Tag: Clay

DIY Man Eating Plant for Your Halloween Decor

 

Sometimes, it feels difficult to come up with unique holiday decor. While I was trying to come up with an idea for some such unique Halloween decor, I thought about the old throwback movie “Little Shop of Horrors”. I was excited about the idea of coming up with my own way to make a man eating plant. When doing a search for popularity on the internet, there weren’t too many ideas on how to make one, so the holiday was a solid one. I was excited to try to make my own from there. 

 

Man Eating Plant Material List

  • Balloon
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Newspaper
  • Clay
  • Paint
  • Tissue Paper
  • Spray Insulation
  • Cardboard Snack Box
  • Pole
  • Floral Wire
  • Glue

Man Eating Plant Build

My first step was to create the plant head using handy dandy paper mache. You are free to use whatever paper mache recipe floats your boat for this. I tend to go the easiest and cheapest route with a flour and water mixture. It admittedly isn’t quite as strong as a glue-based mix, but it certainly does the job. I used this same technique for my Witch Cauldron. Ultimate Paper Mache‘s site is a great source for recipes. There are five recipes here from which you can choose. After making the paste, cut or tear the newspaper into 1-inch strips. I placed the strips on the balloon in about 3 layers to get the egg shape.  

Clay Covering

Given that it would have taken forever to give the plant head a thick coating with the paper mache, I opted to try to use clay I had made for some other projects, including my witch cauldron Halloween decor. I went through some rough patches with this project, that is for certain. The home made clay I used cracked after drying. I tried to pull some of it off but it was going to take the paper with it some areas. 

 

I ended up covering the clay with more paper mache to smooth it out. It ended up working out in the looks department but was quite heavy after it was all said and done. I would recommended going another route for the thickening layer; something like foam or quilting fabric. 

 

Inside the Mouth

 

Time for spray insulation! I filled the cavity with the insulation to what I thought it should be with some growth. Be warned, it really grows!

 

 

After a little too much expansion, I had to saw it down to a manageable working place. It was pretty easy to cut through, so I was pleased in that regard. I used a utility knife to cut down more in the middle to make room for the tongue. Somthing to be aware of is the insulation loses it’s shinier smoother texture when you cut into it. 

 

 

The veins on one side were added during the paper mache phase. The other side ended up being better as the top, so I opted to use hot glue to create some veins there. I used my airbrush to give it a few coats of different shades of green and some purple for the outside. The inside of the mouth needed a few coats of red to give it a nice deep color. The cut insulation kept the spray paint well.  

 

Time for the Detail!

 

I used cereal box cardboard as the base/structure and the same clay to craft my tongue. The cracking this clay did after drying ended up being a perfect pairing for a gnarly tongue. I set it to dry on top of two paint bottles to give it dimension, aka an in motion look.

 

 

After some red and purple paint, this tongue was ready to taste some prey! White clay teeth were the last to throw together. Hot clue did the trick to get the clay teeth to stick to the insulation gums. 

 

Man Eating Plant Body

 

The man eating plant wouldn’t have been complete without the leaves and tentacles to attract it’s prey. I was running out of time at this point because of the headache the clay had given me. There was no choice but to make quick work of the tentacles. I sprayed newspaper with spray glue and rolled it up. Then, I coated it in paper mache paste to get it to harden. From there, it was just a matter of waiting for them to dry in position and painting them. 

 

 

The leaves were put together with flower wire, tissue paper, spray glue and some spray paint. 

 

Watch Out, this Plant has Quite the Bite

 

I loved the look of the inside of the mouth and the head. If there had been more time before Halloween, I would have take the leaves and tentacles up a notch, but they were enough for the Halloween night decor. As first tries go, there were some successes and some fails. Overall, it was a learning experience. Maybe I’ll try another technique this Halloween. Or maybe I’ll be too pregnant and tired to care about giving it another go. We shall see! Happy Holiday Crafting to you!

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

DIY Witch Decor to Creep Out the Neighbors

I don’t know what it is, but I love the chance to get my creepy on with Halloween decor. I’m definitely not a ‘blow up’ decor user and prefer to take more of an authentic route. I’d love to have my own mini haunted house for trick or treaters at some point. If this resonants with you, then you’re at the right place. This witch head project was spurred by a broken skeleton figure. I’d already bought a styrofoam head, which I’d planned to use for a witch cauldron I was making. After some thought, I shifted gears and chose to use the head in another way. 

Witch Head Materials

  • Clay
  • Tissue Paper
  • Dowel
  • Paint
  • Wig
  • Witch’s Hat
  • Mod Podge
  • Styrofoam Head

Witch Head Construction

The styrofoam head came from Michaels, which had just one option. I used this clay recipe from The Kitchen Table Classroom for the nose and warts. 

