These are super easy and offer tons of customization possibilities! Make them from tiny candy cups for cards up to jumbo coffee filters for party decor. They are good for wreaths, garlands, gift toppers and mobiles.
What you will need:
A selection of cupcake papers and/or candy cups in various sizes and colors Small, sharp scissors Glue (see notes below) Buttons, cardstock shapes, thumbtacks or other roundish thingies to use as centers Paint marker (optional) Doilies (optional)
The basic method is to flatten and accordion-fold each paper into a wedge of one-eighth of the circle. Take the ends and fold them once more; this gives a center line to use as a guide. If this makes the thicker side too difficult to cut, just fold the ears flat and use the crease.
Next, cut a petal shape on either side of the center line. I like to use curved nail scissors because they give a smoother edge. If you are making a bunch to match, it may be useful to mark a point on the blades to make all cuts the same length.
Unfold and decorate. Because of their coatings, some baking papers like glassine and greaseproof are difficult to color with ink pens. Nail polish works well, as do many oil-based paints like Decocolor pens. Sharpie has water-based paint markers that do not have the toxic fumes, but the color range is limited. They can be a little goopy, but any mess cleans up with a little denatured alcohol on a swab.
Layer the papers from smallest to largest. Usually I assemble the main body first and hold off on the center until mounting in case I need to conceal a wire or other attachment (many of those pictured below are shown without the centers because they have not been mounted yet). As with markers, some glues are ineffective on baking cups, so do a test. Ecoglue is pretty good but can show through on some papers. Experiment with your design before you glue. Aligning the petals and offsetting them can give very different looks:
Different petal shapes can give very different effects, from funky to elaborate.
Get a variety of looks by edging some or all petals, or by just coloring the tips:
Patterned papers can make a very nice effect:
This center can be a punched cardstock shape, a thumbtack or button. Punch a circle from another cupcake liner to match the center to one of the petal layers (if you are careful, you can still use the rest of it in another flower).
You can also take a small candy cup and make a daffodil corona. These are very delicate, so definitely leave these until final assembly if you can.
Try adding a doily:
Mount them as appropriate for your project. Wired buttons are versatile:
Decorative upholstery tacks and on the wall are instant decor (I am planning to add a vinyl tree):
A handful strung on baker's twine makes a garland:
I discovered a chain of dollar-and-a-half stores called Daiso Japan a few weeks ago. They are like crack: unlike a lot of dollar stores, they have quality goods. They do seem to share the drawback that they do not have the items I run out of when I go back, but I think that just adds to the druglike aspect: I feel the urge to hoard the things I like and return more often than necessary just in case new nifty things have shown up.
Anyway, I bought some paper pendant lampshades in various shapes and colors and little glassine muffin liners/candy cups. Glassine is wonderful stuff: I love the translucency and gloss. The crinkly noises it makes when you fold it is also fun. The cups are pre-corrugated, adding a nice texture.
For the teardrop-shaped lamp, I began with a round shade. The cylindrical one started as... a cylinder. Though making a pendant lamp out of bits from the hardware store is fun and super-easy, it was actually cheaper to get sets from Ikea. Total cost was about $21.50 for two lamps, not including the glue or scissors: $7 each (lamps) + $1.50 each (shades) + $4.50 (liners).
The petals are done two different ways: those on the cylinder are just opened flat and then folded across about 1/3 of the way down to create overlapping arcs.
The teardrop petals are made by folding the flattened circles into wedges. Though this design is pretty forgiving, I got the best results by accordion-folding into eighths, then taking each end and folding it in half again.
Then take curved cuticle scissors and cut petals in the rounded edge. Straight scissors will work too, I just like slightly rounded petals.
Unfold and do the 1/3 overlap.
The teardrop took about 200 cups and the cylinder 100. It's pretty brain-free, so I just did it while watching movies and listening to podcasts.
The glue-up was pretty fast. Start at the bottom and go to the top. The papers overlap more on the teardrop, so it and the frilliness of the cut petals conceal the fact that I just aligned the folded edges with the wire on the lantern and followed it in a spiral. If I were to do it over again, I would take the half minute to pencil evenly spaced lines around the cylinder, as it looks a little wonky on the bottom edge. Luckily, none of my friends inspect the lighting fixtures too closely when they visit.
A note on paper: Glassine, grease-proof, freezer and some other baking papers can be a little pesky with adhesives. It is worth it to do a test with your glue or tape if you use a coated paper. Similarly, it is difficult to color. Sharpies, art pens and similar items don't usually take, and the best thing I have found so far is nail polish. If you want to embellish yours, either use regular paper baking cups or experiment to find a coloring method that will work.
