Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why Donner Disappoints Me

Sometimes it's hard for me to get in the Christmas spirit. I know why; a big, fat part of my Christmas preparation had to be left behind when I moved in 2007. I miss you every year, Christmas Tree Lane.
If you're not lucky enough to have grown up in a town with a ridiculously huge and kind of famous Christmas display, I pity you. Get in the car and drive there right now. Go marvel at the 140 houses and 300 trees in the nearly two mile stretch. Listen to the carols playing from car windows and tree-mounted speakers. I dare you not to get in the holiday spirit.

Christmas Tree Lane had kind of a depressing start. In 1920, a tree was decorated in honor of a child who had died. Each year, more and more houses joined in. Since then it has only gone dark twice, in 1941 due to wartime restrictions and in 1973 due to the energy crisis. Now around 10,000 people visit every year.

I think my earliest memory of Christmas Tree Lane was caroling with my Girl Scout Troop. We would all bundle up and stand in a makeshift covered bandstand to belt out what I'm sure were terribly off-keep Christmas carols. It was fun though, and we got candy canes and hot cocoa. Candy canes and cocoa is really all the motivation you need at age 8.

As a teenager, nearly every year we'd all bundle up and make the 4 mile loop up on side and back down the other. There's a shopping center across the street from the end of Christmas Tree Lane, which gives you a nice opportunity to get a rest and warm up in a coffee shop before heading back. If you're able to walk, I'd definitely recommend it over driving. A lot of the displays are right on the side of the street offer many opportunities to take stupid pictures of you and your friends.There's also a really ridiculous amount of traffic, and sitting in it is not conducive to holiday good cheer. There are two walk only nights and it's just lovely walking down the street under the lights strung from tree to tree.

The only disappointment is Donner.

I know that sounds a little strange, let me explain. As you go down Christmas Tree lane, you'll see the eight tiny reindeer and Rudolph in order. (On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and so on.) So why is Donner annoying? Because he's only been "Donner" for a short time. Before that it was "Donder", and for years. I'm not talking a couple of years either, I mean at least a decade. It was always the highlight of the walk when we found Donder, the unfortunate reindeer who couldn't spell his own name. I'll never forget, Donder.
Now enjoy these videos of the overachiever house at the end that makes everyone else have a complex.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nerdsday - Give Thanks

This was going to be my Nerdsday post for Thanksgiving, but I ended up not having access to the blog over the long weekend and then having to dig into customs and now it's like halfway to Christmas but I am posting it anyway. So there.
With this being the "Thanksgiving" post, I wanted to write about something for which I am thankful: being a nerd. Even more than just being a nerd, that nerdiness is seemingly coming into it's own and being viewed more with appreciation and less with derision.

I love being a nerd, I've pretty much always loved being a nerd. I was raised by interesting and crafty parents, so maybe it was inevitable. I watched Star Wars marathons with my dad during the holidays and spent hours crafting and going to thrift shops with my mom. Family vacations almost always involved a museum. Add to the fact that I can be incredible excitable; (my boyfriend refers to me as a human Muppet). So generally I was the one of the "weird kids". I was aware of that from a young age, and I did my best to own it. My parents always encouraged me to be myself and I eventually ended up with a group of a really good friends who all understood me and who all had their own fun idiosyncrasies. Luckily I was in accelerated programs and schools for most of my educational experience, so there were generally a lot of "weird kids" and I didn't have to deal with much in the way of bullying. Me being such a little smart ass may have been a deterrent.

