My son just turned 4. I cannot believe how time has flown. Seriously I feel like 2017 just began. The summer flew by and now we are halfway through fall. Lets be honest though, if you live in southern New York, it has not felt like fall yet. There have been a few crisp days, but we have had plenty of days in the 70’s and 80’s. This is not typical NY weather.
Anyhow, back in January my son decided on the theme of his 4th birthday. If you are wondering – yes he has already picked what he wants for his 5th birthday. Of course he picked Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, because every 3 year old has dreams of hallowgasts and sings ‘run rabbit run rabbit run run run’ as we cross the street. Sure, go to Party City and try to find plates for this movie. Try to explain to his friends mothers that your party won’t be all that scary and it will be kid friendly. He loved this movie so much he would literally stop people in the street and tell them that the hallow’s eat peoples eyes and then go on to explain the rest of the movie to them. He would stick his hands behind his little head and wiggle his pudgy fingers and the person would invariably look at me like ‘what are you doing to this child? why is he telling me this scary story?’
So he tasked me with this incredibly hard theme, so what do I do? Procrastinate until September to start making or collecting any of the materials. First up I decided I needed some potion bottles. I know there were no potion bottles specifically in the movie, but I needed to recreate the theme of the house. Enoch can reanimate the dead by using heart tissue. He makes creatures up in the attic to amuse himself and Olive. I imagine he has plenty of bottles of peculiar things up in that room, so I let my imagination go wild. Not to mention that these will be wonderful Halloween decorations. I rounded up a bunch of medicine bottles and spice bottles and created a lot of potion bottles. I wasn’t sure what I would use them for but I wanted to make sure I would have enough to spread around. The most difficult part of making them was getting the labels off. Somewhere suggested soaking them in hot soapy water – that just made a huge mess. I had a basin filled with soapy water and label sludge on the bottom that I had a hard time draining. I didn’t want the labels going down the drain and I didn’t want to pour a gallon of water into the garbage. So in the end I settled on using a combination of rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover and elbow grease. It was definitely my least favorite part of the whole project.
Once the labels were off I scratched the bottles up with sandpaper to make sure the paint stuck to them. Next get out your glue gun out and write a word on you bottle in sharpie. Then trace the letters with your glue gun. I found that there would be little bits of glue that trailed from letter to letter. That is fine, when the glue is hard, use your finger nail and just pinch it off. Then I gave all my bottles a black base coat. Now comes the fun part, picking your colors for each bottle. I found that three colors worked really well. I am assuming not everyone has amassed a huge amount of craft supplies over the years, if you have wonderful, if not, this project might be a little pricey for you. I did not have everything I wanted and I spent a little more than I probably should have. I picked paints that were all in a similar tonal range, they were all relatively dark. I did buy a few browns because my brown ran dry. I also realized that I did not have anything for the tops of the bottles. So I purchased a bunch of wooden doll heads, balls, spools and long coat hooks – this was in addition to the Spanish moss and flowers I had at home. I used sponge brushes and foam pouncers to apply the paints. You will need at least one sponge brush for each color and then several additional ones for mixing colors. I only used two colors for the words so I only needed two pouncers. Once the body of the bottle dried I applied gold paint to the words. I started off using ivory, but I didn’t feel that that gave the bottles enough oomph. Some bottles however looked good with ivory, it depended on the final color of the bottle. Once everything was dried then I applied the tops. I had several things to choose from. Spanish moss, twine and black leather strap were used to cover the bottom part of the cap, and the doll heads, balls, spools, hooks, flowers, rings and various other things were used on the top. I used hot glue to glue everything together.
Next I worked on bug plaques. I know that this one is really a stretch, but the home that these children live it is a lovely sprawling mansion. Lets not be fooled here, these children were very comfortable even though they had to live in a time loop for eternity. It is not too much of a leap to say that there were probably mounted insects somewhere in that house. These were quite simple to make, and relatively inexpensive. I got the bugs at the dollar store and the wooden plaques were a dollar at Micheal’s. I painted the plaques brown and then put a gold band on the ones that had some beveling on them. I had also bought caterpillars and glued them on to a canvas.
Every movie has to have a scary monster right? Well in this movie they are the Hallowgasts and they eat the eyeballs of Peculiars. Of course the eyeballs with the most restorative power are that of young children. There is literally a scene where the hallows are sitting around eating eyeballs off a silver platter. I am lucky enough to have a silver candy dish from one of my grandmothers, so I bought eyeball bouncy balls, arranged them in a tower on the candy dish and put it on the food table. I also made a bouquet of flowers with eyes. I glued eyeball ping pong balls in a few of the flowers and painted the vase black.
I rent a park for his party that has a pavilion, playground, field, bathrooms, picnic tables and grills. His party is in the middle of October and you never know if its going to be good weather or not. This park checks all my boxes, cover for bad weather, bathrooms, grills and a playground. It is a little pricey to rent, but then I can invite everyone I want, the kids have something built in to do and there are bathrooms.
