A Blast from the Past

So I’m at my favorite thrift store a couple days ago and what do I spot but this pretty pink craft brochure.  It’s one I used to own about 17 years ago, when my husband and I had a booth at a craft consignment mall.

I couldn’t resist buying it for the memories it evoked.  (Also, it was 29 cents.)  I made and sold many, many “petal porcelain” items back in the day, mostly baskets and picture frames.  That is, until I realized that, if I divided the profit I made on each project by the time each one took to complete, I was making approximately .04 per hour.  Because these little buggers, while very pretty and very popular, were nothing if not time-consuming to make.

The basic technique: you dip flowers and ribbons into the special “Petal Porcelain” solution and then adhere them to your object of choice.  When they’re dry (many hours later), you spray-paint the whole kit ‘n kaboodle white or off-white.  Then begins the long, painstaking process of individually painting each flower and each leaf and each bit of ribbon, using tiny brushes, while ensuring that you don’t get paint on any other portion of the object or on the adjoining flowers, leaves and ribbons.  (Yikes.)

Eventually, motivated by a desire to spend less than six hours on each project, I developed a faster, easier and less painstaking painting technique.  Instead of spraying the object white, I would use a bold color (usually blue or burgundy) and then just add a bare hint of color to the leaves and ribbons instead of attempting to completely cover them.  It was a monotone sort of effect, but it was quick and dirty and still looked pretty good.  I also came up with this really cool way to add a shimmery highlight, which basically consisted of placing the object on the ground outside and then spraying a mist of silver spray paint into the air above it.  The silver paint would float softly onto the object below, giving it just a hint of metallic sheen without obscuring the color beneath.  People constantly asked me how I did this, and – perhaps foolishly – I would tell them.  (Foolishly, because the people who asked were my competition at the consigment mall and craft shows.)  Oh, well.  I’m long done with this particular technique, though I do have one (yes, just one) souvenir from those days; a little (3″) basket that I keep in my bathroom filled with sea glass.

Come to think of it, that mirror is pretty darned cute.  I wonder if they still make that Petal Porcelain stuff?


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