13 Days of Halloween – The Big Spook

13 days of halloween

You might have noticed little random images at the end of the last 12 blog posts.  They were sneak peaks for this.  This is the grand finale for my 13 Days of Halloween series.

It is the biggest, most complicated and detailed art piece that I have ever done.  It has taken me two months, and I have kept it a secret from everyone except my boyfriend Tom.  I suck at secrets, and it has been torture!

Instead of the usual how-I-did-it build up, I’m just going to post the final piece.  Here it is.

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I am absolutely in love with it.  I can see ten million mistakes and things that I would have done differently, but I am really pleased with it.

There are 41 “pop culture” Easter eggs – most of them witch- or magic-themed.  How many can you spot?  I’ll post the answers in a few days.

Here’s a short gif showing the progress.


This piece also triggers a new phase in my store – which you’ll hear all about in seven days, so keep an eye out for that.

What do you think?  Any feedback or critiques?  How many of the Easter eggs can you spot?


13 Days of Halloween – Bats

13 days of halloween

October 22nd was my birthday.  And of the many gifts I received, one of my favourites was this one from my boyfriend Tom.

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It’s a 3D printing pen, and it came with all kinds of goodies, including a whole bunch of filament (there was actually more than this, I took the picture after I’d been playing with it a bit already), some templates, an instruction manual, an opportunity to get more filament, a stand and two finger guards.  As well as a plug and a power cable.  It also came with a sheet of clear plastic, but that’s impossible to photograph.

It took a while to comprehend the instructions and figure out how the pen works, but now that I know, it’s relatively straight forward.  When you plug it in, you can select what filament you’re using.  This pen works with both PLA and ABS filament – the filament that it came with it is PLA.

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Once you’ve selected that you can select one of three speeds – which you can change at any point…

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..and then when you confirm those settings it starts to heat up.  You can see the temperature as it rises, which is pretty cool.  When the green light comes on…

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…you can insert the filament in the end.

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It will take a few seconds for the filament to reach the nozzle – depending on your speed of course.  Once it reaches the nozzle, and the heat, it starts to extrude from the nib.  You’ll have a few seconds of the wrong colour while it works out the remainder of whatever colour you use before.

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And then you can get drawing.  The first thing I drew was three squarish panels that I attempted to stick together.  Before I took those pictures above, obviously.

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I also used a nail polish bottle as a mold to make a messy little cup thing.

Once I’d got to grips with handling the tool I had a go at actually making something, and ended up with a rather wonky looking birthday cupcake.

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Then I decided that the bat on the template sheet was a little too cute to resist much longer.  I taped the sheet to my cutting mat and taped the plastic sheet on top.

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I approached it the way I’ve seen people do pancake art.  Back to front.  With the eyes and details first, then filling in the main colour.  The plastic sheet I suspect is designed so that the melted filament doesn’t stick to the template, but it doesn’t stick even a little bit.  If you nudge a piece, it moves completely.  Which is why my little bat ended up with no mouth.

The plastic sheet does give the front a nice flat shiny look though.  The “colouring” is very scribbly.  I’m sure there are techniques for doing all this stuff properly, but for this I just wanted to play.

Over the next few days though I did do a bunch of research.  I found a whole bunch of tutorials and templates on the 3Doodler website.  The 3Doodler was the original 3D printing pen, and a great source for ideas and help.  And I found a pdf tutorial for making a 3D bat.

It begins with drawing a template, and taping it down.

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I did the two half circles easily, and was super impressed with how I did the wing.  I did it in segments, with nice straight back and forth lines to fill – just like my research showed me.

It wasn’t until after I’d done the second wing that I realised I should have flipped it.  The flat shiny sides were going to be in different locations on the bat.

I tried holding the two pieces of the body in place to stick them together, but had trouble keeping the bottom piece in place, so I ended up securing it on a kneadable eraser.

Securing the wings was a bit simpler.

I started to give the bat a bit more body, and add texture to the shiny sides of the wings….

..when I ran out of black filament.  I might finish it off when I get more, but it looks pretty awesome for now.

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I had found two more stencils that I wanted to try.  One was actually a stencil, and one was a photo of a necklace that I wanted to mimic.  I shrank the photo to the size I wanted, printed it, and taped it under the plastic sheet.

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And I had four attempts in a gold filament.  My first attempt – top left – was a little messy.  My second attempt – top right – tried to get the filigree detail, but either my skill isn’t good enough or my nib was too thick, maybe both.  My third attempt – bottom left – was done with a consistent circular motion.  My fourth attempt – bottom right – was done with straight lines.  Of the four, I think the last two have the cleanest looking backs.  But then, with a pendant you don’t really need to have a particularly clean back.

