Saturday, May 2, 2015

Quilt Backs You'll Flip Over

The smell of new fabrics is among my earliest memories stemming from frequent visits to the local fabric shop.  Not many of my memories involve smells but in this case, I was nose-level with the bottom of all those bolts and while my mother was using her sense of sight,  my sense of smell was getting a work out. 

The shop owner greeted us by name as we entered the door and she and my mother talked sewing.   No wonder I still remember the place.  It was a place of comfort and friendship amidst beautiful fabric patterns, colors and textures. 

In later years my older sister and I would walk the short distance to the shop for a time of inspirational summer fun.   We could look at pattern books for least Linda could and it seemed like hours to me.  The only thing that could pull Linda away from dreaming over the books was hunger and then candy was the answer.


"Pedal Pushers" were my first solo project.  I was twelve.  After my successful sewing experience I learned not only could I sew, I could sew fast.  I could complete a project in much less time than my mother could do the same project!
She was so easily distracted....meals, children,  PTA meetings, cleaning, coffee..... She was so slow getting my things done.
I sewed! 
And sewed!
And sewed!
Until it became drudgery
It was another job...and after all.... I had cooking and cleaning, and meals to make and meeting at school and a never ending job of  maintaining a home... and washing....I had kids! 

I stopped sewing!
Only recently did I retire from teaching.  Now every day is like a vacation day, spent in some form of creative work whether it be at my drafting table, sewing machine or in my garden.  Every day is a good day for me. 
All the women in my family quilted but I resisted it….never wanted to do it.  I ignored it as best I could….had a healthy respect for quilters from a distance but finally, it caught up with me.  Now, I am a quilting fanatic.  What can I say?  I never stood a chance!

Now, I love it all.
I sew every day!
Every day that I sew is a good day!
And I have begun to quilt!
Quilting had became a passion.
 So for all of you ladies out there who, like me, love the art of sewing, quilting and creating here is a FREEBIE download to help with making quilt backs you'll flip over.

Click here to Download.
One of the obstacles I ran into as a new quilter was making a quilt back that was pretty. 
 But luckily, as I mentioned, I had people who quilted I could lean on. 
So I leaned on my sister for a little more help and she showed me the basics to quilt fact, she is my go-to person for all my quilting questions. 
With her guidance and my background in art I began to think of the backs of my quilt like the continuation of the story.

The back should be simple yet compliment the front. 
Backs You'll Flip Over, is a simple 5 page guide which applies the rule of Thirds (a concept from my art background) to design a quilt back using you scrap fabrics, reject blocks and pieced fabrics. 
Download here.

Trust me, it is free.  No obligations. 
I would love to see you beautiful backs. 

Happy Quilting!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Everything I Learned About Letters I Learned in Junior High

Who would guess I would learn something in a junior high, one semester art class that would last me a life time and  be used continually.  Thank you, Miss Burks. 

Miss Burks was a soft spoken art teacher in the junior high I attended.  Although Miss Burks was in my life only for a short period of time she gave me confidence and skills that have endured all of my crazy life.  She was a quiet woman, never married and had the responsibility of taking care of her aging mother who lived with her.  As far as I knew back then Miss Burks was fairly old herself.

Looking back, all my teachers seemed old to me but I was young and everyone older than me was old.  Now as an old woman myself I wonder just how old she really was. 

All of Miss Burks students entered a poster contest of some kind.  The poster was to be completed on a half sheet of black poster board with an image and title painted on with....of course, poster paint.  Now when I smell poster paint it takes me back to my time in Miss Burks junior high art class. Although, now poster paint is not my medium of choice, it is cheap and probably worked well with her school budget.

Her method of making the letters was so simple  everyone learned to make pretty letters.  Not everyone was able to stay in the lines when they painted them but they started off looking great. 
I have taken this skill for granted until my daughter said, "You never taught me that."

Although in Miss Burks class we drew the letters and painted them now I use the same concept and cut my letters in fabric which I use to customize quilts, purses, and other fabric projects. 

The concept is simple.  Most letters are symmetrical therefore can be easily cut from a small folded rectangle.   "A" as on the left is horizontally symmetrical while "O" on the right is symmetrical both directions horizontal or vertically. Most letters fall into one or the other category. 

