Archive for December, 2010

owl sneak peek

he’s finally dry!  and I really just couldn’t wait to paint him, so I didn’t even finish the paper mache on the back.  meh; I’ll do it later.

I’ll be sure to show you what he looks like once I add the final details and actually finish off the tail feathers and close up that back flap.  if you’re looking for other cool handmade tree toppers, check out amy hadley’s trash-to-treasure, eco-friendly, you-probably-already-have-the-supplies-in-your-stash, simple diy star tree topper at her blog, hey now, whoa now! while you’re there, check out her other cool projects, like the wreath she made from tram tickets.


December 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm 2 comments

I have a crush…

I’m crushing hard on these adorable pull toys, and may have to order one of those howling dogs.  and the mustache.  and the monster.  I don’t have children: it would just be for me!

sweet rolling dog toy from SmoochyBabyDesigns on etsy

mustache pull toy from sevenacretoys on etsy

little monster pull toy from charliealankraft on etsy

just click on any of the images to link directly to the item shown.  but do me a favor and don’t order the dog.  or the mustache.  or the monster.  thanks.


December 17, 2010 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

sweet treats!

want to whip up these sweet treats?  they’re cute, easy to make, and most important, budget friendly.

I found most of my supplies at the dollar store and the others came from my stash.  you in?  here’s what you’ll need:

  • one peppermint candy stick
  • a sheet of colored paper–or even white–just to cover up the label.  I used scrapbook paper and cut it to 4 inches x 5 inches.
  • clear tape
  • ribbon (hint: wired ribbon is much easier to form a bow with), at least 20 inches per stick
  • an ornament
  • a pen to write on the ornament–I wish I’d had a paint pen, but I didn’t so I used a slick writer
  • a tag (and hole punch if it’s not got a hole in it yet)

grab your peppermint stick, paper and tape, and start wrapping.  I taped the paper to the candy wrapper first it to keep it from moving around too much.  then I taped it shut.

these bells were 8 for a dollar (!) but I wanted to personalize them, so I wrote ‘happy holidays 2010’ on each one.  you could personalize it with a someone’s name, too.  if you mess up you can erase your mistakes with nail polish remover and a cotton ball–just test a small area to make sure it doesn’t mess up your ornament’s finish first.  then punch a hole in the tag and slip the tag onto the ornament string.  I punched mine out with a cute little scalloped punch, but you can buy them pre-made, too.

tie the first part of the bow on your candy stick but before you do the second part, slip the ornament/tag combo over the top of the stick and place it so that the ornament and tag are both in front of and below the first part of the knot.

next, turn the candy away from you and position yourself so that you’re above it.  in the picture below, I’m holding it inbetween my knees, but if you can wrangle an assistant, so much the better.  what you want to do is tie the bow from above so that you’re tying it upside down: I swear this gives you the best bows and I don’t know why.  just try it, it works.  once you’ve got your knot tied, trim the ends and fuss with the bow so it looks right.  you could also not fuss with it at all and just let it stick straight out, trimming the ends so that it looks like a little bow tie or use a longer piece of ribbon and let the ends dangle down.

pretty easy, huh?  now go make a bunch…

…and give them to coworkers, neighbors, your mail man, tuck them in your sugarplum’s stocking, use them as place cards, or just leave them out in a pretty container by the front door.  festive and delicious!

December 17, 2010 at 8:05 am Leave a comment

studio redux, part deux

while the owl tree topper is drying, I thought I’d share an update from the studio.  I finally got around to adding a more functional work space for making my jewelry.  yay!

before, I had a drafting table that didn’t allow for storage underneath it, meaning there was craft crap everywhere, but especially in the center of the room.

it was very hard to feel motivated in this space.  so after I saw this beautiful office makeover in real simple magazine, I realized I could do something similar.  my studio will never, ever look this neat, but I’m secretly hoping that after the photo shoot, this particular office never looked this tidy, either.  hey, a girl can dream.

gosh I love the colors of this room.  if only I had time and energy to paint yet another room…

Home office

so I cleared out my crap (check out all that wasted space underneath there!)…

after that, I put up the tracks so that I could create my own, personalized, highly functional happy place.  once I was finally able to find the studs to drill securely into, that is.  (ps, this project could involve totally screwing up walls and/or electrocuting myself, so I purchased a fancy pants studfinder that even warned me about electrical currents!  if you’re interested in attempting something like this, make sure you attach the tracks to the studs in your wall so that the desk doesn’t come toppling off onto you, crippling you and causing major–expensive!–wall repair.)

