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Kickstarter: The Final Three Days

Published September 28, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The Kickstarter campaign for Kris & Krampus Kringle has come a looong way since I last posted! It seemed like we were at 70/80-something percent funded for a good while, and then this past Friday it really hit the fan. Over the course of the day the campaign got five new new backers in addition to two adjusted increased pledges, and shot past 100% funded! When I last checked this morning it was at $2,910 or 116% funded because the goal was only for $2,500! I’ve had so many fears and self-conscious doubts along the way that I’m still kind of in shock with how well it’s been doing, and there’s still three days left to go until time’s up!

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With all of the additional funding I am hoping to order a slightly larger first run of books from Bookbaby. That way I’ll have enough for all of the backers who have reserved their copies first, and some left to bring to the local indie bookstores and libraries here in Portland on consignment or donation. I want to see if the same library on Belmont where we hold our monthly Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators Meetup group would be willing to take one off my hands.

Some pictures I posted on Instagram featuring the custom Krampus button sets that my husband Martyn is making as rewards for the backers. In case you didn’t know, he runs his own button company out of our house called Power Pop Pins, and his buttons kind of rule!

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Close up so you can better see the designs on the smaller vintage Krampus buttons. I’ve always found Victorian Krampus Christmas cards, or Krampuskarten, to be simultaneously beautiful and hilarious!

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On Saturday Martyn and I spoke with four different independent comic and book shops that had an interest in stocking my book during the holidays (and a few that might even let me read my story to some kids!) One is a children’s book store on Alberta Street called Green Bean Books, and the other three were all on Mississippi Avenue–Bridge City Comics, Another Read Through, and Reading Frenzy. I also hope to speak with Floating World Comics sometime soon and possibly some people at Powell’s Books. The Fernie Brae on Hawthorne is my favorite place of all of these, and they’ve always been there to cheer me on as I worked on my book. It’s going to be the biggest honor of all to see my book on the shelf in their little bookshop this Christmas right next to their various signed Brian Froud books!

Another photo I had posted of all of the buttons pinned to my stocking. I really didn’t want to have to look at any of the Christmas stuff in the garage at this time of the year, but I figured that I should share because it was kind of a clever gift-giving idea that Martyn thought of last Christmas when he made me some special “I don’t like Star Wars” buttons as presents.

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Beyond my daily annoying posts about Kickstarter on the Official Kris & Krampus Kringle Facebook page and my working double shifts at both jobs multiple days in a row to save up some extra cash for an upcoming big purchase, I haven’t had a lot of time for much else. I did get a very brief start on the illustration for my own Krampuskarten that I’m making as part of the backers rewards packages. They’re going to be based off of this vintage Christmas card of St. Nicholas and Krampus on a motorcycle:

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Only my version is going to be of my own characters when they were reckless teenagers. This was the pencil sketch:

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Here’s it with some of the inking done, but as you can see I haven’t quite finished with that step yet:

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If you’ve been following me on Facebook I apologize that I don’t really have any new visual material to share with you. Thankfully this weekend I might get a few seconds of free time so I can finally bust this one out and post it again when it’s all finished! Overnight Prints did such an amazing job with my last professional artist postcards that I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

In case you haven’t seen them, these are my professional artist postcards. Overnight Prints printed them with a beautiful soft matte finish that really lends itself to my style.

Postcard Front and Back

So anyway, that’s it for now. I CANNOT WAIT for this campaign to finally be over and done with, it has been more hard work and headache than I ever could have imagined, but I’m forever grateful that it’s already funded so I can stop stressing about it so much. I’ll post on here again after it ends!

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Bertha Illustration Coloring

Published July 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Hope y’all had a happy ‘Merica Day! I finished up that illustration of Bertha on Sunday night, so here’s some final work in progress pictures I took of the coloring process as well as the final piece.

First, here’s where I left off in my last post after I was all done with the inking:

Bertha Linework

Then I started blocking in some color with my trusty Prismacolor markers.

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Added some more layers of color.

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Even more layers still, scribbling some dark navy blue shadows into the leaves for that extra richness and depth.

