Saturday, May 29, 2010

Glass Wall Critter

Project : Glass Wall Critter
Date : Summer/Fall? 2009
Materials : bottle-cap, wire, suction cups, a bell, fabric (2 types), embroidery floss
Tools : pliers, scissors, needle, hand powered drill
Finished Product:

Bottle cap monsters are pretty easy. You take a bottle cap, you put fabric around it. Done. Thine one has only one real modification--
Before you start any fabric stuff, get a drill (or nail and hammer might work?) and poke 2 holds in the bottle cap edge. These are the leg holes so they should be sorta' on the same side, close but not too close. Hip-width. Then, string wire through the wholes. It helps if you have twisted double wire, maybe run a wire up one leg, across the outside of the bottle edge, and down the other. Things like this will help prevent the legs from swinging too much. You want the legs to project out from the edge, not to lay flat against the edge. Laying tape down or hot-gluing the wire that runs between the leg holes might help (I can't remember if I did or not).

Make sure the leg wire has an extra length at the end. Suction cups usually come with hooks- wiggle those off and then wrap the wire around the nub. This should be a secure anchor.

Now cut the fabric. There are few pieces and they're easy to measure by placing a (fresh, different) bottle cap on paper and tracing it.
Fabric 1 :
A circle for the rump. The circumference of the edge split into 2 pieces of "inside" the legs and "outside the legs". Remember that the edges need extra fabric to fold over. Cut strips of fabric long enough to cover the wire legs. Be sure to flare at the end to cover the suction cup nub on top.

Fabric 2 :
Cut a triangle whole's base is the length of the "outside the legs" circumference. Then cut a tiny wedge whose length is the "inside". Those two are the top & bottom of the head.

Sew the leg fabric over the suction cups and up the leg. Sew the "outside the legs" fabric to the rump and then to the legs themselves. Then do the "inside the legs" strip. Now hopefully you have somewhere inside you can anchor an extra length of wire to (the wire between the leg holes?). Cut a single wire line that will exceed the length of the head. This is the antenna. Sew the head fabric on but leave the "nose" open a bit, where the antenna wire pokes out from. We're going to wrap the antenna wire with embroidery floss (keep it at 6 strands for thickness). The way to do this is....

I probably need a picture for this. I'm sure there's a name for it. Make a series of loops/twists. As you go, you'll realize that each loop/twist leaves a "bump" This is fine. The loop/twist... it's... you twist the loop, put the antenna wire in the middle, and then pull the tail of the thread up through the middle of the loop. Enough of these, made close enough together, is how you cover the wire. Remember to put a bell at the end of the antenna (before you cover it). Now close the nose. Done!

Thoughts : Very cute, very easy monster. This has to be one of the worst written Process sections on my blog so far though.... Sturdy wire legs and the suction cups make it easy to place and post. The bell is cute and the little ring of the bell makes it playful. A fun toy to have on the desk. Can stand easily on the ground due to the cups as it can on windows. The nose could sometimes hold a pencil/pen, but not very sturdy like. At Christmas I had it hold a candy cane so I guess it's not that weak.

Despite such a crummy Process section, this is one of the projects I actually recommend someone tries. Not that anyone reading this is very interested in making the projects I detail (who the hell is reading this anyway?) but if one were to attempt a project this has a good rewarding to easy-to-make ratio.

All the office peons were trapped behind glass. What was it there for, no one knew. It was large enough to act like a wall but served none- and we do mean none of a wall's purposes. We weren't to lean on it. We weren't to hang stuff from it. We weren't to write on it. It didn't block sight or sound. It was simply this.... obstruction. A symbol of the cages we were trapped in.

Which is why I made a creature to perch so clearly upon the wall. A little bell to ring to make sure you saw it there. A single antenna to extend, like a slender middle finger, and say "Fuck You" with.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Light-Bulb Raptor

Project : Light Bulb Raptor
Date : Fall 2009?
Materials : 1 lightbulb, melted red crayon, fabric (2 major, 2 minor), thread, yarn, wire, chain, stuffing, 4 beads
Tools : pliers, hammer, needle, scissors
Finished Product:

Part 1 : Lightbulb.
So you take a lightbulb. Then you get a hammer and you smack it a couple times. No, not on the glass part. What you're doing is trying to chip the very bottom of the lightbulb where it screws into the socket- see, that part is glass down there too. You've got to chip the very sturdy & solid glass at the bottom of the bulb enough for you to get in there with pliers and finish the job. Knock out all the glass at the bottom, reach in and pull out the inner parts with pliers, and then clean out the inside. I don't know, but I assume that the white coating is bad for you. I assume the whole thing is bad for you. I tend to use a damp paper towel. Eventually I need to rince it with water, but I leave the used water out to evaporate and toss whatever it dried up in away (rather then dump it down the sink. Cracking and cleaning out lightbulbs is fun and mildly therapeutic, in my opinion. I often will empty a light bulb (once it's dead) for the fun of it, even if I don't have a project in mind.

Part 2 : Crayons.
I used melted crayon wax (red of course) to cover the raw end of the bulb, where I opened it. If you are only going to melt crayons once or twice (who could possibly stop at that??) then make little meth-head like spoons out of wire and tinfoil to hold the melted crayon over a candle with. If you're going to do it more (and you shooooould), invest in a basic metal ladle- I got a pair at a cooking store and have been exceptionally happy with my purchase. I also have one of those magnifying-glass/gator clip assistans that will hold the ladle over the candle for me. How cool is that? Anyway, I poored tiny bits of crayon in at a time and spun the bulb. As you can see, a couple drops slipped down but I'm happy more didn't spill. Less is more.

Part 3 : Fabric.
So I had this awesome bulb that looked mildly bloody. I sewed a tight fabric sleeve around it in red from which to build on. Realizing that making it the mouth/opening into some creature would just look too inappropriate, I drape a creature over it. First just the curved back in blue, with two blue extensions hanging down for legs eventually. Then a blue extension for the top of the snout. Then two slivers of white for the lips. Then a long white strip for under the throat. Now it's time to sew and wire the mouth. I can't remember if I sewed the wire down to the body fabric or to the red mouth fabric first. Always attach the wire to the fabric directly! Then I attached the fabric to the fabric. The head is done.

Cut white fabric for the inner thigh and sew up. As you're doing so, run a wire through and leave the "ends" of the thigh loose- we'll close them after we do the chicken legs. For the legs, take basic strips of gold fabric and twist them around the leg. Then take a thick strand of yarn and do a sparse twist around the leg. Then use pale tan (and hopefully mildly invisible) sewing thread (not embroidery floss!) to hold it all in place. Once the legs are done, go back and close up the thigh-- you should be able to tuck the ragged end of the chicken legs under the thigh fabric for a cleaner close. Add a pair of black beads for claws (I didn't have enough for the hind fingers sadly)

Now consider the tail. Note that even now with the very posable legs the creature can't actually stand. It's unbalanced unsurprisingly! So find a nice length of weighty chain. Simple rocks/rice stuffing wont work because it'll puddle incorrectly. The chain is a heavy weight all the way down. Hook that to the body (attaching to the wire in the legs for a good anchor), wrap with stuffing, and then cut fabric to cover it. Sew it all down and you're done.

Thoughts :
Cute! Super cute! I don't know why, but it's cute despite having a gaping wound as if a lightbulb had been shoved into it's gut. This took a comparatively quick time to make. One evening to gut the bulb and coat it. And then two evenings worth of work for the sewing (I think... this was a while ago....). I received several comments from the people at work about it- it's one of the most popular pieces so far. The tight fitting of the head/jaw wire really helps I think. The wide mouth is also intriguing- I often try for a "wedge" shaped head but so rarely succeed like I did here.

So the tail twists... so what. That's what happens when you pull your fabric to line up rather then cutting the patterns correctly in the first place.

At work I in theory used it to store a single pen. The bulb opening was too narrow for more then one pen/pencil... the mouth could hold one as well.... overall, far more good looking then it is practical.
A co-worker's young son was quite taken by the beast-y. The father even inquired the next day at work as to how one could make it. Imagine that! A young lad not normally given to the 'feminine' arts was so inspired by my critter he actually wanted to learn to sew so he too could make one! Thrilling! What better compliment is there?

Alas, while paper was cut before fabric there was no way to transmit the 'pattern'. How can you explain something that was constructed via a feeling and tugging of fabric? This is one of the most non-replicable creatures I've made due to the melding of bulb and fabric and wire. And so I wrung my hands and made vague mutterings and provided nothing useful. Typical. An excellent opportunity lost.