Saturday, May 26, 2012

More on the Purple LEDs

A few weeks back I showed you how I was recolouring my little battery operated LED light sets from white to purple to fit my party theme. It was really successful.

Well, today I decided I needed more than just a few LEDs behind my whispy organza curtain. I need a long string of lights that I can wind around the blades of the shutters so there are lots and lots of lights so I bought a 5m length of white LEDs. I was thrilled to find them at this time of the year. Most of our local Christmas Shops won't reopen for business until June or July but I found these at the $2 shop in my shopping centre.

I'm so glad that I decided to colour these tonight and not leave it to the last minute because when I applied the same colour alcohol ink that I used last time, I got blue LEDs instead of purple! What on earth is going on here?

So I tried a much pinker shade of purple.

The LED at the top is Piñata Purple Passion and the bottom one is Adirondack Wild Plum and yet there is very little difference between them!

My son to the rescue. He has a bit of an interest in electronics and he realised straight away that this string of LEDs was COOL white and not WARM white like my battery operated LEDs. It's obvious when you know it, but as far as I was concerned, white LEDs were white LEDS so I expected the same result. It seems I just needed to find the right colour to counteract the blueness of this white light.

And then he found a great Instructable for diffusing that bright light. A light sanding with 400 grit sandpaper makes the colour stay put better whilst softening the harsh light that LEDs give off. You can see the scratch pattern from the sandpaper on the top LED compared with the smooth and shiny surface of the bottom one.

For the effect I want, I'm going to leave them unsanded, but that was such a good little bit of info to know for some other project in the future.

Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you the most important bit. Notice how the purple in the photo above is really purple? Well the solution was......
a Magenta Sharpie!

Well, now that I have that problem sorted, it's back to my butterfly project. Pics coming soon!

'Til next time....

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Little Bit of This.....

I am being such a Gemini at the moment - I have so many projects on the go and none of them is finished! It really would be helpful if I could just focus on one project at a time but like a true Gemini I am easily distracted by the next exciting thing! I have so many ideas in my head but I just can't finish any of them fast enough.

In fairness though, I am working away diligently on the edible mixed media project that I mentioned in my last post and I'm really pleased with how it's coming along. It's time consuming and a bit repetitive, but I love the idea of eating your art and can't wait to share it with you, but it's going to take at least another week to finish this project.

I'm also working on bonbonnieres for THE dinner party. Each one is hand cut using a Krafty Lady template - and a great template it is, but at times like this it would be so much faster to have a die to run through the die cutting machine.

I'm working on these one component at a time, just like a production line to help speed things up because they are quite time consuming. But they are delicate and pretty so the end result will be worth it.

Purple AND butterflies..... what could be more perfect for my dinner party theme!

I have another butterfly project on the go at the moment too - a decor project for one of the guest rooms. It's a quick and easy project so I hope to have pics to share with you on the weekend.

'Til next time.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Simplicity of a Frangipani - How to Make Sugar Paste Frangipanis

You may not know that I was a keen cake decorator in a previous crafting life. I decorated cakes for many special occasions including Weddings, Christenings and birthdays and each and every cake was a labour of love. Two of my specialties were hand moulding flowers from sugar paste and piping the very delicate and intricate extension work.

Despite this, I'm not decorating my birthday cake because of the time factor. So I've enlisted the services of a cake decorator. We sat down together and nutted out what I'd like and now it's all in her hands. But whilst I was looking through hundreds of internet images to find what I liked, I couldn't help but notice how cake decorating styles have changed over the past 30 years. Gone are the frilly, lacy cakes that I specialised in and in are the bright funky cakes. After seeing so many wonderful cake creations, I started to get the bug again. I even visited a local cake decorating supplier and picked up some modelling paste and fondant. I have plans......
One of the treats I've decided to have for my dinner is cupcakes and as I'm going to make and decorate my own, I want to mould some edible flowers. And the simplest flower I know is the frangipani.

So let's have a look at how easy this flower is to make.

I've dusted a non stick mat with cornflour and rolled out the modelling paste quite thinly - a bit thicker than I would like but it's more than 25 years since I last made one so you'll have to forgive me.

Normally you'd use a cutter with a more elongated petal but as I parted with my frangipani cutter a long time ago, I'm making do with a leaf cutter which I've turned upside down. You can just make out the serrated edges in the photo above. I've cut out enough petals for two flowers. (Note to self: only cut out enough petals for one flower at a time so the moulding paste doesn't dry out before you get to it!)

Lay down one petal and using a paintbrush, paint the right hand edge of the petal with water and lay another petal on top. You'll need 5 petals in all and it should look like a fan.

The last petal also needs to be brushed with water. Pick up the fan and carefully roll the right hand petal around the back of the left hand petal so that it sits behind it. Each petal is now in front of the one on its left and behind the one on its right.

I've pinched the base off my frangipani because it will be sitting on a cupcake. Place the flower in a small shallow lid so that the petals are supported whilst they dry.

Now it's just a matter of colouring the frangipani and I like to do this by brushing on the colouring dust with an old stubby paint brush. The porous surface of the flower grabs the colour easily.

