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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Owl Be There for Yew.....

Attendez!

I would like to present my latest attempt at...well...whatever it is you'd call what I've been doing. Which is copying vintage and antique pieces of jewelry. Mostly because it's as close as I will EVER get to seeing any of these pieces in person...much less having a chance to own one of the dang things.

This gorgeous piece is currently held at the Walters Art Museum.


It's described as follows: 19th Century Owl Pendant. This pendant was formerly thought to be from the 16th century because of its late Renaissance-style enameled gold strapwork, baroque pearls, and the square-cut gems in box settings.

Now, before I share my creation with you, I'll give you a peek into my creative process. I know, I know...it is DEFINITELY your lucky day. 

Many of you ask just how it is that I choose which pieces to emulate. Is there a specific period I love? Favorite gemstone or metal? Shape? Amount of lust it inspires in me? 

Oh...you didn't ask that last part? Ahem. Sorry. I misheard you, apparently. 

The answer is 'none of the above'. 

You see, I'm a pinterest fan. I find myself pinning vast numbers of jewelry that I love. Every once in awhile, a piece with jump out at me. I'd like to say that this is some type of instinct or just plain artistic inspiration! But, the truth is, that I happen to see the main structure is similar to some brass junk in my stash. 
Sigh.

I had purchased 2 lots of vintage, broken rhinestone jewelry. Using Liquid Frisket (or you can use rubber cement) I took a chain with stars in it and put the mask over the stones and spray painted the rest gold. I'd found the owl piece at Hobby Lobby. It's actually a magnetic clasp and was originally silver. Everything else was just pieced together using basic matching shapes. Finally, I used black velvet paper with a bit of bright, gold brushed paper peeking out, and matted it in a shadowbox. Where is was promptly abducted by my mother, and taken to Georgia to reside with the Teterger Chaterlaine from an earlier post.


The reflection on the glass is killing me. You'd think I would've had enough sense to pop it out the back and get a really good picture. But that would've required me to use common sense that I was apparently denied at birth.
Oh well.

Thanks for stopping by...I'm slowly sanding my rusty writing skills as I type...more on the way!

On Outlander and Equines and ADHD

Let me begin by saying that I have absolutely NO idea where the past 90 days went. I mean, I do...much like Claire in, what is one of my new passions-the show 'Outlander'...but when I stepped through the stones in April, I forgot the world here. So, coming back, I'm thinking DANG! I know I've been busier than a one-armed paper hanger, but it seems time stopped in this area of my life!!! 

NOTE: For the record, if the side I'm just returning from had anyone resembling Sam Heughen (Jaime), who was hot for me and my body, I can assure you that you would've NEVER seen me again. EVER. That is all.

It seems like only yesterday I finished my stint in the SCS Dirty Dozen and then had my dreams crushed by Graphic 45, as I was roundly rejected for their design team. 

Okay, okay...that's a little over the top. 

It was actually a good thing. I needed a break. I really did. So, I took one and took up an old passion that I hadn't participated in since High School! 

NOTE  DOS: Said 'passion' was NOT my first High School bf, Tim. Last I heard, he was playing in some rock band by the name of Witches Offspring or some ridiculous name like that. located in the big city of Graham, NC,  Sorry, but after 50, you may 'rock' all you like, but be careful about the 'roll'...especially when the word takes on the meaning of what I'm doing as I'm laughing so hard I fall to the floor. 

Nope, this passion wasn't a person. 

Think a second...what activity makes the most sense when you're 47, unemployed, and have all sorts of back and hand issues?

That's right!

Horses.

More specifically, owning and training them.

I grew up with horses. My great-grandpa-Pa Marley-was a horse lover. He was a farmer and owned draft horses to help him plow the fields. He was also a superb horseman. 

From there, it passed down to my Aunt Sharon and on to me. I spent a lot of time in the saddle until my late teens, when I got a job in radio and spent 25 years dealing with another type of animal. Needless to say, I prefer the former.

Growing up on horses, especially when you're a bit of a daredevil, means that you probably spend a good deal of time learning how to fall. And heal. And how miserable it feels to have an itch under your cast...so miserable that you break down and finally use a coat hanger to scratch and then you're terrified that you've messed the bone set up (they warn you that can happen) and then you figure 'well, harm's already done' and then you spend the rest of the time scratching those itches and being a happier person and, at the end of it, you find doctor's don't always know everything. 

