Hi, my name is Dawn, and I once tried to drill a wall anchor into plaster by putting it on the end of the drill bit. The smell of burning plastic clued me in that I was doing something wrong.
So clearly I was the natural choice for a column on crafting. The truth is that most people aren’t natural artists, or if they are, they don’t have time to put together an elaborate gingerbread house based on Versailles.
You would never know this from Pinterest and other evil websites that make it seem like everyone is a freaking decoupage wunderkind. We thought we’d try a few and see what worked — and what didn’t — on a beginner level.
Want me to try something? Bring it. Email me at KCStarDawn@gmail.com. I beg you, do not ask me to weld or craft anything that involves a saw.
This week’s projects focused on autumn crafts.
Goal: Glue leaves onto jar. Insert candle. Pretty!
Reality: Giant mess in which I glued the jar to the counter and was attacked by leaves.
Summary: I thought this would be the easy one. Seriously, you get fake leaves, or pick some from a tree, put Mod Podge all over a jar, stick the leaves to it, Mod Podge over it and then when it dries you have a nice candleholder.
Instead, the leaves — from both a tree and a store — were violently opposed to sticking to the jar. When I tried to decoupage over them as directed (“put Mod Podge on top of the leaves”) the leaves would not quietly go into that dark night, flinging themselves away from the jar.
The directions say if this happens to wet the leaves and cut out the veiny bits. I did that. It didn’t work. The leaves fell off the jar and got the counter all glue-y. The glue was supposed to dry clear. Instead it became white and goopy.
End result: Mod Podge is my enemy. The only way this will work is if you cut the leaves into tiny bits or use very, very small leaves. MAYBE then.
Goal: Use leftover tiny pumpkins and gourds to make candles.
Reality: I rock at candle-making. Am a candle-making wonder.
Summary: This project scared me as it involves knives and melting wax. I had images of burns and deep wounds, baggage from past attempts at craft projects.
The directions say to cut the top off the pumpkin, goop it out and glue a wick to the bottom. Then melt soy wax flakes in a double boiler, add cinnamon scent and pour wax into the pumpkin.
First I asked my more crafty neighbor what a double boiler was (one large pot with water, one smaller pot on top filled with the thing you wanted to melt). Then I purchased a pot I was willing to destroy with wax. I highly recommend Goodwill, 50 cents for the pot.
I cut the first pumpkin fairly smoothly but completely in the incorrect fashion — directly toward my wrists. I figured out the right way the second time, which is to place the pumpkin on its side and cut down.
I used 3 cups of the wax and it melted super quickly, within a couple of minutes over the boiling water. I barely had time to glue the wicks to the bottoms of the pumpkins (I used the Mod Podge from the previous project; it might as well be of some use.)
The trickiest part of this whole thing was wrapping the wick around the stick across the top so it would stay straight. I didn’t even bother putting in cinnamon sticks, just used the cinnamon oil.
I poured wax in the pumpkins, spent 20 minutes watching an old episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and voila! Autumn magic. I put them on my porch to show off my amazingness, imagining neighbors walking by and thinking, “Wow, that Dawn, she is so talented!” OK, they probably were more like, “That Dawn, couldn’t she sweep once in a while?” Whatever.
Upside: Easy and looks impressive. These would be great for table decorations for the holidays.
Downside: You’re going to destroy a pot; there’s no coming back from the wax coating. Also, the pumpkins won’t stay fresh for very long, so make and burn these within a couple of days. I don’t know what happens when the wax burns all the way down to the pumpkin — fire could ensue. So keep an eye out.
Next time … (Oh Lord, please let me not set fire to anything with the glue gun.)
To see step-by-step photos of these projects, go to kansascity.com/living/home-garden.