Mini Glitter Tree

Glitter Tree

I saw a giant silver version of this on Curbly last week and thought that in our house, where we haven’t taken any Christmas stuff out (because we’ll just have to pack it all up again immediately), it could brighten up the place a wee bit – at least until I give it to someone else.

Glitter Tree

The whole project takes about an hour from start to finish, and that includes harvesting the sticks, so if there are any members of your household you’d like out of your hair for a while – child or adult – give them this task and tell them to have at ‘er. A warning, though, that this is a GLITTER project, so you might have a mess on your hands afterwards. I managed to keep most of mine contained, but that depends on your manual dexterity and how you store your glitter. So BEWARE.

Glitter Tree

Go out and grab yourself some relatively straight sticks, and cut them in decreasing size to form an elongated triangle when laid out (you know, like a Christmas tree).

Glitter Tree

Then grab a paintbrush and some glue and paint the end of your stick with some glue. Not a whole lot – just enough to adhere to glitter, and we all know it doesn’t take much to get glitter to stick to something.

Glitter Tree

Then take your glitter (mine is in a wee jar) and either sprinkle it over the gluey stick or dip your stick into the glitter. I found it tidier to dip the stick in but you can do as you wish.

Glitter Tree

Do the same to all the other sticks. The original version had the tips painted silver with silver glitter but I decided to forego the paint altogether and pick as many colours of glitter as I owned.

Glitter Tree

Make sure to get both sides done and then let them sit for a while to dry – if you didn’t go overboard on the glue then it won’t take long.

Glitter Tree

While that’s going on seal your glitter carefully up where it came from. That stuff should be a controlled substance.

Glitter Tree

Now find yourself a decent length of wire. I have this stuff that I pulled out of an old downed telephone pole many years back. It’s copper wire with various colours of wrapping. I picked gray as a neutral.

Glitter Tree

The wire should, doubled, be probably twice the length of your little tree diagram from top to bottom.

Glitter Tree

Take the bottom stick and fold the wire in half around the centre of it. Twist the wire several times to hold it in place, and keep twisting to create about 0.5 to 1cm of space between the first stick and the second one.

Glitter Tree

Twist on the second stick in the same way, twisting again to leave some space.

Glitter Tree

Keep going with all your sticks, leaving spaces in between.

Glitter Tree

When you’re done, you should have a large amount of wire coming off the top of the tree. You can use this to create a loop for hanging or whatever you like. I left mine long so the people I was giving it to would have room to work with. Twist and turn your sticks to make the “tree” more three-dimensional, and hang it somewhere pretty!

Glitter Tree

Frosty Striped Vases and Pom Pom Flowers

Striped Vases 23

Neon seems to be the big thing these days.  While I’m not the hugest fan of neon colours (having grown up in the 80s and 90s when it was overused and used badly), I do like what designers are doing with it as an accessory colour.  I like the pop of these striped vases here, and the ombre finish of these ones here.  So I thought I would try out the effect of the rubber bands and the ombre, but with a different colour more suited to the taste and decor of the person to whom I am giving the things.

Striped Vases 1

I cut a bunch of glass bottles I had lying around down to size and ground down the sharp edges (for my tutorial on cutting glass see here). You can of course use any glass you have lying around, vases, tumblers, stuff you pick up from the thrift store.

Striped Vases 2

Before I really got into it, I thought I might do a test, first, on a piece of glass I wasn’t intending to use.  I have learned from many, many, MANY mistakes to always test a new effect first.  And you know what?  I hated it.  From a distance, I guess it was okay, but up close you could see all the places where the paint had bled under the rubber bands and/or peeled off as the elastic was peeled off.  I checked around the internet and it seems that others have had this problem as well, so I gave it up for lost.

Striped Vases 4

I am, however, still a fan of the IDEA of the rubber bands, at least, and I’ve become quite proficient at frosting glass.  I still have a jar of Velvet Etch left over from last Christmas’s present run, and while I don’t like it as much as Armor Etch, it’ll do perfectly for this project where I just want a light touch.

Striped Vases 9

So.  Take your glass.  Take a bunch of rubber bands, of different widths, and slap them on your vases, however which way you would like.  Mine are rather haphazard, which will go well with the fact that this etching cream likes to leave huge swaths of unfrosted glass behind.

Striped Vases 6

Then, wearing goggles, gloves, and a ventilator, slather on that etching cream (for my tutorial on etching glass see here).

Striped Vases 10

Leave the stuff on for the appropriate time, and then carefully rinse it off, making sure that your rinse water is mixed with some form of base (like baking soda) to neutralize the acid before it eats your sink.  Exercise caution when pulling off the rubber bands, as they tend to spit bits of acid at you if you snap them off too quickly.  Slow and steady wins the race here.

