July 31, 2011

Do It Yourself Whimsical Starfish

In this blog post, I will show you how to make a starfish. I'm calling these "whimsical starfish" because they are not anatomically correct starfish. They are more like an interpretation of a starfish.
They look cute as a vase filler but a marine biologist
 would not approve of them.
How to Make Starfish
They came about more as an afterthought as I was making foam bases for my DIY coral (see post "Do It Yourself Coral" here)
with Great Stuff Foam. 

Once you start with that Great Stuff can, you might as well use the whole thing up 'cause it hardens in the nozzle after a little while
 and there is no getting the rest of the contents out later. 
This photo is so fuzzy 'cause the camera came out  into the hot sun after being in air conditioning.

I had all the bases I needed for my coral so I
squirted out some starfish shapes.
how to make starfish

They turned out better than I thought so I bought another can
($3 at WalMart for the red can) to make some more.
how to make starfish

Some tips:  follow all the safety directions on the can (especially about wearing gloves), squirt it out on wax paper (it sticks to whatever it touches), don't let kids or animals around it until it is dry, squirt it as slow as possible to maintain control over where it is going. You may be a better "foam artist"  than I am but my starfish were far from perfect.
"Draw" a starfish on the wax paper while pulling back on the nozzle that is included with the can. Great Stuff puffs up A LOT. 
how to make starfish

When it is dry to the touch and firm (mine was usually 1-2 hours), pull it off the wax paper.

If you have a build up of foam in the center of the starfish, cut the "hump back" off with a serrated knife.  If the starfish is not completely dry in the inside, wait until it is to start cutting.
You might not abuse your kitchen utensils like I do but my steak knives worked great for this.
I'm a pretty pathetic photographer...can't even get a lump of foam sitting on a table in focus.
You can also do "surgery" on unattractive parts you don't want on your starfish.  Do as little "surgery" as possible 'cause the paint does not stick to the exposed cut areas as well as the areas that have not been cut. 
This is what happens if you do not cut the humpback off the starfish after taking it off the wax paper. 

Real starfish have beautiful nubby backs usually. 
This is a real starfish from Hobby Lobby.  It costs $4.  

With these foam starfish, the best we can hope for is to mimick the underside of the starfish.
under side of starfish

To help the foam starfish look a little more real, cut a slit with a knife (not all the way through and not all the way to the middle) down each starfish leg before the foam fully cures (like within an hour of taking it off the wax paper).
how to make starfish
The starfish on the left shows you what the underside looks like when you take it off the wax paper.
The starfish on the right shows where to cut the slits to cause a more real-looking crease. 
I tried to get a picture of me doing the cutting but it looked naughty for some reason.

This will cause the legs sides to pull inward and make a crease.
 It also makes the starfish shrink somewhat. 
how to make starfish

Starfish come in lots of colors but I made mine white-ish.

I was trying to see if I could do a "batch" of  24 starfish
 for $5 so I bought the $1 can of flat white spray paint
 at WalMart.  The one can covered the starfish front and back. 
how to make starfish
This photo shows the "bad" side of the starfish ...you can see where the humpbacks have been cut off.

how to make starfish

When they are dry on one side, flip them over and paint the "good" side. Prior to painting, I had left some of the starfish out in the sun. 
 I didn't know then (but I do now) that the sun causes the foam to turn yellow.   You can tell the color difference on the inside of the starfish on the left in the photo above. You might like that effect but if you don't, be sure to not leave the starfish out in direct sun before you paint.

If you don't want to use spray paint, regular craft paint (around $1 per bottle) was also very easy to paint on the starfish. 
how to make starfish

So if you are staying with the 24 for $5, we have $1 left if you want to add texture to your starfish (optional). 

 For experimentation, I tried white "decorator sand" from Dollar Tree and yard sand (about $1/bag)  at Home Depot.  Just for fun, I had some crushed shells left over from the coral project.

  I was curious if the fancy shells could help the most pitiful starfish look prettier. As Zsa Zsa Gabor once said,
"Jewelry takes people's minds off your wrinkles".
how to make starfish

Paint the starfish with just a basic glue (that will dry clear) and immediately sprinkle the starfish with texture of choice.

The white sand was so finely ground that it almost was invisible and didn't make much texture on the starfish. 

The regular sand was coarser and had more color so I think it would be the better choice to spend the  final $1 in the budget on IF you want it to have some texture.

 The crushed shell "jewelry" did give the little starfish a different look.  Maybe the extra shine will take people's minds off her imperfections. 
how to make a starfish

This stone texture spray paint totally blows a $5 budget.
It is $8 per can and I did not see it at the craft stores where I love to use my coupons.  It was by far the  most effective and easiest way to get texture and color variation on the starfish.

