Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's not girly!

Hey there :)
So I thought I'd post my costume masterpiece of this year... Doug's 'Green Man' outfit.
Ok, so it started out as a tree, but Doug and I both got teased about how girly and dorky his costume was going to look, so I decided to make him the masculine personification of nature... Or something like that.
Anyway, please ignore the mess in the back-ground... this costume was finished amid decorating and cleaning, and I couldn't wait to take pictures.
It started with just a pair of dark brown pants and a green shirt from D.I. that fit him well enough to work with. I had some spare green fabric in my quilt and blanket bin, and was able to cut out a large enough circle to span his shoulders to create the 'yeoman hood and cape'... that's what it's called if you look for the pattern anyway. It's basically just a circle almost 40" across with a hole cut in the middle for the head. Then, so there wasn't a ton of extra fabric flapping around that I'd have to cover with leaves, I had him put his hands on his hips and tailored the fabric to fit snug around his arms, but allowing him enough leeway to move.
After I got the 'cape' the size and fit I wanted, I started hot gluing the leaves I'd been collecting off of clearance racks for a month or so onto it. I started at the bottom so that I wouldn't have to fuss with layering leaves under other leaves... Doing it from the bottom let me layer leaves on top of eachother.
The sleeves were pretty simple... Just strips of green fabric attached to the ends of the shirt sleeves cut into 6 tassels, and kinda wound/braided around his forearm. I'll probably try to come up with some kind of cuff for the wrist so the ends aren't dangling around annoying him...
The pants were really easy... I found another pair of pants with the color and texture I wanted at D.I., and cut them into small diamond shapes. I layered them the same way as the leaves, but instead of doing the whole leg, I did the bottom and intermittently towards the top, tapering off the higher they went.

I found a tutorial online for making your own masks at home (, and that's how I made this one for Doug. It was basically layers of tin foil molded to his face, then cut out and covered in a few layers of paper mache, then painted. It took a long time to do one this intricate, but I love the result!

So there it is, Doug's not girly 'tree' costume... I think it turned out pretty good :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Halloween Trees

My sister Lindsay has been telling me that I really need to post Halloween projects BEFORE Halloween.... But that would reveal all my secrets! So in an attempt to appease her, I'm posting about my FULLY AWESOME Halloween trees. No, I didn't think to take any during-the-process pictures (sorry), but I'll explain what I did and how I did it.

It all started when two of my maple trees died in the back yard. I was looking at them thinking "what a waste of a perfectly good tree"... so I cut them down at the base and found they were dry all the way through. Good for me, but bad for the trees :( But because they were completely dry, they were very light and easy to handle.

I was able to get them in the house to measure how much I would need to cut off so they would fit. Luckily I have a vaulted ceiling in my living room, so I was able to keep them about 12 feet-ish.

I took them back outside and after trimming off all the dried leaves that were still hanging on, and trimming off any broken twigs and such I spray painted them both black. I used about 1 whole Krylon can of black satin spray paint each. Sounds like alot, but spray painting a tree is different from spray painting a flat shelf of picture frame or whatnot... I did however try to stack them on each other so that any spray that missed one branch might hit another.

Once I had them painted, I used wire hangers (straightened out) to secure them into the pots.

These pots housed my tomato plants, but I decided they would be better used as decorations... A better way to go if you ask me. They are plastic, and I used a drill bit to punch 4 holes just under the lip of the rim of the pot to thread the hangers through.

Ok bear with me as I try to explain how I did this hanger-securing part. (and yes, that is the correct way to spell bear... I looked it up.)

I started by pushing my tree trunk into the largest floral-foam block I could find.... probably 12"x12"x12". Then I wedged it into the bottom of my pot, which was just under 12" at the bottom... It was quite snug, and allowed me to work with the hangers and not worry about the tree toppling down on me.

After straightening out each hanger and tying a knot in the very end of just one side (using pliers... I should have taken pictures of the blisters) I threaded a hanger through one of the 4 holes in the pot. Then I went around the left of the tree trunk 270*, and put the straight end of the hanger into the drilled hole on the right (90* away from starting hole), making the hanger into an 'L' shape.

Does that even make sense?

Aaaaanway, I pulled the hanger as far as I could while keeping the tree completely vertical, and used the pliers again to bend a hook in the hanger as close as possible to the outside of the drilled hole. The more rotated my pliers, the tighter the hanger got, since the hooked hanger was too big to fit back through the hole I drilled. I used the second hanger in the same way using the remaining two holes, but I pulled that one as tight as I could, putting as much pressure on both hangers as possible.

SO.... with the foam block at the bottom keeping the tree from tipping, and the hangers keeping the tree from wobbling, I came out with a very sturdy and balanced base for my trees.

Keep in mind this was NOT easy, but SO worth it... Because I took all that time, I don't have to worry about my tree tipping, I can just set it on its base and it wont lean or wobble.

If this sounds like WAY too much work to you, you could plug the holes at the bottom of your pot and fill it with small river rocks to make the base heavy enough it won't allow the tree to tip. Obviously, that's alot heavier, and it cant be transported on its side, nor lifted by the trunk of the tree with just one hand (wow, do I sound biased?), but it is much faster. I will still recommend the foam block at the bottom however.

After that I used a hot glue gun to secure my very large chunk of spanish moss to the inside of the pot, and voila, you have a super cool halloween tree.

Keep in mind, this is SO easy to personalize... I spray painted my pots black and my moss lime green for Halloween, but it would be so easy to decorate the pots as gifts with moss painted white for christmas, or a pink tree and pot with red moss for valentines day, the list goes on!

*sigh*.... If only I had more dead maple trees....