The asymmetrical letters are the most challenging but even those letters are easy when you apply the simple concepts I learned in a junior high class. 

So I wrote up the instructions and made a PDF for anyone to download and keep.

To download the PDF go here.  It is free.  No obligation to buy is just free for anyone. 

Once you learn the concept of a simple letter you can easily customize the letters and get as fancy as you want.  It is so easy even the children can do it. 

 Customizing quilts is fun and easy. 
I use fabric stabilized with a fusible interfacing.  Instructions in PDF.
Here are two of my quilts made for grandchildren.  Patterns for these quilts are available in my Craftsy store.(Link on right.)


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Christmas Squirrel Quilt Pattern

It has been two years but finally I have completed the pattern for the Squirrels' Christmas Quilt I made two years ago.

This is the quilt I entered in the Think Christmas Blog Hop in 2012. (click to go the post)

This was my first paper piecing quilt and in fact, my first real quilt! And I had never done any type of paper piecing.

I started the quilt during the time I  had three grandchildren living with me along with their parents while their house was under construction.  It was 18 months, I think it was in the planning stage,the financing stage, the finding the right people stage and finally the construction stage.

Needless to say space was cramped, it was hard to find a private space for my creative things or even the non-creative things and every time I took out something fun to do the grandchildren wanted to take part in it.  Now, don't misunderstand.  I loved it!  I thrived on it! I just didn't get much done.

But that is all fine.  It was bonding times. The children and I grew together during our "projects" time.

When the kids and their parents went on vacation for a few days I was left alone...well, daughter came with her children to spend the weekend and when we finally had time to sit down and read the direction together a storm moved in, a flash a lightning lit up the sky with a booming noise and the lights were out...for hours.

Then my old machine gave out on me and I was forced to buy a new one!  Poor me!  I got the best machine I could afford.  

Now not only was I learning how to paper piece I was learning how to use a new first computerized machine.  My last machine was a Viking from about "79.  It lasted a good long time!

Next Squirrels' Christmas Pillows!
I wonder if I will get it done before two years pass.

The Squirrel's Christmas Quilt Pattern can be found either my Etsy site or my Craftsy site.
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Sweet Dreams

I have not been blogging lately and it is because I have been busy.  I know...who hasn't been?  It is the way of the world today, isn't it?  Why can't we just slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of our lives.  Well, that is another story!

Not only am I working to get an online business going (Etsy and Craftsy), and keeping grandchildren as much as possible because they are so stinkin' cute but we are remodeling.

Anyone who has ever built a house or remodeled a house knows, you have a full plate of things that have to be done NOW!

The remodeling is a blog coming up soon, as is that reupholstering job I started in June so stay tuned as the old show hostesses on late night TV would say.  

On my table today I have buntings for a baby shower.
Last Sunday night or Monday morning actually in the wee hours that are only kept by mothers nursing babies or expectant mothers doing their nesting I had a question from an Etsy custom order presented to me which gave my creativity a real adrenalin shot.  An expectant mother is decorating her new nursery for a little girl (actually due today) in gray, pink and white and wanted to information on picking buntings to coordinate.  

It did not take me long to get onto this new color scheme and I had buntings adapted to the color scheme she wanted and made some little birds and hearts to be ribbon holders and my week was gone! I was making birds and hearts and printing buntings all week and having a great time doing it.  I love retirement!   

Linda, my sister needed a baby shower gift which has to be mailed  and needs to arrive before next Friday. So Linda and I kicked it into high gear and off we go.

I made the buntings and Linda made the cute little owls.  I loved her owls with their big bulgy eyes.  I was planning on designing some myself but I don't think they would have been as cute.  I learn a lot from my sister.

We envision this hanging above the baby's crib.  Since the baby's name is not not yet decided Linda decided to say "Sweet Dreams".   So cute!

Job completed and mailed for their destination!
Sweet Dreams little one!

(Here is my disclaimer.  Photos continue to kick my rear.  I had a hard time adjusting colors on the photo.  The buntings are white, with gray and pink details.  The owls are varying values of pink and gray.  All on a darker gray cloth laid out on my table.  I don't have a baby's crib.  Not anymore.  But wouldn't that be nice?)

