Faux Fern

My favorite kind of houseplant – a paper one!

I really enjoyed making those paper cactus plants – partly because I like 3-d paper crafting, and partly because it’s hard for me to keep indoor plants alive. I’ll blame the northern exposure of my home (too shady in most windows), but really, it’s me. I’m very likely to over- or under- water plants.

So after I made those two desert dwellers, I decided to go the completely opposite direction and go for something more lush – a fern.

I’ve said it before – I’m just stunned by the availability of free cutting patterns online. Some are better than others, but it’s great to not have to reinvent the wheel every time I start a project. I found my fern file here.

Frond drawing for a faux fern

After I downloaded their file, I made a few adjustments. I added a little bit of length to the bottom so I’d have a more substantial “tail” to work with in my final assembly.

After choosing a few variations of green paper from my stash, I sent the first sheet to cut.

Cutting file for a faux fern

After weeding, I discovered a problem. The paper I wanted to use (the only paper stock I have that is green) wasn’t thick enough to bend gracefully like a fern frond. It just flopped over. Not in a cool fern-like way. In a sad, nearly dead plant way. Oh wait – did I just invent a new category of paper plants? 😉

On to plan B – double up the fronds. To get the thickness I wanted and the dimension it would need to look more real, I used two cutouts – one flipped over so the curves matched. I curled the individual leaves using my fingers, being sure to make the two versions be opposite so that I got full dimension from this trick. I used a thick line of glue just down the spine of the fronds, which let the little leaves still be curly, and the combination of the double thick spine plus the heavy glue gave me the bulk I needed for this too look good.

Paper Fern fronds for the faux fern
Close up of the doubled up fern fronds with curled leaves.

Assured I had a plan, I sent the rest of my sheets to cut. Toward the end, I resized a few fronds to give the plant a more natural look, making sure to cut pairs of anything I designed.

I switched up the colors of the top and bottom cutouts to give the plant more variation, and bent and glued them as I described above.

For final assembly, I played with the fronds until I found an arrangment that worked, and then used clear packing tape to group them all together at the bottom. I then wrapped a length of floral wire around that a few times, and then dropped that wire down into a toilet paper tube  which I cut a hole in near the bottom. I threaded the end of that wire out through that hole and twisted it so it wouldn’t come free easily. This construction doesn’t really result in a heavily anchored plant – if I was going to put this in a more high traffic area I’d have to rethink this part.

I dropped the whole assembly into a tall pot, and then filled around it with crumpled strips of grocery bag for the “dirt”. I used a few smaller accordian folded strips to cover the toilet paper tube so it isn’t visible.

SaveSave

Oversize Daisy Decoration

Go big or go home with a paper flower for the door

July was a very hot month this year in KC, and August rolled in with some beautiful weather. Well, actually, we had two flash floods within days of each that did a number on our basement, but fortunately, I have a short memory for things like that 🙂

The improved temperatures mean we are outside again, working in the yard, bike riding and sitting on the screened porch, watching for the space station to pass over head at night.

For an end-of-summer tribute decoration for my door, I went with a big daisy. Going big is hard for me – I have a love of miniature things. But I’ve noticed my door decor always looks great on my work table, and then kind of disappears on the door itself, especially when viewed from the street.

So I tried hard to stay big with this one. Taking my cues from this project, I used the petal template and cut 10 big petals out of white paper using my Silhouette Cameo. The paper I used is 90# index, which is what we use at work to make index tabs from.  I added a scalloped edge to her template for the center, and cut that out of the yellow paper.

Petals and center for an oversized daisy decoration

I have a new tip for saving paper when you cut small items – pre-cut the paper to a size that is just a little larger than the artwork and save the rest for scrap. If you go the other way, and cut the small art and then peel the whole sheet off of the Cameo cutting mat, it may curl or tear, and then you can’t use it later for other small projects.

The directions called for folding the petals, which I did, and I was really amazed at the how that stiffened the paper, as well as the depth it gives the flower.

Because I was going to mount this on my door, I wanted it to be more sturdy the the backdrop in the original post, so I scrounged around in the glassware cabinet and found a couple of lids that I tried on for size to use as a pattern to cut a cereal box circle for backing.

choosing the size of the backer for the oversize daisy decoration

Once that was cut, I began assembling – I tested a few arrangements for the petals and then began gluing them down to the cereal box circle, using quick drying tacky glue. I used an unopened can of beans to weigh down the center until it dried.

When I went to glue down the scalloped centerpiece, I realized that it was too small for the look I was going for. I liked the look of that lid better, so I measured that lid and resized the scalloped circle to a little smaller, and recut it from the same yellow paper. Since I already had the first smaller one, I curled up the edges and then glued both of them onto the center of the flower. I used my trusty bean can again as a weight to help it dry flat.

While that was drying, I drew up a little (not too little, though) ladybug for an added decoration. I had already figured out how to draw a simple ladybug when I Sharpie painted my flower pot, so I just redid that in Adobe Illustrator. I colored the bug so I could figure out what needed to be cut from the black paper and what part came from the red.

a ladybug for the oversize daisy door decoration

Finally I used the Expand, Divide and Combine filters to work it down to just two pieces.

Parts to cut for the ladybug for the oversize daisy decoration

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

Cut file for the ladybug that goes on the oversize daisy decoration

Once those were cut and weeded, I used a glue stick to put the red part on top of the black, and then a blob of quick drying tacky glue to put the bug on the flower. I ended with a bumpy center from all the overlapped petals and probably using too much glue, but I’ve decided that was intentional (adding more depth to my 3-D project, right?).

