Thursday, August 26, 2010

Plastic Beasts and Vegan Taxidermy – A Tutorial

The following tutorial shows how to make Plastic Beasts, using items that would normally end up in your recycling bin.

Getting your materials together...


Plastic Bottle (coloured or opaque)
Plastic Bottle Caps (assorted colours and sizes)
Scraps of Plastic
Plywood or Light Board
Needle Nose Pliers
Kitchen Snips
Drill or Hammer & Nail
Drawing Pin
Craft Knife

Step 1
Cut base from the plastic bottle. Clean plastic bottle removing all labels, chemicals and tacky residue.

Step 2
Drill holes in centres of bottle caps.

Step 3
Cut 2 long lengths of wire. The red bottle above uses approx 40 cm, however shorter lengths will work for the soda bottles. Twist a loop into one end of each piece of wire.

Step 4
Thread antlers, using and assortment of colours. Sipper caps make a good antler tips. Ensure that the wire loop is pulled snug into the first cap.

Step 5
Create the eyes. Consider nesting smaller bottle caps inside larger ones to create pupils. Cut plastic scraps (in this case a yoghurt container) to create eye lashes if required.

Step 6

Cut 2 smaller lengths of wire. The image above uses approx 20 cm. Twist a loop into one end of each piece of wire and thread the eyes.

Step 7

Determine the location of eyes and antlers and mark onto the bottle with a pen. Punch a hole for the eyes using a drawing pin or nail.
Step 8
Thread the eyes onto the bottle. Twist the long ends of the wire together inside the bottle to secure and trim the wire to finish. Ensure the wires are snug enough to secure the eyes, without overly distorting the face shape.

Step 9
Check the location of the antlers and adjust if needed. Punch holes for the antlers.

Step 10
Turn the bottle over and punch a small hole under the chin.

Step 11
Thread the antlers through the top two holes. Thread additional bottle caps onto the wires before twisting the wires together. The internal bottle caps prevent the bottle from distorting when the wires are twisted or the antlers are adjusted.

Step 12
Secure the antlers by threading the long ends of the wire through the hole to the chin. Thread a small bottle cap over the wire ends and secure. This prevents the antlers from rotating under their own weight.

Step 13
Mount the head onto the selected board. The space inside the bottle is quite tight and the board relatively thin. I have used string to avoid damaging the wall behind once the Taxidermy is hung. In this case 2 holes were drilled into both the head and the board. The head was then tied to the board.

Spread the word that you are collecting bottle caps to help grow your bottle cap collection.

The monsters in this tutorial have been inspired the recycled creations from this website.

Children can be involved in creating the taxidermy with a little help and forethought..

For 3-7 year olds consider preparing the bottle, bottle caps, and wires allowing the children to thread the antlers, create the eyes and locate them on their bottle, before getting a grown up to tie it all together.

For older children who are capable with the wire, pliers and craft knife – let them go for it.

These beasts use an 18 gauge wire (1.25 mm diameter). This is quite flexible and easy to work with however, the antlers on larger beast droop like a water buffalo. To keep the antlers up, consider using a thicker gauge wire for the antler ends and thin gauge for areas where there is a lot of twisting and securing required.

Edited to fix link to (30 August)

Introducing the Plastic Beasts

I would like to introduce you to my new friends. From left to right we have Ermintrude the Cow, Maurice* and Sid the Soda Beast. Sid is purely vegan and the product of my dearest drinking way too much soda. The others are more vegetarian, rather than vegan, due to their curly milk bottle lid horns and antlers.

Little E refers to this gaggle as her Monsters. They moved in a few weeks ago and have been keeping careful watch over her bed. I have been slowly working on a tutorial for these plastic beasts and vegan taxidermy. I will hopefully have it ready to share soon.


*As in “ Some people call me the gangster of love, some people call me Maurice”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Secret Bottle Top Collections

I have a bottle top collection hidden away, beneath the kitchen sink. My friends and relatives have been contributing to the collection. It’s been growing for about a year now. There are bright plastic bottles in the laundry space with strict instructions – Do Not Recycle. You may have guessed, I’m up to something.

I’ve wanted an excuse for having a bottle top collection ever since reading “The Lost Thing” by Shaun Tan. While I have yet to spend a summer sorting it out, I have been putting things together.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My First Softie and a Bribe

I have stepped over a new line, or two. I’ve been admiring softies for a while now, carefully secreting away patterns that I thought I might make, retrieving them from magazines, cautiously storing the links in a folder marked “Someday I will make..” and of course stockpiling supplies. This week, I’ve finally done it. I have made my first softie. I have also entered into the world or parental bribery.

The Book and the Cat

While not earth shattering, this little cat is a fair first step. It is from a pattern in “Simple Softies”. If you need a good place to start, I would say this is it. Lots of straightforward patterns that a quite easy and quick to make. I spied this cat and within an afternoon, had the materials carefully picked out and a little cat almost complete. The instructions are quite clear and there are no complex joints or insertions to make in the patterns.

