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How to make a Minecraft Enderman head (with bonus diamond block trick-or-treat basket)

Some of you may, like me, be suddenly realizing there are only ten days left until Hallowe’en.  No stress – there’s still plenty of time to make a Minecraft Enderman costume, complete with a matching diamond block trick-or-treat basket!


For Hallowe’en last year Jakob wanted to be a Minecraft Enderman.  For reference, these are the tall, spindly black figures who appear out of nowhere to steal your blocks.  They’re neutral mobs who can teleport and will only attack when provoked by looking them in the eyes (which, to be honest, is kind of hard to avoid, seeing as how they’re the most vivid part of the things!).


In the game Enderman can’t actually pick up diamond blocks, but that’s what Jakob wanted anyways.  To be an Enderman carrying a diamond block.minecraft-diamond-block

I was fresh off my “Skylanders Sprocket wrench pulling double-duty as secret purse” achievement so I thought if he’s gonna be schlepping a box around anyways… why not make it useful and turn it into his trick-or-treat basket?  So that’s what I did.  :)photo-2015-10-25-8-10-14-pm

The first thing to do was assemble all materials.  In total the two parts of the costume required the following: a box large enough to fit over the wearer’s head, a second box to be the treat basket, paint in the appropriate colors, masking tape, ribbon, double-sided tape, scissors, a paint brush, and something (I used a styrofoam plate) to use as a palette.  Not shown is a gauzy black scarf from which I cut fabric to cover the eye-holes, but that step is optional.  Everything but the boxes and scissors came from my local dollar store, making this not only an easy costume to make, but a really inexpensive one too.enderman-head


Top row:

  1. Assemble all materials
  2. Cut off the flaps on the side of the box you want for the opening.  Tape down all other flaps securely, using double-sided tape on the inside and then masking tape to cover all seams on the outside.  Also use tape to cover the cut edges at the bottom.
  3. Measure out your grid on all 5 remaining sides of the box.  I used a simplified 8×8 grid for mine.

Middle row:

  1. Cut out the eye holes.
  2. Cover the cut edges of the eye holes with masking tape, then paint the Enderman’s eyes with two different shades of purple.
  3. Paint the rest of the Enderman’s head.  I followed a chart pattern using shades of charcoal and black but you can just as easily paint the whole rest of the head solid black.

Bottom row:

  1. Optional: tape a piece of sheer black fabric over the eye holes so they don’t show from the outside but can still be seen through on the inside
  2. Enjoy your new Enderman head!
  3. Wear with black sweatpants, a black sweatshirt, and black stretchy gloves.  Add a diamond block trick-or-treat basket for a complete Hallowe’en costume!




Top row:

  1. Assemble all materials
  2. Cut off the flaps on the side of the box you want for the opening.  Tape down all other flaps securely, using double-sided tape on the inside and then masking tape to cover all seams on the outside.  Also use tape to cover the cut edges at the bottom.
  3. Mix aqua and white together to get a few different light aqua shades.

Middle row:

  1. Following an in-game image of a diamond block, paint one side in shades of aqua, making one lower corner darker for shading.  Repeat on the other 4 sides.
  2. Add a border to all 5 sides using the aqua paint at its full strength.
  3. Paint the inside of the box black.

Bottom row:

  1. Make 2 holes in 2 opposing sides.  Knot ribbon through the holes to act as handles.
  2. Enjoy your diamond block trick-or-treat basket!
  3. Add to the Enderman head for a complete Hallowe’en costume.


One optional step that I did but is not obligatory at all is to spray the painted sides with a sealant.  I didn’t know what the weather would be like on Hallowe’en and didn’t want to worry about rain causing the paint to run.


And that’s it!  The longest part in making these costume pieces is waiting for the paint to dry.  :)

(PS: Looking for the big guy’s little buddies?  Check out my tutorial for Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads here!)

minecraft heads wip 12


minecraft heads square

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Hallowe’en help

My phone has been pinging quite a bit lately, notifying me that people have been saving my pins.  While I think that’s awesome, and am flattered, I was also confused because I couldn’t think of what I’d posted that would be so popular at the moment.  And then I remembered – it’s almost Hallowe’en!  Sure enough, it was my Minecraft-related pins getting all the love, the Creeper/Steve head tutorial especially.

So for anyone who found my blog via those pins, or anyone else who’s interested, here are some quick links to my (few) Hallowe’en/costume-related tutorials.  I do have more coming up this month, so be sure to come back and see.*

For those with some boxes and paint lying around: here’s how to make Minecraft Steve & Creeper heads.

For those who need an easy addition to their Gryffindor robes, here’s a quick free scarf pattern.

