Saturday, November 24, 2012

Button Angels

To go with the Baby Jesus ornament I came up with these Button Angels for my students to make this year...
They are really very simple: 

Use fine gauge brass wire - found in the jewelry making section of the craft store.

White buttons and a gold or silver button.

A pearl bead

Glitter bows or white feathers or whatever you want for the wings.

Bend the wire in half and thread each end through two holes in each button, starting with the largest and going to the smallest. 

Next join the two wires together and thread them both through the pearl.

Separate them again and thread the wires through the gold or silver button.  Tie a knot with the wire at the top of the gold or silver button.  Then tie another knot at the top of the loop to make a hanger for the angel.

Tiny glitter bows make great angel wings and the little twist tie attached can be used for arms.  I twisted the twist tie to the angel body right below the head.  Then I shaped the arms.

You can draw a face on with a sharpie or leave it to the imagination.

Have fun!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Baby Jesus in a Manger Ornament

This Baby Jesus ornament is very easy to make!  

I borrowed the manger idea from another post on Pinterest, drew up a template and printed it onto kraft paper cardstock.  There is no glueing involved - I pre-cut the slits in the paper with an X-Acto knife before the kids cut out the manger pieces.

To make the manger just cut out the three pieces and insert the manger ends into the slits in the manger - which is folded in half.  See photo.

The Baby is made out of a 3/4 wooden ball for the head.  I used a gold Sharpie Paint pen.  A regular Sharpie didn't make a sharp line - it was fuzzy.  I used a little pink blush on a Q-Tip for the cheeks.

Cut a square of sparkly felt about the same size as the manger - 4X4. Fold it like you wrap a baby and glue it with the hot glue gun.  Put a little bit of tissue into the felt to make it look full.

I put a drop of hot glue behind the head and attached the halo - (Gold rings can usually be found in the wedding supplies aisle of the craft store).

Next glue the head into the felt, make sure it is tucked in nice and cozy up to the chin.

If you want to, glue a button onto the baby blanket.

Using raffia or packing straw place a little bit of straw into the manger.

You can glue the straw and the baby in - or just leave it loose.

If you want to hang it up punch a hole in opposite corners and thread some string under the manger.  Tie a knot in the top with a star in the middle.

With the addition of each child's personality and creativity these ornaments will become treasures for years to come!

Christmas Countdown

I came up with this countdown calendar for my students to make during Art After School...
It's really very simple:


Large white plastic or heavy paper plates
Starlight mint candies
Orange, Green and Black cardstock
Black buttons
An orange or gold brad
Hot glue gun
Sharpie permanent markers

Begin by cutting out a carrot shaped nose (kids can use templates or draw their own) that fits inside the paper plate so that it can be turned to each number until Christmas.

Punch a hole in the plate right in the center - I just use a small nail to do this.  Punch a hole in the carrot nose.  Fasten a brad through the nose and the plate.

Now put your buttons on for the eyes and the mouth, play around if you want to get the expression you like.

Glue the mouth and eyes.

Cut out the holly leaves out of green cardstock and the hat out of black - again using patterns or letting them do it themselves.  These will be hot glued onto the plate - it needs to be strong to hang it up later.

Give each student 26 mints and a marker.  Have them write the numbers 1 through 25 on each mint.

Older students can glue their own mints on with the glue gun - being careful to begin below the eyes and finish below the eyes.  Younger students can bring them to you to be glued.

The last step is to punch holes in the hat for a string hanger.

They can eat a mint each day until Christmas - or leave them on for decoration and just move the nose.  Either way it's a fun way to see how many days until the big day!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Gourd Project

I think gourds are so neat!  They start out as a squash and end up being like a wooden vessel that can be painted, woodburned, incised, beaded, etc...  I decided to try doing a Thanksgiving Centerpiece gourd project this year with my elementary school students.  I had taken a gourd making workshop about 18 years ago so I had a little bit of background knowledge.

