Friday, August 24, 2012

DIY: Papier-Mâché Taxidermy, Part 3 (Complete!)

There comes a time in every paper fox's life when he must abandon everything he knows about this life and settle himself on the living room wall. Sounds simple enough, right?

Do not be fooled. I warn you, oh I warn you: mounting my paper fox was one of the most stressful, challenging undertakings of my life. Dramatic, yes. And I suppose if this is as challenging as it gets for me, I may be in luck. But seriously, I can't even begin. Nothing made sense in trying to get him on the wall. You're probably thinking, "I did well in physics, I could probably figure it out," or "I took wood-making class, this is no big deal." Well, you are wrong. You will struggle.

Let us start at the beginning.

As strange coincidence would have it, I happened to have a plaque on hand from a previous project. While I may never have the proper shoes to complete an outfit or even a fridge stocked with anything remotely edible for breakfast, rest-assured I'll have a wooden plaque up for grabs. But my plaque was a little small and had no hardware on the back, so I went to Michael's and did the only reasonable thing one does in this situation: bought another plaque that still has nothing to hang it with. A trip to Home Depot later, I had a sawtooth hanger.

Having the plaque ready was only half the battle as it presented a unique challenge as to how one hangs a fake fox head. Some things you just can't Google.

I will now list all the ways I tried to hang Javier and failed, with the big reveal (sort of) at the end.

1. Hot glue (not strong enough)
2. More hot glue with liquid nails thrown into the mix (still not strong enough and the paper started tearing away from the wood)
3. Staple gun (couldn't get down close enough to his neck otherwise this may have worked)
4. Cardboard cutout attached to the back of Javier then stapled to the wood

Do yourself a favor and plan ahead better. The "planning" thing has never been my forte and I'm sure I will never learn. I thought I knew best. I thought leaving that little neck would make my hanging activities a breeze. How wrong I was.

And so my quest to make sense of this continued.

Here are the things I thought I needed:

And the things I ended up needing:

What I ultimately ending up doing is using my smaller plaque in between Javier and the new plaque, drilling holes (with a borrowed drill - thank God for boys with drills) into Javier plus the wood and using two of some sort of 5-inch or so spike/nails that I found at Home Depot (second trip, people).

I should note that all of this could not have been done without a FaceTime call with my Dad. I kid you not: he walked me through the entire process from changing my drillbit to the very end. Apple, are you reading this? I smell a very relatable iPhone commercial in the making. Doesn't everyone do this?

Finally, I got to the point where he was attached to the spikes, but there was about an inch between him and the wood due to how. freaking. hard. it was to get the spikes deep enough into his neck. I even drilled directly into his neck, but it just wasn't working. Since his neck sustained some damage from the many efforts of getting him mounted, it worked out that I needed to add some extra neck to cover the spikes. So out came the newspaper and papier-mâché for a late night mâch-sesh.

The next day, I touched Javier up with some fresh paint, painted the center plaque gold using this gold paint that I've used on several projects before and at last, he was at home on the wall.

Thanks for joining me on this project! Javier also says thank you and asks won't you come visit?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hanging Mobile for the Hydrangea Playroom

Hydrangea shot so as to improperly illustrate the color of this playroom, which is certainly not pink hydrangea

My sister and her husband have this strange habit of making big purchases/undertaking stressful projects the moments preceding the birth of their children. The first time around was a vet in another town from where they lived and this time they've gone and bought a house that will be move-in ready approximately three hours before their second little one arrives into the world.

Ok, ok - that is somewhat of an exaggeration. It'll be ready soon(ish), but as I can hardly imagine lifting a finger after a particularly filling meal, I can only imagine how my sister, at 7.5 months pregnant, feels about having anything to do with renovating a home or unpacking.

Regardless, the progress continues and last week discussions around what colors to paint each room began. One conversation went something exactly like this:

Betsy: "What color should I paint the playroom?"
Lucy: "Oooh! You should do like a hydrangea color...something in the neighborhood of light blue with a hint of purple. I mean, when else can you paint a room hydrangea?"
Betsy: "No."

Now cut to just the other day:

Betsy: "We painted the playroom that hydrangea color you picked out!"
Lucy: ...crickets...

At the end of the day, at least my supreme taste in paint colors was recognized, if not initially. By nature, the room is a sunroom and I maintain that hydrangea + light = beautiful.

Moving on.

I've been tasked voluntold to make a hanging mobile for the hydrangea playroom. Naturally I have since been scouring the Internet for ideas, finding preliminary inspiration in the following photos (not shockingly, mostly from Etsy). I'm hoping to at least start this project over the weekend, but let's get real - I have over a month to procrastinate and coupled with having no creative direction whatsoever, I'll probably be taking my time.

These felt mobiles are adorable! Sheer talent. And patience...that's a lot of stitches. I might save this idea for another project I had for some handmade toys. But I love it.

