Planning & Dreaming & Learning, Oh My!

Lately, I have been focusing on planning and product design and have not done very much making. I enjoy all of the facets of the creative process and embrace the importance of each; but the hands on actual making is my favorite part and I think I may be going through withdrawals. (Maybe I should break out some craft supplies this afternoon and scratch the itch a little.)

Currently,  my inspiration is coming from mid-century modern design and nature. Weird combination, right? I love the clean lines, vivid colors and graphic designs of mid-century modern but I also love the textures, shapes and ruggedness of the great outdoors. (My idea of the perfect vacation would be a camping trip in a vintage Airstream travel trailer) So while my current interests seem to be somewhat at odds with each other, I’m determined to find a way to marry the two. I’ll keep you posted on the success and/or failure of this endeavor.

I’ve also been practicing my pyrography and wood carving skills. It’s challenging and a bit frustrating to produce items that aren’t what I consider beautiful. I am not what you would call a patient learner, but I’m improving so I just need to stick with it. Eventually, I will like what I am producing…I hope!

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Mid-century modern, oh how I love you!

That’s a quick and pretty unexciting update of what I’m working on right now. I hope to have some actual projects to show you soon.

What have all my creative friends been up to lately? What’s inspiring you right now?

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New Toys For Christmas

Now that the hubbub of the holiday season is behind us, it’s time to get back in the swing of things and start writing and creating on the regular again. I haven’t done much writing, but I have been creating because Santa (my hubby) was really good to me this year. I got new tools! I know that some girls would think tools are a terrible gift, but I couldn’t be happier.

The two most exciting items are a set of wood carving knives and my wood burning pen.

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I have been wanting to experiment with these two mediums for a while, so I’m super pumped to finally have the opportunity. I haven’t done much yet, just a little playing around with some of my own designs and very basic techniques, but I’m looking forward to learning and growing this new skill set.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I also have some other projects in the works that I’m pretty excited about and I can’t wait to share them with you as well.

Keep creating!

Kid Kitchen Up-cycle

This has been one of the most challenging and most rewarding projects I have taken on to date. I turned an old entertainment center into a play kitchen for my granddaughter. (Thank you Pinterest for the inspiration!)

I had been gathering supplies for quite some time and I finally found a suitable entertainment center at our local Goodwill a couple of months ago. Here’s how it started out.

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I went with a mid-century color scheme because I found a really fantastic sheet of laminate that I wanted to use for the project. I also hit the jackpot and found matching paint on the “oops” paint shelf at Menard’s so I only paid two dollars for paint!

After the piece was painted I measured my laminate and cut it with a razor knife; I applied masking tape over my lines to keep the laminate from chipping. This method worked surprisingly well. I used spray on laminate adhesive to attach it to the cabinet.

The original glass doors for the cabinet had a wooden trim piece that I reused; I cut (read, my husband cut because I HATE the table saw) two pieces of 1/4 inch plywood the same size as the glass and slid the trim pieces onto them. Once they were assembled I applied three coats of Rustoleum  magnetic primer (so she could have refrigerator magnets) and then top coated it with my pink paint. I added two long kitchen cabinet handles and I used the existing hinges to reinstall the doors.

For the stove top , I used left over 1/4 inch plywood spray painted gray; the burners are cork coasters and the knobs are round wooden jar labels that I had in my stash of goodies. I painted the burners and knobs with black craft paint and used spray adhesive to attach them to the stove top. For the oven, I painted one of the lower doors pink and used chalkboard paint to add the oven “window”. I also taped off a rectangle on the end of the cabinet and created an actual  chalk board.

For the sink, my husband came to my aid once again and used a jigsaw to cut a hole in the countertop. The sink is a stainless steel mixing bowl I picked up on clearance. The faucet was my one “splurge” I bought a drinking water faucet at Menard’s because it was perfect and I wanted it.

