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Monday, September 27, 2010

What Does It Take To Make That?

Hi everyone.  I've been working on this post for a couple of days now and I want to warn you that it's going to be a long one and that there are a lot of pictures!  I was inspired by Cave Creek Primitives post "Prototypes and Ideas".  Valerie was talking about how her little flop cats she created are evolving as she works on them.  And it started me thinking about my own creative process; how do I get from my original idea to the finished project?  So here it goes; from start to finish, here's how my mind works (and if that doesn't scare you off nothing will!).

I doodle, a lot!  And a lot of my doodling occurs here, in front of the computer.  We have a dial up internet connection and it is s-l-o-o-o-w so I have a lot of time to sit and think and doodle while waiting for pages to load.  The other day I was waiting, waiting, waiting and thinking about Halloween and pumpkins, witches and wands and a vision of a pumpkin poke or wand leaped into my head.  Here's a picture of my original doodle, it's on a piece of scrap paper that was sitting in front of the computer.
Since magic wands need a place to reside when not in use, I thought of putting the wands or pokes into a mason jar filled with --- what?  The picture isn't great but I started off with buttons, then thought of stones or pebbles but then had the BRILLIANT idea of putting them into a mason jar partially filled with Halloween candy!  Candy corn was my first thought but being in Canada I don't see a lot of that up here so decided to use whatever I could find cheap inexpensively at Wally World (aka Wal Mart).
So, first step was to decide what to put the pumpkin "head" on.  First I thought of a stick or branch but then remembered the zillion wood bobbins I have downstairs (bulk buy, long story!) so decided to use a bobbin.  Then I had to decide on which size mason jar to use, pint or quart?  I liked that more of the bobbin was showing in the pint jar so decided to use that size.
Then I had to sketch out a pattern for my pumpkin.  I have titled the picture below "yikes" because that's what I thought as soon as I saw my drawing!
I don't profess to be a great "illustrator" so after numerous erasures and crumpled up pieces of paper here's what I had.  Okay, looking better.but I wanted the pumpkin a little wider and less round.
Ahh, that's more like it.  The picture below looks more like my original doodle.  I put the bobbin down on the page to get an idea of scale so that:  1) I  made the neck opening wide enough for top of the bobbin; and 2) I didn't make the pumpkin too big or too small for the bobbin. 
Now for the pumpkins features.  How much toothy goodness is too much?  I played with the mouth for a while till I was happy with the size......
and then added a nose (still not sure of it at this point) and eyes.  I started out with the top of one of my paint bottles for the eyes but finally ended up with the top of my felt pen and I think the size is just right.
Okay, now what's it look like when I put it all together?  I see a wee problem here!  I had a vision of three pokes or wands together in the mason jar and with the size of this pumpkin "head" I'll be lucky if I can get one in there!
So up to the printer to reduce the size of my original drawing.  Reduced to 75%, looks better but still a bit big.  Back to the printer!

