Tag Archives: holiday

96: Deer Ears

I’m not generally a costume person, but after getting (good-natured) grief at the Halloween parties last year, I knew I had to step up my game.  Of course, I also wanted to kill two birds with one stone and make it a blog project as well!

I had to use Ryan's favorite photo, right?
I had to use Ryan’s favorite photo, right? 

To still be “me” and keep my costs down, I decided a deer costume was the ticket.  I thrifted a brown skirt to pair with my white button up and brown sweater, and the makeup was from the college theater class.  To complete the look, I designed a pair of deer ears.

We cut the plush fuzzy side down.
We cut the plush fuzzy side down.

We cut felt really early in the blog run, way back during Week 4, Rock Band Drum Covers.  We learned the hard way the smell of laser cut wool was pervasive, so I used synthetic felt to construct the ears. Jo-Ann’s has a plush felt that was perfect, and at less than $6 a yard.  We needed less than 1/8 of a yard for the project.

Paper attempts - I decided to ditch the bottom fold on the bottom ear for simplicity.
Paper attempts – I decided to ditch the bottom fold on the bottom ear for simplicity.

I knew I wanted something more realistic looking than “Cut a petal shape and pinch at base.”  I consulted Google for deer ear shape images and I did a practice run in paper.  I’ve never really drafted a pattern before, so the paper was to test where folds would go and what the fabric to look like before folding and gathering to give it the appropriate shape.

Full ear shape
Full ear shape
All the little parts, before I cleaned up the fuzzy extra bits of felt.
All the little parts, loose on the right and in place on the left, before I cleaned up the fuzzy extra bits of felt.

Deer ears are brown with white inside, and than get brown again near the inside base.  To really get full use of the laser, I did decorative swirls on the inside of the ears.  We found that while the laser cut the material nicely, the inner swirls were too tight of a cut and got a little melty and stuck to the “plush” part of the felt.  Not a big deal, but they had to be trimmed out later by hand.

First fold
To get the ear shape, my first fold was straight down.  You can see where it’s going, but the curve at the base isn’t right.  On the final run, the inner swirls would already in in place in the ear.
Second fold, which I think technically makes a dart. This care the ear a more natural curve and created fullness
Second fold, which I think technically makes a dart. This gave the ear a more natural curve and created fullness.
I basically whip stitched the folded end, making sure all three layers got sewn together. The top of the swirl isn't sewn down, though I did end up tacking it with superglue.
I basically whip stitched the base, making sure all three layers got sewn together. The top end of the swirl isn’t sewn down, though, because I didn’t want brown thread to be shown on the front, or white thread on the back.  I ended up tacking it with superglue.
I had the perfect shade of embroidery floss to attachh the ear to the clear com. I tried to cover as much of the comb as possible, just in case my hair didn't cover it. I chose the comb over a headband because I could blend it into my hair better.
I had the perfect shade of embroidery floss to attach the ear to the clear comb. I tried to cover as much of the comb as possible, just in case my hair didn’t give full coverage. I chose the comb over a headband because I could blend it into my hair better.
Detail of how they are attached to the comb
Detail of how they are attached to the comb
Completed ears!
Completed ears!
Closeup of the hair - I did end up taking out the top bobby pin when I was sure it was all set.
Closeup of the hair – My hair is fine, so I didn’t have enough to volume to cover my ears and keep the combs in place and covered.  I compromised with a low drape under the fake ear that I held up with a barrette – partially covering the ear and holding up the felt ear in case gravity became too much!  I did end up taking out the top bobby pin when I was sure it was all set.
Eyes shut version so you can see the makeup.
Eyes shut version so you can see the makeup.

The makeup was a lot of fun to do.  I used the brown and white pots of my Ben Nye creme make up kit, and everything else is black eyeliner and mascara.  There are a ton of you tube videos for the deer look (It’s really quite in right now) but they were a little too over the top for me and involved too many fake eyelashes.  I took my inspiration from this image (unfortunately I can’t track down the original source), but I pulled back on the fawn spots, added a black lip and white to the nose which is seen on some deer – like this great photo of a mule deer by Anthony Dunn.

The costume was a hit, and just my speed.  The makeup and hair, shockingly, lasted all night, and I’ll have the ears for years to come!

