Gilding the Pumpkin

Earlier this week, when I shared our fall mantle with you, I promised a tutorial on the gold pumpkins that I used.  To be honest, I feel a little silly even calling this a tutorial – I am pretty confident that y’all can figure out how to get the look without my help!  Still, I’m not about to go back on my word, so here’s a quick rundown on what I did to turn plain-jane foam pumpkins into these golden beauties!

DIY gold pumpkins

I know, I know…gold is everywhere.  It seems everywhere I look – in stores, online, on Pinterest, etc.  gold is going strong as the metallic du jour.  Honestly though, I’m not complaining – I have jumped wholeheartedly on that bandwagon.  As much as I love stainless and silver, nothing warms up a space quite like a touch of gold.  Plus, it goes so well with the colors of the season.  From russet, to crimson, to goldenrod, to chocolate – gold sets them off in such perfect harmony.

So for my mantle this fall, I decided the only thing better than pumpkins would be GOLD pumpkins. Well, sort of – I didn’t use real gold (on a budget over here, remember?), but I did use the next best thing – liquid leaf.  As for the pumpkins, I got them at Target after Halloween when everything was marked down 70%.  You can also buy them at craft stores, Big Lots, Dollar tree. or through the affiliate link above.

Now as an official fangirl of everything golden, I have alot of products in my arsenal that can give something the Midas touch.  Someday, I’ll do a big, fat, comparison post of them all so you can see the differences.  I love my gold spray paint and my Rub ‘n Buff, but when I want something to really shine, I turn to liquid leaf (similar, in classic gold).  Yes, it’s smelly (it’s oil-based).  Yes, it’s expensive compared to, say, gold craft paint.  But the shine – oh baby…the only thing that compares (other than the real deal, of course) is gold leaf sheets, which make such a mess that I only use them when I absolutely must.

Liquid leaf comes in a bunch of colors, from silver to copper, but for this project I used the color “brass.”  It’s gold without being too orange – it has just enough green in it to avoid looking like pyrite.  While this product can be used anywhere you would use normal paint, I find it is shiniest and most metallic when used on smooth, non-porous surfaces, like polymer clay or plastic.  In this case, I was painting over some dense foam pumpkins that had been sealed, so the surface was perfect for liquid leaf.  I just used a craft brush to paint a coat of liquid leaf over the pumpkin – no primer.  On most of them, I found I only needed one coat, as the product if very opaque and a little goes a long way.  Make sure you shake the paint well though – the metallic flakes in it tend to settle to the bottom, so if you don’t shake it it will come out streaky and transparent.  Here’s what my ugly duckling pumpkins pretty much looked like before:

foam pumpkins unpainted

SUCH a realistic color and pattern, don’t you think? Yeah…not so cute.

And with one coat of liquid leaf:

one coat of liquid leaf

Ahhhhh….much better!

I did find that the liquid leaf picked up some warmth from the base color of the pumpkins.  So, the pumpkins that started out white were more of a true brass tone, while the orange pumpkins (like the one in the picture above) took on a warmer, golden hue.

After I got everything painted, I could have easily called it a day – they were beautiful just as they were.  But if you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I have a bit of a hard time leaving well enough alone.  So, to add some additional color variation and depth, I went back in with some of Viva’s Inka-Gold in “old silver” and rubbed it into the high points of the pumpkin.

What is Inka-Gold, you might ask?  Well, if you’re familiar with Rub ‘n Buff, it’s very similar.  Basically, it’s pigment suspended in a soft, waxy base that you can rub onto surfaces to deposit color.  Once it has set, you can buff it with a cloth, which shines up the wax and makes the pigment more brilliant.  Though I love my liquid leaf, it can be a bit shiny for my tastes.  By adding the Inka-gold over the top, it softens down that shininess so it’s more of a satin/glowy finish.  Depending on what color you use, it will also change the hue of the paint underneath.  Here is a comparison shot so you can see what I mean:

comparison shot of liquid leaf and inka gold

liquid leaf on the left, liquid leaf + “white gold” inka-gold on the right

It’s hard to see in the photograph, but the pumpkin on the right is significantly less shiny than the one on the left – it’s still metallic and reflective, but softer.  One other big advantage of Inka-Gold over Rub ‘n Buff is that it is water-based, which means you can thin it with water to make it more of a paint consistency, and  it cleans up super easily from both your hands and your project with regular soap and water.  If you over apply, all it takes to remove it is a damp cloth!  Rub n Buff is great, but it is hard to wash off and it is oil-based which means cleaning up with mineral spirits.

Here’s another shot of the completed pumpkin closer up so you can see the color and sheen variation:

pumpkin closeup

And one of them on our mantle, so you can see them in context:

DIY fall mantle with gold pumpkins and bookcase wreath

I didn’t seal these, but if you wanted to give them a quick shot of clear gloss I am sure you could .  I was a little nervous that the aerosol would melt the styrofoam pumpkins though, so I decided not to risk it.

So, to sum up:

1) Get foam pumpkins

2) Paint foam pumpkins with liquid leaf of choice

3) Optionally, apply Inka-Gold or Rub ‘n Buff to add dimension

4) Do a happy dance – your pumpkins are done!

