Thanksgiving Décor Made Easy

Colors of the Season
Fall Leaves
Just about every family in the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. When you are the host of this annual feast, a lot of planning and preparation is required to ensure it will be a delicious and enjoyable occasion for all. The party starts upon arrival and ends when the last hugs are exchanged and tearful waving as the cars pull away with promises to come back again next year.

What kind of atmosphere do you want to create for this celebration? A few decorative items can really set the stage for your family feast. Let autumn’s colors, red, orange, green, and yellow, inspire your Thanksgiving décor.

Outdoor Decorations
Outdoor Fall Display
Seasonal gourds, corn and apples can be artfully arranged by the front door, or in a corner of your deck or patio. To ensure longevity, be sure to keep produce out of direct sun and away from fire pits.

Autumn’s Bountiful Harvest
Autumn’s Bountiful Harvest
Give those left over Halloween pumpkins new life in a Thanksgiving display. Mother Nature provides the fallen leaves, or substitute with handfuls of straw for a festive look.

A Colorful Welcoming Entrance
Outdoor Decor
Don’t miss an opportunity to create a festive entryway to your home. Decorate an existing bench or cozy front porch with attractive pots or baskets of chrysanthemums, pumpkins, and cabbage plants.

Seasonal Fall Wreath
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 gourds, pinecones and berries. As an added burst of color, glue red and green silk leaves on poster board and secure it to the back of the wreath.

Holiday décor differs based upon many factors: geographic location – beachside versus mountaintop; venue – urban loft apartment versus rural farmhouse; your personal style: traditional versus contemporary or something in between, etc. Below are several design ideas to spark your creativity.

Traditional Thanksgiving Cornucopia Centerpiece
Traditional Thanksgiving Cornucopia Centerpiece
A few candles and a set of mini lights add sparkle and ambiance to this festive centerpiece. If burning candles makes you nervous, you can opt for the flameless variety. New technological advances have produced a very realistic appearance of flickering flames. Many are made with scented wax, have been molded with lines of “dripping” wax down the sides, and operate via remote control.

Farmhouse Chic Centerpiece
Farmhouse Chic Centerpiece
This display creates a more casual atmosphere. The wicker basket and two hammered metal tankards set amongst a mixture of fruit and veggies are the focal point on a picnic table with plenty of room for the extended family and friends.

Fruitful Harvest
Fruitful Harvest
A sculptural glass bowl of fruit serves as an artful centerpiece and it’s edible.

Elegant Traditional Place Setting
Elegant Traditional Place Setting
Place settings can impress even the most discriminating family members. If you have a metallic gold sharpie marker, you could write each person’s name on the tiny white pumpkins, which become party favors for your guests to take home after enjoying a delicious meal.

Chargers, such as the gold one shown in the photo above, are decorative plates typically used as colorful accents for laying dishes. There are two types of chargers sold at craft stores. The first tends to be round plates in solid colors, metallic finishes, or vintage prints. The second type is very decorative, including embellishments such as rhinestones and hammered metal finishes. Food Safety Tip: Chargers are for decorative use only – they are Not Food Safe.

From Vineyard to Table Decor
From Vineyard to Table Decor
If being non traditional is more your style, choose a different color scheme to celebrate the bounty of the season. How about blues, purples, and greens from the vineyard? Wine is typically a part of every big celebration. Why not use it as the inspiration for your holiday décor? Knock tradition off its feet with this colorful twist.

Contemporary Urban Glam
Contemporary Urban Glam
Are you passionate about having a lot of bling in your holiday decor? How about this sequined tablecloth, deep orchid napkins, silver plates, and bejeweled napkin rings? The table cover could be an expensive item, but a trip to the fabric store will save you a bundle. Little details make such a difference. Embellish plain napkin rings with rhinestones, beads, berries or flowers. If time is short, Pier 1 has a large selection of ornate napkin rings.

