Glitter Star Wreath

A Fourth of July Decoration gets 3-D from digital and traditional techniques

Fourth of July Decorating is one of my favorites.

I’m not really that patriotic a person, it’s just that my birthday is a few days after the fourth, and I like to think the entire month is mine to celebrate.

Lately on the craft blogs and Pinterest, wreaths with big stars are popping up, some made out of tin, or wood. This one, made of paper, really caught my eye.

Of course I wanted to change it up a bit.

Instead of a vintage look, I went with a glitter version (not real glitter, that’s too messy), and took cues from the original craft post on how to make the paper stars really look more three-dimensional. Instead of using stamping ink, though, I did the whole thing digitally.

In Adobe Illustrator

In Illustrator, I drew up a star, and then resized it several times so I’d have some variety for my wreath. Using the pen tool, I drew straight lines from the center of each point to the opposite side. I changed the stroke to a brush effect, and then changed the opacity to 40% so that whatever I placed underneath it would show through a bit. These lines are going to create  a shaded effect on the ridges of the stars when they are folded.

Stars with shading for a glitter star wreath

I like to work in Illustrator because I’ve used it for many years, but you can accomplish this same look in whatever design program you are comfortable with.

DeviantArt designer harperfinch has a great assortment of free background digital files that are great for projects like this. I found files for red, white and blue glitter backgrounds.

glitter background for a glitter star wreath

Because I’m going to do this as a Silhouette Studio Print and Cut project, I placed the glitter backgrounds in on separate layers in my Illustrator document, and then exported the star shapes as DXF files, and the shading and glitter layers and PNG files.

I also set up a polygon to be cut as my wreath background shape. Most of it isn’t going to be visible, but I thought the extra corners on the polygon would give me more surface to glue the stars to in the end. I exported that file as a DXF file as well, because the standard version of Silhouette Studio cannot work with an Illustrator file, but it can open the DXF format.

In Silhouette Studio

In Silhouette Studio I set up a document that is 8.5 x 11 and turned the registration marks on. I then brought in my cut file and my image file for the white glitter version, and centered them to each other.

There are three small white squares added in to block off the digital glitter background where the registration marks are – you cannot have any printing in those shaded areas or the laser detection for print and cut will fail.

print and cut file for a glitter star wreath

I saved the file because I’m going to need it later for cutting. I then sent the file to my printer, and printed two sheets.

Two more versions of this file are needed, one each for the red and blue versions. I printed two sheets of each of those as well.

To finish the print and cut, I placed a sheet of the stars on my cutting mat, making sure to have the little square in the upper left corner, matching the screen. After changing the cut settings for the card stock I had printed on, I sent the file to print.

stars for a glitter star wreath

After all the sheets were cut and weeded, I set up and cut three pieces for my wreath form. I didn’t have any stock that was thick enough, so by cutting three and gluing them together, I made my own special cardstock.

frame shape for a glitter star wreath

Final Assembly

score stars for a glitter star wreath

Using a ruler and a scoring tool, I scored the back side of the stars from the center of each point to the opposite side.

folded and scored star for glitter star wreath

And then I folded the star along each of the lines, and pinched them into the final star shape. The shading effect is subtle, but it really helps the paper look much more sturdy than it really is.

I arranged the stars approximately how I wanted them to look on the form, and then hot glued them into place. Because the stars aren’t flat, it’s a little tricky getting them glued on. Use lots of glue only on the spots that actually touch the form or each other. And be careful to not get burned squishing them into place.

 

 

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Grilled Asparagus

A simple recipe that brings out the flavor

I do not really remember eating asparagus as a kid, and I only saw it a few times at holiday meals in my early adult life. All the recipes for it seemed ultra-tricky – I don’t own a stand up steamer and hollandaise sauce looks pretty finicky to make and not have separate.

A few years ago, when we tried grilling pretty much everything to see if we could, we tried asparagus and it was a nearly instant success. The only real trick is you need a grill pan of some sort to keep those stalks from rolling into the grates and being eaten by the fire.

Simple grilling brings out great flavor in asparagus | suzerspace.com

We add garlic cloves to the pan for an additional kick of carmelized flavor, but you can skip this step if you are not a fan.

 

Print

Grilled Asparagus

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 3

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Splash Balsamic Vinegar
  • Splash Splash Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the grill with a grill pan on the grates. 

  2. Rinse and pat dry the asparagus. Cut off the tough bottom ends (quick tip – leave that bottom rubber band on and cut above it to make trimming easier).

