Month: November 2014

Gilding the Pumpkin

Earlier this week, when I shared our fall mantle with you, I promised a tutorial on the gold pumpkins that I used.  To be honest, I feel a little silly even calling this a tutorial – I am pretty confident that y’all can figure out how to get the look without my help!  Still, I’m not about to go back on my word, so here’s a quick rundown on what I did to turn plain-jane foam pumpkins into these golden beauties!

DIY gold pumpkins

I know, I know…gold is everywhere.  It seems everywhere I look – in stores, online, on Pinterest, etc.  gold is going strong as the metallic du jour.  Honestly though, I’m not complaining – I have jumped wholeheartedly on that bandwagon.  As much as I love stainless and silver, nothing warms up a space quite like a touch of gold.  Plus, it goes so well with the colors of the season.  From russet, to crimson, to goldenrod, to chocolate – gold sets them off in such perfect harmony.

So for my mantle this fall, I decided the only thing better than pumpkins would be GOLD pumpkins. Well, sort of – I didn’t use real gold (on a budget over here, remember?), but I did use the next best thing – liquid leaf.  As for the pumpkins, I got them at Target after Halloween when everything was marked down 70%.  You can also buy them at craft stores, Big Lots, Dollar tree. or through the affiliate link above.

Now as an official fangirl of everything golden, I have alot of products in my arsenal that can give something the Midas touch.  Someday, I’ll do a big, fat, comparison post of them all so you can see the differences.  I love my gold spray paint and my Rub ‘n Buff, but when I want something to really shine, I turn to liquid leaf (similar, in classic gold).  Yes, it’s smelly (it’s oil-based).  Yes, it’s expensive compared to, say, gold craft paint.  But the shine – oh baby…the only thing that compares (other than the real deal, of course) is gold leaf sheets, which make such a mess that I only use them when I absolutely must.

Liquid leaf comes in a bunch of colors, from silver to copper, but for this project I used the color “brass.”  It’s gold without being too orange – it has just enough green in it to avoid looking like pyrite.  While this product can be used anywhere you would use normal paint, I find it is shiniest and most metallic when used on smooth, non-porous surfaces, like polymer clay or plastic.  In this case, I was painting over some dense foam pumpkins that had been sealed, so the surface was perfect for liquid leaf.  I just used a craft brush to paint a coat of liquid leaf over the pumpkin – no primer.  On most of them, I found I only needed one coat, as the product if very opaque and a little goes a long way.  Make sure you shake the paint well though – the metallic flakes in it tend to settle to the bottom, so if you don’t shake it it will come out streaky and transparent.  Here’s what my ugly duckling pumpkins pretty much looked like before:

foam pumpkins unpainted
SUCH a realistic color and pattern, don’t you think? Yeah…not so cute.

And with one coat of liquid leaf:

one coat of liquid leaf

Ahhhhh….much better!

I did find that the liquid leaf picked up some warmth from the base color of the pumpkins.  So, the pumpkins that started out white were more of a true brass tone, while the orange pumpkins (like the one in the picture above) took on a warmer, golden hue.

After I got everything painted, I could have easily called it a day – they were beautiful just as they were.  But if you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I have a bit of a hard time leaving well enough alone.  So, to add some additional color variation and depth, I went back in with some of Viva’s Inka-Gold in “old silver” and rubbed it into the high points of the pumpkin.

What is Inka-Gold, you might ask?  Well, if you’re familiar with Rub ‘n Buff, it’s very similar.  Basically, it’s pigment suspended in a soft, waxy base that you can rub onto surfaces to deposit color.  Once it has set, you can buff it with a cloth, which shines up the wax and makes the pigment more brilliant.  Though I love my liquid leaf, it can be a bit shiny for my tastes.  By adding the Inka-gold over the top, it softens down that shininess so it’s more of a satin/glowy finish.  Depending on what color you use, it will also change the hue of the paint underneath.  Here is a comparison shot so you can see what I mean:

comparison shot of liquid leaf and inka gold
liquid leaf on the left, liquid leaf + “white gold” inka-gold on the right

It’s hard to see in the photograph, but the pumpkin on the right is significantly less shiny than the one on the left – it’s still metallic and reflective, but softer.  One other big advantage of Inka-Gold over Rub ‘n Buff is that it is water-based, which means you can thin it with water to make it more of a paint consistency, and  it cleans up super easily from both your hands and your project with regular soap and water.  If you over apply, all it takes to remove it is a damp cloth!  Rub n Buff is great, but it is hard to wash off and it is oil-based which means cleaning up with mineral spirits.

