Who’s Behind The Mask?

Red Feathered MaskIt’s hard to believe the month of October is half over. Thoughts of my favorite time of year, Halloween, come to mind. I suppose I’m just a big kid at heart. Dressing up was so much fun. Deciding what to be for Halloween was a major accomplishment. Sometimes the costume was store bought (e.g. Snow White, Peter Pan), while other times we made our own (e.g. Gypsy, Witch).

Purple & Gold Mardi Gras Mask
Purple Gold MaskAll you really need is a great mask. Craft stores sell a variety of white masks to decorate any way you please. In terms of comfort, the quarter masks are an easy solution, as opposed to latex masks, sold in Halloween stores, which can be very hot to wear.

Red Sequined Mask and White Floral Mask
 Red & White MasksMasks can be decorated with a particular theme in mind or for holiday celebrations, such as Carnival, Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve, and the Chinese New Year. Each finished mask is a beautiful work of wearable art.

Turquoise & Gold Feathered Mask
Turquoise & Gold Feathered MaskI look at this mask and think of Aqua Man, the Marvel Comic’s super hero. It is also reminiscent of the Philadelphia Mummer’s Parade. The rich details and vibrant colors are real showstoppers.

Red, Black & Gold Long Nose Joker Mask
Red, Black & Gold Long Nose Joker MaskThis mask has a devilish quality about it. Practical jokes are sure to follow.

Black & Gold Opera/Theater Masks
Black & Gold Opera/Theater MasksMusical notes and gold braided trim adorn these fanciful masks.

Antiqued Cat Mask
Antiqued Cat MaskPerky ears and delicate patterns make this mask a favorite among cat lovers.

Blue & Gold Asian Mask
Blue & Gold Asian MaskA lovely combination of two arts – mask making and fan decorating.

Assorted Feathered & Bejeweled Masks
Assorted Feathered & Bejeweled MasksThis assortment of masks is ready to be worn in celebration or displayed as artwork and party decor.

Black & Gold and All White Feathered Masks
Black & Gold and All White Feathered MasksFeathered masks tend to be the most flamboyant.

Red & Black Harlequin Mask
Red & Black Harlequin MaskThe visual impact of this red, black and gold mask is enhanced with light catching glitter and thick gold trim. A few faux gemstones are the perfect finishing touch.

Ornate Venetian Masks
Ornate Venetian MasksMasks made to celebrate the Carnival of Venice are among the most elaborately decorated with lavish brocade fabrics, ribbons, crystals, intricately hand painted designs, and touches of gold or silver leaf. This centuries old technique has influenced artists world wide, and is highly valued among collectors.

For a more practical, down-to-earth approach, below are the instructions to complete your own decorated mask.

How To Make Your Own Mask
Your project starts with a visit to the craft store. The mask you choose will be the most important decision because it determines the range of decorating possibilities.

Plain White Quarter Mask – Ready for Decorating
Plain White Quarter Mask – Ready for DecoratingMost craft stores have several style options. Because this was a first attempt at decorating a mask, this simple white quarter mask was chosen.

Mask – Painted Blue and Outlined with Rhinestones
Mask - Painted Blue and Outlined with RhinestonesThe mask was spray-painted royal blue. Fabric stores have beaded and rhinestone trims perfect for mask decorating. The rhinestones twinkle in the light, calling attention to the wearer’s face with an emphasis on the eyes. As shown, the mask is ready to wear, but let’s take it to the next level.

Black Feathers on a Foam Backer
Black Feathers on a Foam BackerThis mask was made as a wall decoration, so the back will not be seen. (If you plan to wear your mask, simply glue the feathers directly onto the back of the mask, and line it with felt for comfort.) To make the wall art, trace the mask onto a sheet of black foam, which is used as mask liner to hold and support the feathers. The eyes and lower shape of the mask are cut out using an Exacto knife.

The Opposite Side of the Foam Backer
The Opposite Side of the Foam BackerThis photo shows the wrong side of the foam sheet used as a liner or backer board for the feathers. The bottom of the foam and eye openings line up perfectly with the blue mask, but the upper portion of the foam extends upward like a crown to support the feathers.

