(Faux) Terrarium Necklace

I picked up a collection of domes and globe rings from this Etsy shop. I've seen some really impressive miniatures set up inside those bubble rings and have always wanted to try making one. The necklace wasn't that expensive... 4$ish retail as a supply? Which makes me think that buying them wholesale wouldn't be that expensive either. I might like to buy a package!

This necklace is a "faux" terrarium necklace because it has all the appearance of a terrarium, but the mosses are dried and so it requires no care.


I have this book on artsty terrariums. There isn't a ton of instructions in it so it's mostly just an eye-candy tabletop book.

Really, really eye candy though! There are a couple that I just don't get that totally just look like a bunch of crap in a jar (A paper covered box and a wine glass sitting on top of some rocks?) But most of them are truly beautiful and inspirational. The plant growing out of a yellowed book is jaw dropping. Check it out if you're into that kind of thing!

(C) Terrarium Craft - Amy Bryant Aiello/Kate Bryant/Kate Baldwin
This particular air plant globe that was stuffed with moss and quartz always called to me and gave me inspiration for this cloche dome necklace.

I dug out a tiny quartz spear from my altar drawer, some driftwood, a bit of moss I had bagged up, and a couple of my shop stock floral components because I thought they might look kistch and cool inside.

... A little bit of moss down as a bed (though at this point I don't really have a plan.)

The bright green moss in the back settled into a bit too much of a fan pattern for my taste, but I stuck with it cause I guess you never really know how things will settle as you go.

Once the crystal was in, I was starting to feel like the flower and leaf I had picked out to go in it weren't really going to work that well. I was bummed because I really want to have a necklace with one of my flowers in it, but also grateful in a way because, while I do obviously like my artwork, I don't also want to be a one-trick pony. It's nice to stretch out and see some other kinds of looks that don't always fall back on the same ideas.

(Yeah, see? Not so much. Just too much in a not-a-good-way kind of way.)

The stick was a little bare in any case, so I used some tiny clippings and a little adhesive to tuck onto the twig and give it a little more personality.

It's coming along! Stick! YAY! Stick! 

The little yellow stones are actually an incense resin! I like the earthy, golden color, and it also reminds me of a ritual in a bottle- the crystal, wooden wand, and incense littered about.

(View of the rear)

The little kit also comes with the pendant chain and a cap to glue on top so you have a place to string it through.

I didn't get a chance to try it on yet, as the adhesive I was using does take time to set up, but it looks plenty long, like a pendant size.

I'm really looking forward to getting to use my little globe rings and such! And I'd definitely like to get more of these!



Penny Chairs

I almost didn't blog this because it was kind of a small project and I didn't really take the time to take good photos. (I made them while listening to a show on Hulu. : \ ) I also didn't expect every other blog post to suddenly become about the gnome door, but at this point I just created a tag for it because Flora keeps shoveling little bits of things in front of the door and chattering about how maybe the gnomes will make something out of it.

Night before last the offering was four pennies and a dime in the mailbox.

Clearly making miniatures is going to start finally being a thing I do. I don't especially have the time or interest in cost for super detailed miniatures with how swamped I am with work and editing right now, but I still wanted to make something a little special. I'm still sure that, in time, I'll try to put more work into my minis, but for now this is still just an easy going project.

Even though these pictures aren't great, the project was really easy and basically free if you have glue and wire around. (Then again, you might say it costs FOUR CENTS :3 ) It also wasn't very hard for anyone wanting to try a simple project that can get passable results quickly! So in that spirit I'll share them!


*This project will require two pairs of pliers (To get tight connection twists!)

*Four coins, buttons, or other flat things

*Complimentary wire- fairly thick, but thinner (or at least more flexible) than a coat hanger.

*E-6000 glue (you could try hot glue, but I doubt it'll stand up to much handling as hot glue doesn't bond to metal well.)