For those with a young’un eager to train a dragon, here’s how to make a viking vest.

And finally, for those with a lot of knitting time on their hands, here’s how to make a child’s first superhero costume, as well as a look at how I used that same pattern to turn Jakob into Superman for his first Hallowe’en.

I hope you enjoy the links!  For my fellow Minecraft-loving folks, I’ve got a matching Enderman tutorial coming up, complete with his very own diamond block.  Stay tuned!


*I know I’ve said that often, but I’m currently off work awaiting surgery so I have the time to actually DO the posts!
Photo 2016-08-23, 12 47 06 AM

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imagimorphia: Egyptian page coloring-in-progress

Boy it’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted last.  Back-to-back secret projects will do that, unfortunately, so I’m gonna try popping in with the little things I work on around the big ones, when they’re ones I can’t share.

I’ve already shown a few coloring books from my collection, but those who follow me on Instagram or Twitter will have seen pages from others here and there.  This is the one I’ve just started: the Egyptian-themed page from Kerby Rosanes’ imagimorphia, the sequel to his incredible animorphia (which I also own and have sadly neglected).

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Ignore the dark circle in the lower corner.  I forgot to take a pic of the page before beginning to color, so I had to photograph the smaller version from the hidden object answer key at the back of the book.

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I’ve been using my Marco Raffiné colored pencils for this one.  I have been using my fineliners a TON lately, and wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy going back to colored pencils.  Plus, this book has all double-sided pages, and I was worried the markers would bleed through.

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I did a little media test at the back of the book.  The first little dude was colored with Bic Mark-Its, the next with fluorescent Sargent Art gel markers, and the third with bronze Sharpie.  Fourth was the Marco Raffinés (I knew colored pencils wouldn’t show through but I wasn’t sure how they would take on the paper’s tooth.)  Also Marco Raffinés are oil-based cp and not wax-based like my other ones so I need to swatch those elsewhere sometime.  After the cp I have Stabilo 88 and Staedtler Triplus fineliners, then a Gelly Roll glitter pen, and finally a few assorted Gelly Roll and other-type metallic markers.  In the word box I tried out my Spectrum Noir alcohol markers even though I KNEW they’d bleed, and then I doodled a flower and word up above because that was in a white area on the reverse side and I wanted to see if anything would show through where there wasn’t a drawing.Photo 2016-08-23, 6 54 20 PM

I was so pleasantly surprised with this book!  Not only are there a crazy amount of pages, but almost nothing bled through.  I expected the alcohol markers so I ignored that, and since the Bics are alcohol-based as well I wasn’t surprised to see they’d also bled.  What really thrilled me is that none of the others did!  There’s a faint bit of ghosting from the fineliners but it’s mostly only visible in the white space area.  I think if I used them to color any image or sections that had a picture/patterning on the reverse, it wouldn’t even be noticeable.  Yay!

I was also really happy with how the Marco Raffinés took to the paper.  They don’t play nice at ALL with the paper of my swatch book (seen above, and again below), and it takes a lot of pressure to get any color to lay down.  In the book, however, I could apply the barest touch and get a sheer wash of color, and was able to layer nicely.  Double yay!

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PS I’m storing my pencils in a case I ordered off eBay.  I saw them in a review video that Peta (La-Artestino) did and picked up a few to try out.  The largest size (4-zippers) holds 72 pencils which fits the full set of Marco Raffinés perfectly.  (PS if you’re into coloring at all do check out Peta’s blog and her videos, she’s incredible!).  I keep an eraser and blending tortillon inside, along with a sheet of watercolor paper with numbered swatches of the different colors so I don’t have to bring my swatch book around with me.  I only wish there was some type of pencil-shaped sharpener so I could keep one inside too!

Photo 2016-08-23, 12 47 06 AM

Finally, here’s the coloring in progress, where I stopped at last night.  I started by lightly shading in the areas I wanted the darkest color, using my lighter blue and brown.  Then, starting with the head-piece and curved staff, so far, I went back in, applying a longer fade of each color, which I then darkened up in the shadows with a darker version of each color.

pitfall the lost expedition birthday cake

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Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake

Only 3 months late, here’s (finally) the completed Pitfall: The Lost Expedition birthday cake.
pitfall the lost expedition birthday cake
The morning of Henri’s party I woke up and went downstairs, peering cautiously into the gloom of the laundry room to see how the cake had held up overnight.  There’s always the chance for decorations to slip, or icing to crack or worse – to discover that one of the kids had found the cake and begun to dig in…so I was nervous when I slowly approached.