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I honestly didn’t take that many photos. Whoops. Here it is pretty much finished on my art desk.

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Here’s the final scan.

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I probably mentioned this in my last post, but the reason I made this illustration was for some promotional postcards that I plan to get printed from overnightprints.com to send along with the snail mail submissions of my children’s book. I just dropped off the files for my book at Office Depot yesterday to get the first round of five dummies printed for the publishers, which should be finished by the end of this week. I can’t wait to see them! For the back of the postcards I will most likely be using the same old world fairytale font style as we did in “Kris & Krampus Kringle”; perhaps with a spot illustration of some toadstool mushrooms for an extra little accent. I might try and figure out that part out tonight. Till then, be safe, and watch out for any remaining patriotic explosions!

 

Work in Progress: Bertha Illustration

Published June 29, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I wrote in my last post about a new character that I designed recently, Bertha:

Bertha Design

She is based off of a pagan winter goddess/witch from Alpine folklore, Perchta or Berchta (also mentioned in my last post.) There’s just something about her that I really like. She’s both beautiful and dangerous, with a false air of innocence that you would totally understand if only you got to know her a little.

Last week I started an illustration of Bertha knitting under a wild rose bush tunnel in the woods. When it’s finished I’m going to use the image for promotional postcards, which I plan to send to publishers and agents along with my contact info and dummy book/manuscript. Here’s the pencil drawing:

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Here’s the line work after I finished inking it last night:

Bertha Linework

That’s all I have so far. Now it’s at the “personalized coloring book” stage that’s so much fun to come home to. After I celebrate my 30th birthday on the 30th, I will start with the coloring and be sure to post some more in-progress pictures as I go!

 

I’m Back/Recap 2: Bertha

Published June 23, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

It’s been a month since I’ve been posting weekly or on the regular, so here’s recap part two! Some of you might recall how I fell down a lucky rabbit hole on Wikipedia a few weeks back and discovered Perchta. Please actually click on the wiki link that I just provided for the complete article, because it’s entirely fascinating and obviously much more articulate than anything I could possibly ever describe in this post! She’s also quite a looker:

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From what I have gathered, Perchta (or Bertha in English) is another Yuletide character from Alpine folklore who is kind of like the female counterpart to our good friend Krampus. Her name means “the bright one” and she is a pagan goddess/wintertime witch who is sometimes said to be a ruler of beasts and the leader of the Wild Hunt. She appears during the Twelve Days of Christmas in two very distinct guises. Sometimes she is very beautiful and fair; clothed in white robes as she visits the dwellings of good children and rewards their yearly efforts with gifts of silver coins left behind in their shoes.

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At other times, when children have not been good, and especially if they have committed the particularly loathsome crimes of not spinning their entire allotment of wool, or eating something on the night of her feast day other than the traditional meal of fish and gruel, then Perchta would appear as a haggard, hideous monster and slit their bellies open in the middle of the night!

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She would then proceed to disembowel her prey and replace their organs with pebbles and straw, presumably then stitching them all back together nice and neat since she is also a goddess who oversees sewing, weaving, and spinning. She can really make Krampus look like a nice guy…and that is saying something!

Speaking of which: I guess Krampus has a girlfriend! Don’t they make an adorable couple?

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I’m in love.

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Seriously though–from all that I have read so far, Perchta and Krampus do kind of go hand in hand during Krampuslauf parades and similar events involving all manner of Christmastime merriment and debauchery. Festival goers might dress as “beautiful Perchten” (the plural form of Perchta) for good luck:

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Some were perhaps not quite so beautiful.

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Alternately, others would don animal skins and scary masks as flat out “ugly Perchten” to scare away the local ghosts and devils from the town. A lot of the ugly Perchten masks even resemble Krampus, but often with lighter fur and multiple intertwining horns.

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I always love the group photos.

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Perchten on parade!

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Some of the masks even highlight her dual nature and serve as a two-in-one!

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Frau Perchta

Another interesting aspect of Perchta is that the older stories describe her as having an odd, extra-large foot, or goose/swan feet.

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In some of the older portrayals of Krampus he also has mismatched feet; one human foot and one cloven hoof.