I used my trusty level to make sure that these guys were really straight up and down.  I don’t want stuff rolling around on my desk top!

now for the fun part…after removing the old legs from the desk top, I am re-purposing it by mounting it to the wall using brackets.  eco-friendly and budget conscious, huh?

I added more brackets and shelves to give you the final, blissful outcome.  look how much crap I can store under that bad boy!

other than it looking fabulous, I’ve also felt more like making things, not to mention I’m having an easier time getting to all my goodies.  want to see the business end of my studio?  click here.

December 16, 2010 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

HA! HA! HA! Merry Christmas!

spoiler alert: santa’s true identity is revealed.  NSFK (not safe for kids)

that’s my man (and me).  he got roped into agreed to be santa at his department holiday party.  he makes a cute one, dontcha think?  confession: I laughed so hard when he came into the room that I couldn’t take pictures for about a minute!  once I got over that, I took a ton.

he was very good with the kids, even the big ones.  only one little child screamed, but in fairness, he was having a bit of a rough night.  the child, that is.  but don’t worry, it wasn’t all screams.  some people were quite happy, including his lab…

…and some lovely ladies!

now here comes the reveal.  a hot sweaty man with a porn star mustache was under all that red plushness and white hair.

check out that bowl full of jelly!  santa’s little secret…


December 16, 2010 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

owl tree topper, step 2

only I could possibly get sooooo excited about paper mache that I would plow straight ahead with the owl completely forgetting to take photos of the end of step 1.  by the time I realized my error, I was up to my elbows in goo and halfway through adding details to my owl.  sigh. all I can do is beg your forgiveness and hope for the best.

as you can see if you compare him now to his bare owl-ness before he got his first layer of paper mache–and trust me, he looked just like that but with a layer of paper mache on top–I’ve added a lot of details, and built him up in areas.

I decided that his neck needed to be thicker…

…his head needed some eye holes, a beak, and a squar-er shape…

…and he got some wings…

…a belly…

…and when I finally came up for air and realized I was neglecting my tutorial duties, I had started working on some tail feathers.

he seemed to be getting a little too heavy and I wanted to make sure he still fit on the tree!

Uh, woops, it turns out that he is, in fact, too heavy and/or the tube is too short , so I opened up his back by cutting through the way too thick layers with an craft knife and pulling out the innards.

This was messy and a little gross, as the inside was still quite damp and had actually molded a bit.  Yum.  I’ll paper mache over the hole so you won’t see it.  Learn from my mistakes and make your life easier–use a paper towel tube instead of a short little toilet paper tube and wrap the belly section around top, adding the head on top of all that.

At least now he sits properly on top of the tree!

I’ve been putting him on top of a bottle, which makes it easier to spin him and work on him.  He’s turning into quite a nerdy bird!

December 16, 2010 at 5:35 pm 3 comments

owl tree topper, step 1

first I gathered my materials:

  • toilet paper tube but you should use a paper towel tube–trust me, it pays off in step 2
  • paper for crumpling–craft paper, newspaper, etc.
  • masking tape for holding it all together
  • torn strips of newspaper
  • paper mache mixture: one cup flour + one cup water

to make the rough shape of the owl, I started at the bottom, cutting out the ‘feet’ and ‘feathers’ from my toilet paper roll.  if you look at it from the side and imagine a bird on top, you can see where I was headed.  hopefully.  maybe. update: if you’re smart, you’re using a paper towel roll.  do as I say, not as I do!  I had to gut the bird just to get it to fit on the tree, so use a paper towel roll in this step.  just cut your feet/feather part out of the very bottom.  in the next step, instead of making a ball for the torso, wrap some crinkled up paper around the top of the tube.  then add the little balled up head on top.  seriously, save yourself future pain.