Ooops. Sorry. No need to wonder about the efficacy of my ADHD meds.

Horses gave me joy. Along with a shattered elbow, fractured ankle, sowed the seeds for (I believe) the arthritis I have in my back, as well as my Dercum's Syndrome. Despite all this, I never fell out of love with them. 

So, in April, it chanced to happen that my Aunt and her friend, Jana, both had horses they wanted someone to work with. So, I began ground training both. Ground training is much easier than riding. If you can avoid being kicked, bitten or killed, you're doing well. Knock on wood, I only had to deal with the first 2. One of the horses I worked with, Coco (who belonged to Jana) is a gorgeous, bay, quarter horse mare. It took about 2 weeks for us to fall in love with each other, and a month for me to buy her. She was green (untrained-not the color-work with me, people!) and I was a green trainer. But within a month, I had her free lunging in the round pen (I'm sorry for using jargon and not defining it but it's pretty much what it sounds like and then there's google) at a walk, trot and lope. I also taught her to pivot on front and back legs, to back clear across the ring, and to execute a side pass. Then came the day I climbed into the saddle and had her execute all of the above, which she did, beautifully.

I can't ride much. Maybe 5-10 minutes every couple of days, and only at a walk or a few seconds at a trot. Fortunately, there are hordes of young girls  (who will bounce if they fall off-unlike me) who are willing to ride her as I continue to work with her, so I feel I've got the best of both worlds. Here are a couple of ground work videos from 3-4 weeks ago.



video


video



So, while I'm still playing with my horse, I've come to realize that I miss my crafting, too! Therefore, I'm going to try something that is quite rare for me...it's called 'multi-tasking'.  Being ADHD, it's quite the foreign word. 

Happy Fourth!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

It all started like this...



One day, as I was wasting the usual hour or three on Pinterest, I stumbled upon THIS.



I love chatelaines. Chatelaines were a decorative piece, worn by women, from which lots of household items were hung. They were SUCH a delicate and ladylike way of carrying those things we forever need close at hand. Pencils, paper, scissors...just to name a few. 

This is actually a ladies watch but also classified as a chatelaine. It's home is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Made of gold, platinum and diamonds by Watchmaker Hippolyte T├ęterger of France, about 1880. The moment I saw this piece I fell HARD.

So hard, in fact, that I actually sat down and altered my zombie apocalypse plan. 

That's right, turns out I'm NOT heading down to the secret rendezvous point in SC to meet up with the rest of my family. I'm headed to the Met. I fully intend to liberate this piece and THEN I'll worry about meeting up with the rest. We all have our priorities. Even during the end of the world. 

Anyway, as I stared at this piece, I felt like there was something really familiar about it. Something that just kept niggling at me, and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why.

I'm not sure why inspiration...or general 'crazy'...tends to hit during the wee hours of the morning, but it was around 3am when I woke up suddenly and got out of bed. Down to the craft room to my huge tool box filled with my beloved brass and, after a half hour of digging around, I had it. 

May I present my 'Ode to T├ęterger'


This pieces measures just under 7 inches tall and 3 inches at the widest part-the bottom Cherubim's outstretched arms.

I'm not sure if having all this brass and broken rhinestone jewelry is necessarily a 'plus', but I CAN say I was THRILLED with the way this turned out! I pieced everything together and used 18k gold spray paint to turn everything the same color gold. The cherubs at the bottom were originally silver and came with 2 arms...I had to amputate the inside ones to make it fit, but hey...they're CHERUBS! Aren't they, like, magic or something? So they can grow another!! Get over it!! 

Next, I took some broken rhinestone chains, a pin and a couple of links from a bracelet to use as the 'blingy' part. The large middle piece was actually this ugly finding/connector I came across that was really cheap and I snagged it ONLY because it was cheap. I just knew I'd never use it. Guess I was wrong, huh?

The rest was brass that I've been accumulating for quite awhile from my 'brass guy'. Who happens to be so ridiculously reasonable that I hate to share him...because what am I going to do when he sells out???? DANG. I hate doing this. But I've been asked so many times about the brass I use, and so in the spirit of sharing-as well as a 'ty' to Michael, my brass guy-I'll share it with you. 

Sigh.


If you're just starting out, buy the auctions where you buy 1/8 or 1/4 and get the same free. That's how I quickly built a collection and kept it inexpensive. Michael is also very generous and especially so to repeat customers. Truly a great guy.

Enough for tonight...there's wine to drink and this thing called 'dinner' my kids keep yelling for. Let me go see what THAT'S all about. Why can't they just eat Easter candy like the REST of the kids? Why this sudden demand for 'nutrition'???? 

Ingrates.

UPDATE: To answer my friend and muse Lee Ann's question of what I do with these pieces, most reside with unsuspecting innocents who made the mistake of admiring my work. I figure it's good to remind people of the danger of saying they really like something. So be careful! Don't just admire things liberally, practice reserve...or you, too, could end up with some of my junk on your doorstep. You have been warned. ;)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I'M DYING FOR A SMOKE IN HERE!!!



In October of 2005, I was pregnant with Minion #3. 

Laid up with morning sickness, and the general misery of my accompanying ailments, I realized that I was running out of time.

I was 38 and STILL smoking. 

Now, before y'all get all 'het' up, let me just say this: smoking, for the most part, wasn't a big deal. Most women smoked during pregnancy to keep their weight down. While all that might have stopped in the late 60's in the REST of the 46 states (GA, TN, NC, SC excluded) it didn't here. So, please allow me to explain a bit of our way of life here in North 'by God' Carolina.

I began smoking at 12. So did most of my friends. Being products of a great tobacco state, this wasn't really considered a problem. In fact, in between our Baptist Church's Sunday School and Worship Service, you'd find all the Church Deacons AND the Pastor out puffing away outside the back door.

Most everyone here grew up pulling tobacco. My mother pulled at her grandparents tobacco farm. I ended up pulling at a family friend's farm. For those of you who have never pulled tobacco, well, let me tell you just a bit about it. 

Take a series of 90 plus degree days, and start each one at 7 am by priming (pulling the bottom leaves) tobacco. My mother had to do it by hand...I was lucky to have a machine do it, but you were constantly running across the back of the machine, scooping up armfuls of leaves and stacking them i the back. STILL no easy job, I tell you. 

You keep working up the stalk-about week intervals, if I remember correctly, and that's week after week of work in the broiling sun. Then you stack the leaves and hang them in the barn (it was an actual barn in mama's time...in mine, it was a large trailer-like apparatus that was a type of kiln that took a week to cure the tobacco) then pile into burlap and haul them to market.. 

These were 10 hour days, with an hour for lunch. I bet I ate thousands of calories each day and STILL lost weight. The best was when they'd take a huge watermelon, refrigerate it, and bring it out at the hottest part of the day to eat. There are no words to describe the cold, the sweet and the sense of relief it brought. Up until that point, you felt like you might die and you were perfectly okay with it. After 15 minutes at the watermelon baptismal (as I still irreverently refer to it) you knew you could make it a few more hours.

While working tobacco, you would find yourself-daily-coated with a thick, tar-like substance. This was nicotine that we absorbed through our skin. Thus, for those of us who DID smoke while pulling tobacco, we were never worried about running out of smokes. We'd just stand around and lick each others arms. 

Sorry...back to 2005.

My point with all of this is to show how smoking was a part of our culture. Drinking? Oh HADES no...you'd best be careful to never let the demon alcohol taint your lips...but you can puff on that smoke all day long. 

I'd been told by several doctors that smokers who quit by 40 stood a good chance of having their lungs revert to the same as a non-smoker's. So, at 38 and pregnant, I bid a sad good-bye to my sidekicks Winston and Marlboro Lights 100's (whichever was on sale, that week) and chewed so much Nicorette gum that I was blowing bubbles with it. 

To date, I never smoked another. 

Today, I'm one of those HORRIBLE people who choke up at the smell and can't stand to be around it. I don't know what happened...I swear it's like I can't breathe if I'm around smoke. Not that this makes me not crave a smoke now and then...I absolutely do. Not often, but there are times when I know that a smoke will bring about a calm I've been missing these past 9 plus years. Like during the construction of this miniature bed. I'm telling you, THIS was one of the most challenging things-for ME-that I've ever tried. 

