Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tips on Creating a Woodland Wreath

Happy Spring, Friends!  The weather in Nebraska is in its usual roller-coaster mode for March.  But snow has given way to rain, and the birds are becoming active and buds are popping on our trees, so warm weather can't be far behind.

Our front porch is looking quite barren after a long winter.  Since it's still a bit early to add flowers to the pots and bring out the summer porch décor, I decided to put together a new wreath for our door.  And I was on a mission to spend as little as possible, since I've been forking out a LOT of money ordering furnishings for our Master Bedroom.  I've decided to participate in the One Room Challenge, which gets underway in a couple of weeks, and have been placing some preliminary orders on things that I know will take several weeks to arrive.  Anyway, the budget is squeaking with tightness right now, haha, and this wreath needed to be made mostly with what I had on hand.  Since I am constantly in creativity mode and have a craft room spilling over with "stuff" I was able to scrounge up most of what you see in it.

I already had a twig wreath that had Fall stems on it, so I took that apart to reuse (reduce, reuse, recycle, right?)  And I have quite a collection of various faux stems, flowers, and branches to work with.  A little tip that helps me when I create wreaths is to work in 3's.  Some of you have seen photos of the wall vases that hang in a frame in our hearth room.  I often buy stems in groups of 3's to place in those vases.  Because I love to change things up around the house regularly, there are quite a few leftover branches that had once been used in the wall vases.  And that's where I began with this "new" wreath.  I had 3 of the yellow-green leafy branches you see here and also 3's of some of the less noticeable stems and branches.  It works well to space the branches apart by 1/3 of the wreath and then just keep inserting more leaves and branches at the same basic intervals, rotating the wreath as you go.  Fern leaves are often a go-to for me because they add texture and fill space well.  Buying faux greenery bushes and cutting them apart is a good way to save a little money.

I really like a woodsy look, a little wild and as natural as possible.  Something I learned after working at a floral shop years ago was to always go a little bigger and a little more loose and free than you think.  After all, Mother Nature doesn't paint her pictures in orderly, tight grids.  Usually, she has a free spirit, which was hard for this perfectionistic designer to learn at first.  But the more I practiced, the better I got at it, and I think the results are positive, don't you?  See how the wreath stretches from door jamb to door jamb?  (I'm waiting for my husband and son to complain about that when they use the door!)

Even though I have gotten free with my styling, I'm still working on breaking out of my color comfort zone, haha.  I wanted this wreath to be subtle in color, blending with the green of our front door.  But I added a hint of white for contrast, and there is a LOT of texture that helps it pop from the background. 

There is one little problem we encounter every spring, though.  The finches and robins that come back year after year to build their nests on our front porch seem to think that I hang door décor for their convenience.  They love to build nests in my wreaths, making it hard for us to come and go through the front door; or worse yet, they build their nests near the door on the light fixture and deconstruct my wreaths to use as their building materials!  So, this wreath is actually coming back into the house until after nesting season.  I'm thinking of putting it on our sunporch for a couple of months to pretty up that space :)

I hope you'll all stop back here the first week of April when I begin my One Room Challenge!  It will be my first attempt at this, and I'm excited about creating a gorgeous Master Bedroom for myself and the hubby.


Monday, March 13, 2017

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Holy Moly, Friends, it's been too long since I've posted!  My only excuse is that my mind and body decided to take some unplanned time off for reading, relaxing, and meditating.  I may have had a touch of the end-of-winter-but-still-winter doldrums, or more likely I've just been lazy, haha.  If you are reading this, thank you, thank you for sticking with me and my little blog :) 

At this time of year, it seems many of us are craving the sights and colors of a new season.  In that spirit, I've created some Spring-inspired home décor to brighten and refresh my spaces (and those of my Etsy customers, too!)

Vintage floral brooches have been central on my radar lately.  I painted this keepsake box green and added several jewelry pieces to pretty it up!  I think the lattice design on the top of the box also adds to a garden feel.  Aren't these flowers , butterfly, and ladybug cheerful?

Another one of my favorite treasure-hunting finds has been these bugs, which I've attached to some cute bud vases.  What is more synonymous with flowers than bugs, right?  I confess that I've always had an affinity for insect art and sculpture.  But if you want to see me do a very frenzied piece of creative movement, accompanied by teen-girl screaming, just put a real bug near me (most especially, a spider...GAH!!!)

These jewelry bugs, though, are too pretty to frighten anyone.  Who could resist a little insect crawling up a sweet bud vase?

This bug is a small vintage brooch, which I've attached to a new bud vase that I picked up at Michael's.  The colors and pewter finish have a bit of a Southwest flair, don't they?

