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I recently painted this after not being able to find (or afford) a focal piece of art for my guestroom.  It’s so easy to do, and it gives a home more personality when it’s homemade.

To make a painting like this, you’ll need a few things:

1.  Your canvass: An old board, piece of drywall or other surface.  Whether it’s a long, skinny board or a rectangle-shaped one like I used, it’s totally usable.  Also, boards that have woodgrain, paint or other raised surfaces will make the finished product look amazing!

2.  Paint:  Whatever you’ve got will work.  I used four small tubes of acryllic artist’s paint, some outdoor house paint, some cement primer and the rest of our front door paint.  If it smelly chemically, paint outside.

3.  Brushes: You can use kitchen sponges, paint brushes or  rags.

4.  Hardware: Whatever you come up with to attach it to the wall.

Some directions, tips and suggestions to get you started:

1.  Find a design.  I combined a bunch of photos of poppies from a Google-image search for “red poppies”.

2.  I primed my board with white house paint.  If you’re going to paint with bright or light colors, I reccomend you do this.

3.  Using a pencil, trace on your basic picture.

4.  Start by painting your background, then work your way forward.  I started with the blue sky and green grass, then I painted red globs for the poppies, and last I detailed the poppies and painted in stems and grass.

5.  Paint your frame on.  I just sponged black around the edges, both on the art side and the sides of the board.

6.  Don’t worry about messing up.  If you don’t like something, let it dry and paint over it!

7.  Whenever you have guests, brag about it.  It’s a one-of-a-kind!

My series of spring-themed posts wouldn’t be complete without tips for crafters in the midst of spring cleaning.  I’m focusing on simplification and organization of your craft area, all which are no-cost, because I know that you’ve already swept, dusted and scrubbed the dirt away!  (If you haven’t, it’s best to do it before you start.)

1. Group your items.

An organized space should leave your materials easy to find and access.  Sort through your area and group your supplies using cardboard boxes or milk crates if you’d like.  Depending on how many tools and materials you have, I’ve found that having about 10 groups is a good, manageable amount.  This is a great time to find a home for those little things that seem to hang around on a desk and never have an actual home.  My materials groups include: paper, adhesives, paint and drawing supplies, bookbinding, stamping and ribbon.  Using a box or basket, make one group specifically for office supplies, like pens, pencils, scissors, rulers, stapler, hole punch, etc.  Make sure you have a trash/recycle bag handy to get rid of clutter that you don’t need!

I put all of my tools and gadgets in one place.

2. Find homes for your groups.

This step seems easy, but I have a few suggested do’s and don’ts.  Do find a place to put your group that will give you easy access to it.  Don’t stack groups on top of each other.  Do utilize filing cabinets, small bookshelves and nightstand-sized dressers to store your things.  Don’t cram your group into a space that’s too small and could wrinkle, tear or smudge it.  Do pack rarely used supplies in a box to store.  Do be creative with containers: try using baskets, jars, hat boxes and shoe boxes covered with pretty paper as homes for your groups.

A place for my paper, cardstock and accents.

3.  Freezer bags are your friend!

I can’t tell you how useful these will be to you!  You can use larger or smaller sizes to hold buttons, ribbon, paper, fabric, art supplies, stickers, yarn, paint tubes, extra pens and pencils, stamping supplies, pretty paper scraps, and a million other things.  Best of all, these clear bags make it easy to grab what you need when crafting.

Freezer bags store unfinished projects well, too.

4.  Label your heart out.

Use sticker printer labels, pretty paper or just a permanent marker to label it all!  I printed my groups’ names on pretty paper, cut them out into rectangle labels and taped them to my dresser drawers, where I keep my supplies.  It looks so pretty, and it’s easy to find everything.  Don’t forget to label your storage boxes!

The labels on some of my drawers.

5.  Declutter…

Speaking from personal experience, crafters tend to hoard clutter like crazy.  Pick a time to declutter that’s best for you: a grumpy or sad mood could make you more nostalgic and less likely to part with your clutter.  Using a cardboard box, work from one end of your craft space to the other, opening drawers and nooks.  Get rid of those paper bits, those thread scraps, the broken scissors, the old magazines and that (sadly) failed project you mean to fix but never do.  (You may find junk that you don’t need, but that might be of use to someone else: put it on a community website to sell, like CraigsList!)  Be strong!  You can do it!

