October 31, 2018

Amazing Pumpkin Carvings At Sea

For your Halloween viewing pleasure, here are photos of amazing
pumpkin carvings done by the staff of the cruise ship I am on right
now (which just happens to fall on Halloween).

These first ones are in the food buffet area...

The biggest display of pumpkins was in the piazza of the ship.
Here are some of those photos...

Happy Halloween!

October 21, 2018

Make Custom Serving Dishes

My granddaughter, Lilly, taught this old dog (me) a new trick that 
think would be great in customizing serving dishes for holidays,
parties, weddings. You can could co-ordinate your table or 
food buffet to have whatever look or color you can imagine.

Lilly showed me a kid-friendly way to get the look. You can
also refine the process if you want to.
Lilly learned how to do these plates from her creative mom, Caroline.

The trick is to use Mod-Podge (or a similar product) to adhere
 the fabric or paper of your choice to the backside of clear 
plastic or glass serving pieces like trays, chargers, bowls, etc.

It is a really easy process, inexpensive and quick. The only 
downside is that it is not waterproof so this technique is best
used on pieces that don't need to be submerged in water
 or put in the dishwasher to clean them...just wiped off.
(There is a dishwasher-safe Mod-Podge available but it is about $30 for 8 ounces.)

Here's how Lilly makes her holiday plates to give as gifts or
take to parties...

Select one fabric or a combination of fabrics that you would like
to adhere to the back of a glass plate. Also have Mod-Podge and
a brush.
We got the Halloween fabrics on sale at JoAnn's. 
The plate and Mod-Podge came from Dollar Tree.

Cut the fabric into smaller, easy-to-work-with pieces.
Lilly is 9 years old and can use scissors safely. For smaller children doing this project, an
adult may need to the fabric cutting. Lilly and her mom use pinking shears for this project
to cut down on fabric fraying but regular scissors work fine too. 

The pattern that you see in the background is an old beach towel we used to cover the table.

Brush Mod-Podge on to a section of the BACK of the plate.

Place the cut fabric pieces ("good" side facing down...so it will
be seen on the front of the plate) on the wet Mod-Podge.

You can also brush more Mod-Podge on the fabric after you
have placed it on the plate to help with protection and adhesion.

After Lilly has done the base
of the plate, she brushes and sticks to another area.

The Mod-Podge dries pretty quickly so it helps to brush it on 
and place the fabric a section at a time. If the MP does dry out
 before the fabric is placed on it, just brush more wet MP on top.

It is fine to let the fabric pieces go past the edge of the plate.
Brush Mod-Podge on the over-hanging fabric so it will
not fray when it is cut (a later step).

After the fabric pieces are stuck on to your liking, place the plate
 upside down on a cup so it can dry and the overhanging pieces
 do not get bent. If you want to, brush another coat of MP on.

When the Mod-Podge has completely dried use scissors to cut
the over-hanging fabric pieces close to the edge of the plate.

Use your unique customized plate to serve your holiday guests...
...but mainly food that is not squishy and hard to clean up
..like spaghetti is.

Lilly loves her Halloween plate and plans on taking it to a 
party with goodies on it. The little blank spaces on the plate
 do not bother her...a good life lesson for me. 

We decided to use the same basic technique but try a plastic 
bowl and napkins from Dollar Tree to see what would happen.
(A random design in fabric or napkins is best for this project so you don't have
 to worry about lining up patterns. This pumpkin napkin has more linear design
 that is ideal but it's $1 per pack.)

We pulled the white layer of the napkins off to keep the color

Lilly put a coat of Mod-Podge on the outside of the bowl.

Then she placed an unfolded napkin on top of the wet MP with 
the "good" side (brightest) down and smoothed it into the MP.

We cut some of the excess napkin off but you could also just
brush wet MP under the napkin folds, and press it down.

For a bowl this big we needed more than one napkin. Keep adding
napkins and MP as needed to cover the outside of the bowl.

The good thing about napkins is that they are cheap but they
are more wrinkly and tend to tear more than the fabric. 

Here is the bowl as seen from the inside with a layer of napkins.

Because the sides of this bowl are more visible (as opposed to a plate) we experimented with putting a second layer of napkins 
on the outside of the bowl but this time with  the "good" side 
facing out. 

