Making Poppies DIY Tutorial

A quick post to share a new rustic poppy design.
Not too many supplies are needed for these fun flowers; salvaged thin metal sheeting, fiberglass window screening, thin wire, small flat bead, 8 to 10 mm glass bead, and paint. I went back to Lowe’s and bought one of those cute 8 oz Valspar paints again, this time “Oh So Red”.
Like many faux poppy patterns, stacking three layers of petal pieces makes this easy. The base piece is the largest and the other two get smaller in diameter as you go up. My base was about 2 3/4″ diameter.

Before getting started, some fiberglass window screen had to be painted.   This was my first experience painting screen and it took me some time applying the paint and getting all those itty bitty squares to stay filled in; when you brush over them, they open back up. I painted in layers, drying with a fan, and discovered laying the paint on was more productive than brushing most of the time. If anyone out there has a secret or helpful hints for painting screen please do chime in.

Flatten a piece of scrap metal sheeting (as in The Spirit of Christmas). Trace and cut out the base petal piece. Paint it red. Dry. Sand lightly with fine grit sandpaper to reveal some of the metal.

Hold the top two petal pattern pieces in place on the painted screen and cut around them.

Cut a small circle, a little larger than a quarter, from the window screening.  Darken it with black paint.

Sand the screen petal pieces with fine sandpaper to reveal the texture of the screen. Do not sand the black center piece. This is a good time to put a light black speckling on your pieces, and let it dry before spraying all the pieces with a clear matte sealer, front and back. I forgot, and didn’t speckle until my flowers were done, then had to respray them.

Trace three poppy leaves on the thin metal, flipping your pattern to trace one face down. Cut, paint green, sand, speckle, and seal.

On a board, drive a finishing nail through the stacked flower petal arrangement.  You can shape and bend the flowers first, or keep the petals flattened and shape after. Remove the nail.

Center and twist a glass bead on a length of straightened thin wire. Thread the black screen circle on to the wire stem and shape it around the bead. Add a small flat bead with a dab of E6000. Slide the other petal pieces in place, applying a small amount of glue between layers near the wire. Arrange and form the flower to your liking before pushing firmly into a piece of thick foam to dry. You can do more gentle bending, shaping, or trimming on the petals after the flowers are dry if needed.

    

I think this makes a cute, versatile little flower to have some fun with. Change the shape of the petal a bit, the color, and the bead, and you’ll have a whole new look.  Another layer of petals could be added for a larger flower.

I wired my poppies to a basket for a pop of color, then glued on the leaves, but they could easily be wired, or glued, to wreaths, canvas art, frames, or wood.

  

It makes me feel good to find uses for salvaged, and reclaimed materials.  Keeping anything out of the landfill is a plus.  Hearing from my readers makes me feel good too, please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.  Enjoy your week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Console Table Upcycle DIY Tutorial

We are blessed! 2018 finds my family all healthy and happy. Although we are all still temporarily under one roof, it’s an exciting time. Many remodeling plans were slowed or halted by frigid winter weather, but now, everyone’s plans and projects are ready to move forward again. For some, there’s career advancements on the horizon, and for me, a little more free time to do what I like best; make stuff, and go gather things to make more stuff.
With more free time also comes the opportunity for me to lay claim to the old chicken shed behind our house. It has served as storage and even an extra pet kennel when needed, but now it’s vacant. I’ve long yearned for a space to store found treasures and set up a small shop to sell my wares, maybe host some garden art classes. I’m still kicking some ideas around, but after repairs and a hot power washing, I’d like to have something going in the very near future.
My sister has recently retired. Like me, she enjoys a good hunt and repurposing her finds too. We’re looking forward to meeting a bunch of fun, like minded people on June 2nd when we participate in the 6th Annual Back Roads Vintage Market in Dysart, Iowa. I’ve often heard good things about this event, but have never been free to go. The pictures shared on their Facebook page are impressive, can’t wait to get there. https://www.facebook.com/BackRoadsVintageMarket/

Thinking of wares, and with the market only 3 months away, I needed to kick it in gear and get busy. I took a poke around my garage to see what could be started right away. Holy Cow, there’s a lot out there. I was happy to find quite a few things I already had a plan for. Yep, one was the console table, a perfect upcycle piece. It was purchased at Hobby Lobby originally. It held a pencil lamp behind our living room couch for several years, but wasn’t much good for anything else because it tipped easily. It was moved out over a year ago when the kids needed more room to play.