Exotic Blue Peacock
Exotic Blue Peacock Place Setting
Using peacock feathers for inspiration, this table setting features a matching runner and chair sashes. If you are comfortable with sewing, both items can be easily made for use with an existing white tablecloth and dining chairs. The sashes are tied to the seat backs in simple bows, turning standard folding chairs into fashionable seating. Brown wicker chargers beautifully offset the bright blue napkins. Green glassware and a few well-placed peacock feathers complete the design.

Combining Old & New
Combining Old & New
Transitional is a blending of traditional elements, such as the floral arrangement and orange-rimmed dishes, with a contemporary flair – maroon napkins creatively folded to create an exotic flower and wrapped in gold leaf-shaped napkin rings; matching placemats; and coordinating gold and maroon glass beads scattered upon the table.

Beachside Centerpiece
Beach Centerpiece
If you live at the beach, the bountiful harvest focuses upon the ocean, and your celebration may look something like this. Fire and water is always a mesmerizing combo. Place floating candles in clear glass containers with attractive pebbles or sea glass in the bottom. Set in a tray with sand and a few seashells for a lovely seaside centerpiece.

Traditional Thanksgiving Table with Wine & Flowers
Traditional Thanksgiving Table with Wine & Flowers
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, may it bring you and yours a very happy, and love filled holiday to be remembered fondly for years to come.

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Crafting!

A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

Thankgiving
Everyone across the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, however this holiday experience varies depending upon geographic location, climate, local customs, and food specialties.

Hawaii & New England
Sometimes it’s nice to see how other people celebrate. It gives you a chance to see the holiday from a fresh perspective. Below is a side-by-side comparison of two Thanksgiving celebrations: Hawaii is on the left and New England is on the right.

Sandy Shores Rocky Coast
Landscapes: Sandy Beaches versus Rugged Rocky Coastline

Rain on Petals Frosty Leaf
Weather: Warm Tropical Showers versus Cool Crisp Air & Snow

Pineapples Gourds
Decorations: Pineapples versus Pumpkins & Gourds

Plumeria & Chrysanthemums
Flowers: Wild Plumeria versus Potted Chrysanthemums

Torchlight & Candle Light
Lighting: Outdoor Torchlight versus Indoor Candlelight

Bird of Paradise & Cornucopia
Centerpieces: Exotic Flowers versus Harvest Cornucopia

Tropical Cocktail & Hot Beverage
Drinks: Cool Tropical Cocktails versus Hot Beverages

Fresh Fruit & Hot Soup
Appetizers: Tropical Fruit versus Hot Hearty Soups

Roast Pork & Roast Turkey
Entrées: Roast Pork versus Roast Turkey

Vegetables
Vegetables: Pacific Rim Blend versus Roast Sweet Potatoes

Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie
Desserts: Chocolate Kona Coffee Cheesecake versus Pumpkin Pie

Fire Dance & Fireplace
After Dinner: Fire Dancing versus Relaxing by the Fire

I hope these celebrations will inspire and enrich your next family gathering. You might want to consider a change of venue or a change of décor to shake things up a bit. Whatever you decide, there are two constants you can always count on: Love and Gratitude shared with Family and Friends

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Crafting!

How to Protect and Clean Precious Metal Jewelry and Flatware

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to polish your silverware and your jewelry. With a few easy steps, you can make those precious metals shine, and keep it that way so you won’t have to clean it again next year.
Tarnished Silver Jewelry & Spoons
Tarnish is the enemy of your gold and silver jewelry, flatware and serving pieces. There are many products on the market for removing tarnish, but they typically consist of very toxic ingredients and the fumes can be overwhelming. Fortunately there are safer alternatives. As with most things, prevention is the best initial method.

Tarnish Prevention for Silver, Gold and Plated Jewelry:
Silver & Gold
Most people know silver becomes tarnished, but did you know gold becomes dull and brassy? The best way to keep your jewelry looking its best is by protecting it from the start. When you buy a new piece of jewelry, store it in a jewelry box with an anti-tarnish lining.

