Wall Hangings Part 1

One of my favourite things about the resurgence of boho-style decor is the wide variety of wall hangings, ranging from macramé, to air dry clay wall “jewellery”, ones woven from yarn, and others made from raffia.

And I’ve had a go (or two!) at all of them…

MACRAMÉ

A lot of macramé wall hangings are a bit busy for my taste:

so I searched YouTube for simpler ones.

Buy it:

Or make it:

I made my own versions of these – the feathers were my first foray into the world of macrame since the seventies, so please don’t judge!

I had to make the last one up as I went along – I used the lark’s head knot to attach the twine to the stick, the double half hitch to form the curves both above and below the tassels, and rya knots to make the actual tassels. I made the beads from air dry clay. This looks the simplest, but was, in fact, the most fiddly and time-consuming to make.

AIR DRY CLAY

Heart

I couldn’t find anything similar online, so you can’t buy it unless you come to my garage sale and buy mine, which was inspired by the silver pendant:

I rolled the clay into a thin sausage shape, then formed the heart, squishing the clay to make it lumpy and uneven. Once it was dry, I painted it, wrapped parts with raffia, added some wooden beads and tied it to a wooden curtain ring, before hanging it with more raffia.

Wall Jewellery

This trend is obviously already on its way out, as I couldn’t find the original images I took inspiration from. Glad I didn’t spend all that money on them!

Buy it:

Or make it:

My only tips are to make your shapes a little larger than you want the end result to be, as air dry clay shrinks as it dries, and not to stress about making it perfect (much as I’d like it to be!), as the clay also warps slightly as it dries which means nothing will line up properly, and it’ll hang somewhat wonkily.

But hey – that just goes to show that it’s handmade, and didn’t come plopping out onto a conveyer belt in a Chinese factory.

Discs

A lot of ceramicists are making these at the moment (obviously from ceramics and not air dry clay, hence the high prices).

Buy it:

Or make it:

There’s no video – so roll out your clay, use a cookie cutter or shot glass to cut out a million circles, make holes at the top and bottom, and allow them to dry for a couple of days.

I used 2 packets (1kg) of clay.

After you lightly sand them, you can leave them au naturel, or paint them, and then string them up.

I painted them with plaster of Paris mixed with paint, used thin jute to tie them together, and attached them to a header sewn from interfaced hessian (burlap).

I can’t remember why I decided to do that, but I’m glad I did.

WOVEN

Buy it:

Or make it:

How to make a loom:

I made mine when I was in Tasmania a couple of years ago – I wasn’t at all sure that I’d be any good at it, or if I’d enjoy weaving, so rather than spend a fortune on wool only to discover that I was not a natural-born weaver, I bought a load of second-hand wool, made a loom from a second-hand picture frame (the wooden bit under the canvas) and some nails, did an image search for weaving techniques, and tried the ones I liked the look of.

Then it was a case of trial and error, unravelling and starting sections again when things didn’t pan out as I’d imagined.

I became an expert unraveller!

It turned out to be more like a sampler than a piece of wall art, but I’m still happy with it.

I don’t care if wall hangings go out of fashion again – there will definitely be a spot (or five!) in my new house, reserved for whichever one next takes my fancy to make.

Weird and (dubiously) Wonderful Designs

Whenever I write a DIY post, I spend a lot of time online searching for images and prices of the inspiration pieces.

Consequently, every time I go online now, I’m flooded with ads for high-end department stores, usually Anthropologie, Maison du Monde and suchlike.

But recently, (and I don’t know why, as I’d never heard of it before, let alone visited the site), Made in Design by Printempts has made itself well and truly known to me.

(FYI, French department store, Printempts, bought Made in Design which is “Europe’s leading e-commerce site for design furniture, modern lighting and designer decorations”, and together, they’ve come up with a range of truly (they say) unique (I say, bizarre!) designs)

Many of their products made me shake my head in puzzlement, and wish that I could have a teeny tiny peek inside their clients’ houses.

And being the wonderfully generous person that I am, I thought I’d share some of the odder ones with you.

You can thank me later.

I’ll be kind and ease you in gently with this €400 stool (which if you actually love it, I’m sure you can make with some downpipes and a can of Barbie-pink spray paint!)

But now, my friends, allow me to lead you on a magical journey through the land of animal decor…

…maybe a sweet 21cm long, €82 rat lamp for your bedside table?

You could even buy yourself a mini plague of them.

