Category Archives: Directions for making cool stuff

Rabbit Shares How to Make Your Own Garden Tea Lights

Finished Tea Light all ready to light up the night, and adorable during the day too.

 Because I love, love, love these adorable garden lights and because unless you live within driving distance you can’t buy one from Running Rabbit Gallery, I am sharing the DIY directions for you.  Why can’t they be mailed? I haven’t figured out how to mail a 3 foot long copper stake cost-effectively–yet, so read on and make some garden fun!

Ingredients: I adore using demitasse-sized cups for these. I have seen others with full sized coffee and tea cups, but the tinier cups are perfect for holding a tea light candle.

cute cups make cute lights
Souvenir spoons are the perfect size

A nice touch is a tiny demitasse spoon, I keep my eyes open at garage sales and Good Will and snag all the itsy bitsy spoons I can. I scored a month ago and found a collection of souvenir spoons which are the perfect size and really cute too. Okay, cute as long as you don’t put them in a rack on the wall, in which case they slide right over to mildly granny-tacky.

You will need 1/2 inch diameter coppper pipe for stakes. You can buy it pre-cut which costs more, or you can pick up an inexpensive pipe-cutter and cut your own. Lowe’s or Home Depot is a great source.

1/2″ copper pipe caps. I get mine at Home Depot because the ones at Lowe’s have a slight curve to the top and your cup will not mount flush and flat, which guarantees good adhesion. If you have to get caps with a slight curve, make very sure you hammer the top flat before you glue them down.

E6000 Glue, available at both Joanne’s and Michaels. Best glue on the planet in my humble opinion.

First step: Glue the cup and saucer together with E6000. Make sure you glue the part of the cup that touches the saucer and then press them together and flip the cup over, saucer up.

Glue on the rim of the cup that touches the saucer.

Squirt some glue on the bottom of the cap and stick it down firmly.

Second step: Glue your flatbottomed cap on the bottom of your saucer and stick it down. Put this assembly aside to dry overnight. You want it really, really dry and adhered before you mess with fitting your copper stake. Save time and make a few more and set them aside too. While your cups are drying cut your stakes. You can make your copper stakes any length you want, short or tall, keep reading for the low down on pipe cutting.

Secured and ready for cutting

These are pipe cutters. There is one on the left for tiny pipe and the one on the right is for cutting larger pipe. We are using the one for larger pipe.

Third Step: Its pretty easy to cut your copper pipe. I am lucky to have a husband with a full on shop, not everyone is going to have a big old bench top vise. You will have to figure out how to hold your pipe steady to cut it. Two chairs and duct tape works for me. We had a ten foot pipe which made four 30″ stakes. The next step is to measure and mark your pipe.

We measured and marked the pipe with a Sharpie marker before cutting.

Open the pipe cutter and place it around the pipe. Twist the knob on the pipe cutter until it feels snug, about a quarter turn.  Then, twist the pipe cutter around the pipe two or three times until it loosens up, tighten it again, about a quarter turn. Do the same thing and keep following these steps until the piple is neatly severed.

Pipe cutter fastened on and turning the knob about a quarter turn to tighten it.

Turn it two or three times and tighten again, its cutting a groove that will eventually cut through the pipe.

Fourth step: Now you have your stakes cut and your cups are thoroughly dry. Time to put the garden lights together. Put a squirt of glue into the cap that is dried on the back of the cup, carefully fit the stake into the cup. Don’t twist side to side, push straight down to avoid stressing the glue bond. Once the stake is fitted, turn it right side up and find somewhere to stick it while it sets.

Glue on the pipe or in the cap to set your stake.

Mount the stake in the cap and then turn it all rightside up to finish drying.

Fifth step: At this point you can adhere your cute spoon too. Dab E6000 on the bowl of the spoon where it touches the saucer, add a tiny dab where the handle rests on the rim for added strength. Let the entire assembly dry.

Souvenir spoons are fairly easy to find and look adorable. I'm keeping the one that has President Eisenhower on it. How cute is that?

