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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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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Gazebo Matchbox
The Craftster.org Matchbox Swap is all about decorating the outside of a matchbox (yes, the wee little ones) and stuffing the insides of the box with all sorts of wee little crafty supplies

When you participate in the swap and you discover your swap-mate’s list of suggested themes include “unicorns” and you just happen to have a wee little unicorn in your stash, the world is all peaches and gravy.

When you accidentally turn the wee little unicorn into a wee little pot-metal puddle…

Fewer peaches, less gravy.

Once I finished the unicorn carnage clean-up, I re-checked my swap-mate’s themes list: “flowers, girlie things.”

I can do that.

I dug through my stash and found the delicate brass N-Scale conservatory and patio furniture from Langley Models. I mulled for a bit and then converted the conservatory into a gazebo and used it as the starting point for a country garden setting.

Sans unicorn.

Matchbox Gazebo in Hand

Full View Matchbox Gazebo

I’m compelled to note that the stone wall actually fits better into the side of the hill than it looks like here. Or it does when the matchbox drawer isn’t crammed full of supplies — but after re-packing the drawer several times, I just couldn’t bear to dump everything for the sake of a picture.

Even I have my wee little limits. ;)

Side View Matchbox Gazebo

Gazebo Closeup

Drawer of Goodies


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