Then I breathed a sigh of relief.  It looked good.  I’d finished so late in the morning that I’d passed out, so seeing the cake again was a pleasant surprise.  I was actually feeling quite proud of myself.


Oh yeah, I thought- Henri’s gonna love it!  All that remained was to transport it to the party without incident and then it would be-pitfall-cake-party-day-01

W-wait.  Why does something look wrong…?


Oh no.

Do you see it?

Remember in my last cake post when I was all cocky about the vines working out?  Hmm.  Looked like I’d spoken too soon.  The first vine I’d attempted had had a chance to set up while laying horizontally… so when I hung it over the edge of the back board to test out it held its shape perfectly.  The new vines, however… I’d rolled each out and tucked them into place under the top cake right away.  And they’d looked good.  ‘Great’, even, if I may be so bold.pitfall-cake-party-day-04

But overnight gravity took hold, and the once relatively-uniform vines began to sag slowly.  Some had narrowed enough to look delicate and thin, twisting and tangling among others in a pretty cool, natural way (see the ones on the right).  Others, though… like the ones on the left… they’d basically collapsed.  Luckily they’d thinned before falling, so the resulting puddle of vines still looked pretty natural, I guess…which was good because it would have seriously messed things up to try and detach them.  The only one I did detach was the vine that had attached itself to the waterfall.  I thought it ruined the illusion of flowing water to have a vine stuck up alongside.  :Ppitfall-cake-party-day-06

This pic was taken on my lap in the car en route to the party, and is probably the only pic taken strictly with sunlight.  The color is pretty accurate though I find the blue too bright.  (That may have been my phone, it’s notorious for having a hard time photographing blues and purples accurately).

I took a last quick set of pics at the party before serving.  Here’s the backside.  You can see how the vines here too have thinned and sagged.

And here’s the finished cake, complete with Pitfall Harry himself.

I waited until the very last moment to stick him in the cake, partially to avoid the risk of snapping the figure, and partially so he wouldn’t absorb moisture from the cake/icing and then have the fondant soften and fold over.  I likely needn’t have worried… there was probably enough ‘paint’ on the front at least to seal the moisture out, but the back was still bare fondant and I didn’t want to take a chance.pitfall-cake-party-day-10

Add one quick candle for the birthday boy’s age, and then I wheeled it over to his table.  It was a huge hit!  The kids got their choice of location to eat from and we served some to the parents as they came to pick up their children.


In the end this is all that was left – a tiny bit of cake and a filthy board.


I had planned to take it home and pop the fondant off the base stand so I could use it again, but sadly I broke it.  The fondant ‘glue’ was so strong in adhering the stand to the cake board, that when I was trying to separate the two I cracked the plastic of the stand itself.  I was impressed with the strength… but unfortunately it meant I had to throw out the stand.  Ah well.


All the ‘making of’ posts:

1. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 01

2. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 02

3. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 1- Pitfall Harry, crocodiles and a healing spring

4. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 2- assembly

5. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 3- finishing

ice cream better

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inevitability is inevitable

And once again, what seems to happen cyclically around here has happened again.  Every time I get into a rush on secret projects that I cannot blog about, the blog itself falls into a standstill.  I get so focused on the major things… a sculptural piece I’m mailing out soon, baby gifts, the props for my upcoming show… and I forget that I can also share the small things that are just as important and fulfilling, if not as fun or tutorial-able.

Here, then, are some of those moments, from the last 6 weeks.

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Over March break the boys went to spend the week with my inlaws.  They learned how to play UNO and have been so hooked that even after being away from consoles for a week, this ^ was their first night back home.  Ignoring the systems, ignoring the tv, spending a quiet night after dinner rushing to get ‘just one more game in!’. 🙂time garden 01

I’ve been doing some coloring, mentioned a bit here and there on Instagram.  I’ve got big posts semi-worked up talking about markers and pencils and storage, but while all that’s been getting ready, I’ve been enjoying some quiet time of my own while the kids play or while watching tv and tackling some pages from one of my new favorite coloring books: The Time Garden by Daria Song (US link/Can link).  The wallpaper background on these two (and the subsequent 2 pages set in the same room) took about a week to complete, tucking into it here and there when my attention wasn’t needed elsewhere.  I used my Staedler Triplus Fineliners in Mauve and Gray in alternating rows, and the dots in between the flowers were colored in Silver Gray.  The dots within the flowers were colored with a metallic silver pen from the dollar store, and then I filled in the background itself with an old blue Bristol colored pencil I’ve probably had since I was 10.boys asleep

