Monthly Archives: April 2014

DIY Seseme Street-inspired Martian

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The Yip-Yips…ready to follow you home.

Remember those furry, squid like Martians who consulted their little “Earth Book” on everything from animal sounds to what a toaster does, all accompanied by their repetitive deadpanning of, “Yip, yip, yip, yip…” or “nope, nope” commentary? Their actual name is The Yip-Yips, for obvious reasons, and they debuted on Sesame Street in 1971.

They might not be the most well known of Muppet family, but they are instantly recognizable. Plus, I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love them. Part of their appeal, in addition to the fact that they are just so darn cute, is they are a very simple design, easy to make, and easy to operate. Here’s how to welcome one into your home.

the process

The four basic “Martian” elements (top left). The Martian body in progress (top right) will look like a cuff or windsock. How the antenna looks before attaching (bottom left). The placement of wooden dowels in the finished product.

What you need:
Towel or washcloth (a cheap one; they are going to be mangled)
Chenille craft stems (aka pipe cleaners)
Table Tennis or Styrofoam balls
Two wooden dowels (length depends on size of puppet)

Step One: Trim the edges off the towel or cloth, and fold it in half. While folded, cut several long strips into both ends for the puppet “tentacles.”

Step Two: Fold the cut cloth in half once more, so all the tentacles hang down together. Hand or machine stitch along the edge. The sewn end will be the Martian’s top or, spine.  The puppet should look like a windsock or lantern with fringe at this point.

Step Three:  Use a  glue gun to attach the “eyes”(the Styrofoam balls) to either side of the spine. Use craft paint or marker to draw a pupil for the classic Muppet “googly” eye.

Step Four: Take two long pipe cleaners wrap the ends together, so it resembles a V for the antennae. Poke a small Styrofoam ball on the other end of each and secure with a little craft glue. Add some glitter or paint to pretty-them-up a bit. Poke the twisted-together ends into the seam of the spine, right between the eyes. Tack it in place with a few simple stitches.

To finish, place a little glue at the tip of the two wooden dowels, and insert one in the very middle of the folded cloth, the other at the opposite end along the spine. This “two-stick” method (not the official term) is actually how the real Sesame Street puppets were operated. If using a small washcloth, chopsticks work fine for this small “finger puppet” size. Parents might also want to cover the ends of the dowels with some felt or duck tape for younger puppeteers.

Now bring your “Yip-Yip” to life, by just moving the dowel at the bottom of the mouth up and down, near and far, side-to-side, to make him shimmy, swing, hover, and jabber. Have fun and don’t forget to make some Martian-talk sound effects—at least until they get taken away for annoying the dog.

emotions

Some basic Yip-Yip emotions

Bonus Tip: If you want to make one just for “display,” fold the cloth over a piece of floral wire in the first step, instead of using dowel. Manipulate him into whatever expression you want and hang it with fishing wire or thin twine in a corner, by a window or anywhere else you want to bring smiles.

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Nerdy Easter Eggs for Every Fandom

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Whatever your fandom, there’s an Easter egg for it.

Each spring, we try to make one Easter egg that stands out from the others using simple decoupage methods with little more than paper or string.This often includes a look at whatever geeky passion is prominent in the pop culture world, and choosing five of our favorites from this and past years. With exception of the Spider-Man egg, each of these eggs took less than an hour to complete, and kids of all ages can make or help make them.

To use a real egg, gently poke a small hole at both ends, poke a toothpick into one end and mix up the yoke a bit, then hold the egg over a sink and slowly blow into one hole. The contents should easily ooze out the other end, leaving a lightweight, hollow shell. If working with younger kids, a plastic egg will work fine for most of these ideas.

The first three eggs use a basic decoupage method. Paint the egg with a layer of decoupage glue (like Mod Podge) or use one part water and one part school glue. Then, paste the images on the egg. Paint another layer over the top to seal the image. It will dry clear.

The Classic Geek. The simplest by far, this egg is a scrapbook-style collage of all things geeky. Find small images from old comic books or magazines and layer them over the egg scrapbook-style. This lets you celebrate as many fandoms as you want on one egg. This also works well as a Christmas or holiday ornament.

BBC Sherlock’s Wall. The floral, black and white, and much-abused Sherlock wallpaper is a quickly recognizable pattern among BBC fans, and free downloadable wallpaper patterns can be found on several fan and design sites. Print this pattern out on lightweight paper and cut it to fit around the egg. Keep in mind that the pattern will overlap itself a little on both ends of the egg, but it won’t be too noticeable. Once dry, use a toothpick and yellow craft paint to draw on Sherlock’s “happy face,” then gently bore five “bullet holes” near the face using a small screwdriver or drill bit.

Game of Thrones “Paper Bag” Egg. This is a craft I did when I first started writing for my old blog, as well as for a site that was at the time called IHOGeek. I’m proud to say that thanks to a tweet or two from famous Game of Thrones fans like actors Aziz Ansari and (so I’ve been told) Nathan Fillion, this egg idea went viral…and there really is nothing to it!

Cut some round or tear-shaped “dragon scales,” about a half-inch wide, from a brown paper bag. Overlap them in scale pattern until covered. Run the side of a black crayon over the scales to antique them before adding the final layer of decoupage.

string art eggs

Fourth Doctor’s scaf and Spider-Man web string art eggs.

No, I don’t let my kids don’t watch Game of Thrones (obviously), but they do love dragons. This egg could just as easily hatch a Norbert, Toothless, Saphira, or Smaug.

perfectionist, check out these Fourth Doctor scarf patterns designs.Not into Doctor Who? This same idea can be put in place to make some Hogwarts house scarves.

Spider-Man’s Web.  This egg is a little more time-consuming. It also includes three more materials in addition to the floss: a balloon, about 20 seed beads, and a spider (either the small plastic novelty-like ones that accumulate around Halloween or a little craft store jewelry charm). You can also cut a small Spider-Man symbol out of paper (about a half-inch wide), if you can’t find these other items. The end result should look like a little spider’s web with a “radioactive spider” dangling in the middle.

First, pour a little decoupage mix into a small dish. Cut three or four two-foot strands of light blue, beige, or white yarn, and string a few red or blue seed beads randomly on each. Dip each strand in the mix, careful not to get them tangled, and drag your thumb and forefinger down the strand to wipe off the excess mix.

Spider-Man's egg

An up-close look at Spidey’s egg

Blow up the balloon a small ways, so it is fairly egg-shaped. Lay each strand over the balloon in a web-like pattern. Use as many strands as you want, but leave a gap big enough to fit your spider through on one end. Let the egg dry overnight until the strings are stiff, and pop the balloon to leave the outer string art shell.

Finally, hang the spider image or charm on an additional piece of floss and place it through a gap big enough in the shell to accommodate the spider. Position the egg upright and position the spider so it is dangling in the center of the egg. Tie it off on one end. This egg looks best hanging, so leave a little floss at the end to hang it.

Note: I have done this craft with a real egg shell. It looks good, but it takes a little extra effort to crumble the shell and clean it out of the string egg. If working with kids, balloons are the easiest option.

Hang onto each of these eggs and keep an ever-growing basket display of geeky and creative happiness. Who knows where the bunny trail will lead you this year?

5 geeky eggs