Tiny Trees

I’m plugging away on my Christmas gift list still, which is great for my gift pile but not so productive on the blogging front. So look for a slew of Crafty Christmas Countdown posts here in the next few days as I wrap up this year’s blog project in time for you to have all the inspiration you need for your Christmas lists.

I saw the cutest Christmas trees at Starbucks last year but didn’t want to plunk down the money for something I thought I could make. Instead, I picked up a papier mache tree form at Hobby Lobby, three sheets of 12×12 scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, a paintbrush and some white paint, then made my own.

It’s so easy, but a little time consuming in a rather repetitive way. First, I painted the entire tree white. You don’t have to use white; I chose that color because the paper had white snowflakes and also because it coordinates with my decor. While the tree was drying, I cut each sheet of scrapbook paper into .5″x4″ strips.

I swiped a bit of Mod Podge on the top third or so of the back of each strip and adhered it to the tree, starting from the bottom and working around the perimeter of the tree. Each successive row overlaps the row below it slightly (I think I finally realized it worked best to overlap by about a half). I didn’t worry too much if the tree wasn’t covered completely because the cone is painted white.

The tip was the trickiest part but I just worked slowly around it and bent the paper gently so each piece wraps smoothly around the top of the tree.

After everything dried, I used the handle of my paintbrush to gently curl the loose ends of each paper strip. I’m planning to add some silver snowflake buttons to the top of the tree and maybe some glued white glitter to give it that shiny “snowy” appearance.

Not so much a lover of the paper tree? Then maybe you like it’s companion just a bit more. I stopped into the quilt shop one day to check out what was new and immediately fell in love with that little felt tree kit from Artgirlz. Is it not the cutest thing ever? I planned to put it up in my studio but Honey has fallen in love with it, so I think I’ll let him take it to work. It was nice to have something to work on during my Thurday night TV binge last week (Ugly Betty then Grey’s Anatomy — and please don’t get me started on that Izzie storyline. Ugh.) I just sat on the couch and stitched the felt balls and beads around the tree, kind of randomly and without a lot of worry other than trying to make sure I didn’t put two items of the same color right next to each other. It’d also make a nice project to stick in your purse and pull out for those times when you have to just sit and wait.

Thankful: 20. A craft store close enough to my house that I can run out to pick up more elastic when the 300 feet of it I know I own has gone missing.

I’m ‘That Mom’

It’s Oct. 1 and already I have elaborate plans for homemade costumes for all three kids. I know what candy I’ll give out for Halloween, and I’m planning the annual goodie bags the boys and I make for their friends every year.

The church where my daughter attends preschool is having its annual Oktoberfest celebration this weekend an I’m making cupcakes for the bake sale (funds support the preschool). Today, I bought a dozen individual cupcake boxes and mentally designed the tags I plan to attach to each.

I’ve finally settled on a date for my daughter’s birthday party so now I can take the pictures and create her custom birthday party invitations. We’re scaling down a bit this year, but there are still gift bags to make for her guests. And since there are so few, I’m thinking of making them little purses and embroidering their names on them.

Yes, I am “that mom.”

I did not realize this until someone else — a total stranger — pointed it out to me. I was picking up my oldest from a Sweet Sixteen party last year and the guest of honor’s mother brought up the wrapped candy bars I’d made for the previous Halloween. “You just do everything, don’t you?” she commented. And I immediately felt like the most over-the-top, overachieving wannabe on the planet.

I’m crafty; I like making things. But I sometimes worry that my addiction to paper, fabric and glitter makes it seem like some kind of competition for craftiest mom. Or is that Craftiest Mom? It’s so not the point, yet I don’t know how to make it clear that it’s just fun for me. I get the same kind of endorphin release from crafting that I used to from running, back before my knee mutinied.

I think I need a T-shirt: “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Crafty.” I’ll make it, of course.