I didn’t use glue or anything to adhere the clay to the face. Some of the warts did fall off, so I glued them back on with craft glue. 

I used my airbrush to paint the head and realized the styrofoam bumps were a problem. I didn’t like the look of them at all so had to come up with a way to try to hide them. 

Quick Fix

After some contemplation, I opted to cover the face with Mod Podge and some tissue paper. My thought was it would help to smooth out the bumpy texture.

After giving it another coat of paint with the air brush, it looked a bit better. I was keen on the wrinkles it gave the face. 

The Face Details

I painted the eyes with acrylic paint and layered over with glue to give it a glassy rounded look. While at a softball game, I found some stick like things I decided to glue on as eyelashes. My dog’s hair served as the eyebrows. It admittedly looked rough, so I used some purple fuzzy material to cover it up. 

After the fun of crafting was complete, I drilled a hole for my dowel and glued the dowel in it. The dowel fit right inside the hole of my broken skeleton body. 

The Final Look

With the simple addition of a black wig and a witch hat, this simple DIY witch decor was complete.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

How to Throw a Magical Harry Potter Party


My oldest and I were (and still are) true Harry Potter fans, so we planned years ahead that she would have a Harry Potter Party theme for her 11th birthday. I was beyond excited about the idea. I started my Pinterest board and made it my mission to create a fantastical version for my daughter. With her birthday being in mid-September, I started with preparations in July with the wands. My husband may have asked a few times how long I would be working on making wands, but you can’t mess with the artist’s methods and desires. Below is the full rundown on our Harry Potter Party. 

We blew up white balloons and drew owls on them with Sharpies. We attached an owl balloon to each invitation and hand-delivered it to each house for a truly authentic experience.

Harry Potter Party: The Journey begins with Platform 9 3/4

“For in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own.”

Albus Dumbledore

Diagon Alley

I used the same technique for both Platform 9 3/4 and Diagon Alley. This involved shades of brown and shades of red, a paper plate, water, and a sponge cut to brick size. I put a mix of the cheap acrylic paint shades on a plate and thinned them with water in a syringe. The sponge would absorb the color before I stamped it onto the curtain. I used a curtain panel I found at Goodwill for Platform 9 3/4 and butcher paper for Diagon Alley. 

Using cardstock in shades of red, clear fishing wire, and hot glue I made the rotating ‘bricks’ to keep with the authentic Harry Potter Party feel. This may well have been my favorite part of the whole party.

Quick Stop at Gringotts Bank for some Spending Gold

Each wizarding student received a gold coin from Gringotts Bank. On the back of the coin was a unique Harry Potter image. I had printed off images onto one piece of paper and taped them to the back of the coins. This was intentional so there wouldn’t be fighting at Eeylops Owl Emporium.

Eeylops Owl Emporium & Magical Menagerie

In order to keep party costs as low as I could, I asked family to help me check out Goodwill stores for good condition cats, owls and frogs to stock the menagerie. Now here is where the coins came into play. I picked a pet out of the stock and would call out the Harry Potter image I’d placed on it. This matched with the coin. I knew that kids would likely like specific animals and didn’t want to have them fighting over the same one. This pet was one of their party favors as well.  

Monster Book of Monsters at Flourish and Botts

For the full tutorial on my DIY Monster Book of Monsters, check out the instructions here.

Ollivander’s Wand Shop

There are definitely lots of options for you to pick from when it comes to wands. Premade is always an option, but if you’re like me, you enjoy the opportunity to express your creativity and save some money at the same time. I used Long Cooking Chopsticks as the base of the wand. From there, I used a variety of clay, hot glue, spray paint, and paint to create my own wands. The only one I made true to Harry Potter was the elder wand.

My mother in law happened to have a tall wide vase for me to use for the wand to choose the wizard. I used some purchased fairy lights inside the vase and left the on/off switch outside of it for me to be able to control the light. Each little wizard came up to pick a wand. They would continue to touch different wands until the lights lit up to indicate the wand had chosen. It was great fun. 

On to Hogwarts and the Sorting Hat

I seemed to do a fair bit of paper Mache these days. My sorting hat may very well have been the kick-off to that trend. Cardboard served for the brim, butcher paper to shape the point, then newspaper and flour-water mixture as the glue. I rejected not looking at a picture of a sorting hat while doing the face, but it is what it is. It also ended up being slightly small but worked out. 

The Great Hall

I bought battery-powered candles to hang from the ceiling with fishing line and tape.

I called each wizard to the chair and place the hat on their hat. There was a blue tooth speaker behind the chair connected to my phone. Based on the birthday girl’s list of picks, I played the particular Youtube bite on the Wizarding house selection. 

