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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Flower Light Strand

An extremely popular decorating accent right now is corded lights. For a Christmas present for my friend Heather I decided to add flowers onto a regular strand of white lights that she could decorate with. These are normally pretty expensive in stores but I found this project on like I do with most of my projects. There was no tutorial but just a description explaining that the flowers were made from an egg carton. 2 extra large sets of eggs later it was time to craft some flowers.

2 18 count egg cartons made of cardboard
Hot glue gun
Hot glue refills
Strand of lights (white or green) **make sure they work**
Acrylic paint (desired color. I used purple and pink for an accent)
Paint brushes
Expo knife
Cutting board (or in my case an old ceramic coaster)

Step 1: Eat the eggs
SOO many eggs. lol. I had scrambled eggs almost every day for a while. Or an egg sandwich. Or even baking things that use eggs. You can do this. Its a good source of protein ;)

Step 2: Cut the cartons
Use the scissors to cut the cups out of the egg carton. It doesn't have to be neat but has to be straight lines. Try to make sure you don't rip any of the cups when trying to cut. I would suggest using the scissors that have the rubber in the handles and make sure they are sharp. Your hands will start to hurt after a while.

Here are the cups cut straight from the carton. Note that some of them have specific shapes. You will want to use their shapes to your advantage when deciding on how to shape the flowers.

Step 3: Creating petals
After you have all the cups cut out you will want to shape the cups into flowers. To start with, cut slits in the cups vertically from the base. You can cut either 3 or 4 slits for how many petals you would like them to have. I suggest doing a good mixture of both. Once you have cut the slits in the cups you will want to round off the individual petal edges. This is more challenging because if you pull the cardboard too far it will rip.

When I cut and finished a 4 petal section I would place it in the discarded lid. Then I would work on a 3 petal section to stack on top. You will want to have 2 or 3 layers for each flower. Use your judgement in deciding how many you need. Depending on the way the cups had to be cut some looked bare with just 2 cup stacks, while others only needed 2 cup stacks.

Here are the flowers after they have been rounded off and stacked. You can see that the petals are aligned so that it fills in the gaps between the petals.

Step 4: Painting
Be prepared to make a mess. When you start painting you will want to do each cup stack one at a time. When starting to paint do the bottom cup first. You will need to paint the entire piece. This is where the messy part starts. It is inevitable that you will have to hold onto a painted section in order to cover the whole thing with paint. Once you finish the color that you want to be the main color you will want to add an accent color to the inside of the petals. This will add the illusion of being a real flower. I used purple for my main color and then a hot pink to accent with. You will add the accent color to the bottom center and the center of the petals from the bottom until about halfway up. Do this in a rounded area that matches the roundness of the petal. You wont have to use a lot of color. Just enough that you can see the color difference. You will want to do this for each layer and stack the flowers exactly how they originally were once you finish them.

This is an image of the flower after the next step, but you can see that the color is painted all over and then there is a slight accent to the center that is the pink I added. The cardboard likes to absorb the paint so when it dries like it did here it fades a lot. If you are looking for more dramatic effects then I would let the first layer dry before adding the accent color.

Step 5: Cutting the center
This is the hardest part of the project; cutting the hole in the center of each flower petal. Before you start slicing I would count the amount of flowers stacks you have made and see how you want them laid out on the light string. When I did mine I didn't have enough flowers so I had to create some out of the 3 petal stacks. In the end, I had a flower on the light closest to the end and then every 4 to the other end. So there were 3 empty lights in between each flower.

Once you know exactly how many you will need you can start cutting. Use the cutting board as a base so you don't cut into your table. Grab your expo knife and carefully create circles in the very center of the petals.

Words of Wisdom: You can always cut out more if you make them too small, but if you make them too big it is going to be harder to make them fit the cord. Some light strands have bigger lights and some smaller. In my case, there were actually some different sized bulbs on this strand so one hole for one would not always fit the next. Air on the side of caution.

I also suggest putting them on the cord and seeing if they fit. You can create a line in which you will have them on the cord. So then you can try it out, make sure it fits, then start on the next one. If there are 3 stacked on top of each other the holes will be different sizes because one will have to be pushed back further than the others. These will be the things you will start to notice.

Here is what the flower should look like once you get all the petals on the light bulb.

Step 6: Hot gluing the flowers
Prepare for pain and I mean that in the happiest of ways. lol. Hot glue and I have a love hate relationship. I love it and it hates me. A bit one sided, I know.

To glue the petals to the light bulb base you will start with the bottom petal. Add some glue to the part below the light bulb. Take into consideration how many you are stacking. If it are stacking 3 the bottom petal should be a bit lower than if there were just stacking 2. When adding them they do not have to be very low, just low enough that the top petal is below the light bulb. You would have seen the correct distance when you practiced in step 5.

Once you have put some glue in a ring around the bulb base then put on the bottom petal. Repeat this for the rest of the petals used.

