Monday, April 14, 2014

DIY Origami Bird's Nest with Free Printable

Fold an origami nest for Easter
There's still time to whip up a few handmade decorations for your Easter bash this coming Sunday! I transformed this simple origami box into a little bird's nest that's just perfect for those Cadbury Mini Eggs that we've all been snacking on since Valentine's Day saving for Easter.

I didn't have any nesty-looking paper for this, so I drew up my own. Click here to download it for yourself! 

Here's what you'll need:

Fold an origami nest for Easter

  • Nest filler - crimped paper or Easter basket grass
  • Egg-shaped candies
  • Free download, print out at 100% scaling and trim to 6" square

With the printed side down, fold in half diagonally, both sides.

Fold the right paper edge to the center crease, folding only to the lower crease. Fold the corner of this flap upwards. Unfold. Repeat with the three other sides of the square.

Bring the folded edge points to the center of the square. Tuck the corners into each other. Crease the edges into a square shape. Follow along with the video!

Fill with crimped paper and candy eggs. Whip up a bunch to give to friends and coworkers!

Fold an origami nest for Easter Fold an origami nest for Easter

Fold an origami hen or two to go with your nests!

Fold an origami nest for Easter

Origami project is from Advanced Origami. Check it out for more origami models.
The download provided is not for distribution and is for personal use, only.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Craftcation

My experience at Craftcation

Last week I took off on a road trip to sunny Ventura to spend 4 days with hundreds of other business-minded crafty people at Craftcation, a "conference for creative makers." Let me tell you, it was one of the best things I've done in a long time!

My experience at Craftcation

During a theme dinner on the first night, attendees received a warm welcome from conference organizers Nicole and Delilah followed by an inspiring keynote speech by Lisa Congdon. In the days that followed, there were an array of hands-on craft classes, activities, and panels to attend. How to Make Real Money From Your Blog, Getting Started as a Freelancer, From Drab to Fab: Next Level Displays (loved this one!), and PR and Marketing on a Shoestring Budget were just a few of the informational sessions I listened in on.

My experience at Craftcation

Fairgoods sponsored a monogram stamp carving class. I've shared other stamp carving tutorials before, here and here, but I'd never carved a monogram before. I love how it came out.

My experience at Craftcation

Jennifer of Sprout Studios taught a class on terrariums and I had way too much fun choosing accessories for mine! (I don't think a terrarium has ever made me hungry before. Maybe that's why I had to stop at In-N-Out on my drive home for a cheeseburger!) I chose a Kalanchoe and a String of Pearls for my planter. If you want to learn how to make you own I shared a tutorial for something similar a while back.

My Experience at Craftcation My Experience at Craftcation

During social times, a handful of crafty authors were there to chat and sign books. Kari Chapin was there and I jumped at the chance to introduce myself and have her sign her new book, Grow Your Handmade Business. Her other book, The Handmade Marketplace, was one of the first I bought and read when I started up my Etsy business years ago! What a treat!

My Experience at Craftcation

Speaking of treats, Academy of Handmade threw a Mad Men themed bash on Saturday night that was too much fun. I had to laugh when I found a lone candy cigarette in my bag the next day.

My experience at Craftcation

One of the best elements of the conference was getting to meet and hang out with so many creative people! Here's just a handful of the business cards I collected over the 4 days. L-R starting at the top: Fresh Baked Paper Goods, I Make Cute Stuff, shastablasta, Design Crush, Slightly Beneath The Sun, The Crafted Life, Sprout Studio, Blu Penny, Kari Chapin, Maggie Pickavance, Weirdies.

My experience at Craftcation

2014 marked the conference's third year and my only disappointment is that I didn't get to attend the two years prior! You'd better be sure I'll be there next year, though. Cheers to Nicole and Delilah for organizing such a fun and inspiring event! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

DIY Marbled Paper Mache Easter Eggs

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

I have fond memories of marbling Easter eggs with my grandma every year as a kid. She wasn't big on craft projects, but she always had a Paas Marble Kit ready for my sisters and me a couple weeks before Easter. I thought of her when I decided to marble some eggs this year. This time, however, I used traditional marbling supplies and techniques on paper-mache eggs so that I can enjoy them for many years.

This technique is time consuming and a little messy, but I'm sure you'll enjoy both the process and the results once you get going.

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

Here's what you'll need:
  • Powdered Alum and Methocel. This Jacquard Marbling Kit comes with both in addition to some primary color paints (that I didn't use).
  • Acrylic pants in various spring-time colors
  • Paper Mache Eggs
  • Gesso Primer or white acrylic paint
  • Foam brush
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Toothpicks
  • Cardboard scraps
Not shown: large mixing bowl, mixer, shallow tray or pan (about 2" deep), scrap papers, distilled water, household ammonia, small containers, drop cloth or newspapers to protect your work surface.

