Santa Cthulhu 2013: Final!

It's done! At last! Santa Cthulhu 2013 is complete. If you haven't been following along, this is now the fifth not-quite-annual needle felted Santa Cthulhu extravaganza for us. You can see previous years' projects in the Felt Gallery. This one took a while, Brian and I started working on it back in mid-October. Santa Cthulhu sits in his Octi-Sleigh, ready to deliver his bag full of squirmy presents to children all over the world. A shoggoth pulls Santa and his sleigh; why bother with eight tiny reindeer when one protoplasmic behemoth will do? Keep scrolling for far too many photos ...

 The bag of presents appears to be made of fishing net. It erupts with assorted tentacles, and a single giant crab claw.

Santa is needle felted entirely from wool. Oddly, this is the first year we've given the Santa Cthulhu wings. I have no real reason for that. In previous years I think we just got close to the finish line and thought, "Wings? Nah, that'd be more work ..."

The shoggoth is a writhing, amoeba-like mass of needle felted pustules, eyes, appendages and teeth. A shoggoth is a constantly changing creature. As such, it's somewhat difficult to put a yoke or harness on it. Santa just hitches his sleigh up to a large metal ring that he has to trust the shoggoth to keep incorporated into its fluctuating body. Chains hitch the shoggoth's ring to the sleigh, and Santa holds leather straps as reins. The eyes are glass cabochons that we painted specifically for the shoggoth. The teeth are epoxy clay.


The Octi-Sleigh is a substantial sculpture I made specifically for this project. It has a wire armature covered with nearly 4 lbs of epoxy clay. It is painted with acrylics, and I'd just like to point out that this was my very first attempt at painting with an airbrush! If you look back at the last several journal entries, you can see lots of work-in-progress photos of the sleigh.

Lovecraft's shoggoths are described as iridescent. For fun, we went with fluorescent. If you have a blacklight handy, the shoggoth (and even Santa) will glow!


Santa sits about 11" tall. The sleigh is 13" long and 7" tall. The shoggoth is about 8" tall and 11" long. And just to help, I took a photo with my hand in the shot, to demonstrate how big these figures are.


Santa Cthulhu 2013: Santa In His Sleigh

Sleigh is painted! My first ever attempt at using an airbrush.

Here's Santa (or what I have done of him so far) in the sleigh.


Santa Cthulhu 2013: Santa's Sleigh (nearly done!)

I finished sculpting the sleigh. Whew. Next up is painting!

We're a little behind this year, we usually try to get the Santa Cthulhu done by the start of December. Eeek.

I had to clean my desk off for the next stage of the project. It was getting out of hand. I found stuff I haven't seen in ages. I don't think this desk has been this clean since we moved in!


Santa Cthulhu 2013: Santa's Sleigh (again)

I'm almost done sculpting the sleigh, whew it was a lot of texture work. I had Brian take a photo with my hands in there for scale, so you can get an idea of how big the full scene is going to be.

I've also started the Santa. Here's what I have so far, he's sat on the end table in the living room because I tend to needle felt while sitting on the couch under lots of blankets, and not in my studio.

When I AM in my studio, however, Cloudy sits on a perch behind me and keeps me on task. She's a good helper-bird.


Santa Cthulhu 2013: Santa's Sleigh

And a little bit more progress ...


Santa Cthulhu 2013: Santa's Sleigh

A little more progress on the sleigh. Slow going, and way more work than I anticipated, but fun.


Shoggoth Eyes

Brian decided he wanted glass eyes (instead of felted eyes) for the Shoggoth that will be pulling Santa Cthulhu's sleigh. At first, we looked up taxidermy glass animal eyes. They are definitely very cool, but also very expensive. Since the shoggoth is meant to have LOTS of eyes, all over its body, we could easily have sunk $100 in glass eyes into it. I figured there had to be a way I could make them myself. So here's a quick tutorial on my homemade glass eyes!

 Supplies! Pearlescent paint and fluorescent paint, clear glass cabochons, and tiny paint brushes.

We decided to use toad eyes as inspiration for the shoggoth eyes, and we wanted them to be an unnatural green color, to match the protoplasmic bubbles Brian has already felted on the Shoggoth's back. To begin, I painted the pupil of the eye in the center of the back of the cabochon with plain black acrylic.

Then I painted lots of squiggly black lines in the iris of the eye, and gave it a solid black ring around the edge of the eye.

I mixed some of the fluorescent yellow with the bronze paint, so the eye would look a little metallic. The fluorescent paint will make it glow under a blacklight. I painted the yellow in a small ring around the edge of the pupil.

