Thursday, January 28, 2010

Candlelight At Christmas

Suffice it to say, those looking upon this post need no introduction to the romance of candlelight,
so I shan’t preach to the choir.

Packs of inexpensive shabbos and votives at the grocery and dollar store are common, but it’s the large 8” - 12” pillars that make a real statement, and they aren’t cheap to mass together.   I think all of my candles would cost about $75 before tax, because some are $15 or so each.

Some of my candles are 5 years old.    I burn votives in the top when they burn down 2 inches.    Some of my candles are gifts from family who repeatedly get them for me at Christmas because they know I love them.    I don't actually burn those!

A visit the week of Christmas is a good time to snatch some up, where they are 25% off, but still in stock.   If you wait until after Christmas, you’ll get 75% - 90% off, but there’s usually not a single candle of any kind left.    Check in Target’s regular candle aisle.    Often holiday candles on clearance wind up there.

I keep matches handy in a pretty box.     Rachel Ashwell
of course had the grace to provide us in the shabby corps with a line of matchboxes.    I bought this at her old store in New York c. 2004 for around $5.    You may be able to find them on Ebay.     I keep common packs of matches in it now that the pretty lavender-tipped matchsticks are used up.    
I still haven’t made a pilgrimage to her new store to see if she still offers these.
Candles actually heat my studio a little, which is a boon because I have but a 12” space heater.    Unless it’s above freezing outside I can’t stay in the studio for more than a few hours because
my hands and feet get too cold.     Sometimes I can see my breath!

I haven’t even gotten on the subject of how candles can scent a room.     I seem to recall there was a New York Times article about the “accessory” of couture scent for rooms a few years back.    I like the barely perceptible scent of vanilla and candles, but anything stronger bothers my asthma.

Finally, nothing makes glitter sparkle more than candlelight.    This snowy evening was graced by the angelic Robert Shaw Chorale playing hymns and carols on my iPod.     I’m glad you stopped by to share.

Until next time, stay shabby!

Ornamental Upcycle Attempts

Ah!  The firewood's split and stacked, the birdfeeders filled...time to hike up to the Love Shack to play!

Encouraged by the ornaments I refurbished from the ribbons and crowns of my broken Krebs, I decided to design and build new ornaments.

I’ve had a box of 6 “filler” ornaments – the kind the go on the back of the tree—that I bought with a shrug at a post-holiday sale c. 1988 at the now defunct Caldor from their “Victoria” collection. These plain white globes now have a patina, which makes them a little less boring.

I made these out of bits of ribbon, sequins, beads, and silk or paper flowers in my collection I’ve picked up from yard sales, Michael’s, and the very good Caramelos on Etsy.    I didn’t like the shiny stuff in the middle of one, but I started tugging on it and wahlah it pulled out.

Well, I guess many are still “fillers”, but at least they’re not boring any longer.

I’m going to console myself by looking through the holiday issues of Victoria from 1988-1993.
The picture below is one of my favorites from that era.

‘Till next time, stay shabby!

Vintage Ornaments, and Future Vintage Ornaments

I found a pair of pictures from Christmas 2006, hosted at the farmhouse near New Paltz, New York I sold in order to buy my property the Shabby Streamside Studio sits upon.

My sister Sue started the tradition of everyone sticking their magic wands in the chandelier (Ebay, $50, painted white).    I adopted Rachel Ashwell's idea to give your guests magic wands so all their dreams will come true, and hearts so they know when they're in your home they're always loved.

A vintage style ornament sparkles below a glass knob in the evening winter sun
as we do the dishes with Vince Guaraldi's 'Skating' playing on the stereo.

In the spirit of older things, I'm sharing pictures of a few of my vintage ornaments.

This is the mercury glass tree topper I bought on Ebay this year at $12 for a pair of toppers.    I love the bullion, and that star pattern, and I'm so glad I have a real one, not just a Target one.

Please visit The Fisk Barn whenever you're near Bovina, NY...don't be put off by how early American it looks, they have different vendors and a drool-making collection of ephemera upstairs!

The most I've ever paid for a vintage ornament was $5 at Brimfield.

'Till next time, stay shabby!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One of My Little One Horse Open Sleighs

I made a silver vignette because it’s so popular this year most of the Christmas floral picks at Michael’s were silver and I couldn’t get away from it.

