Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Wicked Bowl the Woodland Witch made for her Potion Bottles

It is no secret, to anyone who knows me, that I have an unwavering love for all things Halloween.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I was a prop master in a previous life, because my holiday decorating usually morphs into “setting the stage”, creating a mood and view meant to transport me to another place, time, and story. But I digress......

A few years ago, I felt the need to create a Halloween candy bowl. I hand-painted a black bowl with a variety of eyes from the creature kingdom, and added glow-in-the-dark paint on them. It was quite pain-staking, and even though I sold it, will probably never create another one.

The following year, I painted a totally differently themed bowl, this time with an Old World gypsy witch in mind.

The year after that, I kept it more simplistic and understated, and let the number do the talking.

Last year, I created my glue-gun witchy potion bottles, which have certainly made the rounds on the internet. Since it is my belief that these were lightning in a bottle, I don't feel the need to out-do them. But as usual, my Halloween mood can't be silenced, and yesterday my imagination woke me up with an idea. Not to sell, but to inspire.

I thought it would be fun to have useful props that continued the theme of my potion bottles. So what else would this woodland witch have in her home?

How about a bowl for tossing her runes or greens in? But in your case, for handing out Halloween candy! How about party snacks! Or maybe just as props for setting that mood!

Part of the allure of the potion bottles was the upcycle virtue, but also the low cost of the project.
Although this isn't an upcycle, I did focus on keeping it on the cheap.

Here's what you need: a cheapo basket in the size you require. If you want it food-safe, line the basket with clear plastic bowls from the dollar store. (You won't need the liners for handing out candy, but you would for pretzels, hors d'oeuvres, etc.)

Plastic skeleton hands from Michael's. $1.99 per bag of 12.
Spanish Moss
Glue gun and thin wire

I hot-glued a thin layer of Spanish moss around the outside of the basket.  
If you're like me, you like to keep your holiday décor as temporary as possible, so you can dismantle the components to use for other projects throughout the year. 

In this case, I chose to wire the hands to the basket. Using very thin gray wire, thread the ends through the basketweave from inside to outside. Position the hand so you can twist the wire ends around a finger. Twist the wire so the hand doesn't move, snip the excess, then tuck the wire ends between the fingers out of sight. (This is the reason I used a basket rather than a bowl, so I'd have something to thread the wire through.)

After securing the hands, you can now add more moss, tucking it in around the hands to make them look more embedded. Add more moss to completely hide the basket, including the rim. Totally up to you whether you cover the underside or not.

As is typical of my M.O., I couldn't stop there. The bowl turned out so well, that it deserved to be elevated to centerpiece status. I collect shapely wooden candle holders, and I had the perfect one for this bowl. I painted it with black and brown chalk paint, then attached the basket to it.

Since the basket is thin and flimsy, it's very important to secure it properly. A screw alone would tear right through the weave, so you need to add a piece of wood or metal over the basket to secure it and give it stability. The wood doesn't need to be thick, just not flexible, and the closer it is to the full diameter of the basket, the better. A piece of a paint stir stick or wooden ruler would both work great. I had a tongue depressor, so I drilled a pilot hole through it and the center of the basket. (If you don't drill a pilot hole, you will most certainly split the basket material and the tongue depressor, since they are both thin.)

After drilling a hole into the center of the candle holder, 1 screw through the depressor, basket, and candleholder, and all was stable. I painted the tongue depressor black brown to match the basket, and now it's ready for use or display!

 Along with the basket, I made a point of buying the contents at the Dollar Tree also, just to show how inexpensive this creation can be, and how readily available the components are. If you choose to line the basket with a clear food-safe bowl for a buffet, you don't need to attach the bowl to the basket. When the snacks need refilling, just take the plastic bowl out for refilling, then insert it back into the display bowl. If you'd rather attach it to the basket, you have some options -- hot glue, strong double-stick mounting tape, or even velcro.

At this point, all that's left is what to put inside. I bought these “Bloody Bites” for the glow-in-the-dark fangs, but they also include red “oozing” candy blood bags.

Red hard candy, so they could be a blood red filler.

And plastic eyeballs. These were kind of boring, but they were good and cheap for a starting point. And since the glue gun was still on......

Using a permanent red marker, I drew lots of red veins all over the eyeballs, then hot-glued the main vein lines. (Another option would be to paint all the eyeballs with glow-in-the-dark paint.)