Let me know if you try it, and feel free as always to leave comments or hit me up on social media – I’m on instagram, twitter, and facebook!

Till next time,

Sarah

Happy Fall, Y’all!!

Well, fall is officially here.  Everywhere I look, mother nature is putting on a show, workin’ it in shades of crimson, gold, and orange.  This is one of my favorite times of the year – I count down the days will the sky is that perfect crisp blue and there are piles of leaves to kick and play in on my walks with the fuzz (her real name is Isabelle, but we almost never call her that, haha!).  Even on days like today, when it’s rainy and glum outside, I love to curl up under a blanket with a cup of coffee, a fire, and a good book – it just feels right somehow.

Of course, today I am tackling the mountain of laundry (seriously, it’s taller than me) piled up in my guest room, so no coffee-and-blanket-pottery-barn-fantasies for me.  However, though I may have to tackle laundry in my real life, in the blog world I can pretend I get to spend all day looking at the mantle all decked out for fall.  And while I’m pretending, I might as well imagine I am sharing both the fire and a cup of coffee with a friend.  So come and join me – would you like one sugar or two?

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (follow the links to do so if you haven’t already!), then you caught a sneak peek last week, but here’s the full reveal for you.  I will be posting tutorials (with photos – I remembered this time!) for the gilded pumpkins, the wreath and the glass hurricanes later this week and early next, so make sure to come back for those as well.

Here she is – isn’t she a beauty?

DIY fall mantle

pardon the poor lighting – it’s a glum day!

 

As usual, there were several DIY projects.  The wreath, gilded pumpkins, luminaries, and hurricanes were all little projects I did specifically for this season.  As usual, I included a mirror behind the wreath – it just helps to open up the room and add depth to the whole look.  Someday, I am going to do something with that wall over the fireplace, but I haven’t decided exactly what yet, so it will have to wait.  It is especially pretty at night – the luminaries glow and there is a flameless candle in each hurricane as well.

Here a few more pictures:

DIY fall mantle with gold pumpkins and bookcase wreath

DIY gold pumpkins

fall bookpage wreath DIY

Overall, I am happy with how things came out.  Plus, the whole project cost me less than $20.00!  Can’t beat that.

Till next time,

Sarah

Something Wicked This Way Comes…Halloween Mega-post, Circa1932-style

NOTE: I was originally going to break Halloween into several posts, but I got behind on my picture editing (oops!).  Considering Halloween is, well, tomorrow, I almost decided to forgo doing any Halloween posts, since odds are y’all have already finished your decorating.  However, I decided “better late than never” – after all, Halloween will be back next year!  So instead of a bunch of smaller posts – here is one big fat Halloween mega-post for your enjoyment.  It’s pretty long – you have been warned.  As always, feel free to comment and ask questions, and Happy Halloween!

I don’t know what it’s like where y’all live, but in my neck of the woods there’s a crispness is in the air and the leaves are changing.  Fall is HERE and I couldn’t be happier to see it arrive. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am a cold-weather girl.  Fall is my favorite season, followed closely by winter.  Sweaters and boots, comfort foods like soup and chili, pumpkin-spice everything – I tell you, it’s enough to make a girl grin from ear to ear.

Well, this girl is grinning extra wide because the changing of the seasons also means bringing out new decor, and with Halloween being tomorrow (crazy, right?), the front door wreath, mantle, and dining room have undergone a spooky transformation.  As always, I was working my hardest to stick to a teeny tiny budget.  Luckily, both my creativity and Pin-spiration are free. So sit back, grab a cup of cider, and take a tour through Halloween decor, circa1932-style.

All told, I spent under fifty dollars on everything.  I have limited funds to decorate for holidays, and Christmas always gets the lion’s share since it’s my favorite, haha.  As far as theme/vibe, I’m not really into blood and guts when it comes to Halloween decor, so you won’t find a lot of that here.  Also missing are blatant references to demons, ghouls, and such – I try to keep things family-friendly in case friends with kiddos drop by.

Instead, I prefer to go with what I call “gothic chic” (with an admittedly healthy dose of Harry Potter).  This has a few advantages.  Mainly, I can find decor elements that work and yet still fall outside the traditional realm of Halloween decorations.  Because of this, I can not only use things I already own, but I can also feel confident knowing that many of the items I do buy can be reused at other times of the year.    I know that some people have inexhaustible storage space where they can keep shelves and shelves of things for one particular holiday or event (I’m lookin’ at you Mom!), but in my case storage is limited, and an item that multi-tasks is always welcome.

For the most part, I limited my color scheme to black and white with some metallic accents.  There’s the occasional pop of red or purple in there for a little fun, but it’s few and far between.  I’ve had it up for a few weeks now, and I have to say I couldn’t be happier – even the Doctor (who fails to share my zest for seasonal decorations despite my best efforts to convince him otherwise) made a point to tell me that he liked what I had done.  Win-win!

Ready?  Here we go!

