add to our court with your help promoting our products as much as possible through your personal blog or any online galleries you may frequent.

About this position:
A “Royal Stamping Maid” is responsible for creating projects with Queen Kat Designs clear stamps. Our stamps are high quality photopolymer stamps that produce great images. Each month that we have new releases, you will be sent 1-2 new sets to work with. A minimum of 6 projects will be required for each set you receive. 3 of which must be greeting cards and the other 3 are up to you. Each project will need to feature the stamps you are working with to show others how they can be used.

You will need the ability to post your work on our gallery. You will have your very own album to show off in. You may use a scanner or camera. Our Royal Court members are responsible for the up keep of their own blogs and are asked to display a little banner or blinkie linking to Queen Kat Designs on their blog.

If the above description is something that you are up for, please email us at info @ katstamps . com we will send you the application to apply for a spot on the Royal Court. Terms are 6 months in length and will formally begin January 1, 2008. Applications will be taken until November 25, 2007 at 12pm MST. The new RC member will be contacted on or shortly after November 25th.

Royal Court Perks:
~Each member will receive a 50% discount on our line of clear stamps
~Each member will receive 1-2 free stamp sets each month that we have new releases (Most months!)
~Each Court member will have their own album at the QKD Gallery.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Customer Appreciation Days

We @ QKD would like to THANK all of you for making the past year a hit with our stamps! Queen Kat Designs stamps were born in November 2006. We're having a 2 day sale to thank you. We hope you'll take this opportunity to start your crafty holiday shopping. All of our stamps are clear photopolymer acrylic! "It's the REAL deal baby!" No phonies here.

Shop N Save with 35% off of all of our stamps. Includes the 23 NEW stamp sets for November! No coupon code necessary. Just shop and check out. Your discount will be taken at check out.

Have fun shopping and THANK YOU for a fabulous year!
(Sale ends Sunday at midnight)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Product Review: Xyron

Adhesive Madness

I'll admit it right up front and get it out of the way. I'm addicted to adhesive. Glue, glue sticks, glue dots, hot glue, spray glue, sticky tape, duct tape, double-sided tape -- it just goes on and on. I have one of the most ridiculously diverse collections of adhesive, containing all of the above and more.

You want to know what I use more than anything?

My Xyrons. Yes, that is plural. I have the classic X, the 250, and the 500. If money allowed, I'd have the 900, too. Since I don't, the specific review will only cover the first three.

I don't know how I ever lived without them.

At first glance, it may seem silly, not only to "need" a machine that makes with the sticky all over the back of something, but to own more than one. But each different machine has a different size range for use that make them more convenient than others, and the uses are limitless.

-- For starters, have you ever needed to stick down mulberry paper, or get vellum fully stuck to a project? Not easy to get them stuck without the adhesive being visible. And while there are special vellum adhesives, you're really limited to only getting corners stuck down which can be dangerous with delicate vellum that when it crinkles, creases, or folds, it's that way Forever. Little adhesive strips on mulberry paper also show through, which isn't a big deal if you're layering over it and only parts will show, but can be a trial if you're doing large sections that will be clearly visible.

Run vellum or mulberry paper (or really, any paper that has a translucent quality) through a Xyron, and you sticky The Entire Back evenly. No tape lines show through. With the even and full application made possible by a Xyron, you can't see adhesive at all, except on the most translucent vellum, and even then, it's not blatant. Subtle is good, when it comes to the sticky holding your world together.

-- And think about detailed die-cuts. Sure, you can cut the pieces out, and use teensy bits of glue to put all the pieces together, but you get a mess on your work surface from trying to make the pieces sticky, and then you have to get them onto the main die-cut without getting that sticky everywhere else.

Just run the paper through the Xyron first, then the die-cut machine. I don't know how well this works on the electronic die machines, but on the Sizzix and Cuttlebug, it is fantastic. No, it doesn't gum up the dies at all. And then you just peel and stick and the embellishment goes together fast with no mess.

Quick Tip: It's also a marvelous way to get glitter, sand, or any other fine and otherwise messy item onto a piece.

As an example, say you have a die-cut tiara that you want for a princess project. Run it through the Xyron normally, face up. If your Xyron gives you two layers, peel off the clear top that has no sticky.

The back is now sticky (and if you're using lettering this way, you have an entire sheet you can do at once instead of one at a time, making it faster). Turn it OVER, and run it through the machine again.

This time, the top/front is sticky. Peel the protective layer off the sticky top, and apply your glitter/sand/microbeads/metallic flakes to the top, while the back is still securely on the backing sheet. LIGHTLY tap the surface with your fingers, to make sure all the adhesive is covered, then tap off onto a folder or scrap page to return the glitter to the container, peel the item from the backing, and add to your page.

The glitter STAYS where you put it, and you have a completely unique and customized embellishment. This technique is fantastic with vellum, to give very subtle translucent shimmers across a project. If you use coloured vellum, and clear glitter ... the possibilities are endless, and the colour will show through.

-- Detailed pieces of embellishment are often a pain to get properly stuck down. Edges and corners come up -- it's a mess, especially when you're using some of the wonderful sparkle confetti shapes and laser cut hologram confetti that is available now. Not with a Xyron.

Run that otherwise aggravating bit through the Xyron, burnish it against the backing with your finger, not only to make sure it's well stuck but to remove any stray adhesive that is in the open cut spaces. Peel and stick, and it goes down and stays that way.

(BTW, the leftover backing bits are fantastic to use to resist other glues permanently sticking down. You can use them to arrange stickers and sticker bits into the shape you want before applying them to a page, as well.)

Important Tip: The permanent cartridges are perfect to use on items that will get a lot of handling and wear and tear, like covers of albums, keychains, light switch covers. With the full sticky back, there's much less worry about corners or edges peeling back due to handling.

Convinced yet? Then take a look at some of the specifics.

Xyron X

The X will sticky a shape up to 1.5" wide. Cartridge options are both permanent AND repositionable -- fabulous for masking uses. The size is perfect to make small stickers, for use on confetti shapes, and individual letters, without wasting any of a larger cartridge doing a small shape. It's also nice for ribbon, yes, RIBBON.

To use the X, you gently push the piece into the open top of the X leg until it catches on the cartridge, then pull out the other leg by the strip of tape sticking out, and use the serated cutting edge to remove the strip from the machine. Burnish to ensure full stick, peel off the top clear protective layer, peel from the backing, and use.

Xyron 250

Cartridges also come in either permanent or repositionable. The 250 makes stickers up to 2.5" wide.

