01 December 2013

Handmade Gift Exchange

My partner in this year’s handmade gift exchange hosted by Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous lives in sunny California and loves bright colors and polka dots. She and I freely perused each other’s Pinterest boards trying to learn about our tastes and preferences.

I noticed right away she seemed to like chunky jewelry. It so happens I love making chunky jewelry. After playing around with different colors, sizes, and textures, I settled on cheerful felt balls, some of them beaded, alternated with gold plated resin nuggets, yellow pressed glass beads, green wooden disks, and (died) turquoise spacer beads.



For L.’s home I made some jewelry, too. A six or seven ft. garland made from brightly colored polka dots, sewn together with yellow thread.

Of course I couldn’t just send off her gifts. I always like to have some fun with the giftwrap as well. Last year I discovered the fun of sewing paper stockings for Lola’s teachers to hold their gifts. For L. I sewed her necklace into a paper ornament. The only way to open it, is to rip it apart. A real Christmas tree ornament made from vintage sheet music holds a small card, and a little bottle brush tree and a red felt snowflake adorn the paper stocking that holds the garland.

I very much enjoyed creating these gifts for L. and I hope she will enjoy them, too. I will show you what L. made for me tomorrow. I can tell you now it is fabulous. She definitely spoiled me.

Merry Christmas, L.!

20 November 2013

Finnish Stars

I have never been much of a paper crafter. My idea of scrapbooking is sticking pictures in an album in a pleasing composition and adding the date the picture was taken. Possibly the location. Those years that I decide to make my own Christmas cards, it almost always involves ornaments made of fabric or wood (this year is no different), and my die cutting supplies are used for cutting fabric pretty much exclusively.


That doesn’t mean I don’t like paper crafts. On the contrary, I have devoted an entire Pinterest board to it. I just never seem to get around to making some. Until a few weeks ago. We were all up north visiting my parents-in-law. While my husband and his dad were out putzing in the woods, prepping for the upcoming hunting season, Lola and I tried our hand at making Finnish Stars. It couldn’t have been easier. And since all you need is one sheet of paper, it’s a pretty cheap craft, too!

What you will need:

  • One sheet of 12” by 12” paper, preferably printed on both sides
  • Glue stick
  • Paper cutter (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Cutting mat (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Paperclips
  • Small hole punch
  • String

Begin by cutting your sheet, I used vintage sheet music, into 3/4” strips. You’ll need twelve strips in total, two sets of six strips.

Start with two strips of paper, crossing one on top of the other, and securing them in the middle with a little glue. Make sure the four ends are of the same length.

Take a second strip of paper and glue it above your horizontal strip, leaving a little space in between, and making sure it is glued on the other side of the vertical strip. You will be weaving your paper strips, one over, one under.

Repeat with another strip below your first horizontal strip.

Now take the remaining two strips and weave them vertically over and under your horizontal strips, securing them at the intersections with a little glue.

Repeat these steps to make the second set.

Now comes the fun part. Take the two ends at the top, fold them towards you and glue in place. Secure with a paperclip while the glue dries. This is especially important if you are using a heavier cardstock.

Repeat this step with all four corners. Don’t worry about the middle strip at this point.

Do this to the other set as well.

When all your corners are glued in place, take one set, flip it over and place it on top of the other set, matching each middle piece of paper to a glued corner.

Carefully insert the middle paper strips into the the corners.

Glue them in place and let dry.

Once the glue is dry, take your scissors and trim the corners.

Take your hole punch and make a small hole in one of the corners and attach your string. Then go overboard and make half a dozen more.

Or bling ‘um up with a felt snowflake and some vintage costume jewelry.

Lovely, aren’t they? And so easy to make. Enjoy!

14 November 2013

Thanksgiving Table

Despite my longstanding wish to do so, I have yet to host a family dinner. We either spend the holidays at my parents-in-law or my brother and sister-in-law. It is definitely my turn. The plan was to host Thanksgiving this year. We have just moved into a new apartment so it can double as a housewarming. Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts asking me to design a Turkey Tablescape as part of their Celebrate The Season campaign was perfect timing, don’t you agree?



The plan has changed in the meantime however, and I will be hosting Christmas dinner instead. That does not keep me from having fun with my Turkey Tablescape.

My biggest challenge is the change in my surroundings. I like my d├ęcor to fit my house. Until recently we lived in a cute little Victorian in small town Wisconsin. Hardwood floors, light colored walls, pocket doors, covered porch, etc. Now we live in an industrial loft with exposed beams, brick walls, and the floors covered with oriental rugs. It feels rather bohemian and a lot more colorful.

My country decorating style with lots of white, galvanized steel, and natural materials must therefore change. That being said, the first thing I did was take an old grain sack and convert it to a table runner. My dining table is a very odd size, I commissioned it when I was still a single girl in Amsterdam, and it is impossible to find a table cloth or runner that fits. The grain sack has a beautiful orange print that matches the rest of the colors I picked beautifully.



