Wednesday, February 29, 2012

large zelda pixelated cut-out party decorations

As I've previously mentioned, finding Zelda-themed party decorations is difficult. After Googling for awhile, I headed over to Pinterest and did a little browsing, finally, turning up a link that led to the Let's Explore Blog, and a really fabulous Alice in Wonderland party Amy put together for her daughter Delaney's birthday a couple of years ago.

One of the projects Amy and her husband created are these great, large-scale cardboard character cut-outs. Here's a link to my Pin, featuring the Mad Hatter cut-out from Delaney's party.

Of course, the best part of Amy's project is that it's infinitely adaptable. You could use this project for literally any character or theme. For our theme, old-school pixelated Legend of Zelda, the project is even more simple, because the grid used in the tutorial for plotting the design is the perfect way to make pixelated designs. Just find an image, and follow along on your cardboard! Eventually, I had these figures of Link and Zelda:

But first I had to acquire some cardboard, for the figures as well as the cardboard forts I'd planned to build (more on those in a future post). I headed over to a department store and asked about appliance boxes, and instead, the guy at the receiving dock offered me these large 4.5 x 8 foot sheets of corrugated cardboard, which I was told arrived with pallets or something and are usually recycled right away. Instead, I shoved six of them into my husband's car somehow.

This is how they looked in my tiny kitchen (with a shoe box full of recycled rupee crayons on the back counter):

Here's my kiddo standing by a newly-painted Link figure, for size comparison.

And here are some more shots of the figures (Link, Zelda, and an Octorock) decorating at the party.

These take about three hours, start to finish, and if I'd had a little more time, I would have loved to have made a few more. Luckily, as I mentioned, this project is infinitely adaptable, so I'll start even earlier next year and make six or eight figures for birthday number three!

(p.s. you can make these photos bigger by clicking on them . . . but you probably knew that!)

Linking up to:

Young House Love, Bower Power, The Great Indoors, and Hi Sugarplum, who are all co-sponsoring the winter Pinterest Challenge! (I'm borrowing their graphic:)


Thursday, February 23, 2012

zelda party hats and crowns

Of course, every adventurer needs the appropriate hat for his quest.

(image credit Zelda Universe)

(image credit Zelda Wiki)

My husband finally convinced me that Peter Pan-style hats wouldn't do, which was a bummer, I thought, because they'd be so easy to make using this pattern right here. Just two triangles and a couple of seams, darn it! And finding an equally simple pattern for a Link hat was proving to be more difficult than I'd even wanted the whole hat to be.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I didn't coin the phrase, but it's in my head ALL. THE. TIME.

You know what's easier than a two-triangle hat pattern? A one-square hat pattern. Observe.

Cut a 14-inch square from a piece of polyester fleece. (Mine is made from recycled pop bottles, so this project is fun, easy, cute, AND green.)

Fold it in half on the diagonal, and run a line of straight stitches down one of the open sides.

This leaves one side open, which will be the opening of your hat.

Turn it inside out, and flatten your hat so that the seam runs up the back. Press.

Turn down the peak of the hat, so that the point meets the bottom edge. Press.

Flip the hat over and fold the brim up twice, as pictured, and press to set the crease.

When you have enough for all of your party guests (or just one, for your little Link), tack the brims in place through all layers in the center.

Here's a photo of my two guys. Everyone at the party got to choose between a crown or a green hat, and they "bought" them at a little cardboard storefront run by my kiddo's godmother.

The crowns are also very simple.

Measure your child's head and add about an inch to the measurement. Cut a rectangle that measures (that length) x (a width of 4 inches) from felt. I used natural colored wool felt that I later dyed, but you can use poly felt, too!

Down the center of the rectangle, cut a zig zag line. One of the resulting pieces of felt should be slightly shorter than the other.

