Alpacas versus Ewoks

Alpaca & Ewok

On a scale of 1-10, who is the cutest – an Alpaca or an Ewok? 

Multicolor Alpacas

My apologies to all the Star Wars fans, but this week our craft project is all about Alpacas. 

Baby Alpaca

This baby alpaca looks so soft and cuddly like a stuffed animal. 

Adult Alpaca

Adults have long shaggy fur, which is used to make yarn for blankets, sweaters and other garments. 

White Alpaca

Some have monochromatic fur, such as the one pictured above. 

Brown & White Alpaca

Alpaca fur tends to be thick and plush in a variety of shades and a few fashion-forward combinations.  Whatever your preferences, you can’t go wrong applying those creative choices to this fun project. 

How to Paint a Wooden Alpaca:

Raw Wood Alpaca

Alpaca Raw Wood

Thick wood has been cut out in the shape of an alpaca.  Both sides and all the edges will need to be painted.  Due to the raw nature of the wood, it may require a little sanding, especially along the edges. 

Supplies

Alpaca Paints
  • Supplies:
    Wooden Alpaca (6-1/4” high x 4-1/2” wide x 1-1/2” thick)
    Acrylic Paints – gray, white, black
    Bottles Fabric Paint – brown, white, black
    Paintbrushes
    Sandpaper
    Black Sharpie Marker or pencil

Paint Base Color

Alpaca Gray Paint

Using acrylic gray paint and a brush, paint both sides of the body and all the edges. 

Paint Accent Colors & Draw Eye Detail

Alpaca Gray & White Paint

Apply white acrylic paint with a brush on the head, neck, lower legs and tail.  With a pencil or marker, draw the eyes. 

Define Facial Details

Alpaca Facial Details Painted

Using a combination of acrylic and fabric paints, add the eyes, nose and mouth. 

Textured Fur Detail

3D Paint Leg Fur Detail

Creating thick, three-dimensional fur is easy with fabric paint.  You must start at the BOTTOM and work your way up using short downward strokes.  Keep the placement and stroke size random, layering new fur over the previous sections as you work your way to the top.  Allow the paint to dry overnight because it shrinks as it dries.  Repeat this process until you achieve the desired appearance. 

Paint White Textured Fur

3D Paint Fur Legs & Tail

This photo shows the completed white fur on the legs and tail.  Repeat this process on the other side. 

Note: To achieve a very thick fur coat, you may need several bottles of fabric paint. 

Paint Brown Textured Fur

3D Paint Fur Torso

Apply brown fabric paint on the torso, and upper legs, using the same textured process described above. 

Paint Additional Layers of Textured Fur

3D Paint Fur Layers Torso

Repeat the painted fur process as many times as needed to create a thick fur coat. 

Paint White Textured Fur

3D Paint Fur Neck

Once again using the white fabric paint, start creating the fur at the bottom of the neck and work upward. 

Paint Additional Layers of White Textured Fur

3D Paint Fur Neck & Tail

Repeat the process to achieve desired thickness.  Remember to thoroughly cover the edges too.  You may also want to add more fur on the tail as well for a bushy effect.  Allow time for the paint to dry between coats so that you can see which areas need more work. 

Finished Alpaca

Finished Alpaca

Congratulations!  You are now the proud parent of an adorable alpaca! 

Finished Details

Finished Alpaca Details

As you can see in this photo, the fur continues up over the top of the head, including bangs on forehead. 

Alpaca – Before & After

Alpaca Before & After2

We started with a plain wood figure, and with little effort and patience during drying times, this cute alpaca is ready to adorn your home or be given as a gift.  Either way, smiles are sure to follow. 

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

The Art of Cake Decorating

Chocolate Cream Cake

White icing, piped details topped with maraschino cherries and chocolate shavings make this Black Forest cake outstanding, but the real showstopper is the chocolate latticework wrapped around the sides. 

I have a confession to make – researching and writing this post made me hungry for dessert. Before you continue reading, I suggest having a treat ready to eat, or grab the car keys and run to the bakery. Okay, now let us explore cake decorating.

Icing Piping Bags

Icing Decorating Bags

Cake decorating bags can be filled with a variety of icings and each metal tip creates different designs, from flowers, to ribbons, stars and many more.  Piping bags can also be used for fillings in pastries and donuts. 

Piped Flowers

Floral Cupcakes

The piping bags shown in the previous photo produced these unique floral motifs. 

Buttercream Roses

Buttercream Roses

Piped buttercream frosting is a colorful and flavorful choice for cake decorating. 

Owl Fondant Cake

This adorable owl cake is decorated with fondant, which is made from sugar paste, rolled out into sheets, and then cut into any desired shapes.

Glazed Icing

Confectioner’s Sugar drizzled over this cake is quick and easy.  The clustered cherries hint at the fruit filling hidden with this single layer cake. 

Marzipan

Marzipan is made from almond paste and is a favorite candy treat, which adds a bit of whimsy to cakes as well as cupcakes. 

Modeling Chocolate

If you always wanted to try sculpture, here is your chance to create a beautiful art piece and it’s edible too!  While smaller decorations can be made with fondant or gum paste, modeling chocolate is much stronger, enabling the creation of larger figures, such as the Disney characters shown above. 

