I first saw the book Criminal Crafts: Outlaw Projects for Scoundrels, Cheats, and Armchair Detectives in the gift shop during my recent visit to the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. I am a huge fan of craft books with off kilter DIY projects, so I was pleased to learn that my local library had 3 copies of the book.
Criminal Crafts has 30 projects inspired by notorious criminals, heinous crimes or morbid activities. The book is divided into four sections: practical projects, fashion/accessories, recipes, and home décor. Among the projects to choose from are Voodoo Doll Pincushion, John Dillinger Soap Gun, Dia de los Muertos Bath Fizzies, and Crime Scene Carpet.
One of the things I liked best about the book is that many of the projects make use of recycled and repurposed objects such as brown paper grocery bags, seat belts, and old, unloved socks. There are several fun cocktail recipes — including an atomic bomb-inspired drink that dissolves into a mushroom cloud and a Bloody Mary-type drink that involves a beef jerky voodoo doll being set on fire — that I think would be really great additions to parties. The Barefoot Bandit Grass-Head Cellmate would be a great project for kids (and cats).
My husband and I decided to try out the recipe for Crime Scene Gingerbread Men. As the picture from the book shows below, there are a lot of fun things you can do with gingerbread people — tie a noose around their necks with licorice rope, run them over with Hot Wheels, stab them with cocktail swords, or knock them out with a sugar cube.
The gingerbread recipe featured in the book is a rather tasty adult version which includes 2 tablespoons of rum and isn’t overly sweet. Since it was already 10 days past Christmas we had a hard time finding gingerbread cookie cutters in local stores. Finally, we settled on a large gingerbread man cut-out on clearance at Joann Fabrics. While Criminal Crafts indicates the recipe will yield about 3 dozen gingerbread men, we ended up with a baker’s dozen of gingerbread giants. Or monsters.
We also had a hard time finding the recommended embellishments. Who knew licorice rope is so scarce? Finally, we decided to buy a 4-pack of food coloring to embellish our people with decorative icing. I will say the icing recipe in the book turned out gross. We made our own icing with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 stick of butter and about 1 tablespoon of milk.
To warn you, sometimes my husband and I have a twisted sense of humor. The following image is for mature adults only. Here is my husband’s favorite creation:
I chose to go with a literary theme. After all, Frankenstein’s monster was a murderer.