Criminal Crafts

Dia de los Muertos Makeup Tutorial

calavera hero
calavera hero

Counting the days until my favorite holiday Dia de los Muertos, and as a warm up to this year's celebration I've hosted a couple workshops in costume creation and sugar skull making.  I hate to leave my out of town friends and fans out of the fun- and at the compelling request of Crime Spree Carol, it seemed like I ought to post a quick tutorial on calavara creation.  I won't say that she threatened me into doing this, but now that the blog post is up, I'll assume she's destroyed all negatives of the incriminating 8' x 10' photos that arrived in last week's mail.

supplies
supplies

So Carol, and the rest of you, before we get to the disguise part, you'll want to  gather up supplies- The clown white grease paint was a purchase from Goodwill for $1.49, almost a steal!  I got the black and glitter liquid eyeliners, mascara and fake eyelashes from the drug store and black face paint and body art kit from the craft store.  In all the gear set me back about $30 but I'll be able to do a whole posse of folks with this so it was a good investment.  You might also want to get white face powder and tiny gems to add at the end for extra bling.

step1
step1

My friend Laura was kind enough to pose for the photos, I think Crime Spree Carol may have something on her as well, after this we'll consider all debts paid in full.  In the 1st step I covered Laura's face in the grease paint with a small sponge.  I left large areas around her eyes and tip of nose free.  If you'd like the makeup to set you can brush on the white face powder next, it will also help the other colors go on smoothly on the top.

step2
step2

Next, I applied face paint to the eye area, you could also use a dark eye shadow for this step but I liked having the ability to layer and add lots of color to the flower shapes.

step3
step3

In dark blue face paint I created a flower shape around Laura's eyes

step4
step4

I filled in the flower petals in a lighter blue and blended them into the green circles

step5
step5

Using the black liquid eyeliner I filled in Laura's nose and made the outlines for her mouth

step6
step6

I used the black eyeliner again to draw a spider web on her forehead and fill in her lips.  I also used it on her eyes in the waterline and outlined her upper eyelid

step7
step7

To give the web definition, I added a second line in black grease pencil.  This is a great tool to use when doing skeletons for guys especially in the cheek areas and to add lip effects.

step10
step10

For the last few steps, I traced around the flower eyes in black liquid liner and added glitter eyeliner highlights.  I also drew shapes on her cheeks and filled them in with face paint.  From here you could add false eyelashes and sequins or small gems as well

calavera flirts
calavera flirts

Top the whole thing off with a saucy headdress of flowers and don't forget the little people!

kidaveras
kidaveras

Shake your bones

skull8
skull8

A quick recap from this weekend's Sugar Skull Making Workshop at SCRAP- We had super laid back afternoon making cool calaveras in the back room.  I loved seeing what folks put together using materials they found at the store, really creative use of recycled goods.

Looking forward to our workshop this weekend making costumes, masks, face paints and hair garlands for Dia de los Muertos.  There are still a few spaces in the class and you can register on-line here...

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skull1
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skull3
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skull4
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skull6
skull7
skull7

a Litany of Crimes

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Oh man the Portland Mini Maker Faire at OMSI was so much fun, I'm only just beginning to recover, that and my bail money finally came through.  The number of cool things to see and do was astounding from indie computer games, 3-D printed toys, the 30 foot trebuchet, fractal designed copper furniture and chocolates you could shape yourself into exotic flowers. I spent a good portion of the weekend ducking arrows coming over the top of the Tracker's booth, thank goodness they'd replaced the steel tips with sponges!  Wire's Geek Dad blog has a great re-cap of the Faire  and Dale Dougherty founder of Make Magazine and Craft, and the brain child of Maker Faire gatherings was also in attendance, his blog post is here . Not to be left out of the making mayhem, I snuck into the OMSI parking lot and  and on the sly built my own stand,  offering "policing by proxy" inviting criminals and potential criminals the opportunity to confess their mis-deeds in a mock mug-shot-photo-booth.  I was shocked, shocked I tell you to see the number of young miscreants our city is manifesting, sure they may look cute now- but just wait until their feet can reach the gas pedal of the get-away car.

I've posted some of the more outstanding offenders here as well as a more complete listing on my flickr site I would advise using caution when approaching any of these individuals, clearly they are armed with a wicked sense of humor and several are confessed cereal killers and cookie thieves...

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PDX Mini Maker Faire

the man
the man

I barely have words to describe how incredibly cool day one was of the PDX Mini Maker Faire at OMSI.  I'll do a big fat link round up later, after I've had a little sleep and time to process all the great stuff I saw and new friends made.  The mug shot photo booth was a huge hit and I'll post pics up on flickr too as there were many, many amazing costume combinations and a wrap sheet of the world's greatest crimes-  Since I encouraged folks to come up with their own caption for the booking photos, there was a huge variety of crimes and misdemeanors, though I think today's favorite was "early morning toilet slammer" followed by the kid who's crime was being a hipster and yelled "that's so main-stream" when I took his photo.  There is one more day of amazing action if you can make it down here- remember code word is "you're the yarn bomb" for a free gift from me, and if you can't make it to my booth, there is lots of fun Criminal Craft handmade goodness in my Etsy shop.

Free Pussy Riot

pussyc
pussyc

Occasionally I get swept up in the heat of the moment, especially a moving political moment and feel my crafter self needs to take a stand. I'm so in awe of the fantastically brave punk rock chicks who"ve dared to take on Vladimir Putin the topless cowboy dictator.

How much I adore that the voices demanding democracy, freedom of speech and the separation of church and state happen to be hot 20 year old feminists in robber masks and Go-Go boots.

So today was set aside for busting out  freezer paper, hot iron and a whole mess of ink and glitter.  It's uncanny that this particular event should happen since I've pretty much always wanted a shirt that said "Free Pussy Riot".

