to have and to hold

My cousin got married!  Read about it here if you haven’t already.  Her invitation was very frank and funny: it gave the details and then announced that Kansas City barbeque and “awkward but enthusiastic dancing” would follow the ceremony.  It encouraged BYOB and reminded us that RSVPs are important: “Though we sincerely hope that you will be joining us on our big day, please do not assume that we can read minds….”

I liked the way they told us exactly what to expect from them as hosts and what they expected from us as guests.  One of the things mentioned in the details was that they would be happy to receive handmade and secondhand gifts.  I’m sure you can imagine how fast my mind took off with that idea!

letters 'to have and to hold'

I had already started a papier mâché bowl for myself, and I thought since it was going pretty well I’d make one for them too.  I had learned a couple things making my own bowl, so I felt confident that I could do an even better job on theirs since it wouldn’t be a test run.  I used flour and water to make my papier mâché paste.

flour on a plate

flour and water on a plate

flour and water mixed--messy hand!

I used plain white paper (salvaged from book boxes unpacked at the library) for the first few layers to build strength, then dictionary pages on the top layers to add interest.

a dictionary and a mixing bowl form

The problem I encountered with my first bowl was that I was way too careful.  I know that probably sounds strange, but in striving to smooth all the paper tightly against my form (a melamine mixing bowl covered in plastic wrap) I made it unmoldable.  Eventually I had to slice through the paper to gain the leverage I needed to pry the handmade bowl loose!  You can see it in the next photo, which makes me think of “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

light shining through the crack

In other contexts, I’m all for light getting in.  In this context, though, a little duct tape was in order.  When I finish this bowl I want to use it to hold oranges–or other fruit, but every time I picture it, it’s oranges.

mending the crack with duct tape

Anyway, I set that project aside for a while, lessons learned, and moved on to the smaller bowl I wanted to make for my cousin and her lovebird.  This time I draped plastic over the bowl in a cross shape so I could pull from more than one direction to loosen the molded bowl.  I also left the plastic much looser than I did the first time!

mini bowl covered with plastic wrap

When the papier mâché had dried enough to hold its shape, I transferred it to a ceramic bowl so I could dry it in a 200-degree oven.  I read that it would dry harder under heat than at room temperature.  Before popping it in the oven, I smoothed the ragged top edge with scissors.

trimming edges smooth

After a few days drying (which ensured that the papier mâché was completely cured) I began to layer on dictionary pages.  I was going to use Mod Podge for this step until I saw on Pinterest that you can mix glue and water 1:1 and get the same result.  I already had glue, so that was a no-brainer.  (Buy another craft item or don’t…?)

DIY mod podge

I chose some of my pages carefully, saving their special words for the outer layer:





On the bottom of the bowl I pasted a little illustration of sweet pea flowers because Sweet Pea is one of my cousin’s nicknames.  She even has a tattoo of it.

sweet pea close-up

On the inside I pasted a wedding-day message that I figured will apply just as well to the everyday function of this bowl: it says “to have and to hold.”

view from top with "to have and to hold" and eggs

The eggs, which I think came from a Clinique ad, seemed like a sweet symbol of “nesting” in a new home together.  I could wax metaphorical about how marriage, like eggs,  blends fragility with the promise of life–or I could just say I thought the eggs were cute, which is about all the thought I actually put into it.  The possibility of deeper meaning is there, but that’s not why I initially chose to include the picture.  Anyway, here’s how I imagine the bowl will look when it’s hard at work holding stuff.

tableau with bowl holding keys and phone

I hope the bride and groom enjoy using it.  Would you trust your catchall items to a paper bowl?  This one turned out pretty sturdy; now I’m eager to finish the one I started for myself!

getting there

Now that the secret’s out about my latest bedroom project, I want to show you the bedroom itself.  It’s gone through a few stages during our marriage, all of them consisting of blue and neutrals, by which I mean lots of brown.  After a while that got old.  Here’s the blank canvas I started with:

bedroom with brown curtain and bedspread, oval mirrors, brown bedside tablesA bookshelf served as a bedside table for me, but I preferred the less-clunky vintage sewing table on Lovey’s side of the bed.  The oval mirrors will bring better symmetry to the look once they’re painted to match.  The curtain and bedspread could use a dose of color.  So we begin.

