Hey, it's what I do! Welcome to my creative arts blog!

Welcome to my "Maker's" blog, where I feature my creativity and DIY projects. I'm three years out from breast cancer and counting my blessings!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blooming Garden Signs


The weather is still frightful and the garden catalogs are blooming. What can you do to help you look forward to gardening days? Paint some garden signs!


I start my garden signs out with all kinds of wood scraps, some from home projects, some from the building supply, some from craft stores and others just serendipity....if it looks like a good piece of wood the right size for a sign, I'm on it! After painting the wood flat black and dry brushing with white, they are ready for some fun.


Even my newly painted signs look old and weathered with a vintage primitive look. That's what I'm going for!

Every year I paint a crop of garden signs for my yard and some to sell online. This year I am trading a local garden center some signs for impatiens and snap dragons, which is a win win for both of us. I do love me my impatiens and snapdragons...they keep blooming all summer until first frost. Gotta love that!



There are LOADS of cute garden sayings out there so just have fun! I freehand my signs but stencils would work, too. Clear acrylic sealer makes them durable for years. Some will have curly wire hangers and others will be stapled to surveyors stakes (from Lowe's).




This is one of my favorite signs and it always gets a giggle from the kids. "Gramma, that says bloomers!" Don't you love it when kids are still young and naive? Sigh. It doesn't last long, though.


And this is my favorite sign of all! I painted it 7 years ago and it has weathered nicely with an annual re spray of acrylic sealer. I attached this double sign to a long fancy table leg that I painted to match. Our house isn't perfect and we always have projects going on but at least in summer our yard looks gorgeous!



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Easy Matching Storage Boxes with Book Pages

For the shelf above my desk I've been using a whole row of black wire baskets, which look good when they're empty but when they are full to overflowing they just look messy and unkempt. I didn't want to buy/waste money on new matching desk boxes. Hmmmm. The little cubby shelf I restyled with book pages and wrapping paper came out like this...


I love the way it looks now! Stylish and vintage at the same time! So I decided to make matching storage boxes for my shelf and here's how their new look...


I like how the Mod Podge medium actually darkens the edges of the pages, giving them a golden hue. And notice the red edge to the pages? Gotta love that. Here's what I did....



I picked out some good sturdy boxes in various sizes, including a round box that looked like an old ice cream carton. First I glued the pages on then finished with a layer of Mod Podge and matte spray sealer. Easy peasy and CHEAP too.

There is no set plan to this project, altho when my daughter, Insanely Creative Christy, decoupages with book pages she uses smaller, neater, well trimmed pieces applied in nice designs. Me? Not so much, lol!


I used a silver pencil to give the label frames a pewter looking finish then used chalkboard paint on the labels so I could change them up.



I'm still thinking about adding gold or copper brads to the labels to give them a vintage hardware look. But I like the way these boxes turned out and the cost was mere pennies.



Here they are on the shelf above my desk, and you can see how well they go with the little book page cubby shelf and even my burlap ruffled bulletin boards. So for a bit of effort and creativity but not alot of money, I'm getting a desk/office makeover that is making me very happy.

And if I'm happy at my desk I'll blog more, take more photos and be more creative, right? That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

I took this idea one step further and totally redid my craft room with book pages and assorted boxes. Let's hear a cheer for cheap, easy, stylish and pretty craft storage!



And THIS room makes me very happy! Win win!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Green on Green Tablescape...With Succulents and MORE

I've been dinking around today with green on green table decor, possibly for my sister's wedding. While she is deciding on all her details, I started gathering what I have to accent the green and cream colors she has chosen.

The succulent arrangements are from my Etsy shop, so that is a good start. And then I just kept FINDING things in shades of green and with lovely natural textures around my house. Since I am of the "more is more" design school, I had a blast arranging everything this way and that way. 

Come take a look and have fun with me!


 You might recognize the faux moss decor balls I blogged about here.




Everything is fair game when I'm putting things together...including driftwood, vine balls, Dollar Store moss rocks and pretty little thrift store urns. Love the vivid greens and wonderful textures!


I added green glassware which I use for display in our guest bath, including bright green ashtrays! Remember those heavy square ashtrays from way back when?



 Is that a vintage green Avon bubble bath bottle? I do believe it is!



Okay, okay, I'm done for the day. Did you see the very last green additions to this photo? How about the pretty green hair flowers I dropped in here and there? They are flippin' PERFECT for this arrangement, don't you agree?