The Finished Black Feather Mask
The Finished Black Feather MaskLuxurious black feathers and sparkling rhinestones stand in sharp contrast to the rich royal blue on this completed mask.

Take a walk on the wild side. Dress up, stay in character, and most importantly have fun. Mask making isn’t just for kids. It’s for the child within all of us!

Happy Crafting!

Halloween Magic – How to Make a Bewitching Centerpiece

Witch Flying Across Full Moon
The movie Hocus Pocus is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, inspiring witch themed costumes and decorations. Whether you’re having a Halloween party or simply decorating for the fun of it, a centerpiece is a must for the coffee or dining tables. Below are step-by-step instructions and photos for building your own, one piece at a time.

Close Up: Witch Boots
The Inspiration – As with all creative projects, the first requirement is a source of inspiration. This pair of witch’s boots is sold at Michaels. Although smaller than expected, it still has a spooky vibe. The style varies slightly, but all are black with a silver spider painted on each side. Having a pair of boots is nice, however it’s one piece and can’t be separated. If you prefer a more humorous impression, many stores sell individual witch boots painted in bright, fanciful colors and patterns.

Witch Boots
Step 1. Witch’s Boots – Centered upon this coffee table, these boots look quite sparse, but we’ve only just begun.

Boots with Floral Stems & Owl
Step 2. Floral Stems & Owl – For color and texture, the key to this design is choosing strange looking plants in autumn, Halloween colors. Here we have added leafy vines with plush mini pumpkins, and orange lanterns. Bend the stems as needed to adjust the height. Crafter Tips: Do not cut the stems because you may need to adjust the height at the end when the arrangement is complete. (You may not need to cut them at all, simply conceal the bent stems inside the boots). The owl, made from twigs, was already mounted on a long stick for easy placement.

Boots & Pumpkin
Step 3. Jack-O-Lantern – Orange and black – the perfect color combo for Halloween. This resin pumpkin includes optional lighting. High contrast and a brilliant punch of color lend visual interest to this asymmetrical composition. Instead of a pumpkin, you could use a round platter or globe, resembling the full moon, or a light color witch’s broom to contrast with the dark boots.

Boots, Pumpkin & Owl
Step 4. Ceramic Owl – Contemporary details with an eerie presence make this owl a perfect addition by contributing color, light, and texture. Moss green and tan coordinate with the autumn vines and leaves. Feather-like half moon slits in the body of the owl allow light to pass through and the opportunity to insert mini lights inside with the battery pack underneath, wrapped in black fabric. Crafter Tip: Ensure the battery pack’s on/off switch remains accessible.

Witch's Potions Decanter
Step 5. Decanter – No witch-themed display would be complete without a few unknown potions brewed with magical spells. The clear glass decanter, with four separate chambers and claw-like stoppers, provides much needed height and color on the left end of the display. A little food coloring and water becomes a scary cocktail of witch’s potions. The green color was chosen to coordinate with the other green elements. Alternatives: You could create a grouping of different size bottles or apothecary jars with strange contents inside; or add a book of “spells” and candles to capture the spooky aura. Crafter Tip: Experiment with various objects and colors, being sure to balance the composition.

Rat & Snake
Step 6. Rat & Snake – Now we need a few creepy crawlers to stir up our primal fears. A rat on top of the pumpkin seems like a natural choice, and the snake has the added bonus of implying movement, as it appears to slither along the tabletop among the objects in the centerpiece. A trip to a Halloween or craft store is sure to have plenty of options, including spiders, worms, skeleton bones, and the like. A few spider webs might kick up the spooky factor another notch.

Orange Candle
Step 7 Orange Candle & Metal Candleholder – To add height and a pop of color on the left end of the centerpiece, add an orange candlestick in a dark metal candleholder. Although the base of the holder is plain, it provides an opportunity which we will take advantage of in the next step. The candle had been stuck in a box for years, which caused the wax to curve. This works great in a Halloween project, where crooked lines are more desirable than straight ones.

