DIY Tutorial: Tulle Puff Wands

Every year, a few times a year, I am faced with the question of centerpieces.

puffs in a row

Cut flowers are pretty and generally okay, I guess . . . but they tend to be expensive, not to mention difficult to transport, oftentimes fragile and, in the long run they’re inconvenient. They cannot be prepped very far in advance, but they also don’t last long past the date of the event – rendering them VERY high maintenance for the limited time they’re used. THUS, over the 4+ years of event aesthetics-coordination I’ve undertaken at work, I have continued to seek out new and innovative centerpieces. For example, one year, we had fish as centerpieces. Now, even though there were 15 VERY delighted new-fish families  afterward the event ended, I would probably never do that again just because of the sheer logistical headaches it caused. 15 mini-fish-bowls and gallons of water later, I decided that I should go more towards practical instead of interesting in the future. As a result, over the years, we’ve wound up doing some very fun pieces, including candy-jars, silver leaf branches and several others. This year,  with an impending Candyland themed prom, I thought I would share the latest innovations in centerpiece decor in the form of a tutorial.

Heading - DIY puff tutorial

 Step 1 – start with the raw materials. You will need:

Raw Materials

Step 2 – Measure and Snip

Cut 5-6 foot strips of the tulle/gauze ribbon- each strip will make one “flower” or puff, so plan accordingly. I found that 7 of them filled a typical vase nicely!

Step 1

Step 3 – Fold ‘n Roll

This step is a little self-explanatory. I eye-balled about 5-6 inch folds in the ribbon. If it helps your measurement sensibilities, wrap the tulle around a book which you can then slide it off of. At the end of the fold ‘n roll stage, you should have a loose-yet-neat little coil (pictured below on the right).

step 2 - tulle rolling

Step 4 – Sew

Once you have your little packet of tulle, sew straight across the middle , effectively making the piece bow-shaped. I sewed from the middle out, just to make sure it was a reinforced and tight cinch in the middle.

step 3 - sewing through the middle

Step 5 – Peel Back the Layers

At this point, you just take the bow-like creations that came from Step 4 and shape them, peeling them out layer by layer so that the tulle gains some shape and starts to resemble a blossom.

tulle puffs26

Step 6 – Hot Glue!

There is no picture for this part, because I had my hands a bit full. First I hot-glued two paper straws together for each “stem”. I put the hot glue directly into one end of a straw, and then took the second straw and creased it so that it would fit easily into the other straw, attaching them where I had just put the hot glue. That done, I dabbed hot glue onto the base of each tulle puff and held the straw-stem in place for a moment while it began to set.

Step 7 –  Finishing Touches!

Remove any loose glue-strings and arrange the stemmed tulle puffs as desired in your vase of choice. Then, step back and survey your handiwork. They are like a miniature garden of hothouse Truffula Trees!
tulle puffs!!!

They are so colorful and bright!!!

 

My Newly Mustachioed Pint Glasses

I was over at a blog called Make it & Love it, when I stumbled upon Ashley’s glass-etching post! It looked worth a shot, and I immediately went to my friendly neighborhood thrift store for some workable pint glasses.

Pint Glasses from the thrift store...

Four pint glasses later, I set about making the stencil . . . and settled on the idea of mustaches. Why? Well, because I couldn’t choose a specific word. Plus, mustaches are reasonably easy to draw!

Making a stencil that will stick...

The hardest part about this project was getting the paper on the glass without leaving air bubbles. . . I would choose traditional English pint glasses, which made this a lot harder. I think my next etching project will be something nice and flat!

Stuck on this idea...

Once the glasses each had a mustache-shape, all I had to do was apply Armour Etch (which I bought on Amazon, because it was cheaper than the craft store!) to the visible space!

The crazy mixture...

This had to sit for 10 minutes. I might even go a little bit longer next time.

The armour etch should stay on the glass for about 10 minutes

When the waiting was done, I rinsed off the goop, and PRESTO CHANGO, there was a mustache left on my cup!!!

Voilà! I etched a glass!

Now, my final product is far from perfect. . . I might even dislike them a little bit because of the flaws I can see, but, still, I think they’re not too too shabby, all things considered. More food for thought with the next attempt, but here is a peak at my set of newly etched glasses!My finished Stache Set of Glasses!

Prom: Life’s a Ball!

The theme for our Prom this year is Masquerade!

So, as is the now-annual tradition, I have the privilege of planning/coordinating the aesthetic details, in all their (hopefully creative) glory! After last year’s fishy-centerpieces and Enchantment under the Sea theme, I was pretty excited at the potential for timeless elegance as a decorative choice this year! The ladies of the student council set the colors as black, white, and red, with accents of gold and silver. With those in mind, we tackled the details, and This year, we have quite the rundown as far as decor is concerned!

