Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Popular Tiny Tart Tin Tree of Christmas Past

It's the last Saturday before Christmas, so for me that means last-minute crafting. In the event that I run out of time to finish my current ideas, I thought it would be nice to revisit my Tiny Tart Tree from 2 Christmases ago. It was so easy to create, yet had a really maximum impact. It was a very popular post, and was featured on Funky Junk Donna's I Love That Junk.

As expected, I've been Christmas crafting all week, because I love it, and because I can.....I know little tart tins have been transformed into ornaments in every configuration possible, but I decided to keep it simple......this time. :)

I've collected stacks and stacks of all sizes of these pretty little tins, some beautifully worn, and others bright and shiny. I've been wanting to create with them for years, but I kept getting distracted. This time, I did something about



I recently picked up a small tinsel tree at GW, knowing very well that I had a plethora of ornaments to come up with a themed tabletop tree. So what did I decide on?.........


A kitchen tree, and more specifically, a baking tree.....Loads of little tart tins, each with their own sparkly charm.



Some have vintage rhinestone buttons, and others have little pinecones with silver German glass glitter. I attached the buttons with a glue gun, and the pinecones with removable putty, specifically cord weatherstrip,available at the hardware store.



I really wanted to keep an all-silver color scheme with the ornaments, so I added a garland that is actually large ball chain, which I believe is, appropriately, the same size used for pie weight chain. I'm sure I could've easily used a beaded garland, but this chain has an incredible weight to it making it drape so beautifully. And with a nickle finish, it brilliantly shines like a mirror.


The tree sits in a star-shaped antique baking tin, which I lined with Spanish moss, then laid fresh green moss over it, to balance out the green of the tree, and also to add contrast to the tin.

I played around with different ways to hang the ornaments, because I didn't want anything that would permanently alter them, so I could use them again for future design ideas.


The empty tart tins are hanging from smaller ball chain, and the only things connecting them to the chain are Rare Earth magnets. (This is not an appropriate method if small children or pets try to play with the tree.) I wanted a clean and simple look to the hanging hardware, so this worked perfectly. Depending on the strength of these magnets, you may need to use a couple as I did, since they are so thin.


The tins with buttons or pinecones are facing out, to show off their sparkle, so I used a glue gun to attach silver pipe cleaners to their backs. Using a pipe cleaner keeps the tart in a facing-out position, so it doesn't dangle or turn. Using a glue gun allows for easy removal from the tins, or you can glue the pipe cleaner to a magnet, allowing you to re-use it to hang a different ornament.


The treetop's tin is a diamond-shaped one with small round tin inserted with a magnet between them, and a button glued inside the round tin. I used a metal lanyard clip with a magnet to fasten the diamond tin to the tree top.


This tree has a trunk wrapped with brown florist tape, and shows all the bumps created from attaching the branches, so I covered it with Spanish moss. I wanted something neutral, but not green, and wanted the silver on the tree to be the focal point.

I love so many styles that you just can't box me into one. Designing a variety of small, tabletop trees is the perfect answer to fulfill all of my decorating tastes, and for minimal cost, since you don't have nearly as much space to fill on a tiny tree. Since I had most of the components already, save for the tree and ballchain, this was quick and very inexpensive. Now that's my kind of decorating.......:)




Monday, December 15, 2014

Mini Christmas Trees, Lichen, & White Glass

In my last post, I showed you a rusty industrial-style mini artificial tree, using an old cobbler's iron shoe form. As promised, I have two more minis in completely different styles.

First, a nature-inspired tree, an homage to the Yule tree and Winter Solstice.


Doesn't she need a little birdy perched on a branch?

We had a decent wind storm last week, and it broke off lots of tree branches. The best part of that was all the gorgeous lichen attached to them, and I was thrilled to say the least. A treasure-hunter like me doesn't limit my finds to the thrift store, but to nature as well. I plucked an entire grocery bag of this beautiful silvery sage gift from Mother Nature. 


So tucked into the fake Spruce branches it went. Tiny Tamarack cones were hot-glued onto tiny twigs, then poked into the branches. Finally, I took many delicate branch tips and bundled them around the top to create a natural tree topper.


Once again, I removed the wooden tree base, and this time, secured it into a brass chamberstick candle holder. This is the kind of holder that is meant to house a box of matches, but instead, I added mini logs, which in this case is a tiny pile of twigs covered in mossy goodness.

My next mini tree is very simplistic, but sometimes simple is best, if your decorative accessories make enough of a statement on their own.


A creamy white mini starfish....