Here’s another shot of the completed pumpkin closer up so you can see the color and sheen variation:

pumpkin closeup

And one of them on our mantle, so you can see them in context:

DIY fall mantle with gold pumpkins and bookcase wreath

I didn’t seal these, but if you wanted to give them a quick shot of clear gloss I am sure you could .  I was a little nervous that the aerosol would melt the styrofoam pumpkins though, so I decided not to risk it.

So, to sum up:

1) Get foam pumpkins

2) Paint foam pumpkins with liquid leaf of choice

3) Optionally, apply Inka-Gold or Rub ‘n Buff to add dimension

4) Do a happy dance – your pumpkins are done!

Let me know if you try it, and feel free as always to leave comments or hit me up on social media – I’m on instagram, twitter, and facebook!

Till next time,


Layered Fall Hurricanes

Out of all the DIY projects I did for the fall mantle, I think these may be my favorite.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a gilded pumpkin and a book wreath as much as the next gal, but I can’t get over how much impact these have and how easy they were to do.  I am pretty sure y’all could figure these out just by taking a peek at the pictures, but I thought I would go ahead and whip up a tutorial for you anyway.  What can I say?  I’m a giver.

Now for those of you who may have missed the original peek at these beauties, here is a glamour shot so you can see what I am talking about.  If you want to read more about the mantle as a whole, feel free to check out the original post here).

fall mantle angle

Want to make some of your own?  Let’s get started.  First up, supplies!

DCF 1.0
Not pictured: white rice and ribbon for bow Also, pretend the curly branches are actually the straight ones I ended up using – it was a last minute substitution and I had already taken the supplies photo! #gametimedecision #keepinitreal


You’ll need:

-glass containers at least 10″ tall: mine came from the Homegoods clearance aisle – 8 bucks apiece!
-various fall colored fillers: I used uncooked brown rice, white rice, green lentils, and red pinto beans from the grocery store (Tip: check the international aisles for the best prices!).
-branches or twigs: mine were from Walmart many many moons ago.
-accent greenery: I have had these gold curly-q branches for so long I don’t remember where I got them specifically, but I have seen them all over – craft stores, big lots, even Dollar Tree!
-small glass or plastic container large enough to accomodate a LED tealight
LED tealight (much safer and more convenient than an open flame!)
-ribbon for a bow (optional)

Step 1: Clean your glass!  I know this isn’t the most glamorous step, but nothing is worse than getting all finished with your hurricane and seeing a smudge that you can’t get to because your layered filler is in the way.  Go ahead and remove any stickers and gunk and make those containers sparkle!

Step 2: Fill each container  with at least 3″ of filler (4 or 5 inches is even better).  I like rice for this, because its shape and density allow it to sort of “lock” together, forming a stable base to hold your branches in position.  If you are using shorter branches, you can get away with less than 3 inches, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a general rule.  I used both brown and white rice to form my 3″ base, because I didn’t have enough brown rice on its own.

Step 3: Add your branches.  Try to place them in a sort of ring on the outside edges, so that the center is clear.  The open space is only important at the top, since we’re going to bury our votive holder there and it will need some room.  The branches can go into the center towards the bottom (under the votive) if that makes sense.  Hopefully my picture will explain this better than I seem to be able to in words!

I placed my foundation (non-glitter) branches first, and then filled in with the gold curly-q accents.  If you are making a pair, to flank a mantle let’s say, try and keep them visually balanced.  They don’t have to match 100% (in fact it’s better if they don’t), but they should look related.  Think sisters, not twins ;).

DCF 1.0

Step 4: Add your next layer of fill, using your hands or a small instrument (I used a dinner fork) to make sure it lays evenly around the branches.  Repeat this with your final layer of fill, reserving a small amount for step 6.

DCF 1.0

Step 5: Grab your votive holder (I used a small tupperware meant for salad dressing) and place it in the middle of the glass container, inside the branches.  Now gently push down and wiggle it around, nesting it as much as you can into the top layer of fill without messing up the layers.  Most likely, you will have a small rim showing – that’s okay!

