A Bit of Frou-Frou

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I have an empty space on the bookshelf in my office and because it’s a dark bookshelf in a dark corner I wanted to add a little bit of whimsy that would light up the area – literally.

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I had all these plastic gems I picked up from the dollar store a few years back, and a conveniently-sized plastic jar into which they could go.

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When I poured them in I shoved in a set of battery-powered LEDs as well, for – well, for the purposes of lighting things up.

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Then I re-created a version of my paper peonies that I made a few years ago.

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And I stuck them in on top.

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So now I have glowing peonies. In my office.  And I’m okay with that.

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Glitter *may* be involved.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Then dusted them with appropriately-coloured glitter.

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Then let it dry.

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

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

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

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

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

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It looks pretty good just on its own.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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Frosty Lights

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We never decorate this early for Christmas.  We’re more of the put-it-up-a-week-before-Christmas-and-take-it-down-New-Year’s-Day kind of people.  In fact, because the Pie and I always travel home to Ottawa for the holidays, we don’t decorate at our house in St. John’s at all.

But there is snow on the forecast tomorrow, and we decided we wanted to enjoy a little bit of the holiday spirit while we were still home.  Just a little bit, of course.

I was practicing my glass cutting technique and I had three jars with no tops.  What was I to do with them?

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I like lights.  Why not make little hurricane lamps out of them, but without the prospective fire hazard of sticking a candle inside?  Yes.

I also remembered an idea that Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff had, and worked from there.  If you don’t read her blog, you should.  She’s hilarious.  I discovered her site when she stole one of my photographs in the middle of the night.  Sneaky lady.

So here’s the plan.  I have these jars, and I have these LEDs that I can stuff in the jars.  You get the picture?  Good, because we’re not done yet.

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I wanted these jars to look frosted, like someone had frozen three jar-shaped ice cubes and left them melting on my mantle.  So it’s time to haul out the etching cream.

You can get a full how-to on etching glass from a previous post here, but I’m going to remind you again to observe all the safety rules and wear the proper equipment: goggles, mask, and gloves.

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And because my sink is ceramic, I needed a plastic bucket full of baking soda in which to rinse my glass, to neutralize the acid.

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I used a different cream this time than I had before, because when I needed it Lee Valley had temporarily stopped selling it.  So this stuff looked like peanut butter with salt crystals in it, and it smelled much stronger than the other stuff I was using.  But it had the same results.  I didn’t want an even coating of frost, so I only applied a thin layer of cream and I only did one application.  I was hoping that some spots would remain un-etched, and that my brush strokes would show through.  And I was right!  That doesn’t happen very often.

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So here are the jars after frosting and rinsing.  You can see that they look really like someone has just steamed them up on the inside.

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Stuff some lights in them, however, and they go from steamy to frosty.

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Up close, you can see my brush strokes in evidence.

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Lined up on the mantle, with other things seasonal, it’s quite cozy.

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