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The other stencil was a bigger bat, with the same sort of filigree detail.  The plastic sheet was kinda giving up the ghost at this point.  I’ll have to find an alternative.

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For this piece I wanted to try an experiment.  When the filament shrinks below the end of the pen, the pen stops.  You can eject the remaining filament – and there’s about this much left…

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There’s plenty there to work with, but the pen won’t work unless there’s filament sticking out of the end.  So you can connect more of the same colour if you have it, or any other colour.  The problem with adding other colours is that you get that little blended bit before the colour change.  Which is what I wanted to take advantage of.

I cut a bunch of short, random strips of a sort of rainbow.  There wasn’t a green in the set that came with the pen, just the little dayglo yellow that I did my initial test with.

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I ended up with a really nice effect.  Probably a bit too much red.  Maybe I should do an experiment and test how much line length I can get with a certain amount of filament.

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I should have stopped there.  But I didn’t.  I started to fill in the spaces with grey.  I started nice and neatly on the left, but got tired and more messy by the end.

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For some completely unknown reason I decided to thicken the piece by adding a layer of grey, and then ran out of the grey before the end.

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As I said, I should have stopped at the rainbow.  Maybe if the grey had been tidier and more consistent.  When I get more filament I think I’ll definitely try this rainbow blend method again though.

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I am really happy with this new toy, and I will be doing research and many many more projects.

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13 Days of Halloween – Haunted House

13 days of halloween

At the start of October I saw this post from The Diva’s Weekly Zentangle Challenge on Facebook.

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I haven’t really done any Zentangle in ages, and I had just decided I wasn’t doing Inktober this year, and I had committed to doing this blog challenge.  But despite all that, I was intrigued.  I Googled “Inktober Tangles” and found the source on Everything Is Art.

There was no way I was going to manage a tile a day, so I figured maybe I could kill 31 birds with one stone and do a single art piece, that I could then use for one of these Halloween blogs.  32 stones!

I sketched out a rough idea…

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…and planned to fill each part of the image with a different tangle.  I ended up adding more elements as the month went along to make 31 spaces to fill.

A few of the tangles were ones that I already knew, but the rest were new to me which was really fun.  Some were very easy to fit into the spaces, some were a lot more difficult.  There are more than a few that I now want to take away and do a Zentangle tile with, to really do the pattern justice.  They may show up later.

I won’t link all the individual tangle instructions here, but there are links to them all on that Everything Is Art page. Obviously I didn’t quite do them one day at a time either.  I had about five or six sessions over the month, but I got all 31 done, that’s what’s important.

Here’s my completed piece.

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Day 1: Printemps – the top bat

Day 2: TunnelVizion – the pumpkin

Day 3: Toodles – the centre hill on the right

Day 4: Zonked – the leftmost gravestone

Day 5: Jalousie – the house

Day 6: Flukes – the tree

Day 7: Huggins – the rightmost gravestone

Day 8: Bales – the second gravestone from the left

Day 9: Lola – the lower bat

Day 10: Cubine – the cauldron

Day 11: InaFlux – the skull

Day 12: Floo – the ghost in the tree

Day 13: Yin-Cut – the cat

Day 14: Arukas – the moon

Day 15: Maryhill – the leftmost potion

Day 16: Trentwith – the spider

Day 17: Dreamdex – the right side ghost

Day 18: Sindoo – the path

Day 19: Diva Dance – the tree by the house

Day 20: Antidots – the left side ghost

Day 21: Batumber – the hill with the house on

Day 22: Abundies – the second gravestone from the right

Day 23: Pixioze – the bottom hill on the right

Day 24: Baton – the rightmost potion

Day 25: Tripoli – the hill on the left

Day 26: Ratoon – the left witch

Day 27: Crescent moon – the middle potion

Day 28: Well, Well, Who – the middle gravestone

Day 29: Kuke – the right witch

Day 30: Nik – the flying witch

Day 31: Florz – the big cloud

and because I split the cloud into two by mistake when outlining it, I stippled in the small one.

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13 Days of Halloween – The Grim Reaper

13 days of halloween

This was a bit of a spontaneous one.  I have a whole list of ideas and plans for this series, which I’ll probably come back to next year because I’ve had a whale of a time doing it and many many more than 13 plans.  But the idea for this one just crept up out of nowhere.

I searched Pinterest for “Halloween origami”.  This was the first thing that popped up.  How could I resist?

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The link lead to this page which has both a diagram and a video.  Since I was watching tv with my boyfriend at the time, I decided I’d go with the diagram.

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This was a mistake.  I suck at origami diagrams.  Even if I have a key right next to me telling me what all the different arrows mean, I still get confused.  My first attempt looked… weird.  And not just because I didn’t have any black paper.

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My second attempt wasn’t much better either.  He just didn’t look right.

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So I switched to the video, and just about nailed it.

