Wicked Forest header

When I signed up for the Wicked Forest Matchbox Swap over at Craftster, little did I know that I would end up being partnered with the amazing Rackycoo — I was like 98% excited and 2% filled with swap anxiety, or maybe, 2% excited and 98% filled with swap anxiety. ¬†Either way, I knew I was going to be working hard to create a matchbox worthy of Rackycoo.

When I read her list of Wicked Forest “interests,” there was one that caught my eye:

“deep dark trees with limbs like hands (lame, but this is hard!)”

She may as well have said,

“deep dark trees with limbs like hands (I triple dog dare you!)”

As I pondered how to make a tree with hands Not Lame, I knew I had a problem — they had to be teeny-tiny hands Not Lame. How was I going to… wait… wire trees, don’t people make wire trees? I googled “wire tree tutorial” and there was my answer — if each branch bundle had five wires, those five wires could become five fingers and they would be Not Lame.

Of course, the next question was what would those teeny tiny hands be doing?

[insert long pause]

I had many lame ideas (and a growing pile of teeny tiny lame mockups). I returned to Racky’s list and saw this one:

“scary moon”

ah, there we have it. What better use of tree hands than to pluck the moon from the sky?

Wicked Forest front

You were expecting a shiny wire tree? Well, that’s a shiny wire tree covered in Plasti-Dip and painted. Plasti-Dip is that liquid rubber people dip tools in to give them nice rubber grips. I applied the Plasti-dip with a brush (dipping the tree was a bad idea), let it dry and then painted the tree.

And the vines are single strands of wire coated in Plasti-dip and painted.

Wicked Forest back

Given I’ve never sculpted a face that didn’t end up in smashed blob of frustration, I was concerned about the moon part. But I had a secret weapon: a dust covered VHS tape (yes, it is that old) on sculpting faces from Creager Studios. Jodi and Richard Creager are amazing doll artists and Jodi’s sculpting tapes (now DVDs) are wonderfully instructive. In fact, my moon was sculpted sitting right in front of the TV (with frequent hits of the PAUSE button and many many rewinds).

Wicked Forest Moon Closeup

And now for three obligatory shots: Proof of matchboxness, soda can scale, and the mockup.

Wicked Forest Open Drawer

Proof: Yes, it really is a matchbox. See the open drawer?

Wicked Forest Scale

Scale: Wicked Forest matchbox and the sweet sweet nectar that fuels its creator.

Wicked Forest Mockup

Practice: Trying out the 'wire tree' method. The hardest part is figuring out how long to cut the wires to get the size tree you want.

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matchbook sewing kit
UPDATE: Download the free pattern to make your own sewing kit.

Even though I don’t sew, or perhaps because of it, I really love this project. It’s a sewing kit that you can throw in your handbag or desk drawer, perfect for those embarrassing popped-button and/or ripped hem mishaps.

This project was inspired by Phizzychick’s marvelous Matchbook Trees. When I saw what she had done with the “accordion fold,” I just knew there was some sort of “kit” hidden in the process.

Given I never have thread, needles, or safety pins when I need them (or rather, “where I can find them”), a sewing kit seemed like the ideal project.

Within the next couple of days, I’ll be uploading the pattern (free for everyone to download) and a tutorial — stay tuned!

Here’s the exterior front. And no one is more surprised than me that this really does stay closed just like a regular matchbook — nothing is holding it together other than the lid tucked in the bottom panel:
Matchbook Sewing Kit

This is the first panel you see when opening the matchbook:
Sewing Kit Opened

Stretched out, the different “panels” include: two colors of thread, safety pins, a needle threader, a cutting utensil, and needles. I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the safety pins set-up of this one and I think the new and improved method I’ll have in the tutorial (coming soon) is more effective for keeping the pins in place:

Sewing Kit Side 01

Flipped over, the back panels include: two rulers (one on each edge with one imperial measurements and the other metric) and several handy measurement tables:

Sewing Kit Side 02

Here are the three “flapped” sections (threader, cutter, needles). I felt these three sections needed to be under “flaps” either for their own protection (the fragile wire of the needle threader) or the protection of the carrier (sharp, pointy things!):

Tabbed Sections

Closeup of the needle threader:

Needle Threader

Closeup of the cutting tool. For practical purposes, I felt it was important to have some sort of cutting tool. And this bit nearly stumped me. Everything I considered was either unsafe, likely to get airport travelers a private conversation with Homeland Security, or too bulky.

I finally hit on using a portion of the “tearing edge” from a box of wax paper. lol How well does it work at cutting thread? Not as good as scissors, but better than incisors. :D

Sewing Kit Thread Cutter

And the needles. Which have their sharp ends stuck in a small piece of styrofoam glued to the inside of the matchbook cover:

Sewing Kit Needles

And finally, the back:

Matchbook Sewing Kit Back

UPDATED: Here’s the styrofoam inserted in the base.

And here’s a closeup of how the safety pins are attached.

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altar close up

Finally. In earlier posts, I’ve mentioned my “secret skelly project” and here it is — part of the Craftster.org Matchbox Swap (partner #2). The Matchbox Swap is all about decorating the outside of a matchbox and packing the insides of the box with all manner of craft supplies.

The minute I read my second swap-mate’s list of themes, I knew her topic of “day of the dead” was the one for me. I quickly decided to make a Dia de los Muertos Altar.


The altar includes: “papel picado” (“pierced paper,” representing the wind); candles (representing fire), various fruits and vegetable (representing earth), a small bowl on the top shelf filled with water (representing water), sugar skulls, a loaf of “pan de muertos”, a picture of the deceased and some bottles of her favorite beverages.

I know. Hard to see “matchbox” in that pic — maybe this one will help:

matchbox shot

By the time this photo was taken, I’d already lost control of the project.

Yes, that is a cracked-open rib cage attached to the box.

You see, while I was working on the altar, I remembered that I had some skeletons and I thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if I used a skull as the drawer pull?”

After that it’s pretty much a blur. I never meant to use the entire skeleton, but use her I did. And I never meant to dress the entire skeleton, but dress her I did. Suddenly, my simple altar became an object held by a full-fledged Catrina.

These things happen when you allow your projects to control you.

dia de los muertos, "catrina"

The dress is made from ribbon and glue. Seriously. I forgot to take a photo while I was building the dress, but here’s a shot just to demonstrate the process (this piece wasn’t used in the final product).

ribbon wrap dress

dia de los muertos, "catrina"

I debated about making a crown for the hat, but Mr. Jivvy very much liked her bony head peeping out the back of her enormous hat and I had to agree. Looks cool, less work. I’m a happy camper.

dia de los muertos, "catrina"

dia de los muertos, "catrina"

dia de los muertos, "catrina"

And a shot just to prove that, yes, the matchbox drawer is still functional (and stuffed with goodies). ;)

dia de los muertos, "catrina"

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