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Seasonally Challenged

Remember back in July when I was all about Halloween?

And we laughed about how it was way too early for Halloween?

Welcome to October!  Now we can finally talk about surfing.

Surfing?!

I know.

I am seriously seasonally challenged.

But here’s the deal.

I had the big Abott Kinney Festival (in Venice Beach) a weekend or so ago and I had to change gears radically to get stuff ready for the beach crowd.

Coasters are always my biggest sellers and I wanted some new ones.  So I upped my “beach game” by playing with some new colors for my Subway Art coasters:

And worked up some new vintage surf shop coasters as well

So far so good.

I wanted to add some other stuff to the mix and, as you may recall, I bought a bunch of metal trays a while ago and have been trying out various designs on them.

I liked one of my Surfing Coaster images a lot and had an idea about how to transfer it to one of the metal trays but wasn’t sure if it would work.

Spoiler: It did!

I painted the bottom of the tray using Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint – Ivory, blew up my graphic and printed it out in reverse on my laser printer.

I used my favorite transfer technique.

I simply lay down a decent coat of Minwax Polycrylic, place the image face down on the Poly, smooth it into place using my hands and a roller and let it dry for several hours in the sun (or overnight if you don’t live in hot, dry southern California).

Tip:  I’m always trying to improve a bit.  The only downside of this method is that you can end up with a faint outline of the edges of the paper.  I found that if you only put the Poly where you image is and only smooth down that area it cuts down on the “edge” problem a bit.  You can see in the picture above that the edges of the paper are not stuck down.

Once it’s dry I soak a rag in water, lay it over the image and let get good and damp

and begin rubbing away the paper.

until the image is totally revealed.

My concern was that the process would rub off the paint but it wasn’t a problem at all.

I actually had to go back in with some sandpaper and “distress” the letter a bit more (I kinda overdid it with “A” in California)

I really liked how it came out and the tray sold almost before I opened shop.

I plan to try it with a few fall-like designs as well.  Or, what the heck, it’s October, let’s talk Easter decor!!!!

(you may wonder what I’ve been up to since the Festival and now…..well, my faithful computer Blue-Screen-of-Deathed me just afterwards and I’ve been dealing with the hassle of buying a new one and getting up and rolling again.  Fortunately, most of my work was backed up but between passwords, fonts, bookmarks etc it’s been a slow slog to get my act back together)

 

 

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Spooky Halloween Lantern

Spooky Halloween Lantern

I really shouldn’t be allowed to go to Michaels with a great coupon but no plan.

So, having said that, let’s all agree to pretend that this project is EXACTLY the project I had in mind when I started and that everything went swimmingly.

Are we all on board?

Great!

Welcome to a tutorial about exactly the thing I planned to make.

It all started when I saw some lanterns at a ridiculously low price and scooped them up (knowing, as you’ll recall,  EXACTLY what I was going to do with them!).  I also grabbed a bag-o-skulls (fun to say) at a great discount.  After getting everything home I gathered some other supplies got to work.SUPPLIES

  • Lantern
  • Skulls
  • Tealights (the kind that change color – available at Michaels)
  • Painters tape
  • (because this is EXACTLY the project I had in mind I ended up using a bunch of different paints and other supplies after I took that picture)

  • Folk Art Coastal Creations
  • Waverly Super Premium Craft paint
  • Flat black spray paint
  • Gold paint
  • Texture Paint
  • Dowels cut to length
  • Velcro tape

All my paints – with the exception of the black Spray Paint and Frosted Glass Paint – were supplied to me by Plaid as part of their Ambassador program (although I sort of fear I’m not using things the way they had in mind – sorry!)

The lanterns were a great shape but not very Halloweeny.

After removing the glass panes and hardware I painted the interior black.

On the exterior I wanted a decrepit, textured look so I grabbed my new favorite paint – Folk Art Coastal Creations – and dabbed on some white

After letting it dry I went back in with Waverly Black and darkened things up by dabbing and rubbing it into the textured white paint until I got the look I wanted.

I then worked on the metal tops, first painting them with Folk Art Brushed Antique Gold.

And then going back in with Folk Art Painted Finishes Rust to, again, add texture and decay.

Then it was onto the skulls.

