Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Old Kodachrome Slides Transformed Into Personalized Ornaments

I’ve had these wonderful, old Kodachrome slides for years. I always knew I would someday sell them on Ebay, as is, or come up with some ornament design with them. This year, I finally figured out a fun ornament design that felt right, and not contrived. I think you know what I’m talking about. When you have a stash of something, and after spending a great deal of time trying to figure out what to do with the objects, the end result is sometimes a head-scratcher, leaving people wondering why you thought that looked good.

I present to you a nostalgic and versatile ornament or gift tag, which can be changed and re-used.

So here’s what I did. I pushed the slides out of their cardboard frames, being careful not to bend the cardboard.

Next, I cut thin strips of red washi (which matched the cardboard’s red borders perfectly), and taped both inside and outsides edges. Then with more washi, I taped 2 of these frames together at the bottom (right sides out) making a tape “hinge”. The reason I used tape on all the edges, rather than just a red marker, was because I wanted to be able to insert a paper label or photo without it getting caught on the raw cardboard edges. After all the taping was complete, I folded them closed, and used a tiny hole punch at the tops. First punching one hole, then aligning the punch in that hole to punch the second frame.

Finally, I pushed a millinery holly stem through both holes, bending the stem up in the back, down again to make a thin loop, and cutting off the remainder. This allowed for some twine to be secured through the loop, making it ready for a present or hanging on a tree.

This slide ornament was designed to allow for a small photo to be inserted, or a small gift card with the TO and FROM names written on each side. It was very labor-intensive with all the taping, but it was all worth it to see the finished design.

And no ornament design is complete without the perfect twine. I purchased this fabulous twine from England, called Everlasto. It is 3-colored twine, and extremely well-made. I can’t imagine using any other twine now. The quality has spoiled me…..:)
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

3-Dimensional Bingo Star Ornaments

I’ve been creating Christmas ornaments for about 30 years. Can’t believe it’s been that long. It’s something I’m compelled to do, and it wouldn’t be Christmas to me if I didn’t.
Every year the designs are different. I suppose it’s just the creative A.D.D. I possess. Once I’ve followed through with a design, I’m basically over it, and my mind moves on to the next fresh idea.
In the past, I didn’t start thinking about designs till December, when I was in the Christmas spirit, since I would only be using them on my tree or giving them as gifts. But now that I’m an Etsy seller, I feel the need to start imagining them months before, or my shop will be left in the dust.
So here I am, before Thanksgiving, writing about my latest ornament designs. I have a few more I’m working on, but here’s the first one I've listed in my Etsy shop.
I have an affinity for old Bingo cards, and have made ornaments with them before. This time was a bit more challenging.
I've made stars before, but none were 3-dimensional like these. Made with 2 Bingo cards, these are joined at all the edges with washi tape. I used hot glue to tack all the corners and keep them in position to apply thin strips of the tape.
The key to making these 3-dimensional is to glue a skinny piece of wooden dowel to the inside of the center point, which also keeps the 2 star pieces from collapsing into each other.
Had these been papier-mache, they would have been easier to construct, because I wouldn’t have to concern myself with perfectly-aligned tape strips. I would’ve been joining everything with layers of paper, then decoupaging or painting. The goal here was to use the minimum amount of tape (to not cover the numbers), but still have a strong enough bond to hold the edges together.
Washi tape can be unpredictable sometimes, so I sealed the cards before and after taping to secure the tape more. And because keeping a project simple is just not my M.O., I proceeded to cut the tops off of upholstery tacks to hot glue onto all the star centers....Oy.
I was thrilled when I acquired this latest Bingo card stash, because they had authentically browned perfectly all by themselves, so I didn’t need to ink them up at all. I like the contrast and sophistication of black with tan, and the Bingo numbers add some nostalgic whimsy. I’m very pleased with how these turned out.
Next post, I will be talking about my second design of the season…..

