Dollar Store Critter Makeover!

I am so happy with the way these 3 little frogs from the dollar store came out. I wanted to try fabric mache but didn’t feel up to making a form and all of that, so I bought 3 clay frogs from the dollar store for $2.50 each.

The fabric is from one of those fat quarter bundles and the colors suitably froggy. As for the frogs? Well let’s just say mass production and the rustic aged look don’t go together.

Covered in these gross warty spots and indifferently aged and scuffed.

I sanded off the worst of their sins, and going by how easy it was I’m going to assume these guys aren’t weather proof.

They all got slathered in a coat of white paint so I wouldn’t have to worry about any show-through with the lighter fabrics.

While the paint was drying, I cut the fabric into strips. Pieces 1″ by 2″ worked well for me with the occasional smaller bits for around the eyes and toes.

I used one of the geometric prints as the throat – in hindsight I might have chosen differently. I just used 1 part white glue to 1 part water and a paintbrush to apply it.

The green speckled is may favorite of the three, but all of them turned out surprisingly well. I was expecting a wrestling match to get the fabric and glue to behave but it all went together easy peasy.

The olive one looks nice too, I’m still a bit iffy on the mint green one.

If I were doing it again, I would have just done the entire frog in the same fabric.

Patterned napkins would have worked too, but I already had the fabric. All they need now is a coat of spray sealer and done.

Materials needed for this project:

  • White glue mixed 1:1 with water
  • fabric or paper strips
  • a paint brush
  • dollar store critter in need of a makeover

Someday I would love to try this technique on one of those homely little plastic turtle planters, I bet it would look great. What do you think?

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One of a Kind DIY Wall Art

I just made this gorgeous one of a kind wall art from air dry clay and I could not possibly be more pleased with myself! I don’t know what it says about my character, but for me the season’s must-have are always my least desired. So making something unique to hang on my wall is pretty exciting for me.

It all started from my efforts to make clay succulents.

Like this one I ruined with paint. Is it flower or succulent? You decide.

Materials:

  • Air Dry Clay in Terracotta. I used Sculpey’s Polyform Model Air, a 2.2lb brick of it was $17.99 at Michaels in Canada.
  • Foil – to make drying forms.
  • Rolling Pin
  • Crochet hooks or sculpting tools.
  • Leaf or Petal shaped cutters.
  • A frame – mine was from a second-hand shop, at $6.99 a bit more expensive than usual but it had that MCM flair to it.
  • Heavy cardboard or similar
  • Permanent glue such as crazy glue or glue gun.

How I made it:

From trial and error, I figured out that a foil ring was the perfect way to support my clay petals/leaves while they dried. Without it, they sag until they’re flat again.

I cut all of my petals with the wider cutter. I just trimmed them shorter as I got closer to the center of the flower.

After cutting out the petals, I flip them and use a moistened crochet hook to smooth away the crumbly parts the cutter leaves behind and to add texture. It’s easiest to smooth and texture a few at a time, they need to dry a bit before handling them because the water makes them slimy.

Starting at the outside of my clay dot, I add the petals one layer at a time. Pinching the tip of them gives some shape.

Once it’s done, I pop it in the oven at 170 to dry.

Painting the flowers:

After the clay succulent, I learned my lesson. Once you paint air dry clay, you can’t take it back.

So I made some test pieces to try different colors before committing to another mistake. The slab was a piece I rolled out but couldn’t use – an untended table does not remain cat hair free.

The chalks give a nice soft all over color on the slab, but did not work very well on the shaped pieces. The leaf dry-brushed white with a magenta tip is interesting but the finished flowers have so many spots that can’t be reached with a brush, I decided to just dry brush white on my flowers. I used the light turquoise color to paint the boards I glued the flowers to.

I intentionally made the flowers a little larger than the frame opening, so I put the boards in first, then glued the flowers in place.

One of a kind DIY wall art

I’m impressed at how well this wall art turned out.

Shared at:

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Fairy Garden Dreams! Mini Coleus

As far as I can tell, Fairy Gardens and the miniatures that go with them are still insanely popular. Fairy gardens are usually planted with succulents and other small-leaved low growing plants. This spring you might try this new mini coleus. It’s perfect for your fairy gardens.

Sea Monkey and Sea Urchin are the tiniest of coleus and a perfect way to add some color to your fairy garden!

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin has narrow leaves in three colors, clockwise from top of picture above, Red, Copper, and Neon.

Here are all three in August of last year.

Sea Urchin Neon

Sea Monkey

Sea Monkey has ‘shrimpy’ shaped leaves and is also offered in three colors. Apricot, Purple, and Rust.

This picture is from the beginning of August last year, so you can see they really do stay small!

The leaves are fingertip size!

Fairy Gardens, Terrariums, and more!

Can you imagine how much fun these colorful little annuals will be? The best part is coleus will grow in shade, so now you can have your fairy garden under a tree and plant it too! Terrariums on your covered patio, container gardens under your umbrella. It’s always exciting to have a new options for shade.

Succulents are the usual choice for fairy gardens, but they need full-sun to thrive. Without it, they get leggy and ugly-looking. There are other choices like creeping thyme and some tropicals, but colorful foliage is a bit harder to find.