Bunting are available through my Etsy shop.  See Buntings and Banners section.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Project Upholster the Settee: Burlap and Edgeroll

It has been a busy week and I have found very little time to work on the upholstering but here is the little bit of work I did get done.

First off, I took a paper pattern of the seat backs to my Upholstery supplier to get the foam cut to size.  At no extra charge to me they cut the foam according to my pattern.  I had to go back the following day and pick them up the. Had I known what to do in the beginning I could have saved myself a trip or two and would have been ahead of the game since I now have used up two additional days getting the foam I could have used for installing it.

I also, picked up more supplies I needed.

  • Five yards of burlap to cover the springs and 
  • 3/4" edge roll to place along the front of the springs. This will help give a nice rolled edge in the completed cushion.
  • Spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the foam and to attach the foam on the burlap.  
The burlap is to cover over the springs and is placed over t the springs and stapled all around.  Start in the center back, go to the center front and then stretch the burlap to make a neat covering of the springs. 

Oops!!If you will recall I am a newbie at this so I make mistakes. 
the flat head screwdriver is on the seat so I can pull out staples not installed correctly.  

Oops!  Another mistake I made was putting the foam on the springs and putting the burlap over the foam.  I was nearly finished before I realized my mistake!  Ugh!  More time wasted!

Edge roll comes in different sizes.  I used 3/4 inch.  I stapled it in the front and along both sides but the sides are not necessary and I ended up taking it off the sides because I could not get the stapler lined up to staple the edge roll in place.  I hope I don't regret it later.  

I did have some helpers as you can see.  I set the foam on the seat, set the little ones on the seat and took out my phone to snap a picture.   As soon as I took out the phone the kids took on a pose!
The foam is just sitting in place and not actually where it is going in the seat back.

Next: Foam Fun

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Project Upholster the Settee

Some years ago....ten to be exact, I bought a settee. It is a three piece set, a love seat, a Papa chair (with arms)  and  a Mama chair (no arms).  And I purchased it just as you see it here, no seats, no springs, just bare bones.

Now, if I have said it before, you will recall I was raised to believe I could do long as I have the instructions.  Well, as years go by I think I need to add and have the muscles necessary or know where to find someone with them.

So here goes!  I am on a mission to get it done!  Project Upholster the Settee has begun.

After a little rub with some denatured alcohol I was ready to begin.

Step One:  Sinuous springs hooks.  I thought this was going to be the easy part.  The old wood was like concrete.  But after drilling pilot holes with a tiny drill bit I could screw in the hooks.

Step Two:  Sinuous springs.  I did not EVEN act like I could cut these springs.  I got Mr. Lee to help me with this but once cut to the correct size no problems.

Step Three:  Tie the sinuous springs together.  Oh, easy!  At least, once you got the holes drilled to screw the screws into the side.

So here it is Project Upholster the Settee is underway.
Next we drew out templates of the window panels on the back of the seats and bottom seat cushion to have the foam cut to size.

Off to the upholstery shop to buy more stuff:  Foam, edge rolls, and some roll batting.
I am a newbie at this so I am approaching it gingerly.  I buy what I need for the part I am doing.  It is so overwhelming in the beginning.  But taking it in steps I know I can do this!  Stay tuned!
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Peek Behind the Artrageous Scenes

Wide format printer/ Archival quality inks on acid free canvas.
Some people may think I am being a little obsessive compulsive but I made the decision to take charge of the reproduction of my own artwork.  Rather than frustrate someone with the continual need to make  the adjustments I think are necessary to make it look just right I decided I could do it.
I have been quoted saying, "I grew up thinking I could do anything....I just need the instructions."

As I get older I am recognizing some limitations to that statement but still I just need the instructions and if I cannot do it,  I can supervise someone else.    

So here is a peek into my workspace which by the way, has beginning to take over my whole house.

The work is pretty labor intensive, often frustrating, and time consuming, and  requires quite a good dose of patience and a few pieces of equipment I have or need to buy ....and then Mister Lee says, "do you ever think you are sinking all this time and money into this venture and it is not going to pay off?"
Miter saw for stretcher bars....

Poor, Mister Lee! I never even considered the investment of time or money.  I am just drawn to do this.  I am just ignorantly happy in doing everything creative.  I do it for the love of artistic experimentation.  And I have friends who are just like me! You know, I can name you!