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rusty Verdigris Pumpkins with Chalk Paint Thanksgiving Style

Now that Halloween is past, most people (including me) are thinking about Christmas. But before we move on to Christmas d├ęcor, I thought I’d do something out of the norm for me. So for a change of pace, I decided to give little pumpkins a decorative chalk paint treatment, without the usual Halloween theme, and simply an Autumn theme. I give to you……
Rusty Verdigris Autumn pumpkins.
Chalk Paint = Faux rust!
I used the same paint treatment as my Clock planter from this Summer.
They started out like this.
Followed by black chalk paint. This design was pretty fluid, so the colors after the black morphed a bit. As you will see, I added more paint after the stem construction. If I were doing these again, I would construct the stem and leaf before painting, but the order isn’t make or break.)

I used an awl tool to burrow 2 holes on the stem. One on top and one on the side. (The stem can be a little hard, so use caution when poking the hole.)
I stuck a piece of tie wire into the top hole. After twisting it to see how much I would need for my new stem, I cut off any excess. No rules here. You can make the stem as long as you want.
I took the wire out, straightened it, and laid it on a piece of tin foil that has been folded in half. After you fold it, lay down the wire to see how much foil is needed to cover it, minus ¼” for the bottom part of the wire for inserting into pumpkin. The top end of the wire is where you form a curly-cue if you desire. Once you’ve measured the folded foil, cut the foil in a tapered shape, as shown, so when you roll it around the wire, it will gradually get thinner as it reaches the top.
Now roll up the foil with the wire inside, just tight enough to keep the wire from slipping out, about the thickness of a cigar.
Hold on to the wire and thickest end of the foil with one hand, and using the other hand, start molding the foil into the wire, and twisting a little as you go, till it’s relatively smooth. It should then look thick at the bottom, and gradually ending with a point at the top. If you covered the pointy end of the wire, you can gently tear away some of the foil at that end to reveal some of the wire for the curly-cue.
Now for the fun part. Hot glue the bottom of the wire stem into the top hole of the pumpkin stem, making sure the foil is pushed up against it. If it isn’t, make the hole deeper, or cut off some of the bare wire. You can try to glue the foil against the stem, but if it doesn’t stick, no worries.
Now hold on to the stem base with one hand, and with the other hand, start molding your foil stem into whatever shape you want. To form the curly-cue, use some needle nose pliers.
Before you wrap the stem, you will want to attach the leaf. I made my leaf using oilboard, but thick cardstock would work too. I drew some leaves, cut them out, then scored a bunch of veins on them. After scoring, I bent them up a bit, to look more natural.
I then hot-glued the leaves to short pieces of wire, thinner than the tie wire I used for the stems. The thickness of the wires is a personal preference, so use what you wish. After painting a black base coat on the leaf, I hot-glued the leaf wire into the side hole of the pumpkin stem. The reason I painted the black before I inserted it, is because it would be hard to paint the underside of the leaf after it’s attached to the pumpkin. You most likely won’t be able to see under the leaf once attached, but I just didn’t want bare cardboard there.
Now that the leaf is attached, you can start wrapping the entire stem in florist stem tape. I used brown because I had some, but any color will do since you’ll be painting over it anyway. Make sure you start the wrap at the base of the pumpkin’s part of the stem, and also the leaf stem, so the tape can help the wire stems be more attached to the pumpkin. Cut a small, manageable length of the florist stem tape, and just cut more if you don’t reach the end of the stem. Wrap it till you reach the exposed wire, then tear off the excess.
Finally, it’s time to paint paint paint! Over the black base coat, start adding chalk paint from dark to lightest colors. I used chocolate brown, then a brick tone, then rust, then aqua for the verdigris. The most important thing to remember, as with the clock planter, is to dry-brush every color over the black.
The really cool thing about these pumpkins is that they have a lot of texture, so if you use a light touch with the dry-brush painting, you can accentuate all the texture. I chose to keep all the pumpkin’s crevices darker for contrast and contour. You can blend them in slightly so they don’t look like obvious paint lines, but rather a natural rusty finish.
There is not really any need to seal these, unless you feel they will get bumped around or handled a lot. Use a matte finish if you do seal them.
I created these pumpkins just for decoration, but the curly-cues would be great if you shaped them to hold place cards at your Thanksgiving table. I would opt to use the really mini pumpkins for that though, since they would take up less space at the table. And again, as a bonus, painting pumpkins vs. cutting them, makes them last a lot longer, because the paint seals them! 
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