Blogging Vacation

Sunset at the Beach

Throughout the summer, I usually take a break, by posting every other week.  This year there were so many inspirations to share, that simply I kept going.  I can’t believe it is September already.  Where does the time go?  I will be taking a vacation from blogging and will return in time to celebrate the month of October with lots of Halloween fun.

Metal Owl Sculpture

You may be wondering what I will be doing during the break. First, I have some ideas for new arts and crafts projects to explore. 

Writing a Book
wi

Second, I wrote a mystery thriller novel and hoped to get it published, but the timing wasn’t right.  I will edit the manuscript and start sending it out. I know many of you have written and published books. Any advice regarding publishing and/or literary agents will be greatly appreciated.

Woman in Kayak

Most importantly, I plan to rest and relax, taking in nature in all its splendor.

I will do my best to keep up with all your blog posts and look forward to reading and commenting.  I truly appreciate my followers and visitors and send best wishes to all.

Thanks for Reading & 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.

P25 Crocheted Horse
Stuffed Animals & Home Décor can also be crocheted. The little pony shown above was made in individual pieces, like using granny squares, and then sewn together using matching lavender 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 Burlap Fabric
Against a stiffer background fabric, embroidery becomes sculptural.

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 bulkier, pillows tend to be large-scale.

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.

Baby Gifts:
Nursery Mobile
A newborn nursery would not be complete without a beautiful mobile.

Crocheted Bear
Knitted or crocheted stuffed animals are perfect for babies because they are super soft and washable. For safety reasons, the decorative pink tie around this teddy bear’s neck would have to be removed.

Decorative Trims:
Pompoms
Pompoms adorn throw pillows, curtains, wall hangings, keychains, and many other home furnishing and apparel products.

Jewelry & Accessories:
Yarn Bracelets
Handmade jewelry, belts, and even handbags can be found in fashionista’s wardrobes around the world.

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!

Inspiration: Lost & Found – Part 3

Inspired Jump for Joy

This is the final post in this series, and so far, we have seen many inspirations and corresponding artistic expressions. I think it is important to mention that you don’t have to travel far in your search. In fact, you can be inspired in the comfort of your own home by paging through books and magazines, watching television shows or movies. Look outside a window or take a walk around the block. Flip through photos from past vacations. The inspirations are there waiting to be discovered.

Inspiration – Formula 1 Racing:

Ferrari Formula 1 Car

High-precision engines roar to life. Sleek racecars swerve side to side on the track, warming up their tires before taking their places upon the starting grid. When the lights go out, pure power explodes accompanied by an adrenaline rush, propelling the cars and drivers forward at speeds of up to 200 mph and the fans go wild. Formula 1 Racing is sure to inspire.

Go Kart Racing / Formula 1 Car Driving Simulator

Go Karts & F1 Simulator

Car Painting / Model Building

Car Painting & Model Build

Beaded Jewelry & Precision Watches

Jewelry & Watch Making

Formula 1 Fan Apparel / Luxury Leather Goods

Fan Apparel & Luxury Leather Goods

Watercolor Painting / Special Effects Photography

Watercolor & Special FX Photography

Inspiration – Colorful Parrot:

Red, Blue & Yellow Parrot

Playful, curious, and never at a loss for words, parrots are the entertainers in the animal world. Spend a little time with one of these colorful, expressive birds and you will be smiling before you know it. share that joy with family and friends through your next creative project.

Latch Hook Wall Art / Sculptural Metal Wall Art

Latch Hook & Metal Sculpture

Paint Pouring / Digital Painting

Paint Pouring & Digital Painting

Tie Dye Clothing / Wildlife Abstract Art

Tie Dye & Abstract Art

Jungle-Themed Stained Glass / Tropical Candleholders

Glass Jungle & Candleholders

Ceramic Tile / Tropical Throw Pillow

Ceramic Tile & Throw Pillow

Inspiration – Buddhist Temple in Oahu, Hawaii:

Byodo In Temple

Located in Hawaii, the Byodo-In Temple offers visitors the gifts of peace and tranquility as they admire intricate architectural details, reflecting pools teeming with koi, and lush Eden-like gardens. This gentle, meditative energy can be expressed artistically.