If you’re a Facebook follower, you’ll know I’ve been working on the table, in spurts, for the last couple of weeks. Basically, it was just flipped end for end, making the top the bottom, and the bottom the top. It could have gone together much quicker, but, well, you know, life’s little interruptions. I’ll need to start working more diligently though. I hope you stay tuned, I think you’ll like some of the projects that will be coming.
I replenished my favorite Stowe White paint at Lowe’s recently, and found a few new Valspar colors I thought would work well together. The small 8 oz size paints are perfect for projects like this.

The original size of the table was 33″T x 35″W x 9 3/4″D.
Two pieces of 1″ pine were cut for a new top and bottom, each 36″L x 11 1/4″W. Sanded smooth.
Three screws holding the metal table top were removed. The screws were too short to be used again. The metal top was centered on one of the boards, flush on the back edge.  Holes were drilled down through the existing screw holes, through the metal and into the wood. Flip the metal top over so the finished side is up. Check to see if the holes line up nicely, if not make adjustments. This stacked piece will be the base of the table when finished.

All surfaces of the boards were brushed very lightly with streaks of Granite Dust, Gravity, and Stowe White in a random pattern. Let dry completely, repeat. Let dry completely again, then sand to see the grain. Wipe with a tacky cloth to remove any dust before staining with a Dark Walnut wood stain. Let dry overnight. To finish, following the directions on the can, wipe on two light coats of low gloss Tung Oil Finish. Dry completely.

       

Four corner, or “L” brackets, will be needed to attach the new top board to the legs. There are fancy ones available but I used ones I had.
A slot was marked on the inside of the legs, on each end of the table, to accommodate a 1/2″ wide bracket. Cut the metal with a cutting wheel on a die grinder. Position the brackets so the tops are flush the the top of the legs, screw into place.

  

The metal table frame was painted with two coats of Brisk Olive green paint, drying completely between coats. Distress the edges by rubbing the paint off with a dampened cloth.

Position gliders and nail them into place on the bottom of the base board.  If needed, clip the end of the nails so they don’t protrude through the wood.

  

To add weight, scrap plywood pieces were glued on the underside of the metal top. Weighted down and dried overnight.

On an even surface, stack the base board, weighted metal table top piece, and the upturned green table frame. Line up the pre-drilled holes and screw solidly into place. I used small washers on 1 1/4″ wood screws. The tips were cut off of the screws so they wouldn’t protrude.
Turn the table base over and center it on the newly finished top board. Keep the back flush like the base. Mark the bracket holes. Drill starter holes before screwing into place, again, making sure the screws don’t protrude through the top.
        

And, there we go. Finished and ready for a new home.  I really like how this shade of green looks with the dark stain. But then again, I like almost anything green.  I’m sure you’ll be seeing this color again real soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand Painted Vintage Style Clock DIY

It isn’t hard to find large decorative clocks nowadays, they’re everywhere, but, 15 years ago the pickings were mighty thin.
I was wanting something of good size for a long open stairway wall in our kitchen/dining area, and I thought a huge clock would be perfect. After several unsuccessful months of shopping, I sit staring at the wall, pondering my dilemma, when one of my then teen daughters jokingly asked why I didn’t paint a mural, and be done with it. Yeah, like I could paint a mural?! The idea was enough to kick my mind into gear though, why couldn’t I try to paint my own clock? I had no idea that thought would start a whole new venture.
A number of clocks have been painted since then, ranging from 30″ to 4 foot in diameter, and even mine was given a much needed update. Please keep in mind, I’m not claiming to be a clock painting master with this post, just a craftsperson sharing what I’ve learned, and some tips and tricks that have worked well for me. Heck, I wasn’t even aware there were templates available until after I had my first one painted, which you can probably see by the numeral placement in my before & after picture.

I’d like to caution in advance that this is not a small project. It’s not hard, but time consuming. Unless you really have nothing else to do, I would allow at least two weeks to complete a clock. An overhead projector, and a place to hang the clock for the final steps will be needed. Handpainted, it is a bit of an undertaking, but I’ve always been happy with the results, and especially like that each one is unique. Although the drying process can be helped along with a fan, there is alot of steps, and drying time between the painted layers is crucial. Humidity is not your friend either. I work in the AC during the summer, only going outside to quickly do the sanding steps. That being said, let’s build a clock.
A 1/2″ BC grade plywood will be used for the circle. One side is nicer than the other, and will be the front of the clock.