Step 6: Take the fill you reserved in step 4, and add it carefully, hiding any rim you might have left showing previously.

DCF 1.0


DCF 1.0

Step 7: Add your LED tealight to the votive holder, tie a bow on the hurricane, and step back to admire your work – you’re done!

pardon the poor lighting - it's a glum rainy day!
pardon the poor lighting – it’s a glum rainy day!


See?  Super easy.  All in all, these took me about 15 minutes apiece, and cost me less than $10 each.  All I had to do was raid my pantry for uncooked legumes and grain!  Other options for filler would be black beans, popcorn, or even fresh cranberries.  There are so many options, so you can change this up for virtually any season or color scheme.  Think fake snow, glitter, and jingle bells for winter, or colored sand for summer.  The possibilities are only limited by the size of your vase and your imagination.

A note on the LED tealights: these are the ones I use, and I really do like them.  First of all, they have a timer, people.  Once you flip them on, they stay on for 6 hours, and then they turn themselves off for the next 18.  I can’t tell you how convenient that is – no fishing the tealight out of the hurricane, no forgetting to turn them on or off, just pretty glowing light that comes on like magic.  Second, they flicker, so the light is pretty realistic looking.  Third, they give off a really bright white light.  So many of the LED flameless candles on the market are incredibly fake looking and orange, but these glow a very clean white.  If I want a slightly warmer tone, I just color the silicone bulb in a bit with a pale gold permanent marker (this one is my favorite – I use the burnt ochre color, but a yellow sharpie also works well).  For a more detailed post on that, click HERE.

So that’s it!  Be sure to comment if you have any questions, and come back later this week for tutorials on the book wreath, the luminaries, and the gold pumpkins.

Till next time,


FYI: this post contains affiliate links – this means that if you buy something through one of the links included here, I might make a (teeny tiny) commission. This commission has absolutely NO IMPACT on the price you pay (it would be the same price if you found it on your own) – it merely is a thank-you from the seller to me for directing you to their product!


Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble – A (Belated) Halloween Potion Bottles Tutorial

Today’s post is brought to you by the following poem:

There once was a very bad blogger,
who found Halloween was upon her.
She’d promised to write
About potions of fright
But her camera said the pics were a goner!

Ok, cheesy, I know. I won’t quit my day job. In all seriousness though, I know I promised a picture-laden tutorial on the potion bottles I showed you in the Halloween reveal post (catch that here if you missed it the first go round!). Unfortunately, when I went to write the post on Halloween, I discovered that my camera malfunctioned, and I lost ALL the pictures I took of the process. At first I was going to chalk it up to bad luck, and just skip the post entirely, but my inner Jiminy Cricket kept whispering “a promise is a promise.” So, here it is – a very text-heavy tutorial on the Halloween potions. I am really truly sorry this is so frightfully (Haha. Halloween. See what I did there?) overdue and I’ll try my best to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Luckily for me, Halloween comes around every year, so maybe you can use these next year!

Now that I have my groveling out of the way, lets take a closer look at those potion bottles! You might have caught a glimpse of them here, but I wanted to go a bit more in-depth and share a quick rundown of how I made them. I have been seeing similar projects all over Pinterest lately, and I just knew I had to put my own twist on them. The idea of creating all those lovely labels just spoke to my inner graphic design nerd. What can I say – finding the perfect font, kerning the characters juuuuusssst right, and laying it all out in a pretty vector frame just sets my li’l ol’ heart a-flutter. Of course, the fact that this project gave me a perfect the opportunity to dust off my inner geek and incorporate all sorts of Harry Potter references didn’t hurt either!

Here are some glamour shots of the potion and ingredient bottles all completed to refresh your memory – keep reading for a (picture-less…boo) tutorial and a printable of all the labels I used (since I know not everyone wants to typeset them from scratch, lol).

halloween mantle spells

halloween bar potion ingredients

TUTORIAL – warning: this is long and detailed…I write tutorials the way I would want to read them and in my experience the more detail, the better! Normally, I would break this up with pictures buuuut #technicaldifficulties.