Detail #1: Making the Night Glitter

A few years ago (my how time is flying!) one of my favorite people of all time was planning her wedding. Being the ridiculously creative lady that she is, Kat (my roommate at the time) tackled scads of artistic details with DIY vigor. Of the dozens of creative things she did, one small detail from her wedding came to mind as we began to plan our Prom decor. . . Kat made her own colorful paper accordion wheels that added a splash of brightness to the chairs used in the ceremony. Inspired by Kat’s concept, I did a little research of my own and found these:

starry origamivia

Despite being in Norwegian, I managed to figure out the way these bad boys are put together . . . mostly thanks to one of my students helping me over one of the folds! There are also tutorials on Youtube. . . my favorite has great visual models, but is also in a foreign language (German this time). Check it out if are making these and you get stuck! So, you start with simple paper (I used printer paper, after making sure it was a square 8.5″ by 8.5″)

The Beginning

I would walk you through the rest of it, but the tutorials from earlier really are better. When you have 8 of the finished pieces, you slide them together until there are 8 connected pieces!

Putting Together the Pieces

After we finished making 70 different stars, we decided to use gold and silver spray paint to make these little beauties really shine.painting the stars!

Once we were done, the finished product is quite lovely!three stars

With a little hole-punching and some fancy ribbon, these were ready for action!Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 6.49.50 PM

They wound up looking pretty magical when we tied them to the back of the chairs – alternating gold and silver!!

stars upon stars

Detail #2: Centerpieces

With a dozen cheap cylindrical dollar store vases on my hands (a combination of those from dances past and a few present-day purchased to match), I thought we might be relegated to less-than-perfection as far as centerpieces go. . . until I remembered a random spool of red ribbon I had picked up after Christmas in some sale bin.

Trying to Embellish the Vases...Not perfect, but an improvement nonetheless. Fill these up with roses and baby’s breath and you are good to go! Well, baby’s breath and another little starry detail . . . I made up some gold and silver mini-stars in the same style as the big stars (only with about 2 inch square paper to start with). When they were done I hot-glued them to some slim little dowels to make the bouquet accents.

Small Stars So Sweet

The final effect was quite lovely, if I do say so myself!

Put it all together, and . . .

Detail #3: Tabletop Touches

Tables that GlimmerWe finished off the tabletops with some scattered little “diamonds” and a couple of twirled white pipe-cleaners!

Detail #4: Bathroom Baskets

We always try to keep some necessities available in the bathroom, for those just-in-case moments when students wish they had planned ahead! I happened to have a couple of baskets around, and so I decided to jazz ’em up for the masquerade theme.

Bathroom Baskets for a MasqueradeGood things to put in here include: tide sticks, wet wipes, band-aids, lotion, hand sanitizer, bobbie pins, safety pins, fresh shoe-laces (for mens dress shoes), deodorant, mints/gum, hair ties, lint rollers, hairspray, nail clippers, dental floss, and sometimes even duct tape! We even put socks (animal print, because disguises are du jour in a masquerade) in the girls restroom for when they ditch their heels on the dance floor.

Detail #5: Mad-libs and Favors!

Four original mad-libs (thanks to my friend Andrew’s mad-lib writing expertise), edged with an intricate paper cutter (thanks Martha Stewart) got tucked into the napkin folds, and then our favors included a mask for everyone, as well as a little bag of red, black, and white m&ms.
masks and sparklesEverything coordinated quite perfectly.

Sweet Favor

As cute as the favors themselves were, I think what one of our students wrote for the tag was one of my favorite aspects of the evening – what a take-home message!

so sweet!

What a fabulous night!!!

Trash v. Treasure

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

At least, that’s how the saying goes . . . but sometimes our trash can also be our own darn treasure, non? Why should “another man” get all the benefits of your trash? That’s right, you seize that trash and you make it your own treasure. (Insert ironic z-snap here.) Check out what I made from something that would otherwise have been in the trash:

IMG_20130509_154649

Not too shabby, is it? Which is why it is now worth saving your old goopy nail-polish the next time you find some extra lying about or are looking to purge your supply! Keep reading to see how that gooey mess can become a pretty piece of jewelry. . . or maybe even something more . . .

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 3.22.37 PM

To make these flowers, you need:

  • old goopy nail-polish

  • wire

  • wire clippers

  • a pen

  • hands

*If you want to make it/them into a necklace, you will also need a chain and some links to close it – they’re easy to find on Etsy!

Starting with just wire, cut yourself about a six-inch piece. Then use pen as the petal-measure, wrapping the wire around once and twisting it to secure the round shape.

Wire and a Pen

You repeat this process 5 times, or until you are satisfied, then bend your petals around to give them a less circular shape . I personally did this one by hand, but I’ve since done some better ones using needle-nosed pliers!

the simple frame

Once you have the flower framework of wire, all you need to do is drip goopy nail-polish over the petals and then allow them to dry. This makes a delicate-looking tissue for the petals! Since I only had old clear nail-polish, I decided to paint over that with some of my less-congealed colors, and I was pleasantly pleased with the effect!old nail polish flowers!