After being asked to paint a 30″ personalized clock last fall, I had my plywood cut and sanded before I thought of blogging it, so I used a piece of scrap plywood in the pictures below to show how it was drawn.
Lay the plywood face up on a work surface you can easily walk around. Determine the best place to draw the circle. Knot holes are not usually a problem, they can lend a lot of character, but you don’t want to cut through one on the rim of the clock. Hammer a 1 1/2″ finishing nail where the center of the clock will be.

Drill a small hole on the 1″ mark of a thin wooden yard stick, just large enough to fit over the head of the nail, no bigger. With the yardstick on the nail, hold a pencil firmly on the edge of the yardstick at the 16″ mark. Walk slowly backward around the work surface, marking the plywood, until you complete the circle.

  

  

Remove the nail, but keep it, and the yardstick handy, they’ll be used again. Cut on the outside edge of the drawn line. Use a hand sander and medium grit sandpaper to sand the clock and edges smooth, using the drawn line as a guide. Do not round the edges.
Cut two lenghts of pine stripping.

Lay the circle face up, making sure the wood grain is running level horizontally. Using the yardstick and the nail hole as a reference point, mark the top center of the clock with a line on a piece of tape. Extend the tape over the edge of the clock so you can mark the back too, in the same place.

Stand the circle up as straight as possible against a wall, with the back side facing you. Use the yardstick and a level to draw a centered line down from the mark on the tape and over the nail hole. Lay the clock down. Go out 8″ on each side of this centered line and draw two more lines.

Draw centered lines down the length of each pine stripping piece. Match and center them up with the outside lines on the back of the circle, minding that the angles are facing toward the outside edges. Drill, and countersink, four evenly spaced pilot holes on each stripping piece. Cut, or grind, the tips from 1 1/4″ wood screws so they do not protrude through the front of the clock, and screw the stripping into place. Fill holes with lightweight spackling, let dry, and sand smooth. Except for two 1/2″ D-ring hangers, which we’ll get to later, the building is done.

  

  

  

An old sewing machine cabinet, 30″ high, is my “go to” work table for this project. It’s a comfortable height and easily walked around for drawing and painting.
I find it helpful from this point on, to always lay the clock down in the same position, with the top away from me, and, except for the paper layer, always paint and sand layers horizontally across the front following the wood grain.

Other painting supplies needed are …..
water based black primer
black paint – eggshell or satin finish
small bottle of black craft paint
clear mixing glaze
3 colors of wall paint -eggshell or satin finish. The colors requested for this project were Linen, Colonial Beige, and Stowe White.
inexpensive 3″ or 4″ chip brushes – maybe about 6, so they’re handy when needed. The wider brushes work well for the crackle layers because you would have less brush strokes.
thin liner detail brush for painting the circle lines
Titebond Hide Glue – I get mine at a True Value Hardware Store. $9 for an 8 oz. bottle.
very thin paper, or tissue paper – I bought my roll at a beauty supply store. Do not use printed paper
painter’s tape
a couple paint sticks and lidded bowls for mixing
overhead projector – you might check your local library if you don’t have excess to one, or check a rental place.
printable clock template – the place I found mine is no longer available, but there’s a bunch on line. A blank clock face template could be customized with more lines then scanned onto a transparency
gum eraser and #2 pencil
electric hand sander with fine and very fine grit sanding discs
clock supplies at http://www.klockit.com – high torque clock movement #10115 – $9.00, and 12″ clock hands #66796 – $8.00

Time to paint, we’ll start with the black base. Remove any tape from the clock. Paint the entire clock with black primer. Let dry. Cover the primer with a coat of black paint. Let dry. Replace a little piece of tape on the back to mark the top of the clock again, so you always know where it is.

While the black paint is open, make a black glaze for the next step by mixing 1 cup of black paint with 2 cups of clear glaze. Stir well. Store in an airtight container.
Tear up random pieces of the very thin paper, enough to cover the front and sides of the clock. Tear off any finished side edges of the paper too, they will be noticeable if you don’t.
Brush a layer of black glaze on a small area of the clock front. Lay pieces of paper on top of the wet glaze, overlapping their edges. Immediately, brushing quickly in different directions, brush a thin layer of black glaze over the paper, creating some creases and wrinkles. Glaze and paper the side edges too by tearing the paper ends into strips so they lay down better. Do not over brush, or the paper will get too wet and start to tear and roll. Work in small areas until the clock front is covered. Let it dry to a dull look. Brush on another thin coat of black glaze, and let it dry thoroughly overnight. Sand with a fine grit sandpaper, horizontally, following the wood grain underneath, until smoothed, but not through the paper.