No? Maybe this well-groomed gorilla who will forever stare down at you is more your thing – €540

Now, everyone likes dogs, right? And, yes, from another angle, he’s definitely male.

Bench €437

Or maybe you’re in the market for a €2535 donkey desk…

And in case you can’t imagine sitting and working at a donkey, they’ve styled it for you to make it more familiar:

See? It’s a real desk!

If you’re into the satanic, this rampant ibex bookshelf for €1315 might be exactly what you’re looking for:

Yikes!!!!

And finally in this series, what I initially misread as being a bedside table lamp, and figured was enough to give you a fright every time you woke up and saw it…

…is even worse, as it’s the actual bedside table in the form of a €649 giant goose lamp!

Imagine that looming over you as you lay in bed!

Aargh!!!

OK, I think I’ve bored you for long enough with the animals.

So let’s move on to my favourite category…human body parts!

After all, who wouldn’t want this €59 trinket tray to pop your keys or jewellery in?

Or an abstract penis lamp for €480

Speaking of penises (I never imagined I’d be typing those words in a blog!), you can showcase one of these €62 sculptures on your shelf – maybe on the rampant ibex one.

(Click on the image for more detail)

What the actual #*%$*?????

And they’re big – all around 25cm tall!

In the words of a well-known Australian idiot, would someone “please explain”. Why would anyone want these?

And finally (do I hear cries of relief?), a €190 side table which I can imagine beautifully-styled with the €79 vase…

I love how it comes complete with varicose veins and deformed toe, and as far as this heart vase goes, I have no words.

Maybe you’d prefer it in glass:

Or if all of those chopped off veins don’t appeal, this €177 vase might be a humorous take standing on the foot table???

You’d need a great sense of humour, and incredible style to make these pieces work in your space.

Or maybe, I just lack vision!

Something I never thought I’d be grateful for!

Anyway, now that this ordeal is over, all I have left to say is:

You’re welcome!

DIY Lampshades

Over the past couple of years, I’ve made a few lampshades that I spotted online, and which even if I were prepared to pay the asking price, I couldn’t get here in Mauritius.

I’ll tell you upfront that they’re very time-consuming, and are best made whilst binge-watching TV shows you don’t have to give your full attention to, and sipping on a glass or two of wine.

Rattan-style Lampshade

Buy it:

(Click on the gallery images to enlarge them)

Or make it:

Website: dossierblog.com

I was going to recover my existing bedside lamps with fabric, but when I removed the old fabric, they fell apart, and the plastic that the fabric was glued to broke, as it had perished and become brittle with age.

I set them aside, until eventually, I found the Dossier Blog tutorial.

I de-rusted the frames and painted them, then cut the wooden dowels to size, and stained them with watered-down craft paint.

Emily at Dossier Blog used hot glue to attach them to the frames, but I found it easier to just tie them on tightly with raffia, and once I’d finished, I brushed the raffia with wood glue on the inside where it doesn’t show.

Those dowels are going nowhere!

Total cost? Around AUD15.

And many, many hours of my life.

TASSEL PENDANT

Buy it:

Anthropologie USD198

Or make it:

Video: CBC Life

Or written instructions here.

I couldn’t find cotton yarn in Mauritius, and had to use synthetic, so it doesn’t look nearly as good as I’d hoped, but for less than AUD20, I can’t really complain!

I attached the tassels to wooden embroidery hoops, and covered the top one with a length of deconstructed placemat as I didn’t like seeing all the knots.

To hang it, I nailed a strip of 1x1cm wood to the top hoop, added a small hook in the centre, then hung the whole thing from a chain suspended from the ceiling.

(I don’t know how I manage to take such crooked photos – the things on the wall look like they’re caught in a cyclone!)

JUTE AND TASSEL PENDANT

Buy it:

Or make it:

Video: Lone Fox – the relevant part starts at 12.25

As I didn’t have an existing shade to work with, I made a frame from embroidery hoops and lengths of half-round moulding hot-glued together.

Halfway through making the shade is when I discovered that Mauritian hot glue sticks are RUBBISH!!!!!

Definitely click on the third photo to get a close-up of what made me swear so violently that I terrified the cat!

In the end, I decided not to finish making this, as I’d have to leave it behind. Instead, I’ll take the 60+ tassels I lovingly made back to Australia with me, and make a pendant light for my new house.

RAffia Lampshade

Buy it:

Or make it:

Website: Sunday Lane

Make the shade here.

