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!

Tyrannosaurus Rex – The Original Mr. T

T-Rex Skeleton

Sixty-five million years ago the Tyrannosaurus Rex, also known as T-Rex, spent his days hunting, eating, and making little dinosaurs. Archaeologists, writers, and world-renowned movie directors have been thrilling us ever since with all the gory details of this master predator.

T-Rex Hunting

Did they roar like lions? Were they solitary animals or did they mate for life? Having such short arms, I wonder, how did they get back up after a fall?

T-Rex Waiting Outside a Tent

After viewing this photo, who wants to go camping? (lol) The mere thought of facing a creature, capable of eating its prey whole, leaves us with mixed feelings of fear and awe. And we love it. To bring a few of those Jurassic thrills into our lives, let’s jump into our next project:

Inspiration

T-Rex Closeup

Huge jaws, piercing eyes, and razor-sharp teeth – what’s not to love?

Inspiration

T-Rex Roaring Sideview

When we look at large lizards alive today, we can visualize tyrannosaurs having thick, textured skin, consisting of scales and bony plates, with a ridge along the spine.

Inspiration

T-Rex Roaring Front View

Predators typically have camouflaging patterns and colors to give them an advantage while hunting. With these ideas in mind, we can begin the creative process to bring the T-Rex back to life. Let’s go!

How to Paint an LED Tyrannosaurus Rex:

Raw Wood T- Rex, Front

Original Raw Wood Front

This wooden T-Rex (available at Michaels) has preprinted details and cut outs to enable green light from a concealed LED bulb to penetrate the figure and cause an eerie glow in the surrounding area.

Raw Wood T- Rex, Back

Original Raw Wood Back

The back is plain wood with the on/off switch and battery compartment. The wood on the front is smooth, however you might want to sand the back lightly, however that is entirely up to you.

Supplies

Supplies

Supplies:
LED Wooden T-Rex (5-3/4” high x 7” wide x 1” thick)
Acrylic Paints – Cappuccino, Light Fuchsia, & Dove Gray
Paintbrushes
Markers – Brown & Black

Marker Drawn Details

Color Scheme Markers

Use magic markers to figure out the color scheme.

Painted Basecoat, Front

Painted Basecoat Front

Paint the entire body with the basecoat.

Painted Basecoat, Back

Painted Basecoat Back

Paint the basecoat on the back. I did not add any details, but you can if you wish.

Marker Drawn Details

Painted Details

Go over the details with markers.

Painted Gray Background

Painted Background

Paint the background gray to contrast with the tan body. At this point you could stop.

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know there is a more advanced painted version. Please read on to discover how to give this dinosaur a more reptilian appearance.

Advanced 3D Painting:

Three-Dimensional Fabric Paints

Fabric Paints

Supplies:
1) Bottle fabric paint – Brown
1) Bottle fabric paint – Black

Painted 3D Details

Painted Three Dimensional Details

Using brown fabric paint, apply nubby texture to the body. The black paint is for the teeth, pupils, and claws.  I outlined the eyes in black too but didn’t like it. To me, he appeared to be wearing a pair of sunglasses. (lol) You can see the revision below.

Completed T-Rex

Completed T-Rex

This is the completed Tyrannosaurus Rex in all his glory.

T-Rex Before & After

T-Rex Before & After

I am always surprised seeing the plain original wood side by side with the completed project. Caught up in the creative process, it’s easy to forget where we started.

Lit T-Rex with Flash

Lit T-Rex with Flash

This photo, taken using flash photography, shows the soft glow of the LED light.

Lit T-Rex without Flash

Lit T-Rex without Flash

In a dark room, this T-Rex makes a cool nightlight.

I hope you enjoyed this transformative journey. Thank you for coming along for the ride. What is your favorite dinosaur and why? Please let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Painting 101 – Part 1

Have you ever wanted to give painting a try? Anyone can paint. With a little patience and a lot of creativity, you will feel like an accomplished artist in no time. It’s fun, relaxing and reduces stress. What are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Acrylic Painting: Bold colors, unlimited finishes and surfaces, ease of use

Paint by Number

Acrylic Paint by Numbers

One of the easiest ways for beginners is with an acrylic “Paint by Number” kit, which comes complete with paints, brushes, and a preprinted canvas. Simply match the numbered paints with their corresponding locations on the canvas. There is a wide range of themes for all ages and skill levels.

Decorative Painting & Wall Art

Acrylic Painting1

Acrylic paints can be used in almost any application. Brushes are cleaned with soap and water, and the paints have low or no odor, which is great for those sensitive to strong fumes.