  3. Peel the garlic. If a milder taste is desired, place the cloves in a microwave safe measuring cup with a cup of water and microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Combine asparagus and garlic in a bowl and add a splash of olive oil; mix well (I use my hands) to make sure everything has a light coating of oil to prevent sticking.
  5. When grill pan is hot, add vegetables and toss, being careful to avoid splatter from the oil.
  6. Monitor while grilling, stirring/flipping occasionally. 

  7. Remove from the grill using long-handled tongs and transfer to a serving plate.

  8. Splash with Balsamic Vinegar, and cover with foil to keep the heat in while you plate up your other grilled dinner items.

Recipe Notes

The 30 minutes of prep time includes bringing the grill up to cooking temperature; actual hands on prep time is less than 5 minutes.

For grilling vegetables, we use a cast iron grill pan, but I've had success with those thinner metal ones with the holes in them that you find in the grilling section of hardware and cooking gadget stores.

Stir occasionally while grilling - these are not fussy and do not need to be perfect; like the grilled mushrooms, the goal is get them good and charred but not burned.

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Web Wednesday: June 28, 2017

Alarm Clocks, Mortgage Calculators and Buzzy Bugs

  • As a person who has good intentions but often ends up with odd results on DIY home improvement projects, this made me laugh.
  • On my adulting list last week was meeting with a loan officer about the best time to refinance our mortgage, and while the web is full of information, I really liked this calculator which stepped you through the messy math needed to make a decision.
  • I can already hear them at night. It’s getting to be Cicada Season (don’t click if you don’t like pictures of bugs).

None of these links are affiliate; they are just items that caught my eye in the last week.

Tiny Tip: Make Matching Art Accessories

A quick trick that doesn’t require a 500 word essay

I have this super cute shower curtain that I purchased at Ikea (sorry – no link, it’s no longer being offered).

Shower curtain for matching art

They had matching towels, but no wall artwork was available.

So I made my own.

I took a good, clear closeup photo of two of the fish on the curtain. And then I cleaned them up in Adobe Photoshop and auto traced the result in Adobe Illustrator. I changed the colors to be more vibrant, added a border and border background color and printed it as an oversize color print.

I have the luxury of working where I have access to an oversize color printer, but Staples/Kinkos/etc. will print these in the $1.99 to $9.99 range depending on size and paper stock.

I dropped it into a inexpensive frame (from Ikea, of course) and now  my bathroom is a one-of-a-kind designer masterpiece. And when I change shower curtains, I can make new matching artwork.

I’m only suggesting this for personal use, of course. I’m not a lawyer, but I’d guess that if you tried to sell an item created this way, you’d likely be violating every copyright law there is.

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Patriotic Paper Wreath

Perfect for Summer Holidays!

There are three holidays in the summer that cry out for patriotic decorations – Memorial Day, Flag Day and Fourth of July.

For this wreath, I used what I learned making the mini Happy Day spring wreath. By changing the shape of the “stems” and adding some correctly colored circles for berries, I created a fun door decoration I can use whenever it’s called for.

In Adobe Illustrator

I searched the web for images of berry laden stems, and then simplified them into two versions, a tall one and a short one. I also created an additional circle that was just a little larger than the ones on the branches so I could add the red, white and blue berries on later.

Branches drawn for a patriotic wreath

 

I exported the file as a DXF, since the basic version of Silhouette Studio can’t work with an AI, EPS or SVG file, but it can use the DXF format.

In Silhouette Studio

I set up my Design Page settings for 9 x 11 to match the paper I had selected.

Branches to cut for a patriotic wreath

I duplicated and moved the branches around until I could fit as many as possible on a sheet. I sent the file to cut, weeded it and repeated until I felt like I had more than enough pieces to fill out my shape. This does not have to be an exact science – if you guess wrong you just go back and cut more.

Berries to cut for patriotic wreath

I then duplicated and aligned the circle that becomes the berry, and cut a sheet each of them on white, red and blue paper.

Final Assembly

I used my standard trick of cutting a circle out of a cereal box using a bowl for a guide, and just like in the other wreath project, I began in the upper left corner and used tacky glue to adhere the stems down, working to cover the cereal box and keeping the wreath really natural looking. This means you don’t want to overlap the stems too perfectly – some should stick out a little bit higher or lower than others.

Weeded parts for a patriotic wreath

It turns out I had way more than enough stems cut, so I decided to go ahead and glue them on the back of the wreath. The back of the wreath won’t ever be seen, but by doing this, I added a little more dimension to the piece.

Assembled patriotic wreath

 

I let this stage of the project dry for a while so that it wouldn’t fall apart as I glued on the berries.

I eyeballed the wreath into thirds and began gluing on the circles of red, white and blue. At some point I realized I didn’t have enough of two of the colors and went back and cut additional circles to finish.

Once complete, this hangs on the nail on my front door.

I was featured at the MyBusyBeehives.com linkup party

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