Category: Craft Projects

I love DIY and craft projects and am always in the look out for my next weekend project. Here I share my recent home improvement endeavors, DIY decorations for showers and parties, as well as the artsy things I come up with to try and entertain my kids.

Living in 1400 square feet with a family of four, plus two dogs, has encouraged me to be creative with our space. Over the years I have found new ways to maximize our space and keep our home updated. In addition to my side job as DIY home improver, I am also an art teacher and mom. I often take the projects I teach in my high school classroom, and make adjustments for in home projects to encourage creativity and play in my kids. My art teacher background also spills over when I plan shower, birthday parties, and other events. With two siblings and five sibling-in-laws we have had a number of bridal and baby showers over the years. I can’t host one of these events without throwing in my own DIY spin on things. Read about these topics in the posts below.

Do you have a great project you would like to share? E-mail me at [email protected] about teaming up for a guest post.

A Super Wings Birthday

It’s a blessing and a curse being an art teacher mom.

A blessing because I always have art supplies on hand, ideas to fill rainy days, and I can make most of the decorations for events (such as a three year old’s birthday party).

It’s a curse because when it comes time for said birthday party I start planning craft project after craft project, decoration after decoration, thinking all the time, “I can do that, I can make that, I have time for one more thing, I can do it all.”

I went all out for Coopers 1st birthday. His second party was a lot more low key, as I was nine months pregnant with our little girl. So by the time his third birthday came around I felt well rested and ready to plan another party.

After many discussions Nick and I decided a playground birthday party was the way to go. Cooper has a November birthday, so it was a risky choice as weather is questionable in Georgia that time of year. But, it was worth the risk to not have to host a slew of three year olds in our little house. We looked at a couple of locations until we discovered the Dunwoody Nature Center.

It was a playground in the woods. A hike from the parking lot, but it felt magical. Plus, I could visualize it on a birthday invitation.

For months all Cooper talked about was a Donnie birthday party; more specifically a Donnie themed birthday cake which quickly translated into the theme of the day. If you are unfamiliar, Donnie is a character from the show Super Wings. What gets me is the fact that Donnie is a fairly insignificant sidekick to the main character, Jet. He doesn’t even show up in every episode. But for some reason my little man had his heart set on this yellow airplane.

The birthday invitation was the start of it all. I decided to do a quick watercolor of the playground for the front. After all, my painting class was in the middle of a watercolor project, so it was perfect timing to work along with them. I then drew a Donnie and filled him in with Sharpie. Next, I scanned the drawing and painting into my computer and compiled the images together in Photoshop to create the back and front of the invite.

I was very happy with the look of the invitations and was relieved to finally send them out to his classmates. That feeling was short lived as I began to realize we now had to actually plan the day.

I decided to keep it as simple as possible. We would throw some tablecloths on the picnic tables, pick up Publix subs, chips, juice boxes, the usual odds and ends for a lunch birthday. I was keeping decoration to a minimum with a handful of balloons and a easy to make birthday banner.

To create the banner I found pictures of all the characters online and saved them to my desktop. Next, I found a banner outline that I liked the shape of. I opened the banner outline in Photoshop, dropped a character in, and saved it. I repeated with all the characters and each letter in Cooper’s name. I then printed them on card stock and cut them out.

I laid the banner pieces on a table and cut two long pieces of twine. I evenly spaced each banner piece before laying the twine in the fold and sticking it in place with hot glue. I then added a dot of hot glue to each tip to hold the folded pieces closed.

The banner was an easy (and cheap) way to decorate and to section off the picnic tables so other playground goers knew that this was a separate event. Because the playground was set back from the parking lot we used balloons to help guide everyone to the playground area.

I found the Super Wing themed balloons on Amazon, but of course since Donnie is a smaller character, we could only find a big version of Jet. Cooper did not seem disappointed, he was too excited about the fact that we had a car full of balloons.

I also outsourced the party favors. Nick and I debated between a few options before discovering a popcorn shop, Poppa Corns just down the street. Cooper got to select his own flavors to make a customized birthday mix. Between Cooper’s love for popcorn and the personalized touch, it was a done deal. Shortly after placing our order my sister sent a recommendation for a baker ( I Canita Cake) who makes amazing custom cookies. I reached out to her and very quickly placed an order to have every Super Wing character’s face on a cookie. They were adorable.

