Thursday, September 26, 2013

Playing with Petite Pumpkins.......

This is a Halloween project I crafted last year, and because the mini pumpkins 
turned out so well, I thought they deserved a re-post. 
One of the coolest things about painting pumpkins vs carving them,
is that the paint preserves them for a very long time. 
Depending on the conditions, sometimes months!

I've been having fun with my mini pumpkins today. 
I usually buy the little white ones, but since they weren't available at the time, 
I bought some orange ones to alter. 

As a painter by trade, I have painted a plethora of colors, 
but the one color which I find the most exciting to paint with is........Black! 
I think it's because it seems like such a taboo color for a wall. 
But fear not. If you don't have a wall to paint black, 
paint pumpkins instead!
Why only white or orange, I say.......
What's cooler than a black pumpkin?
I decided to paint spider webs on them.
Since I never leave well enough alone,
I thought it would be even cooler to add
glow-in-the-dark paint to the webs,
so that in the dark they're the only thing you see.

But why stop at spider webs?
It's just not Halloween without skeletons.

If you've never used glow-in-the-dark paint,
you just need to paint a light color first,
then paint the glow paint over it when it's dry.
Don't know if I can or not,
but I'll try to take a night picture, 
to show how awesome it looks.

If you're not into painting, I have another option for you.
For this next little pumpkin, 
I used short flat head straight pins and thin silver elastic cording.

I stuck the straight pins in halfway,
to make it easy to wind and stretch
the cording from pin to pin.
Then after I tied the cording off,
I pushed the pins all the way into the pumpkin.
This won't glow, but it has a very simple elegance.
A mound of these would look gorgeous
sitting on a silver platter.

Well, I've got more pumpkins to play with, 
and a scary movie waiting for me,
so off I go........

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Journey Of Life With A Kindred Spirit

You bring me joy
when I'm down
Oh, so much joy
When I lose my way
your love comes smiling on me

Anita Baker

I used to sing this to my kitty. Less than 48 hours ago, I lost my most beloved companion. My beautiful feline Kindred Spirit, Chloe, succumbed to elderly organs, and left my life at the age of 19. She was my significant constant, travelling with me on my life journey, through storms and sunshine, and my heart feels lost without my purring navigator.

I adopted her as a kitten, and I almost didn’t. A co-worker had made it her mission to find homes for an entire litter, stopping at each cubicle and making her plea. She said she had found homes for all but one black, female kitten. I said if she didn’t find a home for her over the weekend, that I would take her, because I didn’t like the idea that one last furry baby was all alone. Of course, that meant my co-worker wasn’t even going to bother to look any further, so I had a new kitten by Monday, which I named Ashley. By Tuesday, however, the same co-worker shared that one of the kittens was returned to her, because they wanted a boy. So my efforts to take the last kitten came back to haunt me once more. I hated the idea that a sweet kitten was returned because it wasn’t the right gender, and I agreed to adopt a second baby. This second baby was my sweet Chloe, and I’m so glad they returned her. Their loss was my greatest gain.

I was in a new relationship at the time, but when it reached its end after 4-1/2 years, we had a decision to make about Chloe and Ashley, now 4 years old. He wanted to keep Ashley, and told me I could take Chloe. Since I was the one leaving, I felt guilty about him being all alone, so I left him with both kitties, because I didn’t have the heart to divide the playmates. I later regretted that decision. Four years after living without my kitties, that ex boyfriend contacted me, saying he couldn’t keep them anymore. He said he’d already found a new home for Ashley, but would I take Chloe. Despite my effort to keep the playmate sisters together, he divided them anyway. Obviously, I was eager to take Chloe, but was also heartbroken she would never play with her sister again.

To this day, I would give anything to have those 4 years back, only this time, with Chloe in them.

Losing a companion that you share your life with, day in and day out, is a loss I have no prior knowledge of how to endure it. I’ve known many people personally who have passed on, but none of them shared my home and daily life with me. Chloe may have been a different species, but that minimizes nothing of her importance and value.