For this vase, I went with a "vintage" 1991 piece that I found at our local Goodwill store.  There is a label on the bottom that gives the date; and honestly, I'm not sure if you could consider '91 "vintage" but since it was made 26 years ago, it's definitely not new!  My 27-year-old daughter might not appreciate being called vintage, though, haha.  She has already requested that I make a bug pot for one of her succulents.  That girl is the queen of growing succulents, I tell you!  It's like a botanical garden at her house, and you know that she did NOT get that skill from her mother.

The beetle that I embellished this vase with does not appear to be old, even though I purchased it at an antique store.  There is a dealer there who always has bits and bobs of old and not-so-old items.  I've been eyeing this insect for a while, and then the inspiration struck to make these fun vases.  I am terribly tempted to keep this piece for myself because the color scheme is perfect, but my better sense tells me that it needs to be added to my Etsy shop ;)

And here are some charming little flower wall plaques that I painted and embellished with vintage earrings.  Wouldn't these be cute in a she-shed or girl's room?  I could also see them on a gallery wall - they have a bit of a Boho vibe.

The photo above shows what these pieces looked like before paint.  They were very antique-heavy and dated-looking.  A few coats of chalk paint in happy colors brought them into the present.  And of course you knew that I had to add a little bling to each one.  I mean, it's my "thing."

So, here are the newest Spring items that I'll be adding to my Etsy shop this week.  Let's hope the actual Spring season will soon follow!  Here in Nebraska, we are having another dose of winter with wind chills in the single digits for the next few days...ugh!  I hope it's warmer and sunnier wherever you are.


Sharing with:  Between Naps on the Porch

Monday, February 20, 2017

Transitional Mantel

Happy Day, Friends. I'm enjoying the President's Day holiday by sitting at Barnes & Noble, surrounded by some of my favorite things - lots of books and good coffee. I'm trying not to feel too guilty about all of the things I could and should be doing on my day off from work, and giving myself a few hours of stress-free space and luxury. I find that even when we ladies purposely take some time to recharge our batteries, many of us feel anxious about it. I supppose the coffee (not decaf) doesn't help to ease the anxiety, does it? Haha.

Ok, I did accomplish a little something this weekend and am sharing it here. Our mantelpiece had been neglected after the Christmas decor was put away, left with just a couple of non-holiday remnants and looking bare and unfinished. It was calling out for attention. But one of my weird quirks is that I like to decorate for the season and not jump ahead or lag behind. Ugh, or maybe I just like to overthink every design decision for no good reason!  At any rate, despite some really warm weather we are having here for a couple of weeks, winter is nowhere near its end. This is Nebraska, after all. We often get snow dumped on us in March, and even sometimes in April.

I certainly don't want to decorate with pinecones, pine branches, and snowflakes now that we are heading into March, but I'm not quite ready to add full-on spring decor either. So, I thought I'd try a natural green scheme with just a hint of white, which can transition easily through the next couple of months.

These 2 faux-thyme topiaries, which I bought a few years back at a tag sale and are a staple in our decor, were the jumping-off point. I just love their airiness and texture, and I got them for a true steal! Originally, they came in matte black pots, which looked fine. But a while back, one was knocked over by wind coming in through a window, and it broke. I kept that a design secret for a long time as I displayed them with the missing broken chunk turned toward the back side. But because I still love them as much as I did the day I bought them, I knew that they needed new pots. My favorite store came through for me, once again, and I picked these up at Anthropologie over the weekend. I had to break the old black pots with a hammer to dislodge them, haha. My husband thought I'd lost my mind a little bit!
Don't they look pretty in these new vessels?  It's hard to see in these photos, but the finish is a soft metallic champagne-gold with heavy distressing.

The other faux boxwood double ball topiary in the white pot is from Ballard Designs. I love the look of a collection of topiaries, but there is no way that I would be able to have live ones with my history of plant abuse! So finding the most realistic-looking fake ones is my mission. Same holds true for flowers a lot of the time, although I do incorporate fresh flowers into our decor when I really want to spruce things up.

This large vintage green glass vase has been a staple in my decor for awhile. I often fill it with long branches to fill space and add motion to my vignettes. The branches in here are all faux. They look pretty real, don't they? Thankfully, retailers are getting much better at offering good-looking faux florals now. The pussy willows are always a sign of hope for spring. And I decided to add some flowering branches in white for extra fill, texture, and color (I do consider white a color in this grouping because it's not green, wink.)  The grapevine and moss decorative ball adds just a touch more green and echoes the shape of the double ball topiary.

