Everything’s Better with Chocolate

Chocolate Strawberries
It’s that time of year again when stores are filled with mouth watering chocolate treats. With a few simple ingredients, you can make chocolate candy at home, including many of your favorites. Let’s take a look at the process and some of the options to get us started. Ready? Set. Let’s go!

Cacao
Cacao – Well, they don’t look like much in their raw form, but these cacao seeds are transformed into the mouth watering chocolate treats we have come to adore.

Chocolate Melts
Candy making is easy to do at home using small chocolate wafers called candy melts, which are available in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and assorted flavors, such as peppermint and strawberry.

Melted Chocolate
When melted, they begin to resemble the chocolate we’ve been consuming since childhood, and the possibilities are endless.

Chocolate Molds
Chocolate molds are available in an extraordinary variety, including those for making solid chocolates, truffles, candy bars, and 2-piece chocolate boxes. Simply pour the liquefied chocolate into the mold and refrigerate per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Solid Chocolates
Most beginners start by making solid chocolates.

Marbled Chocolates
A marbleized effect is achieved by swirling two different kinds of chocolate together during the melting process.

Chocolate Egg Box
This chocolate egg box, perfect for any Easter basket, looks impressive and is easy to make with a two-piece mold. Be careful removing it from the mold to prevent breakage.

Chocolate Bonbons
Bon Bons, also known as truffles, are easy to make. Click here for instructions.

Chocolate Fillings
These truffles have a chocolate hazelnut filling.

Chocolate Cherry Filling
Cherry crème filling with a maraschino cherry is cloaked in chocolate and crushed nuts.

Peanut Butter Cups
Peanut butter and chocolate are a great combination. Coat the bottom and sides of the mold with chocolate. Add the peanut butter filling and top off with a layer of chocolate. Refrigerate and in a short time you will be enjoying homemade peanut butter cups.

Chocolate Krispy Caramel Bar
Have you ever eaten a 100Grand candy bar? It’s a delicious combination of crispy chocolate with a gooey caramel center. Click here for instructions.

Hand Dipped Chocolate
Chocolate dipping is fun for the whole family.

Kit Kat Bars
Are Kit Kat bars your favorite? Make your own version at home by chocolate covering vanilla sugar wafer cookies.

Chocolate Covered Cookies
Chocolate covered Oreos are a yummy treat. As an alternative, you could combine chocolate covered graham crackers with marshmallows to make S’mores.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Have you noticed how expensive chocolate covered pretzels can be? Make your own and finish with jimmies, crushed nuts, or rainbow sprinkles.

Chocolate Covered Bananas
Bananas and strawberries taste great dipped in chocolate.

Chocolate Covered Apples
Gourmet apples are very expensive. Melt some chocolate, place apples on sticks, and drizzle with icing or another type of chocolate. Set on a tray, and if desired add chocolate chips or shavings, or sprinkles.

Chocolate Salted Caramel
Chocolate covered caramels are sure to please. Melt caramels in a pan, and allow cooling time. When the caramel has hardened, cut into bars and dip in chocolate.

Chocolate Coconut
Chocolate covered coconut is a popular combo. Make coconut filling in a pan, cut into bars and dip in chocolate.

Finishing Touches
Presentation is everything. For a more professional look, use a cake-decorating bag, filled with chocolate or icing, to pipe on details, such as polka dots or stripes. You might also consider sprinkling the moist chocolate with coconut, cinnamon, or crushed nuts. A nice box or basket showcases your candy and is ready for gift giving.

For more chocolaty goodness, please read: “Chocolate – How Sweet It Is!”

Happy Candy Making and Happy Crafting!

At the Crossroads – Wall Art

Many people think the symbolic cross originated in Christianity, but the cross has been used for centuries by many ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Babylonians.

Ancient Egyptian Ankh
Ancient Egyptian Ankh
In ancient Egypt, the ankh represented “Life.”

Compass on Ancient Maps
Compass
Crosses have been found in prehistoric cave paintings, most likely indicating astronomical events as well as the cardinal directions, much like the compass shown on the map above.

Crosses can be found in very diverse places, such as cemeteries, churches, clothing, and even jewelry. Before designing a cross, let’s take a look at a few more examples:

Greek Cross
Greek Cross
The ancient Greek cross had equal length arms and resembled the letter “X,” while the more modern version has the typical upright design and the addition of three lobes at each end.

Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross
The cross tombstone in the photo above illustrates the intricately woven knots, which are an integral part of every Celtic design.

Ornate Sterling Silver & Turquoise Cross
Silver Turquoise Cross
Silver or gold, jewel encrusted crosses reflect light and dazzle the eye with ornate patterns and precious gemstones of all kinds.

Contemporary Stained Glass Cross
Stained Glass Contemporary Cross
Brilliant stained glass in a kaleidoscope pattern twinkles in the sunlight in this very contemporary window.

Maltese Cross
Maltese Cross
The Maltese cross has four V-shaped arms. It has a more subtle cross design, which in this case could be easily mistaken for a flower.

How to Design Painted Wood Crosses:
Three Painted Crosses
Instructions for 3) designs are presented below: Celtic, Jeweled Gold, and Jeweled Silver.

Raw Wood Cross
Raw Wood Cross
Each raw wood cross is sanded lightly, as needed. The supplies needed vary according to the design chosen. If you happen to have colored pencils or markers on hand, you might want to trace the cross onto sheets of paper and color a few samples to help narrow down your design choices.

Supplies
Supplies
Supplies:
Wooden Cross (8-1/4” high x 5-3/4” wide x 1/4” thick)
Acrylic Paints – black, metallic gold, metallic silver
5) Bottles Fabric Paint – dark green, medium green, blue, purple, & metallic gold
1) Package – 12mm round Jewel Tone Rhinestones
1) Package – 12mm round Pastel Rhinestones
1) Package – Clear Diamond-shaped Rhinestones
Paintbrushes
Sandpaper

Cross Painted Black
Cross with 2 Coats Black Paint
Each cross design in this project starts the same way, by applying 2 coats of acrylic black paint as a basecoat.

The Celtic Cross:
Celtic Knots & Infinity Symbols
Paint the perimeter details using medium green fabric paint for a 3-dimensional effect. Single lines and infinity symbols make up this pattern.

Celtic Cross Inner Details
Using the same fabric paint, paint the inner details including woven chains, and a large Celtic knot design in the center. Create pairs of large round “beads” of paint at each end (top, bottom, left and right).

Celtic Gold Accents Finished Cross
For a more 3-dimensional effect, carefully apply a second coat of fabric paint. After it has dried, add the gold details using metallic gold fabric paint.  This completes the Celtic Cross design.

Gold Jeweled Cross:
Painted Gold Accents
Your first decision is how much gold versus black you want to have in the design. Using metallic gold acrylic paint and a brush, I created a starburst at the center, which radiates outward to the ends. A studded detail was created using metallic gold fabric paint.

Gold Cross Jewel Layout
Experiment with different colors and placement of the rhinestones. Do not glue them down until a later step. After seeing this, I decided to increase the gold areas for a more opulent appearance and because the blue “sapphires” look better against the gold.

Gold Cross Enhanced Accents
Here you can see how the gold has been enhanced, leaving only a few key areas black. All the inside and outside edges have also been painted gold.

Gold Cross Jeweled Option 1
In this version, three colors of rhinestones, blue, green, and yellow, have been used.

Gold Cross Jeweled Option 2
Here the rhinestone colors were limited to blue and green.

Gold Cross Jeweled Option 3
This is the finished version with blue and yellow rhinestones. The deep yellow coordinates well with the rich metallic gold. Use Elmer’s glue to affix the gems. This completes the Gold Jeweled Cross Design.

Silver Jeweled Cross:
Silver Pastel Jeweled Cross
I had pastels in mind for this cross. I started out by testing different combinations of pastel colored rhinestones. I liked the light blue and purple with the green center.

Pastel Silver Accents
Metallic silver and black make a powerful combination with maximum contrast and reflectance. The rhinestone colors were carried into an alternating painted “gem” pattern created using dark green, blue and purple fabric paint in gemstone shapes.

Pastel Silver Enhanced Accents
The remaining inner portions, including the edges, are painted with acrylic metallic silver paint. Layout the rhinestones, but do not glue them down until a later step. Clear “diamond” rhinestones are glued in the center along with one round blue stone.

Pastel Silver Stripes Part 1
It felt like a little more silver was needed. I painted stripes at each end of the cross and then added more stripes along the outer edges.

Pastel Silver Stripes Part 2
Feeling good about the design, more stripes were added throughout the design. I have never been a big fan of stripes, so I’m not sure why I did this. The nice thing about paint is that you can easily change your mind and simply repaint.

Silver Pastel Jeweled Cross Finished
It took 2 coats of black to cover the stripes. Metallic silver was painted at the ends, and only those edges were painted silver, while the remainder was black. This completes the Silver Jeweled Cross design.

Finished Cross Designs:
Finished Crosses
Each of these crosses has its own unique style, but they barely touch the surface of design possibilities. Take a trip to the craft store to see what kinds of decorations appeal to you as well as the different styles of wood crosses available. In fact, you might have so much fun making the first one that you’ll have to go back to buy more.

Happy Easter & Happy Crafting!

The Bunny Hop – Painted Wooden Rabbit

Before we begin this Easter-themed project, we’ll need a little inspiration. Let’s take a look at a few of Mother Nature’s color scheme choices in the adorable bunny photos below:

Tan Baby Bunny
Baby bunnies are just so cute! That’s a lot of love wrapped in a soft tan and cream coat.

Gray & White Bunny
This stylish rabbit is modeling the very popular gray and white color combo.

Tan & Brown Bunny
Wild rabbits often have a blended fur coat of brown, tan and black to help camouflage them from predators. The one pictured above looks perfectly content to nap where he is without a care in the world.

Black & White Bunny
Last but not least is this precious black and white baby. His delicate features, including his button nose, inner ears and the outline of his eyes, are a soft pink.

Now that we’ve seen a few ideas, let’s get started painting!

How to Paint a Wooden Rabbit:

Raw Wood Bunny
Thick wood has been cut out in the shape of a rabbit and has the advantage of strong, rectangular base. Both sides and all the edges will need to be painted. Due to the raw nature of the wood, it may require a little sanding, especially along the edges.

Bunny Supplies
Supplies:
Wooden Rabbit (17” high x 8” wide x 1/4” thick) (Base is 5-3/4” wide x 4”deep)
Acrylic Paints – brown, black, gray, tan, green & white
Fan paintbrush, small detail paintbrush and thicker brush for base coats
Sandpaper
Optional: Fabric paints – black, brown, white (Refer to Advanced section below)

Painted White Bunny
Step 1 – Paint the rabbit with 2) coats of white acrylic paint, including both sides and all edges.

Painted Back Bunny
Step 2 – Start painting the fur on the back. Experiment with colors and brush techniques. I poured black, brown and gray paint onto an artist’s palette. Dip a fan brush into each color and then apply to wood surface to create a fur-like effect. Because the paints have not been mixed, each new brush stroke will have a slightly different combination of colors, just like real fur. Repeat thus process until the back is completed. The white tail will be added later.

Layout Details Front Bunny
Step 3 – On the front, draw the face (eyes, eyelids, eyelashes, muzzle with nose, mouth, whiskers), ears and feet with a pencil. Paint the inside of the ears and eyelids tan.

Painted Front Bunny
Step 4 – Create the fur by repeating the procedures in Step 2. Be sure to make long brush strokes along the edges of the ears to resemble thick fur. You can leave the eyes, muzzle, and feet white for now. These areas will be detailed in the next step.

Bunny Closeup1
Step 5 – Paint the facial details. I painted the eyes, eyelashes, nose, mouth and whiskers black.

Bunny Closeup 2
Step 5A – This is an alternate version for the eyes and nose. A brown iris has been added to each eye, the eyelashes have been extended, and brown nostrils define the nose. For a more lively expression, don’t forget to put a dot of white in the pupil of each eye.

Finished Bunny
Step 6 – The finished rabbit has white feet with black lines to define the toes. The base was painted with two coats of green.

Finished Bunny Tail
Step 7 – Paint a big, white fluffy tail on the back.

At this point your project is finished and ready to display. If you would like to take this design to the next level, please follow the steps below.

Advanced Rabbit in 3D
Followers of this blog know how much I love creating 3D details on wood projects using fabric paints. If you appreciate three-dimensional effects, this section is for you! Unless otherwise noted, all paints listed below are dimensional fabric paints.

3D Bunny Face
Start by painting 2 thick coats of white fabric paint on the muzzle, and brown paint for the eyes.

3D Bunny Feet
Next paint the feet with 2 thick coats of white paint.

3D Face Details
To complete the face, use black paint for the nose, mouth, whiskers, eyelashes, and the outline around the eyes. Add a black pupil in each eye. Paint a white dot in the center of each pupil, and use brown paint in each nostril.

3D Body Details
Add long brown fur along the inner edges of both ears and define the two front legs using the same paint. Add the black lines to define the toes on each foot.

Detail Facial Fur
Using short strokes, bring the black and brown fur mixture up into the face.

Detail Legs and Feet
Layer additional black and brown fur to define the body, and add the two back feet.

Finished 3D Bunny Front
Because the rear legs are in the background, keep the paint lighter by using tiny strokes with just the brown paint in an upward direction. If you want additional fur texture, you could use acrylic paints and a brush to thicken the fur coat with highlights and lowlights.

Finished 3D Bunny Back
The last step is painting the tail with 3 coats of white fabric paint.

Mission accomplished! This cute little guy is ready to be displayed in your home, bringing joy to your life for years to come.

Happy Easter and Happy Crafting!