Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cascading flowers mobile

Our friends' baby Hannah should be entering the world any day now. And I felt like I wanted to make something for her and her parents (partly because I had no idea what to get if I were to buy something). I don't normally give handmade items as gifts because handmade items tend to be quirky and not of professional quality and thus not everybody's cup of tea. Somehow it seems a little different with babies.

 It's as if the general emotional turmoil of having a baby mixed with the complete adorableness of the baby itself makes it easier to get away with giving something quirky. The baby can't protest the gift at the time it's given and by the time the kid is old enough to have an opinion the gift has been long buried under the masses of other gifts, toys and clothes. It's kind of a time limited gift of sorts and at least the parents may appreciate the time and effort that went into the gift to their precious little baby.

Since the color theme for Hannah's room is brown/white/pink I decided to go neutral with brown and white. It's classic and classy and will work with anything.

 These are the supplies I started out with. A large metal circle from the craft store, a wire hanger or two, brown ribbon, thin wire and vellum paper. I also used fishing line but it isn't pictured here. I ended up not using the flower shape thingy and the swabs in my final product.

 I started by building the structure for the mobile by shaping the wire hanger into a swirl and attaching it with the thinner wire to the large circle shape.

This is my first version with the little daisy flower shapes alternated with swab "beads" (the cotton part of the swabs cut off). I started this weeks and weeks before I had planned to have it ready. It was slow going and I just couldn't bring myself to liking the look of it. Too busy and regimented somehow.

 So the day before the gift was supposed to be delivered I scrapped this first version altogether and started over. In the above pic you can see the lone strand of lily flowers I hung to see if I liked it better than the daisies. And it was exactly what I wanted. Graceful, soothing and organic. Needless to say I spent that whole day and most of the next frantically working to make little lilies and threading them on fishing line. I never quite had the time necessary to think it all the way through to perfection but I ended up with something I felt OK with gifting.

I do apologize in advance for some of the following pics that are blurry and I didn't get as many good after pics because of time constraints. And I can't retake them since I don't have the mobile here anymore :) It turned out cool enough that I still wanted to share with you, though.

How to make the flowers

I experimented with card stock beforehand to determine what size and shape my paper cutouts needed to be. And each vellum paper (A4 format) was folded 4 times and cut into 16 little rectangles.

For each little rectangle I rounded off two opposite corners into kind of an eye shape.

From one side of the eye shape I free handed 5 "fingers", or petals. It won't matter that they're different shapes and sizes, it'll just look more organic.

The two outer petals were joined together and the whole "hand" was shaped into a cone and secured with a snippet of matte scotch tape. I made the hole at the narrow end of the cone as tiny as possible but still able to let the fishing line through.

Each little petal was then shaped by hand into this cute lily shape (my hands are green because I was dyeing bathroom towels yesterday). You can shape them over a pencil. I have my own little thing where I just kind of pinch the petal back gently while pulling on it. It's hard to explain and of course I don't have a video but the pencil will work too :)

And then I just tied a length of fishing line to my metal structure, strung one flower on, tied a simple knot on the line for the flower to rest on, strung another flower and so on. I did two tiers even though it's hard to see in the finished pics because of the wispy nature of the fishing line. I think I used 8 flowers per strand on the outer tier and 10 or 12 for the inner tier. In the very middle I strung a plastic jewel as the finishing touch. Baby Hannah needed some bling :)

Before I started the flower stringing I used the brown ribbon to make a hanging device. And when all the flowers were in place I used the same ribbon to cover the outer metal circle of the structure (using hot glue for this). This is the part where I felt like I could have come up with a better way of doing it so it would have looked more professional. And if I had had the time the little swirl of the structure would have been covered as well. But, oh well. I didn't and my time was up.

Here's the finished result. It was hard to get good pics of this too but you'll hopefully get the idea.

I had it hanging from a clothes hanger while I was putting it all together. Not the most glamorous, but it worked :)

 Baby's perspective.

