Sunday, April 19, 2015

Not honestly sure how this happened...

Though I usually so carefully stock up, I've managed to run out of glue!!!

My coupons and I are off to Michael's to rectify this situation...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Big News and Cake Shoe Teaser Pics

BIG NEWS!! I put the check in the mail yesterday, so I think it's "official." I'M RIDING IN MUSES 2016!!! My sister and I are both subbing it to ride together, so I've got 60 shoes to do in a little under 300 days...and yes, I'm very very VERY excited!

There are some shoes that a lot of Muses shoe enthusiasts (and even shoe designers and shoe artists in general) like to take a crack at. I've previously compared it to a Jedi building his or her first light saber, but if you're not a huge geek like me, what I'm getting at is there are some themes that are just "rite of passage" shoes. For example, I feel like everyone has to do their take on the Ruby Slipper (my first is here, though I will certainly do more in the future) - it's just so iconic, you kind of have to. A Cinderella Shoe is also popular with a lot of Muses/shoe enthusiasts, for similar reasons. My first is here.. The last one I'd put in this category is the Tiffany box shoe, based on the iconic blue-with-white-ribbon box. I've seen quite a few of these from Muses and non-Muses alike (seems like a popular bridal shoe), and I shamelessly stole the idea for this 2014 shoe.

The most recent shoe I've added to the list is the Birthday Cake Shoe. I've probably only seen a handful of these so far, but I expect they'll get more popular because it's such a very cute idea. Here are some of the awesome 2015 Birthday Cake Muses shoes I've seen:
  • This amazing tiered Barbie cake shoe (not sure if it's a riff on a stripper coming out of a cake, those Barbie cakes where you stick a doll in, or both - but I love it to bits), 
  • This wearable pair of birthday cake shoes from the brunch competition
  • I found a shoe where flip flops were used to make layers (y'all know I love a good riff on a flip flop), but now I can't seem to find it...maybe I saw it on Instagram? If/when I find it again, I'll add it here.  EDIT - I found the shoe I was thinking of! Here it is. Four flip flops make up the cake layers, with chocolate frosting and some dollops of green and blue decorative icing and candles for the 15th Birthday. Love it!
In terms of non-Muses/wearable shoes, check out Shoe Bakery. Very cute stuff, very fun to surf through, and I drew a ton of inspiration from there.

Two of my favorites, ready to go!
For 2016, I obviously need to step it way up (IT'S JUST MY FIRST RIDE EVER, NO BIG DEAL), so I picked Birthday Cake shoes as the "signature" shoe for our ride for my sister and I (still doing other types of shoes too of course, but I think we'll each have between 5 -10 cake shoes in our 30).

I got a little obsessed, because if it's worth doing it's worth overdoing, am I right? Basically I wanted to really master Birthday Cake Shoes. I'm not really inventing anything new here, pretty much just combining wearable cake shoes I've seen (mostly Shoe Bakery) with the DIY cake postcard tutorial, so you're probably good to go on making your own just armed with those links. Shoes + sponge for cake + silicone caulk frosting +  glitter = Birthday Cake Muses Shoes. However, I really hate riding the learning curve, and there was definitely a bit of one at the beginning on these (I just finished my sixth), so I'm putting together everything into an exhaustively detailed tutorial.  It's all pretty straightforward (mostly it just takes some practice and patience), but I will share every single tip or trick I've found the hard way because I'm hoping it spares anyone who wants to do their own cake shoes (for Muses purposes or if you just want to wear a pair) some heartache.

While I'm working on the full post for these, I wanted to put up some pictures as a bit of a teaser trailer. Also, I'm pleased to announce the tutorial will be available in both written AND video form! Yes - my very first vlog! So check back, that'll be here soon. In the mean time, hoard wedges (seriously, they are the best - the higher the better) and check out these PICTURES!

