Hidden Messages – How Businesses Use Color

Believe it or not, color influences our behavior, actions and expectations. Businesses use this knowledge to gain customers, build trust and brand recognition, and increase their profitability. Sometimes it is quite obvious and others are more subliminal. There’s a delicate balance in creating a memorable impression to play upon our emotions or inspire particular thoughts and actions. Let’s look at some examples of how color is being used on a daily basis.


But first, let’s play a game! Can you name each of the companies associated with the four photos above? Your subconscious mind has been trained to recognize brands. Many are instantly known by a particular color combination . Did you guess them all correctly? Read on to find the answers.

Day Spa
Day spas offer renewal and relaxation by reconnecting with Nature through pampering treatments set in rooms with earth tones, blues, greens and purples to soothe away the stresses of everyday life. The sweet floral scent of lavender is known to promote restful sleep and has an instant calming affect simply by smelling the fragrance.

Laboratory
The laboratory interiors are typically white to give the impression of cleanliness and purity even though we know there are millions of microscopic germs. Antibacterial wipe, anyone?

Bank Vault
There was a time when banks were red brick buildings, symbolic of strength, wealth, and confidence to weather any storm. Today bank’s branding colors include red (a power color and a nod to bricks of past), and green (the color of money and abundance.) Regardless of the colors your bank uses, the message is the same: “Your money is safe with us.”

Tiffany Jewelers
Tiffany & Co. is easily recognizable by its robin’s egg blue packaging, store displays, and interior accents. Many people refer to this color as “Tiffany Blue.” Because it is rather rare in nature, the color suggests bold but delicate designs in timeless jewelry to be treasured for a lifetime.

Leopard at Sunset
The jewelry designer, Cartier, often uses leopard print and their signature red packaging in their advertising, but as you can see from the photo, Mother Nature is the originator of this color, pattern and texture combo. It’s wild, exotic, and luxurious.

Na Hoku
Na Hoku, a Hawaiian jeweler, entices shoppers with a deep blue storefront dotted with shiny silver sparkles, and pairs of lit torches on either side of the entrance, which calls to mind warm tropical evenings under a star-filled sky. Inside, palm tree murals further that beachy vibe, while jewelry designs celebrate the beauty of this paradise found.

Tommy Bahama
Another name synonymous with the tropics is Tommy Bahama. Their merchandise and stores exude island charm with natural wood plantation shutters, vibrant floral decor, and exotic prints on everything from clothing to umbrellas and beach chairs. Sometimes the stores feature musicians playing guitars or steel drums to foster a playful, party atmosphere inviting everyone to come on in, stay a while, and take a piece if the tropics home with you today.


You would think that limiting yourself to a palette of pastel colors would restrict your options for creating new products and drawing new customers. Lilly Pulitzer has successfully accomplished this and is one of the most easily recognized brands in the world.

L'Occitane
The French company, L’Occitane, stands out among a sea of retailers because of its signature golden yellow color on its products, storefront and interior. Competition is fierce so it pays to draw attention with a bold presence. Back it up with fine quality and service, and you will have customers for life.

Coffee Shop
The warm, rich, layered flavors of coffee are echoed in the earth tones, wood grain and brick textures in this popular coffee shop. This down to earth atmosphere invites you to kick back and stay a while, as you enjoy a few cups of your favorite beverage and maybe a scrumptious, fresh-baked muffin too.

Fresh Produce
The green walls and brown display case suggest nature. The signage reassures shoppers it’s fresh and organic. The light purple labels and packaging are appealing against the reds, oranges and greens found in fresh produce. The better it looks, the more you’ll want to buy.

Refrigerated Foods
Food packaging depicts professionally prepared and photographed dishes to tempt you. The actual product may look nothing like it, but manufacturers pay consultants hefty fees to select the perfect colors for their products as well as the packaging. Supermarkets invest fortunes in colorful displays to entice shoppers to buy more.

Time Square
Time Square – Billboards, storefronts, and signage all vie for your attention in a very competitive world. Where will you spend your shopping dollars – probably at the shops with the most inventive storefronts and/or branding? Those advertising campaigns stick with you, and your brain is all too happy to supply you with purchasing options.