Rainbow Layer Cake

An easy way to add color to any cake is by using rainbow colored layers.

Orange Cheesecake

This cheesecake has a translucent topping and center filling made from orange juice concentrate and sugar.  An unexpected block pattern is only revealed when sliced. 

Red Velvet Cake

Rich red crumbles hint at the alternating layers of moist chocolate cake and cream cheese icing hidden within this decadent dessert. 

Strawberry Shortcake

Fresh fruit garnishes and a little powdered sugar are all you need to top off this summertime favorite. 

Chocolate Tarts

Most people love chocolate and this dessert does not disappoint.  Chocolate whipped cream is sandwiched between the layers of cake and is also piped on top, garnished with chocolate shavings and raspberries. 

Marbleized Cake

A marbleized effect is achieved by piping chocolate frosting over vanilla and then running a knife or spatula through it. 

Fondant with Piping & Roses

This lovely wedding cake has pink and white fondant, with piped icing details and fresh-cut flowers.

Star Wars Theme Cake – (Fondant & Modeling Chocolate)

Special occasions present perfect opportunities for themed cakes.  Any child would be thrilled to have Yoda at his or her birthday party.  A few “big” kids would love it too! 

Mosaic Fondant Cake

This cake and display tray have been covered with chocolate fondant for a seamless look.  Multi-color fondant sheets are cut into circles of various sizes and individually placed in an intricate mosaic pattern. 

Modeling Chocolate Lego Cake

The figures and Legos are modeling chocolate, while the white icing is fondant.  Isn’t it amazing how realistic the Lego blocks look? 

Designer Cakes

These wintry snowmen are decorated with modeling chocolate, piping, and macaroons.  Sprinkled granulated sugar resembles the snow and ice. 

Designer Cakes

Want to know the secret to making large decorations like the giraffe, the zebra and the turtle’s head and legs?  Rice cereal treats are covered with fondant to seamlessly blend with the cake. 

Designer Textured Cakes

Both of these cakes offer incredible color and texture.  On the left, the ombré effect of the piped roses leads the eye toward the sparkling glass bride and groom topper.  Piping, stamping, gum paste, and candy making techniques have been beautifully combined in this unique garden gazebo.  

Designer Bold Colorful Cakes

Bold colors are certainly eye-catching.  The first, known as a topsy-turvy cake, is wrapped in fondant and decorated with geometric and floral cut fondant.  The floral cake has been hand-painted with edible inks, creating the look of stained glass. 

Designer Pastel Floral Cake

This floral cake is a real labor of love.  Each gum paste flower, leaf and butterfly is made by hand and set in place to create the cascading garden.  As the design nears completion, iridescent edible inks are brushed on to provide depth and realistic details in this incredible wedding cake. 

I hope you are inspired to give cake decorating a try.  A visit to your local craft store will give you additional ideas, and you will see an amazing selection of the candies, pre-mixed fondants, and gel icings, as well as tools of the trade and specialty pans to make your next dessert a masterpiece.  

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

The Bunny Hop – Painted Wooden Rabbit

Before we begin this Easter-themed project, we’ll need a little inspiration. Let’s take a look at a few of Mother Nature’s color scheme choices in the adorable bunny photos below:

Tan Baby Bunny
Baby bunnies are just so cute! That’s a lot of love wrapped in a soft tan and cream coat.

Gray & White Bunny
This stylish rabbit is modeling the very popular gray and white color combo.

Tan & Brown Bunny
Wild rabbits often have a blended fur coat of brown, tan and black to help camouflage them from predators. The one pictured above looks perfectly content to nap where he is without a care in the world.

Black & White Bunny
Last but not least is this precious black and white baby. His delicate features, including his button nose, inner ears and the outline of his eyes, are a soft pink.

Now that we’ve seen a few ideas, let’s get started painting!

How to Paint a Wooden Rabbit:

Raw Wood Bunny
Thick wood has been cut out in the shape of a rabbit and has the advantage of strong, rectangular base. Both sides and all the edges will need to be painted. Due to the raw nature of the wood, it may require a little sanding, especially along the edges.

Bunny Supplies
Supplies:
Wooden Rabbit (17” high x 8” wide x 1/4” thick) (Base is 5-3/4” wide x 4”deep)
Acrylic Paints – brown, black, gray, tan, green & white
Fan paintbrush, small detail paintbrush and thicker brush for base coats
Sandpaper
Optional: Fabric paints – black, brown, white (Refer to Advanced section below)

Painted White Bunny
Step 1 – Paint the rabbit with 2) coats of white acrylic paint, including both sides and all edges.

Painted Back Bunny
Step 2 – Start painting the fur on the back. Experiment with colors and brush techniques. I poured black, brown and gray paint onto an artist’s palette. Dip a fan brush into each color and then apply to wood surface to create a fur-like effect. Because the paints have not been mixed, each new brush stroke will have a slightly different combination of colors, just like real fur. Repeat thus process until the back is completed. The white tail will be added later.

