Decorating for the Holidays

Hand Painted Glass Ornaments
It’s that time again when we deck the halls, shop ‘til we drop, and dream of snowflakes and gingerbread fresh from the oven. Decorating your home can be stressful. There are so many styles and colors to choose. Where to begin? Let’s review several options to pique your interest.

Mood Lighting
Dining Room Ambiance
The festive contemporary vibe in this dining room is created solely through the clever use of lighting. Round white lights adorn the table and trendy letters upon the back wall, which is bathed in soft lavender light and soft blue accent lights.

Traditional Candle Wreath Centerpiece
Candle Centerpiece
The traditional red and green Christmas color scheme is accented with nuts and pinecones in this evergreen centerpiece. The aromatic scents of the great outdoors will last for weeks. To convert this to an Advent wreath, replace the red candles with three purple and one pink.

Contemporary Candle Centerpiece
Candle Centerpiece
Create a contemporary candle centerpiece, without the wreath, by using a silver tray, beads and small metallic stars. For another look, substitute blue candles in place of the red. The cool blue would be a nice complement for the shiny silver accents.

Contemporary Candle & Glass Ornament Centerpiece
Contemporary Candle & Glass Ornament Centerpiece
Christmas balls can be glued together to form a wreath, which is great as a centerpiece, or you can hang it on the wall for a colorful, reflective focal point.

Sophisticated Gold & Brown Centerpiece
Sophisticated Gold & Brown Centerpiece
This unusual gold and brown combo brings to mind boxes of Godiva chocolate. The rich colors and just the right amount of glitter make this an elegant, eye-catching choice.

Traditional Style Meets Contemporary Flair
Traditional Style Meets Contemporary Flair
Red & green are traditional, but here we have a glass bowl filled with natural elements, such as moss, apples, and pinecones, mixed with glass and carved wood ornaments, and metal spheres. The candlelight is supplemented with flower shaped mini lights tucked among the greens like little blooms.

Red & Green Glowing Glass Centerpiece
Red & Green Glowing Glass Centerpiece
What sets this display apart is the lighting hidden inside the fluted glass bowl. This inner glow reflects off the tabletop and twinkles upon the glass ornaments.

Fresh Cut Flowers Centerpiece
Fresh Cut Flowers Centerpiece
Floral centerpieces can be quite expensive. As an alternative, make your own with evergreens, pinecones, and berries from your yard, and add a few exotic looking fresh cut flowers for maximum impact.

Colorful Foil Garlands
Colorful Foil Garlands
Many trees are decorated with silver or gold garland, but there are many other colors and styles available.

Red Beaded Garland
Red Beaded Garland
If you look at historical photos of decorated trees, you may notice beautiful beaded garlands. Originally they were made from glass, but today plastic beads provide the same old-fashioned look without the added expense and fragility of glass.

Popcorn Garland
Popcorn Garland
Another old-fashioned choice is popcorn garland, which is easy and inexpensive to make. For a dash of color, alternate popcorn with cranberries.

Semi-Homemade Ornaments
Semi-Homemade Ornaments
Transform store-bought ornaments with a little personalization. This crafter started with purple glass ornaments. A glitter paint pen was used to draw vertical line, and then gold rhinestones were randomly glued along the stripes for a regal appearance.

Christmas Ornament Kits
Christmas Ornament Kits
Due to the small sequin size and intricate sewing, the two ornaments shown above would be for the more advanced crafters, but there are plenty of options for beginners and kids.

Festive décor varies based upon the holiday being celebrated and your personal style. Below are several different theme ideas to inspire and consider for your next holiday.

Blue & Gold
Blue & Gold Tree
For some, it’s all about the lights. Here we have blue lights and fancy gold ribbon taking center stage.

Blue, Silver, & Gold with Purple Accents
Blue, Silver, & Gold with Purple Accents
On this tree, ornaments are the main focus, accented by silver snowflakes and gold poinsettias.

Red & Silver
Red & Silver Tree
Glitz and glamour are achieved with mirror-finished ornaments, pinpoint white lights, and last but certainly not least, a sparkling reindeer.

Red, Purple & Gold
Red, Purple & Gold
Colorful ornaments and two shades of garland vie for your attention in this beautifully coordinated tree.

Turquoise & Silver
Turquoise & Silver
This tree is exotic in so many ways. The combination of turquoise and silver is as rare as the color of the tree, which is brown! The silver ornaments vary in textures, shapes and materials. It is truly a one of a kind.

Mother Nature’s Tree
Mother Nature’s Tree
For nature lovers, decorate with pinecones, berries and cute little birds. Animal themed trees have been very popular for the last few years. Whatever strikes your fancy – owls, lighthouses, sea horses, etc. – decorations can be found or made to make your vision a reality.