Using a red marker again, I colored each hot-glue vein, so they'd look like they were bulging red veins. After doing that, it occurred to me that there were probably red glue sticks, so I've ordered some off Ebay. Can't wait to try them.

And that's it! Let go of your grown-up inhibitions and let your imagination play!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Chicken Wire & German Glass Glitter Tree Ornament

In my pre-Etsy days, I never even considered working on Christmas projects in October, let alone September. Being a Halloween fanatic since childhood, I would be totally in the costume-designing zone during this time. 

But now that I'm a die-hard proprietress, Halloween comes second to my vintage and creative passions. (That certainly doesn't mean that I would turn down a costume & dance party invitation!)

My first Christmas ornament offering for this year will be listed in Etsy shortly. I created this design last year, but I have come up with a new and improved version.

Behold, new and improved.....

In last year's version, I only used super-fine silver German glass glitter, and I used it sparingly. I also painted the wire last year,
but this year I oxidized the wire to do away with the shine and look more aged.

This year, I used my bigger multi-grit blend, and not only applied it to the full outline, but also to every twist where the hexes are connected.

The multi-grit blend really makes a statement! All the delicate glass grit details give the look of fresh ice with the morning sun shining on it.

I still chose to use the super-fine glass glitter on the little pine cone, because I wanted to keep the cone details defined, and the larger grit just made it look like a sparkly blob.

Since this look is more glam and less rustic than last year, I also chose to use my elegant metallic cream cording to hang them with, rather than sisal.

I'm really pleased with the effect, and they really twinkle so much more now.

Time waits for no one, so off I go to complete another holiday project! Ciao for now.....

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Farmhouse Chic Chicken Wire & Chalk Paint Shutters

Oy! I can't believe how long it's been since my last blog post! As I said in my last post, I'd been busy painting clients' homes, which virtually no time to work on my own chalk paint projects. 

Well, that's all changed now. I finally finished a project for my Etsy shop, that I started back in June, and finally had enough free time to perfect!


European Farmhouse Chic.....

I rescued these years ago, and they were a dingy white, and empty. I applied a fabulous coat of Marigold/Mustard chalk paint, and topped it with my go-to Tiffany Blue chalk paint.

I then embellished them with lots of Marigold leaves, with warm brown details and cream highlights.

Original petite, porcelain knobs, which now look much more interesting with the leaf accents.

Since these were fairly old and worn to begin with, there were lots of opportunities for distressing the pre-existing flaws. There were holes which I assume once had a latch for holding the shutters closed. They were partially filled, but I chose to leave traces of them, in the event the future owner wished to add latches. There were also hinges that attached the shutters to an interior window/pass-through, which I removed, but kept just in case.

These are the kind that you secure little curtains into, and I was thrilled that they still had all the spring-loaded rods inside the tops and bottoms. 

I ruminated quite a bit over how to proceed, but finally decided I wanted these to have chicken wire. Yep, that illusive 1/2" hex chicken wire I've been thrilled to have for the last year, and feverishly creating with.

I knew it would give these the European farmhouse look I was striving for, but I also wanted to leave the option open for curtains, should the owner wish to add them as a backdrop for the chicken wire.

So the best solution was to attach the chicken wire the same way I did with my Mercantile Spice Rack, using tiny brass screws, and wiring each screw to a hex, to keep the chicken wire attached securely. Though I'm sure many might have gone the staple route, since it would've only taken minutes to complete, it just wouldn't have the aesthetically-pleasing and old-fashioned look I was going for.  Needless to say, my method took hours, but the result was clearly worth it.

Although I already oxidized the chicken wire, I felt the powdery grey was too cold for the paint finish, so I applied a very thin warm bronze brown chalk paint wash, keeping the weathered matte finish.

Standing 23” tall, and 35” total width of both together (when closed flat), these will make a fabulous statement on a mantle, a pass-through window, or in a home office, using the chicken wire to clip notes to.

Now that these are finally done, with any luck, I will get some Christmas projects (gasp!) done.....:)

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Chalk-Painted Rusty Verdigris Pumpkins

I’ve been so so busy the last couple months, knee-deep in paint, but not chalk paint! I’ve been painting interiors for several clients, and also kitty-sitting, so no time for blogging or creating anything to blog about. So until I can produce a finished creative project, I thought it would be nice to welcome September with a chalk paint pumpkin creation I whipped up just after Halloween last year.
RE-POST from 2013:
Now that Halloween is past, most people (including me) are thinking about Christmas. But before we move on to Christmas décor, I thought I’d do something out of the norm for me. For a change of pace, I decided to give little pumpkins a decorative chalk paint treatment, without the usual Halloween theme, and simply an Autumn theme. I give to you……

Rusty Verdigris Autumn pumpkins. 
They have sort of a Tim Burton/Seussian vibe to them, 
dontcha think? 
Chalk Paint = Faux rust!