3M Anti-Tarnish Sheets and Strips
3M Anti-Tarnish Strips
As an alternative, you can use re-sealable plastic bags and place a piece of anti-tarnish paper inside the bag. Be sure to press the excess air out before closing the zipper. Several companies, such as 3M, make anti-tarnish paper, which comes in 1” squares, strips and sheets. FireMountainGems.com sells jewelry storage bags with anti-tarnish coating inside. Before putting away your jewelry, be sure to wipe gemstone jewelry gently with a soft cloth, and wipe precious metal jewelry with a polishing cloth. (Note: Pearls should not be placed in plastic bags. Wrap them in tissue paper.)

Tarnish Prevention for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Silverware
When not in use, keep your silver flatware in a silver chest and place serving pieces in drawers or a china cabinet with anti-tarnish paper to prevent tarnishing.

Jewelry Cleaning:
Beaded Jewelry
Beaded Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. Do not use any other cleaning methods. Many beaded items include metal accent beads. You may be able to shine them up with a polishing cloth. I find it’s easier to restring the necklace or bracelet with new metal beads, and be sure to keep it in an anti-tarnish jewelry box or bag to keep it shining like new.

Gemstone Jewelry
Gemstone Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. For a bracelet similar to the one pictured above, you could carefully use a polishing cloth on the edges of the silver, but avoid touching the gemstones. If additional cleaning is required, take it to a jeweler. Caution: Water and or chemical solutions can dissolve or damage many gemstones, including but not limited to opals, Marcasites, and pearls, as well as enamel finishes.

Gold Silver Jewelry
Precious Metal Jewelry: Sterling silver, silver-plated, gold and gold-plated can be cleaned with a polishing cloth.

Polishing Cloth
This polishing cloth has two layers. The white shines and polishes as it removes tarnish. The green layer completes the shining process as it removes polish or tarnish residue.

Tarnish Removal for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Tarnished Tray & Pitcher
We have all seen heavily tarnished silver items like the ones shown above. Tarnish removal can present a great challenge, but all of that was resolved with the invention of the Speedy Pate shown below.

Tarnish Removing Speedy Plate
Washing Soda Dish & Plate
When it comes to removing tarnish on silver pieces, the Speedy Plate is a lifesaver. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The process is very simple. You will need the 6”x8” Speedy Plate, a large 9’x13” glass or plastic container, hot water, and Household Washing Soda. Most people use this product with great success. Occasionally reviews say it doesn’t work, but this is most likely a failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you buy Washing Soda, which can be purchased at most grocery stores.

Please Note: Washing Soda IS NOT the same as baking soda.

Additional Jewelry Tips:
Shower
Should I wear Jewelry in the Shower?
No. To protect your jewelry, it should be removed before showering. Precious metals, gemstones, and jewelry components can be damaged by exposure to water, hair care products, soaps and body washes. When getting dressed, put your jewelry on last to avoid exposure to cosmetics, perfume, hairspray, and body lotion. The same precautions should be taken before swimming or using sunscreen.

Beach Jewelry
Jewelry and the Beach Don’t mix.
That’s why you see so many people with metal detectors roaming the beaches at the end of the day. Rings can easily slip off of wet fingers. The combination of water, salt, sun, sunscreen, and sand can damage and weather chains and clasps, causing breakage. In most cases you won’t even realize it has fallen off. Your favorite piece of jewelry will inadvertently become someone else’s treasure.

There is so much beauty and artistry to be appreciated in objects made from silver and gold. With the proper care, they will last a lifetime, and can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Happy Crafting!

Pets Celebrate Halloween Too!

Ghost Dogs
Every Halloween, you decorate your home and dress in costume, but don’t forget to include your furry friends. You could make the costume yourself. Scissors and some old sheets will do the trick. Or it may be easier to buy from crafts stores, Halloween stores and of course online too. Below are several pets “hamming” it up for the camera in their Halloween’s finest costumes. Enjoy!

