Monday, February 20, 2012

DIY Glam Bridal Necklace

One of my favorite projects that I tackled for our wedding was creating the necklace I wore on the big day. The end result looks like a million bucks, but the supplies were relatively inexpensive  - it just took a bit of time and effort! I first blogged about starting this necklace a year ago in my post, All that Glitters. 

I ended up deciding not to post the final walk through of the project until after the wedding so the big reveal of my necklace could be at our wedding. So here it is now -  get ready for some major bling!

As I mentioned in my previous blog post on the necklace, the inspiration came from a gorgeous Jenny Packham necklace that I tried on at Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier when I was gown shopping. I fell in love with the necklace, but not the price tag! I decided I would attempt to make something similar on my own.

The first step in the process was to find the crystals to adorn the necklace. I picked out a variety of clear, smoke and amethyst colored crystals in marquee and round shapes. I selected 2 different sizes of marquee and 3 different sized round crystals - including tiny flat backs to fill in the spaces between the larger crystals. I think any shape and color of crystal could work - I took inspiration from the original Jenny Packham necklace style and details on my dress.

The second step is creating the necklace form. In Adobe Illustrator I used the pen tool to draw the shape I was envisioning based on my inspiration and printed out the results. You could also hand draw the necklace form on paper if that is easier for you. Then cut out the form from the paper and make sure the size is exactly right by trying on your paper necklace.

Once you have the paper form just right, its time to move to fabric. I decided to use black velvet as a backer for my necklace because I knew I needed a stiff fabric to hold up to the crystals and I wanted something soft against my skin. I adhered the paper to the non-fuzzy side of the fabric.

Next I carefully cut around the paper form using high quality fabric scissors. I found that the small details cut into the velvet would fray a bit. To stop the fraying, I coated the edge of the fabric form with clear nail polish - there is also specific "no fray" liquid made for fabric.

Starting at the edges of the necklace and working simultaneously on both the right and the left sides, I started to apply the crystals. I used the wonderful multi-purpose glue, E-6000 to adhere the crystals. I created a small pool of the glue, picked up a crystal with needle nose pliers, dipped it in the glue, and then set the crystal gently on the non-fuzzy side of the velvet backing. I followed the form of the backing, creating a leaf like pattern in placing the crystals and mirrored the design on the opposite side so it would be symmetrical. I continued this method, working across the necklace form. Once I had used all of the large crystals, I went back through and covered all remaining black backing with the small flat-backed crystals I had left.

To finish the necklace, I attached a light grey velvet ribbon to the ends with the E-6000 and went through and cleaned up any excess glue bits using tweezers. So there you have it - a glam bridal necklace made for a fraction of the price as the couture version! 

If you are interested in having a necklace like this for your wedding or special event and this seems like too big of a project to undertake, please contact me at or comment below. I would love to chat about making a similar necklace for you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A chalkboard wall... or two!

With our wedding hub bub dying down, I am back to projects and to blogging! First up, a chalkboard wall. I have been wanting a chalkboard wall for awhile now - who doesn't love the idea of being able to draw all over your walls!? My first thought though was practical: a chalkboard section near the kitchen where we can write our grocery needs as they come up during the week. But I wanted to do something a little more fun too... how about a chalkboard art gallery in the bathroom? With all of our creative friends, I can't wait to see what pops up in the frames as time goes by. So here is how I did it:

The first step is cleaning and prepping your surface. I recommend cleaning your walls with a bit of vinegar on an old rag. Vinegar is great for cleaning as it is effective and non-toxic. To prep your wall, remove any hardware - we removed the towel rod in the bathroom - and fill any holes with plaster.

If you are wanting just a section of your wall to be a chalkboard surface - like we did near our kitchen - your next step will be taping off the portion to be painted. The trick to getting very clean lines of your taped off section is to first paint a layer of your wall color. This prevents the new color from seeping under the tape and causing an uneven line.
If you are painting a full wall - like we did in the bathroom - you will also want to tape around the edges. Since the chalkboard paint is black, any mistake you make will be obvious! 

Now that everything is prepped and taped off, time to paint! We did two coats of the chalkboard paint to make sure that everything was covered. Give the paint a good 24 hours to dry properly before peeling off the tape. If you are painting in the bathroom, try to avoid steaming up the room before the paint is fully dry.

