Design team member of Alpha Stamps, moderator at Craftster, lover of ephemera and junk.

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Vintage Santa Altered Tin

Three years ago, I found a bunch of delightfully creepy vintage Santas at a flea market. They had a whole bowl of them available, but I thought they were a little pricey at $5 apiece. Now of course, I wish I had taken them all. But, I picked out two of the best (worst?) ones to use in craft projects. One, I used immediately, and the other has been hanging around on my desk since. Until now. I finally realized that all he really needed was an Altoids tin.

His outfit probably used to be bright red, but it has really faded out through the years. I was glad I had some Christmas papers with muted colors.

I didn't want to permanently attach him in any way, so I stuck a pin through the background paper and he's just impaled there, much like the way you would display a bug. A little tart tin makes a great base for this piece.

I'm glad I finally gave him a home. He seems happier now. As for his buddy, he still enjoys ringing Christmas in every year on his sleigh.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Gnomes and Other Woodland Friends

Happy 2020! Here are my first few projects of the new year, and they can definitely be described as "cute", largely in part to the awesome wooden woodland cutouts I just got from Alpha Stamps. Some of the details are wood burned, so they're super easy to paint if you get yourself a tiny brush.

I loved the way that little gnome fit perfectly into an old jewelry box. Using a background cut from scrapbook paper and some mushrooms I painted, I created a little world for him to live in.

He seems pretty comfortable there. Now if I could only get that glass to not reflect/hide the color when taking photos...

Next, I painted the set of four gnomes. I gave each of them a bright color and some fun polka dots and stripes. From the base to the tip of their hats, these little fellows are about 2" tall.

They needed somewhere to be, so I cut out a background of black scrapbook paper and added a moon from a Cosmos Bark paper. The base of the gnomes was painted black and grey to blend in with the background. These little gnomes can stand on their own, so they may end up just living on my desk as is, but I might add them to the front of a book or box. No matter where they end up, I think they're adorable.

I couldn't stop without using one of the adorable hedgehogs. I used a large jeweler's tin for the base of this project. An image from the Lucky Mushrooms collage sheet makes the perfect background, and then I just added a little forest floor, a 3D mushroom, and a tiny ladybug to complete the scene.

A small leaf garland and crepe ribbon wrap the outside, and it's all tied up with a bow. This was a fun, quick little piece. Bonus: I still have squirrels, acorns, leaves, and another hedgehog to play with later!
For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Flashback: Cute Gift Bag Tutorial

Here's a tutorial for cute, eco-friendly gift bags. This tutorial was first posted on Craftster in 2009, well before I had a blog, and well before we renovated our kitchen and got rid of that fruity wall paper! Sadly, the parent company that owns Craftster is no longer supporting the forum, so I decided to move this tutorial over here.

It's easy to make these little gift bags out of newspaper. Plus, it's a great way to recycle! Pick a good section of your paper (the comics are always fun), or use a foreign language paper for added interest. If you're wrapping a small housewarming gift, it would be fun to use the real estate section of the paper. Here are a couple of examples I made:

And here is how they're made.
Supplies needed:

PVA glue. This is a bookmaker's glue and can be found at most art supply stores. Elmer's will work as well.
Newspaper. For the example bags above, I used a Japanese paper that measured (when folded) 11 1/2" wide and 15" tall, and the comics of my regular paper, which were folded and cut down to 11" by 11".
A hole punch and a grommet setter or a Clikit tool. I found my Clikit tool at a discount store. If you google "Clikit" there are several entries.
Ribbon or string

Here's how they're made. For this example, I used the Japanese paper:

1. Take the folded paper and fold the already folded side down about 1".

2. Run a line of glue on the top of that folded area and fold down again. This will make a sturdier base for the grommets so the bag won't tear when filled. This folded side is the TOP of your bag.

3. Next, glue down one SIDE of the bag. You are going to open out the two layers on the opposite side and insert this glued side in, making a paper tube of sorts. Glue and insert about 1" so it will be sturdy. Make sure you insert the side so it's straight. Glue this both inside and outside.

