Strawberries & Ruffles: A Kaylee doll from Firefly

January 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Something about the character Kaylee from Firefly gives me the craft bug–last week I posted about the very first doll I made, which was a Kaylee doll, and a few months ago I posted about my friend Angela’s Firefly birthday party and the Kaylee cake that I made.

Well, I’ve been at it again, and here she is:

A new Kaylee doll! This time she’s wearing her party dress from the Firefly episode ‘Shindig’

In the episode her hair is down, but this doll was a Christmas/12th Night present for my friend Angela (yes, the same Angela!), and by special request this doll has her hair in buns.

This Kaylee doll is handsewn from felt, ribbons, sheer ruffled trim, and tiny buttons. I based her on Mimi Kirchner’s pattern for The Purl Bee, but I adapted the instructions as I went.

In the Firefly episode it’s never possible to see Kaylee’s feet, so I have no idea what shoes she might have been wearing under her enormous fluffy dress! I decided that she’s just the kind of girl who would wear her boots, though, so I made boots with pink laces–and left them untied, because how would you tie your shoes while you’re wearing an enormous fluffy dress?

This doll has actually been a long time in the making–Angela asked me to make her a Kaylee doll, in her party dress, with her hair in buns, and that was four years ago. Two years ago I was going to make her this doll, and even cut out most of the pieces for her…and then never got around to it. So this year I was determined to get her finished! I was still two weeks late for 12th Night (which is when my friends and I celebrate Christmas and usually when we exchange gifts), but oh well 😉

Happy Christmas, Angela!

This Kaylee costume actually belongs to my sister, but look! A handy doll carrying strap!

Perfection.

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From the Archives: Plush Kaylee from Firefly

January 16, 2012 § 3 Comments

A craft from the archives! It is, of course, a little plush doll of Kaylee from the TV show Firefly. I made this doll four years ago as a gift for a friend of mine, and it was my very first doll making projects. I used a pattern and a tutorial that I found online, but I’ve long since lost the address and I haven’t been able to find it again.

I made a huge number of mistakes–I chose fabrics that raveled horribly, like flannel instead of felt (what was I thinking?) and a nylon fabric for the shirt that raveled so badly that I had to singe all of the edges in order to sew it together. I made the entire project so much harder than it needed to be! It was really a huge fumble, from beginning to end, but I was so proud of her, and proud of myself for making her.

Sometimes it’s easy to be frustrated with my own skills–nothing is ever perfect enough. My projects are always fundamentally flawed in some way, and it can be hard to feel up to par with an internet full of people who seem to produce perfect projects (which are, of course, photographed beautifully). Maybe it’s just me, but I’m often proud of my projects and embarrassed by them at the same time, which is why I find myself trying to show things off to people while pointing out all of the flaws. “Look what I made! Do you like it? Are you impressed? You are? Yay! Of course, this and this and this were all wrong, and this part was a disaster, and actually the whole thing was terrible I can’t believe I’m showing this to you, I’ll go away and hide now.”

Anyway. I made this doll. I still think that she’s really cute, and I’m still proud of her–but I’m even more proud of the fact that I can look at this project and know that my skills have improved so much in the last four years, and that if I made this doll again it would be a hundred times better. Perfect I am not, but that leaves plenty of growing room.

…now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’d better end this blog post before I start accidentally writing Hallmark cards 😉

Happy Birthday, Tolkien: A Smaug Cake

January 9, 2012 § 5 Comments

Happy New Year! And happy birthday, Professor Tolkien! J.R.R. Tolkien was born on January 3, a birthday shared by my youngest sister, so of course I often make a Tolkien themed something. Last year I made hobbit hole cupcakes. This year I made a cake! And I’ve had The Hobbit on the brain (who doesn’t, lately?) so it had to be a Smaug cake.

Smaug, curled up on his hoard of stolen dwarvish treasure.

