Yard Treasure

After I shared my newly painted gnomes last week, I remembered that I hadn’t shared a fabulous garden art makeover from two years ago. This was the summer that we moved into our new house and I was doing some clean-up around the backyard. I was trimming some unruly rhododendrons when I spotted something strange tangled in the innermost branches. After prying apart layers of leafy branches I was able to free the mystery object. I was so excited to discover it was a retro rabbit statue! My yard-work that day yielded two more pieces of what I was calling, “yard treasure”. One was a flamingo, sadly it was too far gone to rescue. The other mystery item turned out to be a retro poodle statue. Jackpot!

garden statues

Yard treasure fresh from the shrubs

I gave these a thorough scrubbing and used the “jet” setting on my hose sprayer to make them as clean as I could, then let them dry. They were both made of a plastic vinyl rubber like substance which seemed really durable. We gave them each a fresh coat of white paint, using a good quality spray paint.

white spray paint

Spraying the statues white

Once they were dry I took them inside to paint back on the eyes and accessories. It didn’t take long at all because they only needed a few small details to come to life. I painted the eyes black and the bows and collar red and that was all!

finished_white

Nice and bright white again!

Now these “yard treasures” are sitting on the mantel of the backyard fireplace and they look great! I’ve been on the lookout for more pieces like them whenever I’m at a yard sale or thrift store but so far no luck. I would love to have a yard filled with funny vintage animal statues, but for now I’ll settle for two.

painted statues

Repainted and adorable yard treasure

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Gnome Repair

About seven years ago, I purchased some adorable garden gnomes. These little gnomes have lived in all sorts of flower pots and various places in my yard. Sadly, the sunshine had taken its toll and faded them. Because these gnomes have been with me for so long I was determined to rescue them and return them to the garden, good as new!

faded gnomes

The gnomes in their sun faded condition.

To begin, I gave them all a quick power wash with the hose and a gentle scrubbing to clean off any dirt. I staked them in the grass to dry in the sun, which didn’t take long at all. Next, I gathered them up and punched holes into a cardboard box so they had a place to stand while I worked on them. I used acrylic craft paints and brushes that I already had around the house. Other supplies included a plastic lid for mixing colors and a jar of water with paper towels to clean the brushes.

Paint and brushes

Gnome Repair Supplies

With everything ready it was time to begin painting. If you’re like me then you will spend hours being very precise with tiny brushes. I don’t mind spending a long time, with some t.v. in the background or an audiobook on, I find the time goes really fast! It might seem silly to spend hours repainting something that costs about $10, but I just can’t throw out things that can be fixed.

painted gnomes

Gnomes with a fresh coat of paint

Once the brightly colored gnomes were painted it was time to go bed. I let them dry completely overnight and then took them outside to spray with a clear protective coating. I grabbed my go-to spray, Krylon Triple-Thick Crystal Clear, and gave them a few coats. I was at the end of the can and ended up using another brand to add the final coats, but it worked out well enough.

clearcoat application

The gnomes getting a finishing touch

Now the gnomes are shiny and ready for more rain and sunshine! Knowing me, I’ll probably repaint them in a few years when they start to look sad again, but for now I will enjoy putting them back in their garden home.

gnomes in garden

The bright and happy looking gnomes are back in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

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If it’s broke, buy it!

I recently made a trip to Goodwill where I found a really great piece of wall decor. I recognized the packaging as being a Target brand, this particular Goodwill gets a lot of Target home decor for some reason. So, a piece that originally cost $54.99 at Target set me back $25.00 at Goodwill.

 

Still being sold in stores and online.

Still being sold in stores and online.

 

This particular item was damaged. One of the wooden points had received a blow and been sheered off to reveal a much lighter wood base under the carving. I bought it anyway knowing I could fix it somehow. I thought about it on the drive home and decided to try making a replacement piece out of clay and then painting it to match. Since the wood was obviously painted with a few shades of brown, and hand carved allows for some differences, I wasn’t too nervous about creating a perfect match. I used Crayola Air-Dry Clay for the first time ever to attempt this repair. I was hoping that since the clay would remain in place to dry, it would hold the shape better than if I tried to bake a piece of polymer clay and hope it didn’t shrink too much. So, I shaped a rough wedge of clay and pressed it into the missing gap. Then I resized it and shaped it with my bone folder to have the same angled look on the top. I also used the bone folder to simulate the carves lines. Then I left it alone for about three days to dry out.

