Latex and Spike Crown Tutorial

7 Feb

This is one I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but the shoot I’m going to use this for has been rescheduled several times and it seemed like a better idea to wait. I got impatient last week and decided to just go ahead and make it anyway – and, of course, to make a tutorial to show you how to make your own!

What you’ll need:

  • latex (0.8 mm to 1.2mm – I chose 1.2mm as I used fairly large and heavy spikes)
  • rubber cement
  • rubber cement thinner
  • spikes (size depends on the look you are going for)
  • fabric hole punch
  • gel pen (silver or gold work well – see extra tips below for more info)
  • ruler
  • measuring tape
  • rotary cutter

Time from start to finish: About 30 minutes.

Step 1:

So the first thing you need to do is cut your latex to the size you need. Take a measurement of your head around where you’d like the crown to sit, and then decide how wide you’d like it to be. My strip of rubber ended up being 20 inches long and an inch wide. (*If you’ve never worked with latex before, there are several places you can buy it from online and I will eventually write a post with the basics of working with latex. Until then, ask whatever you need to know in the comments!)

Step 2:

When your latex is cut to the proper size and length, mark out where you want your spikes to go. I spaced mine 1 inch apart. Use a gel pen to mark where your holes need to go. BEFORE you punch your holes, place your spikes on the marks to see if you like the arrangement – that way you can change it if it doesn’t look right.

Arranging Spikes

Checking the arrangement before punching holes.

Step 3:

Punch your holes! The punch I used was just a cheap one from the fabric section of my local Wal-Mart.

Notice the faint silver dot on the latex? That's where my holes are going.

Notice the faint silver dot on the latex? That’s where my holes are going.

Step 4:

Insert your spikes and screw them tight together – you don’t want them falling off while you’re wearing it. This may require a flat head screwdriver, but mine were all tightened by hand.

Adding my spikes! :)

Adding my spikes! 🙂

Step 5:

Now that your spikes are all in, all that’s left is gluing the two ends together. (I glued the ends first and then added spikes, but I found it would have been easier to do it the other way around.) When you do this, remember to only put glue on the front of one end and the back of the other. If you need a guide, hold the two ends together before you add glue and mark each with your gel pen to you know where to glue. To apply the rubber cement to your latex, make sure to clean it first with the rubber cement cleaner, and then use a small paintbrush or Q-Tip.

DO NOT put the two ends together yet. Wait for at least 5 minutes to let the glue ‘set’, then push the glued ends together and press firmly. If you want to make it even more secure, you can even put a spike through the glued seam after it has fully set between 12 and 24 hours later.

Latex and Spike Crown

And now you’re done! Well, you will be when your glue sets.

Extra tips:

  •  Only use rubber cement to glue the latex together. Other glues will not hold, but rubber cement is meant for this and will create a permanent hold.
  • Most suppliers only sell latex by the yard or meter. Thick latex like the stuff I used for my crown is pretty pricy (at about $35-40 per yard), but you can buy thinner latex in pre-cut strips from Sheet Latex International. The thinner latex won’t hold the heavy spikes, but you can laminate two or more layers together to create your desired weight or thickness. This will save you a lot of money if you don’t need a full yard of the heavy stuff.
  • If you decide to use a different colour (instead of the basic black I used), try to choose a dark one. Latex stains really easily, and white, pink, and other pale shades and colours will discolour from contact with the metal. These stains are permanent.
  • Gel pens – They won’t stain the latex, they wash off with a quick wipe of rubber cement thinner, and they’re cheap. Normal ball-point pens will not wash off, and neither will a lot of other writing utensils. Just go with gel pens to save yourself the trouble. (My suggestion of silver or gold is just my personal preference, but I’ve used other colours and they work just as well.)
  • Try to use spikes with 2 pieces – the spike and the screw base. They are generally higher quality and will not tear the latex.

Art Dump February 2013

3 Feb

Alright, so I’ve been thinking about this for a little while, and I have finally decided to just do it. Every month or so, I am going to be uploading a post with the art I’ve done throughout the month. I’ve been pretty busy with some massive art projects (well… massive for me, and way more time-consuming than normal), and seeing as I haven’t written a real post in a month, I figured this would be a good way to jump back in before the tutorials come back in full swing. So, without further ado, these are some of the drawings and paintings I’ve done over the last couple of months.

