Sunday, February 26, 2012

glitter portraits

I love glitter. With glitter painting the possibilities are endless for gifts, cards, or to add sparkle to your home. I have made a couple of images following Martha Stewart's glitter painting tutorial, and for the large image I incorporated the free poster printing software PosteRazor that I found through Apartment Therapy (disclaimer: I can not speak to the integrity of this software and in general I do not endorse downloading free software from the Internet).

 54" x 14" from a photo of my son at the zoo aquarium

4" x 4" from a beautiful illustration of Snow White created by a dear friend

  • An image to paint (photo, illustration, full-color, black and white, anything)
  • Mount, I used stretched canvases with a 1 1/2 inch profile
  • Glitter
  • Glue, Martha Stewart has the best consistence (Elmer's is too thin and can make the glitter run, Aleene's Tacky Glue is too think, does not dry quickly, and does not always fully flatten when dry) 
  • Canned air
  • Copy paper - to print image on and to wrangle glitter
  • Bowl for mixing glitter colors
  • Spoon
  • Pin
  • Wine cork
  • Containers if you wish to save your mixed colors, I used a stackable beading containers
  • Paint for the outside of the frame if you like
  • Forgiving housemates who do not care if everything is covered with glitter, forever

A pin can be very useful to push glue into a thin line. My husband pushed the pin through a wine cork for better gripping. You can also use a paint brush (I personally hate cleaning glue out of brushes).

1. Prepare your image by uploading it to Martha Stewart's photo conversion tool.  Your photo will go from this

to a PDF that looks like this.  You will also get a list of glitter color approximations for your image.

If you are creating a large image, at this point you will want to make your image poster sized with PosteRazor.

For the large image, I printed the photo on 8.5" x 11" letter sized copy paper at home, pieced them together, and glued the pages on three 18" x 14" panels. You will have to play with PosteRazor a bit to get the hang of it. Remember that most printers will not print to the very edge of your paper and you will likely have at least a quarter inch margin.

(From here you can watch the video instructions at Martha Stewart.)

2. Glue the copy paper directly onto the canvas (or whatever you are using). Make the paper as smooth as possible. Let the glue dry.

3. You are now ready to apply glue. Place your piece onto a piece of copy paper, this will help you to capture unused glitter.  You will paint one color at a time.  Use your glue bottle to neatly apply a layer of glue within the lines of one section, do this by squeezing some glue out and then push it around with the bottle tip. 

4. Now apply the glitter by shaking it onto the glue. Pick up your image and gently move move it from side to side to make certain that every part of the exposed glue has been covered with glitter. Gently tap the image on its side to get all of the extra glitter off of the image and onto the copy paper on your table.  You can then return the glitter to its container. Amazingly you can start another color next to the part you just worked on (unless you are using thin glue).

You can mix glitters to make shades or new colors. The same principles apply to mixing glitter that do to mixing paint, white make the shade lighter and black makes it darker etc. Making custom mixes can be great fun. If you are covering a large area, mix a lot at first, it is hard to match your mix if you run out of a custom color.

5. Finishing touches. Once you have finished all of your glitter painting let the image dry over night. You can now gently spray the entire piece with caned air to get rid of loose glitter (GENTLY). I suggest doing this outside. Now you can paint the outside frame of your canvas if you like.

I was on a wintery walk with a friend recently and as we admired sunlight on ice in the Mississippi River I realize that glitter is one of man's attempts to replicate the beauty of nature. My mother says that this obsession is a reversion to my childhood.

Friday, December 2, 2011

garden disco

The garden disco ornament will make a great holiday gift for the gardeners and porch sitters in your life. It would also look lovely hanging indoors until spring. My inspiration was my neighbor's homemade disco garden ornament that entranced my mother last summer.

I have seen other versions of this decoration where the mirrors form a near-perfect spiral. The ornaments I made are asymmetrical and a bit chunky.

I have come to love projects that can be completed in one afternoon, and I made for of these in just a few hours.

I have not provided quantities in my instructions, because you can decide the number of strings as well as the size and proportions that you would like to make your ornament.

Monofilament fishing line
Jute, string, or ribbon (if your hanger does not already have a string)
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks*
Hanger of some kind, vintage bed spring, ornament, etc.
Mirrors, round, square, or oval; 1", 2", or 3"

Possible hangers

Beads and mirrors

1. Plug in your glue gun.

2. Cut as many long pieces of monofilament as you intend to use.

3. String beads onto the monofilament, leaving some line empty to make room for the mirrors.

4. Decide where you would like to add a mirror between your beads and separate the beads. Lay one mirror face down on the table under the filament line, and have your second mirror ready.

5. Add a drop of hot glue to the mirror on the table and place the second mirror on the hot glue.

6. Once you have added all of the beads and mirrors that you want, tie knots at each end of the line. I tied these through the final beads. The top of the line will be attached to your ornament.  At the bottom of the line I made a long tale below the knot and secured it with more mirrors.

7. Attached the lines to your ornament. You might find it helpful to balance the ornament by hanging the ornament to attach the lines.

8. The final step is to attach something to the top of the ornament for hanging it.

Let the disco begin!