  

  

  

For a crackle medium, mix 1 cup of hide glue with about 3/4 cup of very hot water, stirring well. Store in an airtight container. As a rule, the thinner the crackle medium, the thinner your cracks, so there is a lot of room for change in this step. If bigger cracks are wanted, use less hot water. Regardless, the mixture will be very thin, and splatter easily. Make sure your floor and work area are protected well. Crackling is a lot of fun, but can be a little touchy, it doesn’t like to be re-brushed as you put it on, single strokes are needed. If you’ve never tried it before, you may want to play around with it on some scrap wood first to get the feel of it, or catch a video on YouTube.

With a clean brush apply a coat of crackle, in broad, even strokes, horizontally over the sanded black glaze layer. Do not over brush.  The crackle glue will separate and remain shiny. Let crackle dry approximately 45 min to an 1 hour, until it is still a tiny bit tacky. Test it with your finger.
Mix 2 cup of glaze medium with 2 cups of your first color choice, mine was Linen. Mix it well, and have it ready to brush on as soon as the crackle is ready. It too goes on in quick, wide, one time, even strokes, horizontally. Do not re-brush or try to touch up the paint, the brush will pick up any paint that is wet. The cracks will widen as it dries. Let this layer dry completely. Sand again, always horizontally, as before, until some of the black layer shows through.

  

  

Basically, this is all about brushing on colors of paint over layers of crackle, and sanding in between. At the end, some of all the colors will show through somewhere.
For a little added dimension, I dry brushed a little un-thinned Linen paint on in hopes it would peek through a little too when I’m done, and another coat of crackle was applied.

  

Colonial Beige paint was put on over the crackle, and sanded after it dried. Another layer of crackle was put on before the final layer of Stowe White paint. Sand again when dry.

  

Circles need to be drawn before the numbers are added. Push, or tap, your nail through the center hole from the backside of the clock, through the paint. Lay the clock face up. Tap the nail into the hole, leaving enough protruding to put the yardstick on, to draw circles. My nail usually goes right into my old table top and holds the clock firm.
Using the same technique as in the beginning, I drew the circles I wanted.

  

Carefully remove the nail. Use a small piece of cardboard under the claw of your hammer so you don’t leave a pressure mark on the clock. Flip the clock over. Measure 4 1/2″ down from the top inside tip of the pine strips, center and attach D-rings. Find a place to hang the clock, level, so you can use the overhead and template for marking. The clock must be level before doing any marking or drawing. I removed my clock from the wall and hung this one in its place until I was finished.

Firmly hold the edge of a sturdy, straight yardstick, vertically over the center of the nail hole. Use a level to draw a straight faint line through the circles at the top and bottom of the clock, where the six and twelve will be. Do the same horizontally, over the center of the hole, to mark where the three and nine will go. Cut four very thin strips of painter’s tape to highlight these lines on the outer edge of the clock. Put the template on the overhead. Use the tape marking the quarter hours, and the center nail hole to line up the template. Tape the template in place so it doesn’t move. Lightly trace the minute marks where you want them on the clock. I traced mine in the second outside circle.

  

  

Replace the clock face up on the work surface. Use a yardstick to line up the minute lines that are opposite each other, remark them with short straight lines, and longer faint lines through the circle in the numeral spaces, to help get a perfect angle on them. I also put a small dot on the numeral spaces, so I don’t accidentally tape them off and paint them with the minute marks. Cutting a bunch of tiny strips and taping off minute lines can get very boring, so I usually turn on a little Netflix while I do it. You don’t want the minute lines very wide, about an 1/8″. Just by eye-balling it, add a little space on each side of the line and tape them off, keeping your line in the center, and rubbing the tape down well to prevent leakage. Re-stir your crackle glaze, and give each of your taped lines a light coat. Wait about 30 minutes and paint the lines twice with black paint, drying well between coats. To insure nice, crisp, clean lines, wait until the second coat is completely dry before removing the tape. When you remove the tape, carefully pull up and towards your painted line.

