Creepy Craft Corner

By Angela Sylvaine

Welcome to “Creepy Craft Corner,” which features HWA members who are also artists, crafters, makers, or creators. We hope to provide you, the reader, with the tools and inspiration to try creating something new!

Today we’re featuring a craft that is close to my heart: cross-stitch! Before my soul blackened and turned brittle, I stitched many cutesy flowers and frolicking animals. These days my needlework tends toward the dark and creepy. If repeatedly stabbing things with a tiny needle sounds appealing, this column is for you. Today we welcome Sonora Taylor to inspire us to stitch.

Tell us a little about what you write and any upcoming projects you’d like to promote.

My name is Sonora Taylor. I write both novels and short stories. Some of my works include Little Paranoias: Stories and Seeing Things. My latest short story collection, Someone to Share My Nightmares, will be out October 19, 2021. You can learn more about me at sonorawrites.com. You can also find me on Twitter (@sonorawrites), Instagram (@sonorataylor), and Facebook (/sonorawrites).

What creepy craft or creation have you decided to share with us today?

I love doing cross-stitch! I’ve created several pieces over the years and the attached piece took literal years to complete. It’s from a book my husband bought me called Twisted Stitches. Right now I’m working on a trio of poisonous flowers from the same book.

What instructions or tips do you have for our readers who might be interested in trying this craft for themselves?

If you have no experience with cross-stitch before, start with either a stamped pattern (where the design is printed on the embroidery cloth and stitched over) or a very simple counted pattern (counted means the embroidery cloth is blank and you follow a pattern in a book or on a piece of paper by counting where the stitches are). Take breaks because it can hurt your arm and shoulder to stitch for too long. And check Etsy for lots of fun patterns from independent artists!

Thank you so much for sharing your work with us, Sonora! I have also been getting back into cross-stitch lately and have found some amazing low-cost patterns available on Etsy that can be purchased and downloaded in a snap. I’ve also recently discovered black cross-stitch cloth, and I am in love with the look of white thread stitched on this dark background. Here is my latest work in progress, which will ultimately be a tribute to Wednesday Addams (thank you to WitchyCraftStitch on Etsy for this lovely pattern). Stay tuned to “Creepy Craft Corner” for the finished product!

Thank you so much for joining us, Sonora, and thank you to all of you for reading. Until next month, keep it crafty.

Angela Sylvaine is a self-proclaimed cheerful goth who still believes in monsters. Her debut novella, Chopping Spree, is available now. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple publications and anthologies, including Places We Fear to Tread and Not All Monsters. You can find her online angelasylvaine.com.

Special thanks to our logo creator, Maria Abrams (abramstheauthor.com).

Note: Due to an overwhelming response from talented creators, I am not currently accepting new submissions for “Creepy Craft Corner.” I will post here in the HWA newsletter and on Twitter when I reopen to submissions.

Creepy Craft Corner

By Angela Sylvaine

Welcome again to “Creepy Craft Corner,” which features HWA members who are also artists, crafters, makers, or creators. We hope to provide you, the reader, with the tools and inspiration to try creating something new!

If you’re like me, you experimented with today’s craft as a child in a genuine attempt to communicate with the dead. We all know those store bought articles are unlikely to work in the calling of demons and ghosts, but this homemade version might well finally open that long sought portal to hell. Today we welcome Lindy Ryan, who is going to talk with us about Spirit Boards!

Welcome to Creepy Craft Corner, Lindy. 

Tell us a little about what you write and any upcoming projects you’d like to promote:

Having grown up cutting my teeth on series like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? before discovering my mother’s Hitchcock collection, it’s fair to say horror has always been my first love. I am terribly obsessed with spooky history, monsters, and all-things hauntings, so most of my writing tends to incorporate these three elements. I’ve just finished collaborating as the lead author on a book-to-film horror franchise with a top veteran Hollywood director and an award-winning screenwriter as well as a couple of very cool monster projects currently being shopped by my agent, and am now getting to work on a new body horror novel. When I’m not writing, I’m editing—currently I’m working on Black Spot Book’s inaugural women-in-horror poetry collection, Under Her Skin, which will release in April 2022 and features poems over eighty poems from an incredible array of women—including several Stoker-winning poets, new voices (many in the HWA community), and even a poet laureate! 

www.glitterandgravedust.com (Don’t be alarmed: I also write sweet books and films.)

Twitter @lindyryanwrites

Facebook @lindyryanwrites

Instagram @lindyryanwrites

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjjHpq0lGpVfd4meBMxzXbw

What creepy craft or creation have you decided to share with us today? 

I’m not a terribly crafty, but I enjoy celebrating Halloween all year round, and that lends to a certain level of time spent wandering the aisle of hobby stores, trying to figure out what to do with random spooky craft supplies. The craft I’m sharing is a homemade spirit board I made for a divination-themed party a few years ago. I don’t make these to sell, but they do tend to be an item that gets a lot of “how to” inquiries. Luckily, they’re pretty simple to make—it just takes a little time, some patience, and a willingness to burn a finger (or four).