I crumpled up a sheet of paper into a big ball, and taped it onto the toilet paper roll feet section.  another, smaller, wad of paper went on top of the body to make the head.  a little more masking tape and some general squishing of the paper into shape yielded a surprisingly promising owl.  you’re doing what I said, right?  wrap that wad of paper around the top of your paper towel roll to create the torso.  then pop the head on.

then I whipped up some paper mache mixture by whisking one cup of flour with about one cup of water.  if you like you mixture a little runnier, add more water.  make sure you set up a work space where this can get messy.  I also highly recommend keeping a roll of paper towels on hand so that when the phone rings…yeah, it took me a while to wipe it all off is all I’m saying.  save yourself from a similar messy fate.

now you’re ready to start dipping those strips of newspaper into the gooey paper mache mix and wiping with your fingers to distribute it all evenly.  oddly satisfying, isn’t it?  then just lay those strips all over your owl, smoothing them down as you go, until the whole thing is covered.  ta-da!  now we wait for him to dry so we can add our details in step 2.

December 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm 2 comments

let’s make an owl tree topper

this could get interesting…I’m inviting you to follow along as I make an owl tree topper.  I have no idea how this is going to turn out, so if you want to wait until I’m all done and then decide to join in, there won’t be any hard feelings.  if, however, you want to take the plunge with me, I would welcome the company.

so here’s the deal: I have looked for a tree topper for years now.  seriously, years.  the problem is, I don’t usually like them.  the choice seems to be angels or stars and there’s usually a lot of glitter involved.  now I’m a fan of glitter, but sometimes it’s just too much.  enter my friends Amy and Dan, who have topped their Christmakah tree with a monkey.  if they can do that, I feel free to do whatever I want.  hence the owl, which at least makes sense on top of a fir tree.  witness my muse, above.  in all likelihood, my tree topping version will look nothing like this–think more Hedwig-y than my shiny little friend here–but I’m just hoping it will be recognizable as an owl.

I picture this happening in three easy steps (or ending in a big gooey mess):

  1. gather materials and form the rough shape of the owl, covering it all in paper mache.  allow to dry.
  2. add details and fix any mistakes made the previous day.  allow to dry.
  3. paint.  allow to dry.
  4. put on top of tree, hope the weight of it doesn’t cause it to topple, and no one laughs too hard at the finished product.

okay, that’s four steps, but I feel like the last one doesn’t really count.

you in?  all you need is newspaper, a toilet paper roll, masking tape, flour, and spare time.  easy to come by this time of year, I know.  I’ll be posting my pictures tomorrow of step 1, so go get your materials and be ready to join in!

December 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

easy holiday swag

Not to be confused with the schwag you will get for the holidays, this is a quick and easy decoration for the front door.

you will need:

greenery (check for free stuff at tree cutting stands and consider using things like rosemary, from your backyard)

a twist tie

faux flowers or berries–mine are paper flowers from the craft store

colorful ribbon–I used 1 inch wide red grosgrain ribbon I had on hand

three easy steps:

1.  Lay the greenery down on a flat surface, putting the big stuff on the bottom and graduating to the smaller stuff on top.  If you trim the place where it’s all tied together, it will make your life much simpler.  You’re basically making a big, flat bouquet.

2.  Secure with a twist tie.  I re-used a green one from our twinkly lights.  hello free.

3.  Add *weather safe* embellishments–flowers, berries, little ornaments–securing them with wire (my flowers came on wire stems) or hot glue and wrap a colorful ribbon around the twist tie part to hide it and add a little more color.  Tuck the ribbon into itself and–voila!–you’re done.

Go hang that bad boy on your front door and spread some cheer to all!

December 7, 2010 at 7:37 pm Leave a comment

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