  

  

Draw a triangular stencil for your numeral marks. Mark the center on the outer side of your triangle. Line up that mark and the point of the triangle on the faint line drawn with the yardstick. Trace inside the triangle. Repeat at each numeral. Tape them off and paint them like the minute marks, one coat crackle, two coats black.

  

Cut two 5″ lengths of clear plastic. One, 7/16″W, and one, 5/16″W.

  

For the first Roman Numeral, center the widest plastic strip over the drawn line. Trace.
Use the same strip to trace the spacer between the numerals on the #2 first, then, re-position it, and trace again on the outside of the spacer for the numerals.

  

Center the strip over the drawn line on #3, trace for the middle of the numeral. Trace again on each side for spacing and numerals.

For the #4, begin with the 5/16″ strip laid over the drawn line, as spacing. All spaces will be 5/16″. The numerals will be 7/16″.

Use tracing paper to trace a small section of the curved lines where the numeral V will go. Draw separate patterns for the V and the X, within the traced curved lines. The 7/16″ strip is used to draw the wide part of the numerals. The skinny line will be 1/8″ wide. Make sure to include the curved lines and a faint center line on your pattern. Match up the curved lines on your pattern with those on the clock, and use graphite paper to trace the patterns where they are needed.

  

Continue drawing the numerals around the clock. All of the wide numeral strips remain 7/16″. The spacing between the strips decreased to around 1/4″ on the #6 thru #12. There’s really no set rules. I just do a lot of looking and maybe a little adjusting to get things right.  A gum eraser will easily take care of any mistakes. Its most important that the numerals are straight and lining up well with the numeral opposite of it, so they have the same angle. Hope that makes sense. Sometimes it helps to glance at another clock, or pictures, for reference.
The numerals will have to be taped off and painted in steps. You can’t tape on damp paint, so wait for things to dry well before moving forward. Again, a crackle layer first, then two coats of black. Do not remove the tape until the paint is completely dry.

  

    

With the numerals done, rehang the clock and give it a good look. Everything look good? Count all the way around the clock and make sure the numerals are correct. For the life of me I couldn’t see what was wrong with one of my clocks one day. Maybe I was tired, don’t know. My daughter walked in, glanced at it and asked why I had two tens? Yep, there it was! I’ve also washed a numeral completely off after painting a V backwards, and fixed it. It’s all just paint, most everything is fix-able if need be.

     

Back at the work table, squirt a little black craft paint on a piece of waxed paper and thin it with a few drops of water to paint the circle lines with a very fine liner brush.
Paint the outside ring. One coat of crackle, two coats of black. Let dry. Clean up any tape bleeds, erase any pencil lines and do any last minute touches, then, sand to your liking with a very fine grit sandpaper. Give the back a quick sand too. Make sure to sand smooth any glue or paint drippings around the back edge. Wipe it off with a dry, clean, soft, lint free cloth. Now is the time to personalize if you wish. If not, give it some speckling with black craft paint and a toothbrush, and it’s done.

      

After the speckles have dried completely, use some books or something to raise your clock up off of the work surface. Drill through the nail hole with a 5/16″ bit. Push the stem of the clock movement, with the rubber pad on it, through the hole from the back, and tighten it on with the nut and washer provided. Hot glue a small piece of wood under the clock movement to hold it solid, and paint it black.

  

  

Carefully remove the plastic protective covering from the clock hands. Spray them with a black matte finish. Let dry.

Put the hands on your clock ..
1- Match up the small rectangle hole on the long hand with the clock movement. It will fit loosely. Turn long hand clockwise a full circle, and stop on 12. Remove the hand.
2- Lay the short hand on the clock movement, pointing at 9. Press it down gently and evenly until it fits snugly.
3- Lay the long hand on the movement, pointing at 12. Gently hold the bottom of the long hand to keep it level as you screw on the cap. Turn the long hand clockwise all the way around to make sure it clears the short hand. If you need to do adjusting, don’t try to bend the hands on the clock. Remove them to adjust and repeat the steps again.
Always set the time by turning the long hand clockwise.
Remove battery when transporting the clock.

So, what do you think?  Anyone inspired to start painting yet?  Are you painting anything similar and have some tips to share?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Style Toilet Paper Storage

I finally thought of a useful purpose for the curious little copper piece I picked up at @gypsyalleyus last year. Some of you may remember seeing it on my Facebook page. I definitely remember the dumbfounded look on my husband’s face when I unloaded it from the back of my car. Once again, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to do with it either, but, recently, as I was looking for a cute way to store spare rolls of TP in the bathroom, the answer seemed obvious.

