Category Archives: Crafting

52 Cards – #3

I’m a day late with my weekly installment — we had a big family outing on Sunday, which is our usual crafting day, so we did short and easy this week. I actually have not yet added the Mod Podge to seal them and make sure everything stays where it belongs.



Aoife’s is on the left, mine is on the right.

Aoife used some fabric Sharpies on hers, with an eyedropper of water to smudge everything. I precut a couple of images and let her pick one (although I admit, I saved those gorgeous purple mushrooms for myself).

For mine, I painted it with yellow acrylic and added the description of the mushroom from an old Golden Guide, then added the mushrooms right on top.

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Aoife added more fabric marker on the back, with enough water to effectively eliminate most of her efforts. I experimented with tearing strips of paper with illustrations and then collaging them together, with mixed results.

I still love this project, and I can tell that Aoife even looks forward to it — she loves when I get out the paints and supplies!



52 Cards – #2

While I’ve named this series 52 Cards (I know, I’m so original), I could also subtitle it “How Many Times Can I Turn My Toddler Loose with Paint Without Losing My Sanity?” Getting ready for any type of art project with a child takes a little bit of preparation and a lot of patience.

Today I let her pick out a bird image from an old field guide I have, and she chose an emu. That led to my inspiration, because the cassowary was on the other side of the emu page. I noticed in the description that the cassowary is native to Australia, so I tore apart a map and layered Australia behind the bird image. Believe it or not, it was only after I glued down the map and the bird that I noticed that we’d used the ace of spades, leaving a nice A in the corner to stand for Australia. In addition to our “found” papers, we used acrylic paints and Mod Podge.

Here are the fronts of our cards (mine is on the left, Aoife’s is on the right):

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And the backs:

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I’m really happy with how mine turned out, and Aoife’s is always amazing. Instead of just putting down several blobs of color for her to choose from (because she would usually choose ALL THE COLORS), I had her tell me one color at a time that she wanted to use. Today the most interesting thing for her was to dip her paintbrush in the paint and then directly into the water, coloring the water instead of her card.

As much as it takes a little more prep and clean up, I love this little weekend project we have going. Aoife has no fear and no knowledge of technique, so she is constantly experimenting. I always try to think about four steps ahead, making me much more hesitant to use any of my materials. I’m learning to be fearless, and I’ve apparently been waiting for a two-year-old to teach me.

52 Cards – #1

One of the projects to which I alluded in my birthday post is called 52 Cards. I went an embarrassingly long time in my life without realizing that the number of cards in a deck is the same number of weeks in a year. With that in mind, and partially inspired by Elise‘s Daily Card project (no longer online), I decided that I would alter a playing card each week. I was thrilled when I found that I had a second deck of cards stashed away — it meant that I could do this project together with Aoife.

My personal goal for this project is to have 52 chances to use variety in my art and not have anything really in mind prior to creating. I get so caught up thinking that this piece has to be perfect. These are just playing cards — small and cheap, so I won’t feel so bad if I have a couple of duds in there. I want to try different techniques, materials, and experiences and have an album that I can flip through for inspiration. My plan is to get a binder with baseball card sleeves — those should hold playing cards perfectly.

My goal for Aoife is to let her play with some of the same materials that I am using. She can choose colors, play around, and make decisions herself as to how she wants to apply materials to her card. This is something we can do together and I think it will be fun to see what we both create.

photo 1 (1)  The first step was preparing the cards so that they’ll take adhesive or paint. I used some medium grit sandpaper to rough up both sides of the cards.

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Then we were ready to create!

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Today we used some pages from a book I have that’s in Spanish, green tissue paper, and acrylic paint. Aoife painted what you see above — I’m quite impressed with what she ended up with.

Here are the fronts of our cards (Aoife’s is on the left, mine is on the right):

photo 3 - Edited


And the backs:

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I let Aoife run the glue stick and the paintbrushes, and then I finished hers and mine up with a coat of Mod Podge on either side to secure everything. You can tell that the edges curled up in the picture; once the Mod Podge was dry, I put a couple of tile coasters on top of them to help them flatten out.

I love the rough look of them and how they turned out in general. It was so fun to turn Aoife loose with her card and work on mine alongside her. I can’t wait to mix it up with some found materials, items in the recycling bin, or whatever else I come up with for next weekend!

Abstract Ombre Sunset

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I whipped this up at my library’s last Crafternoon session, which included instruction from a real live professional artist (thanks, Nicole!). We used acrylic paintings and explored how to create various textures and mix colors, and then we just went for it. I’m partial to orange, so I mixed up a gorgeously rich peachy orange color and started swiping it on the canvas (8″ x 10″). I used the deeper shade on the bottom, then started adding white. I didn’t mix white into orange on the palette; instead, I just grabbed a glob of orange and a glob of white with the brush at the same time and brushed it onto the canvas. As I moved up higher on the canvas, I just added more white and less orange. Any color mixing happened directly on the canvas.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out — it’s reminiscent of a sunset, I think. When I’m staring at a blank canvas, I get intimidated and am afraid of making the wrong choices — picking the wrong color, making a mistake, using a brush that’s too small. Once I get started, though, it feels natural and intuitive. I’m not sure what all that means, but I like it and am planning to do more painting soon.