You have to be quick around here

However, the notion of bribery didn’t enter my head immediately. It just snuck up on me. Little E was very obliging in picking out some purple felt and sparkly ribbon and watched me making it intently. It was almost finished by her bedtime. There is a certain ownership that comes with picking out the colours yourself. She asked if she could take it to bed. I assured her that, when it is finished she will find it waiting beside her bed, but only after spending the whole night in her own bed. Until then, the little cat has short access visits with her as all three of us, cat, babe and mother, all hang out for the day that the cat can wait beside her bed.

Very Quick!

Now that I'm hooked on this thing - softies, not the bribery, what would you suggest I try next? Any favourite softie patterns you'd recommend? I'd love to know.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dressing 3 Year Olds and Herding Cats

If herding cats gets 5 stars for difficulty, then dressing a 3 year old surely deserves 10. I start out with visions of an immaculately turned out child with co-ordinated handmade clothes that subtly whisper my mother has style. Instead, I end up with a stunningly dressed child, with outfits that shriek I’m an individual and yes, I did dress myself today. You may not think it, but it is a victory on all fronts.

It doesn’t look like this in the magazines. The children are all well dressed, with brushed hair even. It all appeared so easy. As a prospective parent, I was convinced that my children would look like that too. Our days together would be carefully styled photo shoots. I still covet patterns and even occasionally even find the time to make something for my children.

Three year olds can have their own style. It has taken me a while to admit this to myself. Some children will only wear the clothes that have been carefully laid out for them. Others will put on every item in their wardrobe, knowing that they are only properly dressed when their arms can’t fit into yet another layer of clothing. Little E definitely has her own style. If I were a curator, I’d describe it as kinetic with more than a touch of purple. Think of swishy, swirly skirts, sequins, anything that moves when you walk, on a foundation of purple tracksuit pants and you would have Little E.

I was so sure that the purple skirt I made would be a favourite, yet I couldn’t for the life of me get her to try it. In the end, I just finished it and put it in her drawer. It felt like wardrobe malfunction of sorts.

You may be wondering why I still try to sew clothes for her. I wonder that myself, as she point blank refuses any request to try on clothes I make. In fact, every time, I swear never to do it again.

After sometime I had forgotten about the skirt. Then one morning she came out of her room, proudly swishing and twirling in her purple storm. It’s now challenging to get her out of it.

This smock was a similar story. I even tried to involve her in selecting the fabric. All along, I know I wanted it in the floral, not the black spots with orange trim Little E picked out. It went unworn, until she dragged it out last week, over one of her favourite purple items and proudly announced to anyone who cared to know that “Mummy made it”. Who knows, maybe it would have been a shorter process if I’d gone with the black spots.

It’s time to admit that I don’t have a mannequin, I have a child. Little E revels in her independence. If she chose it, she will wear it. It’s hard not to be disappointed when Little E isn’t nearly as excited about the things that I make, as I am. However, that I dressed myself look of pride is priceless. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beach Combing

There is nothing like taking your little pirate down to the beach to look for treasure. Last time Aunty E was home, we went on an expedition. Together, with Grandma too, we found shells, sticks, seaweed and made a smashing birthday cake.

Big E and Little ready to go

Miss H and I set off

Little Miss Independent

Hand Crafted Birthday Cake - complete with butter, sugar, candles and sprinkles

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fixing Fashion Crimes One Hottie Cover at a Time

Under no circumstances should purple tractors be worn as serious attire. Occasionally you find some gems in the opp shops that have you puzzling “Why?”

I’ve had some time to think about it but still can’t think of what grown woman would want to wear a lilac jersey dotted with purple tractors. The closest I can get is a kindergarten teacher might wear one at a stretch to appeal to both the tractor and purple loving kids at the same time.

This little jersey was swiftly repurposed into two new hot water bottle covers. While I still don’t know why, at least my toes are warm.

note- Just fixed the title. Kicking myself for publishing with typo. Grrr. Bad Typist!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Books I'm Loving

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes it is just so hard not to. When I saw a 50% off paperback fiction sign a few months I couldn’t resist. It’s a once a year indulgence. In hindsight, I was having a very aqua and orange day.

I had to have Going West by Maurice Gee. I’d read it years ago and still some of the images haunt me, the homesick Auckland wife in Wellington, the steep steps that deliver everyone to everyplace, and maybe from every evil, in Wellington and there is a certain boating accident too. I was delighted to hear it had been republished as a penguin classic. I adore the simple graphic language of the orange and cream covers with clear bold fonts. It’s a pity the inside isn’t quite so clear. I’m going to have to save rereading this one for wide awake, daylight eyes.

I’ve just finished The Hand that First Held Mine and have to admit I bought it because it had some nice fabric on the cover. I’m always a floosie for nice fabric and now I am pining for 1950’s London too. It sounds like somewhere I’d like to visit, full of dynamic artists and unconventional mothers.

The mermaid on the fairy tales caught my attention. At the time I was busy searching for non-disney mermaids and this beautiful, wistful one by Jan Pienkowski fits that bill. Actually, I could have quite happily escorted any of the new Penguin Children’s classics home. I am slowly reacquainting myself with the ugly duckling, nightingale, and of course the little mermaid.

I’d love to tell you more about The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoot, but I will have to wait patiently, while my dearest finishes with it.