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Before I could get started, all the plumbing was removed from the inside of the tank and it was given a disinfecting scrub. I had to find a set of four 1 1/2″ dia. vintage porcelain casters, eight large flat washers, and four cotter pins. I tried looking around locally for the casters, then got impatient and ordered some off of Ebay. A toothbrush and some Comet cream cleanser cleaned them right up.

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A piece of 1/2″ plywood had to fit in the bottom of the tank to help hold the wheels firmly. There was a lip on the edge of the tank opening, so, after tracing the top edge of the tank on cardboard, I reduced the template by 1/2″ all the way around, before transferring it to the wood. Cut and sanded the rough edges.20170106_150135  20170113_084338  20170113_085429

I used four of the large washers to determine and mark the placement of the casters.  For ease of drilling through the copper, a pilot hole was drilled first, then a 7/16″ hole to accommodate the size of the caster stem.

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Hold the plywood firmly in the bottom of the tank to mark through the holes.  Drill 7/16″ holes in the wood and replace in the tank.

Put one washer on each caster stem and insert them through the holes on the bottom of the tank, up through the wood. Turn tank upright so its resting on the casters. Put another washer on each caster stem. Use a white paint pen to reach inside the tank and mark the caster stems at the top of the washer. These marks will be used to drill holes for the cotter pins.

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Center punch the caster stems on the white marking. At the drill press, hold the caster firmly with vise grips and drill an 1/8″ hole, on the center punch, through the stem.

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Paint the plywood black. Paint the bottom of the tank. Let dry.

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Put the plywood back in bottom of the tank and insert the casters again. Push the cotter pins through the drilled holes of the caster stem.

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Paint the tank and lid. I beat a small dent out of the lid before painting. Lightly sand dried paint with a piece of wrinkled brown paper to smooth the finish.

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The porcelain handle was taken apart.

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My husband helped me figure out a way to twist the handle back on firmly by customizing a 3/8″ coupling fitting.

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I found the perfect lid handle at the Habitat store for 50 cents. After taping off the porcelain parts, I sprayed the handles, and the handle pieces that would show, with a hammered metal paint. I used a q-tip with a little fingernail polish remover and a ceramic tool to clean up some paint bleeds before attaching the handles.

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I’ve been saving an old necklace from my high school years because I liked the fleur-de-lis (never thought I’d be using it for something like this). The link at the top of the fleur-de-lis was pretty weak and bent right off without leaving any sharp edges. I sprayed it to match the handles and let it dry.

For good adhesion, I scrapped off a small bit of paint where I wanted to place the fleur-de-lis, then glued it on with a small dab of E6000.

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This is a fun piece, I love it!  It’s sure to add a bit of vintage charm to my bathroom.

 

Show Stopper Shadow Box DIY

This project actually began last November when I was looking for a storage box for the pear gourd wreath shown in my October 2015 blog post. The dried flowers were pretty fragile and I was a little leary about packing it away. That’s when I thought of a shadow box. Why not frame it as wall art?  I could make a box .. something eclectic… maybe a combination of scrapbook paper and aged mirror.

The biggest dilemma was finding a suitable box. Who knew finding a 10 x 10 x 2.5 inch box, with a lid, would be so hard?  I was even willing to buy a fancy box of chocolates, had the box been right. Sometimes, I get a bit antsy when I’m itching to do a project and can’t find just that certain thing I think I need. But, I’ve learned that a little patience goes a long way, and if I just wait, something always seems to show up.

My daughter and I were checking out the clearance aisles at Burlington Coat Factory last month. I wasn’t really shopping for anything, just entertaining my toddler granddaughter in the cart, when I saw a pile of magnetic clasped boxes on the shelf.  So unexpected, and more than PERFECT!  A clasp option would make the box easily accessible to switch out whenever you wanted.   I was reenergized, this was going to be fun!

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With the clasp at the bottom, I measured in 5/8″ from the top and bottom of the lid, and 3/4″ on each side, to cut out a frame opening. Cut nice straight lines by running a sharp utility knife along a ruler’s edge. Seal the box with gesso. Let dry.

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A 1/4″ sq. craft stick was mitered for the frame opening.

