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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!

Visual Journal Page 38: Whispers Make My Ears Itch

This visual journal page is one of those quirky, fun pages that I love falling back on when inspiration just doesn’t seem to hit. I have an ongoing list of visual journal page ideas, and this one lived there for a long time before it became a reality.

Sometimes it seems like inspiration is overflowing. I have too many ideas and never enough time. But what happens to all of those ideas when dry spells hit? We all have our moments of inspiration road blocks, and this page represents one of those.

I had been steadily visually journaling about my life, all things big and small, when suddenly I had no ideas left. Nothing current seemed journal worthy and I didn’t have a vision for my bigger page ideas, but I was itching to create. That’s when I turned to my visual journal folder and ideas list. When nothing jumped out from the folder of odds and ends I had been collecting, I turned to my list.

My list contains big events that have happened that I know I want to include when I have time: births of nieces, anniversaries, big trips, plus little things that don’t necessarily need to fit in a timeline: I love walking barefoot outside, red and purple skittles are my favorite combination, and whispers make my ears itch.

When I had no ideas to start pages for the big events, the one that jumped off the page was the whisper one. Because although it is insignificant, it tells something about me, and reminds me of all the times my hubs has tried to catch me off guard with an ear itching whisper.

Out of nowhere his hot breath is quietly telling tales of “sad Sally selling seashells at the seashore,” because sad Sally is full of high pitch, whistly, and breathy Ss.

So although this is minor it does give my readers a piece of me and it gives me a memory of my husband that immediately makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and goosebumps appear on my arms.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal
  • Drawing paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Book pages
  • Glue

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, including parts of the face in a drawing. Drawing is not my strength, and I knew it was something I needed to work on. I taught a drawing class and had many AP Art students who were drawing focus and needed help creating colored pencil portraits. I had yet to jump in, and decided this would be a good way to test out some techniques.

So I wasn’t too overwhelmed, I only focused on the nose and mouth of one figure and the ear of the other. I sketched them out with pencil on a separate sheet of paper before going in with colored pencil. I started dark and moved in a circular motion to get a smoother look. As I moved from dark to light I overlapped the colors and the circles to create a more even transition from light to dark. I worked on the faces and hands simultaneously, so the skin tones would match as closely as possible. Although looking back I see a lot of issues, it looks flat, the nose and hands aren’t in proportion, the teeth aren’t realistic, at the time this felt like a big accomplishment.

After completing the portraits, I cut them out, then moved on to the text. I was very happy with the way the text curled around the page in my bee sting page. So I decided to create a similar look with this. It helped add excitement, as if the words float through the air before reaching their intended destination. I wrote the words on a separate sheet of paper, then added lines and colored pencil. I cut them out and used an Xacto knife to cut out the hole in the center.

To emphasize the text, I glued it to a book page I had ripped from another book, then cut it out again leaving an edge of book pages showing around the block of text. Next, I glued the portraits to the pages of my visual journal, then added the text. I overlapped the portrait on the text block, making it look like the words were coming out of the figure on the lefts mouth. I used an Xacto knife to slice an opening in the ear of the figure to the right, then slide the text block through the opening to make it look like the words were going into the figure’s ear.

CHALLENGE:

Create a visual journal page about one of your pet peeves.

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

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!

Visual Journal Page 37: Foggy Mornings

Looking at this visual journal page immediately takes me back to my commute to my first job.

My first art position was at a high school outside of Atlanta. I drove 40 minutes straight east everyday until I hit the small town where I worked. It was a very boring drive, straight highway lined with trees. But many mornings in the fall and spring brought beautiful fog that rolled through the trees, making me forget that I was speeding along a highway.

I loved seeing it, and it brought a odd combination of comfort and eeriness watching the white, translucent fog moving through the silhouetted trees. It brought be a sense of calm before I started my crazy, jam-packed day.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Newspaper
  • Watercolor
  • Paint brush
  • India ink
  • Gesso
  • Water
  • Sharpie

HOW TO:

To create this visual journal page, I worked in sections. I first started in my book by gluing down ripped up strips of newspaper and book pages. I then painted the background using warm colors to mimic the look of a sunrise.

While waiting for the background to dry, I used India ink to paint treetop silhouettes on a separate sheet of white paper. I using heavier paper, because India ink can easily saturate printer paper and cause it to ripple and tear. I set that aside and waited for it to dry. TIP: Use a hair dryer to speed up the process!

Once the tree tops were dry, I used watered down gesso to loosely paint fog. I painted the gesso in spirals, circles, and waves to try to mimic the look.

Once the fog and trees dried, I cut them out using scissors. When collaging, I like the look of leaving an edge around objects I cut out. I think it emphasizes the fact that it’s a collage. Once the trees were cut out, I cut them down to fit in the book before gluing them in. TIP: Use a credit card to push pieces into the crease of the book.

When everything was finally put together I added the finishing touches using a thin Sharpie, text that said: “There is something eerie, yet comforting about a foggy morning.”

CHALLENGE:

Recreate a moment when you were in the car. It can be a commute, road trip, or similar! Have fun and good luck!

 

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!