Out with the old…

6.  Lighting is key.

Most crafts require a bit of eye strain, with small details and intricate parts.  Whether your craft space is a tiny corner of your living room or it’s own room, lighting is important for your eyes and for the accuracy of your craft.  Ideally, you should have three sources of light in your area: natural light from a window, an overall light (such as a ceiling light) and a specific light (like a table lamp or floor lamp next to your table.)  If natural light isn’t possible, or if you craft at night (like I do) make sure you have the other two.

I have a desk lamp just like this. I got it at Target for $20.

7.  Prevent the messies.

Whether you craft with paper, a needle and thread, beads or clay, you’re bound to make a mess.  After a night of bookbinding my craft area looks like a confetti grenade went off!  It’s best to be prepared to tidy as you go.  Designate a coardboard box just for recycling, for things like paper scraps, thread and cardboard.  Put together a small kit just for combating the messies, with items like a sticky-tape lint remover, a small hand-broom and dustpan, a roll of paper towells, goop/sticker remover, a small spray bottle for water or window cleaner and any other tools that will clean your craft type.

The Messies can easyily happe. Here’s Lynne’s craft space before…
…and after! Both photos from The Patchery Menagerie

8.  Your work surface is best naked.

Before my spring cleaning this year, my 4’x6′ craft table was so piled with paper trays, mail, unfinished projects and bits o’ whoknowswhat that I only had about a foot of working space.  I firmly believe that a crafter’s work surface should be clean, uncluttered and open.  Your art deserves to be the center of attention, and needs room to be spread out for accurate measurements, for pattern planning and to lessen chances of wear and tear.  Take everything off of your surface, and scrub it shiny clean.  The items that are then returned to the surface should be very limited and necessary, like a lamp, a computer or a cutting mat.  What should you do with the leftovers?  Group it and home it!

Photo from Rivene’s Journey

9.  Is your environment ideal?

This is an important step.  Make two lists on a piece of paper.  For the first list, write fiveish descriptive words that inspire you.  (Some suggestions: romance, adventure, simplicity, vintage, the color yellow, my grandmother, etc.)  For the second list, write fiveish descriptive words that make you comfortable.  (Some suggestions: warmth, music, the scent of vanilla, organization, sweets, a window view of the yard , etc.)

The first list describes the best way for your space to become the perfect working environment for you.  If you listed goals, neatly print a list of your larger goals and frame it, hanging it near your desk.  If you listed a friend or relative, add their photo to your surface (don’t worry, loved ones are never clutter!)    If you listed simplicity, hang a cork bulletin board on the wall, with one or two simple, inspiring pictures tacked to it.  You can make wall art with your favorite colors using decorative paper and add romance by adding a pretty pillow to your chair.  If your accomplishments inspire you, and I hope they do, frame pictures of your art and display them in a group, or mount a single wall shelf to display some of your actual art.

The second list describe the details that you should add to your environment.  For instance, you can put a few blankets in a wicker basket if you listed warmth, a vanilla-scented candle for your favorite scent, labeled hat boxes  with supplies neatly arranged in a bookshelf if you’ve listed organization, a jar of lollipops if you listed sweets and you can turn your table or work surface toward the window for a better view.  Sometimes it’s fun to make a sign that says, “Kelly’s Shoppe”!

This craft room is a great example of a personalized environment. The artist’s list would most likely have words like vintage, colorful, organized, accessible and fun. Note the direction of the work surface, which adds a different feel to the room. Thanks to Unplggd for a great example!

10.  Keep a proud, visible inventory.

Your stuff’s pretty awesome, right?  Your art started with you, with a vision and because of you it became what it is.  If your space allows, I highly recommend displaying your completed projects in bookshelves or, a display table or on wall shelves.  Whether you give your art as gifts, sell it online, show it in galleries or plan to keep it, a collective display of completion is valuable.  It’s an easy way to keep your art clean, organized, available and ready for referencing it or showing it off to guests.

A great example of art display. Here, Neighborhood Potters displays their ceramic art.

