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Archive for the ‘Do-It-Yourself’ Category

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Wow, I’m doing awful with blogging this month, eh?  Sorry, haven’t been particularly chatty, was trying to keep up with the busy-ness of 3 online retail shops during the holiday rush (yay, thank you customers!!), developing a new line and 4th shop (yes, I’m a glutton for punishment!) and with the tragedy in CT (where I’m from) it didn’t feel right to talk about holiday decorating with such a heavy loss in all our hearts.

But now it’s Christmas eve – yikes, where did the time go?  And so I figured it time I wrapped this topic up and show off our, um, unique tree this year…

But first, some decorating in our bedroom…

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I was able to top our dresser with lots of leftover items from my booth (too tired to list them in my shop this year!), so I took advantage of the extra decorative goods I had on hand…

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Including more thrift store baking tins painted white, old iron finials painted white, unloved picture frames also painted white and distressed.  I have quite a few vintage ornaments and a pair of lovely vintage ice skates that I picked up for $12 and coated with snow glitter and topped with my good ol’ peonies that make it into all my decorations (they have certainly had their fare share of reuse this year!):

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(Sorry for the double-watermarking…I was too tired to realize I did it and we’re heading out shortly so too pressed for time to fix it!).  As for our tree, well, we have a fake tree.  I hate to admit it but it was a necessity when I worked in college administration (oh, 12 years ago) and my job required me to live on campus but we weren’t allowed to have real trees for fire hazard reasons.  Even though I was an adult professional living on campus, I was required to live by the same rules as the students.  So, it was either fake tree or no tree.  And that’s exactly what we did.  And getting only a  year or two of use seemed very un-eco-friendly so we’ve used it the last 12 years.

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But this year, we had a change of heart.  We are hoping to put our house on the market for a myriad of reasons (if it’s even feasible) and because it could be our last Christmas in this house and because this is what our backyard looks like, we felt that we should cut down a tree in our yard (this is our view, but we only have an acre of it for our yard).  As you can see above, the middle clearing is primarily our lot, so finding a tree that wasn’t 30 feet tall was tricky, but alas, we did!

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And yes, I picked up more pine cones…can never have enough in my opinion *wink*  And so, this is what our tree looked like barely dressed (now remember, this is not your average plush Christmas tree lot tree – this is mama nature all the way).

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I made a simple, quick topper with paper cones from library discarded books…

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And some burlap ribbon and even some very old carpenter’s measuring tape to give that rustic, country, eco-feel to our tree…

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And of course, a mix of personalized/personal ornaments and crackly, vintage bulbs…

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It’s very simple this year (not to mention we forgot how soft branches can barely hold onto ornaments, so we only hung 1/2 of the ornaments we usually do!) but we love it.  It feels very personal to have a tree from our own backyard to commemorate what could possibly be our last year here.

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Well, we’re heading out to one of our favorite places where we will have lots of free time, so I hope to post some picturesque posts in the next couple days.  Hope you are all enjoying a warm holiday with friends and loved ones!! xo

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So holiday decorating is in full swing and this week I finished decorating our great room (it’s not that big, it’s just one room that holds our kitchen/dining room/living room) and bedroom (where we’ve decided to put the tree this year).  It might be a little silly to decorate as we don’t have any visitors for the holidays, don’t have kids and a random neighbor might stop by once every 6 months.  It can feel a little isolated here so decorating for the seasons really lifts my spirits.

You’ll see a lot of familiar items in my decorating.  I’m big on re-using items in your home in different ways for different seasons.  It’s easier on the wallet and environment.  I’m also big on eco-crafting and upcycling old/unused items into new things and of course, vintage elements which are natural eco-friendly (as they’ve passed many hands and have been used over and over and in many different ways).  I’ll explain as we go…

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If you’ve been following me for a little while, you know I love to dress up our mantel (and yes, it has an unsightly TV above it, but we only have one living area, so the TV’s staying!).

