Saturday, December 15, 2012
Fingers crossed I'll have pics ready by tonight, though - and also that my new flowers last more than a week, because I got real ones and I am reeeeally bad at gardening. Heh. (It's still 80 degrees here, btw, which is why I can plant flowers in December.)
K, that's my wreath! I hope you guys like it, and that you have an awesome weekend!
Friday, December 14, 2012
I've reached the point in my career where I turn down more interview requests than I accept, both because I'm tired of answering the same questions all the time ("What's your favorite wreck?") and I am a terrible, terrible marketer. (Buy my
books? Please?) And I think it goes without saying that all radio and TV requests are politely declined*.
That's why it's so refreshing to do an interview that focuses on something other than Cake Wrecks, and this recent one with Laura of The Not Mom was an absolute pleasure to write. She's doing a series focusing on child-free women online, but in a lovely, supportive manner that I think celebrates everyone's life choices, with none of the holier-than-thou attitudes that can sometimes invade both sides of the parenthood issue.
Head over to Laura's article to read my responses on things like how I'm treated as a child-free woman, my thoughts on what defines me, and the role blogging plays in my social life. It's not a long article, and I think it could help spark some deeper discussions on parenthood, life choices, and how we perceive others.
And thank you, Laura, for the great interview!
*To be fair, it's not like interviewers are beating down my door, but I do still get a few requests a month. And it's always nice to be asked. ;)
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Growing up, my family didn't have any traditions for Christmas - no special cookie recipes, no annual readings of The Night Before Christmas, not even any sentimental childhood ornaments for the tree.
When I hit my pre-teen years there was talk of skipping the tree all together, until it became clear that I would spiral into some serious teenage angst without one. My parents and older brother humored me after that, but I was the only one who really relished decorating the tree - which had to be done just so - and I would hoard Christmas trinkets from the dollar store and spend hours decorating my bedroom, too. To me, there was simply nothing more magical than sparkly tinsel, strands of colored lights, and glitter-drenched ornaments.
So, once a year I spend every spare moment I have for a good two to three weeks decorating the whole house for Christmas. It's the only holiday I decorate for, and I freely admit I go overboard, but it makes me happy - in a neurotic, perfectionistic, "cannot-rest-until-the-garland-is-completely-symmetrical-on-ALL-sides" kind of way.
I like creating little vignettes on all the table tops, and scouring the house for things to use.
I'm the world's slowest decorator, which is why it takes me those two to three weeks. For every minute I spend hanging something up I spend ten staring at the blank wall, debating what to do with it. I'm in awe of all the crafty home decor bloggers out there who make it seem so effortless, because putting that stuff up there all together? SO HARD. Next year I'm just copying all these pictures.
I made the two wall swags, btw, wiring on everything from the pine cones on up, and of course you remember the steampunk cone trees. I wish I could take credit for the big floral arrangement, but that's from Old Time Pottery. (I spent $60 on it three or four years ago, and to this day I feel slightly guilty for not just making one myself - but floral arrangements are really freaking hard! Major props to those of you who can do 'em, because I barely managed those swags.)
My steampunk tree hasn't changed much from last year, although John and I did make a better topper for it:
We actually made several large gears like that last year, cutting them out of MDF with a scroll saw, but the project we made them for never got done. So I dusted this one off and roughly applied faux gold leaf to give it a mirror-like shine. Then John attached an L-bracket to hold the Edison bulb in place:
Peacock feathers, jewel tones, birds, keys, copper spirals, and gears:
That's all I have ready to show for now, but I am *SO* close to being done with everything. Just a few more bits in the steampunk dining room, and then I'll get some wide-angle shots up for you, so you can feel like you're actually here. :)
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Last week John and I met up with a reader out at Epcot (Hi, Amy!!), so of course I couldn't resist bringing the camera and tripod along for a few more attempts at HDR nighttime shots.
It turns out that last time I completely forgot to set the ISO properly (whoopsie), so with that corrected I had more success this round. Heh.
Anyway, here's my favorite shot of the night:
UPDATE: For those who've requested it, my pic is available on DeviantArt here.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I've seen a bunch of DIY cone trees on various crafting blogs, covered with everything from feathers to pine cones, so I decided to try some out myself! Of course, mine would have to have a steampunk twist:
I hear craft stores actually sell plain cones, but they're simple enough to DIY from old cereal boxes:
I made four cones from two cereal boxes, and half accidentally ended up with a nicely graduated set of three:
I initially planned to paint them, but quickly realized that wrapping paper is smoother, easier, and shinier. I wrapped the largest cone in a swirly metallic paper with lots of golds and silvers in it, and then proceeded to layer on those thin metal gears I love so much:
Spellbinders Gear Dies. They're thin, lightweight metal, and bend easily. It took FOREVER to glue them on the cone, though; the superglue kept letting go, and the E-6000 takes a long time to dry. Eventually John suggested I use blue tape to hold the gears in place while the glue dried, which was a real sanity-saver.