Julian Done!




These are just a few of the pieces I’ve done (and two of them have already been added to other posts here), but almost all of them took a minimum of 10 hours, some as many as 16 or 17 hours to finish, depending on the size (some are 14×22 inches and one is 22×28 inches). So I haven’t really been slacking much in the creativity department, I just haven’t been able to create many tutorials recently. Speaking of tutorials, expect a new one involving latex and spikes this week! 😉

If you’re interested in following my art on Facebook, you can find my new page here. I post most of my stuff on there, including works in progress. Also, if you have a deviantART account, I just recently set up a page there, too, where I will be posting my favourites from what I draw and paint. You can find it here.

I’m Back!

30 Jan

Okay, so after being sick for nearly two weeks, I got suckered into covering a bunch of shifts for someone at work and haven’t had time to get much else done. But now that I’m not confined to my couch with hot liquids or working non-stop, I’ll be back to posting regularly! I’m still deciding which post I’m going to write first, but I’ve narrowed it down to a short story, something baked/cooked, or a prop I’ll be using for an upcoming photo shoot. Expect at least one of those between now and next Wednesday, maybe two depending on how I’m feeling.

Until that new post is finished, feel free to tell me which one you’d prefer to see first or if there is something else you’d like a tutorial on. I’m no expert, but I’m willing to try pretty much anything if it’s crafty and won’t cost a fortune. 😉

And, since I have your attention anyway, here is the twin for the drawing I shared last month (“James”). This is Julian, who is also from the book series I’m working on. I shared his character sketch (portrait) in my 5 Things I Learned While Writing My First Novel post.


So, what do you want to read about next? Let me know! 🙂

Sick Day

4 Jan

Hey everyone, I’m just writing a quick post to let you all know that the tutorial for this week will be late. I’ve been really under the weather all week, so no crafting has been happening at all. (I’ve been editing my novel very, very slowly instead of crafting because all it requires is my laptop.)

I’m super excited about the next tutorials I’ll be doing, though, and some of the other things I’ll be sharing, so there may be 2 posts next week to make up for it. Until then, I’m going to go keep drinking chai and water and chicken soup until my head stops threatening to explode.

Not the best way to start the new year, but maybe I’ll get lucky and not get sick again until really late in the year. I hope everyone else out there is enjoying 2013 so far, and if you’re feeling sick as well, I feel your pain (and get well soon!).

Happy Holidays!

31 Dec
© Kimberley Crawford

© Kimberley Crawford

So the holiday season is finally winding down here, and it’s been a fun year! I hope everyone else is enjoying their holidays, as well, be it Christmas or otherwise. I realize I haven’t been updating much, but it’s just been a really busy couple of weeks for me with all the family dinners and visits with friends I haven’t seen in ages.

I will be back to posting once or twice a week very soon, though! Until then, enjoy what’s left of 2012, and I’ll see you back here in 2013 with lots of fun new stuff, including tutorials, art, and maybe even some short stories.

Happy New Year!

“James” Process – Drawing Steps

21 Dec

Alright, so I’m a couple of days late with my post for this week, but I promise you it was worth the wait. This project took me over 8 hours to complete, and is the best drawing I have ever done in my life (which is funny when I consider how many times I’ve spent more than 20 hours on a painting/drawing and it didn’t look nearly as good…).

Today I decided to not only show you the finished drawing, but to show you the process that I used to do it, from start to finish. This isn’t so much a tutorial as a “making of” post since I’m really inexperienced using pencil crayons for realism. There are other artists out there who can explain how to do this way better than I can.

The first thing I did was draw an outline. I don’t have a photo for this, though, seeing as you can see the outline in some of the photos already. It’s basically just to get the idea and basic shapes down on paper before diving in head first. After that, no matter what style I’m drawing or painting, I do the skin tone. I’ve always done it this way.