Classes Begin

 

With the wizards sorting into their houses, it was time for classes to begin…

I bought this Marauder’s Map for my daughter. If you really want to up your game though, check out this one: 

Herbology

For Herbology, I bought clay and tiny pots for the wizards to make their own mandrakes. They did a great job with them. I baked them in the oven while we completed the other classes. 

Live Portraits

We were cleaning out a storage room at work which had started to mold. It was just my luck that one of those items that had significant mold was a large painted picture with a magnificent frame. They were going to toss it, so instead, I took it home to take the painting out and repurposed it. It was a perfect set up for some live motion photos of each youth. It’s one of my signature party favors to include a photo of each youth with the theme. Just like in my detective party with the arrest photo.

I did a photo and a boomerang photo as they finished up with their mandrakes, which helped fill in time during the transition to Potions class.

Potions Class

This was supposed to be a growing snake, aka Basilisk, but I can’t say that it really worked very well. I was fairly worried I would set off the sprinklers.

Professor Flitwick’s Charms class

Wingardium Leviosa

Using their wands, they have to say “Wingardium Leviosa” and keep the balloons up as long as they could. The wizard who was able to keep it up the longest was the winner. 

We rounded out the classes with a games tournament. They sorted into their houses and played board games until their was only one winner for each house. Then the house winners, played against each other to get to win the house championship. With classes complete, it was time for a trip to Hogsmeade.

Day Pass to Hogsmeade

Honeydukes

I used Muggle Magic’s Honeydukes Chocolate Frog Box design for these boxes. For the frogs, I used Nerdy with Children’s recipe and tutorial. I ordered the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and the frog mold from Amazon.

Harry Potter Party Must Have: Butter Beer at the Leaky Cauldron

For adult and youth wizards alike, I used this Butterbeer recipe that includes Schnapps. For youth, I obviously took out the schnapps. They weren’t much fans of it, so I had a fair amount left after the party. I will have to use the ice cream version next time.

Next time I do this party (for the next two girls). I may opt for some premade options like Flying Cauldrons Butterscotch Beer.

Dumbledore’s Pensieve

I borrowed this Pensieve idea from Raegun Ramblings. It did not turn out that great, because I was rushing to get it done between getting home from work and the party starting.

To top off the sweets, I made a chocolate book cake to fulfill my cake decorating hobby needs. 

So that’s the rundown, I truly hope you enjoyed it and are able to grab some ideas for your very own Harry Potter Party.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Budget-Friendly DIY Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter

My oldest daughter and I were super excited to do a Harry Potter themed birthday party for her 11th birthday. As I started on the plans, I knew I wanted a Monster Book of Monsters to be apart of it. From there, it was only a matter of finding the supplies and finding time.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Albus

Materials:

  • Wooden Box
  • Fur
  • Eye Balls
  • Clay
  • Paint and Brushes
  • Craft Glue
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Paper and Printer
  • Mod Podge

Ready, Set, Go

I found a perfect wooden flip lid box at Michaels. I’m not sure if they still have this one, so here’s a different wooden book box that is currently available there.

monster book

I used light brown, red, and white clay for the fangs, teeth, tongue, and gums. First, the teeth were constructed into points. After flattening the red into a strip, I positioned the teeth to lie on the red strip. I layered the back with another red strip before pushing the red down around the teeth to show the ‘root’. The only thing you need to be careful of is not touching the white after touching the red. The picture shows that I did a bit of that. The fangs were super easy. Roll them to be smaller on one end and then curve them and presto!

Monster Book teeth

After baking the clay parts, it’s time to kick them up a notch with some paint to add dimension. I painted a bit of dark red and black onto the gums and tongue. Yellowish-brown served to give the teeth a gnarled look. Next, I painted the box with tan and dark brown to give it the look of pages as well as I could. Given that much of it is covered, I didn’t feel like I needed to give it much attention.

monster book pages

Monster Book Fur Cover

For the cover, I used two fur pieces I happened to find on clearance at Michaels. Crafting doesn’t get much easier than this step. Here it comes; glue the fur to the wood. Then….wait for it to dry. After that, I trimmed the length of the fur, because it was definitely too much. I also cut the perimeter into points and extra shagginess. 

 Those Eyes are Looking at You

Now onto the eyes. I also got the eyeballs at Michaels, but you’re not likely to find them in a store if it’s not around Halloween. I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with creating the eye mount. I thought about using oven-bake clay but was afraid it would melt the eyes. I went with a mountain of hot glue instead. After I piled it up, I painted it brown. I didn’t have enough red eyes, so I also painted the irises red. 

Monster book eyes

The book label was created in Microsoft Word and printed on computer paper. I trimmed the fur shorter in the spots where I was going to put the label before gluing the labels down. I put Mod Podge on the label to stiffen the paper. 

From there, it was just a matter of gluing on the fangs, teeth and tongue. I used hot glue initially, which worked just fine. Over time, the fangs have gotten knocked off a few times, so I’ve recently used super glue to get them to hold. As my girls would say, this DIY Monster Book of Monsters is easy peezy lemon squeezy. 