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Trace the box on a piece of foam core board, and draw an arch at the top. Lie flat, on padding or cardboard, and cut out with a utility knife. Fill in rough edges of foam board with lightweight spackling. When dry, sand lightly to smooth. Seal board with gesso. Let dry well.

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Paint the box, frame pieces, and foam board with black primer or craft paint. No need to paint where the box and foam board will be glued together. The second picture, below, may look a little strange, but the foam board will curl when painted.  I laid mine over a container, weighing each end down, past center, to dry. Once dry, I turned it over, laid it flat on my worktable, and weighed it down to flatten again. Trust me, please, it works.

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I knew I had been saving a cool, striped C.J. Banks clothing sack for a reason. After smoothing it out with a warm iron, it covered the long foam board with no seams.

Place the foam board on top of the striped paper to center the stripes, and trace it with a pencil. Hold the paper up to a bright window, face down, and retrace your line on the back of the paper. This pattern line will help keep your stripes centered when gluing. Cut your pattern out larger, away from the line about 1 1/2″. Do not cut on the traced line.

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Paper may stretch when wet. Wanting to achieve the smoothest surface possible, I glued and dried small sections at a time, using a plastic gift card and brayer to work out air bubbles.

Lay foam board face up. Beginning at the bottom, brush on a light, even coat of thinned white glue, going up about 3 or 4 inches. Turn the glued foam board over, and position it face down on the backside of the striped paper, within the retraced pattern line. Press it firmly in place, turn it back over, face up, and smooth out air bubbles. Weigh down to dry. Continue to glue until covered.

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Use a fid, or paper folding tool, to wrap paper tightly around edges before gluing. Trim away excess paper for neat corners, and cut some darts around the arch. Glue and weigh down to dry. Glue may seep at edges, as a precaution lay a sheet of wax paper over the glued area before weighing down. A piece of light weight brown paper was added for a finished look.

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Fortunately for me, my youngest daughter downsized recently, and stored a treasure trove of scrapbooking paper in my basement. I chose three patterns I felt would compliment each other and my wreath. Pieces were cut to the appropriate sizes to cover the surfaces of the box.

A little black and metallic gold craft paint was mixed together to match the papers. The mixture over the black base paint almost created an olive green tinge, an added plus!  I painted the front and back of the lid, the folds of the lid, all corners, edges, and frame pieces.

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I love the look of aged mirror. I had a few pieces I had aged, with some of the backing completely gone, and thought bits of the decorative paper would look awesome peeking through them. I cut two pieces for the outer sides and a square for the inside.

The paper pieces were glued on with a thin layer of white glue. After they were smoothed and air bubble free, I clamped the mirror pieces and spare foam board pieces over them to ensure they would dry flat and stay smooth. Glue the paper accent on the arch and weigh down to dry.

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Cut a thin piece of clear glass for the frame opening. Stand the box on it’s top and fold lid down flat. Position the glass on the inside of the lid, covering the opening. Slowly, lower the box down over the glass to make sure it fits inside the box and doesn’t hinder closing. Use small dabs of E6000 to glue the glass in place. Be careful not to use too much glue or it will seep to the front and you’ll have some cleaning to do. For cushion, and to help even out weight, lay a couple pieces of foam board across the glass before weighing with books to dry.  I squeezed small dabs of E6000 on the backside corners and edges of my mirror pieces, and clamped them on the papered sides while the glass was drying.

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Gorilla Glue was used to adhere the foam board to the back of the box. Gorilla Glue swells as it dries, be careful not to apply it too close to the edge, it will seep out and get ugly.  Apply it to the backside of the box, in a thin line, at least 1/2″ away from the edge, and a few swirls in the center. Remembering to keep the clasp at the bottom, position the box very near the bottom of the striped foam board piece, leaving about 1/16″ of the stripes showing.

Squeeze small dabs of E6000, on the backside corners and edges of the square mirror piece and glue it to the inside of the box. Weigh it all down to dry. I found a smaller box that fit in, on top of the mirror, then weighed the box down. Let dry overnight.

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I’m going to rely heavily on Gorilla Glue to hold prong hooks for hanging.  I bent the tops of the hangers out a little, before gluing, to accommodate a nail head. A sheet of wax paper was laid over the glued areas, before weighing it down to dry, so nothing got stuck and damaged the brown paper.

The frame pieces were held in place with painter’s tape. I removed them, one at a time, brushed on thinned glue, and clamped them down to dry. They shifted easily, so I waited until one was secure before moving to the next. You may have to touch up a little paint where you used painter’s tape.