Cowboy Dog
Leading a parade in a covered wagon is a tough job, but this cowboy is up to the task.

Bear Cat
What a difference the right hat can make!

Princess Dog
This cute poodle will be the belle of the ball in her elegant evening gown.

Pumpkin Dog
The best pumpkin in the patch has a very cheerful personality.

Bunny Cat
It may be Halloween but you can still dress up as the Easter Bunny.

Pumpkin Dog
Larger dogs like to celebrate too.

Sailor Cat
Who says cats don’t like water? This handsome boy is ready to sail the seven seas.

Spider Cat
Arachnophobia is a very common fear, but this little guy is just adorable.

Bewitching Dog
Something magical is always brewing with this bewitching little lady.

Pirate Bear
Don’t have a pet? No problem! Put a costume on your favorite stuffed animal. This Vermont Teddy Bear is wearing a Build A Bear pirate costume, which included the eye patch, sword and parrot. How cute is that? These costumes will fit any 10” to 14” plush animal of your choice.

The family that plays together stays together, including our pets. With everyone in costume, you won’t be able to resist taking pictures to commemorate the occasion.

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Gemstone Healing Traditions

Gemstones
Gemstones have been admired throughout history. They have been worn for their beauty, carried for protection, and ground into powder for use as pigments in makeup, dyes, and paints. Gemstones have been used for healing since ancient times. Below is a list of gemstones and their associated healing properties, followed by a list of Birthstones, Zodiac signs, and the Feng Shui Bagua with corresponding gemstones.

Gemstone Healing Properties
Agate – strong healing, good fortune, balances body mind & spirit, calming, nature

Amazonite
Amazonite – calming, improves sleep, intuition, creativity

Amber
Amber – success, decision-making, achievement

Amethyst – calming, protection, restful sleep, self-confidence, intuition, meditation
Apatite – intuition, meditation, energy
Aquamarine – balances body mind & spirit, nature, water, calming, purifies body

Aventurine
Aventurine – balance, optimism, relaxation, purifies mind, nature

Azurite & Malachite – stress relief, intuition, creativity, heaven & earth, energy
Bloodstone – healing, energizes, purifies, strengthens heart
Calcite – mind, body, & spirit, nature, energy, harmony, healing

Carnelian
Carnelian – creativity, energy, protection

Chrysocolla – balance, stress reduction, intuition, calming, heaven & earth

Citrine
Citrine – abundance, confidence, hope, energy

Diamond – abundance, clarity, fidelity, deflects negativity
Emerald – dreams, healing, balance, protection traveling, prosperity

Fluorite
Fluorite – healing, concentration, grounding

Garnet – passion, remove negativity, hope, purifies
Jade – prosperity, dreams, healing

Picture Jasper
Jasper – balance, healing, attaining goals, nature, nurturing, relieves stress

Kyanite – optimism, healing, creativity, loyalty

Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli – intuition, balance, inspiration, protection, creativity

Malachite – healing, abundance, relationships, dreams, reduces stress
Moonstone – fortune, protection for traveling, compassion, female power

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl – female power, nurturing, motherhood

Nephrite – creativity, protection, attain goals, dreams
Onyx – intuition, dreams, protection, achievement, endurance
Opal – balance, harmony, spirituality

Pearls
Pearl – female power, truth, heaven
Peridot – prosperity, harmony, relationships, intuition

Clear Quartz
Quartz – spirituality, harmony, creativity, prosperity

Ruby – love, self-awareness, renewal, spirituality
Sapphire – clarity, intuition, protection, soul mate love, fidelity, meditation

Snowflake Obsidian
Snowflake Obsidian – balance, concentration, repels negativity

Sodalite – delegation, intuition, creativity, calming, protection
Sugilite – calming, healing, reduces stress, spirituality

Tigerseye
Tiger’s Eye – confidence, healing, concentration, grounding

Topaz – creativity, self-expression, spirituality, renewal
Tourmaline – healing, spirituality, energy, renewal, protection