 So, yes 24 starfish can be made for $5 or you can spend a little more if you want to.
how to make starfish

  One can was plenty to give some texture and coverage to the "good" side of the 24 starfish. Some spray paints "melt" regular foam but it did not  effect these Great Stuff starfish. 

I also had used this paint with success on some of my DIY coral and on the faux sandcastles  I made earlier in the summer.

Here are the starfish in action:
how to make starfish

Starfish in urn from sideview...

how to make starfish
...and from bird's eye view. 

These foam starfish do not have the wonderful beauty that a real starfish has but if you are needing starfish in bulk as a vase filler or party decoration, this might be an idea worth trying. 

July 28, 2011

Many Thanks To Sherry

Thank you, Sherry, at the blog
"No Minimalist Here"

for featuring some of my projects and photos of my house at her "Open House" blog party.

It was quite an honor for me and I have "met" so many nice bloggers who visited the party and sent comments.

I appreciate it so much!

July 24, 2011

DIY Coral

The Spring and Summer Pottery Barn catalogs had beautiful faux coral for sale in them.  Even though PB's coral was not as  expensive as real coral, it is still more than I can afford. 

 In doing a little research on what coral actually looked like,
I realized that it has many forms and some of them look like 
things already made for me in the floral section of Hobby Lobby.

I was hoping that with a coating of a neutral color of paint
that the multi-colored floral items could start to look like coral. 

My hopes that a quick spritz of white spray paint would 
cover the colors on the florals were dashed as the color kept
 on bleeding through.

This purple stuff was the worst at just sucking up 
paint and still being purple.

The most interesting side of the dried mushrooms just would NOT take paint.  I finally gave up on this side of the mushroom and used the other side which did take paint wonderfully.

These plastic green spike-y things not only resisted regular spray paint but also specialty plastic paint (which was left over from another project).

Finally, after a spray coat of this and a brushed on coat of that, most of the elements got to looking close to the color I wanted. 
Real corals come in a wide variety of colors, but for this project, I just wanted kinda neutral colors.

To add some texture and interest, I splurged on a couple of cans of texture paint to give a final spritz if needed. ( I had discovered this worked well when I was trying to give a sand look to my Faux Sandcastles earlier this summer.)  Also, if needed, some pieces got painted with glue then sprinkled with a coat of real sand or crushed sea shells (from WalMart).

For the brain coral and bases for the other corals, I used "Great Stuff" foam in a can ($3 per can at paint department at Walmart).

I didn't realize this photo was so foggy.  The camera came out of the air-conditioned house into the heat and humidity that is an Alabama summer and the lens clouded up.   

Follow the directions on the can to "wear gloves" when you are using this foam.
  If it gets on your skin, you will be wearing the foam for a few days. 
 It also sticks to whatever it touches until it is dry so I squirted it out on wax paper that I
 could just peel off later.  Keep kids and animals away from it until it dries completely.

  The foam goes a  long way.  It puffs up a lot.  It is pretty hard to make very specific
 shapes with it.  I tried making some starfish with the foam but I had to label them 
"whimsical" due to the crazy shapes that they turned out to be. 

So after the painting, it was time to pair the florals 
with the foam bases.

The florals were attached to the foam globs with hot glue.
If necessary, they got another coat of paint.
For instance, the items below turned into...

...Spiny Coral.

Here are some more combos...
This is the side of the dried mushrooms that DID take paint.

Mushroom Coral

Persimmons before paint...

...after paint...

become Cavernous Star Coral.
A little of their original color is showing through but it makes it have just a slightly different color than the other items in the coral display which I like.

I don't know what this purple paint sucking item's official name is but it became...

 Sea Whip Coral

I think this is maybe thistle but it became...

Polyp Coral

Twigs and foam and paint became...

Branch Coral

Bamboo covered with tiny broken shells became...

...Pipe Organ Coral.

Baby acorns glued onto foam holding up a painted plastic fern becomes...

...barnacles on the base of Gorgonian Coral.

A blob of spray foam painted and dusted with sand becomes...

...Brain Coral.

Tiny foam balls on a foam base becomes...

...Tentacle Coral.
This ended up being so heavy, I had to put it on a different base to keep it from tipping over. 
Here is a picture of all the coral together in a display.
You can see more close-ups at this post.

This little arrangement of all the types of coral
 was made to fit under my new glass cloche. 

You can see more pictures of the coral in the cloche in this post.

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