 

The clay during drying time.

The clay during drying time.

 

Once it was dry I found that it was firmly adhered to the wood and I didn’t need to glue it down or anything. I chose to sand the edges to get the shape to match the other points better. The top needed a little sanding to make the height match the rest of the carving as well. Many of the cut-out spaces had rough texture where it had been cut out and so I sanded all of the edges because I wanted a smoother look. I mixed up a bunch of brown, black, and tan paint until I got a close enough match and then I touched up the cut-outs and painted the clay repair. I used a few different shades and rubbed paint around with my finger and tiny brushes until I was happy with how it looked.

 

The circled point is the clay repair.

The circled point is the clay repair.

 

So, as you can see, it’s not bad. Especially from a distance of just a few feet, then you can’t even tell it was once broken. The best part is that I got a really neat piece of wall decor for less than half the price and it didn’t take long to fix! So don’t be afraid to buy something with a chip, scratch, missing part, or any other blemish. Chances are you can fix it and no one will ever know the difference!

 

Fully repaired and hanging on the wall.

Fully repaired and hanging on the wall.

 

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Cleaning a Chandelier

When we got our new house over a year ago, I was super excited about the chandelier in the dining room. It was dusty and had a ton of extra crystals hanging on the chain and a few missing here and there, along with a crystal at the bottom that I wanted to swap out. Since I was busy with school and we spent all of our free time painting and fixing things, the chandelier just gathered more dust. This picture of the chandelier is from when we first moved in.

The way it was when we first moved in.

The way it was when we first moved in.

 

I forgot to take one of the whole chandelier before I started cleaning it. Luckily, I at least got this shot of one of the candles so you can see how dusty it was! Shortly after moving in we swapped out the bulbs for much dimmer ones, you’ll probably be able to tell in the other pictures.

Such a thick coating of dust!

Such a thick coating of dust!

 

I had read about various cleaning products and methods but decided to go with plain water and a more hands on approach. I read how it was helpful to have several clean white socks or cotton gloves to really get the surfaces free of dirt. I chose to work from the top down and in small sections. This way I could wash a small set of crystals and put them back in place as I went. So, I removed the crystals from the very top section and starting with a damp sock on my hand I carefully wiped at the metal.  I used a clean sock to gently dry the metal.

Before and after crystals.

Before and after crystals.

 

The red circle shows the crystals that had not been cleaned yet. You can really see a difference! When covered in dust they almost look like opaque plastic instead of the sparkling clear glass that they are. I removed a set of crystals and placed one at time in a small plastic bucket of water. Using my fingers I gently rubbed away at the dirt and then used a sock to wipe around the metal findings  make sure they were clean. Then, I dunked the crystal into a separate container of water to kind of rinse it off. I laid each crystal on a towel to dry while I climbed up to remove the next section of crystals and clean the metal. Now the crystals I had washed were dry. I hung them back up and used a clean sock to wipe them in case they had gotten a fingerprint. I repeated this process for six hours before the entire chandelier was finished!

A close up of the now brilliant chandelier!

A close up of the now brilliant chandelier!

 

I added the five missing crystals to the bottom of the arms using the spares from the swag. I also swapped out the almond-shaped crystal that had been tied to the center for the big sphere crystal instead. This chandelier didn’t have a hole to hang the center crystal but I really wanted it on there so I used brown thread and tied it securely to the base. Thread was the best choice after several test runs, it was the least visible. I really like how the focus is on the chandelier itself now that the excess crystals are removed from the swag. I packed those away in an egg carton in case I ever need a replacement.

No longer storage for extra crystals.

No longer storage for extra crystals.

