27 December 2011

Stick Horse

My grandfather was a craftsman who liked working with wood. He made my grandmother a hutch once but mostly he made small things like coffee filter holders, jewelry organizers, and toys. The only memory I have of celebrating St. Nicholas as a believer was the year I received a handmade doll bed. It was made by my grandfather.

Lena, the horse
I am my opa's granddaughter. This year for Christmas I made Lola a stick horse from scratch. I am very proud of myself and I know opa would have been proud of me, too.

I found a template at Bluebonnet Village Craft Network. I free handed it onto paper, and traced the drawing with a sharp knife onto wood, leaving a faint imprint of the horse's head which I traced with a marker.

After cutting out the head with a jigsaw, I sanded it until it was nice and smooth. I drilled holes for the eyes, the handlebar and the stick (both made of a 5/8" dowel), stained it a warm chestnut brown and applied a protective coat of polyurethane.


The eyes are bear eyes, found at the goodwill but available at any craft store, stuck into place with a little glue. The hair is made of three Dollar Tree chenille dusters. I took the fabric off the plastic handle, cut off the elastic, and with help from my husband hammered them lengthwise onto the head.

The ears were cut out of soft suede which I had on hand. They are about four inches long. They were a little too floppy for my taste once they were hammered into place so I stitched them together to keep them upright.

Lola found the ribbon I had intended for the reins. I tried a thin leather strap from an old purse as an alternative but it didn't really work out. My solution in the end was to let Lena, as Lola named her horse, run free. Should Lola want reins, I can always suggest using this beautiful ribbon I happen to have lying around...

Lola is very happy with her horse. It is a little bit too tall but that is an easy fix. Giddy Up!

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I am linking Lena up with:
A Little Birdie Told Me at Rook No. 17
THE BEST OF 2011-Its Party Time at Its So Very Cheri
A Pinteresting Link Party at Here's to Handy Andy
Show and Tell at Blue Cricket Design
Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts
Strut Your Stuff Link Party at Somewhat Simple

21 December 2011

Birdseed Ornaments

In my pantry sits a tub of lard I bought years ago. It was intended to make birdseed balls with. I am not really sure if lard is suitable for birds, though. Our local Piggly Wiggly sells beef suet by the log. They are ideal for making birdseed ornaments, although I guess you can just hang them outside as is. But where's the fun in that?

We melted the 22 oz. suet log over medium heat and stirred in three cups of birdseed. I set out three extra large cookie cutters partially wrapped in aluminum foil on a baking pan, as well as an assortment of little molds lined with plastic wrap. We poured in the melted suet/seed mixture and set the baking pan in the freezer.

After about two hours I took them out and let them thaw out just enough to make it easier to release the ornaments from the mold. I removed the little pieces of a drinking straw to make a hole and strung the ornaments on some butcher's twine. Aren't they lovely? I have already spotted a little chickadee munching on one.


The Scent Of The Season


Lola and I were making birdseed ornaments earlier, with suet. I don't like the smell of melting suet, so I whipped a fresh batch of stove top potpourri:

One orange, quartered
A good teaspoon of cloves
Some whole allspice
Three cinnamon sticks
About half a cup of cranberries
A dash of vanilla

Add water and simmer softly all day. The original recipe says this batch will last you all season as long as you add fresh water every morning.

20 December 2011

DIY Snowglobes

No snow? No problem. We will make our own snowy winter scenes. All you need is Epsom salts, bottle brush trees, little figurines, and clear mason jars. And presto! Instant winter wonderland.


13 December 2011

Jingle Bells

Silver jingle bells on stakes adorn the path from the garage to the house. Just like me, they are waiting for snow. There is some in the forecast for the next two days.

When I first saw this idea on Pinterest, I immediately took off for the Dollar Tree to stock up on their extra large jingle bells. I knew I still some shorter shepherd's hooks in the shed. Or so I thought.

I had forgotten that a lot of the gardening stuff did not make it back to Wisconsin when we moved. Including the shepherd's hooks. And they are a little hard to come by this time of year.

Looking for an alternative, I found plant props, still available at home improvement stores. They are easy to bend to hang the jingle bell. Quick and easy, my kind of project.

