Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ice Cream Themed Birthday Party :: Two Year Old Girl

I love planning birthday parties. I love the theme choosing and the decoration crafting and the food making and the invitation designing...all of it. I JUST LOVE IT.

So when my daughter's second birthday was approaching I lost my mind a wee bit and went all out on the Ice Cream Shop theme! I chose this for two reasons; 

(1) I had scored a HUGE amount of ice cream party decor on Michael's clearance a few weeks earlier...cupcake liners, cupcake picks, napkins, adorable wooden spoons, paper lanterns, etc. I got a humongo bag full for less than $10 and figured I probably needed to put it to good use! 
(2) I saw this cake by Sweet Little Morsels on Pinterest and decided I NEEDED TO MAKE IT.

As with all my projects and endeavors, I start out with the most difficult part of the thing and if I accomplish that first, its usually smooth sailing from there. I knew I wanted to practice the cake before the big day, so I eugoogled some tutorials (this one is super!) and muddled my way through. (And I'm sorry in advance, for I failed to take any pictures of this part...IM THE WORST, I just bear with me.)
For the ice cream cone topper,  I packed some Rice Krispy Treat into my ice cream scoop, and turned it out onto some wax paper.
Then I melted some pink Candy Melts and completely covered the Rice Krispy 'ball'.
While that was drying, I cut a wooden skewer in half and poked it into the RK at the angle I wanted the cone to sit at. This is to give the cone a little more stability.
After that, I dipped a sugar cone into the Candy Melts, coating the edge nice and thickly, and stuck it onto the RK, over the skewer, and held it firmly together until the candy melt set up a little bit.
I then popped it into the refrigerator to firm up completely.

For the actual cake, I just used a box mix I had on hand, and used the AWESOME paper towel method for smoothing out buttercream frosting. It makes your icing SUPAH SMOOTH without having to use fondant. After that, I put the cake in the refrigerator as well to chill a bit before putting on the topper.

After everything was nice and chilly and the cone topper was plopped on the top, I made a white chocolate ganache that I colored the same pink as the Candy Melts I had used to form my 'melted ice cream scoop'  I tried the get the pinks as similar as I could. I then covered the ice cream and the top of the cake with the ganache, and VERY CAREFULLY added the drips to the edges. To finish, I topped it off with sprinkles! SPRINKLLESS!!!!!!

I was pretty happy with how it turned out, but I knew I wanted the actual cake to be taller and skinnier, and the drips a little more 'drippy'. So I used a smaller diameter cake pan, made three layers, and thinned out my ganache.

In hindsight, I probably should have added some skewers to the cake to stop it from being kinda lean-y, but it stayed up alright for the most part so I was pleased.

I also made some cupcakes with the leftover batter and icing, and proceeded to decorate ALL THE THINGS in the house.

I snapped this with my potato cell phone camera the night before (it was like 3 am when I finished because I'm OCD about decorations)

Also, as a forewarning, all of these pictures are going to have super wonky exposure because I thought it would be a good idea to put the party table in front of our french doors that receive ALL THE DIRECT SUNLIGHT in the afternoon. So...just...I'm sorry about that. I DON'T ALWAYS PLAN WELL OKAY.


All in all, I was really pleased with how the cake turned out, and my daughter LOVED it! I got the chipboard glitter '2' either from Target or Michaels...I can't remember which...and the cake stand I found at the thrift store and spray painted a white/gold ombre.

The straws were from Target and the jewel-tone punch cups I found at Hobby Lobby on sale for $0.40 apiece!! YAS BUY ALL THE CUPS YASSS!

The spoons were part of my Michael's clearance haul, and the paper cups were found in the Target dollar bins. OH TARGET DOLLAR BINS HOW I LOVE THEE.

I also made some giant ice cream cones out of tissue paper and spray painted party hats! Super easy!

The door hanger I made out of some leftover deco mesh I had and a piece of scrapbook paper for the cone.

And a few pictures of the birthday girl...I found her dress at Target on a clearance rack and LOVED it so much! It was actually a shirt for an older girl but I took up the straps and the bottom hem and made it a dress! The headband I found at Dollar Tree and I made a little clay ice cream cone to go on top. BECAUSE THEMES.

Daddy helping blow the candles out!

We love ice cream...

Y'all. I have the best mom in the whole world. She drove 10 hours to be at my child's birthday party <3

All in all, it was a wonderful, fantastic day! I'm so grateful to have such lovely people to share it with!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Lady Thor Helmet :: Cosplay

When Jason Aaron dropped the new Thor comic about a year ago, featuring a mysterious woman wielding Mjolnir and the name of the Norse God of Thunder, I was PUMPED. While Loki has had his (and her) share of genderbending comic appearances, it was exciting to me that Thor was going to get a makeover and new perspective.