Update an old lamp base here.

I didn’t have an old shade to work with, so made my own frame again.

Having previously learned not to use hot glue(!), I used wood glue and small nails to attach the mouldings to the embroidery hoops, then spent many an evening winding and glueing the raffia around it.

I also added tassels, because…why not?

Like the others, this took forever, but was completely worth it – it’s fun and makes me smile whenever I look at it.

I bought the raffia in bulk from a shop in China Town somewhere, which makes the amount used for this project negligible (I got lost walking around the back streets of Port Louis one day, and accidentally found this dingy little shop that I guarantee I’ll never find again!), so really it’s just the cost of two embroidery hoops – under AUD10.

If you make any of these, ensure that you only use LED globes as they don’t emit heat, and consequently, won’t set your lampshade on fire and burn your house down.

I’d love to hear what you think of them, so let me know in the comments section below.

Air Dry Clay Beads and Incense Holder

As you’re probably starting to realise after reading these posts, I tend to get fixated on a technique or material, make a bunch of DIYs, and then, because I have a low boredom threshold, move on to the next shiny thing that’s caught my eye.

One of these materials is air dry clay.

At around rs120 (AUD5) a packet, you can make all of these items for a fraction of their purchase price (if you ignore the amount of time spent working on them!).

As usual, click on an image to enlarge it.

Bead Garlands

Buy them:

Or make them:

I went a bit mad with these.

I found a wood and jute curtain tie-back at Mr Bricolage and used it as an oversize tassel

then I made a bunch of small ones to hang on my door handles

and a long one to add to my gallery wall.

Video

Ashlee White – no, there’s nothing wrong with the volume on your computer – she just likes to whisper-speak for some reason. We can’t hear you, Ashlee!!!!!

My Tips

If you’d like evenly-sized beads, weigh the clay out on a digital kitchen scale – 12g makes for a good-sized bead once it’s dry.

Air dry clay shrinks as it dries, so make sure the holes you make for stringing are larger than you think you’ll need. If they shrink too much, use a small drill bit (minus the drill) to carve them out. Or do as Ashley did and dry them on the skewers. Wish I’d thought of that.

Incense Holder

Buy it:

Video:

By Crafty Crafts

I first made a small one, but though it was cute, it was not fit for purpose – it was too small to catch the ash, and I kept ending up with a mess.

So I traced around my hand, then ruled straight lines to get rid of the old-person lumpy knuckles (not a good look – either on the incense holder or on my fingers!).

I copied the markings from the Muddy Heart ones, thinking they had a spiritual meaning, but now I suspect that they were just the artist’s design. Next time, I’ll carve my own patterns and make it a bit more interesting.

Once dry, I lightly sanded the edges, then painted it with an acrylic and talc mixture for a smooth, but matte, finish, and when that was dry, I used a paint pen to highlight the carvings.

It still doesn’t catch the ash, but looks pretty, so it can stay.

So far, air dry clay has been my favourite material to work with – it’s very versatile and easy to use – anything you see made from traditional ceramic, you can make with air dry clay.

There are a couple more projects to show you, as well as a few more things I’d like to make, but those can wait until I buy my Tasmanian house.

Mmmm – sounds like a good name for a blog!

Cardboard Art – More Stuff on Sticks

I’ve had a couple of people ask me what following a blog involves, and what it means for their privacy.

I can only speak for this blog – if you enter your email address and click Follow, I’ll receive an email advising that your email address is now following my blog.

And that’s it – I’ll never know whether you’ve read any posts or paid my blog the slightest bit of attention after that initial view.

The only information I receive is a daily summary of how many people from each country have visited, and how many, and which, pages were looked at.

You’ll receive an email each time I publish a new post, which you can then choose to read or not.

It’s totally secure – I won’t be able to hack into your bank account and run off with all your money, nor am I going to turn up in the middle of the night to claim possession of your firstborn.

So if you’d like to be notified of new posts, simply enter your email and Follow my blog.

And now on to the meat of this post…

…stuff on sticks are everywhere, and since making the hamsa, I’ve made a few more sculptures based on stone and wooden “objets” that I’ve seen online.

They’re quite substantial, and you’d never guess they were made from cardboard.

I used the techniques shown in the hamsa and fish videos.

As usual, click on an image to enlarge it.

Round “Objet

Buy it:

Or make it:

I made the form with 5 layers of cardboard glued and taped together.

