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.

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.

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.

Christmas Decoration 2014 - DIY Tissue Paper Lantern

This year, I went with a bold red statement. It's an easy, low-cost project that creates a big impact. Rather time-consuming and repetitive, I did it in stages to relieve the boredom. 

I used one of my paper lantern for a base and covered it with red tissue paper using a homemade mixture of white glue and water. I cut many tissue disks and made simple little flowers, gathering and twisting the centre to create a stem.

I made a whole bunch of flowers while watching TV at night and then glued them the next morning.
I repeated this process over several days to cover my two lanterns.
I first used a glue stick, but switched to spray glue soon after. A shop stick to press the flower down into the glue was useful.

I ended up with a ball measuring 60" in circumference.

It now hangs from my entrance medallion.

My daughter contributed to decorative details, such as a fairy, dragonfly, leaves and branches to suspend the ball…

and she made a lovely paper garland using pages of an old and damaged hymn book. 

Hanging from the bottom, a glass ball that Astrid painted when she was a tiny fairy.

The dining room chandelier was also given the bold red treatment with a smaller tissue ball measuring 41" in circumference.

The little acrobat fairies are back, but this year I've added paper-cut snowflakes and garland.

I also made paper snowflakes to hang in the library, made from the pages of the old hymn book. I waxed the snowflakes so they would stay flat and firm. To wax them I used two used dryer sheets for each snowflake. The snowflake is sandwiched between the two dryer sheets, I then iron them on a low setting. There's just enough wax left on those sheets and the snowflakes smell good as well. Use an old iron or protect your good one by placing a thin cloth or paper over your work.

Come back to see this year's Christmas cedar dress.

Planter Box Furniture - Last Exterior DIY Project of the Season

I recently came across a nice little piece of furniture at my local vintage/thrift store Pass It On. A dainty planter box with shelf, to place near my front doors under the address plaque.

Of course, I could not leave it alone and wanted to refresh it -
as if I did not have enough of my veranda to paint.
So I put my trusty and lovely assistant Astrid on it. Actually, it's not really a DIY, but a ADI -
'Astrid Did It'.

 After sanding and priming it…

She painted it in the colours used on the house.

We filled the box with deep red daisy mums to match the red accents.

Done! She did a great job.
It now stands near the front door and will give ample opportunity to do pretty seasonal displays.

Getting ready for Autumn and wishing you a lovely one.

'Fretworking' - Part V and Putting Away the House Paint for this Season.

The Dusty Victorian's corner corbels
Moving on to the side porch, good progress was made, uninterrupted by rain.
I'm working on a portion that is as wide as my scaffold.

When we moved in, the old eavestrough was leaking badly, affecting the painted surface, but I'm always amazed how the woodwork is in remarkable shape under that peeling paint. Wood can withstand a lot a abuse. I had to strip a good portion of the old paint off.

Primed and...

painted. The back end corner is completed.

Moving my scaffold to the next post to work on the remaining portion and finish this section.

Primed and…


Voila, the first side section is completed.
The side veranda has three sections measuring on average twelve feet each.

 This will end my fretwork for the season. If it hadn't been for the rain, I think I would have been able to finish the veranda, but what can one do.

Anyway, I will resume work next Spring and finish the four remaining sections
(two in the side and two in front). So Summer 2015 is already planned.

The leaves will soon be turning, yellow, orange, red and every shade in between.