Koi Painting / Marble Buddha Sculpture

Koi Painting & Sculpture

Water Fountains / Calligraphy

Water Fountains & Calligraphy

Bonsai / Japanese Fabric Design

Bonsai & Fabric Design

Water Garden / Meditation Space

Water Garden & Meditation

Origami / Koi Mixed Media

Origami & Mixed Media Koi

Inspiration – Painted Lady Butterfly in a Garden:

Painted Lady Butterfly

With no particular destination, and obviously in no rush, butterflies flutter from bloom to bloom like colorful little fairies brightening our gardens and our spirits. Their vibrant colors, graceful movements, and eye-catching patterns are excellent resources for artistic endeavors.

Watercolor Garden & Butterfly Paintings

Garden Watercolors

Butterfly Earrings / Digital Portraiture

Jewelry & Portraiture

Mosaic Tile / Butterfly Scrapbooking

Mosaics & Scrapbooking

Butterfly Wall Mural / Butterfly Illustration

Wall Mural & Illustration

Butterfly Metal Sculpture / Butterfly Special Effects Photography

Metal Sculpture & Special FX Photography

As you can see, inspiration can come anytime or anywhere, when you least expect it. Sometimes inspiration comes from your favorite pair of pajamas, and other times it may be an awe-inspiring view of the Grand Canyon. Whenever you find inspiration, let it into your heart and mind, stirring your passion and creativity. Your next work of art might really surprise you! Please share your thoughts in the comments section. If you missed the previous posts in this series, please click here for Part 1 or click here for Part 2.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Inspiration: Lost & Found – Part 2

Inspiration at the Seashore

Inspiration is everywhere. With our hectic schedules, we sometimes fail to notice. Let’s take a few minutes for some much needed “Me Time” to look for sources of inspiration and then figure out how to channel that energy into a burst of creativity. Let’s go…

Inspiration – Sunset at the Beach:

Maui Sunset

Key West, Florida is just one of the many places around the world where people gather to watch the setting sun. Nature puts on quite a dazzling show with bursts of color, luminous clouds and reflections upon the rippling water, thrilling viewers of all ages.

Birds of Paradise Flower Arrangement / Hand Dipped & Carved Turtle Candle

Bird Paradise & Turtle Candle

Fabric & Fashion Design / Fire Dancing

Tropical Fabric & Fire Dancer

Sun Mosaic Tile / Writing & Playing Music

Sun Mosaic Mural & Sunset Music

Sunset Illustration / Abstract Sun Stained-Glass Window

Tropical Sunset Illustration & Stained Glass

Sunset Painting / Sun Metal Sculpture

Lighthouse Sunset Painting & Sun Metal Sculpture

Inspiration – A Nebula & Starry Sky:

Blue Nebula

Staring up at the night sky, we realize how small we really are in such a vast universe. From the time we are children, we wish upon the stars, hoping one day the person, place, or thing we want most will magically appear. United we stand under the twinkling night sky and realize anything is possible.

Cool Tone Crocheted Afghan / Astrology

Afghan & Astrology

Faux Finishes

Faux Finishes

Digital Portraiture / Pansies Flower Arrangement

Fantasy Portrait & Pansies

Abstract Art / Star Wars CGI

Galactic Abstract Art & Star Wars Special FX

Stained Glass Picture Frame / Iridescent Beaded Necklace

Stained Glass & Necklace

Inspiration – Plumeria Tree Blossoms:

Pink & Yellow Plumeria

Although they are native to Central and South America, plumeria trees are best known for their colorful, aromatic presence in Hawaii. Visitors are often greeted with plumeria flower leis, which have an unforgettably sweet scent, perfuming the air in this island paradise.

Perfumes, Bath & Body Products / Plumeria Flower Lei

Perfume & Flower Lei

Floral Ceramic Tile / Exotic Flower Arrangement

Ceramic Tile & Exotic Silk Flowers

Silver Plumeria Jewelry / Vibrant Crocheted Afghan

Plumeria Jewelry & Crochet Afghan

Handmade Scented Soaps / Digital Collage

Decorative Soaps & Digital Collage

Tropical Illustration / Flower Petal Mandala

This concludes part two of this creativity post. Do you have any favorites? Have you been inspired by an experience to create a new work of art? Please share your thoughts in the comments section and stay tuned for part three next week. If you missed part one in this series, please click here.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Inspiration: Lost & Found – Part 1

Lost & Found in the Wilderness

Sometimes it feels like inspiration is impossible to find. It hides in plain sight, masquerading as mundane items in our daily lives. Once you find it, you are faced with another question: What should I do with it? In this three-part series, we shall delve into several inspirations and interpret creative expressions for each one. Please join me on this artistic journey in search of inspiration.

