Crafting the Detective: My History of ‘Sherlock’ Projects

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There’s something about BBC’s Sherlock that brings out the crafty side in me. All images: Lisa Kay Tate

Well, the fourth (and possibly final) series of BBC’s Sherlock ended this week, and I’m already experiencing Holmes and Watson withdrawal.

I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes stories, from late night radio dramas to the public television reruns of Basil Rathbone dramas and Guy Ritchie’s steampunk like Sherlock Holmes movies. I enjoy all the “alternate universe” sci-fi and horror short story compilations, along with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original tales.

I’m such a junkie, I’ve gotten my own children hooked. My teen’s 13th birthday was a “SuperWhoLock” theme (the combined fandom of Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Sherlock, for those few still wondering), and my seven-year-old is cutting her teeth on chapter books with Eve Titus’s adorable Great Mouse Detective series.

I even admit to what might be an unpopular opinion of actually really liking Johnny Lee Miller’s and Lucy Liu’s Holmes and Watson interpretations in the CBS series Elementary.

It’s the “craftily written” BBC Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman leading the way, that has inspired the craftiness in me and many other fans for the past decade.

From the set to the storylines, people have just been drawn to want to re-create props, make crafts both simple and complicated, and dress to impress in ways celebrating their Sherlock fandom.

Looking back on my own experience, I thought I would share some ideas based on my own simple crafts (as well as some borrowed from other crafters) that help us get our little fix of life at 22B Baker Street.

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We’ve made good use of Sherlock’s iconic wallpaper (or similar patterns) in our home.

First, and most obvious, I’ve done more than my share of projects based on the iconic black-and-white “fleur-de-lys motif” wallpaper. This pattern is a favorite for fan art, crafts, and fashion. The site Spoonflower has some great designs based on it as well.

As for me, I’ve made do with scrapbook and wrapping paper bearing “similar patterns” to desktop wallpaper designs I printed out myself. On one occasion, I found a “kinda close” Wilton Sugar Sheet in a “damask” pattern that worked nicely for decorating a SuperWhoLock sheet cake.

Add a yellow graffiti “happy face,” punch in (or draw) some bullet holes, and we’re in business.

I’ve wrapped plenty of gifts with Sherlock inspired paper, made a brooch from simple origami heart for Valentine’s Day, and decoupaged Easter Eggs, Christmas ornaments, a flower vase for Mother’s Day (complete with dark blue felt “Sherlock scarf”), and a Halloween Pumpkin with a “secret message.”

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I hate to brag, but my little Sherlock pumpkin idea turned out “surprisingly okay.”

The pumpkin I was particularly proud of the pumpkin. I carved the world “BORED” in a craft pumpkin, covered it with thin wallpaper pattern, then punched in some bullet holes with a Phillips head screwdriver. I drew the happy face on with yellow paint, and I gave it a top layer of glow-in-the-dark paint. In the daytime, it shows off the wallpaper design, but at night, the “BORED” is revealed, along with a glowing happy face and bullet holes.

Paper crafts are always easy, particularly if you have a template. Two of my favorites are a Sherlock snowflake pattern I’ve found and the origami pattern for the “Black Lotus” flower from Series One’s “The Blind Banker” episode. I’ve features each of these in past DIYs.

You can also find printable valentine templates I made for GeekMom bearing both geeky love quotes and geeky insults from Sherlock and other sources.

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Somewhere, there’s a Sherlock printable craft for any occasion.

Finally, there’s that wonderful skull print, “Mr. Blue Skull” by an artist named John Pinkerton. This image can be ordered at various t-shirt and poster sites, but the actual, original piece of work featured in the show is a layered image. I made a small replica of this for my daughter’s room by printing out a copy of the skull image and adhering it to an 8″ x 10″ piece of light wood (I used the back of dollar store picture frame).

I attached a small piece of double-sided foam mounting adhesive (aka bonding tape) to each corner and placed a piece of 8″ x 10″ glass from the same frame over the image. Using black and white craft puff paint, I redrew the image on the top of the glass.

Once it dried, I glued four plain silver buttons on the four corners (over where the mountain adhesive was) to finish it off. I like the way it looked so much I’m hoping to make a larger one, closer to the actual prop piece, in the near future.

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Prints are available inspired by “Mr. Blue Skull.”  Add frame glass and craft paint to give him the layered look.

Whether or not the series will ever return is, in appropriate fashion, also a mystery. According writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat in a recent Radio Times story, never say “never.” The events at the end of the series finale, “The Final Problem,” might even be “The Beginning” for new adventures someday. However, as it stands, Moffat said if there are no future Sherlock stories; they are fine with the conclusion.

“If this was the last time–we’re not planning it, but it might be, it’s possible–we could end it there,” Moffat said.

I think (or hope, at least) I speak for all Sherlock lovers in that we would eagerly welcome any new Sherlock adventures in the future, but I’m also content in knowing they are still out there somewhere, doing what they were meant to do when the first episode aired in 2010— solving mysteries and making us all happy.

Even the closing commentary from the wonderful Mary Watson shows a wide-open future for her (and our) “Baker Street boys,” Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

“It’s all about the legend, the stories, the adventures,” she said. “(When) all else fails, there are two men sitting arguing in a scruffy flat like they’ve always been there, and they always will.”

Isn’t that comforting, and inspiring, to know?

Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.