DIY & Crafty

I seriously could not decide what to do for a wedding guest book. I had toyed around with this idea of wedding guest book “art” way back, but I was kind of worried that the finished product would be, well, underwhelming.

So, we opted for something a bit simpler. It could still be hung as art in our home, and therefore not left languishing in some box only to be seen every 10 years, but something we would see and appreciate every day.

We bought multiple types of cardstock, including handmade papers, and had our guests write us notes on that paper (using a variety of markers, charcoal pencils, and colored pencils) and then tack it up on a piece of fabric-covered cork.

Then we had the whole thing framed. And just last night, we hung it on the wall in our kitchen! (Pictures intentionally blurred )

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I just think it’s so fun!

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Kids drew pictures for us:

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And we even received messages in different languages!

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And here are some photos from our professional photographer of the guest book “station” at our wedding. We also had the favors set up there, hoping to encourage guest book participation!

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I really, really like how everything ended up looking. We got it professionally framed which, unfortunately, is outrageously expensive, but we had purchased a “cheap” frame at first (which was still nearly $100) but the frame was just that.  Too cheap and flimsy for the finished product, and also looked really really cheap.

I love how the silver of the frame picks up on the silver thumbtacks that are holding up the message.

Perhaps in retrospect, I wouldn’t have opted for handmade paper, because it makes the writing look very “ridge-y” but I still like the eclectic look of all the different papers and writing utensils.

What about you all? What was your guest “book?”

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Check out Kiss My Tulle Today!

by Melissa on March 22, 2012

Be sure to check Kiss My Tulle today, where I have a guest post tutorial on how to turn wedding gift ribbons into art for your home.

Image 13 - Hanging on Wall (2 - with flash)

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The Ultimate DIY Wedding Venue Supplies Checklist

by Melissa on February 28, 2012

As you probably gathered reading all about our wedding venue, Prince William Forest Park Cabin Camp #5, we were entirely on our own. The park has nothing like an on-site coordinator, or supplies to get the venue ready, or anything like that. So we had to make sure that we were full prepared for everything. If you have a similar, entirely DIY wedding venue, I hope that you’ll find the following checklist useful for things that you should bring if you have a similar venue!

  • Scissors
  • Utility Knife
  • Cable ties
  • String
  • Velcro
  • Wire
  • Scotch tape, masking tape, and duct tape
  • Steamer (to steam wrinkles out of things like table linens)
  • Rags
  • Surface cleaners
  • Power Strips
  • Extension cords
  • Electrical tape
  • Step stool
  • Ladder
  • Thumbtacks
  • Pens and markers
  • Flashlights
  • Pins
  • Notebooks and paper
  • Leaf blower or push broom (especially useful for outdoor spaces)
  • Boatloads of plastic containers to take home your leftovers

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Have you ever gone to Pinterest or Google Images or the Weddingbee DIY boards and searched for “unique wedding ideas?” For instance, maybe “unique invitations” or “unique wedding programs?”

Isn’t it strange how none of it is actually unique? Rather, it’s the same ideas you’ve seen over and over again online? I think the internet needs to learn the real definition of unique!

Here’s an example. Making a wedding program was a very last minute decision for our wedding. For ideas, I searched high and lo for “unique wedding programs.” You know what kept coming up in my results? Those programs that can also be used as fans at outdoor summer weddings. Over and over again. All my search results. Damned wedding program fans. Bah!

Well, I finally developed a fairly unique wedding program. And you know where the idea came from? Well, I’ll tell you about that later.

So where’s a bride to turn to for inspiration when everything looks the same in wedding world?

  • Scrapbooking Magazines, such as Creating Keepsakes
  • Paper Crafts Magazine
  • Martha Stewart Living (not the wedding magazine), Better Homes and Gardens, or other home living type magazines
  • Craft blogs that don’t focus exclusively on weddings. Try Stumble Upon’s “Crafts” category to discover some new blogs!
  • Sewing Magazines
  • Craftster
  • Craft Gawker

The BEST Place to Find Wedding Inspiration

But, better yet. Don’t forget to use your BRAIN for inspiration. Yes, even us un-creative types can tap something amazing and unique when we just look away from the computer and stop looking to others for ideas. My brain is where the idea for our wedding invitation originated. And our Save-the-Date. And the wedding program I was talking about above. I just opened up a notebook and started drawing. Er, I guess that’s what you can call it. Sketching, putting ideas to paper, whatever you want to call it. There are ideas IN YOUR BRAIN. 

Those amazing ideas you see on Pinterest and Stumble Upon? Guess what? At some point, those originated in someone’s head. One person. Well, yes, you say. But that person has infinitely more [insert excuse here … creativity, time, space, money]. But if those people can think of unique ideas, so can you.

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DIY Wedding Flower Preservation and Pressing

by Melissa on February 7, 2012

About a week before my wedding, I had a thought. What was I going to do with my bouquet flowers when the wedding was over? Although it was never anything I considered a priority, all of a sudden, I thought it might be nice to have my bouquet flowers pressed and/or otherwise preserved.

I contacted our florist for recommendations for flower preservation companies. She recommended two. One specialized in preserving the entire bouquet as-is, while the other specialized in pressing the flowers and displaying them in frames.

After taking a look on their websites at what they had to offer, I definitely liked the pressed flowers, from an aesthetic standpoint, a lot better. I contacted the pressed flower company, along with some other similar companies. After they provided estimates, I realized that flower preservation would be a very, very expensive thing to do. Somewhere in the range of $600-$750 to press my wedding bouquet flowers and have them preserved.