The movie takes place in two different times, 2016 and 1940. When Abe finds the house in 2016, it is in ruins because a bomb was dropped on it by the Nazi’s. The inside of the pavilion I decorated as the house after the bomb hit. So that mean lots of spider webs, some globe lights that I had gotten for last years party and some spooky lanterns. It can get rather dark in there, so I try to add a little bit of light. The lanterns were awesome. They were made out of pasta sauce jars, twine, spider webs and battery operated tea lights. The lanterns were not as hard to make as they look. Cut two lengths of twin the length of your arms span. If you are going to make multiple lanterns do this for as many as you will be making, this is so they all hang evenly. Look at the top of the pasta jar like it is a clock face. Ultimately you want twine coming up to make the hanger at 12, 3, 6, and 9. What I did for the first piece of twin was start at 9 o’clock and glue the twine down until 12. Then take the other side of that twine, start it at 3 o’clock and glue it down until 6. Take the second piece of twine, start gluing at 6 o’clock and stop at 9. Then take the other end and start gluing at 12 and stop at 3. It sounds very confusing but it really isn’t. These are glass jars and I wanted to make sure that there was plenty of glue on the twine so that there would be no shattered glass at the park. Next, leave a tail at the top of the jar, stretch and glue some twine diagonally across the jar. Take another piece of twine and stretch and glue diagonally going the opposite way. Loop the twine under the jar and crisscross up the other side of the jar. Glue all the tails down. Thankfully I put lots of glue around the mouths of the jars and not a single one fell.
I made a calendar of the loop day. September 3, 1940. I googled the proper calendar, printed it, cut it out, glued it to a canvas wrote 1940 at the top and crossed off the first and second. This was probably the easiest craft I did for this party. Another really easy thing I did was print out peculiar pictures. Some were of actual characters from the movie and others were just bizarre pictures. They were used as table scatter.
Up next was the clock for the reset time. The loop reset happened at about 9:07 pm every night. I found a YouTube video of the reset scene and studied the clock in detail. I then googled free vintage clock faces and settled on one. I created a Clock Face image in Photoshop that very closely resembled the one in the movie. I had a large empty baking soda box that I used for clock body. I had just bought my son some shoes so I took the shoe box lid and cut it so that it was just a little bit bigger than the baking soda box. I taped the cut lid together and then taped it to the box. I then paper mached the whole thing. I used plain flour and water. I don’t measure, I just put a bunch of flour in a bowl and added water until the consistency is rather thin. I am lucky and I know a building porter and I have access to tons of news paper. Get the regular paper stuff, anything that is glossy or hard won’t absorb the paste as well. You have to rip the paper into strips about 1 1/2 wide. Dip the paper in to the paste and rub off the excess with your fingers. Lay the paper on your shape and smooth out all the wrinkles as best as possible. Don’t pull too hard or else you will rip your paper. After two layers I needed to make the surround to the clock face. I took paper towels, rolled them up and cut them to size. I then glued them down and paper mached those as well. Let the whole thing dry over night and then give it a nice coat of black paint. I glued the face onto the clock once it had two coats of black paint on it. For a trick, put you paper mache item in front of a fan and it dries faster.
Last year I had made Spencer a train piñata for his Polar Express party (yes my child likes to challenge me artistically), so this year he asked me for a peregrine. Yes I said PEREGRINE, as in the bird. Really?! Well I managed to make it happen after a lot of thinking on how to do it. I settled on blowing up a balloon and then taking a thicker glossy card stock and taping a tail shape on it. I got a large stack of glossy political advertisements that were perfect for making the tail base. Originally I put a triangle tail at the end of the body, which was wrong so I fixed it by putting strips to form one long body. I then put one coat of paper mache on. I cut two wings out a cheerios box, taped them on and then applied two more coats of paper mache. The wings got all wiggly looking during the paper mache process, but it kind of made the bird. I gave the whole bird a coat of white paint. Then I started painting the tail a dark brown. I used two shades of lighter brown and alternated them in the speckled pattern of the feathers. I had found a picture on google that I tried to emulate as much as possible. Peregrines, are not quite as blue as my son had hoped for, so I made his a lot more blue than is naturally occurring. If you are making something to stand the test of time, you should run some sand paper over it so that the whole thing is smooth. I knew kids were going to be whacking this thing in a few days, so I didn’t bother. In the end it came out really good if I do say so myself.
I had toyed around with the idea of dressing up as Miss Peregrine. Between running for local office, running a crochet business and crafting for the party, there just didn’t seem to be enough time to figure that out. Well the day of, I decided I had to. In the morning of I had to dress up to go to an event to shake hands with residents, and I realized that the outfit could pass as one of Miss Peregrine’s outfits. So after the event, I sat down googled Miss Peregrine Hair and I found this tutorial. My hair is super straight and generally refuses to do anything curly. My hair didn’t revolt entirely, it didn’t have the little flip quite right on the piece that stuck out, but that was ok. I had already done my makeup for the earlier event, so I just added on some black eye shadow eyeliner in a cat eye style.
Even the uninvited guests were part of the theme oddly enough. One of the peculiar boys, Hugh; has bees living in his belly. There were yellow jackets everywhere, and they were persistent. I had several in my hair at all times and one even landed on my glasses. One party goer even got stung.
Since the loop was in the fall, I decided that if Ms. Peregrine was to host a party in the fall, she would have some yummy fall treats. I decided to do chocolate dipped apple slices with dulce de leche drizzle and dulce de leche dipped apple slices with chocolate drizzle. The chocolate base worked out much better. I got Ghirardelli chocolate waffers and I made the dulce de leche by boiling a can of Carnation sweetened condensed milk for a few hours. You have to check it every so often to make sure the can is completely submerged, and you cannot open the can until it has cooled, otherwise the dulce de leche will explode. They were absolutely delicious and the adults were all raving about them. The other thing I did was heat up some apple cider in my big stock pot. I love warm apple cider, it is so rich and velvety going down. Its honestly one of my favorite things about fall, that and pumpkin pie.
All in all he loved it, the other kids had a blast and the cake was good. The party was definitely a success.
Hopefully you will make some of these crafts. If you found my explanations helpful or confusing please let me know in the comments below. I would love to see your creations too, so please post pictures!