Sunday, November 24, 2013

DIY Paper Garland

I seem to be transitioning into a vintage book theme for much of our Christmas decor. Last year my boys and I made some beautiful heart paper ornaments, along with a rolled paper star for the top of the tree.
This year I decided to try my hand at making a paper garland. I posted a pic on my instagram this afternoon, which sparked questions as to how it was made. That is where this blog post comes in :).
I know that there are a bunch of people making similar garlands, and I in no way claim that this is my own original idea, this is just my own interpretation. 

You will need a big stack of paper; from books, sheet music, maps... whatever you would like. A paper punch of the size and shape that you desire, but at least 1 1/2" at it's narrowest point. And a sewing machine with heavy white thread, set at a fairly wide stitch.


Start by punching out a big pile of paper pieces, you will need quite a bit to make a long garland. 

Pull out several inches of thread from both the spool and bobbin before starting your stitches, this will be for hanging later. Sew 4 paper pieces at a time, right down the middle. Between each little stack of papers, make several "empty" stitches to create a space between each paper ornament.
Continue along until you have the length you desire.
Leave another few inches of thread on this end for hanging.

Now you can begin fanning out your pages. Press each piece open to create a 3D effect.

Now you have your very own paper garland =).
I will be adding mine to my wall tree, once I get it put up.

No classic literature was harmed in the making of this garland. I generally use books that are damaged, or that were destined for the dump.... especially copies of old Reader's Digest books ;).

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dollar Store Christmas Village, Revamped

 I am SO excited about this little village! 
 My Mom has a village that she has collected for years and has it set up all winter on top of her piano, complete with a little skating pond. I have always wanted one, I just haven't found one that was "me"... that wasn't going to cost me an arm and a leg!! 
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon this blog, via Pinterest, that really got my wheels turning. She had taken a cheap village, the kind you can find at the dollar store or Walmart, you know the ones with the poorly painted details. What she did was GENIUS!
Here is my version.

I started with a dollar store village. I really liked the shape and texture of these three houses, and of course I had to have a church =). I haven't decided about the little people yet... but I picked them up just in case.

 On the other blog she had spray painted the pieces, which admittedly would have been much easier, but I decided to use what I had on hand. I mixed equal parts white and antique white acrylic paint, with just a little bit of pearlizing medium for a bit of shimmer.

I then started applying coats to the houses with a 1" artist's brush. It took about 4 coats to cover everything, especially the roofs and little nooks and crannies. Once that was dry I painted all the raised "snow" areas with white paint, to make the snow stand out against the ivory a bit.
I forgot to get a before pic of the trees.... but they are just basic bottle brush trees that you can get at Walmart, or anywhere they sell the villages. Walmart has them in white, and "flocked" green. To make them match the houses I dipped them in a white wash solution of my paint mixture with quite a bit of water, mixed really well! Spray painting would work much better for this, but again, work with what you've got ;).

The last part is making everything "snowy". For this I used modge podge and mica flakes, but glitter would work just as well. I applied the modge podge with a small brush on the houses, just where the white snow areas are, then sprinkled heavily with mica flakes.

 I brushed the trees lightly with modge podge, just on the tips of the bristles, then rolled them in the mountain of mica flakes that was covering my workspace ;). Nothing wasted!

 After that it was all about gathering up the perfect accessories around the house and making a little vignette. 
We have several old books that I use for various projects, and also for photo props, so I thought these would be a lovely addition.
I also added a few antique electric insulators that I have collected, and placed battery operated tea lights underneath, as well as gold painted pine cones as bushes.

 My boys were sweet enough to donate a vintage looking truck from their matchbox collection =). I will be adding a tree to the back as soon as I have an extra one.