Stack the two zig-zagged pieces of felt, and stitch along the bottom and top edges (very close to the edge) using a different color of thread (I used orange). Then, with right sides facing, stitch the ends together, allowing about 1/2-inch seam allowance. Clip the excess fabric. Here's a stack of crowns, before being dyed.

If you used poly felt, just iron that back seam flat, and you're done! If you are now going to dye the crowns, here are a couple more steps.

I sink-dyed the crowns using iDye in Gold and some vinegar. Wool felt can shrink a little if agitated too much in hot water, so make sure to be gentle and sparing when stirring the crowns in the dye.

Follow package instructions for rinsing, then hang to dry. The crowns will be a little rumpled at the end of this process.

Set your iron on the "wool" setting.


My kiddo loves to wear his crown around even when it's not his birthday, and he'll wear his Link hat too! These make great party favors for this age group, because little kids are getting into pretend play and dress-up, and both styles are adaptable for a variety of imaginary play.

Post links in the comments section; I'd love to see if you decide to make party hats for your own kids' parties!

(p.s. you can make these photos bigger by clicking on them . . . but you probably knew that!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

rainbow cupcakes

Prior to The Real Deal (my kiddo's crazy birthday cake), I played around with this cupcake design to build my confidence a bit.

The result:

And not that you need the play-by-play (this one's pretty self explanatory), but here are a few shots in-process for you.

Frost the cuppies in a pastel-y turquoise blue frosting (I think I'll dip-ice them next time, for a smoother, more uniform top).

Using a piping bag, add a fluffy cloud of white frosting to either side of the cupcake top.

Cut a strip of this Air Heads Xtremes Rainbow Sour candy into two pieces. Each piece will be the rainbow on one cake. (I found this specific candy at Target in the dollar section at the front of the store.)

The rainbow candy strips have a tendency to list to one side when warm; I think refrigeration prior to and following cupcake assembly might help them remain upright. Something else to try next time!

This is a cute, easy project for little kids to help with, too! Older kids can probably even handle piping the fluffy clouds. Enjoy!

(p.s. you can make these photos bigger by clicking on them . . . but you probably knew that!)

Linking Up To:

I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Sunday, February 19, 2012

delusions of grandeur part three : the legend of the zelda birthday cake

If you were someone with a lot of time on his/her hands and a cake to make, and if you were someone who loved repetitive, detail-oriented tasks, then, and only then, would I recommend the project I'm about to show you.

Behold, the pixelated Legend of Zelda birthday cake I made for my kiddo's second birthday.

The Link figure, shield, and flag (which featured his name on one side, and the Hylian phoenix graphic on the other, painted on with food coloring) are made of dyed gum paste.

Cake is banana cake with Nutella filling and peanut butter cream cheese icing, covered in colored fondant. The "pixelated" image on the side of the cake is made from dots of colored fondant, cut with a straw and released with the aid of a chopstick. (Thanks for the help with the dot cutting, E!)

Tektite cupcakes (the spidery guys) are butter cake with maple cream cheese icing. The eyes, teeth, and spots are made of fondant. The spider cupcake holders were picked up on Halloween clearance at Target.

Total time spent (including baking, modeling figures, cutting dots, and assembling/decorating cake): approximately 12-14 hours.

Not for the faint of heart, but worth the labor of love for my sweet pea.

Follow me on Pinterest (button at the top of the column on the right) to see a couple of much cooler Zelda cakes on my Party Planning pin board. I used those for some much-needed inspiration for the top of the cake.

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(p.s. you can make these photos bigger by clicking on them . . . but you probably knew that!)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

stitched puppets from the lane county historical museum

Tonight, for your consideration, an assortment of puppets from the children's puppet stage at the Lane County Historical Museum. From flappers to hippies, settlers to bar maids, there are probably close to two dozen of these carefully stitched and costumed puppets spread out on a black shelf, out of sight for anyone but those who peek behind the curtain. Waiting to be discovered like starfish in a tide pool.