Layout Details Front Bunny
Step 3 – On the front, draw the face (eyes, eyelids, eyelashes, muzzle with nose, mouth, whiskers), ears and feet with a pencil. Paint the inside of the ears and eyelids tan.

Painted Front Bunny
Step 4 – Create the fur by repeating the procedures in Step 2. Be sure to make long brush strokes along the edges of the ears to resemble thick fur. You can leave the eyes, muzzle, and feet white for now. These areas will be detailed in the next step.

Bunny Closeup1
Step 5 – Paint the facial details. I painted the eyes, eyelashes, nose, mouth and whiskers black.

Bunny Closeup 2
Step 5A – This is an alternate version for the eyes and nose. A brown iris has been added to each eye, the eyelashes have been extended, and brown nostrils define the nose. For a more lively expression, don’t forget to put a dot of white in the pupil of each eye.

Finished Bunny
Step 6 – The finished rabbit has white feet with black lines to define the toes. The base was painted with two coats of green.

Finished Bunny Tail
Step 7 – Paint a big, white fluffy tail on the back.

At this point your project is finished and ready to display. If you would like to take this design to the next level, please follow the steps below.

Advanced Rabbit in 3D
Followers of this blog know how much I love creating 3D details on wood projects using fabric paints. If you appreciate three-dimensional effects, this section is for you! Unless otherwise noted, all paints listed below are dimensional fabric paints.

3D Bunny Face
Start by painting 2 thick coats of white fabric paint on the muzzle, and brown paint for the eyes.

3D Bunny Feet
Next paint the feet with 2 thick coats of white paint.

3D Face Details
To complete the face, use black paint for the nose, mouth, whiskers, eyelashes, and the outline around the eyes. Add a black pupil in each eye. Paint a white dot in the center of each pupil, and use brown paint in each nostril.

3D Body Details
Add long brown fur along the inner edges of both ears and define the two front legs using the same paint. Add the black lines to define the toes on each foot.

Detail Facial Fur
Using short strokes, bring the black and brown fur mixture up into the face.

Detail Legs and Feet
Layer additional black and brown fur to define the body, and add the two back feet.

Finished 3D Bunny Front
Because the rear legs are in the background, keep the paint lighter by using tiny strokes with just the brown paint in an upward direction. If you want additional fur texture, you could use acrylic paints and a brush to thicken the fur coat with highlights and lowlights.

Finished 3D Bunny Back
The last step is painting the tail with 3 coats of white fabric paint.

Mission accomplished! This cute little guy is ready to be displayed in your home, bringing joy to your life for years to come.

Happy Easter and Happy Crafting!

Countdown – Top Six Posts of 2020

Time Travel
In the movie, “Back to the Future”, Michael J. Fox traveled back in time.  As a new year begins, it’s interesting to review the best moments from the previous year.  As voted by you, the readers, below is a list of the Top Six posts of 2020, in ascending order:

Number 6: Say It with Flowers
Creative Flower Arranging
Flowers have been used for centuries to decorate, commemorate and celebrate the moments of our lives.  Whether you choose fresh cut or silk flowers, the artfully arranged blooms are both a challenge and a triumph for the dedicated crafter.  To read more, please click here.

Number 5: Celebrating 100th Post
100th Post
Today marks a very important milestone – my 100th post!  It has been a wonderful experience, and I thank all my readers and followers.  To read more, please click here.

Number 4: The Beauty of Wood Crafts
Beauty Wood Crafts
Wood crafts are a fun and inexpensive way to express your creativity.  From birdhouses to toys and home décor, there’s something for everyone and these projects are great activities to do with the kids.  To read more, please click here.

Number 3: Tropical Splendor
Tropical Leaves
Ah the tropics!  I’m sure we all wish we could be basking in the sun on a tropical island -sand under your feet, a soft ocean breeze, and a cool fruity drink within reach.  Our travel plans may be on hold for now, but we can dream.  A tropical project may be just what we need to brighten the day and lift our spirits.  To read more, please click here.

Number 2: Thank You
400 Followers
With many thanks to all of you, I have reached an important milestone: 400 Followers.  Thank you to all my readers and followers for liking, commenting, and sharing this creative journey with me.  I am so grateful for each and every one of you.  To read more, please click here.

Number 1: Fun with Photo Editing
Photo Editing
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could simply change a gloomy sky to a gorgeous day with a wave of your arm?  We might not have that ability now, but we can certainly achieve this monumental task through the power of photo editing.  To read more, please click here.

Future Projects
Art Supplies
And there you have it – the top 6 posts of 2020.  Now we have a new year, a clean slate, and together we shall explore the world of creativity.  There are always new ideas, new mediums for experimenting, and I’ll be sure to include more of your favorites.  Your opinions are greatly appreciated, and I look forward to so much more this year.  If you have any suggestions for future posts, please let me know.  Thanks for reading!

All the best in 2021 and Happy Crafting!