Orange & Black Spider
Step 8. Orange & Black Spider – I never thought I would say these words, but this spider is actually quite beautiful. The camera flash tends to wash out the brilliant colored stripes upon the spider’s body, which is covered in tiny orange and black glass beads. The large size and imposing ready-to-strike posture are just what this display needed.

Witch's Hat
Step 9. Witch’s Hat – The pumpkin’s toothy grin becomes the witch’s face by the simple addition of a classic black hat, which frames the pumpkin’s face, adds character, and ties all pieces together into a unified Halloween theme.

Illuminated Pumpkin & Owl
Step 10. Illumination – This is the finished centerpiece with optional lights turned on inside the owl and pumpkin. It’s spooky fun just like the movie, Hocus Pocus.

Designing a Halloween centerpiece is an enjoyable process for stretching your creative muscles. Start with one piece as an inspiration and decorative items you may already own. Find different ways to use existing items by looking at things in a whole new way with your theme in mind.

Happy Halloween and Happy Crafting!

Halloween Decorating Tips

Pumpkins by CandlelightOne of my favorite holidays is Halloween. It brings back such happy memories of dressing up as a child, and the excitement has continued as an adult. Apparently many people agree, because Halloween has become the second biggest holiday of the year. Decorating your home is a fun activity for the whole family. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

Halloween Wreath
Halloween WreathGreet your guests at the front door with a boldly decorated Halloween wreath. The humorous witch’s legs were the inspiration for the purple and black color scheme with accents of orange and white. The wire wreath frame was wrapped first with tissue paper to add bulk, and then fabric for color and texture. The witch’s legs came mounted on a dowel, which was secured to the frame. A metallic garland conceals the dowel and an owl was tied in the center using matching ribbon. The witch’s hat, ghosts, pumpkins, and spiders complete the design.

Spider Web Placemat
Spider Web Placemat

Pumpkin Placemat
Pumpkin PlacematSetting a Spooky Table – Whether you are having a Halloween party, or want to spice up your breakfast table, an inexpensive solution is layering placemats. Laser cutting technology has produced beautifully detailed, lace-like products with both style and durability. A Spider Web placemat (from Wegmans) was layered with a Metallic Finish Pumpkin placemat (from AC Moore) to create this lively place setting. The blue tablecloth peeks out from underneath like a midnight sky and creates great contrast to the orange and black. As alternatives, you could use a yellow tablecloth (think full moon) or green tablecloth (think forest).

Arachnophobia? No Problem with this tablecloth.
Spider Table CoverHalloween themed tablecloths can be difficult to find and pricey, especially for large dining room tables. There’s an easy alternative. Measure your table, and go to a fabric store, such as Jo Ann Crafts. It’s amazing to see some of the scary patterns that have been developed over the last several years. The semi-sheer fabric in the photo above is layered over a gold tablecloth I already had. If you prefer an opaque table cover, there are ghosts, skeletons and witches. Oh My! Some fabrics have entire haunted scenes emblazoned across the surface suitable for covering tables, or as wall hangings. There’s no need to hem the edges. It’s Halloween – a few ragged edges only adds to the haunted house vibe.

Inside Out Pumpkin
JackolanternGlowing Illusion Pumpkin – We are all accustomed to seeing the typical orange pumpkin with an interior that is either candlelit or dark & shadowy. That color scheme has been turned inside out by painting the outside black and the inside fluorescent orange. When placed near any light source (lamp, ceiling light, or sunlight), the result is a scary glowing pumpkin without the need for electricity or batteries. I can’t tell you how many times well-meaning co-workers have warned me about the company’s strict no candle burning policy, until they see for themselves that it’s completely empty. It’s easy to fool the eye with this illusion.

Pumpkins for All Seasons
Craft PumpkinCraft Pumpkins – If you have ever decorated your yard with live pumpkins, you probably lost a few, if not all, to squirrels, slugs or other hungry critters. Craft pumpkins look like the real thing, but are made of foam or resin, which is not on the menu for wildlife. These pumpkins are ready to display as is, or they can be carved or painted with exterior paint. Craft pumpkins are for indoor and outdoor use, inexpensive, will last years, and are nice for Thanksgiving too.