So here is a peek into my work space. (I used to say studio but now that half my house is my work space I just need to identify my house as my work space.)

 and electric stapler until I can afford the pneumatic stapler and air compressor to stretch the canvas
Buried Treasures


Sunday, July 6, 2014

From Trash to Flash!

To all those who saw the table Matthew and I pulled from the trash and remade with some flash here is the how we did it with how we would do it next time.  You learn from your mistakes and it was a project we enjoyed working on together.  

We spent a little time each day letting layers dry before we added another layer.  We worked on it from Friday to Thursday and then let it "cure"  before the big party.

So without any further is our table.

Sorry I did not get a before picture but let's just say, the base was in good enough shape but the top was not.  Just picture warped, rough and mildewed.  We sanded the top until it stopped looking all mildewed and damaged with a fine grit sand paper.  It just took a little elbow grease.  And then we were ready to begin.

Day 1: 

  • We purchased 2 cans white spray paint, (primer/satin or gloss finish but it will not matter.)
  • 1 can red spray paint  and 
  • 1 can blue spray paint.  
  • You will also, need a 2 part epoxy pour finish. (Just for your reference I used Enviro Tex Lite Acabado Brillante Pour-On High Gloss Finish I purchased at Hobby Lobby and I used the 32 ounce package for the 38" round table top.)
  • Painters tape
  • Brown paper (typically used for drop cloth but we will use it to block of areas off the table to protect it from the other color sprays.  
  • Plastic drop cloth for under the table 
  • Spray glitter (I think it was something like angel dust glitter.)
  • 2 disposable containers
  • Popsicle sticks

We sprayed the top of the table several times with the white spray paint. until it did not look streaky. Let it dry overnight.

Day 2:  

Using painters tape we taped off stripes running across the table at random and but did not run any stripes across each other at this point.   Once we decided where all our stripes were going we began covering the white of the table with brown paper   Be diligent about taping layers of the paper down because when you spray it is going to blow the paper upward allowing  over-spray to get in and and get on the white. Spray red stripes.(Resist taping over any fresh paint because you THINK it is dry enough.  It will not be.  The tape is going to pull it off now.  You will do more stripes tomorrow.) 

Day 3:  

More stripes but today,when taping a stripe if you should overlap yesterday's  stripes you will want  tape them alternating one taped, next not taped. We are going to weave our stripes together. Once you do one you'll see how it works and then you just keep playing with the stripes.  Now, don't get too caught up in perfection.  This is no time to be perfect.  Use the blue spray paints today.  If you want more red stripes do more as needed.

Cut out a large star shape out of the middle of brown paper.  You will be using the negative of the star not the star itself.  Tape down the negative image of the star on the table somewhere.  Tape close to the brown paper edge carefully so you have a nice star shape of table exposed.  Spray it with red paint.

Day 4:  

Using spray glitter (I used silver)  Spray liberally over the table.  Let dry.  Now here is where Matthew and I would change what we did.  I used the metallic confetti stars in red, white and blue and sprinkled them liberally over the table.  BUT when we added the finish the reds and blue colors began to bleed into the finish. Matthew said they looked a little like stars moving.  Me?  I thought it looked like the stars bled out their color.   Check for color fastness before using.  The silver stars were perfect.  It was just the red and blue that ran. You might try spraying a little polyurethane layer over some of the colored stars and see if that seals them.  I have no experience with paper confetti but it might be an option.  Be creative.  Look on the shelves of the store for something to add to the table or if you want.  You might glue family photos or have family members sign the table in various color pens.

Day 5: 

The real fun begins.  Using an epoxy pour finish.  Mix equal parts of each into an container you can throw away.  Don't guess on the measurement but be accurate or you  will get a sticky mess.  Stir it awhile using a Popsicle  stick then pour it into a second container and stir again.  Don't stir very long.  Just get it mixed and then pour onto the table starting in the middle.  Allow to seek it's level.  If it is not covering very well use the side of a Popsicle stick and drag it over to where it needs to be. (Oh, you may want to add tape around the edge underneath so when it the finish starts to set up in a few hours you can rip the tape off and the drips will come off with the tape.