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My boyfriend loved it so much he asked if he could scan it and put it on a Hellraiser-style background.  So I passed it over and moved onto the next thing.  Hmm, maybe a bat?

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Nope, couldn’t read that diagram either.  I tried reverse image searching it but couldn’t find a source or a video for this pattern.  So I let YouTube pick a different bat pattern for me.

Very cute.  Mine ended up a little bit wonky, as all my creations do, but still cute.

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Next up was a pumpkin from this site.  This was so very simple I could just about follow it from the photos and written directions on the site.

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By this point Tom (the boyfriend) was building a whole scene.  The scene just needed some ghosts.

My search led me to Paper Kawaii – who is absolutely excellent with her tutorials by the way.  I’ve watched a ton of her videos before and made a load of the pieces she demonstrates.  I tried this ghost first…

…but managed to make a bit of a mess of it.

So I moved on to the second video on Paper Kawaii’s ghost tutorial page.

This one came out super cute.

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Looking at it now, with the video thumbnail just there too, I think I missed a fold on his head.  Mine is a little more blockheaded.  But he’s still adorable.  And yes, he’s got a stripe of yellow in his tail because the only paper I had with me was a block of rainbow paper.

I wanted more than one ghost in the little scene that Tom and I were building though, and they had to be different.  So I searched for another one and found the most super easy origami pattern ever.

Very simple.  Very cute ghost.

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Tom scanned all my little origami spooks into his computer, did some editing and jiggerpokery and we got this.

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Isn’t it cool?  And then we got talking about possible changes and we fiddled with it for a few hours until we finally ended up with this awesome masterpiece collaboration.

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13 Days of Halloween – Skulls & Eyeballs

13 days of halloween

If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a week you know that I’ve been trying to work with resin.  So naturally I had to include a resin piece for this Halloween series.  I collected dozens of inspiration ideas, of course, and settled on these two.

Both seemed relatively straightforward.  And of course I had to make both very complicated.  Let’s begin with the googly eyes.

I have a few billion of your standard black and white googly eyes, but this called for something a bit more special.  So I bought more eyes.  You can never have too many eyes.

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I laid them out in my new coaster mold and decided the bigger eyes looked the best. So I poured in some epoxy resin, then pressed in the eyes.

I topped up the mold, and since I had a little resin left, I filled a little pendant mold too.  Then I covered them with my little plastic tub to protect from dust and cat hair, and left them to cure.

Note – the resin might not catch fire when you blowtorch it to remove bubbles, but those little star sequins will.  So watch out for that.

They cured well.  It’s hard to mess up the curing for two part resin, assuming you’ve mixed it correctly.  They did get a little dusty, because I only have one plastic tub and I needed it for another project halfway through.  I need to get another tub.

The biggest problem though, was this.

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The eyes floated in the resin.  It was also at this point where I realised I might actually have done the whole thing upside down.  Should the lip be on the top of the coaster or the bottom?

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Okay, so for take two I placed the eyes the other way up.  I also used a thin layer of UV resin to secure them in place first.

I have absolutely no idea why some of them glow under the UV light and some don’t.  It’s weird and fascinating.  But I topped off the mold with epoxy resin – making a small mess in the process, and set take two aside to cure.

The mess was fun to pick off.

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There was a bit of overspill, but that could probably be clipped and/or filed off.  The coaster came out of the mold easily enough.  The surface was a bit tacky where the UV resin hadn’t had a chance to fully cure.  I placed it in the sun for several hours, and while it cured, it still looked a little odd.

I have since been told that mixing resins like that doesn’t work.  I will probably have a third attempt at this at some point – maybe doing two layers of epoxy resin to make sure the eyes don’t float.

Unfortunately, the second project also has the same issue, because of course I did them all at the same time.

The first problem with the skulls though was that neither of the type that I bought…

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…really fit in any of the molds that I have.

So the skulls piece had to wait a bit while I ordered something new.  I ended up getting an ice cube mold with a silicone bottom.

I made the same mistake with the UV resin because I was convinced that I needed to hold the skulls in place.  I later found out that this was completely and utterly wrong.

I mixed up some epoxy resin and put in a few drops of black colourant.  It looked really… dark.

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I’d UV resin stuck skulls in two molds, but I had much more resin than would fill two molds – the instructions for that resin only has the quantities for mixing 50ml and above.  I could probably work out the math for smaller amounts but I’d need a more detailed syringe.  So I dropped some skulls in and filled as many as I could.

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At this point I was doing the second attempt of the googly eye coaster, and had a few dribbles of leftover clear resin so I did a clear skull piece too, and a tiny one-eyeball thing.

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The ones with the UV resin layer needed a bit of sitting in the sun once the epoxy resin had cured, but they have the same wonky look.  Lesson learned: no more mixing resins.  But the ones without UV resin look freaking awesome.  Turns out the skulls didn’t need fixing in place.

