chal-lenge: noun a calling to account or into question

Follow along as I challenge the tricks, tips, clever craft and decorating ideas and "simple" recipes that we clip, bookmark, and "pin" for trial at a later date.

Are they really worth the effort? Time (and I) will tell!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Festival of Trees - Complete!

So I've tweaked and fussed and rearranged the ornaments on this little tree until I've just about worn them out and I think they are the best they can be.  I've glued everything to the branches so that the decorations don't come off during transport and delivery.  It's been fun but now it's time to let it go.  These are the ornaments that I made myself:


With a little help from the Dollar Store, I added the garland, snowflakes and the topper.  Here it is all ready for delivery.  I hope it does well at the auction!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Festival of Trees Part Two

My work on the silent auction tree continues.  Having determined that this would be a snowman themed tree, I needed to find some snowman ornaments.  I searched Pinterest and leafed through my Christmas craft books for some time before making my selection.  Several years ago I had crafted sets of folk art ornaments made from an instant paper mache and I thought it would be fun to use this idea as a base for my snowmen. Off I went in search of the materials to make these cute little guys. 

The project consisted of gluing together Styrofoam balls and applying the wet slimy gray mixture to the snowman shape.  The paper mache was sticky and I had to keep my hands wet so that I could smooth the stuff at least semi evenly over the shape. But that's the beauty of paper mache and folk art, imperfection just adds to the charm. I used so much water that it took a few days for them to dry out.  Once dry, I gave them a light sanding and added the little noses which took another day to dry.  All the little guys received two coats of white paint, with another day to dry.  When I was done with the white, I painted the eyes, buttons and noses.  More drying time. Do you see where I’m going with this?  So much time spent waiting between each step.  This is why I started the tree so early.  I had a feeling this would happen.

Now that the snowmen were all painted, they looked cute but a little dull.  These guys needed a little glitz.  Out came the mod podge and they all received a coating.  Hmm, still not quite right.  Glitter!  Glitter makes everything sparkle and shine.  The addition of a little silver bling around the necks and they are just right.
Here they are on the tree.  I had hoped to finish decorating the tree this week-end but no such luck. I’ve started working on the next little ornament but you guessed it, it needs to dry. I’m still searching for a little this and that to finish up.  Stay tuned, it can’t possibly be long now!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wise Men

Many years ago, I’m thinking about twenty or so, I was inspired to make a set of wise men for my mom for Christmas. These “men” were a labor of love and I enjoyed every second of their creation. The fabrics were rich and the jewels were shiny and fabulous. I used clay for the first time, fashioning heads and hands. They were magnificent and Mom was thrilled to receive them as a Christmas gift and she displayed them for several holiday seasons.

Fast forward to the year of George, an active beagle puppy. I wasn’t present, but the story is that George ran into the house and headed straight toward the wise men. For some crazy reason he chomped on one of the men’s heads before leaving him for dead. My mom packed them up and handed them over to me for repair. When I opened the box I was horrified by the devastation! I couldn’t even take them out of the box. Up into the dark, creepy crawl space they went. Each year I moved the box farther back into the dark shadows but I couldn’t forget about them.
A few weeks ago I decided to resurrect the men and see what I could do to bring them back to life. They were a bit wrinkled, their beards were a little wild, and the trim on their robes was a little loose but hey, I could work with that. Before long, the robes were pressed and the trims were reattached. After a little hair and beard trim two of the men had been restored to their majestic selves. It was time to tend to the unfortunate third. Off with his head! I worked the new chocolate brown clay in my hands until it became soft and pliable. Before long I had shaped the head and added all the facial details. This guy was really coming to life. I painted his eyes and reassembled all the pieces giving new life to this injured soldier.

Refreshed and reunited, these guys don’t look like they have spent the past six years in a box in my crawl space. They now stand proudly waiting to usher in the holiday season. Merry Christmas my wise men.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Festival of Trees Part One

I know you are all just dying to see how I am decorating my little tree for the Festival of Lights Silent Auction. Par for the course, I committed myself to this project without really thinking it through. I have been collecting ideas for making ornaments created from old book pages. I thought this little tree decorating project would be the perfect motivation to try out these very economical pieces.

Only after picking up the tree did I really start to look at the directions for these book page ornaments. They are way too fussy for me. Believe it or not, cutting and paper is a very precise art that takes quite a bit of patience. And if you are doing several of one pattern, it’s hard to make them all look the same. Scrap that idea!

I’ve switched gears and decided to work off a snowman theme. Who doesn’t like snowmen? They are reminiscent of our childhood and bring a smile to everyone’s face. I have started the decorating with a base of shiny red, green and white glass balls evenly distributed. No, I didn’t actually measure them, but that isn’t a bad idea! I have tied them on with a red ribbon for some added texture.

That was easy, now what? Thinking snowman, little red mittens came to mind. I remember my mother knitting these tiny mittens that we used for package decorations and pinned to our coats for a little festive flair. I gave her a call and in a few days I had received the original page of directions she used from a 1966 Workbasket magazine. How sweet is that? After several faulty starts, I managed to work through the pattern and obsessively knit up five little pairs of mittens. My eyes were starting to blur as I worked feverously into the early morning hours to get them done.

So here is ornament #1 added to the little tree and I feel that I have made a good start. Which ornament will I obsess about next?