Category: Crafty Projects

These posts deal with crafty projects I do. I like to make gifts as often as possible and I have come up with a lot of easy, cheap ways to create personalized items. I also love to decorate, and often make things for my house such as wall hangings, furniture, and re purposed items.

A Felted Christmas: DIY Christmas Garland

There is nothing I love more than a holiday craft project, and every year I look for a new craft project to add to my Christmas decor collection. After pulling out my hand me down fake greenery garland from the mid 1990’s, I decided it was time for an upgrade. A do it yourself Christmas garland was bumped to the top of my craft to do list.

FELT GREENERY GARLAND

I love the look of crafty and homemade (while still looking well made) decoration. For me, felt embodies that look. For both my greenery garland and ball garland, I selected felt as the base material.

SUPPLIES:

  • Two different shades of green felt
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (optional, although recommended)

HOW TO:

STEP ONE: Cut strips of the felt into 1/2″ wide sections. The length doesn’t matter, although you want it as long as possible to save time connecting pieces together. The strips of fabric will serve as the base to connect the felt leaves to, to create the garland.

Select one color felt to use as the base, or alternate between the two colors.

STEP TWO: Connect the ends of your 1/2″ strips together to create one long piece. Use a sewing machine or hand sew the pieces together. The length of the garland is up to you. I created one long piece, approximately 5 feet long, and two shorter pieces, approximately 2 feet long.

STEP THREE: Cut the rest of the fabric into leaf shapes, ovals with pointed ends. For my garland, I wanted larger leaves so I cut them approximately 2 inches wide, at the wides point, and 3-4 inches long.

STEP FOUR: Sew the leaves onto the strip of felt. For a cleaner look, keep the leaves pointing the same direction, but alternate which side of the felt strip you connect the leaves to.

STEP FIVE: Hang your garland on your fireplace, around your bannister or place it on a shelf for an easy, festive look.

FELT BALL GARLAND

SUPPLES:

  • 1″ red felt balls (you can easily change the size depending on the look you are going for)
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread

HOW TO:

STEP ONE: Thread your needle, knot the end of the string, and string the red balls together.

STEP TWO: Hang your garland! I opted to spread the red balls out along the thread in order to make it stretch further. If you want a solid string, plan ahead and order enough felt balls to do that.

tip: To avoid a tangled garland use thicker thread, hemp, or similar to string the felt balls. Plan ahead and have a larger eye needle on hand. 

Combine the two Christmas garlands together to create a red, green, and festive look.

tip: for storage, wrap the red ball Christmas garland around a wrapping paper tube. Tape the ends down to keep it in place. 

Thanks for taking the time to check out my two DIY Christmas garland projects. I look forward to using these year after year and adding to them with future holiday crafts. Help me spread the Christmas cheer by sharing on your social media of choice. Thanks for stopping by.

DIY The Very Hungry Caterpillar Character Costume

I am extremely lucky in my work situation. I get to do what I love, teach art full time, and bring my almost two year old to school with me everyday. My school provides on site daycare for all their employees. It’s easily half the cost of standard daycare and he is on campus with me. This opportunity has kept me working, which is what I want to do. Before kids I didn’t realize many women had to stop working due to the ridiculous cost of daycare. Even with baby number two on the way, we can justify the cost of full time childcare for two while I stay in the classroom.

Cooper has been attending his “school” since he was four months old. We both get a nice summer off, but come August we are back at it. Although I teach high school, I work at a K-12 school. This makes daycare even better, the kids get a glimpse of life in elementary school and they get to participate in a number of their events. One such event is the annual book character parade. All the daycare and elementary students get to dress up as their favorite book characters and parade around the quad for their parents, middle and high school students, and faculty to see.

This was the second year Cooper got to participate, and this was the second year that I waited until the night before to pull it all together. Although I put myself in a stressful situation by procrastinating, it made me realize that I love making his outfits for events like this and I can do it on a budget and tight timeline.

SUPPLIES:

For his “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or as I like to call it “The Very Hungry Toddler” costume I had fabric leftover from his book character the year before, the “Chicka, Chicka, Boom Boom” tree. It made the project that much easier to have most of the supplies on hand.

  • White shirt (or any old shirt you have laying around)
  • Red beanie
  • Purple, dark green, light green, and brown felt
  • Brown, purple, green, yellow, and white paint (I used acrylic paint to make sure it stayed on if it got wet. Fabric dye is also a good option)
  • Green and yellow construction paper OR if you feel artsy, watercolor paper and watercolor paint
  • Cardboard (thin strips to help the antennas stand up)
  • Hot glue gun/hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water

To get the Eric Carle illustration look on Cooper’s costume, I painted on top of fabric. His illustrations have a beautiful range of value in each object. You never see something one solid shade of green. Instead, you may find a range of value from yellow to yellow-green to light-green to dark-green, and even more in between.

