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Two Kinds of Hearts

Valentine’s Day is coming up and it’s time to turn these cold, snowy days all warm and fuzzy! Whether you’re decorating for a party or just bringing a little festivity to your home, these paper heart garlands are an adorable way to celebrate love. Add to that: simple, inexpensive, and mess-free? You’ve got yourself a winning craft.


There’s two fun ways to create your garland; one involves the outline of a heart (much like a paper chain), the other involves a solid paper heart. For the chain, you’ll need cardstock (red, white, pink—your choice), scissors, and a stapler.


First, cut lots of even strips of cardstock—it’s best to measure. To create your hearts, there are a few methods. Be sure to check out the tutorial links below each photo for ideas. Here’s one basic variation: Grab four strips and staple them together. Pull the bottom two down and together to form a heart. Add two more strips and staple together at the point. Repeat this process until you’ve got the desired length of your garland. Stick to one size and color or feel free to experiment. Try alternating colors or cutting shorter strips to create smaller hearts within the larger ones.

 Paper Heart Garland

Photo (and tutorial) via Blog a la Cart


 Double Heart Garland

Image (and tutorial) via Posed Perfection


For the second method, you’ll need cardstock, a heart punch, scotch tape, and string (baker’s twine, ribbon, fishing line—up to you). Use your heart punch to punch out tons of hearts from the cardstock. Cut a piece of string (however long you’d like) and tape your hearts to the string. You can hang it horizontally or make lots of garlands and hang them from the ceiling. This would also make such a cute photo backdrop.



 Hanging Hearts

Photo (and tutorial) via Hank & Hunt


 Ombre Hanging Hearts

Photo (and tutorial) via The Sweetest Affair


Your valentines are sure to love these sweet garlands. How do you like to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Any decorations or traditions you look forward to each year?


An Unlikely Pair

When creating a piece of art, what medium you choose to work in can be just as influential to the composition as your subject. Oil paints create a different effect than colored pencils. The same goes for charcoal versus pens, pastels versus markers, and so on. Some subjects will make the choice of medium more obvious—something like a sunset with a lot of beautifully blended colors is probably not best suited for pens, but pastels or oil paints or even colored pencils would allow for color gradations nicely.


However, sometimes rules were meant to be broken! Going against the obvious choice can add a jolt of inspiration and using a tool or medium you wouldn’t immediately think of can give your picture unexpected life. One great combination I’ve been noticing lately are cityscapes and watercolors.


 Watercolor of NYC Skyline by John Held Jr.

Watercolor of NYC Skyline by John Held Jr.


City skylines are formed by crisp lines and sharp geometric shapes. After all, they’re built of metal, concrete, and stone. So when it comes time to create your own artistic rendition of a cityscape, what mediums seem like a natural choice? Perhaps pens or pencils, maybe even a palette knife. Probably not watercolors. But that is all the more reason to try them!


Watercolor Cityscapes (London) by Elena Romanova Watercolor Cityscapes (London) by Elena Romanova



The unpredictability of watercolors paired with the stable rigidity of a skyline can make for an exciting pair! The softness of the paint will illuminate the urban architecture in a whole new light.


Play with precision, allow for colors to pool or bleed, vary how much water you use. What you initially find frustrating or erroneous may be the exact detail that makes your painting sensational.

 Watercolor Painting Abstract Cityscape by Susan Windsor

Watercolor Painting Abstract Cityscape by Susan Windsor


This experiment of “opposites attract” is a great way to break out of a creative rut. What other unlikely pairs do you want to try?

Posted by Andi Thea, on January 30th, 2014 at 4:47 pm. No Comments

Category: adults,Arts & Crafts,kids Labels: , , , , , ,

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Dreary Winter

Image via Feed-Well on Tumblr


January can be tough a tough month—the excitement of the holidays is over and we’re still in the thick of winter. Discarded Christmas trees and grimy snow line the streets. Don’t let it get you down—it’s the best opportunity for a little extra creativity and color! Here are some fun ideas to brighten up those cold and dreary days and have you feeling inspired in no time.

1. Create a bright new piece of wall art to hang up.
2. Decorate your notebook covers—use washi tape, paint, magazine pages, anything! Now you can look at something pretty even when you’re taking notes or making your to-do list.
3. Make your own postcards! Design the front and write a note on the back—they’ll be sure to brighten someone else’s day, too!
4. Try your hand at a still life painting or sketch. Grab some colorful objects from around your house and record what you see. Perfect indoor activity!
5. Embrace the cold and throw an ice cream sundae party! Grab a few favorite flavors, fruit, and toppings and invite your pals over for a sweet treat!
6. Create a terrarium or get an indoor plant. Succulents are very low maintenance and come in tons of varieties. You can also paint the pot for a little extra flair.
7. Try a new indoor hobby, like knitting or making jewelry.
8. Make your own board game! Not only will designing the game get your imagination going, but playing with friends and family will be a blast.
9. Make a list of things you want to do this summer—it will give you some fun experiences to look forward to.
10. Make your own paper flowers. The gardens may not be in bloom right now, but you can still brighten a room with a beautiful floral arrangement.


