Monday, January 27, 2014

Antique Book Vase (Tutorial) and a Rustic Clothing/Towel Rack

I was given these books by a co-worker who knew that I could do something with them.
I'm not adverse to defacing books if I think that something pretty can come of it.
I decided to make them into a vase.
What a nice way to showcase pretty reads.
[Excuse the fake ferns and flowers; I didn't have time to make run to Trader Joe's.]

I found a rectangular-shaped glass vase. 
One smaller in width, depth and height than the grouping of books.

I determined where I wanted the vase to go, 
figuring the top lip of the vase to be flush with the top of the book spines.
Began work from the inside out. The picture below is of the gray book in the lineup above;
it just looks green in the picture.

On this particular book, the entire center section (covers and pages) needed to be cut. 
I cut out the front cover first (the picture doesn't show it, 
but I bent the cover back and cut it directly on the cutting mat.)

I then drilled a hole in each bottom corner.
I put a piece of foam core between the book and the cutting mat as a buffer for the drill bit.
The role of the holes is to 1) act as a cutting guide for all the pages,
and 2) when putting a lot of pressure on the knife for the blade to cut as many pages 
as possible, the blade hits the hole which helps prevent the blade from continuing to cut.

I used a series of ties and clothespins to hold the already-cut pages away from what was to cut.
The goal was always to try to keep the book opened at a 90 degree angle; if the book is opened to lay flat, you get page creep which means cut lines would vary once the book is closed.

Here is the finished book. 

This book became the template for all the others I needed to cut.
By lining this master book up with the next (the bases of the spine flush),
I could trace out the cut lines.

Here are the books cut and ready for the next step.
I didn't have to cut at all into the end books.

I applied glue to the back and front covers that would be connected.

And lined them up carefully.
Put encyclopedias on top as they dried.

"Painted" the three exposed page edges of all the books with a matte finish Mod Podge Paper on Paper.
While the previous step of applying glue held the books together, 
this step keeps each individual book from opening.

The glass vase slipped right down inside.

Two things I wish I'd done —

1) I wish I'd have cut into the front cover of the left-hand end book and the 
back cover of the right-hand end book to make the vase opening just a tad bigger.
The vase was a bit tight going in and can't be removed.
The option to take the vase out would have been so much better and easier
for filling with water and cleaning.

2) While the holes acted a a guide on two corners, I had to use the piece I cut from the front cover
as the template for tracing the lines from the holes to the top of the pages.
In hindsight, I probably should have just drilled two holes at the top as well.

Another project from the weekend —

Had found this wooden slatted piece at the dumpster. 
Lots of character and even some green moss in places.
Bought three metal hooks at Hobby Lobby and screwed them in
to create a rustic clothes/towel rack.
Selling it in my booth.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A story told on four wheels

Many moons ago, Ali Harper asked me to help plan her wedding/reception. A year+ of brainstorming, designing, crafting, organizing, planting, hauling, searching, buying, pondering, list making, and an abundance of laughing and happy tears led us to a magical day that wound up gracing the pages of Southern Weddings magazine (see here and here for the print magazine companion website images) and numerous websites (here, here and here). It was this adventure that played a huge part in leading me to my passion for event planning/design.

And this little metal pick-up truck has made the journey with me.

I don't even remember where I found it. A thrift store maybe. It's not an antique, but a cheap reproduction of a vintage toy. There are sharp messy corners and uneven edges. And for some reason, I just had to have it.  When working on Ali's wedding, we knew we wanted a kids' table; Ali had plans to make goody bags for all the sweet little'uns attending the wedding, a brown paper sack of treats and crafts to keep the kids occupied during the reception. We wanted a floral arrangement for the kids' table, and I remembered the truck I had bought and tucked away.

With a green flowering plant nestled into its bed, the truck was the perfect centerpiece.

Years later, for a baby shower for Molly, I gave the truck a fresh coat of gray paint with white accents to match the gray palette of the shower. And this time, it hauled glass jars brimming with peachy pink stock, blue-kissed hydrangea and dusty miller.

Over time, the truck made an appearance more than once "just because." Here holding what I think is chamomile flowers.

Jump ahead to 2013, and I'm throwing a baby shower for Ali! It's a boy. The shower was a Huck Finn theme, with jars of collections — feathers, marbles and rocks, bugs — and everything outdoor adventure that little boys love to do. The truck made an appearance here, no doubt.