Being me, and somewhat overly dedicated to things lighting up, I wanted them to…..light up!

The skulls are hollow but had a hole in the bottom that was just big enough to insert a tealight.  However, the white tealight base looked like exactly like what it was and the light tended to shine through the white plastic.  So after taping off the “candle” part

I gave them a quick coat of flat black spray paint.  

This helped focus the light and also made the candle base “disappear”.

For a bit more “glow” I then drilled out the eye holes.

(PLEASE NOTE:  if you do this you would be wise to brace the skull in some way rather than just holding it with your hand…..or so I’m told…. I mean it’s not like I had a bad experience with the drill slipping….why would you think that?! who told you that?!  Also, unlike this picture implies, you do not want to drill a hole in the eye socket with the tealight already inserted… that would be stupid and neither I nor any of you are stupid.)

I created different levels for the skull by just painting out some random bits of dowel and, because I wanted them to be stable but still be able to access the on/off switch on the lights,  attaching the tealight/skull to the dowel using some velcro tape.

I then did a quick, light coat of Frosted Glass spray on the glass panels  – just to dirty them up a bit really – and re-assembled the lanterns.

After some careful arranging I was done!  Spooky, light up skulls

As I mentioned some of the tealights change color so still pictures don’t quite capture the shifting, glowing effect.

I think they’d make a fun centerpiece 

or perhaps some mantle decor.

OK, I’m ready for my next project.  And I know EXACTLY what I’m going to do!!!!  Trust me!

 

 

 

Easy Halloween Garland

The other day I was wandering around at Michaels enjoying perusing all the Halloween stuff* and lookng for inspiration.

I did come across this – which made me think that perhaps someone needed a refresher course on how, exactly “clearance” is supposed to work…**

and I was about to leave when I stumbled upon these:

“Interesting!”  I thought.

“What would you do with them?”  I wondered.

“Oh!  They light up!” I realized

“I MUST HAVE THEM!!!!!”  I decided.

In truth, I was partially motivated to purchase them because they were 30% off and I had 20%-off the-entire-purchase coupon burning a hole in my pocket.

…..of course they were only $2.99 to begin with so I may not be vacationing on my savings but it still felt like I’d successfully played the system!

So, since I had no plan I must apologize for the fact that this isn’t one of those projects that has a nice, pretty, organized picture of “all the stuff you need.” I just kind of made it up as I went along.

But here is what I ended up using:

  • Light Up Coffins (why not?!)
  • Waverly Craft Paint and Brushes
  • Velum Paper
  • E600 glue
  • Eye screws
  • Black spray paint
  • Ribbon

I am lucky to have a lot of paint on hand courtesy of the good folks at the Plaid Ambassador Program and for this project I used their Waverly Super Premium Line of paint and brushes.

(OK, I try not to be too “salesy” but I really do love this paint and these brushes.  The paint comes in great colors, goes on beautifully in one coat and the various brushes are the perfect size for a lot of different projects)

After removing the hardware I painted the lids and boxes in alternating colors.

So far so good.

I decided that, while I loved the “lights up” aspect, you could actually see the bulbs and it didn’t look quite right to me.

So I grabbed some Velum paper which would add a frosty look and diffuse the light.I traced the inside of the lid

cut it out and stuck it in place with just a little spot of E6000.

I had decided at this point that they would make a cool garland and, after painting some eye-hole screws black and screwing them into the top I hung the whole set on a black ribbon.

They look just fine as is but they pop quite a bit you light them up (it’s hard to get a picture partly because the lights themselves flash and change colors and one always seems to be cycling off while the others are cycling on)

Ah! there we go!

So this is the first of what I hope are several Halloween themed ideas I’ve had lately so stay tuned.

*I can’t help on occasion, when perusing the shelves  at Michaels, picturing the Chinese factory workers looking at all  this stuff that they know is headed to America and thinking “those people are very weird.”

** also, sorry, am I wrong that when I think of “clearance” prices a 50 cent savings (regardless of how you’ve filled out the price sticker) isn’t exactly what I have in mind?

 

What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

I seem to have accidentally taken a mini summer vacation.

It wasn’t a plan I assure you.

But do you ever pick up a crafting magazine or watch a craft-oriented TV show and, as the host is talking, think to yourself “OK, why would anyone make that!!!?” or “yes, you can make that but, really…..should you?”