I'm guessing that some of my other Criminal Crafter friends might want to make one too, so I'm posting my template, run with it, make something awesome, post the pictures on line and everywhere.

Nadezhda, Yekaterina, and Maria, you guys are inspiring, so sorry you got the short end of the stick in a corrupt system.

pussytemplate
pussytemplate

You're the Yarn Bomb

yarn blog post
yarn blog post

Because you are so cool, because you brave the weather to come out to book signings and liquor infused craft nights, because you wouldn't let me leave the house with my slip showing, purse that didn't match my shoes or a good alibi- I've made you a gift, and one for you, and you and you.  Fans of the Criminal Crafts blog who stop by my booth (#34) at Portland's Mini Maker Faire on Sept. 15th and 16th at OMSI and say "You're the Yarn Bomb" get this super cute kit- a small ball of yarn (enough to learn how to finger knit), instructions on finger knitting and a brief history on the art of yarn bombing, an atomic fireball candy and a commemorative gift bag hand stamped by Parole Officer Honeyman and myself. I'll also be giving a few of these precious gifts away at my panel discussion and Iron Craft event at the Contemporary Arts Center  on Monday Sept. 10th . Yes, I'm off to Cincinnati, you heard that right, the city that gave us Bootsy Collins, Carmen Electra, Doris Day and the Isley Brothers is also home to one of the more visionary and inspiring contemporary arts museums in the country.  I'm doing a fab night of talking and judging craft smackdown with local artists Pam Kravetz and Chris Salley and like any good hosts, they've promised beer will be available.  I'm really hoping to sneak off and squeeze in some yarn bombing when I'm there, since I hear it's quite the scene in Cincinnati.  There's even a yarn bomb posse, the BombShells  and they even have their own manifesto, and there really isn't anything I like more than crafters with manifestos, except for maybe crafters with beer.

On the off chance that you happen to live somewhere other than the craft meccas of Portland and Cincinnati, I'm thinking you deserve a treat too.  So the 1st five readers who email me a good alibi along with their address also get a gift in the mail.  So hop too it, and I want good alibis, something creative, slightly funny and will stand up in court.

Yarn bomb supplies
Yarn bomb supplies

So a bit more about these yarn bomb bags... they were generously donated by Stateline Bags and blanks in a number of sizes can be ordered from their website here.  They have a crafter's resource section on the website too which is pretty darn cool and it got me to thinking about some other projects I want to make later this fall.

For my bags I drew three designs on paper and made a rubbing transfer onto heavy linoleum stamp material.  I cut the shapes with carving tools but exacto knives work fine too.   From there it's as easy as stamping onto an ink pad and pressing onto the bag.  I did put a piece of cardboard in the bag so the image didn't seep all the way through.  I'm delighted with how the bags came out and am planning to screen print some others to using a darling print kit I got from Etsy seller SimpleKraft.

I've got a full stamp carving tutorial in the Criminal Crafts book and illustrations too, to make your own paper funeral.

%*#$ is About to Get Real

Alpine mock up
Alpine mock up

Oh man, I thought with summer winding down the Criminal Crafts hi-jinks would be coming to an end, not so my friends, not so.  The calendar is getting stuffed with devious fun workshops, cool give-aways, dangerous craft offs and Portland's very first Mini Maker Faire.  I'm so excited I could spit, but it isn't very lady like so I'll hold off. All the good stuff is getting added to my events page, check back when you can, as I keep adding to it and this awesomeness shouldn't be missed! First up, if you're cool enough to live near Cincinnati, you'll have to hot foot it over to the Contemporary Arts Center on Sept. 10th,  where I'll be in on a panel discussion about the resurgence of hand made arts, there's going to be an Iron Craft competition AND a bar.  Drinking, crafting and being competitive, Cincinnati gets me on a deep and fundamental level.  Will try to squeeze in some yarn bombing while I'm there, I hear it's the thing to do and if you get caught it's a much lighter sentence than what you'd serve than if was an actual bomb.

The following weekend, Sept. 15th and 16th is Portland's 1st ever Mini Maker Faire at OMSI.  A huge fun event for geeks, makers, Lego freaks, people who like giant trebuchets, 3-D printers and things that go boom. I'm in the process of building my space right now- aiming for mug shot photo booth and paper funerals to make and take, along with cool crafts  for sale, copies of the book and a special treat for people who read this blog.  More on this soon, but Stateline Bags has donated some of their very cool, small drawstring bags for an upcoming blog post and I'll be doing  give-aways based on that project.

As we sneak closer to fall, there's a whole slew of cool upcoming classes.  I'll be presenting a series of workshops to get ready for my favorite holiday Dia de los Muertos.  On Sept. 30th we'll be making sugar skulls a.k.a calaveras the next Sunday, October 7th, we'll be working on costumes, masks and skull make-up and a final workshop on altar or ofrenda building .  The classes are sponsored by SCRAP and will be held in their workshop space, for more info- check out my listings on Skilshare .

Speaking of SCRAP, the Rebel Craft Rumble is coming up and I'm itching for a good fight, they are taking applications now until August 31st and oh man, do I hope I make the cut, I've been training P90X training (not really)  since getting axed in the 1st round last year.  My ego is glue gunning for a re-match! Fight night is October 18th at the Hollywood Theater.

But wait, there's MORE can you BELIEVE IT??? Voodoo doll pincushions, two FREE  workshops October 24th at the St. Johns Library and October 30th at the Holgate Library . So friends and frenemies, I expect to see you soon.  And if you've made anything cool from the Criminal Crafts book, send me a photo, would love to add you to the gallery of rogues up on Facebook.

Vegas Baby-Part Two

CC Skyline
CC Skyline

As promised, I couldn't "do" Vegas in one post, there was just too much to see and really, The Mob Museum was so awesome, it deserved it's own post.