Time to break out the chalk! Its best to work from top to bottom of your wall to avoid smearing the chalk. I decided to create a chalk museum of fine art in our bathroom - what better place to encourage creativity!? I looked at some inspiration of vintage typography and just went for it drawing a banner and some embellishments. If you make any mistakes, don't worry! The genius part of chalk is how easy it is to remove. To prevent any evidence of your mistake, dampen a cloth with a bit of water and wipe away the chalk and start fresh. To correct any small mistakes, I used a wet cotton swab.

To create the chalk frames, I used a variety of objects I found around my house to trace around. I found that plates and platters were about the right size and easy to trace around. I used a variety of sizes and shapes for visual interest - circle, square, rectangle, oval - or whatever you may like! Then I embellished the shapes with dots, flourishes and other lines to make them look like frames you might see in an art museum.

To encourage our visitors to add their own art to the museum, we placed chalk in a small marked container on a shelf. We found this perfect vessel for the chalk at Crate & Barrel.

Finishing up the kitchen chalkboard was a much simpler process. I just wrote 'Groceries' along the top and then started my grocery list. Now what to do with the rest of my chalkboard paint...hmmmmm!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


It's garden improvement time! We were able to procure 7 tree stumps from an event Justin worked and they have been sitting in our hallway for months. Well now that the weather has been warming up we have taken to making them into stools for our backyard. Well "making" is maybe the wrong word - more like preparing them.

First step is sanding the tops of the stumps for a nice even, smooth sitting surface.

Next we applied a fast drying polyurathane to the tops and bottoms of the stumps to prevent rot (hopefully!).

Then we decided to make a quick and possibly temporary table to go along with our new stump stools. For the table we used a stump as the pedestal of the table and screwed a square piece of wood on top of it into the stump. Then we laid ceramic tiles on top to create a sturdy surface. We haven't technically adhered the tiles yet, but in time!

And there you have it! Delightful woodland garden seating and a table made from upcycled tree stumps!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Our Zig Zag Wall

Our statement wall is finished! We are now the proud owners of a zig zag patterned wall. And I must say - it was quite easy! Well once you got past the whole taping bit... Here is how I did it:

As I mentioned, the taping part is definitely the most tedious part of this process. To start we measured the width of the wall and then decided how many peaks of the chevrons we wanted to have. We chose 5 and I would always recommend choosing an odd number as odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye. So knowing we wanted 5 peaks we divided the width of our wall into 5 sections and marked it off with a pencil. We then decided we wanted the yellow painted stripes to be 4 inches wide and the white to be 7 inches wide. So starting at the bottom using measuring tape and a level we carefully measured and moved across the wall and then up row after row. Once you have your tape up, clean up the edges on the inside where you will be painting with a straight edge wherever there is overlap. The taping process took maybe 3 hours in total split between a few nights.

Here is the best tip I have ever learned in wall painting - if there is only one thing you ever take away from my blog, it should be this: To prevent paint bleeding under the painters tape, first paint a base coat that matches the wall color. In our case this was a base coat of white where we planned on putting the yellow. Painting the base coat of the wall color insures that if any paint bleeds under the tape, it will match the wall and be unnoticeable. It also makes the top coat at the same level as the tape to again create a very clean line. I used a roller to apply both the white base coat and the top yellow coat. The painting process was much much quicker than the taping!

Now the most fun part of the process.... Peeling the tape! Now it is very very hard to wait for the paint to dry all the way (24 hours) because it is so very tempting to see if all of your hard work turned out how you intended. Especially if you are rather impatient like me - but I have learned this the hard way in the past and I can tell you it pays off to wait to peel! Peel the tape slowly to prevent any of the paint coming off with the tape.

So that's our zig zag wall! I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. I think it really adds movement and interest to the wall while not being too wild (at least not for our tastes). Painting the base coat of white really made the lines turn out perfectly straight - best painting tip ever!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The House of Many Projects

As you can probably tell from my blog, there is always some sort of project going on in our house - and usually multiple ones at the same time! Tonight (after working all day) we decided to start two projects simultaneously - painting a statement wall and refinishing our wood floors. Ok yes. We are probably crazy.

Project 1: Painting a statement wall.
We have been trying to decide for months since moving in what to do with our mostly bare walls in our apartment. I hate a bare wall - any empty square inch on this earth should be filled with beauty! So today I came across a photo of a wall with a zig zag chevron painted design across it and loved the look. I immediately sent the image to Justin and he approved.  Perhaps because we are both impatient, we started taping off the wall right after I got home from work. The finished wall will be a light yellow and white zig zag pattern going from the floor to the ceiling on just one wall.