After your Tea Lights–pun definitely intended, are completely dry plant them in your garden. How about along a path to illuminate it at night? Pop a tea light candle in and light it and you have a gorgeous light–and if you are using a porcelain cup the whole cup lights up from inside and looks absolutely fabulous. 

Tea light at night, beautiful no?

 If they get filled up with water during rain, no worries, pull them up pour out the water and pop them back in the ground. The glue should last for a good long time. I have one in my yard that has held up for three years. A nice thing is that if a cup should get knocked loose, you can fix it fast with your E6000 and be good to go again.

Finished and planted

If you decide you would like tea lights ready to put into your gardens or for gifts, you can order them from Running Rabbit for just  $15 each. These make a unique one of a kind presentation when you pop one in a plant for a gift. Don’t forget, you have to be close enough to Olympia, WA to get them in person, I still can’t figure out how to mail them….but I’m working on it.

 Enjoy! I’d love to hear how you made your own and how they turned out.

Not exactly a tea party…

Even better than a tea party! I love the classes in the studio.  Today was gray and wet outside but fun inside. The studio is just the right size to be cosy, sometimes you could even call it snug, but with all the fun and laughter it was perfect on a gloomy day.

I am so glad I decided to just slap a coat of poch paint on the floors. One end has carpet for comfort but the work area is safe to spill, splash, drip, drop and generally make a mess.  I have two long tables at the perfect height to work standing or on a stool–and here’s a tip–Goodwill is my lamp purveyor of choice. I watch for those swing arm lamps for two bucks, great deal!

At the far end I have my Inspiration Point, a laptop connection and a printer that uses toner. Old school, baby! I keep photos and tidbits that make me happy pinned on the wall. Including photos of my pets and kiddos, a shampoo bottle from France and various and sundry quotes I love.

Here’s me, so happy to be in the studio working! I’m wearing my French studio hat. Very silly, but it keeps my hair out of my eyes, all I need now is a scarf a la Isadora Duncan and I’m all set.

And of course, the helpers. The one requirement for helpers under 18″ tall is that they are black and white. One cat: Sweetpea; one rat terrier, Nellie; two shi h tzu’s, Mish and Moosh. The cast changes according to who wants to hang out at any given time. They have their own door, toys and beds-can you say spoiled?

Today the studio class was Do What You Love Most. Three of the gal pals wanted to make more garden ornaments. I think we are thinking of them like spring voodoo, our offerings to the weather gods to please hurry up and bring springtime our way. This is part of the saltshaker stash. The perfect basis for fun garden hangers.

This is a batch of finished garden hangers. Lots of them can be seen at www.runningrabbitgallery.com. Mr. T. put up overhead metal lines for me last year, very handy to hang stuff on and get it out of the way. I love all the things he does to keep me happy.

The two Lindas and the one Carolee totally focused on their projects. Linda O. discovered what a monster buffer can do to put a shine on poly clay. She also learned if you don’t hang on tight the piece becomes a missile and flies across the room. A lesson we’ve all learned at one time or another, startling but no harm, no foul.

Another shot of the studio students from my fuzzy camera. We had so much fun today, much better than a tea party!

Jaime bundled up in a work apron and a big fat old sweatshirt to stay warm while she worked at the glass station grinding her glass for a mosaic. I don’t think she noticed we were missing she was having so much fun out there in the damp all by herself. The mosaic/glass area is covered so she didn’t drown in the downpour and she accomplished a ton. Every girl needs a great glass grinder!

In April we will be making crazy funny pull toys of wood and dealing with power tools. I can’t wait! I always list classes on my gallery site and new students are always welcome. $25 for a two hour class and supplies and tool use are included unless otherwise indicated.

Join us for better than a tea party. If you have friends and want to do a class together, let me know. Choose a time that works and as Larry the Cable Guy says, “We’ll get ‘er done!”

Wordles pour des chats, le printemps et la belle France

I have discovered Wordles and the Wordles Web site. Getting a Wordle from its website to mine is  mind bending but I love the random art part of it. http://www.wordle.net/  is the site to play with your own wordle.