What instructions or tips do you have for our readers who might be interested in trying this craft for themselves?

Making the board is fairly simple, but it is a little labor intensive and requires some special tools. Here’s what you need:

  • A solid piece of board, which you can find at any craft store. I chose 8.5×11.
  • A spirit board stencil, to help with etching on the alphabet. (This is the one I bought, or you can also make your own with a sheet of stencil stock and a fixed razor but frankly that sounds a little too dangerous for my taste.)
  • Painters tape, to hold your stencil in place.
  • A pencil, or fine tip Sharpie, to trace out your stencil.
  • A wood burning tool.
  • A small pot of wood stain. (Stain only; you don’t want the tackiness of a poly/stain two-in-one.)
  • Sand paper, finishing grain.
  • Polyurethane (I prefer spray).
  • A planchette of choice.
  • Spirits of the dearly departed and/or a demonic entity, willing to communicate.

Instructions:

  • Make sure your wood is clean and dry. No need to sand beforehand.
  • Tape your stencil in place, then trace/hand draw on your lettering, etc.
  • Starting at the top right, work your way across and down to burn out the letters, etc. This takes time. I do mine kind of rough and intentionally uneven just to give the thing a more authentic vibe, but you do you.
  • Once you’ve burned everything, you can sand down as desired just to rough out any edges.
  • Put on one to two coats of stain, wiping off excess and sanding lightly between.
  • When you’re satisfied with your color, apply one to two coats of poly to achieve your desired level of shine (note: sliding planchettes across the board is easier the slicker it is). Sand as desired to finish.
  • Place on candle lit table and commence communion with the dead.

Thank you so much for joining us, Lindy! I can’t wait to try this craft for myself. Until next month, keep it crafty!

Angela Sylvaine is a self-proclaimed cheerful goth who still believes in monsters. Her debut novella, Chopping Spree, is available now. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple publications and anthologies, including Places We Fear to Tread and Not All Monsters. You can find her online angelasylvaine.com.

Special thanks to our logo creator, Maria Abrams abramstheauthor.com

Note: Due to an overwhelming response from talented creators, I am not currently accepting new submissions for Creepy Craft Corner. I will post in the HWA newsletter and on Twitter when I reopen to submissions. 

Welcome to Creepy Craft Corner!

By Angela Sylvaine

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Creepy Craft Corner, which will feature HWA members who are also artists, crafters, makers, or creators. We hope to provide you, the reader, with the tools and inspiration to try creating something new! This column will appear exclusively in the HWA Newsletter for one month before being reposted on the HWA Colorado Springs Blog.

Special thanks to Maria Abrams abramstheauthor.com for the creation of our beautiful new logo.

Today we welcome Ben Monroe, who is going to talk with us about Monster Models

Welcome to Creepy Craft Corner, Ben. Tell us a little about what you write and any upcoming projects you’d like to promote.

Hi! I’ve been working on a new novel over the past two years and getting it ready to shop around soon. I’ve also written a few short stories in the same time, many of which have already been published, and a few more are coming out in the near future. Most of my stories feature normal people in reasonably normal places, who suddenly have an encounter with the unnatural, and we get to watch as they deal with it. Sometimes things just go slightly off-kilter for them. But more often, everything goes completely off the rails. 

For example, two stories I’ve got coming out soon: “the Devil in the Details” will be in Attack From the 80s, and is about a college student in the 80s who falls afoul of devil worshippers in the Hollywood hills. Then there’s “Darkness Peering” in the forthcoming Were Tales, which is about a woman trying to escape her abusive boyfriend, and finding an ally in a strange shopkeeper. For anyone interested, I keep a running list of my publications at benmonroe.com/fiction, and am pretty active on twitter.com/_BenMonroe_

What craft or creation have you decided to share with us today?

Monster models! 

So, I used to build these things when I was a kid, and had a lot of fun. When COVID hit, and we were all stuck at home, I started thinking about some kind of hobby to pick up, especially one that didn’t involve sitting in front of a screen. I was watching the 70s version of Salem’s Lot one night, and I got to the part where the kid’s up in his room painting an old Aurora Model Co. kit of the Mummy. It reminded me of how much fun I had with those kits as a kid, and I started looking around to see if anything like that was still available. Turns out, they are! In fact, addition to reproductions of the original Aurora kits, there’s a thriving community of companies making new monster models these days. 

What tips or instructions do you have for our readers who might be interested in trying this craft for themselves? 

There are three things I think are important, really:

Sourcing

Some of these kits are old, and can be expensive on the secondary market. But if you look around, and throw in the right keywords, you can find them pretty cheap. Let’s say you start with “Frankenstein model kit” as a keyword search on eBay. You’ll get a ton of options. And the original kits are crazy expensive. Throw in extra keywords like “Recast” or “reissue” and you can narrow the search. Also, while collectors want pristine boxes, if you just want the kit to build, you can drive the price down by finding a crunched box or a kit out of the box.

eBay has been my go-to for finding these kits. But the CultTVMan (culttvmanshop.com) and Monsters In Motion (monstersinmotion.com) websites are also great sources for monsters and other neat Scifi kits. Also check out Escape Hatch Hobbies (escapehatchhobbies.com) who make resin replacement and customizing parts.