It will set up in about 4 hours or so for a dry to touch but at total of  36 hours is needed to let it "cure".

Matthew and I found we needed a second coat to make it more level.  We did it on Day 6.  You may do additional coats if the finish is uneven.  If bubbles form, lean over and breath on the bubble before it starts hardening.. Your carbon dioxide will burst the bubbles.

Well, that's it!  Only 7 days from trash to flash!    

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Monday, May 26, 2014

The Big Dig for Little Boys: An Archaeological Dig for Children

I know a few boys who love to dig and get dirty.  Not necessarily in that order but they just go together so when it came time to plan a party with our boys in mind we decided to have an archaeological dig for our little boys.   My husband has cattle and the sad fact is cows die occasionally when birthing their young or they just get old but that is beside the point, the point is no animals were harmed in the making of this party.  Bones happen. Kids love things that seem mysterious and adventurous and that is just what we were selling at this party.

Ideas kept coming to us to make our dig spectacular and as word got out ideas came to us through parents and friends.   Those children are just so stinkin' cute we kept adding to our plans. Honestly, I think the adults had as much fun as the children.  The adults came and if they had planned to leave...well, they just didn't.


We picked a good sandy location.  Fortunately we have salt flats at the back of our cow pasture where bones are plentiful.

Buried Treasures

We buried our treasures.  Betty selected some good bones and went out and buried them in the sandy salt flats.  We even made dinosaur eggs to bury (see instructions below).  They were buried just like the bones.Then so we did not lose our treasures we set up surveyor flags purchased at a lumber supply company or make your own.

Equipped for Success

The boys were then equipped for success.  To make sure every boy felt special each boy received an orange or green tee shirt to put over their clothes.  We made an easy  safari play vest with lots of pockets for each boy plus  a hat to keep the sun off their punkin' heads.  Each was equipped with a little shovel  if they had not brought their own.

The Ride to the Site

And finally we provided transportation to the dig site.  The boys rode down the the site in a flat bed trailer with just a few square hay bales to sit or lean on. It was just a little ways (maybe a quarter mile) to the back of the field but it made for my adventure and definitely  was more convenient for the old folks. And let's face it...those boys were energized and would have run the entire way to get there and all the adults would be strolling along behind and might even miss the dig.

 As the trailer pulled to a stop a mass of boys ran; jumping, squealing and laughing and racing to the site.  We had to hold them back to keep them from jumping off the side of the trailer before the trailer came to a stop.  (Is this how all archaeologist get their start? Just little boys who never outgrew their love of mystery and adventure. If!)      They jumped into the sandy pit we had marked off, found their flags and started digging.   Their eyes lite up like they had discovered  the Easter bunny when they found the tip of a bone and then the excitement began.    Some of the bones were bigger than the boys but that did not deter them from claiming their stake.

*Hats can be purchased by the dozen from Oriental Trading or a party supply store. 

*Oh Boy!  All Boy Play Vest Pattern 

Pattern available through my craftsy store.  See link on side panel.  For the party we made about 20 vests in just a few days.  The vest is very simple to make,, no lining and big pockets front and back.  To cut down on expense we used canvas drop cloths from the paint department from Lowe's or Home Depot.  Bias tape or ribbon can be  substituted for the straps of nylon webbing to cut expense.  Since our party last spring I have tweaked the pattern resulting in a better design in S, M & L (sizes 2-8). See the updated version in photos on the left side and below. 

*Dinosaur eggs with a dinosaur inside  

  • 1 cup flour, 1 cup recycled coffee grounds (from coffee machine),  1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup sand or soil.  Start mixing using 1/4 cup water and add more as needed to make a stiff dough.  Shape into several large eggs.  Push a plastic dinosaur inside and smooth the egg.  Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Start drying in a oven heated to 180 degrees and bake it until the outer layer is hardened. Baking time depends on the size of the egg.  35 minutes more or less. 

Old Bones

I have been fortunate enough not to have to look very far for old bones.  If you don't know an old farmer or rancher (or a young one) to get some bones and you are industrious you can even make bones from plaster of paris.  A quick google search will turn up some how-to sites and there are even sites to purchase fake bones.  

