Fun Little Paper Mache Craft

Projects

I saw these cute little “bell” people and decided I had to get crafty. Some were made of ceramics and some I think paper mache. I decided to make my little bell person from paper mache. But I needed company, so I asked the kids if they wanted to make one as well. Everyone was on board.

We started by making a form to paper mache around. Ours were wadded up paper and fruit stuffed into a ziplock bag. Next, I poured glue into a yogurt container and added water to thin the glue and gave it a stir. Then we all tore newspaper into strips, dipped into the glue mixture, and squeeged the glue from the paper with our fingers and arranged the strips around our forms to create a bell shape. A few coats of this is recommended.

My son making the form for his person.

I then used magazines and paper mached the colored pieces onto the bell as if I were painting the piece. In this way I did not have to paint the piece in the end. I did paint my little guy’s facial features when he dried with black acrylic paint.

The kids decided to paint their guys with acrylic paint instead of using magazines. After they dried overnight, we put on a coat of clear varnish. Then it was time to string them up. I strung my little guy but his feet kept hitting each other and turning around. My son, on the other hand, had a perfectly aligned little man. So I asked him to string mine for me. He also finished his sister’s guy as well.

These bell people did take a while to make. However, we were having such a good time that we really did not notice just how long we were at it until we had finished.

My little man.

I really liked how my little man turned out. He makes me laugh. He is so cute. I have hung him above my desk so I can look at him. As I am writing this, I am amused that he is such a good dancer. With my fan blowing on him he has quite the moves.

My son’s man. So sofisticated.
My daughter’s man dressed in swim trunks.

We had fun using our imaginations to create unique guys with interesting personalities. Let us know what you think. As always, Happy Crafting!

Suburban Sketching

Projects

I have been off and on sketching for a while now. Trying to make it more of a regular occurrence. My goal being once a day. No more excuses! After all, I do enjoy my time sketching. In fact, I get lost in my art and wonder where all the time has gone. Was I really at it for three hours!

The media of choice right now is pencil sketching, then watercolor, and finally ink. I really do like the ‘field watercolor journal’ that I picked up so time ago. It is small in size ( 7″ x 10″) so it is easy to manage. It contains cold press 140 lb/ 300 gsm watercolor paper. I also just love my new little watercolor pocket field sketch box by Koi. So small and easy to manage with a handy little pallet that attaches. I keep my pencil sharpener, kneaded erasers, pencils, and pens in an ArtBin pencil case. I have both Berol Turquoise and Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils. My pencil of choice is, and has been since college, the Staedtler brand. The pens I use are Pigma Micron and Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens (waterproof ink). I prefer the fine tips for the pens. I did by a fancy Lamy fountain pen. But oh no! I did not realize that the ink in the Lamy pen was not waterproof. I learned the hard way by ruining a drawing I had spent a lot of time on. Now I only use this pen after my watercolor is applied or when I do not intend to use watercolor. I still like the pen. It is very nice. The watercolor brush that I recently purchased (that I love) is a Winsor & Newton Cotman 222 Designers #6. It is round with a nice point. It works well for fine work.

Koi watercolor set with pallet attached.
My supplies in my ArtBin box

I have been taking my supplies outside and sketching in my yard lately. I have been using my fold-up chair that has a cup holder. The cup holder works perfectly for holding my water cup so I can have water on hand when using my watercolors.

Now for a little show and tell. Here are some suburban sketches that I have done over the last few months…

Some flowers in my front yard.
This one I did from a photograph. I took a picture of the mail truck delivering mail. I am not fast enough to capture this scene before the mailman finishes.
One day I asked the kids if they wanted to sketch with me. They said, “sure”. So we sat in the backyard and this is the sketch I completed of our sheds and potting table.
My latest sketch was completed just this morning. I am looking out the window at the porch swing and orange tree.

I hope you have enjoyed my little show and tell. Let me know what you think… Happy Creating!

DIY Toothpick Container

Projects

The toothpicks I bought came in a thin cardboard box. The typical packaging for toothpicks. I thought this annoying and a bit messy. What to do? The DIY toothpick container of course!

