Fun with Photo Editing II

Jungle in the City

When it comes to photo editing, creativity truly has no limits.  You can make it rain, perform death-defying stunts, or build a civilization on the rings of Saturn.  That is a powerful tool!  With the right software, such as Corel Paint Shop Pro or Adobe Photoshop, you can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.  Here are some fun photo-editing ideas to explore: 

Playful Wildlife

Spider & Bird

If you can find two animals or insects with similar coloring, combining the two will be more successful.  Placing the new creatures against a natural background enhances the believability of the illusion. 

Child’s Play

Kids with Butterfly & Giraffe

Kids do the most adorable things.  Photo editing makes the impossible possible.  All you need to do is find a cool background image and insert your family members for some entertaining results.

Guess What I did on Vacation?

Sea Cave

We all take vacation pictures, and of course sometimes they don’t quite come out the way we planned.  With software, you can straighten images and you might as well add a few embellishments just for fun. 

Sweet Dreams

Baby Napping on Swan

Babies are probably the most popular subjects for photography.  Have some fun with your child’s photos on cards, invitations, and to share with family and friends. 

A Great Read

Girl Reading with Wolf

Surprise the book lover in your family with a one-of-a-kind portrait, celebrating their favorite pastime.  The key to this illusion is the light and shadow throughout the composition.

A Trick of the Light

Lighting Irish Tree Tunnel

Lighting makes all the difference for this Irish tree tunnel.  The photo on the left has a fanciful, playful atmosphere, where you might expect to spot unicorns or leprechauns.  The image on the right looks and feels dark, desolate, and ominous – a perfect haunt for banshees. 

Project Runway

Airplane Fashions

Everyone is familiar with runway fashions, but this bride takes us above and beyond our wildest expectations.

By the Light of the Moon

Moonlit Prom

Going to a prom or a formal event is a milestone event.  Commemorate that special evening with an equally memorable keepsake.

Sleeping Beauty?

Sleeping Beauty

This photo looks so real that it gives me shivers! 

He Said She Said

Hiker & Velociraptor

She says: “If I remain very still, he won’t see me!”  He says: “Hey!  This must be my lucky day!  Breakfast is served!”

What is so Funny?

Lion & Girl Laughing

Instead of fear, this image is amusing.  The tilt of their heads, the sunlight upon fur and hair, and the clever way the weeds frame the subjects makes you wonder if they know something we don’t. 

Fairytales with Attitude

Fairytales

The neutral color palette unifies this otherworldly image.  The tiniest details, from the individual strands of her hair to the sunlight streaming through the leaves of a tree, have been meticulously rendered.  The light in her eyes and the special effects surrounding the apple imply fierce confidence and power.  In this version of the fairy-tale, Snow-White kicks the evil Queen’s butt. 

T-Rex Attack

T-Rex Attack

I realize high-definition technology is constantly evolving, but this is way over the top!  The woman looks terrified, and the T-Rex is equally menacing.  The stark walls keep your attention focused upon the action without distractions.  I think it would be interesting to shine light upon the T-Rex to cast a larger-than-life shadow upon the fireplace, which would tower over the woman. 

Motocross Racing

Motorcross Dirt Race Track

Tires grind the track surface in search of traction, sending dirt flying, as this motocross competitor races to the finish line in the palm of your hand!  Wow! Very realistic!

Motocross on Steroids

Motocross Ocean Race

In an alternate reality, why race upon a fixed dirt track when you can blaze a new trail across the waves, with nothing but white foam and sea spray in your wake?   

The Desert Meets the Ocean

Tortoise & Dolphins

Bringing water to the desert is no easy task, especially if you have to carry this heavy burden upon your back.  The well-defined tortoise shell, the bubbles in the water, and the swimmer with dolphins combine to create this amazing three-dimensional image.  The light penetrates the water, as if the sun is shining upon the ocean’s surface.  The stark contrast of the blues and browns draws the viewer into this fascinating image. 