Building

The basic construction supplies are pretty simple, and easy to find. You’ll need a pair of clippers or an x-acto-type “hobby knife” to remove the parts from the sprues, and a tube of “plastic model cement” (note, plastic cement only works on styrene plastic models; if you’re building a vinyl kit, use superglue). If you want to paint your model, I find acrylic craft and hobby paints are just fine. You can get all this stuff at a place like Michael’s or Amazon.

A quick tip: I tend to keep my kits only partially built before painting. Sometimes it’s easier to paint the pieces if they’re not completely assembled (like getting the back of Dracula done before attaching the cape, or finishing the base before attaching the figure).

Painting and Finishing

Painting plastic models and miniatures is a whole topic in itself, but here are some basics.

Definitely prime your kit before painting. I use cheap hardware store spray paint for this. Use a flat black paint if the kit’s going to be darkly-colored (EG: Wolfman fur, Dracula’s dark clothing) or flat gray for a lighter color (EG: the Mummy’s wrappings). Primer helps the paint stick to the plastic.

For the paints, I use hobby acrylics. I use a combination of cheap craft paints (“Americana,” or “Apple Barrel” which you can find at Michael’s or other crafting stores) and specialized hobby paints (“the Army Painter” or “Vallejo”). The craft paints I use for large areas, and the hobby paints for small details. Simply, this is because the hobby paints have a finer texture, so they don’t blot out tiny things like eyeballs, fangs, buttons, etc.

And that’s the basics. It’s a fun hobby, and can eat up a few evenings (remember what Norman Bates said, though: “A hobby’s supposed to pass the time, not fill it”.). I find that a single model can take about an hour a day for a few days (pausing to let glue cure, paint dry, etc.).

If you want to learn more, I’d recommend doing some searching for tutorials on Youtube or the greater internet. There are innumerable modeling enthusiasts sharing their knowledge online. 

These are just the basics, of course, but hopefully enough to get people inspired and started. I hope at the very least I’ve piqued people’s interest enough to give it a shot. If anyone does decide to build one of these models, let me know how it goes (and shoot me a line if you need any tips)! 

Thanks for joining us today, Ben! 

Until next month, keep it crafty!

Angela Sylvaine is a self-proclaimed cheerful goth who still believes in monsters. Her debut novella, Chopping Spree, is available now. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple publications and anthologies, including Places We Fear to Tread and Not All Monsters. You can find her online angelasylvaine.com.

Special thanks to our logo creator, Maria Abrams abramstheauthor.com

Note: Due to an overwhelming response from talented creators, I am not currently accepting new submissions for Creepy Craft Corner. I will post here in the HWA newsletter and on Twitter when I reopen to submissions. 

I Love the 80s

I love the 80s. Not just the VH1 series of the same name (though I do love that, too) but the decade itself. The 80s were my formative years and the years that inspired my love of horror. For me, it was a time of neon colors, mix tapes, and telephone party lines. I watched MTV sitting in front of my family’s gigantic box TV (anyone else still vividly remember the video for Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”?). My friends and I jammed to Cyndi Lauper and spent our Saturdays cruising the mall, being strongly of the opinion that girls really do just want to have fun. 

Now, I know the 1980s weren’t actually perfect. But as a kid, things like the Challenger explosion, Iran Contra, Exxon Valdez, and the AIDS epidemic happened in the background. I was young and didn’t have to pay much attention to the brutal reality of the real world. As a Gen X (or Xennial, to be exact) latch-key kid, I also had relatively little supervision. 

This meant I could get away with watching, basically, whatever I wanted. And we had HBO, so I watched the good stuff. Much like Carol Ann in Poltergeist, you couldn’t tear me away from that TV. I was about seven when I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Freddy started to appear in my nightmares. Around that same time, little Drew Barrymore made her appearance in Cat’s Eye, and that little troll started sneaking into my bedroom, too. Later, I watched The Lost Boys on repeat (Haim and Feldman 4 Eva), and my dreams turned to vampires.

Horror in the 1980s was scary but really fun, and I’ve never lost my love for those films. So, when I heard that Unnerving Books was seeking manuscripts for their Rewind or Die series, I knew it was a perfect fit. They agreed, and my debut novella, CHOPPING SPREE, was born. The book follows Penny, a teen girl who stays late at the mall to party with her coworkers, and ends up running for her life from a masked killer. Think Chopping Mall but with a plot. If you are a fellow lover of 80s horror, check out CHOPPING SPREE and all the other Rewind or Die books. 

Now I gotta go. I’m rewatching April Fool’s Day. That Muffy throws a great party. 

Angela Sylvaine

Angelasylvaine.com