Furniture Painting

Acrylic Painting2 Chair Back

Make a new piece of furniture look like an old friend with decorative designs and an antiquing finish.

Statues & Figurines

Painted Statue

Upcycle a garage sale purchase with a fresh coat of paint and colorful accents.

Faux Finishes & Decorative Painting

Painted Wall Faux Finish Sponge Painting

Upgrade walls, or any surface with acrylic faux finishes and decorative painting, including Sponge Painting, Marbleized, Faux Wood Grain, Crackle, Metallic, Plaster, Textured, Stenciling, Stippling, Mural Painting, & Tromp l’oeil.

Airbrush Painting: Street art, murals, and no size limitations

Airbrushing

Airbrushing 1

Airbrushing requires compressed air to disperse paint onto any surface. Cans of spray paint work in the same way and are often used on building-sized murals.

Large-Scale Painting

Airbrushing 2 Telecom Equipment

This handsome German shepherd painting disguises an otherwise unsightly telecommunications box.

Automobile Painting

Airbrushing 3 Sports Car

Riding in style has a whole new meaning when your car becomes a mobile work of art.

Mural Painting

Painted Mural Butterfly

Let imagination run wild as any wall, inside or out, can be adorned with flights of fancy.

Tromp l’oeil Painting

Painted Transformer Airbrush

Tromp l’oeil means “Fool the Eye” and in this photo three-dimensional painting turns this electrical transformer into a lovely stable, complete with bales of hay and a friendly face.

Fabric Painting: Art, fashion, and home furnishings

Hand Painting

Fabric Painting1

Fabric markers can be used to layout your design, followed by fabric paint applied via brush or easy-squeeze bottles for three-dimensional paints.

Silk-Screening

Fabric Painting2 Butterfly

Silk-screening is like stenciling for fabrics. A separate screen is used for each color, which is applied using a squeegee.

3-D Painting & Appliques

Fabric Painting4 3D & Applique

Fabric paints can be applied to any surface, bringing designs to life in three dimensions. They also function as glue, sealing the edges of appliques and adhering beads and other embellishments.

Tie Dyeing

Painted Fabric Tie Dye

Tie dyeing is easy for kids of all ages, and the end results are always a surprise.

Designing Home Furnishing & Apparel Fabrics

Painted Fabric

Large-scale patterns are perfect for upholstery, draperies, and pillows. Apparel styles are constantly changing. Launch the next fashion trend by creating and wearing your own designs.

Glass Painting: Illuminating color, and painting with light

Wall Hangings & Suncatchers

Glass Painting1 Window

Luminous colors and intricate eye-catching details, hallmarks of stained glass, bring character and beautiful style to any décor.

Mosaic Glass Gems & Jewelry

Glass Painting2 Mosaic Gems

Earrings, bracelets, necklaces sparkle with colorful glass beads. Mosaic glass gems are perfect accent on crafts as well as vases, flowerpots, etc.

Glassware

Glass Painting3 Drinking Glasses

Drinking glasses and pitchers take center stage with hand-painted colorful accents.

Christmas Ornaments

Painted Glass Ornaments

With a box of clear glass ornaments, you can let your creativity sore. Paints can be applied inside and out, and the finishes range from metallic, pearlescent, iridescent, and glitter in every color of the rainbow.

Stained Glass Windows

Painted Glass Window3

Museums, churches, and many secular buildings are adorned with spectacular stained glass. Sunbeams are transformed into a dazzling kaleidoscope of heavenly light.

Painting Gallery:

Acrylic Painting, Airbrushing, & Paint Pens

Birdhouse

Airbrushing

Painted Airplane

Acrylic Painting & Airbrushing

Painted Carousel Horse

Fabric Painting

Painted Fabric Thistles

Glass Painting

Painted Glass Bottles

Airbrushing

Painted Porsche

Acrylic Painting

Painted Mural Dove

Acrylic Painting & Airbrushing

Painted Mural Theater Mask

Glass Painting

Painted Glass Jewelry

Acrylic Painting

Painted Wall Stenciling Sponge Painting

Acrylic Painting & 3D Fabric Painting

3D Painted Flamingo

Glass Painting

Painted Glass Horses

Painting is a wonderful pastime, which enriches your life and can be easily shared with family and friends. No matter what your style and interests may be, there’s a type of painting to challenge your skills and engage your mind for experiences that will last a lifetime. Enjoy the journey!

Please stay tuned for part two next week.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

A View from Above – Giraffes

One of the most easily identifiable animals upon the face of the earth is the giraffe.  There is nothing else like it – that long neck, towering legs and a fur pattern that resembles mosaics.  Giraffes are so tall, that the babies are born at a minimum height of six-feet tall to feed from the mother. 

