Decorating for the Holidays

Hand Painted Glass Ornaments
It’s that time again when we deck the halls, shop ‘til we drop, and dream of snowflakes and gingerbread fresh from the oven. Decorating your home can be stressful. There are so many styles and colors to choose. Where to begin? Let’s review several options to pique your interest.

Mood Lighting
Dining Room Ambiance
The festive contemporary vibe in this dining room is created solely through the clever use of lighting. Round white lights adorn the table and trendy letters upon the back wall, which is bathed in soft lavender light and soft blue accent lights.

Traditional Candle Wreath Centerpiece
Candle Centerpiece
The traditional red and green Christmas color scheme is accented with nuts and pinecones in this evergreen centerpiece. The aromatic scents of the great outdoors will last for weeks. To convert this to an Advent wreath, replace the red candles with three purple and one pink.

Contemporary Candle Un-Wreath Centerpiece
UnWreath
Create a contemporary candle centerpiece, without the wreath, by using a gold or silver tray covered with pinecones, artificial fruit, and assorted small decorations.

Contemporary Candle & Glass Ornament Centerpiece
Contemporary Candle & Glass Ornament Centerpiece
Christmas balls can be glued together to form a wreath, which is great as a centerpiece, or you can hang it on the wall for a colorful, reflective focal point.

Sophisticated Gold & Brown Centerpiece
Sophisticated Gold & Brown Centerpiece
This unusual gold and brown combo brings to mind boxes of Godiva chocolate. The rich colors and just the right amount of glitter make this an elegant, eye-catching choice.

Traditional Style Meets Contemporary Flair
Traditional Style Meets Contemporary Flair
Red & green are traditional, but here we have a glass bowl filled with natural elements, such as moss, apples, and pinecones, mixed with glass and carved wood ornaments, and metal spheres. The candlelight is supplemented with flower shaped mini lights tucked among the greens like little blooms.

Red & Green Glowing Glass Centerpiece
Red & Green Glowing Glass Centerpiece
What sets this display apart is the lighting hidden inside the fluted glass bowl. This inner glow reflects off the tabletop and twinkles upon the glass ornaments.

Fresh Cut Flowers Centerpiece
Fresh Cut Flowers Centerpiece
Floral centerpieces can be quite expensive. As an alternative, make your own with evergreens, pinecones, and berries from your yard, and add a few exotic looking fresh cut flowers for maximum impact.

Colorful Foil Garlands
Colorful Foil Garlands
Many trees are decorated with silver or gold garland, but there are many other colors and styles available.

Beaded Garlands
Beaded Garlands
If you look at historical photos of decorated trees, you may notice beautiful beaded garlands. Originally they were made from glass, but today plastic beads provide the same old-fashioned look without the added expense and fragility of glass.

Floral Garlands
Floral Garland
Those fortunate enough to be living in warmer climates may choose genuine flower garlands for natural tropical flair.

Popcorn Garland
Popcorn Garland
Another old-fashioned choice is popcorn garland, which is easy and inexpensive to make. For a dash of color, alternate popcorn with cranberries.

Semi-Homemade Ornaments
Semi-Homemade Ornaments
Transform store-bought ornaments with a little personalization. This crafter started with purple glass ornaments. A glitter paint pen was used to draw vertical line, and then gold rhinestones were randomly glued along the stripes for a regal appearance.

Christmas Ornament Kits
Christmas Ornament Kits
Due to the small sequin size and intricate sewing, the two ornaments shown above would be for the more advanced crafters, but there are plenty of options for beginners and kids.

Festive décor varies based upon the holiday being celebrated and your personal style. Below are several different theme ideas to inspire and consider for your next holiday.

Festive Bells
Christmas Bells
Bells make pretty Christmas ornaments. Collectors adorn their trees with bells of all kinds, typically from around the world. If you have a prized collection, whether it’s snow globes, porcelain figurines, dolls, etc., consider displaying it this festive time of year using your own creative style.

Blue & Gold
Blue & Gold Tree
For some, it’s all about the lights. Here we have blue lights and fancy gold ribbon taking center stage.

Blue, Silver, & Gold with Purple Accents
Blue, Silver, & Gold with Purple Accents
On this tree, ornaments are the main focus, accented by silver snowflakes and gold poinsettias.

Red & Silver
Red & Silver Tree
Glitz and glamour are achieved with mirror-finished ornaments, pinpoint white lights, and last but certainly not least, a sparkling reindeer.

Red, Purple & Gold
Red, Purple & Gold
Colorful ornaments and two shades of garland vie for your attention in this beautifully coordinated tree.