French Restaurant
You’re seated at a table in a fine restaurant sipping wine in an elegantly appointed room with red walls. Why? Studies show the color red stimulates the appetite, which results in consuming more food and drinks and more profits for the restaurant. Restaurant ambiance is created by combining many elements – light level, color scheme, lamp type, china color and pattern, linens, upholstery, etc. Nothing is by accident – it’s tailored to make you spend more.

Fast Food McDonalds
McDonalds enlists the help of the color red to encourage eating more, but it’s combined with yellow so don’t get too comfy. Hard seats and dense table arrangements ensure guests will make this a short stay. The subliminal message: Eat fast and go!

Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory – What will you do to pass the time while you wait for a table? You’re hungry. You could take a look at the menu, but most customers peruse the Takeout Desserts counter, which is filled with the most tempting cheesecakes and sweets. The rich chocolate browns and caramel colors, in the interior as well as the foods, entice your taste buds. You’re not walking out of here without buying dessert.

Eddie Bauer
What could be more outdoors than forest green accents, river rocks, and lots of natural wood trim? Eddie Bauer immerses customers in the great outdoors long before their adventures begin.

Take a look at your office, the local super market, and the stores you frequent. What kind of atmosphere are the colors and textures creating? How do they make you feel? If you could make one change, what would it be? Hopefully this has given you some food for thought. If you have any ideas to share, please note them in the comments section. Until next time…

Happy Crafting!

Gemstone Healing Traditions

Gemstones
Gemstones have been admired throughout history. They have been worn for their beauty, carried for protection, and ground into powder for use as pigments in makeup, dyes, and paints. Gemstones have been used for healing since ancient times. Below is a list of gemstones and their associated healing properties, followed by a list of Birthstones, Zodiac signs, and the Feng Shui Bagua with corresponding gemstones.

Gemstone Healing Properties
Agate – strong healing, good fortune, balances body mind & spirit, calming, nature

Amazonite
Amazonite – calming, improves sleep, intuition, creativity

Amber
Amber – success, decision-making, achievement

Amethyst – calming, protection, restful sleep, self-confidence, intuition, meditation
Apatite – intuition, meditation, energy
Aquamarine – balances body mind & spirit, nature, water, calming, purifies body

Aventurine
Aventurine – balance, optimism, relaxation, purifies mind, nature

Azurite & Malachite – stress relief, intuition, creativity, heaven & earth, energy
Bloodstone – healing, energizes, purifies, strengthens heart
Calcite – mind, body, & spirit, nature, energy, harmony, healing

Carnelian
Carnelian – creativity, energy, protection

Chrysocolla – balance, stress reduction, intuition, calming, heaven & earth

Citrine
Citrine – abundance, confidence, hope, energy

Diamond – abundance, clarity, fidelity, deflects negativity
Emerald – dreams, healing, balance, protection traveling, prosperity

Fluorite
Fluorite – healing, concentration, grounding

Garnet – passion, remove negativity, hope, purifies
Jade – prosperity, dreams, healing

Picture Jasper
Jasper – balance, healing, attaining goals, nature, nurturing, relieves stress

Kyanite – optimism, healing, creativity, loyalty

Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli – intuition, balance, inspiration, protection, creativity

Malachite – healing, abundance, relationships, dreams, reduces stress
Moonstone – fortune, protection for traveling, compassion, female power

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl – female power, nurturing, motherhood

Nephrite – creativity, protection, attain goals, dreams
Onyx – intuition, dreams, protection, achievement, endurance
Opal – balance, harmony, spirituality

Pearls
Pearl – female power, truth, heaven
Peridot – prosperity, harmony, relationships, intuition

Clear Quartz
Quartz – spirituality, harmony, creativity, prosperity

Ruby – love, self-awareness, renewal, spirituality
Sapphire – clarity, intuition, protection, soul mate love, fidelity, meditation

Snowflake Obsidian
Snowflake Obsidian – balance, concentration, repels negativity

Sodalite – delegation, intuition, creativity, calming, protection
Sugilite – calming, healing, reduces stress, spirituality

Tigerseye
Tiger’s Eye – confidence, healing, concentration, grounding

Topaz – creativity, self-expression, spirituality, renewal
Tourmaline – healing, spirituality, energy, renewal, protection

Turquoise
Turquoise – protection for traveling, strengthens, verbal communication

Unakite – feminine, abundance, harmony

Birthstones
Birthstones

Signs of the Zodiac
Zodiac

Feng Shui Bagua with Gemstones
Bagua

Mother Nature has produced a remarkable collection of gemstones. Cultures around the world have created and shared their gemstones traditions throughout the ages, and will continue to do so in the future. Each stone has a unique story. When choosing a gemstone, hold it in your hand and ask yourself: How does this gemstone make me feel? If your answer is “empowered,” “inspired,” and “amazing” – you have found the perfect match. Wear it in good health!