I started by finding a local gourd farm - - which is in Knights Landing - not too far to drive.  We drove out on a weekend in August to get some gourds.  They had so many gourds in all shapes and sizes - from huge to tiny - round to long and skinny.  I purchased a shape called cannonball gourds.  When you purchase them they are coated with mold - which is what makes the colors and patterns on the shell of the gourd.  You soak them in oxyclean and water to make it easier to scrub them clean.  The longer they soak the better!
This gourd is partially scrubbed with a stainless steel scrub pad.  You can see the caramel color of the gourd appearing through the coating.  It definitely is a job getting them clean.
Here is the cleaned gourd still wet - you can see all the different variations of color on the shell of the gourd.  I love the natural colors that are under all that mess.

Since I want to embellish the gourds with some twine, string, raffia or beads I need to figure out a way to open the gourd with a saw.  Many websites recommend a jigsaw or x acto knife, but I tried the jigsaw and it was difficult to get a nice round opening.  So I thought maybe a hole saw that goes on a drill might work.  It worked very nicely and I zipped through making the openings in the top.
Wearing a dust mask to keep from breathing in the gourd dust I drilled the openings in the top of the gourds.  Then I drilled holes around the top to use for threading the twine etc...

As you can see the hole saw makes a nice uniform and smooth hole in the top.  I pulled the dried insides of the gourd out of mine, but left it inside the ones I'm using to teach the project.  The students can remove it if they want to - but they might want to take the seeds out and plant some gourds of their own!

OK - so the next step is to decorate the gourd.  I really like wood burning personally, however I don't feel like that's the best option for young students.  I went to the craft store and purchased some leaf stencils and metallic acrylic paint.  Using a "dauber" which is a little sponge on a handle I stenciled leaves around the gourd.

The final touch is to thread some twine through the drilled holes and add some fabric leaves and wooden beads.
I think these will be a wonderful addition to any family's art collection - and they'll look fantastic on the Thanksgiving table for years to come!  Family members could even put a little slip of paper in the gourd saying what they are thankful for...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Inspired by Fall

The kids are back to school and even though it's still hot here it's still starting to feel like Fall -
 My favorite time of year!  

I have been wanting to learn how to stamp into metal so a couple of months ago I ordered a cute owl stamp.  I went online and looked at tutorials and then practiced on some blank circles of metal.  After some practice I stamped real brass charms with my one stamp - the owl.  The stamping isn't hard, but the antiqueing and polishing afterwards is a quite a bit of work.  I'm thinking this may be my only stamp I ever get! Here are a few of the designs I came up with:

Then I made a brass charm bracelet with some other charms I have been collecting over the summer.

This could be worn all the way until Thanksgiving!
I can't wait for those sunny but crisp fall days!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Many Good Witches To You!

 I started to make a few more of my witches for fall and I couldn't stop - I ended up making over a dozen.  They are so much fun to make, I love seeing how each one turns out a little bit different.  Here is a new owl or Wise Witch I came up with - very Fall!  As you can see, my witches cast only good spells - not scary at all!

I found some green sparkly tulle to decided to make a few Elphaba (from Wicked) inspired witches.  This witch looks like she's getting ready add her pumpkin to the windowsill of her cottage - or maybe to her cauldron : )
 Another Elphaba using different materials - love how she turned out!  I made a few with purple tulle too.  I don't know why they can't keep their hats on straight!
And - if you are dressing as a witch this Halloween Season these earrings are the perfect addition to your outfit!  If you haven't seen Wicked I highly recommend it!  I'm a Wizard of Oz lover from way back...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Harvest 2012

Our house came with a very nice peach tree and I did my second batch of peach jam this year.  The first year we lived here I made a batch too, but this year I decided to decorate the jars for gift giving.  I found some cute mason jar labels and printed them onto brown card stock - the link is here -
The jars are 8 oz. canning jars and so I used a 6" square of fabric cut with pinking shears for the jar topper and simply placed it over the lid and fastened the ring over the fabric.

