Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peg Doll Family

I'll be the first to admit I have craft ADD -- when I see something new that I love, I have to try it out, even though I'm in the middle of 15 other kinds of projects.  This happened to me recently when I stumbled across GooseGrease on etsy.  I fell in love with their adorable custom peg doll families.  Then I noticed they had a separate shop (GooseGreaseUndone) where you can buy the unfinished dolls, mixing and matching a wide variety of sizes to match your own family.  Yes, please!  I ordered 5 little dolls for my family right away, and I've finally had a chance to finish painting them!  Here is our little family:

I painted them with acrylic craft paint and did a lot of the details with waterproof markers, then finished them with a coat of matte Mod Podge.  I learned a lot doing these and would definitely do some things differently next time (like waiting for the paint or mod podge on the heads to dry completely before picking them up -- I had to redo a few things because I was so impatient).

I let the boys tell me what they wanted on their shirts.  Sam, lover of all things learning and super excited about the approaching start of the school year, requested an A+.  I also gave him "distressed" jeans, because he had just told me he thought those were cool.

Joshy wanted a silly face on his.

Eliza got a cute pink princess-y dress in front...

And a super-hero cape in the back, because that how she rolls...

I mod-podge book paper on for my dress, then painted on the yellow cardigan and turquoise flower.

Dan has recently developed an affinity for plaid shirts, so that's what he got.

So there you have it!  This was such a fun little project.  Now the dolls live on the cabinet in our entryway, cheerily greeting everyone who comes over.

I'm not the only one who loves them, either.  Eliza plays with them pretty much every day -- I'm always finding them in different configurations, as though they are in the middle of a conversation or on some adventure together.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How to paint a tree mural...

Okay, that title may be a little misleading.  I think this post isn't so much as a "how-to" as you "you can do this!"  I want to tell you about the process of painting this life-size tree in Eliza's room, from "yeah, I think I can do that" to "oh my gosh this is a disaster" to "YES! I'M THE COOLEST EVER!!!"

Let me just start by saying: You can do this.  Believe me, if I can do it, you can do it.  I've been a paper-crafter for a long time and I consider myself to be pretty darn crafty, but only lately have I begun to discover that I can be artistic as well.  The key is giving yourself permission to not be 100% perfect, but to enjoy the process and believe in yourself.  I recently stumbled across this quote and I LOVE it:

Too often we talk ourselves out of trying something new because we don't believe we can do it right!  Why?!  Are we afraid the craft/art/life police are going to come and take us away?!

So, with that big and overdramatic introduction, I'm going to give you instructions if you want to paint a tree exactly the way I did:

1.  Paint the room with your base color.  Make sure you have a little leftover for "editing" later.

2.  Start sketching out tree shapes.  If you're like me, most of them will look pretty fugly.  Go to Pinterest and start looking for trees and tree art to get an idea of the shape you want to create. (Man, who knew there were so many cool tree tattoos out there?)  Eventually, after a bunch of tries, you'll figure out the shape you want, and you'll begin to feel like an artistic genius.  I really wish I had kept the bazillion sticky notes I sketched trees on so I could show you.  Most of them looked more like scary Halloween trees than a pretty girly whimsical tree.

A few of my inspiration photos, found via Pinterest. Seriously, it's awesome.

3.  Take a pencil and sketch the basic shape of the tree on your wall.

4.  Using an art brush (my fave was a rectangular brush about 1" wide), paint in the outline of the tree.  Add branches.  Fill in all the outlines.  Let dry.  (Hey, look, you can see my sticky note with my tree sketches on the wall!)

5.  Start painting on your leaves.  I recommend going from left to right so you don't drag your hand through wet paint.  Also, I decided before I started that I was going to do tear-drop shaped leaves in groups of three at the end of each branch and twig.  That worked for me because it that consistent element kept the tree from being too wild and crazy.

6.  Half-way through, step back and think "This does not look like my sketch.  This tree looks really barren."

7.  Take a picture with your phone, upload it to the computer, and do a little virtual editing to see what changes you need to make.  I went into PhotoShop elements and painted on a few more branches and more leaves and already felt happier.  I also doodled the little birdies I wanted to cut out of vinyl and put on.