I used the same paint treatment as my Clock planter from this Summer.
They started out like this.

Followed by black chalk paint. This design was pretty fluid, so the colors after the black morphed a bit. As you will see, I added more paint after the stem construction. If I were doing these again, I would construct the stem and leaf before painting, but the order isn’t make or break.)
I used an awl tool to burrow 2 holes on the stem. One on top and one on the side. (The stem can be a little hard, so use caution when poking the hole.)
I stuck a piece of tie wire into the top hole. After twisting it to see how much I would need for my new stem, I cut off any excess. No rules here. You can make the stem as long as you want.
I took the wire out, straightened it, and laid it on a piece of tin foil that has been folded in half. After you fold it, lay down the wire to see how much foil is needed to cover it, minus ¼” for the bottom part of the wire for inserting into pumpkin. The top end of the wire is where you form a curly-cue if you desire. Once you’ve measured the folded foil, cut the foil in a tapered shape, as shown, so when you roll it around the wire, it will gradually get thinner as it reaches the top.
Now roll up the foil with the wire inside, just tight enough to keep the wire from slipping out, about the thickness of a cigar.
Hold on to the wire and thickest end of the foil with one hand, and using the other hand, start molding the foil into the wire, and twisting a little as you go, till it’s relatively smooth. It should then look thick at the bottom, and gradually ending with a point at the top. If you covered the pointy end of the wire, you can gently tear away some of the foil at that end to reveal some of the wire for the curly-cue.
Now for the fun part. Hot glue the bottom of the wire stem into the top hole of the pumpkin stem, making sure the foil is pushed up against it. If it isn’t, make the hole deeper, or cut off some of the bare wire. You can try to glue the foil against the stem, but if it doesn’t stick, no worries.

Now hold on to the stem base with one hand, and with the other hand, start molding your foil stem into whatever shape you want. To form the curly-cue, use some needle nose pliers.
Before you wrap the stem, you will want to attach the leaf. I made my leaf using oilboard, but thick cardstock would work too. I drew some leaves, cut them out, then scored a bunch of veins on them. After scoring, I bent them up a bit, to look more natural.
I then hot-glued the leaves to short pieces of wire, thinner than the tie wire I used for the stems. The thickness of the wires is a personal preference, so use what you wish. After painting a black base coat on the leaf, I hot-glued the leaf wire into the side hole of the pumpkin stem. The reason I painted the black before I inserted it, is because it would be hard to paint the underside of the leaf after it’s attached to the pumpkin. You most likely won’t be able to see under the leaf once attached, but I just didn’t want bare cardboard there.
Now that the leaf is attached, you can start wrapping the entire stem in florist stem tape. I used brown because I had some, but any color will do since you’ll be painting over it anyway. Make sure you start the wrap at the base of the pumpkin’s part of the stem, and also the leaf stem, so the tape can help the wire stems be more attached to the pumpkin. Cut a small, manageable length of the florist stem tape, and just cut more if you don’t reach the end of the stem. Wrap it till you reach the exposed wire, then tear off the excess.
Finally, it’s time to paint paint paint! Over the black base coat, start adding chalk paint from dark to lightest colors. I used chocolate brown, then a brick tone, then rust, then aqua for the verdigris. The most important thing to remember, as with the clock planter, is to dry-brush every color over the black.
The really cool thing about these pumpkins is that they have a lot of texture, so if you use a light touch with the dry-brush painting, you can accentuate all the texture. I chose to keep all the pumpkin’s crevices darker for contrast and contour. You can blend them in slightly so they don’t look like obvious paint lines, but rather a natural rusty finish.

There is not really any need to seal these, unless you feel they will get bumped around or handled a lot. Use a matte finish if you do seal them.
I created these pumpkins just for decoration, but the curly-cues would be great if you shaped them to hold place cards at your Thanksgiving table. I would opt to use the really mini pumpkins for that though, since they would take up less space at the table. And again, as a bonus, painting pumpkins vs. cutting them, makes them last a lot longer, because the paint seals them!
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