Inspiration – A Beautiful Day at the Beach in Maui, Hawaii:

Maui Beach

Spending time at the beach is so relaxing and refreshing. Fluffy clouds drift across the azure sky, palm trees sway in the gentle breeze, and the foamy surf tickles your toes as it ebbs and flows. What’s not to like? Tranquil blues and greens abound, while the soft sand cushions every step as you wander aimlessly picking up scalloped shells in this tropical paradise. Below are a few ways to express this inspiration.

Paint Pouring / Fabric & Apparel Design

Paint Pour & Fabrics

Monkey Carved Coconut Sculpture / Sea Turtles Sand Sculpture

Coconut & Sand Sculptures

Seashell Wall Art / Tropical Illustration

Seashell Art & Illustration

Tropical Leaf Wall Sconces / Hibiscus Fabric Placemats

Wall Sconces & Placemats

Ceramic Sea Turtle / Abalone Shell Earrings

Ceramic Sea Turtle & Abalone Earrings

Inspiration – Scuba Diving:

Lionfish

Dive beneath the waves into a hidden world of exotic creatures, bold colors, intricate patterns and textures soft as sand or razor sharp as coral. Each new discovery becomes a snapshot in your memory, filling you with excitement and the need to creatively express these newfound treasures.

Sea Life Wreath / Fish & Coral Throw Pillow

Ocean Wreath & Fish Pillow

Fish Sand Sculpture / Humpback Whale Carved Wood Sculpture

Sand Sculpt & Wood Carving

Framed Fish Collage / Aquatic Wall Mural

Collage & Wall Mural

Aquatic Stained Glass Dome / Tropical Fish Wall Art

Stained Glass & Wood Fish

Sea Horses Ceramic Tile / Aquatic Mosaic Wall Mural

Ceramic Tile & Mosaic Mural

Inspiration – Garden of Irises:

Green Blue & Purple Irises

World renowned artists, including Monet, Van Gogh and Georgia O’Keeffe, have been inspired by flowers for centuries. Delicate petals in the most exquisite colors beckon us to come closer to appreciate these living works of art.

Hydrangea Wreath / Hydrangea Hand Hooked Rug

Wreath & Hand Hook Rug

Floral Fabric Painting / Hydrangea Fabric Placemats

Floral Fabric & Placemats

Flower Garden Painting / Floral Embroidery

Floral Painting & Embroidery

Garden Gazebo Needlepoint / Beaded Jewelry

Needlepoint & Flower Jewelry

Butterfly Watercolor / Stained Glass Flowers

Watercolor & Stained Glass

This completes part one of this artistic inspiration post. I hope you have found some interesting ideas for your future projects. What inspires you? Please let me know in the comments section. Please click here to read part two.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

What do Pigs & Cats have in Common? Decoupage

Spotted Piglet
Look at that little face! Is he cute or what? The inspiration for this project is an adorable spotted piglet. In a previous post, “Year of the Pig 2019,” I mentioned my brother’s affinity for pigs. We usually find a way to include a pig at any gift-giving occasion. Sometimes it’s just a card, or a flying pig ornament for the Christmas tree. We all share the same sense of humor, and the more ridiculous the pig, the greater the laughter.

Pig Plaque Details
For my brother’s birthday this year, I decided to combine two of his favorites: pigs and cats. Believe it or not, he and his wife share their home with 11 feline fur babies. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s a lot of mouths to feed! Each cat started out in life under very difficult circumstances, but after being rescued, they live comfortable, happy lives filled with play and lots of tender loving care. Such an unusual family deserves an equally unique family portrait.

