Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Compendium of Curiosities iii, Challenge 14 - Steampunk Christmas Hot Air Balloon

It's challenge #14 over at the Compendium of Curiosities III Challenge on the Studio L3 blog by Linda Ledbetter and the fabulous Curiosity Crew!!!  I have participated in every challenge so far and it's been a blast! For Challenge 14 we are creating a project using the Tim Holtz Colored Crackle technique found on page 53 of Compendium of Curiosities 3 by Tim Holtz. Challenge 14 is sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique, with additional prizes donated by Tim Holtz and Mario Rossi!

Holy Steam-punk Crackle! I'm just saying that this project turned out to be a spectacular contraption. It was fun, inexpensive, and a joy to create! A lot simpler than it looks.

The Paper Mache Ornament speaks!
Have you ever had a project experience where the project practically makes itself? It was so easy and a joy to create. It all started when I saw a paper mache ornament blank at Hobby Lobby. I liked the shape of it while walking by the Christmas crafts display. No big deal. THEN all-of-a-sudden the blank ornament called out to me and spoke!!! "Vic, I am a steampunk Christmas hot-air balloon, please fulfill my destiny"!!! So who am I to argue with an inanimate object that only cost $2.00? "Oh, and Vic, I must also have a vintage Santa in my basket, and crochet snowflake propellers." So I was like, OK inanimate object, I have the skills, I think...so I purchased the paper mache ornament!!! So this project is not just a Compendium of Curiosity iii Project, but is the mystical fulfillment of the steam punk wish of a paper mache blank ornament who wanted to become a fantastical steam-punk Christmas flying contraption!!!

Mini gears
For the balloon gears I used the Memory Box gearworks border die and an inexpensive piece of craft foam. I glued the foam gears to the balloon section randomly. I'm just saying, I wish there was a Tim Holtz mini-gear strip die that I could have used that would produce tons of various small sizes of gears that we could cut out of craft foam for limitless and inexpensive steam punk projects. (Hint-Hint). I'm just saying...wouldn't that be a cool die to have.

The Balloon
I painted the balloon with distress paint using a mixture of aged mahogany and festive berries. I also used tarnished brass, and brushed pewter. You can see the painted crackle technique on the metal-looking parts of the balloon, but you have to have Tim's book to find out how to do the technique.

I antiqued over the gears with a dark brown antiquing medium, distress paint would have worked, but I don't have any dark brown. I glued on some scrapbook paper and embellishments I already had in my stash of Christmas embellishment goodies. The rivets are just punched out of craft foam with a regular size hole punch, and a 1/8" hole punch, then glued on. So easy! Those are Tim Holtz Idea-ology memo pins that I pushed into the paper mache with a little glossy accents to hold the chains. The balloon chains are Tim Holtz Idea-ology swivel clasps.

The Propeller
I made the propeller out of cereal-box-like cardboard and I just drew the propeller freehand, cut it out, and glued it to a cardboard ring made from the same cardboard. The rivets are craft foam punched with a 1/8 hole punch. I just glued on the dots with glossy accents. Then I painted the propeller with distress paint, red, then pewter. I also used the crackle technique. I kept touching the propeller before it was dry, oops, which ended up making the propeller ring look like corroded metal. Excellent goof up!

The basket
I don't know what the basket was originally. I think it was the cardboard center of a roll of Christmas ribbon for presents. I had been using it as an egg-holder to dry some paper mache eggs I painted last spring. Now it's the hot air balloon basket. I glued on more gears and painted the same as the balloon. I punched some holes to wire up the Rudolph cutout and the back propeller.
The rudolph is a masonite cutout from Retro Art Cafe that I purchased last year. They have very cool stuff that you won't be able to resist, just a warning if you visit their website! Last Christmas I planned to make lots of projects, but instead ended up helping out with a new grand-baby. Fair trade!

The Vintage Santa is a Christmas comic book cover image. Santa was a little too bright, so I toned him down with watered down distress paint and distress ink.

The propeller is a steam punk crocheted snowflake I made stacked on a pin, along with a metal propeller. I poked the pin into a skewer stick (baking isle at grocery store). The stick split so I repaired it with tissue tape and painted it. There is a tiny cork to separate the propellers. They both spin which I am proud of.

Steampunk crochet snowflakes
I learned how to crochet as a child, so crochet is easy for me. This project called for a steam punk crochet snowflake propeller so I invented one. I actually crocheted onto a Tim Holtz Idea-ology gear. I will give instructions in case you already know how to crochet and are interested. If you do not know how to crochet and must have a steampunk snowflake, I will create a youtube tutorial but I might have to post it later as it's not finished. I'll add the link to this post when I finish it.
Here's a snowflake I made that I didn't use.

