plaster french macaron ornaments

November 23, 2011 § 21 Comments

Whew, enough catch-up posts from me.  Now on to some serious crafting around here, as it should be!

I am in love with French macarons.  Aren’t we all?  They’re delicious.  Divine!  And so darling.  Torontonians aren’t quite blessed to have the luxury of indulging in Ladurée on any given day.  But what we do have is a handful of gourmet bakeries that serve these pretty pastel treats.  I thought it was imperative to reward myself with three last Friday, after completing my crafts for spring issues next year.  Three teeny tiny macarons for $9 is definitely not a daily splurge!  And I inhaled them too quickly.

Immediately followed was the urge to craft fake macarons for this blog.  If I can’t buy them often, at least I can pretend to always have them!

These are so simple and quick to make, in hindsight.  But it took me two days of experimentation to figure out the right technique to make them.  My challenge were the macaron “feet”.  Macarons are such a simple shape, but no two circular discs would ever do!  They’re not that simple.  Without feet, they’d look like whoopie pies.  And whoopie pies and macarons are from absolutely different leagues.

I’ve seen some faux macarons online made of molded clay.  There are molds available that let you make your own polymer and paper clay macarons at home.  Tempting!  But I thought: $5 for a mold, anywhere between $10-30 for expensive paper clay in an assortment of colors (if I want to make plenty), shipping, handling, duty (and shipping duties in Canada are sky high)…it can be costly!

There has got to be a way to make macaron ornaments for nearly nothing!  I figured how you can make dozens for about $5.

Can I say these faux French macarons are Parisian?  Because I made them entirely out of plaster of Paris.  And all quickly done by hand, as you would bake them.  No need to spend your money on a mold, and ordering online and all the shipping fees, etc.  All you need is plaster, a bit of paint, ribbon, and any 1-1/2″ circular object with an edge.

These instructions make 12 shells (6 macarons):

1. Take two sheets of cardboard.  Draw 2-1/4″ circles, spaced evenly.  I suggest doing 6 per sheet.

2. In a disposable cup, using a disposable spoon, mix 1/2 cup plaster + 1/4 cup water + dollop of paint.

3. Quickly spoon mixture onto carboard, staying inside the circles.  Tap the cardboard against table to even out surface.  This is where it is easier to do 6 in a sheet, so you can spoon and tap the first 6, then move on to the next 6.  Dispose of any leftover mix, disposable spoon, and cup or clean thoroughly until there are no traces of cured plaster.  You cannot mix new plaster with partly-cured/cured plaster, otherwise the combination will cease quickly.

4. Let the plaster stand and dry for about 5 minutes.  When the surface is dry, but the inside is still soft, etch the surface of the plaster using a 1-1/2″ circular object with an edge (I used a hose clamp).  Do not go all the way through.

5. Let the plaster dry until you can peel it off the cardboard easily.  If the plaster is too dry at this stage, it will stick to the cardboard.  Set discs aside to dry completely.  Break off the edges of the plaster.  The edges should be rough, as these will give the look of the macaron “feet”.

6. In clean cup with clean spoon, mix 1/2 cup plaster + 1/4 cup water + dollop of paint.

7. For each disc, quickly spoon a small dollop of mixture on the centre of the disc.  Tap to even out surface, until plaster mixture reaches the edges.  You must work quickly with each individual disc.

8. Let dry completely.

9. Cut ribbon in 5″ lengths.

10. In clean cup with clean spoon, mix 1/4 cup plaster + 1/8 cup water + dollop of paint.

11. With disc facing bottom side up, fold ribbon in half and place on disc.  Quick spoon plaster mixture over ribbon.

12. Quickly place second disc while plaster is wet, sandwiching wet plaster in between.  Let dry.

Et voila — faux macarons!

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rolled paper ornaments

November 14, 2010 § 86 Comments

I’ve been on a roll with rolling paper since I made the paper chess set for O.T. last month.  As meticulous an undertaking that was, I really enjoyed myself and couldn’t wait to apply the technique to Christmas ornaments.  These bright rolled paper ornaments are substantially simpler and make for a whimsical handmade addition to your tree.

You will need construction paper in various colors, matching ribbons, foam adhesive tape (mounting tape), double sided tape, and a bit of white glue. Check your local dollar store instead of a hardware store for the mounting tape.  I got 2 in a pack, each roll being 16 feet long.  I thought that was a steal!

1. Cut construction paper lengthwise (9″ long) in the following widths, in alternating colors: 3″, 2-3/4″, 2-1/2″, 2-1/4″, 2″, 1-3/4″, 1-1/2″, 1-1/4″, and 1″.

2. Take the widest piece and adhere mounting tape across the center.  Take 8″ of ribbon, fold, and place on the mounting tape.

3. Roll.

4. Take the second widest piece and adhere mounting tape across the center.

5. Roll.  Repeat for all pieces, going from widest, until you’ve rolled the second last piece.

6. When you get to the narrowest piece, place the mounting tape directly on the center of the ornament, and cut it about 3/4″ from where you began.  Place double sided tape where the seams will meet.  This will ensure the final seam is flat, and not raised.

7. Roll the final piece only once around and cut at the seam.

8. Take a long strip of construction paper at 1/8″ wide and quill (roll) until you get curls and cut at random lengths.  Dip the quilled strips in glue and apply across the ornament

This project is participating in Today’s Creative Blog:

christmas shopping at subtle details

November 6, 2010 § 3 Comments

This afternoon, I’m off to see my dear friend, Karen Pasieka, and her new little bundle of joy.  Karen is my muse and happens to be the very talented owner and artisan behind Subtle Details.

Li'l Décor ornaments: Trees and wreaths. Photos courtesy of Karen Pasieka, Subtle Details.

It is an inspiration every time Karen and I convene.  My love-turned-obsession for paper is understood by Karen in her equivalent passion for polymer clay.  Long, animated conversations often ensue about our latest creative endeavors.  And as always, I am captivated by the sight of every gorgeous little thing she makes out of polymer clay.  Her work is so original and delightful!

Li'l Décor ornaments: Sledding Snowmen "1st Christmas Together" and Snowman "Presents for me?". Photos courtesy of Karen Pasieka, Subtle Details

Christmas is around the corner and Karen is just the right person to meet for all the whimsical décor, trinkets, and gifts for some holiday shopping.  I wish you can have the same privilege as I do of being able to meet up with Karen in person, but if you are not in the Toronto area, you can pick up her creations at her Subtle Details Etsy Shop.  There you will find the most fun and creative ornaments, jewellery, and framed art that you’ve laid your eyes on!  You can also find her beautiful work at various retail stores across Canada.  For a full list, you can visit her website: www.subtledetails.ca

Li'l Bouquet pendants: Rose Medallion and Butterfly Blooms. Photos courtesy of Karen Pasieka, Subtle Details.

Li'l Art: "Poppies Pop!" and "Poppy". Photos courtesy of Karen Pasieka, Subtle Details.

Li'l ABC's. The Alphabet and the letter C. Karen is also happy to make custom framed names using her Li'l ABC's. Photos courtesy of Karen Pasieka, Subtle Details.

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