7 articles Articles posted in Tutorials

DIY Steel & Ombre Ring

Hey everyone! I have a quick tutorial up over at For the Makers today on how to make a ring from dark annealed steel wire from the hardware store (3!) and embroidery thread. The thread I used was leftover ombre floss from the January box, but you can use any color that you have lying around. Cute and simple.

Dyed Paper Towels

Hope you all had a great Easter. Do you happen to have any leftover Easter egg dye?

The boys had a blast coloring eggs this year. Their egg coloring process was experimental and haphazard, but they turned out to be the prettiest eggs I think I’ve ever seen. Of course it was messy, but this mess turned into inspiration for this art craving mommy.

We used paper towels to soak up spills, and upon some encouragement from my father-in-law, I decided to save the color soaked paper towels and see how they dried. They dried beautifully! The next day I was dumping easter egg dye on about 20 single sheet paper towels, not really sure what I was going to make of them. If any of you parents saved your egg dye, you can make them too. All you need is paper towels, and you can even get your kids to join in the fun.

How to make them:

Step 1: Dump egg dye onto paper towels. There is really no right or wrong way to do this, so have fun!

Step 2: Wring out excess and gently unfold flat and allow to dry (mine took about a day).

Step 3: Once dry, accordian fold the towel.

Step 4: Fold in half then string onto a strand of thread.

That is how I made my little garland above, but the possibilities are endless. You can make mini-pinwheels, you can cut them to make flag shapes, make paper flowers, it’s all up to you. But no matter how they are configured, I guarantee you they will be gorgeous.

Now I just need an excuse to make a couple hundred of these for an art installation somewhere. (Do you hear me, Anthropologie?)

Happy post-Easter dyeing!

Oil Painting for Beginners: Supplies

I’m going to start a 3 or 4 part series on oil painting, sharing tips & techniques that I’ve learned along the way. A common misconception with oil painting is that you have to use dangerous solvents and thinners that are very toxic. That is simply not true. It is possible to be completely safe while painting with this beautiful medium. In this part I will cover the basic supplies you need to get started. Shall we?

1. Paint

You get what you pay for in this department. I use a mid-level brand (Grumbacher) that I’ve been pretty happy with, but I do find that I need to add more medium to get them to flow properly. With a 40% coupon at Michael’s I got a set of 10 for $35 in the basic colors. Then I purchased a few Winton color tubes separately for about $8 each.

2. Brushes

It’s nice to have a broad range of brushes for oils, and great to have a few with a longer handle for painting with your whole arm, which is very important. Synthetic or natural fiber brushes will do just fine.

I use mostly round and filbert brushes, and I like to have two of the same size of my favorites – one for painting and another to keep clean for blending or picking up paint.

Bright and flat brushes are also good to have – I’ve never used a fan brush so you might be able to skip that one. I also have one or two really tiny brushes for detailing.

3. Oil Medium

This is your replacement for turps and thinners. I use Refined Linseed Oil, but you could use Walnut oil, or really any type of oil medium. You will use this to thin your paint, prep your canvas, and clean your brushes.

4. Palette

A glass palette is my favorite because it’s clear and flat and super easy to mix colors on and even easier to clean – just use some pages from a phone book to wipe it clean! You could also use a disposable palette for convenience.

5. Rag

You will need a rag to wipe your brushes while painting, and you can also use it to clean your brushes of excess paint. An old cotton t-shirt works well for this.

6. Bar of Soap

A bar of soap with olive oil in it works best, which can be found at health food stores. This will be used to clean your brushes. Works like a charm and it’s completely safe!

7. Easel (Optional)

You don’t have to have this, but it does make painting so much easier than having to hunch over a desk. Not to mention dealing with glare from painting on a flat plane.

That’s it! The the next part I’ll go into the basics of toning/priming your canvas and sketching out your subject. I hope if you’ve been intimidated by oils in the past, you will give it a try. Oils have become my absolute favorite medium. Until then! Have a great weekend.

Earrings from Autumn Leaves

I know, enough with the leaves already! I can’t help it, they are everywhere and I’m taking advantage of the natural resource. So I came up with these simple but beautiful earrings, using more of my supplies from For the Makers.

To make your own, all you need is mod podge, needle, metallic gold thread, scissors, two sequins, two beads, and a couple of earring hooks.

Step 1: Start by painting a layer of mod podge on both sides of your dried leaves. Allow to dry. This makes them plyable and resistant to breakage. (To dry leaves, try pressing them in a heavy book for about a week.)
Step 2: Take a strand of metallic gold thread and thread both ends through the needle. (Make sure it’s a single strand)
Step 3: Gently pierce a hole through the top of the leaves and thread them on your string, followed by the sequin.
Step 4: If your leaves have a pointy top, snip off the top so it’s flat. Otherwise your leaf won’t hang down, it will hang to the side.
Step 5: With both tail ends of the string, make a knot right above your leaves/sequins – double knot to keep it secure. Cut off the excess tail.
Step 6: Pinch the top loop and slide on a bead through the loop – you need this weight on the earring, otherwise it will be too light.