I picked two shades of green, yellow, and white paint to mix together on my green base fabric. I watered down acrylic paint, and loosely added color with big paintbrushes. I painted the fabric before cutting it up to make it easier to paint and to give it an even more Eric Carle look. I tried not to follow a stripe pattern. I randomly introduced colors, blended them together, and made a mess in general.

I used the same colors on the dark green fabric. On the purple fabric, for the caterpillar feelers, I used a different shade of purple and white. On the brown fabric I used yellow, another shade of brown, and white paint.

After letting the fabric dry, I started cutting everything out. I cut strips for the body of the caterpillar, round foot shapes for the feet, and long narrow pieces for the antennas. This is the type of crafty project that looks cute and crafty, so I did not worry about fraying edges or uneven cuts. In situations like these, I tell myself if everything looks a little funky it all comes together to create a beautifully funky end result.

 

Next, I started hot gluing all the pieces to his white shirt. I started with the feet, overlapped them on the front, and glued them down. I then added the strips of green, alternating between dark and light. I wanted the sides of the stripes to look cleaner, so I folded the ends and glued them down. I then glued them directly to the shirt. I left the seam line exposed, covering the front completely, then adding the strips to the back of the shirt. This allowed the shirt to still stretch (somewhat) to put it on him.

Since the parade happened mid-October, it was a little chilly outside. I opted for a long sleeve white shirt (bought on the cheap from Amazon), but decided to only add the green stripes to the center of the shirt. It also made it a lot less complicated not adding them around sleeves.

It was tricky adding the pieces to the collar. A lesson I learned from last year’s costume is to leave the seam line on the shoulders exposed. After attaching all the leaves for the tree around his collar, there was no stretch left in the head opening. Cooper has an unusually large head, so I ended up cutting slits on either side just so we could put it on.

After the shirt was complete, I moved onto the beanie. I cut out four, thin purple strips of fabric, hot glued a piece of cardboard to one, and covered it up with another piece of purple fabric. I left a little extra fabric at the bottom, so I could “pinch” it to the hat using hot glue.

Next, I hot glued the eyes. You could use yellow and green construction paper, cut out ovals, and overlap them. I decided to paint them with watercolors on watercolor paper, then cut them out. I wanted to continue the painterly look of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” illustrations.

In addition to painting the eyes, I also painted a few examples of the fruit the caterpillar ate. I used watercolors, and combined multiple colors to imitate the color variation in the book. I wasn’t sure how to incorporate them into the costume, but decided to have them on hand in case an idea struck me. In the end I glued the apple to the front of his shirt and attached the rest on a string for him to carry during the parade.

If you don’t have access to these supplies or don’t have the knowledge on how to do it you can always print pictures of the illustration and add them to the costume.

He loved shaking the fruit on the string. This is the best picture I have of him holding it, and it barely lasted the day, but I loved the touch it added.

Cooper in his “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” costume in fall of 2016, almost at a year old, and in his “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” from this year. I can’t believe how much he has grown in a year!

Although these are short term costumes, I love being able to make something for him. My wallet also appreciates it. Thanks for taking the time to check out my latest how to post. Help me spread the word about DIY, crafts, and all things art by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

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Adventures in Cabinet Refinishing a.k.a Making it Work is Cheaper than Moving


Over the past 7 and a half years since we moved into our historic Atlanta bungalow our family has expanded, but the walls of our house have not. With each passing year, and addition of more stuff and tiny humans, I feel our 1400 square foot house getting smaller and smaller. Now with baby number two on the way, we are having to get creative with our storage.

Over the summer I finally hit a wall with our kitchen. I realized that I needed space for Cooper’s toddler food items as well as baby girl’s (coming end of November, yikes!) baby feeding items. You would think such tiny humans wouldn’t require much space, but it took a great deal of reorganizing and purging just to clear a single shelf to accommodate Cooper. Plus I was sick of dishes, pots and pans spilling out of my cabinets every time I opened a door. In addition to the cabinet space issue, the overflow from our pantry to the top of our refrigerator had also found it’s way to the top of our cabinets making our kitchen look like a complete mess even at it’s most picked up.

I was over it. Something needed to change and Nick and I decided moving was too much. This kitchen is my reality for the foreseeable future, it was time to make it work.