Now all that remains is to turn it into something usable or wearable! Since your flower still has a “stem” of metal, it makes sense to use that to create loops in order to hang the flowers from a necklace or chain. Other ideas I’ve toyed with include flower-girl headdresses (lots of these in pearly white would look lovely as a wreath, which could be put together using florists tape!), summery-topped bobby-pins, and daisy-chain bracelets.

so dainty

Now, I am still a nail-polish jewelry novice, but I have some pretty exciting ideas for these little flowers!

Snow Day To Do List:

Seeing as how I was highly grumpy when facing ANOTHER 16.5 inches of snow today (BLARGH), I decided it would be best to stay productive. Here are some snippets of what I did today, in hopes that they might inspire you out of the White Witch Blues. (Ahem: always-winter-never-Christmas, yes?)

#1: Make Homemade Cocoa-Based Brownies!

Gooey, Fudgey, Chocolatey BROWNIES(If you want my recipe, just click this link!)

#2: Get “Artsy” and Give New Purpose to an Old Frame!

2013-03-08_15-42-21_337It seems that no matter where I am, I always have access to a ridiculous amount of plain paper and markers. . . which is a good thing. SO, having spray-painted an old frame in the basement, I set about making a useful piece of bathroom art.2013-03-08_15-42-31_490Once I had the artsy reminders drawn, I decided to clean up the old frame one last time and then see how my finished product looked. . . what do you think? Ta-Da!

#3: Watch a Netflix Movie.

belle islevia

It was cute. Plus I got to listen to Morgan Freeman talk in the process of watching it, which is always a plus. I still say I would pick Jim Dale to narrate my life instead, but Mr. Freeman’s got some smooth tones regardless. Plus it was pretty adorable.

#4: Make the Best of the Shoveling.

I hate shoveling, and this year has definitely stretched me as a human being insofar as developing a higher shoveling tolerance. Then, just when you think you’ll be able to see the sidewalk again . . . WHAM! More snow. SO, I decided that even snow can be made to look springy, and I made (drumroll please) . . .

SNOW BUNNY!A SNOW BUNNY!

My Attempt at a TailI even tried to give it a pompom bunny-tail. . . but it got pretty cold, so I decided to call it a day and go wash all the cold off in a steamy shower before meeting up with my favorite little frère for a late dinner!

All in all, my snow day experiences were a  success, despite my initial snowy angst! I strongly recommend any/all of these activities, should you find yourself facing the chilly prospect of some snow-day-blues!

Warm Hands, Warm Hearts?

Most people who know me are fully aware of my vehement love of all things in celebration of

Valentine’s Day!

I have begun my preparations in earnest for this most joyous of days, and my very first gift-project has turned out rather adorably! I found this lovely idea for making pocket-sized bean bags as winter hand warmers on a blog called Practically Functional (thanks you Pinterest).

I started with the main materials: red felt, a needle, and some thread

sewing

Using my handy dandy sewing scissors, I cut heart-shaped pairs out and sewed around the edges, leaving about an inch-and-a-half opening. Then I turned it inside out so that the seam did not show. . . and I went to search my kitchen cabinets for some grainy goodness that might hold heat.

rice rice baby!Leaving no small amount of rice scattered around my kitchen, I managed to fill the little sachets, then sewed the final opening closed carefully, so that it did not look highly different from the rest. I also used the thread to make a double-seam, sewing carefully around the entire heart a second time. That fnished, voila!

handwarmer hearts!All that remains is to make some cutesy labels and then package them up for my many valentines! They can just pop these little darlings in the microwave for 45 seconds or so, and then keep the now-cozy hearts in their pockets to warm their hands on a chilly winter’s morning.

It kind of gives a whole new meaning to the term heartwarming, doesn’t it?

Permanent Snowflakes

Snow is sheer miraculous stuff.

Now, in all honesty, I’m the first to grumble when those freezing pre-dawn car-scraping sessions are required . . . but . . .

I love lace.

And what is snow if not the most perfect of all laces? Have you ever managed to catch a snowflake or two on the outside of your mittens and then really looked at it before it melts? They’re downright exquisite! Check out these photos!

snowflakeThey’re from 1885, when a guy named Wilson A. Bentley decided to take the first successful pictures of single snowflakes!

snowflake7

Now, since snowflakes have the tragic tendency to melt, there’s (alas) really no successful way to make beautiful (or lasting) jewelry out of them, SO, I decided to content myself with a lace-y substitute for the season at hand!

First, I snipped out some favorite bits of lace!

lace bits

Second, I laid them out and sprayed them . . .

(perhaps overenthusiastically) with something called “Stiffen Quik” (I think I got it at A.C. Moore!), which took some time to dry!

stiffen magic

Third, I had to assemble a few other tidbits!

jewelry making

Fourth, All the bits and pieces were assembled into LOVELY jewelry

(in my humble opinion)

earrings flowers

All that’s left is to wrap them up and share them with friends!

pretty earrings

. . . and maybe just maybe, I’ll save a pair for myself, too!