That’s it! Put on a pair of earring hooks using the loop and wear with care.

Autumn Leaves Garland

I recently received in the mail a beta box of amazing craft goodies from For the Makers (more on this later). In the box was this beautiful gold metallic thread that I just knew I had to use for this project.

You probably already have the materials for it right in your backyard. If you are like me, you want to bring in the colors and textures of fall into your home, so I created these garlands with colorful dried fall leaves. The beauty of this idea is that you can use all the assorted shapes and colors that nature provides and combine them to create the look you want. The photo above gives you an idea of just some of the looks that you can achieve.

All you need is:
thread (I used metallic gold, which I would highly recommend)
dried leaves (you can dry and press leaves in between the pages of a heavy book – just make sure you leave them in there for at least a week)
circle punch (optional for the circle garland)

The how-to is simple: just gather and arrange your dried leaves and begin “sewing” them onto your thread, leaving a long tail on both ends for hanging. After you thread each leaf, make a knot so it will stay put and not slide along the thread.

For the circle garland, just use a circle punch to punch the shapes out of the leaf. Then thread like above.

As for the fragility of the leaves, they held up very well with all my handling, windy photo conditions, and dropping them multiple times. You will want to handle them with care though if you want them to last longer than just one season.

Note: Our trees are just now beginning to turn, so I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of vivid colors – so I did some Photoshopping to make the colors more lively. :)

Easy Fabric Flowers

I know, there are a million fabric flower tutorials and DIY’s for making fabric flowers. Well, here is a million and one. :) And this one is probably the easiest one out there. If you can cut circles, you can do this project.

Here is what you need: fabric, fabric stiffener, hot glue gun, scissors

Here is what you do.

Step 1: Cut out different size circles out of fabric. I used different objects to trace the different size circles onto the fabric.

Step 2: Coat all your circles with fabric stiffener. Allow to dry.

Step 3: Cut a slit mid-way into your circle. You may also at this point wish to scallop the edges of your circle to create a look more like a petal, or trim away any frayed edges that were created when applying the stiffener.

Step4: Overlap the two cut edges that were created when you cut the slit and dab hot glue in the center to hold in place. This will create a dimensional cone shape.

Step 5: Starting with the largest size and working your way to the center of the flower, layer the different sizes and dab hot glue in the center to build your flower.

Now you can use these for pins, hair accessories, bags, pretty much anything. I used mine for a yarn wreath to hang on my front door. Let me know if you make it, and leave a comment with any questions!

How to Achieve Bokeh With Photoshop

I was recently contacted by Easy Canvas Prints to see if I’d like to try out their wrapped canvases for photos and art. I took them up on the offer and decided to print this photograph I took in my parent’s backyard that I manipulated to achieve the popular and beautiful bokeh effect.

The checkout process was super easy and within days I received my canvas. Unfortunately, I think there was some damage during shipping because my canvas showed up a bit wonky. But, they were great at sending out a replacement – I was very happy with their speedy and polite customer service. The process is really simple:

  1. Choose a size – they have 10×8, 8×8, 20×16, 24×36 and a custom size option.
  2. Upload your image
  3. Select a border – you can choose from a wide spectrum of colored borders, mirror wrap, or image wrap (I picked a black border)
  4. You can also choose from a black and white or sepia color effect, if you aren’t able to do that on your own

Right now, they are offering 25% off your order and free shipping, so an 11×14 canvas with standard options would cost you a little over $46.

I’m very happy with my canvas, it will make a great gift for my parents. And I’ll keep the messed up one for myself. :) Order one for yourself here!

If you are curious about how I did the photo, I’ll explain what I did to achieve the dramatic blurred effect without using a camera or additional equipment. All you need is Photoshop!

Step 1: Apply a filter to your photo. I love night-fate’s actions for Photoshop. I used the #3 action in this set – it’s available as a free download.

Step 2: Make sure and flatten your image at this point then duplicate your photo layer. Then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and apply a level of blur that you like.

Step 3: Next select the eraser tool and pick a big brush with the softest edge you can get. In the brush settings, make sure the hardness is set to 0%. Take the brush and erase the parts of the blurred image that you want to give more focus – in the case of my photo, I erased the area of the vines and the door.

That’s it! I love this effect, it adds so much drama and depth to the most drab of photos. I hope you’ll give it a try and if you run into any questions/problems, just ask in the comments below!