After I read the first comic I was hooked...Lady Thor (I wont spoil her identity for you...but you should totes go read it!) is BA as all get out and I loved her costume so much I knew I wanted to cosplay it. I also liked that it was one of the more 'masculine' female costumes (which sounds backwards, I know) but in the world of tiny spandex body suits and stiletto boots, its nice to have a change of pace from your stereotypical BOOBS IN YO FACE getup.

  Whenever I look into a prospective cosplay, I start with the most difficult part of the costume, so I don't spend a huge chunk of time on other parts of it only to get to the end and not be able to do the more difficult pieces. With this costume, it was definitely the helmet.


I had never made any sort of helmet or armor, so I kinda went in blind on this one. I finally decided I would try paper mache, and try and get it smooth as possible.

The first step was to get the basic helmet shape to have a support base for the paper mache. I tried making a cardboard frame, which failed magnificently. SO magnificently, in fact, that I almost gave up on the whole thing right there.

Later whilst doing some laundry, I noticed that the top half of my bleach jug had the general shape of helmet crown, and I had an epiphany.


So I went to the local Dollar Tree (seriously like my favorite store ever...I can spend ALL THE DOLLAH DOLLAH BILLS at Dollar Tree) and bought THREE more jugs of bleach with the same shape plastic bottle. I also swung by JoAnns (ALSO MY FAVORITE STORE) and picked up a paper masquerade mask that resembled the face portion of the helmet.

When I got home, I emptied the bleach (SAFELY) out of the jugs, rinsed them well, and let them dry. I then chopped them up along the lines in the highly detailed diagram below.

(You see these mad photoshop skillz? If you would like to contact me for business inquires; please use the tab above)

After I cut up the jugs, I glued them together to form the conical shape of the helmet, and glued the mask on the front. I also added a piece of plastic to the back to extend it down and cover more of my head, and some little pieces to the top to make the point. I covered the seams with the only tape I had on hand (lol so FESTIVE) to try and 'smooth' our the joining edges.

I cut a length of 18 gauge wire the circumference of my head and hot glued it inside to help stabilize the thin plastic. I also attached two strips of craft foam crossways to help the helmet fit my head a bit better.

After I had the general shape like I wanted, I covered the entire thing about seven thousand layers of paper mache.  I used news paper and 1 part water to 1 part flour.

After it was completely dry it looked like this!

Then, I painstakingly covered the whole thing with Bondo. When working with bondo, apply in small sections, and get it AS SMOOTH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE THE FIRST TIME AROUND JUST TRUST JORDAN ON THIS. I actually found that the best way to apply it is with a playing card. They're cheap, stiff enough to apply it but flexible enough to go over curves.

After you get your bondo on, gently sand down the rough edges and high points.with a sanding block. For my first sanding (BRACE YOURSELF FOR ALL THE SANDING) I used a 220 grit. ALSO...please wear a respirator...I don't want any of you guys getting black lung or something equally nasty.

After sanding the first layer, you're going to want to go back over it with spot putty to fill in the two million tiny crevices in the first layer of bondo. I let that dry completely, and then added another layer, just to be safe. Then I wet sanded the entire thing with 800 grit sand paper, then 1000 grit.  This was my first time wet sanding and it was super cathartic how smooth it gets the piece!

Two coats of grey primer later, I was getting so excited about how it was looking!
For the 'ear wing' thingies, I cut out the shapes with craft foam and cardboard...I used giant googly eyes for the rounded part...who knew googly eyes were so versatile? I attached them with my trusty E6000 and let them dry completely before giving the whole helmet a few coats of metallic silver spray paint.

I knew I didn't want to risk destroying the entire helmet by trying to etch the W shaped design on it, so I cut it out of craft foam, painted it gold, and glued it to the front. The 'rivet' is another googly eye that I spray painted silver and glued on.

To 'weather' the metal a bit, I rubbed watered down black acrylic paint over the entire surface, let it dry JUST A BIT and then wiped it off with a paper towel. Finally, I went over the helmet with a thousand and one coats of spray acrylic sealer...annnnnnnddd we're done!

Stay tuned for the rest of my posts on this cosplay!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

River Song Wig :: Tutorial

Strax: Oh no. Not the one with the gigantic head. 
Jenny: It’s hair, Strax. 
Strax: Hmph. Hair.

Out of all the brilliant characters introduced in the last several seasons of Doctor Who, River Song is without a doubt, hands down my favorite. I could write a novel on the intricacies of her character, and Alex Kingston's phenomenal portrayal of the role, but that is a post for another time.

