Monday, October 22, 2012

Epic Craft Fail and Other Stuff.

First, the Epic Craft Fail.

These are not creepy, newborn conjoined baby mice,
even though conjoined is really big right now.

No, this is my attempt to make 
a pair of hand-dipped candles.

Failure on an epic scale.

Onto something else.

I found this fancy arched shelf
in an antique/junk shop.

It was solid oak and yes,
 I know this grey distressed finish is very attractive,
it just won't go in the Steampunk Study.
I don't want the room to look abandoned.

So I bought it ($20, as you asked)
and took it home and used this stuff on it.
(Warning, product endorsement.
No, they didn't pay me for this.
I'm just trying to justify how much it cost!)

Please note, this isn't your bog-standard orange cleaner
this is specially made for wood furniture.
It has safety warnings all over it and it cost about $5.

Anyway, it's worth every penny
because it  does this.

 See this warm, glowing oak?
See the beautiful grain and the depth of colour?
All I did was squirt and spray, wipe a bit, all done.

(No, you may not paint it white!)

Hubby wants all his little curios and objects d'art
fitted in the arches, maybe with some old postcards. 
There's a groove at the back to support something.
Not plates, the arches are too small.
I do wonder what it was originally made for?

What about the epic craft fail? I hear you say.
How did I recover from such a crushing blow?
I did this.
You can do it, too.

Go to the Dollar Tree
and buy a chunky little clockwork insect.
(I danced about when I saw these!
It's been months since I've seen anything suitable)

Start gluing on stuff.

 What kind of stuff?

Well, here I have; a bit of a plastic doily,(on one wing)
the end of a Worcestershire sauce bottle,(between the jaws)
 half of a plastic compass, 
(hard to see but it's on the head)
an eyelet and a random nut.
(see here more on the delights of
altering clockwork toys and a

Spray the whole thing.
I splashed out and bought a tin of brass spray, 
instead of gold, but gold will do.
Or silver, chrome, oil-rubbed bronze. 

Add more stuff, now in metal so it doesn't need to be sprayed.
Old pens are a good source of small springs.
 You can stretch them out longer, if need be.
Propelling pencils have really long springs.
The glass tube at the back is an inverted fairy light.
Add other colours, if desired.
I used a permanent ink pen for the red enamel.

Fit the plastic compass back together.
I was going to print out a new dial for the compass,
but having directions on the insect made sense 
and the compass rose is nicely printed and vintage-looking.

You can either leave it shiny-new
or you can age the finish with some thinned brown paint.
This also brings out the detail.


Check the clockwork still runs 
every time you add an item or a layer of paint.

It's fun and it's embarrassingly easy
and very gratifying.

Unlike making candles.


  1. Wow, this looks like one of those robotic insects you might see on Syfy! I would have never thought in a million years to do something like this. Luv it!

    1. Wow! Thank you, Sherry, that's high praise indeed! That's the sort of effect I was after. Thank you!

  2. I knew those were candles pretty much at once. I went to something where I got to make ones once. I stopped when I got a blobby little thing that looked like a microscopic doggy, never made a full candle.

    I am so jealous of that shelf! I would also love a house with those arches! Arches are just divine!

    The insect is wonderful! It turned out just fantastic! We don't have dollar tree, but I will have to keep an eye out for largish fake bugs, maybe I can do something similar!

    What a wonderful, exciting, inspiring blog post this has been! :)

    1. Thank you so much! What a nice thing to say.

      The candles? Meh...I may try again, or I might buy some if I can find ones small enough.

      The arched shelf was just one of those lucky things. The man in the shop nearly didn't sell it to me, he rather fancied it for himself.

      Good luck finding a clockwork toy to Steampunk. Usually, if it's big and chunky, you can glue on all kinds of junk and it still works. Just make sure the clockwork doesn't get gummed up with paint/glue. And if you make anything, please let me know and I'll feature it.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! These things are so much fun to make!

  4. I made candles once at a pioneer village and since I had an expert helping me they turned out semi okay. I never used them though as they were pretty ugly:(

    I love those shelves. They look wonderful after the Orange Glo. Why does everyone paint things like that white? They do look like they have that groove to hold plates but maybe it's for displaying cups and saucers????