8.  Start making changes.  Step back and think "Oh my gosh, this is a disaster.  This is an ugly tree!  If this tree were growing in my yard I would chop it down!"  Freak out.

9.  Take a deep breath.  Maybe it just needs to be pruned instead of chopped down.

10.  Repeat step 7.  This time in PhotoShop, I made the trunk skinnier and the tree taller so that it had a more rounded shape (instead of looking like some weird step pyramid).  I also decided to do the bird and cage instead of the thing I doodled before.

11.  Keep tweaking until you step back and think: "YES!  I'M THE COOLEST EVER!!!"

The point is, don't give up, and don't freak out.  Your process won't be the same as mine -- but that's probably for the best.  If you were really cool and found a tree shape that you loved, you could use a projector to put it up on your wall, trace the projection, and paint in those lines.  And that would be awesome!  But I don't have a project and I didn't find a tree shape that I loved, so I just winged it.  And I did think I was going to hate it forever there in the middle, but by the end I was able to come up with something that I really loved.

It's not really about the tree -- it's about taking chances in the things you love to do!  Go out on a limb, branch out, leaf your fears behind! (Okay, no more puns...)

Create an awesome life!

P.S.  I cut the bird and bird cage out of vinyl, from artwork I designed myself.  I do sell those shapes as cut files in my etsy shop if you're interested.  I am not currently taking any actual vinyl orders -- too much life going on right now!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Disneyland apparel -- freezer paper style!

I love going to Disneyland with the kids, and half the fun for me is all the anticipation and planning -- and that includes fun clothes to wear!  The first time we went with all the kids, we had t-shirts printed and I made cute girly polka dot skirts for Eliza and my nieces.  We went again back in June with my hubby's parents, and this time I wanted to let the kids get in on the fun.  Freezer paper stencils seemed the way to go!  (If you haven't jumped on the freezer paper stencil bandwagon, what are you waiting for?!  Go check out this great tutorial.  Seriously.)

You can't see me in this pic, but I'm the one behind the camera trying to let go of my crafting perfectionism...  I let the boys pick out (admittedly with some "guidance" from me) the designs they wanted to paint on their shirts, then cut the designs from freezer paper with my Cricut (these were simple shapes from the Mickey Font cartridge).  I then let them pick out whatever paint color they wanted.  Would I have chosen the iridescent green Josh went with?  Probably not.  But it made him really, really happy.  He also loved squeezing the paint onto the shirt and brushing it on with the sponge brush.   Bless their hearts, they really tried to keep the paint in the design, and there was only minimal green and red splotching elsewhere on the shirts.  (Sam's was especially noticeable since the splotches looked like blood...)  Here's the finished product at the happiest place on Earth:

Eliza didn't get as much creative license -- I said, "Do you want a pretty princess shirt?" and she said "Oh yes yes yes!"  Then I put together this little design from the "Once Upon a Princess" cartridge and created the stencil.  As you can see in the above pic, I did let her wield a paint brush.  She was surprisingly good at it!  After the paint was dry on hers, I used my iRock to bling it up with some gems.  Here she is -- guess where?!

Freezer paper stencils are just plain awesome -- make personalized shirts for any kid, any occasion, any style preference, whatever.  Cheap and fun!

P.S.  Freezer paper stenciling is cool for grown-ups, too.  Sometime soon I'll show you the cool shirts we did for our Dirty Dash team. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Family Art Collage Wall

Hello again!  Today I want to show you my latest project, which solved two big problems at once.  One: what to do with mountains of kids' artwork.  Two: What to do with the very tall wall on the staircase landing in our entryway.  My kiddos love love love to create, so I always have a stack that needs showing off.  So I wanted to create a special place where we could display it.  I needed something that would be easy to rotate.  But when the boys and I worked on special pieces to contribute to our church art show, I knew those needed a permanent home.  Thus the idea for the collage wall was born.
I blogged about my mixed media piece here.
My mother-in-law made me this cute clipboard...
I may or may not have had to replace one of the clips and the word "artist" because my little "helpers" decided to disassemble it before I could put it up...

