Christmas Decorations from Roadside Weeds

   About 15 years ago I noticed  these thistle like weeds growing along road sides.   I saw possibilities.   I  watched them to see if  they turned into fluff like most thistles do.   Happily I noticed they seemed to dry in tact.

The next fall I collected a large pile of them.   After a month in the stock room I noticed they dropped

tiny black seeds, which were easily shook out of them.   I painted them metallic gold and featured them on a Christmas tree in the shop.   During the open house that year I was informed that they are called teasel.

Three years ago I noticed a spiked weed.  It had fuzzy leaves and

stems and in the spring the spikes were covered in little yellow

flowers.   Watching them again in the field, I saw that they dried

well and didn't make a mess.

That fall I not only painted them gold, I also put glitter on them.

The glittered spikes were well received in the shop that Christmas season.  No one has been able so far to give me the name of these


Spiked plant with leaves  

If you continue to follow my blog I will be showing how I use these weeds in christmas decorating including a "lodge" Christmas tree and mantle.

I thought you would enjoy seeing how I process them.

This is a list of what you will need:

  1. Wallpaper border adhesive or "Tacky glue"
  2. Spray cans of high gloss paint
  3. Metallic gold and/or silver spray paint   
  4. Wire brush
  5. Paint brush
  6. Large pieces of cardboard
  7. Latex gloves
  8. Jars of loose glitter                                                                                                                                                                       

When you go out to collect the teasel you might want to wear gloves.   The stems are prickly.   This year I realized that a wire brush is good to clean the dead dry leaves off the Spike plant.   Use the wire brush to clean the stems while outside.

If you have ever painted dried plants gold and it seemed to take an inordinate amount of paint, its because you did not


 them first.   If they are not


 with oil based paint, they soak up the metallic paint.

Use high gloss oil spray paint -Red for Gold -Blue for Silver- to seal the weeds.   The higher the gloss on paint the more oil in it.

To save paint, lay all the teasel or spikes in a pile on the cardboard box material.

Put on your latex gloves.

Hold each stalk individually close to the pile as you spray to cover as much as possible in the red or blue paint.   By spraying this way the over spray will also start to paint the ones behind the one you are spraying.

Teasel and spikes to the left painted Red for Gold

On the right painted Blue for Silver

When the gloss oil paint is dry to the touch, the metallic paint can be sprayed the same way the red and blue paint was applied.

You can stop at this point if you want and use the items as they are.

Plants after metallic gold and silver paint is applied.

Apply Glitter

In the past I have tried spray glues and spray glitter unsuccessfully.  Last year I had great success with

a slightly watered down :"Tacky glue."  This year I used

wallpaper border adhesive

 and like it even better.

After the metallic paint is dry, use a paint brush to apply the glue.   Put it on


 !   It dries clear and won't

show.  You can brush the spikes.   The teasel stems are more delicate, however  so hold the heads against the cardboard and "dab" the glue on.

Brush glue on spikes - dab on teasel

What I like about the border glue is that you don't have to wait for it to "tack  up."   You can apply the glitter immediately.

Applying Silver Glitter

Put on the latex gloves again.     Pour some glitter into your gloved hand.   Pat or squeeze the glitter on.

Doing it this way waste less glitter than sprinkling it on.   I have also found that less glitter falls off when the glue dries.  Keeping some medium weight paper under your work allows you to save and reapply a lot of the glitter that falls.   Areas where you can't actually press or pat on the glitter will require some sprinkling.

Spike with silver glitter

Teasel and spikes with silver glitter

Gold glitter

I hope you find this useful and fun.      In the next week or so I will show these things used in Christmas decorations.

Please let me know what you think and please tell your friends about my blog.

Bill Gantt

Master Bedroom with Cathedral Ceiling

My most recent project was decorating a Master Bedroom.  The client had already had  the paint effect done on the walls and ceiling.  While it may not have been the color I would have chosen as a decorator it was my responsibility to make the room look good.

Fortunately the furniture was a light finish.  That in combination with the light carpet helped to keep the space from becoming overwhelmingly gloomy.

The feature in the room is the dramatic height and the ceiling line.   I chose fabrics that would not only tie in with the brownish wall color but also contrast enough to give the room a much needed focal point.

As with every job three design sketches were presented.

My client selected the sketch on the left.

Fabrics were selected to tie in with the wall and ceiling color but also contrast enough to  bring some much needed color and interest into the room.




The canopy is eleven feet above the floor and gives the room drama and focus.

Two crossed gold arrows hold the center swag and create a neoclassic effect.

The angle of the gold arrow holding the swag and jabot treatments emphasizes the ceiling lines.


The canopy and window treatments lift the eye and the spirits providing the much needed focal point for the room.

The pillow shams are made with custom stripes and have a different pattern on the back to allow the client to make minor changes day to day.





Against the headboard a soft extra large sham with the client's initials quilted on one side and a geometric pattern quilted on the other, covers the client's sleeping pillows.