Holiday Wrap Up

Dreaming of Christmas
It’s the night before Christmas, and little feet tiptoe toward the tree for a sneak peek at the presents. We may not admit doing this but it’s human nature to wonder what’s inside the box? Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, you’re going to give gifts to lots of people, and those gifts need to be boxed, bagged or wrapped in an attractive fashion. Here are a few ideas:

Colorful Gift Boxes
Colorful Boxes
If the thought of wrapping gifts is unappealing, you could buy readymade gift boxes such as these. All you need is some ribbon and bows and no wrapping is required.

Vintage Wrapping Paper
Vintage Paper & Red Twine
Revive memories of Christmases past with vintage designs and twine.

Contemporary Sparkling Gift Wrap
Sparkling Paper
Modern technology has enabled the creation of new textures, colors and special effects never before possible.

Nature’s Wrapping
Nature Wrap
For an all-natural look, utilize recycled paper with twine instead of ribbon and pinecones, evergreen or other elements from your own backyard.

Foil Wrapping
Foil Wrap
This easy to use method only requires the gathering of foil paper and a simply tied bow.

Coordinated Paper & Ribbon
Fabric Ribbon Coordinate Paper
Even though the prints vary, red and white colors unify this attractive gift wrap.

Self-Stick Bows
Self Stick Bows
The invention of the self-stick bow is a wonderful time saver.

Fireworks Bow
Fireworks Bow
What do you get when you combine a metallic pompom and a large white bow – an amazing starburst bow, which makes the perfect topper for an elegant package. (And it’s a self-stick bow too!)

Crinkle Ribbon
Sprinkled Snow Curled Ribbon
Instead of a bow, tie long strands of crinkle ribbon around a package and curl it with a pair of scissors.

Triple Bow & Custom Paper
Triple Bow & Finger Painting
Making your own bows is a sure way to make your gifts stand out. For an added more personal touch, plain white wrapping paper can be colorfully finger-painted, creating wrapping for gifts year round.

Floral Fabric Bow
Floral Bow
Sometimes a really great topper steals the show. A floral bow, such as this, will be treasured and it’s reusable. Check out the many bow-making videos online for how to instructions.

Floral Picks
Floral Picks
From a distance, this photo resembles a water lily garden, but it’s actually green bows adorned with artificial red berries.

Ornaments

Dress up dollar store ornaments with ribbons or bells and tie onto your gifts and hand-delivered cards.

Handmade Ornaments/Gift Tags
Holly Tag & Ornament
Is it an ornament or a gift tag? It’s both! Write the name & year on the back and attach it to your present. After the gift is opened, it’s ready to hang on the tree.

Gift Bags – Paper
Gift Bag Paper
Gift bags are probably one of the best inventions of all time. They’re sold just about everywhere, including the food stores, so when you’re running around last minute a gift bag is easily on hand.

Gift Bags – Fabric
Gift Bags Fabric Amazon
Amazon provided these sparkly gift bags, which are reusable and perfect for any occasion.

Gift Pouch
Christmas Pouch
Gift pouches are ready to use and include the ribbon and gift tag.

Christmas Stocking
Christmas Stocking
If you have several small size items, a Christmas stocking is a fun alternative to traditional gift wrap.

Gift Baskets
Gift Basket
A gift basket filled with the recipient’s favorites is always a welcome surprise.

Collectible Porcelain Box
Porcelain Box
Porcelain boxes come in a variety of designs for jewelry, small items, or cash gifts.

Seasonal Metal Tin
Seasonal Metal Tin
Most people associate tins with cookies or other baked goods, but this large tin could easily hold a pair of pajamas or sweater. The design is adorable and all you need to do is simply close the lid and the gift is ready to give, without the need for paper, bows, tape or scissors! How easy is that?

Glass Mason Jars
Glass Jars
Jellies, candy, sauces and anything else you cook up stores well in re-sealable glass jars, which require nothing more than a simple bow or ornament, and can be reused indefinitely.

Handmade Soap & Soap Dish
Hand Made Soap Dish
Many people like to make their own Christmas gifts. Take your creativity to the next level by designing a unique gift presentation, such as this handmade soap and accompanying twig soap dish.

It’s a Family Affair
Festive Dogs
If you can’t get help with all that wrapping, at least you’ll have the companionship and encouragement from your family pets.

Treat Yourself
Treat Yourself
As they say, “it’s the thought that counts,” but “presentation is everything.” With a few creative choices, wrapping gifts can be a pleasure, and be sure to treat yourself while you’re at it! Thanks for reading!

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

Forever Green

Snow Covered Pines
What I miss the most during the colder months are the beautiful colors in nature. The winter sky is so gray, the trees are dormant, and the flowers temporarily disappear for a long winter’s nap. Evergreens defiantly retain their glorious shades of green regardless of the weather. To brighten your home decor, you can add a little evergreen and it will never need to be watered.

How to Paint Wooden Pine Trees
Lighted Tree Close Up
This painted craft is very easy to complete in a short amount of time and it’s great for beginners too!

Raw Wood Trees
Raw Wood Trees
As with all raw wood, a little sanding may be required, especially along the edges. The pre-drilled holes are for lights in a later step.

