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A while back I had the idea of making a Halloween Advent Calendar, and I got busy this weekend (Sept 30 — nothing like planning ahead!) and did it, start to finish. I wanted to surprise my daughter and her husband with it, because they’re pretty into Halloween, and they usually come over for brunch on Sundays. Okay, so they didn’t get it until October 2. Still a Halloween miracle.

goodman-illustration

Here’s how I went about it.

  • Day one Sept 30: With David’s help I wrote a list of 31 Halloween related images, one for each day of October. It wasn’t easy coming up with the last 5 or 6.
  • I creased a brown paper grocery sack into 36 squares (6 rows of 6). This gave me a couple extra boxes in case I screwed up.
  • I sat down at the coffee table with a pencil and sketched a picture in each square. I went with mice, since I can draw them pretty fast, they’re a rather “forgiving” creature.
    haladvent1
  • Next, I headed down to my art kitchen and listened to several podcasts and comedy recordings while furiously coloring with Prismacolors. I love my electric pencil sharpener. My rate was about five 1.5×1.5″ pictures per hour, so it took 6 hours to do the coloring. (Thank you Patton Oswald, Mitch Hedberg (yes, I know you’re dead), Danielle Krysa and “Sawbones.” You could spend a lot less time and still make something fun!
  • Went back up to the office and scanned my little pics. (If you’re only making one, you could just use the originals and use real life cut and paste skills instead of a computer.)mouse
  • Day two: Found a picture of a spooky looking house and sized it (in InDesign) to fit my final calendar, then printed a reduced version of it on 8.5×11. (easier to draw and scan than actual size)
  • On tracing paper, I semi-traced, semi-reimagined the house image lightly with pencil, planning in 31 window spaces. Then I inked it with India ink and some messy washes. (I was short on time, but I’m cool with the way my super-fast house came out.)
    house-ink
  • I would have scanned my house drawing, but who has time for India ink to dry? So I took a photo of it with my phone and placed it in an InDesign document, sizing it to fit my final calendar sheet. (I added a brown paper texture and green tint in PhotoShop.)
  • Next, in InDesign, I sized and placed my little brown bag illustrations on top of the windows in the house drawing, bearing in mind I wanted my illustrations just slightly larger than my windows.
  • After I had them where I liked, I duplicated that “guide” page in the InDesign doc twice, so I had 3 copies in all.
  • On copy 1 of the page, I kept the little illustrations, but deleted the house.
  • On copy 2, I deleted the little illustrations, kept the house, and placed the numbers 1-31 on the windows.
  • I kept my original page (copy 3), with both the house and the little illustrations, to print as a cutting guide.
  • Finally, I printed all three pages, one to be the outside of the house, one to be the illustrations that are seen when the windows are opened, and one that I made into a cutting guide so I could get the window slits in just the right places without marking up my house. I printed two different sizes. I checked my placement on a small printout before using our fancy 13×19 printer.
  • I made a cutting guide for each size of calendar. On it, I decided how the windows would open, (left, right, up or down) and marked the appropriate 3 edges with a contrasting Sharpie (now I can re-use the jig without stopping to think about each cut).IMG_8595
  • I placed the cutting guide over my final house page and taped it to the cutting mat so it wouldn’t move while I was cutting. It goes faster if you cut all the lines in one direction first, then go back and do all the perpendicular lines.
  • Finally, I used double stick tape to adhere “illustration” page to the “house with windows” page, and punched some holes to hang it with. (Obviously, I only put the sticky tape in areas where there weren’t any windows.)done

Boom! It’s a Hallowadvent calendar. If you want me to make you one of these, hit up my “cute stuff” Etsy shop, Goodwerks. It’s OK if it doesn’t get delivered on Oct. 1, because you get the fun of opening more windows when it arrives!

Happy October!

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Yeah, I know I could have gone for more symmetry, but the wiener dog platter and Scampers the squirrel basket are beloved members of the family.

At more than one point while I was preparing for this birthday party I thought to myself...Is there a “DIY Fails” blog? And how close am I to qualifying to be in it? Yes, it turns out there is one. There is also Pinstrosity. However, they’re really not that great. I can fail better—and do so—on a regular basis.

All thoughts of success and failure aside, in the case of my daughter’s birthday, there is no such thing as overdoing it. She loves lots of pink birthday spectacle, but she also has a weird side (for which I take credit). Hence the sub-theme of creepy “We Like You” signs (as seen here) and odd, questionably up-cycled paintings that you may spot in the background of some of the photos (she was allowed to choose her gift from the paintings on the walls).

Looking back on the photos, I’m pleased that I managed to create a splash entirely with reused stuff. (Okay, technically, the balloons were new.) In the process, I discovered a couple of gems for decorating on the cheap: I thought using knitting needles as stands for pictures, paper flowers and balloons was rather inspired. Also, if you have an Abraham Lincoln aftershave bottle sitting around, it makes a memorable cake topper.

I humbly offer the following additional “Ill-prepared Hostess” DIY hints.

And since I spent several valuable minutes of trial and error figuring out how to make a paper flowers, I’ll share my wisdom for the benefit of others who follow behind me.

1. Fold a piece of paper (roughly 6″ to 8″ wide) accordion style, beginning and ending with the printed side on top. You’ll want 5 “mountain” creases as viewed from the printed side.
2. Fold the accordion in half to find the center.
3. Trim the edges to create a floral scallop.
4. Staple the center of the fold.
5. Tape (or staple) the edges of the fold together in two places.
6. Deploy your fabulous flower.
Gift wrap paper works great, but any kind of paper works fine (newspaper would be nice). If your paper is much wider than 8″ you might need to add another mountain crease (somehow geometry related) and it might be hard to staple—in which case a stitch of thread would work.

Here’s a slideshow that includes illustrations

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