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hello there.

Well, whaddya wanna know?  Here's the plain and simple truth:  My name is Rebekah Tennis and I love design.  I love paper, the way it feels, its weight and texture.  I love extra special touches on little things: homemade tags on gift-wrap, old stamps on an envelope, and twine on nearly everything.

My husband, business partner and all-around solid rock Matt would probably tell you that he likes tools - lots of 'em, finding the perfect way to do something, taking things apart, and precision in everything. 

So you might as well have guessed by now... we are the perfect match for an old letterpress studio. Together we farm rice and have three adorable and active boys ages 5 and under.  This keeps us fairly busy, but whenever we have a spare moment, we crank up our 102 year old Chandler and Price platen press and pull some prints, or whip out a card line on the Heidelberg. 

There's more, oh yes, there IS more - but that's what this blog is for.  Take a look around, get to know us, our great town of Chico, California and our beautiful presses.

a bit of halloween {eye} candy.

Hey there! Hope your Halloween was safe, and fun. We had a blast over here at Chez Tennis!

As an adult I basically saw no reason to celebrate anything Halloween related – we never dressed up, and our home in Sacramento was tucked so far back that trick-or-treaters were few and far between. But now, with small kids – you can see the joy and magic of both pretend and dress-up and candy. In innocence, it’s truly a delight to witness – can there be anything more fun on Halloween than showing a four-year-old his much anticipated costume for the very first time?

So, I may have stolen my own thunder already – last night I posted this picture on Twitter and on my Facebook account. It was too cute not to share right then and there.

It was my first DIY costume.  I found this inspiration on Pinterest (Do you use Pinterest? It’s so fantastic for gathering ideas. You can find my account here.) and I pulled it together on one Saturday afternoon. I am so tickled that it worked out!

Without further ado…

…I give you one Toy Army Guy.

Remember the little green plastic army men your brother used to play with? Or if not, remember the Toy Story series making them famous again?

Well, Cameron really wanted to be an army guy (I think he was imagining he might get a gun out of the bargain). Easy. Camo shirt and pants, right? But I decided to take it a step further and make him into the army guy he was imagining – the green plastic one.

He loved it! (Big sigh of relief.)

Lance was a bit too young to care about dressing up – he got to be a lion (which you’ve seen before here) and he seemed pleased enough to run around in costume. If he’s well-fed and rested, he’s generally such a happy-go-lucky guy.

And very difficult to hold still:

These are the only acceptable shots I got of the brothers together:


Aside from that it was total lovable chaos.

I have to tell you, Cameron loved the costume, but didn’t care for the face and hand masks very much (some old nylon stockings painted green). So, most of the time, we let him go down our street trick-or-treating like this:

And pulling his best “fierce army guy” faces:

Don’t mess with that tough dude!!

Okay so, I’m participating in the Pinterest Challenge with this costume (see something, pin it, and then actually DO IT in one week)… which is inspiring because it gives rise to so much creativity!

Here’s a little quick blow-by-blow on how I put the costume together:

After the Saturday Farmer’s Market, I threw the boys in the car and drove out to four thrift stores, three costume stores, a toy store and OSH. Good thing Chico is so small, in Sacramento that would have taken me all day driving. I arrived home in time for the boy’s nap, and assembled what I had found:

At the Thrift Stores:

Pair of cargo pants, size 3T (girl’s pants, sh!) $2

Pair of shoes, originally Old Navy. Stained. $3.50

At the Toy Store:

One Army costume on sale (the regular camo kind) $12

The costume included helmet, grey plastic accessories, a camo shirt and a green vest.


Four cans of spray paint, Meadow Green $8

Two cans of primer $3

Things I had at home:


A pair of snagged nylon stockings

So I preceded to spray prime and then spray paint (sorry, iPhone pics only here):


It basically takes tons of paint.

I wore the right color shirt for the job though…


I think it was two coats of primer, three coats of green paint. And no, I didn’t follow the recommend wait times for drying. I just did it all during nap. And then I let it all dry completely.

In order to paint the nylons, I placed them over some old cans to stretch out so I could spray, and then I pulled them off before they dried onto the metal.

The cardboard cutout was easy and was based on the shoes I was working with.

That’s it! Not the cheapest costume in the world ($28.50 total), but sometimes just having fun with it can make it worth it!

So long, army dude.

Did you make anything creative this weekend? I’d love to see!

November 2, 2011 - 9:19 am Dear Evie - That is actually amazing!!! Well done!

November 2, 2011 - 12:40 pm Natalie - This is very creative and cute! Love it!

November 2, 2011 - 2:00 pm Ashley - This is amazing! My sons would love this :)

November 2, 2011 - 2:03 pm Lacey - Love it!! Your little army man costume is perfect.

November 2, 2011 - 2:47 pm Heather / It's So Suburban - That is awesome.

November 2, 2011 - 4:37 pm Nikki Kelly - I absolutely love this, and I don't even have kids! Would be great as a group too.

November 2, 2011 - 6:15 pm julie @ duet letterpress - that is CRAZY AWESOME! wow!