Save the best for last - I had to make a tail too!
Saved the best for last – I made a matching tail too 🙂

51: Personalized Ornaments

plated

Merry Christmas Eve!  Around Thanksgiving I was out shopping with my high school friend, and she kept migrating towards decorative items with the letter “K” for her holiday decorations – her new last name.  And anything glittery.  Put these things together, and I knew the perfect thing to make her and her husband Chris for Christmas – a glittery laser cut ornament!

header-2

Unassembled ornament
Unassembled ornament
How they fit together, because a picture is better than my words at this point!
How they fit together, because a picture is better than my words at this point!

I could have made a simple flat ornament, but I wanted it to have a little more depth.  I made two flat pieces that slot together to create a ball shape.  I personalized these by making the emphasizing their initial (K), and spelling out their names on the cross pieces.

The prototype is the unpainted one.  It has a couple problems.  First off, I didn’t choose a good font – too many burnt thin bits.  Secondly, the logical arrangement of the names doesn’t really work in the round; it makes it a have a front and a back, and the names only read correctly from the front.  I wanted them correct as the ornament rotates; so in the final version I flipped “Chris” do it would be correct as it turned.

Prototype with finihed piece - Chris looks backward from this angle, but as the piece turns, it makes more sense
Prototype with finihed piece – Chris looks backward from this angle, but as the piece turns, it makes more sense

The second important part of this venture was glitter!  I went into thinking that I would just buy glitter spray and be done with it, but at $7.99 a can it was a bit too much (I wanted two colors and needed to base colors.  I was not spending $30 for paint supplies!)  So I got one spray to try out, and craft paint for the rest.  I also painted the bamboo prior too cutting, so I wouldn’t have to worry about paint mucking up the small spaces.

Krylon glitter blast spray on the left, Red Glitter paint from on the right.
Krylon Glitter Blast spray in diamond dust ($7.99) on the left, Red Glitter “Craft Twinkles” paint from DecoArt ($1.99) on the right.
White sparkles - subtle
White sparkles – subtle
Red Sparkles - unevev
Red Sparkles – uneven

Verdict on the paint:  My underlayer (especially for the white ornament) was very brush-y and should have had two coats.  A sprayed underlayer may have covered more smoothly.  As for the glitter, the glitter blast spray  went on beautifully, but was MUCH more subtle.  To the point it was difficult to show in the photographs.  The red was much more visible, but not as evenly applied.  I think I still preferred the (cheaper) red though.

Lesson learned with glitter paint and the laser: glitter laughs in the face of transfer tape, at least low tack.  As mentioned before, we use transfer tape to protect the surface while cutting from excessive burn, which was needed for an intricate job like this.  But it would not stick.  So the ornaments, the white one especially, look a little singed.

For the future: I like the concept design, but the cut out names were just too intricate and make the ornaments more fragile than I’d like.  I think the cut out initial is awesome, but I think I’ll engrave the names next time.  What do you think?

I hope you all have a good holiday and have enjoyed the second to the last post of 52 Lasers’ first year!

The lighted K was an unintended consequence.  A cool one.
The lighted K was an unintended consequence. A very cool one.
I also made one for my parents :)
I also made one for my parents 🙂
The beautiful backdros to these photos are courtesy of the Aurora Historical Society Tanner House Museum.  The volunteer designers do amazing work!
The beautiful backdrops to these photos are courtesy of the Aurora Historical Society Tanner House Museum. The volunteer designers do amazing work!
Another unintended consequence - these awesome little letters to use!
Another unintended consequence – these awesome little letters to use!

49: A Modern Wreath

For those that know me, the idea of me making Christmas decorations seems a little foreign. I have been accused of being a Grinch (though I’m not sure why simply not decorating for Christmas makes my heart two sizes too small!)

Though maybe my spartan Christmas ways are disappearing – I couldn’t help feeling that my door was a little naked this year.  Perfect for a project on 52 lasers!

Modern Wreath (1 of 9)

I had a more traditional idea for a wreath – a ring of engraved holly leaves and berries with dangling ornaments – but instead decided go modern with the chevron design.  I couldn’t cast off my “hate owning things that I can only use once a year” sensibility so quickly; the chevrons can hang for all seasons.  Monograms are tricky in this household (I kept my maiden name) but I decided to go with the more traditional “M” for Ryan’s last name in the center.  Once it was finished, it tugged at my heart strings – it reminded me of the milled aluminum screen door at my great-grandmother’s house, the one with the “P” set into it for “Putzier.”  I wonder if anyone has a picture of that.

I ran out of time to paint it for this post, but it would be fun to give it a once over with a good color.  Or maybe dress it up with a bit of ribbon that you could change seasonally.  The nice things about wood is that it always seems to go with everything!

