Brass Jungle Bookends

As happens sometimes, we spent more of today’s crafternoon in pursuit of materials than actually crafting. Which meant that it was even more satisfying when our hard work paid off. Check out these Brassed Jungle Bookends!

Little-known-fact: You can’t buy spray paint in Chicago’s city limits. This is not good news for crafters. So we started this crafternoon with a trip to the suburban Home Depot for some metallic spray paint. We picked up some tumbled stone tiles there too.

After our Home Depot hot dogs, we stopped at the Dollar Tree for some plastic animals.

Christy and I went for the Jungle variety, Avril opted for the dinosaurs. It was a tough decision.

We got home, took our goods out to the alley, and sprayed away. Take that Chicago!

While we waited for the paint to dry, we super-glued our tiles together. We had hoped to find some sort-of-like-brick-but-smaller-than-brick stones, but tiles turned out to be the best option.

Once our animals were dry, we pulled out some books to test how they stood best on their new pedestals, made small pencil marks under their feet, and then super-glued them down.

Then Voila! Jungle Bookends!

Here’s one view. You can see Mr. Lion up there on the top shelf.

Or the pair together:

Thanks to Little Green Notebook for the idea!

Pretty Pocket Jotters

Today I was antsy for a project but wasn’t feeling too much patience in me. So these pretty little jotters were perfect. They took less than 15 minutes to put together and I can’t wait to start using them!

Here are the materials:

The secret: Gorgeous wallpaper samples from Anthropologie! (shhh.) While drooling over the website one day, I saw you could order samples for free. So I took them up on it. They are perfectly lovely decorating these mini moleskin journals.

You can easily wrap a piece right around the journal using double-stick tape:

Round the corners to cover the entire front, or add some embellishments:

Gift a set of 3, or split them up among friends (one would mail in a plain old envelope):

I had a few extra wallpaper samples, so with those I went even smaller and made my own little pocket jotters. (I saw this idea over here. Only a matter of time before crafters ’round the world discovered anything free from Anthropologie.)

I just cut a few sheets of paper to be 4″x6″ like the wallpaper samples, folded them together and stapled in the middle:

So get to it! And be creative about the paper you use: sheet music, comic books, a page of poetry, anything printed! These couldn’t be easier and will be fun to fill…

PS: I wrote “Eucharisteo” on one of the Moleskin journals because I’ve been reading the book, “One Thousand Gifts.” The author is dared by a friend to write down one thousand things she is thankful for, so she tries it. Her beautifully written book chronicles how this act of giving thanks — Eucharisteo — softens her heart and gives her joy. These little notebooks seemed perfect for carrying around in a pocket or purse to jot down throughout the day the things I am thankful for.

Painted Wooden Spoons

Today’s project comes to you from Pinterest. Painted wooden spoons with a coat of shellac to give them a sort of ceramic look. They were so easy! You should give it a try. Especially if you consider yourself a non-crafting sort.

Here are all of the materials I used:

  • Wooden spoons from the dollar store
  • Acrylic craft paint from JoAnn
  • Sponge brushes from JoAnn
  • Shellac from Home Depot (JoAnn doesn’t have it)

Now here’s the how-to:

  1. Start with some basic wooden spoons.
  2. Tape off the handle with masking tape.
  3. Paint the handle with craft paint. (Get creative with mixing colors. That’s the fun part.)
  4. Give it 2 coats of shellac and peel off the tape.

A few more views because I was having fun taking pictures. Can you tell I like my new succulent?

This was a quick and easy project and I wish I had gotten more spoons! I’m excited to keep some for myself, but they’d also make a great little hostess or house-warming gift. Yeah, I’m a grown up wife now. Look at me talking about hostess gifts.

My First Love

Well, my first crafting love anyway. Stationery. It just soothes my soul to pull out my trusty little paper cutter and see that stack of brightly colored envelopes just waiting for a pretty little card to hold.

I had a couple of dear friends with birthdays this week, so I happily nabbed the opportunity to put together a little personalized package for them. One enjoyable Saturday crafternoon later, here’s what I had in my hands:

Personalized flat cards with handmade envelopes for Sara.

Personalized flat cards with fancy Norman Rockwell envelope liners for Anna:

Think you can’t do this? You can! Here are my secret weapons:

  • Paper Source envelope templates
  • Paper Source envelope liner templates
  • Paper Source envelopes in any color you can imagine
  • Large sheets of paper for envelopes. Try wrapping paper, or the 12×12″ sheets you can find at craft stores.
  • Interesting designs/patterns/photos for envelope liners. I’ve used sheet music, comics, and best of all, thrift store coffee table books (like Norman Rockwell paintings). Get creative!
  • Card stock in any color you like. Print someone’s monogram or name in a cool font to make simple flat cards.
  • Double-sided tape (It’s easy to work with and glue falls apart, trust me.)

So go get to crafting already! 

