Tuesday, 27 October 2009

50th Birthday - Venetian Masquerade

When I was 18 I went to my music teacher's 30th birthday party. 30 - that was ancient! I could never imagine being that old! But the years roll by.....I reached my 20th, 30th, 40th and then before I knew it the big 50th birthday loomed.

What to do? How to celebrate? Teenage daughter was also reaching a milestone birthday (18) that year so what more excuse did we need to put on 'a bit of a do?' As lovers of all things Venetian having sold masks in our Gallery for many years, and husband  painted many images of Venice it was a natural progression to put on a 'Venetian Masquerade'.

It took a while to convince 'husband'.....the expense....time to organise....'but we're not really party people!'  The break came when daughter and I  suggested that we might put on a 'cabaret as part of the evening'.  Husband is a closet actor and script writer so couldn't resist the challenge of writing and performing in a short play based on the Venetian 'Home Guard' defending ancient Venice from foreign invaders!

And so it began - a year in preparation, the invite list, the food, caterers, the cabaret rehearsals....but best of all was the time spent planning the hall and table decorations. We used all the resources we had...paintings, old italiante frames rescued from the tip and resurrected with mirror inserts, bunting, table confetti (our own made using a stamper with fleur de lis motif and red theme paper).

For me it was simply a creative outlet - so I set to using some blank papier mache venetian masks, some cardboard, a few papers, some decorative braid, gold relief paint and of course.....one of the most important pieces of equipment in the craft repertoire.......the hot glue gun! My inspiration for these masks was from a trip to Venice with friends, visiting the lovely square and church of San Barnaba, (used in the Indianna Jones movie 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade').

Just next to the 'Ponte dei Pugni' (Bridge of Punches) was a small shop crammed full of Venetian Masks in all shapes and guises. My eye was caught by a particular design, not the usual 'jingle bells' but using a flat backdrop for the 'hair' embellished with flowers and fruit designs.

When it came to creating some creating some decorations for our Venetian Masquerade - I couldn't wait to get started. I scoured the local craft and charity shops for silk flowers, shells & dried seeds. Anything that would look good on my mask designs.

Many evenings later and after some rejects, my work was complete and I had masks to put on the walls!

120 guests, cabaret, food, wine, friends and family from afar, lots of laughter. It was all worth it in the end in spite of all the work!!!

After the party I kept all the masks as a momento of happy times. They now grace various rooms in our house and remind us of the wonderful party we had to celebrate being 50!

The first day of the rest of our lives!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Knick Knack Box

Ever wondered what to do with all those little knick knacks that appear around the house? Well....we always seem to have that problem, especially with children and all the paraphernalia that goes with them. Old school badges, Cotton reels, safety pins, the contents of last year's Christmas Crackers and some spare bulbs for the fairy lights (that stopped working years ago), some hair slides, an old necklace (just needs a bit of a repair), a set of keys that no-one knows who they belong to and various electronic cables for some old phone that was decommissioned long ago. The list goes on and as the years go by the collection accumulates!

Throw it all away says husband....what! I can't do that, I'm a natural hoarder! You never know when that flashing 50th birthday badge or the pack of mini playing cards could be useful let alone the 3 amp fuse!

My solution was a mini chest of drawers from Ikea, cheap and cheerful, just right for bits and pieces and small enough to fit on the desk. Trouble is - as a blank mdf box it's not very interesting to look at. So I jazzed it up a little decoupage work using quirky animal prints and my crackle glaze technique. Now it's crammed full and husband thinks -  time to clear out and use for something else.......well....I suppose it could be useful as a craft box. But then what would I do when I need to find the spare fairy light bulb, or a badge for my friend's 50th birthday? And where would I put all the other bits and pieces that start appearing around the house that I can't bear to throw away?

NB: To decorate I used a  paper design by Roger la Borde which is sadly no longer available as far as I know.................however these people have some great animal papers for sale.


Do you know of any other animal papers suitable for decoupage? Let me know and I'll post a link onto this blog!