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I always assumed this was a demon thing. Since I was that weird kid who spent all of my free time in the library reading everything I could find on mythology, the paranormal, and the occult, I actually do know a thing or two about demons, or at least how they were oftentimes depicted in medieval artwork. The medieval Christian explanation went something like: Man was created in God’s image, so although demons are known for their powers of deception and their shapeshifting abilities, they can never truly take on the sacred form of a human being. Like, they can ALMOST do it, but they’ll always be at least one thing that’s a little off about them–like a cloven hoof or a tail or something.

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As a fellow person with unusually large feet, I can only imagine how this would make shoe shopping an absolute nightmare. I feel you, dude.

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This explanation also accounts for changelings and fairies and all kinds of other weird fantastical humanoid critters that were ever said to roam the Earth before Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe. A clever way to transform the pagan gods into something that you wouldn’t want hanging around your village, and probably further enforcing the need to go to church!

However, just like Krampus, the origins of Perchta predate Christianity. The only two explanations that I could find about the odd foot thing is that it’s an indication of Perchta’s shapeshifting abilities, since she is a goddess after all, and my favorite explanation…she needs a big ol’ goose foot to work the treadle on her spinning wheel! And that, my friend, is evolution if I ever heard it!

So with all of this amazing inspiration, I quickly decided that I need to draw my own Perchta character. I’ve already been considering writing a sequel to Kris & Krampus Kringle someday down the road. Other ideas for possible characters in the second book include some other cool characters from Nordic Christmas folklore, The Yule Cat, The Yule Lads, and their mother, the wicked giantess Grýla. With all of these characters essentially originating from the same universe, it makes me want to write crossovers and backstories on them even more. I also think that I will write the sequel to take place four years later, so that Krampus would be as old as Kris was in the first book (nine years old) and Kris would be about thirteen. This would set things up perfectly for an awkward first romance!

Based on the idea that my Perchta character would be the same age as Krampus in the second book, I started sketching what I imagined she would look like as a young girl. For pronunciation’s sake I decided that I should call her by the English spelling of her name, Bertha. I mostly based her design off of the beautiful Perchten form, but I decided that I still wanted to incorporate a few of her more monstrous features as well. This is the first sketch that I drew.

Bertha Sketch

You see, this way she’s still very beautiful but she also looks like she can be a bit of a brat if provoked. I kept the long blonde hair and let the golden halo/stylized rays of light in some of those beautiful Perchten masks morph into a more naturalistic braid crown. I also added some small curled double horns. Her nose is also a little bit beastly, but still more delicate than how I draw Krampus’s nose. I was happy enough with the initial sketch to then refine it into a finished character design.

Bertha Design

I made sure to include her lacy bonnet this time, as well as the goose feet and her love of the textile arts! I also gave her an ugly Perchten mask that I imagine her wearing most of the time…like maybe she’s really shy so she doesn’t usually let people see her real face. It ended up looking a little like a creepy tiki mask, but I swear that I based the design on the wooden masks in the old drawings posted above. I think that someday I would also love to make a puppet of her just like I plan to do with Kris, Krampus, and Mama Kringle.

So that’s about it for this post. Over the past few days I’ve been working on an illustration of Bertha knitting under a wild rose bush tunnel in the woods. It’s going to be another pretty little portfolio piece when it’s done, and I might also be turning it into a promotional postcard to send to agents and publishers along with my info and dummy book. I will be sure to include some work in progress pictures of that piece in my next blog entry!

 

 

 

Book First Print!

Published May 18, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Guess who got the first test print of her book from back from Office Depot yesterday?

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Martyn up finished formatting the text on Sunday and we made some last final edits just before it went to the printer. Although it’s just a test print dummy from an office supply store (note the spiral binding instead of what will eventually be a real hardback cover) the pages still look absolutely beautiful and quality! The text and the layout also worked out perfectly, including some of the trickier pages that had multiple spot illustrations or double-page spreads. At first I was a little bummed out and worried when I found out that I wouldn’t be able get my first printed copy from bookbaby in time for the SCBWI Spring Conference this weekend, but now I’m just glad that this test print ended up working out so well. It’ll definitely be more than good enough to show off my vision for the book at the conference!