Our Furry Companions
Our Furry Companions
Let’s not forget an ornament or two for those lovable family pets. In case you didn’t know, tree skirts are very popular places for afternoon naps.

A Room with a Fabulous View
A Room with a Fabulous View
Curl up with a good book by the fire, or find a cozy spot overlooking a winter wonderland. The holidays are a wonderful time to decorate our homes and celebrate the season with family and friends. May your holiday dreams be happy, filled with peace and love.

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
Outdoor Decor
Don’t miss an opportunity to create a festive entryway to your home. Decorate an existing bench or cozy front porch with attractive pots or baskets of chrysanthemums, pumpkins, and cabbage plants.

Seasonal Fall Wreath
Fall 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!

Chocolate – How Sweet It Is

I have a confession to make – researching this article made my mouth water, and I realized it should probably contain a warning, so here it is: If you don’t have a craving for chocolate right now, you will by the time you finish reading this post. You might want to have some chocolate on hand before you continue reading. Grab some Hershey’s kisses, or break open a bag of chocolate chips – anything will do – just in case!

Assorted Chocolates
Assorted Chocolates
Chocolate is a worldwide obsession. Everybody has a favorite. The purists prefer their chocolate free of any added ingredients. Some crave nuts, caramel, or coconut with chocolate, but others passionately insist peanut butter and chocolate make the ultimate combo. While the debate continues, candy makers tantalize the chocolate-loving public with their latest creations. It all starts with a seed…

Seeds Growing upon Cacao Trees
Cacao
Turning cacao seeds into the delicious chocolate treats, we have come to adore, is time consuming. For the DIY candy makers, manufacturers have simplified the process by creating small chocolate wafers called candy melts, which are available in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and assorted flavors, such as peppermint and strawberry.

Milk Chocolate Candy Melts
Milk Chocolate Candy Melts

Melted Milk Chocolate
Melted Milk Chocolate
Chocolate is melted in a double boiler. When it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency, it can be poured into molds similar to the one shown below.

Milk Chocolate Hearts
Milk Chocolate Hearts
After refrigeration, the chocolates are unmolded and ready to eat. The solid milk chocolate hearts in the above photo are the easiest, beginner-level of chocolate candy making.

Assorted Gourmet Chocolates
Assorted Gourmet Chocolates
With practice and a little creativity, you can graduate to the next level.

Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Truffles
Do you have a gourmet sweet tooth? Chocolatiers, such as Lindt, and Godiva, are excellent choices, but can be expensive. Making these decadent truffles takes a little more effort, but it’s still an easy process. Instead of filling the mold all at once, it is done in layers. The first layer forms the outer chocolate shell. Coat the mold with chocolate. Next the filling is added. Popular favorites are hazelnuts, butter cream, peanut butter, caramels, chocolate liqueurs and cream fillings. A piping bag can be used to make filling easier. Refrigerate the mold to allow the filling and chocolate to solidify. The last step is adding another layer of chocolate to fill any remaining voids and seal the top of the mold. Refrigerate and carefully un-mold. Your candy making skills will be the envy of all your friends and family.

If gourmet chocolate isn’t your style, there are simpler options…

Chocolate & Vanilla Fudge
Chocolate & Vanilla Fudge

Assorted Chocolate Barks
Assorted Chocolate Barks

Crispy Chocolate Caramel Bar
Crispy Chocolate Caramel Bar
Have you ever eaten a 100Grand candy bar? It’s a delicious combination of crispy chocolate with a gooey caramel center. Making your own is simple: Melt milk chocolate wafers and stir in Rice Krispies. Spread half the mixture in an 8×8 pan. Pour caramel sauce over the top, and then cover with the remaining chocolate mixture. Refrigerate to harden the chocolate and cut into bars. Don’t be surprised if the pan magically empties.

Chocolate Covered Cookie
Chocolate Covered Cookie

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
Chocolate Marshmallow

Chocolate Covered Cake Pops
Chocolate Covered Cake Pops
Undecided whether to have chocolate or cake? Have both with chocolate cake pops.

Chocolate Covered Apples
Chocolate Covered Apples
If soft, gooey, caramel and decadent chocolate were people, they would be best friends. For gourmet apples, dip fruit in caramel first, followed by chocolate, and roll in sprinkles, crushed nuts, or anything else your taste buds desire.

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn
Chocolate Caramel Popcorn
What more do you need on movie night?

Hot Chocolate & Red Velvet Cake
Hot Chocolate & Red Velvet Cake
Perhaps beverages are more to your liking? There’s no need to wait for cold weather. Crank up the air conditioner, we’re having hot chocolate!

Chocolate Fudge Pie
Chocolate Fudge Pie

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

Brownie a la Mode
Brownie a la Mode

Solid Chocolate Cell Phone
Solid Chocolate Cell Phone
No phone plan is needed here. Hold all my calls! This is going to take a while.

Happy Crafting!!