I mixed powdered crack filler (polyfilla/spackle) with acrylic house paint instead of water, and roughly applied it with a palette knife, creating a stone-like texture. I then rubbed different colours of acrylic paint over it with my fingers.

Then I decided it was too orange, and also that it I wanted to add a bit more interest:

I’m not a fan of the sand and stones I glued on, and prefer the original colours, but can’t remember how I mixed them.

One day I’ll learn when to leave well enough alone.

And maybe also to ignore that uncontrollable urge I get to touch paint to check if it’s dry, even when I can see that it’s not.

I have the tendencies of a 5-year old – I think my inner child is well and truly in charge of my creative side.

Tribal Head

Buy it for anywhere between USD265 and USD625:,

Or make it:

I was having a forgetful day – I forgot that I was blogging again, so forgot to take any more photos after the first one, and annoyingly, forgot that I was supposed to add paint, and mixed the crack filler with water instead.

The cardboard absorbed the water, became soggy, and warped as it dried out, and ironically, the crack filler cracked, and bits fell off.

Once it was completely dry, I filled the cracks and holes with wood filler, and painted it with white acrylic paint mixed with plaster of Paris to add texture and heft.

Then I decided to add some colour as it looked creepy and weird, so I rubbed a few shades of light brown over it.

It still looks creepy and weird, but no longer glows in the dark and scares the cat.

Fish on sticks

And no, I’m not referring to a 1960s hors d’oeuvre.

(Though that reminds me that I’ve yet to invite friends over to sample some toothpick food from this vintage purchase I made last time I was in Tasmania:

Olive or lump of cheese anyone?

Haha – I laugh every time I look at it!)

Anyway – fish on sticks – buy it by sculptor Juan Pozo Gomez – I couldn’t find a price, but his works sell for a couple of hundred euros:

Or make it:

After the final sanding, I created a copper patina on the fish using Modern Masters Metallic Effects paint.

Yep, that’s my fingerprint messing up the patina at the base of the fish!

I glued pebbles to the cardboard base, painted it white, then added the copper patina effect to the tops of the pebbles.

Wood on Teeny Tiny Sticks

No, I haven’t lost my mind – I’m not going to make this, I just need to share.

For a mere USD650 (!!!), this “Coastal Hand-Carved Panel Sculpture in teak and marble” can be yours from Wayfair:

I don’t now about you, but to me it looks like an old termite-ravaged fence paling!

I’d be too scared to have it in my house in case all my furniture got infested and devoured!

Who would buy this???

Anyway, back to my “Objets in Cardboard and Crack Filler” – they don’t suit the rest of my decor, but they were fun to make, and I got a tiny bit addicted to the technique.

But don’t panic – I’m over it now, so no more stuff on sticks – I’ll find something else to bore you with next Sunday!

This blogging business is hard work!

Cardboard Art – Hamsa

I like to collect objects from different religions, and display them as part of my decor. I don’t actively go searching, I just keep an eye out.

Buddhism is obviously the easiest, as there’s a lot of choice, and a lot of lovely things are already designed as home decor.

My favourites remain the Thai Buddhist amulets that Alf and I bought wandering through the amulet markets each time we visited Bangkok:

(Click to enlarge)

We bought this Greek Orthodox cross when we were in Athens many years ago:

So sad – the leather thong rotted in the Mauritian humidity and snapped, and the beautiful slumped-glass cross shattered when it hit the tiled floor.

I might get another one made once I’m back in Australia, though it won’t be the same unless I can find a glass artist who is also an Orthodox monk!

I wanted to buy an Orthodox icon when I was in Corfu a few years ago, but didn’t find one that really called to me, then I spotted this stunner of a painting in an art gallery:

It was massive (with a matching price tag!), and much too big for my space (and wallet), so I settled for a baby version instead:

Hinduism probably has even more objects than Buddhism, though not generally to my taste.

Alf found this copper Ganesh when we first moved to Mauritius:

and my aunt bought me this little Hindu praying hand many, many years ago when we were all here on holiday together:

But despite being Catholic (by birth at least), I’ve yet to find an object I like – do not suggest one of those holographic portraits of Jesus with eyes that follow you around the room!

And the same goes for Islamic and Jewish objects.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I found this gorgeous glass menorah online:

But the site only ships within North America, and the artist, Alicia Kelemen, doesn’t sell directly to the public.

Boohoo.