The lower cabinet that makes up the under sink area and oven was one big space, so I installed a divider using “L” brackets. The back of the cabinet is tongue and groove pine bead board. I wanted to have a nice back so the piece can be used as a room divider if desired. The little wire rack above the stove was also a clearance find. I used a battery operated light with an adhesive back for overhead lighting. There are also battery operated motion sensor lights in the fridge and oven. Whew! I think that covers all of the elements that were added to transform a TV stand into a dream kitchen.

I am SUPER happy with how it turned out. There a few things I would do differently if I attempt another play kitchen or other kid furniture transformation, but overall it was a pretty straight forward project once I figured out all the small details.

What furniture up-cycles have you all attempted that make you proud? I love seeing what others are doing. Bragging is highly encouraged on this blog!

 

Sew Proud

I am currently on a cross country adventure, but I thought I’d quickly share a project I finished before I hit the road. I’m not a seamstress. This will not be a sewing tutorial; you do not want to learn how to sew from me! That being said, I’m pretty proud of this finished product.

I bought an IKEA kids table and chair set for my granddaughter for Christmas and I wanted to make it just a little special. I decided to make cushions for the chairs.

I bought my fabric and foam cushions at Hobby Lobby for about twelve dollars. I bought extra fabric for another project that I will finish and post when I return home.

I bought these supplies quite awhile ago and didn’t get started because I had an idea but no actual plan. My hand was finally forced because I ran out of time. After some head scratching and rethinking of my idea, I decided to just keep it simple. I basically made snug fitting pillow cases and sewed the cushions into them. I also made some ties out of the same fabric and sewed them into the seam and then zigzag stitched over them for extra strength.

When I was finished I felt like they need a little something so I raided my daughters button stash and gave them a bolstered appearance.

They are definitely not perfect and a more skilled seamstress could have done a much better job, but I think they are cute and my three year old granddaughter will love them. I can’t wait to see them on the chairs.

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season and feeding your creativity.

Keep crafting and keep warm!

Burlap and Lace Garland

IMG_E7454My daughter and son-in -law recently moved out of their first apartment and because of the timing of everything, I was in charge of turning in their keys. I decided to take the opportunity to make an imprint of the key on a homemade Christmas ornament; this is what inspired the garland project.

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For those curious about the ornaments; The one one the left is salt dough, The one on the right is a cornstarch dough.

I had most of the supplies already on hand but I did pick up the jingle bells for 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  I think I paid $3.50 and I have some of the red ones left. The burlap is left over party decor from about five years ago, the lace I picked up on clearance a few years back (Because I knew eventually it would be perfect for something!), the red and white twine I found at Target last year (I absolutely love it!)  and the regular twine I used for the garland base is something I always keep on hand. Oh and I almost forgot, I had the white fabric on hand too. I try to live a somewhat minimalist life, but this paragraph makes me sound a little bit like a pack rat!

I made the stars and trees. I had a lot of cornstarch dough left over and I wanted to use it up; that’s when the garland idea hit me. I made as many stars and trees as I could, so I would be sure to have enough. It’s similar making cookies, I rolled out the dough and used my cookie cutters to cut the shapes. Once they were cut out, I poked holes in them for the string and then baked them according to the directions. Here’s a link to the recipe I used: http://the-pickled-herring.blogspot.com/2012/12/scandinavian-christmas-day-1.html

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While the ornaments were baking, I gathered my other supplies and got to work. I cut the fabric and burlap into 1/2 X 12 inch strips and I cut the ribbon into 12 inch lengths. I don’t know how many I used, I just made a bunch and then cut a few more when I ran out. I cut an 8 foot piece of brown twine to make sure it would be long enough for the project. Once I had that done, I started adding them to the twine. To attach them I folded each strip in half and the threaded the ends through the loop and around the twine. (see picture below)  Initially, I started with just the burlap and lace (that’s why the fabric isn’t in the picture) but I decided it needed another texture and color. Also, next time I think I’ll try to find a narrow burlap ribbon, because the thin strips of burlap proved a bit challenging  to work with.