I found three lovely pieces of fabric in my favorite spot at Jo-Ann’s: the remnant bin. It’s always hit or miss of course, but I love rummaging through the tidy rolls of fabric, seeing what I can come up with. In this case I found some yellow canvas and two pieces of fall fabric. The colors in the leaf fabric on the left dictated my color scheme for my Turkey Tablescape.



Using Heat ‘n Bond, I adhered the colored fabric to the canvas and ran that thru my die cutter. I cut out a few dozen leaves in different shapes and sizes. The large maple leaves were used for place cards, paired with a smaller leaf cut from kraft card stock and an acorn made from a felt ball with an acorn cap.

The rest of the leaves were for my Thanksgiving Tree. It is not an original idea by any means, but I find it such a lovely sentiment. Our tree has fabric leaves on it, felt ball acorns, and kraft paper leaves on which we can write what we are thankful for.



I brought in a dead branch, let it dry, and spray painted it gold. I used Rust-oleum American Heritage Craft and Hobby Enamel which is an absolutely fabulous spray paint. It covers beautifully, dries very fast, and is a gorgeous warm gold color. Unfortunately I am now out of paint and cannot find it anywhere. If you know of a place, do let me know.

I put my gold branch in an antique pitcher and used real acorns as filling. Then it was just a matter of hot gluing the colored leaves and felt acorns to the tree, and cutting out the cardstock leaves. To attach them to the Thanksgiving Tree, I made simple S-hooks from 20 gauge craft wire with the aid of a pencil. The paper leaves sit with the S-hooks and a sharpie in a small dish next to the pitcher, neatly covering up the stain in the grain sack I was not able to remove.



For my centerpiece I used a hollow piece of bark that I found in the woods a few years back. I usually slip it over a vase, but I thought it would look great on the table with goodies spilling out. A double-sided cornucopia if you will. I filled it with real pumpkins and squash, colorfully painted paper-mache pumpkins, dried okra pods (I was too late harvesting the pods for canning but they make very funky decorations), two year old chestnuts no longer fit for consumption, and large acorn caps.



I was never much of a gold girl, but it works really well for me here. I used gold square chargers with simple white plates and blue goblets. I even brought out the genuine silverware! Of course, now I want gold chargers for Christmas, too, but since we are talking about twenty people, that can be a bit pricy. Not to worry, I have a plan. More to come on that at a later date.



Do you see the napkins? Lola and I made them. In the goody box Jo-Ann sent me at the start of the Celebrate The Season campaign were several containers of Ink Effects, a paint that is easily transferred to fabric with an iron. You paint any design on paper, let it dry, turn your paper upside down on your fabric, and transfer your design with the aid of a hot iron.



Lola designed three of the four napkins, and I did the last one as well as the ironing.



While I may not be hosting Thanksgiving this year, we will be bringing the place cards and the napkins up north later this month. My centerpiece looks very cheerful on the table and the Thanksgiving Tree sees new leaves added every day. After all, we have so much to be thankful for.

More inspiration for Thanksgiving #turkeytablescapes and crafts can be found in Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts Celebrate The Season website. And do not forget to check out JoAann's weekly online ad. Of course we wouldn’t leave you without a nice 50% off coupon.

Happy Thanksgiving!



This post is sponsored by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. I received craft products and a gift card to write this post.

16 October 2013

Horse Chestnut Spiders



When I was little, one of my favorite things to do was create critters out of acorns and horse chestnuts. With help of an awl and some match sticks, we would bring all sorts of animals to life. Now that I have a child of my own, I want to pass these simple nature crafts on to her. Unfortunately I have a hard time finding horse chestnuts here in the US. Acorns a plenty, but chestnuts not so much.

Imagine my delight when I stumbled onto some chestnuts the other day when Lola and I were searching one of Milwaukee’s parks for tiny doors. Not only did we find two of the three doors hidden in Humboldt Park, we also found a plethora of nature’s craft goodies. Sycamore tree bark, beech tree nuts, acorns and acorn caps in every size imaginable, and of course, horse chestnuts.

To make horse chestnut spiders, you need just a few things:
  • horse chestnuts
  • pipe cleaners in the color of your choice
  • awl and/or hand drill
  • wire cutters and pliers
  • glue
  • beads for the eyes


Start by poking holes in the chestnut, four on each side. I used my awl for this but found that it was easier to use a small hand drill because my horse chestnuts had dried out and were quite hard. If I had made these spiders as soon as I found the chestnuts, it would have been easier.



Next up are the spider's legs. For one spider, you’ll need two pipe cleaners, one for each leg. Cut the pipe cleaner in four pieces using your wire cutters. Because pipe cleaner points are sharp, I always bend the tip back with my needle nose pliers.

Working on one side at a time, drop a little glue in each hole. I used Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive. It’s perfect for working with paper but glues chestnuts and pipe cleaners just as well. It dries clear, which I like.



Insert the legs in the holes and let dry. Once the glue is dry, bend the legs upwards from the body just a little, and then bend them in an angle about halfway down the leg. Glue on two little beads for eyes and you’re all set.