That's about it. Install the lamp while the glue is drying, hang the shade, and - Ta da! - luminary gratification!
So I'm way too easily manipulated by my cat. He likes to sit on my lap, especially in cold weather. When I disturb him to do crafty things or make tea, he complains bitterly. I should just let him curl up on the sofa - I mean, we don't live in Siberia or anything. But I can't listen to the plaintive mews.
The plan was to make him a heated bed. I hate the tangles of electrical cords so necessary for modern life, and leaving a heating pad unattended for long periods of time seemed like a bad idea, So I just expanded on the idea of those little rice-filled pocket handwarmers people craft in those areas where it really does get cold enough to complain about. The pillow is made from a linen skirt I got in the dollar bin at the thrift store and five pounds of rice. There is a faux fur pillow cover because Mr. B has a thing for faux fur. Under it is a folded blanket for bulk, a sheet of Styrofoam cut down from some packaging, and some aluminized bubble-wrap insulation that was left over from a home improvement project.
The box was secondhand from a very nice wine shop. Classy as it was, it still needed something though, and the brown in the pompom trim matched the pillow cover. Besides, it's really not a craft project unless the glue gun comes out at least once...
The legs were old balusters that I got at a really neat architectural salvage yard. I painted them to match the trim, then screwed and glued them to the box. Once everything was assembled, the rice pillow got six minutes on high in the microwave. Mr. B approves!
I knew my father needed one for his desk because he is a photojournalist. (It turns out that the photography gene skips generations, so sorry for the quality of my pics.)
After some fumbling trying to take apart an old film SLR that my husband had from a previous geologic era, I found that the innards were cast as one piece and could not be removed to make room for a standard lamp base. So I drilled a hole in the door, glued the shutter open, and fitted it with a bracket cut down from a $2 thrifted Ikea lamp (one of those little three-light wheeled desk models, I think - it was missing some parts so it was hard to tell). Attached the socket, glued a rubber o-ring on the lens bracket to cushion the shade, and stuck it on a mini-tripod I got for $5 off of Craigslist. Then I soldered the base into a 12-volt power supply salvaged from my mom's defunct Netbook (DH's brilliant idea!). It was pretty straightforward once I stopped trying to make it into rocket surgery.
The bulb is recessed in the shade to make a nice, tight spotlight. It holds the shade in place, so they pull off and push on together for easy bulb changing. It takes a standard 15-watt, 12-volt bulb; the DH and I just happened to have rescued several cases of these from a debris box outside a restaurant that was being gutted a few weeks ago. (They were still in their boxes, unused and pristine, but it seems that commercial property owners prefer to junk everything over donating perfectly good materials to Habitat for Humanity. Because we need bigger landfills, and because poor people should have to pay top dollar to bring their houses up to code.)
Cord and plug were appropriated from a much uglier lamp, but I paid for a new inline switch to make it all matchy-matchy. All told, the cash cost was $11. I have seen old 35 mm cameras for $10 at the thrift store, and many e-cyclers are happy to give away random power supplies, so it is doable for under $30, minus tools and time. Most of my time was spent finding parts. The construction probably took all of three hours, and most of that was waiting for the glue to dry.
Dad loved it! He thought it was much harder than it was, and I didn't even tell him it was so cheap.
I recommend this as a project for anyone with basic wiring skills and a passion for scrounging!
These dollar store vases are beautiful cobalt glass that were fine as they were but I can never leave well enough alone. Stained glass artists' copper tape is great for trim but it is too narrow to work in any of my border punches. It is also nice to have a blue/silver scheme. An elaborate pattern in copper can be a little overwhelming.
These are the supplies you will need: Foil duct tape, a border punch with a pattern narrower than the tape, a craft knife, a burnisher of some sort (a smooth, rounded wooden tool handle works well), a pair of sharp scissors, isopropyl alcohol or other residue-free glass cleaner. I used a paper cutter to divide the tape lengthwise. If your design uses the whole width of the tape or cuts both edges, you will not need this. You could also cut by hand with a craft knife and ruler but it is kind of slippery and delicate, so I find it challenging. You will also need a vase. Straight sides are a lot easier than curved shapes.
An unaltered vase in action.
As you can see, this tape is $5.99 at the hardware store. I bought it to make embossed gift tags for Christmas presents and had plenty left over to play with. (Ulterior motive? Me?) There are many names for it: HVAC tape, foil duct tape, metal repair tape, aluminum foil tape. It is not the fabric duct tape that ingenious people use for wallets, purses, costumes and car repairs. It is very thin, springy aluminum with a paper backing. It is easily kinked and bent, so the flatter you can keep it, the more you will thank yourself.