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In this photo, I used my trusty water can o’peonies (I use these in all my decorating regardless of time of year!), the vintage glass bottles I decorated earlier this year for my booth (these are angel/cherub specific so work well for this time of year) and my favorite bird house of all (I usually keep this on top of my kitchen cabinets, but took down for decorating.  The piece itself is made of reclaimed barn wood, a vintage doorknob, recycled aluminum “flashing” and an iron final from an old gate.  Love.

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I have more vintage apothecary bottles here (will be selling in my shop in the future but just didn’t get around to it this year), my vintage kitchen scale topped with discarded library books that have had covers removed and tied up with ribbon and a vintage skeleton key.  The big star used to be our tree topper but it was always too heavy and bent the top branch, so I decided to use it as a decoration this year.  The print is of one of my first angels, Lovely Angel, which I popped into an old frame I used to have and was going to donate, but then I painted white, distressed and voila, now I like it again!

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On our mantel, I also have lots and lots of pinecones (they are everywhere around here and add to the wintry feel) and I added a familial element by transferring some of my grandmother’s white vintage buttons into a mason-like jar.  Adds a personal touch and is a lovely connection to my white Christmas theme.  Have I mentioned I love blue and white for the holidays? *wink*  As if that wasn’t already evident!

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On our endtable, I added some more goodies including this tin of vintage ornaments (mind you, during the rest of the year, our mantel and table tops are not nearly this cluttered but it’s the holidays…why not go all out!).

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In between our picture window and the doors to our deck, there is a small area of shelves that I like to have photos on; I switched it up for the holidays and since I have a bunch of holiday art, I figured I might as well as put some of it up and mix it in with rusty and chippy paint vintage elements we have on hand.

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We live in a log home, so pardon the cracked wood.  Notice all the old doorknobs?  I have a weird obsession with vintage hardware!

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These are just rolled up book pages, which are ready to be made into a vintage book paper wreath (more on that later this week).  The circle piece in the back is architectural salvage that you might see on the trim of a door in an old house.  I bought a couple of these at an antique store (and move them around my house every month or so as a decorative element).

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Over our dining table (which is now my paint area, so it’s not very photogenic at the moment!) we have a simple candelabra (instead of a light fixture) filled with candles and pine cones and from it I hung some vintage spoons that have been stamped with words like “joy” “love” and “peace.”

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At the wall near our entrance is a wreath I made last year after buying up a bunch of marked down ornaments the day after Christmas.  Yes, I know this isn’t eco-friendly, but I couldn’t bring myself to use delicate vintage ornaments on this (not to mention this wreath took about 75 ornaments to make).  I did however use up some jingle bells that I had fallen out of love with (and other blue ornaments that I was going to donate) but then utilized in this project.  Now I’ll be honest, it was a bit time intensive and if using regular priced ornaments, would be quite expensive (hence the reason why most of these sell for $50 and up on Etsy).  Since I made it last year, I can’t quite remember the exact tutorial I used but here’s a good one as well as this one.

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At our entrance, we have have a “sofa table” that we use to put our keys/wallets/phones/mail when we walk in the door (and has bins underneath to hold our shoes).  Usually I have a photo of us and some light decorative element on it, so I also jazzed it up for the holidays…

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Look, more pinecones!  In this shot you’ll see an old clock in the background (a $2 thrift store find that was black, but I painted white and distressed for a shabby chic look).  I did the same with that heart baking tin (I always find a ton of these at thrift stores for under a dollar).

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And look, another scale (another weird obsession I have – you may also recognize this and the tall tin from previous displays)!.  The paper cones are from a deconstructed giant paper wreath that I made last year (my first one and not so well made, so it started falling apart).  Then I have another birdhouse also made with reused/recycled materials.

So, there it is…holiday decorating which incorporates a lot of vintage/used/recycled elements (and shopping your home for items that you can use in new ways).  I still have Part 2 to share which includes our bedroom and tree…to come later this week.  Here’s a sneak peek:

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Season’s Greetings!!

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Yes, this may be a bit old news, but I wanted to share with you this quick (and eco-friendly and free!) decorating idea that came up while spending Thanksgiving at my sister’s.  The merchandiser and creative spirit in me can’t help but decorate and when it came to Thanksgiving morning and I realized I had nothing, I got resourceful and went for a walk.

First I grabbed any decent leaves I could find in her yard and then gathered some dried fountain grasses and twigs; with scissors, I snipped away at some hedges and found dried flowering buds all around.  I didn’t have to look far, just had to open my mind and think of the possibilities.  I then took a piece of cardboard, pulled back the top layer to reveal the rustic, corrugated parts which I cut into leaf shapes.  Then I adhered pieces of paper upon which I wrote Thanksgiving themes, like “love” “family” and “gratitude.”  Tied ‘em into bunches with some bakers twine and voila!  Easy-peasy, eco-decorating!

And for a good laugh, my sister put out a Thanksgiving craft I made with my nieces about 10 years ago made with walnuts, pipe cleaners, felt and faux feathers.  Told ya, I was always crafty! ;)

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!  And next time you’re crunching for decorating ideas, just take a walk outside and get creative!

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I’ve been decorating my booth space at The Barn for a couple of weeks now and it makes me so happy to be decorating for my favorite season and holiday!

We were there last weekend for 4 hours re-merchandising my space and taking inventory and we were so tired and ready to get out of there that we forgot to take photos.  However, I did take some photos of the items I’m selling there like spooky potion bottles using antique/vintage apothecary bottles I recently scored:

Some of my artwork mounted on wood blocks…

As well as some public domain vintage Halloween images on blocks…

I’ll try to remember taking some photos this weekend on my actual display!

At home, I haven’t done anything except dress up our mantle…


Some pumpkins, some mercury cloches and a bat/candle display give it a splash of spook, a splash of whimsy…

Some old cabinet cards definitely add spookiness…

As do more apothecary jars and a vintage black scale…

Have I mentioned how much I love this time of year??!  :)

Do you decorate for Halloween or fall?  Post a link, I’d love to see!

 

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I spent the morning “white-washing” a bunch of thrift store finds; tomorrow I need to distress them.  These types of items seem to be the primary things moving in my booth right now, so adapting my plan accordingly.  Gotta pay the bills!

I know, I should wear gloves…the upside is that this is non-toxic paint :)

I have a bunch of posts written in my head that I promise to get to.  Just trying to get my act together and last week we had a scare with our oldest pup and had to do the long-drawn (as in all several day), tear-filled conversations of pain management vs. quality of life.

The upside: after a 2nd opinion with our primary vet, after a visit with the ER vet and an orthopedic specialist, we learned that things weren’t so dire and we had more options.  Now we get to have our girl around for a little longer and she’s resting comfortably (and this mama is especially relieved)

Last weekend I was planning on working on some orders on Saturday, then catching up with my girlies on Sunday for our monthly brunch.  Then I got a call from The Barn saying I had a customer put a hold on two of my pieces of furniture.  She was going to come back the following day to purchase and pick up.  The customer was interested in my coffee table and french provincial desk – my first two pieces of furniture I refinished.  GREAT news I thought – this means people like my furniture and I get to make some much needed cash (booth sales have been awful terribly slow again, as in not even covering my costs this past month unfortunately)!!  CRAP I also thought – I only had one other piece of furniture, so unless I worked on new pieces, most of my stuff would be moved to the floor when she came to pick up those 2 pieces; I never imagined someone would purchase two pieces of furniture at once!

So I rearranged my schedule, started painting/staining/distressing two pieces that I had been meaning to get to (nothing like a TIGHT deadline to get you motivated!).  I worked all afternoon and right up to dark…putting the finishing touches on the french provincial dresser that I picked up along with the desk and a small table I also purchased at a goodwill.

Of course I forgot to take a “before” pic, but the dresser was the same style/color as the desk I did earlier

Here’s the after!

I had to cancel my plans with my girlfriends and the next morning, loaded the furniture into the car, made the hour+ drive and got to my booth before the customer came and cleared me out of fixtures.  The thought of my artwork and goods on the floor horrified me so I was glad I beat her there.

But then came the challenging task of trying to merchandise 5 pieces of furniture into a 6′x12′ booth.  Not easy.  I called the customer to tell her I was clearing off her pieces of furniture and leaving at the outskirts of booth for easy pick-up.  Unfortunately, she had a change of heart and wasn’t going to buy the furniture after all.  Appears her husband wasn’t into the style of furniture as much as she was.