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

Prime the eggs with the gesso or white acrylic paint and the foam brush. Let dry. Mix the Alum with water per package instructions. Brush a light coat of the alum mixture on the eggs. The alum prepares the surface of the eggs to accept the marbled paint, so this step is very important. Let dry.

Mix the methocel with distilled water according to package instructions. I halved the batch indicated on the package and used 1/2 gallon of water to 2 tbs methocel powder. Mix with a mixer for 5 minutes to dissolve as much of the methocel as possible. Add 1/2 tablespoon of household ammonia to help dissolve the rest of the methocel. The mixture will be clear when it's fully mixed. Slowly pour into the shallow tray and let sit for at least 30 minutes or until all of the bubbles have dispersed.

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

While you wait, carefully push the skewers into the base of the eggs. Cut a small X on the bottom of each egg with a craft knife to make it a little easier.

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

Make a rake by poking toothpicks into the end of a piece of cardboard at a regular interval.

Dilute each acrylic paint color in a small container with a little bit of water. The paints should be about as thick as whole milk.

Marbling (the fun part!):
After the 30 minutes, scrape the top of the tray with a piece of paper (like skimming the top of a swimming pool) to remove dust and bubbles. Dip a skewer into the first paint color and flick it over the tray. The paint droplets will settle on the surface and spread. Continue with other colors in a random pattern.

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

Use a skewer or the toothpick rake to swirl the paint colors in a pattern that you like. Slowly roll the egg across the surface of the paint to pick up the pattern. Rinse carefully with water to remove the methocel. Let dry vertically on the skewer in a jar or mug.

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

Repeat the steps with each egg. To start a new pattern or color combo, lay a piece of scrap paper on the surface and carefully lift off to remove excess paint. Start over with the same steps. Play with different color layers and swirl patterns.

It's best to start each batch of color/pattern with a clean methocel surface. Residual paint may affect the color and pattern of the next application of paint.
Bright paint colors work the best. Light shades of pink, light blue, and light yellow won't show up as well as more saturated colors.
If the paint sinks to the bottom of the tray instead of staying on the surface it is too thick. Dilute with more water until it spreads across the surface. If the paint sinks it will not affect the color/pattern.

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

Cover the methocel to re-use later! It will keep up to a week at room temperature, longer if refrigerated. If you're done, pour it into a can or milk carton and discard. The package instructions said it can be poured down the drain if flushed with hot water, but I also heard that it can clog drains, so I played it safe. Save the alum, too, and treat other papers or fabric pieces to prep for marbling.

DIY Traditionally Marbled Paper Mache Eggs

I had so much fun with this technique. Have you ever tried traditional marbling? If you want to read more about marbling and its history, Design Sponge has an informative article all about it. (I just located this post and thought, "Hmm, I wonder if I commented on this when it was posted last year." Sure enough, I got the first comment spot. Too funny.)

Let me know if you try this. I'd love to see how your Easter eggs turn out!

*If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have noticed my many posts about Craftcation. I got back late last night and am so inspired for my blog and handmade business. I'm going to share a post all about it later this week, so stay tuned!

Monday, March 31, 2014

DIY Mini Easter Dome

DIY Mini Easter Dome
There's just something about miniature nature scenes that just say "Easter!" to me. As a kid I was enthralled with my grandma's collection of sugar eggs. You know the ones, with hard as rock frosting decorations on the outside and a little viewing window. I loved looking at the little scenes inside those eggs. On one of my recent wandering trips around Michael's recently, I came across these little glass domed plates and thought they'd be perfect for a mini Easter display.

Here's what you'll need:

DIY Mini Easter Dome
  • Mini Display Dome found at Michael's
  • Mini speckled eggs. I found a bunch of pink and green eggs at Michael's. Similar  
  • Moss or lichen. I found mine on the ground after a windstorm, but you can buy bags of moss in the floral section at the craft store
  • Sticks, twigs, and small pieces of bark. Again, foraged during an afternoon walk.
  • Parchment colored paper
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Pliers to trim wire
DIY Mini Easter Dome

1. Optional: Paint a few of eggs with acrylic paint for more color variety (I painted the blue ones). Add some speckles with black or brown paint and a toothpick.
2. Break off a few small pieces of bark and glue them together to make a little raft-like shape. Make sure it's small enough to fit inside the lid of the dome.
3. Glue on a few small pieces of moss.
4. Clip the wires off of the mini eggs and hot glue them onto the raft.

DIY Mini Easter Dome

To make the little flags, hand write, stamp, or print out your Easter messages. I typed out a few in a simple font and printed them on a natural toned speckled piece of paper. Cut messages to size, leaving an extra 1/2 inch on the left side. Add a little bit of glue to a piece of wire (just trimmed from the eggs) and fold the flag around it.