My Smaug is inspired/loosely based on this illustration by Tolkien:

I made Smaug out of fondant, molded mostly with my hands with a little help from a chopstick and a sharp knife. I used an icing tip to press ‘scales’ into the fondant of Smaug’s body, and the handle of my small offset spatula to press indentations for the arm and leg sockets, and made the limbs (legs/arms and wings) separately. I let the fondant dry and harden overnight, then painted the pieces with gel food coloring mixed with vodka, and then brushed it all over with sparkly yellow luster dust.

The cake itself is a chocolate cake, filled and covered with peanut butter mousse. Then I put a wire cooling rack across the sink, set the cake on it (holding it carefully with one hand to make sure that it didn’t slip and dump my cake into the sink!), and covered the cake with sparkly yellow sugar sprinkles for gold, red, green, and blue sugar sprinkles for gems, white nonpareils for pearls, and a sprinkling of gold luster dust for extra sparkle–a delicious hoard that would make any dragon proud!

Keep Calm and Carry On: A Bag

September 17, 2011 § 3 Comments

I keep promising myself that I’ll do more crafts, and take more pictures, and then post more, and maybe even get caught up on that craft project that I was doing….

….but I don’t. Because I am a bad blogger. On other hand, this blog is an exercise in vanity to a certain extent–it’s not like I have an audience depending on me for inspiration. So I try not to worry too much. And I’ve been working so many hours that it’s a miracle whenever I do any crafts at all, so. It’s an even bigger miracle when I take some pictures of my crafts, especially since I habitually make things in the middle of the night, when the lighting is terrible.

Oh well. I will just post bad pictures! Because I can, and I want to show you what I made. I made it at 2am, the night before I left to drive to Atlanta for Dragon*Con (I got an hour and a half of sleep–thank goodness that I didn’t have to drive at all! I had fourteen hours to sleep in the car on the way), because I was determined to have an appropriate bag to carry over the weekend.

And here it is:

If you aren’t familiar with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog…well, 1) why are you here instead of watching it? and 2) you don’t get this bag. But in short, it’s a quote from Dr. Horrible, styled to reference the famous Keep Calm and Carry On poster.

Which, by the way, is a thing that I love. In fact I loved it before it was cool (/hipster).  Not only do I love the original poster, I love the many variation on it, as you can see by the poster hanging over my bed, behind the bag (it says ‘Keep Calm and Don’t Blink’, a reference to a Doctor Who Episode). There are three more in my room (the original, ‘Now Panic and Freak Out’, and ‘Keep Calm and Carry Yarn’). So when I saw this t-shirt I had to have it. Unfortunately it looked awful on me! It was designed to be displayed on a flat surface, which is something that I am…not. I have too much curvature to be a good display surface, so of course I had to find another use for my awesome shirt.

I actually have a whole stack of t-shirts that I want to make into bags, so I’ll try to make a tutorial next time–it was surprisingly simple! Except that I couldn’t find the cutting mat, and it was 2am, and I was using a cardboard box (which was just not the same), so it was actually difficult and frustrating, but it didn’t have to be. And it turned out okay!

It's 3am, I have my bag, my suitcase, and my real-clothes-that-feel-like-pajamas road trip outfit on...I wonder what I should do next?

And it coordinates with the patch on my bag! After much searching I found the perfect suitcase for me–almost. I wanted it to have a splash of color, something that would make it distinctive and easy to spot, and after glancing around my room, I knew what would be perfect.

It’s a Keep Calm and Carry On patch on a carry-on suitcase. It’s so brilliant that I will be laughing at my own joke forever.

The awesome patch came from the wonderful SteamPatchCompany, where the quality is high and the service excellent. Thank you so much, SteamPatchCompany!

A Little Firefly Shindig – with cake!

August 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

So, if you know me from anywhere else on the internet then you already know, but last week we celebrated my friend Angela’s birthday with a little Firefly-themed shindig! And it was awesome! In fact, it was shiny.

If you have no idea what Firefly is, then go forth and watch it. All of it. Then come back. We’ll wait.

…awesome, isn’t it?

It was very much a laid-back, small scale event for us—Chinese take-out, fresh fruit (strawberries!), cake, and party games while Firefly played on the TV.