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After all of the strips were attached I started adding the jingle bells, trees and stars. I used the red and white twine to tie them to the garland. I tied a knot around the twine and then finished it off with a bow. To string the ornaments, I had to thread the twine on a needle to get it through the holes. ( I wish I would have made the holes a little bigger because threading the twine on that needle made me act a little ugly a couple of times!)

This was a learning experience and I would do a few things differently next time, but overall I am really happy with the end result. I hope my daughter is too because the garland is going to her new house along with those ornaments that started this whole thing.

Outdoor Christmas Wreaths

I thought I’d take a few moments on this snowy Monday to share my most recent Christmas decor project. I live in an old farmhouse and I have always loved the pictures of houses where there is a wreath in every window. However, I do not like the idea of spending money on all those wreaths; so I came up with a plan. I went to my local Walmart and picked up five of their cheapest evergreen garlands. The were $2.38 apiece. I then went to Menard’s and found a big roll of sparkly red ribbon for $4.99. ( I just love things that sparkle!)

I did this project in my kitchen…that wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had; my kitchen was COATED in sparkly goodness. I’m pretty sure my family is still eating red glitter.

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The tools I used for this project were wire cutters and a ruler. I cut all of the garlands in half and cut pieces of ribbon to hang my wreaths. I cut the ribbon at about 33 inches to get them to hang where I liked them in my windows.  I twisted each of the lengths of garland into a circle, flattened the back and fluffed up the front. I didn’t quite loop it around twice; I left the top quarter a single layer so I could make the wreaths a little larger. Once I had the ribbon tied on, it wasn’t noticeable. I used some of the garland greenery like twist ties to hold the loops firmly together. Once the wreaths were made, I tied a piece of the ribbon in a loop around each one.

To hang them I simply opened the top sash of my windows and shut the ribbon in them, leaving the knot on the inside. At this point I thought I was done, I was so very wrong. That night it was a bit breezy and those adorable little wreaths made an absolutely awful noise rubbing against the window glass. At 1:30 am the bedroom windows were aggressively stripped of their noise makers! In the morning, I got out my husband’s fishing line (shh….) and cut pieces to loop around the bottom of the wreaths. I secured the lines by tying them around a piece of dowel and shutting the fishing line in the window with the dowel on the inside. It works well, but it isn’t very pretty, so I just decorated the window sills!

I very happy with how these wreaths are working out. I only put them in the windows on the two story section of our house but I think next year I’ll make a few more (okay, like 10 more) for the rest of the windows.

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How they look wearing today’s snow.

I’d love to see what other people are doing to bring a festive feel to their homes. So show me what you are up to! Happy Holiday Decorating!

 

My Workshop

I’ve been spending some time out in the barn this fall getting my workshop set up. (So has my loving husband. I’m so glad he puts up with my shenanigans!)  I’ve had a shop out there for a while but it wasn’t set up to my liking; I was just using it as is and there were things being stored in the space that really didn’t belong there and they took up a lot of my space. Junk was cleared, workbenches were relocated and supplies were reorganized. I super happy with the end result and I can’t wait to spend some serious time out there making things!

 

Now that it’s getting colder, I wanted to have a way to heat the shop, but it’s a pretty big room in a drafty old barn so I needed to get a little creative. The shop has a ceiling mounted heater and I have hung some moving blankets across the center of the room to temporarily create a smaller space to heat during the winter months. I picked up the blankets at Harbor Freight and I hung them from nails using medium sized binder clips. It’s working out pretty well and I’m glad that I can now use the space year round.

Speaking of using my shop…I better get out there and make something to blog about!

Christmas Tree Farm Sign

I am very fond of the current farmhouse decor trend, especially all the Christmas stuff. (I mean I do live in a farmhouse, so…) I have seen vintage inspired tree farm signs EVERYWHERE and I decided I wanted to make one of my own so I could personalize it. And, as we all know, I am a cheapskate so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this project.