The 250 has a hand crank, so you just feed the item in till it catches, and keep on cranking till it comes out the other side. Trim, and you're ready to stick.

Xyron 500

Like its smaller siblings, also holds permanent or repositionable cartridges. The 500 gives you up to 5" wide of sticky.

The 500 has a knob instead of a crank, but works the same way: feed in, turn, trim, and stick.

Why so many? Size matters. :D

The different sizes allow you to make different size stickers without wasting precious cartridge. Sure, you can arrange several on a larger one and try to get them to go through evenly without overlapping and thus missing sticky on some vital edge, but it's not the easiest in the world to get multiple items to go through a big one without some shifts in position, thus choose the size of your machine accordingly.

They're so easy, even kids can use them -- and do. My girls have their own copies of the X, and they see frequent use. The X is the perfect size to do labels for the IPod shuffle, and most other small MP3 players, so you can see how often it gets used around here. NOTE: For younger children, buy the repositionable cartridges. Trust me. It will make it so much easier to peel them off your furniture and walls later on.

The basic machines aren't too expensive, and are often on sale. Cartridges can get expensive, which is another reason why it's wise to choose by size -- and to have more than one. My X gets the heaviest use, since it's harder to stick down small items. And when the machines go on sale, the cartridges are usually included in that sale. 30-40% off is the most common sale price, and you can afford to stock up then.

Now, those are just the BASIC Xyron models.

The 510, 850, and 900 (9" of sticky heaven!) will ALL do not only stickers, but magnets and lamination. Each function just requires a separate cartridge. Multiple choices, one machine. Sweet, huh?

While I think the adhesive cartridges for the X could be a little less messy (you do sometimes need to rub the edges to make sure it's clear of glue before applying), on the whole, this is the way adhesive should be.

And while I love the idea of getting I disagreeorted body parts messy and sticky from glue, my PROJECTS should be clean. Xyron assures me that my projects will always be crisp, clear, clean, and free of sticky bubbles of glue.

Final Scores:

X: B+
250 and 500: A

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Zombies, for Fun and Profit (part 2)

So now that you've gathered your supplies, it's on to the fun stuff: production. This article will focus on prosthetics, both off and on the skin.

The above walking corpse is a combination of both methods -- on and off skin prosthetics. The heavy textured pieces visible on the cheeks is done via the off skin method, the rest, directly on the face.

Let's start with some general prosthetics.

If you did manage to get some liquid latex, great. If not, you don't HAVE to have it, it just makes the process of removing pre-made prosthetics from glass a little easier. Yes, you need a sheet of glass for this part.

Sheet of glass (small) -- must be slick on one side. Don't worry, it'll come clean afterwards. A mirror will work as well. You just need enough surface to pre-make a few sections, depending on how many zombies you need to create.
Liquid latex or Elmer's
Texture additives of choice (oatmeal, birdseed, breadcrumbs, etc). -- you can use your toilet paper or paper towel on this step, but it's much easier to do those directly on skin.
Cornstarch baby powder

-- Slather a thin layer of your goop on the glass. Start out thin, or it'll take forever to dry. The shape is up to you, but remember to keep it to a size that will FIT on your victim. This is your base.
-- Let dry.
-- Powder lightly, dust and blow off.
-- Add another, thinner layer, just to get the surface wet.
-- Carefully add in your texture. A mix of items works well, just remember to keep it thin, otherwise, it won't stick.
-- Lightly pat with fingers to make sure it's stuck, then let dry.
-- Powder again, making sure to get all excess off.
-- Add another layer of goop to seal, spreading as necessary. This gives a good foundation to add makeup on.
-- Let dry. Powder and remove excess.

When ready to use, just peel from the glass -- use a razor blade if you have it to prevent curl-ups on the edges that will make it harder to apply.

The powder is necessary for several reasons. First, these prosthetics will stick to each other without it. Second, the makeup will adhere better when the surface isn't perfectly slick.

You can apply these via spirit gum, but really, you don't need it. Use what you have. The back will still be slick and smooth from the glass, making it easier to apply, and if you use as adhesive the same goop you used to make it, it will stick better. Yes, you can use Elmer's for this, too.

Now, return to look at the top image. See the nose, forehead, and chin? That's all direct to skin. And easy easy easy, to get a nasty peeling skin look. The supply list is impossibly simple: Elmer's. Or your peel off masque, if you have it. Me, I stick with Elmer's, because I always have it.

There's several different ways to handle application. You can stretch skin as tight as possible, then apply -- but then you have to hold that skin taut till it drys. This can be a pain, especially if you have to do more than one zombie. Besides, you can get wrinkles other ways, like using tissue, so don't sweat it.

Direct to skin prosthetic rot.

The above picture is the same general method as the preformed prosthetic skin on glass, only direct to skin. This works well for odd areas, areas that might take longer to dry on glass, and areas bigger than the glass you have to work with. It's also relatively fast if you're working a zombie assembly line, as you can apply to one, and be letting it dry while you work on another.

Basic Peeling Skin: This applies to all exposed skin--face, hands, feet, etc.
-- Apply a smooth, relatively thin layer of Elmer's. You want it not entirely clear, but not thick white either. Do it somewhat at random, especially near muscles, so that the peeling is more natural. You don't need to cover the entire area.
-- Let dry. For thinner peels, stop at this step.
-- Add another layer. Let dry.
-- Yep, one more layer, focusing on the middles of the sections and ignoring the edges. It's necessary for details.
-- Let dry.
-- Gently start to peel at the edges, just to get loose skin flaps. Don't get carried away.
-- Using fingernails (the safest), start to tug and tear in the thicker areas. Create holes, slices -- whatever look you want. You can even fake bullet holes this way, just make sure they aren't on the head -- after all, that kills a zombie, and dead undead aren't any fun!!

Nasty Blisters:
Once you've popped a hole in the glue skin, use a little more glue and run it inside the deepest parts of the hole to puff it out. Apply a spare amount, you don't want it to run.
-- Let dry.
-- Repeat, if necessary, to get it puffy.
-- If you want, add a glue spot for a gross pustule in the center. Repeat to get the height you want.
-- If you're going for really gross, now's the time to make pus. Since you'll be dealing with blood, which is already sticky, you can just tint the glue and use it for pus, and while it won't run, it'll be nastily effective.
-- Elmer's is tintable. Use your cream makeup, and mix in some green, as well as some of the yellow from the bruise kit. Mix carefully, and apply with the end of a paintbrush to the blister.

