One Project A Weekend

Mud-Cloth and Driftwood on Your Dinner Table

Mud-Cloth and Driftwood on Your Dinner Table

Thanksgiving is just days away, and even though I’m not hosting this year, I tried a couple of really quick DIYs that I thought would be fun for future table decor next time I host Wine Club or a Book Club gathering. Using a Clorox bleach pen and place mats I found at Dollar Tree, I made mud-cloth inspired place mats. My current textile obsession, Mud-Cloth or Bògòlanfini, is a handmade Malian cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud. I’m drawn to the bold, simple patterns, and how it works with (imo) all types of decor…especially the nomadic bohemian vibe I’m drawn to. Simply squeeze the bleach gel onto the place mat, allow to dry completely, then rinse off the gel residue and toss in the dryer to set. For place cards, I used flooring sample pieces that you can find at home improvement stores. I had a bunch of grayish, distressed “driftwood” samples of laminate flooring from some client projects.  With a gold, metallic, oil-based paint pen, I hand-lettered (my name, of course) onto the sample piece.  For table decor, you can use these as place cards that your guests could take home as little “name plate signs” or keepsakes.  Just about anything can be used as place cards…just by writing guests’ names with Sharpie or paint pen or even chalk.  In the past I’ve used leaves, pieces of fruit, shells, corks, fabric swatches, coloring pages. Here are a few variations on how I would set the table if I was hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year, using brown craft paper as a table cloth (guests can write or color directly onto the paper and clean up is quick and easy), my faux mud-cloth place mats, “driftwood” place cards, and a driftwood succulent & votive centerpiece by Seafoam Driftwood.   Thank you to Arhaus for helping to spark the idea regarding holiday...

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10 Minute DIY Thanksgiving Decorations

10 Minute DIY Thanksgiving Decorations

As much as I love crafting and making decorations, most of my time is spent creating for my clients’ painting and wedding projects. I’d love to have a moment to try out projects from Pinterest or think up some crafty goodness to share here on this blog, but heck…I’m lucky if I can manage a load of laundry and keep up with my kids’ schedules, while running this business and meeting work project deadlines. I try to get into the spirit of each season by doing some sort of decorating, but unless we’re hosting a holiday gathering, the effort is limited to items we’ve saved from previous years or things I find around the house. And it has to be something I can throw together quickly. So, I’m keeping it short and sweet with this post by sharing a really, really, REALLY quick DIY for Thanksgiving. We’re going to a relative’s home for Thanksgiving Dinner, so I just wanted something little for the mantel and our kitchen table. Of course, I always have duck/duct tape (yes, in gold)…and with leftover mini pumpkins from Halloween and leaves that had fallen from the magnolia tree in our front yard, I put something together in about 10 minutes (for each project) while waiting for a load of a laundry to dry and for a client to give me print approval…     Here’s a quick, easy and inexpensive idea for table coverings or placemats.  Use kraft paper (I cover the entire table with kraft paper, which I have a huge roll of at all times in my studio) and write “thankful for” with a few lines at each place setting. You can draw some pretty designs to indicate each place setting or accent where the plates and utensils will be placed. Write the guest’s name above “thankful for” instead of using place cards. I’ve done this for my ladies wine club so we can write down comments or ratings for each wine and dinner parties for listing menu items. For appetizers and dishes, I write the food indicators directly onto the kraft paper and draw an arrow pointing to the actual dish. Clean up is a breeze…just roll up the paper and toss in the recycle bin....

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Last Minute DIY BEEMO Costume

Last Minute DIY BEEMO Costume

It was the Friday before Halloween and we were busily working on our costumes to wear for Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland that Monday, when Mason (our nine year-old) decided that he wanted to be BEEMO (from Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time) for his “actual” Halloween costume. I was already inundated with all the costume and prop prep for our “Steampunk Robot Skeleton” -themed costumes, so I said, “you’ll have to ask Daddy if he’ll make it for you”…which wouldn’t have been a problem, IF he wasn’t asking to have it THAT night to wear to his cousin’s school Monster Mash. Everyone in my family is extremely creative and artistically talented…plus design, DIY and craft-saavy, so I didn’t have any doubts that BMO would materialize due to our costume-making prowess (we take costume making very seriously around these parts).  The real question was how we could pull it together in just a few hours? My husband and I work well under pressure and we always meet our deadlines, but we both had our “regular” work to do…and we didn’t have any of the materials we would need to make the BMO costume (well, besides gaffers tape, glue gun and label paper). So, being the awesome Dad that he is, and not wanting to turn down a costume design challenge, Aaron agreed (after Mason badgered and begged all through breakfast) to create the BMO costume in time for that night’s Monster Mash. And so the countdown to Operation BMO began. Once the boys were off to school, Aaron had some conference calls to do and I was tasked with shopping for materials after a morning of my own client meetings.  I ran a few errands for client projects, then found myself at Walmart on a mission to find the rest of the supplies for our Steampunk costumes and hopefully pick up everything Aaron would need for BMO.  I had no idea going in that I would find anything that would work. Here’s my text thread with Aaron while we tried to source materials. I arrived back at the house around 1:45 p.m., dropped off the materials I picked up from Walmart (totaling about $30) so Aaron could get started while I was teaching art in Isaac’s class. Here are the materials used: When the kids and I got home from school (3:30 p.m.), this is what Aaron had done.  Mason was super excited. After spray-painting the box, he began preparing the buttons (a mailing tube lid was used for the large red circular button and the rest were made from cardboard and colored paper) and cutting the extra aqua shirt (I bought two because I wasn’t sure which size would fit Mason best) to stretch over the opening to make BMO’s screen. Originally, he was going to have me paint BMO’s screen face onto a separate piece of poster board that was layered behind and cut holes for Mason to see out of. But he found that if a shirt was stretched taut, you could actually see through it. And the shirt was the perfect color.  The shirt was stretched and affixed to inside of the box using gaffers tape. After the paint was dry, he used more gaffers tape to finish the edges/seams.  Everything else was label paper. Inside the box, Aaron attached suspenders to help Mason keep the costume at the right height for the arm holes, and to help stabilize the box. A few hours later, the costume looked like this. He ran out of time to finish the buttons, but this was enough to get Mason to the...