Here's the basic idea until I finish the patterns.
First you get a Tim Holtz gear of the size that you want for the center of your snowflake.
Then you crochet the snowflake onto the gear with #10 crochet cotton string and a No 7/1.65mm steel crochet hook. The snowflake will be all floppy and won't look that good. Now you get about a 12 x 12 piece of cardboard and cover it with plastic wrap. Have some non-rusting pins handy. I've used T-pins before, and regular sewing pins, but you will get glue on them so don't use any pins you care about. Then you coat the snowflake with decoupage glue, or craft glue with a little water. I painted mine on with a paintbrush. Now pin the snowflake down to the plastic wrap covered cardboard into the shape you want. Once it's all pinned into place and wet with glue, you can sprinkle mica glitter onto the snowflake. Let the snowflake dry overnight. In the morning you can remove the pins and you will have a perfectly stiff snowflake with a gear in the center

I had so much fun making this Steampunk Christmas contraption and I think you will too. Give it a shot. If anyone is interested in making one, let me know, and I will give more instructions. It was one of those projects that spoke to me and makes me feel all Christmas inside!

I'm working on making some patterns for the steampunk snowflakes if anyone is interested let me know. It's hard to explain but if anyone is interested I'll make a pattern and youtube video tutorial later. I'm waiting on a tripod I'm borrowing so I can film it.

Pattern for large snowflake top of balloon propeller: To be continued...only if anyone is interested.

Pattern for medium snowflake top of balloon propeller: To be continued...only if anyone is interested.

Pattern for small snowflake basket propeller: To be continued...only if anyone is interested.

Thanks for checking out my invention!
My Steampunk Christmas balloon will be Merrily hanging from my kitchen light fixture floating above my kitchen table until Christmas!


  1. Wow Vic, I love it! I love steam punk but how to get it into Christmas?? You did it perfectly. I would like the snowflake pattern please, I can crochet. I keep going back to look at all the parts of the balloon. Thanks for the inspiration! x

  2. I love it! Makes me wish I could crochet!

  3. Holy cow! This is simply amazing, Vic! I love everything about it, but mostly the sheer brilliance of transforming the paper mache ornament into this steampunk whimsical wonder!

  4. Vic, this is scrumtrulescent!! (That's a Will Ferrell word I save for things are truly scrumtrulescent.) I love the collected and selected items you've used for all your details, the way that your colored crackle enhances your steampunk balloon, the gears and crochet elements. Awesome!! Congratulations on creating some brilliant art here! Thanks for your thoughtful comment on my blog. <3

  5. Holy steampunk crackle is right! This is amazing!!! I LOVE every bit!!! Your crackle is perfect and all the goods you use ROCK!!!!!! Thank you so much for playing along with us on the Colored Crackle challenge at CC3Challenge!!!!

  6. That is an amazing project! I'm so intrigued with your steampunk snowflakes--great idea to put a gear in the middle like that. I'm running for my book of crocheted snowflakes now and must get busy!

  7. Amazing! Must run in the family! ;)

  8. What a great project! I love the idea of using a paper mache ornament for the balloon. Awesome!

  9. Thud. Rubbing my sore chin as I pick it up off the floor. Wow, and wow and wow again. I'm so glad you listened to that voice in the craft store. Thanks so much for sharing this with us at CC3C!

  10. Vic...this is off the hook amazing! OH MY GOSH!!! Your creativity is just boundless, isn't it? You have magically transformed that ordinary paper mache ornament into a truly beautiful, imaginative, stunning work of art! Your steampunk Christmas flying contraption is just so so special! Thanks for all of the photos and steps you shared with all of us at CC3C. <3 Candy. Amazing!

  11. Okay...just picked myself off the floor...Ummm...Holy Santa Claus! This is just amazing!!! I don't think I even have words! WoW...thanks so much for sharing with us at CC3C!!!!

  12. oh my goodness Vic, this is so completely awesome! I am glad you listened to the ornament. ;-) And I agree that a mini gear strip die would be WONDERFUL!!! Someone's people somewhere need to get on that lol.

  13. Just came over from CC3C to have a closer look. This is absolutely stunning, I cannot stop looking at it and marveling at this beautiful steampunk hot air balloon - stunning, stunning!! This is something I really must try....

  14. Steampunk love!! This is awesome! Love, love, love it! Keep it up! And congratulations too!

  15. Wow Vic, you are so very creative! I love your steampunk Christmas creation, it's wonderful! Congratulations on your win over at CC3C!


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