Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Display props - it's all smoke and mirrors.

Yet another late blog post! This post was supposed to go up before Christmas in answer to two comments that I received about props that were made for the display. My apologies go out to Caroline and Wendy. Click on each picture for a better look.

I received this comment when I first published photos of the Hillside Shopping Centre Christmas window display -

"I too love images of cakes and pastries and jellies from the Edwardian era. When I saw the first image on another blog I thought it was from a book of that era! Did you use plaster to make the cakes? I do a gingerbread/candy display in my kitchen for Christmas and would love to make a faux cake.  Thanks, Carolyn."

Carolyn, I hope that you are reading this blog post. I do apologize for not posting this earlier, sickness and the busy season delayed everything. Better late than never I suppose. Can you tell what blog that you saw this image on? I would love to see what they said.

I used paper pulp to create the summer window display cakes and pastries. It was labour intensive to create the moulded cakes and it also took a while for them to dry. It is very wet on the West Coast in the Autumn, Winter, and Spring so that was not an option. I would have taken far too long to produce them as well.

I decided to buy as many cake and jelly moulds I could find at the second hand stores to create the cakes. I washed the moulds in order to get rid of any grease that may be on them and then spray painted them with flat white spray paint. I mixed about seven different colours of artist acrylic paints and then began painting the tin moulds. Some colours, yellow and green in particular, needed several coats of paint in order to get an even rich colour.

Once the basic iced cakes were painted and dry I drizzled white or chocolate brown paint from a plastic squeeze bottle to hide paint edges as well as make them more interesting to look at.

This photo was taken for a blog post to show what the cakes would possibly look like when finished.

All of the cake stands were created using wooden pillar candle holders and wooden plates of various sizes and shapes. I didn't want to use glass cake stands in case anything fell over and broke. I also wanted specific colours to tie in with everything else.

The finished cakes in the window display. All of the flat surfaces on the cakes were covered with coloured gravel. I did this for several reasons, the first and most important was to hide the joins where I hot glued the metal moulds together. I also wanted to have a different texture on the cakes, it also gave quick added detail to the prop cakes.

I have a large group of candies that I made a couple of years ago for some items that I never did make but hope to in the future. I placed these around the cakes so that they appeared much more elaborate than they actually were.

These small cakes were made from 4" wide cardboard cylinders cut about 3" to 4" high. Cardboard was glued to the top of the cylinders. I collect cardboard tubes of all diameters and lengths for projects like this.

I mixed a  modelling compound with the white acrylic paint and used a palette knife to apply the paint. Once the paint was dry I glued coloured glass glitter at the base of the cakes. Each cake is decorated with vintage milliners fruit on a base of green grass chenille.

Wendy Kolar Mullen sent me a message on Facebook -

I LOVE the Giant Peppermint Sticks!! What did you use to make those? Very clever...the display is Gorgeous...fantastic job...sure to delight many Holiday shoppers :0)

Here is how I created the giant candy sticks, cardboard cylinders and fused edge acetate florist ribbon. This method is quick and easy, no paint involved and the results are far superior as the edges are crisp and clean.

The base colour, your choice, is a 3" wide fused edge acetate florist ribbon wrapped around the cylinder. Most cylinders are spiral wrapped so follow the direction of the spiral and you won't have any bumps showing in the ribbon. Put a piece of tape on the end of the ribbon stuff the ribbon end inside the tube and firmly tape the it in place.

The second ribbon is a 1 1/2" ribbon that wraps around the cylinder overlapping the base ribbon edges, hiding them. Tape the ends and push them in the ends firmly taping them down.

From this point you can add one or two more ribbons. These ribbons can be 1/4" to 3/4" wide, wrapped around the cylinder. The ends are attached exactly the same as before.

Cap the ends with a piece of white card glued in place. Wrap the candy sticks with cellophane, tying each end with a narrow wired ribbon, leaving a tuft of cellophane at each end. That's all there is to making the candy sticks.