Turquoise
Turquoise – protection for traveling, strengthens, verbal communication

Unakite – feminine, abundance, harmony

Birthstones
Birthstones

Signs of the Zodiac
Zodiac

Feng Shui Bagua with Gemstones
Bagua

Mother Nature has produced a remarkable collection of gemstones. Cultures around the world have created and shared their gemstones traditions throughout the ages, and will continue to do so in the future. Each stone has a unique story. When choosing a gemstone, hold it in your hand and ask yourself: How does this gemstone make me feel? If your answer is “empowered,” “inspired,” and “amazing” – you have found the perfect match. Wear it in good health!

Happy Crafting!

A Change of Seasons – Autumn Wreaths

Colorful Leaves
It’s hard to believe the summer is almost 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. While you are enjoying the fresh air, why not get the whole family together to 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.

Happy Crafting!

Creative Stress Relief

Computer Stress
With such fast-paced lives, we all need a break from our daily stresses. These demands have physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effects. The best solution is a vacation, but that may not be possible. Instead, indulge in a hobby or two to take your mind and body to a happy place. Every day you do things for everyone else. It’s time to put yourself first! You’ll be so glad you did, and you’ll have a lot of fun while doing it. Here are a few crafting ideas to get you started:

Painting: – watercolor, oil, acrylic, pouring
Watercolor
Watercolor Painting

Drawing: – pencil, charcoal, crayons, colored pencils, chalk, markers, pens
Sketching with Pens and Markers
Drawing

Pottery & Ceramics: – figurines, serving pieces, vases, jars, ornaments
Pottery
Pottery

Ceramics
Ceramics

Paper Crafts: – scrapbooking, card making, origami, quilling
Papercrafts

Jewelry & Watches: – beaded, woven, wire
Beaded Jewelry
Jewelry Making

Flower Arranging: – fresh or artificial, wreaths, centerpieces, bouquets
Fresh-Cut Floral Bouquet
Flower Arranging

Mosaics: – glass, stone, ceramic, seashells
Ceramic Mosaics
Mosaics

Candle Making: – votives, pillars, tea lights, candle holders
Votive Candles & Glass Candleholders
Candle Making

Feather Art: – wall art, jewelry
Feather Art Garlands
Feather Art

Glass Art: – jewelry, home accessories, artwork, light fixtures, windows
Stained Glass – windows, suncatchers, jewelry, gifts
Stained Glass

Lampwork Glass Earrings & Beads
Glass Frogs

Sculpture: – clay, wood, stone, sand
Sand Sculpture
Sand Castle

Wood Sculpture
Wood Carving

Photography: – landscapes, seascapes, portraits, still-life
Photography

Baking & Candy Making:
Cupcakes with Fondant Decorations
Decorated Cupcakes

Solid Milk Chocolates
Chocolates

Wood Crafts: – painting, wood burning, carving, furniture design
Hand-Carved & Painted Wood Duck
Wood Duck

Yarn Crafts: – knitting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, sewing, quilting, embroidery, crocheting
Quilting
Quilting

Crocheting
Crocheting

Hand Hooked Rugs
Handmade Rug

There are so many crafting options. Many craft stores, local high schools and art studios offer classes in arts and crafts. Try something new, make new friends, and experience a renewed sense of joy and playful excitement.

Happy Crafting!

The Beauty of Yarn Crafts

Yarn Skeins
Yarn has come a long way over the years, from single color wool skeins to multicolored, textured fibers, made from manmade and natural sources, suitable for clothing, home décor and accessories. Let’s look at a few of the types of crafts made with yarn.

Knitting:
Knitting
Very little is required for any knitting project. All you need is some yarn, two knitting needles, and a pair of scissors, which easily fits into a small tote bag, making this one of the most portable crafts. Knitted clothing and accessories are the most popular items.