I hope you enjoyed this exploration of photo editing software and feel inspired to give it a try.  You probably have lots of photos on your phone, tablet, or laptop right now, just waiting to be transformed into a treasured memory, a humorous gift, or a unique work of art.  What will it be?  You decide! 

For more photo editing, please read the first part of this series: “Fun with Photo Editing.”

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

A Change of Seasons – Autumn Wreaths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

What is for Dessert?

Dessert Collage

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

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

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

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

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

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie

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

Cake Pops

Cake Pops

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

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

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

Cherry Cheese Tarts

Cherry Cheese Tarts

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

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

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

Chocolate Tarts

Chocolate Tarts

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

Crème Brulee

Creme Brulee

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

Croissants

Croissants

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

Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit

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

Ice Cream

Ice Cream Sundae

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

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

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

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Sweet and tart are perfectly balanced in lemon meringue pie. 

Napoleons

Napoleon

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

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

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

Petits Fours

Petits Fours

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

Popsicles

Popsicles

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

Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Crust

Pumpkin Pie

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

Spiced Pumpkin Roll with Orange Cream Cheese Icing

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

Rice Pudding

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

Strawberry Shortcake

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

Tiramisu

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

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

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

One Craft Leads to Another

Colorful Sunset

Because we live in such a beautiful world, it comes as no surprise that we are inspired to create using every color of the rainbow.  Many people have not had the opportunity to explore or develop their artistic abilities.  Starting small enables you to build up your confidence while learning new skills.  Coloring is a fun and easy introduction to the world of arts and crafts. 

Let’s look at the coloring media options, and then we will explore different crafts where you can apply your coloring savvy.  

Thin Core Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils Thin Core

Thin core, colored pencils have hard lead, which is great for drawing fine details.  These are inexpensive and sold in sets.  If you are looking for saturated colors, or need to fill large areas with color, use thick core pencils shown below.

Thick Core Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils Thick Core

Thick core, colored pencils have soft lead, which is essential for shading and blending.  When purchased individually, these pencils can be expensive, but craft stores often have big sales on colored pencil sets, such as Prismacolor, at very affordable prices. 

Crayons

Crayons

Crayons have been kid’s favorites for decades.  If you have them on hand, grab your favorite color and plunge into the world of coloring. 

Gel Pens

Gel Pens

The fine points on gel pens can be used for drawing intricate details or color accents.  These pens include some unusual inks, including metallic, neon, iridescent, and glitter. 

Markers

Markers

Markers produce bold colors across large areas with only a few strokes.  You can also layer colored pencil over marker to create interesting effects.  Markers may soak through paper, so be sure to place a liner under the page to prevent damage to the surface underneath. 

Sketchbook versus Coloring Page

Blank Page vs Printed Lion Page

Now you could buy a sketchbook and start doodling.  However, the dreaded blank page can be intimidating.  Coloring books are a great place to start.  As you develop your unique artistic style, you might want to pursue new crafts, which will challenge your newfound skills.  Below are side-by-side coloring pages with related crafts. 

Coloring & Watercolor Painting

Coloring & Watercolor Painting

Do you enjoy blending colors to find that perfect shade?  Painting may be the perfect choice for you.  Watercolors can be transparent, translucent, or opaque, depending upon the amount of water used.  You may want to lightly outline your overall design with watercolor pencils prior to painting, but don’t press too hard as the lines might show through the paint.  Watercolor paper is strong enough to withstand being wet and dries flat.  Acrylic and oil paints are alternate options. 

Coloring & Mural Painting

Coloring & Mural Painting

Do you find yourself drawn to bold colors and designs?  Is your motto: “Go big or go home?” You might want to try mural painting.  If wall space is limited, paint on canvas. 

Coloring & Soft Pastels

Coloring & Soft Pastels

Soft dreamy palettes are easily achieved using soft pastels as shown above.  These pigments come in easy-to-use sticks, allowing you to draw and color at the same time. 