After that, all that remains is the makeup.

More Detailed Effects: You can fake nearly all commercial appliances with this method, for next to nothing in cost, except for things like intestines falling out of the abdomen.
-- Start with the layer of Elmer's again. Have torn pieces of toilet paper or paper towel ready to go: you don't want to try tearing after your hands are slimy. If you're lucky, you can have your victim working on this.
-- Don't let dry this time. Instead, start to apply the tissue to the goop. Scrunch, crinkle at will.
-- If you want to be able to cut sections open for wounds, leave big, deep folds in your tissue, and make sure there's a good amount folded into the space, no matter how small you crunch down the fold.
-- Seal over it with more glue.
-- Let dry.
-- Add another layer of glue. This will give you a good, stiff base to work with, and will help protect the tissue when you get to gore, keeping it from disintigrating on you.
-- Once dry, tear or cut the folds into the shape you want. If you plan your folds carefully, you can do bite marks, claw marks, blade cuts, bullet holes -- imagination is your only limit. Even slashed throats can be done this way.

Again, all that remains is the makeup. God is in the details, and those details will matter with these faked prosthetics. Done right, they'll look far better than commercial appliances. Done wrong, they'll still look more natural than latex sheets.

Here's a place where your theatrical blood is well used. The torn spots will be stiff, and not precisely natural. Once the makeup and blood are applied, however, they'll soften down to realism. And the theatrical blood gels and dries, so it won't disintigrate your hard work.

Next time: On to the makeup!!

Movie Review: Dead and Breakfast

Oh. My. God. SciFi aired Dead and Breakfast the other night. I'd heard about this movie for a while, but never found it on DVD or on any other channel. So no, I've never managed to see this uncut. Yet. I WILL own this movie.

After all, I've got a huge collection of zombie films, both originals and remakes. Clearly, I need to add more.

I damn near hurt myself laughing. This is Zombie Cheese splatter comedy at its finest, along the lines of Army of Darkness meets Peter Jackson's Dead/Alive (BrainDead for the lucky folks over the pond).

Over the top ridiculous gore (gouting fountains of blood, anyone?), a script that never once took itself too seriously, zombies galore, David Carradine, prerequisite characters that do Really Odd Things, like the vegetarian that apparently can speak any and all languages, as well as ASL, and the one who, when the shit hits the fan, starts building her own shotguns because they have shells but nothing to fire them (played by Carradine's niece), the completely nerdy and slightly creepy guy, the mysterious stranger, David Fucking Carradine!, and a country singer/gas station attendant that narrates the movie, both before and after his zombiedom.

The opening credits alone are awesome -- black, white, and red drawings, very comic book style -- and these show up throughout the movie as it shifts from one setting to another. The actors aren't complete unknowns, and some may even be familiar to viewers.

Look for deliberate Cheese Moments: zombies doing the Thriller Dance, an Evil Dead poster, and a Buffy reference.

It ain't Oscar-winning cinema, and it's not for true horror fans, or those that believe all zombie movies should be deadly serious, but it's a damn fun way to spend two hours.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Zombies, for Fun and Profit

"That's too much work!" Oh, please.
"It's too expensive to do it right." Give me a break.

Next in Pooka's Craft Circle: Zombies, for Fun and Profit

It doesn't take a lot of work (just a bit of practice and willing victims -- I mean, subjects), or a lot of money to turn out some quality zombification. Unfortunately, I will have to wait for some of my victims to send on their own photos (and you know how slow the mail is when graveyards are involved), because my own cameraperson was apparently inconvenienced by gravity and oxygen, thus leaving me with a precious few pictures to illustrate my point.

I'll help show you how to do it CHEAP, and still get a quality look that will hold up even if your event is in daylight.

Forget most commercial accessories. You only need a few of these. The "realistic" FX tricks come through items you probably already have around your house. Ready? Let's go ...


Cream Makeup:
(Greasepaint is complicated, requires powder-setting or it Will Not Dry and smudges everywhere, and is more expensive. Avoid it.)
(Optional colours with a bigger budget: brown, yellow, blue. Different types of zombies need different colours, obviously.)

Detail Makeup:
A bruise kit -- These cream makeups can be bought separately, as a kit of four, or as part of a prosthetic kit, which is obviously more expensive. DO choose costume makeup for this, or you won't get the same effect. They also have a different consistency from the cream tubes, so I consider them necessary.
The colours required: yellow, red-brown, brown, black (or deep purple).
An assortment of makeup pencils for deep lines (brown, black, green, purple, you can get these under a buck each).

Blood: If you do buy commercial, make sure to get theatrical blood that will dry as well as mouth blood or blood capsules. They're not interchangeable, and you Do Not Want regular theatrical blood in your mouth or eyes.

Blood, however, is easy enough to make. If you do go for making your own, I'd still recommend picking up a tube of theatrical blood. The homemade stuff is sticky, and while edible, can get really messy over the course of your zombie stomp. There's a huge number of blood recipes on the net, so I won't post any of them here. Has a pretty good list of multiple methods for homemade blood.

Home Supplies: Many of these are optional according to how decayed your zombie is and the look you're going for.

For Texture:
Rotting Skin:
Oatmeal -- two piles, whole and well-crumbled but not powdered.
Breadcrumbs -- Different types create different effects. If using oatmeal as well, try Panko breadcrumbs for a finer texture.
Birdseed -- also great for road rash, without the weight of rock. If you have a mixed wild seed bag, it's perfect. Just take out the sunflower seeds (you can use them elsewhere).

Tears, rips, and further texture:
Toilet paper -- only use the cheap stuff you don't want anywhere near your butt. 2-ply ultrasoft is a pain to use. If it's all you have, opt for ...
Paper towels -- Type and quality doesn't matter.
Cotton balls -- just pull and tear till you get closer to a sheet of fluff. Also good for bloody hair sliding free of skin.

Peeling, shedding skin: A lot of people have latex allergies these days -- my method avoids that.
A Peel-Off Face Masque -- is great for rotten, peeling skin. If you don't already have it, don't worry about buying it, unless one of your victims has sensitive skin.
Elmer's School Glue -- yes, good old Elmer's. Come on, you remember doing this back in school. You spread the stuff on your skin, wait for it to dry, peel it off. Here, it serves multiple purposes. Not only do you get the peeling flesh, but you can build up several layers, then tear it open in select spots to create gaping congealed holes and open blisters, plus, it serves to attach your texture items to the skin.
***Yes, it's skin safe. You wouldn't be wearing it long enough for it to be a problem, IF it was a problem. I have ridiculously sensitive skin, and I sat all day yesterday while doing makeup for a Halloween event with my hand gored up, using Elmer's as the base for the makeup, and was just fine.
*** Yes, cream makeup goes on just fine over it --yes, I said OVER, clear zombie skin is not convincing -- and mostly stays put unless you start rubbing it off deliberately. Once the cream sets, you're fine, AND the colour will then come off with the glue, making cleanup easier.