It might not sound true to character, but I'm not a huge fan of the strip so I made the requisite trek pretty short.  Everything there is a little too new for my taste, plastic and disposable like the giant day glow cocktail mugs shaped like the Eiffel Tower I saw a drunk lady throwing up into.  Just not my scene.

That said, I won't turn my nose up at the buffet at the Winn, it is divine and in one of the never ending malls I did managed to find one of those material goods I was willing to forgo my kids' college education on... If you guessed the Ferrari Museum, you'd be close, but actually it was a gorgeous print of the poetry of Dante Gabriel Rossetti at Bauman's Rare books and a $30,000 copy of Ian Flemming's Live and Let Die in it's original dust jacket.  For that kind of cash, I'd hope to get some of Sean Connery's preserved sweat thrown in too.

While I yearned for Vegas' old noir vibe, my husband did manage to chat with Wayne Newton at the check in desk for Southwest Airlines, but that hardly compares to my visions of the old casino days of vixen card counters and Elvis at the pool of the Flamingo.

CC Frida
CC Frida

Wandering off the Strip though, and into the downtown and arts district we were rewarded with cool thrift stores, friendly locals and some kick ass Mexican food.

Casa Don Juan on Main St. does a great chili relleno and had a super impressive wall of  Frida Kahlo on one side of the restaurant and Emilliano Zapata on the other.  Across the road I found some lovely vintage and modern decor at Corner Store.  Wasn't sure how to get the velvet couch back home with us and still kicking myself for passing up this lovely Remington typewriter.  Thinking it would make a nice change from the cut ransom notes I've been slaving over.

Also on Main St. was Medusa's Antiques, which had some decent stuff in the front of the shop and an amazing room of tiki collectibles in the back. Next trip its where I'll be spending all my allowance money.

If you're into the downtown Vegas scene, there's a documentary being made by William Swaney that is worth checking out, Beyond Neon based on the coolness I saw in the hood and the super nice folks, it sounds like a great film going down.

Next up: Seattle Squirrel Madness

CC Remmington
CC Remmington

Visit to The Mob Museum-Criminal Crafts Does Vegas- Part One

CC Mob Museum
CC Mob Museum

The best mobster stories take at least two volumes to tell, three if you include flashbacks, cooking advice and a couple generations of offspring added to the family drama.  My Vegas tale isn't quite as epic, but needs at least two posts to do it any justice.  And when we're talking about justice, The Mob Museum delivered it in spades.

Sitting pretty in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, The Mob Museum resides in a gorgeous old building once a US post office and Federal Courthouse.  In 1950 it was one of 14 locations around the United States to participate in the Kefauver Committee hearings on organized crime.  Broadcast live on TV, these hearings put 600 witnesses, mafia kingpins and henchmen on the hot seat, nose to nose with US senators, facing allegations of interstate commerce violations and the uncovering the overwhelming influence of organized crime all around America.

Spanning three floors, with fun, and informative interactive exhibits and films, the museum delivers the goods on federal crime history, showing both sides of the loaded coin, profiling the thugs who did the deeds and the cops and legislators who uncovered the corruption and introduced legal oversights and justice to the chaos.

CC mob collage
CC mob collage

I'm a geek for crime history, so it was a delight to spend an afternoon exploring the exhibits and an even bigger treat to be doing a book signing of Criminal Crafts at the gift shop.  To really see the museum you'll want to set aside two or three hours, longer if you've seen Goodfellas, Casino or Donny Brasco more than once, because all those cats, and their homeboys are here.  I really could have spent a full day, as the exhibits were completely fascinating, and gorgeous, high tech and inviting all at once and the bad side of being a gangster never felt glamorized.

CC mob collage 2
CC mob collage 2

Of course I kept an eagle eye out for genuine criminal crafting memorabilia and insights into the minds mobsters, and was rewarded by this "interestingly" executed pen and ink sketch which I think was done by  John Gotti.  Serving 10 years time prior to his death, one can only hope Teflon Don spent a little more time refining his skills and this was only and early attempt.  I pity the poor guy who had to stand for hours posing for this one.

Around the museum were numerous quotes from famous mobsters and officers as well as clever presentations of background information.  I especially liked the chalkboard drawing of criminal traits- perusing through the criteria, I seem to hit most of the deviant tendencies for an older miscreant.

CC mob collage 4
CC mob collage 4

Seeing the mob connection to Vegas history was especially compelling, lots of great memorabilia and back story from the city's seedy past.  The book on card sharking was behind glass so I couldn't get any tips but there were a few slot machines tricked out for fake wins and other cons of the day.  A room next door was plastered with stacks of fake money illustrating how much revenue the government lost to skimming scams, astronomical sums.

cc gift shop
cc gift shop

Luckily for me the tour winds up in the gift shop where I had a table for the afternoon.  The gals who work the shop were good sports, indulging my corny jokes and trying on the spy glasses that I made. Special shout out to the super troopers who came in on their day off to get signed copies of my book.  Can't wait to see what they make, will be posting photos here!

I couldn't leave empty handed and aside from getting souvenirs for myself, belated father's day gifts I decided to start my Christmas shopping. The museum had some really unique stuff, biographies of famous cops and mobsters, movies, crime scene tape, loaded dice. shot glasses shaped like pistols and costumes for kids and adults.  Since I couldn't fit everything in my carry-on I'm glad the gift shop's collection is on-line too.

CC Dolls
CC Dolls

Had to share pics of the treats I got for myself- an awesome book of mobster paper dolls.  I'll be making the Goodfellas set 1st.  Skinny Ray Liotta, looks absolutely scorching here and I'm putting him on my desk to oversee all the hard work I'm doing.  Sad though that there isn't a version of him in his underwear, and it's pretty telling that the Joe Pesci doll is missing a head.

cc tape gun
cc tape gun

And I could not pass up on the tape gun, nothing, nothing quite says Criminal Crafts like this bad boy.  With any luck (or a good bribe) I'll have a chance to do the SCRAP Rebel Craft Rumble again this year and can use it as my secret weapon.

