Sunday, February 28, 2010

Update, projects to follow

Quick update here.
I've dropped the ball again. Again! Can't belive it.

More family came into town (it's like Christmas in February here - crazy), more drama (which I will not go into detail about here) and then our whole family has had this cold of Hulk-like proportions for the last week (Hulk as in size, not color :)). Soooo, here I am without a proper project post to show.

The good new is I've gotten some shopping done, surprisingly, and now I have the materials for a few more projects in the next weeks to come. And I've gotten some done on a few other projects in the last week but nothing I can show you just yet, it's just half finished.

And I've ordered seeds so I expect to be showing you some garden projects during spring and summer for our as of now completely barren yard. I can't believe some people don't do ANYTHING to their yards, but that's how our house came when we bought it - BARREN! I hope to change that pretty soon with my seed projects. I totally don't know what I'm doing when it comes to the garden :) It'll be an adventure, never done anything like it before. If I succeed in turning our place into a perfectly flowery cottage garden we can all enjoy the beauty, if I fall flat on my face we can laugh (or cry) together.

Either way I hope you stay with me, crafty projects will always be the focus of this blog, just with some garden stuff thrown in for good measure.

While having the potential to completely fail in doing as I intend (depending on what life IRL throws my way) I will still say that I should have a regular project post within the next week for you to enjoy. Thank you all for following my crafty endeavors, I appreciate every one of you!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Moorish arched windows and some snow

Hi everyone!

We're finally out from under the snow so here I am again. My goal is to post once a week since with the kidlets and some necessary time for crafting that's about what I can muster. Needless to say I didn't meet that goal last week (some of you may have noticed).

I was in the process of debating what to post about and then we had family fly in from out of state and out of country and then this snow storm hit Texas which for a day or so was fun, just check out the snowman I made :) Complete with junior helper... The kids had never really seen snow or played in it so it was fun to see their reaction.

Then the power went out and with that the heating of our house.... Fun was nowhere to be found.

I may be from Sweden which has this kind of weather all the time in the winters but I tell you I was born in the wrong country. I was really destined for someplace warm year round with palm trees and God just happened to send me to the wrong place. Or my parents didn't get that they were supposed to have moved to this warm palm tree laden place before I was born. Either way I hate winters in general, I hate snow and cold and I hate, hate, HATE being cold. My ticket out of the Swedish cold was my darling Texan husband :) And Texas generally indulges me with wonderful heat but even the winters here are too much for me. I go to bed at night with my hot water bottle :)

Anyway, mercifully the power came back on again after about 12 hours. But with all the drama I never got around to posting last week. Nor did I do any crafting which is why I'm showing you a project I finished a few months ago.

My Moorish arched windows. Because my absolute favorite part of the Moroccan/Indian look are those wonderful gracefully exotic arched windows and doorways and I wanted to reproduce that look. I was going to make them out of thin plywood but that never seemed to happen so I decided to make them from ultra cheap foam board instead.

My list of ingredients:

foam boards (I had two windows and I used two foam boards per window)
old phone book, tissue paper or other thin paper for papier mache
white glue
burnt umber craft paint
golden brown craft paint
gold glitter
duct tape
hot glue
white paint (I used spray paint)

These aren't the sturdiest of window coverings, but for me it doesn't matter since they're up out of the way of the kids and most of the time no one will even come close enough to touch them. They may be called ghetto but I prefer to think of myself as a theater prop master instead - they're made out of cheap lightweight material but they look the part. And that's good enough for me :)

My windows are only about 15 inches wide but quite tall. The boards are 20x30 inches so I decided to join two boards by the longest sides making one board 40 tall and 30 wide. I wish they came in larger sizes because joining them isn't ideal, but you work with what you've got, right?

I put the boards down and pushed them as close together as I could and ran a length of duct tape over the joint. Flipped the boards over to the other side and ran a bead of hot glue in the crack between the boards, then another length of duct tape over the joint on that side as well. It's not pretty at this point but this won't be visible when it's all done. You can see one of the joints in this pic (which was taken from the back after being painted over with spray paint).

I free handed the shape of the arch with some inspiration from the internet and cut out a template in paper and transferred it to the board. Cut it out with an xacto knife, which took awhile. I used the leftover board part from the inside of the arch to piece together another arch, smaller by 1.5 inch on all sides than the first one, which I hot glued on top of the first arch. You can sort of see what I mean in this pic here despite it being blurry.

