Welcome to the Playhouse: Pee Wee Halloween Costume

Henry's Pee Wee Herman costumeHenry and I started watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse together a year or so ago. It has honestly been a dream come true for me that he loves the show as much as I did when I was a kid (and, heck, still do). When I was a kid, I never wanted the show to end. I distinctly remember feeling so bummed out when the credits started to roll; thirty minutes was no where near enough time to examine every intricately-designed and decorated corner of the space, or stare intently at the puppets, trying to figure out how they were made. Now that the show has been re-released, the picture quality is astonishing. There are so many new details to take in, now in their fully-realized, HD glory. It’s a feast for the eyes, and the show itself totally holds up as well.

When Henry decided on his Pee Wee costume a few months back, I wasn’t totally sure it would stick. Three year olds aren’t exactly known for keeping their word. I’d check in with him every few weeks just to make sure he was still on board, and since he wasn’t wavering, I decided back in September that it was time to get to work. Since Henry’s blond hair is clearly not very reminiscent of Pee Wee, my mind went to the crazy helmet that he wears at the end of each episode of the show. Just like last year, the costume hinged on some crazy headwear to make it complete.Pee Wee HelmetAfter a lot of research and a lot of searching (this thread was particularly helpful), I eventually collected most of the toys needed for the helmet– giant eyeball, squeaky bulldogs, dinosaurs, cowboys, clown heads. I decided against the flame stickers only because the helmet was already pretty full. Besides the helmet, the rest of the costume was thankfully pretty easy by comparison: The same gray “robot pants” Hen wore last Halloween, a vintage gray jacket on Ebay, white Tom’s knock-off shoes, red bowtie. Pee Wee Herman costume suppliesHenry had a bike helmet that he’d almost outgrown that we decided would be a good base for his headpiece. Though it was already red, I thought that trying to glue toys onto the slick surface probably wouldn’t work very well, so step one was covering the top in papier mache. Pee Wee Herman helmetFrom there, I painted a few coats of red paint and started gluing. Gorilla Glue is great for sticking weird things like this together, but because it takes a while to cure, I had to rig up an elaborate web of tape to keep everything in place. And since that stuff puffs up like crazy, there was a fair amount of chipping away at the extra glue afterwards, too.1_IMG_4117Next was another layer of papier mache to make the eyelid, and then a few coats of paint to touch everything up and hide any extra glue. The final step was then covering the whole dang thing in glitter– a bottle of clear sparkle paint left over from the mural I painted for my niece 15 years ago. Sometimes being a packrat pays off!Henry's Pee Wee Herman costumeThe final product is everything I could’ve hoped for. With the kiddo suited up and on his scooter, it was pretty much unmistakable who he’s supposed to be. (It helps that he’ll sing you the “Connect the Dots” song at the drop of a hat, too.) We tried out his costume over the weekend at a local kiddie Halloween parade and only lost one dinosaur over the course of the evening. I consider that a success!

New Headshot

I’ve been in need of a new headshot for a while now. The photo that I’d been using to represent me and my business was, well, sorely out of date. It was taken back in 2009 or so, and basically everything pictured, besides me, is gone now– the apartment, the dog, the laptop, even my old studio chair. Plus, I’m not even looking at the camera, which is sort of rule number 1 for an engaging headshot.abbey studio1I’ve been scheming for close to a year to hire a photographer to come take some shots, but I’m a world class procrastinator– not to mention I never want to clean up my studio– so, down to the wire on a deadline, I had to take matters into my own hands.

Last Saturday while the kiddo was napping, I asked my boyfriend to come take photos of me. He’s no photographer, but I figured I could get everything into place and have him focus and press the shutter. When I was finally set up and went to look for him, I heard the distinctive sound of snoring coming from the living room. They tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, and it’s clearly a habit we’ve had a hard time breaking three years in. So, I was on my own.

Not a photo of the actual nap in question, but still relevant.

Left to my own devices, I decided to see if I could rig up a photo on my own. Armed with my delayed shutter, a stack of empty Amazon boxes, and some nice afternoon light, I’m pretty happy with the results. Abbey HambrightWho needs a photographer when you can Photoshop the mess out of the background yourself ; )

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

There’s nothing like the wind in your hair and sun on your skin. Like, all your skin. Some fun and funky pieces celebrating body liberation–

Running Lady by Amy Victoria Marsh.

Ceramic figure by Laura Berger

Illustration by Cecile Dormeau

Kama Sutra paper dolls by Maria Dubrovskaya

 Naked holiday ornaments from Liv & Dom.

Boob pillowcase from Gravel & Gold.

Let’s Get Cosmic by Laura Berger


Waiting for the Bus in Style

As a new everyday bus commuter, I’ve come to appreciate the humble bus shelter more and more. Chicago bus stops, if they have a shelter, are all pretty much identical. There are a few in the Loop that get transformed for special events, but overall a bus stop in Bronzeville will look the same as one in Logan Square.

While functional, the structures are pretty forgettable, which makes me really appreciate the quirky Soviet bus shelters captured by photographer Christopher Herwig. In his book, “Soviet Bus Stops,” Herwig chronicles the many idiosyncratic an avant-garde structures he passed while biking through Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Latvia, and other former Soviet states. From intricate mosaic and tile work, to brutalist concrete shapes, we could learn a thing to two about making waiting for the bus this much fun.

Via Atlas Obscura.

Vacation Pics: Cape Cod

It’s vacation picture time, y’all! I try not to spam you too much with photos of my cute kid, but sometimes the situation calls for it : ) Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 8.15.15 PMHere we are hitting the road. The dog isn’t so sure, but the rest of us were stoked!Two day roadtrips call for gas station ice cream treats, even when they result in messes like this. Spent a day in Providence, my old stomping grounds. Got to stop in at Yacht Club Soda for some provisions to take back to Chicago.Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 8.06.04 PM While in Providence, I stopped in at Craftland, which has been carrying my work for almost nine years!Henry took full advantage of our trips to the beach in Chatham. We’re still finding sand in the car.Heading out to sea for some whale watching. It was windy!21720718401_8b359bda62_cThe whales were so close to the boat, it was incredible. One of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had.This pod of humpbacks was feeding by the boat the whole time we were out. This is a group of them making a bubble net to feed together.Check out this video for an idea of how close these humpbacks were to the boat. Amazing!Henry at our little rental cottage in Chatham. We stopped by Niagara Falls on the way home. Henry keeps telling people about the “waterfall” we saw where “it was raining.” Now that’s an understatement!

Not pictured: Fish and chips, the little pond next to our cottage, a visit to Plimoth Plantation, lots of DIY Network (we’re so spoiled when we have cable!), not a drop of rain the entire week, and a lot of time in the car. Overall a pretty successful trip!