Facinators, you wear them on your head

50 Shades of Grey Facinator
50 Shades of Grey Facinator

Well summer is in full swing, it's wedding and horse racing season which means two things, classy ladies are going on Champagne benders and sticking silly things on their heads while running willy nilly to the finish line. With these parameters, I of course refuse to be left out, and had to put my own twist on the chapeau phenomenon by making a series of themed facinators to wear at events I've got coming up.

Some of my men friends have never heard of facinators, so I'll take a moment to explain- They are fancy bits of lace, ribbon and do-dads that you wear on your head, similar to a hat, but smaller.  Their geographical placement, above the belt line, might make them a bit more disappointing than they sound at first, but bear with me, with the right theme in mind, we can spice them right back up to being interesting.

I've made a few of these literary inspired accessories now so putting together the "50 Shades of Grey Facinator" was so easy, I could have done it with one hand tied behind my my back.  (While rolling my eyes and chewing on my bottom lip).  Seriously, handcuffs on your head is hot, and not hard to do.  I opted to use the toy version of the shackles both for safety's sake and they are a hell of a lot lighter and easier to attach with a glue gun.  I actually got all the supplies to make the facinators from the Dollar Store, with the exception of the paint chips which I stealthily pocketed while at the paint shop.  I think they actually give them away, but I like to feel sneaky even when I'm not doing anything wrong (except for not wearing underwear).

Supplies:

Plastic headband

Plastic netting or fancy tuile

50 paint chips

Plastic handcuffs

So to make: Cut a produce bag into a 8x 12"  strip, scrunch one end of your "veil" together and attach to a plastic headband with hot glue.  Do this over a newspaper because it's going to make a drippy mess and since your veil is made of plastic, it's going to melt a little bit.  One trick is to put a bead of glue onto the headband and let it cool for about 20 seconds before pressing the netting down into it, and of course be careful, as it's going to be hot.

Fan your chips and glue one on top of the other, glue pain chip rosette onto headband and cuffs on top of that

Open a bottle of expensive Chablis and pick up the phone, maybe Christian is free for a booty call

Vegas Facinators
Vegas Facinators

 If he's not around you can always treat yourself to more crafting, it's almost as much fun as kinky sex with a neurotic billionaire.  I had a hoot making a whole horde of facinators for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas.  For some I went for the straight up gambeling theme, but I wanted to do something for my book signing at The Mob Museum of Las Vegas on the 30th.  I am super stoked to check the museum out, the exhibits sound spectacular, looking at both sides of the crime history, the criminal element and the law enforcement officers who fought to bring them to justice.  This duality inspired me to make two special facinators, one for the gangsters with a bottle of bootleg gin and one for Johnny Law with iconic shades and a fancy pants badge, that is probably fooling no-one.

Vegas Facinator collage2
Vegas Facinator collage2

Now you might be looking at these hats and think to yourself that Ms. Demeanor has finally taken crafting too far, no one would wear something so ridiculous on their heads, but friend, you'd be wrong and I'd like to point you to the most excellent blog post on Go Fug Yourself  highlighting the haberdashery hijinks at the Royal Ascot this weekend, where society dames wore two teared bird houses and gargantuan flowers on their noggins.  The outfits for Lady's Day have gotten so out of hand that the Ascot officials have laid down the law this year, all together banning facinators in the royal box (no innuendo there!) but they still allow big ass hats.  I remain amused and inspired.

Big in Japan

Hanacollage
Hanacollage

As a well known master criminal, and international woman of mystery, you may assume I get lots of subversive and odd mail, NOT TRUE! On most days my post box is as quiet as the grave, except for the occasional past due notice or latest edition of Crime Spree Magazine .

And while some writers might shy away from the Cathy Bates "I'm your biggest fan" person, I say "you're my kind of crazy, let's get a little nutty off some Modge Podge fumes and go yarn bombing later".

So you can imagine my excitement when I got this delightful note from code name "Hana"...

"Hi, Demeanor. I'm Hana, from Tokyo JAPAN! I looked at your report by the "Craftzine.com blog".

I got the chills! It totally blew me away! Your "Criminal crafts" are sooooo coooool and intense!

I can really relete to them.

I get a your AWESOME BOOK! Definitely! You are fucking Awesome!

Please make me want to be friends.

Keep it Brutal !!! <333

From Hana."

Clearly, she is my new BFF forever. And I was so stoked, I nominated and approved her to be "Head of the Tokyo Criminal Crafts Fan Club" If you live within the city limits or outlying areas of Chiba, Kawasaki, Saitama or Yokohama, you'll be reporting directly to Hana, she's in charge. What Hana will make of this position is entirely up to her, I'd like to think she'll be staying up late making Voodoo doll pincushions and baking cakes with files inside, but really it's at her devious discretion, I only inspire subversive behavior, never cross it.

To commemorate Hana's new position, I've made her a very special fan club badge, which I hope she uses all the time, to gain entry into places she shouldn't.  Similar honorariums are going out to my global craft syndicate with a special shout out going to our Madison WI branch for their nefarious crafting efforts.

You too could be inducted into the Criminal Crafts fan club and get a special badge, it's pretty easy, no blood oaths or wacking off an enemy needed. Just send me one photo of you, with a project from the book and a sassy fan letter I can post on this blog and blammo, you're in the club.  Sounds like fun, right- OK, with my blessing, go make some mayhem!

