Fun & Easy Kids Christmas Art based on a Classic Christmas Story

Every few weeks I get the privilege of doing "Kids Art" at our church during our fun Wednesday night Children's Church. This was our most recent project. My two girls (ages 2 and 7) helped me create the example artwork...... which I loved so much I framed it and have it hanging up in my kitchen for the holidays!

The artwork is based on a beautiful children's story book titled "The Tale of Three Trees". You can read the book online here.

The process is very simple really.

First, I gave each child a large sheet of manilla paper and several strips of patterned green scrapbook paper and green construction paper in varying widths. I also cut up strips of old book pages and sheet music to mix in.
The kids used safety scissors and glue sticks as they worked on creating their trees.
I had them start with the bottom piece of the middle tree (about 4" wide) and glue it in place.
Then they were able to create two similar length pieces for the bottom of the two other trees on each side. From that starting point they cut slightly shorter pieces of various papers to glue in stacking order to create each tree.
We finished the tops of each tree with glittery or metallic sticker stars.
The kids could also use colored pencils or crayons to lightly draw in tree trunks and hills if they wanted.

Have them sign and date their artwork and put it in a frame or on the refrigerator to enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Fall 2x4 Wood Block Art

I did this project last night with the kids at church and they loved it! Yay!
I also love this project because the concept is so simple, with such cute possibilities.
Isn't it awesome to take something plain like a 2x4 piece of wood and turn it into something cute!
I think some of the parents would like sitting down and doing this project with me. :)

So, basically here's how it went:
My sweet husband cut my 2x4 into 3.5"x3.5" squares then I sanded the edges.
I took long staples from my staple gun and hammered one into the top of each block leaving about an 1/8" or so sticking up.

I started my block by drawing in pencil a horizon line and a stick tree. You can get creative and make different types of stick trees, just keep the lines simple. Add an irregular circle or oval around the area where the branches are.

Next, use watercolors to paint the grass and the circle area of the tree. Then paint the sides of the block.

I used my stamp pad (brown distressing ink) and rubbed it along the edges of my block.

When the watercolor is dry you can trace back over the pencil lines of your tree trunk and branches using a fine tip or ultra fine tip sharpie.

Since I didn't have any fall stamps I typed up several words and phrases on my computer in fancy fonts and printed them out on scrapbook paper. After I cut them out I distressed the edges by rubbing them across my black stamp ink pad. Choose a phrase and glue it to your block (or use a stamp or sticker)

Finally, thread your jute or ribbon through the part of the staple that is sticking up on the top of the block and tie a bow!

Voila, easy art block! Great for any season or occasion....oh, the possibilities!

Love the Shirt, but it's too tight?.... A Lovely Fix with a Little Lace-n-Thread

My friend Jen and I had a girls day this week and we hit some great thrift shops, ate delicacies at a french market and had such a wonderful time hanging out and talking together.

I found this great shirt with beautiful fabric and for only $1.99 I couldn't resist buying it even though it was not my size. It was a Small and when I tried it on, well, let's just say a certain area was a, constricted.
So, I remembered a post I had pinned on Pinterest about altering t-shirts that were too tight (here) and decided to do something similar.
 I carefully cut the seams open on each side from bottom all the way up to right under the arm.
I grabbed some vintage embroidered lace trim from my basket.
I put two pieces together, overlapping the straight edge and zig zag stitched over them.

 I pinned the lace trim to the shirt starting from under the arm and working all the way down.

Then I zig zag stitched over each side.
I folded the rough edges under and stitched under the arm so even though the shirt begins to angle out in a "v" shape under the arm the lace trim goes straight up and down the entire length.
I folded the bottom under and stitched across, then trimmed off the excess from the back.
 The shirt tie threaded easily through one of the holes in the lace.
Here is the finished shirt. I love how it fits now! What a great find, and an easy fix!
I'm thinking I have a few other shirts hanging around in my closet that I can try this with, Yay!

Sew Simple Shirt Tutorial.... From Skirt Lining to Shirt!

