Sunday, March 23, 2014

From Plastic Eggs to Mantle Decor!

This may be the last time I will ever say this...but you should turn back now!  Let me just explain that the reason I undertook this ridiculous project was because the pre-speckled eggs at the craft store were wildly expensive, even after a coupon.  At about $1.00 a piece, I couldn't bring myself to do it.  So I thought to myself, "Hey! How hard could it be?  Spray paint some eggs? No big deal!" Well, it ended up being kind of a big deal.  Like more of a deal than I wanted it to be.  I'll tell you how to do it anyway, but don't say I didn't warn you!

Supplies Needed:
Plastic Eggs
Spray paint primer, ideally a kind made to stick to plastic.
Spray paint with texture (pictures below)
Acrylic craft paint
Toothbrush or paint brush


Okay, so first you're going to buy some plastic eggs.  I got the ones pictured above at the dollar store.  You have to strike early at the dollar store since it gets picked over really quickly but I'm sure Wal-Mart has the same prices or maybe even better.  Side note: Pay attention to those cute styrofoam eggs in the picture...they didn't make it.  I'll get to that later.


Prime the eggs with a primer spray paint.  I just happened to have white spray paint with primer in it so I used that but if you're going to buy some for this project, I suggest you buy the cheapest primer you can find.   Put them in a box like this one because the force of the spray paint from the aerosol can will make them fly around like crazy.  You could even try wedging them together so they don't fly around.
Once you paint one side, roll them over as best you can and paint the other side.

If you happen to have styrofoam eggs laying around, I assume an acrylic craft paint would work better.

Once your eggs are primed and completely dry, you are ready to paint them with some textured spray paint like this (can we ignore my half-dead lawn?  It's March, people) :

It's almost like stucco in a can.  You need this because it helps hide the seam on the egg.  This is probably the most frustrating part.  Brace yourself.  Wedge the eggs together so they don't fly around much and spray one side really well.  Please enjoy this really blurry picture:
**IMPORTANT AUTHOR'S NOTE: THE TRAGIC FATE OF THE STYROFOAM EGGS**  I took the picture above as soon as I sprayed the eggs with the textured paint.  When I came back a couple hours later, I found that the spray paint had completely melted the styrofoam eggs.  Did you know spray paint does that?  Me either.  The worst part was that those were the last two packages at the dollar store.  Irreplaceable ("to the left, to the left.."  You know you were thinking it.)

Maybe you'll have more luck than me, but you'll probably use A LOT of the textured paint to cover the eggs.  Like almost the whole can.  Which sucks.  Because the can is like $6.00 and if you do another batch of eggs, you'll probably have to buy another one.  I ended up spraying the eggs, then rolling them around the box to try to coat them.  I'm really not sure if that helped or hindered.  In the end, I sprayed them really well on one side, waited for the thick coat to dry, then turned them over and did the other side.


Once the eggs are done, you will need to paint them with acrylic craft paint.  I bought the color of texturized paint that I did thinking I could get away with leaving some of them that color.  As it turns out, it doesn't look as natural or cute as I thought it would.  I ended up painting all the eggs with acrylic paint.  (I also used a blue that I didn't picture here.)

Note how the texturized paint didn't cover the seam all that well?  If you're like me, you'll have some eggs that look more seamless than others and some that had one side coated and the other side with the seam showing.  If you are artful in the way you display them, you can disguise the seams on most of them. I guess another coat might've helped but at this point, I was done with the spray paint.  

STEP 5: 

Once you've painted the eggs with acrylic paint, you must speckle them. I think the speckling is the most important part to make them look natural.  Plus, the speckles kind of added a faux texture that I think helped disguise the seam further.  

Another thing I learned during this project: I am not a good paint speckler.  I seem to recall having quite the talent for it in the 90's when I was splattering my Keds with neon paint...I guess I'm a little rusty.  

Anyway, for some reason, I didn't take a picture of this part but what you are going to want to do (trust me here) is put the eggs back in the box you sprayed them in and splatter them in there.  It catches a lot of the errant splatter.  Even with the eggs in the box, I was finding tiny droplets of paint around my table for a couple days.  Shh...nail polish remover gets it off most things...

And that'

See what I mean?  If you don't mind spraying eggs with 3 different coats of paint over the course of probably two days, then this is for you.  I love how they look on my mantle as long as no one inspects them...But would I do it again? Probably not!  If you try it, let me know how it works for you! 

