Thursday, April 4, 2013

Zapp Hall, Y'all!


If you've never been to Central Texas in springtime, you must come visit us at this time of the year, before the sun gets so hot that even the rattlesnakes wish they were in Alaska. Seriously, Texas is most gorgeous at this time of the year, when the trees are greening, the bluebonnets are washing the hillsides in shades of cobalt and heaven, and newborn calves are cavorting in the fields. I love living here -- can you tell? This is also the time of year when antique vendors dust off their wares and descend on Texas. So, for our somewhat annual trip to the region this past Easter weekend, Mr. Slipper Moon and I slipped on our cowboy boots and headed to Warrenton, site of the Zapp Hall Antique Show.

Zapp Hall is the preview to the huge semi-annual show in Round Top (which is going on now, as I sit here and type). This was my first visit and I could not believe the acres of antiques and just generally good junk to be discovered!

There were bathtubs for little cowpokes (I can see flowers planted in one of these, placed in my garden!)

and bathtubs for taller cowboys

all kinds of transportation, from this cute little airplane pedal car in perfect condition

to a bicycle riksha

to Mr. Slipper Moon's dream yellow street rod

and this hot pink "Junk Gypsy" set of wheels

to MY dream -- a Gypsy vardo (I want one of these someday!)

That terrific Gypsy vardo lured me into the adjoining tent which held terrific wares

especially this pink floral trunk. I have one similar -- Wonder if I can make mine look this cute?

On the quirkier side, we found this armadillo made from tin roofing material

and this gorgeous copper art

and more letters galore.

By that time, we were feeling as disheveled as that pile of letters and our boot soles were wearing thin, so we headed to Fayetteville for a bite to eat and then made my pilgrimage to the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange,

a town made famous by the play and movie Best Little Whore House in Texas ("Lord have mercy on our souls!")

and a drive through pretty bluebonnet-covered hillsides.

Y'all come see us, you hear? And if you head to Warrenton and Round Top for the miles of antiques, wear comfortable shoes and not cowboy boots, or better yet, bring a golf cart. My feet still haven't recovered!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Welcome Spring with Decoupaged Eggs

"Well, spring sprang. We've had our state of grace and our little gift of sanctioned madness, courtesy of Mother Nature. Thanks, Gaia. Much obliged." Chris in the Morning ("Spring Break," Northern Exposure)

Here at Slipper Moon, the sun is shining, days are warming, trees are greening, birds are already raising their young. We're completing the journey from winter's dark to Spring's light! This year I'm welcoming the season with decoupaged eggs. 

This is my first attempt at working with Mod Podge and I discovered that there is a learning curve. So I offer my method, in case you want some decoupaged eggs of your own. These are the supplies I used:
plastic eggs (mine are about 3" long and 2" wide, but any size will do)
a knife (such as exacto or box knife)
medium grit sandpaper or sponge sanding block
Scotch brand tape (the frosted kind -- glue seems to stick to it better)
scrapbook paper (not card stock)
a ruler
something to protect your work surface (wax paper for me)
Mod Podge (I used matte)
plastic to set the eggs on to dry (I used ziploc bags)
a wet rag or bunch of wet paper towels (to clean up your fingers and errant drops of glue)
a willingness to get sticky hands!
No brush required! I applied the Mod Podge with my fingers instead because a brush can damage the surface of the paper after the glue softens it.

So to begin, with a knife, trim off the little plastic hinge that holds the two halves of the egg together. While you're at it, trim off any other plastic extrusions formed by the manufacturing process.

Lightly sand the egg all over to knock off the plastic's gloss so the Mod Podge will stick better. Tape the egg's two halves together. Smooth the tape down around the seam as best you can, but don't obsess. Creases and bubbles will be removed in the next step. (This step is just to hold the egg together while you're working. The layers of Mod Podge and paper will permanently hold the egg together.) Next, lightly sand over the tape. Concentrate on the edges of the tape and any creases and bubbles. Try not to sand heavily over the egg's seam -- That's where the tape is doing its job of holding the egg together. You will find that the sandpaper smooths the tape down and removes any bumps, leaving a smooth surface.