Until now!

I’ll be hunting for Sea Monkey Purple to make myself a fairy garden this spring! How about you? Do you have a fairy garden?

 

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Terracotta Faux Succulent

I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making faux succulents lately, and it has been the most frustrating project I’ve ever tried.

There are a few tutorials out there for making succulents with felt, paper, pinecones (I love those) and even one with duct tape, but nothing for clay. But there are a lot of tutorials for making roses using cold porcelain clay.

Thinking I could use the rose technique, I made not just one, but three failed batches of home-made cold porcelain clay. The first batch was too dry, the second batch was to lumpy and the third batch was too sticky. Feeling like Goldilocks and the three bears, I tossed it all and went to Michael’s. That tells you how obsessed I was with making faux succulents, because I despise shopping.

Once I got home, I realized I grabbed the terracotta color instead of white. Now understand that I live with 2 dogs and a very insistent cat. It is a sad fact of my life that any time I’m elbow deep in a task, one of them will want to go out, or come in, or be fed, or whatever, and I had failed at this project for three days in a row. Three days of very sticky, messy discouraging failure. Three days of having my hands covered in sticky goo while the cat hung from my window screens to come in.

I was so frustrated I went to bed to watch YouTube videos, and found this one.

At least I had an idea of how to get started now.

Faux Succulent Materials:

  • Package of air dry clay – I used Sculpey’s Polyform Model Air (in terracotta)
  • Leaf shaped cutters in two sizes – you can buy a kit for fondant that has multiple leaf shapes, or make them like in the video.
  • Tools for sculpting – I used knitting and crochet needles.
  • Wax paper or plastic wrap
  • rolling-pin
  • a small bowl of water

Making the Faux Succulent

Faux Succulent Leaf Cutters

I made my leaf cutters from an old circle cutter. One is narrower than the other, to get different lengths just trim the cut leaves. My table is very old and stains easily, so I rolled out my clay on waxed paper and cut out a bunch of the larger leaves. I covered the clay I wasn’t using with waxed paper, and anytime I left my project I covered it as well.

Smoothing the faux succulent leaves

I flipped all the cut leaves to the bottom side and used a moistened crochet hook to smooth away the crumbly edges the cutters left.

faux succulent leaves adding texture

I started out using the moistened crochet hook to ‘shape’ the leaves, trying to give them a scooped out look, but I liked this textured effect instead. Water makes the clay slimy and hard to handle. I found it easiest to prepare a bunch of leaves and wait for the slime to disappear before trying to shape and attach them.

You can see the first two layers in place. I used pieces of drinking straw and clay to keep the curves shaped into the leaves. Otherwise the weight of the clay made them sag and flatten out.

I continued adding layers, pinching the tips of the leaves to cup them.

Here it is, finished and ready to dry. After nearly an entire week of failure, I wanted it done so I dried it in the oven set at its lowest temperature – 170.

And there it is, dried.

Paint it or leave it:

After so many fails at this project already, I should have left my faux succulent bare. Instead I tried painting it. Big mistake!

I attempted the Blue Mountain Pottery look but it didn’t work. I wish I had just lightly dry brushed the light turquoise color on the bare clay instead. Next time, I’ll know better!

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Craspedia ‘Golf Beauty’

Craspedia Golf Beauty

Since this is the dreaming season for gardeners, let me tell you about Craspedia Golf Beauty. New for the 2017 season, Golf Beauty was hands down the most exciting plant I saw last spring at trials.

Golf Beauty is an exciting new option for larger container gardens and patio pots, so say good-bye to those boring spikes! Please say good-bye to them – there are tons of more exciting options for height.

In mixed containers yellow has always been a desirable contrast for vivid fuchsias and velvety dark blues. Growers often use Bidens to add a visual punch to their combinations but these sunny yellow globes sit well above the foliage, so can count on them to stand out in a crowd.

Golf Beauty has silvery green foliage clustered near the bottom of sturdy stems. The best part of Golf Beauty is that spent blooms discretely fade to light tan and are attractive in their own right.

Because it’s new for 2017, I haven’t grown this one myself but it’s number one on my wish list for the upcoming garden season. I can’t wait to see those vivid yellow flowers in my garden. I’ll be sure to add my opinions on heat tolerance and flower power in the future.

Craspedia ‘Golf Beauty’ at a glance:

Height

Golf Beauty will reach heights of 24-30″ (60-75 cm), this is a more compact variety of Craspedia than ones grown for use as cut flowers.

Spread

Golf Beauty has a spread of 14-18″ (35-45 cm). Visual bulk is at the base of the plant, the flowers sit well above the foliage.

Light needs

Craspedia Golf Beauty prefers full-sun, save this one to add a hit of vivid color to your sunny corners and nooks.

Foliage Color

Foliage is a beautiful silvery green that reminds me of carnations.

Flower Color

Flowers are sunny yellow globes. Spent flower heads turn a discrete soft-tan color.

If you’re looking for a bold hit of yellow to add to your container designs, be sure to pin this one for your wish list!

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