A Change of Seasons – Autumn Wreaths

Colorful Leaves
It’s hard to believe the summer is over. Where did the time go? We pack away our beach toys and the kids go back to school. Autumn’s arrival signals the coming changes in nature. It’s time to change your décor and update your home with a few of your own handmade creations. Below are a few photos to inspire your next fall wreath project:

Fall Leaves Wreath
Silk leaves can be easily arranged from lightest to darkest. This decoration can be hung upon a door or used as a centerpiece on your dining table. Additional leaves can be sprinkled upon the table to enhance the autumn ambiance.

Leafy Wreath
This wreath has a red, green and yellow color scheme.  Coleus plants have the most beautiful leaves in blended shades of purple, burgundy, green, pink and red.

Berries & Peppers Wreath
Orange peppers and berries bring bursts of color to this lush green leaf wreath. In cooler climates, genuine fruits and veggies will last from several days to several weeks depending upon the type. Warm locations will require the use of faux produce, which will last for years to come.

Wreath with Heart
A straw or grapevine ring serves as a base for this festive wreath made from dried grasses and berries. Raffia ribbon and a simple wooden heart and nautilus seashell complete the look.

Wreath Pinecones
If you happen to have pine trees on your property, collect the pinecones to make this lovely wreath, with the addition of seedpods, and faux cherries and berries for pops of color.

Wreath Ribbon
This is a great beginner’s wreath and it’s easy to change for every season. Simply wrap a straw wreath with overlapping ribbon. The large bow also serves as a hanger.

Wreath Twigs
Whether you live near the beach or near a forest, driftwood or twigs are available in abundance. A little Spanish moss finishes this decoration in a style suitable for Mother Nature herself.

Wreath Wheat Flowers
This wreath is all about the abundant harvest, made with dried grasses, wheat, and a few silk flowers. If you have a wheat allergy, substitute corncobs or dried flowers.

Orange Floral Wreath
Celebrate Autumn’s favorite color with orange flowers and berries, accented with touches of maroon and green.

Gourds Pumpkins Wreath
Greet your guests at the door with a lovely fall wreath. To make one, start with a grapevine wreath base. Tie or glue on pumpkins, gourds, pinecones and berries. As an added burst of color, glue red and orange silk leaves on poster board and secure it to the back.

Mickey Mouse Wreath
Mickey Mouse fans will love this festive decoration, which will adorn your home with a bit of whimsy from fall through Halloween.

Floral Veggie Wreath
Hydrangeas, berries, and dried fruit adorn an English ivy wreath. As Thanksgiving approaches, replace purple and blue flowers with more seasonal reds and oranges.

Wreath Whimsical
While you are gathering your wreath making supplies, consider including something unexpected, such as this mushroom.

Hedgehog Wreath
How about this adorable little hedgehog? You could also use a squirrel, a baby fox or fawn, or any little woodland creature you can find at craft stores or online. In a place of honor, centered upon your front door, it’s sure to make your guests smile.

Purple Blue & Green Wreath
Who says fall wreaths must be particular colors?  This gorgeous purple, blue, and green wreath would look amazing all year long.  What is your favorite color?  There are no rules, so go for it!

So many fall decorations can be made with found objects, such as pinecones, acorns, leaves, etc.  It’s a nice time of year to take a walk and admire Nature’s changing colors.  Why not get the whole family together to enjoy the fresh air and collect a few twigs or ornamental leaves along the way?  Time spent with family is a precious gift, and the crafts you make will remind you of these shared adventures.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

What is for Dessert?

Dessert Collage

Dessert is a wonderful thing.  Do you ever find yourself checking out the dessert menu before looking at the entrees?  I do.  In fact, I had a craving for something sweet while working on this post.  You have been warned!  Proceed if you dare!  Below, you will find lots of desserts to tempt your willpower. 

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

Wondering what Baked Alaska is?  Start with a slice of angel or sponge cake, add ice cream, cover it with a thick layer of meringue and bake until it lightly browns. 

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

Chocolate, whipped cream and cherries – does anyone have a fork?

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie is actually a cake, made with two layers of vanilla sponge cake, a custard filling, and topped with chocolate icing. 

Cake Pops

Cake Pops

Undecided whether to have chocolate or cake?  Have both with chocolate cake pops. 

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Shredded carrots, raisins, and crushed pineapple are the secrets to making this moist and delicious cake, topped with cream cheese frosting. 

Cherry Cheese Tarts

Cherry Cheese Tarts

Most people love cheesecake.  These tarts have the delicious flavor, and they’re finger foods as well.  You could purchase ready-made mini piecrusts and make your own filling.  They can also be made in a cupcake pan.  Line the pan with paper cupcake wrappers.  Drop a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cupcake.  Pour in your filling and bake.  After they cool, top with cherries or strawberries and enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Who could resist the rich, creamy taste of chocolate mousse? 

Chocolate Tarts

Chocolate Tarts

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

Crème Brulee

Creme Brulee

Creamy egg custard topped with a crunchy, caramelized sugar crust is the perfect combination for this mouthwatering dessert. 

Croissants

Croissants

Butter croissants are finger licking good, but they also come with delicious fillings, such as chocolate, almond, or raspberry. 

Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit

As the seasons change, fresh fruits appear in abundance, courtesy of Mother Nature. 

Ice Cream

Ice Cream Sundae

Ice cream is an easy dessert to keep on hand for unexpected guests.  Whether it is served in dishes, cones, or sundaes, you can’t go wrong with ice cream. 

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Lemon bars are a popular treat for “kids” of all ages. 

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Sweet and tart are perfectly balanced in lemon meringue pie. 

Napoleons

Napoleon

Napoleons consist of alternating layers of light as air puff pastry crust and vanilla cream, topped with powdered sugar icing swirled with chocolate. 

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

If you like sweet and salty, this is the dessert for you.  The filling is made with eggs, butter, brown sugar, and pecans.  For a rich caramel flavor, use dark brown sugar. 

Petits Fours

Petits Fours

Petits Fours are the perfect marriage of cake and candy. Fondant icing covers bite-size cubes of yellow, sponge or pound cake. While the fondant is still wet, decorations can be applied using piped icing, or a sprinkling of either candy or nuts. As an added burst of flavor, jelly or butter cream can be spread over the cake prior to applying the fondant.

Popsicles

Popsicles

Fruit juice and popsicle molds are all you need to make whip up this cool treat. 

Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Crust

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie has a delicious flaky crust.  There are some great baking tools, such as fluted piecrust cutters for edging, and spring-loaded piecrust cutters to create cutouts like the leaf shown in the photo above. 

Spiced Pumpkin Roll with Orange Cream Cheese Icing

A spiral design is the hallmark of this impressive dessert.  Bake the cake in a jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper.  After baking, lay the cake face down on a towel.  If necessary, trim any ragged edges.  Starting with a long side, roll the cake in the towel and cool completely on a wire rack.  Unroll and remove the towel and lay cake flat.  Spread the filling over the top within 1/2” of the edges.  Suggested fillings include whipped cream, pie filling, and pudding.  Carefully roll the cake and place it with the seam side down on a platter.  Garnish as desired. 

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding, fresh from the oven, is one of life’s great comfort foods. 

Strawberry Shortcake

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

Tiramisu

Espresso, rum, cocoa, and creamy mascarpone filling make this dessert out of this world.  

Hungry for more desserts?  Please click here to read part one, “Save Room for Dessert.” 

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Abracadabra – Harry & Hermione’s Magic Wands

Hermione and Harry never go anywhere without their magic wands. 

Logo/Sign at Ollivander’s Wand Store, Universal Studios

Every Hogwarts’ wizard goes to Ollivander’s to choose his or her magic wand. 

Magic Wands at Ollivander’s Wand Store

While doing research, I was surprised to see that many of the wands in the Harry Potter series were rather lackluster.  I expected wizards to have exquisite, highly personalized wands to express their personalities as well as their power. 

Wooden Chopsticks

For this project, we will transform wooden chopsticks into magic wands for Hermione Grainger and Harry Potter.  Use these techniques to create a wand for any character and add whatever embellishments feel right to you. 

How to Make Hermione’s Magic Wand:

Inspiration

Hermione’s wand has a fairly simple design, consisting of English ivy wrapped around a monotone magic wand. 

Supplies

Supplies:
Wooden Chopstick (9” long x 3/8” thick)
Acrylic Paint: yellow ochre
Bottle fabric paint: glow-in-the-dark white
Paintbrushes
Clear Spray Paint: Matte Finish
Optional 1) Faceted rhinestone & Acrylic Paint: metallic peridot.  See “Advanced Painting” below.

Painting Chopstick

Step 1 – If the chopsticks are lacquer-coated, you may need to prime the surface first, and then apply two coats of acrylic paint.  Puncture a hole in a box to hold the wand upright for drying, but don’t forget to paint the tip later.  To prevent fingerprints and scratches, handle with a tissue. 

Painting Vines & Leaves

Step 2 – Starting at the top, use three-dimensional paint to create an ivy vine wrapping around the wand.  Add an interesting twist by using glow in the dark white paint, but if you prefer, you can use plain white.  If you want to be true to Hermione’s original wand design, wait until the 3D paint dries, and then paint the vines with yellow ochre to match the rest of the wand. 

Hermione’s Finished Wand

To seal the paints, spray the wand with clear spray paint.  At this point, the wand is complete.  If you have been following this blog for a while, you know there is usually an enhanced version, which is shown below in the “Advanced Painting” section. 

How to Make Harry’s Magic Wand:

Inspiration

Harry’s wand has a textured, two-tone design.  Rough “tree bark” at the top serves as a handgrip, and the rest is smooth wood. 

Supplies

Supplies:
Wooden Chopstick (9” long x 3/8” thick)
Acrylic Paint – licorice black, coffee bean brown
1) Bottle fabric paint – brown
Paintbrushes
Clear Spray Paint: Matte Finish
Optional – Glue gun & 1) Faceted rhinestone. See “Advanced Painting” below.

Creating Texture

Step 1 – Using three-dimensional paint, draw long lines at top to create the basic texture as shown above. 

Adding More Texture

Step 2 – Fill in with more texture, to create a rough tree bark appearance, including pointed edges across the top of the wand.  Allow paint to dry overnight. 

