Saturday, October 13, 2018

Paper hydrangeas

I can't remember exactly where I saw this the first time, but it was probably Pinterest when I was looking for something else. Paper hydrangeas!

I didn't really have a reason to try this Cricut project out until my friend and co-worker (who loves flowers and crafts and pink shiny paper) announced she was getting married. Making a few flowers for decoration was the perfect excuse.

I followed this tutorial for assembly, and I won't be mad if you leave this post and do the same. Her photos are a bit more clear on the steps, and she's got the blossom/leaf template available for download.

NOTE: this isn't a difficult project, but it is fairly time consuming.

  • paper (any kind or color, printer paper is fine)
  • colored pencil, marker, or paint for the center (I used a chartreuse colored pencil)
  • floral wire, as thin as you can find
  • floral tape
  • needlenose or round-tipped pliers
  • hot glue gun


1. Get a template, cut out all the blossoms and leaves. If you don't have a machine to do this part for you it doesn't mean you can't do it, just that this step will be more of a pain in the neck. For a half dome, 30-40 blossoms was about enough. For a full dome, I needed more like 60.

2. put a dot of light green in the center of each blossom
In the tutorial I followed, she applied a light paint wash, but I skipped that and I don't feel like I missed out. Personal preference.

3. Curl each blossom petal up, so the colored-in center looks like it's at the bottom of a dish (sorry, not shown). This might seem weird, but I did it wrong the first time and then the blossoms didn't quite fit together right. I rolled each petal around a pencil to get a good curl.

4. Trim floral wire into a bunch of stems. Better too long than too short, you can always cut them down later. Mine are just over a foot long, and that was way more than enough. They are also a little lumpy because they came rolled around a flat piece of cardboard, but whatever.

5. Separate into bundles of 30

6. Wrap floral wire around the main stem and splay the last 2-3" into a dome shape. The photo shows a half dome, and that would be fine if it were going on a wreath or some other kind of backing, but I recommend a full dome. They always ended up being noticeably bigger than I expected, too, so keep that in mind.

7. Curl the very ends of the wires into circles and bend them 90ยบ. This creates a flat base for the blossoms to be glued to. I used a pair of round-tipped jewelry pliers, but regular needlenose would work.

8. Glue one blossom to each wire circle.

Here's where the whole/half dome thing becomes important. This half dome (my first attempt) looks great from above, and didn't need many more blossoms glued in between to look full.

But it looks kind of silly from the side, like the bottom half of the flower is missing. Which it is. In the linked tutorial, she covered the bottom of the half dome with three leaves. I opted to do something a little different.

I followed the same steps for the next one, but bent the wire ends out into a full dome. The overall shape is better, but it looks a lot more sparse.

So Step 9 is to glue in supplementary blossoms between the ones on the wire until it looks like a ball of blossoms. For me, this ended up at least doubling the number of blossom cutouts I needed.

10. Glue on the leaves. I also used the same light green colored pencil to draw in veins, but that's optional. I pinched just the bottom end of the leaf so it folded down the middle, but not a sharp crease, and angled it so I could glue the leaf along a flat edge up the side of the stem. You can see where I glued the leaf in the center of the photo, the stem essentially follows the bottom two veins on the left side of the leaf. I ended up using Tacky Glue instead of hot glue for this, but I don't think it matters unless hot glue doesn't stick to floral tape.

Also optional: finishing spray with a little bit of glitter for some extra sheen.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


I shaved my head for charity last year. For a small number of donors I offered thanks in the form of a mystery gift, built around a theme of their choosing. This isn't the first one I've started, but it's the first one I've actually finished.

I was inspired by Hari and Deepti's light boxes and I'm just thrilled with how mine turned out.

This theme was "cats" and I know this particular person likes fables and fairy tales, so I started with the illustration of the Jabberwock from Through the Looking Glass.

Step by Step (including some trial and error)

Hello pen tool, my old friend.