As a reminder, this is what my bouquet looked like:

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Flower Preservation Techniques

So, I did what anyone does nowadays to make themselves knowledgeable on a particular topic. I Googled and Yougled (it’s the term I’m using for searching YouTube. Use it, let’s see if it catches on) flower preservation techniques, including here, here and here.

I opted to try the silica gel drying technique, the modified phone book pressing technique, and upsidedown-drying technique (I wanted to use three separate methods in case something went dreadfully wrong with one of them and ruined my flowers). I ordered some silica gel from Amazon so that it would be delivered to our house by the time we got back from the wedding.

I stored my bouquet in the commercial refrigerator at our wedding venue the night of the wedding, since we didn’t have to check out of the venue until the next day. Then, after we checked out and got home the day after the wedding, I clipped about half of the buds from my bouquet. Of that half, I put some of them in a gladware container of silica gel, and the rest in between pieces of newspaper. Then I placed a very heavy book below and on top of the folded piece of newspaper. The remaining half of the buds I left on the bouquet to air dry naturally.  (My apologies to my readers, but I didn’t photograph the process that day. I was just too exhausted an in a hurry to get started with the preservation stuff).

About eight weeks later, which incidentally, was just about three weeks ago, I decided to check on the flowers in the silica gel and newspaper.

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Wedding Flowers as Art

Looks good, right? But really, what do I know. I was ready to get started with a framing project for my wedding flowers, partially inspired by an art display over at Young House Love.

I purchased six of these 19 3/4 x 19 3/4” Ribba frames from Ikea

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But, I wanted the matting for my project to have a much smaller opening. So I ordered separate custom-cut mats from Wholesale Matboards with a small 5×5” opening so that the pressed flowers would have a much more dramatic look. The flowers would be mounted on leftover burlap fabric from the wedding.

I put a bead of hot glue all around the back of the custom mats:

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Then pressed a small cut of burlap onto the glue

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So when I turned the mat over, it looked like this. (Strangely enough, the berber carpet kinda looks like burlap texture too!)

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Then it was time to check out how my dried flowers fared. *Spoiler alert: Gerber daisies do not dry well in silica gel.* As you can see, the petals of the gerber daisy just completely fell off when I tried to take it out of the silica gel. But, the craspedia and tea roses looked great. And not to worry about the gerber daisies, I still had other ones that I had dried using the newspaper pressing technique.

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First up, using a hot glue gun, I glued one of the tea roses to the new burlap-backed mat: (Don’t mind the little pieces of silica. I brushed all those away)

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At some point, without even realizing it, I cut myself, and my finger started bleeding, and I bled right onto the back of the matting. So, take caution kids, DIY flower preservation can be dangerous. Or, perhaps I’m just a klutzy doofus. Yep, that’s blood (just happy it got on the BACK):

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And this was the (almost) finished product (I later changed it to have a more “shadowbox” effect. More on that later).

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I repeated the process for other elements from my bouquet, including the gerber daisies and  craspedia (pictured below), as well as the autumn leaves, raffia, and berries (not pictured until later). The gerber daisy was looking a bit bald, so I took other petals from another daisy and filled in the bald spots.

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The finished products

These are the finished products, from a slight distance, and then very close up. Please forgive the crappy lighting. It’s the downside of living in a middle unit townhome … limited windows. Also, note how the frames now have the “shadowbox” look, instead of how the tea rose was pictured above very close to the glass in the frame.

The raffia

Some raffia was included in my bouquet, so I just cut off the green floral wire “stem” and left the very top part.

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The leaf

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The tea rose

I used the silica dried tea rose since it retained a nice three dimensional shape, unlike the newspaper-pressed tea rose, which just looks like a bunch of flattened petals.

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The craspedia

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The gerber daisy

Note how I added a few additional petals to make it look less bald than as it was pictured above.

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The berries

These definitely shriveled and aren’t exactly the most gorgeous things in the world, but I still decided to display them as well.

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All together now!

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Final thoughts

I was so insanely pleased with how these turned out! I’m a bit of a klutz, so I did get blood on the back of the mat with the tea rose, and I probably could’ve been a bit more careful with the hot glue gun, since a small amount of glue is visible on like the berries and raffia, but it’s not even noticeable unless you have your nose pressed up against the glass.

I’m glad I opted for multiple drying techniques, especially since the silica destroyed the gerber daisies, and I didn’t like how the tea roses looked after using the newspaper pressing technique. Although to be fair, the gerber daisies dried using the newspaper pressing technique were also very fragile. The colors definitely changed, especially the color of the gerber daisies and the berries, but I’m okay with that. Just something to be aware of. The berries also shriveled considerably.

Grand total cost for the project? Approximately $149.  The six frames were $19.99 each, and the custom size mats were $4.85 each. I already had the burlap and hot glue. And, this could’ve definitely been done even cheaper if you’re on a tighter budget. For instance, I could’ve used smaller frames which were less expensive, and just used the existing matting.

This DIY saved me a bundle! Those $600-$750 estimates I had received were for just one or two frames MAX, so I could only imagine how much a six-frame preservation project would’ve cost me!

I love that these are now displayed as art in our home as a great reminder of our wedding!

Another great thing is that I still have a bunch of dried flowers left! Now I just need to figure out what to do with those! In the meantime, I think I’m just going to put them in a small jar and then have the jar on display in the house until I think of something else to do with them.

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