One of the first cake shoes I did, a pastel pink and yellow birthday cake with "frosting" roses (super cute and super easy - I will reveal all my secrets soon, I promise)
Close up of "frosting" details
Side view (before lettering was added)
Back view showing some more frosting details and the frosting between layers on the heel
Another pink and yellow cake shoe, with some rainbow chunky glitter mixed in with yellow fine glitter to give a confetti cake effect:
Side view of the thick funfetti cake layers with pink frosting in between
Frosting roses and "16" candles on the toe that aren't actually candles (they're translucent polymer clay and dental floss for the wicks - it'll be in the tutorial)
Top view so you can see the pretty frosting "Muses" and roses
Here's a super, super girly birthday cake with pink and blue frosting and RAINBOW CAKE LAYERS, like one of those fancy Pinterest cakes I imagine moms with way more free time than me making:
The birthday cake your inner child always dreamed of, assuming you have a rainbow-lovin', unicorn -obsessed, sparkle-coveting, super-girlie inner child
Top view showing "Muses" and "2016" written in frosting plus fancy edging and pink candles (that are actually paper straws) 
Side view showing the "cake" - I just love how the rainbow cake layers turned out!
Because we're all New Orleans food lovers here, I had to do a half and half lemon-chocolate doberge cake shoe too:
Lemon on one side, chocolate on the other with white and yellow frosting. Also - golden candles, white icing lettering and some big white frosting roses
Chocolate side of the cake/shoe - many, many cake layers
Back of the cake showing where the chocolate filling and lemon filling meet. I did them a little uneven, like a real doberge.

And finally, this Oreo chocolate shoe I just finished (obviously heavily influenced/shameless stolen from here):

A chocoholic's dream: dark chocolate interior, layers of chocolate cake and lots of chocolate frosting and a realistic looking Oreo cookie on the front that isn't actually a real Oreo (that'll be in the tutorial too)
2016 in white "frosting," chocolate frosted accents 
Layers of chocolate cake with chocolate icing and Oreo bits crumbled into the frosting along the egde
Close-up of the fudgey goodness...can't you just taste it?

And here are some group shots of the first five I finished:

OK, so this teaser trailer wound up being as long as the whole movie. Sorry - I just love these cake shoes! More surprises coming in the full tutorial...

Six done so far (or close to done)! Next I'm planning to do a nice Southern red velvet cake (maybe with armadillo-gray icing as this year's Steel Magnolia's tribute), a Portal-style Black Forest cake, a mint-chocolate cake, a birthday cake with sprinkles and "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" candles...what else? Any ideas?

Quick updates

This time of year (i.e. any time of year that isn't a few months before Carnival), it can be tough to get into the mood for shoe glittering. But I find glittering year round is worth the effort: you feel like an extra fabulous little ant storing up for the winter, or maybe something out of a Laura Ingle Wilder novel, putting up jars of preserves and glittered shoes...

To help you get in the mood, maybe check out some of these tutorials, read through some of the Muses articles from this somewhat out of date list I compiled a few years ago, and put on your shoe glittering soundtrack (this is my playlist). Some more updates in the glitter blogosphere:

1) HOORAY! Another Muses shoe blogger!! Glitter Buzz NOLA

2) I finally uploaded most of pictures of the dRK Koplitz Collection 2015 shoes I wanted to share to their designated board, so go forth and oogle them

3) A lovely blog entry on Muses shoes, with some great pictures of the process

If you're a year-round glitterer, hope this helps you create some inspiring atmosphere. Of course, I realize in NOLA it's festival season right now, so y'all may not be inclined to stay home and glitter on the weekends. It's ok, I understand (and I'm jealous).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Handmade Hall of Fame - Skinz and Bonez Dolls

Historically, Skull & Bone Gangs serve two primary functions: waking people up on Mardi Gras day, and warning people, particularly children, to behave themselves, because death can come at any moment. With the skeleton attire, they are walking, chanting memento mori. a fun way. Like so many aspects of Carnival, it sounds a little out there, but also totally makes sense.

To read more about Skull & Bone Gangs, check out these links:

This week's edition of the Handmade Hall of Fame comes from New Orleans' only female Bone Gang: the Skinz N Bonez (also, check out their Facebook Page). As if being the only female gang wasn't enough, their handmade throw is one I covet so much, I dressed up my baby in a skeleton onesie* for Femme Fatale this year to try and score one: Skeleton Dolls

They're gorgeous, intricately detailed skeleton-ized Barbies. I love them. Here are two pictures from the Skinz and Bonez Facebook Page...

