A Magic Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! I wish you all the best and the happiest of the holiday season.

Wands 17

Everybody knows one. There’s at least one in every family. Sometimes there are several.

Wands 19

I’m talking about Harry Potter fans. Yes, those people.

Wands 23

I found this amazing tutorial on DeviantArt to make Harry Potter-inspired wands a couple years ago and I’ve been saving it for that special someone in my family.

Items you will most def need: chopsticks. I have six of the normal kind you get in fast food restaurants, and then a set of cooking chopsticks, because some wands are longer than others, after all.

Wands 2

You will also need a hot glue gun and appropriate hot glue sticks. Kind of key. You’re going to use a lot of glue for these so be prepared!

Wands 4

Optional are beads. Plastic, wooden, whatever. Doesn’t matter what colour. I also added some string. Because I like string.

Wands 3

Then I sat myself down with one of her favourite television shows to inspire me and I got to work (I probably should have watched Harry Potter but I’m on season two on Netflix and things are really starting to get good!).

Wands 5

From here what you do is pretty much up to you. I glued on some of the larger beads at the butt end of the wand as kind of a backstop.

Wands 6

And one on the tip as sort of an extender.

Wands 7

Then I added some texture and filler with glue.

Wands 8

Twirly whirly.

Wands 9

On this one I went with some string and some small beads.

Wands 10

Here I let the glue and gravity do their thing. If you use the high setting on your glue gun the glue will stay liquid for longer.

Wands 11

You can roll almost-cold glue between your hands to shape it but I tend to burn myself so I didn’t do that. I just let the glue cool unadulterated.

Wands 12

Wands 13

Now you can paint! I used craft paint, in a few different shades of brown. I painted the tips of the wands a darker brown, almost black, because I figure if they’re shooting sparks all the time they might get a little singed, right? I also added bits of silver here and there.

Wands 14

After the paint dried I coated each with a liberal layer of gloss Mod Podge and let that dry overnight. Any other form of sealant would work well – but you should definitely seal them with something because craft paint will just scratch right off hot glue.

Wands 16

Pretty fancy, no?

Wands 18

I’m not sure what she’s going to do with EIGHT MAGIC WANDS but that’s really not the point of this whole exercise, is it?

Wands 21

Fall Leaf Wreath

Fall Leaf Wreath 6

I’m not sure how it came about, but making wreaths from scratch has become one of my favourite DIYs in recent years. I love coming up with an idea  and seeing it come to fruition – sometimes better than I’d planned.

Fall Leaf Wreath 1

I spent about 20 minutes gathering these leaves from the local park. They all came from the same tree, so they were the same general shape, but they had a good variance of colour, which I liked. I divided my pile in half, and set one half aside.

Fall Leaf Wreath 2

Then I got out my craft paint and paint brushes.

Fall Leaf Wreath 3

Then I started painting the other half of the leaves. Nothing too elaborate or detailed – just something to make the leaf still interesting to look at once it’s shriveled and turned brown.

Fall Leaf Wreath 4

I did this for a while.

Fall Leaf Wreath 8

Like, an hour or so.

Fall Leaf Wreath 11

My favourites are the ones I painted with glitter paint, so the leaf colour shines through but then the light catches on the glitter and they’re just lovely.

Fall Leaf Wreath 13

Then I cut out a half-assed circle from some scrap cardboard. Yep, that’s freehand. No sense in being perfect on something that doesn’t need to be perfect.

Fall Leaf Wreath 15

While the painted leaves were drying, I took my hot glue gun and started attaching the unpainted leaves to the cardboard ring.

Fall Leaf Wreath 16

I tried to line it up mostly along the edges, with the larger leaves on the outside and smaller ones on the inside.

Fall Leaf Wreath 17

Then I filled in the centre a bit, because I knew the leaves would get wrinkly as they dried up over time.

Fall Leaf Wreath 18

Then I started inserting the painted leaves under and over and around.

Fall Leaf Wreath 19

Finally got every single one on there.

Fall Leaf Wreath 21

The whole thing, in poor lighting.

Fall Leaf Wreath 26

A snippet of one side, for the detail.

Fall Leaf Wreath 22

I tacked it to my front door, which is sheltered from the elements. I’m interested to see how it’s going to look in a week or two once the leaves go brown – you can see that just after one day they’re starting to curl already. I’ll add a photo when it gets there.

Fall Leaf Wreath 31

 

***EDIT***

And here it is, fully shriveled. I like how it turned out!

Fall Leaf Wreath 37

Fall Leaf Wreath 36

Glitter *may* be involved.

Lite Brite Dandelions 44

I saw this little bit of neat a while back and I’ve always wanted to recreate it for someone special. But of course by recreate I mean do it in a completely different way. Nevertheless.

