Saturday, December 24, 2011


Though I have grown old,
the Bell still rings for me
As it does for all who truly
Polar Express

I wish you all the childlike Wonder and Magic
this Holiday Season can bring.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Simple Pinecone Decor

Just like bottle brush trees, I think just about every conceivable thing has been done with tree cones for holiday decor. But because cones come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and intricate designs, you don't need to be creative to decorate with them. Just a simple display allows for their natural beauty to accent a space. 

I am fortunate enough to live in Oregon, where conifers are plentiful. Since my love of treasure-hunting includes nature's treasures, I sometimes accumulate a decent stash of cones. Earlier this year, while house sitting, I was luckily there at the right time, to collect a variety of beautiful cones from their backyard. (And no, they didn't mind me taking them. For every nature-loving Oregonian such as myself, there is another who could care less and considers fallen cones as something for the yard debris bin.) After filling 2 garbage bags full, I didn't realize how abundant my collection was, until I started filling baskets with them. Oy! So I thought I'd show a few examples of instant centerpieces for your holiday decor, if you want to acknowledge the season, but aren't exceedingly creative, or short on time.

Well it doesn't get any easier than this. Simple, understated Mid Century style with this heavy-duty salad bowl overflowing with compact pine cones.

Here's a more unique way to display cones, 
and is truly a conversation piece.
I acquired this globe in two pieces, so no, I didn't ruin it. 
Since it already has an axis hole, 
I used it to screw the hemisphere to a candlestick. 
I used large, long pine cones to contrast with the globe shape.

These Spruce cones are stunning on their own, 
but just for fun, I felt like painting them. 
Most people save themselves a lot of time and effort 
by spraying-painting or dipping their cones. I chose to hand-paint them with a brush, to cover the majority, but still let a little of the natural color come through for definition. The really cool, happy accident is that painted in red, pale green, and aqua, they remind me of hyacinths, making this basket an apropos vessel to display them in.

Using spruce cones in their natural color, they look elegant and delicate in this vintage basket purse with bamboo handle. I dry-brushed the basket in aqua paint, and tied a vintage cloth tape measure around the handle. I love these juniper sprigs, and I can't believe they're artificial.

So if you're in a hurry for a centerpiece, 
shop your house, your yard, or a park, 
and you're sure to find something worthy 
of filling an empty space. 

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Elegant Bottle Brush Bottles

I'm sure we can all agree that just about everything has been done in the world of bottle brush trees, but I thought I'd share a few of my latest creations. Most of the bottle brush trees I see are usually decked out with glitter and ornaments. While I love that look, I decided to keep them simple and just let them be an accent to some of my vintage perfume bottles. More of an understated elegance. 

Since these are small creations, using the highest quality 
ribbon is affordable, making these look exquisite
without appearing too crafty. 
I added one tiny mercury bead
to this champagne wired ribbon

I used sheer ribbon so as not to hide
the beautiful curvaceous shape of this bottle.

This sweet little bottle has nice lines,
and to keep it from competing with a bow,
I kept it simple with lametta tinsel wire
wrapped around the neck.

These look fabulous on a mirrored tray
with tiny twinkling lights.

I have more bottles to play with,
so I must away........

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mercury, Tin, and Glass

I think it's safe to say that most vintage junkers have a few bottles and jars hoarded displayed somewhere in their homes. I have more than a few, and they have been patiently waiting for me to fulfill my promise to embellish them. A promise I made when I first acquired them years ago. Well, nothing like the Christmas season, when my creative mojo is at its zenith, to follow through on my crafty projects.

Along with my bottle and jar hoard, I have another one: tart tins. Lots and lots and lots of them. Also an item I promised to create with. A couple Christmases ago, I played around with the hoards, and came up with a pleasing look, but then never made any more. Well, I may not have made a dent, but I did make a small group for displaying.

I'm partial to interesting shapes and textures.
Here I have a tall salt shaker, 2 spice jars,
and 2 Houbigant perfume bottles.
It didn't occur to me until I arranged these together,
that they look like artsy versions of 
ladies wearing shawls, or perhaps angels.

Don't you just love her Rubenesque curves?

She's a bit more Mod.

And this opulent lady is
always dripping in diamonds.