Application: Not required unless they have a *, but useful if you already have them.
Sea sponge for makeup -- good for mottling without a lot of effort and time.
* Cosmetic sponges -- you don't want to use fingers. Not only is it messy, it won't apply well and will be streaky.
Wide-holed textured makeup sponge -- these are usually a sort of mesh, but you can fake one if you look around the house. Awesome for mildew spots on your zombie. Personally, I'd consider this a requirement, but that's just me.
Saran Wrap -- bunched up, this can take the place of other sponges when used to apply makeup, or to further texture the glue skin.
* Q-Tips, small makeup applicators, detail brushes (soft paintbrushes work) -- necessary around eyes, and for facial creases unless you're really good at small detail with a big sponge.
* Powder puff or big makeup brush -- needed to apply powder.
* Cornstarch baby powder -- I prefer cornstarch over regular. Will help set makeup, especially in heat, will further pale up skin, and can help give your zombie a dusty look.

The Costume:
For a zombie, the costume is already in your closet. Everyone has a few items that they don't care about getting destroyed. Here's the time to make good use of them.
Always remember to tear, not cut. Cuts are too clean, you want to look like you've been in a fight for your life, and lost. Seams are a good place to make your outfit look worn and ragged. Scrape, slice (to start a hole) and tear, use sandpaper -- just make it worn. DO NOT get carried away with this. A little goes a long way, and too much looks silly. Make it believable damage.
Also, when doing your cutting and tearing, DO IT WHILE THE COSTUME IS ON. Otherwise, you may end up with holes in places that are awkward and may break local decency laws or dress codes. Not that a zombie would worry about that, but you know.
Important: Keep in mind that any visible skin will need makeup as well. This includes hands, the neck, and anything else clothing isn't covering. Plan accordingly for the amount of time you want to spend doing the makeup.
Lose a shoe, if you can stand being partially barefoot. A zombie isn't going to stop and put a shoe back on if it comes off, and it looks good. Don't forget to tear holes in your sock if you do (and if you're wearing them). Toes don't really need makeup, they just need dirt, and lots of it.

The last thing needed is simple: Dirt. Yes, dirt. Make sure it's clean, free of any animal debris (ew), but doesn't have to be free of assorted sticks, grass, and other plant life. This also adds texture and realism, especially if your zombie just crawled from its grave.

-- Grind some dirt into clothes, getting it as filthy as possible.
Mix mud. This covers a multitude of cheap sins, including too new clothing, means you don't need a wig (Yes, rub the mud in your hair -- it washes out easily, saving you from trying to colour it), and skin areas you didn't have time to do makeup on. Plus, it crumbles nicely, and creates more texture.

Mixing mud: Go for wet. Really wet. Standing water should be in your bucket. Then you can dig the mud out, and it's easier to apply.
Mud dries lighter, however, and you may want your zombie to stay looking, well ... moist. Mix your mud, then, with your liquid half and half between water and corn syrup or vegetable oil. A corn syrup mixture will be stickier, of course, while vegetable oil will have a slimier texture.

Notice what is missing from the supply list. There's no liquid latex, no spirit gum, no appliances or prosthetics. You don't need em. If you've got the budget, buy some liquid latex anyway -- if you have time to go with your budget, you can make your own custom appliances on a sheet of glass to cut down the time actually putting the zombification into action, using the texture goodies mentioned above in the list. But you don't NEED it.


The above zombies were created using only the supplies I've mentioned in the list. That's it. No commercial prosthetics. Granted, their makeup jobs looked much better before they went a little crazy with the mud (note: never let your creations do their own mud job).

You can see some of the peeling and rotten skin in this picture without a closeup, but trust me, it was Seriously effective in person.

NEXT TIME: How put those supplies into action.

Happy hauntings.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Glad I kept my supplies for 20 years ...

So, on short notice, having NOT been reminded by a very naughty Thing 1, I have to spend the rest of tonight practicing to channel my inner Tom Savini.

Yep. Tomorrow I get hauled out to a haunted hayride set to do the makeup for the "Thriller" zombie squad.

If all the goobers involved had reminded me earlier, I could have given them an appropriate shopping list. Now, I'm going to be scavenging in the kitchen for oats and breadcrumbs and trying to get rice cooked for some maggots to go in fleshy wounds. I really hope I have a few bottles of Elmers around, because apparently they forgot to get one of the absolutely important special effects basics -- liquid latex. Nor do they have more than a few measly prosthetics. Kids -- eesh.

Now I gotta get creative.

Man, it's been AGES since I've had to do anything like this.

At least since part of their routine is the Thriller dance, I only have to do SERIOUS makeup jobs on those in the front. Problem is, the distance from the crowd will only be 2-3 feet at some points, so it's got to be very well done for those kids.

Mercifully, I fully believe in one of Savini's classic theories: You can never have too much blood.

Clever, Crafty, and Frugal Cards

Ah, the clearance aisles and bins. I love em. Love love love them. My kids jokingly (I HOPE they're joking!) call me the Clearance Queen. I can spend hours digging through them for something useful, and while I may not use them at the time, they always get used eventually.

We make cards because we love to. We know that they'll mean more to the person receiving them, and there's something gratifying about doing it yourself and making it personal, rather than just grabbing something off a rack.

Card making and scrapping can get expensive, what with all the neat and nifty tools, special papers and embellishments, and all the other goodies. But they don't HAVE to be expensive. Here's some tips and tricks for not only shopping those clearance sections, but how to use the treasures found. This also applies to garage sales, estate sales, online auctions, and anywhere else you can find a really good bargain.

-- Never forget the precious finds at dollar stores. They always have wrapping paper, ribbon, cards, and gift bags that you can cut up and alter, and for a buck each, you can't beat that. (It's also a GREAT place to look for fancy tissue paper.)

-- Look for pads of writing paper with nifty designs. You get multiple pages of coordinated designs that can be cut out and applied elsewhere.

-- Look for cheap stationary. Even if it's just paper and envelopes that you find on sale, they coordinate and make a good base for embellishing to make them your own.