The EasiestCheapestFastest Wreath You Will Ever Make

Hello Friends!

It's been a while since I gave you some DIY projects to work on.  Admittedly, life sucks in the winter. I can't find motivation to do much when I leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark.  But Spring has sprung and I have returned to my cheap recreating ways!

Today I am showing you how to make this tulip wreath that was so fast and so easy, there's really only going to be a couple steps.  To give you an idea of how quickly this came together, I put eggs on the stove to boil, got the supplies out to make this and before the eggs were done, this wreath was hanging on my door!  If you can find a project easier than that, let me know! (I know you won't because there isn't one. )

 STEP 1:
Okay, to make this wreath you need exactly two things: a grape vine wreath and flowers.

 I got my wreath from Jo-Ann's with a coupon for about $2.00.  It's the smaller sized one that is $3.99 regular price.  It looks too small but once you get all the flowers on it, it appears much bigger.  Unless you live in Downton Abbey (see below), the small one should be sufficient.  (Picture my wreath on the door. PBS: feel free to follow this blog for more tips on improving Downton's decor on a dime.) Also, if you live in Downton Abbey, can I come visit?  Cousin Violet is my spirit animal.

 I got the tulips from Dollar Tree for...well, $1.00 a bunch.  For this project, I bought 6 bunches of tulips.  I wanted to get more than one color but my door happens to be dark red and even though Dollar Tree had the prettiest pink tulips, I was too afraid that spring pink and dark red would be a vomitous mix.   Note to self: Consider painting door this summer.  ANYWAY, 6 bunches of dollar store tulips will give you a really full wreath.  I've seen several examples of less full wreaths that are gorgeous.  Up to you how many you want to include.  If I were you, and I had a normal colored door, I would do a pretty combination like this one my mom and I made this weekend for her door:

  The dollar store tulips do look cheap up close, but don't worry about that.  Once you cram them in so closely together, it hides their imperfections and trust me, the UPS man are not going to inspect them.

On that note, if you are fancy like my mom, you can get your tulips from the craft store.  They will run you a couple dollars more a bunch but they do appear to be of a higher quality.  The stems are A LOT thicker than the dollar ones which makes it harder to do the next step, but not impossible.  My mom spent about $20 total on the wreath above.  Mine was about $8.00.  I like them both in different ways.  You decide what you want to do!


Now, using wire cutters (really, walk out to the garage and get them.  This lazy person doesn't advise walking extra steps all that often so it really is necessary) to clip each stem apart from the bunch.  You can use kitchen shears in a pinch, but it's a lot harder and I noticed it was making little indents in my shears.  No good.  Use the wire cutters.  Your husband has some.


Once you have your flowers cut apart, just begin shoving them into the wreath:

 Nope, no glue, no florist wire, just cram them in.  Try not to be a perfectionist here.  You want it to look natural, not uniform and lined up.  Stick the tulips in a single-file-ish line around the whole wreath and then go around it again to fill it in as opposed to trying to make it full as you go.  Does that make any sense?  I went around the whole wreath twice, then filled in the thinner spots with the remaining tulips.

If you're using more than one color, I suggest either throwing all the colors in a pile so that you're choosing them randomly or doing all one color first, then go around the wreath with the second color and then the third.  This will give you a more random look.  What you want to avoid is trying to alternate every other color or go in a predictable pattern.  In my humble opinion, this wreath looks better the more natural it is.  As if you picked up an armful of wildly growing tulips and wove them into a wreath (like you're in a fabric softener commercial).

And that's it!  The whole process should take you about 15-30 minutes.  If it's taking longer than that, you're trying too hard!

When you're ready, hang it on the door and take a step back.  There really isn't a "top" or a "bottom" but some parts may look fuller than others.  Turn it until you're happy and then you might have to make a few half-time adjustments by pulling some flowers from fuller parts and sticking them in a sparse area.  Again, the key here is not to stress.


And now, please enjoy some witty comments from Cousin Violet of Downton Abbey and feel your life improve:

"Nothing succeeds quite like excess"
"Don't be so defeatist.  It's very middle class."
"What is a weekend?"
Cousin Isabel: "Can you ever just admit that you're wrong?"
Lady Grantham: "I can't say I'm familiar with the sensation."

Lady Grantham: "You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal."
Mrs. Crawley: "I take that as a compliment."
Lady Grantham: "I must've said it wrong."