I mixed some of the blue fluorescent paint in with the yellow/bronze mix to make it bright green. I painted this over the rest of the back of the cabochon. After this dried, I painted the whole back of the cabochon over with black, to give a solid background to the more translucent paint.

Let it dry, flip it over, and voila! Glass shoggoth eye!

I popped one into the shoggoth, I think they'll look pretty cool in the end! We'll probably glue them in place and then felt eyelids up around them a bit.


Santa Cthulhu 2013: Santa's Sleigh

Brian and I are feeling pretty ambitious this year for our annual Santa Cthulhu project. The goal is to have Santa sitting in his sleigh, maybe with some sort of elf creature standing next to the sleigh. Brian is working on a felted shoggoth to take the place of the reindeer. It's awesome. He has big plans for it and might share a progress photo over on his own journal if you ask nicely. Or he might just wait until it's finished, hard to say. Anyway, I'll share progress photos because I'm nice like that. Before I can even start making the Santa, I need to have the sleigh at least roughed in. I started with a wire armature and added foil to get the basic shape. Tonight I began adding a layer of epoxy clay to solidify the whole thing, and it occurred to me that I am probably going to dump a couple of pounds of epoxy clay into this before it's done. Oof. It's pretty big. I suppose I could have tried felting the sleigh, but I just didn't think it would work. And sculpting it sounded like more fun anyway. So here goes! Here it is, still super rough, but making progress. Pardon the messy desk photo ...


My Witch Hat

This year at work there was a costume contest. They announced it way back in the beginning of October, so I had some time to plan. Each of the departments within pathology was asked to choose a theme, and people could dress to fit the theme. Since most of us who work in hematology are female, there's a running joke that we are all co-hags (you know, because part of our job in heme is coag testing ... yeah, it's lab humor) so we decided we should all dress up as hags and/or witches.

I thought for a while about it and decided I didn't want to wear the typical pointy witch hat. I'd much prefer horns and feathers and fun stuff like that! At first I wanted to make curled ram horns, but then I settled on something more upright like an impala's horns. Sort of like what Maleficent wears in Sleeping Beauty. I took some in-progress photos to share. I used to write art tutorials often, and I felt like it's been far too long since I put one together. Of course, I wound up forgetting to take photos as often as I should have, but I still got some along the way and will post them all here.

To begin, I will point out that I know NOTHING about proper hat-making techniques. I'd love to take a millinery course some day so I can figure out the real way to do these things, but in the meantime I muddle along. I started this about two weeks before Halloween, so I didn't have time to learn all the correct methods and gather good tools. But in the end I got a decent result, so here's how I made my witch hat.

I stole the adjustable insert from a plastic beer helmet we had kicking around in the garage after one of Brian's birthday parties. I figured it'd make a good base to start with.

I took some aluminum armature wire and wrapped it around the plastic frame a few times, and up into the basic shape that I wanted for the horns. Then I bulked out the wire amrature with lots of aluminum foil.

Over the foil, I wrapped floral tape. I love floral tape. I can make an armature for most anything if you give me a bunch of tinfoil and floral tape.

Then I used paperclay to sculpt the horns directly onto the floral tape. Paperclay sticks well to the tape, while it doesn't stick as well directly to wire or foil. I started by just covering the foil shape with paperclay, as on the left. Then when it was dry I added the spiral pattern, as on the right.

Here it is with both horns sculpted. I wasn't going for super realistic on these, I just wanted them to look good for a costume.

The horns made the whole thing a little too top-heavy, so I added some more wire here and there to help keep the whole thing on my head. I also painted the horns flat black.This is where I started forgetting to take regular progress photos, oops. But I covered the entire frame in some heavy black fabric. I just worked at it in a patchwork fashion until I had a good base of fabric I could attach things to. Then I started glueing on the feathers!About three chickens and part of a turkey later, this is what I had. I also added a bit of gold trim at the front, to make sort of a headband. I've got a better photo of that in a minute.View from the back. The barred feathers hung down over my hair when I wore it.And here's me, wearing it! And being silly.

And that's about it! Making the hat was the hardest part of the whole costume. Because I had to be able to work all day in this costume, the rest of it involved a black shirt and black pair of pants that I pinned assorted scraps of fabric to, to mimic a ragged skirt and shawl. I had to leave the lab a couple of times during the day, which was amusing because people gave me a lot of strange looks. The best part was when we got to give out toys and games to the pediatric inpatients.

Happy Halloween!


Santa Cthulhu 2013

This is the start of this year's Santa Cthulhu ...