A DIY Paper Mache Jack O'Lantern Costume Build Review

“Jack Pumpkinhead” Halloween Costume Build

Jack Pumpkinhead debuted in L. Frank Baum’s second Oz book, “The Marvelous Land of Oz” (1904), wherein he plays side-kick to Tip, the story’s plucky young protagonist, who assembled Jack from a few sticks, a pumpkin, rummaged clothes, and a pinch of magic powder. While Jack didn’t make MGM’s casting cut, he did garner a costarring roll in Walter Murch’s 1985 Disney mishmash, “Return to Oz”.

None of that has a bearing on my costume, however, but I figured we needed to air Jack’s backstory before mostly ignoring it since, let’s face it, everyone seeing Jack Pumpkinhead rightfully assumes him to be a scarecrow. He isn’t, but let’s not get too indignant if folks assume him to be.

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Bringing The Cozy, Cabin Feel Home For The Holidays

A DIY Paper Mache Fireplace

Once you get beyond the “why?” this is a great project, though not a fast one — one you’ll knock out over a single weekend (turns out making 60+ hollow paper maché rocks requires quite a bit of time. Who knew?)

OK, “why” isn’t an unreasonable question. Simple answer: our apartment doesn’t have a fireplace, but we always enjoying staying at cabins that do, so, yeah, we’d need to make our own. Plus, Christmas stockings are where it’s at. (why paper? Because… cheap, easy(?), and landlady would evict us if we built one of real river rock)

I’ll dispense with offering much advice, and besides, this isn’t a tutorial. This is more “what I did weekends for two months last fall” (besides, everyone paper maches differently, plus I tend to obsess — thus the photos showing numbered rocks — so you’re probably better served winging it on your own than following my lead).

I will list a few, well, not tips, but “these works for me” suggestions.

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Remember Your Safe Words: "Klaatu Barada Nikto!"

Gort (Day The Earth Stood Still) Valentine’s Day Card

Gort Valentines Day Card (klaatu barada nikto) The Day The Earth Stood Still

Robert Wise’s 1951 “The Day The Earth Stood Still” is a truly genre defining film, which, along with “The Thing From Another World” (Howard Hawks, 1951) and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (Don Siegel, 1956), established our gold standard for what smart, eerie scifi films could deliver by including healthy doses of paranoia, pleas to “act human”, and memorable villains (albeit the three films come at these problems of “visitors from outer space” from decidedly different tacks: galactic police versus deadly conquerors).

If you’ve not watched these films do so now†. With only a few hand-waving allowances required for their being 60+ years old they hold up exceptionally well, delivering creepy, noir-esque worlds, engrossing writing, effects that bear up (TDTESS’s saucer landing on Washington’s mall — yes!), and (mostly) exceptional acting — plus Bernard Hermann’s TDTESS score is instantly recognizable as how 50’s scifi should sound.

But only one, “Day The Earth Stood Still”, has a badass killer robot.


Gort’s silent menace drivesTDTESS’s story. In fact, it’s the fear of Gort’s powers — and prevention of his executing same — that provides us cinema’s first believable robot character (OK, special allowance for Maria).

So then, here is my Valentine’s Day card tribute to our pal Gort and his not-so-easy-to-remember safe words: “Klaatu Barada Nikto”!

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Make Your Own Cocked (Tricorn) Hat


This “cocked hat” (aka “three cornered”, tricorn, tricorne, or colonial hat) is a fun project that you can make right now, requiring about a half hour of your time and a few supplies readily at your fingertips (scissors, glue, and paper). However, if you’d prefer a more durable chapeau — say, for Halloween, a school play, or clearly more memorable beach photos — then with a five-dollar bill and but a single trip to a hobby or fabric store you’ll have your perfect, custom lid.

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Summertime Is Outdoor Uking Time... With A Ukesicle?

A Chocolate Ukulele Ice Cream Treat… with Nuts!

Chocolate Ukulele Ice Cream Treat with Nuts

Don’t know ’bout you, but I’ve never cottoned to the phrase “ice cream novelties”. Perhaps I’m a purist, but ice cream trucks circling my childhood neighborhood only carried varieties my grandparents’ generation would have recognized, truly nothing novel: your classic ice cream sandwich, bomb pops (two varieties — your patriotic, if not appropriately syrupy, red, white, and blue one and the banana, commie one), the “-sicle” family — popsicles, fudgesicles, and creamsicles (to my knowledge no one has ever eaten one of these, but it’s a surprisingly pleasant soda flavor), and those ice creams with nut encrusted brittle chocolate shells. No push-up pops, no choco-tacos, no Dora nor Ninja Turtles.