A white glass-beaded necklace, with a couple of links separated to make one long garland. Secured to branches in just a few spots, with very fine wire.


And finally, a fabulous white, chippy metal lamp part, which perfectly mimics a tree skirt. I always bring home pieces like this when treasure-hunting, to play with later, and this one just screamed tree skirt. I put a very short candle holder under it, then secured the tree base through the part's hole and right in the candle holder. Easy peasy......

I hope these tiny trees have shown you that even they can pack a decorating punch, with great personality, like their large counterparts. Good things do come in small packages, right?

TTFN, Maria

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rusty Industrial Mini Christmas Tree

I recently picked up 6 mini artificial trees at Goodwill. They are 9” tall and what I loved about them is their coloring. They have a wonderful Spruce blue shade, which is my favorite for a real tree too. I feel at peace in the middle of the forest, so being surrounded by these petite trees is a good substitute.

I always like to decorate each tree differently, and with the small ones the sky's the limit, because you can use objects that would be too small for a regular-sized tree. And for me, that usually involves junky stray metal objects. I have a thing for metal. Always have. 

So metal object No.1.......


Cast iron shoe form.


When I bought this piece, I knew immediately it would house a mini tree. All I added was some insulation putty into the hole, removed the tree's wooden base, then just stuck it into the form.

The gorgeous rusty metal pretty much dictated what I did to this tree. I didn't want to overdo it, or it would take away from the iron form. I had this brass ball chain that I darkened with bleach, and it gels perfectly with iron. 


Just for fun, I tucked in the lichen to the top of the iron form, and it sort of reminds me of a frilly sock cuff. It's a whimsical juxtaposition. My favorite kind.....


Finally, I made a star out of thin-fluted corrugated wrap. Since my recent endeavor creating Putz houses, I look at materials with new eyes. The flutes can mimic corrugated metal sheeting, and I thought that would be the right touch for this tree. So I painted it black and rust to finish off the industrial look.

I love the look of this tree, and wouldn't add another thing. Beware, if you have kitties....they're liable to see this tree as a really great Christmas toy, and will dismantle it in a fast minute......:)

Next post, trees No. 2 & 3.......

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Friday, December 5, 2014

German Glass Glitter Gift Set w/Mini Spoon & Artful Presentation

I've been mentioning in my last few posts about using copious amounts of German glass glitter lately. After creating with it the last few years, I can truly say it's ruined me for any other kind glitter. Nothing compares to its sparkle, not to mention it's made to tarnish, and I do love the antique look.

I also have to admit that I've been a materials/supply/packaging snob since way way back. If you are going to the trouble of creating something, especially for sale or as a gift, you might as well spend a few extra bucks for the good stuff. It will make your handmade creations look high-end, without spending the high-end price. The exception to that rule is, of course, when you are making it your mission to only use vintage/antique components to create your masterpiece with, which is my other supply snob side. But I digress.....

Until this year, I've only used the glass glitter for little accents here and there. Every Christmas season I've told myself I was going to go all out with it, but it never materialized. This year I've finally done it, from the Putz houses to the pinecones. And since I knew I would finally accomplish it this year, I thought it would be fun to create packaging for it and sell some in my Etsy shop.

I adore attractive or clever packaging, so after searching high and low, I finally got ahold of some great little corked jars. 


Aren't these lovely?

When I first starting using German glass glitter, I did what everyone was doing, and put it into vintage glass salt and pepper shakers. Well it didn't take long to realize that I preferred to spoon it on, not shake it. Not to mention that if the glitter can tarnish, the shaker holes allow air in, and I don't want my glitter pre-tarnished,
especially if I am selling a finished product.

I found these adorable metal spoons that are the perfect size for sprinkling onto small areas like ornaments and little bottle brush trees, since a little glass glitter goes a long way. 


These square jars hold exactly 2oz of glass glitter, measuring 1-1/2” square at the base. The metal spoons are 2-3/8” long, with the spoon's bowl measuring 1/2” x 11/16”. I've kept some for myself, and have been using them all season.


I tied each jar with silver stretch cord, to make the cork extra secure, and wrapped them in clear cellophane like a mini gift basket.


