Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cozy Christmas Cottage

There are two things I absolutely love: making gifts for my friends and decorating for the holidays - any holiday. Those two items come together in the mother of all holidays, Christmas, and as my granny would say, "It's right around the corner" (Silly me. When I was a child, I would walk to the end of her street to see if I could see Christmas. After all, it was right around the corner.).

My sweetie and I have been married 43 years. In that time, we have collected ornaments from our travels across the United States, managed to accumulate tons of Christmas lights and in the last few years have added many quality items to our stash. And it's a big stash. I love to add a new element each year, but I'm running out of room, so I decided to create our 2013 keepsake using SmoothfoamTM and paper and embellishments from The Robin's Nest. The Robin's Nest Dew Drops add a lacy appeal to the roof lines. and the Smoothfoam keeps it lightweight. This cute little Christmas cottage can stand alone or have more pieces added each year.

If you haven't been to the Robin's Nest blog yet, start there and hop through to see the work of some amazing designers!

Here's how I did it:

  • SmoothfoamTM sheet (1), 1" x6" x 12"
  • SmoothfoamTM pieces (3) , 3 1/4" x 4 3/4", cut from a scrap SmoothfoamTM sheet that was originally 1/2" x 12" x 24"
  • Assorted card stock, The Robin's Nest
  • Dew Drops, assorted colors and shapes, The Robin's Nest
  • Acrylic paint, Jenkins Green and Titanium White, Golden Acrylics
  • Acrylic Stamps, Tattered Angels Screen Prints, Garden
  • Foam Adhesive, Beacon Hold the Foam
  • Quick Dry Adhesive, Beacon Quick Grip
  • Pearl Pen, Gold, Viva D├ęcor
  • Transparency Sheet
  • Circle punch, 1 3/4"
  • Gold cord, 8"
  • Ink, Pine Needles, Tim Holtz Distress Inks, Ranger
  • Ink Applicator (Tim Holtz for Ranger) or sponge
  • Black Sharpie
  • Hot foam cutter or sharp knife
  • Ruler
  • Small sharp scissors
  • Cellophane tape
All card stock edges are sponged with Pine Needles ink.
All elements glued directly to the foam use foam adhesive. Additional items and paper-to-paper attachments use Quick Grip adhesive.
  1. Cut the three small SmoothfoamTM rectangles and adhere together. Paint all the SmoothfoamTM pieces with two coats of Jenkins Green acrylic paint.
  2. Mix a small amount of Titanium White into the green paint and use it to stamp swirls all over the large block including the side edges. Use the gold Pearl Pen to trace some of the stamped swirl lines. Set aside to dry.
Join the three small rectangles.

Option: If you don't want to apply green paper to cover the joined edges, smooth off the cut pieces with modeling paste and cover with paint.

 Small Door Block:
  • Use a small round object to draw curves at the top of the block. Cut excess with sharp knife or hot foam cutter.
  • Cut eight pieces, 1 1/4" x 1", from dark green card stock. Use the Gold Pearl pen to color along the lower edge (the 1 1/4" side) of each piece.Use a toothpick to drag the lines toward the top of each piece to create a wood effect. Adhere to the sides of the block, beginning at the bottom and overlapping each piece.(See photo option.)
  • Cut the gold cord in half and adhere to the corners of the small block to hide any rough edges.
  • Cut the door from striped card stock. Add a bar across the middle and attach a round gold Dew Drop for the door knob. Lightly draw a small circle on the upper portion of the door. Arrange green and red Dew Drops to form the wreath. Adhere to block with foam adhesive.
  • Cut two pieces of printed or glittered red card stock 1 1/2" x 3". Score a line 1/2" from the 3" edge. Mark 1/4" increments on the scored edge and trim a small triangle at each mark. Bend the card stock to fit the curve of the roof. Place small strips of cellophane tape to the underside of the cut edge with the adhesive facing toward the portion that will show. Trim off the excess. This will provide a base for the Dew Drops to stick.

    Score the edge, then mark in 3?8" increments. Cut a small triangle at each mark.
  • Adhere the pieces to the roof, adhering flush at the back with a slight overhang in the front, and gently fold the cut strips down. Place red Dew Drop circles in the center of each flap and white Dew Drop diamonds to cover the adhesive tape between the red circles on each flap.
  • Cut a 1 1/2" square from the same paper used for the roof. Score a 1/4" strip in the middle. Fold and adhere to the roof top.
Curve the card stock to fit the roof line. Place cellophane tape on the underside and trim excess.
  1. Cut two 1 3/4" x 6" strips. Follow the directions for the roof on the door portion (the only difference is that these pieces will be centered from front to back on the roof).
  2. Cut a small piece of card stock scrap for the lower window and punch a 1 3/4" circle for the top.  Draw lines with the black Sharpie on a piece of transparency film and cut shapes the exact size of each window. Adhere all to house front and use the gold Pearl Pen to place dots around the outer edges.
  3. Adhere the door section to the house front and add additional Dew Drop embellishments.
  4. If you have drafts created when doors are opened or closed that cause this light-weight piece to fall over, just add some sort of weight to the bottom back, such as a row of heavy coins (nickels or quarters) secured with masking tape or an L-shaped piece of metal, such as a hinge.
Wouldn't this look great on a mantel? You could also make several and use them to surround your Christmas tree before all the presents are wrapped and after they have been opened (Nothing is as sad as a Christmas tree with no gifts under it.).
Here's wishing you the best of holidays! Remember that handmade gifts are the most treasured and buying from local shops not only supports the families in our hometowns, but also makes our economy stronger overall.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Deck Yourself from now Until Thanksgiving