Waking up with her laying on my chest, her sweet face 8 inches from mine, purring when she realized I was waking up. Waiting for me to settle in with my cup of coffee, so she could crawl into my lap, and do her kneading exercises there. I am filled with mixed emotions. Grateful to have her sweet purrs for 15 of her 19 years. Kicking myself for missing out on 4 of her years. Fear that I didn’t do enough for her health, to keep her here longer.

I know for sure that she and I had a priceless bond that I will never, ever experience with any human. I made sure that every day she knew how loved she was. She had so many precious idiosyncrasies, and I will miss Every.Single.One.Of.Them.

Good Night my Pretty Girl. Thank you for the enviable honor of being the object of your affection and loyalty……

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

French Bohemian Jewelry Chest Makeover

And now for another episode of “Just because it's small doesn’t mean it’s easier to paint”…….

Oh this was a labor of love. It was yet another poor ol’ drab wooden jewelry chest, with an oh-so-dated interior.

It had the required good bones, but the attribute that sent me over the moon was the song it played….La Vie en Rose! I knew in an instant that this piece needed special treatment, and with a nostalgic French theme.

Before:

After:

Now it would be easy and obvious to have slipped in some fleur de lis and Eiffel towers, but I didn’t want it to look commercial, like a tourist souvenir. I wanted it to feel like French Bohemian, and since I’ve never been to Paris, I had to rely on my instincts, and let the paint guide me. I think I accomplished that, and I love how it turned out!

Before:

After:

I’ve made over lots of jewelry chests, but this one truly was the most work. Not only did I have a lid with a mirror and lining that also served as a mat around it, but I also had a movable tray to work on.

But by far the greatest challenge for me (after conjuring the French feel), was painting roses. I am not a flower painter, and no matter how many designs I created for the top, it kept coming back to roses, due to my need to pay homage to the song.

Then my next challenge was what style of the graphics. I Googled a lot of rose painting, but the one-stroke style wasn’t cutting it for me, and looked too delicate and wispy. I wanted them to look more like the rich graphics of those old Meyercord decals. I am rather satisfied with my first attempt, and I’m sure with more practice, I could do it again if I choose to.

Restraint in the flower painting was very important, because too many flowers can quickly become tacky overkill. I saved the real burst of roses for the interior paper lining. I swear, I think I found the last 2 sheets of this paper design on the web. It’s from an older scrapbook collection that isn’t in print anymore. At least that’s how it seemed in my search for just the right look. (Word to the wise: Never pick out the paper lining After you’ve painted. It’s far easier to color match a paint to paper, than the other way around.) I was really really fortunate that after buying this paper off the internet, the colors were Perfect for the paint.

I also had some 2-tone striped paper in rosy pinks, from years ago, and it was another perfect match for the rose patterned paper. The striped paper with gold accents made me think of wallpaper in an old French parlor, so I thought it would be a fun addition to line the sides different than the bottom surfaces. After lightly tinting both papers with alcohol ink to give them some age, I sealed them with satin varnish.

As for the exterior, I chalk-painted with multiple layers of color. A deep Rose pink, Spring green, Leaf green, Tiffany blue, Olive, and Red.

Before:

After:

I painted all the drawers and sides with 2 borders of high luster gold paint, and filled in the spaces with light and darker Spring green, to subtly mimic the look of dimensional panels. I say subtly, because true trompe l’oeil would’ve looked a great deal better, with more contrast and depth.

I continued the gold accents on the drawer pulls and all the leaves.

As usual, after a lot of distressing, I sealed all the paint with clear and dark wax.

The musical mechanism is enclosed under the moving tray, and I have papered its cover, but kept it removable, in the event the future owner would wish to remove the chime (Gasp!) and use the space for hidden “secret” storage.

I absolutely adore how this turned out, but I’m also a girl who loves color drama. I definitely can’t be boxed in the neutral category…..:)

I have 2 more projects in the queue waiting for chalk paint, but after this labor of love, I think I’ll wait 5 minutes before I get out the paint brushes again.

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