Sep 30, 2013

Make Felt Flowers

Here's a quick and easy way to make felt flowers for decorating and embellishing.  This tutorial shows two different styles.  

You'll need:

1 sheet of felt (or more if you're doing different colors)
Felt glue and/or hot glue
Card stock in coordinating colors

We'll start with the orange loopy flower.

Fold one edge of felt over lengthwise.  Cut out this piece, but don't cut along the fold.

Using felt glue or hot glue, glue the unfolded edge to itself.
Make evenly-speced cuts all along the length of the felt, through the fold but not all the way to the glued edge.

Cut out a circle of felt or card stock.  Put your choice of adhesive all over the circle.  Starting with one edge of felt, lay it down along the edge of the circle, following the edge of the circle.  When you have gone all the way around, continue winding toward the middle and sticking it down.

Using another piece of card stock, apply adhesive to the entire surface (here I used adhesive tape on a shape I cut out with a puncher, but you can use whatever you like).  

Press that into the middle of the flower and ta-daaa!

For the black flower, it's the same procedure, except I cut down the fold after gluing the edges together, and I made the cuts more closely spaced.

"Fluff up" the petals, and you're done....

...UNLESS you want to take it up a notch and add another embellishment like this.  Click here to see how I made the skull, or click here to see how I used this on a wreath.


Halloween Tissue Paper Wreath

Today I'll share how I made this tissue paper wreath for Halloween, spending very little money to do it.

You'll need:
Wreath Form (mine is from Dollar Tree)
Orange Tissue Paper
Pipe Cleaners in Orange and Black (I used yellow, but you should use orange if possible.)
Halloween Embellishment (mine is handmade, but you could use a store-bought one if you like)
Glue Gun with Glue Sticks
Ribbon or String

To start, cut four strips lengthwise from one sheet, then repeat on a second sheet.  Kind of scrunch these up and use to wrap around the wreath form.  You can pin or glue the ends as you wrap.

Next, leaving the remaining sheets of tissue paper stacked (mine came with 10 sheets, so after I used the paper to wrap, I had 8 sheets stacked.)  Cut squares or rectangles.  Mine were about 4 x 6 inches each.  It doesn't matter if these are perfect, and even if it's on a fold, it's okay.  Then cut off the corners so you wind up with something similar to this:

With each set of squares, staple the middle of a pipe cleaner to the center of the flower.  You can staple it twice if you like.

Starting with the top layer, just squish it up like in the photo below.  Repeat with each layer, loosening up with each layer.  I didn't even squish up the bottom layer.

Next you'll attach the tissue to the wreath by wrapping the pipe cleaners around and twisting.  If you use orange pipe cleaners, you're good here.  I didn't, so I had to go back with more tissue paper, gluing over the pipe cleaners to hide the yellow. 

Your wreath might not be round enough here, so you can easily adjust at this point.  Also, if you have any pieces of tissue that seem too big or stick out, just snip them down here.

I glued a pipe cleaner to the back of this embellishment, then wrapped it around.

For a little something extra, I made some pipe cleaner swirls from black pipe cleaners, then glued those to the wreath form with hot glue.  After I handled them, they needed to be evened out a little after they were glued on.

Use a final pipe cleaner to make a hook on the back if you're planning to hang it by a ribbon.  Then just tie on a ribbon or string, hang it up, and enjoy the festive touch!  This smaller size wreath is great for a kitchen.  I hung it on a corner cabinet in my kitchen, and it looks great!

Like the skull embellishment?  I'll be showing how to make that next, so check back here soon!

Sep 25, 2013

Make a Keepsake Card on Canvas!

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say.  Well, I proved this true this week!

My mom's 70th birthday is very soon and my siblings and I and our spouses have been in cahoots over what gift we would get her and how we would celebrate.  None of us live in the same town, so this was all done over email and text messages.  We finally came up with a lovely keepsake piece of jewelry that I think our mom will love.  I can't wait for her to receive it!

But just a few nights ago I was struck by the realization that she would probably LOVE to also receive something fun and handmade from the grandchildren.  My first thought was to make a "Happy Birthday" banner on butcher roll that the kids and I could decorate, roll up and send.  Alas, the roll of butcher paper was nowhere to be found!  But lucky me!  In all my searching, I found a few cheap canvases that I had purchased last year for the kids to use.  We'll paint that instead!

Alas again!  All my acrylic paints were dried up (Can you tell I'm not the crafty one on this blog?!  Charlotte would never be out of paint!).

Sharpies to the rescue!  We'll make a birthday sign on the canvas with sharpies!

I wrote the initial message and then had the children color it, make designs and sign their names.  I really like how it turned out so far.  I think I'll have the kids add the finishing touches today after school.

I can think of so many fun variations of this project!
* Use a smaller canvas and make a decoupage birthday card/sign for a child or a friend.
* Use the larger canvas to make a seasonal decoration to be used year after year, using paints/sharpies/decoupage.
* Make a birthday sign for the family, similar to the "You Are Special Today" plate.

I plan to attach a hanging strip in the back and send it on to my mother.  I have a feeling she's going to love it!

Sep 23, 2013

Owl Lamp DIY

I love owls, and I think Halloween is so much fun.  That inspired me to create this owl lamp.  This is an easy project that looks impressive when finished.  

To make your own, you'll need:

  • 11x14 Picture Frame from Dollar Store
  • Disposable Cake Pans from Dollar Store (usually come 2 in a pack)
  • Single Clip Light from Dollar Store
  • Wax Paper and Parchment Paper
  • Mod Podge Glossy
  • Food Coloring in red, yellow, blue
  • Paint Brush
  • X-Acto Knife
  • Wax Paper
  • Duct Tape

1.  Spoon Mod Podge into paint wells or plastic cups.  

Add 2 drops yellow to one, two drops red to one, one drop each red and yellow to one, and two drops blue to one. Gently stir with plastic spoon or toothpick to blend color.

2.  Take the glass pane out of the frame.  Place it on a sheet of parchment paper.  Starting with the yellow, paint the bottom portion of the glass with long wavy strokes.  Then paint up to about the halfway point with orange, and the top half with red.  Let it dry just enough to get tacky.  This way you can go back over it for better coverage.

3.  Go back over the yellow, orange, and red, and go over the top with blue.  Use the brush to blend everything in.  Don't worry about visible brush lines, because for this project they're actually a good thing, since it's going to represent the sky and will add interest.  And don't worry if you're not good at painting.  You don't have to be!  I even let my six-year-old help with this part, so you can do it too.

 4.  Put in oven that's been preheated to 175 degrees.  I just left mine on the parchment paper and put the whole thing in.  Leave it in about 30 minutes.  The paint will become transparent and will get quite a bit darker.

5.  While that's in the oven, you can do your cutout.  I printed off a silhouette of an owl from the internet.  You can use any cardboard or card stock to fit, but what I did was use the cardboard insert that comes with the frame and turned it over to cut.  No worrying about getting the right size, and the opposite side was black, which is perfect!

I marked out a 1-inch border all around, and then cut that out and cut out the owl.  I extended the branches all the way to the border.

 6.  Use duct tape to cover any areas that you might have cut into.  This will avoid light bleeding through when it's lit.

 7.  When the glass is ready, take it out and let it cool.  Then put the cutout into the frame (black side facing out), followed by the glass.  Here you might need a drop of glue or some double-sided tape to stick down the head/body part of the owl.  You don't need much.  Then over that you'll put wax paper.  Push down the tabs in the back of the frame, and duct tape to secure the wax paper.  (Doesn't matter what the back looks like here.)

8.  Get a single clip light.  Mine is from the dollar store, but I think it's a seasonal item, so if you can't find it there, you can get one from a hardware store or online for cheap.  I like this kind of light because you can just flip the switch to turn it off and on.

 8a.  Cut a small hole in the bottom of the cake pan near a short side and in the middle, and insert the light.  I wound up duct taping around the hole to reinforce it.  I only used one pan, but two might work better and give the whole thing more stability.

 8b.  Duct tape the pan to the frame with the light at the bottom, being sure to go all the way around with the tape.

 9.  Plug it in, light it up and enjoy!

 Like it?  Pin it / Share it, please!

Sep 18, 2013

Help for Parenting Transitions

Lately, I've felt myself to be in what I call a "parenting transition".  You know how sometimes you're going along and things seem pretty smooth, pretty simple, and then suddenly nothing you were doing seems to work anymore, and you feel like your family is coming apart at the seams? No, only me?  Well, anyway...