But of course, the packaging snob couldn't stop there. I found these great clear plastic gift boxes that the jar fits into perfectly. I accented the jar and box with Tiffany blue labels, and now they're ready to give as a gift to a German glass glitter fan, or to someone who hasn't tried it yet. I also thought these would look darling at a glitter party,
sitting at each table-setting.
Another idea for that glitter party - crystal salt cellars work wonderfully for little "servings" of glitter. I use them for the petite projects with my little spoon...:)


I am very passionate about presentation of my creations & products. It isn't just about making a good impression. It's about what inspires me as a customer. When shopping for my own crafting supplies, I find it more enjoyable to purchase them when they are presented in an artful way. One Etsy seller, in particular, is a master at this....Julie Collings. Along with her beautiful photography, she takes extra creative steps in her supply presentation & packaging, and when they arrive, you can't wait to play with them. I am definitely a repeat customer!

If I get another bee in my bonnet, I may have to package some other favorite glitter colors. You just never know what I'll be inspired to do next..........Ciao for now, Maria

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nostalgic Ornaments with Mercury Glass Beads, Tinsel & Holly

As expected, I've been working on new ornament designs for this year. While I try to come up with ideas early enough to be finished by October, the holiday season always spontaneously inspires more in me.

I've had loose mercury beads for several years, yet no project ever really presented itself. Then, completely out of the blue, I was admiring Laurie's (Magpie Ethel) mercury bead candy canes and suddenly I felt the need to use my beads.

So I had some fun mixing it up with 3mm tinsel stems, fluffy 1/2” tinsel trim, gorgeous millinery lacquered holly, darkened silver bells, and my favorite twine, Everlasto. Together, they made these.....



Fun, mini wreaths, as ornaments or gift package tie-ons, measuring just over 3” diameter.


I made some multicolored...


And some with only red and silver...



I darkened the fluffy tinsel with caramel and charcoal alcohol inks to mimic tarnished Lametta tinsel. A bright, new silver tinsel wouldn't gel as well with vintage mercury beads, but tinted fits perfectly. 



To me, the elements I used are all representative of the era of Christmas I grew up in. All these items could have easily been seen on the shelves of the 88 Cents Store or Rodgers. Oh, how I wish those stores still existed. Such fond childhood memories.....

Thank you for the inspiration, Ethel......:)




Putz House with Silver Leaf & German Glass Glitter

Whew! Finally done with my latest Putz house. When you first get started and have a fresh vision of it in your mind, it seems like it will be done in no time at all. But when you're as detail-oriented as I am, that couldn't be further from the truth......

Behold.....




I'm a bold color and contrast kinda girl, but I thought it might be a nice change to give it a dreamy wintry wonderland vibe and paint it white-ish. I chose a warm off-white so the snow would still be noticeable.


I knew before I started it that I wanted to use some thin-fluted corrugated wrap I've had for a while. With so many treatment options, in the end, applying silver leaf was the winner.


I used it for the roof and the awning over the door. 


I aged it with warm brown and black alcohol inks, leaving most of the ink in the grooves, and wiping the excess off the raised areas, then sealing it in gloss varnish. I love how it turned out. It has so much more character than leaving it bright silver.


I used the same stucco texture on the walls again, but this time, after painting it, I lightly dusted it with the clear German glass glitter. So soft and twinkly.


I went further to make it a full-fledged Putz house by giving it 2 bottle brush trees. I chose not to leave them a bleached cream color, because they didn't seem to hold their weight against the silver roof and black and silver windows. But before I coated them with anything, I “pruned” them with a slight spiral pattern. The totally straight line sides were really bothering me, and I felt the spiral gave them a more natural shape. I started with metallic champagne paint, pushing it deep into the trunk of the tree, then while it was wet, I pounced silver powdered pigment into the paint to give it a good base for the glass glitter. Finally, after brushing white glue deep into the trees, I poured on copious amounts of silver German glass glitter. Oh, how they twinkle now! And they totally match the elegance of the silver leaf roof.


Rather than cutting out intricate window panes, this time I cut the window form, painted it black, then drew white glue lines and poured on the silver glass glitter. Since the glitter is so thick, it mimics raised window panes perfectly.


I made the same glue/white paint mixture to use as snow. I don't really measure the ratio, but it's close to 1/3 glue & 2/3 paint. White glue shrinks as it dries, so layering the snow in stages may be necessary, as it was for me. The paint is thick artist's paint, not the runny craft paint in the bottle.


As incredibly time-consuming as these are to make, I am pleased with how rewarding it is. When it doesn't need to be absolutely architecturally realistic, the sky is the limit with designing them. That really speaks to my creativity, since I can get bored pretty quickly. And since I'm not making 2 dozen carbon copies of an ornament, I can make each house design drastically different if I choose to. 

I may just have to create these leisurely throughout the year, so I can sell more next Christmas without being in a mad rush! Mayyybe, I'll make one more before this Christmas.........Ciao for now, Maria

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