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Table Décor “Fiasco”

Table Décor “Fiasco”

Purchased originally for a Tuscan beef stew recipe that called for an entire bottle of Chianti, I must admit that I bought this bottle specifically for the “Fiasco” or “Fiaschi”…because it reminds me of our honeymoon trip to Italy and romantic days spent exploring the Tuscan countryside. Even though I’ve seen more of them holding candles or decorating Italian restaurants here in the U.S. than I did in Florence, these rustic bottles have a rich history and artistic iconography, depicted in paintings since the time of Botticelli. Dating back to the 14th century, Fiaschi were hand-woven baskets used for holding Chianti bottles. The baskets were made from straw and reeds to protect the thin glass bottles during transportation and handling. It was only a $5 bottle of wine, but I just couldn’t imagine tossing or recycling the bottle, so I decided to keep it and find a new use for it. Here’s a quick way to repurpose those charming straw-covered Chianti bottles. Besides waiting for the paint to dry completely, this only took 15 minutes. With a little chalkboard paint over the labels, and the neck and bottom of the flask dipped into any desired paint color, a collection of these bottles would make simple centerpieces/vases/table numbers for a rustic themed wedding or casual dinner...

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Monogrammed Chair Cushions

Monogrammed Chair Cushions

One of my favorite clients gave me this lovely pair of black lacquered chairs (Thank you Michelle H.!). She knows of my current obsession with black and gold and that I had mentioned a few old chairs I was planning to paint black and gold for my kitchen table (but never seem to have the time to work on). So, to save me some time and to add some seating around my table for a bit of entertaining I’ll be doing over the next few weeks (and because she is SO incredibly nice and thoughtful), she generously gave me chairs that were already a pretty black lacquered finish, with woven cloth cushions (of almost a hessian or burlap texture), with black piping. They’re perfect for my table and all ready to go as is…I just wanted to somehow incorporate some gold and perhaps spray Scotchgard to protect the fabric seats from kid fingerprints and food stains…I figured this could be a quick weekend project. After painting two antique travel trunks Michelle had in her bedroom, I was inspired to paint our G monogram onto the chair cushions. I pulled together a bunch of font styles I liked and put it up to my husband and sons for a family vote. Of course, they nixed all the ornate and flourishy script styles and opted for a traditional, but bold, serif font. My eight year-old, Mason, even sketched out his own typography style with his new favorite technique…shading and drop shadows. I was hoping for something a little softer, so I found a nice G in one of my clipart books, which the family agreed upon (as long as I got rid of the fancy floral motif and added a drop shadow, per Mason). I printed the G out to size onto card stock and hand-cut a stencil, taped it into place onto one chair and painted in the monogram using a mixture of Modern Masters Brass and Champagne gold metallic paints. After painting the gold, I removed the stencil and cleaned up the edges with a small brush. While the gold paint dried, I used some Rub N Buff to highlight the black lacquer and accentuate the shape of the chairs. I’ve been using Rub N Buff for 10+ years, it’s always in my painting and crafting tool box.  It’s an easy and inexpensive way to add a permanent metallic (simulating a gilded/gold leaf) finish to almost any surface. I’ve use it for picture frames, light fixtures, lamps, raised carved areas of wood appliqués, furniture or molding…even on costume jewelry and candles. It’s super easy to apply with a fingertip, dries almost instantly, and it can be buffed or polished to the desired finish. When the gold paint on the cushion was dry to the touch (about 20 minutes), I hand-painted a thin black outline with watered down acrylic paint. Then, per my son’s request, I added a “drop shadow” using very watered down black paint (it was basically the water I used to rinse the brush with the black paint). All in all, the project took me about 2 hours (a quick project that I worked on before we left for a friend’s party on Memorial Day). After my husband protects the cushions with some Scotchgard, these monogrammed chairs will be ready to take their place at our kitchen table....

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