I want to thank Kris, who is a miniaturist of epic proportions. Her site is here-http://1inchminisbykris.blogspot.com/search/label/no-sew%20mattress
She was also kind enough to answer my questions, as well as share her tutorials-gratis-for people who want to learn. Thank you, Kris. 

This was a bit of a struggle at times, my headboard is canted, my legs and dowels aren't even and their tops are different lengths, there's a wrinkle in the 'wood' of the foot board, but I look at this and think: "Wow. I can't believe I made this."

And I have to tell you, folks. THAT is better than any smoke I ever had. ;)


The 'diamonds' on the foot board and the layers of 'wood' embellishment are all different sizes of layered cardstock. This is made with cardstock, matboard and posterboard. I used 2 brass pieces from my stash, but Kris used a punch and layered her shapes and it's fantastic!!!! PLEASE go to her site...just to look at it!



Measurements: 6-3/4 x 4 x 4 (at highest and widest points)


I don't sew. Period. There is a little bit of needlework involved in making the button indents on the mattress. Suffice it to say that it took me only 2 tries to get it looking as right as I was ever going to make it. It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. :)

Once again, thanks to Kris at 1 inch minis by Kris

Monday, March 30, 2015

Finally...Miniature Koi Pond-THE BIG REVEAL!!!

I have ALWAYS wanted to do that!

It's not that I HAVE a really big reveal...heck...you already saw the majority of the Koi pond already, but when I can squeeze TWO blog posts out of  ONE manic effort, you best BELIEVE I'm taking advantage of THAT "crazy', my friends.

Without further ado, here it is:

The actual measurements are something like 1-3/4 x 3/4. I'm not sure if this is truly 1:12 scale, which I'm told is the scale normally used by miniaturists, but to go any smaller would necessitate my losing weight in my fingers, and since I can't do it anywhere else on my body, I doubt I'm going to be successful there. 

Once again, I've got to point you to the girl that provided the tutorial on youtube...she's amazing, and her tutorial is one of the best I've found. I'm not crazy about hearing someone talk on video tutorials. Mostly because I'm one of these fickle people who, if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, might hear your voice and it could trigger my Misophonia (see THIS post for further edification if you missed it the first time) and things could end up badly for both of us. 

I've made ONE video tutorial and won't do another where I talk. In the sense of fairness, my OWN voice can drive me to mayhem, so don't take it personally.

But THIS artist plays calming music and does a beautiful job of filming what she's doing. No small feat (no pun intended...trust) when you consider how small everything really is.

To get the finish on the fish, her advice was to mix a pearl and translucent clay together. It also makes the fins almost transparent as well. I really love the effect. 

I have two more artistic endeavors I'm working on and hope to have them done midweek. As a teaser, one of them is another miniature, but much more difficult than this. It involves actual paper engineering. The second is an art assemblage copy of an Art Nouveau piece that, if it keeps going the way it is, might just be the most incredible thing I've ever done. Not that my bar is set too high, mind you, but for ME...well...it's fabulous, if I say so myself. ;)

Not to mention my Graphic 45 Secret Garden shadowbox, which now has the 3 completed elements I needed to make it the way I wanted. Bobby, my beloved blog friend, asked if I would be making the flowers. Here's my official answer. 

**Ahem**

Those who know me are well-aware that I have made some pretty decent flowers in the past. But at some point, I believe that outsourcing a few things is a consideration that arises and must be acted upon. Therefore, I will be using flowers from a darling girl in Thailand, who makes the most amazing mulberry flowers...miniatures, mind you...along with the tiniest buds. As this task is boring to me, and due to the exchange rate where 50 bucks translates into 6 months of gorgeous roses, dahlias and buds-even I didn't use them all up in  that time frame!-I have to ask myself a hard question...

Am I going to sweat it out over flowers, after having a blast with these cooler miniature pieces, thus turning this project into drudgery, which will put me in a nasty mood for several days, and cause my children-who, like facing a vampire-will scramble to find, not a Rosary, but a Butterfinger and the number to grandma's to keep me at bay???? 

The answer is NO. Not just No, but HADES NO!

Besides, lovely girl in Thailand, whose name I'm not sure how to pronounce, and I are both happy with this arrangement. If you want to visit her, here's her link.

