Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Brooch the Bouquet

When my boss recently asked me what gives me satisfaction at work, I didn't hesitate before responding.

"A big, fat challenge," I told her.

"Not a surprise to me," she responded.

I am director of a marketing communications department. My work day consists of managing quirky creatives and demanding clients. I'm never short of challenges.

But, at the moment I responded to my boss, it occurred to me that interesting, and often difficult, challenges offer me satisfaction, period. Not just at work. In my personal life, too.

So when my son's fiancé recently asked if I'd be interested in making a brooch bouquet for one of her wedding clients, I accepted the challenge.

First thing I did?  You guessed it. Googled brooch bouquets. Much to my surprise, and relief, the images and examples were endless. And, the number of tutorials was amazing.

The bride wanted a brooch bouquet with a twist:  she wanted it to look like a baseball. No problem! Wonder if she knew our son played baseball for 15 years?

Couldn't find a baseball brooch bouquet, but found a carnation baseball bouquet.

This stunning work of art, made by Judy at Fancy Pants Weddings, was my inspiration. Her tutorial is so good, I won't go into how to make one of these beauties. Judy's instructions are all you'll need if you want to try making your own bouquet for your special day. But, many other good how-to's are available  online.

For the baseball bouquet, the bride agreed that a combination of silver, white, pearl and crystal would be a nice combination, creating the right combination of sparkle and a whitish background to represent the ball.

The bride collected some jewelry from her family. I had some nice pieces in the stash of vintage jewelry I use in my crafting. I scoured the thrift stores and also found some additional pieces online and at estate sales. The larger  brooches can be supplemented by earrings, pendants and larger rings, if necessary. This bouquet used 64 pieces.

I wired each piece with floral wire and wrapped each with floral tape. This is the time-consuming phase. To stay on track, I started wiring as soon as I collected the first brooches and wired a few every night.

As I wired, I collected the stems in a vase to get a sense for when I had enough to form the bouquet.

About halfway through the creation of the bride's bouquet, she contacted me about creating one for her bridesmaid. We decided to make that one in red and silver.

Assembling the bouquet takes patience. Finding just the right combination to create a symmetrical shape isn't as easy as it may look. I learned early on that it wouldn't be perfectly round. After assembling the full bouquet, I let it sit for a couple of days. Stepping away from it allowed me see where it could use improvement. After a few days, I disassembled the entire bouquet and reassembled it with much better results.

I finished both bouquets in the red and navy colors of the wedding. The bride's bouquet has a double collar of red tulle and navy satin. The stem is embellished with a repurposed pearl and shell vintage bracelet. The bridesmaid's bouquet is finished with a single navy collar and silver lace trim on the stem.

I'm excited about the final product!

Oh, this was a fun challenge! For any bride-to-be who is creatively inclined and isn't pressed for time, this is definitely worth the effort. Don't be afraid to give it a try.

Make it a great day!
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Hosing Around

Life got pretty crazy over the past eight months and not only have I struggled to find the time for general posting on my blog, I've neglected my planned Monday feature, Re:, entirely. 

Re: is a little feature I started to extol the virtues of the six R's--reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim, repurpose and respect--and offer tips for an earth-friendly lifestyle. 

I'm a huge fan of upcycling or repurposing anything possible and am thrilled to see so many great blog posts featuring new uses for existing items. For the next few weeks, I plan to feature on Re: some of the innovative upcycle projects and upcyclers I've come across who are saving money and a piece of the planet by transforming has-beens into new treasures.

Spring Recy-cleaning

When I left for work on the first day of Spring, the wind chill was zero. The daytime high was 20 degrees below normal. Here in the frozen tundra called the Midwest, spring hasn't sprung, the sun seems to be on permanent hiatus and I can't remember the last time I was actually warm.

My daydreams have turned to yard clean-up, followed by hands-in-the-soil gardening.

Every spring, I look forward to throwing open the door to my potting shed and pulling out my vintage garden ornaments:  the red glider, the 1950s Schwinn, the little red trike and the mid-century scooter.

That is, I look forward to getting past that first heart-in-the-throat, knee-weakening moment of first opening the door, as every year I imagine a giant wolf spider somehow surviving the brutal winter and leaping out onto my face. How's that for arachnophobia?

I can't wait for the garden to transform from this:

to this:

When I clean out my potting shed this spring, I know I have at least two hoses that are past their prime. Holes and leaks galore. 

If they were hanging outside today, this is what they'd look like:

Hoping to find an earth-friendly alternative to tossing the hoses into the trash can, I did an internet search. A plethora, I tell you. Lots of creative and practical ideas for repurposing a garden hose. 

Here are some of my favorites:


Samantha at Two Hearts Together gives a quick tutorial on how to make a lovely wreath from an old garden hose. She incorporates other garden recyclables such as the little pail and shovel head to help create a delightful focal point for door, gate or fence.


Instructables gives a full set of instructions on how to make this cool chair out of garden or other hose.

See how to use garden hose to organize your garage at The Family Handyman.

This recycled garden hose project is cool in more than one way. It uses a garden hose and a recycled two-liter plastic bottle with holes punched in it. Throw it over a tree branch as a sprinkler for the kids to run through on a hot day (which seems like an eternity away).

If, after taking stock of your garden hoses this spring, you find some have sprung a leak, don't be too quick to toss them in the trash. Use them to have a little fun, create a piece of art or organize your storage space.

Make it a great day!
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adventures in French Bookland

At an estate sale, I came across a box of linen-covered books.

On closer examination, I found they were all French. Such a lovely collection!

Among the authors were Hugo, Balzac, Montaigne, Montesquieu.

All are covered in exquisite, French book linen.

In contrast to the linen luxuriousness are the quaint and simplistic titles typewritten on deep-hued,  elegant paper and glued to the spine.

Several of the books contain page signatures that have not been cut, making it impossible to turn the pages.

The linen is ideal for incorporating into decorating. A rich oatmeal color with an inviting texture you don't find on most book covers. I've used books as decorating elements for decades and am excited to have a new and very different type of collection to incorporate in my vignettes.

In all the years Hubby and I have collected old books, we'd never come across any quite like these. My curiosity about the handmade labels, the uncut signatures and the title pages pasted into some of them got the best of me. So, I took them to a local dealer who specializes in rare and antique books to see what I could learn about them.

The books are handmade--a technique that wasn't real common, but not totally unusual, either.  The dealer didn't know why many of the signatures were left uncut. If he were to offer them for sale in his shop, he'd ask $10-$15 each. I paid $2.50 each.

I appreciate that, being handmade, each book is one of a kind.  The collection is a wonderful and versatile addition to my eclectic decorating repertoire.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

More Like Fall Back

Spring Ahead?

Last weekend, I took all the winter decorations down.

This weekend, I started putting up the spring decorations.

This morning, we awoke to this--what the local forecasters said was a possibility of 1-3 inches of snow starting in the wee hours of Sunday morning continuing through Sunday night. Mid-day we already had 4-6 inches, with 6-8 inches now predicted. Winds are strong. At times, we can't see across the street. White out!

Inconvenience and spring fever aside, our area has been in an officially classified "extreme drought" for the past 12 to 15 months. We desperately need the moisture. And, good news is, this time of year, the melt will come quickly (I hope).

On this first day of 2013 Daylight Saving Time, our landscape may look more like we should have fallen back. Instead, we'll get to enjoy from the warmth of home gazing at the beauty of a late snowfall an hour longer into the evening.

Make it a great day!