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Juggling and a Couple of Favors

I suppose it’s a good sign.

When I worked at the job I hated I’d wake up in the morning and stay in bed until I absolutely had to get up or I’d be late.

Now, when I wake up at some weird hyper-early hour (it’s 3:43AM as I type this) I think “oh, I can get a jump on the day!”

That means I’m happy, right? Eager to get going! I mean, I fall asleep unexpectedly at noon on occasion but I’m happy!

It has been bustling here of late and I have had a bit of trouble keeping all the balls in the air (hence the blog silence) – does that happen to you?

If I get super busy with Etsy and store orders the blog gets back-burnered. I finally got rolling on Instagram and Pinterest fell off the table. New products designs get created but new tutorial ideas and supplies are stacked up in the corners.

….and I really need to go grocery shopping…….I think those fuzzy pom poms in the fridge used to be strawberries……

But lots got done and launched. Here’s the catch-up.  And the first favor.

If you are an Instagram kinda person will you please add me to your roster?  There is a new link over in the sidebar to my Instagram account (I think).  I’m slowly getting the hang of it and I hope to provide fun, interesting content as my skills grow.

I have a new(ish) Mod Podge Rocks project tutorial up for review.

My good friend Karla is a TCM addict who needed a spot for grab-and-go jewelry.Mod Podge Jewelry Holder tutorialIt’s very easy to make and totally adaptable – you can see the whole tutorial at Mod Podge Rocks if you are jewelry wearer in need of a place to stash the every day stuff.

I vended at the big Abbott Kinney Festival last Sunday and came up with a few new coaster designs, among them Vintage Cameras.Vintage Camera Coaster SetI think we’re all well aware of my weakness for vintage cameras and I saw some very cool camera themed wrapping paper at a local store and thought “I could do something like that!” Vintage Cameras Coaster Set by Cheltenham RoadSo I  got busy making my own take on the idea.  It was a lot of fun and I hope fellow vintage camera enthusiasts will like them.

I also continued to tinker a bit with the wrapper (and THANK YOU! to all of you who gave feedback on the last wrapper redesign – I truly appreciated it).Vintage Camera Coaster SetBut there are two big Behind-the-Scenes things going on at the moment.

1) I was accepted to sell on Amazon Handmade which is yet another step in Amazon’s attempt global domination.   They appear to be creating a very cool marketplace and they are VERY intent about making sure handmade means HANDMADE. I had to send them pictures of my workspace and process with very detailed descriptions of everything I do.   TIP: Don’t try to run your table saw and take pictures of you running your table saw at the same time.  Don’t ask me how I know.  I just know.

2) I’m finally  (it’s long overdue) getting a full-fledged Cheltenham Road website up and running. The blog will live there along with (eventually) an online store as well as all the other bells and whistles of a grown up web site. I’m not very adept with web stuff (or phones, or really anything much beyond pen and paper) but I think it’s starting to come together.   I’ll do a big post about it when it’s really ready to go but you can get a little preview if you’d like by clicking here.  And, as my second favor request, if you have any thoughts on things you’d like to see on the new site let me know

So, I hope you’ll bear with me as I learn new juggling skills and, hopefully, in the near future, I’ll be able to keep all the balls in the air at once.

After a nap.


Done!…. Done?…. Sorta Done?…. Done-ish? How Do You Know?

Do you ever find that it’s hard to know when you’re actually done with a project?

Is it “done” because the deadline arrived (often the case with me)? Is it done because your totally satisfied (never the case with me)?

The minute I finish something my mind instantly starts coming up with ways that it should be changed or improved.

And I really, really, sincerely, want to change or improve it but there are always other shiny new projects to start (and, I guess, finish and then want to improve) and it’s hard to make the time for the do-over.

But sometimes it bugs me juuuust enough that I must do it! And such was the case with my LA Subway art.

You’ve seen these before.

I’d done the design initially for the knobs of the LA version of my NY Subway Coat Rack and I really the look.Vintage New York Subway Art Wall Shelf

So I’d tried them as candle blocksRetro Subway Art Candle Holders

And coastersSubway Art Coaster Set by Cheltenham RoadThey sold acceptably well at the local stores

(I mean, I do realize this is the nichiest of niche products – people who actually LIVE in Los Angeles have no idea we have a subway system so the number of citizens who want commemorative home decor based on it is…

But the design needed something more done to it and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until it dawned on me (at 3AM – thanks creative brain- do you think you could, I don’t know, function during normal, waking hours occasionally!?)