Add some happy (stock vector) trees.

Figure out some basics for layers.

Add some detail.

Start to think about how the environment might look. Also realize those layers are completely impractical and consolidate all of the Jabberwock into a single layer.

Test cut several practice Jabberwocks (not by hand! I have a Cricut.) and struggle with the size and amount of detail until it looks right. In the process, enlarge the box from 8x8" to 10x10" to avoid sacrificing detail.

Find and trace an illustration of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Put the Cheshire cat into the design.

Find illustrations of Puss in Boots, who will be our hero. Settle on this one, trace most of it, then modify the arms and put a sword in its outstretched paw.
Image found on Pinterest
from a Flickr account
originally from what looks like an out-of-print book called
Dean's Gold Medal Book of Fairy Tales by Janet & Anne Grahame Johnstone

Add Boots to the design where Alice was in the original illustration. Also realize Boots looks great and the Cheshire cat looks like a Jack-o-lantern. Add some fluff to the Cheshire and make some edits to the eyes so they don't look quite so different.

Fiddle with the trees. A lot.

Add some ground in between the trees. Continue to adjust trees.

Roughen the ground, add some (stock vector) grass detail.

Get all the pieces cut out...

....assemble them, alternating paper and a border of foam core...

...and take a moment to appreciate the fact that it actually turned out exactly as expected.

Fiddle with lights...

... and come to the decision that the Cheshire cat and the Jabberwock are a little too floppy. Move some trees around to address the issue.

Finalize the design. REJOICE.

Re-cut, re-assemble. REJOICE.

Measure the thickness of all the glued-together pieces, glue slabs of foam core over the edges.

Get fancy with LEDs and a 9-volt battery by adding a switch.

I thought I wanted the whole back section with the battery and wiring to come off to connect or change the battery, but I couldn't find an attachment method that didn't also leak light. So I cut a little door into the back and glued the whole thing shut.

I found some great shiny silver poster board, did some math and measuring, and made a little box frame for the whole thing, including a slice of acrylic as a window pane.

Package, mail. Celebrate!
Final product in its new home.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Orb

I work for a marketing agency that specializes in rare diseases, and for a significant chunk of last year I'd been spending a lot of long hours working on one specific brand. My office has an annual Halloween party, and last year a few people dressed up as concept art they had worked on. My official Halloween costume (Zoolander) was too much work for the middle of the work day and I liked the idea of coming up with something (relatively, for me) quick and simple that would only make sense in my office.

So I made an orb.

This is a piece of cover art for a brochure I spent a bazillion hours on. It's for a drug used to treat a condition that has to do with neurotransmitters not properly sending signals to muscles. The illustration of how the drug works is what's hovering in the orb.

Supplies: clear plastic sphere, lots of colors of tissue paper, Crayola modeling clay (love that stuff, it's nice and light), Tacky Glue for adhesion and tissue paper forming, clear beading thread, dark beads, and generous amounts of hot glue.

Finding the clear plastic sphere was pure dumb luck. The week before we visited some friends, one of whom may as well be named Mrs. McCraftsy. I asked her if she knew where I could possibly find a clear plastic sphere that came apart that was a bout yea big. Her answer was, "oh, I have one of those in my craft room, you can have it." Best guess is that candy came in it.

Tissue paper base to set the shape

Muscle tissue

Muscle tissue with neurotransmitter receivers

Drug molecules

Drug molecules doin' their thing

Shape for the thing that produces neurotransmitters

Tissue paper for color and bulk, the round base made the frame
and was easy to poke beading thread through

It went over really well! The rest of the team knew what it was immediately and thought it was awesome, everyone else got it as soon as I held up my printout of the cover art.

I won Most Original in the costume contest. ( ^_^ )

Me and the Account team staging the cover art photo
This photo was sent to the client, who thought it was hilarious
The orb now belongs to the art director that developed the concept