I've assembled these to be
temporary, but you could
always use permanent adhesive
to hold everything together.
My instant assembly only requires 
a tiny Rare Earth magnet.

The magnet will hold the mercury ball in place,
if you take off the wire and glue the metal cap to the ball.
If you get a strong enough magnet,
you don't even need to
glue it to the tin mold.

I love how thin these magnets are, 
as they don't interfere much with the aesthetics.

I don't attach these festive tops to the jars,
so I can use them as lids, and the jars/bottles can hold 
dragèes, glitter, or doodads.
You could even skip the jars altogether,
and use the magnet and tin to
creatively display a mercury ball collection.

Note: If you opt to use my temporary method, 
it is important to mention that these tiny magnets
should not be easily accessible to 
children and pets, as you do
not wish to have them
ingest anything magnetic.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

A Kitschy Wreath, a Steampunk Tree, and a Backgammon Board

Yes, that is a strange combination, isn't it? 
Well, as I said previously, you can't pin me down 
to only one Christmas style. 

First up, I found this interesting little red wreath 
at the thrift store. 
It's made from some natural raffia/grass fiber 
that's old and sheds. 
The fiber is strung and wrapped around 
a base formed from brittle newspaper. 
Attached to it was this sweet metallic cardboard candle, 
and heavy silver bells, each with a faux red berry inside. 

So I rescued it, and kitsched it up with plastic flora, 
tiny mercury bead loops, and vintage red and silver rick rack. 

A really striking addition is the backdrop. 
I found this old backgammon case a while back, 
and I'm totally in love with the design and colors. 
Standing up, it makes an eye-catching screen for 
a variety of vignette styles.

Now we shift gears to something completely original. 
I call this a Steampunk tree, but it could also be 
a library tree or Western tree. 
I really had fun with this one. 
Dictionary pages decoupaged to a styrofoam cone, 
with antiqued brass chain pinned into it 
using upholstery tacks.

The trunk is made using a plastic chess piece, 
and an antique brass light fixture part. 
The "tree skirt" is a vintage iron branding star. 

Topped off with cardboard star, 
coated in silver and gold German glass glitter, 
with a vintage Topaz rhinestone in the center. 
I originally created this to sell, but just couldn't part with it. 
That happens sometimes......:)

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holiday home button centsational girl

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nostalgic Christmas Decor

Well, it's that time of year again. My creativity goes into overdrive at Christmastime, and decorating the tree and the home delivers unending design opportunities. You really can't pin me down to one style for Christmas, because I rarely commit to the same one twice. I have equal love for rustic, elegant, whimsical, kitschy, and Old World. I have created new tree ornaments every year for a good 20 years. Some I've kept, some I've donated, but most are easy to break down and re-purpose.  

About the only Christmas items that make encore appearances are antique/vintage decor like Shiny Brites, bottle brush trees, kitsch, etc., for tabletop display, and of course, costly items like lights and faux greenery to accessorize. So needless to say, anytime I spot old Christmas decor items at the thrift stores, it comes home with me. Friends and family know to not give me anything decor-oriented, unless it's vintage components to create one-of-a-kind nostalgic, and sometimes quirky, pieces. Once the glue gun is warmed up, and the Christmas craft boxes are opened, anything goes.

I'm currently surrounded by glass glitter, glass balls, plastic kitsch, faux greenery, candy canes, and all things nostalgic. I truly enjoy creating tabletop items, whether whimsical or serious, and here are a few I've created today. All of these are easy peasy and can be disassembled to create something new.

Faux tabletop tree in antique coffee can, 
with glass glittered balls, 
and Spanish moss tucked in.

Plastic kitschy tree in milkglass compote,
with chartreuse glass balls, giant rickrack, 
and glass glitter star

These mini Santa mugs are dime-a-dozen, 
so kitsching them up is the best way to 
make them more unique. 
I found these candle rings years ago, and hadn't found
the perfect spot for them until now. 
They're just the right size on top of Santa's head, 
so I glue-gunned them down, 
and fit 5 candy canes inside the ring perfectly.
I love how they look in a group, 
but would be adorable separately as table markers
or place card holders.

The funnest part of creating is to just experiment 
and layer anything in front of you. 
You just never know what will work until you try.
I'd better go for now. 
The glue gun is waiting.

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