Supplies
Painted Tree Supplies
Supplies:
Wooden Pine Tree (17” high x 9” wide x 1/2” thick) (Base is 9” wide x 2” deep)
Acrylic Paints – green, white
Paintbrushes
Sandpaper
String of 20 lights

Apply Green Paint
Painted Green Trees
Paint each tree green, ensuring both sides, all the edges and the base are painted.

Define the Branches with Snow
Painted Snow Trees
In nature, snow gathers on the branches. To give these trees a more three-dimensional appearance, add patches of white paint to imitate Mother Nature.

Tree Lighting
Trees with Inserted Lights
Those pre-drilled holes were made to hold a strand of twenty white lights. The lights can only be pushed through from one side of the wood frame. You may need to secure the last light at the bottom with a piece of tape to keep it from pulling out from the weight of the electrical cord.

Finished Trees (with and without camera flash)
Lit Trees
All you need to do now is choose a spot to display your handiwork and plug in those lights. I place my trees in the living room windows to enhance the rest of the outdoor decorations. When the holidays are over, they can remain on display throughout the winter.

Pom Pom Alternative
Pom Pom Tree
As an alternative to lights, you can turn a simple pine tree into a Christmas tree by gluing on multi-color pom poms as ornaments.

I hope you enjoy this project and have fun decorating your home for the holidays.

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

Gingerbread Dreams

Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread cookies are a favorite treat any time of year. Decorating gingerbread is a great activity for the whole family. For a real challenge, why not try designing, building and decorating a gingerbread house? Before we look at some finished houses, let’s take a closer look at a few of the important details.

Decorating Gingerbread
Piping Icing
Whether decorating cookies or building a gingerbread house, the first skill you will need is piping icing.

Piping is the Key
Candy CloseUp
From the smallest detail to the walls and roof, royal icing is the edible glue that holds everything together.

Candy Decor
Gingerbread Roof Close Up
Any type of candy will do. If you tend to nibble while you work, you might want to have extra candy on hand so that you don’t run out before the project is finished. (lol)

Architectural Details
Architecture Details
This budding architect has carefully defined the details: candy cane columns; stamped brick wall pattern; piped & candied landscaping, door and window trim; M &M roofing; and candy accents.

Festive Elf
Festive Elf
Don’t forget to have fun with your creation.

Be Adventurous
Adorable Snowman
Let your imagination run wild. Come up with interesting details. This artist darkened the windows to add depth and carved wood grain into the door. Make your project as unique as you are.

Humorous Little Details
Rooftop Cat
Be sure to include the unexpected, such as this fondant cat on a snow-covered roof.

Miniature Gingerbread Houses
Cookie House
There’s nothing wrong with starting small. This house was made entirely from gingerbread cookies. It’s quick and easy to put together and can be used as ornaments, or as gifts for visitors. You could even pipe names on each one as edible “place cards” at the table.

Chalet
Gingerbread Chalet
Instead of candy, decorated gingerbread cookies adorn this simple A-frame house.

In the Doghouse
Gingerbread Doghouse
Icing is the main decoration on this adorable doghouse, with only a few candy accents.

A Bright Idea
Lighted Cottage
This cottage may be small, but it has two interesting qualities that make it really stand out: 1) LEDs provide a soft glowing interior. 2) The reflective high gloss tray resembles ice or water. As an alternative to lights, you could place sheets of fruit roll ups over the inside of the windows and doors to create a cozy glow.

Accessible Design
Decorating for Everyone
Holding a piping bag and defining tiny details can be difficult, if not impossible, for those with limited mobility. Decorating can be made easy by simply spread icing with a spatula over all the walls and roof. Place decorations wherever desired, and the icing will hold them in place.

Log Cabin Village
Log Cabins
These gingerbread houses remind me of the colonial log cabins in Valley Forge National Park. Instead of candy, piped icing was used throughout the design, with a sprinkling of sugar snow.

The North Pole
North Pole Village
Leave it to Santa to create a quaint village, where even the North Pole is edible!

Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods
Like something from a fairy tale, this cute little snow-scene has a soft pink and blue color scheme complemented by a welcoming fire glow from inside.

Cozy Chalet
Cozy Chalet
Almond cookies adorning the roof and chocolate door & chimney set this chalet apart.

Midnight Cabin
Midnight Cabin
The contrasts between light and dark give this gingerbread house a spooky feel like something you might see in a dark lonely forest. The gumdrop posts appear to be glowing, while the almost obscured windows make you wonder what might lurk inside.

Gingerbread House Kits
Gingerbread House Kits
You could make gingerbread houses from scratch, but kits, which include all the candy, walls, roof, and icing, are a great place to start for beginners.

A Grinchy Christmas
Grinchy Home
The Grinch gets an upgrade from his old cave home to this perfect gingerbread tribute to Dr. Seuss. From the whimsical tree to the asymmetrical door, the spirit of the story comes to life before our eyes.

Angelic Lace
Angelic Lace Cottage
Delicate lace-like patterns harmonize with tiny gold dragées, while mini string lights illuminate the tree as well as the interior. A very steady hand is required to keep the lines soft and fluid.

Guiding Light
Lighted Church
Gingerbread can be made into any type of building including castles, churches, and lighthouses. If you can imagine it, anything is possible.