-- Basic notecard sets don't have to stay that way. When you can get 4-8 for a buck or so, you're already ahead, and then you don't have to worry about finding the right size envelope once you're done altering the card, and you don't even have to fold the cardstock!

-- Shop outside your crafting comfort zone. You may just make cards and not scrapbook, but that doesn't mean that clearance price scrapbook kits aren't perfect to alter into cards. You may not make jewelry, but check their clearance for charms and beads and fibers you can add to your projects.

-- Seasonal craft items can be grabbed after holidays for next to nothing, and they don't take up much space if you shop carefully. Just make a box for each season, and tuck them away till you're ready to work.

-- Lace, buttons, and ribbons are always on clearance somewhere. Check remnant bins as well. These are also easy to find at estate sales, and you could just wind up with some fabulous vintage pieces and antiques out of the deal.

-- Dig, dig, dig. Clearance sections are rarely neat, and if you just skim, you're going to miss things. Take time -- it's like digging for buried treasure.

-- Then go back later. Often, clearance items that haven't cleared out are marked down even further. Patience is your friend.

-- If you MUST have something not on clearance or sale, look around before buying. There are always coupons, and many places will accept competitor coupons, and not every store sells at list price. Some mark up, and others mark down.

-- When using the internet to shop, always shop around. Comparing prices is just the start. Shipping is where you can get taken to the cleaners if you aren't careful. Always check shipping prices and add this to your purchases, then do the same at other places, and go with the cheapest. It may take time, but your wallet will thank you. In addition, many places offer free shipping over a certain price, so if you don't need something immediately, wait until you can spend the money to pick up other items you want all at once.

-- Be wary of "too good to be true" online auction prices. The price of the actual item may make you reach for your wallet, but check shipping carefully. You may end up paying three times the actual list price once shipping is added in.

-- Get on mailing lists. For Joann's, you not only get paper coupons in the mail, but they send coupons via email for not only the store, but the website. Michaels will only take paper coupons, not printed ones, from other stores, so use ones you print at the store that issued them, and save the mailed paper for other places. Hobby Lobby doesn't mail coupons, you have to check their site weekly, and print them out. They're always different, and not always general, but they're worth looking at.

-- Consider style as well as price. A particular item might be more expensive than you want to pay, but if it's unique, or rare, and can't generally be found anywhere but from the creator, it might just be worth it to have something that will make the recipient boggle over how neat it is. "Wow, I've never seen that before!!" is a great response.

-- Walk outside the box, and look around. Anything, and I mean anything, can be used for neat and clever crafting. Dove Promises wrappers are perfect for cards -- just smooth out the foil, and there's a neat shiny saying inside. Candy wrappers are a great start, with nicely coloured and printed foils. Hershey, with their speciality Kisses, has some fabulous foils (look for the Cherry Cordial Creams -- the foil is red and black tiger stripe!!!). Security envelope liners can be fascinating papers -- save them!

Now that you have all these items, what do you do with them?

-- For a neat card set, look at those stationary pads. Many of them have multiple images per page, all in easy to cut shapes. You can die-cut or use punches, or edging scissors to give them a more interesting look. And don't forget that the paper itself coordinates, so cut it up too, and find a way to use it.

With very little time and money spent, you can get an entire set of matching notecards to either use, or package up with a pen and envelopes and give as a gift.

-- Don't like boring gift bags? No problem. Buy cheap plain bags (or origami fold your own bags out of 12x12 or wrapping paper, just make sure the paper is square), then embellish as you like with your goodies. If you've made your own card, embellish the bag to match! You'd spend ridiculous amounts to get a nice card and bag that matches in a store, especially for embellished sets.

-- If you have the space, save cardboard boxes, like cereal or other small containers (not shipping boxes, though those are wonderfully reusable as well). Then, when you're getting a gift set of stationary together, find a box that's just the right size. Decorate it to match as well, and your gift just got even better.

-- Start your seasonal cards early. Make cards whenever you have the time, and save them for when you need them. It never hurts to have a ready stock of generic cards that you can add the appropriate text to as needed. Same for birthday cards: just design some generic birthday, male, female, and kid cards, and you're never at a loss when a birthday takes you by surprise. The plastic boxes designed for CDs (which you can often find on sale) are perfect for storing standard size cards. Just make appropriate dividers for each type, and finding them is easy when you need them.

You don't have to spend a fortune to create quality, personal cards and gifts. It's the effort and love you put into making them that counts, not what you spent on your supplies.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wubba wubba wubba -- what?

DG is off and running to a rig again. While the timing wasn't great for kid reasons, we need the money desperately, so it's copacetic. Of course, he got the phone call while he was cooking dinner, and was told to leave Now. They gave him an hour to finish up and get repacked.

Thing 1 just turned 15 this Monday. Who's feeling old? Yes, yes, that's me (and probably a dozen or so folks that knew her when she was a baby). Today was Goblin Day at her school, and thus full costumes were allowed (barring the usual Bible Belt rules of no cross-play (no guys dressing as girls -- but of course, if a girl dressed as a male character, they wouldn't say a bloody thing -- UGH), had to stay in school dress code, if you wanted to wear a hat or partial mask you had to pay for the privilege, etc. Those of you with weak hearts don't want to see the pics when I get them posted. Trust me.

I have little skin left on my fingers from finishing her wings. At least now they're definitely asbestos-skinned towards heat. I so love a good glue gun. Or even a crappy one. Mmm, adhesive!!

And the dd with her wings for her Halloween costume.


My computer is definitely temporarily D-E-D. Half Life 2 was not its friend, and the video card has gone kaboom. Unless anyone out there has a spare PCI-E video card they aren't using and don't mind sending along, I'm stuck without a machine for quite a while.

The fridge, which had croaked, I managed to kick (and had the bruise to show for it) back into something resembling function, but not function that I would trust. However, our doctor neighbor that has saved my butt a few times on weekends with meds is moving (and this makes me not happy) and was getting rid of everything she could. Networking is your friend. So I asked about the side-by-side fridge in their garage.

It's now sitting in my garage, waiting for some muscle to help me switch them out. Free. Frankly, it's much nicer than ours EVER was. Free.

I also managed to get bunk beds from them, and while they don't have mattresses, there's at least one set of box springs, and they're old sturdy hardwood bunk beds that can be assembled separately. Both Things have decided they no longer want to sleep on futons, so this was good timing. Just have to figure out a sleeping surface before we put them in their rooms.