Adult Giraffe

Each subspecies has unique fur patterns and colors.  There is a ridge on the forehead and two horn-like protrusions on top of the head. 

Giraffe Herd

Some have spots down the length of their legs, while others have solid tan or white below the knee.  For this project, you will need to look at giraffe photos and decide which pattern you prefer. 

How to Paint a Wooden Giraffe:

Raw Wood Giraffe

Raw Wood Giraffe

Both sides and all the edges will need to be sanded and painted.  Ensure the giraffe stands without wobbling.  If needed, restore balance by gluing pieces of thin cardstock to the bottom the feet. 

Supplies

Giraffe Paints

Supplies:
Wooden Giraffe (8-1/4” high x 4-1/4” wide x 1-1/4” thick)
Acrylic Paints – red, brown, orange, black, tan
Bottles Fabric Paint – brown, black
Paintbrushes
Sandpaper
Pencil

Sand & Paint Base Color

Sanded & Painted

After sanding, paint the entire body tan. 

Reference – Giraffe’s Face

Giraffe Facial Close Up

I bet you didn’t expect to have a Giraffe anatomy lesson!  Typically, wood craft animals stand facing forward.  If you look at the close-up photos above, you will notice this giraffe is turning his head to the side.  This effects both sides of the head.  Both eyes need to be on the same side.  We will address the back of the head in a later step. 

Hand Draw Details

Draw Giraffe Details

Because this appears to be a baby giraffe, the facial features are cute but small, including the ridge between the eyes.  I began drawing some of the spots to understand what the layout should be.  To keep the pencil lines to a minimum, the remainder of the spots were freehanded with the paint brush. 

Mix Custom Paint Color

Plastic Covered Paint

Be sure to mix enough paint for the giraffe’s spots to last throughout the project.  To keep the paint moist on a paint palette, cover it with plastic wrap, ensuring the plastic is pressed down upon the paint surface and the edges are sealed.  You may need to moisten the paint, but the color will be preserved.  I created a reddish-brown by mixing brown, red and orange acrylic paints. 

Paint the Spots on the Neck

Painted Pattern

Use a fine brush for the spots.  Be sure to leave space in between, which resembles mosaic tile set in grout. 

Paint Spots – Right Side

Painted Body - Right

As you work your way down the body, the size of the spots diminishes.  Be sure to paint spots on the edges, including the front and back of each leg and the neck too. 

Paint Spots – Left Side

Painted Body - Left

For this step, the following areas will remain tan: the back of the head, the mane, the inside of each leg, the feet, and the tail. 

Defining the Details – Right Side

Painted Face Tail & Feet - Right

Paint the head and facial details, except for the eyes, which will be completed in a later step.  Paint the tail and hooves black.  The muzzle and fur between the eyes are darker, while the cheeks are lightly spotted.  The “horns” are a combination of black and brown. 

Reference – Back of Giraffe’s Head

Giraffe Back of Head

Figuring out the back of the head was difficult.  Because our giraffe is looking off to the side, you will only see a portion of the face. 

Reference – Back of Head & Mane

Giraffe Back of Head

When the giraffe moves his head and neck, the mane twists and turns. 

Reference – Back of Head & Mane

Giraffe Back of Head

There are no spots on the ears.  Notice how the mane twists as the neck shifts. 

Defining the Details – Left Side

Painted Back of Head

Draw the details on the back of the head.  Be sure to show the twisting mane.  Paint all the details except for the mane. 

Paint 3D Details – Right Side

Finished Giraffe - Right

The eyes are painted with brown fabric paint for a 3D effect and outlined in black.  After it dries, add black pupils and white dots in the center to bring life to the eyes.  Using brown fabric paint, create a raised mane, centered down the entire length of the neck.  It will take two coats to make the furry mane to stand upright.  Create fur on the “horns” with black fabric paint. 

Paint 3D Details – Left Side

Finished Giraffe - Left

Paint the eye with brown fabric paint and outline with black.  Using brown fabric paint, complete the twisted mane on the back of the head.  Create fur on the “horns” with black fabric paint.  Allow it to dry overnight. 

Finished Close Up – Face

Finished Close Up - Right

The following steps apply to both sides: Because fabric paint is shiny, paint over the mane with brown acrylic and then highlight it with reddish brown and tan.  Paint the horns with black acrylic.  Some reddish-brown paint was brushed into the ears and up onto the furry horns. 