I also recently saw a beautiful carved wooden platter in the form of a Hand of Fatima – a Turkish and Middle Eastern Islamic symbol – and strangely, also Jewish (Hand of Miriam), and Christian (Hand of Mary).

I did some research.

When facing down, it brings goodness, luck, fertility and abundance into your life. When the hand is upright, it’s a powerful symbol of protection against the evil eye and negative energy.

It’s also called a hamsa.

For Hindus and Buddhists, the hamsa represents the chakras, the five senses and their associated mudras (hand gestures) that re-direct energy flow throughout the body.

Anyway, instead of immediately ordering the platter, or even bookmarking it, I moved on, and pandered to my morning addiction to online window-shopping.

Much later when I remembered about it, I couldn’t find it again.

So I decided to make a version of my own.

Supplies

  • Cardboard
  • White glue
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Thin wooden dowel
  • Wooden block or other base
  • Acrylic paint

Reference Videos

Family Handmade – she’s very skilled with a paintbrush!

Valeri R – she has printable templates below the video on YouTube:

My Method

Grab your cardboard, and trace around your template – you’ll want either three or five layers, depending on the thickness of the cardboard – I used five.

Cut them out as carefully as you can – the more precise it is now, the less work you’ll have later.

If you prefer a more organic and rustic style, be as slapdash as you like.

Each to their own.

Personally, I prefer my handmade items to look as though they were made by me, as opposed to a 5 year-old who’s dying to finish his detention in arts and craft class, and go kick the hell out of a football.

But that’s just me.

And I’m showing my age.

Probably detention no longer exists because it’s psychologically harmful, boys are no longer referred to as “he”, and arts and crafts are banned as they’re sexist, racist, or some other “-ist”.

The world has gone to hell!

But that’s a rant I’d better not get into here…

…back to your five bits of cardboard…

…on three of them, mark the width of the dowel at the base of the shape, and cut out a slot.

Glue them all together, placing the ones with the slots in the middle. This is where your dowel will go.

Once the glue has dried, using a palette knife or small putty knife, apply a thin layer of wood or crack filler to the edges of the cardboard, filling in the corrugation.

Do the same to the flat surfaces.

Let it dry, and repeat.

Repeat as many times as you want, sanding lightly between coats, until you’re happy with the finish. Smooth or lumpy – whatever you like – see above.

Paint or varnish the dowel if desired.

Squeeze some glue onto the gap, insert the dowel, and let it dry.

You can now decorate it however you like.

I like to draw the design on very lightly with a pencil, or with chalk, so that it can easily be wiped off if I make a mistake.

You can either hand paint the designs, try the rolled paper technique from the video, or use a paint pen or a tube of dimensional fabric paint.

I went for simple lines, so drew my design, and used a pointy tool to lightly carve it out.

I then gave it a couple of coats of paint, and used a white paint pen to highlight the lines.

Drill a hole into whatever you’re using as a base, squeeze in some glue, insert the dowel, and you’re done!

You don’t have to make a hamsa – you can choose any shape you like, and follow the same technique.

Anyway, to conclude this rather epic post, while I won’t stop looking for Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic objects, my cardboard hamsa will definitely cover all religious bases till I find ones that I like!

Easy Wall Art Part 2

I bought some black silicon coasters, and decided to paint them white, and attach a raffia fringe.

The addition of the fringe would have made them HUGE, so I cut them down before painting.

However, because they were silicon, paint refused to stick to them, and just peeled off.

Then I discovered that glue also wouldn’t stick to them.

And because I’d cut them, they were now too small and no longer useful, and I had to throw them away.

Mmmm.

On top of that, I was left with a bunch of raffia fringes I’d spent many an evening making while watching TV and patting the cat.

(Sad life, I know.)

So I put them aside for a few months, until YouTube once again came to the rescue.

RAFFIA ART

Supplies

  • A canvas
  • Acrylic paint
  • Baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, optional
  • Raffia
  • String
  • Hot glue
  • A lot of patience

Reference Video

DIY Dalia – the relevant part starts at 3.00

Bonus: she also shows how to make raffia fringing. I recommend attaching the raffia to a length of string instead of to a skinny bit of raffia as she does.

My Tips

The video uses a large quantity of acrylic paint to create texture on the canvas, but I used a thick paint/baking powder mix.

At the time I made these, I’d been working with air dry clay, so decided to incorporate some clay shapes into the artwork.

I rolled it out, cut out random shapes, and once they were dry, hot-glued them onto the finished painting before adding the raffia fringing.