The thought of making my own toothpick container came to me as I was cleaning out the spice drawer. I came across a plastic spice container with a shaker lid, the kind with holes punched in the top to shake the spice out with. I decided to use this container to shake out my toothpicks instead. It was the perfect size to hold the toothpicks. So I washed it up and inserted my toothpicks. When given a little shake, the toothpicks pop out of the holes and I am able to grab however many I want.

For me, this DIY container is a much better option than the box the toothpicks came in. I am no longer finding toothpicks scattered about the drawer as they fall out of the flimsy box. I also like the fact that I did not have to spend money on a special container. It is always good to feel a bit more organized in the kitchen. As always, Happy Baking!

DIY Grab-It Potholder

Projects

Another day of making potholders. Today it is the grab-it potholder. It slips on and looks like a puppet. Handy for grabbing a cookie sheet or muffin tin from the oven. Let’s get started…

Supplies:

material

quilter’s batting

thread

sewing machine

scissors

needle

thimble

copy paper (for making the pattern piece)

pencil

ruler

self-healing craft matt

rotary blade tool

Step 1: Make the pattern. This piece is basically an oval that fits your fingers. Fold a piece of paper in half then in half again. Make one side of the fold the width and the other the length. When unfolded all sides will be the same. My dimensions are roughly: 2.5″ width x 4.5″ length with a curved side. See photos.

Width 2 1/2″
length 4 1/2″

Step 2: Unfold pattern piece. Pin to fabric and cut 2 pieces. Pin to batting and cut 1 piece.

Step 3: Make the pocket pieces by folding the pattern piece in half (widthwise) and then folding down 1/2″. Pin to fabric and cut 4 pieces. Pin to batting and cut 2 pieces.

Step 4: With right sides together, sew two pocket material pieces together. Iron seams open. Place one batting piece inside and fold over. Repeat making one more pocket piece.

Pin pocket pieces together
Press pocket pieces, add batting, fold over

Step 5: Sew 1/2″ seam around pocket piece and keep going to quilt a maze design on pocket pieces. This keeps batting in tact through use and washing.

quilted pocket piece

Step 6: Sandwhich the main piece of batting between the two pieces of oval fabric with the right sides out. Stitch 1/2″ seam allowance around the edge. Quilt a bit on this piece as well. Simple straight lines will do just fine.

Step 6

Step 7: Now take the pocket pieces and pin to the oval. Sew around curves leave the straight sides open.

Step 7

Step 8: Cut a long strip of fabric 2 1/2 ” wide. The length should be longer than the oval…don’t worry about making it exact. It is better to have this too long so that it can be fitted and cut when almost finished sewing. After cutting the strip, fold one end 1/4″ under on width side. Now fold it in half lengthwise and press. Then pin just the start of the binding to the edge of the potholder with raw edges together. Do not pin the whole thing as the binding will have to be stretched and shaped to fit as it is being sewn. Sew in place with a 1/2″ seam. When almost to the end, cut the binding with an overlap and fold under 1/4″ and finish sewing.

Cut binding 2 1/2″ wide with self healing matt and rotary cutter or by hand is fine too
Fold and press
Pin just the beginning of binding to potholder
Cut binding when almost finished leaving an overlap. Oh and don’t forget to turn the end under (not shown in photo) for a finished look.

Step 9: Almost done! The machine part of the sewing is finished. Get out a needle, thread, thimble, and scissors to complete the potholder. Turn the binding to the back. It should just cover the seam stitch. Hold in place and with a threaded needle grab a tiny amount of fabric from the potholder and from the binding and whip stitch all aroung the potholder. Press the potholder to flatten it out and bit. Voila! Now you are ready to take those cookies out of the oven. Happy crafting!

DIY Pot Handle Potholders

Projects

I am back to making potholders. Now that my pot lids are cozy, I decided my pot handles should be dressed as well. I drafted a pattern and made it in two ways. The first way I tried has a band to finish off the edges. The second and easier version has the edge finished first. I will give directions for both. My favorite is the second version. It is faster to make and takes less fabric. These can literally be sewn up in less than five minutes.