So my wheels started turning. There was enough space at the top of our current cabinets to fit another row of cabinets to give us more storage space. I began researching our brand of cabinets and my options. I quickly discovered that even cheap, laminate cabinets are pricey and they didn’t make the size I was looking for. I started on plan B, what creative way could I add space? I thought about building something custom, with stain glass window doors, and all kinds of fancy things. But the reality was all the fancy things came with fancy thing price tags and it was going to be difficult to match the stain of our cabinets, which I was not a fan of anyway.

Plan C: I began researching all styles and finishes of cabinets. If I could find something cheap, I could bite the bullet and commit to fully repainting our cabinets. This plan started to develop into reality when I discovered the perfect height and unfinished cabinets, for a cheap price tag, at Home Depot (check out what I found here). The width of the cabinets was limited to two sizes, which meant they wouldn’t perfectly line up with our current cabinets, but I thought I could make it work regardless.

Next, I began researching how to refinish laminate cabinets and realized it was a lot less overwhelming than I thought. I knew it would be a time consuming project, but it was summer vacation, and I was ready. I used Bob Villa’s tips on cabinet refinishing as my guide, check it out here.

As soon as I had my strategy worked out, I was ready to immediately get supplies and get started. For this project I needed:

  • A screwdriver, to remove the cabinet doors and all hardware from the cabinets
  • Rags, gloves, and a product called TSP to heavy duty clean the sticky, kitchen dust and grim that had accumulated on my cabinets. Gloves with TSP is a must, it’s a not very environmentally or human friendly product, but I tried to be very responsible while I used it and it seriously got the job done. I purchased heavy duty gloves for this.
  • A power sander and 120 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface of the cabinets. I pity the person who attempts to do this project without a power sander, my arms don’t need to see that kind of action. Bob Villa recommended 120 grit to rough up the surface without damaging the laminate surface.
  • An angled paintbrush plus foam cabinet rollers. The cabinet rollers were cheap, cheap, cheap. I went through 1 and 1/2 packages (each packaged had 4 rollers) for my project, they tore up very quickly, but they were so worth it. The rounded end allows you to press paint into all the nooks and crannies and the finished surface was very smooth. My hubs, who is full of constructive criticism, even commented on how nice the finish looked.
  • The paint department employee told me to purchase a primer that specifically said “bonding” on the front to ensure the paint stuck to the laminate surface. I doubled down and bought a primer/paint combo for my top coat, although I still had to paint 4-5 coats to get a solid look. I went with a bright white for my cabinets.

I hit a moment very early on when I felt overwhelmed and questioned what I was doing. Simply seeing the amount of junk we have in our cabinets piled all over our kitchen, with a 2 year old trying to get into everything, was enough to make me want to quit. But, the mess is worth it, I promise. I moved all my drawers and cabinet doors to our deck to clean, sand, and paint them. For everything else, I had to leave windows and doors open, to ensure I had good airflow, and clean, sand, and paint in my kitchen. The TSP did the trick, but it did discolor the wood as soon as it touched it. That was the point of no return.

After cleaning everything with TSP and allowing it to dry, I sanded everything down. I went over it enough to feel a slight texture when I ran my hand across the wood. I then wiped everything down with a damp rag to make sure no sawdust was left behind. Over the course of the next two days I felt like I was in a constant loop. I would put a coat on the front of all drawers and doors, move inside and put a coat of paint on all the hanging cabinets. By the time I made it back outside, the paint was dry to the touch, I flipped everything over, and painted the backs and interiors of the doors and drawers. I went back inside and continued the cycle.

I was wishfully hoping for a single coat of primer and a single coat of paint to complete the job. In reality it took a layer of primer, two layers of paint, and two more quick layers of paint. Once everything was dry and re-installed, I continued to touch up any spots I could see.

Once all the cabinets were painted, I had hubby help me place the new cabinets on top of the original ones. We removed the molding from the top of the original cabinets, and calked the seam. We then reinstalled the molding along the top of the new cabinets. The cabinets were secured by screwing the backs into studs in the wall.

This process also allowed me to clean the inside of my cabinets, put liners on every shelf, and reorganize everything. It felt great to move back in and donate a 1/3 of the items we were previously storing in our tiny space.

Although the lighting is terrible in this picture, I felt it really showed the additional storage space we were able to achieve. We may not have a brand new, top of the line, modern kitchen, but it aligns much better with my aesthetic and storage needs.

It’s amazing how much brighter our kitchen feels with the white cabinets. We already get a lot of light in there, especially in the morning, but something about the white makes it feel more airy and larger.