I’ve had that response numerous times and I think I know the answer.

DESPERATION!

Ever since Midsummer Scream I’ve just making coasters, filling store orders and desperately thinking:

“Any minute now, I will do something really interesting ……”

…..but I haven’t.

I mean, I’ve made stuff – but it’s the stuff you’ve all seen before (or variations thereof)

A customer had me make up a bunch more of my Airport Code Coaster designs (which I really do love to do)

The Mystic Museum requested a set of Fortune Teller Coasters for their shop

I had some new Halloween trays for Midsummer Scream

I did get some new displays made for my local stores.  Hopefully these will help with sales:

But nothing really splashy, new or tutorial-worthy.

I do have at least one very good excuse for my lack of forward momentum

Every time I sit down to have lunch this happens:

(he’s snoring by the way)

I mean, yes, I could sit somewhere else but, seriously, how could one resist this?

But this blog post is my commitment!  NEW (or new-ish let’s not go crazy) is coming!  Interesting is coming!

…..as soon as I wake up the dog…..

A Week Spent “Fixing” Things

Well I thought the last week was going to be a week of EXCITING!!!! and NEW!!!!

But the reality of deadlines, and my own endless desire to “fix” things made it a week of “REVISE!  REJIGGER”  and “FUTZ!!!!!” (coincidentally, Revise, Rejigger and Futz is  also the name of the law firm I’m starting geared specifically toward deadline challenged creatives)

I love designing things but I always  underestimate just how long it takes me to put a graphic together.

I sit down and suddenly it’s 5 hours later; I haven’t moved away from the computer and I’ve only produced one minor design.

This week I wanted to work on my Victorian Gothic Coaster Set

So, years ago, sitting at my corporate job desk,  Geralyn and I, via emails, came up with a bunch of silly, funny Halloween coasters.

They’ve been quite successful (nothing makes me happier than when people pick them up and laugh) and each year I try to add to the collection.

This year produced bandages from The Mummy

And Bloody Mary Mix from Dracula’s ancestor

These go along with some of my stalwarts: here’s the whole current collection:

I need to narrow it down a bit but can’t decide…….

And I turned my attention to my Horror Novel Halloween Coasters as well.

The designs are my own (to avoid copyright infringement) and I’d liked them but was never totally satisfied.


The Frankenstein design in particular seemed very “one of these things is not like the others.”

Not bad but not quite right.

An easy change of color made, I think, the Sleepy Hollow more on-target.

And a total makeover of Frankenstein made me much happier

Here’s the revised set

The change isn’t overwhelming but I think it’s for the better.

And I took a moment to redo the package photograph as well.

And now, with about three days to go it’s time for all the NEW!!!!

Maybe not……

I’ll keep you posted.

 

July, when everyone’s thoughts turn to…..Halloween?

July is always an interesting month.

I’ve been working on a lot of custom orders for stores.

Just finished up some fun subway art products for a great little shop called The Red Stable in the German Village section of downtown Columbus

But I always feel like “it’s summer!  I should chill!”

In reality, however, July and August have to be the staging ground for all things fall.

Year after year I find this hard to get my head around – particularly when it’s over 100 degrees outside.

But facts are facts so won’t you join me in getting ready for Halloween,,,,, in July.

Particualrly motivating is my participation in the upcoming Mid-Summer Scream Festival in Long Beach.

It’s a huge, two-day show at the convention center and a great motivator for getting my act together.

I’m trying to come up with some new stuff (ideas have been percolating for a year so, by all means, wait until two weeks before the show David…sigh….)

I’ve been re-thinking, re-designing and rephotographing my vintage Halloween coastersVintage Halloween Drink Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

They are currently on Etsy as a set of six but I’m thinking of changing them to my more standard set of four.  But which four?! It’s always hard to choose.

And my Dollar Store Glowing Eye Candle Holders (click the link for a tutorial) were a hit last year so I plan to make more Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham Road

But I don’t want to offer exactly the same thing so I’m looking for ways to change them up a bit

WARNING: EVIL CLOWNS AHEAD

I’m experimenting with painting the inside of the holder itself – to add brightness and make the eyes even more disturbingly glowy

And I enjoyed the results last Halloween when I used the Folk Art Painted Finishes to create the mossy effect on a dollar store skull. so I thought I’d see what I thought of it here

I like that it gives it all a greenish glow.  And you can see a bit more of the detail of the “moss” effect in this picture

But my jury is a bit out actually.

