Friday, November 28, 2014

Handmade Stationery Gifts


     Earlier in the year, I attended a great workshop at The Paper Source where I learned techniques to tie-dye paper and make unique gifts.  At the time, I thought "hey, this is great for my holiday gift giving."  It seemed so far away, but here I am, the day after Thanksgiving and I did it.  Actually completed something on my holiday to-do list and I'm loving this idea.  Follow the steps to create your own way to customize some holiday gifts.


     Most of  the materials are from my local Paper Source store.  You will need:

  • Gampi paper -- the perfect paper for this project as it holds up to water and is easy to use for tie-dye projects
  • Pigment ink pads -- Early in my holiday crafting process I decided my colors this year would concentrate on black, red, silver, gray so I chose my ink pads based on that.  But you can use any two - three colors that you think will work well together
  • Disposable gloves -- trust me on this
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Plain card stock / blank cards
  • Rubber bands
  • Ribbon

     Start by gathering some edges of your fabric, twist and secure with a rubber band.  If you have ever gone to summer camp or Woodstock, it is the same tie-dye process you used for tee shirts.  Do this two or three times and you are left with an alien crab-like figure.

     Press these twists, and various spots on the paper into your first color.  Going light first, then darker has worked better for me.

    Spritz with water -- don't drench.  I found it easiest leaning over a garbage can.

    Taking the damp paper, press into your second color.

     Spritz again, then gently remove the rubber bands. 

 The paper is sturdy but if you pull too hard it could rip.  And now your paper is complete!  I like to do four - five pieces of the Gampi at one time.  Let dry.  The color will soften as the paper dries and it only takes a couple of hours.

Why you need the disposable gloves!

     Now onto your card making.  These tie-dye papers go a LONG way.  Save all your scraps as some of the my card designs require less paper than others.  HINT:  Keep a baggie nearby and toss the cut off scraps into them.  Trust me, you will use up a lot of them.

CARD 1:  The all over print

     Simply take your card blank and lay over the part of your paper that you want to use.  Glue onto front and that's it for card 1.  HINT:  After the glue has dried, turn your card over and trim that way.  It is much easier to see where you need to cut as opposed to guessing from the front side of the card.

CARD 2:  Stripes

    Using some of your scraps, place your handmade paper down the middle and add colored card stock on each side.

CARD 3:  Geometric

    Create graduated squares on your card front.  HINT:  when you lay your first colored card stock down, draw a line with glue where you want it placed.  Continue making smaller and smaller squares, again trim from the back.  Done!

CARD 4:  Layers

   After covering the front of your card, create different layers of "frames" and you are done.  

     Depending on the colors you use, the opportunities to use this paper are endless.  In addition to the holidays, choose blue or pink colors and use for baby shower invitations.  Or gold and black for wedding place card holders.  You are only limited by your imagination.  Here is an example using blues:

     For gift giving, I like to make sets of at least 4 cards and finish off with a pretty ribbon.  These sets are great to give -- you can use them as last minute birthday cards or just "was thinking of you and wanted to send you a note.  You will get addicted to making this paper and how many different ways to use it!

     Happy crafting!!! xo


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Challenge Time at Decorate To Celebrate: Christmas Part 1


     I love decorating for the holidays.  And when I can re-purpose something....even better.  Having been married for over 30 years, my husband has learned to never throw anything out before checking with me.  Being a skilled woodworker, he always has bits of projects left and I scoop them up!  I loved this beautiful piece he had left over.  This technique is one I saw on a crafts show many years ago and wanted to share with you how easy it is to create a faux mosaic with paint.


    Using any piece of wood, first prime it with a sealer.  This will go a long way to make your paint much easier to apply.  For Christmas I choose typical holiday paint colors, but you can use whatever you like.  These are all acrylic paints easily found at hardware or craft stores.

     Once the sealer is dry, begin painting your piece.  There are no patterns or rules, so this is a great project for kids to help out with.  Cover your entire piece as desired.