Red!Subway Art Coaster Set

That particular subway is called the Red Line and, for me, it always conjures up images of the famed Red Car trolley lines that used to criss-cross LA.  So red seems perfect!Subway Art Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

And I think I’m done!Vintage Subway Art Style Coaster Set

Done Done


But now – it’s on to a loooong time coming re-think.

Coaster packaging.

I get a lot of compliments (or at least no complaints) on the wrappers I designed for my coasters:Book Club Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Clean.  Simple.  But there are some, um, flaws….like, perhaps, the packaging doesn’t say with the product is!?!?  Or who made it?  Or how it was made?

So I’m toying around with this design.Vintage Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

I think I like it (for now.  I’m sure I’ll think of better options later – perhaps 2:30AM or maybe a late-blooming idea at 5?)

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Creepy Halloween Candy Tray Tutorial

DIY Creepy Crawly Hallween Tray TutorialI do realize that some of you may be a bit over-Halloweened at this point.

I also realize that I talked about those candle holders for something like three posts and I apologize.

But, may I beg your indulgence for juuuuust one more Halloween thing? I promise I will then return to our regular programming (OK, there will be more Halloween things but I will spread them out a bit better).

On a whim I bought (using a coupon) one of those coffin shaped trays that they have at Michaels this year.

I wasn’t totally sure what I was going to do with it but then I saw a bag of plastic cockroaches and a plan was born!! (insider secret – that’s how all my plans start – bags of plastic bugs. It’s a quirky creative process but it’s worked so far).

You see, I have very fond childhood memories of making Creepy CrawlersMATTEL_THINGMAKER_TOY_FEATURING_CREEPY_CRAWLERS_SET_4477_BOX_LID

Now, given my, um, less than coordinated proclivities and the fact that a hot plate was involved it’s somewhat surprising I survived the experience and that my memories aren’t of searing pain.LRCreepyCrawlersMIBB_lgBut I digress.

My sisters did not enjoy Creepy Crawlies.

My sisters did not enjoy finding Creepy Crawlies hidden in their sheets.

I very much enjoyed my sisters finding Creepy Crawlies in their sheets!

So, not having actually matured very much since then I thought, “wouldn’t it be fun if when people reached for their candy they uncovered bugs!!!!????!!!!”DIY Halloween Tray TutorialAnd thus my latest Mod Podge Rocks project was born!

It’s pretty dang easy! There is just a bit of patience required as the dry times at various stages can be kinda long.

Also, did you know they still make Creepy Crawlers?! I was amazed. That was one of those toys I thought would be deemed to be far too dangerous these days.

And now I realize I have a trip back home to Ohio to visit my sisters coming up……..oh the possibilities………

Spooky Halloween Candle Tutorial

I would be a lousy scientist.

I don’t like to experiment – I like to execute ideas perfectly the first time.

This, of course, has never happened but I just know I would like it more.

My spooky tealight holders took a lot of experimenting.

I tried small jars (too small!).

I tried red paint dripping down from the top (too silly looking)

As we know, I took a brief ill-advised, foray into glitter (too…ponies and unicorns!)spooky, glowing eye Halloween candle holders by Cheltenham roadI tried mason jars (too – “hey that’s a mason jar”).

I tried using velum for the images (too – um, the toner slides off when you try to mod podge it).

It all made me too – cranky!

But I kept at it and refined it a bit and I think I’m ready to present my final take on making spooky glowing eyed candle holders.

Halloween Decoration Tutorial

They are actually very easy to make but, for some reason, kind of wordy to explain so hang in there.

PLEASE NOTE: these are designed to be used only with electric tealights

Here is the round up of supplies I used:Make creepy candle holders for halloween

  • Glass Candle Holders or jars (can you see them?  sorry.  glass! hard to photograph). Mine are from Dollar Tree. I used only straight sided holders and looked for a variety of heights and shapes.
  • Matte Mod Podge (not pictured)
  • Spray Paint. I used black, grey and some window frosting paint I had lying around. Any color that appealed would do – the cheap stuff is perfect.
  • Rag: the more texture on it the better. It probably won’t survive the process so don’t get too attached.
  • Print outs of dour or un-photogenic Victorians (laser/toner based prints)
  • Foam brush
  • Sand Paper
  • Sharp craft knife

Finding Photos

Flickr is a great source for old photos and I stuck mostly to Daguerreotypes as they tend to be very clear (you can find great collections here and here.)

