Hope everyone had an excellent Halloween! I know I did.
All photos are property of their artists. Click on the photos to visit their stores.
I’m still hard at work on my Halloween costume for this year, but here is one more costume from last year. Yes, I do tend to wear several Halloween costumes in a year. This was from a vampire LARP event last year, which makes the costume amusingly multi-layered – dressing as my character Valkyrie, who is dressing as an angel.
The dress started its life as a store bought Roman Goddess costume. I very rarely buy costumes, and when I do I buy high quality ones with the intent that I will wear them multiple times. I wanted a white and gold angel, so I dressed up the Roman dress with bits of gold fabric at the shoulders. I also added a gold belt with attached short sheer overskirt. The gold fabric actually serves two purposes – my belt has pockets for my character sheet, and the belt and shoulder fabrics hide the wing harness.
The wings are of course what makes this costume. There is a belt and shoulder harness under the dress, so the weight is around my middle instead of on my shoulders. The wing skeleton is PVC pipes, and there is a pivot point just above my shoulders so they fold. To raise the wings, cables are attached just above the pivot. Pull on the cables and (with practice) voila – unfurled angel wings.
Over the pipe skeleton is poster board, then white fabric, then a lot of feathers. The longer feathers were hand painted with gold paint to tip the wings the way I wanted. White boas help hide the pivot joints in the back, and gold lace smooths out the upper edge of the wings. These wings are definitely attention getting.
There’s less than a week until Halloween, but here are some fun things from Etsy you can get to add to the seasonal spirit in your home!
To visit the artists’ shops, click on the images. Enjoy!
For the last several years, I have thrown a party for my fellow LARPers (Live Action Role Players) as part of the game closest to Halloween. In the past, it’s been for our Vampire game, which has meant some rather… gory decorations. So this year I jumped at the chance to throw the party for our Mage game instead. I decided to go with an elegant black and white look for the party. I filled it with touches of magic – spell books and potion bottles – and masks.
The party went wonderfully, and the associated game was fun. Here’s a look inside.
We didn’t have as big of a turn out as I expected, but the party was a success. Here’s looking forward to next year!
From inside the house to out, here’s an easy but slightly more time consuming project to make an awesome and unique ghostly figure for your outdoor Halloween decorations.
Materials: 3 rolls of clear packing tape (give or take depending on size)
You’ll need a dress form, manikin, or other human-ish shape to form your ghost over. I used a dress form and a wig head.
To start, use decent lengths of packing tape, sticky side out, to wrap your form. Do it in pieces and cover the whole torso. It is okay if the tape sticks to itself in places – the wrinkles will be desirable in the final shape. Make the skirt from long vertical strips, folding the ends over to the length you want. It is okay if there are some gaps in the bottom, but you’ll want to keep these gaps when you do the next layer.
Once you have a complete sticky layer, go back over with the sticky side in (so sticky side to sticky side). Use longer pieces to wrap horizontally, pulling it tighter to your form, creating both better shape and better wrinkles. You’ll want to make sure you cover all sticky places.
If you are doing as I did and using a dress form and a wig head, do it in two parts and combine them after they are done to better match the necks.
When it’s all covered, cut a slit up the back until you can remove your tape construction from the form. Once it’s removed, take the slit back together.
All told, you’ll end up with about three layers of tape. If you have a tall tree, you can hang your ghost. Or, if like me you are putting her in an open yard, pound a piece of PVC pipe into where you want her standing. Use a straight connector for another piece so that the total height is greater than the height of your ghost, making her appear to float. I painted my pipes dark green to better hide in the yard. At night, the pipes will barely be seen.
For the final piece to complete your illusion, buy a small spotlight. I used a blue LED one from Spirit Halloween, but you can use one in whatever color you like. Shine the light up her skirt and it will catch all of the tape wrinkles you created. You now have a creepy, striking figure for your Halloween display.
