the barefoot budget

unconventional grit for a mindful life

2015 Christmas Craft – A Christmas Mushroom

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I present to you my 2015 Christmas craft! I’m trying to start a tradition of doing a Christmas craft every year in the month of December.I love decorating for this time of year, but often experience horrible spending anxiety. DIY-ing my decorations helps alleviate that. It’s a nice way to produce a unique, handmade decoration while spending little money. Also, I relish the experience of working on my craft next to our tree, listening to my favorite holiday music.

Last year, my craft was a painting for my grandma. This year, as you can see, I crafted a two foot tall light-up Christmas mushroom for our front yard.

I scoured the internet for laser-cut wooden mushrooms, and finally decided on this product from Diverse Woodworking. I went with the 24″ piece, which at $30 seemed a bit expensive. However, shipping was free customer service was excellent, and I am extremely satisfied. The wood has already held up wonderfully to rain.

I was dreaming of a piece for my lawn, so the first thing I did was secure a post on the back using fence rings.

Then, I began the tedious process of drilling the wholes for the lights. A lot of planning went on before this, however. First, I had to decide how many lights I would use – I settled on 50, since 50 strand lights are widely available. I used a strand as a gauge for the space between each light to sketch out how the strand would run on the backside of the piece (see below). Once I picked out the locations, I drilled using a 1/4″ bit, from back to front. I sanded the front down so it all looked smooth and nice.

The layout pattern for the lights. The next thing to do was decide what color lights I wanted, and in what order. I decided to paint the two small mushrooms green, and the large one red. I envisioned green lights in the green caps, red lights in the red cap, and white lights on the stems. Based on this, I painted the front of the mushroom.

I went a little overboard with painting, but I wanted to ensure it was perfect and would last for a long time. I primed using a white spray on primer, then painted using three different colors of “outdoor” rated acrylic paint. I did three layers of the red and green, and four layers of white. I finished everything off with a couple layers of clear, spray on sealant.

Then the nightmare began. I figured I would just buy a strand each of red, green, and white LED lights, the swap the colors out to make the correct sequence on one strand. Well, each color of light, despite being the same brand and size, had a different type of wiring. I screwed around with this for way longer than I should have, because ultimately it never worked. I had to go back to the store and buy two strands of multi color and one of white, which all had the same wiring. This worked perfectly! I went with high quality LED because I knew once I glued the lights to the wood, they weren’t going ANYWHERE. My strands were rated for 22 years.

Attaching the lights to the board was something I didn’t think through. At all. I came up with the concept, planned everything else out, then got to attaching the lights and drew a blank. I tried super glue – no dice (glue would not adhere to wood). I tried Gorilla glue – also no dice (no way to clamp for 30 minutes). I got frustrated and put the project away for a day, and when I returned the next day, I saw the the Gorilla glue had dried into this puffy, firmly attached glue donut. I spread superglue around the base of each light, and it adhered to the dried Gorilla glue! Best of all, the puffy Gorilla glue served as a tight sleeve around the light. This method secured all the lights perfectly. I got lucky on this one!

The only thing left to do was set it up outside and have a little unveiling party. I sipped Christmas tea and admired my hard work out in this 70 degree, Georgia snow weather. Boy oh boy, do I love a good mushroom 🙂

3 thoughts on “2015 Christmas Craft – A Christmas Mushroom

  1. Pingback: More Autumn Crafts | the barefoot budget

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