So, I'm out...off to finish up what I can. And for those of you who have been simply flabbergasted by 3 posts from me in 3 days, I don't want you to worry...I PROMISE to lapse back into my 'underachiever' mode fairly soon. I tell you this because you KNOW how I feel about raising anyone's expectations...that just causes me to work harder. And that never works out for ANY of us. ;)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

'WATER' you up to? I hope THIS project URNS your attention!

I hate puns. 
I really do.
Whenever I have the misfortune to run into one of those 'punny' people, I find they have the exact same effect on me, as those (namely, my children) who chew with their mouths open, making smacky, slurpy sounds...
Want to know exactly what is that effect? 
As soon as one of my children begins masticating loudly, setting off a chain reaction in which the others will follow suit, I lose all realization that those are the little angels I birthed, and I want to give them up for adoption. 

No...I'm just kidding. I don't want to put them up for adoption! 

I want to beat them within an inch of their lives. 

It's not my fault. You see, a few years ago, there was a study that concluded that there are actually people who went temporarily insane when faced with chompy, slurpy, teeth sucking, noisy while swallowing barbarians...literally...these people temporarily lost their minds and tried to hurt people!! They even came up with a name for it:

Misophonia.

Seriously!!! Click here for the definition and all the other fun stuff.  

But to prove my point, here's part of the entry.

"People who have misophonia are most commonly angered by specific sounds, such as slurping, throat-clearing, nail-clipping, chewing, drinking, tooth-brushing, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, gum-chewing or popping, laughing, snoring, typing, coughing, humming, whistling, singing, certain consonants, or repetitive sounds.[12] Sufferers experience fight/flight symptoms such as sweating, muscle tension, and quickened heartbeat."

Not to mention that it tends to have a correlation with OCD, and we ALL know who's constantly embroiled in some battle with hers on a daily basis, don't we? 

(crickets chirping......no, wait, that drives me crazy too.) 

Um...that would be ME.

Now, I'm fully aware that many of you are somewhat skeptical regarding disorders such as Misophonia, and I totally understand. See, we live in a society that wants to 'diagnose' everything. If you're blue, you're 'chronically depressed'. Loud and energetic? 'Manic' or 'ADHD'. Painfully shy? 'Social Anxiety Disorder'. Overbearing, Spendthrift and a hypocrite? 'Politician'. 

We can argue all day about whether or not we've become a society that has become so plastic, shallow and narcissistic that we can't just have general feelings and/or personality traits...we have to NAME them, so that we can play the victim. We could debate whether a lot of today's psychology is bunk and furthered by Big Pharm in order to drive profits through psych meds. Or, we can discuss why we've become so afraid of feeling ANYTHING, that we panic and try to medicate ourselves out of our 'self' and back into 'surface only'. 

But, all that potential future debate aside, I WILL say that we REALLY should treat this Misophonia thing as legit...because, if we don't, well...sigh...I COULD be looking at a long-term, fully supervised living arrangement. 

And it's NOT at the local retirement facility. 

;)

Now...onto my dabblings for today: 

If you'll remember, we're building a 'Secret Garden' shadowbox, using a Graphic 45 Staples box and including lots of fun, handmade miniatures to fill it!

Okay, okay...I know...'what's this WE stuff', you're asking. Fine. I'M building this Secret Garden, and this is another element to join my Koi pond (Full reveal tomorrow, folks!) and my garden urn made of quilled paper. 

But today is the garden sink, made by Prima, and gussied up by yours truly!

Let's start with the sink.
Now, this is WAY to purty to be in ANY garden. So, let's age it up a bit. Using Mushroom alcohol ink and a felt pad that I hold in my hand (no girly applicator for me....I live WIDE-OPEN here, people!!  Okay...so it's because you can't get into all the corners as well. Whatever.)
Keep dabbin'...a little more...

And I believe we've got a winner, here!
Btw, that bottle up there is alcohol. Cheaper than blending solution and just as effective. I'm a very messy person and I need LOTS of cleaning solution in whatever medium I'm....oh, well...whatever medium I happen to be making a mess in THAT day, and alcohol works for me.
Whatever you do, don't stress about any white part inside the sink....our 'water' will cover it up!

