Monday, October 31, 2011

Black Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

After seeing this photo of a table setting in a recent
"People" magazine, I was inspired to copy cat some
of the elements in it for a Halloween display.

I did use the branch with birds, the candlelabra, and lantern
in my table setting but instead of food, I will be offering
Halloween-ish faux libations and morsels.

Take the covers off of old thrift store books to use them as stands/elevators for your props.

The product that looks like ice in "Night Crawler" jar the above picture is actually those 
beads that expand in water that you can find in the floral section at craft stores.

To learn how to make your own Halloween-ish bottles, 
click on this post Quick Easy Cheap Halloween Decor.

Did you know that those items that "grow" when you put them in water take a WEEK to fully expand?

Want to make your own insect displays? Learn how by
reading this blog post...Critter Cloches. 

Michaels has a good variety of black birds for sale in the Fall. 

All the imbibing of the "Bat Juice" and "Mysterious Elixer"
will be under the watchful eyes of the old folks
(who look like they might get a little crazy too after
the sun goes down).
These are those funny portraits from Michaels that change
 from sedate to  scary as you walk past them.

Here is the sweet little old lady from one direction... 

...walk past her and she changes into this:

Hope you get all treats and no tricks!

Skeleton/Snake/Spider/Skull Specimen Display

I'm getting ready for my trick or treaters with
a Halloween display on my dining room buffet.

A few of the elements in this display have
already been blogged about. 

The items in the framed collage were made to look old in
the blog post Aging Paper.

The snake wreath DIY is in the blog post Snakes On A Wreath.

Spiders in specimen jars were made for a magazine
 copy cat challenge over at Debbiedoos.
 That blog post is Critter Cloches.

The candelabra were from a decorator shop's tent sale.
They used to be gold but were painted a few shades of
bone color to go with their skeleton friends.

To add to my skeleton items, I found these tiny dinosaur
skeletons in the toy section at Dollar Tree. I tried to make
them look like scientific specimens by
 putting them in a glass terrarium.

The snake specimen jars on either side of the wreath were
made easily by putting the mosss, twigs and plastic snakes
simply down into the jars. Actually that was much easier than
the spider specimen jars that were built on the lids of upside
down jars...which do you like best?  

The skulls got a "teeth whitening" with light color paint.
I think it makes him look like he is smiling.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Critter Cloches

I'm so glad that Debbie Doos is now planning to have her
Magazine Copy Cat Party once a month.
I have always enjoyed participating and it makes
reading my magazines even more enjoyable as I
am now on the lookout for a good project to
copy cat for upcoming party entries.

I found this magazine copy cat project in the
latest issue of Goose Berry Patch's
"Best of Halloween".

With their glass domes, these upside down jars
remind me of cloches.

I painted the lids of my jars black to make them 
 look more like a specimen jar in a laboratory.

Then I built my spider display using moss, sticks,
plastic spiders and Halloween spider webbing
on the inverted jar lid. 

Here are the individual specimen jars...

The magazine picture had the jars on a tray
so I put mine on the only tray I had on hand.

I was disappointed in the late afternoon photos I took of
my copy cat project inside so I took a few more
pictures outside the next morning.
I think the tray kind of overwhelms the critter cloches...too deep of a tray and too much moss...
live and learn. 

Update: The spider cloches were used as part of a
larger Halloween vignette:
Getting ready for tricker or treaters in Skeleton/Spider/Snake/Skull Display.

I took the critter cloches off the mossy tray and onto a large candle holder for this display. 
I am sharing the critter cloches at Debbie Doos Blogging and Blabbing
Magazine Copy Cat Challenge.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aging Paper

Since I was in the need for some
images to look older for a project,
I tried the old trick of putting coffee
on paper and baking it as well as 
 some additional methods.
Here is how the experiements looked in case you have the need
in the future for some aged-looking paper yourself.
These images started out on plain white copy paper and have black coffee "painted" on them. 

I found and downloaded most of these images at

In the recesses of my mind, I remembered that one kind of
 computer printing "runs"when you put coffee on it.
  It didn't take long to see that it is the images
 printed out on an inkjet printer. 
 UPDATE: Two commenters on this post,
Time Worn Interiors and French Laundry, both age the paper
BEFORE running it through the inkjet printer
to eliminate the "running ink" problem.  Genius.
The crow and the brown-ish pink-ish snake are color ink jet prints.

After baking the first image (I'm not picturing was pretty ordinary)
and looking at the results,
I decided to add "flyspecks" on the next image.
After wetting the image with coffee, I flicked watered down brown acrylic paint on the paper
with a toothbrush.  If you get more/bigger specks than you intended, just dab them off with a paper towel.

Here is the skull image after baking in a 250 degree oven
for about 3 minutes:
The wetter the image, the longer it needs to "bake".  Be sure to stay by your oven when doing this
to monitor the drying.  None of the images I did took longer than 5 minutes. 

If you want a darker edge, you can dab the watered-down
brown paint around the edges...

...and then immediately take some of the paint back
off with a wet paper towel. 
Don't even go all the way around the paper with the watered-down paint
before taking some of it back off with the the paper towel... it soaks in fast.
Do a section at a time.

Here is Mr. Crow after baking for about 4 minutes:

Another aging technique I have seen in the past
is to burn the edges of the paper.
I did try this but it was pretty time-consuming
and since the paper sometimes kept smoldering
even after I blew it out, I didn't have much control
over how much of the edge burned.
I would recommend doing the burning outside.  Only burn a small section at a time before blowing it out.

An alternate edging method is to just tear the edge.
This is an edge torn AFTER the coffee has been applied to the paper and then baked.

If you want a darker torn edge, tear the paper first and
THEN paint the coffee on the paper.
This is a comparison photo of the different types of edges you can achieve.

After I got the previously white paper images aged,
the images that printed with a seipa-type background
didn't look aged enough to be with them
so I aged them too.
These are the images out of the ones I had downloaded and printed out that already had a
somewhat aged look to them. This is "before" I aged them some more.

I didn't want the ink to run on this ink jet print
so I only did the "fly-speck" technique on it.

Since one of my snake skeleton ink jet images had faded so much,
I re-printed on the laser printer on white paper
and aged the paper with watered-down brown paint.
This gives you a comparison shot of how
different printing and aging can look.
The color ink on the snake on top has run and faded.  It actually looked
very cool up close and you might like that look.

If you want a somewhat aged look but don't want to
fool with the coffee/baking thing, you can simply
print your image on paper from the office supply
or craft store that says "Parchment".

These are all the finished images waiting to
be assembled into a collage.
With the coffee/baking technique the paper actually feels old too.

The images were glued onto a piece of cardboard
and then inserted into a frame that I already had.

The collage brings all the items in the Halloween
 display together.   The name of the display is
"Skeleton/Spider/Snake/Skull Specimens".
If you want to see more up close photos of the display, you can click here.



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