Celestial Stag

Image of foliage wreath containing a papier mache head of a stag covered with stars and a moon.
Celestial Stag Wreath 20″ x 20″

Happy Christmas Eve to those of you who celebrate Christmas.

Did you get to see the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter on the evening of December 21, 2020? I was watching it happen over the course of that entire week. Yep, I’m a romantic star gazer. I’m fascinated by astronomy, planets, galaxies, nebulas, and more; are you? I totally geeked out over the recent ISS and Dragon X docking too. I loved it when baby yoda was released into the ISS by the Japanese astronaut, what a hoot!

OK, back to earth…. Do you celebrate the winter solstice? I like to turn inward and reflect on the past year. What worked, what didn’t work, dreams, feelings, plans, ideas, and so much more. It’s the time of year where I like to slow down, rest, contemplate life, and think about what my word of intention and focus will be for the following year. It’s become an annual tradition for me, to take a break from life, take a step back, slow down and stop to listen to my inner wisdom and dreams.

To celebrate the winter solstice, the conjunction, and the night sky, I decided to create a wreath to decorate my home for the winter. Being isolated due to the global pandemic since March, and doing so much art this year, has finally given me the confidence to actually hang my own art in my own home! Please, come celebrate with me, as we journey across the winter night skies in celebration of the stars, moon, and once in a lifetime conjunction experience!

The Crafter’s Workshop provided me with some product to create this project. The opinions I share are solely my own.

I bought this little stag several years ago. I always wanted to use him on a wreath, but I never knew what theme I wanted to do until now. The idea came to me during my weekly video chat with my parents back home in Australia. We were discussing the upcoming conjunction and solstice, and that’s what sparked the inspiration to create this magical winter solstice wreath.

Image of the wreath featuring the papier mache stag head decorated in celebration of the winter night sky.
Papier mache stag head on foliage wreath.

To begin, I added some patterned tissue paper that I love (also related to my theme) to the papier mache stag head. I used TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium to apply the tissue paper over the entire stag head.

Close up image showing the papier mache antler being covered with TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium and tissue paper.
Tissue paper being applied with TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium.

Next, I used the TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium to add the moon to the stag’s forehead, and to add some wooden stars to the stag’s face and antlers. I allowed these to dry overnight, so that they would be fully dry and adhered completely.

Close up images of the stag head showing the tissue paper applied. Now, I am adding the moon and wood stars to the face and antlers of the stag using TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium.
Wooden stars and metal moon embellishments added with TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium

The tissue dried far more colorfully than I thought it would, so I decided to give the stag’s head a coat of stiff dry brushed TCW9001 White Gesso, mixed with a little water to make it somewhat translucent. I did this so that the initial design from the tissue paper would still be slightly visible yet far less colorful, with the added advantage of adding texture and a distressed, shabby chic, rustic finish.

Close up showing the stag head with moon and stars dry brushed in TCW9001 white gesso mixed with a little water to give it a shabby chic, distressed paint, rustic finish.
TCW9001 White Gesso was dry brushed onto the stag’s head for a distressed, rustic effect.

Now, I was done creating the base for the stag’s head. Next, I wired the stag head to an unadorned grapevine wreath; which I then decorated with permanent botanical foliage. Full disclosure: I am an accredited florist by the Nebraska Academy of Floral Designers. A skill set that has served me well and is great to have for the creation of home decor and much more!

Using glue, I attached the permanent botanicals and foliage to the grapevine wreath surrounding the stag's head (which was wired to the wreath base).
I attached permanent botanical foliage to the grapevine wreath around the wired stag’s head.

Some of the leaves on the wreath were also dry brushed with TCW9001 White Gesso to provide unity in design between the wreath and the stag’s head, by providing repetition and similarity to tie the elements together.

Close up of the completed botanical foliage added to the wreath. Some of the leaves were also dry brushed with TCW9001 White Gesso to provide unity between the wreath and the stag's head.
Some of the leaves on the wreath were also dry brushed with TCW9001 White Gesso.

Next, I really wanted to add stars to the stag’s head, but with the curves and shapes, the stencil wouldn’t bend around it properly and lay flat to allow crisp stenciling. I contemplated for a while, then came up with an idea. I used TCW9004 Light & Fluffy Modeling paste through TCW5004 Star Shower stencil onto a 1 ply white paper napkin (serviette). I dried this immediately with my heat gun.

Using TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium, I tore the napkin into small pieces and attached it over the stag’s head and antlers with a brush. This gave me exactly the effect I wanted. The napkin blended in perfectly with the white gesso background, leaving the light & fluffy stars to stand out with a 3D effect!

TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium was used to adhere the paper napkin to the stag’s head.
Close up images showing the stag's head with 3D effect stars on decoupaged paper napkin.
The finished stag’s head, showing the 3D effect stars

Now, I needed to decide if I wanted to add colour to the stag head. In trying different colour themes and ideas, I was able to take the progression of four different finishes. I took a photo of each option to show you what they looked like, until I settled on the final combination.

This first finish shows the stag’s head as is. This shabby chic, white distressed finish is the perfect neutral finish that would suit any home decor color palette.

Image of the finished wreath with the white distressed, shabby chic rustic finish. A very neutral color palette.
Stag’s head with white, distressed rustic finish. Also known as “shabby chic”.

Next, I wanted to try a blue color to reflect the twilight sky, just after sunset. I settled on a deep blue water based ink, mixed with water, and applied liberally with a brush over the entire head. I really love the watercolor effect this achieved.

Close up images showing the stag's head with blue watercolor applied in a mottled finish, giving a slightly rustic yet modern twist.
Water based dark blue ink applied in washes with a brush and water.

I decided the blue was a little too light in color. I really wanted more intensity of color to accurately reflect the darkness of the night sky, and to make the stars really stand out, so I added some additional water color washes with a dark brown and a black water based ink that had blue mica powder mixed into it.

Image showing two close up photos of the stag's head with the two darker water color washes applied.
Water based ink washes in dark brown and black with blue mica powder were applied with a brush and water.

I feel like Goldilocks! Now I decided the stag was too dark! I really wanted it to shine more. I had literally just watched a video of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). That gave me the idea to try a peacock blue finishing wax over the dark finish. Voila! The perfect shining night sky was achieved!

Close up images of the stag's head showing the gorgeous peacock blue/green metallic wax finish.
Gorgeous peacock blue metallic finishing wax created the perfect Aurora Borealis finish!

And for the finishing touch, some sumptuous TCW9012 Shimmery Goodness was added to the crescent moon and wood stars to really shine. And with that, the Celestial Stag was now complete!

Close up image of stag head showing TCW9012 Shimmery goodness applied to the stars and moon.
TCW9012 Shimmery Goodness was hand painted onto the moon and stars with a brush
Close up of stag antlers showing foliage and bird's nest on left antler.
Look at that cute little bird’s nest perched in the left antler!
Image showing the completed wreath hanging on my wall.
The completed Celestial Stag 20″ wreath hanging proudly in my home!

Want to see more? Hop on over and watch my quick fly-by video on my YouTube Channel.

Until next time, happy experimenting and happy day!

Michaela Butterworth
The Crafter’s Workshop Design Team Member

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