I’m crazy about silver, especially at Christmas, but I don’t usually work with this much.   I got the tinsel for 1.00 at the United Way yard sale at work, and I don’t know what to do with my German glass glitter star from the old Shabby Chic store in NYC c. 2005 (it probably cost around $20) since I found my pink mercury glass tree topper this year on Ebay (two toppers for $12 plus shipping – a great deal).  
The candles are Christmas presents from my family.   
The tall one is actually held together with ribbon because I dropped it.

Please visit The Cat's Meow, and for a real treat, Fifi O'Neill's blog Chez Fifi.
She is the Queen of shabby French decor.

This is my first attempt at a pleated paper rosette.   
I think it needs a little pearl in the center.

I’ve seen them everywhere on Etsy, but it was months before someone called them ‘pleated paper rosettes’ so I could google the correct term and find instructions on how to make them.   My thanks to "Jeanne" for such a detailed, clear tutorial at her blog.
It’s made with crepe paper from a party streamer, and I glued scrap glitter around it. The candy canes are painted and glittered acrylic mini decorations from Walmart.   They’re so small they cut with scissors.   The paper snowflakes are Jolee’s scrapbooking stickers, and the pink glitter tissue is courtesy of The Queen of Glitter Michelle Cummings of Farie Dust Dreams on Etsy.    It’s just a scrap of the wrapping she uses to ship.    I’m jealous of her creativity!     The whole rosette is attached with hot glue.
The glittery leaf is from Michael’s, a “warmer” silver I couldn’t get enough of this year.   The aurora borealis beads are from costume jewelry bought at yard sales for less than a dollar.

Till next time, stay shabby!

Shabbifying An Ornament

Come on in to my studio, we're going to shabbify a new Target ornament!
I painted the red on this ornament pink...

Then, I coat with Elmer's spray glue and dust with Martha Stewart's Crystal Fine Glitter, my very favorite.
It's like the sparkle on real snow.    These Merry Minis from Michael's and Walmart only cost $1 - $2 for a package of 5 or so.    I get a few in November and more in the post-holiday sales.    They're usually in the
snow village/garland aisles.

The prettiest tags I've ever seen are at Bluebirdlane on Etsy.  Please visit when you have the time!

Until next time, stay shabby!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Ornament Collection: The Big 80s

I began collecting Christmas ornaments when I was a sophomore at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.  I originally found 3 of the soft pearl-gold example of these beauties at a boutique in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, sold singly for the astronomical price of $5 each in 1987.  (You could get 4 for $5 or so boxed in a discount store.)  These Lauscha Glas 'Christmas by Krebs' remain my all-time favorites.  One can identify a Krebs by the Dresden-paper styling of the crown at the top.

The ornament in the front with the sheer pink fabric rose (a wedding applique from Michael's) is me shabbifying the masterful Krebs design.   The ribbon is from the post-holiday 50% off bin, and the rhinestones are from the trim on a doggie dress ZuZu can't wear because they caught in her fur. 
All hot glued on.


In 2006, my live Christmas tree fell over, crushing 2 of the three and many other irreplacables. Thank you Etsy seller Timeless N’Chic!

I not only have replaced my lost friends, but added the white, rose, and buff beauties to my fold!

In 2008, I discovered Martha Stewart’s ‘Florentine Gold’ glitter at Michael’s. This is the first glitter I've found that’s fine and dainty enough to replicate the Kreb’s Lauscha Glas design on other ornaments. Not that I’m wonderful at free-handing the design in glue, but at least that--plus the gold braid and appliqués from the broken ornaments--could be salvaged and re-applied to plain, boring ones.

I experimented with Dresden trim with different degrees of success.

This vintage wired floral-type stem was tossed in for free when I purchased some chandelier crystals at a rust & dust shop – The Antique Mall of Shirley, NY on my way home from work one night. This is the next thing I aim to reproduce.

Victoriana was so popular in the 1980s!   How I miss it.  This ornament also came from the 1987 Faneuil Hall shopping trip.   It was a whopping $14, expensive even by today’s standards.   I’ve never found the materials to replicate it.   Maybe I’ll get lucky on Etsy again.