     When your paint has dried ....and make sure you don't rush it, it must be completely dry.....take painters tape and rip into various sizes and apply to your piece.  Press firmly so all edges are sealed.  HINT:  The part that the blue paint covers, will be what you see in the end.  So if there is a particular part you really like, cover it with the tape.  All exposed areas will turn into "grout".

     Once the tape is applied, cover your piece completely with a "grout" color.  This project has so many variations so play around with different colors.  As this color starts to dry, you might see bits of color coming through.  Apply as many coats as possible to insure the color is not leaking through.  You end up with a crazy piece that looks like a frosted layer of cake!  Let dry completely.....again don't rush.

   When your final paint layer has dried, start carefully peeling off the painters tape.  You can use masking tape, but I recommend using the painters tape.  It comes off easily and does not peel any of the paint away. Based on how much tape you applied your mosaic will look different.

    HINT:  If you are unhappy with the piece, just paint over in another color and start again!

   I added some white dimensional paint around the colored parts.  Then cover with a varnish for indoor projects.

  That's it, you can do this technique on any paintable surface with any color combos.  The opportunities are endless.

     Wishing you and yours a happy Holiday season!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From Home Store To Home Decor - Challenge Time at Decorate To Celebrate


     OK, I admit it.  I love strolling through the aisles of hardware/home improvement stores.  I love the inspiration I get, not just for future home projects, but these stores are full of bits 'n pieces for the crafter.   Here's an idea for an inexpensive and quick way to spruce up your home decor for the Fall season -- and they make great hostess gifts too.


     Where can you find crafting supplies for under 20 cents each!  Just check out the tile section of your local hardware store.  These simple tiles were only 16 cents each.  And with a sale, they came out to 13 cents each.  Stock up!

     Another must for the crafter is Mod Podge.  This has been a crafting staple works as both a glue and a sealant.   There is even a book dedicated to nothing but Mod Podge!
  It comes in different finishes and effects- for this example I liked the gloss finish with the basic formula.

     For this project, I had some handmade papers in beautiful Fall colors.  You have to be a little gentle with a thin paper.  But it holds up well with the glue. HINT:  Cover your work surface with waxed paper, the glue gets a little drippy and could leak over the edges.  The waxed paper keeps it from sticking and is an easy clean up.

     Lay your tile over the back side of your paper and cut out.  I like to cut out a little larger than the tile and trim off later.

    Cover the coaster with a thin helping of the glue.  Lay your paper over the covered surface and gently apply a light layer of Mod Podge.  Don't worry when you see it on the darker papers, it dries clear.

    Let dry until completely dry -- you will know when it is no longer sticky to the touch.  I usually like to apply another layer just to insure my piece is protected.  Let second coat dry and trim off any edges you have left.  HINT:  It is easiest to turn the tile over to see where you need to trim.  You get a cleaner edge that way.

    You can use these tiles as they are, I found an inexpensive wood serving tray at the dollar store and glued the tiles on for a nice presentation piece.

  And how cute do they look using milk bottles (I think these will be the new trend for the mason jar crowd).  Fun way to do a centerpiece or to have at each table for your guests.

    I also tried layering different pieces to create more interest.  On half of the coasters, I used some inspirational words, place card size, from The Paper Source.  Same technique as before, coat the top of your coaster with a thin layer of glue, place your card, and glue over the top.

    There were also scraps left from the paper -- and I hate to waste scraps -- so I cut up in random shapes and applied -- same steps as above.

   How cute and easy!!!   The glue lasts forever, foam brushes are very cheap and the tiles were 16 cents each - at their non sale price.   So even if you had to invest in : (6) coasters; (1) package of foam brushes and (1) bottle of Mod Podge, this whole project would cost you only about $10.00.  And after your first set, it would only be .96 cents for each set!  You also don't have to invest in paper, look around at what you have -- magazine pages look just as great!

     Happy Crafting and Happy Holidays!