Getting ready to trick or treat at age 20

While "nerd" is usually associated with people who like Star Wars or comic books who have no social skills and unfashionable clothing, I think everyone should have something they're a total nerd about. Everyone should have something in their lives about which they are passionate and interested and that sometimes fills them with slightly manic glee. Maybe that thing is G.I. Joe or Star Trek or Atari games, or maybe that thing is rock climbing or restoring vintage cars or volunteering. Maybe it can be all of those things. But if you don't have something, how is life interesting or fun or even worthwhile? How many fantastic relationships might you miss out on? I wouldn't know my boyfriend if we weren't nerds; we met on a Star Wars internet forum. I wouldn't know any of the fantastic girls I've met through Crown Town Handmade if I weren't such a sewing and crafts nerd and if they weren't all just as bad. It's okay to value being smart and creative, it's okay to like weird things, and it's definitely okay to look different. I am happy and proud to be a nerd and I hope all the nerds out there continue to be awesome and interesting and embrace their nerdiness with pride.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nerdsday - Snuggly Buggly

As the weather gets cooler for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, I wanted to dedicate this Nerdsday to some fabulously nerdy quilts and blankets. Wrap yourself up and let the geekiness keep you warm.

If you're chilly while playing your favorite video game, you're totally in luck. There are a ton of 8-bit quilts to be found. The pixelation lends itself perfectly to piecing and you can make the "pixels" as small or as large as you depending on how many squares you think you can sew together before losing your mind.

For example, Elizabeth Hartman of Oh Fransson! has started work on a spectacular Space Invaders quilt for her lucky nephew. I love that she's using random patterned pieces in with the solids to give it a patchwork look. It looks like a ton of work and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

If sci-fi is more your geekiness of choice, have no fear. There are beautiful quilts to snuggle whether you're it's a long long time ago in a galaxy far away or where no man has gone before.

I love this graphic and modern quilt by Erika Ray incorporating some great Star Wars sheets. The brown and bright blue look gorgeous together and the pattern on the front is subtle enough to work for lots of ages.

There's also a beautiful quilt block featuring C3PO on Vonkleinendingen. All the colors and patterns are fantastic and I love the addition of the teeny pieced star. I especially love that it looks like C3PO is pointing to it as if to say, "Oh my goodness, I am most intriqued by this fabric manipulation!"

Okay, just one more Star Wars quilt. Crafty Little Beana made this one for her nephew and it faboulousness. I love the idea, making a movie quilt to look like a filmstrip. The detail of all the different patterned teeny sprocket holes, absolute awesomeness.

Trekkies, don't think I forgot about you. You can get your own quilt little art quilt from Elliot McNally. The quilting adds a really neat texture to to the pieces. I especailly like the metallic thread on the transporter quilts, but I think the tribble quilt is my favorite. The look of exasperation on little quilted Kirk is absolutely perfect. Check out her Etsy shop for your own.

Looking at all these fabulous quilts make me want to pull out my Meme Quilt and get back to work! I love sewing dolls, but there's also something so meditative about sewing and ironing little strips of fabric. I have most of the front peiced, but I still have some more memes to add. (You can check out all the memes I have done so far on my Flickr.) Maybe I'll have time to get it finished some day, then it will be like snuggling with the internet.

Happy nerding!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nerdsday - NC Comicon Wrap Up

I spent this past weekend at a comic convention, so this Nerdsay is going to be dedicated to a little con wrap up as well as an opportunity to mention some of the talented and nifty people I got to see.

My table tends to end up as what I like to refer to as the "Tower of Plush". I had some of the same selection I had at the 2011 HeroesCon, but I did add and update a few characters. You can see Harley Quinn tucked in on the left side, as well as the Ninja Turtles keeping watch. Both of these were very well received, so keep an eye out for them at future conventions and on my Etsy.

My neighbor was the lovely and talented Beck Seashole of Becka Doodles: The Art of Cute. We dubbed our tables the "Cute Corner". In addition to her webcomic about undead goodies, Sweeten Village, Beck also creates cards for the Topps Star Wars Galaxy series. You can purchase her adorable art here, which you should do because it is adorable and she is amazing.
I brought my Marceline as an example of the new doll pattern and had absolutely no intention of selling her until Tommy Lee Edwards' daughter came by. She looked so excited and had the perfect costume, how could I tell her no? At least I know Marceline went to a good home, and she can hang out the Ramona Flowers plush that was commissioned at Heroes.