Coloring & Mixed Media

Coloring & Mixed Media

Do you tend to choose geometric images with sharp, clean lines?  Mixed media is up for the challenge.  Technical pens, markers and watercolors were combined to render this beautiful image of Notre Dame Cathedral. 

Coloring & Stained Glass

Coloring & Stained Glass

Nature is a common theme for stained glass.  The complex patterns, and bold translucent colors are illuminated by sunlight, creating a kaleidoscope of light. 

Coloring & Mosaics

Coloring & Mosaics

If you enjoy intricate designs, mosaics fit together like puzzle pieces, which work together to create a larger image, viewed at a distance. 

Coloring & Fantasy Portraiture

Coloring & Fantasy Portrait

Yes, fantasy portraiture is a thing.  With the appropriate wardrobe, accessories, hair, makeup, and special effects created with photo editing software, fantasy becomes reality.  Make someone’s dream come true. 

Coloring & Abstract Art

Coloring & Abstract Art

Abstract art is very popular, and can be created with any medium, including oils, acrylics, watercolors, and photo editing software. 

Coloring & Embroidery

Coloring & Embroidery

Bold solid colors, floral motifs, and three-dimensional details easily translate to needle crafts, such as embroidery or needlepoint. 

Coloring is relaxing, reduces stress, and provides instant gratification.  Who knows what crafts you might explore next?  One thing I have found to be true in all my artistic endeavors: “Draw or paint what you FEEL, not what you know.”  Follow this advice and you will never be disappointed. 

Special thanks to Trudy, a local crafter, for providing all the coloring pages! 

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Abracadabra – Harry & Hermione’s Magic Wands

Hermione and Harry never go anywhere without their magic wands. 

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

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

Magic Wands at Ollivander’s Wand Store

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

Wooden Chopsticks

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

How to Make Hermione’s Magic Wand:

Inspiration

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

Supplies

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

Painting Chopstick

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

Painting Vines & Leaves

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

Hermione’s Finished Wand

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

How to Make Harry’s Magic Wand:

Inspiration

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

Supplies

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

Creating Texture

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

Adding More Texture

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

Painting Black

Step 3 – Paint the entire wand with black acrylic.

Dry Brushing Brown

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

Harry & Hermione’s Finished Wands

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

Advanced Painting:

Hermione’s Wand – Defining the Leaves

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

Close-Up Vines & Rhinestone

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

Glowing Wand

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

Accent Painting the Leaves

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

Harry’s Wand – Creating Thicker Tree Bark

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

Roughening the Texture

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

Painting Black

Step 3 – Paint the entire wand with black acrylic.

Dry Brushing Brown

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

Harry’s Finished Wand

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

Harry & Hermione’s Finished Wands

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

Close-Up – Both Finished Wands

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

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

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

World of Color: Meanings, Perceptions & Expectations – Part 3

Mother Nature has an interesting way of mixing colors, which inspire our fashions, home furnishings, and interior design.  Check out the wolf photo above.  His fur is a perfect blend of black, brown, gray, and white.  We typically contrast neutrals with more vibrant colors, but as you can see, they can stand on their own.  Let’s explore the hidden meanings, common perceptions and our expectations of the neutral color palette. 

Color: BLACK

Mystery & Superstition – What is it about black cats that inspires other-worldly tales of witches, monsters and things that go bump in the night?  Everyone loves mystery and suspense, always wondering what is behind the curtain.  Black piques the interest and keeps them guessing. 

Fear of the Unknown & Protection – Ghost stories shared around campfires are a common summertime activity.  The human mind can imagine all sorts of things hidden within the shadows.  On the other hand, darkness offers protection, a type of shield, which is why black onyx was often carried by ancient travelers to ensure safe passage. 

Formal & Luxurious – Even if it is only for one special night, black tuxedos and evening gowns are luxuries, making the wearer look and feel like fashion royalty.