To the Bat Cave! (which in this case is a Chandelier)
Bats & OwlBats – A cluster of bats hanging over your table will surprise and delight party guests. The faux fur bodies are a simple tube shape with a slightly larger, rounded end and ears for the head. The owl in the center is from Pier 1, and the pumpkin garland is from AC Moore.

Bat Making Instructions:
Supplies:
Brown or black faux fur (from Jo Ann Crafts)
Shiny black fabric (for wings)
Fishing tackle
Sewing needle and black thread
Foam filler or batting
Cardboard (for pattern making)

Bat Wing & Body Patterns
Bat PatternsMake patterns for the body and wings as follows:
Draw a thick capital letter “T” on cardboard – vertically 6” x 2”; top of “T” is 4”x 1” thick.
Carefully cut it out. This will be the pattern for the bat’s body.
Draw a bat wing on cardboard, approximately 9”x4. Cut out wing. Now flip it over, trace onto cardboard, and cut it out for the other wing.

Finished Bat
Finished BatUsing the body pattern, cut out two pieces of faux fur for the front and back of each bat.
Sew the fur by hand, leaving the bottom open for filling later.
Trace each bat wing pattern onto shiny black fabric and cut out both wings.
Hand-sew the wings on either side of the body; fill it with foam or batting and stitch closed.
Remember bats hang upside down, so add fishing tackle on the bottom of each bat for hanging from a chandelier or wall sconce.

Happy Halloween & 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
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
Black 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
Black Onyx, Carnelian & Silver-Plated 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 & Mother of Pearl 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, Mother of Pearl, and Gold-Plated 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
Necklace – Lampwork Glass Frog & Glass Beads on a 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.

Happy Crafting!

Designing with Mosaic Tile

Multicolor Tile Wall
They say “Good things come in small packages,” and mosaic tiles are perfect examples. So many options and so little time – Deciding where to begin is the biggest challenge. Mosaics are so versatile for use in every day items, such as tabletops, picture frames, flooring, and artwork. The process is fairly straightforward, and no specialized skills are required. Below are a few ideas for inspiration:

Choose Your Design:

Geometric Mosaic
Geometric Mosaic

Abstract Mosaic Floor
Multi Color Floor

Choose Your Mosaic Material & Colors:

Ceramic Mosaic Salamander
Mosaic Lizard

River Rock Mosaic
River Rock
Many types of mosaic tiles are available in pre-cut sheets to make installation a breeze.

Glass Mosaic Tray
Glass Mosaic Tray
Crafter Tips: To cut costs, some manufacturers make clear glass tiles with solid color or patterned foil backings. The savings are passed onto the consumer – the beauty of vibrantly colored glass without the expense. When using transparent glass tiles, be sure to use white mortar to avoid an unwanted color change.  Coordinate grout color with design.

Apply Mortar Over Strong Substrate:
Wood or any clean smooth surface will do. Using your design as a guide, press the mosaic tiles firmly into the mortar and allow drying time. If required, apply a sealant per manufacturer’s instructions. Crafter Tip: You might want to wear disposable gloves while working with mortar. A friend had gray hands and fingernails for weeks after completing a project. The mortar itself washed off, but the pigments had real staying power.

Blue Glass Mosaic Table
Glass Mosaic Table

Tropical Glass Mosaic Table
Glass Mosaic Table

Apply Grout:

Glass & Beaded Mosaic
Glass Mosaic Geometric
Crafter Tip: The color of your grout will affect the color of the mosaics. Consider your color scheme carefully before choosing the grout.

Challenge Yourself:

Complex Geometric
Geometric Fans

Floral Mosaic Mural
Mosaic Roses

Mosaic Water Fountain
Water Fountain

Mosaic Sun
Sun

Cinderella & Her Fairy Godmother
Cinderellas Castle

Mosaic Horse
Horse Mirror Tiles
World-renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly, designed this beautiful mirror tiled statue. Thousands of mosaic tiles follow the muscular contours of the horse’s body, complicating an already challenging project, with stunning results.

