Last Minute Halloween Upcycling

Posted on October 30, 2015 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

A friend called me yesterday evening for last minute Halloween ideas. As a working mom she had little time to whip up a costume and no time to hit the shops for something her child would like. And, oh, yes, Sylvie needed a trick or treat container as there was nothing suitable in the house.

Little Sylvie is a bigtime magic fan so I thought that a magician costume would be perfect. Luckily she's got the cape and the magician's wand- all that was needed were a few accessories, including a moustache and bowtie which Sylvie insisted every proper magician could not do without. 

Fortunately, Sylvie and her mom had almost everything we needed in their recycling bin. I alsow brought along a few items from my own bin. When I arrived, we set to work. We made the little top hat using a cardboard paper towel roll and cardboard from a cereal box. The hat band is actually a paper straw cut open and flattened. The paper bowtie and glasses (instead of a mask) were made using templates I found online and the moustache was cut out freehand from a bit of fuzzy fabric and backed with double-sided tape. 

Next up was the trick or treat pail for Sylvie to use when she and Mom went trick and treating tomorrow evening. This is the before and after shot. The pail is actually a plastic coffee container and the handle is a wire coat hanger (of course!). 

While we were waiting for the paint to dry on the pail, Sylvie's mom asked if I had any ideas for some decorations we could make. I thought that a rosette garland using pages from a discarded paperback and cutouts from some wrapping paper I brought. The garland would decorate their windows and the front door. Sylvie cut out the skull illustrations out of wrapping paper while we adults folded. Then we all assembled the rosettes, attaching each one to length of a jute twine. 

Except for the paint, glue, and tape, everything we made came from discards in the recycling bin. All you need is a bit of imagination (or desperation!).

TIP: The trick to making rosettes quickly is to stack several pages together - 3 or 4 depending upon paper thickness - and fold all together. Easy-peasy! By the way, once Halloween is over, the garland can be reused for Christmas by simply removing the skull images.

Workshop News

Posted on September 30, 2015 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm really chuffed that two more of my workshops have been sold out. The Halloween Harquelin-inspired Mask workshop sold out almost immediately. To go with the mask, participants will make matching hair barrettes. Besides being a wearable craft, the mask can also be used as wall art on Halloween.

My introductory Book Art Folding workshop has also sold out. Book folding is now a major trend among decorators and some sellers make and sell these for hundreds of dollars! In this introductory workshop, I'll be demonstrating how to choose the right book, how to prepare it and basic folding techniques which can be used in many different ways to create a one-of-a-kind book sculpture.

At my last book-folding workshop, someone said that she found book folding very soothing and very addictive - she can't pass by a book without the urge to fold the pages it. No wonder it's also call folding therapy! It's the only craft I know that only requires two elements - a book and a pair of hands!

More workshops are on the way including a series of Christmas workshops for both kids and adults.

DIY Upcycled Halloween Crafts

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I do upon occasion rustle up enough energy to dive into my recycling bin and make something. I often repeat what I've done before as I can't see any reason to change what works and - for Halloween - what spooks! Anyway, here are a few current ones using materials from my bin.

Treatbox Coffins

I found the templates (hey, I never said I wouldn't borrow ideas) for these treat boxes over at our lady Martha's and used leftover scrap and wrapping paper to make them. For strength, I cut cardboard from cereal boxes to the same size as the templates and glued the paper and cardboard together. I still make these boxes and plan to give them away (filled with treats, of course). Here's Martha's template.

Treat Box Eggshells

No paper or cardboard handy? No problem - use eggshells for your treat box. This is an idea I saw in Matthew Mead's book 'Matthew Mead Halloween Tricks and Treats' that I found at my local library. He used hardboiled eggs but I substituted empty eggshells and filled each one with small Halloween treats.

If you want to make your own eggshell treat boxes, first use our lady Martha's method to blow out the contents of your eggs (you can freeze the contents for later use in cooking and baking). In order to get the goodies inside the clean and dry eggshells, you will need to make one hole larger by carefully using a pair of nail scissors. When the eggshell is ready, fill it with your kids' favourite treats. Finally, cover the hole with a witch's hat and then add the mysterious mask. Use a bit of double-sided tape to keep both on the eggshell.

By the way, I made my own hats and masks freehand but if you need a little help, here's a template for the hat and another one for the miniature mask.

