Seasonal Decorating Success is Guaranteed!

I have a long history of good intentions followed up by last minute rushes to get things done. I love to send handmade Christmas cards, but a week before international Christmas mail closes is not the time to be making them. I also love to decorate the table for holidays but that too needs to not only be planned in advance but also executed in advance. So this year I’m combining intention with execution and getting started early.

My table project for the holidays is autumn-themed and I’ve chosen oak leaves and acorns. The oak is a wonderful tree – it looks great all year round. In California, where I live, we have them in abundance and each year I watch as they sprout small green shoots of leaves that quickly turn into wonderful canopies of the deepest green. In autumn, they turn a wonderful gold and litter the ground with acorns that get scooped up by bouncy squirrels.

This year’s holiday decorations are oak leaves and acorns fashioned into table decorations and napkin rings made from AMACO Cloud Clay. Cloud Clay is an air-dry clay that is soft to work with, it stretches easily, and it dries to a light and flexible finish that feels just a teeny bit like suede. For this project you’ll need browns and yellows, so I’d grab a 4 oz. pack of Terra Cotta or Brown, one of White and one Yellow or Orange. You will also need an oak leaf cookie cutter – or some other leaf shape cutter. While you can cut the leaves by hand, cookie cutters make the project go a bit smoother. Add an acrylic roller, thin knitting needle, and a non-stick work surface and you’re done.

Start by pinching off an egg-size piece of clay and pull and fold it until it is nice and pliable. If you like, you can mix bits of various colors of clay to get custom colors – the colors mix very quickly so you can easily get a range of autumn golds and browns.

Roll the clay to around 1/8 -1/4″ thickness and press out the shapes with the cutter. Use the knitting needle to press veins into the leaves. Bend the leaves along the middle vein and curve the ends. Set the leaves aside to dry a little.

Make the acorns from small teardrop shapes of clay and add caps made from a second color of clay. Use the pointy end of the knitting needle to texture the acorn caps.

Assemble the leaves and acorns into groups – two leaves and two acorns. If the clay is still a bit wet, the pieces will stick together easily. If not, dampen them slightly and adhere.

Napkin rings are easily made from a small snake of clay flattened slightly and twisted around to make a circle. Press the ends together to seal. You can then add a leaf and acorn combination to each napkin ring.

Plan for a napkin ring for each guest and a few extra leaf and acorn combinations to scatter around the table. Cloud Clay items are extremely durable, so at the end of the holidays, pack them up carefully and they’ll be ready for the next year’s festivities.

by Helen Bradley (www.craftinggoodness.com)

Hatbox Snowman

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

To beat the summer heat, throw a “Christmas in July” party. Create this adorable, quick-and-simple Hatbox Snowman to decorate your patio and spread the Christmas cheer! No snow required!

Materials

  • Round papier-mâché boxes with lids, one each size: 5-1⁄2”x7” diameter, 4”x8” diameter, 4-1⁄2”x10” diameter
  • Wooden shapes: 3⁄4” discs, five; 1” disc, three; 1-1/4” hearts, two; 2” carrot
  • Rusty tin items: primitive heart, 1-1⁄4” across; jingle bell, 1” diameter; shovel, 12”
  • Fabrics: green/ecru homespun, 1”x27”; burgundy felt, 1⁄4 yd.
  • Acrylic paints: Rust, White, Black, Burgundy, Hunter Green
  • Aleene’s Brush-on Snow
  • Artificial pine sprigs, two
  • Pine cone, 1-1⁄2”
  • Jute twine, 1-1⁄4 yds.

Tools

  • Palette knife
  • Paintbrushes: flat, liner
  • Needle and burgundy thread
  • All-purpose primer
  • Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue

Basic Supplies

scissors, ruler, newspaper (to cover work surface)

Directions

Size

20″ tall

Snowman

1. Remove lid from small box and discard. On covered work surface, apply one coat all-purpose primer to outside of boxes and remaining lids; let dry. Paint boxes White. Adhere boxes together, with smallest box at top; let dry.