Happy Crafting!

The Beauty of Woodcrafting

Painted Wood Hearts
Woodcrafts 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. With a few craft supplies and a little inspiration, you’ll be ready to create your next masterpiece. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Blue Floral Birdhouse
Blue Birdhouse
Birdhouses are very popular, easy to complete woodcrafts. A quick coat of paint and a few freehand leaves and flowers were all that was needed to complete this project. A realistic looking feathered bird perched in front of the entrance would be a cute addition to this indoor decoration. Crafter Tip: For outdoor use, choose a birdhouse with an access door for easy cleaning.

Accessorizing A Gingerbread Birdhouse
Gingerbread Birdhouse
This artist took woodcrafting to the next level by layering multiple wood decorations, upon a simple birdhouse frame, including a gingerbread man, festive white picket fence, signage, and a miniature birdhouse hanging from the roof. Enhancing a ready-made item adds personality, and unique design flare. Crafter Tip: It is helpful to keep sandpaper on hand. Most woodcrafts are ready to be painted or stained, but sometimes rough edges need a little attention before additional finishes can be applied.

Purple & White Heart Wall Hanging
Purple & White Heart
Hearts are a favorite décor item. Instead of using the usual red or pink color scheme, this crafter chose a pretty purple and black floral scrapbooking paper with a touch of lace. Although they can’t be seen in this photo, be sure to paint the edges to match the background color prior to attaching the paper. Crafter Tip: As a more romantic alternative, the edges could be wrapped with coordinating ribbon or lace.

Toy Train
Toy Train
If you are looking for an absolutely effortless craft store project, you could purchase a few train cars, set it up at home and call it done. Natural wood grain is beautiful just the way it is. There’s really no need to do any painting, but if you feel you want to add just a little color, stickers from the scrapbooking department will work just fine. Crafter Tip: Or let your kids handle it and everyone wins.

Jeweled Box
Jeweled Box
To create this jeweled box, start by painting the exterior iridescent purple, which will peek through the beads. Apply large mirrored pieces first and establish mid-size purple beaded borders. Fill in the remainder with tiny seed beads. The inside could be lined with velvet or satin fabric. Crafter Tips: Use full strands of beads for borders to make the gluing process easier, and ensure they are glued firmly in place at the edges of the lid because they may loosen over time with wear and tear.

Wall Clock
Wall Clock
After staining this wall clock, a floral and checkerboard scrapbooking paper was applied along with self-stick black numbers. Craft stores carry kits, which include clock hands and the battery operated mechanism for the back. The unfinished clocks in several shapes and sizes are sold separately.

Floral Wall Art
Floral Letters Wall Art
Letters have become popular wall art. Simply use your initials, or any words you like. In this photo, silk flower petals were glued on the top and sides of each letter. It’s super easy to do and ready to hang up. Crafter Tip: As alternatives, you could use mini pom poms, glass marbles, or self-stick gemstones.

Decorated “Home” Wall Art
Decorated “Home” Wall Art
A distressed paint finish in four different colors, a few sprigs of silk foliage, and a butterfly create a casual, welcoming message. Hanging an antique key enhances the warm feelings associated with “Home.” Crafter Tip: To achieve this distressed look, allow the paint to dry, and then use sand paper to “age” the letters.

Wooden Serving Tray
Wooden Serving Tray
A plain wooden serving tray was spruced up with some spray paint, and lined with a bamboo placemat. If necessary, trim the bamboo to fit. The dark gray paint, which peeks through the wood slats, contrasts nicely with the light color bamboo. Crafter Tip: Pier 1 has a large variety of unusual placemats, which can be used for many crafting projects.

Happy Crafting!