It ended up being too long to hang safely over a crib for very long. But it should be perfect in a corner hung from the ceiling for quite a while. The strands of flowers are lightweight enough to sway gently in the breeze from a window or the AC and should be quite soothing to look at.

So, I'm dying to know. Would you guys have felt OK getting a gift like this for your firstborn daughter?

Ps. Linking up with
Someday Crafts

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New beginnings (I know, a little dramatic, but it is what it is)

So. I'm back, surprisingly refreshed after my bloggy vacation :) You guys are super for hanging in there while I was gone!

It's funny. Every time I take a little bloggy break my following numbers go up. It almost makes me wonder if you're rewarding me for being gone or I'm just noticing it more because I'm not expecting anyone to click that little button when I'm not here to entertain you :) Either way I'm very grateful for every one of you.

With the emotional stuff out of the way I'll confess right away that I didn't get to the cleaning or the organizing part of my to do list for the hiatus. But I have been pretty productive in the creative department and so today I'll be showing you this little vanity turned kid's desk that I rescued from the curb sometime last year and have been meaning to fix up for. like. ever. It's been sitting patiently in the kids' room looking like a pile of junk, and only I knew it was a hidden beauty waiting for a makeover.

 This is how she started out (don't you just love the look of our "lawn"? It's greened up a bit in the last month after we actually had some of that wet stuff falling from the sky since this pic was taken about a month ago). A beat-up particleboard former vanity. Particleboard isn't my first choice but it was free and sturdy so I worked with it. The petite size fits well in our kids' room.

 The top had bubbled with moisture and had lots of nicks everywhere.

And although I like the look of the two bottom pulls there were only two of those. And I'd found the most adorable seahorse pulls at our local Habitat store for 10 cents a piece or something ridiculous like that that I thought would go so well with the contact paper seahorse blinds already in their beachy/underwater room.

When I first got this desk I imagined it in a peppy turquoise. But I stumbled upon some spray paint cans at the Habitat store for $2 a piece (on a separate trip, mind you), a brand I'd never heard of and can't for the life of me remember anymore, in a shade called Wedgewood blue. It looked kind of like turquoise with a lot of gray in it so I figured it was close enough. And for the price I thought it could work.

I needed to sand the top to make it flat and just lightly scuffed up the rest and then put on a few coats of the paint, sanding the worst spots in between coats. Oil paint on sanded particle board is not pretty, let me tell you. It makes the grain stand on end in the worst possible way. I just did what I could without taking off the paint too much. I only had three cans of paint and I used them all.

I was a good girl and removed the old pulls before I painted :) I filled the old hole in the top drawer and drilled two new ones so all drawers were identical. I admit to cheating with the filling. I was going to use some wood filler but I couldn't find it so I ended up using some Dap. Hopefully no-one will be prodding the filling too much.

 I always try to cram as much of my work into one day as I can. Didn't quite make it with this desk so I had to bring it back in to dry overnight. This is the desk after the paint is on but before I put a couple of coats of polycrylic on. And I couldn't wait to try on the cute seahorse pulls as well, just to get a feel for how things would look. If you look closely in the above pic you can see the finish is uneven because of the sanding I did before painting. The polycrylic evened things out when it came on.

And here's a closeup of the finished result. I decided to add some thumb tacks to give it that little extra. The tacks on the desk match the tacks on the fabric pinboards in here to tie things together nicely.

And the finished result! Kind of cutesy and blingy but can still pass for a boys desk (I'm aiming for a unisex look in here since our kids share). I found the chair at the thrift store for $10 and thought the color was perfect.

It was definitely a more time consuming project than I normally manage to take on, and more involved since I had to carry things in and out. But I did it and I'm quite happy with the result. Hope you guys liked it, will be back next week with more of the bloggy vacation crop of crafts :)

Ps. Linking up with
Someday Crafts
Blue Cricket Design 
Domestically Speaking
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