I wont be winning any cake decorating awards with these frangipanis but they will certainly look great on top of the cup cakes.

I'm fiddling around with another idea at the moment which combines a paper crafting technique with cake decorating - an edible mixed media project! Sounds interesting? Well, I'll share it with you some time next month.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Friday, May 18, 2012

Turning Chandeliers into a Candelabra

My inexpensive candelabra is in pretty good condition after I cleaned it up yesterday and it doesn't need any repair work - probably from being protected by the layer of 10 year old dust and candle wax!

And now comes the fun part of dressing it up a bit. I don't want to go too over the top but I want to add a bit of sparkle to it. So it's straight to my stash to find something with a bit of bling and what I've pulled out is a few strands of AB finish clear glass beads. I would love to be using real crystals for this but I don't have enough in my stash and when I padded it out with the glass it cheapened the whole thing, so I'm sticking to the glass only.

I also chose some silver chandelier components which have birds on them that will work quite well with the theme.

You only need to know how to turn a simple loop to make these chandeliers. Firstly, thread all the tear drops onto head pins and turn a simple loop. Thread the remaining beads on eye pins. I've used the ends I cut off my head pins to create the eye pins but if you don't want to do that then add four eye pins to the materials you'll need.

Connect all the loops to each other and you're done. Easy! You'll need one chandelier component for each arm of your candelabra and maybe an extra pair to turn into matching earrings! You'll need to add a jump ring to each chandelier so that it sits straight when it's connected to the candelabra.

Now it needs some beads draped between its branches. For this part of the project you'll need to use a crimping tool and beading wire. I'm using Beadalon 19 strand beading wire (.018") in Satin Silver and number 2 crimp tubes. This wire will allow the beads to drape gracefully.

Start by creating a dangling component using the head pin in the same way as you did for the chandelier component, using a round bead and the mirrored silver teardrop. Thread on all the beads following the pattern above, placing the dangle component in the middle. Add a crimp tube followed by a wire guardian.

Thread the beading wire through the other side of the wire guardian and then crimp the tube making sure the wire does not cross over itself. Complete the crimp by laying it sideways in the top hole of the crimping pliers to crimp the wings into the middle.

Repeat for the other end.

You'll need one of these drapes for each arm of the candelabra.

Attach a 10mm jump ring to each arm and hook on a strand of breads, a chandelier component and another strand of beads. Connect each strand to the arm next to it so that it drapes gracefully.
And the finishing touch? Well I think that I might just go over the top after all. The cups of the candle holders are looking at me begging me to decorate them. Will I? Or won't I? What do you think? Should I or shouldn't I? 

This was another budget project and I was fortunate to have all the components on hand. But if you'd like to make your own, all my supplies have come from Feeling Inspired with the exception of the silver mirrored tear drops which I picked up at Michaels.

More party instalments to come soon. Hope you'll stop by again to see what's next.

'Til then....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beneath the Layers of Dust

Today I'm tackling the cleaning up of an old candelabra which has been sitting on my buffet for so long that the crust of wax on the candle holders has collected a 10 year old layer of dust!

So let's get to it.

You can see the crusty layer of wax and dust on the candle holder. When the dust is brown you know the job is long overdue!

The easiest way to tackle such a large amount of wax is to pry it off gently with an old knife.

Once the excess wax has been lifted off it's time to attack the remnants.

You can use a hairdryer for this but I found my heat gun was perfect. The wax melts quickly and at a fairly low temperature but because my candelabra is painted, care is needed to avoid bubbling the paint.

Once melted, just wipe the wax away with paper towel and you're finished!

This took no more than 15 minutes to do - I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. I know that I can be allergic to housework but it was actually fun to clean this up and now it's ready for to be dressed for the dessert buffet - a project for later in the month.

'Til next time....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Silver and Purple - Delicate and Pretty

This past few weeks I've been designing and creating all the table decorations for the upcoming dinner party and it's slowly but surely coming together. I feel like I've taken a big step forward today by finishing the napkin ring design but its been such a busy day that I haven't been able to photograph the step by steps yet so look out for that later on.

I've used one of my favourite jewellery making supplies to create these: silver filigree stampings. I love how versatile brass stampings are; I use them in lots of different ways and I've even blogged about that here. For this project I've used them to form the napkin ring base, with Preciosa and Swarovski crystals to connect them together. The focal point is a Delica flower. It was a bit tricky to photograph the flower so that it didn't just look like a tangled mess of wire but in real life, it looks delicate and pretty - this definitely says "Myléne".

Of course, I now have my work cut out for me and I have a dozen more to make so I'd better get cracking. 

'Til next time.....

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Purple Backdrop

I'm continuing to work on the decorations for the dinner party in June but I've run into another little challenge with my decorating plans. To add some atmosphere to the dining room I am planning to add a backdrop of organza fabric to my windows which are covered by very stylish shutters. I like the clean lines of the shutters for everyday but for the party I want something with more colour. So the plan is to wrap lights around the slats of the shutters and then drape the fabric over the top of the shutters so that it is dotted with little bud lights. It should look very pretty.