I looked for distinct faces and prominent eyes. The larger the eyes are to begin with the easier this process is and the better the results. Also, while a whole crowd of glowing eyed spooks sounds awesome – it gets less a lot less awesome as you sit there cutting out tons of little tiny holes. I learned to stick with pics that featured one or two people.

After downloading my faves I resized them to suit my candle holder dimensions and printed them out on plain paper.

Paint the Candle Holders

This part has to be done pretty fast before the spray paint dries.

Working with one candle holder at a time spray the top and bottom pretty thoroughly but just let the over-spray take care of covering the middle (it makes life easier and less messy down the road).Halloween DecorationThe moment your done spraying wrap the candle holder in the rag pressing it into the paint with your hands.Easy DIY Halloween Centerpiece Tutorial Cheltenham RoadGive it just a second or two and then remove the rag.Easy Mod Podge Halloween CraftYou’ll have a nice, decrepit texture.

Using the same rag repeat that process with as many candle holders as you want in as many colors as you want.


While the candle holders finish drying take a craft knife and cut out everybody’s eyes! (upsetting sentence #1).

I learned to go a bit wider than the subjects actual eyes – removing the whole eye socket is best (upsetting sentence #2).Creepy, Glowing Eye Halloween Decor

I focused on using pics of children this time around because my brother-in-law sent me an email after the last blog post saying that I needed more little kids because “glowing eyed evil children are better” (upsetting sentence #3) (also, what is going on with my family?!  They are kinda creeping me out)

Applying the Photos

In my first attempt at these I painted the whole candle holder solid black and then just scraped away where they eyes went.  Result? Glowing eyes but, when the lights were dimmed that was all you could really see – the faces disappeared.  So, in order to get the whole face to glow a bit along with the eyes I found that if I painted the middle lightly and then, using sandpaper, scraped away some more paint it worked out great. Creepy Glowing Eyes Halloween Decor Tutorial Cheltenham Road I didn’t sand away every trace – just most of what was there.  The streaks that remain add some nice dark spots when the candle is turned on.

A quick dry-check to make sure I sanded the right spotSpooky Halloween Decoration Tutorial and it’s time for Mod Podging the pic in place.  Halloween Luminary TutorialI applied one image at a time working my way around the candle holder, smoothing out the image and wiping away any excess Mod Podge.

Once everything dried I added a sealing coat of Mod Podge.

I then went back in with my craft knife and scraped away around the eyes one last time for extra glowiness.

I think they make their case in regular light.  They’d look good as a center-piece or on a mantle.Haunted Halloween Candle Holders by Cheltenham RoadBut dim the lights a bit and let the spooky really kick inGlowing Eyes Candle Holder for HalloweenYou can see how the textured paint allows some of the light through both behind and under the pictures.Dollar Store Halloween CraftsI discovered it was best to get the light up to eye level so for taller candle holders so I used a chunk of wood, a dowel or even a plastic cup to elevate the electric tealight.

Someone at Scare LA suggested that, rather than old pics, you could use pics of ex boyfriends, or your mother-in-law.  Mean! but funny!Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham RoadI hope this is helpful.  If I’ve left anything too vague let me know and I’ll address it.


Getting the Halloween Party Started

OK, as we know, I’m in Halloween mode and several of you, according to your much appreciated comments, are down with Halloween in August too so -let the games begin!

My tutorial for the Halloween luminaries is coming along.Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham Road

Actually, it worked out perfectly. They had pretty much sold out at Scare LA and while I’d snapped a few pics as I made them I didn’t have full-fledged-tutorial-worthy versions.

But after my last post my sister Sally immediately requested a set!Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham Road

I hadn’t realized Sal was a “glowing eyes of the damned” kind of decorator but, apparently, she has depths of which I was not aware.

Perfect reason to do another round, refine the process and take some better photos (and vandalize some more poor, innocent-but-creepy-looking, Victorians). Win-Win!