My big project, which was a surprise for Angela, was a doll cake based on the fluffy ball dress that Kaylee wears in the episode ‘Shindig’!

Jewel Staite as Kaylee in the Firefly episode 'Shindig'

Ta-da!

She’s a vanilla sponge cake, carved into shape and then filled and covered with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The doll came from the dollar store, and once upon a time she was a mermaid with really terrible hair–she came with a ponytail, so other than a ring of hair around the top of her head she was bald! I colored the bald spot with a brown marker, then used a hot glue gun to glue her hair into place (carefully covering her scalp). Then I trimmed her hair, cutting off the ugly matted fresh-from-the-box curls and making it the right length for Kaylee.

While I was gluing things I also glued all of the doll’s joints, and forced one of her arms to one side and glued it in place so that she could have a pose that didn’t look like a stiff-armed zombie! In fact I was so busy gluing and icing things that I didn’t take a single progress picture, but you’d rather look at more pictures of the finished cake, right? I thought so!

I didn’t time my cake decorating, but I estimate that I spent about an hour and a half piping the ruffles onto her skirt, then another hour and a half altering the doll and decorating her bodice (the single most time consuming part of the doll? getting icing onto her torso and making it smooth!). I know that I worked on the cake from about 4pm until 8pm, and I watched all of Wall-E while I did the bodice. My favorite part was making the ruffles–they were so fun! I could have piped ruffles for hours.

My hand was definitely hurting the next day, but it was worth it!

Birthday girl & cake!

There were also chocolate cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese icing, complete with parasols (another reference to the Firefly character Kaylee)…

Angela made a gorgeous Inara in her sari!

So elegant!

 I decided to portray a character who doesn’t actually appear in the show–“Ma Cobb”. In the Firefly episode ‘The Message’, Jayne Cobb, the rough-around-the-edges-and-he-is-entirely-made-of-edges tough guy, gets a package from his mother containing a very cunning hat:

"Man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything."

Imagining the tough old salt-of-the-earth woman who would raise a son like Jayne and send him a hat like that tickles my funny bone, and that is the truth. It was also easy! I just filled my apron pockets with orange yarn (and yes, I have this yarn specifically for the Jayne hats that I will get around to knitting sometime) and wore a ratty straw hat. I also borrowed a toy rifle. And I got to take pictures with llamas! A win all around.

Fact: If you take pictures with llamas, the llama will steal the show.

And Jenn came as Jayne! …Mostly because it meant she got to carry around a big knife.

The party games were excellent–we played a game that I think some people call ‘Who am I?’, but which we call the ‘pieces of paper with names on the forehead game’.  Most people play it as a mixer, with everyone milling around, but I prefer our version–everyone wrote a name, then gave it to the person next to them, who put it on their forehead without looking at it. Then everyone got three questions (‘either or’ questions, like ‘am I male or female?’, or ‘yes and no’ questions, like ‘am I from an awesome TV show about cowboys in space that was cruelly canceled after one perfect season?’) and a chance to guess their identity, and we went around the table like that. When someone figured out who they were, the person on the other side of them would give them a new identity and we just kept going. Most people figured out who they were within two or three rounds…in fact, most people had figured out two identities before I managed to guess my first! (I was Bambi. Thanks, Z!)

Melody figured out that she was 'Nathan Fillion' almost immediately!

It took Angela a little while longer to figure out that she was Moya from Farscape, but she got it eventually!

We also played ‘the sentence game’, which we sometimes explain to people as ‘Pictionary Telephone’–it involves each player having a stack of paper, writing a sentence, then passing the stack to the left, where the next person reads the sentence, draws a picture illustrating it, then passes to the left again, where the next person looks at the picture and writes down what they think the sentence might be. At the end everyone goes through their stack and hilarity never fails to ensue, especially when people add their own special interpretations…

Llamas are knitting while they plan the deaths of their enemies!

Best party ever?

Best party ever.