We went out for a nice family dinner for my father-in-law’s birthday, and it proved to be a long, late night for the boys.  We were driving home from the restaurant at about 9:30 at night when I peeked into the back seat and saw them, sound asleep, and cuddling.

time garden 02

Back to more coloring.  After the long spread of wallpaper I decided to tackle something equally as detailed, but with smaller sections that could feel completed as I worked on them.  I jumped ahead to the Ghiradelli/Pier 39 spreads in the book.  Wherever I’ve found repeating elements I’m working on them at the same time vs having to make notes on what colors I’ve used where, so I did the large sign on the above spread and then jumped immediately into the matching cable-car page that followed.  The crab sign is colored to match the real one, using various Triplus or Stabilo 88 fineliners and then a light shading of colored pencil, and then after coloring the sign and its supports I suggested the myriad lights with a metallic gold gel pen.patterns

The Yarn Harlot‘s Strung Along retreat happened this past weekend and I donated some patterns for their goodie bags.  Hopefully they liked them!  Photo 2016-04-09, 4 58 26 PM

Saturday had another cute moment for the kids, when I passed by the open door to the den and noticed them watching tv like this.  Go figure… they’re so close that even with a whole floor and mini futon and couch and easy chair, they still prefer to snuggle together no matter what they’re doing.  I can’t imagine they’ll be this close when they’re teenagers, but it sure makes me smile for now.sam wants food

Sunday night I was working on the props for my show, making lists of everything I still needed to take care of, and a plan of action, and casually nibbling on a piece of kernatzel (pepperoni stick).  Turns out my cat is addicted to them.  ADDICTED.  What looks like a cute little moment above WAS TAKEN OVER 2 HOURS.  Each one of those photos is 30 minutes apart AND HE NEVER LEFT MY SIDE THE ENTIRE TIME.  Sitting.  Staring.  Drooling.

Finally, a bit more coloring, this time from the cable car page.  I don’t have the materials yet for one set of props, and the others were glued and clamped and drying in the garage, so I made a fresh cup of coffee and put on a YouTube channel I like and settled down to color the ice cream adorning the cable car.ice cream worse

I got this far when Yannick came home, and I showed him my progress, especially proud of the shading on the center cones (all done with the two sets of aforementioned fineliners and colored pencils).  “The cones look great,” he said.  “The pop too.  But what’s the turd on the end?”

Hmph.ice cream betterWho says you can’t polish a turd?  (Actually, you can, and not just by recoloring an ice cream pop).  The markers and pencils play really nicely together and I was able to adjust the highlights so it looks more like a slightly melty Magnum bar.  I also finished up the chocolate and strawberry swirls in the center, as well as the neon sign.

Any more coloring will have to be put on hold, as tonight I buy the final items needed to finish the props, and then my next few nights will be spent making same.  I can’t complain, though- it’s for a really great cause.

Shut Up and Dance 2016

If you want to see some incredible dancers, some amazing singers, a hugely talented band… yummy food… oh- and me… then get your tickets now and come enjoy the show!

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Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 3- finishing

It’s been brought to my attention (*cough*Michelle*cough*) that I never finished posting Henri’s Pitfall cake.  That is correct… February sort of got away from me, so I’ll take care of that right now.  This post will cover the final details of finishing the cake the night before the party, and my next post will show the final cake at the party, complete, and enjoyed. 🙂

In my last Pitfall cake post I left off with the cakes assembled and dirty-iced.  I set them aside for a little bit so the icing could crust and mixed up some green for the grass.  I deliberately gave it a bit of an aged, almost faded color so it would match the tones of the fondant leaves and the brick wall.  The wall was so dirty and stained/old-looking that a bright, primary-colored grass base would have looked really, really out of place. pitfallcakeday03part03-04

I covered the top cake with the same cake-filled chocolate icing as I used on the lower base, blocking out an area for the small pool at the top of the waterfall.  Then I used green icing to block out the larger pool at the bottom.  Once the brown and green were done I used more white icing to thicken the base coat on the various water areas.pitfallcakeday03part03-05

Then I realized that the pool I’d created wasn’t wide enough to fit the crocodile I’d already made.  Oops!  So I used more white icing to widen the water.

My cakes are often like this.  Very rarely is something sprung to life, fully formed, exactly as it was in my head.  It might be close, in the way this cake very closely resembles my initial sketch, but the actual details in the getting there are always very fluid, and often borne of the desperation and delirium that comes from cake decorating in the wee hours of the night when stores are closed and coffee is cooling.pitfallcakeday03part03-06

Next I mixed up some blue for the water and layered it on over the white.  I didn’t worry so much about the edges where the water and grass meet as I knew I’d be placing leaves there, and I deliberately left it choppy on the waterfall where I wanted it to look like there was some motion and churning.  I also played with swirling my knife around to make the water look a bit rough because the waterfall would prevent it from being a clear, calm pool.  Above you can see the cake as I worked on it (with the parchment protection) and then how it looks once I removed the parchment.  I always keep the parchment in place until I’m ready for the finishing details as it’s much easier to remove dirty parchment from around a cake than icing from the cake board.