Step 1

This tends to take a while…

Step 1.5

Next I do hair. It didn’t take as long in this drawing as the skin did, but only because there’s not much there.

Step 2

When the skin and hair were both done, the only thing left to do was his wing. I did each individual feather separately, so it took a while to finish.

Step 3So after a couple of hours colouring and detailing feathers, I finally finished it. I’m actually really happy that it only took 8 hours. I expected to be working on this for most of the weekend, so it went a lot faster than expected.

And here is the finished product:


In case you’re wondering, it’s my character Jamie from my book (Guardians). It was all done using Prismacolor pencils on a 14×22 inch sheet of posterboard. There will be another one of these featuring my character Julian, although it may not be done for a little while.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my creative process! I’ll get back to some tutorials very soon – I’m working on a couple right now.

5 Things I Learned While Writing My First Novel

14 Dec

So today I’ve decided to talk about writing instead of doing a tutorial (don’t worry, there will be plenty of tutorials in the future). I’m not, by any means, a professional writer, and my novel hasn’t been published yet as it’s still in the editing process. On that note, it’s totally up to you whether you want to take any of what I have to say into account. This is just my experience, and chances are I’ll post about my novels fairly regularly, anyway.

Timelines are Key

Okay, so the first thing I learned while writing my debut novel was that you have to keep a timeline of events for the story. I primarily write fiction, so the dates or time period were obviously up to me, but when I started writing scenes I didn’t really have a clear idea of how long the story would be. I had some ideas in my head and just began writing from the beginning without a plan for how it would all end. This is not a good idea unless you’re writing a really short story. My novel was never supposed to become a published book, so I wrote it the way I used to write all of my stories – I’d write the parts that were in my head and needed to be on the paper, and I’d move on to something else.

I found that after writing 100 pages, I was lost in the story, and when it came time to talk about the season (as it plays a big role in setting the scene for certain parts of the story), I couldn’t remember what time of year it was. That’s when I pulled out one of my trusty notebooks and read what I had written, start to finish, taking lots of notes. Trust me, this is not something you want to do. I highly recommend keeping even just a loose timeline of events on hand at all times while working on your own stories so you can keep track of when everything is happening.

What are you writing about?

And while we’re on the topic of planning: before you start writing, know what you’re going to write about. If you have several stories inside of you waiting to burst out, take a separate piece of paper for each and start brainstorming. Write down whatever comes to mind, and I’m sure you will decide which one to continue writing. When you do decide, take some time to work out your plot. This will help you to no end, and yet a lot of people begin writing without a clear sense of where they’re going. The most important things to know before writing: beginning and end. And middle, but the middle tends to change a lot as you’re writing and you think of better scenarios. It’s even better if you have some scenes in your head already. Because I never actually planned on finishing my novel, it began as a jumbled mess of random scenes on lined paper and in random notebooks.

Bonus tip: If you have a million things you’d like to write, maybe it’s best to split those things between stories instead of trying to write all of your awesome ideas in one epic novel. Keep it simple whenever possible so you don’t fry the reader’s brain with dozens of concepts all at once.

Who are they?

My third piece of advice for you is this: Know your characters. I cannot stress this enough! You don’t need a full biography of every single person who makes an appearance in your story, but you should have a good sense of who your main and supporting characters are. There’s nothing worse than writing a scene and not knowing what a certain person would be doing or how that person would react to a certain situation. I always sit down and write a full page (or more) about each of the characters who will be key to the story’s plot. I write full descriptions of how they look, where they are from, how old they are, what type of personality they have, etc. Usually I’ll even draw a full character sketch so I can look at the drawing and see who I’m writing about or for, but this is probably a little overkill for some people. I just like to see a physical representation of the people so I don’t have to constantly imagine them in my head (I know, I know, that’s what descriptions are for, but it’s easier to look at a picture than to re-read your notes).

Just to give you an example of how I work, below is a character sketch of someone who appears in that first book. It’s recent and was done to finally get a decent look at him in a form other than my usual anime.

Julian from Guardians

The main thing is that you know your character well enough to make the narrative convincing. The whole point of story-telling is to make the reader feel like they are a part of it, and if you don’t know who your protagonists are as people, neither will your audience, which will make it harder for them to become immersed in the drama.

