Sunday, 29 January 2012

Blue and Orange Art Part 2

I’m a little impatient. I had planned to let the spray painted frame dry for the suggested 48 hours before matting and framing my new art. Earlier today it had been 24 hours and I decided that was long enough but when I started handling the frame it was still a little tacky. So what did I do? I framed it, of course. I also put it on the wall, took a couple pictures of it and then took it apart. The frame has been set in the basement to continue drying until tomorrow and then hopefully it will be dry and able to go up and stay up. At least now you can see what the finished product looks like.

 *For instructions on how I made the pictures, check out this post.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Blue and Orange Art

It has been a big week for me. I turned 30! I know a lot of people struggle with milestone birthdays but I was pretty excited about entering a new decade. I’m very happy with where I am right now and feel pretty blessed to have the life I do. I realize this may seem unrelated to the craft I’m writing about but it connects, I promise. This is my new artwork, the first thing I’ve created in my 30s.

For my birthday I got money from my parents and my fiance’s mom to buy myself a present. Something I don’t like about our house are the curtains in the living room, eating area and kitchen (it’s open concept). They’re cheap ones I bought when we first moved in and we’ve lived here almost three years. I decided to use the money to buy fabric for new curtains for the three windows, pillows, a table runner, and a bench. I’m still waiting on three more fabrics but I love what has arrived so far.

I made this painting tonight with the intentions of putting it in the bathroom but now that it’s finished I think it would look nice with the new fabrics and have decided to put it in the entrance. This makes it the start of the very large (for me) redecorating project that I’m looking forward to working through. Anyway, on to the instructions…

Supplies I used:
Art paper
Paint (blue, orange, beige)
Sponge brush
Round sponge brush
Scissors (to cut the round sponge brush)
Small paint brush

I decided to paint the background navy. I used a sponge brush and covered the paper, painting first vertically and then horizontally. I decided to only do one coat because I like the look of the streaks and little hints of white.

Once the background was dry I used a small paintbrush to make the orange ovals. I freehanded them so they’re slightly uneven. I had to do two coats because the navy was showing through.

Next I tried to find something to use as my x stamp. I tried an eraser but it wasn’t textured enough. I also tried a stamp but again I wanted more texture. Finally I took a circular sponge brush and cut away pieces to make an x. It wasn’t what I had envisioned but I really liked the shape it made. I used the sponge in beige paint to randomly add xs around the edges of the circles.

I don’t have it framed yet. I actually have a frame for it that has three 5x7 openings (which is why I didn’t worry about painting the entire page) but I had to spray paint it so it’s drying in the basement. Stay tuned to see it framed and hung.

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Monday, 23 January 2012

Chocolate Bark

I’ve been really good about going to the gym and eating well lately, but I’ve been craving chocolate like nobody’s business. I know my ways and if I decide I’m going to eat a piece of a chocolate bar, I won’t stop until it’s gone. My solution? Chocolate Bark! For some reason, I only need a piece or two and it satisfies the craving.

6 (give or take a couple – I used 7) semi sweet chocolate squares
6 (again, give or take a couple – I used 5) white chocolate squares
1 cup diced walnuts (I’ve also used almonds, candy canes, Skor bits, anything you can think of that goes with chocolate.)

Place each type of chocolate in a separate microwavable bowl. Microwave them, alternating bowls so they both melt as evenly as possible. I put the first bowl in for a minute, then take that out and put the second bowl in for a minute, then put the first once back in and so forth until they’re both melted.

Stir half of the walnuts into the first bowl and half of the walnuts into the second bowl.

Drop the chocolate on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, alternating the two kinds of chocolate. I like my bark to be thin so I space the chocolate out.

Marble them together with a knife.

Once it’s marbled place it in the fridge until it’s cool and then break into pieces. I store mine in a tin in the fridge.

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Friday, 20 January 2012

Valentine's Tree

I decided that simply having my paper piecing pictures wasn’t enough for Valentine’s decorations so I went browsing for something else to make. I saw the Felt and Twig Valentine's Tree from Helping Little Hands and felt inspired so here is my version of a Valentine's tree.

Supplies I used:
Spray paint
Craft foam (I used the kind with the sticky back but glue would also work)

The first thing I had to do was decide on a vase. I had an old glass one I didn’t really like so I decided to use that. To make it look more festive (and to hide the ugliness) I spray painted it red.