One of the things I’d been thinking about in the days leading up to D-day (decorating day) was how to make vines.  I figured I’d just roll out some fondant pretty thin and hope it wouldn’t crack once it dried.  But when at the dollar store that afternoon during my unexpected child-free time I hit on the idea to try using caramels.  pitfallcakeday03part03-01

I figured they were already pliable, and edible, just like fondant… but had a better stretch.  Hmmm…could this work?


I’d decided to do a quick test before going to pick up the kids from the party.  I softened 2 caramels in the microwave and then when they’d cooled enough to touch, added a touch of green food gels.  I kneaded it together just like dough/fondant and was thrilled that the caramel took the color evenly, with no streaking or dissolving from the added moisture.  I quickly rolled out a quick, curly vine and set it aside to dry while I was out.pitfallcakeday03part03-03

This is what I came home to (above).  A perfect, jungly-green colored, held-its-shape vine that was smooth, crack-free and best of all, delicious.  (Okay, there had been 2.  Yum.)


(Pun intended).vinepintereststrip

For my Pinterest friends, here’s a graphic for you!

Now that I knew I had the solution for the perfect vines, I got to work.  I wanted to set the vines in place before finishing the grass because I knew working on one could destroy the other.pitfallcakeday03part03-07

I rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled, placing each vine in place before rolling out the next one.  The vines that draped around the wall stuck pretty well with a tiny touch of water, only on places where I wanted a curl or end to stay up.  For the most part, though, I left them unstuck so gravity would work on the caramel and make it look more natural.*

I had an image in my head of vines hanging down like curtains, helping to hide the secret healing spring.  So for those vines, as I made each one I used the tip of a knife to lift the cake board that the top cake was sitting on, just enough to wriggle the end of the caramel underneath, and poking it in with a needle tool if I had to.

After the vines were done I tackled the grass.  My first thought was to use my grass tip and pipe out the grass like I’d done around the Betty Boop cake.  Only problem was I knew I was going to use my remaining green icing to do grass around the edges of the cake where it met the board and I didn’t think I had enough icing left.  I was tapping some piping tips against my palm, trying to figure out if I had enough icing mixed up for all the grassy areas, when I looked at the marks I’d left on my skin and got another bout of inspiration.  (My pain = cake gain).pitfallcakeday03part03-08

I used an open star tip and basically poked the hell out of the grass areas.  My icing had crusted enough to be an ideal surface, but if your icing is still soft I’d stop every now and then to clean your tip, as the grass effect works better with smaller pokes vs larger flat areas.  It was remarkably convincing for grass, and I’m really, really happy with how it came out.

Plus it left me with enough green icing left to pipe long, marshy grass/weeds around the base of the cake.  I did that, then stuck down the leaves I’d darkened, then decided to call it a night.


In the back you can see the remaining leaves I didn’t end up using.  Don’t worry, they didn’t go to waste.  The kids ate them all over the next few days. 🙂


I tried to vary the lengths of the grasses to make it look more natural than an even, trimmed border.  pitfallcakeday03part03-11

In these final two pics you can see the two sides of the cake, and the finished vines and grasses.  I’d added some long grass to overhang the vines as well.pitfallcakeday03part03-12

Next time – the cake in situ!

*remember this for my next post:/
elmo cake square

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Elmo Birthday Cake

I interrupt my run of Pitfall-themed posts because today is a very special day!  Do you know what today is?  It’s Elmo’s birthday!  Once again the red-furred baby monster has turned 3.5 years old, and in honor of the occasion, I’m sharing a cake that I made waaaaaaay back in 2012.  That’s not near to now, that was faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar away!

(Sorry.  Wrong muppet.  *coughs*).

elmo cake square

Back in 2012 I made this cake for my cousin’s son’s 2nd birthday.  I honestly don’t remember if it was a chocolate or vanilla cake, but it clearly had vanilla icing (lol).

elmo cake 01

I made the face from fondant using a sewing pin image-transfer method (tutorial coming soon) and made fondant letters for his name, too.elmo cake 02

The sides were decorated with colorful Smarties  (that’s like M&Ms to you American folk, not the candy Smarties which we call Rockets here).elmo cake collage

Happy birthday Elmo!