Why are you writing about them, anyway?

Okay, this one ties in with the second tip, but I think it deserves more than a quick sentence. You have to know why you are writing your story. Are you just trying to get something published? Does it have some deeper meaning, or is it just a superficial spewing of words? This is something I didn’t have planned from the beginning. Not at all, actually. Again, this is because I never planned on publishing this book. The deeper meaning of my story came to me when I was half way through the first draft, and knowing what that meaning was, I could finally include some details to help make the narrative more interesting.

You don’t have to know the moral behind it before starting your story, but it’s a good idea to figure it out as soon as possible. It will help you from floundering about when you’re trying to add the finer details. (I deleted countless pages of nonsense when I finally realized why I was writing. Hours and hours of wasted work because I couldn’t decide what I was doing.)

Write the way that’s best for you

Okay, so this may not be everyone’s style. In fact, I don’t know anyone else who does this, but maybe that’s just me. I have always written my stories out of sequence. Sometimes I’ll start at the beginning when I know how I want the book to start, but generally I just start writing scenes. I could be in the middle of doing dishes, a shift at one of my jobs, making a dress for a customer, or whatever, and when the scene for a new story pops into my head, I pretty much drop everything and just write it down in short form to get it on paper. (This is mostly for my own sanity so I can get back to what I was distracted from in the first place.) When I get some time to sit and write it out properly, I could end up typing thousands of words in one sitting, and it’s almost never in order.

For my first full novel, I wrote scenes on random pieces of paper and in notebooks scattered all over my house, and this went on for about two years before I decided to put them all together in one story. Many of the scenes never made it into the book because they didn’t work, but for the most part, it worked out perfectly, and all I needed was some filler and to tie it all together into one grand scheme. Not to say that it didn’t need a lot of editing, but this was the easiest way for me to write the story. And so far, it’s working really well for the second installment for the series as well.

It may not work for you, and that’s fine. The moral of this story being that you have to do what’s best for you. If you would rather start at the beginning and end at the end, then do that. If you want to know the details of your ending before starting the rest of the story, then do that. Writing everything out of sequence in small chunks just works best for me.

Alright, so these are just a few things I learned in the process of writing Guardians, but there was plenty more. Maybe I’ll write another post about the rest of what I learned in the future, but I think for now, 1500 words is long enough. I’d love to hear how you do things and if any of the above tips helped at all, so leave a comment if you feel obliged to do so and let me know!

*PS, if you’re curious, I’m planning on releasing my first novel (Guardians) in summer 2013. Don’t expect anything perfect, I’m far from a professional writer, but I’ll do my best to impress.

Lazy Days

7 Dec

Today I decided to share some of the other projects I’ve been working on over the last year or so. These don’t have tutorials because they were done before this blog was conceived, but it should give you a little insight into the types of things you can expect in the future.

The painting below was done a while ago, but it’s one of my favourites. I realize I’m not amazing at painting, and I actually don’t really like working with acrylics, anyway, but I’m rather pleased with this one.

TemptationAnother thing I do, and I do this semi-professionally, is design and make clothing. I specialize in latex, and I’ve even been lucky enough to show my new collection during Boston Fashion Week at the Emerging Trends show back in September. Random clothing and accessories are one thing I tend to do quite often, and I will be more than happy to post some tutorials about making latex clothing.kimberley_crawford9Okay, just one more thing to share. This is something else that I do semi-professionally in my city. I absolutely love taking photos. It’s my escape from the real world. I spend countless hours planning and setting up a lot of my creative shoots, and aside from posting the results, I’ll also post some tutorials about how to make some of the things that I make for each shoot. This photo is from a shoot I did with local model Tara Lee back in October.
IMG_9426awmsmallThis is just a taste of what is to come as this blog progresses. It’s quite a mix of mediums and styles, I know, but that’s just how my mind works.

If you want to see more of my photography you can check out Fake Believe Photography’s Facebook page.

For more information about my fashion, check out the Kimberley Crawford fan page.