Paper Flowers and Painted Pots

Paper Flowers via Sweet Pea Paper Flowers

Succulents in neon pots via The Proper Pinwheel


Do you find January to be a little dreary? What are your go-to ways for brightening up the post-holiday slump?

Kid-Friendly Mocktail Bar

Perhaps the most quintessential tradition of New Year’s Eve is the champagne toast, but what about everybody who doesn’t participate in a sip of bubbly? Whether you’re under age or prefer to abstain, you deserve a fun and fancy drink to toast with at midnight. That’s why we love a good mocktail—or cocktail without alcohol. With a well-stocked mocktail bar, you can mix and match ingredients to create tasty kid-friendly drinks.


Cranberry Kiss Mocktail Image via Eat Drink Pretty


In fact, we think all these fun possibilities are even more delicious and interesting that traditional bubbly. With a few basic ingredients, you can make so many combinations. Use your creativity to whip up some yummy drinks that’ll have all your guests saying, “Champagne who?”


To create well-balanced mixed drinks, you need a few key components—mainly something bubbly and something sweet. Of course, you don’t need carbonation, but it is New Years, after all. Customize any ingredients you want to make your bar more sophisticated (cucumber, black currant, fresh herbs) or childproof (orange slices, fruit punch, crazy straws). Here are the key components to creating a fabulous mocktail bar:


A bubbly base: Ginger ale, sparkling cider, Sprite or Sierra Mist, seltzer—these clear sodas are the perfect vehicles to add a little spritz to your glass. Pick your favorite or have a few kinds available.


Juice: Orange, cranberry, pineapple, lemonade, peach nectar… these fruity liquids add sweetness and pack the flavor punch for your mixed drink. Stock as many as you like, but a good base is usually three different options.


Fresh fruit: Whether it’s muddled or used for garnish, fresh fruit is delicious and gives your glass a festive touch. Doesn’t it just feel fancier? Berries and citrus are usually best—raspberries, blackberries, lemons, and limes, etc—but feel free to try any other favorites.


*Another fun tip: Try freezing berries to create a tasty alternative to ice. They’ll keep drinks chilled without watering them down and look prettier, too!


Fresh Herbs: This is optional, and perhaps for the more adventurous, but some fresh herbs can really bring your mocktails to the next level. Mint, thyme, basil, and rosemary all add deep and complex flavors to an otherwise simple drink. If you’re looking to ease your way in to adding a little green to your glass, try starting with mint.


 Rosemary Citrus Spritzer

Image via The Kitchn


These kid-friendly bar basics will ensure tons of fun drink creations. Let the little ones play mixologists and come up with their own delicious concoctions. Keep in mind you can always tailor this to your friends’ and family’s preferences. If you’d like some recipes on hand, here are a few great suggestions:


Rosemary Citrus Spritzer from The Kitchn


Rudolph’s Nose from NCADD


Cranberry Kiss from Eat Drink Pretty


Strawberry Crush from La Fuji Mama


Alcohol content certainly doesn’t have the market cornered on festivity. Upgrade your cup of soda or juice this year and make a fancy drink worthy of starting the New Year with. Cheers!

Posted by Andi Thea, on December 31st, 2013 at 3:28 pm. No Comments

Category: adults,food art,holiday,kids Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Gingerbread Real Estate

Did you know gingerbread houses became popular in Germany during the 1800s after Hansel and Gretel was published? That’s pretty spectacular considering that in the fairytale, the beautifully edible house is used to lure two abandoned children into a witch’s trap. One wouldn’t think that makes a great selling point for creating confectionery cottages, but it seemed to really catch on and become a Christmas tradition. After all, that witch was on to something—she knew Hansel and Gretel couldn’t resist an enchanting gingerbread house… how could we expect anyone else to?


 Sweet and Simple Gingerbread House

Image via Shopgirl


This tasty craft comes in an array of sizes, shapes, and levels of difficulty. For those who need a bit of a head start, there are kits available to help create the basic structure. Others love starting from scratch and baking their own gingerbread. Some people take gingerbread houses so seriously that they create life-size structures or participate in competitions. Whatever your approach, this is definitely a fun and delicious activity to try on your own or with the whole family.