It should be no surprise to any of you, but I love Halloween. It’s that time of year when I can make all sorts of unusual things, sew awesome costumes, and not only is it not weird, people compliment me on it. So, for the rest of the month, it’s all Halloween fun here at The Crafty Geek!
I had a black and white Mage masquerade theme for my Halloween party this year. The first project I tackled was a bunch of potion bottles. It’s an easy Halloween craft that’s a lot of fun, and you can add more to your collection every year. I know I plan to.
Bottles: Some of the best bottles can be found at thrift stores. I’ve built up a collection over time. Craft stores will also have some unique shapes sometimes. One of the bottles I used is actually a little shampoo bottle. I chose to spray paint my bottle silver so they would match my party color theme, but you can also keep them clear or colored and old looking. If you keep your bottles clear, you’ll also want to think about what you put inside them to give them an authentic look. Colored liquids and plastic toys or fake flowers can be a good start.
Labels: There are a lot of free printable labels out there, as well as some wonderful digital files for sale on Etsy. You can also create your own. I had a minor problem when printing mine – my color printer decided to be on the fritz. So I printed them out in black and white. On some of them, I added a little color with colored pencil before adhering them.
Some of the bottles were odd shapes that did not work well with labels, so I put the labels on tags and tied them to the bottles. The labels will look best if they are able to lie flat. Apply a thin coat of glue to the back of the paper, then adhere the label to the bottle or tag.
Finishing Touches: Fabric, ribbons, charms and wax are a good way to dress up your bottles. Wax can be used to seal corks, and dripped down the sides makes the bottles look a bit older. Fabric and ribbon over the top can hide odd seams or bottle lids that don’t quite match the potion bottle aesthetic.
Finally, find a good way to display your bottles. My display is actually on top of a mini-fridge in my basement, covered with old lace. They would also look great on a mantle or a neat set of old shelves. Finish up the display with some fun decor accessories – rubber snakes, mortar and pestle, and various things that look like they go well with potion making.
It’s been crazy over here, but I hardly wanted another week to go by without a post. When you’re stressed out like I am, nothing beats a little escape, and my favorite escape is fantasy novels. In honor of that, here’s some reminders of the core of fantasy – fairy tales. Enjoy these fantastical moments from other Etsy artists.
Click on the images to be taken to the artists’ shops. All photos belong to the artists.
For more fairy tale finds at Etsy, visit the related treasury.
In other news, it’s been a busy day!
- I was interviewed for the Etsy Scene blog. Take a read and tell Heather her blog is awesome! Lots of artist profiles to come.
- One of my newest paper bead necklaces was selected for Sara Handmade Wish List. Vote for me on the right side of the page!
It should be no surprise to anyone here that I go all out for Halloween. I am at the front desk for my day job, so I try and wear a costume where if some pieces are removed I can look almost like a normal professional. Not that I had to this year. And this costume will definitely also make an appearance at future conventions – it’s too fun for it not to!
Do you remember my simple capelet tutorial? Well, that’s where this costume started. I made a short red cape last spring, and it ended up looking very “Little Red Riding Hood.” Still, it was wonderfully comfortable, so I wore it on occasion on those in-between weather days anyway. Well, this fall I put it on at the end of one of our vampire LARP session, which led to the inevitable Red Riding Hood jokes about my bad-ass vampire character. A silly idea was born.
I made a simple red circle skirt with lining, and sewed white ribbon I already had on to the lining as a ruffle. I also already had the brown fake fur – I bought it several CostumeCons ago, intending to use it for the hood and sleeve lining on a coat I still have yet to make. The white apron was made last minute (really, it was October 30th) with left over material from the Irulan dress and some simple decorative stitching from my awesome sewing/embroidery machine.