Knitted Wool Scarf
Knitted scarves provide a cheerful pop of color to help dispel the dismal winter grays.  They’re easy to make and are great gifts too.

Needlepoint:
Needlepoint Gazebo
If you are unfamiliar with needlepoint, it consists of a variety of stitches applied by hand using a needle and yarn through a canvas, which is preprinted with an attractive design. The kit instructions include the color and stitch type to be used for each part of the pattern, and a full color photo of the finished project. Every style of needlepoint stitch is represented in the gazebo shown above.

Needlepoint Leopard
This leopard needlepoint presents the challenge to create a three-dimensional figure and a complex pattern in the animal’s fur. Gaze upon his face and you’ll realize his eyes are looking right back at you.

Needlepoint Rabbit Pillow
Needlepoint is not limited to square and rectilinear shapes. This adorable rabbit pillow has coordinating blue piping along the edges and light blue velvet fabric on the back.

Crocheting:
Crocheted Afghan
Having an extra blanket around is always handy, especially for an afternoon nap. An afghan is easy to make, and gives you a great sense of accomplishment every time you or a family member uses it.

Crocheted Jacket
Recently, crocheted jackets, sweaters, and dresses have become very fashionable, made with lightweight yarns perfect for summer.

Crocheted Lamb
Stuffed Animals & Home Décor can also be crocheted. The little lamb shown above was made in individual pieces (hexagons and pentagons) and then sewn together using matching white yarn.

Cross Stitch:
Cross Stitch
Cross Stitch is similar to needlepoint, except that there is only one type of stitch in the shape of an “X,” and an open weave cotton fabric is used instead of canvas. Many different shades of yarn create light and shadow. The photo above is a project in progress, with the yarn being matched to a detailed color chart.

Cross Stitch Design
With needlepoint, the entire background canvas is covered. In cross stitch, the base, such as this bold red fabric, becomes part of the finished design.

Embroidery:
Floral Embroider
Embroidery uses a special type of yarn called floss, which consists of fine, lustrous fibers. A washable transfer pen can be utilized to trace or draw a pattern upon the fabric of your choice. Embroidery can be done by hand, but today’s technology has developed machines to do the work for you in less time.

Floral Embroidery on Denim
Denim jackets & jeans are commonly embellished with floral embroidery, and may include additional beads and studded details.

Floral Embroidery on Velvet
Luxurious fabrics, such as velvet and lace, create the perfect background for showcasing these intricately stitched designs.

Embroidered Japanese Kimono
The embroidery on silk kimonos is not only beautiful, but also illustrates scenes from daily life, as well as mystical legends and historical events.

Latch Hooked versus Hand Hooked:
Latch Hook Balloon
To make this latch hook hot air balloon (AC Moore), yarn is pulled through an open weave canvas using a specialty tool. Latch hooked items have a tufted surface just like plush cut-pile carpeting. It’s hard to resist the urge to run your hands through the soft yarn as you admire your handiwork.

Hand Hooked Fish Pillow
For hand hooked items, such as this pillow, the yarn is pulled through to the back. The front has thick textured stitches, while the loose ends are concealed on the back with fabric. Because the yarns are more bulky, pillows are usually large-scale. No two are exactly alike.

Hand Hooked Rug
Hand hooked rugs are beautifully patterned and collectible due to their intricate handwork and lengthy time for completion. This loon is actually swimming underwater in search of a fish for breakfast.

Hand Hooked Rug 2
The imaginative designs in hand hooked rugs are truly works of art for your floors.

There are so many opportunities to use yarn for your next project. The yarn departments in many stores are brimming over with the latest colors as well as new fibers, such as bamboo, and interesting finishes such as ombré and iridescent. Do you enjoy working with yarn? What types of items have you created? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Happy Crafting!

The Great Frame Up

The Pink Panther
If you’re the Pink Panther, you’ll want to show off your sparkling personality and luxurious fur coat. An electric blue frame is a bold choice. Frames not only complete a piece of art, but also make an attention getting statement.

