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April, 2009


Who hasn't heard the scratching of a tree limb against the dark window and believed that some kind of fearsome fiend or monster was trying to get in? Who hasn't felt a shiver when a loud knocking at the door awakens us at midnight?

When this is not just our overactive imaginations, but is REALLY the case, there are some things we can do in such circumstances.

For instance, nailing some boards across the doorway is one.

But even if the boards don't stop him, ...

... perhaps this sign will!

Well, forget this place! Better try the next house on the block! Wonder if they have read that book, too?



Not too long ago, my youngest grandson Joel, now 14, called. "Nana, is it all right if I come over?" Well, of course I was delighted that he wanted to come for the weekend and said, "Sure!"

So I made sure there were clean sheets in the guestroom, lots of macaroni and cheese, Cokes, chips, cold cuts, puddings, and other goodies. Since all the kids are growing up so fast, I didn't expect anything other than his just wanting to relax, visit, eat and play video games on the computer.

Was I surprised when he started telling me about this great book he had just completed.

"It's called The Zombie Survival Guide and it's written just like it was the real thing, Nana. Totally straightforward, just what anyone would need to deal with zombies who live, or well, exist, among us. It gives guidelines on what to do, and what I really like is the timeline that shows how far back in history these zombies really go ....."

It turns out that he had purchased his own copy after hearing his friends discuss it. "You should read it, Nana," and I agreed that I shall. And then I was so pleased because he said, "I was thinking maybe I could make a zombie...."

Oh, what a thrill to have my grandson want to do a project again.

Our potential zombie was an action figure wrestler in tights and close-fitting black boots that I had picked up at either the dollar store or Big Lots at some point. Joel began by giving him a coat of grey paint to cover up the wrestler's costume and provide a base for his undead appearance.

He decided to leave the boots as they were.

We looked through my stash of various dolls and animal figures, and found both pants and a jacket that might fit our wrestler zombie.

I wasn't going to leave that costume on this bear anyway. Who knows what character in a story he may eventually become, so back he goes in the drawer in his underwear.

Here Joel is test-fitting, pulling the jacket sleeve on one arm. It's going to work but the sleeves are too long as is the jacket itself.

Here he has cut off the excess sleeve lengths and the hem at the bottom of the coat, and is snipping here and there to suggest holes and rips. The fabric was a faux suede, so didn't ravel easily but he managed to pull and tug enough to suggest wear and tear.

I looked through my clothing stash but none of the shirts I found were appropriate for one reason or another. I suggested maybe a t-shirt under the jacket would suffice.

This old t-shirt is in my work bin stash to cut from when I need a rag. it is excellent for applying and removing stains and for general cleanups. It is already stained and discolored, and that series of spots looks an awful lot like dried blood, or something equally gruesome, so it will make perfect t-shirt material for our zombie.

Joel cut out a small rectangle, folded it in half, and cut a slight curve for the neckline. He didn't worry about a back because he expected to put a jacket or a shirt over it.

Next he painted a coat of glue on the front of the figure and pressed the t-shirt rectangle into place, folding over the shoulders to glue on the back, snipping away the excess at the shoulders and the underarms.

With the shirt and jacket figured out, he examined the trousers and decided that weird fringe had to go. I suggested that he try the pants to see if they would fit over the figure's rather large wrestler thighs before he did anything further. Fortunately, they were large enough that they could be cut down on both sides.

"Good idea, Nana," and he turned them inside out and cut away just past the seam line, taking care of both the excess width and that weird fringe (which I saved for who knows what). He also cut off the gathered hem lines at the bottom. Then he ran a line of glue around the waistline and along the outside of each of the doll's legs, pressing the fronts and backs in place, then overlapping the leg seams at the sides from front to back.

Once his zombie was dressed, he used various paints and eyeshadows and chalks to grunge up the jacket and pants. He took pains to apply these around the rips and tears to suggest fading.

Next he began working to further emphasize the zombie's features. He used a lighter whitish wash over the gray, then added dark circles around the eyes and spots of blood, ...

... along with blood on the fingers and gore here and there on the hands.

The last things added to the zombie were his hair and his hat.

The stringy hair was made by using wefts that I made from the same strange yarn that I used previously on Grandmother Matamosca. It was glued sparsely across the zombie's head.

The derby hat was also in my clothing stash. Joel used his craft knife to hack at the hatbrim, and chalks and eye shadows to grunge it up.

When my grandson first mentioned this project, he said he wanted to do a roombox. It took him longer than expected to complete his figure, so since he was here for only a weekend, instead of a full roombox he decided that just the door and the zombie would do.

I have had this blue door in my stash for a long time; not sure what I took it off originally but it was perfect for his little vignette. He used a matching blue paint to cover the raw edges around the outside. He also used some coffee stirrers to make the planks that the fearful occupants behind this blue door have nailed up for protection.

Also in my stash was a base that once held an old bowling trophy of my husband's. (Boy, does this project show the extent of my stash!)

It turned out to be just the right size to hold both the figure and the door. They stood nicely upright on their own but Joel used a combination of Tacky and super glue to glue both the door and the figure to the base.

The last thing Joel added to the setting was the sign. He told me what he wanted and I typed it up and printed it out on the computer while he was holding the figures in place while the glue dried.

How about that?

Who would ever guess these now-so-grungy clothes once neatly dressed a funky little bear?

Another great project from Joel!

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