Monday, January 16, 2017

Dr Potter's Medicine Show COSPLAY

Obviously, I have shared and shared (and yeah, bragged a bit) of the fun things I've gotten to make as my little contribution to helping promote Eric's book. The biggest thing I made was A SUIT! Like a three-piece suit, you guys! I bought a McCall's pattern, lots of fabric, and spent a good 60-70 hours on this and I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. THANKFULLY, Eric was pretty much model size on this, because one thing I am not is a tailor and I have almost no alteration or fitting skills.

Hey look! Bare ground! This was taken when our moms were here for Thanksgiving... before the snow!

Eric has been a terribly good sport about modeling.

The unaltered, real deal!
Admittedly, I'm a bit obsessive about documenting the details of projects (as I am sure people who follow along have noticed) so here are some detail shot of the suit minus the pesky model. Ahem. I made the jacket, pants, and vest. We bought the shirt (H&M), braces (, hat (Goodwill at Halloween), shoes (TJ Maxx), and Eric had the socks and walking stick (a 40th birthday gift) already.

These shell buttons came from the 4 or 5 generation button box and might well be from the 1870s! I did have to find new clips for the back.

We got so lucky to find an inexpensive white shirt with the appropriate style collar! It would've been much more costly to make it and taken just that much more time. Suspenders are elastic and less "authentic" than most of the other pieces, but the cost difference easily justified the compromise. And I couldn't have made them for less, either.

Vent and button detail on the back of the jacket.

This jacket is made from about 50 pieces of fabric and interfacing. What with the pockets, lining, etc. it really added up. Oh, and it has 12 or 13 buttons, too!
Wooden buttons purchased online from

Special thanks to our neighbors and friends who turned out in the cold & snow to make this photo shoot even possible and all the work of making all the things come to a pretty great end! We certainly could not have pulled it off with out Neighbor Bob's fantastic Western town, knowledge, props, and photography skills! Not to mention everyone who showed up with costumes, props and with GREAT and generous-of-spirit attitudes! And for Coworker Randi's time and skills turning digital photos into daguerreotypes! Without all of them, the suit wouldn't have mattered one bit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dr Potter's Medicine Show

Look what the Angry Robot Publicity Manager tweeted on Monday! Those are actual bound books right there.

We think that is the UK edition of Dr Potter's Medicine Show which is Trade Paperback and a tad larger than the US edition which will be Mass Market Paperback.
And for those keeping track, there is less than a month until Eric's book drops! WHAT!?

I guess I'll slip in one more of my Dr Potter's Medicine Show crafts while we're all here. Please remain seated, this will only take a few moments.

I fixed up a store bought crate for Dr Potter to keep bottles of his patent medicine in. I used the same home made iron acetate stain I splashed onto the advertising banner to age the wood. Then I used acetone to transfer laser printed labels onto the wood. When that was set, I used clear furniture wax to seal it. So far so good.

Hey look! Our yard used to be not-white!

Up to the very last step I was pretty pleased with it. I used self-adhesive aluminum tape (for duct work) and upholstery nails to make the metal edges. I distressed the metal by scuffing it with steel wool, then applied a black glaze. All was good until I used a satin finish acrylic varnish to protect it... that made it look like DUCT TAPE! Sigh. But, luckily that didn't really show in the photos since it's in the background and the photos are all filtered to look like daguerreotypes.

The same techniques were used to alter the small crate shown in the tonic bottles post.

I have one more Dr Potter fan-craft I want to get done before we go. It's going to be the cutest one yet!

Monday, January 9, 2017

This & That Projects; Out of Doors, Y'all: 6

Danger Stairs, Before. Please note that Delia still has a really nice collection of sticks up there on the deck.
Note the rise between the top stair and the deck is different than the rest.

The stairs leading up to our front deck... well, there are a few things to say about them.
  • They are sturdy and stable (at the moment, knock wood)
  • They were newly built when the house went on the market
  • They were painted with the same cheap, barn red paint as the deck, coop, picnic table, etc.
  • They seemed to have been assembled by someone who had seen & used stairs, but not studied or researched about making stairs easy & safe to use.
This is taken looking straight down. Note the couple-few inch gap between the inside edge of the stair I am standing on and the outside edge of the step above it. It just throws off the stride you assume you can have going up or down stairs.