I knew I wanted to cosplay River, but I also knew that if I was going to I wanted to get the hair right, because her hair is its own separate entity, and one of the most iconic things about her. Most people might not recognize her clothing, but that giant, magnificent head of curls definitely rings a bell.

I knew right out of the gate my own hair would stand no chance, as it is thin, doesn't hold a curl worth anything, and enjoys being flat. But when I started looking for wigs, I had a bugger of a time finding one that was short but not TOO short, curly but not an afro, and blonde. Anndddd in my price range. After a harrowing search I came across this one on Amazon;

At the time I bought it, there was only one review, and no customer pictures, so I was really crossing my fingers that it would look somewhat like the product picture when it came in.

This is what it looked like, straight out of the package...

It was a lot more coppery/red in person than it had seemed online. I was definitely getting 'Little Orphan Annie' vibes, so I was a bit nervous that I might not be able to make it look presentable. Nevertheless, I forged ahead. FOR SCIENCE!

To get glorious River Song hair, you shalt need;

- Wig
- Styrofoam wig head
- Pins
(These work great, but regular straight pins work too)
- Metal-toothed comb or wig brush (I used a comb like this)
- Scissors
- Baby powder- Black eyeshadow (any MATTE cheap drugstore kind will work)
- Fluffy eyeshadow brush- Got2b Glued Freeze Spray (optional, but works AWESOME)
- Reference pictures

1. The first thing I did, which I do with all my cheap wigs now, was put it through a Apple Cider Vinegar soak and wash it. I do this because it cuts down on the itchiness of synthetic wigs by removing the caustic alkaline coating. For a complete tutorial on making synthetic wigs less itchy, check out my post here.

Drying on my highly scientific and effective wig stand...the doorknob
2.. After your wig has dried completely (don't try to brush it when its wet, it will mess up the fibers), put it on your styrofoam head. This is not 'technically' necessary, but I would definitely recommend it. Pin the wig to the head with your pins, making sure it is securely fastened, cause we gonna be yanking on it. This is not a delicate process ;)

Fresh from the bath!
3. Starting at the ENDS of the hair working your way up to the roots, slowly comb/brush through the hair, section by section, until all of the curls are completely brushed out. If it makes it easier, you can clip up the sections of the hair you aren't working with to get them out of the way.

Notice how the left side is brushed out and the right side still has fairly 'formed' curls
Completely brush out...looks like a different wig!
4. After the wig is completely brushed out, remove the wig (and the pins, else PAIN) and try it on. Using reference pictures, I trimmed the bangs back to look more like hers, and carefully shaped the sides and back. You can trim it while on the styrofoam head, but I like to cut it when its actually on my head so I can see what it looks like as I go.

Before our trip to the Jordan Ratchet Salon
And after! Much better!

***OKAY NOW STOP. BEFORE YOU START CUTTING...LESS IS MORE. While this is a really obvious thing to say, once you chop off wig hair, it aint growing back, so use a light hand. A little bit can really go a long way. I felt like I cut a lot off, but my pile of hair clippings was quite small.

5. Once you get it shaped how you want it, return it to your wig head. As I mentioned earlier, the wig is a bit too red for River's hair. Since synthetic wigs are almost impossible to lighten, we have to work around that. Get your baby powder (I used the pure cornstarch kind you can find at most stores) and completely covered the wig with it. Go crazy. Remember how I just said 'less is more'? Forget that. MORE IS MORE HERE! Cover every square inch of it.

6. So now that you have sufficiently covered half your house in baby powder, take your wig outside, (trust me, outside is best here) and shake the crap out it. Shake it, hit it, swing it around, beat it, do interpretive rain dances with it while your neighbors dogs stare at you judgmentally, until you stop getting 'puffs' of baby powder coming off of it. This will remove the excess powder so it isn't falling all over your costume. Afterwards, you should be left with a subtly 'blonder' wig.

7. So far so good! Now it looks pretty good, but we want to make it look just a weee bit more realistic. River's hair is darker at the roots, so we're going to go in and 'add' roots with the eyeshadow. Any cheap, black eyeshadow will work, but stay away from the sparkly/shiny...because...not very many people have glittery roots. Using your fluffy brush, layer on the eyeshadow down the middle parts, feathering it out up the hair shaft. This gives the illusion of roots!

8. Do the same thing along the hairline...add black eyeshadow along the hairline roots, feathering it out so you don't have a harsh line.

9. AND FINALLY. Try the wig on, arrange it, fluff it, get it to how you want it, and then give it a healthy coating of hairspray. I LOVE the Got2B Glued Freeze Spray, because this stuff seriously holds synthetic hair in place. It also 'seals' the babypowder/eyeshadow and prevents smearing.

Anndddddd you're done! Fluffy, magnificent, River Song hair!

Let me know if you have any questions...until then....

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