Mommy Dearest

CakeWithFile_Hero
CakeWithFile_Hero

Since the publication of Criminal Crafts, I've been in a bit of hot water with my mom. This is nothing new.  The current bee in her very antique, threadbare bonnet is over how I portrayed her in my book. Now she's calling at 3 a.m. ranting about "character defamation"  and hinting that my exaggerations are the basis for a very expensive slander lawsuit and her lawyer's retainer is paid up in full.  So, before this whole ugly incident can go into litigation, I'd like to say, in a very public forum.  My mother has never been arrested for a crime, actually served time or been convicted of any crime that I am aware of.

However, I still have my suspicions, and until evidence is presented otherwise I'm going to assume the only reason mom isn't doing time, she's that good.  Good at getting away with it.

Her fanatical cleaning binges are really all about wiping down prints and the whole gardening kick only thinly veils something much darker and deeper which she's burying in the back yard.

HiddenBook_Hero_2
HiddenBook_Hero_2

Since she's got to leave all that stolen loot to someone, I'm staying on her good side and making her something extra special for Mother's Day, a decoy book with hidden compartment for her hooch. This is a pretty well known and fabulous craft, something which I've detailed in the book.  If you live in or near Portland Oregon, you can come make one with me.  I'll be leading a series of workshops at a number of Multnomah County libraries and all the supplies and instruction are free.  Best of all the 1st class is on Mother's Day, so you can bring your mom too, if she's anything like mine, making a cagey cubby to secret her stash is the perfect way to spend the afternoon, beats doing time.

Put Your Parole Officer on Speed Dial, it's Time for Criminal Crafting

well hung
well hung

This past week has been a whirlwind tour of fun and mayhem with two fiendishly lovely kick off parties for the Criminal Crafts book at Bridge City Comics and the Someday Lounge.  I'm new to this whole game, but I'm beginning to catch on to some of the rules of author signings and being interviewed by the press.

#1 When someone approaches the table don't offer them the choice between signing in ink or blood, you might freak them out- just use a sharpie, don't be a smart ass.

bridgecity4
bridgecity4

#2 Books featuring flaming cocktails and shiv cozies are actually well loved by children too and if an adult offers to buy it for their kid, it's between the two of them, you won't actually be around for the fallout.  Since my kids had a whole lot to do with the making of the book and my daughter has a great idea for the perfect bank job, I'm in no position to judge.

#3 Don't break the reporter.  I had a lovely interview with a cool guy two weeks ago and we made some flaming drinks for his story.  During the process of filming we managed to: accidentally pour a drink on the owner of the bar we were shooting in, get locked out of said bar, the reporter fractured his elbow scaling a chain link fence attempting to return us to civilization and was ALMOST ARRESTED BY TRI-MET POLICE FOR IMPERSONATING AN OFFICER, and we set some stuff on fire.  I am known to exaggerate on this blog a wee bit and sometimes outright lie, but this one is totally and completely true, all of it.  My agent has asked me to only do interviews by phone from here on out, wise plan.

I am super, super excited for the next big signing event at Murder by the Book which I'll be doing with the amazingly talented craft author Susan Beal.  I'm a huge fan of her books especially  World of Geekcraft and Button it Up which have cool projects for when I'm feeling less maudlin.  There will be snacks, Susan is bringing along a couple of her most mysterious projects to show off- A Coraline inspired sewing box and Tribbles!  I'll have a couple projects from Criminal Crafts including invisible ink and a ransom note kit, because we're all about depraved writing.  Susan was kind enough to do a write up of the event here....

It is an absolute treat to be hanging out at Murder by the Book, everyone in the shop is delightful and I always walk out with my arms loaded down with a stack of thrillers, local ner-do-wells and classic who-done-its.  One things I love about the shop is their excellent selection of mysteries for kids, since my posse is destine for either incarceration or a future in law enforcement I figure it's never too early to have them bone up on the fundamentals of the criminal world and espionage.  With that in mind I picked up three fantastic books last week:

Uncle
Uncle

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was one of the best things that ever happened in spy TV, though the Prisoner will always be 1st in my heart.  U.N.C.L.E. did get the best licensed toys, and spin-off books, I was stoked to find this at the store- not quite sure what a "gentle saboteur" really is, but I'm about to find out.  The illustrations are dope and I love the writing style  "The truth struck her like a tremendous gong.  She was not a soldier but a mercenary, a paid professional.  She was not part of an army but a member of a world organization of professional criminals, covering their crimes by a pretense of political activity, earning huge sums of money as the lackeys, without conscience, of governments that desired unrest and turmoil"  Booyah! That is some good shit!

Vanishing
Vanishing

 Vanishing Acts by Phillip Margolin and Ami Margolin Rome- A mystery story with Jr. High heroine, Madison Kincaid set in the ever sunny Portland Oregon.  I love reading local authors telling stories about the city I live in and Phillip's books never disappoint.  This is the first project he's written with his daughter Ami and though it's for a kid audience, I'll be reading it 1st because I'm already hooked.  I got the chance to meet Phillip and Ami at a signing last summer and they are both charming people with a quick wit, looking forward to snuggling down with this one!

Freddy
Freddy

 Freddy the Detective, the 1st book in the Freddy the Pig series.  Don't let the title woo you into thinking this is just a book for kids, Freddy is the shiz, love this little guy a whole lot- Super dry humor with the writer, Walter R. Brooks as a contributing author to the New Yorker and Atlantic.  Though the stories were written between the late 1920's up to late 50's, the political commentary remains astute and timeless.  Freddy is a dapper hero with a supporting cast of barnyard friends who manage to over-come their animal instincts to demand labor reforms, start their own bank and covert espionage agency and eventually diplomatic relations with the people of Mars.  Since meeting Freddy last month, the kids and I have become obsessed and he's our hands down favorite read aloud.