Painting Black

Step 3 – Paint the entire wand with black acrylic.

Dry Brushing Brown

Step 4 – Dry brush the rough bark with brown acrylic paint, allowing the black recessed areas to show through, as they do with real bark.  Seal the paints with clear spray paint. 

Harry & Hermione’s Finished Wands

This photo shows the two completed wands side by side.  I wanted to take this project to the next level by creating more texture on Harry’s wand and more visual interest for Hermione’s. 

Advanced Painting:

Hermione’s Wand – Defining the Leaves

Step 1 – Make the leaves more prominent by applying a thicker coat of the same three-dimensional glow in the dark paint on each individual leaf. 

Close-Up Vines & Rhinestone

Step 2 – Create a glowing cap on the end of the wand and place a rhinestone in the center as shown.  In case you didn’t know, fabric paint can be used in place of glue. 

Glowing Wand

Step 3 – After being exposed to light, the vines, and leaves glow in the dark.  You can test the glow by holding the wand under a bright light for several seconds and then switch off the lamp.  Adjust the paint as needed. 

Accent Painting the Leaves

Step 4 – Something still needed to be added, but I didn’t know what it was.  Finally, I decided to apply a soft pastel green to the leaves, providing color as well as a subtle shimmer.  Seal paints with clear spray paint.  By day or night, this wand has stylish and surprisingly powerful. 

Harry’s Wand – Creating Thicker Tree Bark

Step 1 – Using a glue gun, add long lines for more texture upon the handgrip. 

Roughening the Texture

Step 2 – Use brown three-dimensional paint to roughen up the smooth lines of glue, to resemble tree bark more closely. 

Painting Black

Step 3 – Paint the entire wand with black acrylic.

Dry Brushing Brown

Step 4 – Dry brush only the rough bark handle with brown acrylic paint, allowing the black recessed areas to show through, as they do with real bark.  Use glow in the dark fabric paint to attach a rhinestone to the end of the wand as shown above.  Seal paints with clear spray paint. 

Harry’s Finished Wand

The thickened “tree bark” looks better, and the sleek black wand is the perfect choice for a powerful wizard. 

Harry & Hermione’s Finished Wands

These two wands work well together, just like Harry and Hermione. 

Close-Up – Both Finished Wands

I hope you have found a few inspirational ideas to create your own wands.  Do you have a favorite wizard, or a favorite magical literary character?  What kind of magic wand do you think that character would choose?  Please let me know in the comments section.  Enjoy the creative process, and let your ideas run wild. 

For more Harry Potter crafts, please check out this post: “Harry Potter’s Magical Creatures.”

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Birds of a Feather – Decorative Wood Crafts


For some reason, I often find myself drawn to the wood crafts aisle at my local hobby store. Maybe it’s the quick reward for very little effort at an inexpensive cost. Who doesn’t enjoy a little instant gratification? There’s always something new to discover. New trends and seasonal favorites compete for your attention on the shelves.

Painted Inspirational Words
The popularity of the television show, “Fixer Upper,” has brought farmhouse chic to the forefront of home design trends. As a result, oversize wood letters and words have become very popular wall art. If a particular word or phrase has special meaning for you, spell it out on a wall as a daily inspiration to share with your family and friends.

Birds on Wire
Looking for a quick and easy way to add some pizzazz to any flat wood surface? Apply contact paper or left over wallpaper for interesting colors and patterns.

Wooden Bird & Fish
For a distressed look, keep the color palette soft as if they faded over time, allow the paint to dry, and then use sandpaper to “age” the surface.

Painted Wood Boxes
The base coat for decorative boxes can be painted using brushes or spray paint. Intricate details and complex designs can be applied using fine point paint pens in solid or metallic finishes. Rhinestones and beads will provide a touch of sparkle.

Wood Owl
This adorable little owl has a painted face and the patterned wings were created with contact paper. For clean, crisp edges on the eyes and beak, use stencils.

Wooden Eggs
Painted eggs are a tradition in many cultures. Applying wax in intricate patterns and dipping the exposed areas into dyes created these beautiful designs.

How to Paint a Wooden Flamingo
Now that you’ve seen several woodcraft examples, it’s time to try your hand at decorating. Craft stores and Dollar Tree stores have several freestanding wood animals, including a flamingo, rhino, hippo, stegosaurus, peacock, elephant and more.

Flamingos
As with all projects, it helps to have a little inspiration. Seeing live flamingos really helps with color and feather pattern decisions as well as basic biology.

Raw Wood Flamingo
As you can see, the thick wood has been cut out in the shape of a flamingo and has the advantage of strong, sturdy legs, making this a freestanding, three-dimensional piece. 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:
Wooden Flamingo (7-1/2” high x 4-1/2” wide x 1-3/8” thick)
Acrylic Paint – orange, black, & white (plus optional yellow for eyes)
1) Bottle fabric paint – orange
1) Bottle fabric paint – pink
Paintbrush
Sandpaper

First Coat of Paint
Step 1 – Paint the flamingo with orange acrylic paint, including both sides and all edges.

Second Coat of Paint
Step 2 – Apply a second coat of orange acrylic paint, and add details to the face. The legs have been painted gray.