2. Paint the following: small discs (eyes/mouth) Black; hearts (cheeks) and two large discs (buttons) Burgundy; carrot (nose) Rust; remaining large disc (button) Hunter Green. Let dry.

3. Using palette knife and following manufacturer’s instructions, apply brush-on snow to boxes. While still wet, and using photo as placement guide, push painted wooden shapes and rusty tin heart into snow. Let dry overnight.

4. For hat, cut 5”x14” piece from felt. Sew gathering stitches along both long edges. Pull gathers tight on one edge for top of hat. Fit open end of hat around top of head; pull threads to gather and spot glue to head.

5. For hat band, cut 1-1⁄2”x23” strip from felt. Beginning and ending at center back, adhere band around top of head, over hat gathers. Trim ends as needed.

6. Using a liner brush, highlight eyes, cheeks, and nose with White. Thin brush-on snow with water; spatter paint hat.

7. Cut three 6” lengths from twine. Tie each length into a bow; adhere bows to buttons. Use remaining twine to tie shovel around neck. Tie fabric around neck to hide twine; knot fabric at right side of neck. Adhere bell to top of hat. Adhere greenery and pine cone to right side of hat.

by Bonnie Stephens

Sparklers Centerpiece

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

Add a little glitz to your Independence Day table with this easy-to-make star-spangled centerpiece!

Materials

  • Dow STYROFOAM Brand Foam Block 2”x5”x7”
  • Fabric: red/white striped, 6”x19”; blue/white star, 6-1/2”x9”
  • Red Felt, 1-7/8”x6-7/8”
  • Star picks: four blue, three red, two red/white/blue
  • Silver metallic bag filler

Tools

  • Iron-on adhesive
  • Star cookie cutter, 3-1/2”
  • Pebbles or fishing weights, 1/2 cup
  • Wire cutters

Basic Supplies

pencil, scissors, ruler, iron and pressing surface, melon baller

Directions

STEP 1

For vase bottom, use melon baller to scoop out a small cavity from one long 2”-wide end of plastic foam. See photo. Center and adhere striped fabric to vase, overlapping edges, folding and adhering excess fabric to top and bottom of vase.

STEP 2

Following manufacturer’s directions for adhesive, iron adhesive to wrong side of star print fabric. Use cookie cutter to trace two stars on wrong wide of fabric; cut out. Iron one star to upper left corner of one long side of vase. Repeat for back.

STEP 3

Adhere pebbles or fishing weights into vase, filling cavity. Adhere felt to bottom of vase.

STEP 4

Use scissors to curl several streamers from picks. Use wire cutters to cut 3-1/2” length from bottom of each pick; adjust length of pick as necessary. See photo. Insert picks into top of vase.

STEP 5

Adhere filler to top of vase.

Tip

  • Spray glitter on base to add some sparkle to your centerpiece.

by Annabelle Keller

XO Tin Star and Tag

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

Down-home charm transforms a tin star into a sweet, subtle patriotic display. Hang it in remembrance this 4th of July and leave it there year-round.

Materials

  • Tin star, 7-3/4” across
  • Stampin Up! Cardstock: Very Vanilla; Chocolate Chip
  • Paper: white printer-weight, red/brown dot, cream/brown text
  • Clear button
  • Hemp
  • Brown/crème gingham ribbon

Tools

  • Stamps: flower, alphabet
  • Stampin Up! Classic Stampin’ Pads: Chocolate Chip, Early Expresso
  • Sponge dauber
  • Tag punch
  • Paper adhesive

Basic Supplies

scissors, ruler, pencil, needle

Directions

STEP 1

Trace one section of star onto white printer-weight paper and cut out for pattern. Cut five from either dot paper or text paper. Turn pattern over and cut five from remaining paper. Sponge Chocolate Chip ink along paper edges. Adhere to star.

STEP 2

Cut and adhere two 4” ribbon lengths into loops. Cross loops and adhere to center of star.

STEP 3

Trace button onto brown cardstock and cut out slightly inside traced line. Adhere cardstock to back of button; poke holes with needle or similar tool. Tie hemp through holes. Adhere button to star.