On January 9, 2014, Ali gave birth to Parker Grey Wittorf. It only seemed fitting that my trusty two-door jalopy would be gifted to the family. Isn't it fitting that I had painted it gray ages ago and now it goes to a child with the name "Grey"? And that the truck made an appearance at Ali's wedding and now at the birth of her son? I markered his monogram onto the two doors, with gold accents to give it a vintage-sign feel. Planted it with succulents (easy upkeep for a new mommy), and tucked in a little ceramic bunny.

I said goodbye to my four-wheel companion of close to 8 years, only to wish him well as his story continues in the hands of Parker Grey. I see a world of adventures ahead.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Church Goodbye

I was asked to do the table decor for a brunch our church hosted this past Sunday as a send-off for our Associate Pastor. I've had a lot on my plate as of late, and so I was a bit hesitant to commit, but a few things in my schedule got jiggered. Which worked out well. I love doing things for my church, so I was grateful that I could say yes joyfully instead of yes with a tinge of stress (and as Harleigh has pointed out on more than one occasion . . . if I'm going to be one of those "yes" people — and I do generally have a hard time saying no, especially as it relates to crafting and events — I can't say yes begrudgingly and carry resentment. Thank you, little wise one).

We figured on (20) 60" round dining tables and (5) rectangular tables for the buffet and the cake. (We had such a huge crowd that we wound up adding 10 more tables as people poured in; alas, those tables, besides a cloth tablecloth, were sans any prettiness) With no budget to speak of, I turned to everything and anything I had on hand at home.

I knew I could put together flowers and/or candles for each table, but I really wanted something personal. I didn't want people attending the brunch, and especially Pastor Sherry, to see the surroundings as just another church potluck. So I decided to gather church-related pictures of Pastor Sherry and use them on the tables. Since I didn't have a ton of pictures — probably one pic per table — I needed something more. As I was going through the pictures, I came to one of Pastor Sherry dressed as Tigger from one of our annual Halloween Trunk or Treats, and that's when it hit me. Quotes from Winnie the Pooh. And as I started searching online, I was able to amass quotes from a number of children's books and movies. It all felt magical and heartfelt, and together with the pictures seemed the perfect way to both honor her and say goodbye.  Here are the quotes I used (some of my attributes might not be spot on, but I think I came close enough):

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart . . . I’ll always be with you.”
 — Christopher Robin

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”
 — Winnie the Pooh

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
 — Dr. Seuss

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
 — Winnie the Pooh

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
 — Dr. Seuss

“If you live to be a hundred, I hope I live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.”
 — Winnie the Pooh

“Promise me you’ll never forget me, because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”
 — Winnie the Pooh

“Some people care too much . . . I think it’s called love.”
 — Winnie the Pooh

Piglet: “How do you spell love?”
Pooh: “You don’t spell it, you feel it.”

“Any day spent with you is my favorite day. So, today is my new favorite day.”
 — Christopher Robin

“That’s what friends are for, they help you to be more of who you are.”
 — Christopher Robin

“The most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I will always be with you.”
 — Christopher Robin

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet. “Even longer,” Pooh answered.

“I wonder what Piglet is doing,” thought Pooh. “I wish I were there to be doing it, too.”

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
 — Winnie the Pooh

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”
 — Dr. Seuss

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
 — Dr. Seuss

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Never, no, never. Your friendship is the best present ever.”
 — Tigger

“All it takes is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust.”
 — Peter Pan

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
 — Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit

“The moment where you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever being able to do it.”
 — Peter Pan

“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.”
 — Ronald Dahl from Matilda

“Why did you do all this for me?” Wilbur asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
 “You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
 — E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web

“The Rainbow Fish shared his scales left and right. And the more he gave away, the more delighted he became. When the water around him filled with glimmering scales, he at last felt at home among the other fish.”
 — The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

“Anything is possible. Anything can be.”
 — Shel Silverstein

“Little by little, one travels far.”
 — J.R.R. Tolkien

“You’ve had the power all along, my dear.”
 — Glinda, the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz


The tablecloths aren't in a palette I'm used to working with, so I opted for all white flowers. I use a wholesale florist, and for $65 was able to get 25 white roses, 25 white carnations, 12 tulips and two big bundles of bupleurum (a dainty annual with graceful snaking stems). Used Mason jars and random clear glass bowls as vases. I also made four larger arrangements in white pitchers for the buffet and cake table.

I was a bit stumped as to how I was going to showcase the pictures and quotes. I wanted some height variances on the tables, so I turned to my trusty collection of brass candlesticks. I probably have 60+ of these that I've purchased for a buck or less a piece in thrift stores. I've spray painted them numerous times for different events. They really are one of my go-to resources for table decor. They're currently black, and while I would have preferred them to be a different color, I didn't have the time to repaint them, so I stuck with them as is. The drawing below shows how I assembled each candlestick display.

