Monday, 24 June 2013

Easy puppet theatre

I was really wanting to make a puppet theatre for my daughter but everything online involved woodworking which I equally wanted to avoid. I was flying by the seat of my pants a little but I came up with a really simple puppet theatre that I am pretty pleased with.  The one above is actually made from the box that the cot came in and the raised lettering is made with the Styrofoam sheeting that was in the box!

Too many things on the list so no photographs this time!

Step 1 : I first covered each panel of cardboard with wrapping paper by double-taping it. Using craft glue, I stuck down some craft ribbon where the two different papers met. If you want to be able to fold the theatre make sure your side panels are not as wide as the central panel.

Step 2 : I cut out a square window in the central panel using the boxcutter. I then dressed the window with "curtains" cut out from the coloured corrugated card by simply double taping.

Step 3 : I stuck chalkboard signs on both of the sign panels cut out from a roll of chalkboard (see here for more details) reading "Now Showing" and "Starring".  This is great because those details can be changed and erased depending on the "production".  I also cut out some lettering from the Styrofoam sheeting using a boxcutter, which I then covered in wrapping paper using double-sided tape on the face of the lettering (because glue was warping the paper) and craft glue on the sides (because double-sided tape was too fiddly for the sides). I then attached the lettering using craft glue to the panels. I only did this for "Babushka", "Theatre" was just cut out of wrapping paper and stuck onto the panel directly without Styrofoam.

Step 4 : Using craft glue, I stuck a piece of fabric at the back of the central panel window to use as a second "curtain" or as a "night" backdrop. I also added a few little wall stickers I had left over from the nursery as extra embellishments.

The final step was to hinge the panels together using three squares of rubber matting (the kind you get in a roll and use to protect your shelves) and cellotape on either side of the central panel.

And that's it! The raised lettering took a while to do so if you didn't attempt that then this is a project that could easily be knocked over in an afternoon.

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Design Inspiration #2 : Mason Jars

Gabrielle's Cottage

With the revival of all things vintage, re-purposed Mason jars are another big decor trend that I absolutely adore.  Patented in 1858 and originally used for canning, Mason jars are now being used in tablescapes and centrepieces, as soap dispensers, lanterns, and as quirky glasses (to name but a few things).

Gabrielle's Cottage

Design Dreams by Anne

Niagara Novice

Handmade and Craft

Perfect for rustic weddings and parties, you can source Mason jars on ebay for under $3 per jar.  I'm planning on buying a stash (don't tell DH!) to use in my pantry as well as for decorative purposes that I will be sure to feature eventually.  Until then, I'll have to content myself with my Mason jar Pinterest board.  Check it out for heaps of other creative uses for these lovely little jars!

The Country Chic Cottage

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Monday, 17 June 2013

Quatrefoil Stenciling

I finally managed to complete my quatrefoil stenciling project! Just a warning - this isn't one for the fainthearted.  It wasn't difficult but time-consuming, especially as painting the back of a bookshelf is very fiddly.  Still, I found it oddly relaxing and my stencil is still intact so I'll be reusing it again very soon I'm sure.

I first created the above stencil in Photoshop (with a lot of help from DH). I've done a couple of other sizes and you can download all the templates here.

I then printed the stencil out on a sheet of A4 card.  With a marker I drew in the connecting bars that you can see in the above image (without which the middle of the design would obviously fall out) and cut the remainder out with an Xacto knife. A boxcutter also works reasonably well but doesn't cut as cleanly.

I then primed the back of the bookshelf with White Knight Grip Lock Primer, which allows paint to adhere to laminated surfaces, and painted two coats of brown base colour using a mini-roller for a smooth finish.

Using a thin paint brush, I stenciled the design in white paint over the brown base using masking tape to hold the stencil in place.  I was a bit gung-ho initially and tried the mini-roller but the excess paint bled through the edges of the stencil and looked very messy so I painted over my first attempt with the base colour and tried again with the brush.  Make sure you don't have too much paint on the brush either or you risk the paint bleeding under the stencil.

The A4 page fit roughly three and a half times in each shelf.  Where I couldn't use the stencil because the corner was too tight or awkward, I simply hand-painted the design doing my best to preserve the symmetry.  It isn't perfect but the areas where I had to do this are around the edges of each shelf and not really very visible. If you were painting a flat surface this wouldn't be a problem.

I did a final touch up using the brown base colour in any areas where there was a bleed. In the gaps where the connecting bars were in the stencil I just applied a little circular dab of white paint to make the design look connected and cohesive.  I am SO pleased with the final result...

So my parents' 30 year old bookshelf went from this:

via here...

to very chic bathroom storage...

and now hopefully has another 30 years in it!
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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Shabby Chic(ing)

This is the prequel to my quatrefoil project (which I started over the weekend but didn't make as much progress as I would have liked)...the bookshelf that I made over (only to make over again a relatively short time later).

My parents have had this bookshelf for decades and I pinched it from them because I needed the storage space.  It's in pretty good shape considering it's about thirty years old, but it was such a woebegone laminate disaster I decided it definitely needed a spruce up...shabby-chic style.

Shabby chic(ing) - yes, I've turned it into a verb - is a DIY decorator's dream because, as the name suggests, the shabbier the paintwork the better!  One of DH's colleagues summed it up when, describing his pregnant wife's obsession with purchasing shabby chic furniture for their nursery, he said "grab some old furniture, slap some white paint on it and sand it down, my wife eats that up with a spoon."  There may also have been an expletive in that sentence, but I forgive him because distressed furniture is ridiculously expensive to buy when it's so easy to achieve the look yourself.