To see more artwork (and a random mix of photos, crafts and clothing I’ve made over the last few years), check out my deviantART account.

DON’T feel pressured to go check out these sites if you don’t want to. The links are just there for if you are interested in seeing more.

Painted Feather Christmas Decorations

5 Dec

Painted feather

So for Christmas this year I decided to make some ornaments for my tree. Not your typical decorations, though. I wanted to use feathers. I have a slight obsession with feathers (as you may come to see as this blog continues), and I wanted something that’s both unique and pretty to adorn my tree.

That’s where these came in. They were super simple to make, and can (obviously) be done with any design on them and in any colour to match your already existing holiday decor. My colour scheme is black, blue, white, and silver, so I stuck to these colours for all of mine.

What you’ll need:

  • feathers (colour depends only on your preference)
  • acrylic paint (again, colours depend on you)
  • small paintbrush
  • rhinestones
  • glue (I used Aleene’s Jewel-It Embellishing Glue from Wal-Mart’s craft section)
  • thread/string
  • scissors


Time from start to finish: A single feather took me about 30 minutes, including time for everything to dry between steps. (It will go a lot faster for multiples if you set up a sort of assembly line and do all painting, etc at the same time.)

Step 1:

The first thing I did was paint on the snowflakes. I used a pretty small brush to do this, and free-handed them. Of course, you can always use a template or reference if you want fancier snowflakes or have trouble drawing them from memory. It’s best to use a colour that stands out from the feather, but still complements the colour. Let your paint dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 2:

After the paint dried, I put small dabs of glue where I wanted the rhinestones to go. I used 3mm gems in clear (white) and light blue. I carefully placed the rhinestones on the glue using my fingers (although it may be better to use tweezers or some other precision tool as it’s not as messy), and let them set in place before moving on.

Step 3:

Last step! Now all you have to do is tie a string (or ribbon, or even wrap a small wire) around the end of the feather with a loop so that it is ready to hang wherever you please. Now you’re done!

So this project was really easy, and I hope it helped inspire you to do some cute and unique feather decorations for your own home. I have a firm rule against putting up my tree until two weeks before Christmas, so when I do put it up, I’ll add some more photos of the other feathers and how they look in action.

DIY Felt and Button Crown

28 Nov

Alright, so first official blog post! This one will be fairly short as I didn’t take any photos of the process. (I’ll make up for it, I promise!) This was something I did last week to use as a prop for a family portrait photo shoot I did for some clients. It was super easy to do, although it did take some time and patience. And, if I do say so myself, I think it turned out pretty cute!

What you’ll need:

  • felt fabric (cut into strips between 3 and 5 inches wide – depending on how tall you want your crown)
  • buttons (any will do)
  • needle
  • thread (to match your felt)
  • scissors
  • fabric square (or a book corner or anything else with a nice square corner)
  • marker, pen, writing utensil in general

Time from start to finish: About 3 hours, but I spent most of that time beading the lower edge.

Step 1:

Cut your felt into strips of your desired width. Make sure it’s also long enough to wrap around your head. For mine, I had to sew two lengths together to make it long enough.

Step 2:

Layer up your felt. You can glue it together, or use double sided tape, even, to keep the pieces in place. You will want two pieces of felt sandwiched together for more structure – one layer is a bit too flimsy to keep its shape.

Step 3:

Trace triangles along the top of the strips with your marker using your square (or book) as a guide. Try to make the triangles match up from one side to the other. This will make it easier when you sew the ends together. When you’re done tracing, cut along the lines.

Step 4:

The next thing you will need to do (if you haven’t glued the felt layers together) is sew along the bottom of the strips to keep the inside and outside layers from coming apart. You can also sew along the top edges as well, although I chose not to. I hand sewed mine, but if you have a sewing machine, it will go a lot faster.

Step 5:

Start decorating! I used buttons and glass beads to decorate mine, but you can use pretty much anything – rhinestones, feathers, ribbon, cut-out felt shapes, sparkle glue, seashells, etc. The possibilities really are endless.

If you’ve used this tutorial to create your very own felt crown, I’d love to see photos! Feel free to send me the results of your adventure.