Lite Brite Dandelions 38

What you need for this, however you decide to do it, is an artist’s canvas, some paint, some electric or battery-powered lights (LEDs are safer), a knife for cutting, a brush for painting, and some glue for, well, gluing. In this particular project, there was also glitter involved.

Lite Brite Dandelions 1

First, check and make sure your lights are working. Yes? Good.

Lite Brite Dandelions 5

Now, paint your canvas however you like. I was going to do mine a nice metallic, but then I thought better of it and went with a soft matte gray instead. Because I didn’t want to distract from the glitter.

Lite Brite Dandelions 7

Lite Brite Dandelions 8

As for your design, well, that’s up to you. The original idea was just sort of abstract, like fireworks. But you could do constellations (like someone’s Zodiac sign), or something more Lite-Brite-y. Or a marquee. Whatever you want. For mine, I decided on a dandelion, where each seed of my favourite flower (and I’m not ashamed to admit that I love that plucky weed) corresponded to a light.

Lite Brite Dandelions 10

Here’s a quick sketch I did once I figured out my idea, just for proof of concept.

Lite Brite Dandelions 6

I lightly marked out the design on the painted canvas with a pencil. I had to make sure that the design was big enough to accommodate the size of the lights I had purchased.

Lite Brite Dandelions 13

Lite Brite Dandelions 14

Then I discovered that the ugly deflectors on my Dollarama lights weren’t glued on and I could pull them off, meaning I was just left with the pretty little diode!

Lite Brite Dandelions 11

Lite Brite Dandelions 12

Then I cut out holes big enough for the lights to poke through.

Lite Brite Dandelions 15

I basically just needed to poke a hole with the Xacto and twist it a bit. While I was doing this the Pie started trying to make me mess up, which I did, on the very last hole. Then he started giggling and saying he shouldn’t tease me when I have a knife in my hand. How well he knows me by now.

Lite Brite Dandelions 16

Then I poked through the lights. Make sure to test them and see how they look! Of course my camera plus low light equals blurry photo, but you get the idea.

Lite Brite Dandelions 17

Lite Brite Dandelions 18

Lite Brite Dandelions 19

Then, if you want, you can secure them in place with a bit of hot glue around the back, but I’ll do that later. I don’t want the lights to get all glittered up.

Lite Brite Dandelions 20

Now, for the front, I had to fill in the rest of my design. With glitter. I used regular school glue to fill in the parts of the dandelion seeds and stalk.

Lite Brite Dandelions 21

Then dusted them with appropriately-coloured glitter.

Lite Brite Dandelions 22

Then let it dry.

Lite Brite Dandelions 24

You can dust away loose glitter with a soft fluffy brush and some compressed air. I did most of this outside.

Lite Brite Dandelions 26

And sealed up my glitter again. Yes, I have a jar full of jars of glitter. That stuff is dangerous.

Lite Brite Dandelions 27

The seeds took forever because I did the little actual seed part first.

Lite Brite Dandelions 28

By the time I was done with all the white fluffy bits I was so done with glitter in general.

Lite Brite Dandelions 29

Here it is after I went at it with compressed air for a bit. It seems to work best on the superfine metallic powder.

Lite Brite Dandelions 31

It looks pretty good just on its own.

Lite Brite Dandelions 32

Then I added back in the lights and secured each with a drop of hot glue. This is where I discovered that if you don’t use glue sticks for a while they yellow. Fortunately you can’t see this on the front.

Lite Brite Dandelions 33

I also secured all the loose wires and the battery casings. It doesn’t look pretty but you can’t see it so who cares?

Lite Brite Dandelions 34

I like it. I like that it looks neat during the day, with the contrast in gray and glitter, and then when you turn it on at night the light sparkles off everything but the background (except for the few stray bits of glitter embedded in the canvas). I also like how the seeds kind of look like dragonflies. NEAT!

Lite Brite Dandelions 46

Lite Brite Dandelions 47

Bulletin Board Beautification

I think I’ve had this bulletin board for twenty-five years, and someone else had it before me.  It’s held up pretty well, I think, but its age is starting to show.

Bulletin Board Beautification 1

There are certainly a large number of holes in it.

Bulletin Board Beautification 2

It’s not even made of cork: it’s like burlap and some sponge-y/fibre-y stuff.

Bulletin Board Beautification 4

And there are weird scraps of whatnot on the frame.

Bulletin Board Beautification 3

But why buy a new one when I can make this one new again?

I had this pretty fabric stuffed in my crafty closet.  It’s actually a stretch cotton, which will help me to get it very tightly attached to the bulletin board.

