Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cthulhu LARP Masks

So I have finally finished a two-month-long major project: Creating eight original masks for a Cthulhu-themed Live Action Role Playing event. It was a challenge, but I enjoyed almost every minute of it!

The tentacles were made from polyfill fiber stuffed into plastic cones, with a wire center to create the twists and curls. The mask itself was cut from a piece of vinyl, then a layer of fusible webbing was added to the back, then a layer of felt for the wearer's comfort. The front was layered in small sequins. The entire mask was then painted with liquid latex. The paint job is entirely done by hand. Then a clear coat to seal everything completed the piece!

I couldn't believe how long it took me. I set them up assembly-line style, so they were all completed right around the same time. I think much of the time was waiting for the glue to dry, and of course those damn tentacles. If I were to make just one, I think it would take me a week... times that by eight... yeah, two months! I'm glad I got started nice and early...

Each mask is different, but they all look like something crawled up from the deep ocean... with the sole purpose of driving me completely insane. I read H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu for inspiration, along with an entire book of other Lovecraft stories of the weird. I can't believe I never read them before; they were perfectly to my strange tastes. Cthulhu fhtagn! :D

This project was a blast, but I need a break after all the hectic insanity. No rest for the wicked though; I have a bridal party that needs hair clips!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Review for Country Soaps by Marlene

This review is for an order from Country Soaps by Marlene, an Etsy shop selling handmade goat's milk soaps, shampoos, and other body products. I happen to be on the same Etsy team as her, WIST Moo Crew - all Wisconsinites! In fact she is based a mere 40 miles from me. I am also a Facebook fan of hers!

I ordered her natural deodorant in the Satsuma scent, which was on sale since the label was misspelled. I also ordered her goat's milk soap in Tangerine Twist. As a bonus, I received a thank-you gift of a small portion of Cucumber Melon scented shampoo bar. Here are my thoughts on these products.

Tangerine Twist Goat's Milk Soap

Upon opening the box and smelling the soap, I was at first disappointed. The tangerine was overpowered by a soapy smell. However, when I took it in the shower and lathered it up in my loofah, the tangerine smell was really let loose. It was very pleasant! This is the official description of the scent: "A refreshing blend of fresh, juicy tangerines, mandarin, and lemon, balanced with soft florals, mint, and sweet green herbs." The citrus was definitely the top note, with just a hint of herbs underneath. Because there are no sulfates, there wasn't a huge amount of lather, but it still did a wonderful job cleaning, and my skin felt lovely afterward. With some bar soaps, there seems to be a residue on the skin - this bar did not leave me with any unpleasant residue. Just a bit of rubbing into the loofah lasted for my entire body, and the soap washed out of my loofah easily.

All in all, I recommend this greatly!

Cucumber Melon Shampoo Bar

I have to admit something here - I am a professional shampoo and conditioner junkie. I love Paul Mitchell and Bedhead, Sexy Hair and Kenra. I worked in a salon for many years and thus received many many free samples. I'm finally running out of my stash, and I've been thinking about trying something more natural for a long time anyway. So finding this little thank-you gift was a nice surprise! However, because I am so used to my professional brands, I was totally at a loss as to how to use this. I tried to lather it in my hands without success. (Once again, the smell really came out when wet, and it was a pleasant, unobtrusive cucumber melon scent.) I did some quick googling and found a description of how to use shampoo bars: Getting the Most from a Shampoo Bar

As the article states, shampoo bars are better for those who are used to washing their hair less often. I am a daily shampooer, though I've been trying to cut that down to every other day. It's better for the hair and better on your wallet! How to apply the shampoo bar? Basically you will be pretending to comb your hair from front to back with the bar. Then lather it up. The article recommends to rinse and repeat. The bar does have conditioners built in, so the second time around leave the lather sit in the hair for a bit before rinsing. As the article points out, your hair will need an adjustment period to get used to this new routine!

The first time I used the bar, since I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't realize it had conditioners built in and so I conditioned it again. My hair felt very heavy and greasy that day. The second time, it seemed too dry afterwards, so I used some spray conditioner at the ends and was mostly pleased. I think I would like to try it a few more times before deciding if I would recommend this one or not. It is definitely an acquired taste, but if you have used bars before, I'm sure it's wonderful. I will have to practice with it some more and get back to you!

Satsuma All Natural Deodorant

This was on sale due to a printing error, but the product itself is just fine! This is the description of the smell: "The Japanese Satsuma is a unique, aromatic citrus fruit. Satsuma fragrance is a wonderful blend of orange, mandarin, mango, peach, lime, jasmine, and orange flowers. Energizing and intoxicating! This was not made with an essential oil but a Phthalate-Free & Nitro Musk Free Fragrance oil" I have to say I am absolutely in LOVE with the scent! Intoxicating is a correct assessment. Even my husband, who was skeptical of the whole idea of a "natural deodorant," admitted the scent was attractive.

I, too, was a little skeptical of natural deodorant, though I dearly wanted it to work. I've been looking for natural alternatives to my normal bath and body routine for awhile. I tried Secret Natural Mineral antiperspirant, but as you can see from this website, the ingredient list is pretty much the same as normal deodorant/antiperspirants. The ingredients of Marlene's natural deodorant are as follows: "natural bees wax, natural cocoa butter, coconut oil, castor oil, fragrance and corn starch." Seems to me like a much better definition of natural!