How to Make an Ocean Themed Wreath

Fishing Net with Life Preserver
A day at the beach – the warmth of the sun upon your skin, seagulls chattering nearby, damp sand between your toes, the laughter of children, and the ebb and flow of the waves depositing tiny treasures upon the shore. Whether it’s sea glass or seashells, each has unique colors and patterns courtesy of Mother Nature. Creating an ocean themed wreath is a great way to display your shell collection and as a reminder of those days in the sun and a promise of vacations yet to come.

Ocean Wreath with Open Center
Ocean Wreath with Open Center
The ocean’s creatures hitch a ride upon this wreath as it floats along the surface of the sea. All the items shown are small to medium scale to coordinate with the life-size fish and crab. (Alternate option: The open center reminds me of a life preserver. If you really want to play up the life preserver look, you could use a white foam wreath base, let some of the white show through the netting, and add a thick piece of rope around the perimeter similar to the one shown in the photo at the top of this post.)

Supplies:
16” Wire Wreath Frame
Fishing Net
Glue Gun with plenty of Glue Sticks
Old size 6 (or size G) Crochet Needle – to “fish” the twine through netting
Life-size Crab and Fish Figurines
Seashells – different sizes, shapes and colors
3 Starfish
Tan twine – to tie on larger shells, crab and fish
Faceted round diamond shaped rhinestones – glued upside down on starfish legs
Optional blue paint – to blend twine ties over bodies of fish and crab
Optional black foam core and painted wood sea horses for second version of wreath.
Anchor Wreath Hanging Hook

Crafter Tip: A word of caution about fishing nets – The netting is available through craft stores and online. If the product description includes the words “recycled materials,” it really means it was used for fishing! I’m sure it must have been rinsed, but the fishy smell may still be present. Air it out first before use. You may want to wear gloves while you are handling netting, and keep it out of children’s reach. Also fishing nets often contain mismatched patches, which add character and a bit of a background story for your finished project.

Crafter Tip: Before you start, cover your worktable with newspaper. You will be flipping the wreath over multiple times to tie the decorations. It’s helpful to have someone assist with this project. One person can hold wreath up on end while other ties the knots in back. That’s a real time saver.

Close Up – Twine Tie
Close Up – Twine Tie
Wrap the fishing net around the wire wreath frame. Be sure to make thick layers to completely conceal the wire. Use tan twine to tie the netting in place in multiple locations until you are satisfied with the fullness and coverage. Refer to the red highlighted rectangle in the above photo. Using the crochet needle, “fish” the twine through the netting to the back of the wreath. The twine forms single stitches upon the face of the wreath, which will blend with the natural color of the netting, and will be covered by shells. If you purchase white fishing net, use white string or twine. All ties for this project should be secured on the back, and tied in double or triple knots. Crafter Tip: To ensure ties remain tight, add hot glue to each knot.

Close Up – Crab
Close Up – Crab
Close Up – Fish
Close Up – Fish
Crab & Fish Figurines – Because these figures are the stars of this project, they should be attached first. Originally they were meant to stand as statues upon a shelf or mantelpiece, but in this case they were the perfect size, color and shape to use as wreath decorations. Due to their weight, be sure each is securely tied to your wreath. Crafter Tip: Because the underside of the fish might be seen from the side, it was painted blue to blend with the body or look like splashing water. The twine ties across the crab and fish figures were painted blue to be less noticeable.

Close Up – Starfish
Close Up – Starfish
Attach the starfishes next. These three were positioned in an asymmetrical pattern, but you can add as many as you like. Crisscross ties over the center of the starfish and cover the twine with a seashell. To add a little sparkle, glue diamond shaped rhinestones onto each starfish, three per leg. Use glue or twine to attach the seashells. Lay them out and move them around to create an attractive arrangement. Work quickly with the hot glue, which dries fast. Larger shells may need to be tied instead of glued. Distribute accent colors evenly throughout the wreath to unify design.

The second option for this ocean wreath has a filled center with additional sea life.

Option 2 – Ocean Wreath with Solid Center
Option 2 – Ocean Wreath with Solid Center
This version offers additional opportunities to display your shell collection. Use black foam core in the center with punched holes around perimeter to tie onto the wire wreath frame. Punch additional holes if needed to tie on large shells or figures. Cover the foam core with a layer of fishing net and glue on additional shells and sea horses. To create the painted wood sea horses shown in photo, see instructions in a previous blog post dated April 5th.