Here’s a close-up of the cover. The protective sheet of laminate makes it near impossible to photograph but hopefully you get the idea.

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If you are someone who gets to see me in person on a regular basis I’d be more than happy to show you the first print of the book. It represents about a year and three months of hard work. If that thing was a human baby it would be six months old already!

Besides finishing up this first not-so-dummy copy of my book over the weekend, I also have been working on one last final piece for my portfolio. It’s another illustration of Lucia because she’s pretty, and because I wanted to have more examples of my illustration style besides just the artwork from my book. I know I posted this on my Facebook/Instragram already, but here was the line drawing before I began any of the coloring:

Lucia Linework

I’m almost finished with the coloring now and I hope to be all done with it by the end of the night. I’ll post the completed illustration tomorrow if I can!

So yeah, this weekend I finished the test print of my book, almost finished the last illustration for my portfolio, and I even remembered to vote!

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I feel very productive. I also might have even had two job interviews lined up for this week, but I’m not even going to tell you about that. You’ll just have to guess if that’s true or not till next time. Bye!

 

A Portrait of Lucia and the Witches Castle

Published May 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Martyn and I went to the coast over the weekend to celebrate our “ten-iversary” because we have now been an official couple for ten years since May 1st/Beltane! Here’s the only picture I have from our first date on Tybee Island Beach in Savannah one decade ago:

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What a weirdo…and what was with that shirt, anyway?!

Our “ten-iversary” trip to the coast was only one night away but it was still so nice to have some real time off from everything and recharge our mental batteries. Plus we got to stay at the Sou’wester, a lodge/campground on Long Beach that has restored vintage RVs for rent…and it was sooo cool! But anyway, before we left for our trip I finished up a drawing that I had had made for an art swap event that a friend of mine had invited me to on Saturday night. The event ended up being cancelled but at least I ended up with a nice pencil study of Lucia, the albino faun character that I made at the Toby Froud rod puppet workshop (see my previous posts.) I think I might even use this as a portfolio piece when I go to the SCBWI Spring Conference at the end of this month.

Lucia Drawing

I used two shades of deep red pencil and a white pencil on rose toned paper. I was going for the look of a classic Leonardo da Vinci pencil study but something about it makes me think of a vintage beauty add instead. Either way, I ended up really liking this one and it has inspired me to perhaps make some similar work in the future.

So ever since we got back from our mini vacation on Monday night it’s been back to business. I’m supposed to meet with Jenny at Vine Gogh on Thursday night to learn a new painting so I figured I would get some of my ideas for future classes together to discuss with her while I’m at it. I’ve heard that the new studio in Tigard may even be open for business by the middle of this month so it’s about time I get crackin’ on this stuff! Last night I worked on my idea for what could be our first watercolor class, or at least that I am aware of. I flipped through all of the reference photos I took on Easter Sunday of the Witches Castle in Forest Park and landed on these three favorites:

Witches Castle Composition

Witches Castle Color

Witches Castle Alternate

I combined what I liked about the first and second picture and came up with this:

Witches Castle Watercolor

The painting is a little large–well about 11″ x 15″, which is a little big for your classic watercolor nature study but the same size as the illustrations I did for my children’s book because I just used the same paper. I’m not sure what size we’re most likely to use at Vine Gogh for the watercolor classes so I just stuck with what I had already. This painting took me around three hours from start to finish…which is WAY too long! The classes that I teach can last up to three hours, but I want to eventually come up with a painting that I know so well that I could paint it in just one hour if I had to. This first time around just took me a while because I was essentially teaching it to myself; remembering each step to the best of my ability and deciding on the best order to paint each layer when I have to someday teach it to somebody else. I also took a few progress pictures while I was working on it to help me figure out a nice sane step-by-step for next time.

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And here is the final painting once again:

Witches Castle WatercolorSo yeah, I’ve still got to work on simplifying the whole thing into a few easy and defined steps but I’ve got a feeling that it will probably just come naturally to me when I paint this a second time. In analyzing my own work and trying to expedite the process, I expect a natural abstraction/simplification is bound to occur…well here’s to hoping!