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Recycle Project: Papier Mache Pumpkin From the Kitchen

Pumpkins made by students in various stages of completion.
Papier Mache Pumpkins
Papier Mache  has been around since about the 2nd century AD. The advantages of papier mache products are in the strength of it from multiple layers yet it remains lightweight. Even today it remains a popular craft due to its versatility and affordability.

Papier Mache paste: Several papier mache paste products are available for purchase but you may easily make the paste at home in your kitchen. 
The cooked version dries clear and would be advisable for the finish when tissue paper is applied but for the basic constructions the raw version makes a stronger product. 

Raw Paste from flour: 
Start with a bowl of flour approximately 1 to 2 cups  to start the paste.  Add about 2-3 Tablespooons of salt to retard mildewing while drying. ( Using a wire whisk or a mixer add a little water at a time until the paste is smooth and about the consistency of pancake batter a little on the thin side.  The paste is ready for use. The paste will sour overnight if left out of the refrigerator.  I start with fresh paste each day.

Cooked paste:  For every cup of water add about 2 tablespoons of flour.  Bring to a boil and stir well.  Allow to cool.  Paste will thicken as it cools.  For thicker paste add a little more flour.  Paste will sour overnight if left out of refrigerator.  This paste will dry clear and can be used with the tissue paper for final application of color to the pumpkin. 

Plastic bag stuffed with shredded paper.
  • Paste
  • Plastic Bag
  • Shredded Paper
  • Old Newspaper
  • Tissue Paper
  • Optional: Water Based Polyurenthane
  • Optional: Wire (Coat hanger or Rebar)
Step by Step Instructions
  • Add shredded paper to a plastic grocery bag until firm. (Fill really well so that when tied it is full and as firm as possible.)
  • Tie off the plastic bag handle tightly. 
  • Cut several pieces of twine about 24” to 36” depending on size of bag. (Pumpkin shown uses three pieces of twine about 36” long.)
  • Tie all three lengths together mid way. 
  • Place the knot on the twine in the center bottom.  Stretch twine to the center top and tie tightly. 
3 lengths of twine tied tightly around bag.

  • Separate the twine individually into sections of the pumpkin. 
  • Apply paste on the plastic bag.  Lay a strip of paper over the wet area just pasted. With your hands apply paste over the dry paper and repeat adding paper then paste with your hands covering the entire plastic bag.
  • At the start of applying paper over the bag the paper will want to slide but keep adding paper. Additional paper layers should overlap covering the plastic. Once the plastic is covered keep adding additional layers building up several layers for strength and stability.
  • Allow papier mache to dry overnight.
  • Check for hardness. Apply more layers in areas that still seem too soft. If you can press an indention in the dry pumpkin additional layers are needed.
  • Last layer should be a clean thin paper without text or photos such as commercial grade brown paper towels.
  • Using a paintbrush apply a layer of papier mache paste, acrylic medium or thin glue.  (I prefer acylic medium because it dries clear and if using glossy will give a sheen.)  Lay small pieces of tissue paper  over the glued area and apply glue over the tissue paper with the brush. (the trick is to keep your hands off of the tissue paper.  Tissue paper is very fragile and will easy tear. Cut tissue paper into squares or random cuts then use the tip of a wet paint brush to pick up pieces as you work.  Tissue paper will easily stick to the tip of a wet paint brush so your hands never have to touch it.) 

Separate twine to make divisions.

Apply strips of paper over plastic overlapping edges of paper.

Optional Leaf:
Insert wire into the handle of of the bag  (such as coat hanger wire or rebar wire) to add strength for the stem. Make the wire long enough to twist for a vine and leaf. Push one end of the wire into the dried pumpkin in the stem area were the twine is knotted. Tape around both the twine and wire to temporarily hold in place.
Using strips of paper dipped into the papier mache paste wrap the stem and vine until the appropriate thickness and smoothness are achieved.

Wrap with green tissue paper while still wet or when dry as done for the pumpkin.

Cut out a left shape in newspaper. Cut a piece of wire long enough to run down the central vein of the leaf with enough to make a wire hook to attach on the wire stem. Cut about 6 additional layers of newspaper exactly the same shape as the leaf previously cut. Layers all leaf shapes together gluing each layer with papier mache paste. Let dry. Cover with green tissue paper.

 When completely dry varnish with a glossy water based polyurethane.
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