Which is to say that the rise from the top step to the deck is WAY off and the run on all of them except the top one leaves a small gap between each. Not having a riser piece makes some sense for clearing snow, but with that extra space... well, we need to pay attention when using them. Especially because the rails... well, they look kind of like stair rails, but don't really function as a safety measure because there are no balusters and that 2 x 4 top is not really grab-able. 


A not atypical "feature" of our stairs is that they are under the drip line of the roof which mostly is just unpleasant, but in the winter adds to the hazards of one particular stair. Ideally, we'd just rebuild the stairs, BUT since in the next few years we want to rebuild the whole deck, including changing the orientation of the stairs out from under the drip line and we don't want to do the same work twice, we don't have immediate plans for making big changes with them.

Of course, ice is also going to form on the new rail and of course we'll knock it off of there so the new rail is grab-able.

BUT the other day I was out in the shop putting away the extra wine glasses I'd brought in for lunch after the Dr Potter photo shoot and I noticed that stored in the exposed rafters was the length of handrail that had been a closet rod when we moved in! It has been too short to be used on the inside stairs, but would it be long enough for the deck stairs? Indeed it would. Was. Is. Whatever.

Difficult to read the details, but that's the week's forecast from Sunday. Through Thursday the highest high is 12F on Monday, the lowest high is -5F on Tuesday. Monday, I cut and sanded the rail in the shop and brought it in to finish on Tuesday.

Why so dark? This photo was taken pre-dawn, the morning after the paint had dried overnight. It sure seems like the post-Solstice days are only lengthening on the afternoon end.

I intended to sand and finish it with the stain I used on the wood shed - a stinky job to do in the house, but it's too cold outside or in the shop, so I planned to set it up in the only room with a ventilation fan (ahem) and shut the door behind me. But when I was sanding this, there were paint spatters and a bunch of nicks n' dents and well... I decided to paint it instead. I set up in the living/dining room and used paint from the exterior door project.

I went after a few standard, run-of-the-mill rail brackets, but the local lumber yard only had some that were one notch fancier, so I got those*. At least I didn't have to get bright brass that way. Then I attached the whole shebang to the looks-like-a-rail and we're in business! When I was telling Eric my plan he asked, "Is it going to look weird, though?" I said, "Not any weirder than it already looks." I think I was right, but at least now we and our guests can feel a little more secure. Also, we live in the forest and we're all middle-aged n sh!t... time to embrace the weird-looking house stuff. Not that I said that, but he might read this.

Another project where the change in appearance isn't much compared to the thought, time, and effort that went into it. Safety is rarely glamorous, I guess. Still, I'm going to put three (3) photos in here anyway!

This last one is an action shot! It was a full 20 degrees Fahrenheit out there, so no gloves. Just kidding! I had taken them off so I wouldn't drop the screws into the snow and my finger tips were COLD. 

P.S. Like a lot of the wood millwork that came with the place, the rail is comprised of smaller pieces of wood, finger-jointed together. So it's probably not super great for exterior use - particularly under the drip line, but hopefully it'll hold up OK for a few years. Hopefully the week's worth of curing that the primer and paint did in the house will help.

*This is how project budgets get blown. You know all you need is a few couple-dollar parts and the rest is elbow grease. Then your couple-dollar parts turn into several-dollar parts and you're in the weeds. Luckily, this was a small, small project. So even with doubling the budget, it was still under $20.

Friday, January 6, 2017

After A Long Hiatus...


How could we have gone since April without sharing Mavis's sweet fashion looks?

These are Mavis's first spectacles and she didn't know to spring for the anti-glare coating.

Oh, it's because she's been wearing repeat outfits, that's why. She's no capitalist diva and doesn't believe in wearing something just once and isn't afraid to be seen in the outfit, because she's not shallow. 

Dale is just starting to explore his style. He wears your grandpa's* tie and he looks fly.

Ramon shares my affinity for plaid culture.

Ramon has been wearing thrift store fashion outfits since before it was cool. This scarf? It was used in a photo shoot for a book by an author that he was into before any of you ever heard of him. They're actual friends.

Wait just a galldurn minute! WHAT'S THAT HANGING IN RAMON'S STAIRWELL?

Funny you should ask; that is another Dr Potter's Medicine Show fan-craft I made! You may recognize it from images of the photo shoot!