Chocolate & Gingerbread Cottage
Chocolate Fairy Tale Cottage
You seldom see chocolate decorations on gingerbread, but this artist has done a wonderful job combining the two into an exquisitely detailed showstopper.

Feast for the Eyes
Wintry Dream
There’s a lot going on here, but it’s beautifully balanced. The snow drips from the roof and the evergreen tree is decorated with colorful balls and a star on top. The upright pinwheel candies make a lovely border, while the cheerful gingerbread man and his snowy friend are sure to please. Every detail in this sentimental gingerbread home was made with love to warm the heart.

Your Reward
Eating Gingerbread
What is the best part about decorating gingerbread? Eating it! After all that hard work, you deserve a tasty treat. If you don’t have the heart to munch on your creation, have a few decorated cookies on the side as a reward for a job well done. I hope you are inspired to give gingerbread building a try. Good luck and remember you can always eat your mistakes. (lol)

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

Designing Beaded Jewelry

Beaded Jewelry in Fall Colors
Making beaded jewelry is a fun activity for the entire family. There’s an incredible selection of gemstone, glass, crystal, metal, and mixed media beads, which can be strung upon wire, leather cords, ribbons, or any other material of your choosing.

Strands of Gemstone Beads
Strands of Gemstone Beads
Most beads are sold in strands, which are pre-strung on fishing tackle. You cannot keep the beads on this temporary strand because it is not durable for every day wear and tear, and will eventually break.

When working with beads, having a jewelry maker’s tray (like the one pictured below) is extremely beneficial for laying out your designs. The numbers along the perimeter are for measuring the length of bracelets and necklaces. The grooves in the tray are multi-purpose: enable experimentation with different beads; create a necklace and bracelet at the same time; design a multi-strand necklace. Compartments in the tray hold additional beads while you finalize your work.

Black Onyx & Carnelian Beads
Onyx Carnelian Beads
Using the same beads produces two different looks by simply changing the pattern – both are in seasonal fall colors. The large, reddish orange, Carnelian nuggets have a raw but luxurious appeal, while the smooth, round, Black Onyx beads are cool and sophisticated.

Black Onyx, Carnelian & Silver-Plated Metal Beads
Onyx Carnelian & Metal Beads
The addition of precious metal beads provides rich texture, eye-catching contrast, and the all-important sparkle.

Rain Forest Jasper & Mother of Pearl Beads
Rain Forest Jasper & Aventurine Beads
These two photos demonstrate the effects of using shape and color to create necklaces with very different styles. On the left, a pear-shaped, Rain Forest Jasper pendant takes center stage with Rain Forest Jasper and Natural Mother of Pearl beads. The result is a fancy necklace with warm rich earth tones, suitable for a night out on the town. On the right, Aventurine alternates with dazzling, White Mother of Pearl beads in a soft palette and casual style for everyday wear.

Rain Forest Jasper, Mother of Pearl, and Gold-Plated Metal Beads
Rain Forest Jasper Aventurine & Metal Beads
The same beads are shown here with the addition of gold-plated, round spacer beads on the left, and gold-plated, filigree bead caps on the right.

When you are satisfied with your design, the beads can be strung one at a time onto wire. Be sure to place a piece of scotch tape on the end of the wire before you start stringing your beads. Once you’re satisfied, the clasp can be attached. There are many videos available to show you how to attach each of the different types of clasps.

Here are a few photos to get your creative ideas flowing:

Necklace – Lampwork Glass Frog & Glass Beads on a Cord
Glass Frog Cord
This striped glass frog is a fanciful addition to any wardrobe. Cords are easy work with and comfortable to wear. All it takes are a few beads and a focal point to complete this piece of jewelry. You could also use a pendant you already own. Cords can be made of leather, rubber, or woven fibers.

Necklace – Large-Hole Resin Beads on Ribbon
Necklace - Large-Hole Resin Beads on Ribbon
Stringing large-hole beads on ribbon is an easy way for beginners to learn about jewelry making. Children and those struggling with arthritis or any other dexterity issues can easily handle these over-sized beads. Stringing on ribbon or a cord can be done quickly and beads can be interchanged until the desired look is achieved. Best of all, there are no special skills or tools required.

Large-Hole Glass Beads
Large-Hole Glass Beads
Large-hole beads are for use on cords, ribbons, thick chains and wire. Crafter Tip: With these beads, you can achieve the same fashionable look as seen in Pandora stores, but at a fraction of the price. The best selection is available at Fire Mountain Gems.

Bracelet -Large-Hole Glass Beads and Metal Beads on wire
Bracelet -Large-Hole Glass Beads and Metal Beads on wire
Stringing beads upon wire is easy to do, but requires the special jewelry making tools to attach the clasp. Bead stores will typically offer shoppers the chance to select beads, and string your own necklace or bracelet. A staff member will then attach the clasp, or can give you instructions to do it yourself using their tools. These stores periodically have classes, and offer private jewelry making parties for your family and friends.