I also got a chance to talk to Steve Niles, who is a stupendously nice for a guy who writes about ghoulies ripping people's throats out. He's trying to raise money to cover his doggy's medical bills (read more about Sonny here) and is auctioning some great pieces by talented artists.

Now back to sewing...

Shop Update

If you weren't able to make it to NC Comicin this past weeken but still want your own plush, have no fear! All unsold dolls have now been listed in the shop, hooray!

Friday, November 4, 2011

NC Comicon

If you're in the Raleigh,  NC area this weekend com visit me at NC Comicon. There will be many plushes to cuddle!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nerdsday: In Your Dreams

Thursdays are now going to be Nerdsdays! I'm going to showcase  nerdy or geeky and probably crafty things that makes my dorky heart fill with glee.

I figured I'd start of Nerdsdays with a secret wish that I hold deep in my heart. The wish to own nerdy black velvet paintings.

Observe the beauty and majesty that is Inigo Montoya on black velvet. Also, all these other awesome pop culture icons on black velvet. I've been a little obsessed with black velvet paintings since probably 10 years ago, when I saw a wonderfully rendered painting of Jesus embracing a semi-truck hanging in a deteriorating mall. If it isn't obvious, I have incredibly questionable taste. While I love the ridiculous kitsch factor, I just couldn't bring myself to devote money and valuable wall space to trucker Jesus. These painting are a whole other story. The nerdiness, the talent, the hilariousness.

Bruce White is the man behind VelvetGeek. If you have some extra money you should go give it him. Not even in exchange for a painting necessarily, just because he's neat. It looks like painting run around $250, which I think is totally reasonable for joy on velvet. While I save up for this, I have to go think really hard about who I want immortalized on black velvet. Ha ha, who am I even kidding?

Monday, October 31, 2011

October Make Out - Night of the Crafting Dead

October's Make Out with Crown Town Handmade is the one I look forward to all year. Although a free craft taught by a local crafter every month is always fun, can you think of a better way to spend a Thursday evening then getting made up to look like the walking dead?

If it's not obvious from some of my projects, I love me some zombies. The shuffling and dead eyed Romero kind, the shrieking and flailing 28 Days Later kind, the wormy and meat-obsessed Slither ones, the vacant and gruesome Walking Dead sort, the exploding and gnawing House of the Dead ones. I love them all. Of course I leap at the chance to join their disgusting ranks for an evening.

We used the cheap make-up palettes you can find at the drug store. You'll also need sponges or brushes for applying, baby powder and a large brush to set everything once you're done, and a mirror or friend to help you apply.
You want to start out by applying a thin layer of white of gray to your face and neck. Don't glob it on; you want to look like you're bloodless, not a clown. (Unless you're going to zombie clown, and then more power to you.) If the make up is a little thick, you can soften it up a bit with some baby oil. Also, don't be afraid to use your fingers. You want to dab rather than swipe and don't forget your lips. Pay particular attention to areas that would be naturally highlighted; like your brow bone, the top of your nose, and tops of your cheeks. This will make these area stand out so you look more gaunt and gruesome once the "shadows" are applied. If you're not sure where to apply, shine a lamp in your face from above and see what spots are illuminated and which are in shadow.
Use a black or purple to make dark shadows around and under your eyes, in the hollows of your cheeks, and to accentuate any wrinkles. Anything girls generally want to hide, you want to color black. You'll probably need to make some stupid faces for this, it helps to show off various wrinkles. Suck in your cheeks, smile, scrunch up your eyes or forehead, stretch out your neck.

Once you have the base on, you can add bruises and marks. Use a pale blue eyeliner pencil to make winding veins. Make bruises with a mixture of purples, greens, yellows, and reds. Think about the colors in your own skin and what it looks like when you get a real bruise.