Don't worry if this top layer have some gaps in places because the papier mache will cover a multitude of sins. This layer was added to make it less one dimensional and to make it a little sturdier.

So, after this it got messy :) There's no way you can papier mache neatly. I tore pieces and strips out of an old phone book, dipped them in slightly diluted white glue, squeezed out the excess glue and covered the whole surface of the arch with paper. I made sure to fold the paper over the edges to the back and follow all the curves and shapes. Then I let it dry for a day or so. I added the papier mache to give the arch some texture and make it look not so square and foam boardy, and maybe more ancient?

Then came the painting. First coat was burnt umber craft paint all over the front, but nothing on the back. Next I ragged some of the lighter golden brown paint on top of the dark brown. Ragging means you just dip a rag or in my case a paper towel into the golden brown and blot it onto the surface until you get the effect you want. After doing this there was too much golden brown so I ragged another coat of the burnt umber to make it less golden and more brown for a subtler effect. And it was good :) So I let it dry for a bit and then on to the sparkle.

I was originally going to put plastic jewels on the arch in some pretty pattern but when brain storming I decided to try gold glitter instead. And to keep it simple by just adding glitter dots around the inside of the arch. So I dipped a q-tip into white glue and dotted around the inside arch and sprinkling glitter over the glue dots as I went. Tapped off the excess glitter and took a look at my masterpiece. And really liked the result :) Here's the detail of the glitter part.

The glitter adds just the right amount of bling to my window arches :)

Now, the back of the arch was still ugly with bits of phone book paper around the edges, duct tape and some brown dots. Since part of the back was going to be seen from the outside of the house I decided to paint the back an even coat of white. I just spray painted it but it didn't cover all that well. I decided that it was good enough anyway since these windows face the side of the house where no one will get all that close and even then you have to be right up by the window to really see anything. What can I say, I was very done with this project at this point.

As for the hangers I just made loops out of twine and hot glued them to the top of the back on each side of the arch and then put some duct tape over for good measure. This duct tape is not visible from the outside, they're positioned over the window opening when hung. And then I just nailed a couple of nails up and hung my Moorish arches. Instant Morocco, no? :)

My only problem with my arches is that the foam board has warped slightly because of the papier mache and paint I put on the front so the bottom parts don't hang flat against the wall. I intend to fix this by hot gluing battens on the back down the sides but I haven't gotten to it yet. They're good enough for now and the cold has kept me from using my workshop (our back yard) so it'll have to wait just a little longer. But this is what it looks like right now.

This is what our living room looks like without the arches.

Nice, but very plain suburban America with rectangular windows.

And the living room after! My own slice of Morocco, complete with climbing monkey girl.

Looks good even without the monkey :) And here's an especially jungly pic I managed to take.

If it wasn't for the cold winter light coming in I might think I was far away in some exotic locale. One can always dream, right? :)

If you were to make these I would still suggest a thin plywood for the very best result, but foam board is cheap. I got mine at Walmart for $3 each but I know the Dollar tree store sometimes have them for $1 each, they didn't have any when I was shopping for this project. Barnacles, as Spongebob would say.

Anyway, what do you think about the Moorish look?

Ps. Linking up with Between Naps On The Porch, A Soft Place To Land, Someday Crafts, Tatertots & Jello, Funky Junk, Shanty 2 Chic.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Flower romance

Ok, as you may have seen I've been trying to make it a little easier to read on here and thus all the changes back and forth with the background etc. I'm having some problems at the moment and that's why we're white right now. Hopefully I'll get it figured out eventually :)

Now to the romance part. While reading some gorgeous wedding blogs lately I've seen all these wonderful kissing balls people use as flower decorations at their weddings, like this one.


I first came across a similar idea about a year ago when I saw this idea in a magazine (don't know which one) where they had red carnation kissing balls sitting in galvanized tin vases on each side of a fire place and it looked absolutely gorgeous. I reproduced the idea then with fake carnations from the Dollar tree store and it looked pretty good until one of my balls met with an unfortunate fate (kids with wandering hands ring a bell anywhere?) and it started to fall apart. So my other ball has been sitting in a corner until I brought it out the other day to fill up an empty vase and bring some color to our still white living room. It's a little out of proportion to the vase but it'll do for now.

When both the balls were still alive and well I used to have them displayed on a pair of candle holders and it used to look something like this, only two of them instead of just one.