The weather has been nice, finally. 50s or so at night. I finally needed something other than just a sheet last night for the first time, and the AC wasn't even on. About time, considering our electric bills. It's actually 60* out there right now, at 11 am. Shiny. Of course, this led to DG leaving windows open, which led to me and tubby cat not being able to breathe. This fresh air stuff, clearly, it's not good for you.

Still out of ridiculous amounts of medication, which isn't good for me either. At least I still have some Lidoderm patches, and my seizure meds, and my bp drugs finally, but everything else -- newp. And of course none of the ones I need are on WalMart's $4 formulary. Figures, huh?

Ah, the familiar sounds of annoyed barking in the backyard. Zoe's after the squirrels again. She LOOOOOVES chasing squirrels. The squirrels? Not so much love. We tried to tell her about the mob of Russian squirrels mauling that other dog, but she didn't seem to care too much. The dog is also much happier now that the weather is cooler, and no longer minds going outside. She's like me, she hates heat. It's odd, because it's not like she has long fur to deal with -- she's got the sleek Heeler coat, on that Corgi body -- but even the idea of going outside when it was 100* made her whimper and try to refuse. Now, she'll stay outside for hours, just to get to chase the squirrels as they race back and forth above her head.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

48 Hours

Just hit 48 hours with No Nicotene At All. No cigarettes for a while -- heck, I couldn't breathe to begin with, much less if I tried to smoke. Bleh!

Not even the patches. None. Nada. Zip. No Nicotene. Of course, no patches is because we can't afford em.

No one is dead ... yet.

I'm still feeling the twitches and wanting a cigarette, but it's pretty much all psychological now, and not physical craving. My brain wants a cigarette. Habit wants a cigarette. Body doesn't NEED one, so this is progress.

.... still waiting for the "you'll feel SO much better once you quit" part, though. Clearly, the cigarettes had nothing to do with my being unable to regularly breathe through my nose -- ah, I love ragweed. With the pleurisy, I'm still hacking and wheezing, in fact worse than I did when I was smoking normally and not sick.

And worst of all, my nose, which is horribly over-sensitive, now REALLY works. I can smell things from blocks away. This is not good when a cat does something foul in a litter box. And food ... oh man, eating is difficult with the nose. ANY smell that isn't Totally Perfect, and I can't eat it. Seafood is now totally out, because even normal fishy smells are too strong for my nose to handle.

I'd forgotten how sensitive my nose was, and forgot that was part of WHY smoking was "good" -- the honker didn't sniff as much.

Heck, I gagged opening my ink box today. All the chemical-y smells of the ink, in an enclosed plastic box ... yep, almost hurled.

It DOES get better ... right???

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Scrapbookers are N.U.T.S

My mother was looking for an apple stamp, a very tiny one. I found two, plus bought her one of the long Sizzix dies, the complete train one (my dad does model trains in a big big way).

I handmade the bag they all went in, origami gift bag folding (thank you, Karen Thomas). I didn't glue it down, so my mother, who has to reverse-engineer projects, could use it as a template for folding more. And of course, I made the card (Autumn's Daughter, in the card gallery).

I also sent one for my dad -- his birthday was yesterday, Mom's was in late August, but I had to wait till I found all the pieces I wanted for her.

Did she say anything about the presents? Or the bag? Or that I remembered her thing about wanting templates and instructions?


What's she focused on?

How to get the birthday card into a scrapbook page.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Stamping On Tissue

Tissue paper can be fantastic for layering in your projects, but there are certain tricks to make it come out correctly.

In some ways, tissue can be used like vellum, however, most of the time it won't have the same level of transparency. Always test BEFORE permanently affixing it over existing images on your project, because once tissue gets adhesive on it and goes down, getting it off neatly is next to impossible.

Important things first — don't use tissue paper that will bleed. Not only is this important for the inks, but even more important when it comes to applying it to your project. Even gel medium will cause tissue colour to run, even glue stick, so use a stable tissue. While this might be a look you like, when using a stamp on it, it becomes a blurry disaster.

You certainly don't need to stick with plain and boring white tissue. Just check to make sure that the colour you want to use won't bleed by spritzing lightly with water — or purchase tissue that is clearly marked as colour-fast. There are so many options out now, that there are no limits to what you can do. Tissue can even have sparkles, glitter, and confetti worked into the paper itself, and can add some wonderful texture and extra dimension.

ALWAYS put an absorbant surface behind the tissue when stamping. Non-absorbant can cause bleeding and smudges, and the ink WILL bleed through to the surface below.

Permanent and dye inks are the best for stamping on tissue. Pigment inks tend to smudge when applying the tissue to the project, unless you're particularly brave and want to emboss, in which case slow-drying ink is a necessity — tissue is extremely absorbant, and ink will dry faster than you expect.

You CAN emboss on tissue paper, but it's very easy to scorch and burn, and without a static pack, it's pretty much just a mess. If you want to emboss, make sure you dust across the tissue before you stamp with an anti-static pack, or even a dryer sheet. Be careful when removing the excess, and use a fine paintbrush to get stray particles of powder off the paper. In addition, keep your heat tool a good distance from the paper — tissue scorches quite quickly — and don't overheat the embossing powder, or it will melt entirely into the tissue.

Tissue will generally stick to the stamp when stamping, so hold down the tissue with a finger, and pull the stamp up evenly without rocking with the other hand.

All ink colours work, but darker colours tend to give the best results, and are more dramatic. Subtle colours can get lost in the project once you continue to add layers.

If you intend to further colour the image, chalks work well, as do pencils. This isn't always best done after the tissue stamped image is applied, since some adhesives (such as gel medium or decoupage) will make the tissue LESS absorbant. Inks, markers, or paint will run and blur, unless you add these AFTER you've added the image to your project and the adhesive has dried, and even then you may get some running of the colour.

Quick Tips for Distress-Free Distressing

- When distressing heavier cardstock, spritz it with water first. This helps break the surface tension some and will help prevent tears.

- Start in the center of the sheet you want to distress. Form a ring with one hand, thumb and index finger, and leave a hole. Stuff a bit of the very center of the paper into that hole with your other index finger. Then crumple. Again, this helps break surface tension, and helps to ensure fewer tears, and easier crumpling.

- Lightly sand peaks of crumples, then ink them, for darker zones. Leave a few just sanded, or plain, for great variety.

- Don't limit yourself to sandpaper. Nail files work well. When using sandpaper, vary the strength of the grain for different effects -- very fine leaves few marks, and takes off less paper, while medium leaves a rougher grain and takes off more paper.