If you want a really fun and gross zombie, grab some liquid latex and congealed blood from the Halloween store or costume shop. (Obviously do not use liquid latex if you're allergic to latex.) Wipe the make up away where you want to apply the latex and spread a thin layer on. Wait for it to dry and then gently rub or pull at it to make it look like scraped or decaying skin. Add some red and purple and fake blood to make it look like bruised and bloody skin.

If you're allergic to costume make up or just want to look like a zombie that is more successful at catching unsuspecting victims, try making some edible fake blood. Not only is it safe to put in your mouth, it tastes a little like black forest cake. Much better than eating regular blood. Be aware that this stains like crazy and gets sticky, so wear clothes you don't care about ruining.
To make it, mix one packet of raspberry jell-o with half of the water called for. Mix in a container of the cheapest maple syrup you can find, like the $1 one. Mix in a few spoonfuls of cocoa powder, the kind used for baking not making cocoa. Once you like the color, mix in enough cornstarch to get a consistency you like. Once you're finished, get a mouthful of it and let it dribble down your face. (Think how your mouth is numb after the dentist.) Spit out any extra. You'll probably want to do this outside, which has the added bonus of making it look like there was a horrible, bloody murder.

Happy Halloween everyone. Comment below and let me see your costumes!

Thank you to the wonderful Plaza Muse for letting us use their space!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nifty Thrifty: Thriftenstein

So, I'm a girl of simple tastes. A bit of a bargain hunter perhaps. If there's one thing I love more than thrift stores, it's thrift CRAFT stores. Craft supplies are awesome, but insanely cheap craft supplies make me have a small fits of glee. Not to mention that, like regular thrift stores, thrift craft stores are full of the hilarious mistakes of taste from years past. Naturually I was downright giddy when I got to visit not one, but two, thrift craft stores on a recent trip to California to visit my mom.

The Legacy Thrift & Gift Shop
781 Gravenstein Ave
Sebastopol, CA 95472

My mom and I paid a visit to The Legacy on my previous visit and we couldn't wait to get back again. We actually had excellent timing; we ended up going to day before they briefly closed for a remodel. The store is now three doors down at 789 Gravenstein Ave while the original space is being completely remodeled. The original shop was well organized and the staff is very helpful and friendly; I'm sure the new space is no different
Besides the great prices, you can feel doubly good about shopping there as proceeds benefit the Sebastapol Area Senior Center, which provides activities and classes for adults and seniors.

Fabric is sold by the pound, trims by the yard, and other materials are prices as marked. They have a large selection of supplies including sewing notions, books, cross-stitch and embroidery, yarns, appliques, and more. They also offer some ready made consignment items.

Our second stop was new to us, but had been around in one place or another since 1976.

801 Toland Street
San Francisco, CA 94124

SCRAP was started as a way to get donated craft and art supplies to underfunded schools as well as artists and parents. SCRAP now diverts up to 200 tons (that's TONS) of materials that would otherwise be sent to landfills. They also offer field trips, classes, volunteer opportunities, or simply just a place to find amazing and weird cheap stuff.

SCRAP is really dedicated to creative resuse, which means you'll find more than just your average art supplies. Not that the selection of art and craft supplies is anything to sneeze at. SCRAP offers fabric, paper goods, buttons, paints, trims, brushes, wood pieces, metal, and glass to name a few. The fun is in the entirely random and wonderful things hiding in there. The picture above is a detail of a huge drum on these. I have no idea what they are; I bought 20. There was a huge bin of teeny glass bottles; another of what looked like promo buttons. There was a rack of books and magazines, which housed a collection of sci-fi novels from the 70's. (I so would have bought them all if I hadn't been flying back.) My mom and I spent probably 45 minutes going through tubs of buttons.

Also, there is some rad signage.

Does anyone else visit any similiar places?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Adolescent Abnormal Samurai Chelonians

Or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, if you want to be technical.

