diy nerd

The Riddler :: Steampunk/Burlesque

Every year, I eagerly await Halloween. Most of the time, months prior, I know exactly what I’m being and exactly how I’ll put my costume together. This year, that wasn’t the case. I looked forward to the holiday as normal but I had no idea what I wanted to dress up as. (This proved to be incredibly stressful) Now, one Halloween costume is never enough and each year, I dress up in at least two costumes for different events but there is always a “main” costume, the big one. This year, in addition to my A Clockwork Orange and Nerdy 1950’s Playboy Bunny costumes, I put together a pretty kick-ass Steampunk/Burlesque Riddler costume. I brainstormed the costume, accumulated all the necessary pieces and supplies, and constructed my costume in less than 48 hours. If there’s one thing I do well, it’s put together an amazing costume. Here’s how I did it this time:

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On the left: all the items I bought for this costume – a lime green jacket from goodwill for $2, purple mask, mini purple and black topcoat, “steampunk” goggles, metal buttons and chain link from Wal-Mart (about $20 total), purple gloves and bowtie from Party City (about $8). I also bought a black tutu but didn’t end up using it with this costume. The purple tights from Target pictured with the purchased items, I actually had in my sock and tights drawer but they originally cost about $3.

One the right: all the items I already had – black corset, long black sheer skirt, lime green lace bra, lime green and white thigh-high stockings, short black shorts and white garter belt.

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On my previously mentioned trip to Wal-Mart for costume supplies, I also picked up some pray paint, fabric dye, ribbon, glitter and iron-on question marks (that I also didn’t end up using). I had more purple spray paint, fabric glue and stencils. I got to work.

I spray painted the metal buttons, chain link and goggles. I also spray painted purple ?s on the jacket. (Unhappy with the spray job on the goggles, I ended up painting them again by hand with acrylic paints and sealing with a glossy clear coat)

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I sewed the buttons and segments of the chain to the front of the jacket. (I sewed on four of the above pictured sets total). Using the lime green fabric dye, I set out to transform the white garter belt and stockings. This was the second time I ever attempted to use fabric dye and this was the second time it completely didn’t work. On the package it states that best results are not achieved on synthetic fabrics like nylon but you would assume it would work a little. No. As soon as I rinse the garments the color rinses completely out as if it weren’t dyed at all. I went with my usual means of dyeing to get this job done: Sharpies.

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For those of you who have never used the heaven-sent miracle instruments, Sharpies, to dye synthetics, allow me a brief tutorial:

1.) gather Sharpies in necessary colors

2.) pull Sharpies apart and remove ink-thingys

3.) slice ink-thingys open

Now, in the past I have mixed and made various shades buy combining Sharpie “ink-thingys” in squeeze bottles full of rubbing alcohol. I use these solutions to dye wigs usually. (And it works freaking fantastic!) This time, I threw these ink-thingys into a shallow pot of boiling water after removing from heat and then added the lingerie. I let them soak for about 10 minutes which was probably way more time than even necessary (compared to the hour time with that good-for-nothing fabric dye).

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I absolutely loved the way the garter belt came out! The stockings looked great too, an enhanced version of their original state. Thrown all together, a little pinch here and a little altering there, here is the final product (the back of the skirt isn’t well shown but its very bustley back there and when the front in hiked just a tad higher than seen below, the green garter belt really pops):

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So that’s that. My 2014 Halloween costume: Steampunk/Burlesque inspired Riddler. I’ll definitely have to post an update with more detailed pictures of the whole costume and my makeup under that mask. I was extremely proud of my brainchild and how it all came to fruition. I’m pretty badass sometimes. The only disappointment with my costume this year is that NPH totally had to steal my shine. He has cuter accessories anyway; I don’t have a foxy husband or adorable twins…

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Thanks for reading!

Love, GK

My sister snapped this pic of me when she woke up for work early Tuesday morning to find me on the back porch working away after an all-nighter. When she opened the door she said, with true honesty, “You’re insane.” My initial reaction was to spit out some reasons to the contrary but I couldn’t find the words and after some sudden self realization, I had to agree with a “…yeah.”

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DIY :: Bored Sherlock Clutch

Last night, I was feeling bored and crafty and still obsessing over my Sherlock inspired dress from Gold Bubble Clothing. When my sister asked if I wanted to join her in a late night trip to Wal-Mart for some things, I started browsing the craft aisles. I spotted felt squares in an elegant black and white pattern similar to Mr. Holmes’ wallpaper and I knew what I wanted to create: a Sherlock Clutch Purse. I picked up all the necessary supplies right there and then for less than $20. Here’s what I needed:

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  • $10.00 – Thick, boxy wallet
  • $0.97 – Felt Square (I bought 4, just in case, but only used 1)
  • $2.47 – Loctite Super Glue
  • $4.94 – Krylon Spray Paint in ‘Sun Yellow’

Before starting the project, I made my own smiley face stencil out of some water color paper (any sturdy paper or card stock will work.)