Earring & Bracelet – Crystal & Glass Seed Beads
Earring & Bracelet - Crystal & Glass Seed Beads
When you think of crystal jewelry, the name that most likely tops your list is Swarovski. The rich, colors and light reflecting facets of crystal have been featured in memorable jewelry designs ready to wear anywhere from the super market to the high fashion runway.

Necklace – Glass & Metal Beads
Necklace - Glass & Metal Beads
Glass blowers create beads one at a time, and each one is a unique masterpiece. All the colors of the rainbow and a few Mother Nature never considered can be found in glass. Solid colors, striated, and two tone beads are but a mere few of the possibilities with matte or high-gloss finishes. Glass pendants make interesting focal points, while tiny glass seed beads can be woven into intricate spiral patterns in necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Bracelets – Gemstones, Metal Beads, & Bells on cords
Bracelets – Gemstones, Metal Beads, & Bells on cords
There’s a bracelet style to match every person’s fashion needs – cords, cuffs, stretch, charm, bangles, and many more. Genuine gemstone beads are available in an amazing array of colors and sizes. Beads can be purchased from craft stores, beaded jewelry stores, bead trade shows, and from online retailers, such as Fire Mountain Gems. Because genuine gemstones come from the earth, the colors and patterns will vary. If you are planning to make a bracelet and matching necklace or earrings, make sure you have enough beads to complete the set. Each finished piece of jewelry will be as unique and individual as you are.

Jewelry making is an exciting and rewarding craft. Enjoy the process. Learn from mistakes. Experiment as you follow your inspiration to create the perfect design to express your personality and style.

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

The Basics of Decorative Painting

Paint Brushes
In a post a few weeks ago, faux finishing was discussed with several painting options and instructions for sponge painting. Faux finishing is part of a larger category called decorative painting, which includes stenciling, murals, and custom painted details.

At it’s most basic, decorative painting can be as simple as painting vines on a flowerpot. Be sure to use weatherproof paint, not only to protect it from rain and sun, but also from watering the plants.

Stenciled Butterflies & Vines
Stenciling
Stenciling is a fairly easy process. Choose a plastic stencil, a few paints, and some sponge brushes. Painter’s tape is great for holding the stencil in place while you work, painting one color at a time. Crafter Tip: Stenciling on a textured wall is not recommended. The bumpy texture can cause the colors to bleed, and the designs may appear stretched or irregular.

Antiqued Wood Chair with Painted Floral Seat Back
Antiqued Wood Chair with Painted Floral Seat Back
Furniture presents the challenge of durability. Paint alone is not enough. Crafter Tip: Consult a specialist, or research what types of paints and sealants to use to ensure your designs will withstand every day wear and tear.

Stippling
Stippling
This is an example of stippling layered over a multi-color background. The base coat is created using sponges or brushes to blend the colors together. Stippling consists of little dots to create light and dark areas by changing the density of the dotted pattern.

Watercolor
Watercolor
In this technique, water-based paints are thoroughly mixed with water and blended together while still wet. It’s important to remember that you will want to start out with light washes of color and gradually build up to the darker areas. If you get too dark too fast and don’t like the results, you will need to start over.

Layered Techniques
Mixed Media
Here we see an interesting mix of free-hand painting, stenciling, and stamping. Pressing painted corrugated cardboard against the surface created the parallel lines.

Now if you’re really feeling ambitious, here are some amazing painted murals:

Floral Wall Mural with Metal Butterflies
Floral Wall Mural with Metal Butterflies
This bead board paneled wall was painted green as a background color, and then the flowers and vines were added. Crafter Tip: Even though you are painting a mural, you don’t have to paint everything yourself. There are plenty of wall art options, which will coordinate with your painting, such as these sculpted metal butterflies, the perfect complement for this gardener’s retreat.

Tinkerbell Wall Mural
Tinkerbell Wall Mural
Disney characters are sure to be childhood favorites. The flowers and vines in this mural can be painted by hand or stenciled. Crafter Tips: In lieu of using a paintbrush, delicate details can be made using a fine tipped paint pen. If Tinkerbell seems a bit beyond your skill set, purchase a Disney decal, or wallpaper version and adhere it to the wall after the mural is complete. It will save you time, and from a distance, no one will ever know.

Ocean-Themed Exterior Wall Mural
Ocean-Themed Exterior Wall Mural
The old block wall in this photo has been given new life through wall art. Because of the large scale, and dependence upon the weather, the artist used a paint sprayer to speed up the process. With the overall design blocked out, the details can be added using a combination of a fine spray nozzle and paint brushes. Crafter Tip: Using a paint sprayer will certainly give your arms and upper body a workout. You won’t need to go to the gym that day!

Asian Water Dragons Mural on a Porshe
Asian Water Dragons Mural on a Porshe
Vehicle painting is a specialty in itself. Painted details can include logos, initials, stripes, and full-size murals. Crafter Tip: Vehicle painting is best left to the pros. Manufacturers’ new vehicle warranties will most likely become void if the body paint is altered.

How To Decoratively Paint a Powder Room

Fleur-de-lis Powder Room
Powder Room
Fleur-de-lis design was made using an ink stamp, which was purchased from the scrapbooking department at Michael’s craft store.