Until next time, stay shabby!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Christmas Snow House Village

I modeled my Christmas houses on the properties I’ve owned and their ancillary farm buildings, which is actually a cute idea of my dear husband’s.  Initially, we were going to put them in the center of Todd’s train set from his childhood, but it needs a lot of repairs and room to set up, so my houses go on my studio mantel.
This is the first incarnation of my studio, made December 2008, with the porch columns delineated in real peppermint candy.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the box this year and saw the melted mess and mouse poopies!  How silly of me to think I could store such a thing without consequence.

I didn’t like the iridescent cellophane for window glass. It ended up looking green all the time, so I replaced it with clear from the roll I keep on hand for gift baskets. Cutting and painting dowels to simulate candy canes gave me new columns.

The bodies of all my houses are crafted from cardboard boxes left in the recycling bin at the office.  Thin cardboard is infinitely easier to work with, albeit less sturdy.  I paint with acrylic craft paint or leftover house paint.  I cut the openings out with my Exacto knife, then add doors and windows with gold paper saved from chocolate gift boxes, all done freehand.  The lack of perfection makes it charming. (I personally find perfection rather dull.)
The Dresden paper trim is very expensive, $6 for four pieces, but it really makes a difference and on tiny houses it goes a long way.  I bought mine at Artchix:
If you google for ‘German paper scrap’, or ‘Dresden paper’ you may find other offerings and better prices.  I didn’t want to spend extra for colors I didn’t buy, so I paint gold or silver paper white or whatever I want. Everything gets fastened with a low temperature glue gun, except for the exterior glitters which I spread craft paste on with a wide brush and sprinkle glitter on over a piece of paper to catch and save the excess.
Last year, I was very happy to discover Martha Stewart glitter at Michael’s.  Finally!  Someone made glitter fine as powder, like the kind on Christmas ornaments, not the coarse kind for kiddie crafts.

The best glitter in the world, it begs to be told, comes from Michelle Cummings of Faerie Dust Dreams:
Her silver glitter is on the pink surface of the ‘Love Shack’, as well as on the white roof of the house above. This is my very first attempt at a Christmas house.  Along the right side of “Aruba”, the guest cottage named after our honeymoon locale on the first property I owned in Fantinekill (near New Paltz, NY), is a recreation of the stone wall and arbor rendered in peppermint candy and a chenille wire.  (The mice had a party with that, too.)

The snow on the roof is from one of those diorama kits in Michael’s for students’ winter scenes for science class, dusted with Martha Stewart crystal fine white glitter.  The icicles are cut from sparkly felt, and the bottlebrush tree is from Saturday Finds on Etsy.

I’m going to blog about how I make my flocked antique-style bottlebrush trees soon!

The large white house is a replica of my first home, an 1890 farmhouse.  The pink-roofed one is my guest cottage "Aruba", the one behind it is the barn, and the pistachio green glittered one is a bungalow on that farm.  My husband started this bungalow and I finished it, and it’s one of my favorites.  I like to embellish my houses with bits of rhinestones and old jewelry I pick up at yard sales for no more than 50 cents each.  I really need to dress the wreath on “Aruba” up.

The houses here are an upcycled one from Target ($3), a yard sale Hallmark former log cabin ornament (10 cents), and a church resembling a Cody Foster design.  I have the prettiest rhinestone earring I just found for the front gable, and a wreath, too.  I so wish I had a picture of it to share, but I had to send my camera back to the manufacturer.  Do bear with me.

The last two houses I have to show you are a henhouse done in Michelle Cumming’s pink glitter (it’s disappointingly darker than it looks on her Etsy site), and one inspired by the high schools of Delhi and Andes, New York.

I saw this at Ace Hardware in Delhi, NY, and had to have it so badly I bought it at only 25% off the week before Christmas, making it around $11.  I have 21 hens, and my son Ruffy chases them constantly, so this vignette will always make me smile.  I think it needs white Dresden trim along the eaves.

I spent most of November working on this school...and I don’t like it.   It’s over scale from the rest of the village, too Georgian and formal rather than Gothic or Victorian, and dreadfully clumsy.   I’ll have to take it apart.   I think I can save the tower and cupola.

Lastly, everyone in town admires Santa’s ride when the reindeer have time off!

Thanks to my sister Nicole for this gift of a ’53 Fleetwood pink Cadillac.   The Santa is from the inside of a snow globe my husband Todd gave me that broke.

Till next time, stay shabby!