Who’s Behind The Mask?

Red Feathered MaskIt’s hard to believe the month of October is half over. Thoughts of my favorite time of year, Halloween, come to mind. I suppose I’m just a big kid at heart. Dressing up was so much fun. Deciding what to be for Halloween was a major accomplishment. Sometimes the costume was store bought (e.g. Snow White, Peter Pan), while other times we made our own (e.g. Gypsy, Witch).

Purple & Gold Mardi Gras Mask
Purple Gold MaskAll you really need is a great mask. Craft stores sell a variety of white masks to decorate any way you please. In terms of comfort, the quarter masks are an easy solution, as opposed to latex masks, sold in Halloween stores, which can be very hot to wear.

Red Sequined Mask and White Floral Mask
 Red & White MasksMasks can be decorated with a particular theme in mind or for holiday celebrations, such as Carnival, Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve, and the Chinese New Year. Each finished mask is a beautiful work of wearable art.

Turquoise & Gold Feathered Mask
Turquoise & Gold Feathered MaskI look at this mask and think of Aqua Man, the Marvel Comic’s super hero. It is also reminiscent of the Philadelphia Mummer’s Parade. The rich details and vibrant colors are real showstoppers.

Red, Black & Gold Long Nose Joker Mask
Red, Black & Gold Long Nose Joker MaskThis mask has a devilish quality about it. Practical jokes are sure to follow.

Black & Gold Opera/Theater Masks
Black & Gold Opera/Theater MasksMusical notes and gold braided trim adorn these fanciful masks.

Antiqued Cat Mask
Antiqued Cat MaskPerky ears and delicate patterns make this mask a favorite among cat lovers.

Blue & Gold Asian Mask
Blue & Gold Asian MaskA lovely combination of two arts – mask making and fan decorating.

Assorted Feathered & Bejeweled Masks
Assorted Feathered & Bejeweled MasksThis assortment of masks is ready to be worn in celebration or displayed as artwork and party decor.

Black & Gold and All White Feathered Masks
Black & Gold and All White Feathered MasksFeathered masks tend to be the most flamboyant.

Red & Black Harlequin Mask
Red & Black Harlequin MaskThe visual impact of this red, black and gold mask is enhanced with light catching glitter and thick gold trim. A few faux gemstones are the perfect finishing touch.

Ornate Venetian Masks
Ornate Venetian MasksMasks made to celebrate the Carnival of Venice are among the most elaborately decorated with lavish brocade fabrics, ribbons, crystals, intricately hand painted designs, and touches of gold or silver leaf. This centuries old technique has influenced artists world wide, and is highly valued among collectors.

For a more practical, down-to-earth approach, below are the instructions to complete your own decorated mask.

How To Make Your Own Mask
Your project starts with a visit to the craft store. The mask you choose will be the most important decision because it determines the range of decorating possibilities.

Plain White Quarter Mask – Ready for Decorating
Plain White Quarter Mask – Ready for DecoratingMost craft stores have several style options. Because this was a first attempt at decorating a mask, this simple white quarter mask was chosen.

Mask – Painted Blue and Outlined with Rhinestones
Mask - Painted Blue and Outlined with RhinestonesThe mask was spray-painted royal blue. Fabric stores have beaded and rhinestone trims perfect for mask decorating. The rhinestones twinkle in the light, calling attention to the wearer’s face with an emphasis on the eyes. As shown, the mask is ready to wear, but let’s take it to the next level.

Black Feathers on a Foam Backer
Black Feathers on a Foam BackerThis mask was made as a wall decoration, so the back will not be seen. (If you plan to wear your mask, simply glue the feathers directly onto the back of the mask, and line it with felt for comfort.) To make the wall art, trace the mask onto a sheet of black foam, which is used as mask liner to hold and support the feathers. The eyes and lower shape of the mask are cut out using an Exacto knife.

The Opposite Side of the Foam Backer
The Opposite Side of the Foam BackerThis photo shows the wrong side of the foam sheet used as a liner or backer board for the feathers. The bottom of the foam and eye openings line up perfectly with the blue mask, but the upper portion of the foam extends upward like a crown to support the feathers.

The Finished Black Feather Mask
The Finished Black Feather MaskLuxurious black feathers and sparkling rhinestones stand in sharp contrast to the rich royal blue on this completed mask.

Take a walk on the wild side. Dress up, stay in character, and most importantly have fun. Mask making isn’t just for kids. It’s for the child within all of us!

Happy Crafting!

Halloween Magic – How to Make a Bewitching Centerpiece

Witch Flying Across Full Moon
The movie Hocus Pocus is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, inspiring witch themed costumes and decorations. Whether you’re having a Halloween party or simply decorating for the fun of it, a centerpiece is a must for the coffee or dining tables. Below are step-by-step instructions and photos for building your own, one piece at a time.