...but what I really recommend you do is head over to the Skinz N bonez dolls Facebook page (you know they're serious throws when they have their own Facebook page!) and check out all the gorgeous pictures there!

Hope you all had a happy Monday!

*PS - Here he is, sleeping off a big, long day of parades and clutching beads:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Whales of New Orleans Pt. 1 - Storyland Pinocchio's Whale Shoe

Drawing inspiration from some fish shoes I bookmarked on Pinterest (mostly Robert Tabor/Sole Sensations for the head and Charlotte Olympia for the tail - see here, herehere and here), I'm doing a little trio of New Orleans whale themed shoes for 2016 - Pinocchio's Whale from Storyland, Baccha-Whoppa, and Gillium.

Here's the first in the series, Pinocchio's Whale!

I have very fond memories of a childhood spent at Storyland and the whale was always on my agenda when we visited. When I was really little, making it across the stepping stones and into the belly of the whale made me feel very brave and adventurous.

Comparison of the finished shoe with the inspiration.

2016 on the tail
Close up of the eye with lashes and eyebrow
View from the front (mouth still needs teeth and a tongue)
Side view "Muses"

I shaped the head and tail out of felt, which I then stiffened with glue. The lips are tubey loops and the eyes are a foam sphere cut in half. Obviously, some proportions got a little altered as the whale was being reinterpreted as a shoe: I didn't want it to just be a glittered mini-replica of the whale, I thought it should look like something you could still get your foot into. I also wanted to make it a little more whale-like, while still preserving the sort of Old World whale aesthetic of the original, where it kind of looks like a big fishy sea monster (like so). I made the tail a little more accurate in it's shaping, but kept the fish-like orientation (it should be perpendicular to the whales body rather than in line with it). I also kept the big fish lips and the bulging eyes. I may cut the tail down a little, I'm still thinking about it.

All the glitter on this one is Martha Stewart. The main body of the whale is Martha Stewart "lapis lazuli." The lips and lettering ("Muses" on one side, "2016" on the tail) are Martha Stewart "blue topaz" and the black is, I'm pretty sure, MS "onyx." The base and heel are Martha Stewart "aquamarine" (I was going for grass) and the interior is Martha Stewart "kunzite." There are red tubey loop ridges on the inside of the mouth, but the mouth still needs teeth and a red tongue.

Finally, I finished with a bunch of blue rhinestones of all different sizes to look like barnacles (inspired by Baccha-Whoppa)- it gave it some texture and a little more pizzazz.

Baccha-Whoppa is currently being glittered, and Gillium is shaped but painting and sparkling hasn't started yet. So the other two will be along shortly, and then I'll have quite the little pod ready to throw in 2016! I'm also doing some other City Park/Storyland Shoes, but they're still in the design phase so I'll keep them secret for now.

PS- This shoe went on Instagram before it went up here, so if you have a burning desire to see my shoes at the absolute earliest possible moment, but can't come visit me in Memphis, may I suggest you follow me there?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Monday Handmade Hall of Fame - Bearded Oysters Decorated Oyster Shells

And I'm back! Since I skipped two weeks (oof), I'll make this week's a little beefier by including both some info on this week's handmade hall of fame throw (the Bearded Oysters' decorated oyster shells) as well as my tips for prepping oyster shells for crafting.

The Bearded Oysters are a walking group with a name consistent with the tradition of NOLA walking groups with slightly-naughty-but-go-over-kids-heads-double-entendre names (i.e., the Pussy Footers, the Muff-a-lottas, the Camel Toe Steppers, etc.). As parade goers know, some of these walking groups (I think the term these days might be micro-krewes, but I'm not sure I'm using that correctly) prioritize performance: auditions are held, choreography is top notch and routines are clearly extensively rehearsed. The best examples I can think of in this category are the Sirens of New Orleans and the 6-10 Stompers. On the other end of the spectrum, you have parties that happen to be moving along a parade route. With their "No Meetings. No rehearsals. Just great times with fabulous ladies" tagline, this is pretty squarely the Bearded Oysters' territory. Incidentally, there is no right or wrong approach here: I love both extremes and everything in between. All are awesome, all are part of Carnival, all are fun to witness.

