Halloween 2013: Cerberus

Matt and I were invited to a Heaven & Hell-themed Halloween party. Being the literary nerds that we are, we will be going as the Greek deities Hades and Persephone.

Not that there’s any contest, but I am very competitive, so I started preparing over a month in advance. I knew that the props to these costumes would be the key– the jewel being Hades’s pet: the three-headed dog, Cerberus.

I found a “tutorial” online on how to make a papier mache dog, but it sucked. No pictures of the process and the directions go along the lines of “Get some chicken wire and mold it into the shape of a dog.” Long story short: I kind of made it up as I went, but I tried to document the evolution of the underworld doggie.

Chicken wire from hardware store isn't crazy expensive and quite malleable.

Chicken wire from hardware store isn’t crazy expensive and quite malleable.

I never fancied myself good at anything 3-D, but chicken wire is fairly easy to get a hang of. The only tools you need are wire cutters and pliers to twist and bend the wires to your liking. The heads I made by rolling a length of chicken wire into a tube, using the pliers to twist the sharp cut wires into harmless loops, and kind of “scrunching” it into the shape of a dog head (x3).

It's a bit hard to tell what this is at this point...

Cerbie’s skeleton!

I built the body first and the appendages (legs, tail, heads) were attached by twisting the cut wires into “hooks” that looped into the body.

Papier macheing it up

Turning waste into art! Weekly shoppers and brown paper that was used as excessive package padding made the perfect ingredients for Cerbie!

I purchased some art paste for papier mache (a $4 box made like 15 cups of paste!) and started coating the chicken wire frame with strips of newspaper.

Zee arteest at work

Zee arteest at work.

I learned through trial and error that you need to kind of let the strips “hang” over a side, let it dry and harden to actually give your next layers something to latch onto– there are too many holes in chicken wire for the paper to get properly affixed. Oh well, at least I was prepared for many nights of repeating this process.

Brown paper is the best.

Brown paper is the best. It blends so well!

Once Ceberus was papered all up, it was time to paint. As a dog of the underworld, Cerberus is often portrayed as completely black, but I wanted him to look at least a little like my dog, Evie, and that meant adding some tan and white details. More work, but worth it:

photo 2

The key to awesome Halloween costumes is in the details. Cerbie’s not complete without collars! I made some quick dog ID tags out of salt dough:

1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup water, 2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup water, 2/3 cup flour

 

I cut out my tags with the center part of a blender lid (the one that pops out) and poked holes with a skewer. I baked them at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half, frequently checking that they weren’t burning.

Some paint, some varnish…

photo

…some thread and ribbon and voilá:

Dog ID tags!

The finishing touch!

Well, there you have it! Hope you enjoyed this post. :)

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Handmade Valentine’s Day

I’ve never been too keen on Valentine’s Day, but this year I happen to be sharing it with someone that deserves a great day. So I had to bite back my usual revulsion to anything corny, mushy and sappy and put together a handmade Valentine’s Day. I’m grudgingly admitting that I really got into it.

The first thing was to make the actual valentine. We’re both literary types, so I made him a J.R.R. Tolkien-themed valentine card. Inspired by (this tutorial on how to make a Hobbit door), I made my own Hobbit door using only cardstock paper, coloring pencils, a felt-tip pen and a metallic Sharpie marker:

The road goes ever on and on...

The road goes ever on and on…

[ He said it was the best card he ever received. :) ]

Ambiance is key! On V-Day, he was in class until 7, which gave me ample time to decorate his apartment.

Easy-peasy.

Easy-peasy.

To make the paper heart garland, I followed this super-easy, beautiful tutorial.

The result:

Look at Evie peeking out!

Look at Evie peeking out!

Next, making a meal from scratch. I made a new apron just for the occasion! Now, there are literally hundreds of patterns and tutorials out there on the Interwebs, but I was rushing so I made mine in a couple of hours, completely winging it.

Ruffly hems make me happy

Ruffly hems make me happy

For the dinner, I made chicken pot pie for the first time!

From scratch!

Nothing says “domestic” like a rolling pin!

I had no idea, but he announced he loved chicken pot pie, and loved mine! I used this recipe for my Chicken Pot Pie.

I also made a bubbling, tarty raspberry and blackberry pie. Mmm.

So juicy. Perfect with vanilla ice cream!

So juicy. Perfect with vanilla ice cream!

Here’s the recipe I used: Blackberry & Raspberry Pie.

Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day!

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