Perhaps you've spent some time on the site seeking Halloween costumes or unusual drinks recipes. If so, you've likely seen the excellent work of Allison Button, better known around Instructables as ModMischief. I had the chance to ask her a few questions about dismembered mannequins and how a layperson can use Instructables to build some professional-looking projects. Here's what she had to say...
How did you discover the site and what inspired you to start posting projects?
I don’t know how I first wound up on the site, but it was probably while searching for costume inspiration. I lurked for a long time before I finally felt like I had a project worth sharing (my watermelon keg). All the positive attention my little watermelon got definitely inspired me to come up with more instructables.
Your costume projects have gotten a lot of attention. What kind of training have you received that allows you to make such stellar projects?
Training? I have a degree in political science, I’m not exactly qualified to be making elaborate costumes.
My only training would be lots of trial and error supplemented with plenty of internet research. Sites like Instructables are largely responsible for helping me figure out how to make whatever it is I want to make. I wouldn’t have made the headless bride had I not been inspired by a Marie Antoinette costume and then seen instructions for making dummies out of duct tape. Similarly, Ludo wouldn’t have turned out as well as he did if I didn’t have missmonster’s werewolf as an example to follow.
Of all the projects that you have posted, which is your favorite?
My favourite project is usually the one I’m working on at the moment. I think the costumes I’m making for Halloween 2011 are going to be the best I’ve ever made!
But if I have to pick my favourite instructable, it would be the Ludo costume.
Do you have any ugly duckling projects that you know aren’t great but you love and cherish them anyway?
I’ve had a lot of flubs but they usually don’t make it onto Instructables. I’m especially bad at incorporating electronics into my projects. So many talented makers on Instructables make it look so easy but I always seem to blow out LEDs and burn fuses.
My dollar store steampunk flux capacitor still doesn’t flux but figuring out how to get it to light up taught me a lot about soldering and resistors, so I love it despite its flaws. But for now I’ll leave writing instructions on making time machines to the people who can actually make them work.
What do you do with your flubbed projects? Are there head- and torso-less dummies littering your home? Do you wait for further inspiration or just take them apart to build something else?
There are random body parts all over our apartment! It’s true; we’ve got a spare leg, an extra hand, a few heads and a torso, among other things, cluttering up our home. You never know when dummy parts might come in handy!
Since we don’t have much space, many misguided projects wind up being recycled, but I have a tendency to hold on to things in the hopes that I’ll find time to finish or redo the project. At any given time there’s always several things “on the go” at home, many of which haven’t been touched in months.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new author on Instructables, what would it be?
Reread your instructables. Go back and fix mistakes when you spot them and make things clearer when people point out gaps in the instructions.
Is there anyone who has been particularly influential towards your work on projects for the site or in your life in general?
It’s probably pretty obvious from the photos in my instructables that I don’t do this alone!
While I might be the driving force behind most of the insanity, my incredible partner is often the one who winds up getting wrapped in tape, covered in plaster and stuck in a fur suit. An architectural technologist and trained blacksmith, he’s also the one who usually gets me to think of the practical considerations before I start doing something like building an allosaurus in our apartment. I didn’t call him the light of my life for nothing!
I’m also aided and abetted by my fantastic friends. The lovely navel-bearing mermaid and genie, that’s not me! I’m very lucky to have friends who let me help them with their costumes and who don’t leave me to finish off all the jello shots on my own.
Is there anything that would make working on your projects even better?
I wish we had access to a maker space in Ottawa! I know there are plenty of talented people in this city and if we had somewhere to pool our resources and skills the results could be epic.
Can you give us a sneak-peek into any projects we might be seeing later this year?
I recently experimented with using liquid latex for the first time
, I’ve got several 80’s cartoon inspired outfits planned and there’s a dinosaur
in my bedroom desperately in need of some legs. With any luck, I should have instructables on everything from cosplay to camping coming up!