Thursday, November 7, 2013

Owl Cake.

My Daughter had her 12th Birthday way back in August, and she wanted an owl inspired cake, as owls seem to all the rage with her at the moment. I set about with a few ideas inspired by Pinterest. As I had been successful in creating a small cutting cake on top of a cupcake tower before, this was the path I had envisaged with the owl cake. I decided on one large owl sitting on a branch surrounded by flowers for the cutting cake, and alternate owls and flowers for the cupcakes.

Several months ago, I had pinned a simple owl made out of a cut out round piece of clay, and decided I would try it with fondant. I mixed up some brown, and left the rest white. I cut out 2 circles. The brown a larger one, and the white quite a bit smaller. I left some small circular indents in the white and lay it on top along one edge of the brown circle. I then folded in the 2 sides of the brown to form wings, and then folded in the top and formed some small ears for the head. I used the end of a small chopstick to press in the eyes, and the bottom of a small heart cutter to press in the beak.

I also cut out many small and medium sized bright pink blossoms and small green leaves from fondant, and left them to dry on baking paper for several days.

Once the blossoms were dry I stuck on some pearl cachous with royal icing, and they were all ready to be used on the cakes.

The next task was the owl! Basically, I started with a pink blob of fondant and fashioned it into an owl shape with small ears! It certainly wasn't hard at all. I then cut out a heart for it's tummy and made wings, eyes, a beak and some feet out of leftover already coloured fondant. I stuck a flower on top of it's head, and it was finished.

Before I began icing the top cake, I drew a template for the branch out of tracing paper, ready to use as a template on the rolled brown icing.The cupcakes were iced with aqua icing and the construction began!

It wasn't as neat as I would have hoped, but I literally finished with 20 minutes to spare before the hoards of pre-teenage girls arrived!

She loved it!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tiffany & Co Inspired Desk.

Since my daughter is beginning secondary school next year, it was about time I found her a desk for her room where she can quietly do her homework without the normal household distractions (ie; little brothers). Well, that was the plan, anyway!

We had hunted high and low for the perfect desk. Not too big and cumbersome, but not too small to be able to spread out books comfortably. It also couldn't be too modern and had to have storage drawers. Easy, right? Not really. Knowing I still had my childhood desk and had revamped it a few years ago, I had the thought of a fairly plain but solid pine raw students desk which I could paint any colour she wanted.

After searching many suburbs and furniture shops, where there once were an assortment of basic raw pine furniture shops, there was a distinct lack of. They just didn't exist anymore. No one, it seemed, wanted to buy raw pine furniture anymore. It was mostly hardwood, all finished and all imported.

Eventually, we found an 'old style' shop that stocked locally made pine furniture, and yes, they had a student's desk about the right size and we could have one in raw. Fabulous! So after taking the measurements and drawing up a scale map of her room and other furniture, we decided it would fit. Perfect!

That is, of course, until a few weeks later we went back to the shop to order a raw pine desk, only to be told that the local manufacturer is closing his doors in a week at the end of the financial year, and couldn't get a raw one. Great. We had to settle for floor stock that was already stained and varnished, ie; more work (and money) for me to transform. Knowing our struggle to find the desk initially, we had to settle for that. It could have taken months to find the perfect second hand one on ebay, and I really wanted to complete it during the upcoming school holidays.

Thankfully, we were given a discount for floor stock! Here she is in her 'just purchased' form, a beautifully finished plain desk with 3 drawers, although she doesn't fit in with any other pieces in my home in her current state, and would stand out like 'you know what' in my daughter's room!

...and so the transformation begins! Albeit, a little more work than I had anticipated.

First I took out the drawers and labelled them so they went back in the same spots, then removed the handles. I didn't need to fill in the holes, as I was replacing with knobs, not pulls, so used the same holes. I then gave it a quick wash and began my least favourite task of sanding. It was not my intention to remove all the previous stain/varnish, but just to rough it up a bit so the new paint would have something to stick to.

When working with a piece like this, I always start with it upside down, and do the underneath (and sides) first, then finish with the top. This way, it doesn't have to sit on it's freshly worked on top to start the next process, particularly important with painting, not so with sanding, but I always work to the same formula for each process, so nothing gets missed!.

 After sanding, vacuuming, washing and washing again, it was ready to be primed. It's paramount to use the correct primer for the job. As this desk was previously stained and varnished and most of it was still on the furniture, a stain blocking primer was essential. This prevents any of the previous colour leeching through the finished paintwork, destroying all the hard work already achieved. My primer of choice is Zinsser BIN. I've used it on all my other furniture revamps and it has always worked. It is quite expensive, but well worth it in the long run. Don't skimp on this process!!! I prefer to use it in spray cans for projects such as this. I used 3 cans for the desk and drawer fronts and 3 thin coats to gain complete coverage. Several thin coats work best than 1 thick coat, as this paint has a tendency to run if it's on too much in the one spot. The first coat always looks spotty, but don't over work it. It will all 'fill in' in the subsequent coats.

Once the primer had dried properly (overnight) it was time for the colour. I used a gloss acrylic (water based) for this. I know it's not as durable as gloss enamel (oil based), but it's friendlier to my head (lack of fumes), dries quicker and cleans up in water. The colour of choice is 'Island sea' by Dulux.

2 coats of colour and she's done!

I let her finish drying inside and harden for a week before moving into my daughter's room. The crystal style knobs went on a few weeks later (once I found the ones I wanted after 1 shop ordered me 2 instead of 3 and then couldn't get another!), and the Tiffany & Co inspired desk is all complete and ready for use.

A 'completed' photo in the room will have to wait due to mess!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Making of The Gallery Wall.

Is it really August? This year has flown by so quickly again, and my poor little blog has taken a back seat yet again. I am a little more active on my Facebook page if you want to keep up to date with the house and projects over there!

Stormy's Castle

So what's been happening for 9 months since my last post? I've made several butterfly frames for the shops, including some new designs, I've painted a desk and put up a gallery wall in the lounge room.

If you can remember the space prior to plantations and maps in stage one:

Stage two with the plantations and maps:

I still had a completely blank wall to fill opposite. My plan was always to have a gallery wall of black and white photos I had taken of the children. I just had to choose the right photos and find suitable frames. Easy? Not really! I had many photos to choose from, that wasn't the issue. It required careful planning, designing and searching for the right frames that were black with white matt, and in the right size for the photos....and a bit of procrastination in the 'too hard' basket. I also wanted to find a pro lab to print my photos since they were going to be enlarged on the wall. I also had to make templates the size of the frames and stick them to the wall to see if it filled the space enough.

I eventually decided on 11x14 inch enlargements. I needed 9 frames and arranged in a 3x3 format.

The frames I used I purchased from Harvey Norman, but they are readily available in other shops. They weren't the most expensive, nor the cheapest, so I hope they last a while!

I thought choosing the photos and deciding on a pro lab to process them was hard....but the most challenging part was hanging them. The back of the frames had 3 small 'D' rings which enabled the frame to be hung portrait or landscape. We initially put some frame wire between 2 of the 'D' rings, thinking we could use 1 hook on the wall, but the wire kept slipping, so the frame would hang lower (and keep getting lower...) than what we wanted.

So with all the templates made, we used them to work out where each hook would sit in the 'D' ring. Yep...2 hooks per frame. There was a lot of meticulous measuring and leveling, as I'd worked out there to be a 3.5cm gap between each of the frames. I also had to put several string lines blu-tacked to the wall to use as a straight edge...the laser level was useless...needed 6 pairs of hands for that! At least the string lines stayed in place!

3 weekends of planning, buying frames and waiting for my online processing to be delivered, and 2 days of hanging (...and a little swearing...), stage three is now complete, and I couldn't be happier!

I thoroughly recommend RGB Digital pro lab in Brisbane for excellent quality printing and service. I ordered them one night and they were shipped the next day and delivered to me the day after that. Beautiful quality, considering some of these were scanned from a 6x4 print from film!

I'm happy, but thankful I don't have to tackle that job again!!

Stage four?? I may need (note 'need' not 'like') a rug to tie the 2 couches together, and of course, there is the tufted ottoman I will be making at some stage. I also added 2 bargain white ceramic stools from The Reject Shop ($40 each!). I'm also considering changing the downlight in the middle of the room to a chandelier at a (very) later stage.

Always a work in progress.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

I can't believe where this year has gone. It just seemed to disappear right before my very eyes, but I guess having 2 jobs (3 if you count the kids/house and 4 if you include all the butterfly frames and cards I make...) time just goes quickly.

 I've been attempting to decorate the house for Christmas for 2 weeks, but I'm only half way through, as something else seems to crop up which is more important. Next year, I think I might start in September!!

So far I have got as far as the tree, the front door and the hall table, but the stairs and dining table are still to be done. I've also bought 2 wreaths for under the lights on the front pillars, but they are yet to go up too.

One day.....

Don't forget you can find me on Facebook, where I tend to update weekly due to ease. I very rarely sit down at my PC these days, whereas I have my phone with me constantly. What did we ever do without smartphones?

I promise to be back before Christmas with some updated decorating pics!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Life, as it seems, has come between me and my blog...again!

I'm actually home this week, sick, and instead of running around catching up on all the housework I perhaps should be doing, I'm taking some time out and resting instead. I'm actually too dizzy to be running around anyway, so taking things quietly has been good.
Today, I plan on making some more vintage style gift tags and cutting out some butterflies for a couple of orders I have. The washing, vacuuming, cleaning out the fridge and tidying can wait!

This is a limited edition French Travelling Butterflies I made out of a French book I found in an Op Shop. The book is small, hence the 'limited', I may stumble upon some more, but this is all I have at this stage. I actually finished it for Bastille Day...but didn't find the time to process the photos or update the blog...until now.

I'm also itching to go and visit the new Mondo Cherry shop, which has opened up about 10 minutes away... 2 weeks ago, and I just haven't been able to. School discos and sleepover parties have prevented me from going on the last 2 Fridays. I just love their use of colour, and I can't wait to see their artwork mixed in with other lovely goodies!

Don't forget you can come and visit me on Facebook, where I find it so much easier to update. I'm still getting used to the new blogger interface...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stormy's Castle Now on Facebook.

Hi Everyone,

I have created my own Facebook page with all of my butterfly frames and crafty things in the one place. I will still be updating the blog, but thought it was easier to have all the photos of my frames and art/craft in the one place where it is easier to find. Any queries for custom made orders are welcome.

So feel free to join me and 'like' my page :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blue and White.

Such a beautiful classic colour combination which I have wanted to create a butterfly artwork in, but always found it difficult finding the right paper. By chance, I came across a small pad of scrapbooking paper at Spotlight, which was perfect! The right colours and the right geometrical patterns.

It looks great in my lounge room next to my new (second hand) Ginger Jar and blue jug - both from the Waverley Antiques Bizzare....I so love that place!! But I'm actually going to be giving this one to the shop to see if it will sell, with the intent on making some more.

Next on the to-do list, is a travelling style made from a French book I found in the Flinders Op Shop, and perhaps another Mills and Boon one, as I have sold the other.

...I just need to find some time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Making of The Craft Room.

As the title suggests, it was time to move all of my crafty 'stuff' from the familyroom/meals area into it's own dedicated space. It has always been tricky working on something, having to pack it all away to clear the table for dinner, only to set it up again after. My pile of 'stuff' (although mostly stored away in a rattan trunk) was ever growing, and was crying out to be organised!

..and so, the transformation of the 'just-chuck-it-in-the-spare-room-and-I'll-deal-with-it-later' mess begins!

This is what I had to deal with:

There was lots of reorganising and throwing out to be done. A lot of it went to the op shop, but most of it actually got moved to the other side of the be sorted on another rainy day!

After planning and measuring, it was off to IKEA to go shopping:

6 boxes later, it was home again to begin the construction.

