Something Fun for the Angel on Your Left Shoulder and the Devil on Your Right

Now that the holiday season has departed, taking all of our money with it, I thought it would be nice if we all got together in front of our fireplaces or around our kitchen tables and did something creative, fun and free. Actually now that I think about it, the fireplace may not be the best place to convene because this week's chosen activity is papercraft. It would certainly put a damper on things if your lovely creation burst into flames just as you were finishing up. So the kitchen table it shall be.

When I was a girl growing up and I got sick my mom would buy me these fantastic books filled with elaborate paper projects to keep me occupied. I built a western town complete with both cowboys and Indians, a castle with knights and damsels in distress, the complete cast of Peter Rabbit and a puppet stage to be their home. I was extremely pleased when I discovered the site of the toy maker, Marilyn Scott-Waters. Ms. Scot-Waters has a host of beautiful, whimsical paper toys to download and put together. While they are designed for parent and child to make together I don't think she'll mind if those of us who are singletons make them for ourselves.

She has such a variety of free toys, gifts and cards it's quite hard to figure out where to start. Thankfully we can fall back on the old expression, "you can never go wrong by starting with otters." Charles and Brook Otter's Seahorse Carousel Adventure tells the extremely charming story of how the otters help Patrin, the Royal Toymaker's nephew, deliver a carousel to a town. Patrin gets to use his uncle's flying fish car for the first part of the journey. The fish car is unbelievably cool, all blues and wood and sharp looking. There is a toy for every part of story and they're all wonderful. Before you leave the site be sure to look at her firelight stories and her wonders and trinkets page. It's got nice cheery gifts to give to people to show them how much you care. I confess it is shockingly sentimental but it's also very sweet.

For those of you who are thinking this is just a little too much sweetness and light I suggest you try this toyshop. It's got items like this amazing DIY Necronomicon (the fictional book from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.) The description says, "Wrapped in blackened human skin (or black leather or hideously overdone bisquits or something) and filled with pages made of human skin (or ancient parchment or tea-stained handkerchiefs or something) inked in human blood (or strawberry jam.)"

If you're not into the whole tentacle monster/destruction of the earth by the Great Ones thing then you might like the steam splatterbot, complete with claws, axe, hidden giant teeth and a secret evil little creature that controls it. Or how about a 13-piece hearse playset? It has all you need to hold your own funerals. Of course you get a hearse and a coffin, that's expected, but you also get a mortician just raring to carry out his grisly duty. You get a coffin dolly so the mortician doesn't strain his wicked little back moving the coffin. You get a nice diorama of a suitably spooky graveyard. You also get six headstones and, best of all, you've got a choice of what to put in the coffin; Nosferatu, skeleton or zombie. Fair gives you the shivers doesn't it?

Ray O'Bannon, creator of these wickedly wonderful toys, also has video games, music, paintings and other wonderful things available on his site. You could easily spend your entire weekend just exploring everything he's got to offer.

I know some of you thrive on challenges and scoff at directions. Luckily for you I have just the thing. It's a horse race set from a Japanese site called PaperHorsePark. The mini horses are cute enough to make me want to run around and yell meaningless things like "OMG!!!! T3hy R S0 cut3!" In the interests of preserving some modicum of dignity I won't do that. So what do you get? Ponies! Loads of ponies, jockeys complete with vibrant silks and what looks like a helmet, and a starting gate. They are all appalling cute and the directions are in Japanese.

Have fun papercrafting and remember, scissors are sharp and exacto knives are even sharper. Above all don't sit down on any sharp implements.