The product works great I’m just not sure it’s quite what I’m going for.

Or maybe it just doesn’t go with clowns but will look awesome with creepy, old Victorians?Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham Road

I was also thinking about wrapping the top in some sort of funereal black ribbon or cloth.

What do you think?

All I know for sure is that I really need to crank the AC cause there is nothing Halloweeny about sweating……unless you’re wearing a Wookie costume I guess……

 

 

 

 

Rustic, Distressed Paint Finish with the Folk Art Coastal Paints

Rustic Utensil Caddy image transfer

The good folks at Plaid sent me some more paint: Folk Art Coastal

The paints are super-thick and you can use them to create a textured, weathered effect. I was eager to try them out.

I just needed a project and that’s when things got….complicated.

So I ask you to bear with me as this project goes in a lot of directions.

I landed on the idea for a little silverwear caddy but since I always want to do everything RIGHT NOW and stores were closed (4th of July) I decided to make my own.

I’m not actually recommending you make your own – there are plenty of them available to purchase – but just to be thorough – here is how I made mine.

I cut some 3/8″ scrap wood down to size:

  • 2 front panels 4″ high by 10″ long
  • 2 side panels 4″ high by 6″ long
  • Center divider 10″ long, 7″ high with a handle I cut out with a jigsaw
  • Divider panels 4″ high by 2.5 wide.
  • bottom panel cut to size (not shown….I may have forgotten about that little detail until the last minute…..)

To make things easier I pre-painted the interior after marking where the joints would glue together.

I used my pin-nailer to attach the interior dividers first

Then added the end panels

Then the middle divider and the back side.

Ok, NOW it’s time to talk painting (which you may recall was the actual point of this whole endeavor)

The paint is thick, fun to work with and easy to use.  I wanted to use two colors to create that, aged, layered, crumbly effect and I started off with the blue

I laid down a base layer – fairly smooth – just for coverage then, while it was still wet, loaded up my brush and splotched/smushed more paint on to create some texture.

Once that had a couple of hours to dry I went back in with the white.

Again, I just kind of played around with it, smooshing and splotching until I got a look I liked.

THEN I decided I wanted to see how all that fun texture would work if I tried to add some graphics.

I put together a quick BBQ Restauant image

and headed into my go-to image transfer technique using polycrilic.

DISCLAIMER:  I had to photograph all this early in the morning which led to a lot of artsy shadows so please forgive the “film noir” effect.…..Although it does add a certain drama to the whole thing and I came to think of it as Patsy’s BBQ! – you know, where the murders happened!”

After reversing the image I printed it out using my laser printer.

(I seem to be having some serious problems with the whole backwards thing lately.  So, while one does want to PRINT the image in reverse one does not actually have to photograph said image upside down to add to the confusion.  My apologies.)

I laid down a good coat of polycryic

put my paper in place and used a brayer to make sure I had good contact (cleaning up any poly that I squeezed out).

After giving it a few hours in the sun to dry I rubbed away the paper using a damp rag.

This technique works so well – a bit too well actually – I actually wanted a bit more distress so when I moved over to do the other images I added some cracks to the actual graphic, used a bit less poly and rubbed a bit less aggressively.  That gave me the perfect look.

I liked it.  Loved the texture but it looked a bit too clean so I used some Folk Art Home Decor Antiquing wax.

Easy to use – just add a tiny amount to the brush and rub it in in a circular motion.

Suitably rustic.

I really like the textured layers the paint provides (especially keeping in mind that I used MDF wood which has no grain or texture of its own)

The only downside?

Now I’m hungry for BBQ and, of course, I can’t go to Patsy’s…..partly due to the fact that it doesn’t exist but more importantly because they never managed to get the blood stains off the floor.  So unappetizing.

Disclaimer: Plaid Enterprises provided me with the paint and brushes for this project as part of their Plaid Ambassador program.  The idea for the project and all opinions are totally my own.  I received no other compensation.

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