Tag Archives: decor

Twelve Posts of Christmas– Sticky Business

I am writing this post with a dream and an idea. Though it can still go horribly wrong. But I was called to sit on jury duty this week, and I have some time to kill because I can’t leave this room–possible for an entire week. So I am drafting this post without actually knowing if this project will work. But it’s so simple it has to work, right? I mean, I only need sticks and hot glue. What can go wrong?

So this is what I am going to try and do today when I get home from jury duty: I am going to make star ornaments out of twigs. I am going to brave the bitter cold and go outside and forage some smallish branches and twigs. I will curse the cold and the fact that I was too lazy to do this in the fall when the damn twigs were not covered in snow and it wasn’t nine degrees outside.

In a feat of self-delusion, I will think that making a star is easy. I mean, I’ve been making them since I was, like, five years old.  I will intend to do many, but will probably cobble together just one, which I will then spray paint gold to hide all the defects.  And add glitter. Lots of glitter. 

How did this turn out?

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Not too bad. If you don’t look at it too closely, that is. Hot glue is kind of blobby. 20131219-212600.jpg

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I was, indeed, annoyed that I waited to do this project when everything was covered with snow.  I though about collecting the twigs many times this fall as we were pruning branches. But I didn’t.  So instead, I rushed outside to the unburned burn pile, snapped some small branches and twigs with the leaves still attached and ran back inside.  My pile was kind of puny.  
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The pile of sticks and leaves eventually became a pile of sticks of varying sizes and lengths. I kept even really short pieces knowing I was going to try and fill in the star. It started out a little uncertainly. I have to admit I really dislike working with hot glue. It’s hard to control, leaves “strings” behind and dries milky.  Getting all 10 joints glued together, without gluing the towel underneath, was challenging.  As I held up the star triumphantly after the last joint, it was really wonky.  The joints were not stable and I  thought I had to scrap the hot glue because it wasn’t working. I went in search of wood glue. Bad idea! Do you understand how long you would have to hold pieces together to get them to stay?  So back to the hot glue.  It’s the only way to do this project in a reasonable time frame.  It just turned out I had to be more patient. 

I think I can get better at this and plan to make more. After I let myself be patient, and actually waited for the glue to dry, I realized that I could use less glue. Because of drying time, though, making one star can still take a while. an assembly line type of system would work, though for making two or three at once.  I thought my mound of sticks would yield more than one star. But adding the “filler” in was a bit addictive so I kept using up my sticks.

In the end, despite my setbacks, I think it turned out nicely and my next one will be even better. I may not even have to paint them gold and cover them with glitter! I haven’t decided yet. They look rather nice in the nude.

Boo-man Group

Just in time for Halloween! This is an easy project that requires just two materials: acrylic paint and a dried bottle gourd. Admittedly, finding a dried gourd can be tricky. I came across a cheap stash at a local nursery. They were $3 each for the dried, unscrubbed ones. The scrubbed ones were $5 each, and, looking back, I maybe should have paid the extra $2 because cleaning these suckers is hard work.

If you keep your eye out for them, I am sure you can find a cheap, local source. However, if you think these are so cute you want to go out and do them now, I seem to recall seeing them at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Or, if you want practically free gourds and want to plan this project for next year, you can grow them!

On that note, before I get into the project, let’s talk about the gourds. Some people don’t actually realize that these are plants. The dried gourd you plan to craft with was recently growing on a vine somewhere, similar to pumpkins and cucumbers. They are just a particular kind of squash or melon.

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According to Wikipedia, this plant was one of the first cultivated plants in the world, grown not primarily for food, but for use as a water container.” It can be also be eaten. While ancient cultures have used this amazing plant for functional and necessary purposes, we are not so noble. We are going to make cute, fun little ghosts.

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Dried Gourd Turorial

Step 1) Prepare your dried gourd. This means scrubbing the dickens out of it if it still has the flaky black bits on it. 20131007-222118.jpg Incidentally, this is mold…I recommend that you wear gloves and maybe a mask. And if you are having your kids help, do the scrubbing for them. Though, quite honestly, I have never had an issue. Since you are painting the gourds, they don’t have to be pristine. Just make sure you get the flakiness off so your paint does not peel.
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Step 2) Once gourd is flake-free and dry, you can paint it. Go ahead, be generous. I used white acrylic paint and had to do many, many layers before I was satisfied, but the stuff dries quickly so it’s not a big deal. Why not get creative and add some metallic or glitter paint. There is also no reason you can use a color other than white. However, I went traditional Ghostbusters on this and used black and white. I have done the project before with a foam brush and a paint brush. Both work well.

Step 3) Draw in your eyes and mouth. I used black acrylic paint, but you can get creative with this. I also rimmed the stem with black and added a little detail to the back for fun. When you are happy, give it a spray of glossy sealer.
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If you search far and wide for bottle gourds and only find apple gourds, do not despair, here are some Halloween/ Fall ideas with apple gourds.

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Bring it on in: home decor from the outdoors

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One of my favorite perennial flowers is the Siberian Iris. They are the straighter, cleaner, less delicate cousin of that other show off, the bearded iris. This is a great plant not only for its tall, beautiful flowers, but also because they have interest before and after they bloom–well into late summer. In the spring, they start to come up early in straight, contained clumps that provide structure and height to your spring flower bed. Then they bloom. The quintessential color is that deep purple seen above (plantings courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden). After the flowers fall off, a thick, green bulbous head is left on the stalk. This is the seed pod. It stays bright green for quite a while before slowly starting to turn yellow by the end of the summer.
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And then in the fall, something wonderful happens. The seed pods turn brown brittle and opens up, like a tiny little cup just waiting to be tipped over to spill its seeds and propagate.

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While I cut many of my iris flowers for bouquets throughout the spring and summer, I always make sure to leave some of the flowers so that I end up with these dried seed pods. I have used them in my home decor for many years.

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