Happy Crafting!

A Change of Seasons – Autumn Wreaths

Colorful Leaves
It’s hard to believe the summer is almost over. Where did the time go? We pack away our beach toys and the kids go back to school. Autumn’s arrival signals the coming changes in nature. It’s time to change your décor and update your home with a few of your own handmade creations. Below are a few photos to inspire your next fall wreath project:

Fall Leaves Wreath
Silk leaves can be easily arranged from lightest to darkest. This decoration can be hung upon a door or used as a centerpiece on your dining table. Additional leaves can be sprinkled upon the table to enhance the autumn ambiance.

Berries & Peppers Wreath
Orange peppers and berries bring bursts of color to this lush green leaf wreath. In cooler climates, genuine fruits and veggies will last from several days to several weeks depending upon the type. Warm locations will require the use of faux produce, which will last for years to come.

Wreath with Heart
A straw or grapevine ring serves as a base for this festive wreath made from dried grasses and berries. Raffia ribbon and a simple wooden heart and nautilus seashell complete the look.

Wreath Pinecones
If you happen to have pine trees on your property, collect the pinecones to make this lovely wreath, with the addition of seedpods, and faux cherries and berries for pops of color.

Wreath Ribbon
This is a great beginner’s wreath and it’s easy to change for every season. Simply wrap a straw wreath with overlapping ribbon. The large bow also serves as a hanger.

Wreath Twigs
Whether you live near the beach or near a forest, driftwood or twigs are available in abundance. A little Spanish moss finishes this decoration in a style suitable for Mother Nature herself.

Wreath Wheat Flowers
This wreath is all about the abundant harvest, made with dried grasses, wheat, and a few silk flowers. If you have a wheat allergy, substitute corncobs or dried flowers.

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

Floral Veggie Wreath
Hydrangeas, berries, and dried fruit adorn an English ivy wreath. As Thanksgiving approaches, replace purple and blue flowers with more seasonal reds and oranges.

Wreath Whimsical
While you are gathering your wreath making supplies, consider including something unexpected, such as this mushroom.

Hedgehog Wreath
How about this adorable little hedgehog? You could also use a squirrel, a baby fox or fawn, or any little woodland creature you can find at craft stores or online. In a place of honor, centered upon your front door, it’s sure to make your guests smile.

So many fall decorations can be made with found objects, such as pinecones, acorns, leaves, etc. It’s a nice time of year to take a walk and admire Nature’s changing colors. While you are enjoying the fresh air, why not get the whole family together to collect a few twigs or ornamental leaves along the way? Time spent with family is a precious gift, and the crafts you make will remind you of these shared adventures.

Happy Crafting!

Creative Stress Relief

Computer Stress
With such fast-paced lives, we all need a break from our daily stresses. These demands have physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effects. The best solution is a vacation, but that may not be possible. Instead, indulge in a hobby or two to take your mind and body to a happy place. Every day you do things for everyone else. It’s time to put yourself first! You’ll be so glad you did, and you’ll have a lot of fun while doing it. Here are a few crafting ideas to get you started:

Painting: – watercolor, oil, acrylic, pouring
Watercolor
Watercolor Painting

Drawing: – pencil, charcoal, crayons, colored pencils, chalk, markers, pens
Sketching with Pens and Markers
Drawing

Pottery & Ceramics: – figurines, serving pieces, vases, jars, ornaments
Pottery
Pottery

Ceramics
Ceramics

Paper Crafts: – scrapbooking, card making, origami, quilling
Papercrafts

Jewelry & Watches: – beaded, woven, wire
Beaded Jewelry
Jewelry Making

Flower Arranging: – fresh or artificial, wreaths, centerpieces, bouquets
Fresh-Cut Floral Bouquet
Flower Arranging

Mosaics: – glass, stone, ceramic, seashells
Ceramic Mosaics
Mosaics

Candle Making: – votives, pillars, tea lights, candle holders
Votive Candles & Glass Candleholders
Candle Making