Textured Paint
Step 3 – Create a feathered texture by applying orange fabric paint. The paint on the head and neck was applied in a random dotted pattern because these areas are smoother than the lower body. Use long strokes on the torso, ensuring to go in the direction of the feathers. Refer to the inspiration photo as needed. Allow the paint to dry overnight. Using a small paintbrush, and orange acrylic paint, add the thin leg and feet details on the sides, front and back of each leg. This gives the illusion of thin legs like the live birds.

Second Coat Textured Paint
Step 4 – Create more texture by repeating the orange fabric paint process in Step 3. Add additional details with pink acrylic paint: Dot the pink over the head and neck, and create the wings on the torso. Refer to the inspiration photo as needed.

Finished Flamingo
Step 5 – Apply a second coat of pink fabric paint, thickening the wings and increasing the pink highlights on the head and neck. Allow the paint to dry overnight. Using a paintbrush, give the beak a second coat of white and black acrylic paint. To give the eyes more dimension, add a large dot of yellow fabric paint. Remember to add a black dot in the center of each pupil.

This completes your flamingo project. He may not take flight, but the bright colors and cheerful expression are sure to make you smile.  For more painted wood crafts, please click here.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Harry Potter’s Magical Creatures

Diagon Alley
During frustrating travel restrictions, wouldn’t it be nice to wave a magic wand to restore order once again to our lives.  I suppose the next best thing is delving into a magical book or watching a movie about everyone’s favorite teen wizard, Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Owl & Griffin
While I appreciate all the characters created by J.K. Rowling, I must admit my favorites are the mysterious, magical creatures that inhabit that fantasy world.  Whether real or imagined, each is endowed with exceptional powers and abilities – some for good and others not so much.

Harry Potter Goblin & Dragon
Don’t you just love goblins for balancing the books and dragons to keep it interesting?

Fire Breathing Dragon
Fire-breathing dragons are awesome, but perhaps we need to find something a little less flammable? lol

Harry Potter Monster Book
Every Harry Potter fan dreams of living in his magical world. You have read the books and seen the movies, but to experience it in the real world, you’ll need to make the trip to Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If travel isn’t on your agenda, perhaps you could bring a piece of Harry’s world into your own.

Harry Potter Monster Book
You can’t be a wizard without a few enchanted books. Who could forget the ferocious monster book? Ever wondered if you could make one?

How to Make a Monster Book Fit for a Wizard:

Raw Wood Book Box
Unfinished Wood Book Box
The moon and the stars must have aligned to make your wish come true with the discovery of this wooden book box, available through Michaels for $6.49. It’s the perfect size and thickness, and offers a strong foundation for building a monster book. As a bonus, there’s a secret compartment inside for storing your favorite spells (recipes), magic charms (office supplies), or wizardly collectibles.

Supplies:
Wooden Book Box (9.75″ x 7.5″ x 2.88″)
Black Paint – brush on Acrylic or spray paint
Sharpie Metallic gold marker – medium point
Vampire Teeth
Faux fur
4) Packing peanuts
4) Glass marbles – orange
1) Bottle fabric paint – black
1) Bottle fabric paint – white
1) Leather or vinyl belt
Glue gun
Scissors
Paintbrush

Book Box Painted Black
Book Painted Black
Paint the box black, inside and out. This dark color will make a great contrasting background for the gold paint applied in the next step.

Gilded Pages
Gilded Pages
To create the appearance of gilded pages, draw horizontal lines along all three sides of the book, using a Sharpie metallic gold pen. Don’t worry about crooked lines. Pages in old books become crinkled and curled. Imperfect lines will provide an aged look.

Toothy Expression
Attach Teeth
The next step is attaching teeth. Center the mouth as shown. The large fangs are from Fire Mountain Gems, and the smaller teeth are actually clear quartz crystal chips, painted to match. To simplify this step, purchase vampire teeth at a Halloween store or Amazon.

Hair Club for Monsters
Fur Cover
Faux fur from JoAnn Arts & Crafts is the perfect color and texture for this monster. Cut the piece large enough to allow a hem on all four sides. Be sure the fur will not interfere with the operation of the hinges. Please note: the raw edges of fur shed like crazy. Once they are hemmed and attached to the book the shedding stops. (Yeah!)

Faux Fur
Trim & Hem Fur
The sides could be hand sewn, but these hems were made with a glue gun.

Shaped & Glued Packing Peanuts
Packing Peanuts as Eye Sockets
I decided this monster would have four eyes. To make the eye sockets, use four packing peanuts. Each peanut is pinched in half and glued to hold its shape. Glue the four together end to end as shown.

Painted Black
Painted Packing Peanuts
Paint the foam with black fabric paint. Use a toothpick to keep the paint off your fingers.

Orange Glass Eyes
Marble Eyes
I found four orange glass marbles with red streaks resembling bloodshot eyes. Each was glued into the sockets, and outlined with white fabric paint. A white dot was added to each marble to give it that creepy glint in the eye appearance.

Final Assembly
Attach Eyes & Fur
Attach the eyes to the fur, and then secure the fur on top of the box.

Accessorize
Finished Monster Book
Last step: Wrap an old leather belt around the book to keep your monster under control.

