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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How to Make Artist Trading Cards With Recycled Materials

Have you tried making artist trading cards? It's a fun concept, where you create tiny little works of art in a 2 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch format. As the name suggests, the cards are meant to be traded.


If you go to any art or craft store, you will find chipboard or grunge board artist trading card (ATC) blanks. You can even find blanks made from watercolor paper and other art papers!  You don't need to buy lots of fancy products to create art. You don't even need to use (gasp!) archival quality products! You can, of course, if that is your preference, but sometimes we get so bogged down by products and buzzwords we lose our sense of creative freedom and become less willing to experiment. Other times we want to try a new idea (like artist trading cards!), but simply can't justify the cost of materials for products we're not sure we will enjoy using. Here is how I create mixed media artist trading cards using items from the recycling basket.


To create the foundation for my cards, I use my all time favorite craft product: cereal boxes! One small cereal box should net you about sixteen artist trading card bases. The best thing about using this method (besides the fact that you are recycling and using FREE stuff), is that you partially develop your backgrounds in advance, which saves drying and working time later on.


Next, you can hit up your stash of pretty paper scraps. Here I used leftover scrapbook paper, but you can just as easily use magazine pages or wrapping paper or whatever pretty paper you have available.


I like to develop both sides of my ATCs, so I also cut up old book pages for the second side. Here I used the insides from an old Reader's Digest Condensed Book.


The book pages are then glued on to the cardboard blanks. I used Mod Podge from the Dollar Tree, but you can use whatever you have on hand. I have used white school glue and various tacky glues in the past. The idea is to create and explore and not get bogged down by specific products.

Do you see how the cardboard curls just a little bit when you do this? The next step should correct that.

Glue your pretty paper to the other side. Having the same amount of moisture on each side of the card can help prevent curling.


If you still have curling, or if you have any air bubbles, use a brayer or your fingers or a dowel or the back of a spoon to smooth them out. At this point, you will have a lovely set of ATC blanks, that are ready to go!  You can leave them like this, or you can develop the backgrounds a bit more. I like to do things assembly line style to save time and to avoid dragging out the same supplies over and over, so I keep going.


To further develop the backgrounds, grab the leftover bits of book pages and tear them into halves and thirds. Those pieces are then adhered to the ATCs. As I work, I keep my eyes open for cool graphics and illustrations to incorporate into the cards. The man talking on the telephone was an illustration from the Reader's Digest book, and I cut him out and glued him to the "pretty paper" side of a card. I did the same thing with a lady talking on a phone.


Now you have a really great start on backgrounds for a stack of mixed media artist trading cards! Once again, you can stop right here. Or you can keep going. I kept going just a bit more.


Using markers I had on hand, I distressed the edges of the cards. You don't have to do this -- they look great either way. I just happen to be into distressing the edges of things right now.


While I had my markers out, I went ahead and added a bit of color to the backgrounds. You can use paint for this, but I was working fast, and didn't want to wait for paint to dry. Now, I have these lovely mixed media artist trading card backgrounds that are ready to go whenever I feel inspired to create.

The thing I really like about working in such a small format, is that it's  not overwhelming. If I've had a stressful day, and just need a fifteen minute project to help me unwind, I can grab one of these little cards and create something beautiful.

How about you? Do you like quick little projects? Do you like to use recycled products when you create? Do you use art to relax?



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why I Bought an Artificial Christmas Tree

Last weekend I took advantage of the 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby and bought an artificial Christmas tree.  I think I'm going to love it!


This tree is for the beach house, and I chose one that is pre-lit, with pine cones and berries and a tiny dusting of snow. Before you think, "that's not very beachy", I should mention that this is the Pacific Northwest, where pine cones and beach and sea and salt spray and snow live together in the most unsettlingly lovely way.

Growing up, we always used an artificial tree -- until we lost most of our possessions in a house fire. The next year, we had a real tree, covered in homemade decorations that our mom made with us kids (all our family ornaments had been lost in the fire). It was lovely to my child's eye. The next year, my father was in a terrible accident and was unable to work for many months. We lived in the Phoenix area, so you couldn't just go out and cut down a tree. We had little extra money for a tree that year, so my creative mother gathered up some tumbleweeds and we formed those into a Christmas tree! True story. I adored that tree! We put the homemade ornaments on our tumbleweed tree and and strung lots of popcorn garland and had a happy Christmas.


The next year my mom found an artificial tree at the Salvation Army store, and that is what we used for the rest of my years at home. When I got married and started my own little family, I vowed to always buy a real tree -- until we realized that our oldest son had severe allergies and could not be in the same house with a real tree. Sad, but true. Apparently all sorts of allergens can hitchhike into your home via a real tree. That year, I went to Ace Hardware for their 50% off Christmas trees sale, and that was the Christmas tree our kiddos grew up with.... until our dog got old.


For some reason, when our dog started getting old (he lived to be seventeen), he decided it was okay to pee on our tree. Seriously. The artificial tree had to be thrown away. By this time, allergy boy had grown up and moved out, so we went back to using a real tree for a while.