The very first thing I did was start saving bottles and jars. I did end up buying a few at the thrift store and Joann’s Fabrics (similar here), but for the most part I had the bottles laying around my house. Try and get a variety of heights and sizes – it will help make your completed vignette more balanced and interesting. Also try and save some corks if you can – if not you can buy some from the craft store, but free is always better in my book (note: I am not technically advising you to drink wine in order to complete this project, but it does seem a valid method of obtaining corks!). Make sure to thoroughly remove the labels and clean the bottles thoroughly inside and out before you begin brewing your potions.

After I had my bottles collected, I sat down at my computer to create a list of potions/ingredients I wanted to make. I drew on a variety of sources for this – Harry Potter books, movies, Shakespeare plays, fantasy novels I have read over the years, pop culture, other bloggers – this is one of the most fun parts of the process, so take your time. As you list out your items, try and think of something that you could put in the jar to represent that item and make a note of it. For example, I knew I wanted to use dried mushrooms for “Boomslang skin” so I noted that on my list. Keep in mind that these bottles are likely going to sit out at room temperature for at least this year (and possibly more, if you keep them for your decor next year), so try and put things in them that you know will be shelf-stable. We don’t want anything rotting away or getting moldy – that could be a health hazard! Also, if you have small children, try and only use ingredients that can’t harm them if they get into it – although I felt perfectly fine putting cayenne pepper in my “fire salts” mixture, I wouldn’t have done so if I had kiddos. Same goes for the mini liquor bottles I used for several potions. Safety first!

The next step is to match the bottles with the contents. Just use common sense – bulkier items like “Owlet’s wing” will need a bigger jar, while rarer potions would be kept in a smaller jar to reflect their special and limited status. Some of this boiled down to economics – for my “beetle eyes,” I knew I would be buying iridescent seed beads. There was no reason to put them in a humongous jar – that would just mean more beads for me to buy! Common sense, kids – it’s a good thing.

Next up – print the labels, cut them out, and make them look old. Click the link at the bottom of the post to download the labels I used, or feel free to create your own. There are also several other bloggers who have done labels and offered them as printables if neither of those options appeals to you. I printed mine on parchment to give them a head start on looking old – this is similar to the one I used, but any ivory paper will work just fine.

To cut mine out, I used the print and cut feature on my Silhouette Cameo, but it could easily be done with regular old scissors – it would just take more time and patience than I typically have, lol. As for aging the labels, I used Distress Ink in two colors – “tea stained” and “old paper.” You can find it at most craft stores – I got mine at Joann’s and used a sponge dabber (the kind you use for stencils) to buff it randomly into the paper. After all the labels were inked, I crumpled them up and smoothed them back out again to make them look even more decrepit.

With my list and labels made and my bottles obtained it was time to begin the process of modifying my bottles, adhering my labels, and filling my containers. I didn’t paint any of my bottles, but if you want to now is the time. Same goes for etching them to make them opaque or sanding them to distress them. For the most part I left my containers clear – a few of them I did fill with smoke to make them darker and more creepy looking. Check out this tutorial for how I did that.

If you choose to add smoke to the bottles, a few tips/words of caution. The rim of the bottle will get really really hot. Also, only do this with glass bottles. I am sure none of you would be silly enough to try with plastic, but it should be said nonetheless :). Finally, make sure you are using the right kind of candle – soy candles burn too clean and don’t give off enough smoke. What you want is a regular old cheap candle, or – even better – one with a real wooden wick. The smokier and sootier the candle burns, the faster the glass will darken and the better it will look.

Adhering the labels was a cinch. To make things easy, I used my Xyron sticker gizmo for the smaller labels and double sided tape for the bigger ones – no waiting for glue to dry! A few of the tags I wanted to tie onto the bottle, so I just left those aside for the moment and tied them on once the bottles were filled.

Still with me? On to the actual filling! You’ve done your research, you have your list, your bottles are labeled and ready, and now all you have to do is fill the containers.Be creative and use what you have. Colored water makes a great potion, as does colored corn syrup with glitter added in. Look around your yard too – wind-dried weeds can easily become “mandrake root” or “knotgrass.” Pea gravel can double as “bezoar.” Don’t forget your pantry!! I used oil-packed sun dried tomatoes as “toad spleen,” and creamed honey could easily be mistaken for “bubotuber pus.” For “owlet’s wing” I used feathers, and for (albino) “wool of bat” I used fake spider webbing from the dollar store. The sky is the limit – just use your imagination! If you really can’t think of something to put in the bottle, then leave it empty – just spray paint the bottle or sand it so it’s opaque and no-one will be the wiser. If the idea of someone picking it up and realizing it is too light/empty bothers you (or maybe I’m the only one neurotic enough for that to bother), put some plain water or some rice in it to give it some weight.

