Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cake and Bread

Because I am currently following the blog "Cake Wrecks", which is linked in my sidebar, I've been thinking about cakes! I used to do a lot of birthday cakes for people, but I haven't done one in quite a few years. So for my daughter's birthday and my fiancee's birthday (which are only two days apart), I decided to make them this cake. It was Devil's Food on the inside.....(I used a mix)....and homemade butter icing on the outside. I melted some baking chocolate into a portion of the icing to make chocolate icing and reserved some to be coloured for the decorations. Man, butter-cream icing does NOT lend itself well to little details. Maybe it was just because I'm out of practice, but this is as good as I could get after a long day at work and then coming home in a snowstorm......but enough about that. My daughter is a big fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, so I drew his face on the cake. Richard is NOT a fan of Sonic. He wasn't really thrilled with having him on his Birthday cake....

I showed him this picture from an old 1990 Wilton Cake Decorating book, and said, "Well, I could always do THIS!"
I think it's a pretty morbid idea, really. Rich actually didn't mind the Sonic face TOO much and the cake tasted good....so that's what REALLY matters.
But one very interesting thing happened during dinner. My daughter found a big air-bubble in her roll shaped like a Valentine Heart! She wanted to eat it, but my son and I stole it from her until we could grab a photo of it. Then it got gobbled up!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Old Nelvana Photos

Okay....maybe they're not ancient, but they're pretty old. I took them around 1991 while I was working in the Layout department at 32 Atlantic Ave. I recently found this black and white contact sheet which Rich then scanned for me. The quality of these images aren't the clearest, but I became nostalgic looking at them and wanted to post them.

First there's Rob Sadler who now works at Starz and teaches part-time at Seneca College:Then John Lei, who was just a young pup at the time:
Chad Hicks, who was also fairly young:
Blayne Burnside who began in the design department:
Frank Ramirez, the Hallowe'en and stop-motion enthusiast:
Denis Gonzalez who was in the Posing department then. He was very much into photography and playing bass in "The Action Motion Men":
Cynthia Ward who was also in Posing. She now lives out West:
Brian Lee, who is never eager to have his photo taken, but I got him! (This is rare)
Chris Minz who I think enjoys being in the spotlight. He headed his own band called "Dr. Minz and the Chronic Harmonic" I'm not sure if he still has the band, but he's still in the animation industry and he does music videos for other bands:
Jeff Lyons, who was also "Jesus" in my Last Supper photo. He's currently working for Elliott Animation I believe:
Dale Desrochers who was in Layout and is now an art teacher:
Dermot Walshe, who loves motorcycles and drawing frogs. I think he's working independently now. Just Google his name and you'll find his website:
Luc Latulippe who now lives in British Columbia and has his own Illustration business:
Fred Wilmot, now has his own company, Horus Productions:
Well, that's it for this particular contact sheet. I'll have to dig through my old photos to see who else I can post.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Felt Creations for Christmas

Now that it's December, I have to get out of Hallowe'en mode and into Christmas mode.

I love to make little felt animals and Christmas Tree ornaments.

Here we have three animals, a white tiger, a mouse and a squirrel. The tiger was made by Michelle Houston many years ago which I bought from her when we were still working at Nelvana. The mouse I made myself using a pattern by Teresa Levy.
I modified the mouse pattern and referred to the tiger (for the head) and came up with this squirrel. I used wool and wire for the tail using sort of a pompom making technique, and there you have it. I'm going to make a few for the Tree this year due to my sweetheart's obsession with squirrels. My kids love squirrels too. I call them "fluffy-tailed tree rats" because they like to steal the seeds that I put out for the birds! Oh well, I don't hate them.

Here are the only ornaments I still have that Michelle Houston made. There was also a rabbit and a kangaroo, but my children got their hands on them and now they're lost somewhere. The kangaroo was like the tiger and she even had a tiny Joey in her pouch. I think I had a couple more hobby-horses too.

These are some of the birds I've been working on. The Cardinals are my own design, but I have to admit, the "doves" are a design I copied after seeing similar ones on Etsy. Mine aren't for sale, they're just to hang on our own Tree. At the bottom is a Blue Jay I've begun because Rich was feeding them along with the squirrels this year. So I felt they should be included as ornaments as well. (I'll have to post another photo when it's finished.)

Here are two ornaments designed by my 7 year old. She drew them and I cut them out. I did most of the sewing, but she actually did do a little bit. She gave them to me to finish because she said I could sew a lot faster than her!

I'm only including the Santa in this photo because Sasha MacIntyre said I should. I really made it for a presentation my son had to do for school last year, but now it'll join the others on the Tree.

Now THESE are the tiniest felt creatures I've ever done. The elephant was from a pattern in a Miniatures magazine several years ago, and the tiny rabbit and squirrel were a part of the presentation my son had to do at school. Now they reside in the doll's house and I'm amazed I could find them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Toy Mandrake Root

I know, I know......Hallowe'en is over, but I just can't stop making new props for next year. I'm working on a fake "Spell Book" prop which is causing me to look up things I used to be interested in while going to High School. I used to get my hands on the Richard Cavendish encyclopedias called "Man, Myth and Magic" in the school library and read about herbology, numerology, astrology and stuff like that. I own an incomplete set right now, but some day I'll get my hands on a full set.

But I'm going off topic. Here is a little "toy" mandrake root that I made out of thin, thin leather and "silk" flower leaves. I'm not showing the back of him or you'll see all the stitching.

Here's a bit of a closer shot. He's going to be a companion to the book, sitting on a "witch's table" with a bunch of fake potions and stuff next Hallowe'en.

Doing the section on the Philosopher's Stone has intrigued me. Apparently, the base substance with which one starts to make into the "stone" (which is not a stone) sounds like it should be something like Primordial Ooze. Interesting........
At the end, you're supposed to end up with a resin-like substance which is red "like a red dragon tearing itself to pieces".....hence the creature at the the bottom of the page. I copied a bunch of old German woodcuts and stuff for the artwork to my book.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Cross-stitch Skull

I started this cross-stitch back in September for SKULL-A-DAY.COM and I just saw that he's posted it. Therefore, I feel I can finally show it here on my blog.
It was October by the time I finished it. I couldn't believe how long it took! I worked on it almost continually for 4 weeks straight! Oh well, here it is!

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Winter Fair Photos

Here are a bunch of photos I took MANY years ago at the Royal Winter Fair. (Back when you could still get Black & White film!) I always found it so funny that the sheep would wear these little coats. I realize it's to keep them clean for the judging, but I always felt they looked like they were getting ready for a wrestling match.

Here's a behind the scenes look at a cow being groomed with an electric razor.

And anyone who deals with horses knows it's a full-time job keeping them clean.

Here's something you don't see every day, a four horned ram! The photo is a bit blurry but it wasn't very well lit in that place.

A big fat hog waiting to end up as someone's breakfast. I've always wanted to have a pig roast! Maybe when Rich and I get married we can have one!

A cute, fat little bunny. I couldn't eat this guy...he's too cute!

A horse hanging out, waiting in his stall. He looks lonely but I remember him being friendly and letting me pat his fuzzy nose. Horses' noses feel just like velvet.

And of course even then, I was photographing poultry. I know, I know....how can I eat them when I like looking at live ones? I really don't know the answer to that. Maybe because they look so different in the grocery stores without their feathers, feet and heads.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2008

I went to the Royal Winter Fair today and took some photos. In recent years I have become quite allergic to cows and horses, so I didn't photograph them, but I photographed this neat display of a horse skull.
I spent most of my time around the poultry. I gathered a lot of cast off feathers from them...and I'm sure people thought I was some sort of weirdo. But I find chickens and roosters to be so cute! And I LOVE their feathers.

These guys never shut up all day! They were even crowing through this morning's Rememberance Day service.

These two were trying to fight each other through their cages. I recorded it, but I'm having trouble uploading it onto Blogger right now.

Here's a turkey. They were displaying to each other and gobblin' all day!
I got some of THEIR feathers too!


I don't know the names of the breeds, I just admire their beautiful variations.


What cute little chickies, eh? They don't stay like that for long!

Here are the Roosters fighting:

video


And here's one crowing....which they do ALL day...not just at sunrise....

video

Friday, November 7, 2008

Making A Realistic Black Cat

I named this guy "Smokey, the Graveyard Cat" because that's where he's going to be displayed next Hallowe'en. That's right....I'm planning for next Hallowe'en already. It's what I do. It's what goes on in my head. ANYWAY, I'd like to share some tips on making a realistic black Hallowe'en cat.

It all begins with a sketch. This is quite a scribbly sketch, but that's what sketches usually are. Just an idea scribbled out on paper. I did a little research on how an angry or frightened cat would pose.....and although they usually would have their tail arched, the stereotypical straight tail is the best to go with for a Hallowe'en prop.


Now some of you may get upset, but I used real fur in this prop. Blackbear fur to be exact. It's because I have a bunch of it hanging around and it's stinky, so I wanted to use it up. I based the cat body on the arch shape from my sketch and made two pieces for each side of the cat. The tail was just a rolled up and sewn piece of fur in which I ran a thick wire afterward. For the legs I stuck in two wires bent like an upside-down "U". REALLY, this prop is based on the same principles as making a plush toy. I strongly suggest using fake fur because it's a LOT less expensive and if you can get your hands on a toy cat pattern all the better.
I find hemostats to be great tools when stuffing hard to reach areas (legs) and to aid in turning your sewn "skin" right side out. (When you sew things, you usually sew them inside out)
The legs and head are actually made out of black sheepskin. VERY IMPORTANT: WHEN SEWING REAL FUR USE "GLOVERS" NEEDLES. You CANNOT sew leather or fur using regular sewing needles. You can use regular needles for fake fur, no problem.

So here is the headless cat body standing well because of the "U" shaped wires in the legs. I'm sorry I didn't start photographing this project until the body was done. Then I made a silhouette of a head to test for size. This one looked about right.

The basics of making an animal head is to make 2 silhouette mirror images and a top piece narrowing at the nose. You sew the three together starting at the nose. I ended up adding a chin piece (not pictured) because it was looking too much like a dog and not a cat.
I was originally going to insert LED "eyes" but I changed my mind. I used "teddy bear" eyes instead. I had to do some "soft sculpture" sewing to make the eyes look less round and innocent looking. I cut ear shapes and sewed them on the outside of the head. An angry cat has "flat" ears, not perked up.

Once the eyes and ears are attached it's time to stuff the head. Now more "soft sculpture" techniques can be used to help shape the head. (I made the snout a little too long) I sewed the back of the head together once I was satisfied with it and began to sew it onto the "neck" area of the body.

I was in a hurry to get these photos posted....so his head is still wobbly if you shake him. I'll go back in and fasten it better when I have more time. But that's basically it! My fingers took a beating, but I think he was worth the effort!
Oh yeah, I used some black plastic wire for his whiskers.