Well, whatever my sis decides, this was fun to do and I've gotten a couple of neat design ideas, too. How about those pretty melty flowers sewn to the top of a pillow? That would be beautiful! And drill bigger holes in bigger driftwood for more succulent arrangements.....hmmm.

Now I'm going to sketch an idea I have for using my succulent wreath and some fern garlands for the cake table. I do believe it will be beautiful, but we shall see!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wintry Snowflake Chandelier-Dollar Store Decor

Okay, here is the early 90's brass and glass chandelier in my dining room. I'll give you a moment to bask in fond nostalgia.


Yeah, well, we're still living with this chandelier until I find exactly the right fixture and can wave a big ol' bag o' money at it, so right there it is going to stay. It's just so....brassy and perfectly functional and by the way, The Welding Man loves it just the way it is! Oy.

So here are a couple of my ideas for coping with it's golden funkiness each season. Dollar Store to the rescue! 


Years ago I saw Martha Stewart's pretty hanging autumn wreath light and it stuck with me. So in
 October I decided to make my own version with several autumn leaf garlands around and around and around my light's brassy framework but without the candlelit mini pumpkins. We tried it with and without the glass panes and the glass just gave it some extra shine at night, so they stayed. 


Ooh! I like it alot and it is a sure sign of Autumn in my house.

Come Christmas time and wintry weather, I hit my stash of Dollar Store decorations again and found many different styles and sizes of snowflakes. We took off the glass panes and hung the snowflakes willy nilly, just like they would be in a blustery winter storm.


With just a few icicle strands here and there and oooh! I like this alot, too! Even in the daytime in natural light the layered textures of silver, white, and glittery gold and silver pack a beautiful festive punch.
Even The Welding Man, who does not like it when I mess with "his" light, thinks that this is very pretty!


Note-If you hang enough Dollar Store snowflakes on a brass light fixture you can mostly hide it's golden shininess!


And kapow! Here she is all lit up! She is dazzling!

        


Ooh aah! So pretty! And with the cold, wet, rainy, snowy winter weather hanging on, I'm leaving these snowflakes on my chandelier at least until Easter!


Which version is better? Daytime or night time? I like them both but the daytime chandy looks more wintry to me. Go figure.

And I've been thinking...I scored some pretty silver glitter butterflies a while back, and I have several butterfly craft punches which I used for the book page chandelier in my craft room. 



Hmmmm....what if I made bunches of these butterflies in soft whites and silver using several different punches?  Add a dainty bit of twig vine garland with tiny green leaves and my shiny brass chandelier could be a beautiful Springtime focal point!

The Welding Man will be glad to know  I won't be replacing his chandelier anytime soon. But I can sure mess with it and make it pretty, can't I?  And maybe I'll learn to appreciate it's brassy vintagey vibe? We'll just have to wait and see, lol!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Make a 3 Dimensional Skeleton Key Design in Fabric

My name is Ann and I'm a pillow-holic.

I have a bit of a pillow obsession with over a dozen on two couches in my living room and half a dozen on my master bed. Then more on a little love set. And maybe a few more on those wing chairs... 
Plus, I make LOADS of shabby chic pillows from muslin and burlap for my shop, JangoJB on Etsy. Here are a few as photo props for a local photographer. So pretty!


I love the muted colors of the mixed fabrics and the wonderful textures of canvas, muslin and burlap, plus the pretty crocheted pieces. 

I recently discovered a way to add a three dimensional design to a pillow using an old technique called trapunto, which is Italian for "to embroider." This easy stitched and stuffed process makes wonderful stand out, dimensional designs and here's how I did it.




I chose this simplified skeleton key because I love their vintage look PLUS they seem to go with any decor style. Just check Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Pier One and West Elm. You'll see skeleton keys  everywhere!


I used muslin for this project since it's my favorite fabric for home decor. It's inexpensive, easy to work with, a nice neutral color and works up beautifully. For the front of your pillow cut two matching pieces of fabric in  a size that will fit your pillow form. Be sure to add a 1/2" seam allowance to each edge.


I use a blue ink quilting pen because the marks disappear when you spray the fabric with water. I outlined a simple skeleton key shape (this one is grunge board from Tim Holtz). You could also use a number 2 pencil but draw lightly, since the pencil marks will not wash out.





I simplified the detail within the key head to make it easier to stitch.