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A Ukulele Playin’ Valentine’s Heart


Whiled away the hours driving back to LA from Sonoma alternating between plunking the ukulele and doodling on the iPad. This odd fellar’s the result.

Here’s wishing all y’all — single, coupled, or “not sure”/”in transition” — a very happy Valentine’s Day, and remember, “no one with a musical heart is ever alone” (and “no one traveling with a ukulele player ever does so in silence”)

Note: The 5 (our lengthy freeway connecting San Diego to Seattle, always referred to as “the five”) experience, between San Jose and LA, is a stunningly uneventful stretch of freeway (though it falls far, far short of challenging the ultimate stretch of dull US freeway, that being I-70 between KC and Denver). Once you’ve made your obligatory pilgrimage to the windmill topped Pea Soup Andersen’s Restaurant (Santa Nella), ain’t much to do.

Of Ukes and Stubby Armed Dinosaurs

Scriptasaurus Mascot: Slightly Cuter, Mucher Nerdier



Funny how many “I knows it when I sees its” there are out there and for me, apparently, the tyrannosaurus rex would need to be included on this list. After quite a few aborted attempts here’s my updated UkeGeeks (jolly, socially-awkward ukulele playing dinosaur) mascot, affectionately known as “Scriptasaurus”, which replaces the original, a placemat doodle that never got much love.

Never fails to amaze me, the circuitous route I always follow to well known destinations (see rejects & live-sketching video below — all roads had Godzilla and Florida ‘Gators mascot shaped potholes, and I squarely hit each one). Sigh.

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More Spooky Halloween 'n Ukulele Sketches

Halloween Doodles: Ghostly Ukuleleist, Vampire ‘n Uke Bat!

vampire and ukulele-bat illustration

‘Tis the season! Idled away a pleasant afternoon sipping Jones coffee(s!!!!) and iPad-doodling Halloween songbook covers. First up is just this simple Jack-o’-lantern ghostie fan strumming her ukulele (sidebar: shortly after moving to the States a friend’s son excitedly carved his first pumpkin, only to tearfully learn that we don’t actually wear them like this).

Next we have a quite friendly vampire summoning his bat-ukulele pal (yeah, revisiting last year’s vampire bat uke illustration). Big thanks, of course, to Ludlow for suggesting the moon and wing tips (even the name’s fitting — but of course a vampire would wear ’em).

Halloween Jack-o-lantern pumpkin ukulele playing ghost illustration

Anticipating a really great Halloween Eve uke night (so far our song list includes “People Are Strange”, the Addams Family Theme, and The Time Warp) — we’re gonna pickup a Golden Road growler of “Point the Way” IPA to fill one of these DIY pumpkin beer kegs. Awesome!

PS. Yeah, these are sized for iPad3’s

Let's hear it for the Romanian synchronized divers... Yaaaaaaay!

Muppet-esque Monster Posing with His Ukulele (Sketch)

Muppet with Ukulele (sketch)

Doodling whilst watching the Olympics. Apparently had The Muppet Movie lodged somewhere in my noggin — perhaps it’s Ludlow’s  bounce-running like a Muppet, throwing his head back and yelling “yaaaaaaaaay” in a Kermit-y voice every time anyone does well (yes, your life would be much richer if you could see it, and yes, it’s prime Tumblr animated gif fodder, but, no, I’m resisting such a posting for the moment). Sketched with Brushes for iPad.

Some Yosemite inspired ukulele swag!

Ukulele Rangers “Singin’ Bear” iPhone & iPad Wallpapers… plus T-Shirts & Mugs

Ukulele Rangers Singing Bear mascot iPad wallpaper (retina display)

“Ukulele Rangers” was our nickname for the folks we encountered in Yosemite who’d brought their ukuleles (or guitars or even one fella with an udu) along on their hikes. I’d done this quick sketch at the time, but in the two months since our trip I’ve kept returning to this idea — a bit obsessively, actually — of these chance meetings and impromptu jam sessions among companionable folks, making music while enjoying the outdoors.

So here’s my invitation (or friendly challenge) for all y’all to join the Ukulele Rangers. It’s quite easy — just grab your ukulele along with that trail mix, bug repllant, and s’mores supplies as you head out the door to your next picnic, backyard croquet match, or camping trip.

You already did? Congratulations! You’re in!

Having passed the initiation rite you’re now eligible to download these “official” Ukulele Rangers mascot and logo wallpapers for your iPhone or iPad or, if you want something more tangible, check out the goodies (t-shirts & mugs ‘n such) I’ve slapped together on Zazzle and a couple tees on Spreadshirt, too.

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