Modern Wreath (9 of 9) Modern Wreath (3 of 9)

41: Pumpkin Decorating

Pumpkins (15 of 21)I’m doing my best Martha Stewart impression with our 52 Lasers version of pumpkin decorating.  We are definitely not the first to put laser to pumpkin; you can see Design Sponge’s amazing punched tin style pumpkin and Seattle Food Geek’s amazing in depth study on lasering a pumpkin for some awesome inspiration.

Pumpkins (13 of 21)

The set of limitations I had: I didn’t want to carve all the way through the pumpkin.  Probably too many bad memories of mushy, half rotted hollowed out pumpkins, but I didn’t want to cut into them.  So that also cut out lighting them.

We also don’t have the awesome rotary attachment (yet) that would allow us to engrave the pumpkin in the round, and I didn’t want to go searching for that one, perfect, flat sided pumpkin that would allow us to get a larger etching space.  I decided to instead work mainly with the largest flat area on a pumpkin; the top.

I had a little trouble finding the wide squished looking pumpkins I wanted, so I settled on smaller pie pumpkins.  They had a lovely color, lovely shape, and there was one that didn’t have a pesky stem at all!

Three naked pumpkins
Three naked pumpkins

For our our tester pumpkin I grabbed the tall one and decided to engrave a quick image on the flatter side (pretty much contradicting what I just said above!) – no sense of setting up something complicated if it didn’t work!  It features a vintage “Hallow e’en” title taken from a turn of the century postcard and a skull and cross bones.  We did two passes at 50% power, and then, since it went to well, did a third at 100% power.  So much for caution.  It resulted in a deep etch, and and it looked great…except for the unnerving tendency to weep.  Yep, we made the pumpkins cry on our laser.  My guess is that we got past the hard skin into the meat of the pumpkin that had more moisture.

Pumpkins (7 of 21)
See those tears rolling down the cross bones? Poor thing.
Frames engraving
Framed engraving

I did cut a little black frame for the engraving to kind of dress it up the engraving, since the tester didn’t get a nice paint job, but the paper was too thick and wouldn’t stick well.  So it doubles now as a jaunty hat or a lovely (tiny) paper doily underneath.

Pumpkins (1 of 21)For the larger of the squat pumpkins, I made up a ring of text with “Boo!” and little images of bats, cats, etc.    The ring was to decorate the top of the pumpkin, but to get the focal length right required a bit of delicate trimming with a hacksaw.  I had to trim the dried stem, because it was too long and would have hit the laser head as it moved back and forth.  A little indelicate, but it didn’t turn out badly.

Painted up and ready to go.
Painted up and ready to go.

Once everything was aligned correctly, we etched the top at 100% power, 80% speed.  The engraving isn’t as deep, but it looked great under the laser.  Admittedly a moment of panic set in when I scrubbed the engraved areas and the writing all but disappeared – but when it dried the text was visible again.  I finished this one off by painting the bottom half green, and covered up my paint line with a black and green ribbon.  A pretty swanky effect!

Pumpkins (5 of 21)Amusingly, the pumpkin idea that inspired this whole post was the last one we cut.  I was initially inspired by the lace covered pumpkins I’ve seen on Pinterest, and wanted to emulate that by laser engraving.  To make it really pop, I prepped the pumpkin with (decidedly unHalloween-like) teal acrylic paint.  The color was a) one I liked, b) only one of three I had, and c) probably inspired somewhere in the back of my head by a friend posting on Facebook about the Teal Pumpkin Project promoting an allergy safe trick-or-treating experience (thanks Erin!).  I painted it first and then sealed it to give it gloss and to protect against the weeping the pumpkin does under the laser.

Pumpkins (9 of 21)I used the pumpkin without a stem, as this gave us a greater canvas, and engraved the lovely lace pattern I found at Recoursos2D.  (The file doesn’t really give original artist attribution, so if they took it from another source, please let me know!) We went for 100% power, 50% speed, and the laser cut right through the paint and sealer.  This is a happy pumpkin; it did not shed a single pumpkin tear.  Apparently we didn’t engrave deep enough.   I didn’t scrub this one clean because I liked the gradual color change as the lace curved down, and I didn’t want to mess up the paint job.  It turned out beautifully!

Pumpkins (14 of 21)

Close up of the subtle color change.  It's a bit of soot from the burning.
Close up of the subtle color change. It’s a bit of soot from the burning.

I think the experiment was a success!  There were no adverse effects to the laser, the smell wasn’t awful, and the end product is something I’m excited to show off.  Perhaps we’ll have the rotary attachment to try pumpkins in the round next year!