Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bronze-aged sea stars

I found these pretty white china bisque votive holders shaped like starfish, or sea stars, as we're supposed to call them, at Christmas Tree Shops. With typical Christmas Tree value, they were just $1.69 each. All together, now: "Don't you just l-o-v-e a bargain?"

By the way, did you know the Christmas Tree Shops started in the 1970s, right here on Cape Cod? It was a small grouping of a house, a barn and outbuildings (hence shops) on meandering little Route 6A in Yarmouthport. The owners used to come down to the Cape with their small children to run the store, which was open on weekends only. In time, they opened stores all over the Cape, then in a few other Massachusetts locations before selling the business to Bed & Bath about five years ago. The distribution warehouse has moved, and the little complex on Route 6A closed down recently, and it's a sad end to an era. The family is lovely, and Mrs. Christmas Tree and her husband are still very active in giving to the Cape Cod community.

Anyway, back to the stars. I thought they were lovely, just as is, and they had a rough, unglazed texture that would add nicely to a tone on tone white and light beige look. The thing is, I'd watched an episode of Martha Stewart in which her guest showed her how to Antique an old Norwegian clock, and I was itching to, err,  blacken an object. I got home from work, and saw the stars, and though, "Maybe I'll add a little something." As it turned out, I added a little something, then, a little something more, and, well, here's the result.

What do you think?

Here's my tutorial for starfish that look like they were just raised from the deep, deep sea:

Sea Stars
from Jude at

Supplies you need:
2-3 shades of
brown and black craft paint

Wood stain
(I used Homer Formby's wiping stain in walnut)

Rub 'n Buff wax metallic finish in
Autumn gold

Equipment you need:
Rubber gloves (you'll see why)

Paint brush (sponge is fine)


Paper towels

Here are the products I used in the  "studio" aka the side of the old gas grill.
Yup, I'm a real neat worker, as you can see...

Step One:
Paint star roughly with a light coat of brown (I started with sienna).Do not cover completely, or worry about getting into every crack. While still wet, dip wet rag in a different shade of paint. This time, aim to cover the crevices and indentations.



Step Two:
Let paint dry a bit, and, using dry rag and Rub 'n Buff, 
dab and highlight the parts that stick up and along the edges,
then wipe off or add on to your taste. 
Are you thinking it would be a good idea to wear rubber gloves for this part of the process?
You are so right.
No, really, I mean that, from the very bottom of my copper-stained fingertips.

The Autumn gold surprised me by how coppery it was, but I liked it. I seem to have the same problem with Rub 'n Buff that I have with nail polish, in that I always buy the same color. I had THREE tubes of Antique gold (and I have three dozen bottles of pale pink nail polish, but that's another post.).

Step Three:
Let dry again, thoroughly this time. Dip new rag in wood stain, and scour piece again, covering much of metallic, again to your liking. For a nice effect, make sure you wipe the bottom edges of the star arms, and the upper edge of the votive indentation. I ran a cotton swab along the edges.

I'm really happy with them!

Here they are on a chest in my living room.

The original white starfish were charming, but this process gave them an ancient look, like something that's glowing at the bottom of the sea. When it's dark, the metallic highlights reflect the candlelight with a gorgeous glow. The new stars also pick up the copper of my lamp, so I'm delighted with how they look on the chest next to the big Florida shell my Nonna always kept on her coffee table -- which also has a nice alabaster shine.

You know what?  I think I like blackening!
Are you visiting me from one of these fabulous places? Well, gee, thanks -- and how sweet of you to come!

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  1. Love the starfish!!! Great idea!!! I miss the "old" Christmas Tree Shop...We used to go to the one in Orleans when we had a house in Wellfleet. It was always a huge adventure!! Even though it has changed a lot over the years it is a wonderful memory. TFS!!!

  2. Terrific look, and yet another use for Rub 'n Buff! I'd love to show photo on our Facebook page, and link from there and on Twitter. Let me know if that's ok.

  3. These look amazing! I love the texture the color creates.

  4. those are awesome!
    I love the color...


  5. Oh I like! The colour makes the candles pop even more. Pretty!

    Thanks for linking up to SNS!
    FJ Donna

  6. I just stumbled across your blog. I love it when that happens. I so miss The Christmas Tree Shops! Very cute project.
    I'm going to follow your blog, so I can vist 'home' once in a while!

  7. Your sea stars look fabulous! I love just about anything with a little shimmer!

  8. These turned out fabulous! I love the new color! Great painting technique. Thanks so much for joining The Sunday Showcase. I greatly appreciate it! Hope you are enjoying your week! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  9. I see a trip to the Christmas Tree shops in my near future! Beautiful makeover!


  10. Nice job. They look so ancient. I can't wait to try that rub n buff.

  11. Visiting from Anything Related Tuesday! Love your blog & this project is awesome. Would love for you to drop by my blog if you get a chance...

    Have a beachy week.

    Marie @ Sally Lee by the Sea
    "Celebrating the Coastal Lifestyle"

  12. These look really lovely. I love the CTS and go about once a week since one opened near me a year ago. I have to check and see if they have these starfish. I think I would leave them white or paint them turquoise :)

  13. What a great new look!
    Thanks for sharing @ Anything Related!


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