4. Fold your tube flat, using the glued side as a guide. The glued side should be straight down on your fold.

5. Now we'll make gussets on the narrow sides of the bag. Determine how wide you want your gussets to be. They can be as wide or as narrow as you wish. Once you determine how wide you want them to be, fold the bag flat again and crease the second side of your gusset. (The gusset will be the area between your folds.) When you open your bag up, it should be box-like.
6. Bring both edges of each gusset together and crease so the bag will be able to fold flat. 
Once you have done this step, your bag should look like this:
7. Measure how wide your gusset is, and fold the BOTTOM of the bag up that same measurement. Remember, the bottom is the side that is NOT folded. On the bag shown, the gusset is 2" wide, so I have folded the bottom up 2". After you fold it once, turn the bag over and fold it up the other side as well so you get a good crease there.

8. Now you're going to create the bottom of your bag. Fold both of the gussets in as if you were wrapping a box. Use your previously made fold lines as guidelines.

9. Glue the flaps well. Put one of your hands into the bag to give you something to fold against, and fold each glued flap in to form a square bottom.

10. Here's a Clikit tool. It's great for punching holes and setting grommets. If you don't have one of these, though, you can punch holes with a hole punch and then set your grommets with a regular setter.

11. After your grommets are set, thread a coordinating ribbon through and tie knots on each end. String, yarn, or raffia would work as well. Done! Now you have a cute little gift bag.

The final product:
Wasn't that easy?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Quick and Easy Ornaments, with quick and easy tutorials

Need more ornaments? These wood ornaments from Alpha Stamps are so quick and easy to decorate! I'm going to use mine for gift tags, so it will be like giving two gifts in one!

For the first snowman couple, paint the ornament holder silver, then cover the circular part with scrapbook paper and an image from the Silly Snowman collage sheet. Layer on a "Merry Christmas" greeting from the same collage sheet. Glue a beaded trim around the edge. Add some holly, some tiny snowflakes, and a pretty ribbon, and you're done!

The second snowman couple is made in the same way, just using a bit of a different palette.  Its Christmas greeting came from the Small Retro Xmas Tags & Labels collage sheet.

I love this mitten! Covered it with a patterned scrapbook paper, with red paper at the top and bottom. Use a grey Copic marker to draw ribbing around the cuff. Glue on a loop of pretty red ribbon and a paper rose, and you're done. Easy peasy!
For a complete list of supplies, click here!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Hanging House Ornaments

Alpha Stamps has some new hanging house ornaments, and they can be decorated in so many different ways! Each set comes with a house and "yard", plus a picket fence, two deer, and an evergreen tree. The pieces are nice and lightweight, even when decorated. Here's what I did with two of the kits: a sparkly monotone house with a subtle palette, and a brighter, more vintage look with Santa. Each house is 5" tall.

The sparkly house was covered with scrapbook paper, and the tree was painted with subtle shades of green. A base of Snow Tex was added to the bottom, and then everything was covered with Diamond Dust to make it extra sparkly.

The sign was cut from a collage sheet, and mounted on matchsticks. It was glued to the base, along with the deer. I used some colored pencils on the deer, but he would also be cute just in silhouette.
I wanted the elements outside to have some depth, so I used a straight pin to help the deer stand away from the house. I circled the pin in the photo below, because it's hard to see, which is, of course, a perk.

I thought this house might be my favorite, but I think the jolly Santa in the next house changed my mind! Although he's left gifts and candy under the tree, he's checking his list twice to make sure no one was forgotten.

Scrapbook paper was used for the sides and roof of this house. I painted the "yard" a very light blue and then unrolled a cotton ball to make the snow. Tiny snowflakes, a bright wreath, and miniature packages and candy complete the scene. Hint: if the tree doesn't fit well, it's easy to use scissors to trim the back flat so it can sit closer to the house. Santa and the fence have some foam tape behind them so they stand out a little.

It's too early for me to have my tree up, but luckily, my neighbors have the perfect bush for glamour shots.
Ho ho ho! Stay tuned for more ornaments to come. 'Tis the season, after all. For a complete list of supplies, click here!