I no longer have to stare at piles of dry food and Costco size oil, plastic wrap, and dog treats on top of my refrigerator and cabinets. I love the clean look.

In addition to refinishing the cabinets, I also decided to ditch my old stainless steel knobs for something a little more artsy. I cleaned out Anthropologie’s sale knobs during one of their additional 30% of sale item deals, and ended up with an assortment of knobs. While they are all different, there is some reasoning to it. All the cabinet doors have clear glass knobs, some with hints of white, silver, and different shapes. All of the drawer knobs are a round, ceramic design with gold, silver, and white patterns. I love that not everything matches.

It didn’t take long for my perfectly clean and organized kitchen to start resembling it’s old self with stains, drying dishes, and clutter. But, overall we have maintained the organization and nothing has found it’s way back to the top of the fridge or cabinets. At this point, we are back to full capacity in our kitchen, it’s organized, but there is no extra space. And of course, as it is with all projects, as soon as you fix one thing another issue becomes apparent. Now I realize how much I hate our kitchen tile, not only because of all the cracks and holes that have developed over the years, but also because hardwood would look so much nicer next to my white cabinets.

Perhaps the next step will be the home expansion I have been dreaming about for the last couple of years.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about DIY, craft projects, and all things art by sharing on your social media site of choice. Help me fundraise for my home renovation by checking out my TPT store here and my Etsy shop here.

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DIY Craft Project: Dining Room Table Repaint

I have always wanted a bench, farmhouse style table, and years back I got my wish. My Uncle’s Mom had one they needed to find a new home for while prepping their house to sell. I immediately jumped on it, and brought it home to complete our dining room. Although the finish was darker than what I planned, it worked well in our small, and very bright dining room. However, once little man Cooper came in the picture, things began to change.

As Cooper hit his milestones, smiling, laughing, sitting up, crawling, and walking, our house felt smaller and smaller. His toys began taking over our small living room and I began brainstorming some alternatives. I eventually decided it was time to say goodbye to our sweet dining room. We rarely ate in there, only when we entertained guests, and it wasn’t the best use of the space. It has since been transformed into Cooper’s playroom. It was the perfect solution. It’s situated right off our living room, and we can easily gate the doorway, to keep him in and dogs out. It was tight as a dining room, it was converted form a porch to a room years before we purchased the house, but it’s the perfect size for an almost two year old and his things.

The loss of the dining room meant I had to move around and store some of my beloved furniture. If you read my blog, you know I collect pieces of furniture like people collect jewelry. Each piece is special, important, and carefully selected. My beautiful, white, round kitchen table is now living in our attic. Hopefully that is a temporary spot, once I have a studio space or larger kitchen it will come back out to the light of day. Our farmhouse table was moved to take the spot my kitchen table used to occupy. I decided this was the better choice, since this offered more seating. The dining table is slightly large for the space, it must be pulled out if we ever have enough people to seat around it. But, it gives us a place to entertain and eventually have family dinners.

The dark wood that once worked in the dining room suddenly felt very outdated and heavy in our little kitchen nook. I decided I needed to take a risk and try painting it, shockingly something I have never done on a larger piece of furniture. I did some research, collected my supplies, and got to work.

SUPPLIES:

  • Furniture to refinish
  • Heavy duty cleaner like Trisodium Phosphate (or decent cleaner)
  • Chalk paint, for this size project I used 2 quarts of paint.
  • Paint brushes
  • Rollers
  • Paint tray
  • A lot of paper towels or rags
  • Drop cloth
  • Sandpaper

HOW TO:

Step one: I live with hairy animals, so I knew this was a project that couldn’t be completed in my house. I moved the table and benches down to our garage. I laid out a big drop cloth, set everything on top and got to work cleaning.

Step two: Thoroughly clean the furniture. I recently refinished my kitchen cabinets and used the cleaner, Trisodium Phosphate. It’s a harsh chemical that is not environmentally friendly or health friendly, but it does the trick. I decided it’s better to use it for these types of projects since I am doing it on such a small scale and so infrequently. I didn’t use it for my table, and I wish I had. Instead I used my standard cleaners and did my best cleaning the dust, etc. It worked well enough, but there are spots I think the paint would have stuck better if I was more thorough at this stage.

Step three: Start painting! With chalkboard paint there is no sanding or stripping required, which is why I chose to go that route. Paint a solid coat, let it dry for 24 hours, and add coat number two. This project took awhile because I was covering such a dark piece it took 3 coats of paint. I also had to rotate the piece so I could get underneath and between all the decorative sections.