I scored a big time find at Goodwill recently and I decided it would be perfect for my sign. It’s a fairly large oval embroidery hoop that I picked up for $3.99. I also found a large round one and I bought that one too. I had a canvas drop cloth that I purchased last year but never used, so I cut pieces out of that to stretch in the hoops.

 

Once I had the fabric nice and tight, I broke out my handy dandy overhead projector. (another awesome Goodwill find) and lightly traced on my designs with a pencil. after that I set up shop at the dining room table with my craft paints and brushes.

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It was a bit of a time consuming project, and it’s not my prettiest work, but overall I am pleased with the rustic charm of the end result.

 

On to the next project!

Fall Dollar Store Up-cycle

I really enjoy decorating for fall, but I don’t like spending a ton of money to do it; I’m a junker after all. When I got out my decorations this year I really felt like I needed a little something more to put in my kitchen. I really like the buttermilk colored pumpkins, but I do not like how much they cost. So, I made a trip to the dollar store to see what I could find.

What I found were some bright orange Styrofoam pumpkins that are about the size of an acorn squash. I bought three. Here is the before:

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As you can see, they were not pretty and I wasn’t sure if I could improve them at all. I decided to use some off-white chalk paint that I had left over from another project, just to see what would happen. Whatever that orange coating is,  it was plastic-y and I was afraid the paint would just pool up and not stick. I did have a little trouble with that, but it was not as bad a I thought it would be. After about three full coats, they looked pretty good. I used a little brown gel stain to add some age/shading to them after the paint had dried.

After the pumpkins were painted, I used some copper craft paint that I already had (I have a paint problem!) to paint the stems. When they were done, I still felt like they needed a little something, so I went digging around in the bottom of my fall decorations tote to see what sort of goodies I could find. I NEVER throw away the little bits that fall of the fake flowers, picks, garlands and greenery…I just stick them in the tote.

There wasn’t much in there, I must have used them for another project, but I found enough to make it work. I  poked the ends of the bits into the pumpkin and used straight pins to hold them in place. They are not the finest piece of art I’ve ever created, but for 3 bucks and a little time, I’m pleased with the result.

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I love to hear what other people are doing; so, what sort of fun fall crafts has everyone else been working on this year?

Green Thumb

I’ve been working on a couple of thrift store finds that I’m quite excited about. I’m turning two candle holders into plant holders…plant art…plant sculpture? I’m not sure what to call them, but I’m pretty happy with the end result.

The first one is a wall mounted piece that cost me about three dollars.  It has the little spikey things in the bottom of each circle that is supposed to hold a candle. I thought about trying to cut them out, but since I used pots with drain holes in the bottom, they don’t pose a problem and I left them as is. I painted the candle holder with some copper spray paint I had left over from my daughter’s wedding. (She did copper before it was “in” and I had to spray paint some of the decor; she’s always been on the cutting edge of cool) The pots are just inexpensive terra cotta pots that I picked up for eighty cents apiece at the home improvement store.  I painted them with the white latex paint that I always have around the house. When the pots are in place, they tip forward just a bit; not enough to fall out, but I secured them to the frame with some copper wire just to be sure.

The second one is a table top candle holder. It was also about 3 dollars and it did not have spikey bits. (Yay!) I sprayed it with off-white paint that I had from another project. I should mention that I sealed both candle holders with a matte clear coat. These pots are also from the home improvement store.  The bottoms of them are painted with some gray “oops” paint that I bought at Menard’s for fifty cents. ( I always head back to the paint department when I’m there, I’ve found some really great colors) The rim of the pots were painted with some craft paint that I also had left over from the wedding. I thought about adding some highlights on the stand, but I really like the simplicity of it so I’m going to leave it as is.

 

Now that these items are done, I’ll be working on a small shelving unit and a couple of projects with burlap coffee bean bags. I’m also in the process of reorganizing my shop, so I’m keeping busy but look for another post soon!