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.

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:

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Check out my other chalkboard paint project here. Want to read more? Get these posts delivered right to your inbox by subscribing in the form below. Thanks for stopping by!

Homemade Valentines with a Toddler (and paint)

This year is the first year Cooper gets to celebrate Valentine’s day at school. Last year, as a one year old, he was a little too young to participate in the festivities. But this year, he gets to exchange valentines in the big kid room. We were asked to bring in 19 valentines to exchange with all the students at his daycare. I decided while he is still young enough to not have an opinion about what valentines to bring, we would make our own. Plus the art teacher/mom in me thought it would be fun to have a craft project over a very rainy weekend. 

We started by using the easel he got for Christmas. I limited his color choices to pink, white, and silver, gave him two brushes, and let him go to town. I did encourage him to cover the entire page, but other than that, this was 95% Cooper painted. I decided to use the paper that came with his easel since it was large and already attached to the easel, but if I could go back I would’ve used a thicker paper instead.

We painted two large sheets of paper using pink, white, and silver, then let them dry overnight. The next day we flipped them over and painted the back of the sheets with red and glitter red paint. I was much smarter first time around, having Cooper paint without a shirt on. I forgot to take his very white shirt off before painting with very red paint. Luckily, we were using washable paint, so the paint that inevitably ended up all over his shirt came out after just one wash.

After we finished painting and the paint had dried, we started adding some other decorations. One of Cooper’s favorite parts was stamping with the heart stamp.

Next, I began cutting up the sheets of paper into smaller valentine size pieces.

After cutting and folding them, we punched out heart and star shapes. I kept the pink and white on the outside and red on the inside so the heart cut outs would pop. The heart puncher was very hard to push down, so I handled those, while cooper added the stars.

After we punched, added a few more stamps, and some colored pencil scribbles, I had Cooper put a sparkly heart sticker on the inside of each one.

This year I handled the name signing. We will work on his alphabet so maybe he can sign a few next year.

To finish them off we stuffed them in envelopes with a handful of sparkly, foam, Valentine themed stickers.

I love the homemade look of these valentines. I know this will probably be one of the only times I get the chance to do this. I’m sure Cooper will be seduced by the action heroes, minions, and other fun characters that cover the not as fun and unique valentines in the stores. Until then, I will soak up every minute of craft time with my little.

I hope you enjoyed this Valentine post on Valentine’s day. Help me spread the word about crafting with littles, art, visual journals, and all things crafty by sharing it with others. Thanks for stopping by!

Adventures in making homemade valentines with a two year old, and paint, and stamps, and stickers, and so much more.