Google+ House Revivals: June 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to Make a Paper Mache Star Burst Mirror

Thank you all for being patient while I put together a 
tutorial on how to make the paper mache starburst mirror that I  

 This project was inspired by some lovely Horchow mirrors, some mid-century clocks, and a mountain of moving boxes!

As with any paper mache project, the hardest part will be waiting for the piece to dry before moving on to the next step!  I live in the Pacific Northwest, so I sometimes have to wait days between steps, but if you live in dryer climes the first side of a piece may be dry before you finish the other side.
To make a paper mache star burst mirror, begin by creating a cardboard base.  I had lots and lots of flattened moving boxes, so I simply drafted some long triangles onto the cardboard and cut them out with a utility knife and a straight edge to create the starburst points.  My star was made to fit a specific place, so your dimensions may be different than mine if you customize the size or proportions of your starburst mirror.

Begin by cutting:
  • two long isosceles triangles for the top (front) sides of the vertical points
  • two long isosceles triangles for the bottom (back) side of the vertical points
  • two medium length isosceles triangles for the top (front) sides of the horizontal points
  • two medium length isosceles triangles for the bottom (back) side of the horizontal points
  • four shorter length isosceles triangles for the top (front) sides of the diagonal points
  • four shorter length isosceles triangles for the bottom (back) side of the diagonal points
Notes on the "front side" of the points:
  • My "long" points are each sixteen inches along the "ridge", and about seven inches wide at the base of the triangle, or about three and one-half inches at the widest point on each side of the "ridge".
  • My "medium" length points are each thirteen inches along the "ridge", and about six and one-half inches wide.
  • The "shorter" length points are each ten inches along the "ridge" and about five and one-half inches wide.
Notes on the "back side" of the points:
  • The backs of the points should be cut about an inch longer than the fronts to give you a small overhang and provide a little extra "gluing surface" later on when you are assembling the star.
  • My long and medium length backs were about four and one-half inches at the widest point.
  • The backs for the four shorter length points were about three and on-half inches at the widest place (in other words, three and one-half inches at the "base" or "short side" of the isosceles triangle).
It's really important not to kill any brain cells by thinking too hard about the geometry.  
If your math is a little off, you can always cut up a cereal box and patch things up a bit. I promise! 
Here, the long and medium length top pieces have been glued to their corresponding 
back pieces, but the shorter points have not yet been glued together.

Begin gluing your points together:
  • Once you have all your triangles cut, you will need to take a straight edge and score a crease down the center of each top (front) piece.  
  • Now, take the two long top pieces and fold along the score line to create a ridge, and glue the pieces to their corresponding bottom (back) pieces.  You can hold the pieces together with masking tape while the glue dries.
  • Repeat the process with the medium length sides.
  • Do not glue the four shorter points together yet.
To create the round central core of the star:
  • Cut some long strips, about three inches wide, from cardboard cereal boxes. Tape them together to make an even longer strip, and wrap them around something about five and one-half inches in diameter (I used one of those huge Nestle Quick canisters).  Wrap the cardboard strip three or four times around your form. Secure the end of your strip with masking tape and gently slip the cardboard ring from your form.  Glue and tape the cardboard ring together.
  • Use the base of the form (mine was the Nestle Quick canister), as a template, and trace three or four circles onto corrugated cardboard. Cut out the cardboard circles, and glue them inside your ring to make it very rigid.  I like to use wood glue when working with cardboard, because it is extremely strong.
Now you can begin assembling your star: 
  • Begin by securing the vertical points to the round central core, using glue and tape.  The extra length you gave yourself on the back sides of the points will come in handy for gluing the points securely. 
  • Next, secure the horizontal points to the round central core.
  • At this point, you will want to "play around" with the diagonal pieces, trimming them to fit as flush as possible against the sides of the other points. (remember the thing about not killing brain cells? that applies here)
  • Tape and patch as necessary to make everything fit together :)

Now, you should have something that resembles a starburst!  At this point, I decided to reinforce the back with another layer of cardboard -- you may or may not want to do that. Creating the cardboard form is the most difficult part (well, except for waiting for the paper mache layers to dry).

this is how your cardboard base will look after a first thin coat of paper mache pulp

It's time to start the paper mache process!
  • You may use traditional torn paper strips, and cover the whole thing with three or four layers. OR, you may spread a couple of layers of paper mache pulp over your base.  OR, you may combine a couple of layer of strips with a couple of layers of pulp.  The choice is yours, there is no wrong way to do this. Here is the recipe for paper mache pulp.
  • You may choose to sand between layers, or you may choose to sand after the final layer only, or you may choose not to sand at all -- do what pleases you. 
  • A tip for getting paper mache pulp layers smooth is to use a butter knife or a spatula to smooth it.  If clumps of pulp keep wanting to fall off as you work, spread a piece a cling wrap over the surface and smooth over it (like rolling out a pastry using Saran wrap between the dough and the rolling pin) with your spatula.

 this is how your star should look after after a base coat of red has been 
applied and a first coat of gold has been randomly dabbed on

After all your paper mache layers are dry and you are happy with the finish, it is time to paint.
  • A tip for painting anything with a gold or gilded finish is to first paint a layer with RED paint -- you will end up with a deep rich gold tone.
  • Use two or three different metallic gold colors and dab the layers on using an old brush or a foam brush -- dabbing helps give it a gold leafed look.
  • Use an antiquing medium to give the piece some patina, if desired.
 this is how your star will look after about three light coats of 
gold have been dabbed on -- keep going until you are happy with the coverage

Now you can glue on your mirror.
  • Craft mirrors can be ordered online from most craft supply retailers.
  • I ordered a couple of different sizes to play around with -- did I want to put the mirror inside the circle or on top of the circle?
  • I decided to use the slightly larger mirror and glued it on top of the circle (I used Gorilla glue for this)

To frame the mirror (optional), I took a length of bead garland and glued it around the outside of the mirror using a small amount of Gorilla glue -- be careful, Gorilla glue grows!  When the glue was cured, I took some joint compound and filled in all the gaps to make it look like it was all carved from one piece. Then I touched up the paint.

The starburst mirror was finished!

I photographed it and blogged about it.

And then I moved on to the next project :)

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial!

This post is being linked to the following lovely places:
Tip Junkie handmade projects
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Mid-Century Inspired Mariner's Compass Starburst Mirror

I'm so excited to share the summer mantel at our little marina condo!  The star of the vignette is, well, a star -- a fun starburst mirror made from paper mache!

Several months ago I shared that we were buying a pied-a-terre in the city.  It is in a little mid-century building that hangs out over the water and has a marina underneath.  The condo was in really rough shape -- the victim of  "flipper in over his head".

When we found our little pied-a-tier, she was bank owned. Someone had been squatting in her, and her parking space, storage locker, AND boat slip were being poached!  Yikes!  She deserved something special for all the indignities she had endured.  If she were a woman, a lovely piece of jewelry might have sufficed, but since she's a condo, I thought I would give her a gorgeous mirror for her mantel.  Mirrors are like jewelry for a room, wouldn't you agree?

I began looking for just the right piece.  Everything I found either looked "skimpy" or was too pricey.  I loved these gorgeous chunky designs from Horchow.

I also really loved this updated mid-century feeling mirror, also from Horchow.  It was *almost* exactly right. 

My new mirror needed to fill a tall order:  It needed to be substantial, with a mid-century vibe.... aaaaaand, I also wanted the mirror to reference the nautical context of the building -- without being too cheesy.

Enter the mid-century sunburst clock.  They have a kind of "mariner's compass or compass rose" feel, but I wanted a mirror, not a clock, and I didn't actually want a mid-century piece -- I just wanted to reference a mid-century *vibe*.

The next inspiration came in the form of a cardboard box.  Well, actually hundreds of cardboard boxes!

We have been slowly sorting the contents of FOUR storage lockers, now that our beach house remodel is nearing completion.  What to do with all that cardboard???!

Random cardboard + mid-century clocks + gilded Horchow mirrors 
=  a paper mache mariner's compass inspired starburst mirror!

(That was probably obvious, right?)

So far the paper mache starburst mirror has gotten rave reviews from visitors to our little pad in the city.  I gave it an aged, gilded finish to keep it from from looking too retro-kitsch, and used a variety of natural textures in the mantel vignette to keep the look casual.

The full tutorial for the paper mache starburst mirror is coming. Be sure to hit follow, in my side-bar, so you won't miss it.
Note :  the tutorial is up and you can see it here!

The Lettered Cottage

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Featured at Knock Off Decor!

Come see my project over at Knock Off Decor!  Beckie is featuring my tutorial on How to Make Faux Coral  (like the gorgeous faux corals we see at places like Pottery Barn).

I used a special recipe to create a paper mache modeling clay.  You'll never guess the "secret ingredient"!  Here's a hint:

Thanks, Beckie, from Knock Off Decor, for the feature!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Make Faux Coral

Are you still loving all the faux coral decor we've been seeing at places like Pottery Barn and Horchow?  I know I love it!

By using faux coral, you can enjoy the casual beachy feeling of decorating with coral, without worrying about how the coral was harvested.  Sometimes that faux coral comes with a pretty steep price tag, so I've come up with a way to create beautiful faux coral using very inexpensive materials.