Let’s start with my favorite version first…

Supply List:

a sheet of copy paper (to draft the pattern)

pencil

ruler

scissors

pan (to make the potholder fit)

material

quilter’s batting

sewing machine

thread

Length of my pattern: roughly 6″
Width of my pattern: roughly 2.5″

Step 1: Cut the pattern piece for the pot handle. My pattern is roughly 6″ long x 2.5″ wide. I folded the rectangle in half lengthwise and then cut rounded corners. This can be adjusted to fit any pot or pan handle. Just measure the handle and make adjustments as needed.

Step 2: Cut out pieces. Material = 2 pieces / Lining = 2 pieces / Batting = 2 pieces

Step 3: For the batting pieces only…trim off 1/4″ from width on top edge (edge with squared corners).

Step 4
Step 4: press

Step 4: With right sides together, pin one material piece to one lining piece with right sides together at top edge. Repeat with the other piece of material and lining. Set batting aside for now. Sew a 1/4″ seam. Press open seams.

Step 5: Place the two material/lining pieces right sides together.

Step 5: Now to sandwhich the layers. Place the two material/lining pieces right sides together.

Step 5b
Step 5b

Step 5b: Place one batting piece on top of material. Fold over lining. Hold and Flip over. Repeat this for other side. Pin in place.

Step 6

Step 6: Sew a 1/2″ seam from top around to other side of top leaving opening at top width.

Step 7: Turn and place on handle of pot.

—————————————————————————————-

Now for the more complicated version with the band trim….

If using this method, a contrasting fabric will be needed for the trim. Not much… a tiny piece… Also needed is a needle and thimble as hand sewing is required.

Step 1: Same as above

Step 2: Same as above

Step 3: Sandwhich pieces together. (Do not trim the batting in this method.) Place right sides of fabric together. On top of this place a batting then a lining. Flip and place a batting and a lining on the other material piece. Pin together.

Step 4: Sew a 1/2″ seam around from top around to other side of top leaving an opening at width end. (same as step 6 above)

Step 5: Turn.

Step 6: Pick out a contrasting fabric for trim
Step 6: Cut trim fabric double width as pattern fold in half lengthwise then fold in half widthwise and sew seam1/2″
Step 6: Place trim over pot holder with raw edges together.

Step 6: Pick out a contrasting fabric for the trim. Cut a rectangle that is the twice the width as the pattern (5″) x however wide the trim is desired to be then doubled and allow for seam allowance of 1/4″ (1 – 1 1/2″). Fold trim in half lengthwise and press with iron. Next, fold the trim in half widthwise and press with iron. Stitch a 1/2″ seam allowance on width of trim. Slip this over the pot holder with raw edges together. Pin in place.

Step 7: Hand sew trim to pot holder with raw sides together
Step 7: Turn trim to inside and pin in place
Step 7: Whip stitch trim to lining
Pot handle potholder with trim

Step 7: Hand stitch the trim in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Turn trim to inside and pin in place. Whip stitch the trim to the lining only covering stitching. Place on pot handle.

My pots and pans are all dressed up and ready to use. No more burnt hands for me! The best part of this DIY projcet is that the potholders take very little fabric and can be made very quickly. The fabric I used were scraps leftover from other projects, so it did not cost me anything to make them.

Be sure to check-out my previous DIY post on making potholders for pot lids as well. As always, Happy Crafting!

DIY Chair Cushions

Projects

I ordered materials to make a couple of cushions for our wooden chairs. I finally got around to making them yesterday. As with most projects, the procrastination is worse than the actual project.

First off, I needed a pattern. I gathered together some copy paper and taped them together to make my patterns and labeled them. Next time I need a cushion, I will be able to pull out the pattern and get started without delay. For my cushions, I bought foam in a four pack. The foam is 1 inch thick but can be doubled by using more than one piece and this is what I did. Each cushion got two pieces of foam for a total thickness of 2 inches. I wrapped the foam in quilter’s batting sewed together with a seam. The batting was 16 inches wide by 37 inches. This allowed for a half inch seam allowance. The batting adds softness and keeps the foam in place. The foam (as I said) was 2 inches thick and 16 inces square. So I drafted a square of 17 inches, this allows for a half inch seam allowance all around. (Cut two for each cushion) For the sides (making it a box cushion) I made a template 17 inches x 3 inches. This allows for the height of the foam at 2 inches plus a half inch seam allowance. (Cut 3 per cushion.) The fourth side is slightly different as I added a zipper so that I could wash the cushion cases. So for this side, I drafted a piece 17 inches by 2 1/8 inch. (Cut 2 per cushion.)

