The new theme at A Vintage Journey carries right on with the festivities. The lovely Annie is inviting us to celebrate a Vintage Christmas. If you hop over, you'll find the challenge details and our Travelling Instructions along with a wealth of inspiration from my amazing team-mates.
What could be more redolent of an old time Christmas than singing carols around the piano in the parlour? The heart of my creation is the idea that you can peek through the window to see who's singing and playing (a very special guest indeed).
That could have been a very simple tag - stamp the image, cut the window die and stick it on top, et voila! - but my imagination wouldn't allow me to stay in two dimensions so here's where I ended up.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish my brain would let me go with the simple option...
But no, once three-dimensionality had occurred to me, I had to make it happen. I'll let you in on how I got there, and some of the serendipitous events along the way, but I'm going to edit out the bad language!! Even so, it's still going to be another long post - sorry!
Apologies for the post title too... I know only a few of you will get the Play School reference. You have to be British and of the right generation - how's that for vintage?!
The whole thing is constructed out of a cardboard Amazon envelope, and the base is a recycled picture frame (used as part of the seating plan in the Handmade Wedding, if any of you remember that mammoth undertaking).
You'll never believe it, but I promise it was a complete accident that the "house" fitted perfectly into the picture frame. I initially cut the piece of card just so that the size looked good around the Tim Holtz window die.
Lo and behold, that turned out to be the exact dimensions of the frame (which at the cutting point I hadn't even thought of using!).
I cut the window twice out of some fairly thick cardboard packaging, and glued the two frames together before giving the the DecoArt Chalky Finish crackle treatment. In the photo above, you can see it when it's just got the undercoat of Rustic and maybe the Crackle Glaze too.
Here it's in the finished state, obviously, and you can see the Vintage Lace die-cut I've used to add some lacy curtain trimmings.
I used the Tim Holtz Bricked Layering Stencil to apply a combination of DecoArt Textured Sand Paste and Ranger Texture Paste.
This stencil is ideal for large areas, because it's been brilliantly designed to line up bricks and half-bricks to continue the pattern. If it was intentional, thank you, because it makes it much easier to "build" a brick wall for a dollshouse, for instance!
I layered up paint in various washes and dry-brushed layers until I had a nice warm creamy stone look - reminiscent of the stone in the Cotswolds, though a little darker by the time I'd done some inking around the edges.
Then it was a question of playing around with the stamped image on the back wall to try to get it at a good height, and I extended some of the lines of the objects with a pen so that you'd get a slightly extended visual field, ready for when people look in at an angle.
I love how he's heard something and turns around to catch you peeking in at him!
I did try out a coloured version of the image - it's from Tim's Christmas Magic set - but I decided I really wanted to go for the old-fashioned sepia look... the challenge theme is for a Vintage Christmas after all.
There's such amazing detail on this stamp - and I felt the colouring slightly took away from that too... just look at this bag full of toys. That would make a great image by itself on an ATC or small card.
(The wobbly floor boards are all mine - as I say, just extending the lines to cover odd angles, so I wasn't particularly careful.)
Once I'd worked out the right height for the image and distance away for the back wall (all done by eye, I've no time for measuring when I'm crafting!), I cut the side walls and covered those and the back with some papers from the Idea-ology Yuletide paper stash.
I used the reinforced folded edges of the Amazon envelope as my braces to glue the walls together with.
It needed a bit of extra help at the bottom and top, but luckily I had a bit more envelope-edge to go.
Look, this is the back before I covered it with the papers... proof it's all done with recycling!
Once glued together, the whole thing really needed topping off somehow, and that's when I remembered the two window boxes left over from when I'd cut the window frames.
I had thought it wouldn't be appropriate to fill them with flowers, given it's a Christmas project so I'd ignored them...
... but now, trimmed a little and joined together, they make the perfect lintel to go across the top of my little bay window extension.
So they got the same crackle effect as the window frame and some washes of paint over the top to weather them even further.
(And there are some coffee stirrers doing the same job at the sides and at the bottom.)
And I decided it needed a roof too...
So it was out with the corrugated cardboard, some layers of paint, and some Distress Embossing Powders - Pumice Stone for roof texture and Peeled Paint to add some moss.