These windows have been hanging above our fireplace for a number of years now.  I like them because they add a backdrop without distracting from what is on the mantel, and they tie in with the oak finish on the mantel's shelf.  Lately, though, I've considered painting, maybe?  What do you think?  I'm not really a stained-wood type of gal, so I've slowly been painting over some of the trim work in our house.  I'm not sure if the black would be too visually heavy, so I'm still kicking the idea around in my head.

So, here's my simple and transitional mantel for spring.  I was going to say "early spring" but I know myself well enough to be sure that it will stay this way until summer.  At that point, I'll probably have to at least switch those spring branches to something different, and maybe run a feather duster over the rest, haha.  

I hope you're enjoying some mild weather where you are.  I know that some of my blogging friends are already working out in their yards and dusting off patio furniture.  Ugh, I'm so envious!  Here in the Midwest, all we can do right now is "hunker down" and get ready for March Madness :)


Sharing with: Inspire Me Tuesday, Inspire Me Monday, The Scoop, Vintage Charm, Shabby Art Boutique, Between Naps on the Porch

Monday, February 13, 2017

More Vintage Jewelry Art

Julie is my name, embellishing is my game :)

If you happened to read my posts, A Mixed-Media Art Piece and Her Sisters, Vintage Jewelry Projects, and Vintage Jewelry Art - A Happy Accident, you have seen that I really love dressing up home decor pieces with vintage jewelry (is it overkill? Haha.)

This hobby of mine all started because I had amassed a collection of sparkly brooches and earrings from tag sales, flea markets, and estate sales.  Once in a while I will wear a piece or two, but I'm not a very good fashion accessorizer.  Honestly, my style runs pretty simple with an occasional necklace or a few bracelets.  I don't even know 2 ways to tie a scarf - someone help me, please!

There is SO much beautiful antique jewelry "out there" that is homeless and really inexpensive.  Since no one can wear that much of it, I have taken it upon myself to find different ways to use and appreciate it :)  I have covered small Christmas trees with jewelry, embellished picture frames, decorative boxes, and made my daughter's bridal bouquet with it.

Lately, my favorite way to use those beauties is to add them to floral still life art.  Here is the most recent project that I completed.

This one is really special because of the butterfly.  I stumbled upon this Fraternal Order of Eagles pin while out thrifting recently.  Did any of you have parents who were, or are, members of FOE?  I did, although I didn't know much about it back then.  In fact, as a child, I thought it was some mystic secret society.  Now I realize that it was no more mysterious than any other fraternal organization, much like the sorority I belonged to in college.  But this pin is definitely a unique piece, and I was thrilled to have found it!

The art really spoke to me, probably because of the colors (green, black, gold...some of my favorites for decorating.)  Also, I think it looks like one of the Old Masters and would blend so well in a collage or would really compliment many styles of decor - modern, traditional, transitional, boho...

The jewelry pieces add sparkle, dimension, and a lot of interest without distracting and overwhelming the art.  To give it a little more oomph and to up the fun factor, I also added a kiwi green paint wash over the standard antiqued gold frame.  The finished product is now available in my Etsy shop.

And for all of the people (like myself) who just can't pass up a sweet little piece of ballet art, here is a small plaque I picked up at the same estate sale where I found the still life.  (It was either a good thrifting day, or I lost my head a bit, haha.)  In its original state, it was painted plain gold and was slightly dated-looking, I thought.  I opted to paint it rose gold to give a slight nod to ballet pink without going too saccharine.

Then, I added this gorgeous piece of multi-colored jewelry in shades of pink, ivory, and coral at her waist, and a single pink Swarovski crystal at her neckline.  I resisted the temptation to embellish the stage curtains and/or the plaque's edge and decided that less is more here.  Sometimes, exercising restraint produces the best results, don't you agree?

And, finally, another of my favorite projects has been the Animal Magnetism series.  I mean, how can anyone resist all of the cute animal pins that women used to wear on their jacket lapels, coats, and hats? Well, I hit the jackpot recently and scored more fun pins, so I put together more magnets (also in the shop.  Sorry this post is so full of self-promoting links! But, I do have lots of fun jewelry projects to share, wink, wink.)

And these - goat, kangaroo with baby, rooster, and greyhound, which aren't for sale because I made them specifically for my daughter for her birthday.  Each one has a special little story or private joke connected to it.  I definitely put extra effort into the hunt for these pins, because I wanted to find just the right ones for her.  But half of the fun in creating is the thrill of the hunt, am I right Thrifting Friends?

I'm sure there are still scads of brooches out there just waiting for me to be at the right place at the right time.  I will hunt them down and give them a good home ;)


Sharing with:  Between Naps on the Porch, Amaze Me Monday, A Stroll Thru Life, Inspire Me Monday, The Scoop, Vintage Charm, French Country Cottage