Fairy Lights

I spotted these Japanese lantern (also called Chinese lantern) plants at the Byward Market and bought a few thinking they'd look attractive in a vase. Once I got them home, I came up with the idea of using these with a string of fairy (or Christmas) lights to make an attractive garland.

To make: I cut each of the bright orange pods from the stems (leaving a bit of the stem on for looks) and made a small slit at the top pod with a sharp knife. Then I popped a string light bulb into each one. There's a tough little berry inside the pod and you have to be careful to avoid trying to cut through it - it's very hard! To finish off, I piled the completed garland on top of a cake stand and used it as a Halloween decoration on my hall table. After Halloween, I'll be using it as a garland on my dining table at Thanksgiving. 

I know that you'll think this is not really a recycling project, but I did make the cake stand using a scratched-up glass plate and an unused glass candlestick. I glued the plate to the top of the candlestick and painted the whole thing black using leftover paint I got from a neighbour.

Feather Boa Wreath

This orange and black feather boa has been around for awhile now and I've used it in the past as a garland draped over my fireplace mantel and even as part of a costume. Now I'm repurposing it as a wreath. Not an original idea, I know but quick and easy to make. You can buy these feather boas in either black or like the one above at almost any charity shop at this time of year for very little.

To make the wreath, all you need is a wire coat hanger and a feather boa - I used two for a fluffier look. Stretch the wire hanger into a circle (doesn't have to be perfect). I don't use glue to hold the boa in place as I may need it for other purposes later. There's usually a little string loop at each end of the boa. Slip one loop over the handle of your stretched wire hanger and then simply twist the feather boa around the hanger. When you're done twisting the boa around the hanger, slip the second loop over the hanger handle. This will hold the boa in place. To hide the handle, I bent it back and used this to hang up the wreath. This wreath can be left up for Thanksgiving.

If you are looking for more Halloween inspiration, click on Halloween under Categories.

Upcycling Your Halloween Pumpkins

Posted on September 22, 2015 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

If you’re anything like me, the easier it is to decorate for any holiday, the more time you’ve got to actually enjoy the holiday. And this is especially, for me at least, during Halloween. Now, I know, that there are literally thousands of ideas you can find online but I don’t have the time usually or the inclination to do much searching. I tend to get a bit dizzy and need liquid refreshment to help me out. So, as usual, I rely on my readers to help me out. This year this faithful band sent me loads of images and links.

I especially liked the ones that saved me having to carve up the pumpkin and whenever possible, able to use what I have on hand for the decoration – no heading to the mall or the dollar store for me. By the way, I’m not a great fan of the truly creepy and ghoulish, so my likes are usually pretty – well, actually – just pretty.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Office Supply Pumpkins

No doubt the easiest to do as you can be as klutzy as me and still create something beautiful. I happen to have loads of brads and pushpins on hand and will find these a delight to make. And, oh, goody, you can dress up your office desk in five minutes flat. Here's the link.

Fanciful Pumpkins

A lovely Halloween centrepiece and so easy-peasy to make. I've masked a lot of pumpkins in the past but haven't used butterflies as well. It may be a bit of a pain to cut out all those butterflies but hey, it looks great. Any guests of yours will be envious of your talent. Of course, if you're a purist,  you could substitute bats for the butterflies. To check out these pumpkins and 46 more pumpkin decorating ideas, click here.

Lace Pumpkin

Definitely a more romantic way to decorate your pumpkin. This one is covered by a lace stocking but you could also use lace doilies, etc. Whatever you've got on hand is the idea. Check it out here.

Washi Tape Pumpkins

No fuss, no muss. These little pumpkins are decorated with double-sided tape and patterned ribbon but washi tape would do the trick as well. For this idea and more no-carve decorating ideas, click here.

Book Page Pumpkin

So what happens when you haven't had time to get to the market to pick up some pumpkins? Don't you worry, don't you fret - just head for your bookshelf and see if you've got a long-neglected, unread book taking up space. Et voila, a pumpkin centrepiece like not other. And you can use it for Thanksgiving, too. Find out how here.

Construction Paper Pumpkin

One for the kids - a pumpkin made from strips of orange construction paper. Easy-peasy instructions here.

Disguised as Pumpkins

My own version of faux pumpkins. I got a good deal on grapefruit at the market recently and decided that before being eaten, a few could easily substitute as wee pumpkins. Adding a witchy paper hat and mask was an easy way to make these look a little sinister - okay, they're not scary, just cute.