Aside from having my head in a book this week, I plan on doing some long overdue crafting.  I'll be spending a part of Thursday and Friday (10-2 ish) hanging out at Backspace Cafe as the "Crafter in Residence".  I'll be making some projects from the book and a few other things on my to-do list.  Drop in and say "hi" bring something of yours to work on or stump me with craft questions or master schemes.  This is an informal meet-up so tweet me if you're heading over @criminalcrafts I'll be in the back probably drinking one of the tantalizingly delicious Upright Brewing's Criminal Crafts Barley Bocks.

Take it to the Bridge- And, Thanks!

bridge
bridge

The Criminal Crafts world tour is off to a ridiculously fabulous start and I'm super stoked to be doing the official launch signing at Bridge City Comics this Friday night at 6pm.  Since it's on the suitably unlucky Friday the 13th, I'll be doing a super special give away- If you come in with a written hard luck story, you'll be eligible for a prize, something awesome and devious from my Criminal Crafts shop!  Since a couple of my pals are real Sad Sacks the competition for this will be fierce but I'll probably do a drawing rather than go for saddest story since many of my friends are also big liars and will do anything to win a contest.

cookies-001
cookies-001

Along with the book signing- there will be snacks- I've busted out a couple batches of my G-men cookies from the book, who've all tragically run afoul of hard times themselves, we'll also be sampling the Upright Brewing Criminal Crafts Barley Bock which is so freakin delicious that I've decided to write another book so we can get more beer.

Best of all Bridge City is an all ages venue so the juvenile delinquents in your house can come too, if they've checked in with their parole officer 1st.  There's a great collection of comics for kids and I plan on picking up our back issues of Tiny Titans and the new Asterix too!

While I'm name dropping, wanted to send a special thanks to Karen at the Someday Lounge, she put together a fantastic catering spread for our cocktail party last Tuesday night, the stuffed mushrooms were especially divine, looking forward to more special events there!  And as hoped, Kick Ass Oregon history delivered, we got a fab review of some of Oregon's more notorious and ingenious criminal moments as well as sage advice- Tip: don't pick up hitchhikers on the road outside the women's prison, words to live by!

Bring Out Your Easter Zombie Crafts

zombie bunnies
zombie bunnies

Technically this isn't a criminal craft, but zombies so frequently walk (lurch) that fine line that crooks and other miscreants get lumped into that featuring them on my blog doesn't feel like cheating.  And while pairing zombies with a fuzzy pastel holiday might not be for everyone, at my house we find a little sprinkling of mutant monsters adds a bit of joie de vivre to almost any occasion,  like a dash of Tobasco sauce for the psyche. One of my favorite on-line stores, Think Geek featured zombie bunnies but they sold out before I could get my order in.  This gave me the perfect excuse to make my own.  Since my tableaux featured bunnies in mid feed I bought a few that were already broken and the store gave me a discount.  Zombies=thrifty. To make this craft you'll need:

Store bought bunnies one larger than the others-

1 bag white chocolate chips

New, clean paint brush

Green and red and black gel or powdered food coloring (NOT liquid)

1 Cup powdered sugar

Red hots

Oreos

IMG_8468
IMG_8468

To make:

Set a small pot of water to simmer on the stove- put the chips into a metal or glass mixing bowl that this slightly larger than your pot and place on top.  What you are creating is a double boiler effect that will evenly melt your chocolate at a consistent low heat. Keep an eye on your chips, once they begin to melt you'll want to grab a hot pad to hold your bowl and whisk gently with your other hand- be ready to pull this off the heat if it starts happening to quickly.  Add your green food coloring-  This step is really important - DO NOT USE A LIQUID FOOD DYE, it will seize up your chocolate and you'll end up with a big green lump.

Once your color is mixed in, take a paint brush and coat the exterior of your bunny, if the chocolate gets too cool and hard you can always put it back over the simmering water. Let chocolate bunny cool completely. Break a couple bunnies in half or large pieces and dip the edges into the green chocolate

Next you'll be mixing up your icing- add water a few drops at a time to your powdered sugar until you have a slightly runny consistency, not as stiff as tooth paste instead, comparable to maple syrup.  Add red food coloring to the icing.  For this layer you'll be going for more of a splatter effect.  Dip your brush in the warm icing and flick it across the bunny.

IMG_8472
IMG_8472

I used red hots for the zombie eyes, you can dip these in either the chocolate or the icing to stick them to the bunnies.  From here on you'll be setting the scene- Toss your cookies into the food processor and blend at high speed or if you're old fashioned you can put them into a bag and break them up with a rolling pin.  Dip the base of your big bunny into the warm chocolate and stick him on a serving platter.  The extra chocolate layer will keep him from toppling over.

Spread the cookie mix on the serving platter and add bunny bits.  I went a bit overboard on this part- When I tried making this the 1st time I forgot about liquid dye in chocolate and my 1st batch was a lump.  Ever the inspired crafter, I took the rejects and shaped them into egg form, drizzled them with more chocolate and the red icing and added red hot eyes.

I've been collecting egg shells for cascarones and used some of these to nest the zombie eggs.  So here's the absolute best part about this craft- I've still got a few days until Easter and if I sneak downstairs and start eating these bunnies before anyone actually sees them, no one will be the wiser- the more I eat, the more authentic it's going to look. So brilliant.

IMG_8523
IMG_8523
IMG_8480
IMG_8480

A whole lot of badness going down

AtomicCherryBomb_Hero
AtomicCherryBomb_Hero

Holy smokes, the Criminal Crafts book launch is less two weeks away, how is this possible?  To say that I'm stoked to share fabulous projects with my friends, is the understatement of the year.  My partners in crime and I are lining up a number of unique and maniacal events each a special trip into the dark abyss of the craft world.  I've just added a handy event page on this blog along with a calendar which has more detailed info on all these crazy shenanigans... First and foremost we're going to celebrate with a 21+ event to toast with flaming cocktails, come Get Lit With Criminal Crafts at the Someday Lounge.  We'll be getting our berserker freak on with featured drinks from the book- Atomic Cherry Bombs, Mug Shots and my favorite Flaming Amy which has a whole mess of rum and charred effigy of my nemesis flailing on top for a garnish.  The amazing Miss Karen from the Someday is whipping up some snacks for us, I've got a book excerpts to read and as a special treat, resident historian Doug Kenck Crispin of Kick Ass Oregon History will be giving us the lowdown on Portland's criminal past.