Put in a block of text, push a button and voila! Word art. In honor of spring, cats, and France–which I long for when spring comes, here are three Wordles and the original poems that inspired them.

The poems are American Tanka which is a sort of haiku, but a slightly different form and my favorite to write in. 

See how fun these are? I discovered they work better if you weed out words that aren’t absolutely necessary.

Wordling is really fun–and the only way you can drag it from there to where ever is to do a control print screen and move it that way. I put it in MS Publisher, threw a crop on it, dragged it into Adobe and resized it. The long way round I’m sure… Happy Spring! C’est Printemps encore!

Cooking Rabbit Shares How to Make Your Own Yummy Crepe Cake

P1020159Blueberry and Lemon cream crepe cake 

I have been cooking for a really long time and I never plan to stop. The first thing I learned to make was Hollandaise sauce, standing on a chair by the Mixmaster when I was six years old. I could hardly read recipes butI loved being in the kitchen.

My mother was a demented tyrant, but boy could she cook, and she cooked with love and passion. My dad was a talented part-time pastry chef and my granny was a cook who worked every day but Mondays until she was well over 80.

Hatdaddy1 
Mon Cher Papa, who wore always wore a beret after visiting France!

Granmacooks 
My granny, cooking in her restaurant circa 1955

I come by my cooking chops honestly and I have actually cooked professionally in the restaurant world in my checkered past.

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My Cowgirl Mama about 1944

My favorite things are dishes that are spectacular, pretty easy to prepare and will get the cook a lot of compliments!

I think there's a lot of mystery and almost fear around the art of cooking and cooking well. There are a lot of 'secrets' and 'shortcuts' that you only learn through trial and error, practice, or if somebody shares their 'ah ha' moments with you.

One of the things I am asked to make again and again is the crepe cake that is shown here. It is spectacular no matter what fruit and filling you use, tastes amazing and is a lot easier than it looks once you master a few tricks of the trade.

I worked at one of the first crepe houses in Houston a long, long time ago. Liliane's Maison de Crepe. Liliane was a cranky round Frenchwoman with a glorious accent, an amazing laugh and a chef who had tantrums. I think my experience at Liliane's is what made me fall in love with all things French.

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The restaurant had a tiny old gay French piano player who tinkled the ivories in the dining room while wearing a velvet smoking jacket, a maitre d' who was always fighting with the waiters, and the best crepes I have ever tasted. My sons were small and I was working two jobs, but this job? I loved it… So in honor or Madame Liliane, Crepes!

 I chose to make Blueberry and Lemon crepes for this foray, but in the spring I get asked again and again for a birthday crepe cake stuffed with fresh strawberries, vanilla creme and almonds. In the summer, peaches with amaretto are amazing, and raspberries and nutella are another possiblity. If you can think of something yummy, you can take the basic concept and go crazy.

I always rummage around and gather up my ingredients first. Make your fillings–or in the lazy woman's world, peel the top off the vanilla pudding containers. hee hee. Today I did make lemon pudding–from a box. I used canned blueberry pie filling BUT I took about two cups of fresh blue berries, stemmed and checked them good for nasty berries, and  dumped them into a bowl with the filling. Canned pie filling is great for making your fresh berries stick in your crepe stack. You get the punch of fresh fruit and the cake doesn't slip slide away.

2ingred 
I always rummage up my ingredients first in case I am out of something, I find out in time to fix it

Basic Sweet Batter Ingredients:

4 eggs

2/3 cup half & half (or milk)

2/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups flour, all purpose presifted

2 tablespoons butter melted

4 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons of appropriate liquor, such as cognac

2 teaspoons vanilla

 For your crepes:

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, a whisk works wonderfully well, add half and half and water and whisk until its all blended.

4addmillk 

Gradually whisk in the flour.

5addflour 

Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until the batter looks like melted ice cream in thickness and consistency. Thick, creamy  but not too thick is what you are going for.

