First of all, I want to thank everyone for all the nice comments and personal messages you sent me regarding these ornaments. Nothing makes the extra hours and effort spent more worth it than knowing that others enjoy what you made. Anyone who creates can attest to that. The long hours at the saw spent working on these (as well as my sore back!) are now just a faded memory, replaced by a sense of accomplishment and achievement. It really does me good to see how much everyone likes these, and I have already had several requests as to when the patterns will be available for sale.
I promise to get them up on the site as soon as possible – probably within a couple of days. I still need to write and assemble the packet and I still need to do one last checking of the line work to make sure everything is perfect. I want to be certain these go out with no errors.
I spent the bulk of yesterday finish sanding everything and then I applied several coats of spray shellac to the ornaments. The maple ones look lovely and I am glad I decided to leave them all natural colored. I will post final pictures soon when I add this project to my gallery and you will be able to see them all finished.
As for the birch copies, they took a bit more work than I had anticipated. In my own vision, I had an idea of jewel-toned frames with perhaps gold leafing applied. I felt that it would give the ornaments a true Victorian look and be a nice variation from the natural wood. I like the deep jewel tones and think that they have their place in holiday decorating depending on the theme. And for those of you who know me, you know I like giving choices.
My original thought was to use my old standby – the DecoArt Staining and Antiquing medium and deep colors to stain the frames. I chose a deep Burgundy color and began to apply it to a frame in my usual manner, with a flat brush and just brushing it on the tops of the frame. (I felt it would be quite tedious to try to paint all the sides of the intricate cut out areas.)
This first attempt was quite a disaster. The gel addition to the burgundy paint made it looked watered-down and pinkish. Not the regal look that I was aiming for. I also had a difficult time brushing just the top of the frame, as the paint wanted to gather along the sides and made gel-like ridges along the edges of the designs. To be honest, it looked like crap.
So now what? (On to plan ‘b’)
I decided to paint the frames in solidly with the color. The area was so small that staining wouldn’t show any type of grain and since I had used birch, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. But how the heck would I be able to quickly and easily paint these intricate frames without it taking forever?
I thought a bit and decided to try using a sea sponge. I dampened the sponge first and squeezed it as dry as I could. I then dipped it into the puddle of paint and proceeded to sponge the entire little frame. The sponge got down along the sides enough to just about cover them without having to pick through with a paint brush. Splendid!
The hardest thing about this process was waiting for things to dry. Since I decided to do three each of four colors (Burgundy, Pthalo Blue, Viridian Green and Dioxiodine Purple) the paint from the first one wasn’t dry when I was done painting the third, so it wasn’t ready to do the back or re-coat the second layer. So I tore four small bits off of the sponge and went from one color to the next. By the time all four colors were finished with the first side, the first pieces were ready to be coated on the back. It was a much more efficient way to do things, I thought.
I applied two coats because all the colors I had chosen were semi-transparent and I wanted full, deep coverage. Besides, since I was planning to apply gold over them, it wouldn’t matter if the colors weren’t perfectly even. The same was true for the sides of the frames.
When all the base coats were dry, it was time to do the gold accents. Originally, I had intended to do gold leafing, but with the tiny size of these ornaments, it would be a tedious and messy process and would probably not look much different than if I had painted them with gold metallic paint in the first place. I didn’t want my customers to have to muss and fuss and get expensive leafing when it wasn’t necessary so I went to my supply of Americana Acrylics and pulled a color. The first color I picked was kind of an ‘old gold’. I wanted the gold to be subtle and not overpowering so I chose that to start.
However, when I sponged it on the first frame, it only made it look dull and dirty. I was bitterly disappointed. I had to allow it to dry, and then re-coat it with the original burgundy color and wait and think what alternative I could use.
I had a small jar of what they called “liquid leaf” which I never tried before. Since it was quite a bit more watery than the acrylic gold paints, I decided not to use a sponge to apply it because I would have little control as to the amount that would be applied. I decided to use a deerfoot stippler brush and kind of stipple it on the piece. It was smelly and when I pounced the color on, it wanted to run and level out. Again, I was not happy with the look at all. Back to the drawing board again.
I once again base coated the frame to bring it to the original solid color. This time I looked in my DecoArt Acrylics and pulled the brightest gold I had (they have about four different gold colors, believe it or not!) Initially I had thought that it would look gaudy and too bright, but after seeing the dull color of the Venetian Gold on the dark colors, I thought I would give it a try.
I once again used a small piece of sea sponge and tried applying the gold in that manner. Finally I achieved a level of success that I felt was acceptable. The process was quick and easy and quite inexpensive. I sponged the back, front and sides of all the twelve frames in the bright gold and I came close to what I had envisioned in my head. It was a great relief that I hadn’t ruined the second set, as I thought perhaps I had. Here are the final results of the day:
I think they look quite festive!
Here is the blue:
And last but not least, my favorite reindeer in burgundy:
NOW I feel good about them! They are so different from the natural maple set, but I do like them both almost equally. I think that even as larger plaques they will look very nice. And the best part of all – you didn’t even touch a paintbrush to make them look that way! That will be a real plus for those customers of mine who hate to paint! Even children can help make these and be quite successful.
It has almost been a week since I began working on this idea. The days have been full too, and I haven’t been slacking. When I look at the two little piles of ornaments in front of me it is hard to believe that something so small took that much time. But I couldn’t be happier with the results. And when the patterns are done, I will know within myself that others will be able to successfully recreate these pretty little ornaments without too much difficulty. I have done everything I could to try to insure that and that is what designing is all about to me.
I really do love my job. :)
Today is on to writing and constructing the instructions. I know it is going to be a good one. I hope you all have a great day too!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"