I might later try doing another painting based on my third photo of the Witches Castle, the one that was taken from this alternate angle:

Witches Castle Alternate

I personally love that picture, especially with the little pink flower bud in the extreme foreground, but I wonder if it might be a little too complicated for a beginning painter. If I decide that it is I guess I could still use it as reference for my own work in the future. We shall see.

In addition to all of this I’ve got a few more ideas for watercolor painting classes AND some ideas for polymer clay sculpture classes. I’m gonna be working through all of them in the nearish future, so just be sure to stay tuned as always!

 

Lucia the Puppet: Wigging and Final Details

Published April 26, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I actually finished up Lucia the puppet very late Thursday night/early Friday morning. I basically pulled an all-nighter before my early shift and got only two hours of sleep because I was more tired of the disaster that the art room had become and was feeling really eager to get things back to normal. So anyway, this is going to be a quick post that just explains how I did the last major steps to finish her all up–her hair and a few other little details. I plan on following this post pretty much immediately with another one that will have some photos of her all finished…I took quite a few of her outside yesterday that will have to do until I can get some more professional pictures at a later date.

Before I even started on her hair I made a little accessory for her to hold on her arm. Its a little basket holding some moss, flowers, and a robin’s egg.

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I found the robin’s egg shell on the first day of the workshop when I was walking back to my car. Although it was just a cracked and empty shell it just looked so perfect; just like a robin’s egg candy. I decided right when I found it that I was going to try to find a way to incorporate the eggshell into my final puppet. It was very fragile so it took me a little while to figure out how I was going to do it. I ended up filling the shell with a two-part epoxy to bond it together and prevent it from crumbling. I placed it inside of a miniature basket that I purchased from Jo-Ann’s and attached that floral rope wire as a handle. Then I arranged some moss and flowers around the egg so that it would look like a little nest and also hide all of the visible cracks on the eggshell.

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I later added another small green twig with pink flower buds to the basket, which you will see later when I post the pictures of the finished piece.

For the wigging, or tedious attachment of her full mane of hair, I already had a cut piece of Tibetan Lamb’s Wool all picked out. I believe the color of the swatch I used was called “blushing pink” from my favorite OOAK doll supply store, The Morezmore Estate on eBay. If you’re into making OOAK polymer clay dolls, creatures, and puppets, then this is the best one-stop shop that I have ever found. The owner Natasha Red October is super nice and is a polymer clay doll maker herself so she knows her products very well. She also has a work in progress blog where she explains many of her own techniques step-by-step. I discovered her back in about 2009 when I was first teaching myself how to make really professional multi-media polymer clay dolls and was so happy when I found her blog and shop. She has taught me so much about doll making and she even sends me cool free samples of supplies whenever I order from her! Here’s a photo of the lamb’s wool I used and my other wigging supplies:

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One of the key things I learned from following Natasha’s blog was how to properly wig a polymer sculpt. The glue she recommends is the clear gel permanent adhesive manufactured by Beacon, Fabri-Tac. I know that this isn’t the only glue that doll artists use for this purpose–Wendy Froud and Toby Froud for instance both prefer another permanent glue called Barge. I’ve never tried Barge before, but I like Fabri-Tac well enough because it doesn’t give off any strong toxic fumes and I can use it in my small unventilated art room without much fear of killing my brain cells. The only main problem that I had with Fabri-Tac once I got past the initial figuring out how to work with such a gooey, stringy, sticky substance was how quickly it gets too thick and goopy to use while still inside the bottle (like an old nail polish that you have to throw away before you can use it up) and how darn expensive it always is. As a result you may think you’ve saved yourself some money by buying the biggest bottle with a coupon, but after you use it to wig a couple of dolls or even one human sized werewolf costume you’re probably still going to have to throw the last third of it away before you’re done with it because the consistency just becomes too difficult to work with anymore. There’s supposed to be a trick where you can add a little paint thinner to the glue once it gets all gloppy to get it back to normal for a little while. I’ve tried it and it kinda worked for me once, but I’ve found that most of the time the thinner and the glue stay separated so what you get is just a watery, not-sticky-enough mess…which is totally not worth the trouble!