Snowglobe Ornament

Here's a fun ornament that's easy to put together quickly. It's similar to a snow globe, but it looks like a little mason jar. Love! The jar is plastic, so it's not as fragile as it looks, and it's nice and lightweight for hanging on your tree. This jar could hold whatever you like, but I decided to make a little snowy scene.

The first thing I did was to build up the base so the deer and the tree would be flush with the clear part of the jar. To do this, I simply cut out three circles of corrugated cardboard that were a tiny bit smaller than the opening of the jar (save room so you can screw that jar in!). I glued the cardboard together and then punched a hole into which I inserted my "tree". I was liberal with the hot glue, because I sure don't want that tree coming loose.

Next, I glued the deer's feet down, and then wrapped the base with white cotton from a cotton ball. It doesn't have to be too neat, just good enough to keep the cardboard from showing through the snow. Once the base was cotton-wrapped, I glued it on the inside of the lid, making sure the lid could screw in before the glue dried. While the glue set, I guesstimated how much Diamond Dust "snow" would be needed to cover the ground and filled the jar up. It doesn't need a whole lot. Hold the jar with the opening upright, and then turn over the lid, gently insert the snowy scene inside the jar, and screw the lid on. Turn the jar over and shake that snow down to the ground.

Once the snow globe is assembled, you can add some embellishments to the outside. I added a little ribbon and some garland to the bottom, and some bright berries to the top. So cute!
Need supplies? Click here!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Jolly Christmas Houses of Jingle Lane

Now that Halloween has passed, it's time for (you guessed it!) Christmas crafts. I love these new houses from Alpha Stamps; they are so easy to put together, and really fun to decorate. Using 8x8 papers from Authentique, I made a couple of jolly Christmas houses. In this post, I'll show you three fun ways to use them during the holidays. First up: a little Christmas scene. Add a few bottle brush trees and a tiny Santa, and ho, ho, ho- let's visit Jingle Lane!

Here's number 24. Green and red striped candy canes flank the front entrance, and Christmas lights adorn the roof. The doors and windows have tissue paper behind them, so the houses look lovely with a small battery operated tea light inside.

Number 25 Jingle Lane has a beaded swag outlining their roof and a cookie cutter star for decoration. Candy pieces look like flowers under the windows.

Another fun thing about this house is that the roof opens up. I decorated a 2" cube box (perfect for holding jewelry, sweets, or other tiny gift items). It fits perfectly in the house. Two gifts in one!

The ribbon is tied under the flap of the gift box, so it doesn't need to be untied to open the box. This is great for people like me, who love to reuse pretty boxes.

Here's a third option for displaying the houses: tie a long ribbon to the clip, and hang them. They're so pretty with the lights inside. I'll talk a bit about the doors and windows and how that glow is achieved below.

Here are a few tips on assembling and altering these sweet houses. Below you can see the walls of the house are covered with scrapbook paper, and the roofs have not been covered. Before I covered them, I folded down the overhang part of the roof and glued it with white glue. Clip it closed while drying. If you are looking at the outside of your house (below), you would put your glue on the other side of the overhang to make the flap.

The houses have windows cut into the front and back already, but I wanted to use some Mini House Doors and Windows because they're so fun. Some of these have different sized openings than the windows that are already cut into the house, so here's how to make those work:  cover all the sides of the house with paper, then place the door and windows where you want them. Don't glue them down yet! First, lightly trace around the opening inside the windows on the new windows or door, then using an x-acto knife, cut a little outside the pencil lines. In the photo below, I have just peeled off the paper, so you can see the where precut window is. I then cut through and removed the cardboard before finally gluing down the door.

Once the new windows are cut out, take some tissue paper and glue it around the opening, so the candle light will diffuse. This is the inside of the house, so no need to be too neat with the paper. In the photo below, the new windows and door have already been glued on the outside, so you do see the mullions in the windows.

Assemble the house, glue it up, and you've got some jolly Christmas houses to help celebrate the season. Enjoy!

For a complete list of supplies, click here!

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