The project I ended up overdoing myself on was the cake. After all, the cake was all Cooper talked about when we brought up his party. He didn’t request presents, or a birthday at all, he just wanted a Donnie cake.

I thought about making it myself. I brainstormed ideas, procrastinated, brainstormed more, and procrastinated again. As the big day got closer I started to chicken out and called every specialty bakery in the Atlanta area. If they could just sculpt the Donnie, I could stick it on a cake that I made. But I had waited too long. I made my bed, it was time to lay in it.

I went to Hobby Lobby and raided their cake supplies. I got a sphere cake pan, colored fondant, and an edible black pen.

On birthday party eve I started baking. I opted for boxed funfetti cake mix. I didn’t have the time to make a cake from scratch with the decorating looming ahead and funfetti is just fun, especially for a three year old.

While the cake was baking I rolled out my first batch of fondant and cut out clouds and the letters for his name. It wasn’t too bad! My confidence was building.

The rounds came out of the oven, once they cooled I began stacking them, I added my blue (from scratch) buttercream, and stuck the clouds around the side. I was feeling good.

Then I started the Donnie topper.

Issue #1: funfetti is very light and does not bake well in a sphere form. It didn’t hold it’s shape.

As quick as I could I stuck the two cake halves together, slapped on some buttercream and draped my carefully rolled out fondant on top. Immediately the cake started crumbling, the fondant started cracking. With one hand propping the mess up, the other was trimming and smoothing the fondant.

Around this time Nick walked into the kitchen, looked at the cake, looked back at me and asked, “So what’s plan B?” But I refused to give up. I cut out the details from blue and white fondant and strategically placed them to cover up mistakes. I reminded myself that Cooper would be looking for a yellow blob with eyes, it didn’t matter if it was perfect.

I used food color to add the tongue and eye details, and was still frightened. I then pulled out the black edible pen and it was a game changer. I got everything outlined, the mouth filled in, the eyes emphasized. Donnie wasn’t perfectly round and was cracking, but it looked like him.

I carefully added him to the top of the cake, and placed his wing on top. For the wing I cut the shape out of cardboard, coated it in buttercream, then wrapped it in fondant. I used a skewer to hold Donnie onto the cake and the wing onto Donnie.

The icing on the cake was at 1 am when I realized the four layer cake plus a six inch character on top meant the cake did not fit in my cake carrier. I threw together cut up cereal boxes, plastic wrap, and crossed my fingers that it didn’t collapse. I would not see it again until we arrived at the playground.

Other than a small section of icing that was scraped off, the cake survived. Cooper was over the moon and everyone was impressed. My first fondant experience was stressful, but for the most part successful. My favorite part was Cooper insisting he eat Donnie. It was his birthday after all.

The birthday was a huge success. Cooper had the time of his life and the location felt so special. Although we had to haul coolers, food, and decorations through the woods and back, it was all worth it for my three year old big boy.

As soon as Cooper’s birthday was complete, I started working on Kennedy’s first birthday party, which was scheduled the weekend after. More to come on that soon!

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Its a Monster Mash: Planning a Themed First Birthday Party

Cooper's monster mash first birthday party. Eating cake.

Today my sweet little man turns three. I have no idea where the time has gone. I have heard the saying, “The days are long but the years are short,” so many times I roll my eyes a little more every time I hear it. But, today it just rings so true.

Two years ago Nick and I planned Cooper’s first birthday party. The weeks leading up I had a schedule and plan for completing the decorations, sending out invites, and getting the food ready,. It had to be perfect. Two years ago I also took pictures as I went through the process and finally I am sharing what I did to throw his party.

The adorable monster plush that inspired the monster mash first birthday.

The entire event was inspired by this sweet monster. I was brainstorming birthday present ideas and thought a handmade plush would be fun. When I ran across this fella, from Adrian Rae Studio, I suddenly found myself planning an entire monster themed birthday party centered around him.

His first appearance was on Cooper’s invitation. Over the years I have practiced more and more with graphic design and at this point, I always design my own cards for get togethers. I often create pieces by hand, scan them in, and rearrange them, but this one was completely digitally designed.