Striped Vases 12

Striped Vases 24

Now you can stop there, and just enjoy your vases as they are.  Or you could add a touch of whimsy so your receiver can put them to use right away: add flowers.  Fresh flowers are pretty expensive in these parts, and in the winter months it’s unlikely that they’re going to be locally sourced, so most of the people I know hem and haw over the idea of wasting money on a fresh bunch of flowers that will last only a few days and has come from who knows where.  Silk flowers are all right, but I find they get dusty really quickly.  But if you take flowers to the abstract, and make them from paper or fabric, I think they have a bit more pizazz.

Striped Vases 18

These ones I made from pom-poms.  Now, there’s a bunch of ways to make pom-poms floating around the internet.  The most popular method for trendy crafters seems to be the practice of wrapping the yarn around your fingers a million times and then simply tying that bundle together in the middle.  While that is certainly the quickest way, I find you end up having to cut off a large amount of excess yarn in order to make your pom-pom anything close to spherical.  The pom-pom method I used when making my touque-tastic tea cozy may take a while, but it’s worth it in the end.  What comes out of it is almost perfect from the get-go, and you can be happy with just a little bit of trimming.

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I modified the method a bit, in that I cut a slit in my paper double-donut and then folded back the edges of the slit.  This way you can run your winding yarn through the slit rather than having to feed it through an increasingly smaller hole.  Of course, you can’t keep winding around and around on this one; once you reach the edge of the slit you have to turn around and go back in the other direction but the results are more or less the same.

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These pom-poms I made from various tail ends of wool I had lying around.  Some I made really tight, some loose, and I wasn’t too careful about trimming them too precisely, because I wanted them to look natural (or as natural as flowers made from pom-poms can be). That one in the front left looks kind of like a wool celosia (brain flower).  Or we’ve just made a visit to Whoville and Dr. Seuss sent us home with a bouquet.

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Then you just need to find yourself some twigs that are to your liking.  If you feel around in your pom-pom you can usually feel the loop of yarn holding everything together.  If you give your stick a careful shove and get it inside this loop, the tension should hold it there.  If you’re worried about it falling, add a dab of hot glue.  The bonus of not gluing, however, is once you tire of the arrangement you can pull the pom-poms off and use them for something else.

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Then you arrange your “flowers” any way you like.  Like all in one big vase:

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Or in three small ones.  Whatever floats your boat.

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Rack’ Em Up!

Rack 'Em Up!

This idea comes from Man-Made DIY, who, in turn, took inspiration from another designer. I love how the internet works.  I made a further spin-off of this when I made the jewelry stand for my niece.

This is a hat rack/coat rack/anything kind of rack made from fallen tree branches.  The wooden frame is made from old boards we scrounged out of our tipsy garage.  Don’t tell my landlord.

The branches came from fallen trees on that construction lot near our house.  You might remember that we cut down a bunch of saplings there in order to build our wattle fence (which I still haven’t finished, sorry).  These branches were ones that had already fallen due to hurricane-strength winds, or ones that were part of trees uprooted in the construction process.  So no trees were harmed in the making of this project.  Well, no trees were harmed by US, at least.

Rack 'Em Up!

We made two large racks, one for my dad and the other for Mrs. Nice.

First we cut up the planks we found in the garage, into 2 20″ lengths and 2 8″ lengths for each rack.

Rack 'Em Up!

With difficulty, we screwed them together.  The wood was pretty warped, so one one of the racks it came out a little crooked.

Rack 'Em Up!

Then we sprayed them black, because the wood wasn’t particularly interesting, visually.

Rack 'Em Up!

Then we cut lengths of branch to fit inside the rack frame.

Rack 'Em Up!

After sorting out what looked good where, we screwed those in as well.

Rack 'Em Up!

I later sprayed the top and bottom of the racks again to hide the screw marks.

Rack 'Em Up!

A finishing touch was a rusty bolt glued onto my dad’s.

Rack 'Em Up!

And some shells for Mrs. Nice.

Rack 'Em Up!

We left off hanging hardware because we weren’t sure where they were going to hang them.

Rack 'Em Up!

They look pretty good, all things considered.

Rack 'Em Up!

Functional, too.

Rack 'Em Up!

Packing Crate Jewelry Stand

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

This project was a spin-off of a spin-off of a spin-off (which I will be posting about later).  I figure at this point it counts as my own idea.  Especially since it turned out so well!

This is a Christmas present for my elder niece.  A little while ago, I gave her all my earrings, because I can’t wear them anymore.  So I figured I would build her something to store/display them, along with any other jewelry she has.

So for this project, I had everything I needed on hand, though I did purchase my very own hot glue gun for the event.  It was definitely much smaller, easier to hold, and less burn-y than the one my dad has.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

You will need several straight-ish sticks, with protruding smaller branches.  It being windy season here in St. John’s, these were easy to find.  I also had a swatch of vintage-style lace that my mother gave me when I was studying at home last year.

