Sunday, November 4, 2012

Indiana Jones' Worst Nightmare

This post is a belated Halloween treat...I intended to have this post up on Halloween, but the wrath of Sandy  knocked our power out for a couple of days and prevented me from doing so.  Good news, we're all safe 'n sound and have our power back!
Leave it to Pinterest to tempt me with images of amazing Halloween crafts that relentlessly haunt my creative mind until I finally get myself together and craft them to my ideal perfection.  Case in point, this guy:

Martha Stewart's Wriggling Snake Wreath
This wreath is simple, yet hauntingly adorable.  And the concept seemed simple enough -- grapevine wreath + plastic snakes + spray paint = awesomeness.  Easy as pumpkin pie, right?  Ehhhh not so much.

Finding the wreath was easy thanks to Joann Fabrics.  I snagged an 18" grapevine wreath for $2.40 after using a 40% off coupon plus a coupon for an additional 20% off my purchase coupon.  Wooo for coups. 

I also happened to have some matte black spray paint on hand already.  All I needed was some rubber snakes.  And that's where my project came to a screeching halt.  When I was a kid, I'm pretty sure I remember going to toy stores and seeing bins of snakes (among other rubbery rodents, reptiles, insects, and creatures).  I honestly thought that things hadn't changed in 15 years, and that any parent of a little reptile-loving child could easily snag a bag-o-snakes at the local toy store.  Oh, was I naive.


I initially noticed that the project's tools and materials lists suggests a set of 48 realistic plastic snakes from Oriental Trading.  At $8, it didn't seem like a bad deal, but shipping cost would almost double the total.  Plus the reviews noted how the Oriental Trading snakes are smaller than described; the snakes are measured when they're stretched out, not naturally coiled, making them only a few wee inches in length.  Looking at the wreath photo it was obvious that there was a noticeable range of snake sizes, and that's something that I really liked about the wreath and refused to compromise.  I was convinced that I could get more affordable and lengthy snakes at a local store, so the hunt was on.  I tried my local dollar store...just teensy 3" pipsqueak snakes.  Then I tried Joann's, Target, and Michael's...snake-less.  Then PartyCity...more tiny snakes, might as well just make a worm wreath.  My last stop was Toys-R-Us, and guess what?  No snakes.  Well to be honest, they had a huge remote control rattle snake which was pretty cool but definitely not useful for my wreath.  Seriously, what's a pint-sized snake enthusiast to do these days???  I can only comfortably assume that they might take their chances and play with real snakes.

So I threw in the towel and succumbed to an internet purchase.  Amazon had the best selection of affordable rubber snakes, in an array of different sizes.  Maybe it was snake deprivation, but somehow I bought myself 72 snakes off of Amazon.  Perhaps I'll make a couple snake wreaths.  Anyway, I slithered away with a few dozen 7" snakes, a dozen 14" snakes, and a dozen 24" snakes.  Keep in mind that the snakes are measured when they're fully stretched out, so when coiled they're probably more like 5.5", 9", and 16" in length.  An acceptable array if you ask me.

Unfortunately, ordering things from online requires a painfully slow wait for shipment.  I busied myself with some fall baking and decorating, until finally I received a message in my inbox: "Your order of 12 Rubber Snakes and 2 more item(s) has shipped!"  Quite possibly one of the weirdest email titles I've ever received in my inbox.  And then the day finally came where my box 'o snakes was delivered...

Turn away, Indiana Jones.  It's about to get real.

I don't think these snakes could've come in a more exciting box.

First, I applied two coats of black matte spray paint to the front and back of my grapevine wreath.  Easy enough.

Stunningly sensational, in an Addams Family sort of way.
Of course I can't work on a project without adding my own personal touch to it.  I decided that this wreath needed a 'smidge more pizazz and sparkle, so I strung some battery-powered orange LED lights through it (just a few bucks from Target).  Now it twankles and glistens.  Good times.

Finally it was time for some long-awaited snake action.  I selected a few handfuls of snakes and arranged them on a piece of scrap cardboard for painting.  The original instructions for the project call for painting the snakes with acrylic paint...but let's be honest, AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.
Sweet Brown!!
Instead of painstakingly hand-painting my beautiful plastic creatures, I got a little rambunctious with the spray paint.  Hey, efficiency is key.

...Funny how taking shortcuts rarely pays off. 

I spray painted my snakes using the same black spray paint that I used for the wreath, and left them to dry overnight.  When I came back to check on my black babies the next day, the paint was still wet...same with the next day, and the next day, and the week after that.  In fact, my snakes never fully dried, which was likely due to some sort of inability for the spray paint to adhere to the original latex paint on the snakes.  It's a possibility that spraying a coat of primer might have helped, or maybe even doing my research on the type of spray paint that I should use on latex paint may have paid off.  My advice: paint the snakes with acrylic paint as the original instructions tell you do and perhaps you'll complete your project in a timely matter.

DIY disaster....kind of.
Regardless of my sticky situation, I decided that the slithery show much go on.  Plus I was too ticked to even entertain the idea of tossing $25 worth of painstakingly sought-out snakes on the back burner.  Yeah...25 big ones.  I may be an idiot.

Anyway, I put on some plastic gloves to keep from adding fingerprints to my otherwise stellar but sticky snakes, and began intertwining them into the grapevine wreath.  I used floral wire (left over wedding supplies ftw) to securely attach my snakes to the wreath.  You could probably use hot glue, but the floral wire will ensure the snakes never detach from the wreath over time.  Plus, I had already learned what happens to little squirrels when you stray from instructions... 

All of a sudden, things got creepy.  So long whimsical grapevine wreath and adorable plastic snakes...say hello to one sketchy wreath and some questionably fake snakes. I feel like dousing the wreath in black glitter or adding a dingy orange burlap bow could also be fun ways to toy with the wreath a little more.   But after all my troubles, I am more than happy with the final outcome of my snake wreath.

You can make the argument that I purchased too many rubber reptiles, but it was the only way I could get the size variation that I was dreaming of.  Besides, my husband has already informed me numerous times that I "bought a lot of snakes..."  Don't care.  My snake hunting obsession can finally rest...for the next 10 years.  Good news for our trick-or-treaters!!  They'll get a handful of rubber snakes with their candy at our house this year.  Yeah that's right, we're the cool house that gives out candy and toys.  Be jealous.

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