Scrabblicious

I have this tendency to see something crafty and think, “Oh! I bet I could make that!” That’s pretty much the case with these Scrabble tile pendants. I’ve admired them on many occasions but just never gotten around to trying them until last week.

Can we say “fun”?

I started off with this great tutorial. Definitely worth checking out before you get started. I ended up buying the Aanraku bails online because none of my local craft stores carry them. (I’m sure I could find them at a bead shop but the one closest to me moved and now it’s not so close.) My first batch of Scrabble tiles came from the local “treasure shop.” When I started shopping around to see if I could get better prices, I found that better deals could be had on Ebay and Etsy.

Epoxy is easy enough to find, and I used Mod Podge for my adhesive. The ones above were made with some older scrapbook papers from my still-too-large stash as well as fabric. I have to be honest; the fabric is easier to work with, in my opinion. The main challenge with both is finding an image that’s small enough for the tile, which is .75″x.8125″. On the other hand, that means you can use up some of those small scraps that aren’t big enough for pretty much anything else.

I’m still not sure I’ve got down the epoxy thing yet. More bubbles than I would like and some coverage issues. If you’re going to do a lot of pendants, I’d recommend doing them in small batches of three to five. Twelve at a time? Save it for when you get faster.

I did not “cure” the epoxy on the first batch I did but the most recent I did, and I plan to continue with that. Of my first three pendants, one dried sticky. The other two were fine, so I’m not sure what I did differently but obviously it was wrong.

My Christmas gift-giving list has quite a few folks who would appreciate a custom piece of jewelry, so I plan to make many, many more. (If you’re on my list and get one, act surprised!) And they’re really not that expensive to make, especially if you raid your existing supplies. I think the batch of 100 Scrabble tiles I just bought was about $12 (a good bit cheaper than the 20 cents/tile I was paying). The most expensive item is the bails but I think that’s not something I’d want to skimp on.

Flowers for Teacher

I made this paper flower bouquet for Miss L’s teacher, as an end-of-the-year “thank you” gift. I had so much fun with it — and it was so well received by her teachers and the other parents at school — that I knew it deserved a tutorial. This one features fabric from Sandi Henderson’s Ginger Blossom line for Michael Miller. I decoupaged the fabric on the pot using Mod Podge. The rim of the pot was painted with a dark brown paint, which I sponged off a bit to give it a distressed leather look.

To make your own pretty flower pot bouquet, you will need:

  • Flower template
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Scrapbook paper (optional)
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Thin wooden dowels
  • Papier mache flower pot
  • Green paint and brush or sponge brush
  • Pot-decorating items (paint, fabric, paper, etc.)
  • Tissue paper or paper grass
  • Tulle or ribbon
  • Circle cutting tool or punch, or a circular object you can trace
  • Picture of each child, cropped to approximate circle size (2 inches is recommended)
  • Adhesive (glue dots, Xyron, glue stick, etc.)
  • 5×5-inch cube of dry floral foam
  • Paper shredder

And here’s my first video tutorial (please be kind!):

Tea Time

I’ve been feeling the urge to play with things that aren’t fabric lately. Sometimes, a little creative break is a good thing. It lets me explore something different and/or new, recharging my vision along the way.

This little tea tray started out as an unfinished piece of wood from the craft store. I don’t think it cost more than $5 (probably less). I did a basic whitewash with some acrylic paint, covering the inside and outside. Then I added a bright pink to the top edge. When it was dry, I trace off the bottom and sides on the back of a piece of wrapping paper (I picked up this particular gem at Target, on clearance).

I used Mod Podge to adhere the papers to the tray, then topped off everything with a bit of Mod Podge Sparkle. Yes, decoupage medium with glitter in it. What can I say? I like a bit of sparkle.

The tray has been the centerpiece of today’s tea-time play, which makes it a success in my book. I’m working on another piece right now, this one a mixed media collage-y kind of work, and may be sharing it in a day or two (lots of drying time with this one).