Close Up: Witch Boots
The Inspiration – As with all creative projects, the first requirement is a source of inspiration. This pair of witch’s boots is sold at Michaels. Although smaller than expected, it still has a spooky vibe. The style varies slightly, but all are black with a silver spider painted on each side. Having a pair of boots is nice, however it’s one piece and can’t be separated. If you prefer a more humorous impression, many stores sell individual witch boots painted in bright, fanciful colors and patterns.

Witch Boots
Step 1. Witch’s Boots – Centered upon this coffee table, these boots look quite sparse, but we’ve only just begun.

Boots with Floral Stems & Owl
Step 2. Floral Stems & Owl – For color and texture, the key to this design is choosing strange looking plants in autumn, Halloween colors. Here we have added leafy vines with plush mini pumpkins, and orange lanterns. Bend the stems as needed to adjust the height. Crafter Tips: Do not cut the stems because you may need to adjust the height at the end when the arrangement is complete. (You may not need to cut them at all, simply conceal the bent stems inside the boots). The owl, made from twigs, was already mounted on a long stick for easy placement.

Boots & Pumpkin
Step 3. Jack-O-Lantern – Orange and black – the perfect color combo for Halloween. This resin pumpkin includes optional lighting. High contrast and a brilliant punch of color lend visual interest to this asymmetrical composition. Instead of a pumpkin, you could use a round platter or globe, resembling the full moon, or a light color witch’s broom to contrast with the dark boots.

Boots, Pumpkin & Owl
Step 4. Ceramic Owl – Contemporary details with an eerie presence make this owl a perfect addition by contributing color, light, and texture. Moss green and tan coordinate with the autumn vines and leaves. Feather-like half moon slits in the body of the owl allow light to pass through and the opportunity to insert mini lights inside with the battery pack underneath, wrapped in black fabric. Crafter Tip: Ensure the battery pack’s on/off switch remains accessible.

Witch's Potions Decanter
Step 5. Decanter – No witch-themed display would be complete without a few unknown potions brewed with magical spells. The clear glass decanter, with four separate chambers and claw-like stoppers, provides much needed height and color on the left end of the display. A little food coloring and water becomes a scary cocktail of witch’s potions. The green color was chosen to coordinate with the other green elements. Alternatives: You could create a grouping of different size bottles or apothecary jars with strange contents inside; or add a book of “spells” and candles to capture the spooky aura. Crafter Tip: Experiment with various objects and colors, being sure to balance the composition.

Rat & Snake
Step 6. Rat & Snake – Now we need a few creepy crawlers to stir up our primal fears. A rat on top of the pumpkin seems like a natural choice, and the snake has the added bonus of implying movement, as it appears to slither along the tabletop among the objects in the centerpiece. A trip to a Halloween or craft store is sure to have plenty of options, including spiders, worms, skeleton bones, and the like. A few spider webs might kick up the spooky factor another notch.

Orange Candle
Step 7 Orange Candle & Metal Candleholder – To add height and a pop of color on the left end of the centerpiece, add an orange candlestick in a dark metal candleholder. Although the base of the holder is plain, it provides an opportunity which we will take advantage of in the next step. The candle had been stuck in a box for years, which caused the wax to curve. This works great in a Halloween project, where crooked lines are more desirable than straight ones.

Orange & Black Spider
Step 8. Orange & Black Spider – I never thought I would say these words, but this spider is actually quite beautiful. The camera flash tends to wash out the brilliant colored stripes upon the spider’s body, which is covered in tiny orange and black glass beads. The large size and imposing ready-to-strike posture are just what this display needed.

Witch's Hat
Step 9. Witch’s Hat – The pumpkin’s toothy grin becomes the witch’s face by the simple addition of a classic black hat, which frames the pumpkin’s face, adds character, and ties all pieces together into a unified Halloween theme.

Illuminated Pumpkin & Owl
Step 10. Illumination – This is the finished centerpiece with optional lights turned on inside the owl and pumpkin. It’s spooky fun just like the movie, Hocus Pocus.

Designing a Halloween centerpiece is an enjoyable process for stretching your creative muscles. Start with one piece as an inspiration and decorative items you may already own. Find different ways to use existing items by looking at things in a whole new way with your theme in mind.

Happy Halloween and Happy Crafting!

Halloween Decorating Tips

Pumpkins by CandlelightOne of my favorite holidays is Halloween. It brings back such happy memories of dressing up as a child, and the excitement has continued as an adult. Apparently many people agree, because Halloween has become the second biggest holiday of the year. Decorating your home is a fun activity for the whole family. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

Halloween Wreath
Halloween WreathGreet your guests at the front door with a boldly decorated Halloween wreath. The humorous witch’s legs were the inspiration for the purple and black color scheme with accents of orange and white. The wire wreath frame was wrapped first with tissue paper to add bulk, and then fabric for color and texture. The witch’s legs came mounted on a dowel, which was secured to the frame. A metallic garland conceals the dowel and an owl was tied in the center using matching ribbon. The witch’s hat, ghosts, pumpkins, and spiders complete the design.

