Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Illuminating Autumn

I have Halloween decorations. Lots of Halloween decorations. So, it's always a little sad for me on November 1st to be sitting in an apartment full of skulls and webs and jack-o-lanterns that I have to pack away, with no new decorations to put out until the Christmas season. My husband doesn't let me put out the Christmas tree and garlands until December (I think he secretly likes our apartment sparse and boring, the way it is 10 months out of the year), so those four weeks are torturous for me. This year, I decided that I need some general autumn-themed objects, something to span the decorating void between Halloween and Christmas. Enter Hobby Lobby. The glass pieces (vases, fishbowls, etc.) in their floral department were half off this week and I still had most of a bottle of etching cream left from my last minute wedding present (see first post). I settled on a harvest-themed luminary.

I selected a medium-sized glass fishbowl, although a display of several smaller bowls would be interesting, too. I collected leaves of varying sizes and types outside, including oak, maple, and birch. Using my Cricut and some leftover vinyl, I cut out the phrase "share the harvest," with the words "share" and "the" at 1.75" and the word "harvest" at 2." As I mentioned in my first post, you could use contact paper for this step, but contact paper will not mold as easily to a spherical surface; consider a straight-sided or cylindrical vase for this project if using contact paper. Also, craft stores frequently carry stencils made specifically for glass etching, although I have never tried them. After the lettering was cut, I traced the leaves onto the paper backing of the vinyl, drawing in a simplified version of the veins of each leaf. I cut the leaves out with scissors (cutting the thin veins out with cuticle scissors). I pressed transfer tape over the each vinyl leaf, pressing lightly around the edges and veins. I HIGHLY recommend using transfer tape when using vinyl for intricate designs; the tape will ensure that the shape of each leaf (or letter) is retained and placed exactly where you want it. This step will save you a lot of headache. After the vinyl was affixed to the tape, I carefully peeled off the paper backing, leaving the adhesive side of the vinyl exposed. Then, I carefully positioned each word and leaf over the glass, making sure they were in the correct spot before allowing the vinyl to make contact with the glass. I applied each element in this manner. Once all of my vinyl pieces were correctly positioned on the glass, I cleaned the bowl with a streak-free cleaner, to make sure the etching cream would be in direct contact with the glass. Then I used a paintbrush to apply the etching cream, making sure to get in every corner of each letter and the veins of the leaves. I switched to a larger brush to cover the more open areas of the bowl. As always, when working with etching cream read the safety instructions and take appropriate precautions.

I should note that this project would be much less time consuming using an etching bath. Instead of a cream, it is a liquid that is poured around your glass object. It would probably produce a much more evenly frosted piece in a much shorter period of time. Etch bath, however, is more costly than the cream (which I already had on hand). Also, I sort of like the mottled look that hand brushing the cream gave my glass, it's in keeping with the rustic autumn theme I have going. After the whole bowl was covered, I let the cream sit for 5 minutes, then rinsed it under running water and cleaned the it (inside and out) with the glass cleaner again. After it dried, I went back over it with a small paint brush and extra cream to fill in the small spots that didn't get etched the first time. Then another rinse and wipe-down. One small votive inside, and voila, one harvest-themed luminary.

Although I wanted to make a piece that was not holiday specific, this project could be easily (and awesomely) adapted for Halloween or Christmas. Tombstones, ghosts, and a full moon would all be easy shapes to cut out that would look great with a flickering candle behind them. Small round votives could even be etched to look like mini Jack-o-lanters. Phrases like "Boo" or "Spooky" for Halloween. "Joy" or "Ho Ho Ho" for Christmas. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. It looks beautiful and quite adaptable to any decor. Thanks for sharing this great idea.