*   *   If you find yourself stuck, need some help and ideas or have a great tip to add, let us know!   *   *

Note: These no-cost ideas occasionally mention items that make it easier to organize, such as shelving and the desk lamp.  If you should find that you need one or two pieces of furniture for your craft area, I suggest you check out an online community board, such as CraigsList for your needs.  CraigsList also has a free items department, where bookshelves, tables and dressers are listed daily. While the items are of no charge, it is understood that the taker arrange transportation and move it themselves.

I So Love To Sew!

My mother blessed my life by giving me a wonderful new sewing machine!  This is my first attempt at making a flannel rag quilt.  It’s heavy and so soft.

The finished size is 60 inches long by 40 inches wide.

Each square started as 9"x9", and was sewn in with 1/2 inches seam to make the final square 8 inches

For thickness and warmth, I used red flannel as the bottom layer, a 7"x7" piece of fleece layer (that isn't seen,) a white cotton layer and a star-design cotton layer.

It's my favorite early-morning blanket!

Spring has sprung, and it’s time for that winter decor in your home to be packed away and replaced with vibrant spring decor!  After your annual spring cleaning its time to decorate!  It will not only refresh the look and feel of your home, but it will revitalize you as well!  The colors in our home environment can effect our mood, our energy level and they express who we are and how we’re feeling.  Your home deserves it, and you deserve it.

Redecorating doesn’t have to mean spending money.  Every few weeks I take a trip to the basement or the garage to rummage for old, unused items that can easily be renewed.

Here are 12 easy projects that don’t cost a penny!


1.

Recover an old lamp shade with fun paper or a crazy patterned fabric.

From Apartment Therapy

2.

Use one, two or more springy fabrics to make fresh wall art.  Be creative!  Use an old sheet, a few cloth napkins, sections cut from the t-shirt you never wear anymore, vintage pillow cases or a pretty-patterned tablecloth.  Cut wood, cardboard or other firm material in the sizes that you’d like your art to be, and then cut the fabrics at least 4 inches longer and 4 inches wider than the boards.  Wrap the fabric around the boards, and secure it to the back using thumbtacks, strong tape, staples or tiny nails.  Be creative when deciding how to hang your art: you can use picture hanging wire, a paperclip stapled to the back of your art (to slide over a nail in the wall)  a bracket glued to the back of your art, or you can arrange your masterpieces on a wall shelf!   An easier method of making this spring wall art is to use fun decorative paper.  Scrapbook paper works great, as well as wallpaper and giftwrap.

Wall Art From Wists

3.

Put some excitement into your framed pictures! Using your old wooden frames, create photo mattes from paper in bold, fun colors.

From Flickr

4.

Bring the outside in!  Cut flowers from your garden and fill your rooms with bouquets.  You can also fill decorative bowls with fruit from a tree, vases with attractive tree branches or bowl vases with floating camellia blooms.  Have fun with vases and containers, too!  Try mason jars, mixing bowls, glass milk-bottles, tin cans with ribbons tied around them and funky coffee mugs and ceramic or glass lemonade pitchers.

From GalaDarling

5.

Use a light, bright or bold-colored fabric as a throw for your couch, a table cloth, barstool seat covers, or curtains.  You don’t have to buy fabric to do this: just look around your home.  Use old table cloths, sheets, clothes from your “to donate” pile, old curtains and shower curtains.

A Table Cloth From The Breakfast Nook of Yours Truly

6.

Add tiebacks to your curtains.  Windows are the eyes to your home!  Instead of droopy, closed drapes, give your home an eyelift; it will  instantly brighten your home with sunlight, and it’ll make you feel good.  Use fun fabric, ribbons, tieback hardware (available at Pottery Barn-type stores,) or even heavy-duty beaded hair clips!  On fabric tiebacks you can add buttons or thread a flower stem through it, making your curtains elegant and springy.

From Junie-Moon

7.

Dust.  Although this seems obvious, it’s a miracle-maker.  I strongly suggest Pledge, but any duster with a lemony scent will do.  After you dust your whole home, the sweet, clean scent will linger and your home will feel crisp and ready for spring!

From Reader’s Digest, 8 Smart Strategies to Make Your Home Dust-Proof

8.

Add light to dark areas of your home.  You might use a little table lamp, add a reflective mirror, place a light-colored piece of art on the wall or even add a small table with a white flowering plant on it.

