Vintage Valentine Paperweights

With Valentine's Day less than three weeks away, it's the perfect time to add a sentimental touch of romance (or schoolhouse puppy love) to your desk with a vintage Valentine Paperweight.  If you don't have any old Valentine's Day cards at hand, check with a local antique shop to see if they have a selection available.

I had the luxury of sorting through a few boxes of old Valentine's Day cards earlier this month and chose three simple, die-cut cards (pictured above) for these projects.  Choose cards with fun graphics that will fit well within the display area of your paperweight.

Important note:  Vintage cards can be very delicate, so be especially careful.  A coating that makes some cards shiny may also craze when the paper is bent.

To My Sweetheart
The first paperweight was created by cutting out the artwork on the Valentine's card.  I used a metallic paper background that shimmers when the light catches it.  This color of the paper (Blue Steel) compliments the dark blue bow in the little girl's hair.  It's also a nice backdrop for the red heart.

I used a glue stick to apply the card to the background.

Puppy Love
I'm a little heartbroken about this paperweight because I accidentally destroyed it when I attempted to change the background (note the earlier warning about the fragility of clear coatings).

The background is a soft shade of green.  I later realized it should have been blue to resemble a sky over the fence (duh!).  Plan B was to replace the green paper with a photo of a sky and clouds I tore out of a magazine.  It would have looked perfect. (Emphasis on would have.)

St. Valentine Greet to You!
I chose this card because I love the floral dress and huge, oversize bows. All little girls should have such a dress.  Don't you agree?

My goal with this design was to take a die-cut card and place it on a background that would make it look as though it wasn't die-cut at all.  I chose a piece of scrapbook paper in a yellow baroque pattern that really brought it all together.


Wedgwood Cabochon Paperweight

Sorting through mountains of costume jewelry is like therapy for me.  If you have the time and patience for it, I'd highly recommend it.  Just mind the brooches.  Getting poked by sharp pin is no fun at all.

The Wedgwood cabochon I used for this project came from the heap of costume jewelry pictured below.  It's a nice piece that set me back $2.00, a bargain for any fan of Wedgwood Jasperware.

Most cabochons sold by jewelry suppliers and craft store are made of resin.  This is why I prefer to go vintage.  Not only is the quality much higher, there are also so many gorgeous designs out there to choose from.  You can also choose to leave a cabochon in it's metal frame, or gently pry it out.  Just keep in mind that everything has to fit inside the recessed area on the bottom of your paperweight.

For this project I used a Round paperweight kit.  I also cut a small piece of paper from my "Old World Stack" book by DCWV.  I chose a cream colored baroque pattern that didn't distract from the Wedgwood blue.

After applying the paper to the round mounting board that was included in the paperweight kit, I trimmed the paper to fit.  The piece of Wedgwood was mounted directly to the background with tacky glue.

Once the glue dried completely, the paperweight was finished by placing the mounting board, Wedgwood side down, into the recessed area on the bottom of the paperweight.  A piece of self-adhesive velvet, also included in the paperweight kit, was applied over the base of the paperweight to finish.


First Prize at the County Fair!

Today's paperweight showcases a few items that were bundled together in an old scrapbook album I purchased.  I really love the look of vintage paper, especially when it's a bit tattered.  It really lends a lot of interest to to paperweight by creating depth, texture, and age.  This is why I often refer to PhotoWeights as little shadowboxes you keep on your desk.

The items I used are pictured above.  Because of the size and depth of paper and button combined, I used the Large Rectangle paperweight kit.  All the items related to the Freeborn County Fair in Albert Lea, MN.  There's an entry form that includes a list of canned goods a woman entered in the fair, as well as an entry tag that was attached to one of the items.  (Don't you love old hang tags with string?).  The button is covered with blue, silken fabric that's imprinted in gold.  It's stunning when the light hits it!

I overlapped the entry form and the entry ticket and stapled them together.  Because these items were fairly thin, I was easily able to pin the button through them.  (I had considered removing the pin from the back of the button so I could glue the button directly to the tag.  After giving it some thought, I realized this would have made it look too staged.)  Pinning the button through the paper gave the paper more shape.  The sharp end of the pin also looks great.

The mounting board, included with the paperweight kit, was covered with vintage-inspired scrapbook paper. (See photo above.)

After the display items were grouped together, they were applied to the mounting board with glue.  (See photo above.)  The string attached to the hang tag was also secured with glue to prevent it from moving freely within the paperweight.

Once the glue dried completely, the paperweight was finished by placing the mounting board (display items attached) face-down into the recessed area on the bottom of the paperweight.  A velvet pad, also included with the paperweight kit, was applied over the bottom of the paperweight to keep everything in place.

I hope this project will inspire you to find design possibilities in a variety of items that may otherwise end up being discarded.

What kind of cast-off items do you enjoy working with?  Better yet, send us a photo a of "Junk Drawer" paperweight you've created.  We'd love to share your designs.


Antique Puzzle Game Paperweights

Because hand-held, antique puzzle games are getting more and more difficult to find, I was thrilled to come across this Old Funny Face game from the 1920s for just $1.00.  It's a simple piece that includes a man's profile printed on a paper board, less the line for his nose.  In place of his nose, there's a metal chain that can be moved to form different shapes.