PS: A sneak peek at Crafternoon madness

I’m one lucky girl

I have no doubt that my parents are responsible for any ounce of creativity and/or love of things handmade that landed inside of me. They have always fostered environments where we can be creative…write, sing, craft, build, design, paint, cook…you name it, we did it. I was measuring and cutting drywall out in the driveway by the time I was 11.

I feel very lucky to have grown up in a home like this, and it’s no wonder my brother became a music teacher, my sister an interior designer, and I a non-profit writer/designer. And that we all married creative types to boot. They planted in each of us the desire to pursue interesting things, make our surroundings beautiful, and turn even the plainest of spaces or events into something special. It was not uncommon for us to dine on Kraft macaroni and cheese on our finest china over candlelight.

So what a wonderful Christmas it was this year, exchanging handmade gifts and appreciating the unique talents of one another. There was not a dry eye in the place.

Marmie crocheted this beautiful chevron pillow for me. It’s finally resting on our living room sofa where it belongs:

Pops crafted this wood tray. Best part is he made it using the reclaimed wood that he had first crafted into the table that held the cake at our wedding. Like I said, waterworks.

And Pookie. Well, she outdid herself with these incredibly detailed glittered paper ornaments. She made a set for each of us, and used sheet music and book pages depending on our interests.

Daniel and Jenn claim they are not creative. But if you’d listen to them sing, as we do every time we are together, you’d know what a wonderful gift that is too. (I’ll prove it.)

So I promise the point of this post is not just to brag about all of the incredible things I got for Christmas. (Well maybe a little.)

But as I opened each of these beautiful treasures, I couldn’t help but reflect on what a creative home can do for a family. It doesn’t just produce impressive end results. Creativity within a family fosters kindness, thoughtfulness, laughter, generosity, love, and lots and lots of happy tears.

Curved Glass Does Not Magic Make*

I recently found magic. 

A substance that created the look of etched glass that I saw used only everywhere, including here and here and here.

I wanted me some magic.

I discovered the source of this magic to be Armour Etch, or glass etching cream. I found it at Blick. Apparently it’s so dangerously acidic that it’s kept under lock and key. So if you go looking for some, you’ll need to ask one of the friendly, pierced, and tattooed Blick employees to help you out. Also get a basic old little paint brush while you’re there.

Once you have those rubber gloves on…

Then get a little more fancy:

Vases for Jenn and scotch glasses for Daniel. (We debated whether the purpose of these Roman Tumblers was to be able to identify one’s glass, or identify the number of drinks one has consumed.)

But remember how crafts are hard? Let me show you some things I made that do not look like magic:

Here are a few pointers to bypass the non-magic phase:

  • Use straight glass objects. The curved glass shown above made the tape buckle and the cream crept under against my will.
  • Find these straight glass objects at thrift stores or Target. Not fancy curved glass objects at Crate and Barrel that cost more money anyway.
  • Apply tape or stickers with force. Get your fingernails in on it. Press that tape down like you thought you could never press tape down.
  • GLOB on that Armour Etch. No perfectionism here kids. The messier the better.
  • Don’t try to give it a second coat. It just doesn’t work.
And there you have it. The end of Christmas Crafts 2011. Until you see the incredible handmade things that were given to me…

*As promised in the last post, this is actually “Christmas Crafts Part 2.” Fortunately I realized how awful that was for a blog post title before publishing it for a second time.

Christmas Crafts Part 1: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Braided Bead Necklace

I made this lovely beaded necklace for my mom thanks to ECABI’m not even going to give you directions, follow hers. They were perfect.

The one piece of advice I will give here is to get your materials from a bona fide bead store. I love JoAnn as much as the next girl, but sometimes it just doesn’t cut it. A necklace this beautiful deserves a little respect.

Hand Painted Mugs

I’ve also been drooling over Wit & Whistle lately, specifically her incredible hand painted mug.

I knew Emily and Kyle needed mugs, so I bought a few from Crate and Barrel (rather than finding them at a thrift store which was my original intent, again a little respect). The only other thing I needed was Porcelaine paint outliner. I found that at Blick. Here’s how they turned out:

My advice: take your time. I did a small section, let it dry, did another small section, let it dry, etc. Spreading out the process helped me not smudge the paint as I went. I also did some searching to find other patterns that I liked so they wouldn’t all be the same.

Lessons Learned

Over Christmas, we’d show my nephew Luke how to roll a ball and once he was bored with that, he would figure out how to throw it or kick it on his own. He just needed a starting point.

Such is learning a new craft. Get to know new materials and you might be surprised what you can come up with on your own. My first attempts at these projects look exactly like the originals. But I have lots of ideas about how to alter that necklace now that I know the basic braid concept. And I can’t wait to find some other dishes to paint on. (Hey! That sounds like a great idea for a blog post…)

The point is, try stuff. Even if it looks exactly like the pattern you’re following. Use it as a springboard, and be sure to give credit where credit is due.

Next up, you guessed it! Christmas Crafts Part 2, the slightly more original ones.