DIY

This is Halloween

Oh man. Where to begin? I’m a little crazy for Halloween. Some might say this is in direct rebellion to my sheltered, conservative Christian upbringing where everything from scary movies to Harry Potter was banned…. but I would disagree. My mom went all out on the costumes each year, sewing poodle skirts and turning rope into Princess Leia buns. We gathered pillowcases full of candy at our church’s Fall Festival event. I didn’t feel like I was ‘missing’ anything from the Halloween experience as a kid, even if we didn’t technically celebrate All Hallow’s Eve.

However, as the years pass, I fall more entranced with the magic of Halloween. October is a month for horror movie marathons, costume parties, haunted houses, potion-like cocktails, and creepy crawly cupcakes. Just this week I read Alice Hoffman’s “Practical Magic”, which was a delightful way to get into the spirit of things. I am also looking forward to the new Netflix series The Haunting of Bly Manor (a follow-up to the stunningly brilliant The Haunting of Hill House). The pandemic may have taken over our lives… but it will never take our Halloween!

Decorating was more of a challenge than usual this year. My budget was slim to none, so I looked around for pieces I could “upcycle” in my own home.

I started with some homemade artwork. Finding inspirational pieces on Etsy to mimic, I used a ruler and a pencil (with a large eraser) to translate the images onto sheets of cardstock. I then cut out the designs to create a “stencil” for my paintings. I placed the stencil on a piece of white paper and used black paint and a thin brush to fill in the space beneath. The stencil wasn’t very robust, so some of my lines got a little wonky but I just smoothed them out freehand. I removed the watercolor paintings from the frames in our dining room and swapped in my new artwork. I think the paint blotches and wobbles add some character to the final look! What do you think of my dining room décor?

Next up was the mantle. I have never had a fireplace before, so I was particularly excited to tackle this one. I’ve been saving my old wine bottles after discovering all the wonderful projects you can make with them. I grabbed two and spritzed them with black matte spray paint. I really like the minimalist look right now, but closer to Halloween I might add some tapered candles or some potion bottle labels. I splurged on a $5 tree at Target (that darn dollar section gets me every time). For a final touch, I decided to make tassel “ghosts”. I bought some thick, white yarn to use in a macrame project a few months ago and there was still a bit left. I found a book that was the same width as the length I wanted my ghosts to be and started to wrap. It only took 10 loops to get a nice, thick ghost shape. After tying off the heads, I cut out eyes from a sheet of black felt and glued them on. Ta-Da!

My final project to date was a wreath for the door. While I usually don’t bother opening marketing emails, I happened to notice that JoAnn Fabrics had an 18” wreath on sale for $2.50I I couldn’t pass that one up, so I immediately drove to my nearest JoAnn. I also grabbed a a pack of faerie lights (on clearance for $3.50). Once I got home, I spray-painted the wreath matte black to match the rest of my décor. While the paint dried, I cut out flower petals and leaves, following a number of tutorials online (type “DIY Paper Flowers” into a Pinterest search. You won’t be disappointed). I wrapped the faerie lights carefully around the wreath, then secured the flowers with hot glue. I had no idea what I was doing, I just kept adding flowers until I liked the look! I hung it on our front door and, while I’m happy with the wreath, it’s a little hard to appreciate the black detail against the black front door. Someone suggested adding gold or white tips to make it stand out more, along with some bats to add to the spookiness! I’ll be working on those updates in the next few weeks.

These were all projects I did in the space of a few afternoons, while cookies were in the oven or football was on. I spent less than $20, so I don’t feel obligated to store any of it in my closet to put up next year. I don’t mind updating my wreath with more paint or redoing the artwork on the wall if I decide I don’t like them. I love the freedom and flexibility that DIY projects offer.

I’ve got a few more craft ideas on the back burner and LOTS of Halloween treats to bake. I’ll continue to share throughout the month!

How are you decorating for the season? Are you going spooky or cozy? Let me know what’s inspiring you right now!

DIY

DIY 004: Making a Tassel Chandelier

Anyone else obsessed with Anthropologie’s Fela Tasseled Chandelier? I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately (ok, Google algorithm, stop tempting me already). After watching a third Instagram home renovator hang the light, I was convinced: I could totally make one.

I found some homemade versions on Pinterest and Etsy, but wasn’t overly impressed. The thickness of the tassel thread made a huge difference on the overall appearance (thick yarn looked particularly tacky). I also thought three layers of shorter tassels looked more glamorous than two layers of longer. I was really inspired by some of the ombre looks, though!

Instead of ordering thread on Amazon, I decided to go to Michaels and actually look at the options available. I landed on a crochet thread called Woolike Yarn by Loops & Thread, based on the color availability, weight of the strands, and the price. While I was there, I also picked up three floral hoops, some gold wire, and a gold chain. Here’s the full supply and cost list:

Materials

  • Woolike Yarn– I ended up using about two spools of yarn per ring. If you’re doing it all one color you could probably get away with five spools.
  • Gold Chain– I ended up splitting this into three pieces and attaching them together with a small loop of wire as my “hanger”.
  • Gold Wire
  • Floral Hoops – I purchased a 19″, 14″, and a 10″ in gold
  • Gold Wire
  • Scissors
  • Small Book or Picture Frame- I used a small, hardcover book of poetry that was 4.5″ wide and 0.75″ deep (the length from top to bottom doesn’t matter, as you’ll just be using it to wrap the tassels).

Steps-

  1. Start making tassels! Use your thumb to hold the end of your thread to the book or small picture frame. Wrap 50 times (50 was the sweet spot for my tassels, but depending on the thread/yarn you use you might want to adjust this amount). Use scissors to cut the thread off of the book/frame.
  2. Cut a piece of thread ~7″ long. Lay your tassel strings across the thread. Tie the piece across the middle of your threads (feel free to make minor adjustments to get the ends even before tightening the knot.
  3. Cut another piece of thread ~10″ long. Tie around the top portion of your tassel. I recommend tying it higher than you want it, as it’s easy to scrunch it down the length of the tassel to your desired level. I wrapped the thread a few times to give the tassel a defined head, then knotted it and let the ends drape down to blend into the body of the tassel.
  4. Repeat approximately 200 times. I highly recommend finding a good Netflix show to binge!!
  5. Tips to speed things up: I streamlined my tassel process by doing six at a time. I would do 6 sets of fifty wraps on my little book, cut 6 x 7″ strings and 6 x 10″ strings, then put those tassels together. It seemed to go a little quicker than doing one at a time!
  6. When you have enough to begin building your chandelier, grab one of your floral hoops. I ended up using 80 tassels on my 19″ hoop, 60 on my 14″ hoop, and just under 40 on my 10″ hoop. I double-knotted each tassel and shuffled them around until I was happy with how “full” the layer looked.
  7. Building the chandelier was a little challenging. I divided the tassels into even sections so the sides would all be balanced. I used wire in between each section to connect the largest level to the mid level and the mid to lower (note: I used string initially, but it was tough to keep in place and didn’t offer the support that wire offered). There was a lot of scooching involved.
  8. Finally, connect your hanging chain to the top layer. Since I wanted mine to mount close to the ceiling, I cut my chain to 14″ and attached the ends at three intervals around the hoop. Then, I secured the three chains together with some wire. I looped it over a swag hook in my ceiling and went about fluffing and balancing the chandelier. It was slightly precarious, but after some negotiating it finally maintained its composure. I was thrilled!!

Here’s a quick tutorial video on how to make a tassel:

Oops– cut the top of my head off. #framingflaws

Final cost for the project was right around $30. Labor time was about 8 hours, but considering I was able to watch an entire season of Killing Eve… hard to complain! I’m super happy with it– definitely one of my favorite projects to date.