Also your feedback lit the fire under me to get my new Halloween Coaster Sets up and rolling on Etsy (clicking on the pics below will take you to the listings in my Etsy shop)

My comical takes on classic literature coasters  and the tea light holders have been good sellers right alongHalloween Decor Coasters by Cheltenham Road

Halloween Tealight Holders by Cheltenham RoadBut it was time to get some new stuff out there.

The Ouija boards were a hit at Scare LA (as many of you suggested I went with full Ouija Boards on each coaster)vintage Ouija Board Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Had to do some Photoshop re-jiggering to make the boards square but it worked out just fine.Classic Ouija Board Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Valerie made me very happy (and she’s good at that cause she, literally, wrote the book on Happiness!) when she came up with an idea that address both full and partial boards.  She suggested  doing a whole board spread across four coasters. Which is all sorts of genius and is totally on my to-do list.

Keeping with the theme I worked up some poison labels.Vintage Poison Labels Halloween Coaster Set

I’ve dug the graphics on these for a long timeHalloween Poison Label Coaster Set

Don’t know why it took me so long to connect with the idea of making them into coasters.

So Halloween in August is truly underway!

Now I have a very, very macabre idea for a centerpiece but I need very inexpensive doll heads (add that to the list of “phrases I never thought I’d utter”). Medium size. Anyone have a clue where to hunt?

Boo! Halloween in August

Cheltenham Road Scare LA BoothWhew!

Made it through Scare LA and had a great weekend (except for, um…. breaking my toe. Because I think we can all agree I needed a new extremity to smack into things. Bashing one’s head is sooooo 2014).

And now, NOW I’m totally psyched for Halloween!…

In August…..

Which seems a bit early frankly.

I have several project I want to share but….

Would you look at them and think, “interesting but I’m not ready to think Halloween yet David?”

I wouldn’t blame you.

I wasn’t ready either. The show forced me.

I very much appreciated all your insights about the Glowing Eyes Candle holders (I get it! No glitter! What can I say? I was going through an experimental phase!”) – thank you very much!

And after some more toying around (paper, paint technique and color) they really worked out well.

They look suitably Victorian and grim in regular lightHaunted Halloween Candle Holders by Cheltenham Roadand suitably creepy in dim light!Glowing Eyes Candle Holder for HalloweenI can so see these in rows along a mantle or clustered on a table at some really cool Halloween party.Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham RoadOne of my customers said she was going to leave it in her bathroom to freak out her guests. Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham RoadAnd, best of all, they sold out at the show!

Happily, I took pics along the way for a tutorial but…..too early?

I also worked up some new displays.

The tea light holders got a new little cubbyhole display.Halloween Candle Blocks by Cheltenham Road

OK there are a few finishing touches for it that I ran out of time to complete such as, you know, a back……but I’ll get it done!

And this… whatever it is….mail sorter? from MichaelsGalvanized Metal and Wood Mail sorter

was easy to change over into a display for my magnets and labels with a little paint and some hinges.Magnet and Label Display Rack by Cheltenham Road

So it’s all “on deck” so- to- speak. And my brain is stuck in Halloween mode and new ideas are coming.

But it’s August!

DIY Photo Display and Global Economics

Easy DIY Photo Display Project Cheltenham RoadSo, one of the symptoms of my DIY-illness is that I seldom see something in a store and think “I should buy that!” Instead I almost always think “I want to make that.”

I also want to drop everything and make it RIGHT NOW!

That’s fine but the downside is that I often find myself really, really chomping at the bit to make my version of something that is already being mass-manufactured overseas – which can feel a bit silly. I’m not keen on falling into the category ofwhy make itBUT! (you knew this was coming)

When you DIY it you can customize to make it your own.

That’s my justification and I’m sticking to it.

Such was the case when my friend Aimee pulled me into Michaels, pointed at one of those Maker Market photo display and asked if I could make one for her but in different colors.

“HAH! Perfect justification!” thought I – and got to work. The project also doubled as my latest Mod Podge Rocks Tutorial – so you can see all the steps if you are so inclined.  Spoiler Alert: There aren’t many.

It proved to be fun and sooooo easy and versatile that I actually made several. Some using scrap book paper,Easy DIY Photo Display Tutorial

some using prints of old postcardsPhoto Display Tutorial by Cheltenham Road

and some just painted and distressed.

Shape, size, color – they sky is the limit on these!  So why buy them?!

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Knick of Time Inspiration Party


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