I made a hanger from the fold tab from the cereal box, and then finally took down my July 4 wreath and spruced up my door for what’s left of August.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Birds With Attitude

This idea came about when I was working on my Black Capped Chickadee garland. Because of their name, I just kept envisioning those birds wearing a backwards black baseball cap, but I couldn’t quite figure out how I wanted to turn that into a paper craft.

Several weeks later, on our usual morning walk, a neighborhood Robin kept running in front of us, looking back as if we were stalking him.

Side note: Why do birds do that? If I could fly, I would definitely do that instead of running. Although truth be told, I’d rather do just about anything than run 🙂

Mr. SuzerSpace made some comment about us being in the bird’s “hood” (if I remember correctly he flashed some fake gang sign to make me laugh) and now I had two funny (at least to me) bird ideas rolling around in my head, so it was time to act.

In Adobe Illustrator

I like to work in Adobe Illustrator because I’ve used it for years, but this could be done in any drawing program you are comfortable in.

First I browsed around on the internet for a good basic bird shape. I wanted something with very large details, because I was going to set these up kind of like layered paper dolls where the details created the different bird types.

Birds with attitude drawn as basic shapes in illustrator

Once I found a couple, I morphed it into something to use as my guide. I can’t really draw anything from scratch, but if I can see the shapes that are used to create something, I can draw them and put them together in Illustrator.

After I drew the basic bird shape, I drew in and colored the pieces that would be needed to turn one into a Red Robin and the other into a Black Capped Chickadee. For that one, I also added a backwards black cap.

Using the Pathfinder tools in Illustrator, I was able to create the cutting files I’d need to make the two birds. I exported this file as a DXF because the basic version of Silhouette Studio can’t use an Adobe Illustrator file, but it has no problem with a DXF format.

In Silhouette Studio

In Silhouette Studio, I set up my Design Page as 12 x 12, cutting with a 12 x 12 Cameo mat.

birds with an attitude cut file

In reality, I’m going to cut these pieces from 6 x 6 card stock, but this is a neat trick I learned where if you place your artwork on the Design Page grid carefully, and line up the paper to match on the mat, you can cut more than one color at a time.

paper setup to cut birds with an attitude

As you can see from my photo, if you are even more careful with your placement, you can use up scrap paper.

Final Assembly

After I cut all the pieces and weeded them, I layered them and glued them up with a glue stick. I glued each one of those down to a piece of white cover stock that was cut to fit the opening of two frames I already had.

Pro tip: Make artwork the size of standard frames so you don’t have to pretend like you are going to get custom frames made. I say “pretend” because I think most people are like me and while I have good intentions of getting things framed, the truth is if I can’t just grab a frame off the shelf at the craft store or Ikea, it is never going to make it onto the wall.

birds with an attitude pieces to assemble

 

I’m not a big fan of my own handwriting, so I cut the words for each in black vinyl and adhered that below the bird image.

birds with an attitude assembled

Once they were assembled I had my own custom bird artwork, perfect for hanging. I have them on my entryway hall, near a big mirror that has my paperclip feet birds perched on it.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

New life for old cushions

Simple sewing and a sale on towels upgrade an old glider

My former next door neighbor was a super lovely woman with an interesting life history. She also had a love of outdoor furniture, and I had asked her once where she had bought a particular set because I was looking for something similar for our screened in porch. She didn’t
remember, but several years later when she decided to replace that set, she gifted it to us.

Technically she said it was a loan, but we both knew she was never going to ask for it back.

The main piece is a glider, and it was probably built in the late ‘60s. It isn’t that cool vintage kind of piece, it’s just an old glider that had seen better days. Some scrubbing and some WD-40 fixed up the metal glider part, but the cushions were a whole other story.

The main fabric was stiff and scratchy, and they had bare spots from use and from where mice had burrowed into them when they were in winter storage.

new life for old cushions
Here’s a before look at one of the old cushions. And this is the “good” one without all the bitten off parts

My plan at the time was to replace them, so I threw an old sheet over them and we used the glider that season. At the end of the season I saw cushions go on sale and tried to find three that matched in the size I needed, and that wasn’t possible.

I repeated this scenario for, uh, 10 years. Didn’t mean to, just never remembered to do anything about it, or refused to pay the price for new cushions. I really don’t understand why outside furniture and accessories are so expensive.

At the beginning of this summer, Mom handed down a really great sewing machine. And I saw on another blog a post about how to make simple cushion covers. The technique didn’t really work for the cushions I had, but it got my wheels turning.

And then I saw this tutorial on making an envelope style pillow case, and I began to wonder if I could make something like that for my
cushions. Make cushion covers, not buy new cushions.

At the beginning of the summer, Target had a sale on beach towels. Boom! (that’s the sound the confetti cannon in my mind makes when a project comes together).

I didn’t use a pattern, but the process was pretty straightforward – sew two towels together on  the short end, right sides together.

Towels give new life to old cushions

Set the cushion on the new double long towel and overlap the top and bottom so the tucked in envelope portion would be invisible on the back. towels create covers that give new life to old cushions

I measured and pinned the sides, and sewed using the stripes as my guideline.

Envelope style cover made from towels gives new life to old outdoor cushions

 

I sewed double seams to make this extra sturdy. And while each cover is defective in it’s own way (I often lose track of right sides and seam allowances when I work), they are light years better than what was there before.

Towels sewn in an envelope style pillow cushion cover give new life to old outdoor furniture | suzerspace.com

Wrestling the cushions into the covers was also a little challenging, but it was worth it, because the finished look is great, and they can come off and run through the wash if needed.

And if they get super grungy or I just get tired of the color scheme, I bet Target has a towel sale again 🙂

Featured at Threading My Way

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave