Outdoor Holiday Lighting

Lights & Fireworks
The holidays are certainly a festival of lights. It’s fun to gather the family together for a drive around the neighborhood or visit a nearby town to simply enjoy the show. It’s a feast for the eyes and might cause a few chuckles as well. Before you venture out, here are a few ideas for outdoor lighting at your home.

Textured Oversized LED String Lights
Lights Faceted Blue
These large bulbs are reminiscent of old-fashioned lights but have the advantages of being LEDs and the textured surfaces create a sparkling effect.

Multi-Color Round LED String Lights
Lights Multi Color
LED string lights offer brilliant colors and unusually long life. The strand shown has a sleek, contemporary appeal.

Old Fashioned Christmas Lights
Old Fashioned Lights
These string lights have an old fashioned, rustic charm, and the long life of today’s best technology in LED lighting.

Icicle Lights
Icicle Lights
When they first were developed, icicle lights only came in short white strands. Today there are many colors and lengths available like the brilliant blue icicles shown above.

Oversized Lighted Orbs
Lighted Orbs
These oversized lighted orbs were made for display in large trees. You’ll probably need an extension pole or tall ladder to place them, but the starlight effect is well worth the extra effort.

Lightshow Projection Spinners
Decorative Spotlights
By now you have probably seen these special light effects on neighbors’ houses. Essentially, they are created by a special spotlight projector, which changes colors and images as it slowly spins.

String Lights & Mini Trees
Decorated Flower Boxes
In the cold weather, flower boxes usually sit empty and forlorn. Why not bring them to life again with artificial evergreens and white lights?

Old Fashioned Metal Lantern Lights
Festive Lantern
This old-style lantern and wreath bring pops of color to an otherwise snow-covered landscape. Candlelight is always warm and welcoming.

Landscape Lighting with Garlands & Bows
Lighted Gazebo
Christmas in the country is celebrated with evergreen garlands, red ribbons and hundreds and hundreds of multi-color lights. For bushes and fences, net lights can be tossed over the top and will look like you spent hours stringing lights, but all it really took was a few flicks of the wrist.  How easy is that?

Lighted Lawn Figures
Lawn Figures
Lighted lawn decorations come in an endless variety, including Santa and his reindeer, as well as more unusual characters, such as Jack Skellington, ice castles, and unicorns.

Lighted Christmas Gift Boxes
Lights Gifts
Lighted gift boxes are cute on a lawn grouped under a tree or with a reindeer pulling a sleigh.

Lighted Inflatable Figures
Inflatable Penguins
There are a multitude of choices when it comes to inflatables. People seem to have a love-hate relationship with these lawn decorations. At night they cheerfully grin at passersby, but during the day lying flat upon the ground, they tend to resemble laundry scattered across your lawn.

Tropical Tree Lighting & Lighted Lawn Figures
Lights Tropical
There may not be any snow in the tropics, but that doesn’t stop Christmas from coming. The lawn figures tend to be warm weather themed, and lighted palm trees are often lit all year long.

Chinese Star-Shaped Lanterns
Chinese Lanterns
If you happen to live in a warm climate, Chinese lanterns can be hung outdoors around a pool, deck or patio. Their soft light and perforated patterns really do call to mind starlight.

Unexpected Lighted Lawn Figure
Backyard Snowman
This time of year, we tend to do so much for everyone else. It’s easy to forget about yourself. Why not treat yourself by doing the unexpected? One year we put a lighted snowman against a tree in the back yard. No one else could see it, but every time we walked through the dining room that smiling face brought joy to us all.

Elf Witch Project
Lighted Witch
Okay, so you’re probably wondering why the photo of a witch has been included in this post. Well, there is a very good reason. We all have decorations for different holidays throughout the year. This requires a lot of storage space, and that can often be a problem. Making a decoration multi-purpose is an easy solution. We’re going to turn this Halloween Witch into one of Santa’s Elves.

Red Fabric Hat
Step 1 – Wrap red, water-repellent fabric over the witch’s hat, and be sure to tuck the orange hair underneath. Secure it in place by tying it to one side with a piece of twine or red ribbon. Now you’re probably thinking it looks like a pirate! Stay with me for a few more steps.

White Trim
Step 2 – Tie white garland trim around edge of hat. Create a pompom by wrapping the same garland around the bottom point of the hat and secure with white ribbon or string.

Red & White Scarf
Step 3 – Wrap an outdoor scarf around the neck.

Candy Cane
Step 4 – Tie a plastic candy cane to one arm using a piece of string or ribbon.

Lighted Elf Witch
And voila! You now have an adorable lighted Christmas Elf!

Witch Elf Before & After
When Halloween rolls around again, simply remove the accessories and the witch will be ready to haunt your yard once again.

Lighting is the key element in any holiday décor. Choosing what to do is part of the fun. Get the whole family involved to make quick work of the decorating process. Some towns offer awards for the best holiday displays. Let the competition begin! Good luck!

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

Thanksgiving Décor Made Easy

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

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

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

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

A Colorful Welcoming Entrance
Thanksgiving Outdoor Display
Don’t miss an opportunity to create a festive entryway to your home. Decorate an existing bench or cozy front porch with attractive chrysanthemums, pumpkins, and an adorable, feathered friend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Crafting!

The Art of Cookie Decorating

Cookie Decorating

Designing cakes may be too challenging, but anyone can decorate cookies.  And remember if you make a mistake, eat it and nobody will ever know.  Let’s review our decorating options first, and then see eye-catching photos of delicious cookies.  I’m hungry already.  Let’s go…

Cookie Decorating Options:

Cookie Cutters

Cookie Cutters

Choosing the best cookie cutters is the first step in cookie design.  Easily recognizable shapes and built-in details provide the perfect canvas for your artistic vision. 

Icing

Icing St Patrick's Day Cookies

Chocolates, Candies & Sprinkles

Chocolates Candies & Sprinkles

Melted Chocolate

Chocolate Covered Cookies

Granulated Sugar

Sugar Coated Cookies

Powdered Sugar

Powdered Sugar on Cookie

Fruit Pieces & Fillings

Fruit Filled Cookies

Food Coloring

Colorful Macarons

Stenciling, Airbrushing & Edible Inks

Stenciled Cookies

Easy to Make Decorated Cookies:

Iced Cookies with Candy Pearls

Icing & Candy Cookies

Fruit-Filled Cookies

Jelly Filled Smiley Cookies

Iced Cookies with Sprinkles

Icing & Sprinkles Cookies

Marbleized Icing Cookies

Marbleized Icing Cookies

Chocolate Dipped & Homemade Candy Cookies

Chocolate Fancy Cookies

Themed Cookies:

Seasonal Cookies – Winter

Winter Cookies

Seasonal Cookies – Summer

Summer Cookies

Holidays – Easter

Easter Cookies

Holidays – Halloween

Halloween Cookies

Holidays – Christmas

Christmas Cookies

Special Occasions – New Baby

New Baby Cookies

Special Occasions – Birthday

Birthday Cookies

All Occasions – Oversized Cookies

All Occasion Oversize Cookies

Best of the Best:

Best Thematic Cookies

Best Cookie Design

It all starts with a great cookie cutter, followed by lots of snowflake textures in a wintry color palette.  As in nature, no two are exactly alike.  Granulated sugar simulates the appearance of ice and snow. 

Most Elegant Cookies

Best Elegant Cookies

This looks professionally made but it is a basic sandwich cookie.  The swan cut out in the top layer reveals the raspberry filling inside. Sprinkle powdered sugar for a beautiful bakery finish. 

Most Clever & Humorous Cookies

Best Funny & Clever Cookies

What do you get if you turn a simple gingerbread man cookie upside down?  A team of silly reindeer to pull Santa’s sleigh. 

Best Icing Details

Best Piping & Icing Details Cookies

Multiple decorating elements were utilized to achieve these artistic beauties, including, stenciling, piping, and hand-applied edible ink. 

Best Cookie Presentation

Best Presentation Cookies

Individually decorated cookies have been sculpturally layered, creating a three-dimensional bow of holly.  It just might be too pretty to eat. 

This completes our exploration of cookie decorating.  It’s time to create a few cookie masterpieces of your own.  You might want to take a few photos because this type of art doesn’t last long.  Enjoy!

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Halloween’s Mascots

Black Cat & Pumpkin

When you think of Halloween, what images come to mind?  Most likely there’s a black cat and a few pumpkins in the mix, and rightly so since these mascots of Halloween have been honored for centuries. 

Black Cat & Pumpkins

In this vintage illustration, a cuddly kitten saunters through a pumpkin patch.

Ceramic Cat & Pumpkin – Front

Ceramic Cat in Pumpkin Front

Our project this week is an adorable kitten sitting inside a jack-o-lantern. 

Ceramic Cat & Pumpkin – Back

Ceramic Cat & Pumpkin Back

This three-dimensional Halloween decoration is available at Michaels. 

Ceramic Cat Closeup

Ceramic Cat Closeup

The top of the pumpkin sits on the kitten’s head like a little hat.  Aww, so cute!

Ceramic Pumpkin Closeup

Ceramic Pumpkin Closeup

The cut-outs in the faces of the cat and pumpkin hint at a surprise, which will be revealed at the end of this post in the last photo. 

Supplies

Acrylic Paints

Supplies:
Ceramic Cat in a Pumpkin (6” wide x 6” deep x 8” high)
Acrylic Paints – dark green, black, metallic gold, buttercrunch yellow & orange
Paintbrushes

Painted Pumpkin – Front

Painted Pumpkin Front

Paint the pumpkin orange and the stem green.  Be sure to paint all the edges of the cut-outs too. 

Painted Pumpkin – Back

Painted Pumpkin Back

It will probably require two coats of paint for a nice even finish. 

Painted Cat’s Eyes & Pumpkin Top Edge

Painted Eyes & Pumpkin Interior

Paint the cat’s eyes metallic gold, including the inner edges.  Add black for the pupils and a dot of white in each.  Paint the top edge of the pumpkin, around the cat’s body, with buttercrunch yellow. 

Painted Pumpkin Top Edge – Back

Painted Pumpkin Interior

Painted Cat Closeup

Cat Closeup

Painted Pumpkin Closeup

Pumpkin Closeup

Painted Cat – Front

Painted Cat Front

Paint the cat with two coats of black paint, including the front paws draped over the pumpkin.  Add black lines on both sides of the pumpkin stem. 

Painted Cat – Back

Painted Cat Back

Working out the Details

Drawn Details Closeup

At this point I noticed something funny.  It looks like this kitten is sitting in a bowl of soup, and his disembodied paws appear to be floating on top!  To fix these issues, draw lines in pencil to thicken the pumpkin’s rim and connect the paws, via legs, to the body. 

Painted Details – Front

Painted Details Front

Paint the legs black, and the pumpkin rim orange.  With a fine brush, paint the whiskers white and the mouth pink.  Indicate toes with thin white lines on the front paws.

Painted Details – Back

Painted Details Back

Finished Cat Closeup

Finished Cat Closeup

Finished Pumpkin Closeup

Finished Pumpkin Closeup

Glowing LED Lights

Lit Cat in Pumpkin

This is the finished project.  Concealed LED lights illuminate the inside, just like a real jack-o-lantern.  I hope you enjoyed this fun and easy Halloween project. 

Thanks for reading!

Happy Halloween & 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!

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!

From the Heart – Jeweled Box

Finished Box
Treasure chest? Jewelry box? What could it be? There’s something so exciting about starting a new project. Sometimes you start out with one thing in mind, which slowly transforms into a beautiful butterfly. Originally. I intended to paint geometric designs all over this box. A roll of rhinestone ribbon became my inspiration, which revealed my hidden need for a lot of bling. Who knew? Where will your inspiration take you?

How to Decorate a Wooden Box:

Plain Wooden Box with Heart Shaped Window
Plain Wooden Box
When selecting a box for your project, look it over carefully for damage. Check for splinters or dents, and test the functionality of the latch and hinges. I often find smudges of glue on the glass/acrylic. If necessary, compare several boxes side by side at the store.

Wooden Box with Open Lid
Plain Box - Open
This box, available through AC Moore, is wood inside and out.

Painted Lid
Painted Lid
I liked the look of the natural wood and kept most of it as-is, with the exception of the flat top, which was brushed with white acrylic paint to create a high contrast background.

Project Supplies:
Beads &; Paints
You will need a bag of loose rhinestones and fabric paints in turquoise, black and brown.

Additional Project Supplies:
Marbles & Rhinestone Ribbon
You will also need a bag of turquoise flat glass marbles, a roll of 1/2” turquoise rhinestone ribbon, Elmer’s glue and a glue gun. The rhinestone ribbon and marbles are available at dollar stores.

Outline the Heart with Rhinestones
Beaded Heart
Apply a large dot of fabric paint at the edge of the heart. Use tweezers to push a rhinestone down into the wet paint. Alternate the fabric paint colors to create your pattern. Repeat the process until the outline is complete. Just as reminder: the rhinestones are clear. It’s the paint that determines the color.

Apply Rhinestone Ribbon
Apply Rhinestone Ribbon
Rhinestone ribbon is glued in horizontal bands across the top of the box. Use Elmer’s glue because it will allow you to reposition as needed. Use scissors to cut the ribbon to fit. At the end, fill in any blank spaces by cutting rhinestones from the ribbon and hand placing them with tweezers and Elmer’s glue.

Completed Beading on Lid
Completed Lid
As you work around the center heart, you may need to pry off individual beads to make the ribbon fit. They say hindsight is 20/20. If I had to do this over, I would probably apply the ribbon first and then outline the heart.

Apply Flat Glass Marbles
Apply Flat Marbles
A glue gun will make this step quick and easy. Apply marbles on all sides. Ensure the marble placement will not interfere with the opening and closing of the lid. I found are marble that had broken in half, and placed it under the latch to complete the pattern, which you can see in the next photo.

The Completed Bejeweled Box
Completed Bejeweled Box
Large turquoise hearts are glued in each of the four lid corners. These hearts are actually jewelry pendants. A black onyx bead has been glued to each heart to cover the hole on top.

I’m considering lining the inside of the box with felt or velvet. It all depends upon how it will be used, and frankly I haven’t decided yet. What would you do? Please make suggestions in the comments section. I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

The Octopus & the Mermaids

Tropical House Closeup
A little piece of paradise – Isn’t that what we all want? That means different things to different people. For many, the idea of a cozy grass shack on a tropical island is a common fantasy. Of course it goes without saying that we’ll expect all the comforts of home in that “shack,” but that’s not important. Visualizing the dream is the focus here. This time of year so many people visit the seashore. An ocean-themed centerpiece, created one piece at a time, brings memories of vacations past to mind, and inspires dreams of vacations yet to come.

Beach House Before & After1
Before & After Photos: Tropical Home – Front Facade. What was once a home for tiny gnomes transforms into a tropical retreat with orange silk flowers, and a bamboo pattern drawn by hand on the exterior walls using a brown Sharpie marker.

Beach House Before & After2
Before & After Photos: Tropical home – Back Facade. The bamboo pattern continues across the back, giving it that island vibe.

Light House Before & After
Before & After Photos: Lighthouse. Whoever heard of a lighthouse without a roof? To make the roof shown, fold the paper into a cone and staple it as needed to hold its shape. Glue a soup can lid to the bottom of the cone and paint it gray to match the lower portion of the building. Add twine along the edge and down the sides to resemble a standing seam metal roof. Tie several knots in a piece of twine and glue it to the peak of the roof. Tint the glass votive holder yellow using a highlighter, and line the inside with orange paper to suggest a brilliant light glowing from within the tower.

Sailboat Before & After2
Before & After Photos: Sailboat. This sailboat only needed minor adjustments. The faded white stripes needed a fresh coat of paint, and the middle stripe was changed to orange. Because the opposite side of the sail was unfinished, the stripes and shells were duplicated on the back. A cute little blue bird was glued on top of the mast.

The Star of the Show: A Blue Ringed Octopus
Octopus Before and After 2
Before & After Photos: Octopus Closeup. It’s hard to believe the monochromatic octopus on the left is the same one on the right, but it is. It’s amazing what a difference a little paint can do.

Octopus with Candles
Original Octopus Candleholder: This whole project started with this silver metal octopus candleholder. As you can see, it looks top heavy with the large pillar candles, and the octopus is rather hidden underneath. Round candles were another option, but he looked like a juggler! (lol)

Blue Ringed Octopus
As with all creative projects, it’s helpful to gather a few photos for inspiration. The blue ringed octopus is a fascinating creature. Fans of James Bond 007 will remember the movie, Octopussy, in which Maude Adams had an aquarium with this beautifully patterned octopus, and she also wore a white silk robe emblazoned with its colorful, exotic image. Each octopus has a unique pattern, and the blue iridescent rings are impressive creations courtesy of Mother Nature.

Paints
Supplies:
Octopus (7-1/2” high x 4-1/2” wide x 1-3/8” thick)
Acrylic Paints – tan, brown, black, yellow, white, & metallic blue
1) Bottle fabric paint – white
1) Bottle fabric paint – brown
2) Paintbrushes – one for base coat, and a fine brush for details
Paint Palette
Clear Spray Paint

Octopus without Candles
This is how it looks without the candles. The large metal plates are too big, overpowering the beauty of this piece.

Octopus without Plates
The plates were removed using a Dremel cutting tool, and the tips of the tentacles were filed smooth. Now you start to notice the amazing sculptural details created by the artist.

Painted Tan
The color was the next issue to be addressed with two coats of tan paint. The artist painstakingly created a realistic looking octopus, but that thick coat of silver paint had obscured all those intricate details.

Painted Brown Spots
A brown pattern was applied to the entire body and the eyes were painted black.

Painted Black Spots
Black spots were added, overlapping the brown.

Painted Blue Rings&Yellow
Blue iridescent rings were applied over the black spots. Random yellow stripes wrap around the legs and head. A white dot was added to the pupil of each eye.

Painted Brown Irises White Outlines
The eyes were made more realistic with the addition of brown irises and white outlines.

Clear Coat & Suction Cups
Two coats of clear spray paint were applied to protect the acrylic paints. White suction cups were added to the underside of the tentacles and allowed to dry. Next brown fabric paint was applied over each of the suction cups to provide shape and depth. This beautiful sculpture now has the rich, colorful appearance it deserves, and makes an interesting conversation piece.

Finished Centerpiece
Photo: Completed Centerpiece. Black pebbles form little volcanic islands amid a vast ocean. In front of a cozy tropical home, a mermaid sits quietly reading, as a sailboat glides along the water. Another mermaid leaps out of the sea with a treasured seashell in her hand. The lighthouse makes a welcome rest stop for wildlife and a sunbathing mermaid. A feisty octopus playfully thrashes about the water’s surface. Palm trees swaying in the breeze display a pair of small signs that says it all: “Beach Please!”

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Unforgettable Baby Elephants

Bath Time for Baby

Baby Elephant & Family

All babies are cute, but baby elephants are so expressive like the one above having the best day ever!

Baby Nuzzles Mom

Baby Elephant & Mother

Standing beside their watchful mothers, they look so small and somewhat fragile.

Baby’s First Steps

Baby Elephant Walking on Dirt Road

With those big floppy ears, it’s easy to imagine them taking flight, playfully floating upon the breeze and coming to a landing in our love-filled hearts. Let’s bring some of that joy into this week’s project.

How to Paint a Wooden Baby Elephant:

Raw Wood Elephant

Raw Wood

In previous painted wood projects, the animals had feathers, scales, or fur. Elephants present a unique challenge: wrinkles. I must admit this took much longer than expected as I progressed through a series of trial and error to achieve the desired appearance by layering. Let’s get started…

Supplies

Supplies

Supplies:
Wooden Elephant (5” high x 6-1/4” wide x 1-1/4” thick)
Acrylic Paints – Gray & Black, (Pink is optional)
Paintbrushes
Markers – Gray
Pens -Black Fine Point
1) Bottle fabric paint – Brown
1) Bottle fabric paint – Black
1) Bottle fabric paint – White (not shown)

Texture Building

Build Texture

Start building texture with three-dimensional fabric paint. I used white, but any color will do because we will paint over it in a later step. Draw both eyes with a pencil. Thicken and shape the ears and outline the eyes with fabric paint.

Paint the Body

Paint Gray

Paint the body gray, including both sides and all the edges.

Draw Details with a Marker

Marker Details

Define the wrinkles using a gray marker.

Add More Wrinkles

Add Wrinkles

After viewing numerous photos, I added wrinkles all over the body using a marker but immediately regretted it. I should have followed my own advice: Draw or paint what you feel, not what you know.

Repaint the Body

Repaint

A fresh coat of paint gives us a clean slate to try again and allows the marker lines to lightly show through, which is great for the next step.

Cautiously Draw Wrinkles

Pencil Details

Using a pencil, slowly add details in key areas to imply overall wrinkles. Build up the eyes with brown fabric paint.

Trace with a Marker

Marker Details

With a gray marker, trace the wrinkles and outline the eyes. Finish building the eyes up with brown fabric paint and allow it to dry. Add pupils and a white spot in each to bring them to life.

Trace with Fabric Paint

Fabric Paint

Retrace the wrinkles with black fabric paint. You are probably thinking, “Here she goes again. Jumping in with both feet,” and you are correct. The difference is this time … I like it! Don’t worry about too much contrast because we will tone it down in the next step. Develop the eyes with the same fabric paint.

Repaint & Create More Texture

New Texture

By repainting the body with gray paint, the raised wrinkles recede, becoming part of the thick skin. Next, mix black and gray acrylic paint to create a darker gray. Dip a cotton ball in the new dark gray paint and dab it on a piece of scrap paper to remove the excess. Lightly dab the cotton ball all over the body to create new subtle layers of texture. Repeat as needed.

Trace with a Marker

Accent Marker

Retrace the wrinkles, ears, and eyes with gray marker. Add lines around the mouth and tip of trunk. At this point you could stop, but I wanted to add a few little details to make this elephant look like a baby. For that we need a little inspiration.

Adorable Baby Elephant

Baby Elephant

Three things stand out: eyelashes, the pink inside of the mouth, and peach fuzz hair running along the spine from top of the head to the tail. Markers or paint will work nicely for the first two details, but the third requires a special ingredient…

A Longhair Cat

Long Hair Cat

Yes, I am recommending the use of cat hair for an art project. I must say it is the oddest ingredient I have ever used. Longhair cats require daily brushing, so collecting soft hair is no problem. (lol)

Completed Baby Elephant

Add Hair

Glue on the hair with Elmer’s glue. Adjust and trim the hair as needed. Add eyelashes with a fine point black pen and paint the inside of the mouth pink.

Closeup of Elephant’s Face

Close Up

Although these details are minor, I think they provide softness and a “cuteness” factor to this baby elephant, just like his living counterparts.

Baby Elephant – Before & After

Elephant Before & After

This completes our project. Persistence pays off. Experimentation is a tremendous help in solving artistic problems. If you are not happy with the results, let it sit for a day or two and the inspiration will come to you just when you need it most.

Have you faced any artistic challenges like wrinkles? Have you used an unusual item, such as cat hair, in an arts and crafts project? Please share your ideas in the comments section. Thanks for joining me. Good luck with your future works of art.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

How to Make a Lilac Wreath

Purple Lilacs

Lilacs are such beautiful flowers, and their scent is intoxicating. I wish they could bloom all summer, but we can only enjoy them for a few weeks each spring. By creating a silk wreath, you can enjoy lilac blooms year-round. Let’s get started.

Heart- Shaped Grapevine Wreath

Grapevine Wreath

I chose a heart-shaped grapevine, but you can use any shape wreath made from whatever material you prefer.

Flower Layout

Flower Layout

While shopping for a wreath, experiment with flower colors and placement. You will also need wire cutters and floral wire. As an alternative to wire, you could use brown twine.

Wire Floral Picks

Wire Floral Picks

Choose a starting point and begin attaching each floral pick. Because I am working with a heart, I started at the top center point, and moved along the left side, placing each bloom as though it is growing upward.

Progress Photo

Progress Adding Lilacs

Continue adding flowers. When you reach the bottom of the heart, turn the blooms to climb up the right side.

Progress Photo

Progress Arrange Lilacs & Leaves

Adjust the flowers and leaves to fill in any gaps. Trim any visible wires as needed or tuck them into the back of the wreath.

Finished Wreath

Finished Lilac Wreath

I used a piece of purple ribbon to hang the wreath upon a wall. As an optional step, you can recreate that heavenly scent by simply spritzing the finished wreath with lilac essential oil.

I hope you enjoyed this project. Wreath making is a fun and easy craft anyone can do. Over time, the wreath can be easily updated with new flowers to coordinate with your décor.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!