Cooper's monster mash first birthday party, making monster decorations.

After sending out the invitations, it was official, I had to start planning decorations for the big day. I am such a sucker for banners at parties (check out posts on making a tassel banner, photo banner, and paper banner.) and I obviously had to create a banner for Cooper’s birthday. Once again, focusing on the monster, I decided to create a monster banner with the green striped monster in the center. I purchased cheap fabric in blue, green, white, and gray from Hobby Lobby. For the larger monster I cut the base out of white. Next, I cut strips from two different shades of green, then used a hot glue gun to stripe the monster shape base. Monster decor for Cooper's monster mash first birthday party.

I continue to glue the fabric until the entire shape was filled up. I didn’t worry about cutting every piece perfectly to match the monster shape. Instead, I glued the strips down then used scissors to trim the excess after. Next, I added circles for the eyes and white fabric for the teeth.

Cooper's monster mash first birthday party.

As I gathered my pictures to prepare for this post I realized I had a lot of holes. I never took a final picture of the completed monster banner up close, so this is as good as it gets. I promise, it was adorable

The monster plush party favors for Cooper's first birthday.

The next piece of inspiration for Cooper’s party decorations were these adorable felt monsters by Littles by Bella. I fell in love with them as soon as I saw them and immediately placed an order for a batch as party favors. I requested navy blue, dark green, light green, turquoise, and gray, to match his color scheme.

Monster banner for Cooper's monster mash first birthday party.

These little guys also inspired more monster banners that I hung throughout the house for the party. I sketched the monster shapes out on a sheet of paper, referencing the felt monsters for the design. I used the outside edge as a guide to cut the fabric out in the monster shape. Next, I cut out medium size white circles for the eye base, and slightly smaller circles from the rest of the colored fabric, for the iris of the eye. I used sharpie to add the pupil and cut up jagged pieces of white for the teeth.

Cooper's monster mash first birthday party.

I used a hot glue gun to add the details to the monster bodies. Sharpie was used to add the pupils and thin mouth lines.

Cooper's monster mash first birthday party.

The only close up picture I took of these were in my classroom with terribly busy posters in the background. Sorry for the bad final pictures! Don’t judge… I had a one year old at the time.

Cooper's monster mash first birthday party.

Although at this point I had already created 4 banners, I couldn’t skip the name banner. I decided to use the extra fabric to cut his letters out and strung it up using twine. After many years of doing this I have found the easiest way is to draw the letters on the fabric with pencil and cut them out. Then glue them onto the next color fabric, to create a pretty edge, then cut them out again. Keep repeating until you have the look you want. I ended up doing three colors for each letter.

Cooper's monster mash first birthday party.

The night before Cooper’s big day I was baking up a storm. I made cupcakes for the guests and found a cupcake cake pan on amazon for Cooper’s smash cake. I added icing to the top to look like the stripes on his monster plush. I also made cake pops for another party favor and made them look like monsters using edible eyes from Hobby Lobby. This was my first attempt at cakes pops, and although they were time consuming, they were easier than I expected. It helps when you are creating monster pops that don’t require a perfectly smooth icing application.

Cooper's monster mash first birthday party.

The day of the party was complete chaos, but little man had the time of his life. I can’t believe today he is three. He is talking, walking, running, riding a bike, and periodically talking back. And I love every second of it.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my crafty project post. I had so much fun planning for his first birthday and I am now in the midst of planning his third birthday party, which is on Saturday. I hope to post about that in the next couple of weeks, hopefully it won’t actually take a couple of years.

Fall Decoration: Painted Pumpkins Tutorial

A tutorial on how to artistically paint pumpkins.

After drooling over Alisa Burke’s pumpkins this season I decided it was time to make my own. I thought it would be a fun Saturday morning activity with my little man, but it ended up inspiring a lesson plan.

I wanted to test a range of supplies so I could troubleshoot any issues that could come up before my students jumped in. I ended up getting:

  • Mini pumpkins
  • Acrylic paint, a range of colors
  • A range of paint pen colors
  • Metallic paint pens
  • Black paint pens (these work much better than Sharpies)
  • White paint pens
  • Glow in the dark puff paint
  • Paint brushes

I started the process by spreading out all of the supplies and letting my little man play.