Spider Web Placemat
Spider Web Placemat

Pumpkin Placemat
Pumpkin PlacematSetting a Spooky Table – Whether you are having a Halloween party, or want to spice up your breakfast table, an inexpensive solution is layering placemats. Laser cutting technology has produced beautifully detailed, lace-like products with both style and durability. A Spider Web placemat (from Wegmans) was layered with a Metallic Finish Pumpkin placemat (from AC Moore) to create this lively place setting. The blue tablecloth peeks out from underneath like a midnight sky and creates great contrast to the orange and black. As alternatives, you could use a yellow tablecloth (think full moon) or green tablecloth (think forest).

Arachnophobia? No Problem with this tablecloth.
Spider Table CoverHalloween themed tablecloths can be difficult to find and pricey, especially for large dining room tables. There’s an easy alternative. Measure your table, and go to a fabric store, such as Jo Ann Crafts. It’s amazing to see some of the scary patterns that have been developed over the last several years. The semi-sheer fabric in the photo above is layered over a gold tablecloth I already had. If you prefer an opaque table cover, there are ghosts, skeletons and witches. Oh My! Some fabrics have entire haunted scenes emblazoned across the surface suitable for covering tables, or as wall hangings. There’s no need to hem the edges. It’s Halloween – a few ragged edges only adds to the haunted house vibe.

Inside Out Pumpkin
JackolanternGlowing Illusion Pumpkin – We are all accustomed to seeing the typical orange pumpkin with an interior that is either candlelit or dark & shadowy. That color scheme has been turned inside out by painting the outside black and the inside fluorescent orange. When placed near any light source (lamp, ceiling light, or sunlight), the result is a scary glowing pumpkin without the need for electricity or batteries. I can’t tell you how many times well-meaning co-workers have warned me about the company’s strict no candle burning policy, until they see for themselves that it’s completely empty. It’s easy to fool the eye with this illusion.

Pumpkins for All Seasons
Craft PumpkinCraft Pumpkins – If you have ever decorated your yard with live pumpkins, you probably lost a few, if not all, to squirrels, slugs or other hungry critters. Craft pumpkins look like the real thing, but are made of foam or resin, which is not on the menu for wildlife. These pumpkins are ready to display as is, or they can be carved or painted with exterior paint. Craft pumpkins are for indoor and outdoor use, inexpensive, will last years, and are nice for Thanksgiving too.

To the Bat Cave! (which in this case is a Chandelier)
Bats & OwlBats – A cluster of bats hanging over your table will surprise and delight party guests. The faux fur bodies are a simple tube shape with a slightly larger, rounded end and ears for the head. The owl in the center is from Pier 1, and the pumpkin garland is from AC Moore.

Bat Making Instructions:
Supplies:
Brown or black faux fur (from Jo Ann Crafts)
Shiny black fabric (for wings)
Fishing tackle
Sewing needle and black thread
Foam filler or batting
Cardboard (for pattern making)

Bat Wing & Body Patterns
Bat PatternsMake patterns for the body and wings as follows:
Draw a thick capital letter “T” on cardboard – vertically 6” x 2”; top of “T” is 4”x 1” thick.
Carefully cut it out. This will be the pattern for the bat’s body.
Draw a bat wing on cardboard, approximately 9”x4. Cut out wing. Now flip it over, trace onto cardboard, and cut it out for the other wing.

Finished Bat
Finished BatUsing the body pattern, cut out two pieces of faux fur for the front and back of each bat.
Sew the fur by hand, leaving the bottom open for filling later.
Trace each bat wing pattern onto shiny black fabric and cut out both wings.
Hand-sew the wings on either side of the body; fill it with foam or batting and stitch closed.
Remember bats hang upside down, so add fishing tackle on the bottom of each bat for hanging from a chandelier or wall sconce.

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Designing Beaded Jewelry

Beaded Jewelry in Fall Colors
Making beaded jewelry is a fun activity for the entire family. There’s an incredible selection of gemstone, glass, crystal, metal, and mixed media beads, which can be strung upon wire, leather cords, ribbons, or any other material of your choosing.

Strands of Gemstone Beads
Most beads are sold in strands, which are pre-strung on fishing tackle. You cannot keep the beads on this temporary strand because it is not durable for every day wear and tear, and will eventually break.

When working with beads, having a jewelry maker’s tray (like the one pictured below) is extremely beneficial for laying out your designs. The numbers along the perimeter are for measuring the length of bracelets and necklaces. The grooves in the tray are multi-purpose: enable experimentation with different beads; create a necklace and bracelet at the same time; design a multi-strand necklace. Compartments in the tray hold additional beads while you finalize your work.