A few weeks later on Pinterest, I saw work by artist, Elan Byrd, who obviously came up with this idea.

I thank her for inspiring DIY Dalia, and saving my raffia fringing from the abyss where my failed DIY projects go to die.

Mine (click on the image to enlarge it):

TEXTURED CANVAS

Some examples from Anthropologie (click to enlarge):

Supplies

  • I used wood filler because that’s what I had, but you can use polyfilla (crack filler, spackle), plaster of Paris, or paintable silicon sealant (caulking)
  • A canvas
  • Palette knife or other smoothing tool
  • Texture tool – afro comb, tiling trowel, plastic fork etc

Reference Videos

Each of these videos shows a different style of artwork.

Myriâme – she uses Plaster of Paris, and also shows you how to make a very simple floating frame:

DIY Dalia – she uses silicone sealant and a plastic fork:

Simply By A – she uses wall skimming plaster, and talks a lot:

Fia Garcia DIY – the relevant part starts at 4.34 – she also shows you how to make a slightly more complicated floating frame:

My Tips

This was almost another DIY disaster, due to my being stingy and needing to use up the last of my old tub of wood filler instead of opening a new one.

It was a bit dry and lumpy as I applied it to the canvas, but I soldiered on, and by the time I was ready to make some lovely swirls, it had pretty well dried in the heat, and I made a mess instead.

I painted it with baking powder paint in a desperate attempt to stop bits from continually dropping off, then left it to sit facing the wall in a corner of my patio for a few months.

I recently added gold foil (gold leaf’s cheap relative) and gold paint, and now, while I don’t love it, I no longer hate it, and it fits in with the other artwork I made to style my bedroom.

I don’t now why I titled this section “My Tips”, as it didn’t contain any and was more of a what-not-to-do.

Anyhoo, I’ll leave you with the moral of this near miss – stinginess is not an attractive trait, and will always come back to bite you on the proverbial!

Easy Wall Art Part 1

At the moment, a lot of the art on sale in high-end shops such as Anthropologie and on sites such as Society6, is very easy to replicate, requiring minimal drawing and painting skills.

And they’re fun to do.

The YouTube tribe has jumped on these with relish, and there are dozens of DIY videos out there (do a YouTube search for “simple boho art”).

I’m a great believer in buying original art, and acknowledging and recompensing the artist, but for a painting that I’ll probably be bored with in a couple of months, I cannot justify paying hundreds of dollars when I can make it myself.

Don’t feel guilty about copying these – I’m sure there are artists out there who are coming up with beautiful originals, but in general, they’re all over sites such as AliExpress and Etsy, available as a print for a few dollars.

And even the ones from the expensive shops are mass-produced prints, not originals – I think you’re basically paying for the frame here!

DESERT AND GEOMETRIC ABSTRACTS

Examples – click to enlarge, then close the tab to return

Reference Videos

YouTube channel, Being Me, shows how to colour-mix a basic boho palette from artists acrylic paints, and he does some simple designs.

DIY Karem shows how to transfer a printout to your canvas if you want to do something more complex but can’t draw, and she also makes a line portrait using twine. Cute.

For Inspiration

Etsy Boho Abstract Desert Art

Etsy Geometric Art

AliExpress

My Tips

Draw it lightly onto your canvas with a pencil, and paint away.

If, like me, you’re not very good at putting a colour palette together, paint a few miniature mock-ups till you find a combination that appeals to you:

Buy craft paints (DecoArt, Apple Barrel, Folk Art etc) in colours that you like, so you won’t need to mix your own.

Note to all Mauritians – we’re not that lucky – no craft paints here, as far as I know, just artists acrylics, and a limited range of house paint sample pots from Mauvillac and Permoglaze, which is what I used.

If you do mix your own, make more than you think you’ll need, as if you run out, you’ll never be able to mix the exact colour again.

I added talcum powder to some of the paints to mattify them (yes, that is a word – I checked!), and baking powder to others to add texture.

These are a couple of mine:

LINE PORTRAIT COLLAGE

You need a little drawing ability for this one.

You can either draw your own, as I did, or do a search for “minimalist abstract face line art” in Etsy or AliExpress, or an image search for the same thing in Google.

Choose one that has distinct shapes that you can cut out of cardboard – nothing too complex. Something like these:

If you can’t draw it, download the image, and print it to the size you want.

Draw around the shapes, and cut them out to use as a template.

Then follow the video.