From DecorPad

9.

Wicker, when used appropriately, gives any area a spring feel.  Use a wicker basket filled with flip-flops by the front door, to hold washcloths in your bathroom, to hold kid’s toys, to put dirty laundry in, to put a potted plant in or to hold your throw blankets.  You can use a wicker basket as a doggy bed (with a pad or pillow inside,) as a toiletries caddy, as a mail/letters organizer or even as a table centerpiece with fresh fruit in it!

From MyHomeIdeas

10.

Using light-colored or bright-colored ribbons, spice up your home!  Tie them in a bow around vases, backs of dining room chairs, candlesticks, light fixtures, curtain rods, bed posts, and weave them through wicker baskets.  If you love ribbons, use them as a headband in your hair, tie small bows onto branches in your potted plants, weave them around a banister or railing and tie one around your mailbox!

By Lauren Ceramics

11.

Make cafe curtains!  Instantly brighten a room while maintaining your privacy:  remove curtains, curtain rods and hardware from a window.  using tape, a needle and thread or temporary iron-on fabric adhesive, fold the curtain in half width-wise and attach or sew the top edge to the bottom edge.  Fasten the curtain rod and hardware to the middle of the windows, and add the curtains!  (If you’re an experienced seamstress, you can also sew across the top for the rod pocket.  This project is especially great for those of us with limited fabric and curtain sets, because they can easily be undone and replaced at the window top for fall.

Made by Susan Beal at DollarStoreCrafts

12.

Soaps aren’t just for your everyday utility shower, they do so many other things!  Their wonderful color can brighten a kitchen or a bathroom, and their delicious scents can make your home smell like spring, without the chemicals that are inhaled with room sprays and incense or the allergies from fresh flowers.  I suggest you purchase a few different bars of soap at your local gourmet or natural food market.  They’re made with the friendliest ingredients and their scents last longer and are more natural.  Take your time to smell them, and chose ones that make you feel happy and remind you of spring.   At home, at home, cut the bars of soap into very thick slices with a sharp knife…be careful!  You can also wrap them at home with decorative paper.  You can arrange the soaps in a small glass bowl or tray in the bathroom, hide a slice in your living room for wonderful fragrance and slip one into your dresser drawer for a mild scent on your clothes.

From Summer Sky: Learning As I Go

Other springy items:

metal watering can

wreath of ivy, leaves or flowers

tall, skinny iced tea spoons

hummingbird feeder

*Special Note: Artificial plants are great.  Contrary to what any of those green-thummers might say, an artificial plant is sanitary, reliable, they don’t have growth spurts, they don’t attract bugs, they don’t dramatically wilt for attention, they are versatile, they don’t mind sitting in a closet for a few years and they are quite eco-conscious (they generally refuse water, thus conserving.)  If you’re in need of indoor foliage but fear the repercussions of live plants, try artificial.  It’s a great choice.

I spent a zillion hours making this 360-page leather journal the other night, and I fell in love with it.  I figured out how to inlay the impressed rectangle, and triple supported it, so it should last 500 years.  It’s big and heavy and wonderful.   And I love it.

The question is, should I keep it or should I sell it?

My First Craft Fair!

This weekend I had a booth at my first craft fair!  It was at Urban Grind in Portland, Oregon, and benefited Two Dollars A Day, a nonprofit dedicated to helping end poverty through women’s literacy. I received tons of compliments on my creations!

Ever feel like selling your art is an uphill battle?

Yesterday I went to a workshop called Creating More Money From Your Art.  Lead by songwriter Justin Stark in Portland, Oregon, this inexpensive workshop detailed the steps of art and business, both separately and together.  We were each given complete workshop and take-home materials, which I appreciated, so that I could review everything at home from time to time.  It included topics such as personal/professional strengths and weaknesses, consistency in creating one’s art, rejection, goal processes and so much more!

The 6-hour workshop is conducted round-table style, with attendee participation encouraged.   It was casual, comfortable and it felt great to discuss commonalities with other struggling artists.   The six hours flew by, and we were all reluctant to end the workshop.

This workshop is held monthly, and is worth a few hours in the car to attend!  Email me for more information.