I forgot to mention paint brushes but hopefully that was implied anyway.

Step 1 : Lightly sand your piece of furniture with a sander or a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a cork sanding block.
Step 2 : Apply 1 or 2 coats of primer. I used White Knight Grip Lock Primer which specifically allows paint to adhere better to laminated surfaces.
Step 3 : Apply 2 coats of your base colour, which is basically the colour that you want to show through you white top coat.
Step 4 : Apply your white top coat with a brush. I just found that using a brush gave a more uneven finish (which is better shabby-chic-ing!) than using a roller. Do as many or as few coats as you like to achieve the desired level of shabbiness.  Once dry, sand down the edges of the furniture where you would expect natural wear so that the base colour shows through. The lazy alternative route (which I took) is to wipe away the top coat from those areas with a wet rag when the paint is still wet.

I then simply papered the backing with some good quality wrapping paper I had (literally just double-taped it) which resulted in the final product below.

Where does quatrefoil come into the picture? Basically, even though I'm really happy with the bookshelf, it has always irked me that the wrapping paper had pink print on it and doesn't match the bathroom. The floor is a rather dramatic black and white and so I've tried to keep everything else neutral, except for the pink backing which sticks out like a sore thumb (only to me really). So I have removed the paper and painted the backing board a lovely rich brown and will, hopefully, be stenciling soon.
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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Design inspiration #1 : Quatrefoil

As a new blogger, I'm just awestruck by the sheer volume of incredible blogs that I've stumbled across in the interior design / crafting space. I'm hoping to dedicate one post a week to inspiring ideas and design trends I come across in my web travels.

This week's inspiration: quatrefoil

Make it...Create

I have quatrefoil on the brain. I'm totally jumping on the bandwagon here, I freely admit, but it seems to be cropping up everywhere.

The House of Smiths

Project nursery
Centsational Girl

The Jew in J.Crew
You get the idea. Although it's a hot design trend at the moment, turns out quatrefoil (meaning "four leaves") is as old as the hills (apparently enjoying a peak in popularity in the Gothic and Renaissance eras, before right now).

And that's what I especially like about quatrefoil lattice - despite its current trendiness it's classic and classy. I don't think it will date like another big trend that I'm loving at the moment - chevron...

Starlight Dreamer
It's great but just not right for my house. Quatrefoil on the other hand is perfect.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying my long weekend project involves quatrefoil stenciling, and hopefully I'll be able to post about it next week.

Have a great long weekend everyone and happy DIY-ing!

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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Remote Control Book Box

Time to switch gears from DIY-ing to the other aspect of this blog - decorating.

Now, like most things in life, when it comes to decorating you have to pick your battles with your other half.  This post is about a battle that I lost, and perhaps one that some of you may sympathise with.

The photo above is of my living room, probably best described as country/shabby chic rather than french provincial per se.

I have a great Manhattan library-style bookcase and ladder, currently being used in the nursery, that I'm planning to eventually move in here. I've always dreamt of having a living room filled with books.  When I close my eyes I see this...

Centsational Girl
When I open them, I see this...

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against TV, or giant surround speakers. One of the reasons I started this blog is because I think I watch too much TV. And, as DH likes to point out, it's really not THAT huge a set. Style-wise though, it's just incongruous with the rest of the room.

So this is the battle that I lost, for now.  I have promised DH a man-cave of his own and once that is set up I will have my bookcase in here and a much smaller screen.

Until then, the TV stays. And with it stay its multiple remote controls, which because of my obsessive-compulsion I have to organise.

Now, to me, something like this is an example of the solution being worse than the problem:

Instead, the perfect way to hide your remote controls is in a book box, which you can discretely have along with the other books on your coffee table.

Can't go wrong with Klimt either!
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Sunday, 2 June 2013

Framed Chalkboard

I'm old enough to remember the days of blackboards at school, and there's something about the vintage look of chalkboard signage that makes me weak at the knees.  So when I discovered adhesive chalkboard paper I couldn't wait to give it a whirl.  This is one of a few projects in which I've incorporated this fantastic product, here to create a framed sign (great for vintage-themed weddings and parties) and a magnetic chalkboard for my fridge to replace my ugly, utilitarian whiteboard.

You will need :
1. Backing card (any colour will do, I just happened to have black lying around)
2. Photo frame (as light as possible if you want it on your fridge, so plastic is best)
3. Scissors
4. Chalkboard sticker (I bought this on ebay - $15 for 2 metres.  It's so versatile and easy to clean I've
    already found lots of uses for it!)
5. Adhesive rubber magnets (similar to what I used here but larger)
6. Double-sided foam tape

1. Cut the backing card to size.

2. Cut the chalkboard sticker slightly larger than the frame window and stick it on the card. It's self-adhesive so remove the backing paper from one edge and stick it down.  Slowly continue to peel the backing paper away with one hand while smoothing down the chalkboard sticker with the other to avoid any air bubbles.

3. If you just want a framed sign, you're done! If you want this to go on your fridge, remove the frame stand or hooks from the back of the frame and stick the magnets on with the double-sided foam tape. I used foam tape just to lift the magnets clear of the back of the frame so it attaches better to the fridge. It might take a bit of experimenting to get the right number of magnets to keep your frame up depending on how heavy it is.

The final result! I am going to get a chalk pencil which is easier to write with than chalk.  And yes, even though chalkboard sticker is easy to clean, it is obviously more of a hassle than a plain old whiteboard. I still wouldn't switch back though (insert eye roll from DH).

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