Feather Art: – wall art, jewelry
Feather Art Garlands
Feather Art

Glass Art: – jewelry, home accessories, artwork, light fixtures, windows
Stained Glass – windows, suncatchers, jewelry, gifts
Stained Glass

Lampwork Glass Earrings & Beads
Glass Frogs

Sculpture: – clay, wood, stone, sand
Sand Sculpture
Sand Castle

Wood Sculpture
Wood Carving

Photography: – landscapes, seascapes, portraits, still-life
Photography

Baking & Candy Making:
Cupcakes with Fondant Decorations
Decorated Cupcakes

Solid Milk Chocolates
Chocolates

Wood Crafts: – painting, wood burning, carving, furniture design
Hand-Carved & Painted Wood Duck
Wood Duck

Yarn Crafts: – knitting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, sewing, quilting, embroidery, crocheting
Quilting
Quilting

Crocheting
Crocheting

Hand Hooked Rugs
Handmade Rug

There are so many crafting options. Many craft stores, local high schools and art studios offer classes in arts and crafts. Try something new, make new friends, and experience a renewed sense of joy and playful excitement.

Happy Crafting!

Mother of Pearl – A Gift from the Sea

Mollusk
Mother of Pearl comes from mollusks, and is naturally a blend of tan, cream and white, with an iridescent finish. It can be bleached white, or dyed and color of the rainbow. Mother of Pearl beads come in an amazing range of shapes and sizes, while the thicker pieces are carved into cameos and pins, or cut into squares as mosaic tiles. Let’s turn a few round beads into a lovely pair of earrings.

How to Make Natural Mother of Pearl Cluster Earrings
Mother of Pearl Earrings

These 1-1/2” long Natural Mother of Pearl earrings swing and shift with your movements, and they’re a neutral color, which coordinates with whatever you’re wearing. In this design, five beads orbit around a dangling two bead central core. These earrings are a little challenging in Step 6. At times you may feel like you have fumble fingers. If you are looking for an easy pair of earring for beginners, please click here.

Required Beads & Findings:
MoP Earring Supplies

Supplies:
To make this pair of earrings you will need:
12) Silver plated Head Pins – 1” length,
14) 7-7.5mm round Natural Mother of Pearl beads,
2) Silver plated Surgical Steel Fishhook Earwires with ball & coil

(Please note: Head pins are the foundation of these earrings. They are inexpensive and come in big packages. Be sure to have several on hand just in case. Craft stores carry jewelry making supplies, including beads, accents, and tools. If you get hooked on jewelry making and yearn for the ultimate selections, look no further than FireMountainGems.com)

Required Jewelry Making Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers – the smooth, round tips on these pliers make it easy and safe to manipulate wire, pins, and small jewelry metal pieces known as findings. Please don’t use standard pliers, which have teeth that will damage delicate precious metals.

Jewelry Wire Cutters
Jewelry Wire Cutters – a sharp pair of wire cutters makes jewelry making so much easier. Do not use them for other crafts, such as floral arranging, which can damage the blades.

Earring Making Instructions:
Beads on Head Pins
Step 1: Slide the beads onto head pins as shown.

Grasp Head Pin with Pliers
Step 2: With the round nose pliers in your right hand, grip the wire just above the Mother of Pearl bead. Hold the pliers in this position for the next step.

Bend Head Pin
Step 3: Grasp the end of the head pin with your left thumb and index finger, and bend the wire toward you. Continue bending the pin over the tip of the pliers until it touches the Mother of Pearl bead.

Beads with Partial Loops
The reshaped pins will look like the photo above.

Cut Excess Pin Length
Step 4: Cut off the excess wire. Leave enough wire to form a small loop above the bead. This may take a few tries. Don’t worry if you cut it too short. Simply use a new head pin and repeat the steps.

Beads with Trimmed Pins
This photo shows the beads with trimmed pins.

Attach Earwire
Step 5: Hook the double bead pin onto the loop on the bottom of the fishhook earwire, and close the loop using the round nose pliers.

Core Beads Attached
The earring will look like the above photo.

Close the Loop
Step 6: Attach the first “satellite” bead to the earwire in the same way.

First Bead Attached
The earring now has a center core and one satellite bead. Repeat this step for the remaining four beads. If you have trouble getting the beads to lay correctly, remove the dangling two bead central core. Shift the five satellite beads with your fingers until they form a circle around the earwire, and then reattach the two bead central core.