The problem with that has been that we live in two places these days. During the week, we are in a city crash pad, for work. On weekends, we go home to our beach house. We can't put up a real tree at our house until the last possible moment, since we aren't around to keep it watered. This has been super stressful for me, as it meant I would be madly trimming the tree a day or two before Christmas, all while prepping the house for guests, wrapping gifts, and cooking. Something had to give. I wanted to get an artificial tree, but my husband resisted. My husband loves tradition, and we have a new after Christmas tradition of having a Christmas tree bonfire on the beach. Okay, it's not that he loves tradition -- he just loves having a really big beach fire. Christmas tree fires burn high and hot and it is frighteningly beautiful.

Burning Christmas tree 2 at Golden Gardens beach, Seattle


He finally capitulated when we made plans for our daughter and little granddaughter to come out for a visit in early December.

(Summer Rose's parents won't let anyone share photos of her on social media, so I drew her for you!)

We've told little Summer we would have a Christmas party for her, and for a Christmas party you must have a Christmas tree, right?  If we put up a real tree in our beach house in early December, we would need to replace it before Christmas because it would dry out too much to be safe, since we're not there to water it during the week.

I was really impressed with the artificial trees available this year! I think Summer Rose will like our tree, with it's red berries and pine cones. I have some bird's nest ornaments that I will be sure to place at her eye level!  It's funny how having a grandchild changes your entire perspective. You start to see things "close up" again, and remember that the world is full of wonder and sweetness.

tree images via Hobby Lobby website

My husband has said he still reserves the right to buy a real tree, in addition to the "fake" one, and that's okay. Beach bonfires are lots of fun, after all.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Easy Stash Busting Ideas for Beads and Broken Jewelry!

I recently spent a lovely Saturday morning doing some stash busting!  The leftover beads and bits of broken necklaces had been accumulating in my craft stash and things were getting out of control. Does this happen to you?


Being the craft supply hoarder that I am, I can't bear getting rid of a piece of broken or dated jewelry, so there were plenty of random supplies in my stash. The solution?  Create lots of bead charms and links (and use up random packages of wire findings and partial spools of wire, at the same time)!


By the end of the morning, a nice little stash of "ready to use" charms and links were done. I have found the charms to be especially useful! I love to add simple charms to necklaces and bracelets, and it's so handy to be able to just grab something truly unique from my stash.


In one morning we went from having several plates of random beads and broken jewelry, to having lots of lovely charms!


The charms shown here, were made using whatever pin head wires I found in the stash.  I have loved the convenience of having these at the ready, and have already used them in several different projects!

Do you enjoy playing around with beads and making your own jewelry? Maybe you're a beginner? If so, be sure and subscribe to House Revivals, so you won't miss any of the upcoming jewelry tutorials we have planned. If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to use the icons at the bottom of this post to share on social media!



Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Make Your Own Alcohol Ink Spray

Hey folks! My husband and I had a little bit of fun last night making ink sprays. No, he's not a crafter (he is an artist, though he rarely admits it). The science of suspensions vs. solutions was what intrigued him.


I have wanted to experiment with alcohol sprays for a while, but wasn't sure I wanted to make the investment when I've never actually tried the technique. Making my own alcohol ink spray was a great way to try it out, without spending a ton of money.


In design school, we learned to recharge our art markers to stretch our ink, create paler blending shades, and to save money.  We primarily used markers that were either xylene based or alcohol based. Basically, even when your pens go dry, there is still likely to be quite a bit of colorant in that felt wick or cartridge. I had several dry pens laying around yesterday and decided to experiment with making spray inks using the dried out felt wicks.


I should preface this tutorial by saying that your alcohol ink spray is only going to be as "archival" as the product you use to create it. That said, for some of my own projects, I use "time" as an element of design. I enjoy seeing the effects of time in old journals and such, and feel that sometimes the fragile and fleeting nature of art can be an important element in how we perceive it. All that to say that I used Sharpies and highlighter pens for some of my sprays. As you can see, the pink highlighter spray turned out pretty faint, so I added some regular blue ink to the blue highlighter spray to give it more saturation.

You may have also noticed that some of the pens had to be broken to get to the insides! Since these were dead pens anyway, I didn't feel bad about breaking them. Some pens came open easily, others didn't.


I was actually surprised by the amount of color still left in these dried out old pens! I only used about an inch of wick for each of the sprays pictured above!


I did label the sprays with the type of pen used to create them. Here, I should probably mention that you can use just about any small spray bottle for this project. I found these little Barbie misters on clearance at the drug store for pennies, but you may have something around the house that will work just fine. I would recommend not spending too much money on new spray bottles until you've tried making your own ink sprays, and know whether or not you like them.



After you open up (or break open) your pens, remove the felt cartridge and cut it up into small pieces. Put the pieces into a little spray bottle, and add alcohol (just use the stuff from the drug store). Let it soak for a little while, then shake it up well. Experiment with mixing colors if you like.


That's all there is to it, folks. What do you think? Would you sacrifice an old pen, some rubbing alcohol and a spray bottle to create your own homemade alcohol ink sprays? Let me know in the comments!