 Alcohol: I choose the liquor based on A) what I’m making and B) what I have on hand.  In this case, I chose triple sec because I liked the flavor profile with the lemon layers. I like Amaretto with peaches and cognac with strawberries, don’t be afraid to experiment.

7addtriplesec 

Adding my alcohol of choice, it gives a little flavor but mostly helps add color to the crepes as they cook

Okay, you have your batter made, your fillings prepared and waiting in bowls for use in a little while. This is the part where it gets fun. I am lucky enough to have the World's Most Fantastic Crepe Pan. I have had it since before son Joshua was born and he is well over 30 at this point, so the pan is well seasoned. Its a Taylor and Ng pan and they probably don't even make them anymore BUT there are nice crepe pans out there. If you like crepes, go buy one. My entire family knows there will be blood shed if they wash my pan. It only needs wiping off and hanging back up at this stage of its life.

9notcrepepan 
Not a crepe pan doesn't begin to cover it…

I am assuming you don't have a pan like I do, so I wanted to prove to you and to me that you can make great crepes with a junky pan. I got out my most evilly used old teflon warhorse that suffered through years of teenage cooking and should probably be thrown away at this point. When you start hunting through your skillets the trick is choose one that is NOT heavy. You have to pick it up and move it around so weight is one of the secret tricks. You don't need a great big huge skillet, just a fairly flat one with about a six inch wide bottom.

I always melt a little extra butter when I'm melting the crepe batter butter. Dip a paper towel into the butter and swab your pan/skillet with it. Put the pan on medium heat and let it sizzle. Choose a measuring cup that is about 1/3 of a cup. Fill it with batter use trick number two: PICK UP the pan and remove it from the heat while you pour in the batter. This keeps the batter from cooking and sticking instantly so you can roll it around to cover the pan bottom.

12helper 
the good pan and the good little helper on the floor in the background

Rotate the pan, roll it around in your hand to spread the batter around the bottom. Yes, the first two or three crepes will be a mess until you figure out the motion that lets you swirl the batter around the pan bottom.

 13 rotatepan

Put the pan back on the heat.

Wait until the top of the crepe looks dry, crepes don't have holes that bubble up like a big fat flapjack so dry is your key word. Use a really good METAL spatula to flip the crepes over. Plastic spatulas just don't get the job done here. They tear your crepes and don't slide under neatly. The crepe is going to flip just fine, you can even use your fingers. ow! hot! hot! to straighten out any that do an El Foldo on you. Relax, enjoy, find the rhythm. It only takes about 10 or 15 seconds to get the second side done.

Use your spatula to pick it up and put it on a plate. Stack your crepes any which way, they don't stick together and you can unpeel them when you build your cake. Start again, get your batter, pick up pan, rotate it, put it down, etc.etc. Re-butter your pan when you need to, about every 3rd or 4th crepe for a 'virgin pan'. You are done with this phase and you have a lovely big stack of crepes.  

Move to the assembly process, the best part–no wait, that's eating it. Put down a crepe on whatever plate you are serving from, spread a layer of the first filling. Plop down another crepe, spread a layer of the next filling, keep going. Trick 3: If you are using fruit filling, mound it in the middle and put the next crepe on top of it. Use your hand and push straight down to spread the filling. If you do it this way you won't have filling running out the sides and plopping on the plate.

14fruit middle 
Fruit filling piled in the middle of the crepe

17 pressdown 
Press down on the piled up filling firmly and evenly through the next crepe

16lemonlayer 
Lemon layer

 Keep going until your stack is stacked. I always save one crepe and enough filling to roll it up and have a good taste of my efforts.

 I keep those handy dandy little roasting skewers around and stick four or five into the finished cake top. It keeps it from sliding until it gets good and chilled and it also helps when you have to transport a crepe cake. Bamboo skewers work just as well and they keep the plastic wrap from clinging to your pretty cake top. I put one last dollop of filling and some slivered almonds on mine and popped it into the fridge to cool thoroughly.