Friday the 13th is the Official Criminal Crafts Book Launch and Signing at Bridge City Comics . While some folks might consider this date as a most auspicious harbinger of bad things to come, I think  it  compliments the malicious intent of the book and is the perfect time to get out and tempt fate.   I'll be demonstrating a couple evil crafts from the book and giving out prizes for hard luck stories.  In order to compete,  you'll need to bring along a written tale of bad luck, while these antidotes should be based in fact, I'm a big fan of embellishments, so if you've got to lie to win, I'm not going to hold it against you, we're friends for a reason, right?  This is an all ages event, which is just the excuse my kiddos need to stock up on back issues of Tiny Titans- Aw man!

invisible ink kit pen
invisible ink kit pen

At the end of the month I'm doubly delighted to be doing a signing and event with the amazingly talented craft writer, Susan Beal at one of my favorite haunts, Murder By the Book.  The afternoon's theme is Depraved Writing, which seems perfect for a mystery book store- we'll have craft demonstrations of invisible ink and ransom note kits and Susan is bringing her Coraline Mystery Sewing Box from her super awesome book World of Geekcraft .

Though it's not one of the conditions of my parole, I am trying to work off some of my extraordinarily large over-due  fees and have  signed up to do four workshops with the Multnomah County Library on how to How to Hide Things in a Book. I've been lucky enough to do a presentation with them in the past and they are lots of fun, free and you get to take something cool home with you in the end.   You'll need to pre-register for these as space is limited.  Along with your hand made literary treasure chest, I'll also have a reading list of some of my favorite books to accompany the craft... Shawshank Redemption of course being at the top.  Workshop dates are May 9th, 13th, 23rd and June 9th.

Also in May I'll be doing a signing and craft demo at Powells Cedar Hills Crossing.  This is a great chance for my friends who live on the other side of the mountain to have some quality time at making mischief. They have a fantastic craft book section and true crime stories too so I'm guessing I'll be leaving with an armload of books, a happy beast of burden!

And because I'm a party glutton, there's a whole mess of other fun stuff coming up including a Noir Night, crafting after dark with SCRAP and sampling Upright Brewing's Criminal Crafts beer around town.  More info on this fun coming soon.

Notes from the Underground

Upright taps
Upright taps

With the Criminal Crafts book launch just a few weeks away, I've been scheming plots to get a little publicity for the book, unfortunately plan A was so devious it would land me back in the clink, plan B involved public exposure and while that might have worked in my twenties, gravity and life on the lamb hasn't been as kind to me as it could, plus it's March and I'm not too keen about hanging from a window ledge, in a thong, in the freezing cold rain for seven hours, so, plan B- out.  Plan C involved me re-creating The Blues Brothers, shot for shot, but using monkeys.  This one had potential but teaching a chimp to drive a stick might be out of my skill set.  My bookie, Flavio said keep it simple, "stay with what you know, what do people like?".  Having ruled out the naked thing, I moved onto the next obvious choice, people love beer, I love beer, and like my taste in rare gemstones and foraged paintings, I want only the best, this quest for perfection led me skulking over to Upright Brewing in Portland Oregon. Tucked away in the basement of the historic Leftbank Building, Upright specializes in Belgian and French Farmhouse style beers with a special room set aside for open tank fermentation.

Upright CCBB
Upright CCBB

Beers there are being made using some of the old school techniques, and by old school, I'm talking 100 years ago or more like the Gose which adds salt to a wheat beer giving it a complex and crisp finish. The wine barrels spread around the brewery aren't there for ambiance, but are instead storing up all sorts of goodness, specialty one-off beers some with peaches, others with berries and lots of great herbs like ginger, yarrow and calendula.

So, last Tuesday morning I "let myself into the place" and presented my plan to head brewer and owner "Alex" Ganum.  Here's the weird thing I didn't have to tie him up or hold a gun to his head or anything, he was totally into the idea of making Criminal Crafts inspired beer.  We talked a bit about styles, and he suggested it compliment the book, dark and noir-ish, a respectively high, alcohol

Upright tank
Upright tank

content, and slightly sweet, hmm, except for the last bit, I'd say he gets me.  The first game plan was to make a Dunkel Wizenbock which sounded pretty cool, I like the dark malty beers, brings back my old espionage days in Bavaria- but then "Alex" got inspired, a mad genius kind of thing and he went all grain on me, we're talking many, many 50lb bags of barley, I'm thinking it might have been 700lbs, but I've been known to tell a tall tale. And it was four different kinds of barley including a Munich malt that had me singing Edelweiss all morning.   Then just to be a rebel, he didn't add any wheat and only five lbs of hops in the last boil.  In the end "Alex" called it a Barley Bock which sounds pretty kick ass to me.

Now that the beer is happily percolating away in big yeasty bubbles in the fermentation room, destine for greatness, I've had a little time to reflect on my pal "Alex" and his seemingly altruistic behavior.  I've come to this conclusion, he isn't what he seems.

My first guess was witness protection program, like my in-laws, but on further internet digging, I've decided it is much more complicated and sinister... In 1958 famed Argentinean F1 race car driver Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped at a Grand Prix race in Cuba by  a group of revolutionaries who were trying to gain publicity for their cause (I know how they feel).