You’re almost done! All you have to do now is seal the containers. For the bottles, I mostly just put a cork in it and tied the neck with some twine or ribbon to give it a little something extra. The jars were a little more challenging, since they were printed and colorful with their original advertising on them. At first, I was going to mod-podge them with brown paper and distress it to look like parchment. After doing that on one though, I decided that method took too long – I am not a patient woman, and waiting for glue to dry was not something I wanted to do. Rummaging around in my craft studio yielded the perfect solution though. First I covered the lid with small torn up pieces of regular beige masking tape to mimic the look of old paper and cover up the advertising. Then, I distressed them with the same ink I used on the labels to make them look dusty and old. Finally, I layered some fabric netting I got on clearance last year after Halloween over the tops and tied the whole thing up with leather cord and ribbon. This is similar to the fabric I used. The final step was creating the look of wax dripping down the bottles. A little strategically placed hot glue proved the perfect solution. After it dried completely, I took acrylic paint and painted over it to color it red, black, or gold. For the gold I actually used the same sharpie markers I drew on my walls with here.

You’re done! Stand back and admire your work, ladies and gents. If you want to me juuuust like me, you can squeal a little and hop around the room clapping with childish delight, but this is completely optional. I chose to split the bottles up into two groupings – one for the mantle and one on a thrifted silver tray in the dining room. Of course, you don’t have to make nearly as many as I did – I got a bit carried away. Three or four would be perfectly sufficient, and would take much less time to do with the same exact effect. Make sure to comment if you have any questions, and let me know if you try it out – I’d love to see your handiwork! Also, come back tomorrow for another (3 days in a row! woo!) tutorial on the fall mantle hurricanes.

Till next time,


Download your free Halloween printable here!


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Halloween Potion Labels by Circa1932 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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**this post contains affiliate links – this means that if you buy something through one of the links included here, I might make a (teeny tiny) commission. This commission has absolutely NO IMPACT on the price you pay (it would be the same price if you found it on your own) – it merely is a thank-you from the seller to me for directing you to their product!

Happy Fall, Y’all!!

Well, fall is officially here.  Everywhere I look, mother nature is putting on a show, workin’ it in shades of crimson, gold, and orange.  This is one of my favorite times of the year – I count down the days will the sky is that perfect crisp blue and there are piles of leaves to kick and play in on my walks with the fuzz (her real name is Isabelle, but we almost never call her that, haha!).  Even on days like today, when it’s rainy and glum outside, I love to curl up under a blanket with a cup of coffee, a fire, and a good book – it just feels right somehow.

Of course, today I am tackling the mountain of laundry (seriously, it’s taller than me) piled up in my guest room, so no coffee-and-blanket-pottery-barn-fantasies for me.  However, though I may have to tackle laundry in my real life, in the blog world I can pretend I get to spend all day looking at the mantle all decked out for fall.  And while I’m pretending, I might as well imagine I am sharing both the fire and a cup of coffee with a friend.  So come and join me – would you like one sugar or two?

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (follow the links to do so if you haven’t already!), then you caught a sneak peek last week, but here’s the full reveal for you.  I will be posting tutorials (with photos – I remembered this time!) for the gilded pumpkins, the wreath and the glass hurricanes later this week and early next, so make sure to come back for those as well.

Here she is – isn’t she a beauty?

DIY fall mantle
pardon the poor lighting – it’s a glum day!


As usual, there were several DIY projects.  The wreath, gilded pumpkins, luminaries, and hurricanes were all little projects I did specifically for this season.  As usual, I included a mirror behind the wreath – it just helps to open up the room and add depth to the whole look.  Someday, I am going to do something with that wall over the fireplace, but I haven’t decided exactly what yet, so it will have to wait.  It is especially pretty at night – the luminaries glow and there is a flameless candle in each hurricane as well.

Here a few more pictures:

DIY fall mantle with gold pumpkins and bookcase wreath

DIY gold pumpkins

fall bookpage wreath DIY

Overall, I am happy with how things came out.  Plus, the whole project cost me less than $20.00!  Can’t beat that.

Till next time,