And that got me thinking about other ways I could display the kids' art by just clipping it up, but I wanted something that would really give their artwork some presence and show that we are proud to display it in our home.  Then (hooray!) I found these two enormous empty frames at a yard sale for $2 each.  They were a really gross maroon color, but a few coats of spray paint later they look fantastic.  My awesome friend Kelli contributed some chicken wire, which I attached to the back of the frame with a staple gun.

I let the kids decorate plain mini clothespins for attaching the artwork.

The kids really loved picking out their favorite pieces for our first display.  They did most of the cool projects they picked in the art classes they took this spring with my friend April Staker.  If you are at all local, I totally recommend her classes for kids -- the boys learned so much and grew to love creating so much more!

This is really an ideal solution for displaying lots of sizes and types of artwork.  They can either put in several small pieces, as shown above, or one really big piece.  They love to color on those big paper rolls from IKEA, so we have a lot of those.  As an extra bonus, hanging up those big pieces makes it really easy to take a good picture of it, so we can save the picture and eventually lose all the giant pieces of paper. :)

Oh, and here's a funny story.  I cut this vinyl saying out and put it up, but it just didn't seem right somehow.  It took me two days to realize that that wasn't what I meant to put up at all!  I meant to do "Home is where the he{art} is" but somewhere between my brain and setting it up on the computer it got switched to this.  What do you think?  Lucky mistake, or should I switch it?

Hanging this collage in the stairwell worked out perfectly because I can hang things both higher and lower than  I really could on a normal wall because you start out either below or above the whole thing anyway.  I have lots of room to expand, especially above, as we create more special pieces that we want to keep up more permanently.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Winner! Plus my new obsession -- Pinterest!

First off, I'm very pleased to announce a winner for last week's "Growing in Unity" party!  Our randomly chosen winner is Carol, who said:

Carol, I'll be emailing you soon with your prize info!

And now, on to my favorite new thing -- Pinterest!

Have you heard of it yet?  Chances are you have, and either you're already an addict (like I am), or you're wondering what it's all about.

If you're like me, you love to cruise around different blogs and online stores and whatnot, gathering inspiration and just enjoying the eye candy.  And you bookmark things you don't want to forget, projects you want to try, etc. -- but then you forget all about those things once they're tucked away in your bookmark folder.

Well, Pinterest is pure awesome for visual people like us. It's like a virtual pin board, so you can keep track of all the awesome things you see online -- crafts, recipes, home decor, books to read, vacations you'd like to take, anything you like. That way you can SEE everything you've bookmarked, instead of just bookmarking it in your browser and then forgetting it.  You can set up categories however you like, so it's always easy to see at a glance whatever you're trying to find.  This is what my own board looks like right this second:

As you can see, I'm just getting started in some categories, and in others I'm already going hog wild. :)

It's also a fun social sharing thing, because you can follow other people whose taste you like, and others can follow you. I have been having so much fun finding new people to follow and getting TONS of inspiration. If you want to check out what I've been pinning, you can take a look here.  Lots of the best bloggers are becoming Pinterest junkies (like Shelley from House of Smiths -- LOVE everything she pins!), and you never know who else you might find that you love.  My sister-in-law's mom, for instance, is one of the most prolific pinners every, and I get a ton of inspiration from her.  Oh, and one nice thing is that you don't have to follow every category a person creates.  I have a friend who is a teacher and pins a lot of classroom ideas -- I don't really need those, so I don't follow that board, but I do love the other stuff she pins.  It's great that it's not an all-or-nothing follower thing.

Let me know if you want an invite and I'll send you one! (I think the invite thing is kind of a gimmick, because I've never heard of anyone NOT getting invited if they click "request an invite," but it does usually take a few days. If someone invites you, I think you can join up immediately.)

So come play with me!  (And the gazillion other people having fun there.)  This isn't any kind of a sponsored post -- I'm just so in love with it that I can't help sharing the fun!