Next I had to find branches. Believe it or not, this was the most difficult part. About a week ago we were the warmest place in Canada, the skies were blue and the ground was bare. Over the week that changed drastically. We have had wind chills in the -40s (Celsius, which is also -40 Fahrenheit) every day this week. Today it warmed up to a balmy -25 (-13 Fahrenheit) with wind chill. Seeing as I had been waiting all week, I decided to take advantage of the warm weather to go hunt for branches. I broke the branches to the length I wanted and placed them in the vase.

After I was happy with the branches I cut out my foam hearts. I used the foam that is sticky on one side so I put two pieces together with the sticky sides toward the middle (but still covered so they didn’t stick together) and cut hearts. I made a variety of colours to blend with my other decoration.

Next I peeled the backing off, placed thread between the two sides, and then stuck them together. I actually tried using ribbon first but it didn’t stay in place on the branches so I switched and found the thread worked much better.

As I stuck my hearts together I placed the on my branches. I made more as needed, using different colours and making them different sizes.

Here's the finished product. For now it's on a sofa table (which I built myself) at the top of the stairs when you come in our house, along with a photo from the vacation during which J and I got engaged.* It seems fitting that they should go together.

*Sorry for the blacked out pictures. J wouldn't be too happy with his picture being posted here and I'm not skilled enough to black it our discretely.

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Valentine's Paper Piecing Pictures

I’ve never decorated for Valentine’s Day before. I don’t dislike it or anything, just have never bothered. However, while browsing Pinterest (of course) I came across this paper piecing idea for Christmas. I also saw this neat card. These two items got my wheels turning...

Materials I used:
Picture frames
Spray paint (to paint the picture frames)
Scrapbook paper
2 sided sticky foam things that probably have a fancy name (like glue dots but with foam)
Letter stickers
*I already had everything except the frames so this craft cost be $3.15. Love it!

Step 1: I prepared the picture frames. I bought mine at Dollarama and they were different wooden shades. I spray painted them both using white primer and paint in one.

Step 2: I cut two pieces of scrapbook paper to fit my frames. For the 4x6 I used pink paper and for the 5x7 I used striped paper.

Step 3: I cut out 6 hearts. You could use a stencil or a punch or whatever but I like them slightly uneven. In order to make the two pictures blend together I used some paper from each background for the other picture as well as a few other scraps.

Step 4: I played with ink. I sponged the edges of the hearts to make them look more textured. I also sponged the line which was an adventure… first I tried drawing it with a sharpie but it looked too stark so I had to scrap that piece. Next I tried drawing it with a paint pen but it was still to stark so I had to scrap that piece as well. For my third try I attempted to sponge a line but it was too messy so the third one was also scrapped. Finally, I used some of my scrap paper and cut out a template for my line. I placed it on top of the paper and sponged over it. Before the ink dried, I smeared it a little bit with my finger. Finally, I had one I was satisfied with.

Step 5: I placed my hearts. For the one on the striped picture I used three foam sticky things (do you like my technical terminology?) to attach it. For the five on the line, I used foam sticky things on the first, third and fifth. I attached the second and fourth with glue so are flat. I trimmed the edges of the hearts on either end to square them up.

Step 6: I added my word. I used foam letter stickers to write the word “love” to my smaller picture.

And here you have it – my first Valentine’s Day decoration. Honestly I think it took longer to write this post than it actually took to make it and I think I might have to make some for every season.

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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Medic Alert Bracelets

I have to wear a medic alert bracelet. I may not like it but it’s a fact of life. In the name of honesty, I should admit that I didn’t wear one for a long time. Last year I  was told off by the doctor for not wearing one got smart about the importance of wearing one and decided that if I had to wear one, I might as well make some that I like.

I looked around the Internet and found a place that would sell me just the medic alert part of the bracelet with a round fastener on either side so I could clip it to my own bracelets. I don't remember what site it was but I'm sure you can find something on Google. The site also sold bracelets and, after looking at them, I figured they couldn’t be that hard to make. They weren’t! Once I realised how easy they were to make, I made quite a few. I love that I can change them to match my outfit and my mood.