Project 2: Refinishing the wood floors
The wood floors in our apartment are interesting. In our bedroom they are completely gorgeous with diagonal planks and decorative corners. Some of this pattern continues into the living room but then changes to just straight planks - and a lot of those planks have a significant amount of wear and tear. Although we are renters, we wanted to improve the floors so there aren't big cracks between the planks and pieces sticking up that give us splinters. With the help of our landlord, we are filling in the floor with wood putty, sanding it, staining it, and sealing it. Phew!

With all this action happening in our house on a Monday night, our cat Blue pretty much thinks we are crazy. But he shouldn't be too surprised, this is pretty much a normal Monday night for us!

Updates will come as our projects progress!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Royal Wedding Card Set!? Yes... and I made it

As April 29th approaches, it seems like everyone and their mother-in-law is trying to make a buck off of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton - including my client Topps! I was graced with the opportunity to create the card set and packaging for the Royal Wedding Commemorative Card Collection which will be sold on QVC. Yes... QVC - tell all of your grandmas!

The card set includes tons of photos of Will, Kate, Princess Diana, Prince Harry and Prince Charles throughout the years along with interesting tidbits about their lives and their love story. It will also feature photos from the day of their wedding = manic rush for me on their wedding day to get the new cards to the printer!

Although I do understand the attraction of following the Royal Wedding, I am not going to go as far as calling it the "wedding of the year." I have another wedding in mind a bit closer to me that's going to be just as fabu - although with far less royalty in attendance!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Update on our big (messy) project!

Back in January I originally posted about a big project we are undertaking for our wedding - creating an arch for us to get married under out of twirly yarn globes:

Well, we finally got around to doing some initial experimenting and I am happy to report: Success!

We followed the instructions on this blog: with a few customizations. Other than the messy factor, this was a super simple project that could be easily replicated by anyone. The finished product could be small and used as a table top decoration, or large to create a freakin' awesome hanging lamp.

Ok, lets get messy!

Balloons, white cotton yarn, scissors, corn starch, school glue, spray oil
We decided to alter the supplies a bit from the original blog. They suggested coating the balloon with petroleum jelly but we thought petroleum = big oil = not eco-friendly = not for our green wedding! So we decided to try spray cooking oil, which ended up working great and seems to be less messy as well.

Blow up a balloon (or 3). Its best to not blow the balloons up to their maximum capacity so that it is rounder. We highly suggest using novelty balloons given to you by eccentric relatives (thanks Uncle Tim!).

Hang the balloons over a tarp or cardboard to protect from dripping glue. Spray down the balloons with the spray cooking oil liberally.

Mix 4 oz. white school glue (one normal size glue bottle) with 1/2 cup corn starch and 1/4 cup warm water with your fingers (dig in!) until there are no clumps. Take one end of the yarn and feed it through the glue mix and then start wrapping the gluey yarn vertically around the balloon until its covered well and then switch to horizontally wrapping. Once your balloon is wrapped to your pleasure, tuck the ends of the yarn under another piece.

Now leave your balloons alone for 24 hours to dry. Note: keep cats away, they will want to ruin your project (probably out of jealousy).

After waiting a day for the yarn to dry... pop your balloon! This part is especially exciting - but also messy as we learned: all of the glue that dried on the balloon flew into the air and all over the balloon popper (me). Then bring your very exciting twirly yarn globes outside to give a coating of clear fast drying spray paint all over your new creation.

Now you have a super fun finished project! That was easy right? Now to figure out how to make these into an arch... hmm...

Things we learned from this experiment:

• The glue mix is only enough for one large balloon or 2 smaller balloons (totally shocked me!). This means we are going to have to buy a giant jug of school glue for our project (yes Justin, you were right and I was wrong).

• Spray cooking oil works well as a substitute to petroleum jelly.

• The mess doesn't end once the glue dries. The dried glue on the balloon goes EVERYWHERE when you pop the balloon.

• We are going to have to buy over-sized balloons to get larger round shapes. The balloon shape really starts to distort and become oblong quickly.

• The finished twirly yarn globes are actually quite strong! This is great news for our future arch.