Put a Cork In It

Darrin and I just finished watching Season 2 of the hilarious Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein sketch show, Portlandia.  If you haven’t been watching it, you’re missing out.  They provided this notorious commentary on the DIY/Craft movement in season 1.

Love it!  When my favorite DIY/Crafty gal over at Young House Love announced the latest Pinterest Challenge, I decided to take on a project I pinned a long time back, but I’d been seeing a lot of lately – wine cork projects.  With DIY cork projects popping up all over the place, it seems that they’re about to jump the shark, just as Fred & Carrie so effortlessly proved that birds did (or at least that there was some crafty-bird overkill).  So, I figured I should get this project done before it was too late.  And instead of “Put a bird on it,” my mantra for this project was “Put a cork in it.”

A long time ago, I originally pinned this photo.  The pin is so old, that when I tried to trace the origins of the photo, I hit a dead-end (if anyone can find it, please let me know).

Two things I love - letters and wine.

Since then, however, my interest in cork projects ventured beyond the simple monogram and into other creations.  I started to wonder how I might incorporate cork decorations in our wedding.  This is an especially fitting decoration given that our reception is in a backyard surrounded by a vineyard.  I stumbled upon these other photos (click photo to be taken to its original source).

A heart of cork from Lovely Morning.

An intricate design from Anthropologie found at House and Home.

Cork planters in honor of Earth Day at Anthropolgie.

All of these designs inspired me to put a twist on the regular monogramed letter.  So, first I gathered the corks (I scored about 250 from Freecycle a while back) and then laid out a pattern until I was happy with the spacing.  Then, I photographed the letters to help me remember the layout.

Pre-arranging the corks into the desired shape also helped me to know how many I needed for each letter. An 'M' for Mellissa and a 'D' for Darrin.

I started with the ‘M’ for Mellissa (I figured I’d rather do the testing on my letter, so that everything would come out perfect on Darrin’s).  I mixed a few different shades of blue and began painting the corks, one at a time.  However, I really liked the faded look as seen in the heart photograph above.  So, after I painted the top of the cork, I stamped it on a piece of newpaper to give it a distressed look.  After painting a handful or so corks one color, I mixed a little white paint into the color to lighten it up.  Then, I painted that color on a few corks.  After that, I would add a little more white paint to lighten that shade, and so on and so on.

A view of my workspace shows my color mixing as well as my stamping surface (newspaper) for a weathered look.

Once the corks were dry, I rearranged them into the ‘M’ design until I liked how the colors flowed (a little darker at the bottom, lighter at the top).  I then used a glue gun to glue each cork to the next.  I found that it was helpful to put glue on each cork before pressing together.

Rearranging the corks to prepare for gluing. I apologize for the bikini shot. I used a Target ad for my workspace and didn't realize the shot until after the fact.

The final product!

What do you think?  These are the colors for our wedding – blue and green.  So, we will be able to use the letters as decor at the wedding and to hang up in our home.  Not too shabby!

What about you?  Do you have any projects you’ve taken on recently that can pull double duty (decor for a party and your home, or have function and decoration purposes)?  Do tell!

Don’t forget to check out what the pros made during this round of the challenge.  Visit Young House Love to see Sherry’s homemade bean bag chair.  Go to Bower Power to check out Katie’s watercoloring.  Cassie over at Hi Sugarplum! made faux antlers.  Finally, Erin at The Great Indoors stole my heart with a homemade mason jar chandelier.

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Signing Up and Signing In

So it’s been an exciting week or so at the Jessen Hiser House.  It started off with some of our favorite house guests – Darrin’s younger brother Derek and his children – and ended with our engagement party/housewarming open-house!  It was so fun to finally get a chance to entertain and welcome people into our home.

In the midst of all the excitement, my home-style-guru over at Young House Love (is anyone keeping count of how many times I mention these people…it might be borderline stalker) Sherry announced a summer Pinterest Challenge.  Sherry and some of her friends are challenging themselves and their readers to actually attempt to make something inspired by a pin on their personal Pinterest page.  If you’ve been following my blog at all, by now you know I’m mad about Pinterest and have been soaking-up all kinds of ideas for our wedding and the house.  This challenge could not have been more timely.  I had already planned to try out a couple of things at our party this past weekend.  What I wasn’t necessarily planning on doing was sharing the progress of the projects.  But, thanks to the challenge I’ve been inspired…so here we go!

It all started with the following photo I found on Pinterest.  It’s a twist on the traditional guest book.  Guests leave their fingerprint behind, as opposed to signing their names.

A twist on the traditional "guestbook" has guests making fingerprint balloons.