After cutting the felt square win half, I roughly measured each piece with each side of the wallet to get an idea of how much to trim. Once I felt comfortable with how much fabric I was working with, I began glueing the fabric to the wallet starting at the the bottom and stretching it to the top. Then, much like wrapping a present, I glued the sides while folding the corders in.

photo 2Once the fabric was attached on all sides and the glue had dried, I was ready to spray the smiley face on. I attached my stencil and made sure the rest of the wallet wasn’t exposed either. I sprayed on one coat, let dry, then, sprayed on another coat. Of course, the felt absorbed the paint quickly and I spray quite a bit of paint each coat.

I like the outcome! I’m not too bothered by the imperfections (mainly, the less than perfect edges and sloppy looking smile.) Next time, and I do believe I will be making another one of these in the future, I’ll know how to improve upon its construction. Most important amendment: making the smiley face stencil thinner to take into account the spreading of the paint on the fabric.

photo 1Glueing the fabric to the wallet took the most time but I managed to start and finish this totally Sherlockian Clutch Purse in less than the time it took me to watch The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story on Lifetime. (Did anyone fact-check Screetch’s “memories”?)

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Thanks for reading! If you make your own Bored Purse (headband, shorts, sneakers, whatever) I’d love to see! Great things can sometimes manifest out of boredom. Love, GK

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DIY :: Weeping Angel Barbies

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Recently, Nerdist shared a DIY craft tutorial from Off Beat Home on how to turn Barbie Dolls into Weeping Angels from (one of my favorite shows ever) Doctor Who! Having both come across the tutorial separately, my sister and I decided to take on the task together and had a lot of fun doing it!

While working through this project, Sarah and I discovered that Off Beat Home’s post and instructions left some of our questions unanswered. We also encountered some issues along the way which we were able to solve with a little creativity. I wanted to share our experience so others might avoid making some time consuming mistakes.

What You’ll Need

  • Barbie Dolls (or rather, knock-off dollar store fashion dolls – you don’t want to waste money on a new barbie or mess up an old one… she’s an American icon!)
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue Gun (and glue sticks. you will use a lot)
  • Spray Bottle full of Elmer’s (school) Glue and Water mixture (use a 50/50 ratio)
  • A ruler or measuring tape.
  • A base (for the stand)
  • Dowels (for the stand)
  • Fabric (suggested color: Gray.Also, choose a fabric that is lightweight and “flow-y”)
  • String/Yarn (suggested color: Gray.)
  • Feathers (you can buy a bag of feathers or rip them off of a feather boa like we did)
  • Primer Spray Paint (Gray)
  • Stone Spray Paint (Gray)
  • Thin Cardboard for Wings (or thick card stock)
  • Small Rubber bands
  • Cotton Balls

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Phase One :: Prep Materials

Prep Dolls :: Fix her hair by putting her hair in a low pony tail. Then, twist hair into a bun. I chose to have my angels with big beauty queen buns on the tops of their head but you may decide to cut the dolls hair shorter and form the bun lower on the head, closer to the neck. It’s your preference. It is also helpful to spray the crap out of her do with extra hold hairspray. Tie string around head.

Then, cut off your doll’s arms at the elbow. The dollar store fashion dolls that my sister and I purchased have hollow arms. This made it very easy to cut off the arms. If you use a legit Barbie Doll (which, again, I strongly advise against) you will have a significantly more difficult time cutting the arms and may require a more advanced cutting tool than ordinary scissors since an authentic Barbie’s arms are quite solid.

Prep Wings :: Using a thin (yet sturdy) cardboard, I drew out one wing. From wide top to pointy bottom, each wing was about 9 inches. (Best described as an elongated Yin-Yang shape). After cutting out wing #1, I used it to trace the amount of wings my dolls would require. (3 dolls = 6 wings.) Make sure to leave a section of board on each wing to attach them to the doll’s back (Note the shape of my wings in the above photo.)

Attach feathers to the wings using hot glue. (Pay attention to your edges!) Don’t even begin to stress about perfection when attaching the wings, once you spray them they will look very different. Just covered the cardboard enough.

Cut Strips of Fabric :: Cut fabric into rectangular strips about 18 inches long and 5 inches wide (I only cut mine 4 inches wide and wished I had given myself a bit more in width). I used a green fabric from an old long sleeve tshirt. This fabric ultimately proved to be almost a bit too heavy once covered in glue and paint. I suggest using a thin, lightweight fabric that will crinkle/flow nicely. I also suggest a gray or other light color fabric.