Butterflies aren't really on the table since baby #2 is a boy, but I really like how the light looks coming through translucent paper and seeing as this is a sunroom, I will pocket that idea thankyouverymuch.

This looks easy enough and I like the colors, though not for the hydrangea room.

Again, no butterflies needed but I like the idea of the circle even if that wire looks like a cluster waiting to happen.

 Couldn't resist an ombré mobile, now could I?

Birds! That is all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DIY: Papier-Mâché Taxidermy, Part 2


In a rather uncharacteristic move for a poster child of attention deficit disorder, Sr. Fox is complete after merely two days of taping and mâché-ing and painting. Well, complete save for attaching some sort of apparatus to get him up on the wall. Notably, it's rare that a project takes me as little time as this because my ill-named "disorder" (I see ADD as a personality-enhancing trait, y'all) sets in and I instead decide to make a necklace or take a nap or eat some ice cream I know, I'll make some ice cream! and I'll need to buy an ice cream maker and where is my vanilla? and how is frozen yogurt made? but cheese dip also sounds good and maybe I should call my mom and do you see where I'm going with this?

The last project I finished so quickly was my weaving and that was because I was cooped inside all weekend with a cold. Let's not even talk about my tray - that one took weeksliterally, weeks - after a spray-paint-meets-lacquer malfunction.

I digress.

One minor change to note: "Sr. Fox" didn't seem, shall we say, chummy enough, so I've taken to calling him Javier* because he so fox-y. And so commence all fox-related humor that, like all good jokes, will. never. get. old. 

The second part of this project was quite fun. I stirred up some flour and water (filed under: times I use the Kitchen Aid when absolutely unnecessary), forgot to add a pinch of salt to protect Javier from mold, cut some strips of newspaper and got to work.

About two to three layers of newspaper strips will do

Completely dry and mold-free 

After a littler over 24 hours of drying, I mixed my paints and brought Javier to..."life." At this stage, you can also sand down uneven areas if needed. I'm obviously an experienced papier-mâché-er so that was not really an issue. I kid, I kid. I actually prefer the ribbed-look.

White beard and orange furz

Paperclips make for fantastic whiskers

This was easily the hardest part in the making of Javier - that papier-mâché makes for tough skin! Oh and definitely add the little whisker-holes as I ignorantly call them...what would that be called? Pores is wrong. Follicles?

Gave him some wooden bead eyes, painted the whiskers black and voila! 

By the way, do you think Javier should have a mustache? Only on special occasions, you say? He can also obviously wear hats according to season/holiday once he's on the wall. I like the idea of a warm and snuggly Javier in the winter or maybe he wants to bring bonnets back (fedoras are so last season). Perhaps he'll go through a rebellious stage and pierce an ear - these things I just don't know. A pirate eye patch? Of course I will do my best parenting him and I'll send him to the all best schools. So far he's only a teensy bit sneaky but a bad apple is a bad apple is a bad apple and you just never know.

*Editor's note: I also made sure to check on the status of foxes in Spain because naturally things needed to make geographical sense for my paper fox and as it turns out those little buggers are the most common carnivore in Spain. The things I learn everyday.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

DIY: Papier-Mâché Taxidermy, Part 1


Once upon a time there was a girl who loved all things Anthropologie. She may have mentioned or alluded to it before on one or more occasions, but bottom line: the romance lives and breathes and dies for delicately beautiful decor, flowy tops and intricate jewels. 

Yet as all tragic love stories would have it, this girl had one issue standing in the way of expressing her unrequited love to her beloved store: coin. 

That's right, folks. Maybe some people have $68-198 laying around for animal bust wall decor, but I for one do not. What I do have, though, is newspaper, masking tape and an affinity for getting my hands dirty (I should note in actuality I hate having dirty hands and cringe at the feel of newspaper ink on my hands and so should you). Plus access to the Internet from where, sadly, I steal borrow all my ideas. Ok, to be fair, only most of my ideas are acquired this way.

Now, I know I am somewhat late to jump on this trend. For ages, people have been hanging animal busts, heads, bodies, etc. on their walls and ceilings and doors. Ok maybe not doors. That'd be weird.  Point being, it's nothing new. But I tell you this: when an empty spot on your wall beckons, you answer. Usually with something a bit more normal than a fox head, but hey - I have never laid claim on normal and unapologetically never will.

Anyway, I spent Sunday working to create Sr. Fox (he's Hispanic, sowhatwhocares?). Below is a tutorial for making your very own.

Stay tuned for next steps: stirring up some papier-mâché and getting to work on covering the little guy, a day or two of drying and perhaps a splash of acrylic paint. I'm not a huge fan of the newspaper look, but it's old-fashioned and I respect it. To a degree, it saddens me that he won't be fluffy as all foxes should be, but paint will hold up better long-term.


