Sunday, October 24, 2010

Carving Halloween Pumpkins

Procedure: We carved pumpkins. First we carved around the stems with a large knife, entered our pumpkins, then removed their seeds and gooey insides with a pumpkin-carving spoon. I lightly drew my design on my pumpkin with a brown marker, then cut it out with thin pumpkin-carving knives. Stacy printed her design out on her printer, traced her design by pricking through the paper, then cut out where she'd pinned with a pumpkin-carving knife.

Pumpkins 4

Design Credits:
From left top row: T-Fighter Spacecraft by Neuralclone and AGirlCalledBob, Gotham City Skyline by Stacy, Ghost and Tombstone, Jack Skellington by Mox_E, Scary Cat by Jess, Batman by Nick

Cat Credits: It's the notorious Froy from!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Outdoor Halloween Decorations

Stacy and Nick went all out with a Batman-themed house! You could modify their procedures to make a custom sign and projector image for any holiday.

Arkham Sign: Make a template - you could use Adobe Illustrator software to print your template out in tile mode. Trace your template onto a styrofoam-like surface - Nick used a sheet of foam insulation from the hardware store. Next, cut your sign using foam-carving knives (the kind used to carve foam pumpkins). Finally, spray paint black. Be sure to use acetone-free spray paint or it will eat through your work (spray-test a small corner first). Even regular spray paint will eat up the foam a little. An alternative is painting the sign with tinted primer (tint regular primer with black paint) and then painting it black. Afix your sign to PVC pipe and secure pipe to the ground by sliding it over embedded rebar.

Batman Symbol
Easy Way: Use a high-powered lantern and foamcore board. Cut your design out of the foamcore and place in front of the lantern. Black out the other three sides of the lantern.

Nick's Way (uses a projector, music and DVD authoring software): He made an Adobe Illustrator file of the bat signal and laid it down on a video track in Adobe Encore*. Then he placed his music (the score from the first Batman movie) on an audio track underneath it. He added a jumpback action at the timeline's end to go to the first chapter marker, thus keeping the 13-minute long video looping. He burned his new DVD and played it through a home TV projector via a DVD player that was contained in a cardboard construct. The player and projector were both set on a stool and plugged into an attached multi-adapter.

*Note: Adobe Encore is a DVD authoring suite that comes with the CS4 Production Bundle. You could do the DVD step with iDVD on a Mac or the Windows equivalent.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spooky Halloween Curtains

You will need: Muslin or similar white fabric, white chiffon or tulle, and black paint. We used Acrylic paint, but you could use indoor latex house paint. We also used a dropcloth underneath to catch paint that seeped through the fabric.

Procedure: First, cut and hem muslin to fit your window. Next, paint your ghost or other shape onto muslin. Stacy used Adobe Illustrator software to print her design on paper in tile mode, traced her design onto her curtain with a Sharpie, and then filled it in with paint. I free-handed my designs directly onto my curtains with black paint.

After your designs are completely dry, cut and hem the chiffon to fit your window and sew it to the muslin, layering it so that the chiffon goes over the painted side of your muslin. Attach your project to a curtain rod in any way you choose (you could use clips; I sewed tie-ribbons to mine; Stacy sewed a rod pocket into hers). Hang with the chiffon side facing out for a great spooky display your neighbors can see and appreciate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cake Decorating with Fondant

Making a Rose Flower with Fondant: Pull the fondant with your hands to warm it. Then make a small ball the size of a marble. Form it into a cone. That will be the center of your flower. Then make a ball half the size of your first ball. Place the ball between saran wrap and press into a circle with your fingers. This will be your first petal. Attach it at the bottom of your cone and wrap it around, leaving it open at the top. Do a second petal and wrap it around the cone's other side. You are now done with your first row of petals! For your second row, use three petals. For your third row, use four or five. Bend the petals slightly outward and away from the tip of the cone. Cut the bottom of the flower at an angle so it will lay pretty on the top of your cake. Make leaves or more flowers as you like.

Leveling a Round Cake and Preparing it for Fondant: Remove the cake from its cake pan; we used a pound cake. Use a long, non-serrated or very mildly serrated knife to cut off the unlevel, dome portion of the cake. Start cutting at the lowest part and go across. If you don’t get it completely level, don’t worry. Now flip the cake over. You always want the seared side up.

Take a buttercream icing and a long icing spatula and apply the icing to the sides of the cake, then the top. Do not worry about making it look good. Now take flat wide tool (such as a chop) and scoop most of the icing off the sides, and then the top. You just want a level surface for your fondant, even if it’s a thin layer and the cake shows through. Don’t use too much icing or your fondant will bubble.

Applying the Fondant: Use two long wide spatulas to move the cake to your cake serving plate. Stick both spatulas with downward pressure under your cake, move to the cake plate, and push down as you quickly move the spatulas out from underneath the cake one at a time. If you remove the spatulas slowly your cake will crumble.

Now it’s time for fondant! Use confectioner’s sugar to dust your rolling surface. Pull the fondant with your hands to warm it and then roll it into a large ball. Place it on your rolling surface and roll it out. If you want to pick it up and turn it 90 degrees, add a little more powdered sugar underneath. When it’s big enough to cover your whole cake, drape it once over your rolling pin and carry it to your cake.

Now it’s time to put the fondant on your cake! Start unrolling the fondant over the cake at the side closest to you and drape it over the rest. Set the rolling pin aside. Tap the fondant down around your cake. The fondant is like rubber, so pull and stretch it to get it to do what you want; don’t fold it. Tap it down around the base of your cake. If you get a fold, pull and stretch the fondant away from the cake, then tap it down. Cut the excess fondant away from the cake with the pointy tip of a knife.

Piping the Trim: Use a Ziploc bag with a princess piping tip and your buttercream icing. Pipe the icing in small dots/dollops around the base of your cake. Pipe a tiny bit of icing on top of your cake to secure your fondant flower to your cake. You could also use Vodka to secure two pieces of fondant to each other.

Note: If you are trying to cover a square cake the process is different. For a square cake, cut out one square of fondant for the top and four rectangles for the sides. Apply them to your cake and seal the edges with piped icing.