For diehard Harry Potter fans with model building and wiring skills, there is one more step that would take this monster book to the ultimate level: mechanization!  Hide a motor inside the box to operate remote controlled wheels and hinges for the jaws.  Unleash the beast!  lol

Congratulations!  You’re now the proud owner of your very own Monster Book.  Be sure to keep it on a short leash because we all know how much it loves to shred – shoes, feet, paper – anything within reach.  For decades, kids have been telling their teachers, “The dog ate my homework!”  With a monster book as a pet, this excuse might be believable!

Do you have a favorite Harry Potter creature?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section.  Until next time…

For more Harry Potter crafts, please check out this post: “Abracadabra – Hermione & Harry’s Magic Wands.” 

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Painting with Stickers

Paint by Sticker Cat

Ever heard of “Paint by Numbers?”  If your answer is yes, you probably recognize the style of this long-haired cat, but there is a new twist.  Now, instead of applying paints, you apply stickers. 

“Paint by Sticker Cats”

Over the last several years, “Paint by Sticker” and “Color by Sticker” books have been produced in an interesting range of themes for everyone from kids to adults.  Let’s see how it works:

Kitten Close Up – Before

I chose an adorable kitten.  As you can see, the image has been broken up into varying size pieces, and each one has a corresponding sticker with a unique letter & number combination. 

Kitten Close Up – After

After all the stickers have been applied, this is the finished kitten. 

Sticker Pages 1 & 2

The “Paint by Sticker Cats” book contains twelve cat images, and each has two corresponding pages of stickers, divided into four sections (A, B, C, D) with unique numbers. 

Close Up Detail of Sticker Page 2

The front of the book contains large finished images so that you know exactly how the completed image will look.  All pages are perforated for easy tear out.  This will save you a lot of time flipping back and forth. 

Apply Stickers – Sections B & A

Start anywhere you like.  I chose Section-B stickers and applied all as shown above left.  Make sure the stickers fit against each other to prevent the white background paper from showing. 

Apply Stickers – Sections C & D

Apply the remaining stickers from Sections C & D. 

Finished Kitten Image

Pros:
Portable; No tools; No supplies; No fumes;
No clean up; No batteries; Inexpensive;
All ages; Fun; Easy; Colorful;
Frame-worthy artwork;

Cons:
Struggle to peel & stick a few of the smallest stickers (may need tweezers)
Tiny print may require reading glasses

Summary:
Each of the images are broken up into pieces like a jigsaw puzzle, however this puzzle tells you exactly where each piece goes by using a unique letter and number combination.  How easy is that? 

All the artistic challenges have already been worked out.  Along the way, you may learn enough about light and shadow, color placement, composition, etc. to apply this knowledge to your future drawing and painting projects. 

And when finished, you will have a frame-worthy piece of art. 

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Froggy Went A-Courting

As a kid, I remember reading a book about a courting frog, which is still popular today.  And who could forget the story of the Frog Prince?  To this day, my mom kisses every frog figurine, ornament, or pendant, just in case it turns into a prince.  Nothing so far, but she remains hopeful.  This week we will be painting a frog in search of a mate.  We will start with a couple of photos for inspiration:

Inspiration

This frog has great patterns, nice mixture of greens and browns, and cool eyes. 

Inspiration

The spotted pattern on this frog would be easy to duplicate. 

How to Paint a Resin Frog:

Original Gray Resin Frog – Front

Talk about having a case of the blahs!  This cute little frog has some nice details, such as the collar, tie and the intricately carved rose.  We have been using it as a doorstop for years, and we never gave it a second thought.  That changes today. 

Original Gray Resin Frog – Profiles

The sculptor did an amazing job defining the frog’s body from head to toe, including adorable, webbed feet.  The rose has layer after layer of petals with curled edges like a living bloom. 

Original Gray Resin Frog – Back

The textured straw hat has been accurately rendered and will need to be carefully painted to maintain its integrity.  Be sure to apply a thin coat of paint, or those details may be lost. 

Supplies

Supplies:
Resin Frog (11” high x 10” wide x 8” deep)
Acrylic Paints – white, red, yellow, blue, green, metallic gold, black, & tan
Small detail paintbrush and thicker brush for base coats
Clear Spray Paint – gloss or matte finish

Note: If you choose to blend several paints to create a special color, be sure to make enough to complete the project because it is difficult to duplicate.  To keep wet paint fresh on a palette or dish for later use, cover the surface with plastic wrap. 

Painted Straw Hat – Front

Paint the straw hat yellow, one rough coat to preserve texture.  My mom painted the hat.  And yes, she kissed the frog too!  (lol)

Painted Straw Hat – Back

As you can see the straw texture is still visible. 

Painted Frog – Front

Paint the frog’s entire body green.

Painted Frog – Profiles

You will need to use a fine brush in areas close to the hat to prevent green paint from marring the yellow. 

Painted Frog – Back

Be sure to paint green all the way around, even in the tight curves and at the edges of the collar, tie and rose. 

Painted Collar & Tie

On the first attempt, the collar was painted white.  I decided the contrast between the green and white was too harsh and should be softened. 