Reference Video

Another foreign video – French this time.

Céline from I Do It Myself – the relevant part starts at 10.05 minutes:

OK – I just watched the video again, and I wished I’d done that before I made my portrait – I used wood filler to laboriously fill the corrugation of the cardboard edges, then again to fill any gaps once I glued the pieces to the board – she used one layer of paper maché.

Much quicker, and it adds additional texture to the entire painting.

Oh well.

Here’s my process in photos:

(Click to enlarge)

I wasn’t happy with the original mouth, so I replaced it, but that left me struggling to make her mouth look like it didn’t belong to a blow-up doll:

And despite giving her teeth, I’m not at all sure that I succeeded!

She’s currently living in a cupboard.

Boho Tribal Sticks

I was clearing out the garage, and was about to throw out a couple of broken tool handles when I remembered a video by my favourite YouTuber, Katia Nikolajew.

She makes the most beautiful things, and she makes them beautifully – not a single glob of hot glue, wonky structure, or paint drip in sight, which can’t be said for most DIY videos.

(I’m unapologetically anally-retentive!)

Her decorated driftwood branches – some painted, and others embellished with twine, fringing and other trims – were gorgeous, and I’d been wanting to make them for a while.

I’d got as far as discovering that the best place for driftwood in Mauritius is the Baie du Cap area in the south, but when I went there (to an art exhibition with friends – I wouldn’t drive all that way on the off-chance of finding driftwood!), there was none.

See?

Don’t bank your life (or anything else of value) on information garnered in Mauritius.

Just saying.

SUPPLIES

  • Driftwood or other branches or sticks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Embellishments such as raffia, jute and cotton string, fringing, braid, shells, feathers

MAURITIAN SUPPLIERS

For embellishments:

  • Possibly Magasin Central in Grand Baie – I don’t know for sure, as I find them rude and haven’t been there in years
  • Definitely Magasin La Differente in Triolet
  • Shops along Dr Hassen Sakir St (ex-Pagoda St) in Plaine Verte
  • Hobby World in Port Louis or Rose Hill

You can find wooden tool handles in any hardware store.

Or perhaps in your garage if you’ve ever had Mauritian workers in – they love to leave behind everything of yours that they’ve broken, replaced, or finished with.

Along with the handles, I found an old water pump, any number of broken plumbing and electrical parts, random bits of wood and plastic, other mystifying things, and that most of the tubs of paint stacked in the corner were either empty, dried out, or half full of water with my (now rusty) paint rollers and brushes floating in them.

What’s wrong with putting out the rubbish, guys? And respecting my stuff!

Anyway…

REFERENCE VIDEO

Katia Nikolajew: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMA1cgJf_Ao&t

MY PROCESS

I scraped off as much cement as I could, chiseled off the bark, sanded the sticks smooth, and stained them with watered-down brown paint as I didn’t like the original wood.

(Click on the photo to see a larger version, then close the tab to return here.)

I grabbed my collection of twine, fringing and other bits and bobs, and spent a couple of evenings hot-glueing my little heart out.

OTHER MATERIALS I USED

Old straw hats – take one apart and you end up with metres of this:

which you can use au naturel, or paint and distress (rub off some of the paint when it’s nearly dry):

Ditto for old woven placemats:

Shells from the beach – drill a small hole in them and tie them onto raffia, yarn, or string.

Handles from old paper gift bags:

Old jewellery and beads from 2nd hand shops.

Although I didn’t use them here, “mesh” (wicks) make great tassels – you’ll find them in the Hindu paraphernalia section of supermarkets along with incense etc:

And here are my finished sticks:

I really like them, but sadly, I’ll have to include them in my massive leaving-the-country garage sale, as I don’t want to risk having them confiscated and destroyed by Australian Customs.

But the good news is, that I saw (with my own eyes!) a lot of driftwood on the Tasmanian beaches I visited, so will definitely be going for many a long drive from wherever I make my new home.

So exciting!

Faux Tropical Leaves

I saw these banana leaves online…

 …and immediately wanted some – what could be more tropical?

I struggled to find an online tutorial – and then one happy day, there it was in my YouTube feed!

Thank you DIY angels!