 

I read that you should give your chandelier a good thorough cleaning once a year. In between washes, use a feather duster to gently sweep away the dust on a regular basis. Here is a final picture of the finished chandelier which I also lowered a bit to allow it to be part of the room and not crammed against the ceiling. I find myself looking at it every time I walk by because I can’t believe how sparkly it is!

after

 

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Tissue Paper Cards

I’ve been so busy going to school for the last two years that my crafting adventures have been put on hold. Well, I just finished my internship this week and that means I’m completely done! I’m not ready to jump back into crafting just yet, but I made some cute cards this morning and thought I’d share them with you.

Every time I go to Cost Plus World Market I find the cutest gift wrap. I don’t really need it so I tend to only buy some at Christmas time, even though I’d love to use some as wallpaper someday! Yesterday I just couldn’t resist and bought a pack of tissue paper sheets with a retro travel theme. They had paper, bags, tags, tissue, felt totes, and note cards all in this adorable theme. The note cards were cute but they were all the same image and I just felt like the wrapping paper and tissue had so much fun stuff going on that they would make great cards.

The finished cards!

The finished cards!

It was really easy to make these cards, I bought the tissue paper and everything else I needed was already on hand. I used a cutting mat, x-acto knife, glue stick, blank note cards, glue pen, a metal ruler and a brayer.

Supplies you will need.

Supplies you will need.

First, cut out a piece of the tissue paper so that it has the design you want and is a little bigger than the front of the card. I used a glue stick to apply glue all over the front of the card, then carefully stick down the sheet of tissue paper, let the edges hang over. I smoothed it out with my hand first, then covered the card with the mat or a piece of paper and rolled over it with the brayer. It’s an extra step but it really helps get the tissue nice and flat.

Smooth out the paper with your brayer.

Smooth out the paper with your brayer.

The next step is trimming off the excess edges. Using your metal ruler, line it up with the edge just on top of the edge of the card and slice away the overlapping tissue. Repeat on all four sides! Once you have that done you can use the glue pen to touch up any loose corners that didn’t stick the first time.

Trim the edges to perfectly fit the card.

Trim the edges to perfectly fit the card.

This is a pretty easy craft that I could spend all day doing, there is enough tissue paper to make dozens of super cute cards! You can leave them blank and then rubber stamp the insides for whatever occasion comes up! I think I’ll be doing this again in a few months when it’s time to send out Holiday cards!

I can't get enough of these fun little scenes!

I can’t get enough of these fun little scenes!

 

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Modern Art

I recently moved to a new house and decided to paint my office gray. I feel so lucky to finally have a whole room all to myself! I chose the Valspar color Urban Sunrise. I really like the color and was super excited to finally hang up a large picture that belonged to my mom, it has a foggy London in the 1800’s scene and is a great frame. I decided to hang two of her other pictures on either side of the large one. These are ladies fashion prints that were originally in various old wood frames. I picked out two matching frames and repainted them to update the look and match better with the large picture and my new gray walls.

The finished frames

The finished frames

I’ve been getting a free subscription to Real Simple magazine using my Coke Rewards points, and inside they have coupons for a free sample of Valspar paint. I chose the color Mountain Smoke, a darker gray.

Valspar Mountain Smoke paint sample

Valspar Mountain Smoke paint sample

I used a foam brush and gave my old wood frames a few coats of this lovely gray paint. Then I trimmed one of my prints that was too large and had some water damage, and cut new cardboard backs because the original ones had some water damage. I cut up a large back from a pad of drawing paper instead of buying a new piece of backing.

new cardboard and window push points

new cardboard and window push points

To hold the glass, picture, and cardboard in place, I purchased a pack of Window Push Points. Just lay your frame down on a blanket so you don’t scratch the paint and use a flat tool to wiggle these points back and forth a bit until they slide into the wood. Pretty simple, an easy way to hold things together, space them evenly around and use as many or as few as your frame needs.

I used this extra wide putty knife to push in the points

I used this extra wide putty knife to push in the points

Now I can’t wait to hang them all up but I’m not done with touching up the trim in the room, so that will have to wait a little longer. I really think the grey helps the color in the prints to pop a bit. And, I still have almost a full sample so I’m on the lookout to update more stuff. If you don’t have a free coupon, you can still pick up these sample jars for less than $3 which means anyone can make an easy and frugal change to their own frames and decor.

light blue ladiesblue ladies

I know the colors are all over the place with my not so great pictures, but trust me, Mountain Smoke is a fabulous gray!