How to Create a Wooden Pig Photo Plaque
On a recent visit to AC Moore, I noticed a large wooden pig plaque. It was really cute, but I held off buying until I could come up with something my brother would appreciate and ended up liking the idea of a family portrait. The pig is large enough to accommodate photos of all eleven cats with my brother and his wife in the center. Any size or shape plaque will work as long as it is large enough to fit all the images. You could also create a plaque to commemorate a special event, such as a graduation, a birthday, or your favorite vacation. Let’s get started.

Raw Wooden Pig
You may need to do some light sanding to ensure the surface and edges are smooth.

Pig Photo Plaque Supplies
Supplies:
Wooden Pig (20-1/2” wide x 11-1/4” high x 1/2” thick)
Acrylic Paint – tan & black
1) Jar of Mod Podge Gloss
1) Oval Mop Paintbrush
1) Elmer’s Permanent Glue Stick
2) Paintbrushes – one for base coat, and a fine brush for details
Heavyweight Matte Finish Photo Paper
Sandpaper
Scissors

Photo Layout
You might want to print a quick draft version of your photos to make it easier to lay out on the plaque. This will also give you a chance to experiment with different ways of cutting them out to make your design look more attractive. Be sure to reprint your photos on heavyweight paper for the final project. If you try to use regular printer paper, it will bubble and curl as soon as you apply the Mod Podge, and you’ll have to peel it off and start over. How do I know this you ask? Because it happened to me! It was awful!

How NOT to Complete a Photo Plaque
I watched a tutorial video to learn how to use Mod Podge for decoupage. They made it look sooooo easy but looks can be deceiving. They mentioned you could use laser printer color copies but said nothing about needing heavyweight paper. All my photos had been meticulously cut out and glued down using Mod Podge on the backs. Initially there was a little bubbling, but it smoothed out as it dried. While the Mod Podge does dry clear, the recommended sponge applicator leaves streaks behind and it dries that way! Instead, I recommend using an oval mop paintbrush, which produces a smoother finish. Next, I applied an even coat over the entire plaque. This should have been the finale, but I knew I was in trouble after the first few cats had been coated. Within seconds, the photos bubbled and curled up into little blobs! It was horrifying! They didn’t mention that in the how-to video! Frantically, I scraped the photos off and then used soap and water to clean the surface of the plaque. Back to the drawing board!

The Correct Way to Create a Pig Photo Plaque
This time I suggest a few changes to the process:
First, print your images on heavyweight matte finish photo paper.
Apply one coat of Mod Podge over the entire page of photos, using an oval mop paintbrush.
Allow drying time.
Cut out the individual photos. I chose to cut out the cat’s ears and round the bottom edges so that they would resemble spots on the pig.
Lay out the photos upon the plaque.
Trace the photos to determine the locations of the spots.

Painted Black Spots
Paint each of the black spots a little larger than the photos. I ended up making all the spots solid black to prevent tan paint from peeking out from behind the photos.
Paint the pig’s face, ears, hooves and tail. A painted smile goes a long way to give this little guy some character.

Glued Photos & Sealer Coat
Trim the photos and/or adjust the painted black spots as needed.
One at a time, paste each photo using Elmer’s Glue Stick.
Place a clean sheet of paper on top and firmly rub the surface and edges to ensure a good seal. Repeat this process. Let dry.

Finished Plaque
Apply a coat of Mod Podge over the entire plaque. Congratulations! Mission accomplished!

This is a fun and unique way to display family photos. Although pigs may not be for everyone, there are plenty of interesting wooden plaque shapes to match your family’s unique style and personality. Deciding which photos to use is a fun and adventurous activity. Let your creativity soar and be open to new possibilities as you create this memorable family portrait for everyone to enjoy.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Sculpting in the Sand

Child’s Sandcastle

Child's Sandcastle

For a child, a day at the beach would not be complete without building a sandcastle.

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

Overachievers among us have honed their sand sculpting skills “to infinity and beyond!”

Sculptor’s Sandcastle

Castle with Flags Flying High

During worldwide competitions, we admire these incredible, albeit temporary, masterpieces. Let’s explore the amazing world of sand sculpture.

Relief Sculptures:

Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden

The details are remarkable, including the serpent’s scales, human anatomy, grainy tree bark, and dimples on the apples. The glass eyes of the serpent appear to glow.

Librarian

Librarian

Each book and every nook and cranny in the bookcases were carved by hand.

Disney’s Snow White

Disney's Snow White

Snow White’s likeness has been captured beautifully, including her delicate eyelashes and the lively twinkles in her eyes.

Sculpting Details

Detailed Cockatoo & Kangaroos

Feathers upon the wings of a bird, and a joey in a kangaroo’s pouch – no details are overlooked.

Freestanding Sculptures:

Three dimensional sculptures, with subjects ranging from movies and books to famous landmarks and historical events, draw us in for a closer look. At this level of competition, the details are so crucial because the audience and judges must easily recognize the scenes, subjects or ideas presented. Below are several sand sculptures based upon popular characters.

Movie: “The Wizard of Oz”

Sculpting Dorothy & Friends Wizard of Oz

Movie: “Avatar”

Avatar

Movies: “Pirates of the Caribbean” & “Maleficent”

Captain Barbossa & Maleficent

Movie: “Pirates of the Caribbean”

Pirates of the Caribbean

Movie: “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”

Willy Wonka

Children’s Book: “Where the Wild Things Are”

Where the Wild Things Are

Special Effects:

Color & Lighting are just a few of the special effects implemented to bring sand sculptures to life.

Dyed Sand – Crocodile

Special Effects Crocodile

Dyed Sand – Zebra

Special Effects Zebra

Flames – Fire-Breathing Dragon

Special Effects Fire Dragon

Illumination – Castle

Special Effects Lit Sandcastle

Illumination – Fall of the Roman Empire

Special Effects Lit Ancient Rome

Illumination – Cave Monsters

Special Effects Lit Monster Cave

Illumination & Scenic Backdrop – Mother Gorilla & Baby

Special Effects Gorilla & Baby

Illumination – The Paparazzi

Special Effects Lit Paparazzi

The Best of the Best:

Neuschwanstein Castle

Castle Neuschwanstein

Located in Bavaria, Germany, world renowned Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella’s Castle. Despite the enormity of scale, and pressures of recreating an historical treasure, these artists successfully accomplished their goal.

Neuschwanstein Closeup

Closeup Neuschwanstein

Lifeguard Rescue

Lifeguard Rescue

Watching lifeguards rescuing a victim is an intense, nail-biting experience.  Those emotions are extremely well conveyed in this incomplete lifeboat sculpture.

Lifeguard Rescue Closeup #1

Closeup Lifeguard Rescue

The near vertical pitch of the lifeboat implies rough seas. The rowing lifeguard is focused upon an approaching wave or the distant shoreline. Either way, there is doubt and worry in his facial expression.

Lifeguard Rescue Closeup #2

Closeup Lifeguard Rescue

Fully engaged in the rescue, the second lifeguard struggles to pull his victim into the boat, while bracing for the next wave. It looks like they all may need to be rescued.

Jack & the Beanstalk

Giant Jack & Beanstalk

“Jack & the Beanstalk” is a classic fairytale known to children and adults. Seeing it come alive in this sculpture is both awesome and scary. In this modified version, the giant survives the fall from the gnarled beanstalk and now he wants blood. Tossed by the sudden impact, Jack helplessly lies nearby on the ground awaiting his fate. The entire composition is a textural feast for the eyes.

Closeup of Giant from Jack & the Beanstalk

Closeup Giant Jack & Beanstalk

Pure fury is exemplified in the giant’s furrowed brow and roaring mouth with bared jagged teeth, as his fingers mercilously tear into the soil in his quest for vengeance. Pointed ears and wart covered skin add a layer of horror to this fairytale villan. How does this version end? We may never know.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these amazing works of art. The next time you visit a beach, maybe you will give sculpting a try. I’ll never look at sand the same way again. Please let me know which ones are you favorites in the comments section, and best of luck with your next artistic project.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Choosing the Best Craft Tools

Art Supplies
Arts and crafts are more than a hobby – it’s a vocation. The passionate pursuit of beauty and self-expression is inspired by the world around us. When shared, it opens a dialogue of ideas and inspirations, reminding us that we are all connected.

Over the years, artists and crafters develop new skills and acquire lots of tools and materials. Along the way, we learn about time saving tools and media to simplify the creative process. Below are several suggestions to assist with your next project.