Add fall color to your wardrobe with these easy-to-make, recycled jewelry pieces.
Add fall color to your wardrobe with these easy-to-make, recycled jewelry pieces.
I awoke this morning to the first signs of the fall season. It's rainy and chilly here in the Mid-South, where it was sunny and 86° on Sunday. This weather makes me want to pull out my favorite fleece PJs and snuggle up with a hot cup of joe and a good book. It also makes me yearn for wool skirts and crew-neck sweaters in rich colors, perfect for wearing while shopping the multitude of farmers' markets and craft fairs that the fall season brings. What better way to dress up last year's favorites than with new jewelry?

My mother was the costume jewelry queen. I believe she had the first piece of jewelry she ever bought, and added to her stash regularly. She wasn't big on bracelets, but I have boxes and boxes of necklaces and earrings, which provide the fill-in beads I use in recycled jewelry. This bracelet and earrings set contains pieces from three necklaces, plus the addition of some really cool items and embellishments from Kool Tak. I'm also trying to rid myself of excess jewelry findings, so my metallic pieces are a combination of brass, copper and silver.

I love Kool Tak adhesives and have since the first time I used them. They provide strong bonding for anything I want, but my new favorite Kool Tak products are the Shiny Foil Sheets and Sparkles. They make old things look new, adding the small touches of color on the wires and spicing up my plain metallic brown polymer clay pumpkins. Kool Tak products make this project so easy! The mat protects your work surface and the foils, sparkles and 3D adhesive make your jewelry pop! I guess I'm like those old crows that hoard shiny baubles - I just can't get enough.
Kool Tak™ 3D Glue
Kool Tak™ Shiny Transfer Foil Sheets - Summer Blooms
Kool Tak™ Sparkles Set -  Red, Threading Beads
Kool Tak™ Non-Stick Crafting Sheet
24 gauge wire, 8 1/2"
18 gauge wire, 8 1/2"
Assorted recycled beads
Kato Polyclay, metallic brown, 1/2" x1 1/2" x 2" block
Findings: Clasps, crimps, jump rings, eye pins and french ear wires
Krylon Triple Thick Glaze
Tools: Craft knife, toothpicks, Smoothfoam™ block, jewelry pliers
Use toothpicks and a block of Smoothfoam to keep your hands stickyness-free.
Condition the clay and roll it into a 5" cylinder. Slice it off in 1/2" increments. Roll each piece into a ball and slightly compress the top and bottom to make it a pumpkin shape. Use the toothpick to score lines from top to bottom to resemble the grooves on a pumpkin. Run a piece of wire through from top to bottom to create the stringing hole. Bake according to package directions and cool.
Tip: If you want to wear this with a Halloween costume, just cut Kool Tak™ Ultra Clear Adhesive into tiny triangles, arrange a face on the pumpkins and apply Kool Tak™ Shiny Transfer Earth Tones black foil. Instant holiday customization!
Place each pumpkin on a toothpick and anchor them into a piece of Smoothfoam™. Coat each pumpkin with Kool Tak™ 3D Glue. When the glue has become completely clear, it will be  sticky and ready for you to apply the foil to each piece. Don't worry if you don't get foil all over the pumpkin. This makes it look more rustic, but if you prefer, keep patting the foil on the bead until you cover it all. Apply a light coat of Krylon Triple Thick Glaze to each pumpkin and allow to dry.
Jewelry findings include eye pin, head pin, ear wires and clasp.
Attach one end of the copper wires to a jump ring and add a crimp piece to hold it in place. On the heavier gauge wire, string the larger beads and three (or more) of the pumpkins. Bend the wire's end to hold the beads in place and add the smaller beads to the thin wire, continuing until you have less than 3/4" of wire remaining. Wrap the small wire around the large one. Attach both wire ends to a jump ring and add the crimp piece. Add a bracelet clasp.

Insert an eye pin into the base of the pumpkin. Cut the shaft 1/2" from the top and bend to make another eye pin. String beads onto another eye pin and join the two eye pins. Attach french ear wires to the top of the bead pin. Attach a drop bead at the bottom of the pumpkin.
Now, put on that snazzy skirt and sweater and top it off with your recycled custom jewelry!
- Candice Windham