Okay, 65% and I think we have a keeper (sorry for the blurry picture!)
Next, cut out the pattern and trace it onto some doubled fabric.  For my "prototypes" I use a cheap inexpensive polyester.
Onto the sewing machine next...(You'll see in the picture above that I enlarged the neck opening on the reduced pattern so that it would go over the top of the bobbin, more on that soon!).  And yes, to all you sewers out there, stitching around the end of that silly little stem was as hard as it looked like it was going to be!  I see a pattern modification in the future!
Fabric trimmed to 1/4" seam allowance and corners all clipped and ready for turning (I'm not looking forward to this!!!)
To everyone who is saying "I told you so", yes, turning the stem was a royal pain in the #@$$!  I don't have any turning forceps so had to resort to my needle nosed pliers.  A definite pattern modification is coming!!  I am so (not) looking forward to stuffing the stem!
So let's see how it looks on the bobbin.  Not too bad.  The astute observer will note that the neck opening is no longer sewn up.  That's because, despite enlarging the opening on the reduced pattern, I obviously didn't add enough room and the neck would not fit over the top of the bobbin. 
I have not recorded the seam "unpicking" step because this is a family oriented blog and there was foul language associated with that particular step of the pattern making process!  I'm not too worried about having the seam open at this stage though as I had always planned to wrap the neck with ??raffia, ??florists tape or ?? so it will be covered in the end.  I have however, added a note on the pattern to make the neck opening larger (dummy!!).  Okay, on to the stuffing (please note that more foul language may be encountered as the stem portion of the pumpkin Gets Stuffed!).  Okay, a little more [square] than I had originally planned but I think that is attributable to my lack of sewing skills more than anything else.  I'm really, really good at sewing straight lines, not so good at sewing corners (especially tight corners). 
But I kind of like the look, so onto the painting.  Americana Burnt Orange and Hauser Medium Green.  Looking a little bright right now (where's my sunglassess??!!) but I am going to do some grunging at a later step so I think it will be okay.  I'm looking at where the stem meets the pumpkin and thinking I might have to disguise where the two paint colors meet.
 Hmmmm, how about some pumpkin leaves sewn into a "hat brim"?  Thinking, thinking ... how do I do that?  And what in the heck does a pumpkin leaf actually look like?  Off to Google images to look for some pictures, back in a minute (well, actually longer than that, remember the dial up internet connection that started this whole thing?!)
Okay, images finally located and downloaded (you really don't want to know how long that took!) and pumpkin leaves are actually a very simple shape, who knew?  Should be easy to make a pattern and devise a "hat brim" shape (famous last words!).  Several renditions later and here is my pumpkin leaf pattern.  I'm thinking that I will make 3 individual leaves and then sew them into place once I have the pumpkin face painted on so that I don't hide any of the pumpkins features.
 Time to do a "test fit" of the leaves to make sure they fit around the stem and don't cover too much of the pumpkins face.  I've lightly traced on the pumpkins features so I know where his eyes will be.  Looks good in front...
How about the back?  Okay, leaf size is good.
Time to paint the features onto Mr. Punkin' Head.  LOL, somehow his mouth seems to have grown in size but I think I like it!  Not so sure about that nose though, still don't like the shape.
Okay, time to take the black paint pen and add the details to the face.  Ooops, had a slight slip while outlining the eyes so now have to add a wider black detail around them but hmmm, I think I like it.  Also made the nose a little bigger and more asymmetrical and think it looks better now.
Just had a thought, pumpkins have curly vines right?  How about some curly wire around the stem as well as the leaves?  I've got some green wire but it's shiny; use the green wire or my old trusty rusted wire?  Hmm, will have to think about that one (sorry the pictures not great).  Yuck, don't like the close up picture of those eyes, will have to fix that up!
Okay, time to paint the leaves with some watered down Hauser Medium Green.
Quick blow dry with the hair dryer and then tack the leaves onto the top of the pumpkin head.  Cover up the stitches with a little more thinned Hauser Medium Green and another blow dry.  Despite my best efforts I have managed to get the one leaf too far forward and it is covering up Mr. Punkin' Heads face but I have a cunning plan to add some fabric stiffener in a future step!
Time to grunge!  Mixed up a new batch of grunging mixture (hot coffee, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and a couple of splashes of vanilla) and applied liberally to Mr. Punkin' Head with a sponge brush.  Baked in the oven till dry at 200 F and voila!  Now that's more like it, grungy goodness!  And look, the leaf has lifted off of Mr. Punkin' Heads face with baking, yay!
Time to put him onto the bobbin.  I added a couple of dabs of hot glue to keep him in place, then wrapped brown floral tape around the "neck" to cover up where I had to rip out the side seams.  Hopefully when I modify the pattern to make the neck opening bigger I can cut out this step.
Now to add the raffia over top of the floral tape.
And last but not least, here comes the curly wire.  I decided to add the rusty wire instead of the green, it was just too shiny looking.  I also added a couple of little rusty jingle bells so that when you are turning someone into a frog your wand will make a nice jingling sound!!  I haven't made it to Wal Mart yet so Mr. Punkin' Head is sitting in some pinto beans instead of Halloween candy, but you get the idea.  He will also have a couple of buddies when I get around to making them so the jar will look a little fuller.
So there you go, that's what it takes to make that!  I have to say I was stunned by the number of decisions you make during the creative process, even when making a simple project like this.  I hadn't ever stopped to think about how many steps were involved and how long it all takes.  It took me two days to write this post and create Mr. Punkin' Head but that did include taking all of the pictures and writing the commentary.  But I'm not completely finished this project yet as I still have to: 1) make modifications to the pattern; 2) make two more Punkin' Heads; 3) go to the store to buy the Halloween candy for the mason jar and; 4) I'm contemplating decoupaging a hang tag using the image below for around the neck of the mason jar.  I created this image while I was waiting for Mr. Punkin' Head to bake in the oven.
And if I was going to make this project into a .pdf E-pattern or a paper pattern, all of you pattern makers out there know that there is tons of work yet to do in writing the step by step instructions, making up the pattern pages, taking all of your pictures and uploading them to the computer and then creating the actual pattern package.  I don't know about you but I'm exhausted!  Thanks for hanging in there with me and reading this post; I'm looking forward to hearing your comments about this whole procedure.  I promise my next post will be really, really short!  Take care and happy crafting,


  1. Very interesting post Deb - You definitely worked hard on this one! Love your pumpkin 'wand'! You do such nice work. Hope you post pics of his friends when they are completed.

  2. Just awesome layout of your design, I can surly
    relate to having dial-up connection!! (I now
    have DSL one step-up from/Dial-up/still slow at
    time )Its amazing how you built your Blog with
    dial-up !!!
    Great uses of your time while waiting to
    loaded _:-) Enjoyed your post thanks for sharing

    Prim Hugz...

  3. Wow, Deb, that's a post! You did a bang up job of it, loved every step of your "creative proceess". :) I know how much goes into this work, you did it so well!! I don't know if I could handle dial-up any more ( I know you don't have a choice) but I've grown too impatient. LOL Thanks a million for the tutorial, it was really interesting!!

  4. Deb, what a trooper you are. I just got rid of my dial up. I know what waiting is like, it takes forever. I love your process of doodling, and working your pattern out step by step. Great job!!!! Your process is a winner!

  5. Thank you for sharing your creative process Deb. It's a lot of work and a lot of tailoring to get 'it' just right.
    Your pumpkin head wand looks great!!

  6. Hi Deb,
    Your amazing!!! I get out the sewing machine and foul words come pouring out of my mouth...needless to say I don't do a whole lot of sewing. Your tutorial is GREAT! It made me think of getting the machine out!!
    Thanks for your kind words on my blog and for posting my give away on yours.
    I will now be following you! This is a fun place to be!
    Thanks and talk to you later,

  7. I love Mr. Punkin Head, Great Job!! Your also very funny and you made me lol the whole way through!! My kids are looking at me like I am nutty!! =) It's ok though cause sometimes I am (well just a little, aren't we all??) Haha!


Due to an inordinate number of SPAM comments lately I have had to turn on comment moderation. Your comment will be published as soon as it has been reviewed, thanks so much for your interest in my blog! Deb xo