Bulletin Board Beautification 5

I cut it to vaguely fit the size of the board.

Bulletin Board Beautification 6

Then I pulled out these metal staples with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.  So I’m left with the frame and the board.

Bulletin Board Beautification 7

I stretched the fabric across the board and used a staple gun to fasten the fabric into place.  You could probably use a hot glue gun as well.

Bulletin Board Beautification 8

Then I quickly sanded down the frame with fine sandpaper and removed the hanging hardware temporarily. I painted it with this cute metallic teal craft paint.

Bulletin Board Beautification 9

I reattached the hanging hardware to the top of the frame, and then fit the board back into place with glue.  It’s a tighter squeeze with the fabric covering it.

Bulletin Board Beautification 11

Tada!  I’m glad I didn’t have to replace something that was still functional, and that I could add a personal touch to my office organization!

Bulletin Board Beautification 12

Bulletin Board Beautification 13

It’s hard for me to be artistic in arranging a bulletin board to appeal to the tastes of the internet, and really there’s only so much you can do with license plate renewals, energy cost charts, and a pair of scissors.  Though I did dress it up with a super cute pic of me and Cait that I found while I was looking for something else.  So that’s something.

Bulletin Board Beautification 14

Izod’s Bookcase

Izod's Bookshelf 7

I had a totally different plan for this, but when it turned out that it was completely unfeasible, this one worked out really well instead.  When I first found out that Atlas was pregnant, I decided that the baby would get as a first Christmas gift from me a collection of my favourite children’s books.  I’ve been picking them up second-hand at various thrift shops, and I aim to continue to do so whenever I find one that is right.  But so far, I have a pretty good collection of Roald Dahl, some Doctor Doolittle, the Narnia series, and a few of the classics.

I bought the bookshelf at IKEA.  I wanted to re-vamp a thrifted one but I couldn’t find an appropriate one and this one was inexpensive and the exact size I wanted.

Izod's Bookshelf 1

I took off the back panel of the bookshelf and set it up against some nice blue fabric, which I cut to size.

Izod's Bookshelf 2

Then I glued it onto the back with hot glue.

Izod's Bookshelf 3

Because the fabric made the panel thicker, I used a craft knife to widen the slots on the back of the bookshelf.

Izod's Bookshelf 4

So now it fit, and it’s all in place.

Izod's Bookshelf 5

I’d originally planned a nice stencil here, with contact paper and spray paint, but I discovered that if you use spray paint on contact paper it peels back from the design and doesn’t work.  So I ended up free-handing Izod’s name here with craft paint and it worked out really well.

Izod's Bookshelf 6

And it’s all finished.  I hope he has many adventures with some of my favourite stories!

Izod's Bookshelf 8

Victorian-esque Hanging Mirror … from Toilet Paper Rolls

Victorian Mirror 31

Okay so I’m not really setting any trends these days when it comes to weird stuff I make that I find on the internet.  I must be getting old.  Or it might be that I seem to never be sitting in front of my computer anymore.  In any case, I made this thing, and you can see things like it all over the internet.  But this one is mine.  And I like it.  So the basic ingredients you need for this are toilet paper/paper towel rolls (how many?  MANY.), a mirror, and something to mount your mirror in.  In this case, I had a 10″ round mirror so I stuffed it in a 10″ embroidery hoop.   You’ll also need scissors and pencils and rulers and glue and paint and something to stick to the whole shebob so it hangs.  Sorry for the technical language.

Victorian Mirror 3

Geez, where to begin?  Okay, start with your paper rolls, which you have been assiduously collecting for a month or two.  Or three.

Victorian Mirror 1

Pull all the paper bits off them, of course. This is how many I had. I didn’t end up using them all, but I figured from the outset it would be useful to cut them all in case I needed them later.

Victorian Mirror 5

Then I measured the depth of my embroidery hoop, which was about 1/2″ inch.

Victorian Mirror 6

So then I cut all the paper rolls into 1/2″ segments, to match.

Victorian Mirror 8

Now, I discovered that the mirror didn’t fit in the embroidery hoop if the inner hoop was still in place …

Victorian Mirror 9

So I took it out and tightened the outer hoop and that was fine.

Victorian Mirror 10

I set the hoop (minus the mirror) on my work surface, and then started thinking about a plan. There are many different patterns you can make with those little paper cat’s eyes.

Victorian Mirror 11

Victorian Mirror 12

But I figured the best way was to lay it out around the hoop and see what it looked like. This was one incarnation. I may do that one again sometime.

Victorian Mirror 13

Then it all started to come together. I had a design in mind similar to those overly ornate Victorian embellishments, so that’s kind of what came out.

