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Holiday Special: DIY Halloween Glow Stick Wreath

6 Oct

We usually don’t go out of the way to decorate the outside of our house for Halloween (the cobwebs being our naturally occurring spooky decor), but this year I decided that our house needed a wreath. A glow stick wreath.

Since I’d never so much as made a regular wreath before, let alone one that involved glow sticks, I knew this would involve a bit of trial and error. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work or what it would look like, exactly, so I bought a bunch of glow sticks, bracelets, and necklaces from the dollar bins at Target, and a Styrofoam wreath circlet from Micheal’s.

After a little bit of experimentation it became clear that bracelets were the way to go so I saved the necklaces and glow sticks for Halloween and I set to work cracking all the bracelets to get them going. Isobel helped for awhile (and had a great time attaching bracelets end-to-end to make a super long glow stick) but when the neighbor kids came to the door the siren song of a summer evening won out, just as it should. This had the happy benefit of me figuring out I could crack a package of glow sticks pretty much all at once in a large stack. This saved a lot of time.

As you can tell from the photos, I activated the bracelets and hooked them together. I used a glue gun to attach a layer of bracelets to the wreath and then attached an alternating layer of bracelets to the first.

 

As you can see from the photos it’s a very simple idea that doesn’t need much in the way of directions, but I do have a few tips to keep in mind that will make this much easier should you want to make one.

– The wreath I bought was about 12 inches in diameter measured on the outer edge. They had many larger sizes, but the larger sizes would mean I’d need a bunch more glow sticks and I wanted to be sure I had enough.

– I bought glow stick bracelets at Target from the dollar bin which came fifteen to a package. Worried I’d run out, I bought a few more from Michael’s dollar bin when I picked up the wreath circlet. Those came twelve to a package. The colors in each were identical.  I used two Target packages and one Micheal’s package to make this wreath, or 42 glow sticks.

– I thought about maybe painting the wreath circlet or otherwise decorating it, but ultimately decided against it. If the wreath was to work like I wanted it to, the wreath part wouldn’t really show up and all people would notice was the glowing circle. I was right and glad I didn’t go to the trouble of decorating it.

– If you don’t have a willing glow stick cracker, you can crack them in bundles of fifteen like I did. I have small hands and am not particularly strong and it was no problem for me. Cracking them one by one is fine, just make sure you have a movie on or someone you adore talking to with you or else it will go slowly. I cracked most of them individually before I realized I could do them as a group.

– It’s important to get the first layer of glows sticks glued firmly down to the wreath because the other glue sticks will just be glued to each other. Take your time.

– Keep a small bowl of cold water nearby since you are using the glue gun. If you get hot glue on your fingers, plunge them directly into the cold water to stop the burning. The stuff is like napalm. My mom taught me this trick!

– It’s tempting to use lots of glue when securing the bracelets, but use as little as possible. There is a slight risk of the hot glue melting the plastic coating of the glue stick which would cause fluid to leak out. As you can see from the slightly glowing spot on the blanket, that happened to me. (Which is also a great reason to put down a towel over your workspace!) Use little spots of glue and work slowly and you’ll minimize leakage.

– After the first layer is established, create the next layer by putting a bracelet in the middle of two other bracelets to alternate the pattern. For the best seal I tried to glue on the spots that had the plastic tubes that attached the bracelets. It was reinforced there and less likely to melt and leak.

– I glued down about four or five layers until I decided I was done. Deciding when to stop is a matter of personal taste, just keep alternating layers! The hot glue dries very quickly, and after I had completed my layers I felt around for lose spots and added dabs of glue here and there to make sure it was secure.

– I think the idea way to attach it to the door would be finishing line or some other transparent wire. But I didn’t think that far ahead when I made this so I just used black yarn from my stash, noting that at night it wouldn’t really matter because all that would show was the glow.

I am really happy with how it turned out! It was fun to make and looks really beautiful. Isobel and I had a great time cracking and making the glow bracelets, and she grabbed a handful of necklaces and went to play with friends while I handled the hot glue gun. She and the neighbor kids came in a few times to check on the process and were in awe. Of course, a wreath like this only glows for one night, but one night is all you need to celebrate Halloween! I bought enough bracelets to make another one and will simply flip the wreath over and glue them to the other side when the time comes. I really wasn’t even sure if this would work so I wanted to give it a go now before the big day. Although it doesn’t glow, I also think it looks really pretty in the day time.

All in all this was a super fun and cheap craft. The glow bracelets were $3 and the wreath circlet was $6. I already had the glue gun and I used one stick of glue and yarn I already had on hand. Once it was up it looked great, and several neighbors came over to tell me so. If you end up trying this, let me know! I’d love to hear how it worked for you, and I hope you get lots of oohs and aaahs from your neighbors like I did.

 

Reuse Roundup: Isobel’s Fairy House

16 Jan

Isobel’s greatest obsession these days is faeries. It’s sort of my fault. When I was a kid I was obsessed with faeries myself and as soon as she showed even the slightest hint of interest I started sharing all of my Cecily Mary Barker books with her. These books were written in the early 1900s and reflect the fashion of the times. I just love them and through this book Isobel has learned quite a bit about different flowers and plants which never fails to impress garden store workers. After each time reading through Flower Fairies we follow it up with reading Fairy Island, a book by a nature crating artist who created five or so different imagined homes for fairies. Add this to repeated viewings of Miyazaki’s Borrower’s-inspired movie The Secret World of Arrietty, and Isobel wants nothing more than to make faerie houses all day every day.

This one is her current favorite because unlike most of them it is contained in a decorated shoebox that once held running shoes belonging to her father. We painted it together (she instructed me where to paint hearts but the rest is all her), and she’s added crayon, stickers, and other ornamentation herself. Grandma and Grandpa, ever sympathetic to her wishes, bought her the little pink metal bench and white chair at a garden store, and the set of dressers used to a picture frame from their living room collection. The rest of the items have been gathered (borrowed, you know, not stolen) from around the house. The gold ornament hanging from the top of the box is supposed to be the sun and the white moon sticker on the dresser is supposed to appease but sun and moon fairies.

One time Anthony put some of her plastic fairy toys in the fairy house but that mistake was swiftly corrected. This house is for real fairies, Dada. Not toys. Real fairies.

Despite our honest answers to the question she remains convinced fairies are real. They are just very small and very fast and know how to hide from adults. Little girls can see them, however, and she can’t wait until a real fairy decides to take up residence in this fully furnished apartment.

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