Turquoise & Silver
Turquoise & Silver
This tree is exotic in so many ways. The combination of turquoise and silver is as rare as the color of the tree, which is brown! The silver ornaments vary in textures, shapes and materials. It is truly a one of a kind.

Mother Nature’s Tree
Mother Nature’s Tree
For nature lovers, decorate with pinecones, berries and cute little birds. Animal themed trees have been very popular for the last few years. Whatever strikes your fancy – owls, birds, sea horses, etc. – decorations can be found or made to make your vision a reality.

Nature’s Fragrance
Natural Scents
Perfume the air with pinecones and cinnamon sticks.

Wintry Forecast
Snow & Ice on a Window
Christmas is typically associated with winter, but not everyone has a white Christmas. To create the look of ice and snow, use blankets or bags of artificial snow and aerosol cans of spray snow, which cleans up after the holidays with window cleaner.

Our Furry Companions
Our Furry Companions
Let’s not forget an ornament or two for those lovable family pets. In case you didn’t know, tree skirts are very popular places for afternoon naps.

A Room with a Fabulous View
A Room with a Fabulous View
Curl up with a good book by the fire, or find a cozy spot overlooking a winter wonderland. The holidays are a wonderful time to decorate our homes and celebrate the season with family and friends. May your holiday dreams be happy, filled with peace and love.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

The Basics of Decorative Painting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Decoratively Paint a Powder Room

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

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

Create a Fleur-de-lis Pattern
Painted Powder Room

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

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

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

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

It’s All in the Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

Skeletons Like Makeovers Too

Eerie & Otherworldly
Spooky Cemetery Skeleton
No Halloween display would be complete without a skeleton or two. Each one has its own personality.

Unexpectedly Playful
Funny Skeletons

Culturally Festive
Day of the Dead

Bone-Chilling & Terrifying
Snake Skeleton
Every year manufacturers introduce new items to thrill, amuse or frighten avid Halloween fans. With a few easy steps, you can personalize store-bought skeletons to express whatever style or attitude you desire for your Halloween décor. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Fierce Makeover:

Deep Sea Fish Skeleton
Original Fish Skeleton
This skeleton is based upon a real life deep-sea fish called an Anglerfish. To attract prey, a bioluminescent fishing lure is cast in front of its head and in no time, those strong jaws snap shut as vicious teeth make short work of consuming the meal. Check out the illuminated photo below.

Illuminated Deep Sea Fish Skeleton
Original Fish Skeleton Lit
As a Halloween decoration, it certainly is more unique than the usual offerings. When lit, the lure is bold yellow and the stomach has an eerie purple glow. While he does have a menacing appearance, I think we can do better! I really like the purple glow but when the lights are turned off, the bones are a neutral color without any contrast. In other words, he needs an upgrade!

Fish Skeleton Paints
Fish Paints
Supplies:
Deep Sea Fish Skeleton (8” high x 17” long x 5” wide)
Acrylic Paints – linen, metallic periwinkle blue, & black (not shown)
Paintbrushes

Fish Tail – Before
Fish Tail Before

Fish Tail – After
Fish Tail After
Paint the tail and tips of the spine with metallic periwinkle blue. Notice how the bones stand out against the metallic blue. The reflective quality of metallic paint contrasts well with matte finish bones.

Fish Head & Fins – Before
Fish Head Before

Fish Head & Fins – After
Fish Head After
Paint the eyes black. Paint the webbing of the fins and crevices around the eyes with periwinkle blue. The fleshy, darker contrast makes the eyes look meaner in a zombie-like fashion. Linen paint can be used to touch up unwanted marks on the head.

Finished Fish
Finished Fish
The individual bones in the tail and fins really show up now, resembling creepy skeletal hands for seizing prey or curious trick-or-treaters.

Illuminated Finished Fish
Finished Fish Lit

Portraits – Before & After
Before & After Portrait
The first photo is the original fish and the second is the finished makeover. The purple glow now extends across the entire body. With a ferocious expression and intimidating attitude, this Anglerfish is ready to strike, perfect for a Halloween scare.

Fantasy Fashion Makeover:

Spider Skeleton
Original Spider
Spiders often have a very creepy aura and you could certainly go in that direction. This lucky lady prefers a haute couture makeover and we know just how to bring it!

