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I can’t tell you why I created this craft project. I just woke up on Friday morning knowing that it had to happen. Nor can I explain why I’ve made a habit of investing stupid amounts of time and effort into what are essentially joke gifts. I cannot pin down the wacky impulse in my head that says “So-and-So is having a birthday? Obviously s/he needs a handmade gift that is neither useful nor desirable!”
What I can tell you is that, when I’m not knitting, I have a serious weakness for elaborate and useless crafts. There is no scrapbooking at my house. I will never sew an apron or weave a table runner. Instead, I might slave for 20 straight hours to create a Halloween costume that will only be worn once.
I can also tell you that I have very patient and good-humored friends, and that last night one of them was the recipient of an utterly ridiculous, totally useless birthday gift.
It’s a diorama.
Based on an episode of The X-Files called “Home.”
(Which is, along with being intensely creepy and unintentionally hilarious, one of the most fucked-up, pathologizing, mindlessly stereotypical representations you’ll see on TV of rural white people. I’m just saying.)
If you want the nuts-and-bolts details of how I made it, please read on. Otherwise, feel free to just pretend you never saw a thing, and I’ll post again soon with some pretty pictures of knitting.
I started with a black photo storage box. I measured and cut scrapbooking paper for the wallpaper and ceiling, and a brown grocery sack for the floor. I boiled 1 cup of water with two tea bags until it had reduced in volume to 1/2 cup, and used a foam brush to tea-stain the paper. I then added a few drops of yellow and brown paint to a bit of Mod Podge, and affixed the paper to the insides of the box with a foam brush. I think the tea and tinted glue create a yellowed and water-stained look quite faithful to the show’s rendition of a home untouched since the Civil War (or, as Mrs. Peacock would say [inexplicably, since she has lived in Pennsylvania her entire life], the “War of Northern Aggression”). ETA: According to Ashley, this turn of phrase is not, in fact, all that unusual or surprising in Pennsylvania. And my friend Liz points out that, regardless of where Mrs. Peacock is from, if she sees it as the War of Northern Aggression, “why would she name one of her sons SHERMAN?? That’s the true continuity error. Suck it, Kim Manners.”
I then tea-stained some white muslin, and cut it into rectangles for the mattress and pillow. I stuffed them with poly-fill and glued them shut. I glued 5 popsicle sticks together for the bed posts, painted them brown, and glued the mattress edges to the wood. I glued the bed to the wall. There is a lot of glue here.
I picked up two $1 armatured muslin dolls from the craft store, and made Scully’s unfortunate pantsuit out of blue felt. I feel it’s quite loyal to her frumpy style during Season 4 (please note, of course, that not even the dowdiest of pantsuits can disguise Gillian Anderson’s total hotness). Ashley inquired as to whether the slacks are tapered. And yes. Yes they are.
For Scully’s signature red newscaster helmet-head, I used curly red doll’s hair (I couldn’t find any straight that would work with my $15 total budget). I put a line of hot glue vertically along the head, stretched a length of the curls over it, and cut off the bottom. I did this a total of 6 times all over her head.
Mrs. Peacock’s dress is made of brown felt. Her scooter is made of popsicle sticks stained with tea and brown craft paint, and has carpenter’s plugs for wheels. Her hair is leftover sock yarn from Ramona Bananapants. She is lashed to the scooter with a short length of black suede cord.
The framed kitty photo on the wall is a sticker on a piece of paper, tea-stained, with a wooden frame glued around it. The “Home” plaque is from the scrapbooking supply aisle at Michael’s.
I considered decorating the outside of the box: painting the word “Home” on it, jazzing it up with an X-Files logo, or perhaps adding some kicky racing stripes. But I ultimately decided that simplicity was key here — when it’s closed, the unassuming black shoebox gives no hint of the horror that lies within.