Close Up – Wreath Hanging Hook
Anchor Hook
This decorative anchor hook fits the overall ocean theme and will provide sturdy, heavy-duty support for this large, heavy wreath. Crafter Tip: Be sure to insert the hook through all the rings in the metal frame. Place a seashell over the tip of the hook.

Happy Crafting!

The Basics of Decorative Painting

Paint Brushes

In a post two 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
Stenciled Butterflies & Vines
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. AC Moore has a nice selection of stencils. 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.

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
Fleur-de-lis 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
Acrylic Paints, Ink Stamp & Fan Brush
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
Fleur-de-lis Powder Room

Fleur-de-lis Detail
Fleur-de-lis 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), purchased from A.C. Moore, 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).

Happy Crafting!

Why Just Paint? Faux Finish.

Faux finishing is a great, inexpensive way to transform a room and can be easily done over a weekend, and sometimes in a few hours with minimal effort.

There certainly is no shortage of ideas and inspirations for faux finishing including: retail stores, restaurants, shopping malls, magazines, books, websites, videos, craft and paint stores. Instructional videos can be found on YouTube, but don’t forget to check paint manufacturers’ websites as well.

You may already have many faux finishing tools in your home without even realizing it. Paint can be applied using rolled up plastic wrap or fabric; synthetic sea sponges; brushes, sponge rollers; and trowels. Application methods include dabbing, rolling, splattering, brushing, and glazing. Additional supplies and advice are available through local craft stores, and home improvement or hardware stores.

                          Faux Marble                                               Faux Metal
Faux Marble and Faux Metal
Faux Marble has a mottled background and white veining applied using a feather.

Faux Metal is created using a specialty iridescent metallic paint applied on the diagonal for a hammered metal appearance.

                       Crackle Finish                                      Faux Venetian Plaster
Crackle Finish and Faux Plaster
Crackle Finish involves painting a background color first, followed by a special antiquing medium, which cracks as it dries, revealing the color beneath for an aged, weathered look.

Faux Venetian Plaster has color and texture applied at same time with a trowel, which is a two step process, followed by a drying period, and sanded afterward to create a soft sheen finish.

Textured Wall Paint
Textured Wall Paint
Textured Wall Paint is probably the easiest faux finish to apply. No special skills are required. If you can use a paint roller, you can texture a wall. After it dries, the wall will resemble the texture of plaster, and the softness of wallpaper. With a bold punch of color, it can be used as an accent wall in a living room, dining room or master bedroom.

These faux finishing techniques are not limited to walls. The same processes can be applied to ceilings, furniture, and just about any other surface.

How To Faux Finish A Room

Research faux finishing ideas and installation methods. Choose your design. Choose the paint colors. Having several color combinations is fine because the first step will help you narrow down the choices. Purchase the paints and corresponding application tools required for your chosen faux finish.

Trying something new for the first time can be a stressful experience. What if you make a mistake? What will you do if you fail halfway through the project? If the paint colors looked great in the store, why do they look so different in my home?

Crafter Tip – Sample Boards are your best friends.
You need to experiment with your color schemes and methods of paint application. The simplest solution is creating a sample board. Sample boards give you a chance to get your feet wet, so to speak, without the overwhelming feelings that can come when faced with full-size wall or an entire room. Hone your skills on the sample boards. With proven skill and newfound confidence, you’ll be ready to take on the full project. Keep your sample board handy for reference while you are painting.

24” x 36” poster board is an easily manageable size. Another option is foam board, also known as foam core, which consists of two pieces of poster board with a piece of foam sandwiched in between for strength. The ability to pin inspirational photos is an advantage of foam core over standard poster board.

