Not really sure whether this belongs on Craftster or not, but here goes...
This is a chair from the late 1800s which came from my grandmother, before and after one furniture renovation course and two upholstery courses (they were four-day courses, I calculated about 60ish hours of work in total):
And a couple of in-progress shots (these are links to bigger pictures):
I expected the work to make a difference in how the chair looked, but I never thought that that hideous thing could end up looking so pretty! I can't take that much credit for it as I didn't really know what I was doing with the upholstery - the teacher was fantastic.
P.S. The fabric is Chinese Lanterns by Sanderson, which is discontinued but I was fortunate enough to find on ebay after it had taken us hours and hours to decide on the fabric, only to return to the shop and find they didn't have any!
This contains a chocolate cake made from this recipe, which I highly recommend - although whenever I've made it I've put buttercream and raspberry jam in between the layers, rather than the ganache (I recommend doing this for a bit of freshness, in order to make it less sickly sweet). I did put the ganache on top.
The cake is then wrapped in a chocolate "wall" higher than the cake, and the resulting "basket" I filled with mixed berries from the garden.
To make the chocolate wall, measure the circumference of the cake and then the height you want it to be. Add a little to the circumference to make sure the ends overlap a little (maybe half an inch?). Draw a rectangle that size on some greaseproof paper, making the lines go well beyond where they cross so you can see them even when the rectangle is covered with chocolate. Trim the paper to about an inch from the line. Turn the paper over. Melt chocolate (I used about 100 grams but it turned out a bit too thin, so I recommend making more than that) and spread it over the rectangle which you can (hopefully) see through the paper, going over the lines a bit. It's best if you have a stone surface to do it on as it will help with the cooling. (Don't do it on a hot day!) Now keep an eye on it while it cools, and when it's set just enough - i.e. it is malleable, not dripping, but not solid - trim off the edges of the chocolate along the lines of the rectangle you drew, and then trim off the paper along the edges of the rectangle. Now, working quickly, pick the whole thing up and wrap it around the cake (with the paper on the outside!), making sure the ends overlap (peel the paper away from the end so the chocolate sticks to itself). They should still stick together if the chocolate is soft. If they don't you could gently brush some of the ganache or something like that in between. At this point it's best to leave it alone to set, don't poke at it too much! It may look like it will be a disaster, but it will probably turn out ok. Leave it in a cool place for an hour or so, then peel off the paper.
If you get any holes in the chocolate, don't try to fix them with hot melted chocolate! It will only melt a bigger hole (I say this from experience). You'll need chocolate or ganache that is still liquid but not hot. Anyway, any holes will only add that nice homemade touch!
I made this door sign that says WELCOME (in Finnish) in a hurry when I needed a housewarming gift for a friend who has a wire-haired fox terrier.
We had some old, very weathered bits of wood from some bush supports I took down from our garden, so I sawed off a bit (maybe 6 inches long) which had some moss on it. Sanded it a bit, put on a thin watery coat of white acrylic craft paint, then painted the letters and the doggy picture and sanded again a bit to retain the weathered look. I actually tried to transfer the letters from a printout using the technique described here, but I guess my letters were too thin and small so it didn't really work at all. So I just copied them freehand.
The piece of wood had a couple of rusty screws in it from some hardware so I took them out and screwed them to the top to tie the twine to.
It didn't quite come out like I'd envisioned but it was the best I could manage in the time available and with the materials I had on hand! It took maybe a couple of hours total, including drying time on a very humid day.
This idea came to me when I saw the shape my gingerbread house was going to take.
I made these two houses for my friends as Christmas presents (although I'm only entering the Snoopy one in the challenge). I've never made a house before, so these could do with some fine-tuning... I made the pattern myself out of cardboard.
It is entirely edible, except for the base which is a small heart-shaped metal plate. I thought it looked a bit like a wrought-iron fence. The whole thing is quite small, perhaps 5-6 inches tall.
The snowballs on the ground are sugar-coated toffee sweets, and the snowman at the back is also made of them. The "glue" and snow are royal icing. You can't see it in the pictures, but the windows have yellow "glass" made out of crushed boiled sweets. Snoopy himself is made out of a double layer of gingerbread - I cut two shapes using a cardboard pattern I made myself and stuck them together with icing. The black bits are cut out of liquorice. The red roofing is made out of that long flat red liquorice. I bought a metre thinking it was quite a lot, but it turned out not to be enough! The lights are small fruit sweets.