Now comes the painful part. You are going to want to make sure that the petals are all securely glued to both the light bulb base and each other. I suggest pushing (lightly so not to rip the flowers) the petals into each other. You can push from both the top and the bottom This makes sure they are all stuck together. I find that I often stick the tips on my fingers right into the hot glue. If you haven't ever used hot glue before you will see that it burns pretty bad immediately when touched but cools very quickly. It will not do serious damage and rolls right off. Even though it causes me to girly scream in pain every few minutes or so it is important to make sure to get them on there good. Wouldn't want to have to do it again

Step 7: Touch up
Now that you have all the flowers glued on you will want to go back through and make sure there are no places missing paint. Like I mentioned before, the cardboard absorbs the paint. There is a possibility that the brown or white is showing some. Also, I noticed while my flowers were drying that some parts would get stuck together and remove paint or stick to the base I had them sitting on to dry. You don't want to give someone a gift that has paint missing.

Here again is the final image of the flower light strand. On the left is the image I found on pinterest. Theirs were a little different than mine in both shape and color but overall I really liked my end result. Especially when I didn't have a tutorial to follow. Just kind of wing it and hope for the best.

If anyone has any questions let me know! Would love to assist anyone who would like to try out this craft!

Disney Silhouettes

"I don't know if it's art, but I know I like it" - Walt Disney

This project was for one of my best friends. Danielle and I have known each other since 2002. Through high school, college, distance, marriage, and now these awkward 20s we have made it through. One of the big similarities that we share is our love of Disney. You will never meet any other women that fangirl over meeting Disney characters or basically run through the entrance of Disney world, in full costume I might add, more than the two of us. For a combination birthday and Christmas present in 2013 I made her a set of four Disney Silhouette paintings.

Canvas of any shape or size. I used a size that would fit basic printer paper. 
Computer/printer access (if you are feeling adventurous you can free hand. I took the easier route)
Acrylic paint (desired colors. I used black, red, lime green, yellow, turquoise, purple, and gold) (desired texture. The black I used was a gloss but the colors were matte)
Paint brushes
Clear coat (optional)

Step 1: Choosing an image
Deciding what images to use is a task in itself. There are a few characteristics that need to be kept in mind while choosing the image...
1- How will it look on the canvas? Make sure it is one that is recognizable and will fill the entire area you want filled.
2- What color could be used? There are so many options for silhouette colors. I chose to use highlighted elements already in the image. There is also the option of a solid color for the entire image or multiple colors including the background.
3- How will the images look together? When choosing my images I knew that Snow White and Ariel/Eric would be with red accent. So when choosing the other images I wanted to use multiple colors in both. 
4- What is the layout of the image? I messed up when picking my images and didn't realize that three were horizontal with one vertical. The symmetry is off. I have an IOU for another vertical image to make the set more rounded in the layout department ;) 

Step 2: Tracing the image
This step can be done one of two ways. I chose to trace printed images. This saved time and created accuracy in the representation. There is also the option of hand drawing the image. This would be helpful if you wanted to do a larger size and couldn't print it.

I cut out the part of the image I wanted (make sure to be thorough with hands, feet, eyelashes, anything you want to be on the canvas) and laid it out making sure it was aligned how I wanted it to look. Once the image was correct I lightly traced the outside with pencil.

Here are the images I selected. I only had a black and white printer but I had the original images pulled up on my computer screen in order to know the colors for later.

Here are the images once they have been outlined (with the exception of Belle in the bottom that I had already drawn in the details to the image).

Step 3: Drawing the details
After you have finished tracing the images it is time to draw in the accent that you would like to use. This again is optional if you find you would rather do a solid color. Anything in the image can be highlighted. These are usually things that are particular to the character. Ariel's red hair for instance or Snow White's apple. If you want to highlight in all one color you can do all the red in the scene. This is what I did for The Little Mermaid. There is also the option of using colors that go together well or are closely related. This is why I chose to do both the yellow for Belle and the lime green of the mirror. Again, lightly draw the area that is to be highlighted.

 Here are the images with all the details drawn into the image

Step 4: Painting the solid color
For this step you will paint everything in the image that you do not want to highlight a solid color. I went with black but any color would be nice.

 Step 5: Paint the highlights
This is only relevant if you want to do highlights of course. If you wanted to do the background a color then this would apply to that.

When doing the highlights you have some options. You can either do a solid color like you will see with the reds or you can do something a little more intricate like in the Aladdin painting. The choice for how detailed really depends on both the image itself and how you would like them to look. Minimalist is just as nice as elaborate sometimes. For me, the Jasmine and Aladdin image needed more colors and details in order to really see the image. But the Snow White just needed the simple red to do it justice. Use your own judgement. You can never go wrong with your gut instinct. Most of the time it is even better than you think. As a helpful tip, I would try the less detailed version first. See how you like it and if you don't then you can add more color. You can always add but it is harder to cover up or take away.

Here are the final images with all colors finished

Step 6: Clear coat
This step is totally up to you. I did not have time to clear coat these before giving them to Danielle but she didn't mind.

When doing a clear coat there are different textures and mediums. There is a spray on clear coat that is in a spray paint style can. This comes in both gloss and matte depending on how you would like the final coat to look. Another option is to use Mod Podge which is gods gift to crafts. Right up there with glue guns. haha. Mod Podge can be used for basically anything. I used it in my previous blog when I decorated my cell phone case. It is a glue substance that goes on white and dries clear. This also comes in both gloss and matte. You would just paint it on and let it dry. 

Here again is the final image of the four silhouettes. They really took no time at all and are the perfect more elegant looking Disney decoration for grown up children like Danielle and Me :)