Upright another seven
Upright another seven

Fangio was released pretty quickly, and remained life long friends with his captors.  What no one has been able to confirm is that Fangio sired identical triplet sons while being held captive.  These young men went on to driving careers of their own, though substantially less reputable,  one of the boys was a bag man for the mob, another ran speed boat mule runs off the coast of Miami and the third, Castro's personal driver.

This was the family "Alex" was born into- rather than live a life of crime and fast cars he stowed away on a cargo boat to Europe that crashed on a stormy evening off the coast of Belgium.  A Trappist monk found his body washed up on the rocks and gave him shelter at a nearby abbey.  Over the silent years "Alex" learned the secrets of the order, grinding grains by hand using large rocks and harvesting late season hops by moonlight.   Eventually he found his way up to the Pacific Northwest surviving only on his quick wit and prodigal brewing skills.

I'm assuming, "Alex" knows I'm on to him and the whole Upright Brewing Criminal Crafts Barley Bock is just a ploy to keep me from flapping my gums.  Maybe I'll keep the story to myself or, maybe not, if nothing else I know who to call when I need a get-away driver.  And I could be totally wrong about this whole back-story, though it would go a long way toward explaining the email fishing shakedown he tried to pull off a couple months back and the suspect plea for wired cash when he'd supposedly been mugged in Manila.

As for the beer, it gets kegged on Thursday and half of it is getting set aside with currants and aging barrels the rest will be at bars around Portland and at some of the Criminal Crafts book signing events including cocktail reception at the Someday Lounge on April 10th.

http://youtu.be/VxvED1EDG1U

Monkey's Uncle

Don't know about the rest of you but I've got a wild weekend planned.  There are two days left to finish my diorama for the Kick Ass Oregon History Diorama contest , not even sure if it is fair for me to enter since I'm donating the prize, but I LOVE TO ENTER CRAFTY COMPETITIONS.  Also, I'm pretty sure my diorama is going to win because it is f-ing brilliant. For those of you who didn't grow up in Oregon, some quick back story- in 1970 an 8 ton sperm whale washed up  near Florence Oregon and died.  At the time the beaches were under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Highway Patrol who were responsible for cleaning up the mess.  Their obvious solution was to explode the whale with a half ton of TNT, as you might do with a wayward boulder that was blocking a country road.  Like other poorly thought through plans that involve well- intentioned men facing a freakishly large aberration of nature while in the possession of explosives- mistakes were made, big ones.  For my entry into the diorama competition I plan to capture that "Oh Shit" moment when workers, camera crews and innocent bystanders realize that this was a very bad idea.  The full story is a great read and maybe the funniest thing I've yet to see on Wikipedia especially since it digresses into other instances of whales exploding including the self combusting kinds.  KATU news covered the whole thing live and it really is worth five minutes of your day.

And while accurately depicting this with Star Wars action figures and Match Box cars should be the highlight of my weekend- I actually have bigger fish to fry... a few weeks back I sent in an application for a new reality TV competition show The Ultimate Craft Throwdown and OMG, OMG, OMG they like me!  They like me enough to see what else I can do, what I can do big, and get in a video by Monday.  With a little advance warning I could have recreated the whole whale exploding thing life size in felt, but I've got about 72 hours to come up with something interesting since most of my work is small and sinister.

sock monkey
sock monkey

Enter the 8' sock monkey,  that's the plan anyway.  I managed to score a couple dozen empty burlap coffee bags from Stumptown roasters and I'm stitching them together over a PVC frame my husband has built.

Some things I'm learning along the way.  Burlap doesn't take spray paint well but latex house paint does the trick.  The perfect tool for cutting PVC isn't a saw but a wire with plastic handles that looks just like a garrote from the old spy movies.  8' is big, really big all things considered and now that I've built the monkey I'm not sure if I can actually get him out of my house.

Other plans this weekend?  Well, I've got a comic book class to teach this afternoon and putting the finishing touches on a dog jacket made from crochet beer cans. Living the dream baby, living the dream.

How to have yourself an Angry little Christmas

wreath1
wreath1

Well friends, it's that time of year again, when my ice cold heart warms slightly and in an eggnog fueled stupor, I indulge in a little cute craft making.

What can I say.  I love Angry Birds.  I've never played it, but I love it.  I love that it is on my phone and I can give the children my phone and have twenty minutes of quiet mommy time. I love that it's a game about throwing pigs, express bacon, what could be better?  I like that it is "angry" not, plain old "pig toss" or "fussy birds"  there is unabashed emotion here, cartoon characters not afraid to live out their inner id.  They are angry and I can totally identify with that.  If I wasn't the "Criminal Crafter" I might be the "Angry Crafter"  because that suits me pretty well, except for right now, as I'm the "Deeply Amused and Pleased With Herself Crafter" as every time I look across the room and see my new wreath, I crack up, as the little beady eyes are glaring back at me.

wreath2
wreath2

The whole project was a bit of a whim.  I was at the thrift store last week and found a giant bag of small feathered birds for $3.  Seeing anything with a bag over it's head makes me slightly uncomfortable, so I bought them just to let the poor fake beasties out of confinement.

I gave them the usual treatment- anything that makes it's way into my house and isn't a food object, eventually will get glue gunned to something else frequently being covered in glitter 1st.  I knew school glue and feathers probably wouldn't be a good match so I went with a light coat of spray adhesive and liberally applied the red glitter.

wreath8
wreath8

My son acted as facial consultant, my prototype birds really weren't angry enough.  I tried calling them names and mocking them, which didn't really work, so I just drew thicker eyebrows on the next birds and that seemed to work out just fine.

I had a grape vine wreath in the basement which gussied up quick with a thick coat of spray paint and I made the pig eyes and ears out of card-stock.  I've a number of birds left over so we'll be handing them off to special friends as Christmas gifts, which is perfect since I ate all the rum balls.