Finished Earrings
Congratulations! You have successfully made a pair of Mother of Pearl cluster earrings.

Black Onyx Version
Here’s the same pair of earring made with Black Onyx beads. Note how the color dramatically changes the look. You could also experiment with different gemstones, glass or wood beads.

Jewelry making is a great way to explore your creativity. There are so many options available that it’s hard to choose. After making several items for yourself, keep in mind that people love receiving jewelry as gifts.

Good Luck & Happy Crafting!

Walk on the Wild Side

Triceratops
Whose turn is it to walk the dog – I mean dinosaur? Something tells me that 25-foot leash will not be long enough! Dinosaurs are real fan favorites. You can’t get much wilder than that. And what’s not to love?

Dinosaur Eggs
A Dinosaur Nursery – They’re kind of cute at this stage.

Dinosaur
Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood they seem to lose their charm! (lol)

Dinosaur Skeleton
Even when they’re dead, they instill an odd mixture of fear and fascination. Movie Director Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs back to life on the big screen in the epic movie, Jurassic Park – an emotional roller coaster, that started with awe and wonder, but quickly escalated to bone chilling terror.

 Stegosaurus
We love dinosaurs anyway. Want proof? Look at all the books, movies, television shows, and merchandise. At some point, every kid draws and colors his or her favorite dinosaur. Here’s your chance to feel like a kid again. Grab some paints and brushes and let’s go!

How to Paint a Wooden Stegosaurus
With a little paint you can design your own dinosaur. It can be as simple as a single coat of paint, or as detailed as you like. First we need a little inspiration.
Iguana
Iguana Closeup
Since dinosaurs lived sixty-five million years ago, there’s no one around to tell us exactly what they looked like. For this project, photos of creatures living today, such as iguanas and lizards, can be inspirational. Check out those spines!

Raw Wood Dinosaur
This carved wood stegosaurus, available at AC Moore, has sturdy legs, making it a freestanding, three-dimensional piece. Both sides and all the edges will need to be painted. Due to the raw nature of wood, it may require sanding, especially along the edges. (There are several types of animals in this carved wood collection. To see a painted flamingo project, please click here.)

Paints
Supplies:
Wooden Stegosaurus (4-1/4” high x 7-1/4” wide x 1-1/4” thick)
Acrylic Paints – black, brown & metallic green
1) Bottle fabric paint – brown
Paintbrushes
Sandpaper

Dinosaur Painted Green
Step 1 – Paint the dinosaur with green acrylic paint, including both sides and all edges. The great thing about paint is that it’s cheap. Feel free to experiment. If you don’t like the results, it can be easily changed.

Dinosaur Tail Detail
Seeing it in color revealed a major anatomical mistake in the tail design. If you loved dinosaurs as a kid, you’ll remember that the stegosaurus has spikes on the top of its tail. The artist chose to curl the tail underneath, and as a result, mistakenly placed the spikes on the underside of the tail. This poor animal would have trouble walking because the spikes would continually get caught on the ground as it moved through the forest, making it easy prey.

Dinosaur with Cut Tail
Step 2 – To make it right, cut off the tip of the tail as shown.

Dinosaur Painted Black
Step 3 – Turn the cut tail piece around, and glue it in place. Paint the entire figure black as a base coat, which will help delineate the scales added in a later step. Looks much better doesn’t it?

Dinosaur with Fabric Paint
Step 4 – Paint the top of the head, the back plates, and the tail with brown fabric paint. Paint the sides of each plate with green fabric paint and add spikes along the sides of the tail.  Brown acrylic paint was applied with a brush in between the back plates, because it was too narrow to fit the tube of fabric paint.

Dinosaur Scale Pattern
Step 5 – Add brown fabric paint on top of each leg and more spikes along the entire length of body. Create a scale pattern on the body using metallic green paint, and use the same color in the sides of the plates on his back.

Finished Dinosaur
Step 6 – Add a small dotted pattern to each leg. Paint the head brown, and add a few green scales along with the eyes. Congratulations! You now have your very own pet dinosaur. Fortunately for you, he’s a “Veggiesaurus,” unlike the one in the next photo.

Dinosaur Jaws
What a view, right? Thank goodness this is only an observation tower! Because if it was real… It would be the last thing you ever saw.