18slewer 
Skewers help avoid the sliding cake catastrophe

Here is how it looked three hours later. The fun part is when you slice one of these and carefully slide a slice out. They are so pretty! They look archaeological with all their layers and people are always so surprised when something that looks like a pancake is so stunningly beautiful. They also taste amazing. This one is light and airy with the berries and lemon, not heavy at all. I'm  sure being so light and airy it has no calories at all….bon appetit!

P1020165 
Lovely slice of crepe cake 
P1020160 
The finished cake ready to serve

Rabbit’s Inexpensive Ideas for Christmas Dex

I love getting maximum bang for my Christmas buck. I'd rather spend the bucks on a nice bottle of cognac to sip while enjoying the holidays than expend hundreds of dollars on things that are ephemeral to say the least. In otherwords, when January one rolls around I want this stuff out of my life for another year.

Valentine tree 

Decorating idea: leave your tree up until February and hang hearts on it.

 I have never been one of those people who have a tree still up in February, its poor little skeleton shedding needles like a bad dandruff commercial.  At least hang a few hearts on it and go for the Valentine's day thing. My granpa was Scottish-Irish, which probably explains a great deal about me, but he had a few notions that have stuck to all of us. One is the first footer, the first person who comes to your house on the New Year brings your luck for the year so you'd better hope its not a bill collector. 

Another familial quirk is the superstition–but is it superstition? hmmmm…..that however your house looks on New Year's day is how it will look for the rest of the year. This resulted in insane cleaning frenzies the week after Christmas in my family of origin during my youth. I have relaxed from that stern Methodist stance, but the tree is down, the decorations are packed and the house is clean on New Year's day. I guess I can't escape my genes but I can modify 'em.  I am not cleaning closets and cupboards like my ma used to do, you can only stretch crazy so far before it snaps.

Which brings me to another of the so-called Scot's traits. Cheapitude, thrift, I prefer to call it clever myself. I love, love, love Christmas lights. I have clear lights on my horrible but wonderful Kiwi hedge year round. Think kudzu vines for the northwest to visualize our ongoing struggle with control over the hedge. I keep clear fairy lights on it because they remind me of fireflies in the summer– and this way I don't have to undecorate that part of my world. I just replace the lights once a year–when everyone is clearing out lights after Christmas I go buy a whole ton of them and rathole them until a net burns out. Net lights, the light fairy's gift to me. I love those things.  

Lights 

Bring the Christmas lights inside the easy way

Here's a quick idea to bring colored lights into the house that is fun, bright, quick and easy. Joanne's , Michael's, Wal Mart, anywhere you buy your Christmas lights has little bitty strings of lights for a little bitty price. I buy a bunch of them and save them all year long. They are only about two bucks for a string of 20. Get out your favorite vases, pitchers, empty wine bottles, any container that lets light shine through. Pop a string of lights in the container, plug it in and you have instant Christmas color. Put 2,3, or more together and you have a festive arrangement.

For anyone who is trying to figure out what the heck the thing in the middle is–I have collected sheep statues forever. Two of them date to my childhood in Germany, one I picked up in France, and so on. At any rate, I just took a cookie sheet covered it with moss, lots of that in the Pacific Northwest,  and plopped the sheep on top, shepherds abiding in their fields, etc. Terry is making me a gigantic metal star out of our tin ceiling stash to go on the wall behind the sheep.

In the summertime, put your lights in wine bottles and put them in a group for party lights. You can usually plug 3 strings in one on top of the other and then into your extension cord, surmounting the only drawback, which is the short cord from the neck of your container. Tip: don't leave them out in the rain to fill up with water unless you intend to toss your light strings after use, don't even ask how I know this….

Hydrange 

Glittery dried hydrangea

If you are a gardener or have access to hydrangeas, some of them dry beautifully. Cut them in the summer when they are at their best and hang the bunch upside down where its breezy and dry. I hang mine from the ceiling of the studio and just leave them there. This Christmas I pulled the bunch down, sprayed the heads with good old Aleene's spray glue, and glitter queen that I am, doused them in clear glitter. They are gorgeous tucked into the tree and look frosty and sparkly.

