Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Project #1 - Painted Ornaments

Is there any greater seasonal joy than decorating for Christmas (well, aside from actually celebrating Christmas)?  I think not!  While I force myself to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start the decorating process, I must admit that I actually starting Christmas crafting several weeks ago.  Yes, I know, the shame.  I am a bit of a holiday jumper.

However, I happen to think that my early efforts were totally worth it for this little project.

In the midst of what I like to refer to "the agony of the first 18 weeks of pregnancy" I found myself flipping through some seasonal decor magazines looking for some holiday craft inspiration.  I came upon some simple ornaments sculpted from paper clay.  Unfortunately, I cannot locate the magazine and am not about to sift through the online versions of any number of holiday issues.  If, however, you happen to have looked at the same magazine, I would be delighted to know what it was!  Anyway, I thought, "Hmmm...I suppose you could sculpt just about anything from paper clay....", and it turns out I was right!

So, here is what I did:

First, I bought some paper clay, small Styrofoam balls, and thin wooden dowels.  I used the Styrofoam balls as the "base" to sculpt the heads.  I wanted these to be able to hang on a tree, so they couldn't be too heavy.  Additionally, have you ever tried to make an even ball out of clay??  Not so easy.  You also use surprisingly little clay when simply covering the ball!

I added small amounts of clay to create cheeks and a nose and smoothed everything out so it looked even.  Finally, I poked a hole in the bottom (right into the Styrofoam ball) with the wooden dowel.  (These babies are MUCH easier to paint when sitting atop a dowel than when holding in your hands.)

I let them dry overnight and then baked them a little in the oven (lowest temp setting on oven for about half an hour).  They did get some small cracks in them during the drying process, but I didn't let this bother me.  

Then, the fun part - painting!!  I cut one of the Styrofoam balls in half and used it to anchor the wooden dowel, which I had reinserted into the clay head.  I started by painting all of the heads a solid white.  I did this by hand, but next time would definitely use spray paint to save time and energy!  Once dry, I mixed up a small amount of acrylic paint that looked to me like a 'flesh tone' and lightly sponged it all over the head.  I used acrylic paint and a combination of sponges, paintbrushes, and fine tip markers/paint pens to create the rest of the faces and designs.  

The rest was really all about creativity.  I purchased some glittery, seasonal flowers and embellishments from Michaels and then to create the 'bases' under the heads.  Because there were already holes, I simply used hot glue and stuck a bit of the stem into the hole.  I put small jingle bells on some and the hair was really just trial and error with two different types of yarn.  That was kind of a process and I am not really sure how to explain what I did.  

The Santa head was actually a mistake!  I dropped my elbow while paining the mouth on and was left with a big, splotchy mess.  I probably could have waited until dry, sanded off, and started over....but clearly I have not the patience for that.  So, I stuck a piece of candy cane in his mouth and added some facial hair : )  I have to admit that he has turned into my favorite : )

Once they were entirely finished and dry, I had my husband take them outside and spray with an acrylic sealer.  

I also made this little guy.  He's not an ornament, but is still pretty cute.  Same process, just different creative thinking.  

So, there you have it!  The first of many Christmas decorating posts to come!

I am linking this post up to The CSI Project's Handmade Holiday Challenge.  I encourage everyone to stop by a take a look at all the projects!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Free and Lovely!

Maybe some of you recall the broken, shabby, weathered, rickety old table that we had sitting in our entry way??  No?  Let me refresh your memory...

This beauty cost us exactly $0.00 at a yard sale.  When the owner saw us contemplatively gazing at it, she told us to take it off her charge!  So, we did, in hopes that we could transform it into something cool.  I have to say...after some trial/error and quite a bit of time, I am thrilled with the results!!

Pretty cool, huh?  We were going for a shabby, farmhouse style piece, and I feel like we achieved it!

So, (roughly) here is what we did: 

First a rough sand of the whole piece with our electric sander (this was by far the worst part and I do not recommend doing this indoors....even if you enclose your area with plastic sheets :).  We then went back and fine sanded the whole thing.  

The top boards were detached and primed with Cabot Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.  Then, we used Minwax Polyshades in Pecan Gloss.  We did two coats, with a fine sand in between.  Because it was stain and poly in one, there was also no need to wipe extra away after application.

The body got 2-3 coats of Behr Ultra Semigloss Paint in Artist Canvas.  We then went back with sandpaper and sanded heavily along edges, corners, and groves to achieve a worn look.  Finally, the body got a few thin applications of Minwax Golden Pecan Stain (w/out poly in it) to make the aging stand out more.

Sean got crafty to fix the bottom of the drawer (he would have to post the details of that project though :) and I found the knobs at Anthropologie and bought the "Mint" color to match the furniture in the adjoining room.

We have a old table that has been sitting in our back hallway which we plan to refinish the exact same way.  Of course, no guarantees on when this will get done as the table has been sitting three for at least five months and only the rough sand has been accomplished.  But, a fun project to look forward to none-the-less! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I realize it is near the end of October and the window for posts about Fall/Halloween decorations is becoming narrower by the minute, but I'm hoping I can still sneak in a quick one!!

This year I came up with two spots for seasonal decor.  Fall is always a challenge because Halloween falls right in the middle.  So, I decided to set up one spot for general Fall decor that will stay up through Thanksgiving.  The other is a Halloween dedicated nook that will be taken down in just a few weeks sadly!