Abstract Art

Abstract art is my favorite kind, both to look at and to create myself. I love getting caught up in the colors, shapes, and textures that cover the canvas.

You may remember this beauty that now sits on my bookshelf:



I’ve been inspired lately by abstract landscape photography. There are some great examples on my Pinterest board for painting inspiration. I’d also been inspired by a recent post by The Nester. I have some acrylic paint sitting around just dying to get used, so during a recent naptime I decided it was time.

The one I created the other day is not necessarily an abstract landscape, but it follows the same idea. I used an old painting that I had done several years ago and never liked, just covering it up with white, black, and yellow.


I added the paint directly to the canvas and just started mixing with my paintbrush with back-and-forth strokes. I may go back and do it over, because some of the lines from the old painting show through and create a texture that I don’t want. Or, I might live with it for a few days and decide the texture adds character, who knows.

I tend to get intimidated by a blank canvas, but this method of painting is simple and (dare I say?) foolproof. It’s freeing to take an old painting and cover it up with something new and improved, and it does away with some of the inhibitions you feel with a fresh canvas.

What’s your favorite kind of art? 

My Stylin’ Bookshelf

I’ve always been mystified by the styled photos of interiors I see in magazines, in blogs, and on Pinterest. “No one actually can live in a house that looks so perfect, right?” I would ask, and of course — the answer is no. They can’t. Images are styled for photographs and then things are moved back to where they were originally, a few dust bunnies reappear, and life goes on.

BUT. I love the look of those styled interiors. We all do, that’s why they exist. So the other night, I set to work styling my bookshelf. I don’t have a mantel, which is often the subject of those perfect images, but I do have a pretty happening bookshelf. It’s a focal point in the living room, and I try to spend a lot of time there. It too often falls victim to clutter — it’s just such a darn convenient place to set random things that need tending, and two weeks later I realize I have to dig it out. My hope is that styling the bookshelf will help prevent that from happening.



When styling interiors, I fully believe that it should remain useful and should include items that are meaningful to you. I’ve seen teen girls’ rooms styled with random books just because the cover’s color added a nice contrast. I’ve seen offices with stuff all over the desk because it looks cool. Are you really going to move your model Eiffel tower, three Reader’s Digest condensed books, and vintage typewriter every time you want to write a blog post?

With that in mind, I styled away. I’ve been inspired lately by the words over at The Nester – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Let’s take a closer look …


I’ve got these two checked out from the library right now, and they are imperfectly marked with yellow sticky notes (you’ll see in a minute). I’m really excited to do some of the projects!


This fancy piece of modern art was made by … me! You’ll never guess how. Done guessing? I used shoe polish to make lines on canvas. This was a project where I didn’t even have to wait for naptime to do it. It took all of two minutes, plus a little bit of drying time. I really like the gradient effect, and I think it makes a great backdrop on my bookshelf.


Something a little more classic now — a print of a Monet painting. This was gifted to us several years ago, before we moved into this house, as a matter of fact. We were always waiting for the right frame or the right place to put it. Well, I found it. I need to learn that art is meant to be enjoyed, not boxed up somewhere waiting for the right time.


You were waiting for those sticky notes, right? Well, there they are. I just made this flowerpot at my library’s Crafternoon program, and I love how it turned out. I threw in a game of charades on sticks, made by Hallmark (and I think not made anymore), and stacked it on top of a few Moleskines (that I actually use!).


No area on display would be complete without a photo of our little darling. I love putting photos on wood blocks for an easy display idea. No frame required, and it adds a nice depth to a display. The rocks were added by the darling herself — she loves collecting rocks when we are out walking, and we needed a place to put them where she could check them out periodically. I think they add a nice touch. The collage on wood was made by Aoife, with a little help from me — I cut out shapes, she brushed on Mod Podge and stuck the shapes where she wanted them. When she was done, I added another coat of Mod Podge and called it good!


And finally, a collection of notebooks and writing inspiration. I’ve been trying to get back into writing poetry and fiction, but it’s been slow going. However, I did write a poem the other day that I felt really great about, so maybe it’s starting to trickle in.

So that’s my new and improved bookshelf. The lower shelves are mostly organized, but little hands love to pull random books out and flip through, so the organization doesn’t always stick.

What do you think of styled interiors? Would you ever use shoe polish in an art project? And how long do you think the cleanliness of this surface will last?

DIY: Moo Card Magnets

Long ago, there was a promotion at Flickr where you could get a few Moo minicards free. I ordered them, and then for about five years have had minicards floating around my house. I finally decided I absolutely must use them for a project.

I had lots of magnet-making supplies from my forays into Etsy selling (rebooting the shop is in the plans, so stay tuned).

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Guess what I did next?

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I was able to get three circles from each Moo card. The paper is pretty sturdy, so it took some oomph to get the circles punched.

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If you’re using super strong magnets like mine, be sure you don’t put your finished magnets near each other for the glue to dry! If they are within a few inches of each other, they’ll attract each other and possibly ruin your magnets!


These magnets are easy to grab onto, and the Moo cards are affordable enough that it’s not the end of the world if they get a little worn over time. However, since the paper is thick, I see these lasting for quite a while.