A) Candlesticks range in height from 3" up to 18". The holes (socket) where the candles go all vary in depth, which posed the biggest challenge when it came to securing the pictures and quotes, as some were pretty darn shallow.

B) I shoved floral foam into each socket, making the foam as flush with the top of the socket as possible.

C) Using a round scrapbook hole punch, I punched out circles using black paper. The circle would cover the green floral foam.

D) Each quote and picture was secured into the candlestick using a wooden skewer. The top of the skewer (blunt end) was pushed into foam core (see F below), and the sharp-tipped end went through the black paper circle and into the floral foam.

E) I printed out two of each picture and trimmed them out (some to size and others with white borders). I cut small strips of foam core, and using double-sided tape I created a sandwich — a picture on each side with the foam core between, positioned well inside the edges of the pictures so as not to be seen.

For the quotes, I glued them onto foam core and trimmed them flush. Would have liked to do them two-sided, but didn't have time. 

F) The skewers went into the foam core of both pictures and quotes. The skewers definitely had to be cut to size depending on the depth of the socket and the size of the pictures. For the quotes, since the skewer was visible, I used a Sharpie marker to make them black.


While the centerpieces weren't the most stunning vignettes I've ever created, I must say that the sentiment trumped all. The quotes appealed to both adults and children. And several people approached me that they were truly touched by the decorations. 

The quote cards and pictures were packed up and put into Pastor Sherry's pile of farewell gifts and cards. The flowers were merged into a few bigger arrangements to grace the church and staff offices. And my vases and candlesticks came home with me, to be used again someday for yet another "yes" moment.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Wrap-Up

Harleigh and I agreed that this was one of the best visits home that's she's ever had. 
Don't know exactly why. 
We certainly grow closer each year.
We've had 21 years to get to know each other. 
With earned respect, a healthy dose of humor, 
and flexibility and patience in excess, 
our relationship feels comfortable. 
We're transparent to a fault, 
each of us unafraid to expose our vulnerable underbelly and sometimes-ugly insides. 
This time home, there was a good flow to the dynamic of two women living under one roof. 
We spent time together just the two of us, time with family,
time apart (she with her friends and I with mine), 
and savored that safe and warm feeling of being at home together, 
she in one room and I in another, 
Christmas music on, 
good smells wafting from the kitchen, 
the tree and candles lit,
 Gideon asleep on the sofa . . . 
I smiled to myself a lot this holiday, a content girl, indeed.

The New Year came upon us quietly. 
Harleigh had to be back at school on New Year's Day to work, 
and decided to go to a friend's NYE party at Lake Sinclair. 
She left at around 5:00, 
the car packed to the gills with Christmas gifts and loads of freshly washed clothes. 
The two of us cried like fools, hugging to not let go, 
and when she drove away, my heart broke a bit. 
I was in bed by 11:00 (barely waking at midnight to the orchestra of fireworks in the neighborhood), and spent the next day putting all the Christmas decorations away
and cooking like a mad woman.

2013 was a pivotal year for the two of us girls.
I was never more grateful for Harleigh. So proud of all that she's become.
I've tapped into a creative side of myself that makes me happier than I've ever been.
There have been tough decisions made this year, and sadnesses and struggles that 
have crippled our family, but not defeated us.
I can't say that I have 2014 mapped out, with goals etched in stone
(and believe me, the blog world — bless its heart, and at no fault of its own — 
both inspires my dreams and 
belabors me with regret for all that I've not done and what I've fallen short of).
But I do know that faith and trust guide my every day.
It's a little thing.
And for that, I am thankful.

Christmas morning. Not sure if she's loving on the Justin Bieber wrapping paper
or the Vans inside (that she picked out online and I wouldn't let her open until Christmas morning).
And she's wearing her Northface down vest, an early Christmas present.

Giddy sits like a good boy waiting for his giant Christmas rawhide.
For the first year ever, Harleigh and I got matching pajamas.
It's something she wanted, and so we took an afternoon to make an Old Navy
run and pick up cheap bottoms and tops.
I wore mine sans down vest.

I adore the top of this boy's head.

I made a few of my matchboxes, coupled with a candle, for Christmas gifts.

Chateau Gahan now has a Keurig!!! Which means I had to make something to hold the pods.
I wrapped a large pickle jar in flocked paper, painted the lid, 
and attached a vintage ceramic kitty in a cup.
Harleigh just shook her head.

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