Repainted Collar & Rose

The collar was repainted tan, which has a much softer effect.  Paint the tie blue and the red rose.  The pupils are painted black and will be completed in the next step. 

Completed Painting

Finish the eyes by outlining them with metallic gold.  I experimented with a patterned iris, but he looked scary instead of cute, so I repainted the black.  Add white highlights to give this little guy twinkles in his eyes.  Look over the frog and touch up any areas as needed. 

Frog Ready for his Close-Up

This is the close-up of our leading man.  All he needs now is to find the love of his life.

Clear Coat Protection

To protect the acrylic, I recommend sealing the paint with two coats of clear spray paint.  Notice how much richer the colors become after being sealed. 

Frog Before & After

This froggy’s makeover is complete!  He went from bland gray to fashionably colorful in a few easy steps. 

Frog Royalty

If one day in your travels, you encounter a frog like this one, it might just be worth risking a kiss to find a true frog prince or princess.  Good luck painting your next project, and I hope you find that special someone! 

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Catching Some Rays

Stained Glass Windows
Have you ever admired the beauty of sunlight filtering through stained glass windows? The kaleidoscope effects are stunning. Given its otherworldly effects, it is not surprising to find stained glass in churches, royal palaces, and many grand architectural structures all over the world. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a similar experience at home?

Stained Glass Entry
Stained Glass Window Entry
If you are in the market for a new front door, there are many glass pattern options for the doors, sidelights, and transom windows. Because it is labor intensive, stained glass is significantly more expensive.

Glass Painting
Glass Painting
If you happen to be an artist, you could paint your own design on a sheet of glass, with special pigments called stains, which must be fired in a kiln to complete the process. Next it will need a frame to be used as a wall hanging, or metal hardware for hanging it in front of an existing window. It can also be installed in a window frame with a protective layer of glass on the exterior side to protect it from wind and weather.

Painted Glass Mandalas
Painted Glass Mandalas
These hand painted mandalas offer the beauty of stained glass without the need for cutting tools or wire.

If you love the look of stained glass, but lack the time and artistic ability, or have budgetary constraints, you still have a few options.

Decorative Window Film
Window Film
Window films are available through many sources including home improvement stores. As you can see, the film provides the color and patterns of genuine stained glass without the expense. Film also provides privacy, and blocks unsightly views.   Be sure to follow the installation instructions carefully. The most important step is ensuring the glass is free of all dust, dirt and debris. There must be a perfectly smooth surface for the film to adhere properly. Failure to follow these instructions could result in air pockets, bubbles and delaminating (peeling film).

Decorative Window Film
Window Film
There are two types of window films, which differ by installation. The first adheres to the glass via static cling and the second uses adhesive. The films shown in these two photos are the static cling type. Personally, I prefer static cling film, instead of adhesive, because it’s easy to install and more importantly can be easily removed. The films come in a wide variety of styles, including the more traditional “stained glass” and some very contemporary geometric patterns.

Sunburst Stained Glass Suncatcher
Sunburst Suncatcher
Genuine stained glass requires specialized skills. Due to precise cutting required, sharp glass and metal edges and joint soldering, this process is not suitable for children. There’s an inexpensive alternative, which is an easy, family-friendly project.

How to Make Colorful Acrylic Suncatchers:

Unpainted Suncatchers
Unpainted Suncatchers
These suncatchers look like glass, but are actually clear acrylic with raised black ridges, which create compartments for holding individual stain colors. One big advantage is that the acrylic is not fragile, like glass, so if you accidentally drop one, no harm is done.

Suncatcher Stain Kit
Suncatcher Stain
Some stores sell the stains separately, while others offer kits, which include a suncatcher(s), several stain colors and a paintbrush applicator. When the stains have dried, the surface hardens and the vibrant colors are translucent, just like stained glass.

Suncatcher Stain Application Process
Staining Progress Detail
Using the provided paintbrush, stains are applied one drop at a time. No blending, no special brush strokes and no extra supplies are required. It’s that easy! There are no other steps. Simply let them dry and they’re ready to hang. Below are examples of completed acrylic suncatchers.

Butterfly & Hot Air Balloon Suncatchers
Butterfly & Balloon

Balloon Bouquet & Cat Suncatchers
Balloons & Cat

Dog & Bluebird Suncatchers
Dog & Bluebird

Tropical Fish & Cardinal Suncatchers
Fish & Cardinal

Mirror with Applied Suncatchers
Framed Mirror with Suncatchers
Suncatchers can be hung upon windows or mirrors using suction cups on the glass, or hung with ribbons looped over window locks. I purchased two divided mirrors and screwed them together to create the eight-panel wall hanging shown in the photo above. The suncatchers were glued in the center of each square. The mirror allows natural and artificial light to reflect through the suncatchers. Because it resembles a window, I placed it above my stove to give me something pretty to look at while I’m cooking. It can also be hung in an interior room that needs a boost of color along with a “view.”