1) After cutting four equal pieces (for the chair legs) and two equal pieces (for the backs), place them parallel to one another and then twist their middles tightly together with both pairs of pliers. 

2) Bend the wires open and facing opposite directions so it looks like some kind of deadly bug.

3) Bend the last piece into an arch and wrap the ends around the original twist.

4) At this point, it's some creative bending. Leave a little space and then bend the chair back up (this helps create a seat.)

    4a) Likewise, leave a little space on the back legs to match the seat back and bend them down- curl up the feet in the rear.
    4b) The front legs get a little more space before they bend to make the chair seat deep enough to hold a penny. This will naturally make the front legs shorter (because more of the wire is being used up in seat depth) but you can make up for this by trimming the rear legs or, like I did, by coiling them around more than you did the front legs.

5) The final step is to set the chairs down and see where they need tweaking so that they stand up straight and don't wobble. Wire furniture is a bit of a non-exact art when chairs typically need very exact measurements to work, but it's not so bad! Give it a try.

6) Glue on your pennies and let them dry. DONE!


Flora  also volunteered her dollhouse garden to the gnomes. The scale for this bench is a little more adult gnome size and the penny chairs are more kid gnome scale. (I'm not fancy enough to refer to actual dollhouse scale measurements just yet cause I still don't know what I'm doing.)

Mischa, her little gnome friend, gushed to Flora in letter form how fantastic it is to have kid-sized penny furniture now since the grownups had their adult-sized garden bench. She gifted Flora, in return, with a tiny "real gnome newspaper" and a magnifying glass to read it with. The newspaper came (very conveniently!) from my World's Tiniest Postal Service kit where it is intended as box wrap but actually has stories, crosswords, and even horoscopes and comics! Score! Another easy to whip up detail. :3

The dollhouse garden was another sort of "lazy miniatures build" like these chairs and the cut-and-wrap newspaper were. It was the sort of thing I built with the materials available rather than the materials I should maybe strive for. One of the items on it is a bucket that was meant to be filled with water...

It used to be clear 'water' over tiny pebble rocks and with a pink flower and hand cut lily pads. It was really cute for about a month- but I didn't use resin, I used e-6000 glue cause I wanted a water bucket and whatever, fast and easy! Clearly there's a reason some materials are better suited for one job over another. You can't even tell what it is now after months of the adhesive drying, compacting, and warping.

I suppose it's all just another reminder how I really would like to develop some more skills. I love minis and sure, it's easy to throw together a kid project in a half hour while listening to some satirical news. And don't get me wrong- even if it's been very little scratch construction and mostly just gluing, it's still a fun respite from some work and more than enough to please a four year old. But one day, one day, I really would like to stop using the clunky craft store miniature parts and create something TRULY epic!




Nail Polish Flower Projects

These nail polish flowers are pretty damn easy to make, are fast to dry, and fairly durable considering what they are. They're a dirt cheap way of making floral components that can take on the look of lots of different kinds of materials, like enamel, shell, or stones, based on the colors you use. They also use materials a lot of people can find around the house.

There's a more detailed instruction on the previous post, or read on to see how Flora and I used ours.


Sometimes Flora gets to do whatever she wants in the art studio so she can express herself. But I started to think that, where there are some times it's better to let her do her own thing, there's no reason why I can't start teaching her about how to use tools or about color theory and balance.

Because I use wire so often in my artwork, I see her trying to use it too and she gets frustrated when it won't twist around things the way she wants it to. A project like this is good practice for learning what she has to do to make wire work so that she has the basis for doing what she wants to do with wire the rest of the time.

First I let her try it by herself and it didn't work the way it did when I did it. I explained what was needed to make it work and then helped guide her hands to teach her, gradually letting her have more control.