*I can not promise that hot glue will hold up through hot weather, rain, ice, or snow.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

stocking advent calendar

Last year I had a hard time finding the right advent calendar, so I made a clothesline of stockings. There are many variations on this, I have seen paper bags, paper cones, and small boxes. I selected socks including adult sized, holiday-themed and ones that will fit my son throughout the new year.

24 socks
24 treats, toys, candy, coins
24 numbered labels (optional)
removable adhesive utility hooks
decorative wire or ribbon
clothes pins
decorations (optional)

The rest is simple, hang the wire, fill the socks, and enjoy the countdown.

Friday, November 18, 2011

greeting card ornaments

I remember making these great paper balls in the fourth grade. I was excited to see the instructions in an issue of Martha Stewart Living. You can use any kind of card stock including wedding or shower invitations, birthday cards, or post cards.

These paper balls look nice on a Christmas tree or collected in a bowl or glass jar. You can make extras for your friends and family to help them remember your special occasion or to mark their own.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

messenger bags for kids

Last Christmas I needed some fun gifts for a few cool kids. Luckily I found these GREAT instructions from Lang Lang Creations for sewing messenger bags. Lang Lang made the bags from a pair of old jeans. I made bags from fabric I had on hand and old camo pants. They were a HUGE hit - thanks Lang Lang!

The instructions are easy to follow with some great photos to help you along. If you are making bags for kids older than two or three, I suggest that you add some length to the strap. I hope that you and your little ones enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have always been inspired and grounded by the amazing women in my family. Most of them have had a career outside of the home while mastering the domestic arts. My womenfolk do not call attention to their gardening, baking, cooking, sewing, quilting, crocheting, canning, fruit preserves, entertaining, parenting, and writing of poetry, these acts are simply a natural part of daily life. I have been blessed by their skill and their attitude that making things from scratch or whole cloth is easy and rewarding. They seamlessly weave Martha Stewart grandeur into their family life. Their motivation is a mixture of family tradition, quality, economics, and geography (rural availability).

In August my family lost our matriarch and domestic goddess extraordinaire. Granny was very loved, young, and energetic - she worked 40 hours a week on her feet through her second chemo treatment. Her brief 5 month illness makes her absence seem absolutely impossible.

During one of our summer visits Granny held my most recent crafts projects in her hands. this has made the next project difficult to start. I know that the best way to honor her and to carry on our domestic tradition is to try to live up to grace, humility, and universal talent at all things crafty.

Granny worked as a seamstress in a small town and ingeniously finessed mass-manufactured clothing to fit her neighbors, friends, and family. Over the years scores of prom gown clad teenagers paraded to her home to show off her master work. During one of our last visits she told me a story about one of her customer that brought in her teenager's new, very raggedy pair of jeans. The customer wanted a repair of the split seam at the ankle, but Granny spent hours patching ALL of the tears, cuts, and holes that were part of the original design!

Granny was the foundation and glue of our loud and obnoxious brood. I will miss her sense of easy humor, unwavering optimism, and kind advice. My mother often complains that sewing talent skips a generation. True or not I will accept the suggestion with honor. Thank you for everything, Granny!

My most recent projects
I made gifts for two sweet babies from adorable Michael Miller fabrics. The backs of both blankets are a colorful stripe, the front of one is made from an adorable bird fabric, and the other a great graphic bee fabric. I finished both blankets with pre-made brown satin blanket binding.

I also made a polka dotted corduroy teddy bear to go with the bird blanket.

I had no part in the bear's BEAUTIFUL home. (XOXO, sweet cousins)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

blankies & bears

The only thing sweeter than a handmade baby blanket and teddy bear is the sweet bebe that loves them.

I love a squishable teddy bear. This pattern is simple and plush Simplicity 9524 Crafts. You will need to choose fabric, eyes, ribbon, embroidery thread for the nose, and stuffing. If you select a furry fabric, as a finishing touch use a needle to carefully pull hair out of the seams.

For the blanket, I pick two fabrics that I would love to have and to hold for myself. For the top you can use a solid fabric or you could piece the top in as many designs as can be imagined.

one of my favorites so far

For extra silkiness the fabric on the blanket back could be satin. If you choose satin, I recommend the flannel back satin at Joann's, it is dreamy. I prefer a lightweight batting and satin binding. If you are feeling brave, you can make your own binding, or you can buy a wide pre-made blanket binding. I usually make my own because of color selection, but it is much easier to use the pre-made.

The blanket is simple. First, cut the front and back into a square (grab one corner at the salvage and cut edge and fold it toward the opposite salvage into a large triangle until it looks even). Cut the batting to the same size. Lay the blanket parts in their finished order: top right side down, batting, back right side up. Pin the layers at the edge and then stitch around each edge. There is usually a bit of shifting, so take a moment to cut the edges to clean them up. Then apply the binding, making certain to miter the corners. My favorite description for mitering (and most other sewing) is in the Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (the Vogue Sewing Book is also a great one, I have the 1970 edition, I am sure it has been update). You may choose to tie the quilt with yarn or embroidery floss, but it is really not necessary because of the size.

Have fun making a blankie and bear for someone you love.