I still feel something is missing though. Oh, that's right. Snow. And possibly a little winter greenery.

07 December 2011

Doily Snowflake Ornaments



We are still waiting for snow up here in the Northwoods. But since the temperature has dropped to freezing, both day and night, I made my own snowflakes by freezing doilies in baking pans and hanging them in the trees in our backyard. It couldn't be more simple.

I used boiled water, cooled, because it results in clearer ice. The only tricky part is making a hole in the ice once the doilies have frozen. I used a hand drill but any sharp object will do. Just don't go too fast or push too hard. Thread the ornament with string and hang from a branch. Watch them sparkle in the sunlight. Beautiful.


I am linking up to A Little Birdie Told Me at Rook No. 17.

03 December 2011

Felt Heart Garland

























I didn't really know what I was going to make for my gift exchange partner in my second Handmade Gift Exchange hosted by Linda of Craftaholics Anonymous, I waited for inspiration. I found it, where else, on Pinterest. I saw a picture of a bowl with red and gray ornaments, including a little gray felt heart with a red blanket stitch. A short trip to the local craft store later I had everything I needed: felt, polyfil stuffing, thread, and a needle.

I cut out a paper heart template by eyeballing it. My heart is about two and a half inches high and two and a half inches wide. I cut out my felt hearts by folding a strip of felt over, laying the folded template on the fabric and then cutting around it. Pinning the felt to keep it in place makes it a little easier to cut out the hearts but they are small enough to just hold in place with your free hand.

An 8 by 11 sheet of felt yields twelve felt hearts for six finished hearts. Once the cutting is done, it is simply a matter of stitching around with a blanket stitch. If your blanket stitch skills are rusty like mine were, here is a clear refresher course. Leave about an inch to stuff the heart with polyfil, then close it up.

My garland turned out to be about six feet long, using thirteen gray hearts and one red one. In between I strung felted wool balls, alternating wool white with red. To keep everything from moving, I tied knots on either side of the the hearts and balls. I don't really think it's a necessary step, though. And since it was an annoying one, I recommend you not do it.

And voilĂ , there you have it. A felt heart garland. I am very happy with how it turned out. And I am proud to report I am not alone in this. I have been commissioned for the first time ever to make one for a friend. And Craftaholics Anonymous featured my garland this week.

30 November 2011

Wreaths

I love wreaths, especially around the holidays, but lack the patience to make them. Instead I scour flea markets and the aisles of Goodwill and other local thrift stores to breath new life into discarded beauties. My collection is growing and it is starting to look quite festive around the house.

My Handmade Gift Exchange partner Heather surprised me with a gorgeous specimen made of rolled up vintage paper and an antique ornament. I love it! Thank you, Heather. And Merry Christmas!

15 November 2011

Frosty The Snowman

Inspired by a pin on Pinterest (which I could not trace to its creator - I'm sorry, I tried), I recreated Frosty the Snowman out of three grapevine wreaths, some burlap, and a piece of plywood cut in the shape of a top hat on the side of the garage. My daughter looked on from the upstairs window, giving me the thumbs up when I finished assembling him.

The wreaths are not tied together, I simply hammered nails into the wooden siding of the garage and hung them individually. I started with the bottom wreath and worked my way up. The scarf is also attached to the garage with a few small nails to keep it from blowing away. The top hat hangs from a cup hook screwed into the wall and is attached to the wreath with a little bit of floral wire.

And wouldn't you know it. Just minutes after finishing Frosty, it started to snow! A twist on "If you build it, they will come..."


This project was featured on  A Little Birdie Told Me... at Rook No. 17.

14 March 2011

Fairy Princesses


Have you ever visited Twig and Toadstool? It is the most magical place and every single one of their posts is an inspiration to me. When I saw their blossom fairies, I knew instantly I was to going to recreate these lovely ladies for my daughter's fourth birthday party. 

This weekend I brought out pegs, felt, pipe cleaners, silk flowers, acorn caps, and my glue gun. Two hours later nine colorful beauties were sitting on my craft table. My daughter loves them. She has claimed all the pink, purple, and orange fairies as her own. It looks as if I am going to have to make a few more.

The full tutorial can be found at Twig and Toadstool.