Now I have a cute, yummy homemade gift all ready to go!

If you would like the recipe for the peach jam just let me know - it's easier than you think and so much better than store bought.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How a New Design is Born...

I've been working on getting everything together to create a new bracelet for over a month now and today all the planning and acquiring materials finally paid off in some new designs I'm happy with.   As I was photographing the new jewelry I started thinking about everything that goes into creating something new - from idea to packaged product.  I wondered if the person who purchases the design has any idea how much goes into a handmade piece.  So here is a rundown:

I purchased a kit with instructions to learn how to make these "fringe" bracelets in December of 2011.

I finally sat down in July and created about 10 of them.  A couple were done twice to learn the technique : )  You have to sew each fringe into the bracelet - time consuming but nice when it's done.

Once I learned how to make these I immediately wanted to design my own and I LOVE FALL!  So I started thinking about golds and browns and acorns, squirrels, owls, leaves etc... So I had the inspiration - now to get all the materials....

There was a bead show in July so I searched for charms and clasps and beads there.  I found some of the beads - seed beads and leaves there, but no charms or clasps.

I went online and searched for nice charms for fall and found the squirrels and owls.

At the craft store I found a few more beads in the color scheme I had in mind.

I am still looking for a fallish clasp - but did find an antique brass one so decided to finally sit down and see what I could come up with.  I laid out all my materials, counted the number of beads for each component and went to work.

About 2 hours later, not including interruptions, the bracelet was finished.  Yippee!

While I was working on the bracelet I came up with some ideas for earrings too - so made those.

Now time to make earring and bracelet cards.

I went online and found a cute owl graphic, created a printable page of them and printed them onto kraft paper cardstock.

Now it's time to cut them with my printing press and metal dies into shapes.  Place a backing on them, put one of my logo stickers on, find some complimentary string to attach the tag and FINALLY - it's done.

Oh - forgot - photograph the jewelry in my little light box and edit the photos.

You have to really enjoy the process or you would go crazy thinking about how much time goes into each item you create - in this case at least 32 hours - Yikes!  Oh well - now I have everything and the next one will only take me a couple of hours - I think : )

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dollar Store Beach Treasure Box

I found these wooden boxes at the Dollar Tree in March or April and bought 10 of them thinking I'd figure out something to do with them for one of my art classes.

They are small, about 3 X 3", and have brass hinges on the back.  This week I was inspired to go with an Ocean theme.  I went to and did a search in their The Sea section.  I found several images and printed up a page with several then I chose the little beach girl for my example.

First I painted the box with Acrylic paint and let it dry.

Then I trimmed the image to size and used Beacon Fast Finish Decoupage to bond the image to the painted box.  I brushed one coat on the box, placed the image in the center and then put a quick coat over both the box and the image.  I painted the first coat of fast finish quickly so the printer ink wouldn't smear.  After that was completely dry I added another coat of Fast Finish over the entire top of the box.

The next step was to hot glue a couple of shells to the box.

Then I used Mod Podge and painted a thin layer around the edge of the image and to the edge of the lid of the box.  I also painted the sea shells.

Then I used Extra Fine Glitter in "Glitz" and quickly covered all the areas I had coated with Mod Podge, and then tapped the box onto a paper plate to collect the extra glitter.  The extra glitter can be re-used.

After that was dry I put a few stick on rhinestones on for one last bit of sparkle.

The bottom half of the box can also be decorated, but I felt that was enough steps for my class at the retirement center.

Now you have a special place for all those beach combing treasures.

Give it a try!  Fun for a birthday party activity - print out any theme images and use paint colors to match.

Galaxy Unit Astronaut in Space Mixed Media Art Lesson

I taught this lesson to my 3rd grade students for their galaxy unit.  I borrowed the class photo and enlarged it on a color copier to ge...