Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday*

*(Is this still a thing? Anyway, carrying on...)

I recently finished up a needlework piece (can't show you yet, it's a gift and I haven't gotten it sent off to intended recipient) so I am starting another. Fidelity, to one thing or another, is a work in progress for us all, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A simple stenciled box for vacation memories


You might be wondering what we are going to do with our postcard travel journal once we tire of displaying it on the mantel. Well, I took about 30 minutes last weekend and made it a permanent home.

It's simply an unfinished cigar box with the year and destination of the trip stenciled in paint on the front. Here are the simple materials:

I chose gold paint because it blends in fairly well with the natural tone of the wood. I planned to display the box on a bookshelf and I wanted the lettering to be legible but not SUPER ASSERTIVE -- I wanted it to read like the spine of a book, if you will. The only gold paint I had on hand was actually fabric paint, but it worked just fine (acrylic craft paint would have been the obvious choice).

As for the play-by-play: Place the stencil for your first letter on the box:

Load up your foam brush with paint -- not too much now.

Dab paint on stencil. Don't worry, it's not rocket surgery.

It is a little fiddly, though -- those rubber stencils don't really stick to the wood, so some of my letters are a bit imperfect (I'm looking at you, D). No matter, it's not really noticeable from a couple feet away. And fortunately, one coat of paint turned out to be plenty, so I could remove each stencil right away and go on to the next letter.

You might notice in that picture up above a rubber band around the box near the top of the frame -- I used that to hold the box closed so I could flip the latch open and get a stencil underneath.

And that's it. You could put some kind of poly or varnish on the box to seal it, but I didn't bother -- I figured with the amount of handling it will get, the paint will hold up just fine. I gave the paint an hour or so to dry, then tossed the postcards and other trip ephemera inside.

(Yes, I did save tram tickets and the receipt from lunch at our favorite cafe, and I don't know why you're surprised; I've never pretended to be anything other than a sentimental fool.)

Anyway, here's to the future, may it hold a whole bookshelf full of cigar boxes.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Having it both ways

So I took another pass at the mantel, using mostly the same objects as before but incorporating a couple of very basic styling tips: the idea of creating visual triangles, and the idea of creating arrangements with odd numbers of objects.

I switched out the white candles for green ones to add a little more color and contrast (yellow candles to match the daffodils would have been even better, but I don't have any on hand). Other than that, all I added was the two taller brass candlesticks on the right -- these belonged to my man's grandparents so you see I am still sticking to objects of significance.

I find our mantel really tricky to decorate because it is so shallow. A lot of tutorials recommend "layering" objects from back to front, but there is just not room for this strategy as far as i have been able to figure out.

Looking at these pictures today I can also see that the picture above the mantel is probably a bit undersized, but I'm not ready to move on from Big Raven yet.

You can probably also see that the surface of the mantel is uneven -- aside from the grooves between the bricks, the bricks themselves are not evenly laid and form hills and hollows that further limit how things can be placed without looking seriously wonky. Vexing!

All that said, I rather like the result and the hint that with a little extra thought maybe I can have it both ways -- meaningfulness and aesthetics. Though if you can see how to rearrange these things to improve the look, please do comment, I'm all ears!