My little tree toppers are 3D stickers from the drool-worthy Jolee's Boutique steampunk line:
I curled thin brass wire around a chopstick to make curly sprigs to set behind the owl:
And for a final touch, I hung a vintage key on the front of the cone using two straight pins:
I used spray adhesive to attach the fabric, which I highly recommend. No mess, no bumps or dark spots on the fabric, *and* it's easy to peel the fabric off and re-position it if you get a wrinkle. Great stuff.
Last Christmas my dad, who repairs antique clocks and watches for fun, gave me a small box of rusty old pocket watch guts. (I KNOW. I was jumping up and down with glee!) I've yet to do anything fun with them, though, so I decided to showcase one on the cone:
I added several more curled wire sprigs all around the watch face, taping them down in the back, and then rigged a wire hanger with even more packing tape. (It isn't pretty back there, trust me.) Another sewing pin acted as a nail to hang the whole shebang up:
And for my final tree, I first covered it in several layers of shiny chrome wrapping paper. (The foil paper is so thin that I had to roll it several times to get a non-crinkly layer.)
After staring at it for a while, I headed off to Micheal's for some inspiration. There I found some lovely - albeit expensive - rhinestone decals:
Still, the topaz gems on the shiny silver gives the tree a really glamorous look, like old jewelry:
Oh, and I also replaced the owls' blue gem eyes with smaller gold ones, to match.
And there you have it! The cones are on our front buffet, which isn't quite finished yet, but here's a crummy photo to give you the general idea:
Hope you guys enjoyed, and that the holiday madness hasn't taken too many of you just yet. (I find eggnog helps. Lots...and lots...of eggnog. *hic*)
Monday, December 10, 2012
I've been spending every spare moment Christmas crafting over here for the past week or two, so brace yourselves for a minor deluge of craft posts doused in glitter, fake greenery and PURE JOY. (Or possibly frustration, if you're like me and not so good with wiring things onto fake greenery. [Why is everything so slippery, and why do I keep poking myself?! ARG!] But that's for another post.)
First up, lots of you suggested that I patina my last nutcracker - the one that looked so terrible after I tried painting it white - so I decided to give that a go. I haven't tried this finish since my seahorse tutorial, so this time I went with a slightly more colorful approach:
The goggles are made from two thin slices of a pencil (I used my Dremel to cut them off) and a thin strip of leather:
I glued these to his hat, and then used a paint product called "Beads In A Bottle" to make the rivets. I think it worked pretty well, and the four-pack with gold, silver, copper, and black was only about $9 at JoAnn's. (Link goes to Amazon, where it's cheaper.) I'm sure I'll be using this stuff a lot more in the future!
I didn't take process photos of the patina, but I did everything essentially the same as my seahorse statue, with one major change: after the copper base coat, instead of spraying the statue black and then rubbing it down with mineral spirits, I just used a wine red acrylic paint, painting it on and wiping it off again with a rag - no spirits needed. This gave the statue a more iron-rusted look under the teal patina streaks, and also makes it more colorful and less grungy-looking:
Aaand one last beauty shot:
I'm off to take pictures of more of my finished crafts, so stay tuned!
Oh! And while I'm talking nutcrackers, can I just say how fun it is to see all YOUR versions? Here are just a few that you guys have sent in:
Nadia used glitter, star gems, and rhinestones to accent her gold and silver nutcrackers:
And Amanda A. found some extra tiny nutcracker ornaments from Walmart, which she decked out with glitter, keys, and *wings*!
And finally, my friend Darla of Bakingdom painted her nutcrackers in dreamy pastels, and then turned them into art pieces to hang on her wall!
here to see her full tutorial, and also to see the rest of Darla's decorations, which you must - MUST - see. Everything's so bright and sweet and glittery that it makes me despair of ever having decorating chops even half as good. I love/hate you, Darla, seriously. Come decorate my house next year? [Bambi eyes]
Hope you all had a great weekend! And please keep sharing your holiday crafts and decorations over on the Epbot FB page - it really brightens my day, seeing what my geek peeps are up to!
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