I made a 5" tall sign using image editing program software, printed it out, and then used my opaque projector to trace it in pencil onto pre-washed canvas in the darkness of the shop building. Then I mixed a couple colors of craft paint with textile medium and hand painted the traced letters.

I had incorrectly remembered that a standard dowel was 48" long and planned to put one through a rod pocket sewn along the top. But standard dowels are 36" and the pre-shrunk canvas is 38" wide, so I used some PVC pipe we had around and ran the jute rope through it instead of tacking it to the ends of a dowel. I cut the pipe just a bit shorter than the rod pocket, so that it wouldn't show.

After I had that all figured out, I used tea, coffee and an iron acetate stain I made with rusty nails and screws in white vinegar to age and distress the cotton cloth.

*By "your grandpa's," I mean "my dad's." And you bet I "borrowed" it out of his closet and wore it in the early-mid-80s with giant shirts and grandpa sweaters and probably stirrup pants and lots of bracelets and I never very gave it back.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dr Potter's Medicine Show

Six weeks.

That's impossible.


I recently mentioned the fun I had crafting up stuff for the cool cosplay photo shoot we did a few weeks ago. One of those projects was making up bottles of the Chock-a-saw Sagwa Tonic which is the snake oil/patent medicine/horrible alchemical nightmare from Dr Potter's Medicine Show.

That is diluted Lipton tea in there and not actual laudanum, etc. with a bit of "tobacco for color."

The bottles were purchased from Specialty Bottle and came with those hinged metal, ceramic, and rubber tops. I just pulled the metal out of the holes in the top of the bottle and used corks from my craft stash.

I used modified, free clip art of an old vanilla label, other free clip art, downloaded fonts, and Photoshop to design a printable label. Spray adhesive sticks it to the class, and matte decoupage medium (Martha Stewart brand) waterproofs the ink.

These have been fun to have around the house, too!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Dr. Potter's Medicine Show

Even though February 2017 seems far in the future, the release of Dr. Potter's Medicine Show really is not far off at all. ACK! I spent November on two major projects: preparing the house for our moms to spend Thanksgiving weekend with us again this year and preparing for a *Dr. Potter's Medicine Show (DPMS) photo shoot!

One of the many thing neither of us knew when Eric started this literary journey is that new authors and/or non-famous individuals are required to do a lot of their own promotion. Eric has had great support from his agency and publisher - but you know I had to get my crafty hands all messed up in this, too. So I had the idea to do a cosplay-ish photo shoot with Eric as Dr. Potter! We just happen to have a generous and enthusiastic neighbor, Bob, who has a small Old West town in his backyard AND who spent his career as a professional photographer. Not only did he agree to let us use his town, he agreed to make the photos, lent us some props and costumes, gave lots of helpful and insightful suggestions, and just helped take it to the next level. Well, more like a couple-three levels up the chain! Our dear neighbor Carla, also contributed costumes!

A daguerreotype-ified shot by Randi.

We also recruited several other neighbors & friends to be "townsfolk" and they came out on a December Sunday to stand around outside in the Montana weather wearing what they dug out of their closets and what others brought. We. Are. Damn. Lucky.

A sepia shot.

Bob shot in both color and sepia. Because we knew we would ultimately use the photos in non-full-color, we were able to cobble together simple costumes for all our volunteers more easily: color coordination be damned. Eric's friend, Randi, was able to make the color photos look like daguerreotypes, too!

We knew we weren't likely to use color images as-is, but we thought it was a good idea to have them. Either way we did not consider color-coordination when dressing. Ahem.

Then afterwards we invited the whole "town" up to our place for a warm lunch and cool beverages. Not everyone could make it, but we nearly finished it all anyway.

I got to make and design **lots of cool stuff for this, too! But I will post about those things separately. Probably. (see below)

*Well, I spent the first week of December finishing up preparing for the photo shoot, too. Also, tidying up the house after our moms' visit and decorating for the holidays. I also dyed my roots. [wink] This is why no one got a holiday card this year... no time to make them, didn't send any.

**I'll just give you a list preview... because I know you're dying to know. I made Eric's suit and vest, customized the store-bought crate, designed and applied the Sagwa labels to the bottles, designed and painted the banner, & made some bonnets.

ADDENDUM: I'll add links to the various projects as I post them. I am nothing if not accommodating... about showing off my crafts, that is.

Chock-a-saw Sagwa Tonic Bottles
Promotional Banner