The first video I watched was her Halloween Challenge and Giveaway for 2013. The prize Serena is offering is totally cool and packed full of Halloween goodies, but it was the challenge itself that attracted me. Either alter a miniature coffin or make a Halloween inspired ATC. I love making ATC's but the idea of altering a mini coffin was just too cool to resist so I set my mind to participating in the challenge.
And here was where I encountered my first hurdle...
Over in the US of A (where Serena Bee is based) mini coffins are available on just about every street corner... well at least in every Michael's store and at a measly USD$1.50. Here in New Zealand we don't have a Michael's (only the Michael Hill jewelry stores) so that option was out. I tried a couple of the larger craft stores to no avail either. I even checked the Amercian store here (Martha's Backyard) but not a mini coffin to be found.
What I did find and ultimately used, was a paper mache pencil case with straight sides and a flip up lid. It still does look like a coffin just not the generally accepted (and first to spring to mind when you think of a coffin) six-sided shape but the bonus was I could design it with a split lid which I could lift up for a viewing.
I checked out the flame related stencils I have but they weren't really designed as borders nor were they designed for such a small project. The height is only about 1.5" so I decided my only option if I wanted the flames was to design and create something myself.
I downloaded some stock images from the internet and used several images as inspiration for the design. I drew my design onto a strip of heavyweight plastic (cutting board or place mat from the $2 shop) then cut it out using my Tim Holtz Cushy Grip Scissors and Retractable Cutting Blade.
I placed the stencil along the edge of the painted coffin so that the base of the flames was the bottom edge of the coffin and pounced on some yellow acrylic paint using a cut up piece of makeup sponge. The design was quite detailed and some parts relatively intricate so I wanted a lot more control of what I was doing, hence the make-up sponge.
1. The image created by sponged on the paint was not as strong or as sharp as I imagined or wanted.
2. As the coffin was made from paper mache, the surface was actually that smooth, so achieving a crisp clear edge on the flames was not easy as the stencil did not always lie completely flat on the coffin.
3. Putting the yellow paint over the black was as you can imagine not a simple task and more than one coat would be needed in order to not end up with a "dirty" yellow look.
I thought about laying the stencil back in place and going over the image again with the sponge but decided this might just end up making a complete mess of things, so instead I decided to paint over the image by hand using a fine detail brush and using the stencil image as my pattern.
This turned out much better. Not only was the yellow paint completely opaque this time, but I was able to clean up the image and ensure that the outer edges of the flames were all much crisper and cleaner.
I traipsed around Papakura and the surrounding area for the perfect doll. Ten or was it twelve shops later I still didn't have the perfect doll... though I did have a couple to choose from. I found there was a predominance of really tall "fashion" dolls and mermaids neither of which I wanted or really short dolls that would have just looked silly. The two dolls I did find were still both a little tall so some creative "plastic surgery" would be required to make them fit but at least the were a faux Monster High look so the doll I eventually chose was already a "Vampire" (all be it a pink one).
After some delicate plastic surgery my Vampire girl was about an inch shorter (just don't look under the clothes to see what I did in order to make her shorter... it wasn't pretty!!) and she now fits inside the coffin, all be it still a tight fit.
(Above you can see how much I shortened her in order to get her to fit.)While out doll shopping I had also picked up a cushion cover to cut apart and use as the fabric to line the coffin with. This is something I have done in the past and is a much cheaper alternative to buying fabric from a haberdashery store. The cushion cover was only $2.00 from the cheapo store, yet gave me two generous squares of silk fabric in two different styles (and a zip I can use for another project).
I cut the fabric to size then completely cheated. If you are a sewer you might want to skip this bit. If you don't know how to sew then read on...
Time was of the essence and I couldn't be bothered getting out my sewing machine and hand sewing was going to take forever... so I cheated. To provide a crisp edge on the coffin lining and to ensure the fabric didn't fray (as fabric usually does) I folded each edge over and stuck it to the back of the fabric (wrong side) with masking tape. (Yes I know I am probably going to sewing hell... but tough, if I can live with it then so can you). No I didn't take any pictures... I hid the evidence of my evil doing!!
I then adhered the fabric in place using Helmar's Fabric Tac glue. It is worth pointing out that I did the inside of the base in one piece but the lid was covered in two pieces so that the two portions of the lid could be opened independently of each other with a nice crisp edge along the centre split of the coffin lid.
The doll originally wore some red plastic filigree boots with slipped on her lower legs. I coloured these black with a permanent marker so they now are black with a red undertone which looks really good against the orange lining.
The final touch was some black ribbons in her hair before I laid her to rest in her new home.
Now I just need to keep it away from my 4 1/2 year old Granddaughter who has been eyeing up a new doll for her extensive collection!!