DIY Mini Easter Dome

Once the flag is dry, trim the wire to size, about 1" tall. Experiment with placement in the arrangement. It is important to attach it to the left side of the raft so the entire paper fits inside the dome. Once you've found a good spot for it, add a dab of hot glue to the end and secure at an angle behind the eggs.

Glue the arrangement to the bottom of the plate with some hot glue. Add the dome over the top. Add a couple dots of hot glue to secure the lid to the base if you'd like.

DIY Mini Easter Dome

How cute are these? You can add another layer of personalization by tying on a little flag with a name to the top of the lid. Wouldn't they make the sweetest little place cards for Easter dinner?

DIY Mini Easter Dome DIY Mini Easter Dome

Friday, March 28, 2014

The New American Dream.

Spirit Magazine - The American Dream

My mom went on a trip a couple weeks ago and brought the issue of Spirit (Southwest's magazine) home for me and said I just had to read this one article. I finally got around to it this morning, and it was such a great read I thought you would enjoy it, too.

"The New American Dream" by Taffy Brodesser-Akner is about entrepreneurs who traded in the corporate desk job and created more fulfilling careers for themselves.
"The changing economy is spurring a radical new approach to living, and to earning a living. And for a growing number of creative entrepreneurs, that approach seems to be working."
I was so happy to find that the entire article is online. Check it out!

Spirit Magazine - The New American Dream

Now I'll spill the beans on what's been going on in the past few months and why this article really hit home for me. I quit my job right before Thanksgiving. I had known for a long time that I needed to rearrange things in my life. Juggling my Etsy business, craft blog, full-time job, and whatever tiny bit of a social life I could manage had worked fine over the past 5 years, but I knew I didn't want another 5 years of it. Additionally, recent health problem in the family (my mom's stroke last year and my dad's heart disease and battle with cancer) had reminded me that HEY, LIFE'S SHORT! Finally, after many stressed-out evenings and lots of tears I decided to make a change. A very scary change for a practical gal like myself. I walked away from my job of over 5 years (and the steady paycheck, health benefits, and stability that it provided) in favor of going it on my own.

What I've been up to since then: you may have noticed, but I'm expanding my line of handmade gifts and stationery. I've been working on my own shop website outside of Etsy and hope to start adding new wholesale accounts. I also will be working on some sponsored posts here on the blog and possibly some advertising. Cause, you know, a girl's gotta pay her bills!

Do I have it all figured out yet? No way. Is it scary? Hell, yes. Am I happy? More than I've been in a very long time.

So that's that! I hadn't planned on writing this post at all, but when I read the article this morning it just made sense to share. And now I don't know why I waited this long.

Oh, wait, I do know why. It was because I was scared. But I'm working on that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Easy Polkadot Manicure

Dotty Nail Wraps

I came across these Sally Hansen Nail Effects Strips on sale at Walgreens last week and decided to give them a try. And guess what? I'm really impressed!

I did them on Friday night and here we are on Wednesday and they're still looking great! The application was a little involved, though. You have to first prep your nails to ensure good sticking action. Then you align each strip to the edge of your cuticle, and carefully stretch the rest of the strip to fit the nail. I pulled too hard on the first one and ripped it, so be gentle! File off the excess and make sure the edges are really stuck down with the little wooden stick provided in the box. The package comes with 16 strips (strange number if you ask me) but I got all of my nails covered using only 8. Just cut the unused ends off of your strips to use on your other nails. :)
Dotty Nail Wraps

I topped everything off with two coats of clear nail polish and it seemed to help everything stay put. I'm not easy on my nails by any means, so I'm very happy with how well they have held up over the past few days. Overall, it's a fairly easy (and cheap!) way to get a cute custom-looking manicure.

The pattern I used is called On the Dot. I couldn't find it on Amazon, but they carry lots of other colors and patterns. I'm sure your local drug store has them, too. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

New Fabric Print: Vintage Trailer Caravan

Retro Fabric Prints

Happy first Friday of Spring! The weather is heating up and I'm finding myself spending more and more time outside, dreaming up trips to the beach, hikes, and camp-outs. I was thinking about warm-weather getaways in kitschy vintage campers when I created this new fabric print. Here it is: Vintage Trailer Caravan!

Retro Fabric Prints Retro Fabric Prints
It's available in a multi-color option and black and white on Kona cotton. Both coordinate really well with my other retro-themed fabric prints.
Retro Fabric Prints

I can't wait to dive into these and sew up some cute stuff!

Retro Fabric Prints

Remember the Retro Ranch print I used for my Cafe Curtains? I listed this one for sale, too!