I always knew there would be ivy climbing up the stone walls. (That plan was there even when I was only thinking in terms of a tag - an idea I've used before but with stained glass in the window that time!).
As you all know, I'm an ivy-lover - so this is a much-used die. I simply spritzed some card with a combination of Forest Moss, Peeled Paint and Evergreen Bough Distress Sprays, let it dry, and cut it.
I needed a base, so having cut the front piece, I pulled out one of the many picture frames sitting in the cupboard, and it was at this point that I discovered the miraculous perfection of the size of my little house for the frame.
If I'd planned it, it couldn't have fitted more snugly... an important point as, now that we have a roof, the candle has to be replaced by lifting the whole building. It can't be glued down, so it's a good thing it's a nice close fit.
Hang on, "the candle," did you say? But of course "the candle". That's what made the whole thing three-dimensional in the first place... I thought how nice it would be to be able to illuminate the scene inside. Nice yes, simple no. (Sigh!)
And the roof means that of course it can't be a real candle... so it's a battery operated tea light, but you still have to get to it to turn it on and off.
Worth it for the effect though!
Once I had the picture frame in place - crackled and painted to match obviously - then I had a little bit of outside space to play with.
Fortunately, I had a bit of green-spritzed card left over from the ivy which was just the right size to be the "grass".
I grabbed a couple of Tim's bottle brush trees and gave the tips of the branches a sweep of Peeled Paint to add just a hint of green.
They're decorated with some green ribbon (almost the last of a reel brought back from the USA in 1981!!) and tiny sequin stars.
The sequin stars also made their way over to the other bit of decoration, some of the Letterpress alphabet reflecting the happiness music can bring... especially when the whole family is gathered around the piano singing Christmas songs in the parlour.
Hey, it's vintage, okay... I can dream, can't I?!
In fact, as a family we did do that in the dim and distant past... especially on the eve of Sinterklaas, 5th December, when we would put our shoes out for a visit from the Dutch version of Father Christmas, but we had to sing some Dutch Christmas songs first in order to earn the visit! Now we just sing them without the piano.
The letters are painted with co-ordinating colours and, as I say, a couple of the stars migrated onto them too, just to add an extra hint of sparkle.
The final touch was to add the house number, one of the Idea-ology Plaquettes. If there'd been a 25, I'd've chosen that, but either there wasn't one in the set, or I've used it elsewhere. Still, it would have been too much of a coincidence maybe... that Father Christmas lives at number 25? Come now!
Yet again, I've managed to give myself the challenge of trying to capture (sort-of) candlelight on camera. Because of the contrast, it never looks quite as it does in real life. (Remember you can click on the pictures if you want a closer look.)
I generally end up squirming on the floor in a dark corner trying out various lighting states, or squatting in the courtyard at dusk, so that you can get an impression of the warm glow from the interior. But I do like it when it works!
Okay, the plaquette wasn't quite the final touch. You can see what the very final touch was... lots of white spatter to bring the whole thing to life.
So there's my little musical parlour... I hope you like it. Apologies for the War and Peace length post... as you can see, there's quite a lot I need to remember how to do here!
Do check out the fantastic creations from my team-mates over at A Vintage Journey, and we hope you'll be inspired to come and celebrate A Vintage Christmas with us this December. See you soon!
Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart... filled it, too, with melody that would last for ever.
From Song of Years by Beth Streeter Aldrich
P.S. For fans of miniatures, after a quiet period of contemplation there's finally a post
over at Cestina's Dollshouses, and it's also musically festive!
I'd like to enter this at Mixed Media World where this month Anything Goes
And Tis the Season over at Frilly and Funkie so I'd like to play there too
As usual, it's Anything Mixed Media/Creative Goes at the Love to Create challenge
I know it's subtle but I have got my little gold stars so I'd like to offer this up at Live and Love Crafts where they're looking for some Sparkle this month
At Stamps and Stencils they have a theme of Grungy Christmas... it's not precisely grungy, but it's got lots of mixed media texture and distressing with all that crackle and aged brick, and a minimum of sparkle, so I hope it'll fit
It's also time at Emerald Creek Dares to Let the Festivities Begin, so I'd like to share this there too