Billed as "the most shuckingly fabulous menagerie of slick chick tricks ever disorganized," there's a lot to love about the Bearded Oysters: their pretty pearly uniforms, their funny little merkin flashes, their wonderful use of oyster puns (for example the head of the oysters is the "Mother Shucker"), their old-school bearded lady/side-show vibe...I could go on. To top it all off, their handmade throw is a decorated oyster shell, and it's one of my FAVORITES. It's eco-friendly, New Orleanean, small enough to fit nicely in your hand, but still big enough to give you plenty of surface area to work with. There are tons of great pictures on their Instagram account (I'm getting more into Instagram, can you tell?) and there have been several articles on the decorated oyster, in particular NOLA Defender's article "Shuck Parade" and "Mardi Gras World's article "Class with Sass".

Here are some pictures from the Bearded Oyster Faccebook and/or Instagram:

Beautiful batch of painted and decoupaged oysters (via The Bearded Oysters Facebook Page)
Lots of fabulous painted up oysters (via The Bearded Oysters Instagram)
Glittery, fringed and sporting a strategically placed pearl - I love it!! (via The Bearded Oysters Instagram)
Poboy Oyster! Not to be confused with an Oyster Poboy (via The Bearded Oysters Instagram)
Like Muses Shoes, these occasionally come up for sale on e-bay, like these two:

Where to look at more decorated oysters:


Oyster shell arts & crafts are a pretty time honored Southern tradition, so you may find yourself interested in prepping your own shells for Muses shoes, Nyx purses, or other DIY projects. I made an black, silver and pearly white oyster shoe in 2014, you can see my blog entry on it here. My process, adapted from instructions I gleaned from a former Bearded Oyster for, are as follows:

You have two primary options for getting oyster shells to craft with: (1) order oysters at a restaurant, then ask for a to-go box for the shells or (2) buy oysters and shuck 'em yourself. I've had good results with both approaches, but then I was a bride who had an oyster knife in her registry.

General tips:
If you have a big stash of oyster shells (say you bought a 100-oyster half sack and charbroiled all them bad boys up to feed 10 people) or you just aren't ready to prep them right this second (say you had  got home from a romantic dinner with a doggie bag full of shells but don't want break out bleach and scrub shells tipsy), you can keep them in the freezer until you're ready.

You'll want to do as much of this outside as possible because of the bleach and generally dirtiness. I have a dedicated Tupperware for this that I obviously don't use for food-related anything any more. Use gloves and well ventilated space when handling the bleach. Safety first y'all.

First step, I like to give the shells an overnight soak in some diluted bleach just to loosen everything up, but you can play that by ear. If it's hot out, you may want to skip the soak so you don't have a plastic bin full of hot oyster shell soup getting all stinky and gross. If the shells are particularly dirty (from mud or charbroil or what have you), the soak may make your life easier. Shells from restaurants are usually pretty clean, so you can sometime skip straight to step 2.

Step 2 - Scrub your shells clean in a sink of cold soapy water. If need be, use a knife to scrape away any organic matter and bits of oyster. In particular, you may need to really scrape off anything left the of the adductor (the tough muscle that holds bivalves shut). It gets severed when the oyster is shucked, but tends to cling pretty hard to the shell so show no mercy. Any little stowaways (i.e. wee unopen oyster shells or mussels that are stuck to the shell) should be discarded so they can't rot. After the shells are scrubbed clean, I put them into undiluted bleach to soak for 2-3 days.

Step 3- Soak for 2-3 days in concentrated bleach.

Step 4 - Rinse with cold soapy water to remove the bleach. Rinse several times as needed to get the bleach off the shells.

Step 5 - Dry out thoroughly. Once the shells are mostly dry, I take a big deep whiff (this is why it's important to get them good and rinsed in step 4 - please don't go inhaling bleach fumes and then get mad at me). They should smell faintly of bleach, but their should be no fishiness. If there's any fishiness at all, I repeat steps 3-5 until they smell clean. Once they're clean, dry them really thoroughly. I spread them out on newspaper in my garage and let them sit for weeks.

Easy as pie! I currently have about 100+ beautiful, clean shells, which should last me quite some time, though I will continue to collect (no such thing as enough where craft supplies are concerned).

Some of my shells soaking

If you have any extra tips, I would love to hear them!