 You can do the same thing with those cheesy 'silk' flowers we all refuse to toss out. We know they should be useful for something. Try roses or lilies or cheap poinsettias glued and glittered. Even silk ivy is beautiful. Transformational! I wouldn't suggest daisies or things that are too glaringly  spring-like, there is something  way too odd  about snow covered daisies. We all know I like odd, but snowy daisies is one glitter bottle over the line kids.

I'm off to the studio to glitter more snowballs, good old tennis balls wrapped in batting and tied up with bows, and I'll lead some little snow globe glasses; this time for my tree and gifts for friends  instead of the tree that ate Cleveland. I have some for sale too, that part is fun!

Note to self: go buy some really nice cognac today…

 

 

Rabbit Plays Hard Ball With Paper

IMG_0327 
The hardball ornament

My friend and fellow Christmas Forest tree decorater, Faye B., saw a beautiful paper ornament and sent me a picture of it. It was love at first sight and I was determined to figure out how to construct something like it. I dredged around and found a pattern on the internet and it was only after I had made about three of the ornaments that I reread the instructions and realized I was making life much harder for myself-although I really like my accidental invention better and think its much prettier in the long run.  

There are two versions of the paper ornament here, the easy ball would be great to do with kids for the holidays. You can use any old book with fairly sturdy paper and its fun to see the balls come together.

IMG_0334 Easy ball on the left, black glitter hard ball on the right

Start out by finding paper you'll enjoy using. I found old sheet music and loved its black and white effect for my project, since the tree is pretty much white and silver at this point. Hint: I found Zots glue dots the day after most of these balls were finished (of course) at Joanne's and they work great! No burnt fingers!Ball1 
Ball2 
 
Ball3 

Here is one more shot of the finished ball showing the glue points for the "hard ball"

Xfinish 
Xdone 

The hard part is done! Now I just have to make about 37 more of these, that's a lot of sheet music! My friends Jamie and Carolee came over like the good elves they are, and lent a hand. Jamie cut out circles until I'm sure she was going in circles and Carolee spent the morning packing up all the finished ornaments after giving them their ribbon bows. Such a lot of help and friends speed the work along too.

The most magical part happens with putting the wire through the hole I drilled with the Dremel, giving the ball a good all over dusting of spray glue ( my favorite is Aleene's spray glue, it works great. Michael's with a coupon for about five bucks a can). Then the fun part– the ball is dropped gently in the Shake 'n Make glitter bag and shaken gently. I use its wire hanger to pull it out and tap off the excess glitter before hanging it up to receive a ribbon. These are so pretty I'm dying to try different sizes and different kinds of paper.

Xjamie 
Jamie working away cutting circles.

Xcarolee 
Carolee ribboning up an ornament

Running in to town to hunt up glue dots I discovered Martha Stewart makes black glitter! The coolest stuff ever. It is so elegant and sparkly, I'm ready to roll in it! I'm still a major fan of German glass glitter, Meyer Imports on line, but come on, black glitter is cool!

IMG_0322 
beautiful black glitter edges, labor intensive but so elegant!

 

Rabbit Makes Snow Balls

 
I saw  some marvelous pretend snowballs on a sample giant fancypants Christmas tree for $7 a pop and fell in love.  I wanted them for the Tree That Ate Cleveland but I faced Two Problems: Tree budget and the fact that they were definitely brand new and directly from China. What to do?

IMG_0264 
The finished product

It occurred to me that old used up tennis balls were about the right size and the rest I could figure out. I asked all my friends for tennis balls but got strange looks and guffaws for the most part. I called the Valley Athletic Club here in Olympia and explained my peculiar request. I send blessings to them because boy, did they ever come through! I went to pick up what I thought was a bucket of balls and the young lady at the counter asked me if I needed help. I looked at her oddly and followed her around the corner to not one but two, huge black garbage bags full of tennis balls.