Finished Close Up – Back of Head

Finished Close Up - Left

Touch up any details as needed.  The spots on the left side of the neck, closest to the face, curve toward the face to give a three-dimensional roundness to the upper portion of the neck. 

Giraffe – Before & After

Before & After Giraffe

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the original raw wood giraffe and the fully detailed project at completion. 

I had a lot of fun painting this little guy.  Figuring out the anatomy was challenging and rewarding.  There are many wooden animal crafts waiting for good homes.  Check out your local craft stores or the internet to find one you will love.  Good luck! 

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Collages: Old School vs. High Tech

Camera & Collage

Collages can be created by two different methods: 1) “Old School” Traditional -Assemble and glue groups of photos onto a backer board, or 2) High Tech – Use photo editing software. Both methods are fun and produce impressive results. Let’s look at several possibilities…

“Old School” Collages:

Postcard Collage

Travel Collage

Many people collect postcards during their travels. Instead of stuffing them in a drawer, create a collage, frame it, and hand it up so you can reminisce about past vacations and dream of future destinations. 

Vision Board

Vision Board

What are your dreams? A vision board helps focus mental and physical energy toward achieving your goals.  Magazines, catalogs, travel guides and brochures provide great source material for collages.
For more information about traditional collage making, please click here.

Digital Collages:

Horizontal Grid (a.k.a. Photo Montage)

Dog Collage

A horizontal collage is a great way of displaying your favorite photos, such as family members, fur babies, or anything else that warms your heart.

Horizontal Grid

Fireworks Collage

Whatever you love – fireworks, lighthouses, beaches – can be assembled into a frameable work of art.

Layered Images

Peacock Collage

Compose a one-of-a-kind masterpiece by overlaying multiple images.

Symmetrical Grid

Antique Door Hardware

Displaying your collectibles, such as antique door hardware, requires a lot of space, but a photo montage makes it easy to enjoy your collection on a daily basis.

Asymmetrical Grid

Undersea Collage

The placement and sizes of photos can be easily modified to create a visually pleasing composition.

Custom Grid

Flower Collage

With photo editing software, you can experiment with colors, layers, and special effects. Bring your imagination to life right before your eyes.

Hybrid Collages:

Bold Design

Parrot Collage

Much like the traditional collage making process, images from different photos can be digitally “cut and pasted” onto new backgrounds.

Action Adventure

Wave Collage

Spice up your family vacation photos with a few thrills and chills.

Out of this World

Universe Collage

To achieve this otherworldly image, photograph a model leaning upon a beach ball. Cut & paste it onto a star filled background. Replace the ball with a photo of the earth and add a planet or two. Enjoy!

Mandalas

Mandala

Drawing, painting, or traditional collage making would take forever to create this complex mandala. Thanks to digital technology, you can create one quarter of this design and then mirror it vertically and horizontally to complete the circle. You could add three-dimensional sparkle by gluing beads to the completed composition.

Mixed Media Collages:

Siren of the Sea

Mixed Media Mermaid Collage

This mermaid and sunken ship can be made using a combination of traditional and digital collage making. The background would be easier to create digitally. After printing out the full-size image, the mermaid and ship could be hand drawn. Based upon desired colors, textures and patterns, pieces cut from the pages of magazines can be glued in place, producing a three-dimensional effect.

Flower Power

Mixed Media Floral Collage

Who wouldn’t love eternal spring? Make it a reality by starting with a photo of a beautiful flower garden. Enhance it by cutting and pasting layers of colorful flowers on top of the finished image.

Creature of the Night

Mixed Media Owl Collage

A digital sepia tone background can be printed full size on canvas. The owl is drawn and detailed with a combination of markers and paint. Genuine feathers, layered and glued upon the wings, bring this owl off the canvas and into the viewer’s world.

Abstract Words

Mixed Media Abstract Collage

It is said you should choose your words carefully. Choose a poem or quotes, whatever appeals to you. Layered colors, words, and embossed textures harmonize, creating visual movement and a palpable sense of warmth and peace in this abstract masterpiece.

The Cat’s Meow

Mixed Media Cat Collage

What do you think he sees? A bird? A butterfly? Maybe a mouse? Whatever it is, those reflective amber eyes capture our attention. The antiqued background, with embossed floral motifs and pen and ink style writing, ensures this quizzical feline remains center stage. Additional detailing of the cat’s body and punching up the contrast of the purple and green flowers around him will make it appear as if he is sitting in front of a wall.

I hope these collages have inspired you to playfully experiment with the infinite possibilities of photography and collages to create personalized art to be enjoyed for years to come. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section. Good luck with all your future creative projects.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!