Step four: Once you have the coverage and look you want, you are done! Move it back into the space and enjoy. For this, my step four was adding a clear coat. I wanted a smoother, slicker finish, which the chalkboard paint doesn’t offer. However, the clear coat I used ended up turning a yellowish color so I do not recommend doing this.

Optional step five: I opted to go back in with sandpaper to rough up some of the edges. I didn’t go crazy with sanding, since the wood beneath is so dark I was worried it would compete with the white if I let too much show through. I hit the edges in a few spots with the sandpaper, just enough to show a little dark through the white paint. I also had to sand down the many drips I ended up with.

I am very happy with my finished product. The fact that the table really is too large for the space is downplayed now that the table is a lighter color. I also love the way my beautiful, blue Crate and Barrel chairs look with the white finish. Please excuse the missing chair, it also has to serve the purpose of high chair holder for Cooper when we don’t have guests over, and I didn’t even realize it wasn’t there for my final picture.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about crafting, DIY, art making, etc. by sharing on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

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Joining the Art and Craft Fair Circuit

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After a two years of collecting parts I finally have my outdoor booth set up ready to go. It’s officially June, and I have two outdoor fests under my belt with one more before the month closes out.

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Atlanta is not shy when it comes to hosting festivals, the latest addition is the Mac n’ Cheese fest, often with multiple festivals per weekend come spring and fall. This makes weekend planning difficult, but it allows me to have a variety of options when choosing which festivals to apply to and participate in.

Chastain Park Arts Festival was my introduction into the outdoor festival circuit. The weekend couldn’t have brought more perfect weather. It was low eighties, a light breeze, and a good continuous crowd. I was pleased with my profit earnings and the connections I made in the Atlanta art community.

Joining the festival circuit doesn’t just mean I have another venue to sell my art. It also means I get plugged into the art community. I have a much greater opportunity to meet likeminded and goal oriented people. I have the chance to build relationships, learn more about my craft, and be inspired by others. I love feeling like I am finally part of the community I have observed from the outside in for so many years.

Virginia Highlands Summerfest came next with an even better weekend, better foot traffic, much hotter days and a lesson in rain. I learned to place my oil paintings at the front of my booth, to save my encaustics from the direct sunlight (and potential melting) that inevitably pours in. I learned that if there is a chance of rain everything that sits on the ground should be placed on a raised surface. The later was a difficult lesson to learn when I opened my tent the next morning to deep puddles and a bag of ruined mats and prints.

Next up is Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival in just a week and a half. In between spending time with my family on Hilton Head Island, I am ordering new mats and prints, gluing paper to panels, and painting a new batch of fruit and veggies. I can’t wait to see what comes from this next festival and the break afterwards until my schedule fills up for the fall. Check out more about my new oil paintings below!

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When I first set up my booth to take pictures I realized my encaustics could melt if it was warm enough outside and they were in direct sunlight. I began to panic. After all I had just invested a lot of money for my set up. What would I do if I couldn’t display my product outside?

Version 2While teaching an idea hit me. My students had just started oil paint studies of food. I was itching to paint with oils on canvas again and started my own so I could work along with my kids. I loved getting back to the basics of just paint and I was pleased with the way my bell pepper and pomegranate turned out. I wanted to do more.

After thinking about it I decided these would be the perfect solution to my encaustic melting problem. If I moved around my artwork based on where the sun was hitting I could keep my encaustic out of the sun by displaying my oils in the sun.

Since my bell pepper and pomegranate studies I have completed blueberries, eggs, a cabbage, orange, cauliflower, garlic, mussel, oyster, and I am finishing up a kiwi, tomato, onion, and papaya. Each of these food studies are 6″x6.” I start with an underpainting, typically choosing the complementary color of the food I am painting for the background.

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After allowing the underpainting to dry I mark out the shape of the food and add some detail before applying my first layer of white to the background.

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I like to leave hints of the underpainting peeking through. Whether it’s along the edge of a bowl or in between eggs, I think it adds another interesting detail to the piece.

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I also pushed myself to loosen up my painting style by trying out palette knife painting. I started with portraits of my chickens Rachel, Thackary Binx, Sir Sylvia, and Linda. I loved the texture and the sense of movement the palette knife marks made.

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I decided to go even bigger than the 12×12 chicken portraits and I completed a 32″x32″ positive/negative space painting of the Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans.

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I will post additional information about my upcoming festival, Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival, next week.

With sweet Cooper, my 13 new chicks, finishing up teaching for the year, and prepping for four festivals, I have had little time to update my blog. I hope to get back to posting weekly this summer. I look forward to keeping in touch. Thanks for stopping by![subscribe2]