Here I was in a 100+ year old, non-airconditioned barn, lugging furniture up the stairs, completely re-merchandising my space and dripping sweat in the 90+ degree heat.  And having to scramble the previous 24 hours and cancel my brunch.  All. for. naught.  Man, selling retail can really bite.  To say I was cranky is to put it mildly.

The upside:  Well my space is busting at the seams fully furnished and now I have more chances of selling higher cost goods in my booth *fingers crossed*

I had to stuff the coffee table under the small dining table I just refinished in order to get it to all fit!

Oh and did I mention that in my rush to get two pieces completed before the sun set, I dropped the can of very expensive chalk paint…all over our deck?

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And that it also splattered to the deck below and onto the side of our stained/log home?

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The upside:  Both decks needed to be sanded/restained this summer and the paint (CeCeCaldwell Chalk Paint) is eco-friendly, non-toxic and if not sealed in wax or poly, can be washed off (and most of it has come up after some soap and hard scrubbing).  I guess it could be worse!

Life is feeling a little “lemony” lately…but hey, at least the weather has been nice! ;)

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I got very interested in refurbishing and refinishing furniture last year as I saw a creative way to “upcycle” what others might see as unsightly.  I also had been following a lot of design blogs and last summer I picked up a very old school yet cool library card catalog.  I started to refinish it (you may have seen bits and pieces of it in posts and a couple drawers hold cards in my booth) but right when I was in the middle of refinishing it, I was contacted by a company to license my artwork.  That, as many of you know, was a roller coaster experience and I basically had to put my life on hold and focus solely on mass producing art.

Feelings about that whole experience aside, I had to stop working on furniture and I never finished that card catalog (though I am determined to do so this summer!).  I stopped reading books on the topic, stopped following many of those blogs and put that hobby on the back burner.  The other issue I had was I had no place to showcase any furniture I worked on and while many people sell furniture on Etsy, it’s a pain to ship and not feasible with me living such a distance from a major metropolitan area.  But when I got the opportunity to rent my booth at The Barn, all those ideas and excitement about refinishing furniture came flooding back.  Not only that, but I needed furniture to merchandise my goods on (I was using tables from my home and wanted them back!).


One of the things that has been very hot lately is French Provincial style furniture, especially those that have been painted and distressed to give the 60′s/70′s look a new/old look.  So I had been scoping out craigslist and thrift stores for this kind of furniture and a couple weeks ago, I was thrilled to find a dresser and vanity/desk set at a great price!

Here’s how the dresser looked like before (minus drawer pulls)…

Halfway through the process with just gray and white paint, it looked quite pretty, like suitable-for-a-little-girls room-pretty.  I could have left it just like that but I wanted a more adult look; a more vintage/grungy/distressed look; something that had an old world style.  And distressing and adding wax gave it more of a bluish-gray look.

I painted it a mix of chalk paints and sanded the heck out of it to give it that grungy, worn look and distressed with dark and clear wax to give it an aged feel.  Then sanded it again to give it that buttery smooth feel.  Because I went through so many steps and was relatively inexperienced in the process and had to keep referring back to books and blogs, this whole piece (with chair, missing from photo above) took me about 12 hours to complete.  Sheesh!  But it was truly a fun experience and I’m so glad I did it.  I almost wanted to keep this, but alas, I needed it in my booth to merchandise my goods and bring back some of my home furniture.

Available at The Barn

What’s left now?  Her dresser sister!  Keeping busy ;)

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Recently we purchased a boat load of fruit…and not just because I was craving fruit salad with the rising temperatures, but because I also need to make more freezer jam as the batch I made only 6 weeks ago is already gone (and we only gave one of the 6 pints away!) and using frozen fruit this time of year seems blasphemous.  But David also mentioned that he’d like some fruit with his yogurt, something he often does with granola.

So it got me thinking, “why don’t I just make some from scratch?”  I don’t know why I haven’t thought of that before; if you’ve followed me for a while you know that I’m always trying to think of new ways to make he very items we normally purchase packaged.  And granola is quite expensive in the store and there’s nothing quite like warm, homemade granola!

I embarked on a search by checking my favorite place, AllRecipes.com, and made a simple, no-fuss recipe that would pair well with fresh fruit and vanilla yogurt.  I combined a couple recipes, took reviewer comments into consideration and focused on the two main ingredients David was interested in (maple and walnuts).

Though it takes a bit of tending to once in the oven to prevent burning, it really couldn’t be simpler to make.

Homemade Maple Walnut Granola

  • 4 c. rolled (not quick) oatmeal
  • 2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 c. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • dash of cinnamon
  • sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix oatmeal and nuts in one bowl; in another bowl, mix oil, syrup, vanilla and cinnamon.  Add wet ingredients to dry mix and combine thoroughly.  Spread onto 2 ungreased cookie sheets (I put mine on parchment paper on top of the cookie sheets per one reviewer, but found it unnecessary).  Lightly sprinkle sea salt on top of mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 10 min.  Then lower oven temperature to 250 and bake for 30 more minutes, stopping every 10 minutes to stir the mix.  It will smell AWESOME in your home…trust me.

Let cool completely before storing in mason jars (but not before enjoying!)

David wanted a large bowl of yogurt, fruit and granola.  Me?  Not being a huge yogurt or granola fan, I went for a smaller portion and made a pretty parfait out of it (and I must admit, I was smitten!)

David said he is also interested in a version with honey and almonds which is what I’ll make next in lieu of maple and walnuts; I’m betting it’ll be just as good.

Enjoy!

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Sorry I’ve been MIA…I have a post I’ve been meaning to publish about the simple pleasures enjoyed on my trip back to CT, but you know how it is when you return back from a week long trip: you hit the ground running once you return and this last week was no exception.

In addition to catching up on orders, I knew I needed to beef up my display at The Barn, so I spent some time this weekend making more magnets (strangely my most popular item there the past two weeks), creating new items and upcycling thrift store finds and painting/embellishing old goods to make them new again.  (Full disclosure, my photos are pretty awful, but I was either in a hurry, forgetting to take photos along the way or trying to dodge customers on a busy holiday, so please bear with my pitiful photos!).

So I painted over a bunch of thrift store frames with chalk paint (a great all-in-one, meaning no stripping/priming needed, paint that is great for distressing; and I painted inside because the huge wildfire in New Mexico made for a very smoky day that would have killed my lungs and eyes and this paint is non-toxic and doesn’t smell one bit)…

And for the large frame, I added strings of wire…

Which I then hung some vintage inspired magnets in my booth:

I made two new paper cone wreaths, including this star-shaped one (which I’m now not sure should be considered a wreath?)

Embellished simple ho-hum buckets with some paint, distressing and vintage hardware…

Painted some chicken wire baskets and whitewashed/embellished a birdhouse that was originally painted in hideous colors…and even painted and distressed this awful looking thrift store find:

Into this (wish I took more photos of the top but just got so busy and forgot…but the curves/lines and legs on this baby looked great painted over):

(Note I forgot to add the hardware knob prior to taking this picture!  Ay, it was a bad weekend for photos; will try to remember to take more before, during and after photos next time!)  This is my first piece of painted/distressed furniture (after spending a year reading/learning/following blogs and practicing on frames and smaller objects).  That’s it.  I’m addicted and can’t stop looking at furniture in thrift stores and imagining how I can turn pieces into something new!

After we reset my booth and added new items, we spent the rest of the day antique shopping and hitting up all the thrift stores on our path as many of them had 50% storewide sales because of the holiday.  Even ran into Mondo, the winner of Project Runway All Stars in a Denver thrift store!  Found a lot of great things and will share later in the week.

If you follow my artwork and are wondering why I haven’t posted anything recently, it’s because I haven’t painted in several weeks.  If you’ve followed me for a while you know that I’m not a paint-every-day kind of girl.  I have ebbs and flows…weeks of massive creation followed by sometimes long breaks.  I’m a creative girl and painting/collaging is just one of the many things I do to feed my creative inclinations (as evidenced above).  Sometimes I just feel like focusing on papercrafting, sometimes its painting things (rather than painting art), sometimes it’s cooking/baking; I try to follow my muse and wherever it takes me.  So my artwork will probably come back to me in a wave in the near future.  For now, I’m having fun going back to my roots and upcycling/making new uses out of old things.

Hope you all had a nice long weekend!

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It has been a fabulous staycation this past week.  It was nice to have David home the whole week, closing my shops and not having to answer emails or go to the post office.  It was lovely to decompress, watch movies with my hubby and be lazy.

Here are some photos that capture the week…

We ate way too much…including roasted duck for Christmas dinner followed by homemade baklava.  I also made uber rich and sweet cinnamon buns this week a la Pioneer Woman

Oy, need to have Weight Watchers on speed dial after the new year, for real!

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I created lots (over 30 pieces in fact!) including these smaller pieces I collaged for a painting project I’m working on…

A couple things have shifted with regards to licensing.  My agent and I were originally planning to launch my portfolio in January at the Atlanta gift show, but since I made the decision to not license my girls, my portfolio lost a big chunk of material, so we’ve decided to push back to May and launch at Surtex, a major art licensing show.  So with that in mind, I am going to share the work I’ve done up to this point, but will revert back to some secrecy on new work in the new year until May, save for a couple pieces here and there (and of course, any new girls I make).

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I’ve been decorating the tree more…yes, our Christmas tree!  When most people are taking it down, I’m ramping it up!  It was a seeming miracle we even got it up this year with how busy things were the weeks up to Christmas, so when we usually have the tree up around Thanksgiving, it was only the week before Christmas that we finally got it up this year.  As such, I plan to keep it up for a a couple more weeks and realized that our tree was looking really sad and needed some more vintage and handmade touches.

So I added some vintage bulbs…

And a vintage button garland and music sheet pennant banner…

Think it looks a little better!

Thing is, this is the only Christmas item in our home right now, save for a fun ornament wreath I made the other day:

Hard to capture now as it's snowing out and so bright compared to inside our house!

So with a bunch of ideas and inspiration tucked into a folder, I hope to start in early November next year as I really do love the season.

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We went antique shopping for the first time in many, many months…

You can see where I got some of those vintage bulbs, right?  Love!

And did year end inventory…oy.  At least I was much more organized this time around.

And next year I won’t be dealing with any leftover materials from my goodies shop making it even easier (which by the way, I’m going to have a huge clearance sale on eco-crafted paper goods, i.e. stickers, bows, tags, etc. in the next couple of weeks if anyone is interested…will post more info soon).

And as can be seen by my bookcase, I have a ton of originals to list!

It will be a busy start to the New Year, that’s for sure…

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And finally I’m getting together with my girlfriends this weekend to ring in the New Year.  Happiness.

What a divine week.  Staycations are great, aren’t they?

What are your plans for the New Year?

Here’s wishing you a great start to the New Year!

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I used to make paper bows in my shop with recycled pieces of paper and was often asked how I made them.  I didn’t share at the time because frankly it took me a long time to hone my skill and I was trying to sell them in my shop.  There are lots of tutorial on-line which provide a great base, but I found they looked a bit cookie cutter or frumpy and don’t give the fullness or unique flair that I wanted, so I kept practicing until I created a couple variations I liked to work with.

Disclaimer, this is a pic-heavy (though colorful!) post; apologies for the obnoxious watermarks…old photos from my former shop!

Now these take a while to make so I did these in the evenings while on the couch and with the TV as company; I’m the type that likes TV on in the background, but find it awfully hard to just sit and watch TV.  I need to be doing something with my hands.  Typically I’d be able to make 5 or 6 in an hour (depending on size and type of paper) .  And seeing that most people don’t want to pay more than a $1 a bow, it wasn’t very profitable, unless you want to make $5/hour!

But hey, if you’re looking to spruce up your packages yet add a handmade touch, these are just the thing!

First there are a myriad of ways to make bows, so I’ll show you a couple varieties, but first, let’s start with your standard chunkie bow.

First here’s what you’ll need:

  • paper trimmer (I like my rotary trimmer for smaller pieces of paper as my big paper trimmer would wreck it); of course if you don’t have one, just use scissors!
  • scissors
  • tape
  • pieces of paper of varying sizes (I like using sheets from magazines – stores will often give them away free as they get credit from companies when they return covers; I also like using music sheets I find at the thrift store or used book stores)
  • tape
  • double-sided foam tape
  • embroidery floss, string or thick thread & needle (I use thicker needles as the eyelet can fit floss and it can punch through paper/cardstock easier)
  • leftover cardstock, paperboard, even thin cardboard
  • buttons (optional)

You’ll want to select pieces of paper that have a decent front side and back side.  The pieces I used for this example were from a holiday themed cookbook magazine which I knew would yield nice reds/greens and the backside was pink.  If you’re making a full-enclosed chunky bow, this won’t be an issue, but if you’re creating an open-faced bow with a button in the middle, the front and back side are equally important (more on that later).

Click on image to see in greater detail

First trim your paper along the long side of the paper, (Figure 1) making them the width of about 3/4″ (you can go thinner for a wispier bow or thicker for a chunkier bow).  I find that a standard size magazine page will be enough for one bow, but sometimes you need a little more, so play around with it until you’re happy with it.

Then fold each strip into a figure 8 (Figure 2 & 3) with the image you want showing on the outside of the strip.  Tape the backside of the strips to keep the figure 8 shape in place.  To make a fluffier, wispier closed bow, keep the figure 8 loose (Figure 4) or if you want pointy edges and an open faced bow, keep the figure 8 tight (Figure 5).  I like mine somewhere in the middle.

Click on image to see in greater detail

Once you have a pile of “folded” figure 8 strips (Figure 6) start aligning them loosely (Figure 7) saving the best pieces for the top (Figure 8).  You’ll see that the more piece you add, the more the bow starts to close in on itself (Figure 9).  If you find that after you have gathered your bow that it’s not closing in, just add more strips.

Then thread your needle doubling your thread (sorry, don’t know the official term of this!) and tying a knot at the end (Figure 10).  My piece of thread/floss is usually 18″ long (or 9″ when folded).

Click on image to see in greater detail

Taking your top strip and insert the threaded needle through the bottom (Figure 11) pulling through so the knotted end is underneath.  Then sew back through the top to the bottom (think if you were sewing through an imaginary button.  Now your threaded needle will be hanging from the bottom of that first strip.  Now keep adding more strips, this time just punching straight through (Figure 12) as if you were stringing popcorn for a garland.  This part goes really quick.

When you’ve added all your strips and are content with the fullness of the bow, punch through a piece of cardstock, cut your string and tie a knot (Figure 13).  Add a piece of double-sided foam tape for easy application onto gifts (I’ve found they work much better than regular double-sided tape with staying on).  Voila,  you’re done (Figure 15).

Click on image to see in greater detail

In Figure 16, I made a tiny bow (good for jewelery-sized boxes) and you can see that the end are a little bit pointier…

In these bows, the paper was longer which lends to a more open-faced bow.  These are great to add buttons to which gives them a unique flair.  You can see that I did the same thing as the first bow, but truly sewed a button on (Figure 17 & 18).  I kept adding strips (Figure 19) and you can see in Figure 20 that if you want a simple, flatter bow, you can stop after only 3 or 4 strips, or you can add more to create a fuller bow (Figure 21).

Here are more examples of “button” bows I’ve made in the past:

I like to use magazine ads as it is a way to use up paper before it heads to the recycling bin and often adds colorful variations…

But sometimes I’d use catalogs/junk mail that came in the mail…

You can see that this bow is more curly…to make this style, use thinner width strips, 1/4″ – 1/2″ – but keep in mind they’ll be more delicate.

I also loved to use vintage/used ledger sheets…

Heck, I even used coffee bags!

It’s really up to your imagination!!  And while you’re making bows, why not wrap your gifts in unique ways using materials you probably have in your house?  See my old post on eco-friendly wrapping paper.

Hope you found this helpful; now go and create fun bows for your holiday packages!

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