So I had this long layered peasant skirt in my fabric bin that I got at the Goodwill for like a dollar and I decided I needed to use it for something. I liked the colors and textures of the fabric but not the way they were. So I disassembled it. The lining was a soft and flowey material with a bit of shimmer and since it was an a-line cut I thought it would be pretty easy to just create a neckline and arm holes where the waist line had been and I would have a simple shirt project to embellish. It actually was pretty easy and I love the results.  Here's an overview of the start-to-finish process:

Note: after step 2 I turned it inside out and sewed the straps together, folded under a 1/4" hem around the neckline and arm holes and pinned them. Then I ironed them flat with a warm (not hot) iron and sewed the hems. I did not take any in on the sides because I was not trying to create a fitted shirt, I wanted it to be a bit loose and the a-line construction was what I was going for. ;-)

I think the basic idea of this shirt can be applied to any a-line skirt, vintage slip, or skirt lining.
Have fun searching through your closet and rummaging at thrift stores for just the right materials, at little or no cost, to make your own chic new clothing.
* I would recommend hand washing or spot cleaning, and laying flat to dry on a piece like this.
Happy sewing!

Handmade Journal

Here is a look at the step-by-step process of creating a handmade journal like the one shown.

I love to write and draw, paint, collage, etc. all in one so this journal incorporates a variety of different types of papers.

Choose a piece of interesting leather, to use for the cover.

The strap is extra long so it wraps securely around the journal two and a half times and then secures around the button on the front.

Time to start journaling, sketching, painting and filling the pages! I can't wait!

Faux Bronze Ballerina Sculpture

This faux bronze ballerina sculpture was inspired by a couple of things:

First, the incredible work of Edgar Degas, specifically his Little Dancer (1880-1881)

Second, the project that my friend and fellow Art teacher, Sandy did
with her middle school students inspired by the unique figurative
work of artist Alberto Giacometti.
Se more of Giacometti's work here:

My Supply List

sturdy but flexible wire (you can even use wire hangers if necessary)
wire cutters
pliers (needle nose and/or round nose)
masking tape
mod podge
black acrylic paint
bronze acrylic paint (craft paints are fine)
paint brush
water based caulk
circular wooden piece for the base
I had 1/4"x 5/8" staples from my staple gun
small piece of ribbon
hot glue & glue gun

I started by creating a wire armature from some fairly flexible wire purchased at the hardware store.
I used my wire cutters, needle nose pliers and round nose pliers to help cut and form the shapes.

Notice in this picture that I exaggerated the length of the form, especially the legs.
You could probably create the entire form from one piece of wire but mine took two pieces. I created the arms wrapping down into the shape of the upper torso and head. Then I created the long legs that bent into the lower hips and waist and connected the two with masking tape.

Next I took a piece of foil and balled it up to create a tear drop kind of shape that would form the head and part of the neck. I attached it with masking tape.

I continued building pieces of the body with foil, shaping and adjusting and attaching with tape.

The arms and legs were wrapped with long strips of foil that had been folded in half (so they wouldn't tear so easily). The foil on each arm and leg also wrapped onto part of the main body and they were taped securely. Make sure to cover the exposed ends of wire completely.

Just to secure the foil and tape and fill in some of the rough foil texture I coated the entire sculpture in Mod Podge and let it dry completely.

Next I grabbed my paintbrush and painted the entire figure with black acrylic paint and let it dry.

To attach the figure to the round wooden base I used some of my staple gun staples (1/4" x 5/8").
I bent the ends of the legs out about 3/4" and positioned the dancer where I wanted and hammered the staples in over the bent sections of foil covered wire.

To cover the places where the figure was attached to the wood, and to continue the textured look over the whole thing I covered the base with a water based all-purpose caulk. I put it on pretty thick on the top but left the sides bare.

Let it dry completely.

Continue the black acrylic paint down on to the base.

Then using a sponge and the bronze colored acrylic paint sponge on small amounts of paint and wipe them off to give a bronzed look. Work with it until you achieve the desired effect.

Finally I took a piece of ivory ribbon and cut strips of ivory tulle and tied them on to create a tutu. I just kept adding tulle strips until I achieved the desired fullness and I trimmed the lengths to make the tutu the size I wanted.

I used hot glue to secure it in place and tied the skirt securely and trimmed off the extra ribbon (which could be tied in a bow instead if you wanted).

And voila!
There is the finished "Faux Bronze Ballerina Sculpture"

Palette Knife Painting Textured Yellow Poppies

I know there are other tutorials out there about painting with palette knives and using inexpensive "texture mediums" found at the local hardware store but here is my take on it. Hope you like it because I think it is a wonderfully fun process with great end results.