Choosing the Right Frame:
Coordinated Frame
Many elements come into play when deciding the best way to display your artwork. The subject matter, colors, style, medium, patterns, and textures should be taken into consideration. This painting is perfectly complemented by an ornate wood frame in a coordinating color. The textured bands along the frame’s perimeter are reminiscent of wild vines, which ties in nicely with the landscape scene.

Architectural Frame
This beautiful painting is a feast for the eyes. The artist’s use of bold colors, and textures calls our attention to the figures in the foreground. The softer palette in the background features delicate architectural details, such as sculpted wall ornamentation, columns, and archways. The strong geometric lines of the frame mimic those found within the painting.

Coral Frame
This unusual piece consists of sea life themed ceramic tiles and a frame that resembles coral. It’s the perfect marriage of art and frame. Two thoughts come to mind: First, you could create your own tile mural using the incredible decorative tiles on the market, which look hand painted. Secondly, you could add texture to a frame to extend the artwork beyond its borders in perfect harmony.

Framing Options:
Wood & Metal Frames
Wood or metal frames accommodate a large range of image sizes, and make great gifts.   Many include both tabletop and wall hanging hardware for more flexibility in displaying your photos.

Oval & Round Frames
Everyone knows about square and rectangular frames, but did you know there are also circular and oval frames? For every piece of artwork there’s a perfect frame.

Gold Wood Frame
Painted wood frames come in a large variety of sizes to fit most canvases with ease.

Floral Frame
You don’t have to settle for a solid color frame. Call attention to your favorite photos with colorful, patterned frames. Can’t find what you want? Do it yourself. A few leaves and flowers will go a long way to personalizing any frame in your unique style.

Distressed Wood Frame
This distressed wood frame, with glass insert, creates an instantly aged look with rich complementary colors, and visually interesting patterns and textures. .

Ornately Carved Wood Frame
Antique wood frames and replicas have lavishly hand-carved details, which lend an air of grandeur to any mirror or painting. The top layer of leaves has been rubbed with gold paint to enhance the details and showcase the depth and complexity of the carving.

Specialty Frames:
Collage Frame
This collage frame can be set up in a matter of minutes and is ready to hang.

Shadow Box
Shadow Box frames, such as this one from AC Moore, are available in varying depths to accommodate trinkets, small objects, and even memorabilia, such as a sports team jersey. Choose from open front or glass enclosed options.

Sculpted Metal Frame
Ornate metal frames include hand painted details, rhinestones, and some have sculpted figures around the perimeter. The frame becomes a sculptural piece of art in itself.

Pet Photo Frame
Whether your pet has fur, feathers, or scales, you’ll have photos in need of an appropriate frame. The frame shown above, from AC Moore, is a great solution.   There are themed frames for every occasion, including engagements, new babies, and holidays, just to name a few.

Decorative Mats:
Double Matted Wood Frame
Mats provide a more polished appearance to artwork, come in many colors, and are available in pre-cut or cut your own options. A specialty tool for mat cutting makes the process fairly easy, although you will need a cutting surface. Double mats (shown above) provide color coordination and contrast.

Specialty Mat
This double mat detail looks adorable and was fairly easy to do. Trace your pet’s foot onto paper. Draw the toe and heel pads and cut them out. This becomes your footprint template. Trace the footprints onto the tan mat board and use an X-Acto knife to carefully cut them out.   The brown mat board will show through, creating the look of footprints around the perimeter of the frame.

Needlepoint Framing
Needlepoint requires special framing. During the stitching process, the canvas becomes misshapen. The blocking process ensures the design will appear correctly. Instead of using mat board, fabric wrapped mats are often added to the frame, as shown above.

Unique Photo Op:
Photo Clip
A photo clip is a unique way to display a favorite photo, postcard, or love note from that special someone. The peacock and floral design on the base is attractive with or without a photo, and can be changed at a moment’s notice with no effort at all.