STEP 4

Stamp Early Expresso flower on cream cardstock; punch with tag punch. Stamp Chocolate Chip “XO” over flower. Sponge same ink along edges. Mat tag on dot paper. Tie tag to star with hemp.

by Lindsey Botkin

Americana Floor Cloth

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

Add a bit of Americana to your home décor and celebrate America’s birthday all summer long with this patriotic accent rug.

Materials

  • Half-round rug, 18”x36”
  • DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paints: Light Buttermilk, Country Red, Uniform Blue, Antique Gold

Tools

  • Plaid FolkArt Clearcote Extra Thick Glaze
  • Paintbrushes: round; flat; foam, 2” wide

Basic Supplies

newspaper (to cover work surface)

Directions

(Note: Use photo as painting guide.)

Step 1

Use foam brush to basecoat front of rug Light Buttermilk.

Step 2

Print and cut out patterns. (Note: The blue words “chart” and “key” are links. To access these, select the link, then download and print items.) Place heart pattern in left top corner of rug, 3” from top and 6” from side. Transfer heart pattern and draw horizontal lines 2-5⁄8” apart across rug for stripes. Use foam brush to paint alternating Country Red and Light Buttermilk stripes. (Note: Wiggle brush slightly to make irregular edges. Do not paint through heart.)

Step 3

Carefully cut letters from pattern apart. Transfer letters to Light Buttermilk stripes to read “my home sweet home.” Transfer three small stars to Light Buttermilk stripes. Use a round paintbrush to outline heart and letters with Uniform Blue and stars with Antique Gold. Use a flat brush to fill in center of shapes.

Step 4

Following manufacturer’s instructions, spray two or three coats of glaze evenly over entire rug.

by Chris Malone

Pledge of Allegiance

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

Display your loyalty to America not only on the 4th of July but throughout the entire year. Stitch this Pledge of Allegiance cross-stitch design to express your pride and devotion to America.

Materials

  • 14-count light blue Aida
  • Anchor 6-Strand Embroidery Floss
  • Kreinik #4 Very Fine Braid

Tools

  • #24 tapestry needle

Stitch Type

  • Backstitch: 1 strand
  • Cross-stitch: 2 strands floss or 1 strand braid
  • French knot: 1 strand (wrapped two times)

Basic Supplies

scissors

Directions

Size / Stitch Count

Approximate finished size: 7″x5″; Stitch Count 98 w x 70 h

Pledge of Allegiance

1. Print cross-stitch chart and key. (Note: The blue words “chart” and “key” are links. To access these, select the link, then download and print items.)

2. Using two strands floss or one strand braid, cross-stitch design centered on fabric.

3. Backstitch words using one strand Anchor 133 Dark Blue. Stitch all other backstitch using one strand Anchor 403 Black. Stitch French knots using one strand Anchor 133 Dark Blue.

4. Frame as desired.

by Lois Winston

Americana

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

Has a catchy tune ever inspired you to paint? Carolyn Bacon took it one step further by painting her patriotic inspiration on the actual sheet music itself.

Materials

  • Patriotic sheet music
  • Plaid FolkArt Artist Pigment: Night Sky, Titanium White, Red Light, Pure Black, True Burgundy, Yellow Light, Van Dyke Brown, Yellow Ochre, Asphaltum, Burnt Umber, Blue Thunder

Tools

  • Scharff Brushes, Inc. Paintbrushes: Angler, series 155, 1⁄8” 1⁄4”; Short Shader, series 130, #2, #4, #8; Liner, series 455, #0
  • Plaid FolkArt: Blending Gel, Glazing Medium, Clear Acrylic Spray Sealer
  • Craft mounting board

Basic Supplies

pencil, paper towel, tracing paper, newspaper (to cover work surface)

Directions

Preparation

1. Attach sheet music to craft mounting board. Cover work surface. Spray with Clear Acrylic Sealer three times; let dry between coats. Print pattern. (Note: The blue word “pattern” is a link. To access this pattern, select the link, then download and print pattern.) When sheet music is dry, trace background flag pattern lightly.