November 3, 2011 - 7:18 am Catharine @ Your Modern Couple - This is seriously amazing! What a cute idea! :)

November 3, 2011 - 9:36 am Kesha DeHughes Lazenby - That is the BEST costume i have seen in a while....what kind of camera is it that you have again???

November 3, 2011 - 9:54 am rebekah - Thank you all! Kesha, I have a Nikon D50 (since 2004) and three lenses.

November 3, 2011 - 3:29 pm Melissa - Best-boy-costume-ever...hands down! WOW!! I have to make note of this and remember to do this one day. :)

December 7, 2011 - 1:07 pm Melissa - My GOODNESS. I just found your blog, and I absolutely adore it. This is the most wonderful/creative costume I have ever seen. I don't have kids, but I know what my boyfriend is being next year...

July 16, 2012 - 5:36 pm MIchele - Was it very stiff? It would never work on my little man if it is really stiff, but it looks super cute!

July 20, 2012 - 3:21 pm rebekah - Hi Michelle! It was pretty stiff! ;-)

August 4, 2012 - 3:12 am Jessica - What are the snagged nylon stockings used for?

August 4, 2012 - 4:56 pm rebekah - Hi Jessica! They were to cover his face and hands. He only wore those part of the time.

August 18, 2012 - 6:41 am Misty - This is so stinking cute! Last year I made my son a Lego... this would soo be the perfect next costume! I love the added platform on the shoes, but I assume this was just for looks when he was standing still? It'd be cool if there was a way to make him actually "walk" on it... Any suggestions?

August 19, 2012 - 5:12 pm rebekah - Thanks, Misty! The Platform was a piece of cardboard, loose, and we basically carried it and dropped it on the ground in front of every door before we rang the bell. Then he would just step on it and strike a pose!

August 29, 2012 - 12:38 am beth - i wonder if this would work just as well with a childs rain suit? i dont' think it would be as stiff once it's done

August 29, 2012 - 12:15 pm Christi - Misty, I bet you could just make a smaller version of the cutout, cut it down the middle, and attach a shoe to each side. That way, your kiddo could still walk on it (separate sides), and just put their feet together to show a cohesive bottom at each door. That way they can still walk on it but not have to do the side waggle that I imagine would happen if it were just one big piece! Super cute idea! I love interesting halloween costumes, even as an adult. It is my favorite to go into our office and see all the kiddos. I love to dress up and make them giggle. Such a fun time!

September 4, 2012 - 1:49 pm Serena - I love this! What toy store did you find the helmet, shirt and accessories at? The ones I've checked didn't have anything like that. I think my son is going to have this as his costume this year if I can find all the parts. Thank you for sharing it with us!

September 4, 2012 - 3:38 pm rebekah - I found them in the sale section at Toy's R Us. Hope this helps! Rebekah.

September 22, 2012 - 11:42 am Jenni - Love this! He looks like a real army guy! Very impressive.

October 1, 2012 - 8:38 pm Danielle Summers - Hi There! This costume looks amazing! Ive been wanting to spray paint some clothing for a costume and I was unsure how to get the texture i was looking for and it looks like you hit the nail on the head! I was just wondering what kind of paint it was that you used for the primer and for the colour? Did you use a glossy primer paint? Was is a household paint like Rust-Oleum? If so did you use a Rust-Oleum primer as well? Also for the Nylon did you just let it air dry? Did any of this flake or chip? Thank You for your wonderful idea!! Danielle

October 3, 2012 - 5:21 pm Rachel Faucett - Hi there! I loved your costume I posted on my site! Over 800 pins so far! The gentleman in the picture looks like Anthony Edwards. I grew up playing tennis with him. So I'm guest pinning for Martha Stewart this month. I'll get you up ASAP on Martha's board. This was awesome! Great work!!

October 3, 2012 - 6:01 pm Gene Gene the Dancing Machine - So what's the point of the cardboard? Doesn't look like it's attached to the shoes or that it allows for mobility. Just for pics?

October 3, 2012 - 6:05 pm rebekah - The cardboard is so that he looks authentic! We just dropped it down in front of each door and he posed like an army guy and stood on it. Everybody marveled at how it was attached or how he walked with it, but really he didn't have to do either and it was an awesome effect! Hope this helps.

October 4, 2012 - 10:34 am rebekah - Hi Danielle - standard gloss spray paint and spray primer (from our local OSH). The color I used was "meadow green". It did flake and chip - after 6 months of hard play (cam used the costume for dress up all year). Over all, a big success hit for him!

October 5, 2012 - 4:35 am Mike - This is so awesome. I was going to ask if the paint cracked, but I see someone beat me to it.

October 10, 2012 - 7:28 pm brandie - this is amazing! i love the nylons for his skin so you don't have to paint him! also makes for a real plastic effect!! I'm wondering if perhaps you could have cut the cardboard in half then attached it to his shoes? do you think he could have walked? perhaps an older boy could? just a thought, mines six and we already have a costume for this year but I'm thinking this for next year!! pinning it! (also your baby as the most beautiful eyes wow!)

October 16, 2012 - 12:45 am Park Se Young - Oh! Very a cute babys!!