While her pieces dried, I used my own flowers with a little more of the lace ribbon I used on my other makeup cases, some natural braid cord, and a scrapbook finding to decorate this old Clinique case. It was part of a bag of samples that someone gave me. I saved it so I could just pop out the Clinique pans and replace them with my own natural makeup. Reusing! YAY! It's a pretty damn fancy compact for being a sample. O....o (Plus I think that shade of green looks super cute with the ivory and pearl colors of the decor.)

Just like with her other hot glue projects, I provided assistance with the burning hot glue (Cause seriously there are art lessons and there are foolhardy flirtations with second degree burns and lines must be drawn.) But I used the opportunity to talk about complimentary colors and arranging and how she COULD add purple, blue, brown, green, yellow, and every single color gem there was available if she really wanted to but why sometimes you want to stick to a smaller palette. Then I let her make her decisions and dictate where she wanted the pieces. It turned out pretty posh in the end. 

There we go! Look at that! n...n Good job!


** A Pinterest project that didn't work so well ... TARDIS and Gallifreyan dinner plates

Nail Polish Flowers (Seriously it actually works.)

Pinterest is a miserable place to me. Once I get started looking at a board, I have to finish it. If I see anything related that I like, I have to finish that board too. It's an OCD thing, but I'm paranoid that if I don't see everything, I'll miss The One Best Thing Ever and my life will never be as good as it could have been. (Obviously this is somehow really possible.)

I do carefully and cautiously maintain a few very small Pinterest boards and check the site out sometimes but I have to be really conscious of how I use it or I end up awake at 6 am, nearly in tears saying "Have to finish this board... have to finish this board... WHO PUTS 4000 PICTURES ON ONE BOARD?!"

Anyway, this is all to say that I've decided (perhaps to my own detriment) that I would like to aim to try a DIY from one of my Pinterest boards around once a week. We pin so many things and it can be easy to forget about them. But the whole point of Pinterest (at least for me) is to get inspired to create. So I'm going to make a point to try to do that. ... So this week's project comes from my flower making board (Because flowers.)


 This project didn't even seem like something that would work when I looked at it. Seriously? Nail polish just fills up a big hole and makes a flower shape?

Yeah. Turns out it does. It's kind of like what you get when you dip a stick in bubbles. It's not that hard and the supplies are really simple. A lot of people probably already have them in the junk drawer too so you definitely don't even have to be an 'artisty type' to try this.

First just twist your thin wire around some kind of round shape. Hold the wire ends together and twist your stick around in circles.

Do this as many times as you want until you get your desired shape. This is probably the hardest part and it took me a few times to figure out how much space to put between them or to fit all the circles together and make them even. 

Just remember that the more times you twist the stick around will increase the space between each flower.

After you have all your petals, twist the ends together with your pliers for a tight twist and then you can optionally bend or shape the circles into a different shape.

Next you just sweep the nail polish brush over the circle! It will only work if you have the brush laying flat and touching both sides of the wire at one time. Try to think of it as using a squeegee or screen printing. If you're holding it tipped and don't make full contact with the edges, it won't work. And go slow!

You might start to get coverage and then it'll "pop" and the film will burst and disappear. Just do it again! Thin, not gloppy, polishes will work best. Really load up your brush, but not so much that it drips. You can get really different finished looks if you make the film thin and transparent, or put on more and make it thick. You can even really carefully add another drop to thicken the layer and even brush it around to make a pattern if you're careful. I'd imagine you could also add more than one color if you wanted.

I'm using No Miss nail polish which is a more natural brand that doesn't use formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl-pthalate or camphor. This color is "Sanibel Pearl".. It worked out pretty well! It was better than the China Glaze I used which is a traditional nail polish recipe... though the color was old and getting thick and that might have had something to do with it. To tell the truth, I don't use any of my China Glaze colors (okay I ALMOST never use them.) cause I hate the chemicals in them but I hate the idea of throwing them away because they're such pretty colors. (The Hunger Games series had some good colors! ;...;) This would actually be a nice way to use them up and enjoy them without having to put them on my body! I'm definitely sold on that idea.