That beautiful fur covered chair in the window was the chair from the Spring window display. It was stripped of it's flowers and looks like this inside!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Adobe Pumpkin Farm

This blog post was supposed to go up before Hallowe'en, that didn't happen. After getting back from Hallowe'en and Vine I had to tidy my studio somewhat so that I could build props for the Hillside Shopping Centre Christmas Window. Enough with the tap dancing preamble, as a member of EHAG I can very easily justify this blog post at this time of year!

Late Sunday morning, the next day after the Hallowe'en and Vine show, Amelia Schaefer, Tracey Dombroski, Lori Rudolph, and myself went to The Adobe Pumpkin Farm on our way down to San Francisco.

This jaunty scarecrow greeted you as you came into the farm from the parking lot.

The three musketeers, Lori, Tracey, and Amelia. 

There were piles of different squash and pumpkins, all of which I photographed. Even though it is winter and just after Christmas I am going to show you all of these beautiful vegetables as a very late "Ode to Autumn".

The colour variation that is evident when you see a nice big pile of one variety is intriguing.

I have no idea what any of the squash are named. I love the powdery look on the outside of this particular squash.

This is the entrance to "The Farmer's Wife Barntique". They provided all of the artists at Hallowe'en and Vine with a much appreciated goody bag.

Mid to deep oranges, peach with creamy buff warts, and a knobbly deep green squash, the colours and textures are so interesting.

A simple shape and pattern but the colour variation is amazing.

Small pumpkins ranging in shades from a lemony yellow to a rich orange.

I had to include this quintessential farm picture.

The faint lemon yellow blush on the mini white pumpkins is very unexpected.

These squash are stunning, absolutely gorgeous. The colours, the textures, the patterns, I could go on and on and on... but I will spare you.

These white pumpkins vary in colour from a very pale grey to a very pale creamy white.


Outdoor window ledge vignette number one.

These squash are stunning, absolutely gorgeous. The colours, the textures, the patterns, I could go on and on and on... but I will spare you.


Outdoor window ledge vignette number two

The vine imprints and the scarring give these pumpkins great character.

Outdoor window ledge vignette number three.

Oh boy, here I go again.... the colour, the shapes... can you tell that I am totally in love with squash and pumpkins?

Outdoor window ledge vignette number four.

These would make some very interesting Jack-o-lanterns.

Gourds of all shapes, sizes, textures, and colours.

Well here is my "Ode to Autumn" blog post. It was about 2 1/2 months overdue but I hope that you enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

Well, it has been a very hectic pre-Christmas. I was sick for a week and it kept hanging on ever since. Not much got done. Christmas Eve and it is finally done! HAHAHA!!!! I love this time of year, we are all in it together. Here are some pictures of our home all decorated for the holidays.

The tree and some of the living room. We have used these ornaments for the last 36 years, all unbreakable. The glass ones don't get put up because we don't have the room to display them where people won't knock into them.

The edge of my computer desk has a small display. you can see some of my vintage Santas in behind behind.

This year I decided to put up some of my boxed Christmas lights, boxed tree trims and light bulbs. Amongst all of the boxes are vintage trees and more vintage and antique Santas

 We usually put a village on the buffet but this year I wanted to do something a little simpler and totally different. I found an ice scene table runner with polar bears on it so that set the theme of a winter snow scene. Christmas Day all of the bowls will be filled with cookies and the snow scene cake stand will have tarts and cookies on it.

The top shelf of the buffet aways has this antique chromolithographed nativity scene. After all if it wasn't for the birth of Jesus Christ there wouldn't be any holiday to celebrate.

The tree on the left is decorated with celluloid ornaments and the tree on the right is decorated with chenille Santas, candy canes, and all sorts of chenille figures.

Every year we cover the ceiling with vintage Chinese and Japanese lanterns and garlands.

Finally the little china cabinet decorated with milk glass vases filled with vintage glass spikes.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone. I have some other posts that were going to go up before Christmas and never made it so between Boxing Day and New Years Eve I will try to post them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I have installed Hillside Shopping Centre's Christmas display.