22 October 2010

Wreath Waltz

Last year my living arrangements did not allow for elaborate holiday decorating. I resorted to container decorating, similar to container gardening but different. This year we have an actual house with lots of room and a magnificent fireplace to boot. Unfortunately, we do not have a normal TV like normal people. No, we watch TV projected on the wall. The wall above the fireplace that is, meaning my decorations cannot exceed three inches. I decided to spookify the entry instead.

I purchased a twig wreath to turn into a googly eyes wreath, something I found last year on one of the many creative blogs I read and have been patiently waiting to reproduce. But then I got sidetracked by another cool idea of cutting a Dollar Tree crow in half and gluing the head to sheet music in a black frame. I decided to combine the two.

I found the perfect sheet music at The Graphics Fairy, printed it out, cut it to size, and mod podged it on my round piece of wood.



The next step was breaking out a big knife and decapitating my little crow.


A generous amount of hot glue secured my bird's head to the wood which in turn was secured to the wreath with E6000 glue and black Gorilla tape.



Add a few more black birds and skulls. And spray painted Dollar Tree candle sticks for effect.



Instant spooky hallway. Kind of...



I am very pleased with my first attempt at taxidermy, if I do say so myself.




I am linking this up to:



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25 July 2010

Christmas In July

I have been walking around with an idea for Christmas ornaments since last November, but had not been able to find the time or the supplies before this week. There is a lot of Christmas in July currently going around on the web, so now that I have everything I need, including a whole day to myself, I thought I would join in on the fun.

I purchased twenty three inch long colonial chandelier crystals a few months ago.



I love the shape of them, and my idea was to decoupage vintage Christmas images behind them. Since they are quite narrow, it wasn't as easy as I had anticipated to find the right size image. Until I stumbled onto an ArtChix collage sheet at Bello Modo. Twenty long and narrow vintage images, absolutely perfect for my project.

Making the ornaments is fun and easy. Begin by cutting out the images to fit the crystals, using scissors or a paper cutter.


Apply some Perfects Pearls with a small paintbrush for a nice shimmer. It can be used wet or dry, I just dry brushed it on.



Decoupage the image to the back of the crystal, using Mod Podge or any clear drying glue. Once it has dried for about an hour, add some silver leaf to the back of the image. I used liquid silver leaf that I found at Hobby Lobby, which turned out very nice. But to be honest, I think silver paint would have been equally beautiful and much cheaper.


Apply a clear coat sealer to protect the silver leaf once that is dry. If you accidentally get some clear coat on the glass surface, don't worry, a little acetone will take it right off.


Add some string or ribbon, and you're done. Beautiful handmade ornaments that make a lovely and inexpensive Christmas gift when the time comes. I have put them all away for the next five months. Never before have I been this organized, and I am quite proud of myself.





05 June 2010

Lessons In Glass Etching

I have taken on several glass etching projects lately and learned a few valuable lessons along the way. Thought I'd share them with you here.

1. Not all glass is the same. Some glass is of a much better quality and therefore harder to etch. I use Armor Etch and it is usually sufficient to leave the etching cream on for no more than five minutes. Recently I tried to etch a glass cookie jar and it took about 45 minutes to get a proper result.

2. Do not remove your stencil until you are satisfied with the results. I learned this the hard way with the above mentioned cookie jar. After waiting five minutes,  I rinsed off my etching cream and peeled off the contact paper. My image was visible, but just barely. It looked like I had used a razor blade to scratch the image into the glass. Since I tore my stencil when I removed it, I had to make a new one. Believe me when I tell you, it is nearly impossible to fit another stencil over an existing image, especially when you cut your stencils by hand.

3. The larger the image etched into the glass, the better the result. Small images do show up but not as well.

4. And last, but certainly not least... Etching cream can be reused! There is no need to wash it all down the drain. Simply use your application brush or a small silicon spatula to wipe off the excess cream and return it to the pot from which it came. Much friendlier on your wallet, not to mention the environment. Take care not to accidentally wipe it onto the uncovered glass, though. This stuff etches faster than you think.
    There you have it. As you can imagine, some tense crafting moments preceeded these little pearls of wisdom. But if I can save you the same frustration, it was well worth it.

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