Monday, December 24, 2012

Painting Baby Ben

Recently, I have been really into giving art as gifts for special occasions.  So when my college roommate had her first baby, I knew I wanted to paint her something for mother's day.  What better subject to paint than her beautiful baby boy!

I thought I would share a tutorial for this painting.  I really enjoyed the process.  I used oil paints for this portrait so it took a LONG time (about a year all together). I used their announcement card as a reference photo.

The early photos are pretty poor quality, so bear with me.

Once I had a sketch down on the canvas I started filling in color.  By placing dark colors down early, I was able to build the shadows and details.

 At this point I really start going in with dark colors to highlight the shadows.  Pay attention to all the nooks and crannies! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Don't be afraid to go too dark with oil paint! You can always lighten it by layering. That's the beauty of the medium.

I chose to use a thinning medium to change the consistency of the paint as the face progressed.  I use Turpentine. The Winsor & Newton Oil Painting Solvents are affordable and effective.  You can find them at your local craft store or Dick Blick online.

Thinning mediums (like Turpentine) are solvents that are mixed with oil paints to change the consistency. Basically changing the paint from fat to thin.  When you see oil paints that are glossy and shiny, chances are the paint was mixed with a thinner.

For the hair, I used a fan brush like this Royal Langnickel Sofia Fan from Dick Blick.

 This type of brush allows you to "fan" color on to the canvas, while creating a hair texture.

Here are some close-ups:

I went to Michaels to have this little guy framed. Their custom framing department is always helpful and they have a decent selection of frames and mouldings.

It was so special to give this portrait to my friend and hear now 2 year old Bennett point and say "that's Bennett!"


Monday, December 17, 2012

Fast DIY Business Cards

The Problem: Need business cards fast!  The Solution: DIY!

A few weeks ago I was planning on attending a Crafts Fair.  I had ordered fancy business cards that were not going to be delivered in time and I really wanted to have a way to "tag" the wreaths I was selling and and have a way to spread my name. Also, let's face it, you feel pretty awesome when you can say "here, let me give you my card".  
I decided there was no time to have the cards done professionally, so I finally said "I can do this!"

First, I went to the store and grabbed a pack of Card Stock. I chose a multicolored pack that would cater to my indecisiveness and was more fun than a plain white pack

I had these two stamps that I've been dying to do something with, so I got them out.  If you're in a pinch your local craft store should have some basic stamps. If you have time, I definitely recommend browsing on Etsy!
Now, this is down and dirty business card making.  I am not proficient in the Adobe products (Illustrator/Photoshop), and my designer husband was at work, so I resorted to good 'ole Microsoft Word.  When you go to Word, start by figuring out what version you have  In Word 2003 or earlier versions, on the Tools menu, click Envelopes And Labels. In Word 2007 or later choose Labels from the Mailings tab.   On the Labels tab, click Options.  In the Labels Product list, click Avery Standard.   In the Product Number list, use 8371 or 5371.  This will allow you to use a business card template.   In the Address area, enter the address information for the business card.  
It will look something like this:
The only downside to using your fancy colored paper is that you will have to measure and cut the cards by hand.  I believe if you use the actual Avery Business Card Paper it is serrated.  The gridlines will not print so you will have to measure and cut your cards.  A standard business card is 2" x 3.5".

I made separate templates for my front and back and then reversed my printing so that the sides would match up.  

Once everything was printed, I took my stamps and got creative!

Here are my front and back views:
 DIY Business Cards just like that!  I love the multicolored cards and the charming stamps, they feel very "me"


Friday, November 16, 2012

Fast, Fun, & Affordable Holiday Decorating!

The Holidays are expensive.  There's food, gifts, and travel arrangements to pay for. One thing that doesn't have to break your Christmas piggy bank is decorations, just DIY!  This is a quick tutorial to make a Holiday yarn wreath.  I won't go into detail about Yarn Wreath basics, those instructions can be found on my "Heavy Metal Letter Meets Pretty Yarn Wreath" post.

Wrapping the wreath form in yarn can be pretty time consuming, especially if you are doing a tight wrap as seen above.  If you want to save some time, you can do a loose wrap as seen below:
Back to our tightly wrapped wreath! Once the form has been wrapped in yarn, it's time to start decorating!  Think outside the box, do you have anything around the house that you can use? Any old mismatched Christmas balls that you don't need on your tree? An old Christmas broach that is to cumbersome to wear on your Christmas sweater? Perfect!  I use an assortment of store bought and found items for my wreaths.  Start by placing the items on the wreath. Play around with the arrangement until you like what you see. Then get out your glue gun and commit to placement!
 Hot glue can be messy.  I had this terrible blob of glue that was visible under the "C" in my Peace piece.  Don't fret! It's a perfect opportunity to add something! An ugly spot of glue is nothing a cute fabric flower and some sparkly leaves can fix!

Once you are satisfied with your arrangement, all that's left it to craft a quick loop so you can hang your Christmas cheer! Tie a piece of yarn around the top of the wreath and fashion a loop.  I secure my loop to the back of the wreath with a dab of glue.
And just like that, a fast and affordable Christmas wreath!

Happy Holidays!



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quick DIY Halloween Costume

Do you need a last minute Halloween costume? This quick DIY will have you looking spooky in no time!

What you'll need:
        Witch's Hat (I got this one at a craft store for $0.99!)
        Glue gun and glue sticks
        Assortment of fake flowers, garland, and any other funky pieces

First, crumple up some newspaper and stuff it into the point of the hat.  We are going to make the hat pretty heavy so adding some newspaper will add some stability. Next, find a flower with a long wire stem.  Pull the flower off the stem and put it aside for later.  Slide the stem up into the hat and use some glue to secure the stem to the inside of the hat. I set the stem along the seam of the hat, the stem will act as a "backbone" for the hat.  I also added a few drops of glue to keep the newspaper ball in one place.
 Grab your glue gun and start gluing flowers, grasses, and other decorations to your hat!
 A little hint about fake flower bundles:  An individual stem from a bouquet can be made into a fuller bunch of flowers simply by sliding up from the bottom of the stem.  I did this for most of my pieces so that each piece had more body.

All ready to pass out candy!

Have a crafty Halloween!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

DIY Wedding Guestbook

October is the best month to get married. Yes, I am bias because I got married in October, but it's true.  The leaves changing colors, the cool air helps keep the bride from being a sweaty mess, it's the perfect time of year for nuptials.  We had a DIY wedding. It was time consuming, stressful, and messy, but I am SO glad we did it because it represented us and and everything we love!
One of my favorite DIY projects for our wedding was our guestbook.  We didn't want a traditional guestbook and we wanted the signing process to be creative, fun, and efficient.  We decided to make cards.  The card allowed multiple people to signs at once and once the wedding was over, it was a joy to go through and read what people wrote. 
My amazingly talented husband designed the cards and we brought the file to our local Kinkos and had them printed on a heavy card-stock.  We fit two cards to a page, saving money and space, and all we had to do was cut them and buy a nice pen!

To keep our cards safe, we found a vintage tin book at a thrift shop that fit the cards perfectly! It was the perfect piece!
Even a year later, opening this up and flipping through the cards brings a smile to my face.  It is such a special memento of the most amazing day!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's Etsy Time!

Well folks, I finally made it happen. I have opened an Etsy shop! For those of you who aren't already spending hours browsing Etsy for all it's vintage and handmade wonders, you really should! Etsy products are posted and sold by the artist or owner.  All products are Vintage or Handmade.  Warning: Once you start browsing on Etsy, it can be really hard to stop browsing! Who knows what treasures you will find!

You Can view my Etsy store here:
You can also click on the links below!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Creative Cat Door

Meet Betty, a cute, cuddly, ball of feline fun.  I ADORE this cat.  So what's the problem? Her litter box. Specifically, the fact that wherever we put the litter box, our darling dog manages to find it and indulge in a snack...

To summarize: 1) we LOVE our cat 2) our dog enjoys eating "kitty crunchies" 3) we need a litter box solution

The solution was to put a cat door in one of our closets.  This could have been a quick fix of cutting a hole in the door and installing a prefab cat door, however, we have these beautiful solid wood doors in our home that we could not bear to chop.  Solution: Buy a cheap, hollow door for $20 and chop a hole in it!

Before my husband and dad cut the hole in the door, we creatively measured the size of our slightly obese cat.  Once the hole was cut we were able to stain the door.
This MinWax PolyShade stain in Antique Walnut was the closest match to the other doors in our house.  Make sure you give the stain at least 6 hours to dry before working on the door.
 Starting to look pretty good!  Now it's time to make the cat door.  I went to home depot and bought a piece of decorative trim and asked my dad to cut four sides to make a frame for the door. I used a spray primer before adding color.
 I found this awesome decorative paint by Martha Living.  I wanted something funky and decorative but not too bold that was an eyesore.
Once the paint was dry it was time to attach the frame to the door.  Because the cheap door was hallow, we decided to use glue instead of nails because we did not want to splinter the wood.  Elmer's Carpenter Wood glue worked great. 
***Make sure you do NOT attach the top piece! We will need it later when we attach the fabric flap!
Set the frame in clamps so that the glue dries while the frame is tight. While you wait for the glue to dry it's time to make a cloth door!

Disclaimer: I am NOT a seamstress! My sewing skills are minimal. My stitches are not straight. But hey, this is for a cat door and I don't think little Betty will judge me.  

I chose a fabric that was complimentary with a dash of character.  After measuring the size of the door opening, I added a 1/2 inch and folded over.  After I had ironed the folds, it was time to sew.  
Once the flap was done, we used a staple gun to attach the fabric flap to the top frame piece that we did not attach earlier.  Once the flap was stapled, we just had to glue the top piece to the door. 

Once the decorative door is dry, all that's left is to attach the new door to the door frame.  We used the hardware from our old door so we didn't have to buy any new hardware.

My work here is done.


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