I am totally fascinated with cakes, pastries, and food presentation from the Edwardian era and earlier. I also love contemporary French pastries. Check out these past blog posts about cakes and pastries here, here, here, and here.

The summer window that I created for Hillside had a few cakes and pastries in it; I wanted to expand on this theme for this year's Christmas window. All of the images are fairly large so click on them and browse to your heart's content!


I took this photo inside the window so that you can get a better look at a selection of the delectable treats. The colour scheme was completely influenced by the cakes and pastries. I love bright colours and wanted to get away from the traditional red and green but still make the setting a Christmas fantasy.


The gifts at the base of the table are wrapped in very bright plastic tablecloths from the dollar store. The tops are decorated with a variety of items that you don't readily connect with Christmas but the addition of silver or gold tinsel, ice encrusted evergreens, and whimsically bent bottle brush trees magically turns them into fantasy Christmas presents. The floor has a bold black and white check pattern to counter balance the bright busy colours.


A look at the left side of the window with all of the desserts and gifts that would delight any child... or adult for that matter! The banquet table is covered with a beautiful tie dyed, embroidered, and bespangled sari.


The right side of the window has a polar fleece covered chair/throne. Halfway through the installation of the window I had one woman mention to me that she would be back later for tea.


Here is the finished window display. I had so much fun assembling this window. At one point I felt delighted and excited; I hope that the same feeling comes across to everyone that sees it.


This small window display is for advertising the Hillside Shopping Centre's gift cards. I like the addition of the tinsel, bottle brush tree, and grapes; it helps to get rid of any stuffiness but still be elegant.

I am off to my studio, it desperately needs a cleaning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gift Wrapped Boxes and Fancy Cakes.

Here is a sneak peek at some of the props for the Hillside Shopping Centre Christmas window display. I wanted to go with VERY bright colours that are not associated with Christmas.

The red box with the purple ribbon is going into a small window display advertising the shopping centre's gift cards that are for sale at the customer service desk. The rest of the parcels will be on the floor underneath a banquet table filled with cakes and pastries displayed on cake stands and plates.

It is quite surprising that once you add a little sparkle from tinsel wire, some ice encrusted evergreens, and  a few comically twisted bottle brush trees It all says, "Merry Christmas"! I have added some very un-Christmassy touches to the tops of the gift boxes such as fireworks and out of season fruit but those traditional touches pull it all together.


I bought this giant ice cream cone bank last year at Christmas. I put a strand of fresh water pearls in it for my wife. I had bought three bags of fresh water pearls at Salvation Army for about $6 and strung them all together into about a 30" necklace, that was a very good buy to say the least!

All of the parcels are wrapped with plastic table cloths from the dollar store. Not a very green choice but the colours are wonderfully gaudy. A banana, an apple, an ear of corn, purple grapes, three ranunculus blossoms, and three purple iris; what more could say, "Merry Christmas"?

The magician's hand with wand is a very old prop that I liked so much I kept it. The playing card quite mysteriously floats above the parcel.

This is just a sample of the cakes that will be going on the banquet table. The cakes set the colour palette for the window. I made all of the cake stands as well from wooden candle pillars, wooden plates, and gold plastic chargers.

There are these five mini cakes as well as pastries, fruit, and candy that will be used to fill in any spaces on the table and on this stand.

I bought the stand at Sally Ann. The first day I saw it I carried it around the store and just before I was going to pay for it I put it back. I didn't think that I could use it. It was an ugly brown stand with gold printed brown leatherette on the tray areas. I bought it the next day, spray painted it with browns, burgundies, purple, and a dusting of gold to allow the other colours to show through and, "Voila", a very interesting gilt surface that doesn't yell "GOLD". The aqua paint that I mixed was a happy accident that works beautifully with the gilt surface.

The window will be going in tomorrow. I will take pictures of it and do a post about it in the next few days.
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