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 a few minor adjustments. The faded horizontal stripes needed a fresh coat of paint, and the middle stripe was changed to orange. The opposite side of the sail was unfinished, so the stripes and shells were duplicated on the back. A cute little blue bird was glued to the 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!”

Happy Crafting!

The Beauty of Yarn Crafts

Yarn Skeins
Yarn has come a long way over the years, from single color wool skeins to multicolored, textured fibers, made from manmade and natural sources, suitable for clothing, home décor and accessories. Let’s look at a few of the types of crafts made with yarn.

Knitting:
Knitting
Very little is required for any knitting project. All you need is some yarn, two knitting needles, and a pair of scissors, which easily fits into a small tote bag, making this one of the most portable crafts. Knitted clothing and accessories are the most popular items.

Knitted Wool Scarf
Knitted scarves provide a cheerful pop of color to help dispel the dismal winter grays.  They’re easy to make and are great gifts too.

Needlepoint:
Needlepoint Gazebo
If you are unfamiliar with needlepoint, it consists of a variety of stitches applied by hand using a needle and yarn through a canvas, which is preprinted with an attractive design. The kit instructions include the color and stitch type to be used for each part of the pattern, and a full color photo of the finished project. Every style of needlepoint stitch is represented in the gazebo shown above.

Needlepoint Leopard
This leopard needlepoint presents the challenge to create a three-dimensional figure and a complex pattern in the animal’s fur. Gaze upon his face and you’ll realize his eyes are looking right back at you.

Needlepoint Rabbit Pillow
Needlepoint is not limited to square and rectilinear shapes. This adorable rabbit pillow has coordinating blue piping along the edges and light blue velvet fabric on the back.

Crocheting:
Crocheted Afghan
Having an extra blanket around is always handy, especially for an afternoon nap. An afghan is easy to make, and gives you a great sense of accomplishment every time you or a family member uses it.

Crocheted Jacket
Recently, crocheted jackets, sweaters, and dresses have become very fashionable, made with lightweight yarns perfect for summer.

Crocheted Lamb
Stuffed Animals & Home Décor can also be crocheted. The little lamb shown above was made in individual pieces (hexagons and pentagons) and then sewn together using matching white yarn.

Cross Stitch:
Cross Stitch
Cross Stitch is similar to needlepoint, except that there is only one type of stitch in the shape of an “X,” and an open weave cotton fabric is used instead of canvas. Many different shades of yarn create light and shadow. The photo above is a project in progress, with the yarn being matched to a detailed color chart.

Cross Stitch Design
With needlepoint, the entire background canvas is covered. In cross stitch, the base, such as this bold red fabric, becomes part of the finished design.

Embroidery:
Floral Embroider
Embroidery uses a special type of yarn called floss, which consists of fine, lustrous fibers. A washable transfer pen can be utilized to trace or draw a pattern upon the fabric of your choice. Embroidery can be done by hand, but today’s technology has developed machines to do the work for you in less time.

Floral Embroidery on Denim
Denim jackets & jeans are commonly embellished with floral embroidery, and may include additional beads and studded details.

Floral Embroidery on Velvet
Luxurious fabrics, such as velvet and lace, create the perfect background for showcasing these intricately stitched designs.

Embroidered Japanese Kimono
The embroidery on silk kimonos is not only beautiful, but also illustrates scenes from daily life, as well as mystical legends and historical events.

Latch Hooked versus Hand Hooked:
Latch Hook Balloon
To make this latch hook hot air balloon (AC Moore), yarn is pulled through an open weave canvas using a specialty tool. Latch hooked items have a tufted surface just like plush cut-pile carpeting. It’s hard to resist the urge to run your hands through the soft yarn as you admire your handiwork.

Hand Hooked Fish Pillow
For hand hooked items, such as this pillow, the yarn is pulled through to the back. The front has thick textured stitches, while the loose ends are concealed on the back with fabric. Because the yarns are more bulky, pillows are usually large-scale. No two are exactly alike.

Hand Hooked Rug
Hand hooked rugs are beautifully patterned and collectible due to their intricate handwork and lengthy time for completion. This loon is actually swimming underwater in search of a fish for breakfast.

Hand Hooked Rug 2
The imaginative designs in hand hooked rugs are truly works of art for your floors.

There are so many opportunities to use yarn for your next project. The yarn departments in many stores are brimming over with the latest colors as well as new fibers, such as bamboo, and interesting finishes such as ombré and iridescent. Do you enjoy working with yarn? What types of items have you created? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Happy Crafting!