Tackle BoxFishing Tackle Box – See next photo
Open Tackle Box
A Tackle Box becomes an Art Bin – Every artist needs a place to store paintbrushes, pencils and other tools. In my experience, items made for artists cost twice as much. Instead of buying an Art Bin, get a fishing tackle box, which is inexpensive and has compartments for all your arts and crafts supplies.

Fabric Paints
Fabric Paints – The name implies they’re only for fabric, but these paints provide textured color on any surface and act like glue for small items, such as beads.

Chip Clips
Chip Clips – These are great to use as clamps when gluing small objects together, although you may have to pry them out of the hands of your potato chip eating kids.

Fillet Glove & X-Acto Knife
Fillet Glove & X-Acto Knife – If you do a lot of cutting, a fillet glove is a must to prevent accidents, and an X-Acto knife is a great tool for making very precise cuts.

Prismacolor Pencils
Prismacolor Pencils – These thick, soft lead pencils have beautiful, saturated colors. Although they tend to be expensive, craft stores offer great sales and coupons, making them much more affordable.

Eraser Pencil
Eraser Pencil – In case you never heard of this item, it is a pencil filled with an eraser instead of lead. It can be sharpened to a fine point for precise erasing and the brush on the other end can be used to remove erasures without smearing the surface.

Electric Pencil Sharpener
Electric Pencil Sharpener – If you do a lot of drawing or coloring, having a sharpener nearby is a time saver because it keeps the points clean, sharp and consistent.

Glue Gun
Hot Glue Gun – So many projects require glue. Hot glue guns are easy to use, fast acting, and low odor. You’ll want to keep extra glue sticks on hand because glue guns have voracious appetites.

Sharpie Markers & Paint Pens
Sharpie Markers & Paint Pens – If you need to write or draw on virtually any surface, Sharpies have a wide assortment of colors, finishes, and pen tip sizes.

Wire Cutters
Wire Cutters – Flower arranging is simplified with a sharp pair of wire cutters. They’re excellent for cutting zip ties too.

Tweezers & Crochet Needle
Tweezers – These are great for positioning small beads and working in tight areas. Crocheting Needle – Use to attach floral picks or weaving ribbon into a wreath.

Paint Brushes
Paint Brushes – Different crafts and media require many types of paintbrushes. In case you are wondering about the old brush on the bottom, I keep it for mixing small quantities of paint and for applying rough base coats.

Scissors
Scissors – A good pair of scissors is indispensable. In fact, you might want to keep several pairs on hand for different tasks. I keep this pair for cutting fabric. If you cut other materials, such as plastic or cardboard, the blades can become damaged. This will not only dull the scissors but will also cause fabric fraying in the future.

Ott Light
Ott Task Light – These portable electric lights provide bright, true color lighting in a non-glare, energy efficient fixture, which folds closed for easy storage.

Multi-Drawer Storage
Art Supply Storage – This rolling, pullout-shelving unit was originally used in an accounting department. It’s so convenient for crafting because you can see everything, and each basket can be individually slid out and carried to a table for easy access.

Cotton Swabs & Toothpicks – Inexpensive everyday items such as these are so useful for removing excess glue or paint, and for touch ups and clean ups.

I hope these ideas will be helpful for your future creations. Do you have a favorite craft tool? Please share your suggestions.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

What’s New in the Art Studio?

Artist Painting in an Art Studio

New ideas are always brewing at the arts and crafts studio. Here is a sneak peek at a few of the upcoming projects…

Cake Decorating

Cake Decorating Car Birthday Cake

Cake decorating has been a popular topic on this blog, and I have lots of new cake designs to share.

Crafting with Feathers

Crafting with Feathers

Craft stores always have feathers, and there are many creative ways to include them in your artwork.

Full Color Makeover

Crane Statue

This monotone crane has been standing next to a potted plant for years. It is high time he gets some much-needed attention. Believe it or not this makeover will transform him into a crowned prince.

Cookie Decorating

Decorated Cookies Flamingos

The only time of year my family decorates cookies is Christmas. This post will inspire you to create beautiful cookies any time of year.

Painted Wood Crafts

Floral Unfinished Wood Decor

Wood crafts are inexpensive, easy to color or paint, and quickly produce attractive décor for your home.