So here's the fabric I've chosen - a curtain (Sarita) from Ikea - a bargain at just $15/pair (in the US, just $7/pair).
SARITA Pair of curtains IKEA Thin, sheer curtain; lets in daylight. Easily hemmed to desired length with the enclosed iron-on hemming strip.

I adore this colour and of course it works perfectly with the theme.... but unfortunately, that's not the colour that they actually are. Here's what they look like in daylight.

And at night, they look more like this (without the daylight streaming through, of course!). A sort of chocolatey brown colour.... not the look I wanted at all.

But as I've already opened the packaging to find this out, I have to find a way to make this work. So once again, I'll be reaching for my Piñata inks to change the colour of the LEDs.

Here's how the curtain looks with the white LEDs.

Now lets take another look after they are coloured with Passion Purple Piñata ink.

It's difficult to see with the daylight streaming through the shutters but it is much better!

So, once again my craft supplies are coming to the fore. They are really keeping me on budget!

There will be more decorating ideas to come soon. Hope you'll check back to see what else I come up with.

'Til nest time.....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lessons from the Women of the Past

I am very grateful to my Mum and to my Grandmother for the wonderful crafting skills I learned from them. They both influenced me greatly: My Mum with her sewing skills and my Grandmother with her crafting prowess. Home making skills were a necessary part of our lives and we sewed everything that we wore and crafted many of the decor items around our home.

So in honour of those days, here's a set of cards which celebrates the things that our Mothers and Grandmothers held dear. These very feminine cards are inspired by the crafts of days gone by when handmade meant quality! All the papers and embellishments featured are from Collections Elements.

Hand embroidery was a wonderful past time for ladies of all ages and they were very skilled with a needle and embroidery floss, creating beautiful table cloths and duchess sets for their dressing tables. I still have some treasured items in my linen cupboard which have been handed down through the family. And whilst the bobbins on my card aren't wound with embroidery floss, they are wrapped with familiar braids such as gimp, ric rac and bias binding. Other details include a pair of embroidery scissors attached to a chatelaine, an aged tape measure and some paper covered "buttons".

A popular item at the school fetes was always the frilly coat hangers knitted by the Grandmothers - perfect for hanging more delicate items that would be damaged by wire coat hangers. This one mimics the look with little puffs of inked tissue paper topped off with a piece of velour tubing to cover the hook. And for just a touch of "vintage bling", there's a length of crystal and smoke-coloured rhinestones. The smokey crystals really tone down the bling and are much more reminiscent of days gone by.

I was fortunate to learn my sewing skills growing up at a time when you made your own clothes. My Mum taught me how to sew a straight seam and then how to turn it into a French seam so that it lay flat with the seam fully enclosed. That was my first sewing lesson - 10 minutes behind the needle and I had been inducted into the women's circle. I would have been no more than 10 years of age. After that, my Mum left me to my own devices with her pile of fabric scraps and free access to her sewing machine. Once I learned how to read a pattern, there was no stopping me - pleated underskirts, tulle or lace overlays, and ruffled bodices - yes, I did create dresses like this!

If you are old enough to recognise any of these crafts or styles, then this post is dedicated to you. They say that everything old is new again so even if you're a much younger Mum and these crafts all seem so old fashioned, this post is also dedicated to you.

Whichever group of Mums you fall into, I hope you have a very Happy Mother's Day and may you pass your own crafting traditions down to your children!

Happy Mothers Day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jewellery..... For Your Table?

Being a jewellery maker, I have been thinking how fun it would be to have beads on my dining table. And in particular, wouldn't it be fun to have beaded serving ware. So that's the next project on the list for my celebratory dinner table. It's a simple decorating idea that will tie in nicely with the purple theme I've chosen.

I have a platinum coloured cake server in my buffet which is the perfect base for this project. It's my favourite server but it only comes out on special occasions and this is definitely a special occasion. I've gathered some 24g platinum coloured wire and a selection of purple seed beads. Because this server has a rounded handle and a lovely pattern I decided to keep the beading really simple so it doesn't get too bulky, but if you have a flat server, you could really go to town with the beads and decorate the whole handle.

All you need to do is wrap a length of wire around the grooves of the handle a couple of times to secure it.

Then thread on the beads and wrap it around the handle so the beads sit in the channel.

To secure, wrap the end of the wire over and under the beaded wire and then pull it firmly. Wrap it around the handle again and then thread it through a couple of beads before trimming it closely to the beads so the wire doesn't stick into any one.

Make sure you tie off the wire at the back so the front is nice and neat.

Repeat for the bottom of the handle and you have a simple but elegant cake server.

To make this more permanent, you could secure the beads to the handle with glue but keep the handle away from water to avoid getting moisture on the wire. Rust might be a trendy patina to add to your crafting projects but doesn't belong on your food utensils! I'm not gluing my beads in place because I want to remove them later on.

This was such a quick and easy project and from start to finish it took less than half an hour. But as with all beading projects, I'm now hooked and looking for more serving ware that I can decorate.

Check back later in the month to see what other dining table items I have in my sights.

'Til next time....