Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Branches in a Vase

While we were living in our little apartment, waiting for our house to close, I was so so anxious to be in our new house. I worked on a few projects to keep me busy and to get ready for our new place. The trouble with buying a house, though, is that houses are expensive and that leaves only very little money for decorating them. So all of my projects came from thrift store finds.

Above are two shelves that I got for $3 and $4. They were not in bad shape, but they weren't really great either. The cheap finish was chipped, exposing bright white wood. I liked the grain of the wood though, and wanted to keep it.

I used General Finishes gel stain in "Java" and I was so happy with the results! The stain is pretty cheap considering how far a tiny bit can go. I had planned on doing a few coats, but they looked perfect after one so I stopped. Then I sealed them with a satin finish, (also from General Finishes).

 One of the last days in the tiny apartment, McBaby decided to pour his own cereal since I was taking too long.

Then we moved in, hooray! Handsome Bryce put my shelves on the wall, and they looked so great that I knew I needed something bold and exciting to put on them. I wanted to go to Hobby Lobby or something to buy some decorative sticks, but again with the $$$. Bryce suggested that I just pick some sticks myself. I was against this idea because I wanted clean sticks, and I wanted them to have some kind of decorative buds or blossoms or something (but I didn't want to pick a real branch with those because buds and blossoms get shrivelly and gross.)

I thought about it though, and got a brilliant idea. First McBaby and I went for a walk and found some sticks. They came from a big dead sage brush bush. They were filthy and covered in loose bark. Sick.

 So I washed them very furiously. I used dish soap and a thick rag and just scrubbed the dickens out of those branches. I also scrubbed off 90% of the icky bark, leaving no room for icky bugs or bug eggs. Then I let them sit in the sun to dry.

Here is the genius part: I took a bag of dry white beans that we have had for about 100 years. (We don't eat a lot of beans around here.) These would be my buds. They were the perfect size  and do not get shriveled or crumbly.

 I spread them out and sprayed one side with metallic copper colored spray paint. I love spray paint.

I only sprayed one side because I am lazy, and because I wanted them to have some contrast.

Then I took a hot glue gun and glued the beans all over my branches. I found it looked best to group beans in twos and threes with the occasional  lone bean. You could display the branches without any beans, but I think it adds the nice finished touch that I was looking for in store-bought branches. You could also add some little blossoms if you wanted; I am still debating about whether or not I will.

I put a lot of gravel in my vase and worked the branches into it. If your vase is opaque you could use plaster, branches are heavy and unwieldy, so you need something to make the base heavy enough to balance. I still haven't determined what else to put on my fabulous shelves, but for now I am happy with my branches.

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