My faux coral was created using paper mache pulp.  Although you can purchase paper mache pulp in craft supply stores, I make my own pulp using toilet paper!

Start by unwinding about a half a roll of toilet paper into a bowl and soaking it in hot water from the tap.

After a few minutes, it should look really disgusting.  Next, drain off your excess water if it's really soupy, and agitate the toilet paper with your fingers -- toilet paper is made from really short fibers so that it will break down easily, which is why it works great for paper mache pulp.

Now, add a giant handful of joint compound and about three-quarters of a cup of flour to the bowl.  Mix it all up together with your hands (or use an electric beater).  Some people like to add a giant dollop of glue to the mix at this point.  I add it if I have it, as it really does strengthen the final product, but you don't need to use it, as the flour is your "glue".  I also sometimes add talc to my mix (the kind we used to put on babies' bottoms) if I think the mixture needs more "body".

(The talc and the joint compound act as "filler", while the paper fiber adds strength.  The flour and glue cement it all together.)

Congratulations, you have just made paper mache pulp!

Now you need to create an armature to apply your paper mache pulp to.  Here, I created an armature from florist wire I had on hand.  Baling wire would probably have been a better choice, but I didn't have any when the "inspiration to create" struck.  For smaller projects the florist wire is fine, but for heavier projects, you will want to use a heavier gauge wire.

Because the paper mache is wet, it can cause the wire to rust and stain your pulp, so I wrapped it all in masking tape.  This also gives the armature some "tooth" for the pulp to hang on to as you apply it.

You may need to do two or three coats, depending on your project.  Allow your project to dry completely before adding another layer of pulp, or you might end up with a wet moldy mess.  In Arizona, a layer might dry completely in a couple of hours, while here in the Pacific Northwest, I wait at least a day for a layer to dry. Sometimes I can hurry it along by placing a project on a rack over a heating vent. After your final coat is partly dry, you may want to experiment with adding texture to the surface of your project.  I poked at mine with a wooden skewer to make it look craggy.

If you would prefer a smoother surface, be sure to smooth the wet pulp as you apply it (you can use a little spatula for this).  You can also sand your project when it is completely dry.

When your sculpture is completed, add a coat or two of gesso and any sealer you like.  I actually used an antiquing glaze on my faux coral.  I wanted it to feel like an antique specimen you might find in a dusty old library.  If you like the sun-bleached look, you might want to skip the antiquing step.

If you've enjoyed this tutorial, you may want to subscribe to House Revivals, so you won't miss parts two and three of this series. Happy creating!

This project is being linked to the following lovely places:
The Shabby Creek Cottage 
Hookin' Up with HoH 
Funky Junk Interiors
Tip Junkie handmade projectsSomewhat Simple

A Crafty Soiree

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Make an Apron from a Recycled Skirt

Here is a fun way to give new life to an old skirt. This project is so quick and easy that you may decide to recycle all your old skirts into aprons!

Or, in my case, recycle a cute thrifted garment that was never. ever. ever. going to fit.  I'm pretty sure I haven't worn this size since I was twelve.

The skirt was just too darling to pass up,  so I bought it and stuffed it into a closet for a year.  Then, as I was unpacking boxes in our beach house, I realized I didn't own an apron that was newer than twenty years old.  Sad, I know. We entertain a lot at the beach house, and I needed some "company worthy" aprons.  I decided this cute little skirt would make a cute little apron -- and because it's a skirt, there is enough fabric for it to "wrap" (not all the way around, mind you -- if it wrapped all the way around, I would wear it as a skirt).

Here is how  to recycle a skirt into an apron:

Begin by cutting out or picking out the back seam and zipper.  I cut mine out to save time.  Because I planned to cut the part of the waistband away that had the buttonhole, I actually ended up cutting away about two inches of fabric.  It doesn't really matter how much you cut away -- it  just depends on how much apron coverage you want and how the garment is constructed.  Just be sure you cut away the same amount on each side, so your apron won't be lop-sided.

Pick out a few inches of the waistband on either side in the back to free up the apron sides for hemming.

Hem the sides of the apron, finger press, tuck the sides back into the apron and top-stitch.   Leave the ends of the waistband open.

Cut two lengths of pretty ribbon and tuck into the ends of the waistband and top-stitch closed.

I used extra long ribbon (it's actually vintage blanket binding) so they could be tied into a flirty bow in front.

This is a pretty quick project -- it will take you longer to set up and put away your sewing machine than to whip up this apron, so you might want to make several at one time.  You can even give them as gifts. Happy sewing (and cooking)!

This post is being linked to the following lovely places:

Tip Junkie handmade projects
A Crafty Soiree
TDC Before and After