The next set of shams have the solid green silk side shown here.  On the back of those is a custom made stripe .

The smallest shams are showing the side made of custom converging stripe.  The stripe contains a stripe from the dust skirt fabric,Dark green velvet of the canopy frame, green silk and a lighter velvet that will cover a loveseat in the room.

The small round pillow with the main fabric completes the bed.


Here the shams are turned front to back showing one set with a custom made strip and the front set in dark green velvet with birds from the main fabric applied to them.


It was a wonderful job.   Hope you enjoyed this presentation.


A blog showing how to make the canopy frame will follow

Bill Gantt






2015 Harrisburg Symphony Decorator Show House is Over

Just like the circus, the show is over and the tent must come down.  Judging by the number of cards I gave out attendance must have been very good.  Hopefully a few will become new clients.  

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Now it is time to take it down and bring it back to the studio.  This picture shows almost all the items made in my studio for the show house.  Starting at the top, painted wooden cornice,windsor valance,drapes with my "go to hell" tiebacks, french chair, (far left)"jewel box ottoman",settee,bolster pillow, diagonal stripe pillow,round pillow with woven strip center and the very well received "explosion pillow"

For the record here are the professional pictures of the room.

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Settee with fringed throw,original stripe design made from two Robert Allen fabrics, "jewel box ottoman and in the background the "lightening bolt" pillow.

 French chair covered in Robert Allen "Etched Velvet"  original pillow design and original designed "Jewel Box " ottoman

French chair covered in Robert Allen "Etched Velvet"  original pillow design and original designed "Jewel Box " ottoman

I appreciate all the work of the Symphony volunteers iun putting this Show House together.  I look forward to participating again in 2018

Progress Report #5, Harrisburg Symphony Decorator Show House

Progress is steady.  Last week all the fabrication on drapes and pillows was completed.  This Monday the raw furniture frames arrived from California.   I primed them the same day.

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Over the next three days I did the decorative finish including gold leaf accents.

This morning the foam arrived and next week I will begin the upholstery process.

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In the meantime I am sewing the stripes in to the velvet that will cover the settees.

On the wall hangs the wooden cornice and Windsor Valance ready for installation.

How to make a "Gantt Jewel Box Ottoman.


Project Report #5.  Harrisburg Symphony Decorator Show House

This week's fabrication for the Library was spent mainly on making 4 "Jewel Box" ottomans, one for each set of book shelves.

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A design sketch and materials estimate was completed.

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Hard wood pieces were curt, pre drilled and assembled with wood glue and drywall screws.

Here the frame is complete and outside finish panels have been cut from 1/4" ply board.

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A dark color cotton duck is stretched over the frame.  Fabric strips in 2 shades of blue are cut 3" wide to be pressed and turned to create 1" finish strips.

Before the weaving begins three layers of fiber bat are cut to the shape of the cutouts in the 1/4" ply board finish panels.  These are attached to the green duck covering to line up with the opening in the finish panels.  This will assure that the woven part will be padded only where it shows and not add extra thickness behind the finish panel.

To weave the strips first stretch and staple all the horizontal strips.  But the edges together.  After they are all attached weave the vertical strips and staple.

When the weaving is complete it is time to stretch and staple the webbing on the top.  Again so as not to add bulk where the finish panels will be attached., the webbing is stapled to the top of the frame not on the sides.

A piece of 2 1/2 to 3' medium density foam is cut 1" larger than the dimentions of the frame top.  Spot staple it through the sides to the frame top.

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A layer of furniture poly bat is large enough to cover the top an about half of the sides.

Center the top fabric.  Staple a side in the middle. Then staple the opposite side in the same place.  Repeat the process on the top and bottom.  When you are satisfied with the amount you are pulling the top fabric.  Begin stretching and stapling the top fabric much like stretching a  canvas.   Side to side and top to bottom.  Finishing at the corners.

I used foam adhesive to attach the velvet.  The results were not as good as I hoped.  Next time I will attach it with 1/4" staples.

Cut out the center of the space leaving about 2" around the sides.  Now cut relief cuts into all corners and at rounded parts.   Cut the fabric all the way into the wood.  Pull the fabric tight being especially careful to see that corners are tight and staple

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When all the panels are covered it is time to cover 3/8"  and 1/4"  cording.  The 3/8" is to be stapled to the frame to finish the top of the finish panels when they are attached.

The 1/4" cord is to trim the edges of the center design of the finish panels.

Begin on an inside corner.  Cut the cording back under the fabric about 1".  Attach the cord so that the fabric covers the corner but the actual cord inside is 1/4" in from the corner.  

This will allow space for the cord to fit when finishing. 

Position the cord so that the thickness of the cord is aligned with the edge  of the finish panel.  When you reach the beginning point cut the covered cord about 1" longer than ther stopping point.  Strip the cover back and cut the cord so that it will fit neatly into the 1/4" space saved for it.   Staple the fabric in place.

Use small finish nails to attach the finish panels to the outside.  A silk rosette and rhinestone ad the elegant final touch.