While checking in newspapers at the library, I read that a local department store was having a home goods sale.  Bed-in-a-bag for $50?  Yes, please!  This set came with a skirt, two shams, two throw pillows, and, of course, the bedspread.  Lovey and I laid it out on the display bed in the store (with permission!) to make sure we liked the set and not just the photo on the bag.  It played nicely into our plan to incorporate plummy purple, crimson red, and vivid orange into the bedroom decor, so we bought it.  But the lighting at home is not like the lighting in the store.

brown curtain, gray, white, & purple color blocked bedspread, red side tablesAfter Lovey remarked multiple times that the purple looked more like brown in our room, I knew I had to grab my receipt and try again.  Brown was exactly what I was trying to avoid; no sense trying to convince myself, “But it’s purple!”  He was right.  I could have tried to fiddle with the lighting, but come on–who wants their bedroom lit like a sales floor?  Might fix the color but it would kill the romance.

Here’s what I came home with the second time.  It was a bit more expensive: $60 and I only got a comforter and two shams.  But throw pillows and a bed skirt can come later.  They’re not essential–and look what a difference this color makes!  Now we’re getting somewhere!

spice orange bedspread with red tablesInto that context we will soon insert what I hope is the most gorgeous light fixture of all time.  (I’m feeling optimistic.)  To get ready for the day I can bring home my sewn strands of circles and glue them to their base, an old lamp shade frame, I went ahead and put hooks in the ceiling to hold the base in place.

stripped lampshade hooked to ceilingThis is what it looks like from directly below.  The next photo shows what it looks like from the side, which is how it will be viewed most of the time–and how it will reflect in the giant mirror that now rests on the bookshelf at the foot of the bed.  That just might be the detail I’m most eager to see!

stripped lampshade hooked to ceiling, side viewHere’s another shot with some wall for perspective.  I don’t know about you but I think the all-ceiling shot above is kind of perspective-flattening.  I thought I’d throw in a little closet door to spice things up.  Are you getting a sense of it now?  I bet at this point it’s beautiful only to me–but that’s because I see what it will be.  Now to coordinate with a friend who has a sewing machine….

stripped lampshade hooked to ceiling, side view with context

Okay, parting shot: all the current elements in place–bedspread, shams, painted side tables (awaiting more sanding with wetordry sandpaper and more coats with some kind of amazingly glossy red paint); and light-fixture-to-be.  It is a sweet dream, indeed.

bare shade hanging over bed with new bedspread

a rough start

I’ve heard people say that nothing in life worth doing is easy. If that’s the case then this D.I.Y. capiz chandelier is definitely worth doing!

M frustrated punching waxed paper circles

Yep, that’s what I’m making.  This blog originally inspired me, and this one reminded me of the project again months later, when I finally decided to make one of my own.  I already had a lamp shade I wasn’t using.  All I had to buy was waxed paper–cheap!

DIY capiz chandelier supplies: waxed paper, parchment paper, iron & ironing board, lampshade

I ironed together three sheets of waxed paper at a time, sandwiching them between two sheets of parchment paper to avoid getting my iron or ironing board coated in melted wax.

punching holes through large sheets

Then I piled up three sheets of three-sheet fused waxed paper.  (So, a total of nine sheets ironed together in threes.)  Classy Clutter informed me that this was the best way to punch crisp-edged circles.  It was true in theory.

punching holes through one multi-folded sheet

In practice, the easiest method I found was to fold a single ironed sheet (which began as three sheets of waxed paper) into fourths.  That created the same thickness I was achieving with Classy Clutter’s method, but I found the narrow strip much easier to manage than a slippery pile of full-size sheets.

So I punched and I punched–with a borrowed 1  3/4″ circle punch, thanks, Krista!–until I had about 450 circles.  I finally got smart about it and popped in a movie.  No sense sitting at the kitchen table making myself crazy with repetitive activity.  But then…there was a catch.

metal lampshade wired back togetherThe idea is that after you create your plethora of circles, you attach them to a stripped lamp shade.  Relieved to be conquering a new step in the process, I stripped that lamp shade faster than you can say…whatever it is you can say really fast.  And then it all fell apart.

I didn’t realize that my lamp shade was held together by its fabric.  How they assembled it to begin with I will never figure out.  I had to hold each metal frame piece against the top and bottom hoops and carefully reattach it with wire.  It was cheaper than buying another lamp shade, but it was sort of a pain.  Especially the part where I sliced my finger with wire.  Oops.

But trials and all, this project draws nearer and nearer its completion.  More soon–and a peek at the evolving bedroom!