Black Onyx & Carnelian Beads
Black Onyx & Carnelian Beads
Using the same beads produces two different looks by simply changing the pattern – both are in seasonal fall colors. The large, reddish orange, Carnelian nuggets have a raw but luxurious appeal, while the smooth, round, Black Onyx beads are cool and sophisticated.

Black Onyx, Carnelian & Silver-Plated Metal Beads
Black Onyx, Carnelian & Silver-Plated Metal Beads
The addition of precious metal beads provides rich texture, eye-catching contrast, and the all-important sparkle.

Rain Forest Jasper & Mother of Pearl Beads
Rain Forest Jasper & Mother of Pearl Beads
These two photos demonstrate the effects of using shape and color to create necklaces with very different styles. On the left, a pear-shaped, Rain Forest Jasper pendant takes center stage with Rain Forest Jasper and Natural Mother of Pearl beads. The result is a fancy necklace with warm rich earth tones, suitable for a night out on the town. On the right, Aventurine alternates with dazzling, White Mother of Pearl beads in a soft palette and casual style for everyday wear.

Rain Forest Jasper, Mother of Pearl, and Gold-Plated Metal Beads
Rain Forest Jasper, Mother of Pearl, and Gold-Plated Metal Beads
The same beads are shown here with the addition of gold-plated, round spacer beads on the left, and gold-plated, filigree bead caps on the right.

When you are satisfied with your design, the beads can be strung one at a time onto wire. Be sure to place a piece of scotch tape on the end of the wire before you start stringing your beads. Once you’re satisfied, the clasp can be attached. There are many videos available to show you how to attach each of the different types of clasps.

Here are a few photos to get your creative ideas flowing:

Necklace – Lampwork Glass Frog & Glass Beads on a Cord
Necklace – Lampwork Glass Frog & Glass Beads on a Cord
This striped glass frog is a fanciful addition to any wardrobe. Cords are easy work with and comfortable to wear. All it takes are a few beads and a focal point to complete this piece of jewelry. You could also use a pendant you already own. Cords can be made of leather, rubber, or woven fibers.

Necklace – Large-Hole Resin Beads on Ribbon
Necklace - Large-Hole Resin Beads on Ribbon
Stringing large-hole beads on ribbon is an easy way for beginners to learn about jewelry making. Children and those struggling with arthritis or any other dexterity issues can easily handle these over-sized beads. Stringing on ribbon or a cord can be done quickly and beads can be interchanged until the desired look is achieved. Best of all, there are no special skills or tools required.

Large-Hole Glass Beads
Large-Hole Glass Beads
Large-hole beads are for use on cords, ribbons, thick chains and wire. Crafter Tip: With these beads, you can achieve the same fashionable look as seen in Pandora stores, but at a fraction of the price. The best selection is available at Fire Mountain Gems.

Bracelet -Large-Hole Glass Beads and Metal Beads on wire
Bracelet -Large-Hole Glass Beads and Metal Beads on wire
Stringing beads upon wire is easy to do, but requires the special jewelry making tools to attach the clasp. Bead stores will typically offer shoppers the chance to select beads, and string your own necklace or bracelet. A staff member will then attach the clasp, or can give you instructions to do it yourself using their tools. These stores periodically have classes, and offer private jewelry making parties for your family and friends.

Earring & Bracelet – Crystal & Glass Seed Beads
Earring & Bracelet - Crystal & Glass Seed Beads
When you think of crystal jewelry, the name that most likely tops your list is Swarovski. The rich, colors and light reflecting facets of crystal have been featured in memorable jewelry designs ready to wear anywhere from the super market to the high fashion runway.

Necklace – Glass & Metal Beads
Necklace - Glass & Metal Beads
Glass blowers create beads one at a time, and each one is a unique masterpiece. All the colors of the rainbow and a few Mother Nature never considered can be found in glass. Solid colors, striated, and two tone beads are but a mere few of the possibilities with matte or high-gloss finishes. Glass pendants make interesting focal points, while tiny glass seed beads can be woven into intricate spiral patterns in necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Bracelets – Gemstones, Metal Beads, & Bells on cords
Bracelets – Gemstones, Metal Beads, & Bells on cords
There’s a bracelet style to match every person’s fashion needs – cords, cuffs, stretch, charm, bangles, and many more. Genuine gemstone beads are available in an amazing array of colors and sizes. Beads can be purchased from craft stores, beaded jewelry stores, bead trade shows, and from online retailers, such as Fire Mountain Gems. Because genuine gemstones come from the earth, the colors and patterns will vary. If you are planning to make a bracelet and matching necklace or earrings, make sure you have enough beads to complete the set. Each finished piece of jewelry will be as unique and individual as you are.