Really, I only needed about 40 balls…but our rat terrier, Nellie, thinks she has died and gone to heaven. She jumped into the first open bag and filled her bed with tennis balls.Ballsnell
tennis ball heaven

I need to figure out what to do with about 300 left over tennis balls, but I have successfully configured the first recycled snow ball! If you have old leftover tennis balls this decoration is for you!

I bought a bag of low loft polyfiber fill for about $12.00 which was enough to do all my tennis balls and then a few more.  Next, I spread it out and got out my trusty compass and a piece of light cardboard. I scribed a circle big enough to cover the tennis ball and cut out my pattern. I drew circles on the fill and cut them out. I made cuts in the circles to allow for nice neat flat folding of the fiberfill up over the top of the ball. You could use light string, fishing line or what I used–wire to neatly fasten the covered ball closed. At this point I also put a wire loop for hanging on the ball.

Balls1 (2) 
Wrapped and ready for wire and glitter

I recently cornered the German glitter market and 1/2 pound or irridescent glitter got dumped in a bag at this point. Shake and Bake for snowballs. I used spraymount glue outside to avoid gluing myself and everything I own to the floor of my studio and then carried the goo ball in and dumped it in the glitter bag, closed it up and shook it good.

Balls3 
Glued and Going into the Glitter

Balls4 
Shake, shake, shake yer booty, er…ball

Open the bag and voila! Magic! Glittery and sparkly. I knocked all the excess glitter off and put on a ribbon and a wire hanger-39 to go!

Balls5 
Sparkly AND recycled!

Rabbit Has Gone to the Birds

I made progress today on what I have now named as The Tree That Ate Cleveland in spite of having to run my son up back up to Seattle, over an hour each way, having a lovely breakfast with friends and getting the dog to and from the groomers. Whew…in twenty minutes I leave for an artists meeting so I want to get my birdies into my blog.

Birdcups 
bird teacup nests

Eighteen more ornaments finished with the completion of 5 cups and saucers with nests, birds and eggs. I got 14 assorted spoon nests with eggs, tinier nests and birds done for my grand total. I love old spoons and started these yesterday and finished today. Yesterday was drilling and bending, today was assembly.

You can do this with some time and attention and they are adorable. Choose your spoon and drill a hole in the handle. My spoon tops are pretty ornate with wired on glass beads and a separate wound black wire hanger. You could easily just use your black wire and make a simple hanger. Next step was to bend the spoons and glue in the moss nests.

Spoonnest 
Weldbond glue in the bowl of the spoon, green moss, all held in place with a clothes pin til dry

I wanted to use birds and eggs and got lucky with the birds. Gotta love Michael's 40% off coupons! I had to make two trips with two coupons but with the price reduction it was worth it. I looked for eggs but someone else had bought every tiny toy egg in the store. What???? So, I got a package of that soft Crayola clay that feels like marshmallows and air dries. Perfection! For $3.99 I got a ton of eggs and the plastic ones would have cost three times as much. I rolled up the egglets and set them out to dry with a note to the male members of the family that these were not food. Seriously, I did put a note on them.

Eggs 
Egglets

After egg construction and drying it was time for what else? Glitter of course!

Eggdip 
Glitter baby, glitter

Assembly includes gluing down the bird and gluing in the egg and completing with a gorgeous bow

Waiting for egg 
Where's my egg?

Birdspoonblue 
IMG_0208 

IMG_0210 
Bird nest cup with shiny eggs.

And now I'm off like a crazy rabbit to a meeting. Tomorrow saltshakers and solder.

 

 

 

Rabbit Likes Glitter

I have pretty much decided there is nothing in the world that cannot be improved by the addition of glitter, the glitter has to be really good glitter, it has to be the Cadillac of glitter, German glass glitter. That's the old shiny stuff you see in dreamy photos of vintage Christmas ornaments. It even ages and takes on a mellow patina with time.