 Set your sewing machine stitch length to 3 or 2, since you want small stitches for this project. Sew around the shape and use your judgement, going slowly, turning each angle with the needle DOWN to make sharp corners. Feel free to simplify your design as you sew, this technique is very forgiving and looks better with a simple shape. For example, I eliminated the little bumps in the shaft when I stitched this key.



Sorry for the poor contrast in this pic, but if you look you can see I've stitched the outline of the key in matching thread with small stitches.






Next you will clip several small openings in the backside of the design thru ONE LAYER OF FABRIC ONLY. This will give you the openings for stuffing your shape. I used the blunt end of a crochet hook to get the small pieces of stuffing into all the small areas. You can also use a needle to "wheedle" the stuffing into place smoothly. Stuff your shape evenly until it is softly plump.





Here you can see the small slits in the backside of the fabric with the stuffing showing through. Once your stuffing is in place, hand sew each slit closed. Your stitches do not have to be pretty, just as long as they work. Do not draw too tightly or you will distort your stuffed shape.

If you used the disappearing ink quilting pen, spray your design with water to erase the ink. Once it is dry you can iron your pillow top around the stuffed shape. 

I finished my pillow with a simple envelope style back then put it on a prestuffed pillow form. This whole project took me about an hour to complete. Sweet and simple and I LOVE how this came out! The color and texture and 3D key are right in my design sweet spot. This cool skeleton key pillow is PERFECT for my bedroom. I'll call that a win win!




And now I have some other design ideas...like a simple branch with leaves and a bird for springtime, Halloween bats, pumpkins or skulls...and how about 3D initials? Or a shamrock for St. Patrick's Day? And what about Thanksgiving and Christmas? I'm excited now to make them all. They'll be totally unique, I can guarantee it.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Make Vintage Style Books (Part 2) With Crackle Paint

Here is a row of my restyled books in my bookshelf. They aren't antique collectors' editions, they are all modern hardbacks that I've redone for a vintage look. Please note-no books are destroyed making them over like this. They are all still readable!


In Part One of this post I showed how I decoupaged pretty papers to hardback books using Mod Podge, hot glue and paint. Here's a link...


Here in Part Two I'll show you how to use a cheap and easy crackle technique with Elmer's school glue and craft paint. You can give your books a cool antique look and upstyle your bookcases and decor.


Here is a set of three books redone in black and red and a little bit of gold paint. See how cool they turned out? For these projects you will need hard back books, craft paint, hot glue, Elmer's school glue and paint brushes. You probably already have everything on hand in your stash!


 First, choose your book and paint the whole cover in the base color you want to show under the finished crackle. I used black craft paint on this book, then added fake "stitching" with hot glue. The ruler helps get the "stitching" straight and evenly spaced. Note-It took two more coats of black paint to cover the title on the spine.


Once the craft paint is dry I painted a coat of slightly watered down Elmer's school glue over the whole cover. Dollar Store school glue also works for this technique. Brush the glue on in an even layer then let it dry for a few minutes. For the next step the glue MUST BE TACKY. If it is NOT STICKY the top layer of paint will not crack!


Using a soft bristled brush and long strokes in one direction ONLY, add your top coat in your choice of color of acrylic latex craft paint. Do NOT brush back and forth or dab your paint. Use long even strokes going one way for an even crackle texture to form.

Within a few moments the cracks will start to show. I LOVE watching this part!




Once the crackled paint was dry, I added precut labels to two of my books and a skeleton key to the other. Then I dry brushed black paint over all the edges and the "stitched" spines to bring out the details. I also added gold metallic paint to one label.


Here's another look at the three finished red books. For additional texture on the bottom and top books, I first Mod Podged crinkled up tissue paper before painting the base color, then proceeded with the glue and paint crackling. The dry brushing at the end really highlights the crinkled paper, making it look like old leather.


My livingroom colors are turquoise, red and brown, so these books are PERFECT for making my livingroom pretty and colorful!


My books have never looked this GOOD! I did not spend any money on restyling these books since I had everything on hand in my stash. Mod Podge, hot glue, paint, tissue, Elmer's glue and pre cut labels.

I'm making them in sets of three in different colors and trying them out for wedding decor. We have three family weddings this year and these will look beautiful on the reception tables.


And more...


and even skeleton keys for Halloween!


And last but not least, turquoise with black patterned papers, including damask!


This is a fun and inexpensive way to add beautiful color and texture to your home's decor. Try it, you'll like it!