Victorian Mirror 14

Victorian Mirror 15

I figured I would freehand the rest. So then I started gluing, using a hot glue gun.

Victorian Mirror 16

But at the top, I had that screw to contend with.

Victorian Mirror 17

So with some poking of holes and cutting of slits and things I got it all worked out.

Victorian Mirror 18

Then you just kind of keep going.

Victorian Mirror 19

Victorian Mirror 21

When I was satisfied with the number of pieces of paper I’d glued together, I tested out the size and weight. Remember that adding a glass mirror to your design will make it significantly heavier.

Victorian Mirror 22

Then I painted. I bought a craft spray paint that was supposedly designed specifically for wood and paper. It turned out to be a different colour than advertised, and it seemed to just get absorbed into the paper and wood, but that was fine. I finished it off with a spritz of glitter and some sealant and there it is.

Victorian Mirror 23

Back onto the work surface, face down.

Victorian Mirror 24

I set some erasers inside the hoop to hold the mirror at the height I wanted it.

Victorian Mirror 25

I bought this mirror from Value Village years ago and I think it was one of those display mirrors for crystal collections, so it already had this nice felt backing on it. I did two tracks of glue around the border and then extra-glued on a piece of hanging hardware.

Victorian Mirror 27

It’s cloudy today but you get the idea. I’m quite pleased with it.

Victorian Mirror 30

Bay Leaf Wreath

Bay Leaf Wreath 26

It’s getting to be that sort of holiday season, isn’t it?  I have a post coming up for you about some decorations on the cheap that I did last year, but in the interim, if you’ve got a bit more time, why don’t you make yourself a new wreath?

For some reason, at some point my mother bought an enormous bag of bulk bay leaves.  And she has used probably three of them in the past five years.  And even dried bay leaves don’t hold their flavour for five years.  Rather than throw them out, however, I thought I would make a seasonally-appropriate wreath with them instead.

Bay Leaf Wreath 3

Normally when I’m making a wreath I buy a cheap ugly pre-made one from a second-hand store and then I take it apart. This time I bought a styrofoam wreath form from Michaels instead. I was SHOCKED at how expensive they are! This 11″ one cost me a whopping TWELVE DOLLARS. For a piece of styrofoam. Next time I’ll cut my own out of computer packaging or something, thank you very much … Fortunately I also found a bag of assorted jingle bells at Value Village for two dollars so that saved me. And of course I had my trusty glue gun on hand.

Bay Leaf Wreath 1

The first thing I did was spray the wreath form all over silver with spray paint. Which was when I learned that even craft spray paint will dissolve styrofoam a little bit. Yikes.  I did this just in case there were any gaps in my leaves.  I wanted the whole thing to be silver.

Bay Leaf Wreath 8

I wanted my jingle bells to stand in as pseudo-berries, so I wanted to spray them red. However, I wanted them to be a frosty red, so I only sprayed one side of each one with red spray paint. If you wanted to spray all sides of each jingle bell I would recommend threading them on a long string so you can get all sides evenly.

Bay Leaf Wreath 7

Next I sorted out my bay leaves (pitching the broken ones) and sketched out a rough plan.

Bay Leaf Wreath 9

Then I started gluing. I used smaller leaves on the outside and inside edges of the wreath, so they would fit better.

Bay Leaf Wreath 11

Once I finished gluing on the leaves in the centre of the wreath, I started shoving random leaves in here and there, to fill in gaps but also to make the whole thing look a little less perfect.

Bay Leaf Wreath 12

So that’s with all the leaves glued on. If my bay leaves had been fresher I would have left this as-is for a nice festive green, but of course mine were past their prime and thus looked a little sickly.

Bay Leaf Wreath 13

This is my idea for how the bells were going to fit on. I was just going to group them in little batches and glue them on.

Bay Leaf Wreath 14

So after I sprayed the wreath silver again to cover up all the green bits, I got my bells ready to go.

Bay Leaf Wreath 15

To my dismay, however, I discovered that hot glue doesn’t stick to spray-painted bay leaves.

Bay Leaf Wreath 17

In fact it just peels the paint right off.

Bay Leaf Wreath 19

New plan. I grabbed my old spool of fishing twine and got to work with it.

Bay Leaf Wreath 20

I strung a handful of assorted bells on a loop of twine and tied the twine in a knot to keep them tight.

Bay Leaf Wreath 21

Then I simply tied the twine around the wreath form, weaving it under what leaves I could to hide it for the most part.

Bay Leaf Wreath 22

Then on the back I added a spot of glue to each twine loop to hold it in place.

Bay Leaf Wreath 23

And glued a nice blue ribbon on the top.

Bay Leaf Wreath 18

And then I hung it up. TADA!

Bay Leaf Wreath 27