Next I pinned the pieces to my material and cut them out.

Prepare pattern pieces and cut out material.

I started with the invisable zipper side first. Inserting an invisable zipper is really pretty simple. First, use iron-on interfacing and cut a strip the size of the zipper for each side. The length of the zipper and about one inch width. Iron this to the WRONG side of fabric for each piece. Open zipper. Then pin the zipper centered to the edge of the piece right side of zipper to right side of fabric. With a zipper foot on the sewing machine, stitch in place until coming to the pull. The zipper foot will not pass this point. Backstitch and take out of machine. Now the zipper foot on the machine will need to be moved to the other side. Sewing the other half of the zipper is the same process. Be sure that the fabric lines up at the top of each side and pin right side of zipper to right side of fabric. When this is complete, the top and bottom seam will need to be completed. Still using the zipper foot, zip the zipper up and move the tail of zipper fabric to the side and continue the seam down from where the backstitch left off. Lastly, unzip the zipper and continue the seam from the top of the zipper to the top edge of fabric. This piece should finish a little wider than needed. Fold the 17 inch by 3 inch template in half and line the folded side up with the zipper. Pin to the piece and cut off the extra fabric. Finished.

Place right side of zipper to right side of fabric. Pin.
Sew with zipper foot attachment stopping at zipper pull.
Pin other side of zipper to second piece of fabric aligning fabric evenly.
Sew second side.
Push zipper bottom to side and finish sewing from backstitch to end of fabric.
Finished zipper side panel.

Now to put it all together.

Ready to sew last three sides. Be sure zipper is open!
Last three sides pinned and ready to sew.

Sew the sides to one of the squares. Remember, sew right sides together, and the seam allowance is half an inch. Next, sew the sides together at their edges. Sew one side to the other square. It will look like an opened pizza box at this point. Be sure to UN-zip the zipper. Very important or the cushion will not be able to be turned when done sewing. Pin the remaining three sides to the square. Sew one side at a time. When finished turn right side out. Stuff foam cushion inside cover, zip. Voila! C’est facile!

Finished cushion
Ready to sit down.

DIY Easter Egg Diorama Scene

Projects

Here is a favorite Easter craft of mine. I made my first paper mache Easter egg diorama scene when I was in elementary school. I then made them with my kids when they were in elementary school. I just love these eggs! Not only are they bright and cheery, but they also have their own little world inside of them. I filled mine with Easter grass and little chicks.

Supplies:

  • a small balloon
  • string or yarn (it will be thrown out so nothing fancy)
  • newspaper
  • scissors
  • masking tape
  • x-acto knife
  • glue (Elmer’s school glue)
  • old disposable container (a large yogurt container would work well)
  • a plastic spoon (to stir glue mixture)
  • white copy paper (a couple sheets or so)
  • tissue paper in various colors
  • ribbon
  • Easter grass
  • Chicks or small animals to put inside

To make one….

  • Blow-up one small balloon and tie a string around the tied-off end. Tape this string on the edge of a table and let the balloon fall over the edge.
  • Under the balloon (on the floor) lay out newspaper to collect the mess that will occur.
  • In a disposable container, pour glue and mix with water to make a thin paste. (Add water a bit at a time so it doesn’t get too thin.)
  • Cut strips of tissue paper in various colors, sizes.
  • Cut strips of white copy paper. (Some people use newspaper…I think the colors are better over white.)
  • Dip a strip of tissue paper in glue mixture. Run it between the sides of two fingers to squeegee off the glue. The strips should not be dripping in glue.
  • Stick this strip onto the balloon and rub in place.
  • Repeat until egg is covered.
  • Dip the white paper in glue and repeat in same method. (This layer will make the egg stronger.)
  • Dip the tissue paper in glue and repeat in same method for the third and final layer.
  • Clean-up and let the egg hang to dry over-night.
  • Next day….draw an oval for the opening and cut with an x-acto knife. The balloon should be deflated and can be pulled out at this point. Where the tied-off part of the balloon was should be a small hole. Fold a ribbon in half and tie a knot in at the end of the ribbon and thread through to make a hanger.
  • Wad up tiny bits of tissue paper and dip in glue/water mixture and push into place around opening.