Jewelry making is an exciting and rewarding craft. Enjoy the process. Learn from mistakes. Experiment as you follow your inspiration to create the perfect design to express your personality and style.

Happy Crafting!

Designing with Mosaic Tile

Multicolor Tile Wall
They say “Good things come in small packages,” and mosaic tiles are perfect examples. So many options and so little time – Deciding where to begin is the biggest challenge. Mosaics are so versatile for use in every day items, such as tabletops, picture frames, flooring, and artwork. The process is fairly straightforward, and no specialized skills are required. Below are a few ideas for inspiration:

Choose Your Design:

Geometric Mosaic
Geometric Mosaic

Abstract Mosaic Floor
Multi Color Floor

Choose Your Mosaic Material & Colors:

Ceramic Mosaic Salamander
Mosaic Lizard

River Rock Mosaic
River Rock
Many types of mosaic tiles are available in pre-cut sheets to make installation a breeze.

Glass Mosaic Tray
Glass Mosaic Tray
Crafter Tips: To cut costs, some manufacturers make clear glass tiles with solid color or patterned foil backings. The savings are passed onto the consumer – the beauty of vibrantly colored glass without the expense. When using transparent glass tiles, be sure to use white mortar to avoid an unwanted color change.  Coordinate grout color with design.

Apply Mortar Over Strong Substrate:
Wood or any clean smooth surface will do. Using your design as a guide, press the mosaic tiles firmly into the mortar and allow drying time. If required, apply a sealant per manufacturer’s instructions. Crafter Tip: You might want to wear disposable gloves while working with mortar. A friend had gray hands and fingernails for weeks after completing a project. The mortar itself washed off, but the pigments had real staying power.

Blue Glass Mosaic Table
Glass Mosaic Table

Tropical Glass Mosaic Table
Glass Mosaic Table

Apply Grout:

Glass & Beaded Mosaic
Glass Mosaic Geometric
Crafter Tip: The color of your grout will affect the color of the mosaics. Consider your color scheme carefully before choosing the grout.

Challenge Yourself:

Complex Geometric
Geometric Fans

Floral Mosaic Mural
Mosaic Roses

Mosaic Water Fountain
Water Fountain

Mosaic Sun
Sun

Cinderella & Her Fairy Godmother
Cinderellas Castle

Mosaic Horse
Horse Mirror Tiles
World-renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly, designed this beautiful mirror tiled statue. Thousands of mosaic tiles follow the muscular contours of the horse’s body, complicating an already challenging project, with stunning results.

Happy Crafting!

The Beauty of Woodcrafting

Painted Wood Hearts
Woodcrafts are a fun and inexpensive way to express your creativity. From birdhouses to toys and home décor, there’s something for everyone and these projects are great activities to do with the kids. With a few craft supplies and a little inspiration, you’ll be ready to create your next masterpiece. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Blue Floral Birdhouse
Blue Birdhouse
Birdhouses are very popular, easy to complete woodcrafts. A quick coat of paint and a few freehand leaves and flowers were all that was needed to complete this project. A realistic looking feathered bird perched in front of the entrance would be a cute addition to this indoor decoration. Crafter Tip: For outdoor use, choose a birdhouse with an access door for easy cleaning.

Accessorizing A Gingerbread Birdhouse
Gingerbread Birdhouse
This artist took woodcrafting to the next level by layering multiple wood decorations, upon a simple birdhouse frame, including a gingerbread man, festive white picket fence, signage, and a miniature birdhouse hanging from the roof. Enhancing a ready-made item adds personality, and unique design flare. Crafter Tip: It is helpful to keep sandpaper on hand. Most woodcrafts are ready to be painted or stained, but sometimes rough edges need a little attention before additional finishes can be applied.

Purple & White Heart Wall Hanging
Purple & White Heart
Hearts are a favorite décor item. Instead of using the usual red or pink color scheme, this crafter chose a pretty purple and black floral scrapbooking paper with a touch of lace. Although they can’t be seen in this photo, be sure to paint the edges to match the background color prior to attaching the paper. Crafter Tip: As a more romantic alternative, the edges could be wrapped with coordinating ribbon or lace.

Toy Train
Toy Train
If you are looking for an absolutely effortless craft store project, you could purchase a few train cars, set it up at home and call it done. Natural wood grain is beautiful just the way it is. There’s really no need to do any painting, but if you feel you want to add just a little color, stickers from the scrapbooking department will work just fine. Crafter Tip: Or let your kids handle it and everyone wins.

Jeweled Box
Jeweled Box
To create this jeweled box, start by painting the exterior iridescent purple, which will peek through the beads. Apply large mirrored pieces first and establish mid-size purple beaded borders. Fill in the remainder with tiny seed beads. The inside could be lined with velvet or satin fabric. Crafter Tips: Use full strands of beads for borders to make the gluing process easier, and ensure they are glued firmly in place at the edges of the lid because they may loosen over time with wear and tear.