I would really like to try using Acquarella or the Honey Bee Gardens polish I have, both of which are water-based to see if they work too, but I'm thinking they will.

Neither the natural polish nor the traditional kind seemed any stronger or weaker than the other. They both cured to a flexible, weak vinyl kind of texture. This is the kind of thing that can get stretched out or punctured without much force, but it can take some pressure (such as creasing my nail into it) without tearing. I'd treat anything you make with this carefully, but it's not impossibly fragile either. (And it's not hard to make new ones to replace anything you break too!)

And that's all there is to it!
But to see the mega cute projects we made with them -- Continue on...


The Gnome Door (part 4 of 4)

I told Flora she could plant her own pretend garden to tell roaming gnomes that our house was gnome friendly and to hopefully attract one. She was totally into the idea of using glue because glue is The Best Thing Ever right now.

 She got free run of some supplies to decorate as she saw fit.

All stems were twisted underneath and all the leaves were glued on with a little parent assistance.

The End!



The Gnome Door (part 3 of 4)

I felt like the door that I originally bought was too small for size of the mailbox I made. Votes were pretty split when I talked to people but I thought I'd peek around anyway and see what kind of handmade doors were on the net for purchase. Shortly, however, I realised that so many were being made out of polymer clay and that, if that was the case, I could just do it myself.

To call this my tutorial though is maybe a tiny bit disengenuous because a big part of what makes the door rad is the woodgrain and I had no idea how to do that. I used a tutorial from Mini Ramblings and Musings, so credit where credit is definitely due. n...n 

I used a medium brown, metallic copper, and light beige. It looks like something I want to eat.

Maybe if I knew more about colors I could have come up with a more realistic looking wood grain, but I'm not complaining. I'm pleased as hell it came out this well! That tutorial really made the difference I think.

I used the scraps to make the door shape I wanted and then layered on cuts of wood grain. Because the wood has such a high contrast, it looks pretty cartoony and I knew I had to make sure the knots didn't look too uniform so I was careful about where I put them. I made sure I turned some backwards and used a tool to smudge and contort the grain a little.

It still looks a little like bacon at this point, but after nudging the clay flat and straight again, I gave it another roll over with a bottle and trimmed up the edges.

I found some sort of object that was designed as a jewelry or scrapbook finding and cut it in half to use it as door supports. You can probably use a piece of old jewelry or something from the craft store. Tim Holtz tends to be easy to find and would have lots of things to use.

The clay is the stone texture from this Sculpey sampler pack with the little bits of black mixed in to get the different shades. Unlike when cutting the wood grain, the stone was not as precise and random slices on a messy log actually helps make better stone shapes.

This spare earring was kicking around the house as part of our pirate play box and it was time for it to meet a new life because that spring-loaded post would probably make a pretty good door handle.

I used wire cutters on the earring post to get it off. The stones got some smashing around to soften the edges and make them look natural as well as some tooling on the wood to make textures that matched the grain patterns.

ACK. I think my exposure and aperture were off XD I'm still learning!

More 'stuff from around the house'-- a locket charm with the hanging tab cut off is the door plate. Because everything is brassy, I will use a little bit of coppery paint on the edges of the house plate to help it blend in.

I used a page from our Gnomes book, by Wil Hyugen, that referenced their fancy pants toilets as inspiration for the paint job after baking. Although the door looked cool without paint, gnomes pretty much paint everything so If I'm trying to make it authentically gnome, paint is required : 3

Ooh! Look! That's just about right! He might have to duck a little, but I think it'll work.

There's some coiled, curly ivy (cause nothing I make is complete without floral wire) attached to the stones. I pressed the design into the rocks a little, then took them out and baked it. After baking, I put them back in with a little glue under the leaves to hold them in place. (All of that previous to the painting, of course n...n)

I do sort of wish I'd painted some bigger shapes on the motif to stand out a little but I think that overall it's turned out alright!