Eye Candy & Memories – Creating Collages

Camera Collage
A collage is a themed grouping of images artfully arranged on poster board or mat board. This clever piece has a camera “lens” in the center of photographs placed in concentric circles. Although it’s a visually interesting composition, the individual photos would be difficult to view, especially since the majority are sideways or upside down.

Butterfly Collage
Themes can include anything from vacations, family photos, nature’s beauty, or anything else that inspires or brings you joy.

Water Lilies Collage
The first rule of collage making is…there are no rules! Anything goes! The background can be white or any color you prefer. You may want to overlap the images in a freeform design, or divide the board into a grid, showcasing each individual photo.

Postcard Collage
When you travel, you often collect magazines and postcards as souvenirs, which typically end up stuffed in a drawer. Why not create a collage? Every time you walk by you’ll relive your vacations.

Fabric Elephant Collage
Collages don’t have to be limited to photographs. Here’s an example of a fabric collage in the shape of an adorable elephant. The blue mat board complements the fabrics and brings a cheerful element to this playful character.

Seashell & Feather Collage
You could also use silk flowers, leaves, feathers, or seashells. When using heavier materials like seashells, be sure to use a strong backer board for support.

Duck Collage
If you prefer more organization, the geometric precision of a grid can be created using a T-square or a ruler and triangles. In the above example, white space around each photo defines the composition.

Travel Collage
For a freeform collage, lay the photos out upon the board, make adjustments until you’re satisfied with the arrangement, and then glue the photos down one at a time with Elmer’s Glue Stick.

French Sightseeing Collage
Usually poster board, mat board, or collage board serve as backing, but you could also use a wood plaque, a shadow box frame, or a framed slate board. Whatever you choose will personalize your creation. If you plan to frame the finished collage, be sure to select a board size that will fit into a standard frame.

Seasonal Fall Collage
Scrapbooking paper can be used to add colors, patterns and textures (e.g. faux wood grain), to an otherwise plain background. You could also hand paint details.

Collage Frame
If cutting out pictures and gluing them down seems like too much work, the simplest and quickest way to create a collage is by using a collage frame. Place a few photos in the frame and your done. No muss or fuss!

Scrapbook Vision Board
If wall space is limited or you prefer a more portable option, a scrapbook collage (vision board) can be developed over time. As your dreams and goals come true, there are plenty of additional pages for future inspirations.

How to Make a Collage / Vision Board

A vision board is a collage with goals and dreams to be manifested into your life. It gives you a daily reminder to focus your thoughts upon making your dreams come true.

Supplies:
Photos, postcards, color copies
Scissors
Elmer’s Glue Stick (All Purpose is permanent, or the Washable formula is adjustable)
Poster Board or Mat Board
Poster Frame (optional)

Magazines
Collect brochures, magazines, photos, and color copies of your wishes and dreams. Carefully cut out the pictures. It’s fine to have an assortment of various sizes, because these will fit together like puzzle pieces with overlapping edges. Lay the images upon your board. Move them around until you feel the composition is coming together. Think about the colors, contrasting textures, and patterns. It’s okay to have empty spaces.

Preliminary Vision Board
This photo is a progress shot showing the initial photo layout. Glue each image in place. Now fill in the gaps with smaller photos or inspirational words.

Completed Vision Board
Layers were added to enrich the composition, which completely covered the background. After leaning this vision board against a wall for a few weeks, it was inspirational, but the poster board was starting to bow. I had a new 24” x 36” gold metal poster frame, and decided to use it for the vision board to protect the images behind glass and to give it a more finished look, ready to hang upon the wall. I had to add approximately 8” to the length of the poster board on the right side to fit the oversized frame. Additional images were then added to blend with the existing. Now that it is framed, this simple project has become an attractive piece of art.

What kind of collage are you thinking about making? Do you have a theme in mind? Please share your ideas in the comments section.

Happy Crafting!

Daily Dose of Color

Butterfly
Color plays an integral role in our daily lives. It affects our moods, decisions and actions. Let’s take a look at our activities on a typical day to observe how influential color can be.

Sunrise
Most of us rise with the sun and sleep at night. Our internal clocks are preprogrammed for this routine. During the gray days of winter, it’s tough to get motivated. We need that burst of sunshine to jumpstart our morning activities. The longer days of summer encourage more outdoors events, bringing us closer to nature, which energizes our minds and bodies. Vacations are most popular in summertime.