Above is a picture of the ones I’ve been wearing. Yes, the majority of them are black. I wear a lot of black. Anyway, I got some new beads over Christmas and decided it was time to add a few new ones into the mix.

I used:
Craft wire
Wire cutters & pliers (mine are all in one)
Lobster claw clasps
Crimp beads

First I placed my beads in the pattern I wanted. This is where I struggle the most. For example, the pink and purple one I thought would look nice but once it was laid out I was not a fan so I didn't make it.

Then I looped a piece of wire cut a little bit longer than my wrist through a lobster claw and fastened it by flattening a crimp bead.

Next I strung my beads onto the wire, making sure that the doubled wire at the beginning was neatly tucked inside the beads.

Once I had the bracelet to the proper length I put on a second crimp bead and the looped the wire through another lobster claw and back through the crimp bead. I flattened the crimp bead and cut the wire, working the little bit that was left after cutting inside the beads.

This is what it looks like once the medic alert tag is attached. They are available with many different colours for the emblem but I like the more subtle ones. I have this white one and also a grey one.

The second one I made might actually be my favorite one yet. I had a very similar one before but the beads wore out. I love the simplicity of it.

Last but not least is the most fancy bracelet I think I've ever created. I made two strings of larger beads and then weaved two strings of smaller beads in between them. For this bracelet, each strand is attached to the claw using it's own crimp bead.

There you have it. They're pretty easy to make, can be made to go with any outfit and, in my opinion, look much nicer than those ugly metal ones from the drug store.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Feeling the Pinterest Love!

For me, like I imagine for many other crafters out there, the creation of Pinterest has become a bit of an addiction. I have to admit I spend at least a few minutes a day exploring, which is exactly what I was doing a few minutes ago. Guess what I discovered? I’M ON PINTEREST! Ok, not actually me, but two of my creations: Lonely Socks Board and Bird Nest Necklaces. Maybe it’s because I’m new to the game but I’m super excited about this. I mean, this means people who aren’t related to me actually like my work enough to add it to Pinterest. I’m so thrilled I just had to share.

P.S. If you are the person that put either of those posts up there, thank you. You made my day week!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Photo Blocks

Tomorrow it’s back to the real world. School starts up again and I go back to spending my days with charming, hormonal teenagers. In light of that, I thought I’d end the holidays with another project. After this, I suspect my posts will become less frequent as, during the school year, I have less time to craft. My goal is to continue to post at least once a week, although I'm not sure how realistic that is.

This project came from Today’s Fabulous Finds. I modified it a little bit but the main idea is the same.

What I used:
8x8x2 Wooden blocks
Electric sander
Spray paint (black and white)
Scrapbook paper
Modge Podge and brush
Ink and sponge
Binder clips
Glue Gun
Accessories (buttons, stickers, etc.)

The first step was to cut the wood down to size. Rather than use a handsaw J took them to his work and cut the blocks for me. The smallest board I could buy at Home Hardware was 8 feet long so it actually made 12 blocks. I have a feeling I’ll be using some of these as gifts. Once the blocks were cut I used my favorite tool – an electric sander – to smooth the edges.

Next I spray painted the blocks, some black and some white. I didn’t want to prime so I used a two in one spray paint. I was careful to cover the edges and one of the large sides. The other large side is being covered so I didn’t worry about it.

Once the paint was dry, I cut two different sheets of scrapbook paper to fit just inside each of the block.

I then Modge Podged the back of the paper and placed it on the blocks. Once they had dried, I covered the front in Modge Podge as well.

The next step was inking the edges. I used a sponge and black ink to make the edges a little less perfect. I don't have a picture of this step. :(

To hide the join between the two papers I used ribbon which I attached with my glue gun. I also used the ribbon and the glue gun to attach the binder clips on the top. I know I'm supposed to use low temp for ribbon and fabric but because I'm a rebel I used high temp and it worked fine.

Finally, I decorated the blocks. I didn't want to add too much so on one I used buttons, on another I used a sticker and on the third I used a cutout flower.

So far I've only put a picture in one of my finished blocks and I have to tell you about it. The picture is one I took of my dog Paquita right before we had her put down this summer. It was a very unexpected and extremely difficult thing to do and I miss her dearly. I got her when I was in university so she had been through a lot with me. Anyway, the sticker says "You make my life happy" so it seemed like the perfect way to display her photo.

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