I am excited to have a bit of winter up in the house! Can't call it Christmas decor until after Thanksgiving or the Hubby might just blow a gasket ;).
Next will come our "tree", which I have found the cutest idea on Pinterest for that too!!
Pics of that to come soon!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Petite LPS Blythe custom... a little steampunk girl

So, you remember the little lady that I posted last time? Well, she got quite the makeover! And boy was it a pain in my bum, and fingers, and pretty much just a pain! But totally worth it =). This was my first time working with a LPS (littlest pet shop) Blythe... so I wasn't totally sure what I was getting myself into, and there really is not much out there for tutorials on customizing them. So I decided to go for it and see what happens... seeing as I found these dolls on clearance it wasn't going to be a huge loss if I completely screwed up.
I had read that the easiest way to do a reroot on these dolls is to actually cut the scalp open, and that seems to be the only way to get to the eyes to change them at all, as they are encased in rubber inside the head. So, I did a little surgery =).
After getting her opened up, eyes removed, and makeup removed I did a bit of sculpting on her mouth and nose to give her more personality. That blue eyeshadow did not want to come off for anything though!
I removed the chips from her eyes and sanded off the blue color, then added my own hand painted paper pieces for her new eye color. Pretty sparkly golden hazel. I also removed the hideous lashes, then secured the chips back in, and popped her eyes back in, with a slightly higher gaze to hide the gaps from the eyelashes.
Next I started rooting in some black cherry alpaca wool that I dyed myself using curly brown alpaca wool, and cherry koolaid. I used the knot method, and a large sewing needle to insert all the hair... which took forever! I then carefully glued her scalp back together, and fixed her hair to hide the seam.
I made her dress and corset from scraps of fabric I had laying around. Her "petticoat" is made from wire that I formed to resemble a birdcage. I painted her eye makeup to resemble gears. My little steampunk princess =).

Saturday, March 30, 2013

LPS Blythe, and awesome Hubby!

 Sometimes it's the little things that make me so happy =). For example.... Hubby knows how obsessed (to put it mildly) I have been lately with looking for little petite Blythe dolls to customize, while I wait the month it will take for my full sized one to come in. I have been looking online and in stores for the ones that come with the Littlest Pet Shop toys, but they are becoming hard to find, without paying an arm and a leg. Today he took the boys to a hockey game, but first he stopped off at Toys R Us to see what they had in stock and found 2 of these little ladies on CLEARANCE for me!!!!


 LOVE HIM!! Can't wait to start working on them, they are both going to get a brand new look.... complete overhaul! Mini works of art =).

Now to cut open her little head and see what I'm working with, Muahahahaha!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tangkou Customization Update

 I am happily making progress on the customization of my tangkou doll. =)

The first thing that I did was remove her wig... which was a lengthy process in and of itself! When I was research the Tangkou France (Paris) doll before buying her I knew that there was some issue with the glue. Apparently some of the dolls that were sold in that first batch had wigs that were over glued, so I pretty much had a 50/50 chance of getting one of them..... and it seems that I did!! 

After a bit of tedious work with the flattened end of a plastic paintbrush handle, used to gently pry up the glue, I was able to get the wig off without doing any major damage. There was quite a bit of glue left on her head, but I was able to get that off really easily with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel.

Here she is modeling her new Sinead O'Connor look.
 The rubbing alcohol method is how I managed to get most of her original makeup off too, but there was still a bit of a stain left. That was ok though, because I was planning to sand matte her anyway.

Once I was able to get her face plate off I decided to do a bit of carving to add some unique personality to her face. I really was wanting her to resemble my painted girls a bit, so I did some shaping to her eyes, adding the tear duct area and rounding out the bottom of her eye socket a bit with an exacto knife. This was tedious work because I really needed to literally shave off tiny bits of a time so that I wouldn't over carve anything!! I also used the exacto knife and a stone file from my dremmel tool (used by hand, not actually IN the dremmel!) to carve the philtrum (above her upper lip), her lips and her nose. I didn't care for the extreme point of her nose, or the way that her top lip stuck out and went also to a bit of a point at the top, so I carefully modified them to make a cuter more "pixie" like lip.

I think her new eye shape makes her look a bit more like her Pullip cousins.
 Then after much sanding with a very fine grit sand paper, 400-600 grit to be exact, I started applying layers of ground up chalk pastels in a neutral palette. 

I just love how her eyes sparkle!!
I still have quite a bit to do before she will be ready to put back together, and I am not completely happy with her nose, so I will work on that a bit more. So far, though, I am pretty pleased with the changes, especially considering this is my first time!

More to come soon =).