2. Lightly paint red stripes Red Light mixed with Glazing Medium. Do not paint white stripes. Let dry. Spray again with sealer. Trace pattern lightly.

Painting Notes

1. Use large shader for basecoating larger areas. Blend and shade with the smaller shaders or with angler brushes. Use liner for detail and line work.

2. Since Blending Gel extends drying time you can shade, blend, pat blend, and make highlight strokes and reflections. You can also achieve a transparent look. Do not mix gel with paint. Pick up Blending Gel on your brush, blot on a paper towel. Pick up color and paint a section at a time.

3. Highlighting and shading are blended in.

Capitol Building

Basecoat Pure Black. Use liner brush to place highlights with Titanium White. See photo for location. Place thin shadow under building using Glazing Medium.

Statue of Liberty

Basecoat Pure Black. Use liner brush to place Titanium White highlights. Place shadow underneath using Glazing Medium.

Drum

Drumhead: Mix Titanium White + Burnt Umber, basecoat entire area. Shade corners with Asphaltum. Reinforce dark shading with Burnt Umber.

Top Band – front and back: Basecoat True Burgundy. Use Van Dyke Brown to darken back band in the corners and outside edges of front band. Lighten center front with Red Light. Reinforce light area with Red Light + Yellow Light. Highlight front band Titanium White. With a liner, use Red Light on edge of rim.

Drum Sticks: Basecoat Yellow Ochre. Use Asphaltum to streak. Place Titanium White highlight on head. Made a shadow on drumhead and band with Asphaltum.

Drum Side: Basecoat Night Sky. Darken under rim and outside edges with Night Sky + Blue Thunder. Lighten center of area with mix of Titanium White + Night Sky. Blend into dark sides. Reinforce the light several times, making mixture lighter each time. For trim, make squiggle line with light blue mix. Paint “1776” Pure Black.

Wires: Base Yellow Ochre. Highlight Titanium White in the top where it crosses over the band. Use Titanium White to highlight Yellow Ochre circles. Paint holes in band Pure Black.

Bottom Band: Paint same as top band, darkening behind the firecrackers and horn.

Firecrackers

Basecoat top circle with mix of Titanium White + Burnt Umber. Lighten rim with Titanium White. Paint wick Pure Black. For white stripes, base Titanium White, then darken sides of each stripe Night Sky. Basecoat red stripes Red Light, darken with True Burgundy, and lighten center Yellow Light. Use Asphaltum for shadows underneath.

Horn

Basecoat Yellow Ochre. Use Asphaltum for dark shading inside the bell end, under rim, lower part of curve, and where horn overlaps itself. Blend Yellow Light into curve. Use Titanium White for highlights. Use Asphaltum for shadows underneath.

Finishing

When completely dry, spray with sealer.

by Carolyn Bacon

Denim Star Placemat and Napkin

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

Add a splash of patriotic color to picnic tables with these easy-to-make placemats and napkins.

Materials

  • Red placemat, 12”x18”
  • Red dinner napkin, 18” square
  • Denim fabric, 1⁄6 yard
  • Red Felt, 6” square
  • Thread: navy rayon embroidery; all-purpose navy, white
  • White embroidery floss
  • White star buttons, 1⁄2” across, four

Tools

  • Sewing machine
  • Needle
  • Pellon: Wonder-Under Iron-on Adhesive Regular, Heavy-duty; Sof-Shape Tear-away Interfacing; Stitch-N-Tear Stabilizer
  • Pressing cloth (optional)

Basic Supplies

scissors, iron and pressing surface, straight pins

Directions

(Note: Materials listed are for one placemat and napkin.)

Step 1

Wash placemat, napkin, and denim without fabric softener. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to apply interfacing, then regular iron-on adhesive, to back of denim. Apply heavy-duty iron-on adhesive to one side of felt.

Step 2

Print and cut out patterns. (Note: The blue word “pattern” is a link. To access this pattern, select the link, then download and print pattern.) Cut stars and hearts as indicated. Position three stars and hearts on left side of placemat, and one star and heart in one corner of napkin. Remove paper backing; fuse shapes in place.