I think it may be due to the start of a new school year and new activities, or maybe it's just plain old GROWING, but we and our kids have felt a bit out of step lately.  (That's a nice way of saying there's been a whole lot of fightin'!)

I decided to go back to some of the parenting books that have stood me in good stead over the years, as well as read some that were new (to me).  

You can see my stack in the photo above.  I thought I'd take a minute to tell you a bit about each one, as much as I can, just in case you find yourself in a parenting transition, either now or in the future.

Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I'm Grounded? by Vanessa Van Petten.  The author of this book calls herself a "youthologist" and is quite young herself.  She writes as someone who is in-between the ages of the teen and the parent.  I've not read the whole book yet, but do like her perspective and her focus on relationship-building.

Seize the Moment, Not Your Teen by Bill Sanders.  I picked this one up because I really like the title.  Too often I get swept away by anger or frustration and lose the opportunity to really connect with my teens.  

Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel.  I have loved this book so far.  This one is definitely from a Christian perspective.  The author emphasizes a tenderness and a coming-alongside that doesn't come so naturally for me.  I need this point of view.

Youth:  The Years from Ten to Sixteen by Arnold Gesell, Frances Ilg and Louise Bates.  This is a much older book and is no longer in print; the copyright in my book is from 1956.  While much of it is outdated, I like that this book is quite comprehensive and detailed.  I have always found the series by these authors on the different ages to be revelatory; this edition is no different.  Best of all, it cover three of my four children!  There is much to take in here, so I read it in small doses.  It's a good resource book.

The Key to Your Child's Heart by Gary Smalley.  This is a classic from back in the 90s.  I've had this book for years (I think my mother-in-law gave it to me before we had children), but had never read the whole thing.  At first, I found it hard to read because it felt like the author was just describing his perfect family, WHICH I DON'T HAVE. Sometimes I find parenting books unbearable because they hold up an impossible standard that just crushes me.  But as I read further, I saw that the author does NOT have perfect family, and he does have some really good suggestions for creating a close-knit family, and for getting closer to kids who may have shut you out.  I liked this one.

Parenting Teens with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay.  I love anything by the Love and Logic people.  I think their ideas make so much sense and REALLY DO WORK if you can discipline yourself to really try.  This is the kind of parenting book to keep on your bedside table and just read a bit every night.  Because we always need help, we always need reminding. 

So there's my reading list, people!  Tell me, what books of resources have you found helpful?  

Sep 16, 2013

Skeleton Dish DIY

How's this for some fun Halloween DIY decor?  Get thee to the Dollar Store and make one yourself!

You'll need a plastic skeleton with joints you can take apart.  (Mine didn't actually come from the dollar store, but right after I bought it I saw some there that were similar.)  You also need a glass taper candle holder and a glass tealight holder.

Take the skeleton apart, and lay it out in a pattern you like on top of the dish.  Glue all that down with a strong adhesive (I like E6000).  I had to use a toothpick to get into some of the crevices to make sure everything would stick.

Put a line of glue around the top of the taper holder and glue the dish to it.  You can look down into the dish to help line it up.

This needs to get really dry.  You don't want this thing falling apart on you.  I let it dry for 48 hours.

Then I gave the whole thing a coat of cheap white spray paint to prime it.  Let that dry, then blast it with a coat of silver spray paint.  (I used Rust-oleum Bright Metallics.)  Let that dry fully.

With black acrylic, paint over the entire surface, working in a small area at a time.  Be sure to get into the cracks and spots where anything touches something else.  Then just take a paper towel or old rag and wipe it off before moving to the next section.  I almost skipped this step, but it gave it so much more dimension and realism, I'm glad I did it.  Do this over the entire thing, and let it dry.  Shouldn't take long.

I didn't add a sealer here.  Sealers tend to dull down metallic paints, and I figured it's not going to be handled all that much and would be fine.

Now it's ready to use to hold little trinkets like these spider rings, or you could fill it with dry black beans like I did and put in a tealight candle.  You'll notice I jazzed up my candle with a little flame washi tape, just for fun and contrast.

Give it a try, and enjoy!

I'm sharing this project at Halloween Spooktacular Linky Party @ Made in a Day