Gold Metallic Paint & Synthetic Sea Sponge – (2nd paint color, taupe, not shown)
Gold Paint & Synthetic Sea Sponge

For the technique demonstrated in the bathroom below, first paint a coat of the background wall color on the sample board, and let it dry. Apply each group of colors on different areas of the sample board, being careful to label or make note of colors used. Feel free to experiment with various brush and or sponge techniques. Let the paints dry.

Faux Finish Close Up Detail Sponge Painting
Close Up Detail - Sponge Painting

Now lean the sample board against a wall in the room to be painted. It is important to see the colors under the existing natural and artificial lighting. Begin the elimination process. Some will be very obvious missteps for one reason or another. A few usually rise to the top of your list. At this point, you can do some additional testing. You may want to create another sample board with larger samples of your top picks.

Sponge Painted Bathroom
Sponge Painted Bathroom
Sponge Painted Bathroom

Once you have decided, it’s time to tackle the faux finishing of all the walls in that room. Take your time, and remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. The beauty of hand-applied finishes is the variation and artistry. If you are using multiple colors, apply one color at a time, and then repeat the process.

You can do this!

Happy Crafting!

Semi Homemade – Have It Your Way

Crafting Supplies

The older we get, time seems to go by more quickly with every passing year. There are always things to do, places to go and people to see. Finding time to decorate your home can be a struggle, but there are shortcuts you can take to express your personal style.

The creative process begins with a trip to your favorite craft or home furnishing stores. Look for items that will complement your existing décor, or anything that draws your attention in a good way. Think about ways you could put your own stamp on this item.

What does it need to match your style? Could you change the color? How about adding some beads or fringe? A glue gun or sewing machine can work wonders. With a few simple alterations, you can turn a store-bought item into a semi-homemade craft project to be enjoyed and admired for years to come.

Seashell Wall Art

Shell Plaque

These nondescript plaques were purchased at Marshalls. The plain gray frames had the image of one or two seashells printed in the center on a blue and white background, but lacked personality. Collected during several vacations, seashells and starfish were glued around the perimeter of each plaque. Memories of fun family days at the beach are celebrated in this fun and easy way. Crafting Tips: Glue guns can create long stringy bands. Apply glue to back of a shell, and then wipe the tip to break any strands of glue that may have formed.

Shell Plaque

Green Man & Green Lady Wall Art

These Design Toscano wall plaques bring nature indoors with their layered warm green leaves. The expressive faces are unexpected and playful, but the colors are a bit flat. Using a metallic paint pen, gold highlights were applied to each plaque. The gold accents, on the leaves, faces and birds, catch the light and perfectly complement the faux wall finish. The whites of the eyes and the lady’s lips were brightened with fresh color. Crafting Tips: Paint pens can be finicky. With the cap tightly in place, shake the pen well before use. When priming the pen, press the pen tip down slowly upon scrap paper. Do not prime the pen directly upon your project because a large amount of paint can unexpectedly overflow. If you get paint on your hands, there’s no need to use harsh chemicals to remove it. Simply use a little coconut oil. Rub it on you skin and wipe off with paper towels.

Green Man – Original Plaque:

Green Man- Before

Green Man – Highlighted Plaque:

Green Man After

Green Lady – Original Plaque:

Green Lady - Before

Green Lady – Highlighted Plaque:

Green Lady - After

Foxy Santa Figure

Purchased at A.C. Moore, this holiday fox came dressed in a red & tan coat and scarf with black boots. Two obvious things were missing: a hat and a bushy tail. The hat was crocheted using matching tan and red yarns. Faux fur from Joann Fabric Store was hand sewn, and stuffed with polyester filling to create a long luxurious tail, for which foxes are known. The tail was safety pinned in place to ensure a strong attachment. The fur concealed the pins. Now there is no doubt this cute little fox is ready to guide a sleigh or make you smile in appreciation for your Christmas décor. Crafting Tip: While working with faux fur, be sure to tuck in all the raw edges, because they will shed profusely.

Plush Fox Figure – Original:

Fox Before

Plush Fox Figure – Stylish & Festive:

Fox After

By taking a few easy steps, you can transform a store bought item from Ho Hum to Wow with very little effort.

Happy Crafting!