Category Archives: Failure

R.I.P. Phlegmy

Remember that experiment in growing my own leather? If not, go read that first. Go on. I’ll wait.

Welcome back! Now that you’re up to speed, it is with great regret that I must inform you that our dearest Phlegmy is no more. He met with a regrettable… accident. On the docks. In the middle of the night. While tied up.

(On an unrelated note, I suggest you avoid making promises to the Craft Mafia that you have no intention of keeping. Promises such as–to pick an example totally at random–you will provide useful materials to an artist in exchange for her allowing you to live in her basement. The C.M. hates it when you break a contract. They might do something drastic.)

The first “skin” Phlegmy grew seemed a little thick and discolored, but I had faith in Popular Science magazine. I dutifully washed it and put it on a plank of wood to dry. After several days, the skin still wasn’t completely dry, and it was an ugly piss yellow color with little brown flecks on the surface. Since it also still smelled of vinegar, I figured I hadn’t cleaned it well enough. I scrubbed it again and once more put it out to dry. This is the result:

phlegm 1

Not only is it really fucking ugly, that slab of yuck is too stiff to bend. There’s no way I can turn it into anything worth keeping. Surely I had messed it up by washing it a second time. Popular Science wouldn’t lie to me! I refreshed Phlegmy’s bath according to the instructions and waited.

This time I was extra careful to do everything right. The article said the skin was supposed to be translucent when finished (which the first one definitely was not), so I harvested it sooner to keep it from being too thick. I got Tim to scrub it within an inch of its life. I made sure the wood it would be drying on was absolutely clean. I whispered sweet nothings in its nonexistent ear. I forbade the cats to shed anywhere near it.

At first, the second skin seemed successful. It didn’t smell, it dried quickly, and it was semi-transparent. I began planning what to make out of it. I refreshed Phlegmy again and considered creating Phlegmy II. I could have my own leather farm in the basement! I could sell it as raw material to other artists! I’d be rich and famous!!

Three weeks later I had this:

phlegm 2

The piece of shit had blackened like an old banana. I dedicated months of my life to pampering Phlegmy and his offspring, and I had nothing to show for it. Phlegmy, when confronted, didn’t say a word. He just sat there smirking, the smug bastard.

Some guys in fedoras showed up the next day. They said they were friends of Phlegmy’s and were there to take him on a long fishing trip. I didn’t find out about his… accident… until I saw the article in the paper weeks later.

Any questions about my story can be directed to my lawyer.

Two Shedding Boxes

One of my favorite craft projects is decorating gift boxes.  It’s got all the fun of making mixed media paintings, but with useful objects instead of wall canvases.  There are three of my better boxes up for sale right now on my Etsy Shop.  Not every project is a success, though.  I’m here to tell you about the also-rans:

Stump Box

My inspiration for this “Stump Box” was a non-mossy version I made for my parents using a wood grain stencil.  I thought, “How cool would it be if it had actual moss on it?”  So I went out and bought a package of moss bits and proceeded to glue them to the lid.

Now, I grew up in a forest, so I already knew that moss has a strong, earthy odor.  But I figured that store-bought moss would be de-smellified somehow.  It’s not.  Guess how many people want to give a gift in a smelly box?  If you answered “none,” give yourself a cookie.  Also, it drops pieces of moss all over the place.

boa box

Meet the “Boa Box.”  It’s pink, it’s pretty, it features black faux crocodile skin, and it sheds.  Like, a lot.  I made it months ago, and I’m still finding fluffy pink bits all over the place. If you look closely at the stump box, you can see a couple of feathers on the lid.

If you’re curious, I made the boa box with (surprise!) a feather boa and a lot of gel medium.  I glued it as a spiral going around the box, bottom to top.  The lid is decorative paper carefully folded over the edges.  I actually kind of like the way this gift box looks, but I can’t inflict a plague of pink feathers on anybody.  What if they glitter bomb me in revenge?