I wanted to make more stuff outside the house but in the end I couldn't fit anything else on the plate. I should have made the house even smaller!
I think the recipient liked it. I hope she eats it, too!
Of course I forgot to take a before picture! It was an antique tray, medium-dark wood, with an old painting of cherries that was too worn to salvage. You can just about see in the picture that it has very pretty handles.
I took it apart (being antique, it is put together very sturdily with screws) and sanded it (luckily it wasn't varnished). Then I stained and varnished the edges and handles and painted the base with lots of coats of "antique white" water-based furniture paint.
The writing is in a font which is pre-installed on Word 2010 called AR Decode, but I freehanded it because I couldn't be bothered to play with the printing to get the correct size for the tray. (It is about 1.5 times A4 in length). I did the edges of the lettering first in pencil, then in thin permanent marker. Then I filled it in with black enamel craft paint.
I finished it off with several layers of water-based varnish so that it can be used for actual tea-making.
The problem was, we had to buy a new fridge after that, and the brushed steel (or whatever it is) is actually not magnetic. Also, we found it too troublesome to search for the individual magnets in their little pouches, and thought it would be more inspiring for cooking ideas if we could see the ingredients all laid out.
So I made this menu board:
I bought a 0,5 mm sheet of uncoated metal from the hardware store. Unfortunately they only came in 2 m x 1 m sheets, and I wanted a 50 cm x 80 cm piece. So I also had to buy cutters and cut the sheet to size:
This is rather dangerous, as the cut edge is VERY sharp and you have to stick your arm right in between. Kinks are surprisingly difficult to smooth out, so you don't want to bend the metal down too much. Long leather gloves would be advisable!
Then I painted the sheet with Hammerite, drilled holes in the corners and screwed the sheet onto the inside of our pantry cupboard. Oh, and I painted on the words Menu and Notes (for shopping lists, etc.) with standard acrylic craft paint.
It's not very pretty, but since I made this a couple of months ago, we've actually made a menu for every week (and stuck to it!), so this was really worth it! It really does help with getting inspiration from the ingredients and dish ideas as well. Luckily it's on the inside of the door so only we see it. Maybe someday (when we remodel the kitchen?) I'll refine the idea and make something nicer looking! Actually, after I'd gone to the trouble of cutting and painting the metal, I realised I could have just bought some of that magnetic paint and painted the door. Oh, well...
For years now I've been writing a letter "from Santa Claus" to our nephew who lives in England (as a reply to his letter to Santa). It's appropriate, as we live in Finland ("official" home of Santa Claus! ). He's 9 now and for years I've been hoping he'd stop believing in Santa so I didn't have to think of what to write... But he has a little sister now so I guess the tradition will continue!
For the first time I actually remembered to take a picture so next year I don't have to strain to remember what it looked like (I'm all about consistency!).
It's hand-written in fountain pen on this parchment-looking paper, using the handwriting that I imagine an old man like that would have. The pictures I've cut from magazines and stuck on using mod podge. There is also an "S" wax seal next to the signature (and on the envelope).
It's always hard to think what to write, so as not to repeat last year's... it's usually along the lines of "Glad to hear you've been a good boy... we'll see what we can do about the toys you asked for... the elves are busy getting on Mrs Santa's nerves... we are starting to get the reindeer ready..." and so on. You get the idea.
I've not had much feedback but I think they've been well received.
I made a few oat-filled heat pads/cold packs for presents this Christmas. Two were seal-themed, because the people also received a Saimaa Ringed Seal sponsorship through the WWF, and I put the certificate in the same package:
The last one was for a man and I didn't think he'd appreciate a cutesy picture, so I chose the football team he supports (Manchester City) and made the whole pillow in the team colours.
The yellow things on the pillows are paper labels explaining what they are and how to use them (sorry I didn't remove them for the pics!). Each of them has a plain inner pillow that you microwave/freeze and a washable outer cover with the design. The images were printed onto fabric using Bubble Jet Set and my inkjet printer.