Spider Skeleton Paints
Spider Paints
Supplies:
Spider Skeleton (6” high x 8” long x 13” wide)
Acrylic Paints – metallic blue sapphire, metallic copper, & pure black
Paintbrushes

Spider Head & Feet
Spider Black & Copper Paint
Darken the eyes with black paint, and paint the facial details and feet with metallic copper. Feel free to experiment with the colors.

Spider Joints & Spine
Spider Metallic Blue
Turquoise and brown are a very fashionable color combination, making metallic blue the perfect complement to the copper. This bejeweled spider is ready to make her debut on the fashion runway! lol!

Finished Spider Pulling Wagon
Spider Drawn Carriage
Why not show off her new look by participating in a Halloween parade with a few friends?

Fairy Tale Makeover:

Frog Skeleton – Before
Original Frog Skeleton
This little guy has a heartwarming smile. I believe we can add a little more charm.

Frog Skeleton Paints
Frog Paints
Supplies:
Frog Skeleton (3-1/2” high x 5” long x 4-1/2” wide)
Acrylic Paints – metallic peridot green & pure black
Paintbrushes

Frog Skeleton – After
Finished Frog Skeleton
Sporting his new color, he’s bound to win hearts and maybe even garner a few kisses for luck. Who knows – maybe he will turn into a prince?

I hope you enjoy these fanciful skeletons and apply these ideas to your Halloween décor..

Thanks for reading! Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Halloween Magic – How to Make a Bewitching Centerpiece

Witch Flying Across Full Moon
The movie Hocus Pocus is celebrating its 27th 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.

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.

Witch Boots with Floral Stems
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.

Witch Boots with 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.

Witch Boots with 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.

Add 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.

Add 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.

Candle Stick
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.

Add 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.

Add 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.

Finished Centerpiece Illuminated
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!

Who’s Behind The Mask?

Red Feathered MaskIt’s hard to believe we are in the month of October already. Thoughts of my favorite time of the 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
Blue Mask with Rhinestones
The 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
Mask with Feathers
This 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 X-Acto knife.

The Opposite Side of the Foam Backer
Feather Backing
This 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
Finished Feathered Mask
Luxurious 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!

Thanks for reading & 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.

Textured Wall Paint
Textured Paint
Faux Plaster can be created simply by applying a thick layer of paint and using assorted “tools” to texture the surface while the paint is still wet.  Additional layers can be applied for greater texture and depth.

Faux Wood Grain over an Abstract Background
Faux Wood Grain
Faux Wood Grain requires the use of a stencil.  Paint the base coat first in a light or medium color.  When it has dried, go over it with the stencil using a darker color to simulate the natural wood grain, or try using metallic glitter paint as shown above.

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?

Sample Board
Paint Sample Board
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)
New Bath Paint
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
Sponge Painting Detail
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!

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

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Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

Fun with Photo Editing

Here Comes the Sun
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could simply change a gloomy sky to a gorgeous day with a wave of your arm? We might not have that ability now, but we can certainly achieve this monumental task through the power of photo editing. Many software programs are available, including PhotoShop and Corel Paint Shop Pro. Your existing digital photos are the perfect canvases for creating new masterpieces to share with family and friends. Here are some fun photo-editing ideas to explore:

Fun in the Sun
Beach Before & After
Take a few of your old vacation photos and add or subtract a little action. In the first photo, the planes, boats and parachutes were added to a peaceful beach scene. In the second, all the extras, except for the two planes, were removed and removal of the waterfall restored the shoreline.

Playful Pets
Playful Pets
These silly hybrid animals are amusing for the kids. The combinations are endless. The key is choosing animals with similar colors. The rest is a simple copy and paste.

Adventurous Kids
Adventurous Kids
Many people have tried riding a horse or maybe even a camel. Why not alter the photos to spice things up a bit by adding a dolphin or a T-Rex? Now that would be exciting!

Story Time
Tell Me a Story
Our local library offers a program enabling children to read to a live greyhound. I’m sure a tiger loves stories as much as everyone else, but I doubt kids will be reading to them any time soon. Photos like this will certainly grab the attention of their grandparents!

Creating Drama
Create Drama
Do you have a budding actor or actress in your family? With the appropriate pose and facial expression, he or she can be inserted into any harrowing scene you choose.

Portraiture
Female Portrait
Portraits don’t have to be same old same old. This layered photo tells a story by combining colors, textures, and meaningful items surrounding this beautiful woman in a more intriguing pose. Perhaps she’s an architect or a stained glass artist with an appreciation for antiques. Tell your story.

