Challenge Heidi – Ribbon Spools

August 10, 2009 at 6:34 pm 2 comments

IAH-106-Ribbon-SpoolsGRASONVILLE, MD – Monday afternoon – As many of you know, Challenge Heidi was THE most popular segment on the Aleene’s Creative Living television show during its 15 years on-air.  Heidi doesn’t remember exactly how she came up with the original idea but we’re sure it had something to do with the fact that she was the eco-queen before eco was cool. She was always trimming trash, decorating with discards and glittering her garbage. We’re guessing that someone must have had a bunch of “somethings” and they said “Hey! Let’s Challenge Heidi with this!” And thus it began.

Challenge-Heidi-Logo150A few weeks ago, we decided to relaunch Challenge Heidi and we put out the first call for challenges. (We’re doing it right this time! No more asking for people to send us their trash. Yeah, that’s right, people used to send Heidi their trash! Click here to listen to last night’s Inspired at Home Radio show where we talked about this! )  Heidi is now busy working on creating her first NEW Challenge Heidi’s, but this week, she actually picked her own challenge.

For those of you who are keeping up with our blog, you know that Heidi recently added ribbon curtains to her studio. Well, what do you get when you hang yards and yards of ribbon in your window? You get lots ‘o empty ribbon spools (and a cool looking window treatment!)

So, we are pleased to present……drum roll please…..this week’s Challenge Heidi…. Ribbon Spools Flower Art.  Enjoy! >>Tiffany

P.S. Send us your Challenge Heidi challenge.  Just send an email to with a description and a photo. We’ll let you know if we have picked your Challenge Heidi!


Ribbon Spools Flower Art
by Heidi Borchers


Aleene’s® Super Thick Tacky Glue™
Base 12” x 24” (My local tile store gave me lots of their discontinued sample boards, The boards have tile samples on them. I removed the samples (Used the tiles in my mosaics) and had a great surface to work on, or …you can use canvas, masonite or plywood)
Texture paste (I like Texture Magic by Delta)
Texture comb (or you can make one from heavy cardboard, just cut one edge with pinking shears)
Cardboard ribbon spools – 7 various sizes for the flowers, 7 or 8 sizes for the leaves and stems
Acrylic paints – black for background, dark green, light green, dark blue, light blue, purple, lavender, orange, yellow, white, red, burgundy, pink
Brush – ½” flat
Buttons – 2 to 3 for each flower – various colors


To prepare the background, use a texture comb and spread the texture medium over the entire background.  It’s ok to have some space without the texture. Let the texture dry.

To prepare the spools to be cut into flower shapes, very carefully take apart the cardboard spools for the flowers. Keep each spool parts together, as you will be cutting the front and the back and then you will be gluing back together, so be careful pulling apart.

Cut the flower shapes from each spool. (Lavender flower has 6 petals, orange flower has 16 petals – red flower has 12 petals, white flower has 16 petals, pink flower trim edge with pinking shears and cut petals at each ‘pink’, turquoise flower has 6 petals, yellow flower has 16 petals. When front and back of each flower has been cut, glue back together with the circle ring part of the spool in between the cut flower petals. (The only one that does not have its petals to the front and the back is the purple one.)  Let glue dry.

Glue the flowers to the background. Cut the leaves from remaining cardboard spools. Use the inner cardboard circle ring for the stems. Cut the ring open and flatten out. Cut to fit under each flower for the stem. The texture paste helps to hold these but also glue to help hold in place. Continue for each stem. Glue leaves to each stem. Use photo as a guide for leaf shape and leafIAH-106-Ribbon-Spools1 placement. Let glue dry.

Work in progress!

Paint the entire piece with black paint. Let paint dry.

To paint each section (background, flowers, leaves stems) on this piece, you will simply be layering the paint colors. Paint the darkest shade first and then as you work to the last coat of paint, it will be the lightest. (To make lighter shades of any of the colors simply add a little white.)  Begin to layer the paint on the background first with the greens and blues. It’s not a precise painting technique, its simply putting the paint on very quickly. Slather it on! Have fun! This does not have to be perfect! If the paints begin to blend too much, simply let the paint dry, and begin layering again. The secret of this look is the layering of the paints. To highlight the center of each flower, dip edge of brush into paint and simply stroke brush from center toward outside of each flower. Repeat for desired effect.  Let paint dry.

Glue the buttons over the holes in the flowers.  Repeat by layering each button on top of first. Let glue dry.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Maria Nerius  |  August 11, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    How cool is this. I want Heidi’s mind! Bravo for coming up with inventive, fresh ways to recycle.

  • 2. Sylvia Rivera  |  September 1, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Your are just soooo creative, but I am sure you hear that all the time!! This is so do-able! You can collect lots of spools, get them to the point where they are cut up like flowers and donate them to the nearest school and have the children paint them and use them for Mother’s Day projects!! I think they would love that!! I think I am going to do just that!
    Thanks Heidi for being so inspiring!!!!!!!!


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