First, Fall....
Small buffet table in our entry way
I used some leftover fabric from a pair of Ikea curtains that I
 shortened and some hem tape to make this simple table runner.
 I used a store bought stencil to create the two rows of diamonds
 and a homemade stencil (from an old plastic school folder) to
 create the leaf stencil.  Easy and FREE!
A collection of objects gathered from around the house.
Pumpkins from the Dollar Store!  I brought them home and painted
them to doll 'em up a bit.  Put atop candle holders and a small
white dish with a bit of Spanish Moss.  The glass apothecary filled with
candy corn came from Goodwill for less then a few $$.
Metal bird candle holders were gathered from another room and filled
with orange tea lights.  The small glass jar is filled with Autumn wrapper
mini peanut butter cups (for my husband).  The tall glass candle holder is
filled with Fall colored popcorn kernels and another orange tea light.

I am quite happy with the way these plates turned out!  The brown plates were a steal at $1 a piece at Goodwill. I used the same homemade stencil as used on the table runner for the first two.  The last one I hand painted.  Sean added a few coats of clear poly and they were finished!!

Next, on to Halloween. I just wanted to do a small Halloween decor area this year to make clean-up easy without having to disturb the rest of my decorations which will stay out longer.

So, I chose this small mirrored nook in our built-in hutch. 

Inside, I again compiled things I already had around the house.  
The black, wire, bird nest candle holder got some orange tea lights.  
I added some Spanish Moss and a black bird (Dollar Store) 
to the old bird cage for a creepy effect.  All of the black vases came
 from our recent trip to Eastern Europe.

For whatever reason, I had the backs of some old picture frames laying
around.  I printed some creepy, Halloween-ish photos from online
( and simply glued them to the
cardboard backings.  Easy and FREE!

I had the gnarly black tree leftover from
last Halloween (I believe it was from Michael's).  

I set it atop a cute little pumpkin dish (turned 
upside down).  I also added orange tea lights to
some black candle holders, again,
picked up in Europe.

So, that's it!  I hope you have as much fun reading
this as I had creating it!

*Note:  I apologize for any formatting problems. 
Possibly in the spirit of Halloween, my blogger
account appears to have been taken over by 
demons and is messing with all the formatting.  
I am DONE attempting to correct it and you
shall simply have to live with the quirkiness.*

Monday, October 18, 2010

Been Gone So Long...

It has been too long my friends!  But not without good reason....

See, Sean and I have been working on a BIG project.  Probably the biggest project we have ever tackled in fact.

So big, that we have already been working on it for 3 1/2 months!

If everything goes as planned, we should be finished right around the nine month mark....

    because making one of these takes time people!  (See below!)

That's right!  We are growing a baby!!!  Ripe for the pickin' in April :)

Now that first trimester is OVER, I am hoping to start posting again on a regular basis....because let me tell ya, first trimester is no joke folks.  Goodness!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Baby Onesie Tutorial

So many projects in the works right now!  Which is one reason there have been few blog posts.  Everything seems to be "almost done", but not done enough to blog about. So yesterday I set my sights on something smaller that could be accomplished in one afternoon.

For a couple of years now, I have been making these little animal print onesies to give as gifts at baby showers and to new mom's and babies.  I have a friend who recently gave birth to twins and thought I would document the onesie making process for a fun blog post!

This is one of my favorite crafty projects to do because it is fairly simple and cost effective.  First, you will need a pack of baby onesies.  These were around $10.00 for five.  You will also need an assortment of fabric paints and paint brushes.  I find that you can really get away with two paint brushes.  You want one that is larger and can be used for filling in larger areas and a very, very fine one is needed for painting outlines.  It may also be nice to have a fairly stiff bristle brush with a flat bottom (think stencil brush) for making eyes.  I do them freehand, but they can be a real pain.  I have many colors of fabric paint but you could totally get away with just having the basics and then blending for additional colors. You also need a pencil and black Sharpie.

The first step is to sketch out some animals in pencil.  I promise that you will have MANY, MANY, MANY that look pretty sad before you stumble upon a winner.  I find that it helps to look at a real picture of the animal.  Instead of concentrating on details, squint your eyes and think about big shapes and characteristics.  I promise this is possible!

Once you have a pencil drawing, trace it with a black marker.  Next, I cut around the drawing and tape it to a small piece of cardboard.  I actually save the cardboard inserts from 4x6 and 3x5 picture frames.  They are the perfect size and a great way to reuse!

Now, unbutton the onesie at the bottom and slip the cardboard inside.  You want to have a cardboard barrier so the paint doesn't soak through to the back side.  Taping the picture to it allows you to see a rough outline of what you are painting!

Now, start painting!  I squirt a small amount of paint onto a plastic plate.  This allows me to blend colors easily.  It also washes up no problem!

For this particular print, I simply worried about getting major colors down first and figured I would come back and paint details later.  For prints with many colors I tend to paint details as I go.  

Now, the most frustrating part of this is when you are almost finished and drop your paint brush on the onesie.   This has happened to me many times, most of which made me want to cry!  However, it is not always a lost cause.  For example...

Now, with a little creative thinking I was able hide the mistake and created an image that I liked even better than the original! 

Once you are finished and happy with what you have painted, let the onesies dry for several hours or overnight.  You will want to set the paint with heat.  I put a clean, thin dish towel over the painted part and iron on top.  Be careful if you have outlined with a thick application of paint (straight from the bottle) as it can stick a bit.  Before giving as a gift, I throw them in the wash for a full cycle so they are nice and clean.  

With the addition of a couple handmade gift tags and a gift bag it makes a unique and fun new baby gift!

Here are my finished products!


The possibilities are really endless (I currently have drawings for birds, an owl, an ostrich, a duck, a sheep, an elephant, two different giraffes, a turkey, a squirrel, a bumble bee, and a cow)!  

If you decide to give this a try, I would love to see the outcome!

Linking up with: 
Serenity Now
Weekend Bloggy Reading