I first fell in love with Alisa Burke’s white lace on black pumpkin design, so that was the first one that I tackled. 

I started by painting my entire pumpkin with black acrylic paint, including the stem. Once it dried, which took overnight, I doodled on top with a white paint pen. It was easy and had a ton of impact.

The next pumpkin I did was a white, black, and metallic design. I started by painting the entire pumpkin white, then adding the geometric design with black paint pens and deatils with metallic and white paint pens. I struggled with this design before finally settling on a more symmetrical, mandala-esk design. The original more polka dot themed design was covered up with the big black triangle shapes.

The final pumpkin I created was my acrylic paint pour one, which turned out to be my favorite. I started by doodling about halfway up the pumpkin, starting at the bottom. I wanted it to look like the paint was covering a design. I then poured thinned down acrylic paint (use just a little bit of water) on top until it dripped down the sides. I started with white as a base, then alternated colors. For this design I used hot pink, teal, green, and white. For this to be successful I believe white is key. It helps to have a neutral that mixes well with any color. The white helps the colors pop against each other.

Once I finished the pour I let my pumpkin dry overnight. I then outlined the drips and finished the doodles where it was needed with a black paint pen.

I am so happy with how these little babies turned out. I plan to  keep them on my front porch through Thanksgiving, or until they rot. I surprised two of my classes with the project and they are having so much fun! If you are interested in the lesson plan, stay tuned, it will be hitting TPT in the next 24 hours. I planned two days for the project, one for paint, one for paint pen decorating.

Have a wonderful holiday season and don’t forget to add a little art into it. Even Captain America does it.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Interested in pushing your artistic pumpkin making even further? Check out my artist inspired relief pumpkin project here. Interested in other weekend crafts? Check out my craft posts here. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets, links to the right!

Art Classroom Decor: Sharpie Doodle Chairs

Two modern white chairs that have been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

Every two years my school hosts a large gala as a school fundraiser. The silent auction is a huge part of that and every gala the art department is asked to create a class project to donate to the auction. I had tried a number of projects in the past from centerpieces to wall hangings, and was never satisfied with a project, until the doodle chairs.

While brainstorming with a coworker and the art gala liaison, someone suggested a piece of furniture as an art item. We did research and found some examples of doodle chairs. I was immediately hooked, this was going to be fun and create a very successful final product.

The parent organization that plans the gala provided the chairs and we set to decorating them. These same chairs can be found at Home Depot. I did a a lot of experimenting before getting to work. I was hoping to find a way to draw the doodles with sharpie, then spray the chair to help protect the drawing. I tried at least 6 different spray coat products and every single one peeled off of the plastic finish. In the end I decided to keep the doodle mostly on the back of the chair, where sitting would not rub the doodles.

Two modern white chairs that have been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

I left the legs off while we doodled to make it easier to access the bottom. I set the two chairs on a table in the back of my classroom and whenever students finished an assignment early or needed a break, they would doodle. I started the design on one chair so my students would have an example to get started, but then I mostly let them run with it.

Two modern white chairs that have been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

My students covered the back and bottom of the chairs and I decided to wrap part of the design onto the front. I kept it minimal in hopes that it wouldn’t rub off after a lot of use.

Two modern white chairs that have been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

The final product was beautiful. I loved the contrast in the design and the modern look. I was sad to pass these onto the auction, but glad my class was able to help.

A modern white chair that has been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

If you are looking for an art fundraiser, this could be a great way to go. You could ask for donations from parents to purchase the chairs or you could find wooden chairs at Goodwill or similar to paint white with acrylic paint or chalk paint, then add the sharpie design on top.

A modern white chair that has been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

I hope these chairs are being loved and enjoyed in a happy home! I am very tempted to purchase another pair to create a doodle chair set in my classroom.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Interested in other crafty projects? Check out what else I have worked on here. Looking for art lesson ideas? Check out my posts here. Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Projects: Converting Our Dining Room to a Playroom

The chalkboard wall I added to my kids' playroom.

A little over a year ago we handed over another room of our tiny 1400 square foot house to our little boy and it all started with a teepee.