Creamer

an old restaurant creamer
 

I have books of glittery old papier mache ornaments and the pages are dogeared and bent with my perusal of them. I have had a glitter box for years, full of disappointing American plastic and Chinese glitters, sigh. Just not the same depth and texture. Doesn't that sound funny? I mean, to most people glitter is glitter. I found out the difference when I started searching and found someone who sold GERMAN glass glitter. Meyer Imports. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I ordered several different types and grits all in white for the project I'm working on but it was all I could do to not go hog wild and get some in every color.

I still can't believe how nice those guys are either–they called me to make sure I got the right kind of glitter for what I was doing and offered to send me samples so I could choose the right shade and grit. Wow. I am a fan for life–and the stuff is so gorgeous I just ordered more of it. My studio looks like I killed Tinkerbell, shiny stuff everywhere. Fairy dust, and boy does it make a difference in the finished product.

Here's the thing, I got tapped this year to do a tree for the Providence St Peter Hospital Foundation Christmas Forest. That's a really big deal in Western Washington and these trees get decorated and auctioned off for thousands and thousands of dollars for charity. I mean they are spectacular and look like something off a movie set. So what theme did I choose? Green Green Christmas. This means I have to use as much recycled and repurposed stuff as I can. It has to be classy, look expensive, stick to the theme and make people want to buy it. What the hell was I thinking? Ornament1

The daunting sample-Professional slick tree is over the top 

I'm all about going green but I'm feeling daunted after seeing the spectacular sample treees last weekend. I figure I am going to need in excess of 300 ornaments before its all over and each one is going to be handmade pretty much. Unlike other tree people who can just buy 3 dozen of a green whatsis and wire them on. I have to create them. I'm whining and panic stricken now. I'll get over it but I need my moment.

Glitter to the rescue! Old salt shaker? Glitter it with blizzard flakes and put on a gorgeous ribbon and some buttons. 99 cent bird potpourri holder from Good Will? Glitter makes everything better–I didn't realize how incredibly gorgeous the stark white glass crystal glitter was until all the white glue on the first bird ornament dried. Glitterbird

I'm making "snow shakers" with old small jars and tiny figures. Those are fun, and I love soldering so I have a whole soldering stage set up.

I have to give a shout out to all the black wire in the world. I love that stuff, I'm using it in two sizes because I like the vintage feel it gives. Just don't forget to run steel wool down it unless you like being covered in the black gunk that comes off the wire.

Just to share with those that see this and want to do it for themselves. Here are the steps for each ornament made from a repurposed salt shaker, glass statue, etc.

Bear1

Bear selected, noticed the giant glitter pile behind him?

Bear2

Wired for hanging, this part is tough if you don't know how to do it.

Bear3

Bead selection for the bear hanger-my big bead stash

Bear4

Beady

Bear5

I think about where snow would fall if it fell from above and use Weldbond glue and a cotton swab to apply a coat. It will be white when you glitter it and dry clear. Choose something that dries very clear to glitter on top of when using white glitter.

Bear druomg

Almost dry, there is still a spot of white on on one leg that will be clear and sparkly when it dries completely. Add a gorgeous ribbon and a button, in this cae a heart, and voila, repurposed green ornament. Feels good to not just go buy something from Walmart or Target, but to reuse something that's already in the world.

And for this post, last but not least, I am not a tidy multi-tasker. I know where everything is, but it is pretty much strewn and I have six things in progress at any one time. If you like doing this sort of thing you do need to find a dedicated area that you can set up and leave up. I have jars and boxes that everything goes back in for storage when I start on something else and need the space.

B glittering station

This is one side of the studio, the glittering and assembly station. Looks a mess doesn't it?

A soldering station

And on the other side the soldering station, notice its much tidier over here where the hot work happens. I try to get a bunch of things ready to roll all at once. Notice the little fan? I also solder with the door open and I always wear closed shoes. Solder burns are no joke.

So, this is the process and I have two big long metal clotheslines that are filling up fast with shiny completed ornaments. I'll shoot a few of those and post them next time around in my quest for 300 ornaments as repurposed as I can get them!