Awhile back—okay, awhiiiiillllllle back—the lovely Brittany from Va-Voom Vintage kindly sent me a copy of her DIY ebook, Pins for Pin-Ups: DIY Brooches for Retro Girls. I’m a retro girl, I love brooches, I love DIY projects, what’s not to love about it?!
I knew the ebook would be great, because last winter I’d purchased Brittany’s Christmas project ebook, Kitschmas Crafting with Va-Voom Vintage, and I had a ton of fun with it (I love small crafts around the holidays!). It comes as an instant download PDF which you can view on your computer or smaller device of choice, and then print off any of the templates as you need.
I really like that Brittany is creative about the supplies she uses in her novelty brooch projects, and they’re all meant to be budget-friendly. You don’t have to go and spend and arm and a leg at the craft store gathering supplies (I mean, you can if you want to, I’m not judging… I think I spent $20 on ribbons last time… 😛 ). Lots of the supplies can be found around the house, especially if you have any inclination towards miscellaneous art or craft projects, or purchased inexpensively. She’s also chatty and casual in her instructions, filling in with little stories about her family and life, making it feel like you’re sitting in her living room with her while she shows you how to make something. To me, that makes it more unique and fun to read through, even if it’s a project you’re not working on at the time!
For my first project from Pins for Pin-Ups, I was soooo tempted by her reproduction of the classic Bakelite cherries and log brooch (one of my vintage brooch unicorns that I desperately want!), but I really wanted to try one of the little jointed shrinky dink people. She includes templates for a bell hop, a sailor, a soldier, and a cowboy, but I am incapable of leaving well enough alone, and I was doing this in October… so I think you see where this is going.
I used the bell hop template, and with a little tinkering with lines, I transformed him into the Headless Horseman! Kind of. Here in the U.S. the Headless Horseman is best known from Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, although the general idea of such a character appears in European folklore going back much earlier. I’m not sure when the pumpkin came into the picture, but I’m thinking it might be from the 1949 Disney short of the same name, when the Horseman throws a flaming pumpkin ‘head’ at Ichabod (I don’t believe that’s in the original story but I haven’t read it since I was in grade school!). You can watch a clip of the Disney cartoon on YouTube (watch for the flaming pumpkin at the tail end). As you can imagine, throwing a flaming pumpkin was a bit much to ask for a small brooch. So I planted it on his neck. 😉
Anyway, basically I re-drew the bell hop’s outfit a bit and swapped his head for a pumpkin, keeping the scale the same as the original, so I knew it would shrink down okay. The main difference is that the Headless Horseman is typically pictured wearing either a cape or a jacket with long tails, so I couldn’t make his waist jointed, like the original template. Instead, I decided to go for lower down his legs. My intention was that it was jointed at his knees but it looks more like his boots since I decided to keep that part all black, not that it matters. Then I gave his jacket cuffs and tails, and turned the center part into a vest. And so a bell hop became the Headless Horseman!
Brittany used pre-roughened shrink film in her instructions and believe me, it’s the better choice! I first tried clear from a brand called Grafix and it was a nightmare. The pieces curled and then wouldn’t lay flat no matter what, and even if I’d sorted that out, the fact that you could only use permanent markers meant that the finished pieces were still translucent, which just looked weird. So I got a pack of pre-roughened frosty Shrinky Dink brand film ($5 on Amazon), and had much better results. I traced all the lines with permanent marker still, but then filled in with colored pencils. Which was a lot more fun anyway, and plus I could do a bit of shading, like in the pumpkin’s head.
And the finished brooch is seriously so cute! I mean, as cute as kind of a pretty scary fictional character can be, right? 😉 Which in this case, is stinkin’ adorable, if I do say so myself.
I added him to one of my Pendleton jackets, with Halloween-colored Bakelite bangles, too.
I am in love with my little Headless Horseman! He’s going to get worn a ton this Halloween season for sure.
If you’d like to learn how to make his friends, or any of the other 11 brooch projects in Brittany’s ebook, pop on over to her site and get yourself a copy of Pins for Pin-Ups: DIY Brooches for Retro Girls. You’ll have a lot of fun with it!
Thanks Brittany, for continuing to encourage fun and retro kitschy crafts! xo