- While you can use a hot iron to re-flatten your paper for use, you can also heat it up with your heat gun, then press it under something heavy. This will give you more texture, and a less flattened surface to work with.

- Direct-To-Paper inking is great for edges, but can be pretty intense for larger areas. Use a stencil or stippling brush, pounce it on the inkpad, then work it over the larger space for a softer aged look.

- Household bleach is a great way to get a sunbleached look for certain areas. You can also use dishwasher detergents (liquid) with bleach to get an even more varied effect. It's also thicker, and easier to work with, and less worry about splatters on your work area and clothing. Just remember that any bleach product will work differently on different papers, so test it out first.

- If you really like a paper, but the pattern is too bright for your project, and you don't want to wait for sunbleaching, use your scanner! Scan the page in, and adjust the brightness and contrast till you get the faded look you want, then print on your paper choice.

- When doing a distressed look with paint, remember that colour is your friend. Don't use a single colour, use a minimum of two, preferably three. Petroleum jelly, applied in a thin coat on top of your base coat, will leave a wonderful distressed look when your second coat is on. When the paint is dry, just wipe the jelly off. It's faster and easier than sanding!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Extinction

It did not suck.

Better review when I'm more coherent, hopefully, but it did not suck. If you're a zombie dork enough like me to have enjoyed the first one, you'll like the third.

And Milla's my new hero, right up there with Angelina, both of whom regularly do 90% or more of their own stunts (IE, the stunts that legal and insurance will allow them to do).

HOWEVER ... The CGI crew should be taken out and SHOT, repeatedly, starting from the toes up, for one horrendously overdone effect that you are smacked in the face with time and time again.

Every single close-up of Alice is Photoshop Airbrush in action. After only the second close-up, I was already sick to death of the smudge brush. It's that overdone

Queen Kat Designs -- Challenges With Prizes!

You still have time left to join the celebration party as I join Queen Kat Designs, not only as part of the Design Team, but as one of their new stamp designers!

All QKD clear acrylic stamps and stamp sets are ON SALE AT 25% OFF for the duration of the party, which ends this Monday, September 24.

Come to the Queen Kat Designs Blog to join the fun! Challenges have been posted for every day, and Friday's is the last to be posted. Details on points you can earn are posted in the blog, and you still have until Monday to enter for any of the five challenges posted during the week.

All entries are due in the gallery in their respective albums by Monday, Sept. 24th by 12am PST (midnight).

Winner will be announced Tuesday or Wednesday.

Don't miss out on the grand prize by letting the deadline slip away!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dog:2 Human: 0

So, I took Zoe with me for gas. While I was paying ... that little stinker climbed into MY seat and was HONKING THE HORN at me.

The cashier absolutely LOST it when he looked out at the noise ... and saw a DOG in the driver's seat honking the horn.

You know the rule: Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Third is deliberate. FOUR TIMES she honked at me to hurry up. Oy!!


The guilty barker ...

And our Sonic drive-in is The Awesomeness. We went there after playing on the Pet Playground by the gas station (it's REALLY neat, has a bunch of pet-washing stalls with lots of options, like even skunk stink removal, and is set up specifically to wash pets, plus two HUGE playgrounds, one for small dogs, one for larger dogs, set up like obstacle courses with a big old-style handpump and water bowl. Very neat), and the server brought out a packed MilkBone with Zoe's cup of water. Neato!


Look at those pathetically sad hound-dog eyes!

I swear, I LOVE taking this dog places. Because of her mix (Half Corgi, half Blue Heeler), she CONSTANTLY gets comments, and the staff at all the local pet stores just flip out over her.

.... still awake ...

It's 5 am. I haven't even so much as had a nap.

I wouldn't say I'm wide awake. My body hurts, my eyes hurt, but my brain won't give up for the night and let me go to sleep.

So I came out to the computer ... and ended up having to do a complete system restore to fix whatever eldest dd did to my computer that fried three programs, including Firefox. Child is SO in trouble. This, after losing her cell phone for the SECOND time, because she has no concept of limited minutes. Grrrrrrr.

I hurt. I'm sick and tired of hurting. I know the stupid abcess didn't help, and that it made my nerve block wear off, but geeze .... a few months go by, and I forget how miserable I was before the last nerve block.

And as more time goes by, the symptoms of course get worse, and the blinding brain spike headaches get more frequent, and I reach the point where my head constantly hurts to at least some degree and there's pretty much no relief to be found. And I have to wait until the 7th for my next nerve block -- though I may call this morning and see if they have a cancellation for tomorrow to squeeze me in earlier.

.... and can someone tell me why my "ferocious" Corgi "guardmutt" has decided that the squeaking of my ceiling fan is evil and must be barked at at 4 am? I had to turn the fan OFF to calm her down.

Oh. Look. Shiny!

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Frugal Crafter

Crafters never throw anything away -- we all know it, we're all 'guilty' of it, and most of us drive our families crazy with the resulting cries of "Don't throw that out, I can use it!"

* You know how you're not supposed to keep clear acrylic and polymer stamps in their original packaging? That original packaging is nice and clear, and usually a decent weight as well. Reuse them, don't toss em!
--- Instead of buying page protectors to make shaker pockets for cards and scrapbooking, use the clear leftovers from the polymer stamps.
-- Spread alcohol inks on them, wait for it to dry, then run it through a die-cut machine for translucent embellishments.
-- You can even stamp on them if you use permanent inks! Or use a permanent marker, and layer your journaling over a photo.

* Don't throw out the chipboard/cardboard inserts in sticker packs! Also, for a lot of places where you can buy collage supplies online, they add thin cardboard to make sure the pages they send stay flat. Reuse!
-- The cardboard in sticker packs make fabulous sturdy bookmarks. Either cover with gesso and paint or stamp, or you can cover them with paper and go from there.
-- Larger sheets make great postcard backgrounds.
-- The lighter weight cardboard works just great with most punches, particularly corner rounders, to take away the sharp (and potentially boring) points.
-- Use them as inexpensive cover and back pages for accordian books and cards.

* Empty medication bottles are endlessly useful.
-- Save them for circle templates, and just trace around the smooth bottoms.
-- Use them to store embellishments, like eyelets and brads, or beads.
-- They make great storage for mixed or custom-blended embossing powders.