And so seeing all the craft and decorating blogs starting to talk about Valentine's I started to think about what I could do along those lines. I'm not one to really do a lot of holiday decorating (too lazy to put something up only to take it down again almost immediately) so I try to use things you can use all year round or at least for a whole season before you need to take it down again. And a kissing ball can really be left up all year if you want to, just like you can display flowers any time of year.

I was going to make some hanging balls like the very first pic above but I didn't really have anywhere to put them. I've also been meaning to buy some fake flowers for an empty vase I have in our bathroom but haven't gotten around to it yet. What I did is I combined those two ideas into one - making kissing balls but turning them into "flowers" for my bathroom vase! This is how it turned out.

The flowers are made out of regular paper stock and so this was a really inexpensive project. Looks cool, though, doesn't it? They remind me of the bountiful look of peonies or hydrangeas which is just what I was going for.

To make this you'll need the following:

card stock (I used probably 25 pages of ivory card stock)
small balls (I stole some small plastic balls from my kids, you know the kind you have in ball pits?)
wire or wire hangers
fake leaves (I had lots of carnation leaves left over from my project from last year)
floral tape (optional, but it makes the whole thing look more polished)
hot glue and glue gun

I had made these tiny paper flowers for a previous project following these instructions and really liked the way they came out so I figured that's what I would do for the kissing balls as well. I made a ton of them.

I won't lie, it takes a while, but it's very easy so you can do it in front of the TV or listening to audio books or something. Or have a nice and romantic conversation with your husband :) Or... well, you get the idea :)

I tried to make my flowers as uniform in size as possible in order to make the finished ball as even as could be. I took one sheet of card stock and cut it in half lengthwise and each half into thirds, like this.

The idea is to make perfect squares but I'm all about eyeballing it so mine were slightly uneven, it made the finished product more organic looking :)
Then I took my ball (in a coordinating color to the paper because there's going to be some gaps no matter how careful you are) and started gluing away.

When the ball only had a little gap left I grabbed a wire hanger, removed the cardboard bar and straightened the "legs" of the wire and twisted them together like this.

I left one of the tips of the legs straight and curled the other leg around the straight one like this.

Then I poked a hole in the ball in the middle of the bald spot and inserted the wire all the way to the "platform" created by the second curled leg. Doused the hole, wire platform and surrounding area with a good amount of hot glue and let it cool. Now my kissing ball had a very securely attached stalk of wire. I filled in whatever gaps were still surrounding the stalk with more paper flowers to cover up the hot glue blob. Since I wanted this to look more like a flower than just a ball on a stick I added two pairs of fake carnation leaves by treading them on to the wire stalk and attaching them by wrapping floral tape around the leaves and the stalk, arranging the leaves to sit pretty close to the flower ball to cover up the hot glue and wire mess that might still show through.

Oh, and I also added one flower upside down onto the stalk and slid it all the way up to the ball to help cover the transition of ball to wire, maybe not necessary since the leaves will more than likely cover most of that stuff. It's up to you. Here's the result.

At this point I adjusted the wire stem to fit at the right height in the vase which for me meant leaving the bend in the wire hanger. I made three of these kissing ball flowers which was just the right amount of flower, but having only three puny stalks visible at the top of the vase wasn't cutting it. So I cut one of the original carnation stalk "brooms" (for lack of a better word to describe it) to the right height, left all the leaves on their stalks and stuck it in the vase with the kissing ball flowers to fill in with some greenery in the vase. Here's the broom.

And here's some more pics of the finished project.

I love how they turned out, they look both traditionally romantic and ultra modern. And they cost me nada since I had all supplies on hand already. I especially like that this ivory paper takes on a peachy pink tone in the center of each flower which makes it look so much more like a real flower. What do you think? :)

I had a few different ideas on what else you could do with these kissing balls. You could of course hang them from pretty ribbon from the ceiling and attack your hubby under it, it is a kissing ball after all :) You could also hang them from bare branches like in this pic from Poppy's Petalworks.

Or place them on top of a pretty vase. Make a few balls in different colors (red and pink come to mind) and put them in a bowl like you would any decorative balls. Or take my lead and display them on candle holders of varying heights. Have fun with this, I sure did :)

Ps. I'm linking to the below parties.
Blue Cricket Design

The Shabby Chic Cottage
Beyond The Picket Fence

My Romantic Home

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Between Naps On The Porch
A Soft Place To Land
Someday Crafts
Tatertots & Jello
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