Finding the beach mats was another matter, but hey, that’s shopping in Mauritius – I usually find things by accident while I’m shopping for something else entirely.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get stuck into it…

Supplies

Banana Leaves

  • Straw beach mats
  • PVA or other white glue
  • Bamboo
  • Hot glue, E6000, or other strong glue to attach the mats to the bamboo

Jute Leaves

  • Wire – I don’t know the gauge, but it needs to be thick enough to hold its shape – about 2-3mm
  • Masking tape
  • Jute string
  • Hot glue gun
  • Bamboo

Pampas Grass

  • Cotton string
  • Hot glue gun
  • Large wooden skewers, or bamboo
  • Cheap hairspray, optional

Mauritian Suppliers

  • I bought the beach mats at Faizal Textiles – a fabric store in Triolet – it’s on Google Maps. The mats are not stored in the main shop, so you have to ask for them – they are called “nats” in Kreol – asking if they have mats will get you a shake of the head or a blank look
  • White glue is sold in all hardware stores – Fevicol is a good brand
  • Bamboo from Wing Tai Chong, or Chong and Sons
  • Jute and cotton string from the hardware section of supermarkets, and some hardware stores
  • Wire from hardware stores
  • E6000 is from Gazella in Port Louis

If you know where else any of these supplies are sold, particularly the beach mats, please comment below to help out your fellow Mauritian DIYers.

Reference Videos

The first two videos are by En Casa Con Patty, and as you might guess, are in Spanish, but they’re easy to follow visually.

Banana Leaves – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG1H1hurhrc&t

Jute Leaves – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnKfZ9wieo4

String Pampas Grass by Justin Wray: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjDpokvdH94&t=10s

Tying a Square Knot by Crafty Patty – the relevant part starts at 3 minutes 20 seconds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIZgb3ZXUyM

My Tips

Banana Leaves

I don’t have very good quality hot glue sticks, and the weight of the mats caused them to separate from the bamboo, so I had to use E6000 to secure them.

I’m sure there are other adhesives which would also do the job, but I don’t know which ones they’d be. If you know, please comment below.

I didn’t like the khaki green colour of the beach mats, so I painted them with Burnt Sienna artists’ acrylic, which I diluted in water to form a translucent glaze.

Jute Leaves

She made it look much easier than I found it. Mucho confusion!

Once I was done, I didn’t like the look of the jute twine, so I made the others with raffia.

Otherwise, I did as Patty did. Gracias amiga!

Pampas Grass

Justin makes small ones in his video.

I wanted a very tall one, with a bamboo stalk.

It was an epic fail – I used some jute string I had on hand, and after all the effort of tying it to the bamboo, when I tried to comb it out, it literally disintegrated into little clumps of fluff – only try this if you’ve got good quality cotton string and a lot of patience.

Or if your neighbours don’t mind an explosion of unsavoury language!

I rarely have DIY fails as I’m too bloody-minded, and refuse to give up, so I’ll keep at it until I SUCCEED!!!!!

Or at least have something I like.

 But there was definitely no coming back from this one! Straight into the bin.

I made a raffia version instead.

It looks nothing like pampas grass, but as it took ages to make, it’s staying!

(I’ll continue to work on it, so it may just make a reappearance in a future post)

I used a square knot – see the above video – to attach the raffia to the bamboo, but had to glue each “knot” to the bamboo to stop it from sliding loose.

UPDATE: I continued to add to it, but it still looked a hot mess. So I gave up on the whole faux pampas grass idea. Instead, I brushed the raffia with watered-down white glue, and using my fingers, straightened the strands so that they lay horizontally, then let it dry. The raffia became stiff, which allowed me to cut it to shape.

Someone said it looks like an African spear – but I don’t care – I like it!

I also made pompoms out of cotton twine, and glued them to the top of some stalks I had left over when I took apart a Mauritian-style grass broom to use as a dried grass arrangement:

These are really cute, and are pretty realistic.

Well, maybe from a distance!

Anyway, I digress – my successful leaves have now found a home in the corner of my bedroom:

Where they’ll inevitably gather dust, give me terrible allergies, and stop me from ever sleeping again, but I don’t care – they’re gorgeous, add height, and I love them!

Ah-choo!

PS When checking the spelling of a sneeze sound, I discovered that (other than I spell it wrong) deaf people sneeze silently.

This must mean that we’ve each chosen our own sneeze sound! How weird!

Then I read that only English-speaking sneezers say “achoo” (correct spelling, but I like mine better).

The French sneeze “atchoum”, Germans, “hatschi”, Japanese, “hakashun” and Filipinos, “ha-ching”.

This is all either very interesting, or week 5 of being all alone in lockdown is having a worrying effect on my mind.