    I think you are a Steampunk Dollar Store genius. That bug is brilliant:)

    1. I sympathise about the candles. I suppose it was pretty naive of me to assume it would be easy!

      I did wonder about cups and saucers. I have a couple of nice ones and won an amazing one in a giveaway, so I might try them and see how they look. Can't have a Victorian study without afternoon tea, after all.

      And that's very sweet of you! I just wish they had more things that were suitable for steamy punking.

  5. I agree with Mary Ann... I think you are a Steampunk Dollar Store denius too! Great work on the bug!!

    I just love your shelf... The arches make the piece...

    You deserve an A for effort on the candles.. I have not ever attempted to make them before...
    Have a great week,

    1. Thank you so much, Penny! I can't emphasis how easy they are to make (unlike the candles!)

      The arches really make it, don't they? I was so delighted to find the shelves and really, really pleased they cleaned up so easily. I thought I was due for hours of sanding, polishing, sanding, polishing, sanding, polishing...

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you! And welcome! I LOVE the Halloweeny things on your blog!

  7. Your candles are funny looking. My sister used to make them. It's a slow dipping process. Love the curio shelf. The orange glow really does work. You brought the shelf back to life :)
    Wow! Your clockwork insect looks amazing!!! All the details are so fantastic and I love the fact that it still works. Cool!


    1. SLOW dipping! Maybe I could try again?

      Oh, yes, I love that orange glo stuff for wood. I keep it on a high shelf, so I don't confuse it with ordinary orange kitchen cleaner stuff, as it's covered in safety warnings.

      I'm so glad you like my surveillance insect! Perhaps I should call it a Bug bug? Thank for coming over a visit, Dee!

  8. Argh, the low tech Miss Magpie is on a borrowed pc and it won't let me sign it. It deleted my long ramble when I tried, perhaps better for you that way!

    It's not an epic fail so long as the candles burn, the wood looks fantastic, I love all the little arches, they give a lofty feel to a space for naughty skeletons and bug bugs! (I really do love that guy, I've got to try to find a dollar tree near me in the hopes that they have them. I actually went to the mall dollar store on my lunchbreak to check, but that one never has anything fun.)

  9. Shoot, Magpie again. I forgot to add, I like nailpolish as a cloisonne substitute, it's my favorite multi-use so I have an excuse to buy more item.

    1. Thank you Miss Magpie! I have to admit, the sharpie I used wasn't such a good idea. I may try some nail varnish, if I can't get the right effect with some more acrylic. Thank you so much for coming by to comment. I know you have connection issues. That would drive me NUTS!

  10. Oh no! not an epic craft fail! Actually, I remember dipping candles in Camp Fire Girls camp I(like Girl Scouts) and mine were pretty wonky as well ;)

    But your shelve project--- wow! What an amazing change! And I'd never ever paint it white :D what a fun blog you have here!~

    1. Thank you so much, Heather! I think I'm finding I'm not alone in making freaky candles! It's very comforting. I'm glad you like the shelves. I have to admit, I'm glad they were so easy to restore!

  11. Wow, Bev
    The shelf looks amazing after the orange glow stuff, it gives hope to many grungy looking pieces of cast-off furniture anyone sees on the side of the road on yard sale days. I will keep this stuff in mind. Oh! That reminds me. The orange glo reminds me of a tutorial I saw where they use a similar substance and they saturate an entire National Geographic magazine and it leaves the most amazing textures. You need gloves to do it and the pages have to be separated very soon after immersing and laid out to dry. Artists use the pages as background on mixed media art work. I think there is a youtube for the tutorial, a search for National Geographic altered pages with Orange glo, but I think it is another product.
    I dipped candles in fourth grade years and years ago, it was so much fun but I never did it again, but was always intrigued by it. Yours are positively perfect for the season...Spooky!

    1. Oh, really? I need to look into that. Thank you! And thank you for such a kind thing to say about my candles. I suppose they are appropriate for the season.

      I'm off to see if I can find this altered paper video. Thank you for visiting, Teresa!

  12. We need to make some tapers together. They are the easiest thing to make, if you are patient. And you know I'm an Aries, so if I can do it, so can you!

    1. Yes, please! I thought being an Aries, making candles would be a given for me, right? Fire and all that? Apparently not.


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