Wall Clock
Wall Clock
After staining this wall clock, a floral and checkerboard scrapbooking paper was applied along with self-stick black numbers. Craft stores carry kits, which include clock hands and the battery operated mechanism for the back. The unfinished clocks in several shapes and sizes are sold separately.

Floral Wall Art
Floral Letters Wall Art
Letters have become popular wall art. Simply use your initials, or any words you like. In this photo, silk flower petals were glued on the top and sides of each letter. It’s super easy to do and ready to hang up. Crafter Tip: As alternatives, you could use mini pom poms, glass marbles, or self-stick gemstones.

Decorated “Home” Wall Art
Decorated “Home” Wall Art
A distressed paint finish in four different colors, a few sprigs of silk foliage, and a butterfly create a casual, welcoming message. Hanging an antique key enhances the warm feelings associated with “Home.” Crafter Tip: To achieve this distressed look, allow the paint to dry, and then use sand paper to “age” the letters.

Wooden Serving Tray
Wooden Serving Tray
A plain wooden serving tray was spruced up with some spray paint, and lined with a bamboo placemat. If necessary, trim the bamboo to fit. The dark gray paint, which peeks through the wood slats, contrasts nicely with the light color bamboo. Crafter Tip: Pier 1 has a large variety of unusual placemats, which can be used for many crafting projects.

Happy Crafting!

Crafter of the Month – June 2018

Crafter of the Month
Our June Crafter of the Month is Sally, from Cherry Hill, NJ. Her eclectic mix of interests revolves around two lifelong passions: gardening and animals. Tending her flower garden and feeding local wildlife requires daily attention. Sally takes the same approach with her crafting, as she lovingly nurtures each project to completion. Below is a small sampling of her work.

Ceramic Pumpkins
Ceramic Pumpkins
Ceramics
One of the best things about autumn is the availability of pumpkins. This cute pair of ceramic pumpkins looks beautiful in any season. The orange paint was applied following the contours of the outer shells. Darker ridges add depth and dimension. The interiors have been painted yellow with an additional clear glaze to make them food safe. Crafter Tip: The pumpkin stems were coated with a specialty paint, which blends green and brown colors together during the firing process. No two are exactly alike and it produces a more realistic appearance.

Valley Forge Memorial Arch
Vally Forge Arch
Photography
This beautiful arch, located in Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania, is a memorial to General George Washington and the Continental Army. Taking this photo at an angle adds visual interest, and beautifully showcases the carved stonework and massive structure of this architectural icon. The cool, light gray stone sharply contrasts with the robin’s egg blue sky.

Amethyst & Fluorite Necklace
Amethyst & Fluorite Necklace
Beaded Jewelry
Ever since the first precious gems were discovered, people have crafted jewelry to showcase their finds. Wearing beautiful gemstones against your skin is such a luxurious, decadent experience. This faceted, deep purple amethyst necklace has a carved fluorite center stone and sterling silver accents. Crafter Tips: Genuine gemstone beads are available in many varieties, shapes, and colors at a fraction of the cost of cut gemstones. Be sure to purchase gemstones from reputable sources, such as Fire Mountain Gems.

Christmas Boots Ornaments
Christmas Boots Ornaments
DIY Kits
If you haven’t visited a craft store recently, you’ll be amazed at the selection of DIY kits to make anything from stepping stones and suncatchers to pillows and toys. This is a great opportunity to do a creative project with the convenience of having all the necessary supplies in one box, and the simplicity of easy to follow instructions for adults and kids of all ages. This Christmas ornament kit included all the sequins, straight pins, and ribbons needed to make two boots. Crafter Tip: Before selecting a project to make with your kids, be sure to check the recommended ages – kits often include small parts and pieces.

Jaguar Needlepoint
Jaguar Needlepoint
Needlepoint
The gaze of this predator meets the viewer eye to eye. Large paws hint at superior physical strength and agility. In the blink of an eye, he could disappear into the jungle, blending perfectly among the foliage with his spotted fur coat. Intricate details in this needlepoint were created using a single style stitch, which relies upon color, light and shadow to define the subject. The dark stained, distressed wood frame coordinates perfectly with the abstract jungle foliage. Crafter Tip: For best results, needlepoint should be professionally blocked and framed.

Footprints Matted Photo
Footprints Matted Photo
Semi-Custom Picture Framing
During childhood, some of our best friends are pets. Through every adventure, real or imagined, your faithful companion is always at your side. This adorable photo has a very special customized two-tone double matt. The artist traced her dog’s foot and then transferred it onto the tan matt board. Each print was cut out using an Exacto knife, revealing the dark brown layer beneath, creating the footprint pattern. Crafter Tip: For maximum impact, use two high-contrast matt board colors.

Happy Crafting!