Leonardo leads!
This little guys are the first of the dolls completed for NC Comicon, and I'm a little bummed I won't be keeping them. Despite all my incredibly girlish hobbies and tendencies, I did watch a ton of "boys" cartoons growing up and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of my favorites. (I'm still a little tomboyish about television and movies; I love zombie movies and I can't watch a romantic movie without making puke noises. Because I am so mature.) I found this green fleece online and immediately knew it had to be turtles.

Donatello was my favorite, I think mostly because purple was my favorite color as a kid. He's also a big geek, so that doesn't hurt. I think my favorite part was always the the incredibly unrealistic inventions he would create, most of them pure deus ex machina. His voice actor, Barry Gordon, also did work is several other of my favorite cartoons, including Darkwing Duck and Swat Kats. 

Each of the turtles has a little plush version of their signature weapon, held on with hook and loop tape so they're removable. I think Michelangelo's little nunchucks are my favorite.

Now I just need to make them some little plush pizza for a snack.

The End

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Have a Backup Brain in My Butt

Over the past few weeks I've been getting the last of my custom orders done in order to start getting ready for selling at NC Comicon the first weekend of November. I always get a good selection of interesting charcters with customs, and it seems like I've had an overload of aliens lately...

Oh em gee, I am super happy with how little Doop came out. I think I captured his absolute redonkulousness, along with his vacant stare. Doop is one of those dolls I had way too much fun making. He's about 16" tall and, like all my dollies, has jointed arms. Jointed arms are especially good for flailing while following your boyfriend around the house and repeatedly singing "doop doop doop doop doop doop" until he loses his mind. I think "Nerdy ways to irritate your boyfriend" is so going to be a new blog feature.)

I love his weird, buggy eyeballs. You don't even know.

Kit was actually for Stitch Wars Strikes Back at the Bear and Bird Gallery. He didn't sell and I'm totally disappointed to have his adorableness in my house again. Devasted. He's not at all cuddly and loveable and I do not squee girlishly about his head tentacles. (Headacles? That doesn't sound right.) He also did not sit with me and watch the aquatic episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

I think Marvin is the most "mainstream" of the alien plush. He looks a little cranky about it.

Here's Starro to give you a big hug... and control your brain and subvert your will. But mostly hugs!

Come on, give him a little smooch.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nifty Thrifty - Creature from the Year Thrift-Thousand

This week's Nifty Thrifty is a little about the view on the way to the thrift store rather than the thrift store itself.

If I can manage to sneak out of work a little early on Fridays, I take a little stroll to the bus stop and head to the thrift store. I work in a fairly industrialized area, but it still makes for a really nice walk after sitting in an office all day. It was so nice this past Friday that I decided to take a few photos on the way.

There are two wooden posts on either side of driveway on the way. One is just a normal, weathered wooden post. The other one is this:

Post Guy looks a little quizzical. Perhaps he's curious about why has such a severe flat top.

Once I get to the bus stop, there are several trees to wait under.

The bus stop takes me to the light rail station and then to the thrift store. The stations were I live are each decorated in a different theme. The two I see on the way to the thrift store are not two of my favorites, but I do like one thing. The elevator at one is decorated with a mosaic of reflectors. I love the idea of using not artistic things to make art and the reflectors catch the light really nicely.

There are also several ginkgo trees on the walk between the light rail station and the thrift store.  Ginkgo leaves are one of my favorite shades of green and the yellow they turn in autumn is just as pretty. They also satisfy my nerdiness because they're really interesting trees. NERD ALERT! The ginkgo is classified in it's own taxonomic classification and is basically a living fossil as it is closely related to species from 200 million years ago. It's thought that wild growing ginkgo trees died out and the tree was saved and continued only by human cultivation. It's nice when humans save something instead of killing it. Also, the Chinese name basically means "tree with the leaves like a duck foot". How awesome is that?