Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An Elegant Christmas

We're having a low key Christmas at our house.
A more elegant Christmas.
Not for us, the oversized plastic tree of years gone by.
No sequinned or blinged out wreaths either.
Not a scrap of tinsel to be found.
Instead it's a German Ivy, trained over a bamboo hoop for the last several months. An ironwork Eiffel Tower and some charmingly rustic jingle bells tied with tea dyed muslin providing a nod to a traditional Christmas.
A baby Thuja Conifer, perhaps all of 80cms tall, is displayed in a perfectly proportioned white French Urn, white feather boa at it's base, tulle and hailspot netting fascinator, resurrected from my daughters dance costume recital as tree topper. She and I made some miniature ornaments fit for a miniature tree. Little tags that say 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all Men' in French. We threaded pearl glass beads in shades of pewter on to bracelet elastic, and added tiny feathered angels and glass reindeer to perch amongst the foliage. White rosebuds from a bouquet from Husband, are dried and repurposed continuing our neutral theme. Fairy Lights add the mandatory Festive glow.

And to greet our guests in the entry hall, a twig tree in a silver vase, prettily adorned with miniature white owls, a linen bow, and a glittering life sized owl to keep it company.

No green or red. No loud or brash. No Santa or Nutcracker.
I know.
It's not for everyone.
But for us...it's perfect.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Very Special DIY Gifts..The Modern Girls Decoupage`...

So you thought that Decoupage` was all about Victoriana images and antique music, didn't you.
Here's my Modern French twist on Decoupage` Baubles.
Aren't they fab?
These were Christmas baubles that had seen better days, and I was about to toss them, as you do, when I had this idea. Note too, that I've since successfully used polystyrene balls to achieve the same result.
I downloaded and printed out vintage French poster images by Rene Gruau, a graphic artist and fashion illustrator I admire, and also found some fabulous vintage advertisements for Dior, The Lido, Vogue and others.
Here are just a couple that I used....
If you Google 'vintage French posters' you'll find lots of gorgeous stuff.

So, knowing nothing about the 'proper' way to decoupage`, I cut my images into all sorts of triangle shapes so that they'd be easier to apply to round surfaces. Then I simply painted my bauble with Royal Coat, (a bottle of which I'd had in my craft cupboard for about ten years from my previous flirtation with Victoriana images and wooden boxes), and started applying them.
I didn't worry about creases, preferring to see them as part of the charm of the bauble.
So here's what I started with....

And here's how it looked finished...

These are the reverse sides of the first picture in this post.

Two coats of Royal Coat to finish and they were done.

I thought about spraying them with glitter, as I do adore a bit o' bling, but decided against it, preferring the vintage look.

The best thing about these, is they don't have to be stored after Christmas. Not being an obviously Christmassy montage`, means you can display them in a glass bowl, all year round, injecting a bit of French Frou-Frou, into your day...


  photo signature_zps33fd9dfd.png

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sparkles, giftwrap blanc, and yarn...

I adore Butchers paper for gift wrapping. I think elsewhere in the world, it may be referred to as Carpenters paper.
It's a blank canvas that does not limit you to snowflakes for Christmas, pirates for boys birthdays, roses for Mothers Day and golf clubs for Fathers Day.
It's also sold by weight..isn't that odd?
We paint it, potato stamp it, write French greetings on it, or paste favourite photo memories on it to tailor it to our recipient.
But here's our favourite way to use it.
Plain, simple and yet so effective.
Wrap your gift in plain Butchers paper. This one was a chunky scented candle, and the other thing I love about the Butchers paper is that it's thinner and more pliable, yet sturdier than flimsy gift wrap for oddly shaped gifts.
Now we've discovered this brilliant stuff at our local dollar store called Eva Foam. It's thicker than craft cardboard, more pliable as it is indeed a sort of foam, and super glittery, thus saving us the task of glittering it ourselves. Lacking Eva Foam in your area, of course use anything from glittered craft cardboard, to Victoriana or designer label images pasted to cardstock.
Cut a pleasing shape from your foam or cardstock, be it a simple rectangle as pictured, or something more complex like a star, heart, favourite animal or car, or designer logo. I've done some very special designer ones which I'll share with you tomorrow, so stay tuned.
Now simple bend your glittered shape gently in half, avoiding creasing it overly much, and cut two little tiny slits, much as you would imagine buttonholes to sit, in your shape. These are to thread your yarn or ribbon through.
Tie your yarn or ribbon around your gift (we use a couple of rounds to make it look generous), and tie firmly in a knot on top of the gift.
Now thread the ends of your yarn, up through the slits in your glittered shape, seat in firmly on top of the knot and tie in a bow.
Ta-da! Very pretty and stylish gift embellishments for the teeniest, tiniest price of a fraction of a cent. We estimate you'd get at least one hundred glittery embellishments out of one sheet of glittered foam or cardboard and one ball of yarn.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Embellished luxury chocolates...

Beautifully embellished luxury chocolates can be very expensive in the high end designer chocolate shops, but fortunately they're easy to replicate.
My chocolate bars are all Lindt, and they are the perfect size and thickness to wrap and decorate beautifully for gift giving either simply with a card, or as part of a larger hamper.
This one is wrapped in a sheet of pink A4 paper. A small paper doily is glued around the base, and stick on diamanté` dots glued in a pretty swirl. Silk crafting ribbon loops, swirls and flowers are held in place with tiny dots from my hot glue gun. I just randomly swirled the ribbon as I went, fastening it with the glue as when the design pleased me. A final diamanté` in the centre of the flower and a couple randomly dotted here and there to catch the light is a pretty effect. Finished with a lush milkshake pink velvet ribbons, this one is a favourite.

This second one was done for a male teacher. Simple wrapped in a square of black crafting felt, and held together with thin red satin ribbon, it has a hand made gift tag made from black cardstock attached. Messages reading 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all men' in French, typed up and printed out to size, are glued to the cardstock, and copper gold glitter is applied to the edges. A festive, yet masculine idea.
This third one is my teenaged daughters favourite. It features a desktop wallpaper image of two Japanese Anime style friends, fingers linked pinky style as a sign of their bond. Decorated with black ready made rhinestone swirls and navy blue velvet ribbon, it's a pretty gift for a schoolfriend.
Finally, simple and traditional, this one was gifted to her teacher yesterday along with a heartfelt handwritten card. Simply wrapped in red felt, and tied with Christmas ribbon from a Cake Decorating supplier, it is simple and elegant.
These chocolates were under $4 each, and the embellishments not much more. Gifted with a handmade or bought card, with a message from the heart therein, they'd be a gift welcomed by anyone, young or old.