The first step is to measure the circumference of your vase and cut a piece of tape with a little extra. Squaring the ends is a good idea. Measure the length of the pattern of the punch and divide the vase circumference by this; if you want it to match at the seam, the result must be a natural number. There is a tiny bit of stretch in it, but not much. Even though these vases are mass-produced, there is enough difference that one has a continuous pattern and the other is mismatched by 1/4" or so.
Punch the border design. The best results usually come from starting with the pattern centered at the midpoint of the foil and moving the tape to each side. I punched both sides before cutting it into two strips because it is easier to handle a wider tape.
A bonus: depending on the pattern of your punch, the cutouts can be great for other projects. Mine produced lots of little fleurs de lis which are perfect for cards, votives and many other things that desperately need fleurs de lis.
Another bonus: cutting foil is a method of sharpening punch dies. Before putting it away, put some waxed paper sheets through your punch and, where possible, lubricate the mechanism with a silicone grease or whatever the manufacturer recommends. Then feel virtuous for caring for your tools.
If you are halving the tape lengthwise, do that.
There are several ways to get an even line around the vessel. One is to secure a pen to a platform so that the tip is at the height where the straight edge should be, then rotate the vessel against the pen. For translucent vessels, you can also cut a band of graph or lined paper with a very even bottom edge and tape it inside, with that edge flush against the bottom. A flashlight inside can help you see the lines through colored glass. Whatever method you use, clean the glass first. It will help the tape to adhere.
Tip: When removing the backing, hold the metal taut while peeling off the paper, not the other way around. This will help to keep the foil smooth.
Starting with the center on a seam (if your vase has one), follow the line around each side to the other seam. The adhesive is very sticky and the tape creases easily, so try to handle it as lightly and as little as possible. Burnish the tape down smoothly, beginning at the middle and going toward the ends. Aluminum is pretty soft, so the rounded wooden handle of the burnisher produced a better surface than the steel. The back of a spoon also works.
Wipe down again, add flowers, and you are done! Enjoy your work!
This is a wreath I made for my stepmother for Christmas. She is an amazing woman who has spent her life helping immigrants adjust and succeed: learning English, finding work, accessing health care and schools, avoiding the many scams directed at new Americans. She is inspirational.
She also gave me some old Christmas ornaments for my art stash a few years ago. The colors were dull and the glaze cracked, but not in a fun way. I was going to bead covers for them and give them back as a surprise but never got to it. They leapt out when I was unpacking after a move and reproached me for my flakiness. I had to act (and I will use any excuse to avoid unpacking).
The color glaze on the outside soaked off in isopropyl alcohol (cheaper than denatured and not as stinky). To accentuate the wear on the inner silver coating, I added sand to the alcohol and swished it around randomly for a few minutes with my thumb over the opening (I don't recommend doing this, as the rim is sharp. I like living dangerously.).
The origami flowers are known as carambola, or tropical star fruit. They are the amazing work of origami genius Carmen Sprung. I learned to fold them from this video:
The audio is in German, but the video is so clear and well done that you don't need to speak it.
The paper is cut from various newspapers, mostly from the Los Angeles area. There is Cantonese, Russian, Hebrew, Korean, Urdu, Arabic and Japanese. I like to look through them and see which stories I recognize from English language media, the kinds of products advertised, the puzzles and photos. It is also fun to see what words appear in Roman script: One of the Russian flowers has a story of dense Cyrillic, interrupted every few paragraphs by "PriceWaterhouseCoopers". An economics story? Employment? A finance scam? Dunno. The scripts are beautiful art by themselves, and they seemed an appropriate way to honor a person who has devoted her life to helping people understand each other across cultures and languages.
Carambola centers are pretty delicate, so I reinforced them with sew-on snaps to keep the wires from tearing through. (Even so I blew out a few, but the glue gun is my friend.) Each wire is bent into a tight U shape with the radius of the inside rim of the snap. This arc is then bent at 90 degrees so it lays flat; going over the top of the nipple will result in wobbling. Insert the wire in the top half of the snap and snug it down with the bent U in place, poke holes in the flower center of the same distance as the U, thread the wire through very gently and add the bottom half of the snap. I tried snapping first and then threading the wire but it was too difficult to line up the holes. Pinching the wire under the snap steadies it. The wires are longer than they need to be because I had originally planned it as a wall hanging, then found the ornaments and a steel hoop diverted from a chandelier project, and the project morphed as these things do.
The wreath is pretty self-explanatory: I took the hoop and wove on a bunch of heavyish floral wire, including a hang loop at the top. I tried to make it look like tendrils.
Then I just twined the origami and ornaments on this base and tried to make it pretty.