Piece 1: a 4x4 EXPEDIT in white:

Piece 2: The EXPEDIT Desk attachment in white:

Piece 3: An EXPEDIT 2x2 for under the windows:

Piece 4: A new chair and floor mat. Put it all together with a few boxes, magazine files and an EXPEDIT draw, and ths is what I have:

It's still quite bare at the moment, but I'm slowly adding all my stuff to the shelves and tidying up. I still need to get a light and a pin board for the wall above the desk for all my inspiration.

I have since added a set of drawers to keep my A4 paper in (colour coded, of course), and a ribbon dispenser I found in Spotlight while looking for other storage boxes.

Looks a little more organised, doesn't it? My apologies for the phone pics, I promise to take some better ones once the space is complete. These were all taken on the fly!

Stay tuned for some more pics once I inject some personality into the space. There is still quite a bit to do!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Love Butterflies.

Just a quick post today with another 'Travelling Butterflies'. This time, I cut them out of a 1956 Mills and Boon purchased from the Op Shop for 50c. I love a bargain!!

It hasn't made it into the shop, yet, but hopefully it will sell shortly.

Lots of plans in the pipeline to make some more....just have to find some of that precious time to do it in. Between 2 jobs and looking after 2 kids and a house, there isn't much of it left. A fair bit of my spare time is taken up with constructing displays for one of my jobs, attempting to relax in front of  'The Block', and catching up on washing/folding/cleaning. Oh, and getting my head around the new blog interface...the old version was so much more user friendly. Guess I'll get used to it ;)

 Chat soon!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vintage Heaven.

My decorating style is a bit of a mod podge of Hamptons, French Provincial and English Country...with a bit of vintage industrial thrown in to create an eclectic mix. I have a few vintage 'decor' items around the place, and I adore the whole raw industrial look of natural wood and rusty metal, all weathered for that gorgeous vintage look.

I have just discovered the most amazing place approximately 10 minutes from home, which is a haven of vintage heaven! It's a HUGE warehouse FULL of individual antique and vintage store holders in Glen Waverley....yep, the burbs!! No longer is a trip required to The Tyabb Packing House, day trips to country towns in search of vintage goodness, or trying to find a carpark at the Chapel Street Bazaar. There's one on my doorstep! I believe it is operated by the same person who began the Tyabb Packing House and the (now closed) Mornington Antique Market...but don't quote me!

The Waverley Antiques Centre will be seeing me possibly on a weekly basis. I already have a few of my favourite store holders picked out :)

So....what did I find? Apart from anything and everything that I 'could' have bought, I settled for a book plate of birds eggs in beautiful creamy/bluey colours, a couple of old books (with blue covers), a wooden shoe last, a metal number 3 (complete with cobwebs), a gorgeous blue sliding box that originally had watch springs in it and an Hawaiian flag which I'm told was used in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. I actually didn't realise it was the Hawaiian flag...but I had to have it as it was the 'right' colours...and had the Union Jack on it...naturally!

I'm not sure what the number was originally from, but it has 3 holes along the top and none along the bottom, so I can only guess it may have been from some type of scoreboard? Regardless, it's old and weathered and I love the font!

My advice if you plan on making the trip to the Waverley Antiques Centre, is to make sure you have lots of time (and I mean hours...), know your prices and compare prices once you are there. I saw the same book in 2 different stores. One had it for $15 marked down to $8, while another for $25! My shoe last was $22, but I did see others for around $60.

Last weekend, we took a day trip up to Daylesford to deliver a couple of butterfly frames I had finished. I had not been up there for many years, and loved it! The Lake was stunning on a perfect Autumn day, and the shops were gorgeous! My butterfly frames will do well up there, infact 2 previously have sold within a day, and this one sold within 2 hours!

This was the other frame we delivered, a white frame with green, purple and pink butterflies in the 'travelling' style. I don't think it will be as popular as the vintage maps in a black frame, but nice to try something slightly different, and it may be just the piece someone has been looking for.

In other crafty DIY news, I made use of 2 IKEA candles and some of the vintage sheet music I have collected :)

Until next time, happy vintage hunting!!!