Spot light monster book of Monsters
Monster Book and wands
Finished Monster Book

If you’re looking for other Harry Potter crafts, try some apothecary bottles for Potions class or get some Harry Potter Party Ideas from my party post.

Spooky Tree Test Tube Holder for a Unique Apothecary

Troll boogers! Snail Slime! Dragon’s Blood! These are three of the Halloween test tubes I’ve for years as part of my Halloween Apothecary. They have been without a stand for years. This month I decided I was going to finally make a science-esk one out of wood. I was still hesitant because it felt too mundane. In the age of Pinterest, it feels pretty darn difficult to come up with something different. Sometimes, I feel stunted by thinking I can’t come up with anything unique. After some contemplation during a drive, I decided to make a spooky tree with curved limbs. Here’s the quick and easy rundown on this spooky tree test tube holder for any are looking to stray from the normal.

Materials: 

  • Wire
  • Wire Cutters
  • Clay
  • Paint
  • Airbrush (if you’ve got it)

For a reason I can’t remember, I’ve had two spools of this wire for years. I’ve used it for several random occasions on other craft ideas. It’s really what inspired me to craft this tree and provide stability. 

All my three daughters all being in fall sports. Sometimes, crafting boils down to finding a way to build in time around events on our schedule. My eldest had a fastpitch doubleheader an hour away from home. I took along my materials to get started on this quick Halloween decor. While the team warmed up for an hour, I worked on my tree in the parking lot.


Building the Base

 

First, I cut 6 wires of similar lengths. Then, I twisted two wires together to start forming the trunk. I added one each additional wire by twisting it around the base and leaving the ‘root’ for the stand and free limbs at the top. I finished it off by twisting two additional wires around the trunk to form curved limbs the would serve to hold the test tubes. Literally, a 10-minute step.

 

Clay for the Tree Test Tube Holder

I had already been making air-dry clay for another project, so I could easily use it for this project. I found this easy DIY air dry recipe from Kitchen Table Classroom to make porcelain clay. It was simple to make from ingredients in the kitchen but admittedly was not as good for what I needed the clay to do. I only used it for the base. I tried another porcelain clay recipe from Natural Earth Paint using only three cheap ingredients; cornstarch, baking soda, and water. This clay was a bit better but still quite loose/limp. 

 

I pressed the clay around all the metal limbs as best I could, adding free-standing clay limbs as I went. Molding the clay for this was unfortunately an example of one of those times when crafting can cause me more stress than alleviating it. I’ll just leave it at being highly perturbed by the difficulties of trying to get the limp clay to stay put. If I were to do it again, I would buy polymer clay from Michaels.  After letting it dry for a day, I started airbrushing.

Airbrushing Zen

 

 

While I completed the many layers of airbrushing in shades of brown, I was mentally focused on the stress I had been feeling around politics and the impending elections. I felt consumed by the emotions generated by the garbage being shared by people I was connected with on Facebook, some of them being relatives. As I slowly watched the paint spray out of the airbrush, I was contemplating how I could make positive steps to shifting others’ views in a positive way. We’ve been doing a fair bit of personal bias assessment as work, so it’s been fully present in my mind to assess if I’m being objective in my views. In fully trying to understand my own thoughts and feelings and contemplate the perspective of others, I couldn’t come to grips with the lies and delusions others allow themselves to believe.

 

Public service announcement on Political Stress

 

To sum it all up, I was feeling oppressive levels of stress around these unending thoughts. After doing a quick Google, I found quite a lot of references to political/election stress syndrome. Even thinking about it now makes my chest tighten. I quite liked this description I found.

Under stress, the Toddler brain (emotional, all-or-nothing, “Mine! No!”) hijacks the Adult brain, impairing its ability to take other perspectives, weigh evidence, see nuance, plan for the future, and create value and meaning. The Toddler brain is highly susceptible to emotional contagion; toddlers take on whatever negative emotions are around them, as any parent who has been tense or irritable near one can attest…

Part of my election stress disorder may be due to the fact that I’m vastly overworked. … Political campaigns set the web of emotion ablaze with negativity.

Psychology Today

If this resonates with you, there are a variety of things to try to combat the feelings. I’ve chosen to focus on the things I can control, to find my Zen in crafting, and to stay away from the offending sources. Although, over the last week I’ve also been immersed in a sea of stressful work deadlines, the political stress remains at bay. 

Back to this Test Tube Holder

I finished it off with a dark brown touch up around bends in the limbs and the roots. I put it with the rest of my Halloween apothecary set up and called it a day. If you are looking for another easy craft to take your mind to another level, try out these apothecary bottles! Happy haunting to you and yours!

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