Acrylic Paints, Ink Stamp & Fan Brush
Powder Room Paints
To produce more consistent imprints, paint was applied directly upon the stamp using a small flat brush. The stamp was then pressed against the wall, spacing the pattern by eye. All the brown fleur de lis designs were completed first, and then the stamp was cleaned in preparation for the green paint.

Create a Fleur-de-lis Pattern
Painted Powder Room

Fleur-de-lis Detail
Powder Room Paint Detail
Using a fan brush at the four corners, brush strokes were applied with the contrasting metallic paint color.

For continuity and consistency of the design, it is probably best to have one person working on a project. However, if your friends or family would like to help, assign a particular design element to each person to be completed throughout the project. Using the fleur-de-lis project as an example, one person could do all the stamping while another applies the flourishes at the corners.

Crafter Tip – Future Decorative Paint Removal
I once had a painter in my home to give estimates on a few small projects. I had recently finished a mural in one of the bedrooms, and as we walked by, the painter said, and I quote, “Do you know how much Kilz it would take to cover that?” Although I was appalled at the idea, it certainly gave me food for thought. At some point in the future, how could I easily cover over painted designs without filling the house with toxic fumes? The answer is simple: paint over it using the same paint used to create it. There was an acrylic midnight blue design (Folk Art Brilliant Ultramarine) painted across the upper half of one wall. White acrylic paint (Folk Art Wicker White) was brushed over the dark paint. Just to be sure, a second coat was applied. The painter was stunned to see how well it covered. The new wall paint was a pale blue, covered in only one coat, and there were no toxic fumes. To protect the air quality in your home, be sure to select low odor paints, with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

It’s All in the Details

Detailed Floral Wood Carving
We deal with so many details every day. I thought it would be fun to take a look at some craft photos to demonstrate how small changes can make such a dramatic difference. Let’s go!

Acrylic Painted Rabbit
Painted Bunny Face
This cute rabbit has blended fur colors, but a rather blank expression.

Acrylic Painted Rabbit with 3D Details
Bunny Face 3D Details
The 3D paint creates facial depth, and provides a twinkle in eyes filled with personality.

Acrylic Painted Flamingo
Acrylic Painted Flamingo
Flamingos are so colorful and unusual. The color scheme captures the essence of the bird but lacks the textured feathers.

Acrylic Painted Flamingo Layered with 3D Texture
Acrylic Painted Flamingo Layered with 3D Texture
Now he appears to be staring back at you while he proudly shows off his brightly colored plumage.

Two-Tone Green Man
Green Man Original
Mother Nature’s counterpart doesn’t look very happy, does he?

Two-Tone Green Man with Metallic Gold Highlights
Green Man Gold Accents
After brightening the whites of his eyes, he had his “hair” highlighted and now he looks rather pleased with himself.  lol

Black & White Photo vs. Colorized Photo
Black White Photo vs Colorized
The black and white portrait is nice, but look how soft, warm and romantic the second photo is thanks to the addition of color and dreamy special effects.

Metallic Silver Octopus
Octopus Monotone
Metallic silver is an odd choice for such a fluid sculpture of a living animal.

Full Color Octopus with 3D Details
Octopus Full Color
A vibrant new color scheme brings this blue ringed octopus to life, and the three-dimensional suction cups add texture as well as a more realistic approach to this wriggling octopus.

Gnome House vs. Bamboo Tropical Hut
Gnome House Original vs Tropical Hut
Originally this little house was part of a collection of gnomes. A bamboo pattern combined with a few brightly colored silk flowers transformed it into a tropical hut for an ocean-themed centerpiece.

3D Painted Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross Green & Black
Celtic designs are famous for their knot work. The three-dimensional green paint contrasts nicely with the black background and textures the entire surface.

3D Painted Celtic Cross with Metallic Gold Accents
Celtic Cross Gold Accents
The introduction of three-dimensional gold accents brings a bit of sparkle and opulence to the design.

Acrylic Painted Seahorse with 3D Accents
Acrylic Painted Seahorse with 3D Accents
Seahorses are known for their brilliant colors and textured bodies. The 3D paint adds a bit of texture along the contours of the body and upon the spiny back.

3D Painted Seahorse
3D Painted Seahorse
By using only 3D paints, the entire seahorse springs to life in glorious color and texture.

Fashionable Snowman
Fashionable Snowman
No snowman is complete without a few knitted accessories.

Fashionable Snowman with Lights
Fashionable Snowman with Lights
The addition of lights not only adds sparkle, but also enables him to shine at night in any window to complement your exterior decorations.

Halloween Witch vs. Christmas Elf
Halloween Witch vs. Christmas Elf
How can a Halloween decoration become one of Santa’s helpers? The answer lies in accessories! Cover the hat and tuck in the hair, add a scarf and candy cane and voila you have a Christmas elf.

Instructions for most of these items can be found on the “How To Projects” page.

It is said: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Little details have a strong influence over our perceptions, but sometimes we become so accustomed to our surroundings that we barely notice. Look at your home from a new perspective. Check out those little details to see if something could use a touch of color, a bit of whimsy and a little tender loving care. You’ll be glad you did!

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!