I'm not sure who pieced the puppets; I didn't notice any markings, but it must have been someone very dedicated.

Patterns for individual dolls (including costumes) are available in the gift shop for under $6.00.

(p.s. you can make these photos bigger by clicking on them . . . but you probably knew that!)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

rupee crayon party favors

As part of the upcoming birthday party for Baby P, we made some crayons shaped like rupees (the gems used for money in the Zelda game series for Nintendo) for the kids to hunt for in the tall grass . . . and maybe inside some conspicuous clay pots.

This required a bit of planning. First came the rupee hunt idea, then the search for a jewel-shaped mold (I was willing to settle for anything vaguely jewel-shaped, and large enough not to be a choking hazard, but not so large as to use thousands of crayons). No luck. I thought about using cookie cutters, but couldn't find one the right shape, and in the end, wasn't sure that a cookie cutter would cut crayon wax well enough to warrant investing in a make-it-yourself cookie cutter kit.

I searched around a bit and finally happened across this silicone mold-making kit. i bought a one-pound box for this project, carved a rupee the desired shape and size from a bar of glycerin soap, then cast it in the silicone compound that my husband mixed up using the kit.

Note: there is a very short cure time on the silicone compound, and several people had posted product reviews mentioning that they couldn't get larger amounts of compound mixed before the cure time ran out, so their molds failed. My husband's trick is to pre-knead each part of the two-part compound separately to get them warm and pliable before kneading the two parts together. It extends cure time and I'm happy to say it worked like a charm.

We ended up with four molds made from one box of compound, and three were useable for casting crayons (the fourth ended up with some unfortunate air bubbles).

We sat down to peel a few hundred recycled (thrift store) and new crayons. Part way through the process, I discovered soaking them in a solution of warm water and dish soap serves the dual purpose of cleaning the recycled crayons and loosening the paper wrappers; give it a try!

The crayons were sorted by color to match rupee colors, then broken to bits and loaded into the cured molds.

With the oven temp set to 230 F, the molds were loaded into the oven atop a wax-papered cookie sheet and cooked for about 20 minutes until nice and melty.

Cooled, popped out, burnished with a spoon, and ready to be discovered by a bunch of little adventure kids. So fun!

The molds held up pretty well through the casting, cooling, and extracting process of close to a hundred crayons (hopefully enough for each kid to take home a full set!). In the end, a couple of molds had small tears at either end, but still held melted wax.

Thanks to this Flickr image, discovered via Pinterest, for the pinspiration!

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(p.s. you can make these photos bigger by clicking on them . . . but you probably knew that!)

Friday, February 3, 2012

zelda invitations featuring our hero, link!

It's very difficult to find Zelda birthday party invitations, or anything to do with a Zelda birthday party, for that matter. For some reason, Mario is EVERYWHERE, while our valiant hero, Link, languishes in kid party obscurity.

So I made these from scratch. Or rather, from Adobe Illustrator, and paper, and my inkjet printer, and some foam mounting tape. But mostly scratch.

I found a few images of Link from the original Zelda game on-line, and, using the grid lines in Illustrator, drew out Link one little box at a time (using the copy/paste function and the eye dropper tool). Because I drew Link in Illustrator, a vector art program, Link can be sized up or down infinitely without added pixelation or distortion. Which means I can use this same image for the invitations, or t-shirt transfers, or stickers, or large character cut-outs, or posters . . . pretty cool, and one of my favorite things about using Illustrator over using Photoshop.

Next, I laid out my text, using two free fonts I found on an on-line font website (dafont, I think). One font looks like a vintage video game font; the other strongly resembles the font from the Legend of Zelda box. Love it!

I'll spare you the details; assembly was pretty straightforward. Let's just look at some more photos!

(p.s. you can make these photos bigger by clicking on them . . . but you probably knew that!)

Of course, party details have been changed or omitted for privacy reasons. Now accepting clients for custom party invitations.

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