Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Making of a Monster

April was a very busy month for me. I had taken on not one, but THREE challenges. The first was a fantasy theme swap for my One Of A Kind Swap Group. We will talk about that in another post, however. What I want to talk about in THIS one is the monster swap and monster challenge I did for April. I belong to a small but very sweet swap group called the Golly Ollie Dolly Swap Group on Facebook, and for my first swap with them, we did a monster doll swap. Now, the theme for April's Every Witch Way Lane monthly challenge was "Monsters In My Room" - so I did companion pieces for both based on the same design. Here is what came of that notion.

First we need an idea, right?  Well, I don't know about you, but when I was a child, my room was a magical place. A crowded place, yes, with three sisters and myself all sharing one room, but that did not stop the magical folk from visiting. The fairies danced on our windowsills, the gnomes moved our shoes around while we were asleep. The menahune whisked away any cookies we were foolish enough to leave out at night. And on occasion, when we were forgetful and negligent about such things and left piles of laundry on the floor or worse, our closet doors open, a monster would visit.

Those times were very frightening, let me tell you. Mom and Dad had long gone to bed, my sisters would be fast and safely asleep under their covers and there I was, awake, with the shadows alive and moving and whispering of the terrible things that hid within them. The pile of laundry that was left on the floor would take on sinister forms - a leg here, a tail there, and are those horns? I would bring the covers up to my chin and stare at that laundry pile, holding my breath until I was sure I was going to pass out, letting it out slowly and carefully so as not to draw the attention of whatever was lurking in that pile of clothes. I would stare until my eyes threatened to water, not daring to blink for fear of missing a movement, until I could not stand it any longer. At that point, I would yank the covers over my head, whisper a promise to the gnomes and menahunes to leave cookies out tomorrow if they would just keep that creature in the laundry pile at bay until I could safely deposit the pile into the laundry bin as I should have. Eyes squeezed closed, sure that I was going to suffocate under the covers anyway, I would eventually fall asleep.

And always, the next day, after carefully hiding a few cookies under the bed where they would not be found and eaten by any of the humans I lived with, I would go to pick up my laundry and put it where it belonged, only to find that half of my socks were missing. Never mind those small rumpled shadows under the bed that were no doubt the missing socks. Never mind the fact that my jeans seemed to have something stuffed inside one of the pants leg, no doubt another of the missing socks. Nope. This was the work of the dreaded Sock Monster - that moving, shifting shadow within the laundry pile that caused me so much distress last night. He was not after me after all, he was after my socks!! And judging from the state of my little laundry pile, he got what he was after. The Sock Monster was unpleasant and got us into trouble for allowing him to make off with our socks, but he was nowhere near as bad as the Monster in the Closet. That, my dears, is a story for another time.

So - here is the idea.

I've always believed that there is a Sock Monster that just loves to eat socks. I mean, where else do they all go? I have an entire drawer full of socks that are missing their mates, and I have scrounged and searched every corner of my laundry room, my bedroom, inside the couch - nothing. They vanish. They just up and vanish and at this point, I absolutely believe that there is something big and nefarious that carries them off in the middle of the night because it finds them delicious. So, for the challenge, I came up with the big green guy below. Since both groups called for monsters for their challenges/swaps, I would use the same design for both projects.

Now, all that I need to do is make a doll for Golly Ollie and a piece of some sort for Every Witch Way Lane. No problem, right? The first thing I needed was a pattern, So, I built a paper monster.

I then made a paper pattern for the doll based on the paper build, and bought myself some good quality felt from Joanne's with matching thread. I also ordered 4 large buttons from an Etsy shop that I would use to secure the arms and legs with. This is my first attempt at a soft doll, but I had a good idea of how I wanted to accomplish it so I was confident I could do it. Just not so sure if I was going to finish in time. I was also on vacation for 2 weeks in April with a road trip to Florida with my daughter and grand daughter planned to bring the baby to meet her great grandmother. At first I was going to just pack the doll up and sew it by hand while I was on the road, but common sense prevailed and I ended up finishing it on the sewing machine before leaving for Florida.

First things first. The eyes. I wanted to make realistic eyes for both, and so I turned to polymer clay and resin for that. The eye for the paper clay sculpt was easy, but what about the eye for what was going to be a soft body doll? How best to mount that eye? Here is what I came up with.
I made the doll's eye in a slight convex shape so it would sit well atop the soft rounded form of the monsters face. I also made a "rim" around the eye, and poked lots of holes in the polymer clay all around it with the intent of sewing it into the head using those holes.

I baked them and the used resin to pour into the iris of the eye to give it a lens affect. As for the eye for the doll, I cut a ring of felt and stitched the eye to it after it was good and dry.

I used the sewing machine on the doll, and I was VERY glad I did. I must have put in 12 solid hours of work to get this monster done. I put a single stitch into each of the socks in his paws, with the one in his mouth just kinda stuffed in there. I really like the way he came out, and was happy to ship him off to my swap partner just before leaving for Florida.

Not too bad, hm? So, now off to Florida to bring my beloved girls to see their Grandma and Great Grandma. It was wonderful to see my Mom again. I miss her very much, especially now that I am a Grandmother myself. Here we are, four generations.

So, now back to New York and the waiting Every Witch Way Lane project! Another sock monster. Here is the first glimpse of him. And yes, that is the fairy fantasy light box that I made for my One of  a Kind swap group in the background. I have to say it came out adorable and I may have been a complete brat and kept it for myself if it wasn't destined for one of my favorite Facebook friends - Dana Blume of Blu Beagle Designs - you can visit her Etsy shop here - https://www.etsy.com/shop/blubeagledesigns. 
She returned the favor, and sent me an absolutely amazing fairy light box in return that I will treasure for years to come. Those fairy light boxes are the reason I do swaps. 
But, back to the monster, yes? Here you see I actually glued a screw to the back of his eye. The armature is a very dense tin foil armature over a large wooden dowel. I wanted him to be strong and sturdy. The eye was screwed into the tin foil and held very nicely.

Now on to paper clay.

As you can see, I also screwed his feet and his tail down into the base, enough though he was pretty sturdy to begin with - there is a heavy wooden dowel that was glued into a drilled out recess in the wood base - the screws in his feet and tail added all the insurance I needed to be certain this sculpt was going nowhere without it's base.

He is now ready for antiquing with black gel and then glossing with Triple Thick. I adore that stuff!!

And so, my sock monsters are born!! The doll has been sent off to Kim of the Golly Ollie group and the paper clay version is currently available for sale on the Every Witch Way Lane sales site. Please visit us there to see all the monsters on parade for this month. Maybe you will even take one home with you!! 

The socks in his arms can be removed and rearranged or replaced with your own socks to make him truly yours. I had a lot of fun with these guys, and I am pretty pleased with myself for taking that sketch and building on it till I had two very complete projects, both on time. 

Thank you for visiting - next month's theme for Every Witch Way Lane is Day of the Dead. I'm hoping to get that project done in time - wish me luck!!

Hugs and Peace


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