More Mod-Podge...more smoothing...good thing MP is water-based and easy to clean off of brushes and fingers. It dries clear.

After drying and trimming the edges, here is the finished bowl...
The bowl, napkins, Mod-podge, brush all from Dollar Tree...so about $3-4.

Hmmm...I'm not sure the extra layer of napkins with the "good"
side facing out make much of a difference so you decide.

Yes, for Halloween you can find bowls similar to this already 
decorated and ready to go but think about other holidays, 
birthday parties, wedding receptions when you might want 
serving dishes in a particular color or pattern.

OK by now Lilly (old pro at Mod-Podging fabric on dishes)
has gone out to play but I am like a kid with a new toy and 
want to keep trying this technique in more ways.

Here is another fabric that I got at JoAnn's. I liked the print just
like it was so I did not cut it in pieces like the kid-friendly version.
Another glass plate from Dollar Tree

Before adding any Mod-Podge I moved the clear plate over the 
fabric to see what part of the design I wanted in the center of 
the plate.

To up my chances of actually getting the center of the plate on
a certain part of the fabric, I put MP on the outside plate base
 and then hovered it over the face up print. 

Yikes! At first I could not see through the wet MP to place the
base of the plate but when I got about an inch away, I could see
the print well enough to land the plate. 

I placed one hand under the plate to keep the fabric in place
and flipped it over to smooth the fabric down on the wet MP
and add more MP on top of the fabric. 

After I got the base of plate and the fabric snug together I pulled
the excess fabric to the center so I could put MP on the edge 
of the glass plate. 

Working from the area of fabric that was already adhered, I 
smoothed the fabric down on the wet MP and to the edge of the plate.

I brushed more MP over the top of the fabric being sure to get
MP on at least an inch of fabric beyond the edge. This makes the
 fabric stiff as it dries. The stiffness makes the fabric easier to cut 
cleanly and the glue in MP helps prevents fabric fraying.

I thought that the cutting of the fabric close to the edge of the
plate would be hard to make it look nice and even but it was not. 

When I was purchasing other supplies at the Dollar Tree I 
saw this three-compartment serving dish. I wanted to see if it
 was too difficult to adhere fabric to such a curvy shape.
(The light above the table is reflecting in the dish and making creepy "eyes" in this photo.)

I applied Mod-Podge to half of the bottom of the dish.

Then I smoothed part of the fabric (which had been cut to
the approximate shape of the dish with room for curves) 
face side down on to the section of the dish with wet MP.

I used a regular dinner knife to push the fabric on to the 
divider sections which were too deep for my fingers. 

Then I repeated that process with the other half. 

It is hard to tell from this photo but the Mod-Podge is on the bottom outside of the dish.

I used scissors to cut the fabric where it got too thick from
being folded to adhere to the plastic dish. 

Be generous with the Mod-Podge in these awkward corners, etc.

Like the regular plates, use Mod-Podge even on the excess
fabric hanging of the edge after you have smoothed the fabric.
Allow the MP to dry then cut off the excess fabric close to
the edge of the dish. 

This piece actually was easier and turned out better than I
thought it would. The only problem was that it took the MP
that was on the deep part of the divider sections a few days 
to dry completely (probably did not have good air flow) .

So that issue lead me to my very last experiment dish...I 
promise. This large plastic serving plate had grooves cut 
into the design on the back. I wondered if putting the Mod-
Podge on the back of the fabric only could eliminate having 
the long dry time for the MP (which stays white until it dries).
Plastic serving platter and Mod-Podge from Dollar Tree. Fabric from JoAnn's.

This time I put the plate face down and laid the fabric on top
with no Mod-Podge on the plate initially. Then I brushed on
a generous coat of MP hoping it would soak through the fabric
and make it adhere to the plastic but without excessive MP.

Here is a close-up photo of brushing Mod-Podge on the
back of the fabric only and pressing it down to cling to curves...

After drying time and cutting off the excess material, here is
 what the platter looked like...
I wonder if this size dish also be a charger?
That would be a pretty way to add pizzazz to your dinner table!

I am happy to report that the Mod-Podge did not seep down into
the cut grooves of the platter (and sit there for days being white
until it dried) but it did sufficiently adhere the fabric to the piece.

Hopefully you will be excited to try this technique like I was
and find even more ways to use it.

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