Tuesday, 23 December 2014

DIY Christmas baubles / decorations

Every year at the run up to christmas I promise myself that this will be the year when I make at least some of the umpteen ornaments and decorations that I have piling up on my 'Pinterest' list and every year I seem to end up saying "I'll start earlier next year". Of course I never do 'start earlier' because making christmas decorations doesn't seem a priority in the months when the weather is fine and I can be gardening or in the workshop making garden structures.
This year was no exception, not so much due to productivity on the garden front but more to do with illness and/or loss of mojo. So now, feeling rested and relaxed after a much needed vacation to Mexico I'm finding myself frantically trying to make new ornaments and baubles with just 2 days left to the big day itself knowing that once christmas day has passed I'll once again return to thinking "I'll start earlier next year".
The problem with this frantic need to create a masterpiece is that I'm cutting corners and trying to get a professional look in a quarter of the time using materials that really aren't going to cut the mustard so I've decided enough is enough - I really will simply have to 'start earlier next year'.

Before I went away I did manage to complete a set of 6 personalised baubles for the tree using my new favourite crafty product - vinyl.
I cannot believe I wasn't aware of vinyl and its crafty gorgeousness before now but I really didn't, not until I came across it on 'Pinterest' and once I saw what it could do I knew I had to try a small project using vinyl and my Cricut. It's safe to say I am now so in love with vinyl projects that I'm saving up for a Silhouette Cameo to unleash a whole new load of ideas and projects.

The baubles turned out pretty good for my very first vinyl attempt and they look great on the tree. There are various tutorials all over the internet and 'Youtube' so I won't bore anyone with the precise steps that I followed to create these

For the most part they were relatively easy and I was only restricted by the few fonts I had on Cricut cartridges (another reason to get a Silhouette cameo).
The hardest letters no matter which font I used were the 'O' and the 'W', it doesn't matter what method I used to put those letters on they all resulted in at least one crease and in the end I had to accept that no one was going to scrutinise them closely enough to notice.
The ribbon was fiddly more than difficult but I suspect it was more the hack handed way I was going about doing it than it being a difficult job. I have a tendency to choose the quick route over the correct route too many times even though I know it's going to end in frustration and a less than perfect finished look - this is something I seriously need to work on.

Another  project completed and showing the 'quick route' result is these xmas baubles

Don't laugh! I told you the result from the 'quick route' is always less than perfect.
What you see here is my attempt at a bauble xmas tree only I couldn't be bothered with sorting the baubles first, working out a configuration that worked or even to fix the trigger on my glue gun first!
With a broken glue gun trigger I literally had to somehow hold the gun in a position that meant I could hold it and push the glue stick through in one hand while holding the baubles together in the other hand - I do not recommend this method! This resulted in burnt fingers and glue going everywhere because I could not control the gun holding it in that manner, hence why you see alot of solid glue in the finished project. This angle is the better angle, the other side is atrocious.
I would happily have thrown the whole thing away but for some bizarre reason my husband likes it - hmmmmm maybe it's a sympathy thing, maybe he felt bad for me.
Needless to say I am replacing the glue gun!

Another project that should have been easy but tested my patience was the very simple baubles in a giant teacup

These things just never turn out the way I imagined even when I don't take the quick route.  I'm not entirely sure what I expected or why I don't particularly like it (maybe it needs to be a xmas teacup) but it's staying for now and then I'll rethink it next year.

This could be my last post before Christmas day so in the words of Clement Moore "Happy christmas to all, and to all a good night"

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Friday, 19 December 2014

Sleigh bells ring - DIY sleigh bells

Has it really been 4 months since my last post! Wow, that just goes to show the serious lack of creative impulses this year due to being ill so much. However, xmas is one time of year guarateed to get the imagination turning on all cogs and I've managed to get round to making a few decorations for the home - todays post is showing one that I've wanted to make for the last couple of years but have never seemed to get round to it - Sleigh bells!

There's loads of inspiration for these on Pinterest and so lacking is my imagination right now that I admit I had to pinch a few of the ideas but I'm totally thrilled with the finished piece.

My problem - well one of them - when working on a project is that I very rarely have a finished look in my head, the entire description I had down for this project was simply 'Sleigh bells', no ideas for what that actually meant and to be honest I made it up as I went along basing it on various Pinterest / Google images that I liked the look of.

Here's how I made it and the only item I had to buy was the belt because I didn't have an old, spare one.

I bought the belt from New look for a fiver and while that's more than I wanted to pay it had a nice pattern to it that I thought would work well so I begrudgingly put my hand in my pocket.
I had intended to batter the belt with a hammer to age it but I forgot!
I cut the belt into 2 lengths, one longer than the other and cut the pointed ends with scissors.
To attach the Sleigh bells (which I purchased yeeeeears ago ) I used a hole punch to punch 2 tiny holes behind each bell

then thread some craft wire through the sleigh bell hook into the holes and twisted the wire round the back of the belt to secure

I then cut pieces of black duck tape to cover over the wires attaching each of the sleigh bells but to be honest I think I should have attached one long piece of fabric down the entire length of the back and glued it with Fixall glue instead of each individual sleigh bell wire. Actually I think I will rectify this before it's stored away at the end of xmas

The rest was pretty easy to make up as I went along. The 2 belt pieces were joined together at a slight angle by punching a hole and threading wire through - though hot glue would probably work just as well.
I made the greenery form pieces of left over xmas decorations and wired that to the belt buckle using craft wire ( a decent gauge wire though that can withstand twisting without breaking) and the whole thing was attached to the wooden plaque with wire also - again hot glue would probably suffice.
The wooden plaque is simply a small wooden board from a new set of kitchen boards I've had stashed for years (I just knew there'd be a use for them somewhere) which I painted red with my daughters acrylic paints (Sssssshhhh), sanded down when it was dry and attached vinyl lettering cut with my Cricut machine (vinyl is my new fad and I can't wait to own a Silhouette Cameo).
I gave the whole board a quick spray with varnish and then attached the sleigh bells to it by threading wire through holes at the bottom of the board.

Voila! A perfectly cheap christmas decoration that with correct packaging will last for years.

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