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13 Days of Halloween – Potions

13 days of halloween

Long before I was a crafty person, I could cross stitch.  I don’t recall when I learnt, or who taught me.  It’s just something I’ve always been able to do.  It used to be the only craft I could do.  I haven’t really done any in a long time though, because I now do a LOT of different crafts.

But I had to include a little cross stitch piece for this little series.  Can you tell what it is yet?

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I got a bit more work done, then realised that I had completely screwed up.  I hadn’t centred it right, and it wasn’t going to fit on the damn piece of aida.

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Not that you have any clue what it’s supposed to be.  I could show you the pattern, but I’ve had a bit of an idea on what to do with it.  It’ll be a later blog post, and I’ll show you the pattern then.

I decided for this Halloween series to go for something a little simpler.  It’s also a little easier to tell what it is after the first session.

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I did some messing up on this piece too though.  I didn’t have enough of one yellow to do the entire moon…

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..so I decided a variagated effect would look pretty good.  That’s not where I messed up.  I lost track of the shape of the moon, and decided it would be fine fudged.  But it looked wonky.  So I tried to adjust it, and failed.  And then again, and failed.

I ended up drawing up a pattern, and the moon ended up pretty huge.  But it still looks good.

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Since I’d finished that one quite quickly, I decided to do another piece.  The problem here was narrowing down which one to do.  I’d collected a few (and by “a few” I mean “a lot”) of patterns from Pinterest and other places online – completely ignoring the large collection of cross stitch patterns I already have.  But I settled on this cute little potion bottle.

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When I finished I decided it looked a little lonely…

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…so I added another bottle.

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And then another one.  With a little bit of surface for them to sit on.

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I added a cloud of background…

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…and finished it off with a thin outline.

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Doing these little pieces has certainly reignited the cross stitch bug in me.  I’ll definitely be doing more soon.

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13 Days of Halloween – Possession

13 days of halloween

One of my favourite inspiration images from Pinterest was this one.


It reminded me of something similar that Threadbanger did way back in October 2017.  They were even inspired by the same image.

It seemed like a relatively simple craft too.  Unfortunately getting the main supply wasn’t so easy.  Sure, I could order a figurine from the internet.  But the whole point of it was that you used something from a thrift store or charity shop.  However I barely leave the house, so getting to a charity shop was going to present some difficulties.

Which is where my awesome boyfriend’s awesome Mum came in.  She offered to pick something up for me, and came back with this incredible piece.

Look at that bear on the back!

I figured that painting directly onto porcelain was not going to work, so I decided to go ahead with the “DIY Gesso” I’ve been meaning to try for years.  There are lots of recipes online, but I went with this one from Our Daily Craft.

I gathered my ingredients, and a jar that was waayyyy too big.

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After a bit of adding more of this, and more of that, I ended up with what I hoped was gesso.

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I painted some onto my test rock.  By the next morning it had dried and it seemed okay, but I didn’t really know what gesso was supposed to look like.

I applied some to a patch of the figurine, but then I wasn’t sure whether just sanding the porcelain would work.  So I did four tests.  I sanded parts, and I gesso’d parts.  Then I painted black poster paint on all four test parts.

The top test was sanded, then gesso’d, then painted.  The middle test was just sanded and painted.  The bottom test had no preparation at all.  The test on the other side was just gesso’d and painted.

They all looked fine.  I tested by rubbing with my thumb, and while they all looked scuffed, only the part with no preparation really came off.

I tried scratching with my nail and the paint came off all four tests – with varying levels of pressure.  But I was going to seal the piece anyway.  Or I could just not scratch it.

I scratched off as much of the tests as I could so I could restart, and then I coated her in my gesso.

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Once dried, there was a bit of a lip at the bottom where the gesso had pooled on the paper.  It snapped off easily, but for the next step I taped some greaseproof paper onto the little box lid I’ve been using for crafting.

After one coat of paint it looked pretty good.  It was very blotchy though.

The second coat covered most of the patches.  The third coat was about as well as I figured I was going to get it.

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Time for the eyes.  I got out every shade of red gouache I had, and tested dotting them onto the dried black paint on the greaseproof paper.

I went with the Crimson Red Lake, and dotted on the eyes.  I messed up a little on the bear, but it still looks pretty evil to me.

I tested my varnish, and some clear nail polish, on the black and red paint on the greaseproof paper.

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The varnish, on the right, smeared the red a little.  It may have been that the thicker blob of red paint wasn’t fully dry, but I also felt that it made the black paint look a little weird.

So I coated my little evil figurine in clear nail polish.  When it dried it didn’t look perfect.  There are lots of errors, but I think it looks pretty fantastic.

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