This puzzle, I thought, would make a perfect paperweight.  Not only do I love the simple, vintage graphics, I also love the fact that the game can still be played within the paperweight.

I chose the Heirloom Rectangle paperweight kit for this project because has enough of a recess to allow the chain to move freely.  It was also large enough for the card to fit with only a slight trim.

Because the card wasn't large enough to cover the entire mounting board, I applied black paper to the paperweight kit's mounting board.  The next step was to apply the card to the mounting board with tacky glue. (The finished mounting board is pictured above.)

Once the glue dried completely, the mounting board (game attached) was placed face-down into the bottom recess of the paperweight.  The velvet bottom pad, also included with the paperweight kit, was applied over the base of the paperweight to secure.


Finding Inspiration in the Bottom of a Junk Box

On the third Sunday of each month, you can usually find me pulling my vintage shopping cart through the aisles of the Long Beach Antique Market in Long Beach, California.  This time I was on the lookout for old Valentine's Day cards.  I also came across a few bags filled with other goodies that I'm sure will take me a couple hours to sort through.

If you create paperweights to sell in your shop or sell on Etsy, and occasionally have a difficult time dreaming up new designs, it's easy to find inspiration in boxes filled with miscellaneous trinkets and baubles.  Some dealers even specialize in selling odds-and-ends and have them categorized into groups such as scrabble letters, pinbacks, poker chips, tie clips, wooden bingo card markers, watch faces, etc.

You'll be surprised how many design ideas you can get just by looking through a box of junk.

This week I'll post several paperweight designs I create using items I found in Long Beach last weekend.


Glass Dragonfly Paperweight with Script Background

Whenever I find myself at Michaels, I spend the longest time looking through their selection of charms and pendants.  With so many to choose from, it's hard to limit myself to just two or three.

Some of my favorite pendant designs are by Bead Landing, a brand exclusive to Michaels.  Deco Chic, Bead Corner, and Industrial Chic are a few other lines with unique, interesting pieces.

It's easy to design a paperweight around a pendant.  The most difficult hurdle is choosing one that will fit your paperweight's display area, especially the depth.  Here's a tip...  Bring your paperweight to the store with you so you can see exactly how the pendant will look under glass.

The silver dragonfly paperweight was simple to assemble and cost just $5.50 for materials, in addition to the cost of the paperweight kit.  Here's how it was made:

Materials (above):  Deco Chic dragonfly pendant (Item #DC19923-101, Hirschberg Schutz & Co., Inc.), Script Cream scrapbook paper (Recollections, Michaels Stores), Dome Paperweight Kit (PhotoWeights).  You'll also need a hot melt glue gun.

Cover the round, self-adhesive mounting board (included in the paperweight kit) with a small piece of the scrapbook paper.  When finished, trim any paper that extends beyond the edge of the board.  Apply the pendant directly to the paper with hot melt glue.

Once the glue is has cooled, place the mounting board in the center of the adhesive-side of the bottom pad (also included in the paperweight kit).  Press gently around the pendant to ensure a tight bond.

After you've cleaned your paperweight with streak-free glass cleaner, finish by applying the bottom pad to the base of the paperweight.  Press along the outside edge to secure.

If you're into vintage, try using antique ephemera in place of the scrapbook paper.  A vintage postcard or advertising would make an excellent background. Be on the lookout for buttons, tokens, and pieces of antique jewelry to complete the look.  I recommend browsing through boxes of small, inexpensive baubles at antique shops and swap meets.  You never know what you'll find!


Wallpaper Paperweights Made With Scraps and Samples

I'm often asked about the types of items that can be used to create easy paperweights as gifts that look as though they came out of an elegant boutique.  Wallpaper is among my favorite things to recommend.

Wallpaper is available in an endless variety of designs, textures, and colors.  In addition to current patterns and reproductions, it's also possible to find samples from each decade dating back more than a century.  Turning these vintage scraps into paperweights is a wonderful way to save and display these printed treasures.
If you're shopping for patterns in the store, and don't want to purchase a full roll, ask the clerk if it would be possible to order a sample.  If you have your heart set on something truly vintage, I'd recommend Ebay.  While vintage paper may turn up at tag sales from time-to-time, Ebay will likely have hundreds of listings for you to choose from.


What's Your Resolution for 2012? Create a Paperweight to Help You Stay Focused on Your Goals

Is this your year to travel abroad?

The new year has always been a time to look back on the past and resolve to make changes for the coming year.  For many of us, staying focused on these goals can be a challenge.

Whether you've resolved to get organized, drop a few extra pounds, or learn something new, you'll have fun creating a motivational paperweight that will help you stay on track.

You don't have to put an incredible amount of time into designing your paperweight.  Here are a few examples:

  • Drop 25 pounds for an exotic trip abroad:
    Your paperweight design can be as simple as the number "25" in a stylish font, or a photo of your summer vacation destination.

  • Change Careers:
    Would you like to make a career change 2012?  Have fun personalizing a paperweight with your name and dream job title.

  • Learn to Speak French:
    Many things can encourage a person to learn a new language.  Perhaps your dream is to travel the French countryside or learn the art of French cooking.  Create a design that tells your story.

Having a motivational paperweight on your desk will act as a reminder of things you've set out to accomplish this year so you can stay focused on your goals.  Afterall, isn't this half the battle?