* Even if you don't garden, you have access to plastic plant flats. Most home improvement stores and garden centers will just give them away, all you have to do is ask.
-- Great storage for wood-mounted rubber stamps. You can put up to two layers per flat. Just cut a sheet of long paper for the bottom (and make sure you wash the flats first!!) and stamp out the matrix for where your stamps will fit so you know where to put them when you're done. You can use cut wood, heavy dowels -- or even cut toilet paper tubes -- to support the layers of flats so that you can stack them.
-- They make good project trays. Line with paper, or leftover cardboard, add aluminum foil or waxed paper, depending on the project, and you have a decent-sized tray that you can carry with you to another room of the house, or safely stack out of the way and cover your project so children and pets don't get into it.

* Paper scraps. Don't throw them away, use them.
-- Thin scraps, and a border punch, and you have coordinating borders for cards and pages.
-- Cut scraps further apart, and use them to make paper quilts and mosaics for cards and embellishments.
-- Run them through a die-cut machine.
-- Use them in your paper punches to create a stock of shapes in patterns and colours that match your projects.
-- Thin scraps can also be used for paper weaving, to create some interesting page elements, or to mimic ribbon behind photos and journaling.
-- Use alphabet stamps on strips for instant titles and greetings.

* Wallpaper sample books. Discontinued wallpaper books can be picked up, usually free, at most places that sell wallpaper. Most of the time, you not only have entire pages in there, but borders and other coordinating papers -- great for cards and scrapbooking.
-- Use sections of one paper for mats, sections of coordinating colours for other layers.
-- Slide a cutting mat behind a page, and use a craft knife to cut out specfic elements. This is great for border papers that just aren't quite perfect to use on a page - too short, or too wide - but you can get embellishments and design elements out of just a few cuts.
-- Another item great for die-cut machines and punches.

* Just because a glass bead is broken, doesn't make it trash. Don't throw it out, just shift from using it on jewelry to using it for embellishments. (Always make sure to file down any sharp edges and points for safety)
-- Beads broken in half can be added to cards and pages as flower centers, eyes, and anywhere you want a sparkly POP.
-- Collect enough broken beads, and use them with strong two-sided tape in place of using the tiny microbeads, or with the microbeads as larger accents of sparkle.

* You don't need to spend a fortune on sandpaper. Odds are, you have plenty of what you need right around the house.
-- Old nail files are great for distressing paper.
-- Nail files will take sharp edges off wire, and smooth out areas where you've cut shanks off buttons and loops off charms.
-- The very fine and buff sides of nail files replace the harder-to-find extremely fine sandpaper, and can be dampened for use with polymer clay, or PMC.
-- An addition to useful nailcare items is saving old nail clippers. They may not cut your nails well anymore, but they'll still snap a shank off a button!

* Cereal boxes don't have to go in the trash, either.
-- Good source of cardboard for projects.
-- Cut off the top, and cut the sides on angles, then cover in paper for instant and coordinating magazine holders (or use them to hold your stencils!)
-- Reseal the top. Cut off the top 2-3 inches, and the bottom 2-3 inches for great horizontal holders for pens, markers, and other accessories.

* "Fun" foam, the cheap sheets usually in the kids section of the craft store, that also come in pre-cut packs. If you have kids, you probably have this stuff around the house.
-- Those pre-cut shapes can make some nice stamps, and some even already have sticky on the back that you can use for mounting!
-- A little bit of double-sided adhesive, and even tiny scraps of the foam can be used in place of buying puff dots for dimensional accents.
-- Why buy shadow stamps, when you can make your own? Increase your stamp collection the easy way. Use an outline stamp (much like the ones QK sells in the store) and permanent ink to stamp onto foam. Cut the foam out along the outline, and mount in whatever way you choose. You now have a shadow stamp that perfectly matches and fits your original image -- two stamps out of one!
-- Use two sheets, or the thicker foam, and you've got a great pad for dry-embossing, or a great pad to put behind the paper you're stamping on.
-- They can also be used as pads to set nail-heads or eyelets.

* Expanded polystyrene -- packing foam. Don't throw it out and create landfill issues, use it.
-- It holds toothpicks great. Use toothpicks, bamboo skewers, whatever, and elevate things that need to dry -- great for painting on polymer clay, or adding mod podge, or any other sealant to pieces.
-- Cut/dig holes the perfect size into the polystyrene to hold your paintbrushes and craft knives.

* Keep a box for "found objects." Train your eyes to look for parts discarded on the ground. Washers, small electronic bits, buttons -- you'll be amazed at what you can find, and then use. This is especially great on vacations, when you can collect shells, river stones, and any other goodies you may find.
-- Padded envelopes that you've received are great for storing these items. Just label each padded mailer ('Beach, 2007,' etc), and you'll always have a supply of unique items for embellishments.

I'm not THAT old ... am I?

Thing 1, the eldest daughter, started HIGH SCHOOL today.

There are no words

I <3 my pain clinic!

SO, as a few of you know, the pain levels have been kicking my butt lately. I noticed that the nasty brain spikes started returning the day after I took my last prednisone and antibiotic, and wondered if it was related.

The pain doc said: "Absolutely." With a dental abcess, and my occipital neuralgia, the pain from the abcess, and the stress of infection and the prednisone, it aggravated the occipital nerve to the point that my last block wore off about a month or two too soon.

I'm scheduled to have needles shoved into my brain yet again on the 7th of September. That was the earliest they could get me in, and they APOLOGIZED for that. COOL!

I asked my pain doc about getting something to take at night, something that would last longer than 2-3 hours, because I'm sick of waking up and having to take more drugs. He did offer a stronger version of my current pain med, but darnit, I'm sick of pills. I have to take way too many on a daily basis as it is. So I asked about patches.

He said the Duralgesis patches aren't any good for acute pain, and they actually have to build up in your system. Then he stopped, and asked if I'd tried the Lidoderm patches. Why, no, no I hadn't.

..... Oh. My. God.

First off, they're huge, so I have to cut them down (which also means I get more usage out of each scrip), since I don't exactly have a big neck. I worried a bit, because I have some adhesive allergies, but the adhesive on these is really, really mild (in fact, it barely wants to stick on the back of my neck, darn hair).

.... And. They. WORK.

Not only do they work, they work directly on the area that HURTS, and doesn't affect the rest of the body. I can still take other pain meds without a problem at the same time. More importantly, they don't screw around with my brain or perception, so I don't feel all drugged up.

AND -- I can use them when my RSD sets off a joint or severe muscular pain elsewhere on my body, with direct to the pain relief.

My husband called earlier to check in after my appointment, and he said I sounded a hundred times better than I did yesterday.

Well, yeah, of course -- I can move my head without whimpering now, and my neck muscles are even loosening up a bit because they aren't clenching over the pain.