 

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Snow Dome Ornaments

In recent years I’ve seen a lot of neat vintage looking Christmas ornaments in the stores. The ornaments have a glass globe or bell covering a little winter scene. I’ve been wanting to make some of my own but had a hard time finding small glass coverings to use. I had pretty much given up hope. This year, my sister came across a tutorial called, DIY Vintage Inspired Bell Jar Ornaments, showing how to make your own using plastic wine glasses. The idea for the material and how to turn it into a bell shape were perfect. I’m so glad she found this helpful hint which allowed me to finally make my own vintage looking ornaments.

Santa and the Snowman

Santa and the Snowman

We bought our plastic wine glasses at the Dollar Tree. Lucky for me, my boyfriend has a Dremel rotary cutting tool and he was able to saw off the stems of the plastic glasses in just a few minutes time. I’m sure there are other tools you could use, but this was a suggestion in the tutorial we found, so we tried it. They won’t all be perfectly level, but handmade items are not always identical, and that’s why we love them!

Winter Gnome

Winter Gnome

For this project, your must have tools will be scissors, a glue stick, and a hot glue gun. You can choose from any number or ways to decorate your snow dome. I made the bases using patterned scrapbook paper glued onto cardboard or a cereal box. Use a circle template to trace a circle slightly larger than the rim of the glass onto the cardboard. You can cut this out with plain or decorative scissors for different looks.

To decorate the inside of the snow domes, you can use little toys, figures, or objects. I had a lot of fun using my rubber stamps to create unique little scenes. I stamped my images onto white paper and colored them with pens and colored pencils. I carefully cut them out using an X-ACTO knife. I used a little line or dot of hot glue to make the paper images stand upright on my bases. Continue adding all of your stand up elements.

Decorated base

Decorated base

Next, I glued the plastic dome onto the base using hot glue. To cover up the hot glue line, trim your glass with ribbon, paper, glitter, or pipe cleaner. I used pipe cleaner because it is easy to shape and dries quickly with hot glue. Then, fill your dome with fake snow, glitter, confetti, or in my case, tiny glass balls called Micro Marbles. You can get these in different colors, and a lot of scrapbook brands make them. The clear ones I used have a nice snow/ice look to them. I painted the bottom with opalescent glitter before pouring in the clear glass marbles, just for added sparkle.

Different style toppers

Different style toppers

To close up the opening in your snow dome, you can use a little hot glue and a bead or button. I had some clear buttons that were just the right size, slightly bigger than the hole in the glass. Tie your thread or string that you are using to hang your ornament through the bead or button and use a dot of hot glue to keep the string attached to the underside of the button, that way it won’t fall into your snow globe when it’s not hanging up. Remember to add your string before you glue it closed! I used the clear button by itself, but on others, I added a second button, or a matching pipe cleaner trim. I even made a dome with a glittery ball that is just a shelf decoration instead of an ornament. The only limit is your creativity.

Vintage Charm

Vintage Charm

The above snow dome was made using a rubber stamped image of a typewriter, and metal brads in the shape of typewriter keys. By adding a seasonal message like the word, “joy”, you can turn any image into a festive decoration to match your interests or decor.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

I love this rubber stamp of a great big old house. I use it for lots of things but couldn’t resist adding simple touches like candles and a wreath on the front door. I made little trees for the front by trimming green pipe cleaner at an angle to create the shape of a tree. You could make these using photos of your own home or special restaurants or hotels to commemorate events. These would make a special gift for those hard to shop for people we all know.

A dome for any occasion

A dome for any occasion

As you can see, I was having way too much fun with these! Don’t limit yourself to Christmas ornaments, or even ornaments for that matter. Above, I made this adorable squirrel that will look great displayed on a shelf, mantle, or table. This woodland dome will look great all year round. I made my own tree stump out of paper and pens, added cute little colorful acorns, and a rubber stamped squirrel. I can’t wait to make more of these for all kinds of holidays, occasions, or just for fun. This craft is a great way to pass the time with family and friends. The materials don’t cost much, especially if you utilize your rubber stamps, or cut out images from magazines and photographs. Plug in your glue guns and have fun!

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