Storybook Romance
Fantasy Female Potrait
Prom or wedding photos are ideal resources. Add a fairy tale background and imagine the possibilities

View from Above
Airplane View
Everyone loves taking photos from airplane windows. Usually there’s not much to see except clouds or maybe a bit of land or water. The little lizard above is really funny, but it could be even better with if you inserted a family member. You could say it was a “no frills airline!” lol

Come Sail Away
Sink Sailing
The tricky parts of this illusion are the ripples in the water’s surface and the reflection of the sailboat.

3D Tech
Tech Illusions
Can you remember a time when you didn’t have a cell phone? These photos not only capture the subjects, they bring them out into our world in three-dimensional splendor.

Room with a View
Room with a View
Who is watching whom? This is an amazing photo. At first glimpse you might think the artist simply replaced the outside image with an underwater scene, but look how cleverly the reflections of the water create dappled patterns upon the walls.

Cat & Mouse Games
Cat & Mouse
Typically a game like this would not end well, but this is another astonishing illusion.

Who’s Afraid of the Wolf?
Red Riding Hood
This fearless little girl looks calm and self-assured. the story, “Little Red Riding Hood,” has come to life!

Death-Defying Yoga?
Underwater Yoga
Someone is always coming up with new exercise and meditation classes, but I don’t think underwater yoga is a thing! Maybe she’s a shark whisperer? In this exceptional photo, it’s the shared lighting and bubbles that really make it believable.

As your skills grow and you develop your own editing style, your creative photos will blossom with intriguing details and dazzling special effects. Who knows? You may find yourself working in the gaming and entertainment industry, graphic design, advertising, photography, or any of the many fields that entice consumers with compelling images.

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

All Tied Up In Knots

The Last Stitch in a Granny Squares Afghan
Granny Squares
Crocheting is a fun and easy way to make blankets, garments, scarves, hats, toys, and anything else you can imagine. Whether you are sitting in a waiting room, passing the time on an airplane flight, or watching the kids during after school sports, crocheting is a very portable craft. All you need is yarn and a crocheting needle, which are both easily carried in a tote bag.

Crocheted Floral Design
Crocheted Flower
Whatever your learning preference, crocheting lessons are available in abundance. Formal classes are offered through craft and fabric stores, as well as sewing centers, but most people learn to crochet from family members or friends eager to share their craft. If you prefer a more social, group-learning experience, many churches have knitting and crocheting clubs. Another option is the local high school evening program, and of course the Internet features how-to videos for beginners and experts.

Zigzag Crochet Stitch
Zigzag Stitch
This afghan only has two colors, but you can use as many as you like.

Shell Crochet Stitch
Shell Stitch
There are a multitude of stitches to choose from, including the single and double crochet, the zigzag, the shell, and the popcorn stitch.

Rainbow Yarn
Rainbow Afghan
Yarn selections are amazing– textured, soft or bold colors, ultra soft, bulky versus fine gauge, heather, fiber content (acrylic, wool, cotton, nylon), ombre, and metallic. Manufacturers label their products with recommendations for needle gauge, and uses for each type of yarn.

Ombre Yarn
Ombre Baby Blanket
Blankets make great housewarming and baby gifts. For the college and professional sports enthusiast, team colors and logos can be incorporated into the design.

Luminaries
Luminaries
A beautiful crocheted cover really dresses up this otherwise ordinary glass jar luminary.

Placemats & Table Runners
Placemats & Table Runners
Fine, silky yarns, produce lacey crocheted textiles.

Home Decor
African Violet
African violets can be tricky to grow, but this plant will never need water or special plant food. In fact the only thing it needs is a place of honor on your table.

Crocheted Top
Crocheted Top
Crocheted apparel, such as skirts, tops and dresses have become very popular. Depending upon the openness of the weave, a matching fabric lining may be required.

Beaded Shawl Detail
Beaded Shawl Detail
You can easily change the look of a crocheted item by: combining different stitches; changing the needle size or tension; using novelty yarns or multiple colors; the addition of beads and fringe.

Toy Turtle
Turtle Doorstop
Some of the more unusual crocheted items are stuffed animals, baby toys, handbags, pillows, and slippers. Craft stores have free downloadable project ideas with full instructions on their websites.

Toy Dog
Black & White Toy Dog
This adorable pup is perfect for babies because it’s soft, easy to handle, and there are no dangerous parts or pieces.

Riding in Style
Crocheted Bicycle
If you’re really ambitious, and have a great sense of humor, you might consider updating your exercise equipment with the playful patterns and colorful whimsy of crochet. You probably weren’t going to use it anyway, so you might as well transform it into a work of art and wonderful conversation piece.

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!