Place a piece of scrapbook paper on a flat surface and lay the ruler on top, about 3/8" from one edge. Holding the ruler flat, tear a strip from the paper. I tear the strip a little at a time instead of striving for one long, smooth tear.  The resulting irregular width of the strip helps it conform to the egg's rounded shape. Tearing the paper leaves a deckle edge, which blends better once you start gluing. However, sometimes the white edge of the paper shows on the finished egg. I happen to like that slightly shabby look, but if you hate it, you may want to cut your paper instead of tearing it. You will just have to work a little harder to get the edges of the paper to lay flat while you're gluing. While your fingers are still dry and unsticky, tear several strips and have them ready. As for the width of the strips, roughly 3/8" conforms best to the size eggs I used (about 3" long and 2" wide). If your plastic eggs or smaller or larger, experiment to see what width works best.

Now decoupage the egg!  Dip the tip of your finger into the Mod Podge and apply about an inch along the taped seam. Lay a strip of paper on the glue, dip your finger into Mod Podge again and apply to the surface of the strip, spreading it along the strip and pressing it to the egg. Go all the way around the seam and, when you get back to the starting point, tear the paper strip and adhere it with more Mod Podge.

The paper tears more easily when it is saturated, so apply Mod Podge on the strip a little ahead of where you are working, to prepare for tearing it.

   For the next row, position the top edge of the new strip so that it just covers the bottom edge of the strip above it, and continue all around.

Don't expect that every strip will go all the way around the egg and meet at its beginning. The curvature of the egg prevents that and makes the bottom of the strip stick up from the surface of the egg. You will find that short strips conform to the egg's curve better than one long strip. So while you are gluing, let the paper follow the path it wants to take and lay as flat as possible until it starts to curve up, trying to cover the row of paper above it -- It will look like this: At that point, tear the strip off, reposition it, and continue, like this:

As you work towards the top and bottom of the egg, you will have to use shorter and shorter strips. While you are working, keep going back over what you've glued and press the paper flat with your finger. As the paper becomes saturated with Mod Podge, it is easier to make it lay flat. Some paper has a more fragile surface than others, and you can actually rub off the design when it becomes saturated. If that happens, just patch those places with more paper and Mod Podge. I had the most luck with "Recollections" brand of scrapbook paper, purchased at Michaels. Work fairly quickly, before the Mod Podge begins to set up. If you find that your hands are sticking to the egg (and yikes! even removing part of the paper!), stop and wash your hands and then continue. Basically, that's it! Continue doing that until you cover the egg. Set it on plastic to dry. As the egg dries, occasionally gently lift it from the plastic and turn it over to allow all surfaces to dry evenly and prevent the egg from sticking. If the egg sticks and leaves behind some of your pretty paper, or if you see that you missed a spot, just cover the empty place with more paper and Mod Podge! Then display and enjoy!


Happy Spring, all! (Isn't that little rusty wheelbarrow cute? It was my husband's toy. When my Mother-In-Law found it and gave it to him a few weeks ago, I knew it had to be home to my carved bunny and many decoupaged eggs!)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Songbirds and Bluebonnets

New Year's Resolutions: Post more to this blog, learn to design quilts with my shiny new Electric Quilt 7 program, MAKE MORE QUILTS, do less housework (if that's possible!), and love the people in my life as much as I can.

Remember this? After a year's worth of frustration which culminated in a factory overhaul of my quilting machine, I finally finished this quilt in time to give it to my MIL for Christmas -- only a year late! I'm an absolute, wet-behind-the-ears, novice longarm quilter, but I'm pretty pleased with the way this one looks (except for the quality of these photos -- more on that complaint below!)

I stitched sunflowers in the plain squares, using a circle ruler and straight ruler for the centers, and free-handing the petals

For the star squares, I stitched a design that I learned in Deloa Jones class at the Houston Quilt Show this past November.<

Finally I labeled it for her -- "Texas Byrds and Bluebonnets" -- because our last name is Byrd. Corny, but she liked it. What warms a quiltmaker's heart is not batting and cloth, but appreciation and love! I am so very glad she loved her gift. (And here's my final New Year's resolution: to reinstall Photoshop on my computer -- which I lost after my computer crashed -- and take more photos with my Nikon. These photos were taken with my IPad and I apologize for the poor quality. The colors are not true, the IPad provides very limited ability to crop, and I think they are not as sharp as they could be. So stay with me, readers. I promise more posts and better photos of my quilting adventures and all the doings here at peaceful Slipper Moon!)