Retro Fabric Prints Retro Fabric Prints
These retro-themed prints are all listed for sale in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top Tips for Thrifting

Top Tips for Thrifting

I've been a thrift shopper my whole life. It started when I was a kid and I'd tag along with my mom or help her at church rummage sales. I inherited from her the thrill of the hunt and it's still one of my favorite activities. It's like modern treasure hunting. I think I've gotten fairly good at my thrifting and wanted to share some of my tips with you! Twelve to be precise!

When I go shopping I mainly look for housewares and furniture, but these tips can be applied to pretty much anything you can buy second hand!

Top Tips for Thrifting
I don't know if the sale was as impressive as the sign.
Be willing to stop in and take a look.
You never know when you'll come across a great store or yard sale.

Top Tips for Thrifting
Sometimes the packaging is better than the product!
Go shopping alone, or with someone else who enjoys browsing, too.
It's no fun when you get to a great store and the person you're with wants you to hurry up and leave. Some people just aren't suited for thrift shopping. That's ok, just don't go with them! Find some other friends and family members who like the thrill of the hunt and go with them. I like shopping with my mom because she's great at recognizing potential in an item, or a unique style, or just something that may be valuable. Plus I got my love of junk shopping from her, so we think alike in those terms. I've also found some of my favorite pieces when I was shopping alone. Plus you don't have to worry about that awkward moment when you and your friend want the same killer Pyrex bowl.

Top Tips for Thrifting
Lane coffee table I snagged for $35
Look once, look twice, look again.
I can't tell you how many times I've discovered a really cool item that I originally missed the first time around the store. Sometimes it's hard to see the good stuff when it's surrounded by junk, so take your time and look again.

Top Tips for Thrifting
Locally made ceramic vase
Find a label or maker's mark.
The best way to identify a piece (and its potential value) is by finding a label or a maker's mark. If you were looking at a set of dishes with a couple missing pieces you may be able to locate those pieces online to complete your set. Look for a label and learn about what you're looking at.

Top Tips for Thrifting
Cute set of toothpicks! Great for a party.
Take a smart phone for the on-the-fly research.
I recently purchased a cast iron enamel pan that had some stains in the bottom. When I was still in the store I did a quick search on my phone to see if the stains were bad damage or if I could live with them. I found out the stains were only cosmetic and picked up a new pan for $5! It's also fun to see what that item you're holding is currently going for on eBay. About $40 for that same pan!

Top Tips for Thrifting
Unique plate pattern.
Look for damage.
Is that beautiful glass beverage dispenser that you just put in your cart actually cracked and broken on one side? (Oops, that happened to me once! Thankfully the store accepted returns.) Take a really good look at the items your considering. Pass on it if the damage is beyond repair or makes it unusable.

Update a jewelry box
The original finish on this jewelry box was drab and damaged. A little overhaul made it look brand new!
Look for potential.
Would it look 10 times better after a good cleaning? Could that chair's wobbily leg be fixed by just tightening a few screws? Can it use a fresh coat of spray paint? Take all of these things into consideration when looking around. Items tend to look worse than they really are under those harsh fluorescent lights.

Top Tips for Thrifting
Vintage folding chairs in great shape.
Is it useful?
You can typically find lots of useful well-made items at the thrift store for less than what they'd cost brand new. Go ahead and spend a couple bucks on that Springform pan. You'd never find one new for that price.

Top Tips for Thrifting
I love the graphics on vintage record covers. You can usually find these for just a couple bucks. Buy a few and frame them to make some unique wall art.

Do you love it?
If you love it, go for it. Life's too short to regret buying that wonderfully-terrible velvet painting or that insanely huge 70's lamp.

Top Tips for Thrifting
This set of gold cocktail glasses would be a great housewarming gift.

Would someone you know love it?
I've bought some great gifts at thrift stores over the years. Don't forget to think about the tastes of your friends and family while you're looking around. You may find that perfect, unique piece!

Top Tips for Thrifting
My entire collection of plates for my plate wall came from thrift shops.

Make friends with the sales people.
Sales people can give you the inside scoop on when new deliveries arrive, or when the next great sale is. Be nice to them. They may give you some useful insider info.
Top Tips for Thrifting
My $20 Elna works like a charm.

Keep your expectations low.
You really never know what you're going to find, so don't get your hopes up. I've left thrift stores empty handed many times. Sometimes there just isn't anything good. That's ok. Keep an open mind and stop in whenever you can. The more often you look, the better chances that you'll find a great deal.

Which brings us to the first image. Yes, people, I did it! I found the mythical Eames chair (I actually found 2)! Priced for $6 each! If I can do it, so can you. Just keep at it. You're bound to come across that incredible find that you'll brag about for years.

Speaking of which, have you made any great thrift scores lately? I'd love to hear about it!
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