While deciding what to get Cooper for his first real Christmas (the previous year he was a tiny 6 weeks old) I discovered the most adorable (and on sale) teepee from Crate and Barrel’s The Land of Nod. I had to have it.

When the teepee arrived it came in multiple, very large boxes, and it occurred to me that we didn’t have a single spot to put the very adorable teepee. Cooper’s room was already at the brink of full with his crib, changing table, and glider. Our front bedroom was still functioning as a guest bedroom, and a teepee didn’t quite fit the decor.

As I looked around, brainstorming ideas for where this was going to go, I really began noticing the overflowing basket of toys in our living room. I realized this was just the beginning. Cooper had only just learned how to walk, and already our house was overrun with his stuff. It was just going to get worse. I told Nick that I was going to try rearranging things and he was just going to have to trust me. I promised we would put everything back if it didn’t work.

But really, what we both knew was my mind was made up. We were saying goodbye to our rarely used (but nice to have around) dining room.

Our dining room before it was converted into our kids' playroom.

Our house was built in the 1940’s with a screened in porch on the side. We aren’t sure when, but at some point before we purchased the house the porch was converted into an interior space. It still has the feel of a former porch, it’s long and narrow. You have to step down through the doorway to access it, and the windows are big and beautiful, letting in amazing natural light. It isn’t very poorly insulated. As Nick likes to put it, in winter you can feel the heat leaving your body if you are sitting next to the doorway to the room.

The only time the room was used was when I was making art and we were entertaining guests. I couldn’t justify the space we use most, our living room, continuing to fill up with Cooper things when we had this space that could be better utilized. I started by moving the cloth covered chairs pictured above and the adorable white, round table that I loved in our kitchen (read about it in a visual journal post here) to our attic. I mourned the loss of those pieces of furniture for a moment before moving onto my next task, telling myself one day in a bigger house they would once again see the light of day. I moved the farm table and benches to our kitchen and paired them with the blue chairs that were already in there. The table ate up the small nook in our kitchen, but I ended up painting them white to help it feel less full.

Next, I added the cushy, letter and number floor mat to cover the hard tile. I cut them to make sure every inch of the tile was covered. When Nick saw me cutting up the mats I had just bought to “test whether or not this would work” I think he realized it was a done deal whether he liked it or not. The floor mats have served two useful purposes in that room. They help Cooper from getting less injured when he falls and it helps insulate the floor.

I already loved the turquoise color in the room, so I opted not to repaint the entire room. Instead, I added a full chalkboard wall to one wall. Cooper loves scribbling on it, and I loved adding the “Cow Jumped Over the Moon” poem to it.

The chalkboard wall in my kids' playroom.

We even have a space where we mark Cooper’s height. Kennedy will be up on the board before long! I also mark it on the door molding with a sharpie for a more permanent record than chalk.

After floor covering and painting, all that was missing was Cooper’s stuff. I didn’t realize how much stuff he actually had until it immediately filled up the room. We added a shelf for books and toys, as well as various baskets. His teepee looked amazing in the corner. I still haven’t figured out how to keep the room looking neat with all the scooters, bikes, and toys lining the walls, but if I am being honest with myself a playroom really shouldn’t ever look clean.

I kept a shutter that Nick found on the side of the road propped up against the wall. Someone painted “free at last” in purple on it. I love it. I have thought about adding to it, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. I love that this is exactly the way we found it, and I can’t decide if I want to touch it. I imagine the original artist painting the vines and text, only someone in good spirits would paint “free at last.” It adds good vibes to the room. Around the shutter I added some artwork that I have traded for at festivals over the years. One of my favorites is a piece by Lovely Bones Illustrations (follow her on Facebook here and Instagram here), a little creature painted on a cut piece of wood.

Cooper’s teepee fits perfectly in the corner and is always full of pillows, stuffed animals, and a Cooper from time to time.

While I wish we still had a more comfortable place to sit and break bread with friends, I would never go back on covnerting the playroom. Having a space where Cooper can play freely is invaluable. It also helps to have a room where I can toss his stuff without thinking twice about the way it looks.

This is Cooper Christmas morning when he got his teepee:

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