Swap Package: The Hobbit

May 27, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’ve mentioned before that I participate in a Folklore & Fairy Tales group on Ravelry, and that we do seasonal package swaps, which I always love! My last package had an owl theme, inspired by my swappee’s screenname.  This time, however, our seasonal discussion and knit-a-long topic was The Hobbit. As you may have noticed, Tolkien is one of my favorite things, so I enjoyed putting this package together.

Here is the package! ...except that those three copies of The Hobbit? Those are all mine. They're just in the picture to hold other things up in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Yes, it is necessary for me to have three different copies of The Hobbit, why do you ask?

My first idea for the theme of the package was for it to be a collection of the things that got left behind during Bilbo’s journey–the buttons he lost while escaping from goblins, a handkerchief he probably dropped, etc. Then things just sort of…rolled along, and before I knew it I was writing a letter under the name of Thistle Took (yes I gave myself a hobbit name, because I am cool), a hobbit historian researching the history of Bilbo’s journey in order to write a book about him, and sending some of the artifacts she’d collected to be housed in a museum of local history in the Shire.

The artifacts are:

-Bilbo’s lost buttons

-Bilbo’s lost handkerchief (embroidered with his monogram by me)

-the silver tassel from Thorin’s hood (I couldn’t find a silver tassel, so I made my own)

-a crown of elf flowers that will not fade from Rivendell (made by me)

-a copy of Thorin’s map (…printed out by me)

-a silver pony charm (I didn’t make this one, but I did make up a story about it! If you’ve read The Hobbit then you may have noticed that Bilbo and the dwarves manage to go through several sets of ponies in the course of their journey. They start out with ponies, lose them all, borrow ponies and are (wisely) compelled to return them, borrow more ponies and lose most of them–being a dwarf’s pony is not a safe position at all.  Surely, I thought, people would have given the dwarves grief about their inability to keep ponies–a little gentle teasing. Surely. So I decided, and Thistle Took recorded in her letter, that among the people of Dale something that was likely to be lost or broken was often called a ‘dwarf pony’, and that charms like this one would be attached to protect whatever the object was from its fate of certain destruction.  It makes perfect sense to me!)

-wooden dolls representing the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins, a popular children’s toy among the people of Dale (made by me!)

The dwarves and Bilbo in their box

The dolls are my favorite thing. I am so happy with the way that they turned out!  They’re very simple, but I think they’re very cute, and fat Bombur is so adorable that I might just die.

Thorin Oakenshield & Co., plus Bilbo Baggins (burglar)

The dwarves can be identified by the colors of their hoods as follows:

Thorin – sky blue with a large silver tassel

Dwalin – dark green hood

Balin – red

Kili – blue

Fili – blue

Dori – purple

Nori – purple

Oin – grey

Gloin – brown

Bifur – yellow

Bofur – yellow

Bombur – pale green

Ori- grey

Bilbo, of course, had to borrow a dark green cloak, and has no beard.

Happy International Star Wars Day!

May 4, 2011 § 8 Comments

It’s May 4th–International Star Wars Day!

May the Fourth be with you!

(get it?)

In honor of Star Wars Day, I made some chocolates.

Some Star Wars chocolates.

Some Han Solo frozen in carbonite chocolates.

Disclaimer: No scruffy-looking nerf-herders were harmed in the making of this chocolate bar.

Why?

BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME. THAT IS WHY.

I’m not the first person on the internet to do this, but as soon as I saw this blog post I knew I had to have a Han Solo in carbonite chocolate mold of my very own. Unfortunately you cannot buy a Han Solo in carbonite chocolate mold.

So I had to make one.

With science.

The blue thing on the right is my mold.

Okay, with food grade silicone from MakeYourOwnMolds.com and science.

I used Silicone Plastique®, which comes in two parts–a catalyst and a base.  They’re about the consistency of Play-Doh, and once combined you have fifteen minutes to make your mold before the silicone starts to ‘cure’.  Then you let it sit for an hour and ta-da! You have your very own custom mold!

Science is awesome.

And delicious.

May the Fourth be with you.

Always.

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