Assemble Stand :: I cheaped-out in this department and am still regretting it. I built a base out of layers of cardboard and then stuck a dowel in each. I would recommend purchasing a small circular piece of wood (typically found in the wood painting aisle of craft stores – usually among giant wooden letters and such.) Your biggest challenge when using a solid wood base is being able to drill a hole into it to insert the dowel (wooden rod). It is easier in the long run to put the time and energy into building a sturdy, heavy base for these dolls. My cardboard creation ended up absorbing all the paint, making it mushy and thusly flimsy and prone to tipping. (I will be improving upon my bases before displaying…)

I purchased one long wooden dowel and cut it into 9 inch pieces using a wire cutter. (You could also use heavy duty scissors)

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Phase Two :: Assembly

Glue Arms in Weeping Angel Positions :: My sister ended up mastering this step in the process. Using a small amount of cotton (cotton balls) she filled in the inevitable gaps in the elbow of each doll. By really manipulating the hot glue and cotton, she was able to secure the arms in position. We did a variety of positions including fully hiding their face, beginning to let their arms down and arms reaching out (which you don’t even have to cut-off and reattach arms if you’re making one in this position).

I wish I was better able to describe to you the arm-glueing process or even provide pictures of the process but when working, I simply forgot to document this step properly. I will say not to stress about perfection here either. Hot glue is easily detached if you need to try again and remember that you will be blasting these gals with rocky spray paint; any imperfections and lumps will blend in the end. Just have fun playing Doctor Frankenstein.

Glue Dolls to Stands :: Before dressing your ladies, glue her to her stand. Glue the feet to the base (I left my dolls’ shoes on but that really doesn’t matter. Use as much hot glue as you need her, it will be covered they fabric and paint anyway. I also used hot glue to attach the wooden dowel to each doll’s bum (right in the crack).

When gluing your dolls to their base, keep in mind the shape you’d like them to be in. I knew I wanted my three dolls to be in a series of motion so I glued the 1st Angels legs completely together and straight. The 2nd Angels (who is beginning to take her hands away from her face) is stepping forward with one leg and my 2rd and final Angel (whose arms are stretched out to claim her victim) is stepping forward with the opposite leg.

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Dress Dolls :: Fold your 18in strips of fabric in half and cut a small, half-moon shape in the fabric. Now, Slip each dolls head through the hole. The Strip of fabric is now draped down the front and back of each doll.

Next, use yarn/strong to tie fabric to doll. I chose to: tie around the wait, tieing in the back. Then, bring string up over each of the dolls shoulders. Cris-cross across the doll’s chest and then go around the waist again to tie off on the side. – You can tie your string however you like to/need to. I used bright red yarn and this became difficult to cover with paint later; I suggest gray or another light color yarn. I also suggest yarn over other types of string because it real provided the shape and texture I wanted.

Spray Dolls with Glue & Water Mixture :: This part is vital! Do not skip over this step! Spray your whole doll down with your glue and water mixture. Do multiple coats of this. During this step, you can mold the dress the way you’d like it (I wanted to make sure the motion in the angels legs was seen so I made sure to spray the fabric down to each leg.) Spray the string down into the position you’d like. Spray the hair and string in the hair. Spray the crap out of everything with this glue-water. The solution also creates a first layer barrier for paint to be applied. It stiffens the fabric and hair.

DO NOT ATTACH WINGS YET.

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Phase Three :: Spray Painting

Primer :: Spray your dolls with primer spray paint. I initially purchased a white primer, this was silly; use gray primer… (duh).

Attach Wings :: After the first coat of primer dries, use hot glue to attach the wings to each angel.

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More Primer :: (It is at this point in the process that it became clear to me that my shoddy cardboard base was not going to cut it. The dolls are now becoming quite heavy and a flimsy base won’t hold them up.) Give your dolls (now with wings attached) another coat of primer. Make sure to spray them down from all angles so as not to leave any places unsprayed. (Pay attention to nooks, crannies and creases.)

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Get Stoned :: Finally, after allowing the dolls to dry completely. Spray them with your gray stone spray paint. Let dry completely.

Wrap-Up

The most time consuming steps in the entire process were cutting out the shapes for the wings and attaching the feathers. Drying was also a bit of a problem since we were working in our back yard in south florida and humidity is not a friend of the paint drying process. If possible, bring the dolls inside to dry between each coat. (Cool, dry air is definitely necessary).

Once finished, you can go back with a fine tip sharpie and accentuate the facial expressions. I chose to skip this step. If you want to go the extra mile, before spraying your dolls at all, use molding clay to shape out a scary mouth and maybe even eyebrows and glue them to your doll’s face.

I’m actually kind of happy that my Angels retained their “Barbie look” with their big hair and hidden smiles. It looks more like “Weeping Angel Barbie” rather than mini Weeping Angels and I like that. You may chose to make yours more sinister.

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I’m happy to answer any questions you may have and would be excited to see your Weeping Angel dolls!

Thanks for reading! Love, GK.

Here’s a peek at how I displayed my Weeping Angels on top of one of my bookshelves. Eventually I’ll find a better spot for these beauties.

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