Voila!

Now be creative and make a little scene inside the egg. Stuff some grass in and add animals, etc…

Happy Creating and Happy Easter!

Alternative Gift Wrap

Projects

Got presents to wrap? If so, do not be afraid to think outside the box when choosing the gift wrap. There are other creative ways to wrap presents besides the obvious gift wrapping paper or gift bags.

Some options to think about may be…

Towels

Find a pattern or print that matches the occasion.

Socks

Cozy socks add cushion to bottles of wine.

Pillowcases

A pillowcase stuffed with a holiday sweater- what could be better.

Newspaper/printed paper

Recycled text for a charming wrap.

Whether cutting back on paper or just being creative, alternative gift wraps are a fun twist on presenting a present. So, if running short on wrapping paper do not fret. Other options are available and may be appreciated even more as the wrap could be a bonus gift as well. Happy gifting!

Adding a Pop of Color to the Front Door for Curbside Appeal

Projects

While watching those fixer-upper home shows on television, I get inspired to do a little extra something around my own house. The most recent thing on my Honey Do List was to give a pop of color to our house. That meant changing the door color from a brown stain to a bright purple. Did I say purple? Yes, Purple!

Go bold or go home as they say. We’ll there was no where else to go. We were already home. But go bold we did. Regrets? No way! I LOVE it!

I chose purple because I love purple. It also goes with the flowers when they are in bloom in the yard. I chose a color of purple that complemented the house color as well. As there are so many shades of one color it is important to be sure that all colors work with each other. I got samples from the hardware store and looked at them with the house color. I also took a photo of the house and printed it on the copier. Then I cut out the door on my paper house and placed the color samples in the cut out door. This gave me any ‘idea’ of how the house might look with the color I chose.

I had always leaned on the “safe” side as far as colors go. Paint colors are so hard to choose. They never look exactly like the little paint sample. However, this time I decided to listen to those curb appeal shows and add a pop of color. I must say, I am very happy I did. A house needs a focal point and what better place to start than the front door. The point of entry and welcome.

That pop of color has made all the difference in the feel of our home. It has now a richness that it was missing before. It does not blend into the background anymore. It says, “I have personality, I am unique”. Amazing how much one tiny change can make such a difference.

Of course, if the purple had been horrible, the worst thing would have been another trip to the hardware store for a different color. One never knows until they try it. My husband did get a small sample of the paint and tried it on the door before investing money in the whole gallon. This is probably advisable as I said before, paint samples are never what they seem. Also, I might note that the color chosen should be a little brighter than desired as it will seem darker from the street view than it will up close.

Thanks again Honey for another job well done!

Spotlight on Recipes

Cooking, Projects

As I have grown older, I have found reading my recipes a bit more challenging. No, I do not need a new pair of eye glasses. My glasses are fine. That is not the problem at all. The problem is poor kitchen lighting.

The overhead lighting is not sufficient for reading recipes. Think of it like an office. One uses a desk lamp along with the overhead lighting. Hence, under cabinet lighting is the kitchen’s desk lamp.

With a simple request to my hubby, he was off to the hardware store. He came back with three under cabinet lights that plug in. I thought that would take up a lot of my outlets. Where would I plug in the mixer? He quickly educated me on electrical terms. Ever hear of the daisy chain? Me neither! According to Wikipedia, “In electrical and electronic engineering a daisy chain is a wiring scheme in which multiple devices are wired together in sequence or in a ring.” Brilliant! So the three lights are all hooked together and only one plug is inserted into the outlet. My husband even got an adapter with a switch that allows me to turn them all on together at the outlet. I also have the option to turn off the ones I do not want on. So I could use the lights individually if desired.

My husband had the lights up and working in no time at all. Now I can read the recipes without having to bend down and squint into the cookbook. Wow what a difference! Thanks honey!!!

Looking up from under cabinet – Lights are not visible straight on
Outlet Switch