Exotic & Sexy – The “little black dress,” a staple in most women’s wardrobes, is the perfect example of this color’s attention getting, seductive nature. 

Color: BROWN

Comforting & Casual – The color brown invites you to come in, sit by the fire, and sip hot cocoa, while roasting marshmallows and enjoying the cozy atmosphere. 

Natural Beauty & Tranquility– The beauty and serenity found in nature fills us with feelings of awe and joy, inspiring new ideas and a fresh outlook. 

Relaxing & Soothing – You work hard and often play hard too.  Forget the world for a while.  Relax, unwind, and restore your body, mind and spirit.

Down-to-Earth & Self-Confident – Be true to yourself, grounded, levelheaded, and practical. 

Color: GRAY

Balance & Sophistication – Cool grays create sleek sophisticated style. 

Uncertainty & Ethereal – The warm grays, such as these trees, are earthy and grounding, while the cool gray fog produces a more ethereal quality. 

Wisdom & Maturity – They say an elephant never forgets.  Imagine the stories she could tell!

Timeless & Calming – Walking along the beach, we collect seashells formed eons ago, as we let the water wash our cares away. 

Color: WHITE

Simplicity & New Beginnings – Life doesn’t have to be complicated.  Feel footloose and carefree as the dawn brings new opportunities. 

Peace & Clarity – White doves are symbols of peace and the spirit world. 

Purity & Remembrance – White roses adorn bridal bouquets.  For some cultures, white flowers are memorials for deceased family members. 

Cool & Crisp – White clothing is commonly worn during the summertime because it not only looks cooler, but also reflects the heat of the sun, making you feel cooler too. 

The Great Film Debate:

Black & White Film versus Full Color Film

Black and white film was the standard.  The invention of color film was a real game changer.  Everything came to life in “living” color, resulting in an interesting question: Should the old black and white films be colorized?  The purists say no because black and white are an integral part of the story.  Adventurous movie lovers say give us vibrant colors and don’t forget the “CGI” special effects!  Do you have a preference?  Please write your thoughts in the comments section. 

In case you missed the two previous World of Color posts, Part One covers the warm color palette: red, orange, and yellow, and Part Two discusses the cool color palette: green, blue, and violet.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Harry Potter’s Magical Creatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make a Monster Book Fit for a Wizard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Painting with Stickers

Paint by Sticker Cat

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

“Paint by Sticker Cats”

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

Kitten Close Up – Before

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

Kitten Close Up – After

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

Sticker Pages 1 & 2

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

Close Up Detail of Sticker Page 2

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

Apply Stickers – Sections B & A

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

Apply Stickers – Sections C & D

Apply the remaining stickers from Sections C & D. 

Finished Kitten Image

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Froggy Went A-Courting

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

Inspiration

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

Inspiration

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

How to Paint a Resin Frog:

Original Gray Resin Frog – Front

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

Original Gray Resin Frog – Profiles

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

Original Gray Resin Frog – Back

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

Supplies

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

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

Painted Straw Hat – Front

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

Painted Straw Hat – Back

As you can see the straw texture is still visible. 

Painted Frog – Front

Paint the frog’s entire body green.

Painted Frog – Profiles

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

Painted Frog – Back

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

Painted Collar & Tie

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

Repainted Collar & Rose

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

Completed Painting

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

Frog Ready for his Close-Up

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

Clear Coat Protection

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

Frog Before & After

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

Frog Royalty

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

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Catching Some Rays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make Colorful Acrylic Suncatchers:

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

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

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

Butterfly & Hot Air Balloon Suncatchers
Butterfly & Balloon

Balloon Bouquet & Cat Suncatchers
Balloons & Cat

Dog & Bluebird Suncatchers
Dog & Bluebird

Tropical Fish & Cardinal Suncatchers
Fish & Cardinal

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

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

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!