There were three things that I instantly loved about this project.  The first was how unique and interactive it is – allowing guests to engage in a mini-art project.  The second is that it creates a piece of artwork that can hang in the house for years.  The third is that it reminds me of the Pixar film, “Up.”

When Darrin proposed, he asked me two questions.  The first was, “Are you ready for an adventure?”  The second was, “Will you marry me?”  When we talked about it later he explained that he was inspired by Up.  For those of you who saw the movie, do you remember this part?

I thought the sentiment was so sweet and it melted my heart.  So, of course I’m now trying to tie in subtle references to the film in our wedding.  However, one thing I don’t like about the “guestbook” above is that the fingerprints are only distinguishable to a trained CSI professional.  How am I supposed to tell the difference between my dad’s fingerprint and sister’s fingerprint?

So, I decided to try something a little different and work in my other current obsession.  I thought, what if the fingerprints weren’t fingerprints but letters?  Still with me?  Then guests could stamp their initials and we could (theoretically) deduce that RJ is my dad and TB is my sister.  So, I set-up a table at our party with a water color board, a selection of ink pads, letter stamps, and instructions.  Here are some photos of the set-up.

A cheery hydrangea and a photo of us, taken right after we got engaged, helped set the scene.

The instructions let guests know what to do without requiring someone to staff the table.

I bought a pack of letter stamps with two different fonts at Michael's using their 40% off coupon from the Sunday paper.

All in all, I was really pleased with the set-up.  I used a compass to draw circles on the board and asked guests to stamp inside the circles.  I imagined that I would eventually draw a dark line around the circles to turn those into large balloons (keeping with the Up theme) that would connect to a monogram at the bottom of the board, representing Darrin and me.  When the party was all said and done, this was the final product:

Our guests in letters.

When I first saw it, I felt a little deflated.  I think I even heard that “wop-wop” sound somewhere in the distance.  Looking back, I think I should have done some more prep work to my canvas.  I also should have bought a smaller canvas as I feel like there is too much white space.

But, all is not lost.  I’m simply going to consider this a work in progress.  I’ve got some ideas about what I can do to finish this piece and bring it to life.  I really want to keep to my original intention, which is to have a piece of art featuring the contributions of our friends and family – our loved ones.  What a great way to start turning our house into our home!

So, what about you?  Have you had any big ideas that didn’t exactly turn out the way you hoped?  How did you end up making it work?

Update: To see some real pros at work, checkout the Pinterest Challenge pages of Sherry at Young House Love, Katie at Bower Power, Emily Henderson, and Lana at Making a House a Home.

Letters! We Get Letters!

I don’t know if it’s the whole “living with a graphics guy” thing or if I’m reverting back to my Sesame Street days.  But, lately I am in love with letters.  I’m specifically referring to individual letters of the alphabet, as opposed to a letter that one writes and sends through the mail (though I love those, too).  I love seeing the different type/font – whatever you want to call it (I’m sure there’s a technical term that Darrin will school me on later).  And I’m seeing letters all over the place.  As I mentioned in this recent post, I even added letters to our engagement open house invitations.  Here’s a very short tour around the web of some of my favorite letters.

Industrial Stencil Letters from Urban Outfitters. Only $8.

Urban Outfitters has a number of really cool looking letters right now.  Including this one, and this one.  And all for pretty reasonable prices.

This gem found at Little Bits of Lovely.

I love the simplicity of this large letter and the way it offsets the artwork.  The color also really pops off the wall.

Ideas from Better Homes and Gardens.

This is a great example of incorporating different fonts and types into one space in a simple, yet elegant way.  I like how they’re leaning over on one another, too – like they’re just resting or taking a little nap.  It’s a perfect pose for the letters “N” or “Z”.

This creative headboard found at ModHomeEc.

I love the boldness of this installment.  It would be fun to pick letters and numbers that had special meaning – the initials of family members or anniversary dates – and incorporate them into the design.

Using letters in a child's room from Design Sponge.

For all the moms and dads out there, here’s an example of a fun way to use letters in the kid’s room.  You can start teaching the alphabet while bringing some bright colors and cool shapes into the space.  I love that the “O” is a mirror.

Finally, here’s a teaser of the first letters we’re bringing into our home.  We ordered them from Urban Outfitters.  But, alas Darrin’s “H” is on backorder.  Whaddya think?

So, what about you?  Are any of you letter obsessed?  What other trends are you going crazy for at the moment?

Note: pictures found at Little Bits of Lovely, Better Homes and Gardens, ModHomeEc, Design Sponge, and Urban Outfitters.