Mark and I took a trip to Spirit Halloween to find a mask that would work for the werewolf head. It wasn’t as ideal a shape as we wanted, but it was the best we could find for where I wanted it on the costume. It took a little detail work to make it look right: I painted the inside of the eye holes with red acrylic paint, sewed on the brown fur, and then sewed on some longer fun fur to make the fur types blend together better. I cut the edges of the large piece of fur slightly to give it a more pelt-like shape, but to preserve most of it for if I ever do get around to making that coat. Scrap bits went to making the clasp/tie, and the rest of the longer fun fur was sewn together to make a tail. It drags behind me when I wear it – it’s great! Later in the day after I took this picture, I realized the elastic strap for wearing the mask, which I had not removed, worked great to fit the head around my upper arm and shoulder, pulling back the cape a bit and better showing all of the costume details.
The final pieces were the huge axe, which I already had – it’s foam, by the way – and the basket, which I picked up cheap at the same time as I bought the red skirt fabric. The red checked fabric was bought at the same time from the remnants bin.
All in all, this was a pretty easy costume, and very little had to be purchased. It won my company’s Halloween costume contest, and amused the hell out of kids who came to our door trick-or-treating!
One of the things I’m working on this year, as part of my effort to revamp and revitalize my craft business, is new photographs. For one, I have a lot of un-photographed inventory right now. For another, my photography has gotten better. And when selling things online or applying to juried shows, photography is the only way you really have to present your work.
Jewelry is notoriously finicky to photograph. Metal and crystal colors seem to fight every step of the way to not be true to life. You need to get close, sharp, photos to really get the small details in jewelry. But after several iterations of my photographs, I’m actually really happy with how they’re turning out.
Want to see how far I’ve come?
This is the first pair of dice earrings I sold on Etsy. Not a terrible photograph, but not good product photography. Fortunately, I figured that out fast.
One of the photographs I took this morning. Much better, right?
So, how did I get from the first picture to the one from today? There were lots of steps in the middle, but the core of how I’m taking and posting nice photos now is actually really simple.
- Got rid of the busy hanging prop. I do still take photos both of my earrings hanging and laying down, but for the hanging photos I use a small solid colored bucket (that matches the feel of my shop) and a white earring display fake ear bust. What prop of set up works best for you will depend on your jewelry, but it should never distract from the jewelry.
- Yes, I admit I bought a nice camera. But you don’t have to. As long as you have a macro setting on your camera (looks like a little flower) you can take decent up close pictures. I upgraded to a Nikon SLR because my previous camera’s automatic white balance sucked. But I use very little of the advanced features of my camera when taking jewelry photos. I don’t have the time with the number of pieces I need to photograph.
- I do have a light box. It was actually used in the first picture. It was not used in the second. Here’s what my photography setup was today:
That, folks, is a folded box and some white poster board leaning on a large vase on my kitchen table. The ambient light from a cloudy day outside is perfect. Yes, it does mean I need daylight to take my best photos. So Saturday mornings have become photography days.
The next thing to know is that photos do not come out of my camera ready to post online. Here’s what they look like when I upload them to my computer:
I use Gimp, a free photo editing software, for quick and easy touch ups.
First, the photo needs to be cropped. It should be taken down to as close to the items as possible, while still making sense. In this case, I chose to keep the complete earring card in the photo.
Not bad, but dark. Next, I open up the Levels tool. I slide the right side all the way to where the chart starts, to brighten the grey up to white. On the left side I slide it in just a little bit, to keep the darker tones and a good contrast.
And that’s it! Saved, this photo is ready to go on my website.
So, there’s been a touch of steampunk in several of my posts lately. Costumes. Jewelry. I like the aesthetic. So, here’s a celebration of the diverse and eclectic world of steampunk, handmade by more Etsy artists.
Click on the images to be taken to the artists’ shops. All photos belong to the artists.
More wonderful steampunk from Etsy can be found in my treasury here. And I’m still open to ideas for future Geek Shopping Fridays!
Finally, I’m happy to say Laura is the winner of my very first giveaway! Let me know which piece of recycled book jewelry you would like (pendant, earrings, or cuff links) and how you would like me to get them to you.