As for the front porch, I kept this pretty minimal this year – a few pumpkins on the steps and this wreath to greet you when you come in.

halloween front door wreath

To create the wreath, I just wrapped a grapevine wreath form with black feather boas I got at the Dollar Tree.  I tucked the ends into the grapevine to secure them, so there’s not even any hot glue to mess with for this step.  I wired on a black crow, also from Dollar Tree, and plopped a miniature witch hat I got at Joann Fabrics on her head to add some flair.  A confession: to get the hat to stay, I pinned it in place with applique pins.  I just stuck it through the hat and into the crow’s styrofoam head – poor birdie!  Finally, I finished it off with black glitter ribbon and some fake flowers hot glued into place (from – you guessed it – Dollar Tree).  All in all, it cost me less than ten bucks for the supplies, and took about ten minutes to make.  If I were going to do it again, I’d probably spray the flowers black, but I’m pretty happy with it despite the purple.

Once you get inside the house (welcome!), the first thing you see is my entry.  I kept this very cheap minimal as well.  I swapped out my owl vase for a mercury glass skull I got at Big Lots for eight bucks.  I also swapped the silver bowl that is usually on the buffet to hold our keys and phones for a white ceramic pumpkin.  It’s supposed to be a cookie jar I think, and I got it at Target for $7.99.  I love how neutral it is, and after Halloween is over I can use it in my fall decor.  I have plans for that ‘lil bugger, but you’ll have to wait and come back to see what they are!

halloween entry overview

halloween entry pumpkin

halloween entry skull

Moving into the dining room, the focus is all on the table.  See?

halloween tablescape overview

 

Here’s a closer look:

halloween tablescape mid

halloween tablescape skull

Hello there pretty bird!

Hello there pretty bird!

halloween tablescape back

The side facing the wall – even the napkins are getting into the Halloween spirit!

Here’s the skinny on the tablescape. I started with a white twin bedsheet (I think it was $5.00 at Walmart?) as the base.  Over that, I added a lacy black tablecloth that I got at a thrift store for around $6.00.  If you are looking for something similar, I saw some in Big Lots this year – they even came with an orange tablecloth as well (bonus!).

The central tree/branches came from Walmart. I got them many moons ago as part of an art project I did when I was in college (on second thought, better make that many MANY moons ago).  Originally they were all white, but I sprayed some of them black with spray paint to add some contrast.  Most of the year, they reside on my mantle in a vase, but for Halloween they made the perfect framework to perch some more dollar tree crows on (they are just wired on – no glue).

To get the branches to stay in place, I filled a smaller vase with uncooked rice (small pebbles, kitty litter, or beans would work too), and shoved carefully buried the branches in the rice until I was happy with the placement.  The rice weighs the “tree” down, and gives the branches stability.  Then I just put the smaller vase in my larger hurricane vase and filled in-between them with faux spider webbing to hide the interior vase and the rice.  Tip: the more you stretch the webbing out, the more realistic it looks.

To finish it off, I added some gold mercury glass candle holders that I got at Target and Homegoods earlier this year, as well as a mixture of clear candlesticks and metal candlesticks from the thrift store.  A black glass pumpkin from Homegoods’ after Halloween markdowns last year and a chalkboard skull from Joann Fabrics ($5.00!) round out the centerpiece.

Since the only items I bought were the skull, the napkins, the crows, the spider webbing, and the tablecloth, I spent a grand total of $20 bucks for the tablescape.  Pretty snazzy, huh?

We’re almost done – all that’s left is the bar, and the mantle in the living room.

For the bar, I knew I wanted to make a spellbook and potion ingredients as a nod to one of my favorite series – Harry Potter.  Here’s what I came up with:

halloween bar overview

halloween bar spellbook

halloween bar potion ingredients

The spellbook is just an old book from the thrift store that I glued some new pages into.  I created them on my computer, printed them out, and then aged them with tea and distress ink.  To up the spook factor even more, I added a skeletal magnifying glass that I got at Homegoods several years ago.  I saw them there this year as well, so you should still be able to find them.  They come in the gold I bought as well as an aged silver color I believe.  The potion bottles were another DIY – I cobbled together a bunch of ideas I saw on Pinterest to create them.  I think I went a bit overboard with this particular project, but it was so much fun coming up with the labels and ingredients, I couldn’t stop myself!

Last but not least is the mantle in the living room.  Here’s an overview shot (please ignore the unfinished built-ins):

halloween mantle overview

And a few close-ups for your viewing pleasure:

halloween mantle spells

halloween mantle crystal balls

As you can see, I added a crepe paper wreath over the mirror.  Go here to learn how to make your own.  I also hung up a Halloween banner I found at the Dollar Tree, and popped a spooky printable from A Night Owl into the frame where our wedding photo usually sits.  Finally, I added some more potion bottles and some creepy “crystal balls” (inspired by the fabulous Flamingo Toes) atop thrifted candlesticks.

So there you have it – the our little cottage all decked out for All Hallow’s Eve.  Make sure to come back tomorrow for the potion bottle tutorial, and feel free to ask questions or leave comments – it makes my day to hear from y’all!

Till next time,

Sarah