Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Vlad Tepes Shrine

Yesterday, I put the finishing touches on my Vlad Tepes Shrine. I cannot begin to count the hours it took to create this thing or the number of times something didn't quite work out right or look right. After these photos, I ended up lowering the "dinner scene" so that it was more centered on that bloody field of red.

I first started this piece with the red background and knew I was aiming at making a vampire shrine because, well, I have a thing for vampires. After staring at an image of Vlad Tepes in his iconic crown, I knew I wanted to try to recreate it.

The crown is a piece of wood with glass pearls, a heat-treated bronze star, and a rhinestone "ruby." I used a special clay to mount the pearls and painted a metallic gray layer over the clay, adding black paint with a dry brush to make it "grungy" before mounting the bronze piece.

I created the bloody pikes by cutting down wooden dowel rods and running one end through an electric pencil sharpener. I added stain  in brown and red then covered in my go-to: Glossy Accents. I used the special clay to mount them in the frame and added black paint. The bones are just plastic table decorations from Halloween that I covered with a metal paint and a rusting agent. I did the same to the lozenge-shaped doorknob mount. I found the dragon at a craft store in the jewelry aisle. I knew Vlad's father was a member of the Order of the Dragon, so I couldn't pass it up.

In one of my many books on vampires, there is a wonderful image of an old carved wooden print depicting Vlad dining amidst the slumped bodies impaled on wooden pikes. I wanted to include this image, but didn't just want to tea-stain paper...I wanted something different. As I worked on other parts of this piece, I remembered I had Shrinky Dinks paper and thought that would be an unexpected twist. I traced as much of the image as I could, worried that the many lines in the original print would just blur together as the plastic shrunk. In the end, I could have added more, but it was a good learning experience! When the plastic shrunk, it had a slight "wobble" to it that looks neat in-person. I tried to stain the finished piece, but the plastic wouldn't take it. If I try that again, I think I'll color the plastic with faint colored pencil before baking it.

All in all, I am very pleased with the outcome of this piece and learned a lot of new tricks. I've also developed quite a fixation on rusting things that normally don't rust...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A different kind of storytelling

I've been working on a lot of big projects for work and when I get "me" time I feel like a zombie and the words just don't want to flow like they used to. I'm sure it'll all get groovy again for me, but in the meantime, I've been crafting up a storm.

My house looks like a tag sale blew up in it and I think at last count I had four projects in various stages of completion.

The Changeling is waiting...
As I painted an altered frame today during my lunch break, I wasn't sure what it would be for. I knew I had a greenish-brown, mucky background, but that was it. My mind wandered and then I knew what it would be. And then I had an idea for one of the other projects I have started. Each one was its own story, its own pieces to form a whole.

The words haven't really left me, right now I'm just showing and not telling. In my nearly-done Vlad Tepes piece, the Changeling piece that is screaming to have a chance, my Dapper Devil statue, and this latest idea, I'm telling stories and sharing legends.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Free story for a dreary Monday

We had a downpour last night, complete with thunder claps so loud they frightened one of the cats. I woke to the sound of steady rain this morning and while the rains have paused, the trees and plants and grass are very green, but the gray skies cast everything in a sickly tone. This is a weird day. A creepy day. A day for a free story. I hope you enjoy it.
“Waiting for Anders”

"Time to wake up, Anders."
Stephen blinked his eyes in the darkness and mumbled. "What?"
The voice that roused him spoke in a jabbing staccato. "Time. To. Wake. Up. Anders."
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" He tried to sit up, but felt a finger press down on his tender sternum. "Who is Anders?"
He heard the unseen man chuckle. "Don't play cute with me, Anders. You're all out of time."
Time. What time was it? What was that smell? Stephen sank against the mattress to escape the torturous phalange.  “Look, I’m not trying to be cute. I think there’s been a mistake. My name is Stephen Heider, not Anders.” He felt the pressure on his chest ease.
“Heider? Heider…well this is interesting.” He removed his finger from Stephen’s chest. “How can you be Heider when Anders lives here? These are Anders’ things in Anders’ place.”
Frustration overcame Stephen’s fear. “I’m not Anders. I live here and these are my things in my place. You. Are. Wrong.”
The man was silent. “I do not make mistakes and am never, ever wrong. I have been doing my job a very long time and I simply do not make mistakes.”
“Well, you just did.” Stephen sighed. “Please, if you leave now, I won’t call the police. I haven’t even seen your face, I could never identify you. Please?”
The man chuckled again. “It isn’t that easy, Heider.” He flicked on the light, leaving Stephen to cover his eyes with his hands.
“See? I’m not looking at you! You can go and we can pretend this never happened. Nobody will ever know that you made a mistake.”
The man clasped his blood-stained, calloused hands over Stephen’s and pried them away from his eyes. “But I will know. And you will know. That is one too many.” He smiled down into his fluttering eyes.
“What are you?” His words more of a wretch in his throat as he studied the bits of dried flesh speckling the man’s face, the source of the smell, no doubt.
The man shook his head. “No more secrets for you, Heider. I will do what I came here to do.”
“Wait! Can I call my mom or write her a note or something? I can’t just…” He didn’t know what the man had in store for him and didn’t want to offer any options.
“No. The time is now. Farewell, Heider.” He held Stephen’s face in his hands and opened his impossibly large mouth, his tongue searching for the first taste of salty meat.
No screams. No thrashing. The man ate every morsel of Stephen, crunching bones between his teeth. He stood and stared at the pristine sheets, taking pride in his cleanliness.
He slipped his filthy hand into his coat pocket and pulled out an ancient scrap of paper. He opened it with care, the decades-old crease barely holding together. In block letters, the words 'Professor Johnston Anders, Metaphysical Investigator' faded into the past along with the address of the house the man stood in.
“I’ve waited for you a very long time, Anders. There are only four mistakes I have ever made and they are all because of you.” He folded the paper and tucked it back into his pocket.
He opened the backdoor and retreated to the woods. Anders would return and he would be there waiting. There wouldn’t be a fifth mistake.