Anyone can make colorful suncatchers with very little effort, beautiful results, and they make great gifts at a very affordable price.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Flower Power

Multicolor Flowers

Arranging flowers is like painting a masterpiece.  Instead of paints on canvas, you place fresh-cut or silk flowers and leaves in a vase, bottle, or bowl.  Before you begin, you have some decisions to make.  What colors will choose?  How will you create visual interest?  Do you prefer balanced or abstract designs?  What will be your focal point(s)?  Do you have a container in mind?  Would you like to include a few accents, such as berries, or butterflies?  Feel overwhelmed?  Below are several pointers on flower arranging to help you get started. 

Complementary Colors:

Orange & Blue

Complements Orange & Blue

Complementary colors provide maximum contrast.  They say opposites attract.  Maybe that is why this orange butterfly found a blue flower irresistible. 

Yellow & Purple

Complements Purple & Yellow

Yellow shines brilliantly alongside its complement, purple.  This combination is associated with spring as well as Easter. 

Red & Green

Complements Red & Green

Red immediately grabs your attention.  Set against green it really pops.  Although red and green are hallmarks of Christmas, they are perfect any time of year, especially with other accent colors, as shown in the above photo. 

Exotic Focal Points:

Bird of Paradise

Exotic Bird of Paradise

While you are selecting flowers for a new arrangement, consider your focal point(s).  A few exotic flowers bring bold colors, shapes, and textures to your design. 

Dahlias

Exotic Dahlias

Dahlias offer amazing variety.  Check out the gorgeous pink and white dahlia in this photo.  Many people believe the ombre-effect was manmade, but Mother Nature thought of it first. 

Hibiscus

Exotic Hibiscus

Although hibiscus is a readily available flower, the rich, blended colors and delicate details appear to be hand-painted by Mother Nature. 

Monochromatic:

Pinks

Monochrome Pink

Monochromatic designs do not have to be boring.  Choose a variety of flowers in shades of your chosen color and arrange them in a visually pleasing way. 

Purples

Monochrome Purple

Dramatic contrasts in color as well as shape are the keys to this arrangement. 

Multicolor:

Tulips

Mulicolor Tulips

Jewel-tone tulips stand on their own as an easy and attractive centerpiece.

Assorted Flowers

Multicolor Flowers

Pastel colors and small-scale blooms blend harmoniously in this lovely springtime bouquet. 

Floral Design Balance:

Symmetry

Symmetry Asymetry Heart

This arrangement has elements of symmetry and asymmetry.  The heart shape and three roses are symmetrically balanced, while the assorted perimeter flowers are asymmetrical and yet still fit within the overall heart shape. 

Asymmetry

Asymmetry

This asymmetrical centerpiece is an abstract art lover’s dream. 

Floral Accessories:

Cute Critters

Accessorize Birds & Flowers

You might want to include a few well-chosen characters to adorn your floral creations, including birds, butterflies, ladybugs, geckos, and fairies. 

Bouquet Holder

Accessorize Heart Bouquet

Give a floral bouquet an upgrade with a special themed holder, such as this heart for Valentine’s Day, which can be paired with a vase, and reused for years to come. 

Ribbons & Twigs

Accessorize Ribbon Sticks

The bright yellow daffodils contrast well with purple ribbon, woven with other blooms upon a twig base.  In autumn, pinecones, and berries are attractive additions. 

Floral Display Containers:

And the Envelope-Please

Accessorize Ribbon Sticks

Flowers look beautiful no matter how you choose to display them.  For the cute arrangement above, you need to “think inside the box!”  An envelope-shaped box is a sweet surprise and wonderful conversation starter. 

Martini Glass

Container Martini Glass

A new use for an old friend – this martini glass, with an extra-long stem, is a great idea for providing floral beauty, while still enabling guests to see each other across the table. 

Old Fashioned Ceramic Jar

Container Simplicity

For country chic, choose the simplicity of a ceramic jar filled with a few fresh cut blooms.

Water Bowl

Container Bali Floating Flowers

Who needs a vase when you have a water bowl?  A floating mandala design sets a relaxing tone.  If you are having a party, each table could have a unique floating centerpiece to show off your creativity. 

Floral Design Influences:

Religious

Bali Design

This Balinese flower offering exhibits many of the design principles discussed in this post including symmetry, focal point, all six complementary colors, multicolor flowers, and a unique flat design display.  A large outdoor table, in a shaded area, offers a great opportunity for a flat floral centerpiece. 

Cultural (Before & After)

Tropical Rain Forest Before&After

Tropical flowers grow in abundance in Hawaii and are an integral part of their cultural history and traditions.  This beautiful arrangement has a nice selection of exotic flowers, but two elements throw off this design: 1) The red roses do not belong in a tropical arrangement.  2) The metallic silver vase is too contemporary.  To fix it, add more red ginger and anthuriums, and use a Hawaiian drum to conceal the vase, unifying this Polynesian theme. 

Architectural

Architectural Floral Design

A large interior space requires an equally strong floral display, and this one meets that challenge.  These organ pipes have strong vertical lines, multiple levels, sculptural scrolls, and decorative arches, which are echoed in the grooved, scalloped urn, tiered flowers, curled leaves, and bell-shaped flowers.  High contrast of complementary colors can be found in the purple flowers with bold yellow centers, and the blue flowers against the tall orange-red stalks.  Exotic lilies serve as focal points, drawing the eye in toward the rich lush greens and purples and pulling your attention upward, much like the heavenly organ music floating upon the air. 