Lola and I created several spiders which we used in our #spookyspace that we made as part of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores’ Celebrate the Season campaign. You can read all about that here. There is a 50% OFF coupon to use at Jo-Ann's this month, too!



I will be linking up my spiders at:
Friday's Nature Table at The Magic Onions
Pin Me Linky Party at Diana Rambles
Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia
The Humble Brag at One Project Closer
Happy Hour Projects

14 October 2013

Spooky Space



Lola and I were tickled orange when Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores asked us to participate in the Celebrate The Season Campaign by creating a #spookyspace for Halloween. Our original plan was to turn Lola’s woodlands bedroom into a spooky forest, but our stairwell is painted in such a lovely pumpkin orange, I couldn’t possibly pass that up as a back drop to my spooky space.



Since I could not use the tree in Lola’s room, my first order of business was to find a nicely sized dead tree. There happened to be one available on the roof deck, but any large branch would have done just as well. After cleaning the smaller branches up a bit, I brought it inside. I considered spray painting it, but rather liked the gray so I left it as it was.

Spooky spaces always have spider webs. I created one with 16 and 22 gauge wire. I started by cutting four 12” lengths of the heavier wire. To prevent poking anyone’s eyes out, and because I like the look, I curled the ends of the spokes before I weaved the thinner wire around them. To make it easier to work with, I cut the 22 gauge wire into roughly 3’ lengths. I needed about four of those.



Again, I thought about spray painting the spider web, but felt it looked perfect as it was. Some might consider this laziness, but I am all about aesthetics, honestly. After attaching the spider web to the branches with wire, I hung five cute little fleece crows, found at Jo-Ann, in our spooky tree, along with some cheese cloth ghosts from Halloweens past.



One of my favorite things to do, is make garlands with felt cut-outs. For this I use my trusted Cuttlebug® die cutting machine and Sizzix Bigz dies. I love these dies because they cut though fabric as though it were butter. The Cuttlebug® works with every brand die, so if you’re thinking about buying one, that is the one I would recommend.

I found some lovely suiting fabric in the remnant bin at Jo-Ann’s which I paired up with black wool felt. I affixed them to each other with Heat’n Bond Lite. It bonds really well while still allowing for sewing. By ironing the two fabrics together, it also takes care of any fraying edges. After creating my double layer, I cut the fabric into smaller pieces and ran them through the Cuttlebug®.



For this particular garland I used Tim Holtz’s tattered leaves die. From the pile of leaves I cut, I was able to sew two 6’ garlands. Nothing special, just line up the leaves and sew them together with a straight stitch, leaving about an inch of thread in between.

Once the garlands were finished, it was time to stage our #spookyspace. I found two beauty school heads at a thrift store a long time ago, and wrapped one in gauze. Though it’s not new, my Halloween Wreath was brought out as well since it is still one my all time favorite decorations. It looks really good against the metal door.



Lastly, I threw in a pumpkin or two, some rubber mice, a few horse chestnut spiders, and our spooky space was complete. I hope the neighbors like it, too.



If you’re feeling crafty and are looking for inspiration, take a look at Jo-Ann’s Celebrate The Season and Simply Spooktacular websites. What’s more, here is a 50% off coupon for you. Enjoy!

I was compensated by Jo-Ann for writing this post. However, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

25 September 2013

Creating A Forest – Part 1

When we moved to Milwaukee, I promised Lola a cool room. She deserved it. She had a very tiny one up north and we never got around to doing something fun with it. It was her turn now, we all felt. Especially after Ryan and I confiscated a large corner of her room to store our surplus of bins in lieu of an attic or a basement. (We are a bit strapped for storage here.)

She told me she wanted a jungle or a forest. And so one day she and I sat down together, and envisioned her forest. We decided we were going to build a tree on the brick wall and change out the leaves every season. She also wanted apples in her tree. The plan was to use craft paper and somehow attach that to the wall. But then I saw these in the alley behind our building:



Ten feet long cardboard tubes, perfect for building a tree. And for the first time in my life, I exchanged my trash for someone else’s. Armed with my extra long tube, I made it up two flights of stairs and enlisted my husband and his friend to cut the tube in half lengthwise.





After cleaning up the edges with some sandpaper, I cut a hole into the tree trunk with a jigsaw to accommodate future critters and/or elves, fairies, and possibly gnomes.

To attach the tree to the wall, I used small corner brackets that I fastened on the inside of the trunk, like so:



The only think I did not like about this solution was the sharp end of the screw sticking out. While this tree does not have to be perfect, and holes are okay, I don’t want it to be a hazard. So after I screwed the hole in the cardboard, I switched out the pointy screw for a blunter version.



Then it was only a matter of drilling holes in the wall and attaching my branches.



Not bad, huh? I would like a few more branches and stumps but I ran out of cardboard. Time to head back to the alley. Stay tuned for more forest construction.



I am linking my tree construction project up at:
Friday's Nature Table at The Magic Onions
Pin Me Linky Party at Diana Rambles
Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia
One Project Closer at The Humble Brag
Shine On Friday at Happy Go Lucky
Happy Hour Projects

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails