Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Faux Sea Glass

I love sea glass!  In fact I love anything that has to do with the beach.  My sister and I have spent countless hours collecting shells and sea glass from beaches from the west coast of the US to the east coast of England.

It's not surprising when I kinda fell in love with some sea glass vases I saw in an online catalog.  I was about to "add to cart" when I suddenly realized I could make my own at a fraction of the cost and here it is:

I've been Spring cleaning lately and discovered a box full of these little heart shaped glass bottles. I wish I could tell you where I found them, but you can use this technique with any glass.  All you need is etchall® dip'n etch reusable glass and mirror etching liquid and a plastic container slightly larger than the glass piece you want etch.  You can find an inexpensive collection of glass bottles and vases, etc at your local Dollar store, or even Goodwill.

Here's what you do:

1.  Fill the bottle with WATER then place it inside the plastic container.  Fill the container with water until the water level reaches the top of the bottle.  Remove the bottle and the water level will fall. Mark the water level on the outside of the plastic container with a marker.

2.  Pour the water out of the container and the glass jar then dry both pieces thoroughly.

3.  Fill the plastic container with dip'n etch up to the mark you made.  Fill the bottle with dip'n etch then carefully place it inside the container.  Leave for 15 minutes.

4.  Remove the bottle and pour the dip'n etch back into the dip'n etch container.  Pour the dip'n etch from the other container back into its original container to be used, again and again.  Rinse the bottle thoroughly with water.  NOTE:  I etched 3 bottles, so after removing the first one, I poured the dip'n etch into the second bottle then placed that into the liquid in the container.  After 15 minutes I repeated the process to etch the 3rd bottle.  After you have finished, return all the dip'n etch liquid to its original container.

The bottles are now etched on the inside and the outside giving each piece the look of sea glass.  Leave pieces plain or embellish with shells, charms, beads, etc - anything you like to match your décor.  This is such an easy process and the results are fabulous.

CAUTION:  Please read directions on the container carefully before starting your project.  This is an etching product and it will etch other shiny surfaces like granite, porcelain sinks, etc.

You can find etchall® glass and mirror etching liquid and crème at  Click on the graphic below for their dip'n etch special, just in time for Easter.  Don't forget!  This product is re-usable, so you'll be able to make a lot of faux sea glass! 

Enjoy!  Y'all come back now..........

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Connie Crystal - Designer Crafts Connection Challenge

As with most little girls, my granddaughter loves bling.  Me, not so much.  I've never been a "blingy" type person, but I DO love to challenge my creativity with products I wouldn't normally use on a regular basis.  That being said, I was really looking forward to receiving the samples from Connie Crystal.  They have these mesh sheets of crystal rhinestones, so they can be cut apart into a variety of sizes of squares, rectangles and strips.  I received two,  12" x 1.5" (this is not the size of a full sheet) samples of crystals, one on white mesh and one on black, and went to town.


I had already purchased a marquee letter "J" for my granddaughter's "boudoir" and was ready to decorate it.  I covered the outside with gold Duck tape and the inside with holographic silver card stock.  It goes without saying that it really sparkled when lit, but it needed a little something extra to make it sparkle during the day - strips of crystals of course!

Now it looks flashy all the time....!  I still had lots to play with so I added single strips to the outside of a Deflecto acrylic frame; just the bling it needed for said granddaughter's boudoir.  The rhinestones can be glued, or stitched to just about any surface.  I used 1/8" wide tacky tape for these projects.


Using tacky tape, I also glued a border of the black mesh rhinestones around the inside edge of a wood laser frame I'd painted black and used to make a clock.

Last, but not least, I had to make a piece of jewelry; after all, these are rhinestones.  I measured my wrist then cut a piece of the black mesh about 1/2" shorter.  I attached a bar fastener to each end then added a closure with a jump ring. It took me less than 20 mins to make and most of that time was spent looking for the jewelry findings I needed....


This is such a great product for adding a little fun and sparkle to your life! Hop thru the DCC Webring (using the blue logo in each sidebar) to see what crafty goodness the other designers are rocking out.  Enjoy!  Y'all come back now.........

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Sunday, March 1, 2015

National Craft Month - String Art

March is National Craft Month so Designer Crafts Connection (DCC) members are sharing tips on how you can "make it yourself".   I can't begin to tell you how many times I've walked into a store, found something I like then thought, "I can make that".  If I end up buying it, it's usually because either, A I don't have time to make it, or B it would cost more to buy the supplies I don't already have.  Let's face it, I'm a frugal crafter.....

Pinterest is continually inspiring people to make it themselves, but you can also find inspiration on TV, in magazines and even from store displays.  For example, I love Anthropology for their unique store designs.  I snapped a photo of their string art display in December 2013 and, since I saw a lot of string art at CHA, I thought I'd share a few ideas on how you can make some of these yarn wrapped stars yourself - on a smaller scale of course.


These large stars would make great decorations for the holidays.  Cut some large, multi pointed stars from poster board then wrap with metallic yarn.  You can find string art instructions on a separate tab here on my blog.  They're for smaller shapes, but the technique for wrapping is the same. 

In the late 90's I used to teach classes on Spirelli, which is basically string art for paper crafting.  You can use punches, or dies for the shapes, but I cut mine on a digital die cutting machine.  You can always cut around the edge of circle shapes with decorative scissors to create the notched edge.  The technique has been around for years.  It's fun, easy and quite addictive.  Here are some of my projects featured on the cover of Paper Creations magazine with a close up of a layered Spirelli piece and a couple of samples on scrapbook pages.

 Technically, string art is a little different and usually thought of as a children's craft, but it popped up in a number of places at CHA as a home dec item.  Here are some of the photos I took on the trade show floor.  I can imagine you'll see some turning up in your local craft stores in the not too distant future.


What's not to love, right.....    and here are a couple of designs from a collection I created for a manufacturer a few years ago.

You can find inspiration everywhere, so next time you see something you like take the bull by the horns and "Make it Yourself".....   Enjoy!  Y'all come back now......

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Monday, February 23, 2015

FaveCrafts Blogger Event at CHA

Each year Prime Publishing (FaveCrafts) holds an event for CHA designer and blogger members.  This is where we gather to get to know each other and generally have a wild and wonderful time!  Not just for networking, manufacturers attend this event to introduce designers to their products.  After the show each one of us receives a "goodie box" of sample product so we can add a sprinkle of our own creativity -  after all, a product is only a product until a designer shows us what we can be made with it.  We're all about creativity and inspiration!

It's like Christmas when the boxes arrive on our doorsteps! Our mission now is to create something with what we received.  I had a wide assortment of products to work with, but was immediately drawn to a bag full of product from Little B, especially since there was a sample of their award winning Pull Flowers.


I'm sure you know by now, that anything to do with "flowers" has my immediate interest.  We all love quick'n EZ PZ, so you'll understand why these were such a hit at the show.  All you have to do is cut a length of the ribbon then pull the thread on each end and voilà you have a flower.  They are so pretty!  Now I need something that is just as easy to put them in and here is what I came up with - perfect for Easter and Mothers' Day.

Here's what you'll need:


1. Pull flowers from Little B
2. 3 half inch Smoothfoam™ balls
3. 3 Craft picks
4. 3 Green Straws (the bendy ones)
5. Yellow Flower Soft™ Sprinkles
6. White glue
7. Cool temp glue gun
8. Glass bottles
9. DecoArt® acrylic paint - your choice of colors
10.  etchall® Dip'n Etch etching liquid. (Enough to fill the inside of the bottle.)

And this is what you do:

1.  Prepare the glass bottles following instructions on the container of dip'n etch.  Pour the etching liquid into one bottle.


Let sit for 15 minutes, then pour the liquid from the first bottle into the second oneAfter 15 minutes pour the liquid from the 2nd bottle into the 3rd.  Let sit for 15 minutes then return the liquid to the container.  This product is REUSABLE, so you can etch a lot of glass with it.

2.  Rinse each bottle thoroughly then dry with a soft cloth.

 3.  Now let's add some color.  Because the glass is etched on the inside, it now has "tooth" (a rough surface), so you can use regular acrylic paint for this technique.  I poured about half of the paint into the bottle then carefully, holding the bottle on its side, I turned it around slowly until the inside was completely covered.  Pour the excess paint back into the paint bottle.  I love to experiment, so I used Patio Paint to color the blue bottle.  Patio paint has a thinner consistency, so it was easy to work with. The pink and yellow bottles were coated on the inside with regular acrylic paint. This paint had a much thicker consistency, so I thinned it with a little water before using.  Both paints worked well.  Let the paint dry at least 24-48 hours and DO NOT fill with water.  These are intended for decorative purposes only.  In case you're wondering, I tried glass paint with this technique on unetched glass, but the coverage wasn't quite as even as I would have liked.

Now that you've colored the bottles, set them aside to dry while you make the flowers.

1.  Cut 18" of each color of ribbon.  Pull the thread from both ends to gather then tie the ends together in a simple overhand knot.

2.  To make the center, push the end of the craft stick into each of the Smoothfoam balls.  Smoothfoam is very dense, so you may need to make a pilot hole with the tip of a craft knife first.
3.  Using the craft stick as a handle, coat the surface of the ball with white glue.  The surface is nice and smooth, making it easy to work with.  When the surface is covered, sprinkle with Flower Soft sprinkles.  Let dry.

4.  Push the craft stick thru the center of the flower, then secure with cool temp glue at the base of the covered ball.
5.  Trim the craft stick on the the under side of the flower to 1" then glue the end of the straw, over the craft stick, to the base of the flower.  The "bendy" part of the straw will allow you to position the flower if desired.

Really easy, right.....  I was going to add a "collar" of the corrugated cardboard trim around the bottle and a bakers' twine or jute bow around the neck, but sometimes less is more and I like the way they look just like this.


If you like my project, you can vote for it here:  Thank you!

I have so many other ideas using these techniques, I'll have to do another blog post, so y'all come back now..............  Enjoy!

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Offray Ribbon Blog Hop

Ribbons and roses and trims, oh my! 
What a wonderful way to add texture and excitement to all kinds of projects!

I LOVE working with ribbon.  I think it's one of the most versatile products available for needle workers, crafters, makers and do-it-yourselfers.  From a simple embellishment to an item made entirely of ribbon, there's no end to creativity.

Last month, members of the Designer Crafts Connection (DCC) each received samples of Offray ribbon to work with.  I was excited to receive 2" wide "gauzette" ribbon in pink and orange together with 3/8" 100% polyester ribbon.  I've always loved the orange/pink combination and, since these are my granddaughter's favourite colours, I decided to make a quick'n EZ valance for her bedroom window, by simply wrapping a 9" by 30" sheet of Smoothfoam with the orange ribbon, then embellishing it with coiled ribbon roses.

Supplies are minimal: Ribbon, Smoothfoam sheet and a cool temp glue gun.  I also had a hot wire foam cutter to cut the Smoothfoam, but a utility knife (the one from the hardware store with a break off blade) works just as well.  I also had some quilt pins on hand to hold the Smoothfoam pieces together and the ribbon in place before gluing.

Here's a closer look at the border with the polyester ribbon along the bottom of the valance, embellished with the coiled roses.

Here you can see a close up of the rose.  They are so easy to make.  I used a 16" piece of ribbon, tied a knot about 1/2" from one end, frayed the end to look like stamens, then glued the knot in place on the valence.  To make the rose, wrap the ribbon around its center, twisting as you wrap, then glue the opposite end under the coils.  For an added touch of color to the center, I frayed a 1" piece of the orange ribbon, rolled it tightly then glued it in place.

I really love this gauze ribbon.  It reminds me of a more elegant form of burlap; perfect for home dec projects and a whole lot more.   

I've been a ribbon fan for many years and in the early 90's authored a book for Leisure Arts entitled "Ribbons & Trim".  I'm sure it's out of print now, but you can still find a wide assortment of Offray ribbon.  Here's a couple of projects featured in the book, together with a ring bearer's pillow I made for my daughter's wedding in 2003, and a stool I made for my MIL in the late 70's.  Told ya - I've been a ribbon fan for a long, long time!

Before you hop forward to the next blog (use the DCC logo button in my sidebar on the left), check out the Offray Ribbon site and sign up for their newsletter.  You'll receive 15% discount on any ribbon order and there's a whole gallery of inspirational projects to look at there too!

Enjoy!  Y'all come back now..............

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Decorative Painting

It's February and LOVE is in the air, so this month Designer Crafts Connection members are posting projects, techniques, tools and things in general that they love about crafts....

I love to paint and the first "how to" craft books I was invited to write, were all about decorative painting.  My first book, Basic Steps to Painting, was written in 1992.  The book was based on learning simple painting techniques and the fact that you don't have to be an "artist" to be a decorative painter. 


It was followed closely by a second book, "Angels" and quite a few more.....

I don't publish painting books, or teach any more, but I still enjoy an occasional visit to a decorative painting show whenever possible to catch up with old friends and to see what is new.  Last year I was honored to be featured in the Interactive Artist Magazine, a great resource for all artists and decorative painters. 


Basic decorative painting techniques have changed very little over the past 20 years or so and since the art form itself is based on Folk Art from past centuries, I hope it will continue to live a long and creative life......  Enjoy!  Y'all come back now...........

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Smoothfoam Booth at CHA

If you'd like to see more of what happens at the CHA show, Elena Etcheverry, founder of Charity Wings art center, taped a tour of the Smoothfoam booth at CHA this month. 

You can see it here:

Vicki Stabile won the giveaway during the taping, but you can win too!  Comment below with a question or comment about Smoothfoam and I'll pick a winner on February First!

Smoothfoam (which is not your mother's styrofoam) is a wonderful surface for some many creative projects.  You can see all of them on our Pinterest page @  Enjoy!  Y'all come back now........

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Monday, January 19, 2015

CHA 2015 - Anaheim, CA

It's taken me a while to post photos of my walk up and down the aisles at the CHA show, but I ended up with over 400 images to edit and re-size..... 

The post is mainly "eye candy", but it will surely give you a feel for coming trends, colors, styles, etc.  All images of what look like green, glass tower displays feature the top hot products for this year.  Now it's time to grab a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of wine, put your feet up and join me on my journey up and down 30 aisles of creative goodness.

It's hard to capture how vast the show floor is, but this is a shot taken the first day before it opened.

The first few photos were taken at the "Sneak Peek" event for designers.  Unfortunately I arrived late then spent waaay too much time looking at how the circuit light stickers worked, so I only saw a few of the new products featured........  There were a number of booths on the show floor with the same kind of product, notably Lightseeds made in the USA by CHA designer Jill MacKay.


 These are the first of the new product displays on the show floor. They were all behind glass - not easy to photograph.

The yarn companies made a big impression this year.  Lion was promoting "knit your selfie a scarfie", "hat institute" together with other timely tag lines.  Spinrite, which you'll see later on your walk, turned their booth into "Yarnia" including a walk through wardrobe.  (You'll see this further down.)

Quilled Creations - Quilling for jewelry (above) and more!

Vintage papers made in Sweden available to download from PION design

 Crystal Ninja... both the mural and jump suit were covered with crystals!

Laura Bray presents a Make'n Take at the Smoothfoam booth.

Look what's new at the Spellbinder's booth!

At the Smoothfoam booth:  Projects for all seasons.  

Michelle Frae Cummings demonstrates cutting techniques while Lisa Fulmer presents a Make'n Take project from her new book.

 Pattie Wilkinson demonstrates in the iLove to Create booth.

 Steve Piacenza demonstrates Mod Melts by Mod Podge at the Plaid booth.  
Partner, Cathie Fillian picture below.

Calorie free, sugar free, gluten free cake pops and petit fours with 
Smoothfoam and Mod Podge Collage Clay...

Michelle Ruth Ohlsson shows how easy it to decorate these Smoothfoam Frames!

Designer in action - Cheryl Boglioli

All about beads... above and below

The indomitable Margot Potter at Impress Arts

 Kristi Parker Van Doren - you've been framed!

Yours truly, with Lisa Rojas and Ann Butler from Bella Crafts Quarterly

Carmen Flores Tanis demonstrates how easy it is to carve Smoothfoam

 Hot Product from Little B - Paper Blooms

Courtney Chambers and Tanner Bell



 Designer Eilieen Hull presents her new products at the Sizzix booth.


 Kellycraft features guests from Duck Dynasty with designer, Cindi Bisson

Someone said "duck" - so I did!



Martha Stewart products presented by the Simplicity Group.

Doily punch, fringe cutter and linked banner punches

Blockwallah carved wood stamps - original designs from Finland 

Mark Montano demonstrating DecoArt Chalk paint

Chalkboard markers from Marvy Uchida

3D Printer in action

Ken Oliver Crafts product debut

Yet another designer, Liz Hicks has been "framed".....

Proxxon. Industrial looking, but fabulous machines for the crafter!

Product to "dye" for.... sorry, couldn't resist it...

Smoothfoam is a family owned company.... this is the family.  Left - right, Bill Ohlsson with brother Scott Ohlsson and his wife, Michelle

 Jesse James beads, buttons and so much more!

Decoden cupcakes

Maker Space at CHA

More from Spellbinders - A Gilded Life

 another frame-up with Holly Fossen

A new Folk Art program from the UK

Selfie with Elena Lai Etcheverry founder of Charity Wings

Being true to our selfies - with Stacey Caron and Terre Frye

and Cindy Alexander (Stacey's sister)


Ann Butler demonstrating for Makin's Clay

Myléne Hillam, jewelry designer, travelled all the way from Australia to be at the show.

Sara Neuman demonstrates in the Clearsnap booth.

Charms and more from Becky Nunn..

Last, but by no means least, this is Rebekah Meier showing her new fabric line for Mixed Media, voted best product for 2015.  Congratulations Rebekah!!!!

It was a looong walk with SO much to see.  Hope you enjoyed it almost as much as I did.  Y'all come back now!

Yours truly,
Julie :)