Choosing a frame is a very personal decision. Take your time deciding how to best frame your treasured artwork. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy Crafting!

Eye Candy & Memories – Creating Collages

Camera Collage
A collage is a themed grouping of images artfully arranged on poster board or mat board. This clever piece has a camera “lens” in the center of photographs placed in concentric circles. Although it’s a visually interesting composition, the individual photos would be difficult to view, especially since the majority are sideways or upside down.

Butterfly Collage
Themes can include anything from vacations, family photos, nature’s beauty, or anything else that inspires or brings you joy.

Water Lilies Collage
The first rule of collage making is…there are no rules! Anything goes! The background can be white or any color you prefer. You may want to overlap the images in a freeform design, or divide the board into a grid, showcasing each individual photo.

Postcard Collage
When you travel, you often collect magazines and postcards as souvenirs, which typically end up stuffed in a drawer. Why not create a collage? Every time you walk by you’ll relive your vacations.

Fabric Elephant Collage
Collages don’t have to be limited to photographs. Here’s an example of a fabric collage in the shape of an adorable elephant. The blue mat board complements the fabrics and brings a cheerful element to this playful character.

Seashell & Feather Collage
You could also use silk flowers, leaves, feathers, or seashells. When using heavier materials like seashells, be sure to use a strong backer board for support.

Duck Collage
If you prefer more organization, the geometric precision of a grid can be created using a T-square or a ruler and triangles. In the above example, white space around each photo defines the composition.

Travel Collage
For a freeform collage, lay the photos out upon the board, make adjustments until you’re satisfied with the arrangement, and then glue the photos down one at a time with Elmer’s Glue Stick.

French Sightseeing Collage
Usually poster board, mat board, or collage board serve as backing, but you could also use a wood plaque, a shadow box frame, or a framed slate board. Whatever you choose will personalize your creation. If you plan to frame the finished collage, be sure to select a board size that will fit into a standard frame.

Seasonal Fall Collage
Scrapbooking paper can be used to add colors, patterns and textures (e.g. faux wood grain), to an otherwise plain background. You could also hand paint details.

Collage Frame
If cutting out pictures and gluing them down seems like too much work, the simplest and quickest way to create a collage is by using a collage frame. Place a few photos in the frame and your done. No muss or fuss!

Scrapbook Vision Board
If wall space is limited or you prefer a more portable option, a scrapbook collage (vision board) can be developed over time. As your dreams and goals come true, there are plenty of additional pages for future inspirations.

How to Make a Collage / Vision Board

A vision board is a collage with goals and dreams to be manifested into your life. It gives you a daily reminder to focus your thoughts upon making your dreams come true.

Supplies:
Photos, postcards, color copies
Scissors
Elmer’s Glue Stick (All Purpose is permanent, or the Washable formula is adjustable)
Poster Board or Mat Board
Poster Frame (optional)

Magazines
Collect brochures, magazines, photos, and color copies of your wishes and dreams. Carefully cut out the pictures. It’s fine to have an assortment of various sizes, because these will fit together like puzzle pieces with overlapping edges. Lay the images upon your board. Move them around until you feel the composition is coming together. Think about the colors, contrasting textures, and patterns. It’s okay to have empty spaces.

Preliminary Vision Board
This photo is a progress shot showing the initial photo layout. Glue each image in place. Now fill in the gaps with smaller photos or inspirational words.

Completed Vision Board
Layers were added to enrich the composition, which completely covered the background. After leaning this vision board against a wall for a few weeks, it was inspirational, but the poster board was starting to bow. I had a new 24” x 36” gold metal poster frame, and decided to use it for the vision board to protect the images behind glass and to give it a more finished look, ready to hang upon the wall. I had to add approximately 8” to the length of the poster board on the right side to fit the oversized frame. Additional images were then added to blend with the existing. Now that it is framed, this simple project has become an attractive piece of art.

What kind of collage are you thinking about making? Do you have a theme in mind? Please share your ideas in the comments section.

Happy Crafting!