Luckily I met a lady at the Toby Froud workshop last week who is the arts and crafts coordinator at the Craft Warehouse in Beaverton. She told me she get me a discount if I ask for her and clued me in on a little secret: Beacon’s 3-in-1 glue is basically the same exact glue as Fabri-tac but for a fraction of the price. I believe the only real difference between the two is that Fabri-Tac is archival quality for scrapbooking and 3-in-1 is not, but if you’re just using them to wig a doll that really doesn’t make any difference whatsoever! So I decided to take her up on that advice and just purchase a small bottle of 3-in-1 to glue the hair onto my puppet.

The way that I wig a doll is by cutting a few small locks of hair from the wool pelt and laying them out on my workspace. I then pick up each lock of hair at a time, spread a little bead of glue onto one end, roll it onto a toothpick, and then use the toothpick to press and hold the clump of hair onto the scalp until it catches, which is usually less than ten seconds.

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I then repeat this process again and again until I complete the first row of hair.

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I’ve used all different materials to apply hair to both dolls and costumes; lamb’s wool, synthetic hair from wigs or otherwise, faux fur, real animal fur, human hair, silk roving, you name it. I’ve got to say that of all the materials I have used Tibetan lamb is still my favorite. The extra fine strands are just perfect for a miniature scale and the variety of different colors and textures that you can choose from is really great for so many different projects.

The particular swatch of wool that I used for Lucia’s hair was a second quality piece that I got for a discount, which probably had something to do with the messy erratic texture that was not quite straight and not quite curly. Although it was a little frizzier than average which made it slightly more difficult to work with, I still managed to cover her scalp very evenly.

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After I get the first row of hair down I tug at the ends of the locks to make sure that everything is secure. Using my fingers I brush out and remove any loose flyaway hairs that didn’t hold with the rest of them.

Then I move up a couple of centimeters and start on the next row. If I want my character to have a very full and bushy head of hair (which in almost every case, I do) then I really don’t leave a whole lot of space between the two layers at all. Here she is after four or five layers of hair:

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As I near the crown of her head, I also start to apply the hair around her ears:

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While I was working on her hair I remembered that I had some really cool shimmery iridescent fibers that I wanted to try out on this puppet. I picked up a little bag of them a couple of years ago at this amazing sculpture and art supply store called Earth Guild in Asheville, North Carolina.

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They seemed like they would be just the right scale to mimic fairy hair sparkles/hair tinsel like I have in my own hair, so I started adding in a few bunches to Lucia’s hair here and there.

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The fibers ended up catching the light just like my own hair sparkles, and they were fun to hide into the locks of hair as I glued them on so you could just see little bits of sparkle poking through. I worked my way up the back of her ears and antlers. At this point she looked like she had some sort of unfortunate disease or strange medieval monk hairstyle:

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As I made it to the top of her head, I began to switch the direction of the hair to facing forward:

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When I got to her forehead I added lots more thick forward-facing hair to create face-framing layers and bangs. Unfortunately this is the last picture I remembered to take before I did that and finished her up:

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To cover up the last bit of glue on the crown of her head, the point where all her layers of hair meet and change direction, I did a trick where I attached a couple final locks of forward-facing hair, waited for the glue to catch, and then flipped them backwards before the glue was entirely dry. It’s another trick that I learned from reading Natasha’s blog and it’s also useful for creating a realistic cowlick, a little extra volume Jersey Shore bump-it style, or even a nice clean part if you use an Exacto blade to manipulate the glue while it is still wet. I wish I took a picture of this step but I guess you’ll just have to believe me again.

I also never took any pictures when I applied the final decorative touches to her hair–it involved arranging some floral craft wire and ribbon into an organic circlet and topping everything off with a big pink bow. Here are some close-ups of what it ended up looking like in the end, which can also serve as a teaser for the rest of the photos of the finished puppet in my next post!

Hairbow Close Up

Back of Hair