I put it on after my shower in the morning, and did a vigorous workout immediately after. The scent held up quite well, and there was minimal wetness. I did notice it starting to fail in the wetness department by the end of the day, but in the heat of the summer, I'd say it did a pretty good job. The scent was still there as well, though not as strong. It wasn't until I woke up the next morning that I could really tell it had all worn off.

All in all I strongly recommend this product as well, and in general I'm impressed with Marlene's work! I will definitely be purchasing from her again, and I hope you consider doing so as well!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Finally, an Update!

Yikes! It's been nearly five months since my last blog post! I apologize. It was a vicious circle - I got too busy to blog, then I realized there was a lot I wanted to blog about, so the list of things I wanted to include in my post got longer, then I realized I didn't have time for it, then I got to busy to blog; repeat. Eeek! I won't let that happen again. Lol.

Let's see, where did I leave off? Pics of the autumn LARP and some fun wedding hair clips. What have I been up to since then, you ask? Well, the two major projects that I am most proud of are:
*Another set of LARP masks, with an alien monster theme this time!
*A set of 18 headbands and 12 clips for a dance troupe in Italy!

So of course, here are the pictures!

My husband is modeling one of the masks in the first two photos. The last one is of the entire set - as you can see, they are each unique and one of a kind. I spent a long time hand painting them so the snakeskin fabric stood out, so each wrinkle was accentuated, and every mandible had the right texture. It was my first experience using this kind of medium, and I have to say I'm proud of how they turned out! I hope for the chance to do more in the future!

Now for the dance troupe's accessories.

Each autumn leaf clip was unique, and most of the headbands were unique as well, with just a few repeats; but even the repeats were set up slightly different from each other. The summer berry theme was my favorite to work with!

If I get any photos of these pieces in action from my customers, I will be sure to share! In the meantime, check out my newest store: WePay Store: Natura Pluma Designs. Using WePay, there are less fees, and you don't have to be a member to make a purchase. I am looking at setting up an Artfire store as well. I feel it will help to have options other than Etsy; though as of right now, you can still check out my Etsy store, Natura Pluma Designs for some great clearance-priced deals! I am still looking to clear out my inventory in preparation for a move, so help me out and get a great deal at the same time! :)

Just for fun, check out the other blog I created: a recipe blog called Veggies vs Bacon where I show you step by step some tasty, healthy recipes of my own design, and heart-cloggingly delicious recipes my husband has tried out.

Thanks for reading, and I will definitely be back with updates much sooner!

Listening to: Unwoman
Pics: A few new products!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Year, New Projects, New Sales

Once again I waited way too long in between blogs. But that's ok, because I have so much to share with you, it will make up for the past month of silence!

It looks like I have yet to show you the LARP pictures I promised, so here they are:

Aren't these photos amazing? I love the high quality, and I think the guys look pretty badass! All I can say is that it must have been tons of fun, and I hope to one day participate in something like this for myself!

It would be impossible to list all the treasuries I've been in since the last Treasury Love blog post, so I'll just include the ones I've been in so far this year.
Victorian Romance
Hazy Shade of Winter
Lord of the Forest

The latest project I've just finished is a set of hair clips for a friend of a friend's wedding. She wanted gerber daisies, and each of her bridesmaids is wearing a different color dress, so each hair clip needed to be different to match the dresses. For the bride's hair clip, she wanted white daisies with pink middles. This was absolutely impossible to find, so what I did was take apart white and pink daisies and put them together to look exactly how she wanted them. She also wanted them to have a few sparkly rhinestones, and to include a bit of her sister's veil. (Her sister tragically passed away far too young.) So here are the pictures of what I came up with. She cried a little bit upon seeing them.

I was so honored to be a part of her wedding day by making these for her. I love to make brides happy, because I know from experience that in the stress of organizing your own wedding, having something turn out just the way you wanted it to is incredibly important. I'm glad I was able to do that for her.

I also have another wedding for a coworker coming up in late summer, for which I'm creating some lily hair clips. I will share those with you when I complete them!

Speaking of big projects, I have the biggest project I've ever had coming up. I've been requested by a customer who is in charge of costuming at a dance theatre in Italy to make 30 custom clips for a performance. The dance is about the seasons, and I will be creating 12 autumn leaf clips for the adult women, and 18 summer berry headbands for the little girls. I am thrilled to pieces to be a part of this project, and I will definitely be sharing pictures of the finished project with you! I'm crossing my fingers I get some pictures of the actual dance troupe as well, and that they will be great photography like of my LARP group.


The last thing I want to share with you today is a major sale I'm having in my Etsy shop right now. I'd like to clear some room in my inventory for some new projects, and make my load a little lighter to take to the upcoming craft fairs this season. Therefore, I've marked down some of my leaf clips and a lot of my feather clips, in some cases more than half off. This is a great deal and I will only be doing it for a little while, so get them before they're gone! Also, I will be giving free shipping on any purchase of $25 or more. The shipping will be refunded to your PayPal account. This goes for any of my pieces, sale and non-sale. I hope this helps you get the pieces you've been thinking about! :)

Listening to: Nebelhexe