This is the flower painting I will be creating:

I set up my workspace, easel, canvas and art supplies and crank up some music to get started. Let the fun begin!

You can choose from a variety of different palette knives. I chose to use one of my large flat palette knives for creating the background textures and one of my smaller pointed palette knives for creating the thicker texture on my flowers.

And here is my secret ingredient:

A very economical (aka: cheap) texture medium. Polyseamseal - a water based all purpose adhesive/caulk. This one is white, but you can get the same thing in clear if you prefer.
Most texture mediums can be tinted or mixed with paint but I prefer to create my texture first and let it dry for a few hours or overnight and then paint on top of it. I feel like I'm saving paint that way I guess. ;)

So on to the painting......

I decided to paint my canvas in subtle shades of gray (with a hint of turquoise) I used my flat palette knife to create a bit varied color & texture by lightly dipping it in my paint and scraping it across the surface of the canvas horizontally and vertically. I softened this first layer of texture by lightly brushing over it (like dusting the canvas) with a very large fluffy paint brush (the brush I used is huge.... like 4"wide and I love it)

The next step, after the background dried, was to sketch my flowers on the canvas in pencil.

Then I began creating the thick texture of my flowers by "painting" them in with the polyseamseal using my pointed palette knife.

Here's a close up so you can see the texture better. Another reason I like using the white polyseamseal... you can really see what you've done.

Let the texture dry several hours or overnight.

Next, I painted my flowers in vibrant shades of yellow.

For the stems, leaves and centers of the flowers I used shades of green and brown with the yellow.

After those colors dried I went back over the entire painting adding more of my various shades of gray with my large palette knife. I scraped color throughout the background in different directions as well as directly across the flowers. I used my big fluffy brush again to soften it a bit in some areas.

Repeat until desired effect is achieved.
Just be careful, it's easy to overdo if you get carried away having fun with the process!

Now, wouldn't it look great if I had a funky yellow couch like this to hang it over. ;D

Maxi Dress Tutorial

I made a dress today.

Has anyone else been inspired recently by watching "Fashion Star"?
I have.
It has been fun to see the unique designs each week. I love that the maxi dresses are so popular this season because I think they are just fantastic!
Well, as luck would have it my sister gave me some beautiful fabrics this week to "play with".
Since I was feeling inspired I decided to make myself a maxi dress. And here it is:
 I didn't have a pattern so I just did what comes naturally.... I made it without one. These are the two pieces of daisy fabric. they are soft and textured, with lace in between the flowers. The fabric is very forgiving because it has a bit of stretch and elasticity to it.
 Since the pieces were finished on the edges with a beautiful scallop detail I didn't have to hem for the top and bottom of the dress. Yay! The two pieces were approximately 50" x 33".

The first thing I did was pin the pieces, right sides together and sew them together (basically making one long tube). I used a slight zig zag stitch since my fabric is a bit stretchy.

Next, I put the tube on and measured where I wanted to create a high waist line (for me it was 9" down from the top.

And this is where I got to do something really fun called shirring.
It is a wonderful technique that I will definitely be using again! I got all of my information on how to do it from this wonderful website called Make it and Love it .
Click here to see:

I did six rows of shirring along the high waist line (starting 9" down from the top and making rows using my presser foot as the guide for spacing each row)

I also added shirring to the top of the dress, this time doing 3 rows so it wouldn't be loose and gape open when I bend over or whatever. ;)
Then I added a couple of very simple black velvet and lace straps.

Now, remember when I said the dress was one long tube when I first put it together.
Well, after all of the shirring was complete I had to try it on again for fitting and it was rather loose. So I pinned it to the desired fit and then, with the dress inside out, I sewed a new seam on each side to create a more snug fit in the top and waist allowing the new seam to gradually taper back to the original seam at the hips. Then I trimmed the excess fabric. *Note: remember to add a zig zag stitch to finish your seams if you are not using a serger. This will secure your edges and prevent excessive fraying.

 Since my fabric was a bit sheer I needed a full length slip or under-dress to go with it. Fortunately, I had just the thing that came with another long sheer dress I own....perfect! Yay!
 Here is the scalloped detail along the botttom edge.
So pretty.
I must say, I'm in love with how this dress came out....and so was my husband ;)

I made it in one afternoon and wore it out on a dinner date the same night!