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cool Things to Make With Vintage Sewing Patterns

Remember when I shared about all those gorgeous vintage patterns I found at the local Goodwill? Now I'm sharing tons of awesome craft ideas using vintage sewing patterns!


I love the idea of re-using old patterns for new projects -- the graphics and illustrations are so gorgeous! As a word of caution, if you are planning to make copies of your pattern, check the copyright first. Many pattern envelopes and illustrations were copyrighted, and quite a few of the vintage patterns have had their copyrights renewed, so you will want to do your research before making copies. Here is an article about copyright law and crafting.
Gift Tags - Vintage Sewing Pattern Packaging - One Dozen

MontclairMade on Etsy, has these adorable gift tags. So. Stinking. Cute.




I love these pattern weights made from heavy washers and decoupaged paper from Pin and Paper.


Use old patterns to organize your sewing space, like these from Cathe Holden, Just Something I Made.

Vintage Sewing Pattern Elegant Tote Bag Purse FREE SHIP

Use a pattern envelope to decorate a tote bag, like this one from georgiapeachez on Etsy.



Have a lazer cutter? Make pins to give as gifts, like these from Red Revival. Image from Poppytalk.


I just about died when I saw these beautiful paperdolls crafted from old patterns! Abby's Garden


Use the tissue to wrap a gift! I also use the tissue inside gift bags and boxes. Heather Bullard

Sewing Embellishments

Use the tissue patterns to cover a lampshade. BHG


Use the illustrations in an art journal, like this one from Sandra Pearce.


Use the patterns for wallpaper! Image from Meet Me at Mikes.

sewing patterns vintage tote bag

You will want to check for copyright before doing this, but isn't this tote bag from the Tom Kat Studio darling?


I'm so excited about all these fun ideas for using my vintage pattern haul! Which projects would you do? Help me decide! Click here to check out more of the amazing vintage patterns found at our local Goodwill!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to Furnish Your Bedroom For FREE!

Recently, my son pulled up roots and moved half-way across the country, carrying with him only what would fit in his pick-up and a small trailer.


He's been furnishing his new home from craigslist and has really inspired me with the quality of items he is finding!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Make These Easy Mini-Book Pendants!

If you are looking for an easy project for gift giving this holiday season, look no further! These sweet little book pendants are the perfect project for the book lover in your life.


I decided to figure out how to make them when my friend Cheryl from the Amber Waves Band reached out to me looking for a product to sell at concerts that supported their new Storyteller CD (by the way, if you don't have your copy already, you can buy it via CD Baby here). This is not a sponsored post, I just love this band and their music.

After a bit of brainstorming, the idea of Storyteller Necklaces emerged.


We talked about which materials would be best, and settled on sustainable reclaimed leather, and reclaimed vintage book pages. A quick trip to my closet yielded several old purses and belts that were perfect for this project. Score!


Start by cutting out your books pages. I used a paper cutter and was able to cut several thicknesses at one time. The tiny book pages shown here are about one inch high by about two inches wide. The sizes of your leather pieces may determine the size of your little books. Basically, cut your little pages twice as wide as you want your finished pages to be, because you will be folding them in half.


Once you have cut out your little pages, you will fold the pages in half to create "signatures" just like a regular book has, except these will not be sewn (unless you really, really, really want to sew them). Instead, they will be glued.


Simply run a very thin bead of glue down the center of each fold line to glue the sheets together. The thin bead of glue shown in the picture above is actually a bit too much glue.


I found that four or five sheets was enough to make a believable signature. Fold up each signature as you go, so they will dry in the right shape.You can trim them up as you go, or just leave the signature edges a bit organic, as I did.


Next run a very thin bead of glue along the top of the folded edge of the signatures to glue them together. Each little book will probably consist of between three and five signatures.


Next, you will lay your stack of glued together signatures onto the piece of leather you have chosen for the book cover.


Determine to what size you need to trim your leather, so that it wraps around the spine of the book and is slightly larger than the pages. Cut out the leather with a pair of sharp scissors.


Using any clear drying glue, adhere the insides of the book to the inside of the book cover.


The book will want to splay open, so weight it down while the glue dries. I found that my coffee cup worked well for this.


When the glue has dried, you should have a perfectly lovely perfect little mini-book -- too perfect, actually. Using the edge of an old pair of scissors, rough up the edges of the pages and the leather. You don't have to do this, if it hurts your heart to damage something so perfect, but it gives the little tomes a lovely patina.


You can create single book pendants, like this little blue book. We added another layer of interest to it by wrapping it in a contrasting strip of leather. Use a sharp awl and a wood block to pierce the leather at the top of the spine to add a jump ring to attach the pendant to a necklace.


Another wonderful option is to stack two or three little books together to create a pendant. For the pendant shown here, each book was pierced with a sharp awl, using a wooden block to protect my table. Then, a pin head wire finding was inserted through all three books and a jump ring was then attached.


This is what the bottom of the pendant looks like.

Wouldn't this be a fun gift to make or receive?


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Do you love any and all crafts involving old books? Be sure to check my sidebar for links to lots more projects using rescued vintage books.



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