Peach Bedroom
In our homes, the walls, floors, and furnishings vary in color from room to room, often based upon our activities. For example, sunrooms are usually a cheerful yellow, while bedrooms and bathrooms promote relaxation in soothing tones. Choice varies by individual preferences, and emotional responses to those colors, which are affected by memories, experiences, upbringing, culture, etc.  (Photo courtesy AMS Interiors, LLC.)

Fabrics
What about your wardrobe? What colors do you see when you look in your bedroom closet? Do you prefer the warm tones of red, orange and yellow, or do you lean more towards the cooler greens, blues, and purples? Perhaps more neutral colors, such as white, tan, brown, and black are to your liking?  Whatever the colors, you feel good when you wear your favorites and it shows.

Breakfast
You start the day with breakfast, and a great view if you can get it. Fresh fruit brings a natural burst of color and sweetness to an otherwise ordinary bowl of cereal. Maybe you prefer bread or a bagel. It has to be toasted to that perfect shade of light tan or golden brown – nothing else will do.

Kid's Breakfast Cereal
If you’re a kid, you hope breakfast will look something like the photo above. Kid’s cereals are great examples of how color attracts attention, even from the younger members of the family. Hiding a toy inside the box doesn’t hurt, and if it’s part of a collectible set, boxes will practically fly off the shelves.

Traffic Lights
On the way to work, or running errands, drivers are directed to go on green and stop on red. Yellow seems to be a bit confusing. For some it means proceed with caution, but others believe it’s time to stomp on the gas pedal – some more successfully than others.

Police Lights
Depending upon your driving habits, you might see flashing lights like these in your rear view mirror.  As you pull over to the curb, you breathe a sigh of relief when the police car flies past you.  Whew!  That was close!

Gas Pumps
Gas stations have installed color-coded gas pumps to ensure motorists select the correct type of gasoline for their vehicles.

Grocery Store
A quick stop at the grocery store offers a multitude of selections. With so many products competing for your attention, how will you ever decide?

Fresh Produce
When selecting produce, color is the first determining factor for freshness.

Salad
What’s for lunch? Maybe today you’ll have a salad. Notice the amazing combination of colors, shapes and textures. Remember we eat with our eyes first. Looks delicious!

Parking Garage
How about a trip to the local mall? Finding your car in a crowded lot can be a nightmare. Color-coding in the multi-level parking garages saves us a lot of time and frustration. We might not notice what floor we parked on, but the color is easily remembered.

Ski & Outdoor Gear Shop
Inside the shopping mall, retailers vie for your attention and dollars with colorful displays and eye-catching signage.

Coffee
A much needed jolt of caffeine to boost your energy through the afternoon. The brown cup and saucer, and use of aged wood countertops reinforces the natural connection of coffee beans growing in the forest, and builds anticipation for the rich creamy flavors of this hot delicious coffee.

Cheese Burger
The arrival of summer means it’s time to fire up the barbeque grill. Crisp lettuce, and juicy slices of tomato with two kinds of melted cheese on a soft bun make this hamburger a mouthwatering sight to behold.

Sunset
Watching the sunset or sunrise is a worldwide activity. We may not speak the same language, but we share an appreciation of natural beauty. People go to great lengths, traveling vast distances to reach the best vantage points, often atop mountain peaks, where visitors have to stand in freezing cold temperatures, to watch the sun rise or set at the horizon in royal splendor. All those fiery reds, oranges, and yellows in the mornings and magnificent blues and purples at night flash across the sky in a dazzling performance remembered for a lifetime.

Family Room
In the evening, most people unwind in a comfortable family room or great room, surrounded by colorful family mementos, sharing stories of the day and joking about the silly plots of whatever is on television. Earth tone walls, flooring, furniture and furnishings promote relaxation.

Pajamas
It’s time to get ready for bed. You wrap yourself in your favorite pajamas, or sweat pants and a t-shirt – you know the one from your first concert, 10 to 20 years ago. With that wild logo on the front and tour dates on the back, that t-shirt has outlasted the band that inspired it. The color may have faded, and it may be a little ragged around the edges, but it still has years of wear and lots of fond memories attached to it, and no matter what anyone says, you’re not going to part with it! Sweet Dreams!

Happy Crafting!