Sculptural

Sculptural Floral Design

Seashells and lotus blossoms automatically make you think of water.  Beginning at the top, invisible water flows diagonally, from leaf to leaf, making its way back and forth across the arrangement until it reaches the bottom, only to begin the journey anew.  Textures in the seashell are repeated in the leaves.  Whether you spend the day at a pampering spa or have a luxurious soak in the bathtub at home, this soft color palette and gentle flowing movement soothes away your cares bringing peaceful relaxation to body and mind. 

Take your time finding inspiration, developing ideas, and planning your design.  Choosing flowers and creating a unique floral display will shine with your artistic flair.  Enjoy the process and best of luck! 

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Want to Make Beaded Earrings?

Assorted Earrings
Making fine jewelry requires years of special training in gemstones, precious metals, and jewelry design. Materials and tools are very expensive, and mistakes can be very costly. The invention of beaded jewelry created beautiful designs in a much more affordable way, and put the jewelry making possibilities into everyone’s hands. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a piece of jewelry, now is your chance.

How to Make Black Onyx & Tigerseye Earrings
Tigerseye Black Onyx Earrings
These 2” long gemstone earrings are fashionable and easy to make.

Required Beads & Findings:
Earring Supplies
Supplies:
To make this pair of earrings you will need:
2) Silver plated Head Pins – 2” length,
2) 8.5mm Granulated Round Pewter Rondelles,
2) 8mm Tigerseye beads,
2) 10mm Black Onyx beads,
2) Silver plated Round 4mm Spacer beads
2) Silver plated Surgical Steel Fishhook Earwires with ball & coil

(Please note: Head pins are the foundation of these earrings. They are inexpensive and come in big packages. Be sure to have several on hand just in case. Craft stores carry jewelry making supplies, including beads, accents, and tools. If you get hooked on jewelry making and yearn for the ultimate selections, look no further than FireMountainGems.com)

Jewelry Making Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers – the smooth, round tips on these pliers make it easy and safe to manipulate wire, pins, and small jewelry metal pieces known as findings. Please don’t use standard pliers, which have teeth that will damage delicate precious metals.

Jewelry Wire Cutters
Jewelry Wire Cutters – a sharp pair of wire cutters makes jewelry making so much easier. Do not use them for other crafts, such as floral arranging, which can damage the blades.

Earring Making Instructions:

Bead Layout
Step 1: Stack the beads in sequence on the head pin as shown. This is the dangle part of the earring.

Grip with Pliers
Step 2: With the round nose pliers in your right hand, grip the wire just above the top silver bead. Be sure the beads are close together with no gaps in between. Hold the pliers in this position for the next step.

Grasp Wire with Fingers
Step 3: Grasp the end of the head pin with your left thumb and index finger, and bend the wire toward you.

Bend Wire
Continue bending the pin over the tip of the pliers until it touches the Black Onyx bead.

Reshaped Wire
The reshaped pin will look like the photo above.

Trim Excess Wire
Step 4: Cut off the excess wire. Leave enough wire to form a small loop above the silver bead. This may take a few tries. Don’t worry if you cut it too short. Simply use a new head pin and repeat the steps.

Shortened Wire
This photo shows the trimmed wire, and beside it is the scrap piece to be thrown away.

Attach Earwire
Step 5: Hook the dangle earring onto the loop on the bottom of the fishhook earwire,

Loop Closeup
and close the loop using the round nose pliers.

Finished Earrings
Congratulations! You have successfully made your first pair of earrings.

These skills can be used to create many styles, which at first may appear to be complex, but are actually fairly easy when broken down into basic steps. Let’s take a look at a few examples below.

Blue Earrings
Blue Bead & Pearl Earrings– If you look closely, you’ll notice the same elements we talked about before: head pins, stacked beads, and earwires. The choice of silver earwires and accents with faceted blue crystals and Mother of Pearl creates a cool, summery vibe. This pair of earrings utilizes a different type of earwire known as lever backs, which prevent the earring from falling off – no more lost earrings!

Fossil Earrings
Fossil Earrings – The natural spiral design and intricate details of these fossils make great focal points for these earrings. You can purchase charms and pendants such as these and simply attach earwires to the provided loops on top. How easy is that?

Triangle Earrings
Triangle Earrings – These earrings are a simple progression from the fossil earrings above. The triangles are merely charms. Head pins, which are available in many lengths, are the keys to this design. Attach the three beads on the bottom of each triangle using pliers. The yellow beads are also attached with head pins. Cut the head off a pin, and use the pliers to make a loop above and below the yellow bead and then attach to the triangle on the bottom and to the earwire on the top.

Jasper& Pearl Earrings
Jasper & Pearl Earrings – Gemstones come in an amazing array of colors and shapes. The accent beads can be mixed and matched in infinite combinations. Experiment by laying out the beads to test your options. The nice thing about earrings is that you can place the beads on a pin and hold them up to your ear to see how they look, with no commitment whatsoever. Don’t like what you see? Try another combo.

Jewelry making is a fun, creative hobby. Best of all you get to wear and share your creations with your family and friends. For more information on beaded jewelry, please read “Designing Beaded Jewelry.”

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!