Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Falling Stars and Snowflakes - Last DIY Project of 2014

I'm able to slip in one last DIY project for the year - something you might find 
appropriate for your New Year's Eve celebration. 

I live in an area supplied by hard water so I absolutely need softening laundry products or our clothes and towels end up looking and feeling like burlap. I hate buying disposable items, especially if these items are clean and smell good after being used, but I've found a way to re-use my dryer sheets. As you might know by now, I like to re-use or repurpose as much as I can to reduce my footprint.

The used dryer sheets still have traces of scented wax, which are very useful to stiffen paper snowflakes. I sandwich the snowflake between two used dryer sheets and...

press them with a warm iron. A low heat setting is all you need, you want to melt the wax not the fabric. The wax will absorb in the paper snowflake making it slightly darker in appearance and fragrant as a bonus.
In some instances I had to move the snowflake around the sheets to catch all the wax.

 When your snowflake has absorbed the wax, let it cool and gently peel the top and bottom sheets from the snowflake.

 You are left with a firm snowflake that can be hung without drooping.

 You are also left with freshly ironed dryer sheets, which can be used for another project.

 I then take star-shaped cookie cutters and trace them on the stack of dryer sheets. Any simple and easily identifiable shapes could be used, depending on the occasion. 

 Next, I cut the shapes. In the case of the stars, I shortened the points to make sure they don't flop downwards when hung.

I then sew them together leaving spaces between each star. I found that a short stitch works best. I ended with a long strand of stars which I cut to different lengths. 
The round moon-like paper discs garland, the delicate snowflakes along with the transparent stars give the display an ethereal astral theme, appropriate for a midnight event when the ball drops.

A Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to All!
It's always a pleasure exchanging a few words with my dear blogging friends.
I look forward to more exchanges in 2015.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Headdress 2014 - The Countess' New Tiara

Here we are, the Countess' headdress is done. She would often talk in tears about her priceless diamond tiara lost (along with her head) during the French Revolution. So I made her a new one. She is thrilled. Click on the link that follows to know more about my oldest friend Poppy, aka The Countess Papera Ephemera.

 Except for the natural evergreen tree branches, all the elements used to make the gown and the headdress were from reused and recycled materials.
Behind the scenes, making the headdress
Behind the scenes, making the Christmas tree gown.
Special thank you to Chet Greason for the old hymn books.

 Now I have to clean-up this messy studio so I can start a new portrait commission. 
Follow my progress during the holidays at Studio Vignette.

Don't forget your local animal shelter.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Christmas Tree Dress 2014 DIY - The Countess' New Gown

Dovima in Balenciaga, December 1950. Photo: Richard Avedon
This year's inspiration for the Countess' Christmas gown came from a photograph of Dovima in a Crystobal Balenciaga gown. Dovima could wear a burlap potato sack and make it look glamorous, so in the spirit of the 1950s supermodel, I designed a bustier gown with a full skirt for my spirit friend.

 After protecting my mannequin, I used chicken wire to create a stiff skirt to support the heavy and full skirt of greenery. 

 Starting from the bottom, I weave the branches through the chicken wire.

So my trees wouldn't suffer too much, I used different types of evergreen.

I like the different shades of green.

Evergreen branches are not slimming so I did some clipping.

To give more definition to the bodice, I used a thin black wire and wrapped it around the 
waist and rib cage.

 I covered the shoulder and neck with pages of an the old hymn book. I gave the the Countess a statement necklace using dried orange peels shaped like roses. 

Here we are, all natural except for the needle pine in the skirt, the sparkly leaves and cranberries in the necklace.

Just like a real Christmas tree, the house smells wonderful.

The Christmas gown won't stay in the house for very long - too tempting for the dogs. 
It will have to go outside on the front porch where it will stay green and fresh for the squirrels to hide their walnuts.

Come back later for the Countess' headdress.