Next, let's grab our moss. Fresh from Hobby Lobby.
Then, using Glossy Accents, or ANY invisible when dry glue, let's start shredding that moss and add some believability to our garden sink, shall we?
Look...I PROMISE you that there is NO WAY to mess this up. Seriously. Because I would've totally messed this sucker up a thousand times by now. Trust. So use as much moss as you like and stick it anywhere you want! 
On the sink, of course. 
heh heh

NEXT: Take your glossy accents or any clear drying glue and fill the sink. Also make a line from the spigot (which was installed several pics ago with E6000, It comes separate in the package and all you have to do is glue it in.)
Next, I used microbeads-blue and clear-both found at Michaels, and covered the line to mimic running water. Using my little sharp, pointy thingy, I kept the errant beads from trying to make a break for it, for the few seconds it took for the glue to set enough to hold its shape.


I drizzled some over the sides and let that sucker dry overnight! Give it a try, 

Here's what we have for the Secret Garden so far. Tomorrow, the unveiling of the Koi Pond! Yeah...I know...you're about to burst from excitement. 


Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Garden Urn for YOU...Wait...Not THAT kind of Urn for YOU...

...It wasn't a threat!!  I swear!!  I meant the good kind! For flowers and such and...
Sigh.
I'm pretty sure this is what all those school teachers were talking about during one of (the MANY) school conferences with my parents. I was either talking too much OR saying inappropriate things OR not thinking before I spoke and having 'unintentional, yet profound, impact on others'. 

I'm just kidding!! 

Seriously...It's wasn't either/or...it was all three. Together. At the same time.

Oh, come on...did you REALLY expect anything different??? This is ME we're dealing with here, people!

I'm working on a shadowbox secret garden. Using Graphic 45 staples and paper, I wanted to put something together that was unique and filled (mostly) with things I made myself. Hence, the Koi Pond and now, the urn planter and garden sink. 

The garden sink is made by prima, but I gussied it up so I can feel pretty good about having a hand in customizing that. In fact, I'll have the tutorial for you tomorrow, if you're so inclined to take a look. :)

Today, however, is the day for my garden urn planter. 

I've never 'quilled' in my life. Personally, the first time I heard it, I thought it had something to do with old writing quills. 

Or a QUILTER with a lisp.

Anyway, I figured out that it's not that hard, and I jumped into making the base, which I shaped and stuck a toothpick into for stability. That was easy enough. It was the next part that threw me. See, I'd discovered these wonderful little urns HERE 

WARNING: Don't panic. It's neither you, nor your wine consumption, that causes the page to look funny. It's in French. Wine consumption, at this point, would only be a negative if you started seeing the text in English. THEN there would be cause for concern, or flat-out panic...at least a LITTLE before you pass out.

Being a visual learner, I wasn't too concerned with my French being limited to "Commet alley vous, Mademoiselle." and "Sprecken zie English". 

The problem was the little coils with the big holes in the middle. My Curling Coach was CLEARLY not set up for this. Fortunately, I knew the ONE place where I would find the right answer. And NO...it wasn't Pinterest. Remember, it was PINTEREST that got me into that mess in the first place.

 I went to talk to the Dirty Girls as Splitcoaststampers.com. The Dirty Girls are what the SCS Design Team is referred to. As there is 12 on the design team at all times, it's called the 'Dirty Dozen'.  A 'Dirty Girl' spends 6 months in the 'Dirt Pile', then comes out as a master of all papercraft. Sort of like Kung-Fu, but without all the sweating and boiling pot of water to brand ourselves with some symbol of our mastery on our forearms; like a paper trimmer or something REALLY edgy...like a Scor-Pal.

I spent 6 months on the dirt pile, myself. Personally, I think they were really short last October, and they figured I MIGHT be less high-maintenance and less 'stalker-y' if they were to put me on it. But, whatever the reason, if THOSE girls don't know the answer, then there IS no answer.  

In English, at least. 

Sure enough, someone suggested coiling paper around a tube which was close to the circumference I needed. Which I did. Twice. Shaped them both to fit evenly, and one to fit  the coil on the wrapped toothpick. 

Afterwards, I put a decorative sticker around the middle and 2 plain line stickers at the top and bottom for texture. Then, I painted it white (yes...I used different colors of paper...kept running out of the colors I was working with....then painted it a gray that I mixed with matte Mod Podge for sealing. After letting it dry for a few minutes, I lightly used a baby wipe to create some distress, and that was it! 

So, my secret garden progresses. Here's a look at a little of the process.