Magical Creatures from Harry Potter

Harry Potter Griffin

The world of Harry Potter is inhabited by some extraordinary creatures. With a little creative magic, you can conjure one to adopt into your family.

Art Studio Mascots

Studio Mascots

Speaking of adoption, our foster cats have become permanent members of the family, and they will be popping into the studio from time to time for a visit. Here are a few of their recent comments: “Being an inspiration is exhausting and we’re working for kibble. F.Y.I., the feather projects will be delayed indefinitely…you don’t have any. You’re welcome. Wake us when there’s a big juicy mouse project!”

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into future posts. Comments and suggestions are welcome, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Rainbow of Gems – Part 3

Multi Gemstone Necklace

This is the final leg of our gemstone tour as we explore the neutral color palette, followed by several multicolor gems that really know how to stand out in a crowd. Here we go…

Color: Black – mysterious, sexy, luxurious

Black Onyx

Black Onyx & Fluorite Earrings

Historically, black onyx has been carried as protection for travelers. Used in jewelry, it provides great eye-catching contrast, showcasing any accompanying gems.

Black Diamonds

Black Diamonds

Have you ever seen black diamonds? The natural-color black has been growing in popularity, but unlike other diamonds, these stones are opaque.

Snowflake Obsidian

Snowflake Obsidian

The product of volcanic activity, as molten obsidian cools tiny pockets of trapped gases burst forming the delicate snowflake patterns in this beautiful gemstone.

Tahitian Black Pearls

Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian black pearls, grown in the waters of French Polynesia, are the only true black pearls. All other black pearls have been dyed.

Color: Gray – sophisticated, timeless, well-balanced

Gray Jasper

Gray Jasper

Gray jasper brings a sense of calm and well-being to the wearer.

Color: Brown – relaxing, grounding, comfortable

Tigereye

Tigerseye

Want to see a magic trick? When bright light reflects off fibers in a Tigereye stone, the color appears to change in a phenomenon known as chatoyancy.

Smoky Quartz

Smoky Quartz

Also known as smoky topaz, this gemstone ranges in color from light browns to black, just like its namesake, smoke.

Natural Mother of Pearl

Natural Mother of Pearl

Mother of pearl comes from the shell of an oyster or mussel. These organic gems are cream, beige and tan swirled with white.

Color: White – peaceful, practical, cool

Onyx

Onyx

This banded stone is believed to increase intuition and clarify dreams.

White Mother of Pearl

White Mother of Pearl

Because this organic gem comes from a pearl producing shell, it is associated with nurturing and motherhood. Cameo pendants and pins are typically carved from mother of pearl.

Pearls

Pearls

Pearls have long been associated with female power. Cleopatra is believed to have worn makeup made from ground gemstones. Today we may wear pearlescent eyeshadows, but she wore the real thing!

Clear Quartz

Clear Quartz

Clarity of vision and creative inspiration are qualities associated with clear quartz. Because this gem resembles ice, it looks even more frosty when paired with blue or black gemstones.

Diamonds

Diamonds

Diamonds are the hardest gemstone in the world. Perhaps that is why they have become a universal symbol of love and commitment in engagement and wedding rings.

Multi-Color Gemstone Gallery: – multiple colors in one gemstone

Sardonyx

Sardonyx

Fluorite

Fluorite

Abalone

Abalone

Pink Labradorite

Labradorite

Opal

Opal

Blue Agate

Blue Agate

Unakite

Unakite

Chrysocolla

Chrysocolla

Watermelon Tourmaline

Watermelon Tourmaline

Turritella Agate

Turritella Agate

If you love gemstones and archeology, turritella agate is for you. Turritella is a midsize snail that lived millions of years ago. These fossilized creatures are forever preserved within the stones, resulting in a one-of-a kind, visually stunning piece of jewelry.

Carved Agate

Carved Agate

Our final gemstone is this beautifully carved fish cut from a single piece of agate. It’s a gemstone and sculpture in one. How cool is that?

I hope you have enjoyed Mother Nature’s rainbow of gems. New gemstones are still being discovered, creating fresh possibilities in jewelry design. If you feel inspired to try jewelry making, Fire Mountain Gems is a wonderful resource for gemstones, supplies, tutorials and more.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!