And I found these segments of wood in the dilapidated shed in my backyard.  I’m pretty sure, due to their thickness and the fact that one of the pieces has part of “St. John’s” written on it, that it’s from some packing crate from some time ago.  I scrubbed off the cobwebs and left them to dry overnight.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Then I sanded off all the rough bits.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

You will also need some nails or screws to keep your wood together.  I have this jar of copper clouting nails that belonged to my great-grandfather (you can tell, because he labelled it).  I like the colour of the bright nail heads, plus the thinness and the tapering of these particular nails means they won’t split the wood grain as much as a regular nail.  But they’re pretty much just large carpet tacks, so I have to keep in mind that they’re not that strong.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

So first I hammered together the basic frame of the crate.  Now, I don’t have a vise, or any clamps.  So I’m using my knee.  Clever, I know.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

I like the studded effect of many nails.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Cut the lace to the size of the frame.  The lace is how my niece will hang up her earrings, and will provide a nice background for the rest of the stuff.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Using hot glue, fasten the fabric to the frame on all sides.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Trim off the excess.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Add another line of glue and fold down the raw edge.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

So here’s the front.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

And the back.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Now I’m going to add a few more pieces of packing crate to the back, you know, to make it look a bit more like a packing crate.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Now to add the sticks.  Trim them to fit the inside of the frame and fix them in place with hot glue.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Keep going until you’re satisfied with how it looks. Here it is, in the setting sun.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

And the back.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

And with some of my jewelry on it.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

A brooch stuck in the lace.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Even a wee branch for rings.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

I hope she likes it!

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Marine Mobile

I haven’t been feeling particularly inspired in the kitchen lately, so the Pie recommended that I make “something like that tea cozy,” which I took to mean he wanted me to get all crafty.

If you know me, you know I am a rock hound.  If you don’t know me, well, now you know that about me.  I love rocks.  I nearly minored in geoscience during my undergraduate degree because I loved them so much, but I didn’t have the physics I needed to take the advanced courses.  So I’m a dabbler, really.

I have a substantial rock collection.  They are in my garden.  They are my door stops.  They decorate my mantle and my book shelves.  I keep them in a bowl in my kitchen. 

And I know where they all came from, too.  Bubbly volcanic basalt and gem-quality chunks of jasper from the beaches of my BC childhood.  Sugary white and rose pink quartz from Algonquin Park in Ontario.  A chunk of slag picked up on the shores of Lake Erie.  River-smooth pebbles from our old cottage at Lavergne Bay, near Arnprior, Ontario.  And some lovely round treasures from our recent visit to Middle Cove Beach.

Spending most of my life near the ocean means I also have a bowl of shells in my kitchen, too. 

Oysters (which I gathered from the beach, cooked in a pail of seawater on an open fire, and ate, how glorious), mussels (I had a massive foot-long complete shell at one point that broke in one of my many moves), periwinkles, limpets, barnacles, snails, scallops, cockles … even a giant moon snail shell given to me on a class camping trip to Denman Island by the first boy I ever kissed.

What you might not know is that in my closet I have a HIDDEN rock collection.  Two little plastic boxes in my office closet, filled with even more rocks, strange found objects like faucets, cream bottles, and artillery shell casings, and mismatched pulleys. 

Twisted segments of driftwood.  The top to some ancient incense burner.  And lots and lots of sea glass.  Bags of it, collected during long afternoons ignoring the rain, scrambling over the slippery rocks by the house, eyes glued to the ground in front of me.

So rather than keep it in the closet, I decided to use some of it to make something.  How about a mobile?  I’ve been toying with the idea of making one for a while.

I sorted through my treasures, and the pieces I chose were solely based on my ability to wrap a piece of nylon fishing line around them and get a decent knot.  So my tools for this were some white glue, a pair of scissors, and some fishing twine.  And whatever else you got.

I’ve never made a mobile before, so it was an experiment in balance for me.  Tying the twine around rocks and pieces of glass was a challenge as well but I managed to get a few strings going.  To make a string, I started with a piece that could form the base and looped the twine around it and tied it tight.

I made sure I had two strings now of equal lengths coming off it.  I measured a random length of twine from the first object, then tied the two pieces together to make a base for the second piece.  Then I tied the second piece on, and so on.

Make sure to dab a little bit of white glue near your knots just to keep things from sliding around.

Balancing things was, well, a balancing act.  I found it much easier to put the mobile together while it was hanging.  I started with this round piece of driftwood I’d picked up in Victoria on the beach in front of my house.  Suspended from that was a piece of shale from Rose Bay, Nova Scotia.  Then a twig I pulled off my lawn here in St. John’s.  And then I worked on my strings.

A stroke of genius was to glue whelk shells (from Holyrood, Newfoundland) onto the ends of the sticks to act as barriers for sliding twine.  I put a few dabs of glue on the sticks as well to hold the lines of pieces in place.

Waiting for the glue to dry (or for everything to come crashing down).

Finished, and hanging in the dining room, the one place where the Pie won’t run into it accidentally.