October 17, 2012 - 7:52 am Cambie - I am making this for my 8 yr old this week, he is so excited and cant wait til I get to work on painting it all. I hope it turns out as great as yours is, thanks for posting such great pics! I loved that I found a child in this costume, all the other pins were of grown men, this makes the painting ratio so much easier for me :}

October 17, 2012 - 9:48 am Cindy deRosier - That is completely awesome.

October 17, 2012 - 1:30 pm homestilo - Just brilliant!

October 18, 2012 - 12:21 pm TJ - Hi, I had decided a while back to make this costume for my 3 boys this year. SO after Googling idea's I have found your post & it seems the best by far! My question... they will be wearing these to a costume party where there will be bounce houses, inflatable slides, etc ... do you think the paint will rub off on these ? I would hate to be reponsible for turning a rental bounce house green! :(

October 18, 2012 - 1:27 pm rebekah - I'd say be sure to let the paint cure 3 days or so! We didn't have any rubbing issues, or any chipping until much much later and months of play.

October 23, 2012 - 11:09 am Paula - Hello. I'm in the process of making this! So far my pants do not look like yours! Also with the nylon on the face, did the smell of the spray paint bother him?

October 25, 2012 - 8:42 am April @ illistyle - awesome. just awesome. Best. Mom. Ever.

October 25, 2012 - 10:05 pm Mikkie - Cracked sent me here. This is truly amazing - the only child's clothing article I've ever bought was an angel outfit for my 5-month old niece, but that costed me more than the total price tag for your soldier outfit.

October 26, 2012 - 5:20 am Heather - Wow!!!! Although I can understand a kid not liking the nylons bit, in full costume he almost doesn't look real!! He actually looks MORE like a plastic green army guy built life-size than his a kid dressed up as one!! Excellent job!!! For around $30 that may not have been your cheapest option but it easily tops many normal, store-bought costumes!

October 26, 2012 - 2:10 pm Ed - Really nice job on the soldier costume, he looks so plastic! Shame he didn't like the face and hand coverings; if I saw that standing stock-still on my doorstep, I'd just throw like all the candy at him.

October 29, 2012 - 2:35 pm Xyvoln - That is badass! *I* want a green-army-man soldier costume in *my* size now!

November 6, 2012 - 8:39 am Toile La La - Even though you spent some money making the toy soldier costume, look at the little guy. His expression and obvious glee wearing his get-up is completely priceless. Perfect costume for a boy that age (and there are probably some big boys who would love it as well). The platform he stood on was "the icing on the cake". Your letterpress creations are beautiful and I could not agree with you more about the love for paper. When you mentioned your letterpress operation, it reminded me of printmaking classes in college and how productive it felt to turn the big crank of the printing press. Great posts and photos.

August 10, 2013 - 8:53 pm Tatum - Hi! I love the army costume, though my son is still a little too small to do something like that. I was wondering where you got the lion costume from?

August 10, 2013 - 11:24 pm rebekah - Thanks! The lion costume was from old navy. :)

August 18, 2013 - 11:56 am Barb - Super cute! How much time before Halloween did you spray the costume items? Spray paint toxins/fumes, was that a concern?

August 18, 2013 - 4:04 pm rebekah - Hi Barb! I painted it one week before Halloween. He was only wearing it for one night, so I kind of decided not to worry about any toxins, after all the candy is probably the worst toxin of the whole thing! :)

September 3, 2013 - 5:20 am Treasures By Brenda - This is brilliant! I'll never forget the time we were at Disneyland eating lunch when the green army men from Toy Story arrived. I don't think my then little boys will ever forget it either. They would have LOVED this costume, which you executed so well!

September 12, 2013 - 9:15 am Lori - Where do the nylons go?

September 12, 2013 - 9:17 am rebekah - the nylons are for the face and hands. :)

October 6, 2013 - 8:50 am Maritza - Hello.. Amazing work! My son if one and a half. I want to make this for him. Worried about toxins. Well have to read up on it...but i was wondering how many cans of each paint and did you wait between coats of primer and reg paint?

October 8, 2013 - 2:20 pm Felt With Love Designs - Hi! Love your idea!! We included your costume in a round-up we did on no-sew costume ideas! Thank you for sharing!

October 26, 2013 - 8:50 am Amanda - I love this. I first saw it last year and don't know why I didn't feature it back then! I have featured it today on Fun Family Crafts :)

July 14, 2014 - 5:58 am Karen - He's adorable! You did a superb job. Very, very impressive. Congrats!

October 14, 2014 - 5:38 am Andie - I LOVE this! My 5 yr old is still a TS freak he loves soldiers. 2 c a father & son tag team like that just melts my heart. My husband doesn't have a vision 4 making anything homemade especially Halloween costumes, that's that so there go I come n. If u get a sec look at my crocheted section. I totally refused 2 pay a ton of $ on a TMNT shell for Halloween last year. So I just (I know call me cheap) crocheted my 5yr old son one that I made sure that when  crocheted it had enough room n it 4 Leo, Donnie, Ralph and even Mikey's weapons all together all at the ą same time. It also has a spot for the T-phone and many other things as well.

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