Part 1:

What you'll need to create your own:
-masking tape
-cardboard or another sturdy material for any ears, horns or other especially important body parts (I used a Chinet plate)
-inspiration, duh
-creativity, double duh

Time: Under 2 hours

This project originally started with me papier-mâché-ing a balloon (and actually, initial brainstorms yielded a desire to make a peacock) but, not surprisingly, that was a massive fail. Tell me, how can a few layers of papier mâché hold up against, you know, the day-in-and-day-out abuse that living room walls endure? Answer: it cannot.

After some searching around on the inter-webs, I found a few DIY tutorials (see: here and here) that made a little more sense logistically. 

I started with a ball of newspaper and added layer upon layer, taping all over the place, until I started to get some resemblance of a head. I'm making a fox head, yet here we have what appears to be an elephant. 

When you encounter a shape that in no way resembles what you're aiming for, just keep going. Add more tape. Add more paper. Tape some more. It's the best advice I can give.

Fox ears are sneakily cute and equally important in contributing to the creature's sly nature. I enlisted the help of a Chinet plate for these and what's great about the plate is that a) it's relatively sturdy and b) the rim of the plate gives you a slight curve that is perfect for a curvy, adorable little fox ear. I should sell this stuff - or I am happy to take commission on the influx of Chinet sales that will inevitably follow this post. Am I right or am I right?

Side note: I am so green. This plate was formerly used as a paint palette for my Vogue painting project.


At this point, my sweet little fox began looking more like a species of the Felidae (cat) family than the Canidae (dog) family (it's science, guys). At one point I thought to myself, "maybe I'll scratch the fox idea and do a lion." But foxes, y'all. They are so cute and it just. makes. sense. for my living room wall. And so I forged on.

But wait! From this angle, he looks like a pig (or, Suidae family, from the ever-reliable Wikipedia). In truth, my piece experimented with many different biological classifications before rightfully and comfortably settling on fox.

I hate repeating myself but I urge you: use more tape. Add more newspaper. Tape, tape, tape. And so the fox-like snout began to form.

Homeboy fox had an unrefined back of the head at this point so I pushed and pulled and taped it down to make it smoother and more resembling of a head instead of a lumpy sack of potatoes (as if any sack of potatoes could be lacking of lumps).

If I were making an animal that had a more prominent neck, I would have built that here but since foxes have short, furry little necks I just created a "block" of newspaper that will, at some point, attach enable me to hang this little guy on the wall. Probably some sort of wood plaque would make sense. Plus I could paint it.

I know what you're thinking here: "Lucy, you didn't use nearly enough masking tape." I agree. One roll is not even close to enough for an approximately 8-inch ball of newspaper.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Good Food: Los Angeles, 2nd Edition

After the better part of three days being filled with back-to-back meetings in LA, Saturday came as a relief and finally an opportunity to meet up with some friends and family. My first trip to LA came and went without a chance to see much of the city, but this time was just the opposite. Not only did I see my cousin again, but an old friend from my alma mater gave me the quintessential tour of all things LA.

Miles and miles driven (and run) around the city and five 60-glorious-degree, humid-free mornings later, I finally understand what everyone sees in the City of Angels: incredible weather, beautiful landscapes, endless entertainment and great food (well, that was obvious after my last trip).

Speaking of great food, there might be nothing I love more than a build-your-own ice cream sandwich shop. Ok, I might love a someone-else-builds-your-own ice cream sandwich shop more, which is just what Diddy Riese in Westwood is famous for. Nothing says summer quite like a scoop (or two) of ice cream stuffed between the interracial marriage of two cookies (yes, you can mix and match cookies - hooray!). And all for the cool price of $1.75 (including tax). Talk about a bargain.

Candy chocolate chip cookie + chocolate white chocolate chip cookie + accidental butter pecan ice cream that should have been chocolate chip, but hey - maybe they thought it was too many chips. Agree to disagree.

What actually came before the ice cream sandwich was another build-your-own experience but this time featuring meat, more meat and bacon at The Counter in Marina del Ray. Now, I don't pick these places, people. I just go where I am told (or, in this case, driven, because I had no choice). And most unfortunately, I didn't love this burger joint.

Maybe it's just my unyielding infatuation with Yeah! Burger in Atlanta. Or maybe it has something to do with the amount of choices I have to make to order a not-so-perfect burger. Of course I am aware that bacon (or bacon jam), cheese and avocados are always the right choice, but then there's the sauce. And the other toppings. It's just too many decisions for a girl, y'all.

If I were just writing about The Counter, I would have probably gone with the more apt title of "So-So Food: Los Angeles Edition," but who would read that?

Sweet potato fries and a chipotle aioli sauce - pretty good. 

Sad but true, the fried pickles were not great. For one, the batter was super thick, but more importantly it is in my humble opinion that fried pickles should be served with ranch. And that's coming from someone who doesn't eat ranch on the reg. Maybe leave the fried pickles to the South, ok?

It does look pretty, at least.

The esteemed verdict of my 19-year-old cousin who likely eats Ramen on weekdays (ah, to be young): eyes-closed-it's-that-good. Go figure.