Step 3

Using two floss strands, blanket-stitch around hearts. Use white thread to sew button to center of each heart.

Step 4

Cut squares from stabilizer to fit over design areas; pin in place on back. Using navy rayon for top thread and navy all-purpose in bobbin, satin stitch around stars.

by Angie Wilhite

Bead and Craft Foam Flag

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

Celebrate the Memorial Day holiday! Here’s a quick-and-easy project to make that’s great for any patriotic celebration.

Materials

  • Craft foam: blue, white
  • White iridescent cording, 112” length
  • Pony beads: 49 red, 42 white

Tools

  • Hole punch, 1/8”
  • Beacon Adhesives Craft Foam Glue

Basic Supplies

paper, pencil, scissors, ruler, transparent tape

Directions

STEP 1

Print and cut out pattern. (Note: The blue word “pattern” is a link. To access this pattern, select the link, then download and print pattern.) Follow directions on pattern.

STEP 2

Cut blue craft foam to 2-3/4” square. To make the flag, see Figure 1. Use hole punch to punch nine holes in blue foam where indicated by dots. Cut seven 15” lengths and one 7” length from cord. Wrap a small piece of tape around each cord end and twist tape into points. (Note: The tape makes it easier to thread cording through holes and beads.) Thread both ends of each 15” length through bottom holes of square from back to front, then thread ends through loop formed by cord, and pull cord ends tight. See photo. Thread seven red beads and six white beads onto each cord group alternating colors, beginning and ending with red beads. Repeat same for remaining cord groups. Remove tape. Knot ends of each cording group 4” from bottom edge of blue foam square.

Figure 1

STEP 3

For hanging loop, thread each end of 7” cord through top holes of blue foam square from front to back. Knot cord ends at back to secure. See photo. Adhere star to center front of blue foam square. Let dry.

by Mary Ayres

Painted Paddle Flag

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day

 

Old Glory has never looked better! Make this quick-and-easy version for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

Materials

  • Wooden paint paddles, 14” long, nine
  • Darice: Rusted Tin Sheet, 4” square; Rusted Wire, 22-gauge, 28” length, 36” length
  • Delta Ceramcoat Acrylic Paints: Barn Red, Midnight Blue, Trail Tan, Spice Brown
  • Jute twine, 22” length

Tools

  • Drill with 1⁄4” bit
  • Delta Ceramcoat Painter’s Helper Crackle medium
  • Eclectic Products E6000 Industrial-Strength Adhesive

Basic Supplies

scissors, pencil, handsaw, sandpaper, soft cloth, heavy books, paintbrush

Directions

STEP 1

Cut handles from seven paddles, so each paddle measures 12” long; cut one end into point. Sand and wipe dust with soft cloth. Cut 9” lengths from remaining uncut paddles; drill hole 1⁄2” from one end of each. Lightly sand; wipe dust.

STEP 2

Arrange 12” paddles into flag with points facing left and straight ends aligned. Perpendicular to paddles, place 9” paddles on top and 1-1⁄2” in from each side, with holes overlapping top edge of flag 3⁄4” (for hangers). Adhere in place. Place heavy books over paddles to secure while drying.

STEP 3

Basecoat front and back of flag Spice Brown. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to apply crackle medium to front.

STEP 4

Trace 3-1⁄2”x6” rectangle in upper left corner; paint rectangle and hanger Midnight Blue. Let dry completely. Paint remaining paddles alternating Barn Red and Trail Tan, and remaining hanger Barn Red.

STEP 5

Print and cut out pattern. (Note: The blue word “pattern” is a link. To access this pattern, select the link, then download and print pattern.) Cut seven stars from rusted tin sheet. Adhere to flag as shown.

STEP 6

Wrap 28” wire length around upper left edge of flag as desired; curl ends. Attach remaining length around bottom right corner in same way.

STEP 7

For hanger, insert ends of jute length through holes from back to front. Knot and trim.

Tip

  • Make a larger version from fence pickets or a smaller version from craft sticks.

by Linda Bauer