An artist who transforms the front of her house to match seasonal events has revealed that her neighbors are particularly fond of her living creativity – though some have suggested the displays may not be eco-friendly.
Carmen Croxall, 35, from Exeter, Devon, has just spent £900 to make her rented house look like it’s made of chocolate, spent five weeks making ‘chocolate bricks’, 12 huge daffodils, a wooden fence and a Easter Bunny.
The mother-of-two is known for transforming her property and began turning it into a gingerbread house for Christmas 2022. She also created a love heart display for February’s Valentine’s Day, but said this creation will likely be her last.
Exhausted by her projects, Carmen, who shares her art with handle @clashcreativehome, said she’s worried about the “pressure” to make something better and she wants “rest.”
Carmen used MDF to make the 200 chocolate squares that now cover her home, bought excess foil from a food factory for the fake foil, and made the daffodils using a plastic water pitcher, electrical wire, yellow duct tape, and yellow nylon and fabric.
Mum of two Carmen Croxall, from Exeter, has cheered up her neighbors with three lavish seasonal shows, spending nearly £900 on her latest Easter spectacle
Made from mostly recycled materials or purchases from local businesses, the project cost her £898.50.
Carmen, owner of a company called Prop Factory, said, “I love the daffodils so much. When I told my partner I’m making 12 he asked why I don’t just make two or three but I think what makes them exciting to watch is the volume of them and my front yard is small – it borders on ridiculous , what I Love.
She adds, “I do it all for myself and I think that’s what makes my content authentic.”
Carmen started planning her Easter house three months ago, but spent five weeks making and installing the chocolate house.
By using reclaimed materials and spending hundreds to make the displays look professional, Carmen has won praise from her neighbors — but says the effort and money may keep her from doing any more
For Valentine’s Day, Carmen covered her house with candy and Love Heart candies
For Easter she spent £212.50 on giant daffodils and printed 200 chocolate squares to dress up the front of her rented house
She printed 200 chocolate squares, Easter eggs and the five-foot chocolate bunny on MDF for £320 and bought £5 scrap packaging to decorate the roof of her house.
Her giant daffodils cost a total of £212.50 and are made from a plastic jug, electrical wire, yellow polyester lining fabric and nylon, duct tape, recycled cushion stuffing, pipe cleaner and garden wire for the leaves.
She created a picket fence around her garden using old bed slats and pallet wood for £120.
Carmen tries to use recycled materials as much as possible – using leftovers from previous projects to save on costs.
She said, “This time I technically knew I was going to do it three months in advance, so I had more time to think through ideas.
“It took five weeks to make everything. However, I spent more time on the things I want to keep permanently, like the wooden fence, and I made sure the daffodils are made really well too.
An impressive design for Valentine’s Day saw a giant pouring tube with Love Hearts outside her house, along with a Hansel and Gretel-inspired front door
And for Halloween she used a balloon display in purple, orange, green and black
The reclaimed foil came from a factory and only cost Carmen £5, she says… but her decorating costs can quickly add up
HOW CARMEN GIVED £900 TO HER EASTER DISPLAY
- £320 on Easter bunny, Easter eggs and chocolate squares, printed on MDF
- £24 for 12 daffodils and 12 jugs
- £4 for duct tape
- £72 for wooden dowel
- € 80 in fabric
- £2 worth of cable ties
- 12 lb polypropylene plates
- £10.50 for green electrical tape
- £3 for bolts
- £5 for emulsion paint
- £120 for pallet wood
- £5 reclaimed factory film
- 12,- matt lacquer
- £16 on duct tape
- £8 on electric tap
- £5 on reclaimed foil
- £200 on Velcro
Total Material Cost – £898.50
“Sewing the roof took five hours and making the daffodils took over a week.
‘I reuse as much as possible.
‘Moreover, many of my materials are bought second-hand or salvaged in the first place.
“My gingerbread house is going to a local mall to be turned into a carnival float, my love heart will be turned into a love heart wall in my office.”
Carmen says her neighbors have mostly welcomed her wacky designs — though she’s been seen calling her work “shameful” by a passerby, while others have suggested the designs aren’t environmentally friendly.
She said, ‘The community as a whole is absolutely amazing, I often post on a community forum with updates, and everyone comments on the most amazing things, it makes me so happy.
“My 13-year-old doesn’t like what I do with the house.
“He tends to stay in his room, his windows are now covered with a huge piece of aluminum foil, so he’s well hidden.”
My three-year-old probably thinks everything I do is normal because it’s all he’s ever known, just that I’m constantly decorating, painting and crafting.
“He’s happy to help me and is starting to pick up on things like the names of things I use, like ‘zip ties’ and ‘pom poms.’
“He’s very practical and sits on my lap while I’m sewing, helps me guide the fabric and also loves to paint.”
Despite the success of her projects, Carmen thinks this new design will be her last.
She said, “I feel like this might be the last extreme home transformation I’ll do.”
“First, because I’m starting to worry that what I do next might not be as good, and I think I’m going to put so much pressure on myself to make it even better.
“I actually felt stressed out for a few weeks making the Easter house because of the pressure I was creating for myself.
‘By making three themed home displays in a row, a lot has been cleaned up.
“It’s nice to go out with a bang.”