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To complete the look, an old drawer pull was added to snazzy up the arch.

The wreath was laid in the box, with small dabs of E6000 in a few places on it’s backside, where it touched the mirror, and left to dry overnight.

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I’m pretty sure that shadow box making has just nudged it’s way onto my favorites list. I think the hanging element can be improved with a little more forethought, but, I am so pleased with the way this project turned out.  Although it was time consuming with all the gluing and drying, I believe it was worth it. Any time you can learn a little, have fun, and have something to show for it, is time well spent!  Don’t you agree?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Something For Fall!

We’ve had a couple very windy days, but, there’s no complaining about the excellent Iowa harvest weather we’ve been enjoying so far this month.

Windy conditions can play havoc on seasonal yard decorations, however.  With the exception of pumpkins and gourds, I’ve wired and tied things down, to still see them blown across the yard, or disappear all together.  So now, I opt to add a bit more seasonal flair with small wreaths inside my home.

An abundant crop of egg gourds, dried, and stored in my basement, has been on my mind a lot since summer.  I’ve been wanting to make something with them for a long time.  I got to thinking that, some of them, a few of my favorite things, and what Mother Nature had to offer, would make for some pretty fall décor.  Simple and inexpensive, just my style!

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I’ve never been able to decorate a wreath when its lying on a flat surface.  I like to hang a prepared wreath on a paper covered board, and work on it at eye level.

Gourd Wreath – Choose seven egg gourds of similar size and shape.  Soak overnight in bleach water and scrub clean.  (A small plastic basket, used for holding baby bottle rings and nipples in a dishwasher, works great for this step.  It will hold the gourds and its easy to weigh down under the water).  Dry gourds. Wax and buff with Briwax or any furniture wax. On a non-skid surface, arrange the gourds in a circle, and secure together with painter’s tape.  Gently turn them over and mark with pencil where they meet each other.  Remove the gourds from the tape, one at a time, drill holes with a Dremel and 3/32″ bit, then replace gourd on tape.  When done drilling, turn gourds face up and remove tape.

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Measure and estimate the diameter of the wire ring you will need.  Pre-shape a length of 16 gauge wire around a container of the same diameter.   Mine was about 3 1/2″.

String gourds on to the wire.  Cut off excess wire and twist ends together.  Turn over, face down, and attach a push-in hanger with Gorilla Glue.  Let dry.

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With side-cutters, cut a few long, bleached pinecones, to form flowers.  Spray pinecone pieces and False Baptisia pods with Clear Matte Sealer.  Attach the prettiest pinecone pieces with hot glue.  Embellish with pods.

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Pear Wreath – I like pears and couldn’t resist when I found smaller egg gourds that resembled their shape.  Always remember to soak and scrub the gourds.

I mixed a small amount of white and green wall paints for the palest of green color.  For a special touch, I used a small slender glass leaf I had, but, you could trim down an artificial leaf, or use no leaf.

After soaking a 6″ grapevine wreath overnight, slide two thick rubber bands around it’s center to form a more oval shape.  Let dry 24 hours. While the wreath dries, give the gourds 2 or 3 coats of paint, one side at a time, and sanding lightly between coats.  Be careful, they like to roll!

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Cut the rubber bands from the dry wreath and lay it on a wire rack, over a bowl.  Water down a small amount of dark brown craft paint and lightly brush it over the wreath.  Let dry.  Speckle the wreath, lightly, with black craft paint.  Let dry and seal with Clear Matt Spray.

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Using a Dremel, I drilled a small hole to accommodate the base of my leaf, and glued it in with a small dot of hot glue. Spackling was used to fill in around the leaf.  Once dry, it was sanded smooth and repainted.  Small indentations were drilled in the top of the gourds to hot glue apple stems in place.  Touch up paint around the stems.

After gluing the pears on the wreath, two leaves and some berries, saved from past projects, were added.  The pretty green, dried Astilbe, tucked in and around, was cut from the bush outside my backdoor.

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Egg Basket Wreath – I have a thing for collapsible wire egg baskets, they’re cute!  And, so easy to decorate!  I found a flower sprig and feather sprigs for 50% off last month … a total of $3.00, YEAH!  I cut and reconfigured my flower sprig a little, but you needn’t.  Simply arrange your sprigs the way you like them, cutting off the long stems if needed, and add a raffia bow for a quick colorful wreath!

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