 Pretzel Log Cabins

Image via Worth Pinning


 Rice Crispy Cottages

Image via Land O Lakes


And don’t feel limited to gingerbread! Some folks have started branching out and using other delicious treats to build their homes’ foundations. Try pretzel rods to create the effect of wooden logs. Or use rice crispy treats to suggest stones or stucco. These houses can be as elaborate or simple as you want. Don’t underestimate the beauty of simple gingerbread and white frosting. For those who like a little more opulence, grab colorful candies and make a full-on edible estate! Piped icing, nuts, cereal, and candy canes also make excellent decorating supplies.


 Gingerbread Mansion

Image via Cake Central


What gingerbread house approach is your favorite? Clean and simple, cozy and colorful, or grand and luxurious?

Bottle Cap Pies

If Thanksgiving had an official dessert, it would definitely be pie. Pumpkin, apple, pecan, and so on… most Thanksgiving dessert courses involve more than one option. As you work on finishing up those leftovers, pay homage to this humble hero of the dessert table with this fun bottle cap pie craft. These pint-size pies are easy to make, versatile to display, and best of all… zero calories!


Bottle Cap Pies Image via Flickr

To get started, you have a few different options with materials to use. No matter what, you’ll need bottle caps to serve as the pie tins. As far as filling, you can use polymer clay, beads, felt, paint, glue, or anything else you think will work! Just as there’s an infinite variety of pies, you have many choices in how to create these mini versions.


Felt and Bottle Cap Pies Image Whimsy Love

Start by creating your crust. Press down tan colored clay or glue in felt, then trim the edges. Teeny tiny beads work perfectly as a berry filling (blue for blueberry, red for cherry, etc). If you don’t have beads, you can roll out your own with clay. Using clay is also great if you want to customize shapes for peaches or pecans. For a more solid filling, such as custard or pumpkin pie, use one larger piece of clay. Finally, add some lattice detailing by cutting very thin strips of felt, or again using clay, and any other details you’d like, such as whipped cream or a garnish.


Clay and Bottle Cap Pies Image via Flickr

There are a ton of possibilities, so have fun creating your own crafty recipes. These little desserts make adorable magnets, ornaments, or napkin ring decorations (just glue on magnets, rings, or ribbon to the backs), perfect dollhouse accessories, or just a sweet adornment anywhere you choose!


What was your favorite pie or dessert at this year’s Thanksgiving? What’s your all-time favorite?

Mix-n-Match Metal Robots

Have you ever wanted your very own robot? With a few recycled objects, you can create a whole group of new robot friends. Not only are they really cute, but their facial features are magnetized and can be rearranged, just like a Mr. Potato Head! These mix-n-match machines are just as fun to create as they are to play with. Take a look at how it’s done.

 Tin Robots

Image via Spoonful (originally in FamilyFun Magazine)



You’ll need tin cans (pop-off lids tend to have safer edges, you but you can also cover sharp edges in electrical tape), strong disk magnets, and hot glue. As for the decorating, you can use colorful cardstock, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, buttons, and extra hardware and metal bits—brackets, bolts, hinges, washers, knobs, old keys, bottle caps, etc. A note about these: avoid anything sharp, such as nails, and be aware that this craft involves small parts, so it requires supervision and may not be suited for young children.


Once you have everything gathered, start creating facial features by gluing your collected items to the magnets. Make eyes, mouths, arms, and don’t forget special robot parts like antennae, wires, propulsion devices, and microcontrollers (make some up!).


Now you can start mixing and matching parts to create fun robot characters! Move them around, swap features… take your robots on an adventure! And guess what. When you’re done playing, you can store all the loose parts inside the tin can (or robot’s belly).


 Tin Robots

Image via Real Purdy


If you could create a fully functioning robot, what kind would you create? What skill would you give it or tasks would you program it to complete?

Posted by Andi Thea, on November 8th, 2013 at 12:30 am. No Comments

Category: adults,Arts & Crafts,classroom,kids Labels: , , , ,

Playing with Food

It always seemed like the official party line at mealtime was, “Don’t play with your food!” Well, the times, they are a-changing… A creative movement sweeping across kitchens and social media everywhere lately is food art. By transforming ordinary dishes into extraordinary pictures, many cooks, parents, and artists have been turning each meal into a cultural experience.


With all the beautiful colors and textures found in different kinds of food, it seems quite natural to turn them into art. This makes food preparation an even more creative experience, plus meals become that much more fun to eat!  Bonus: it’s a great way to excite little ones about eating more healthy foods, like fruits and veggies. When the broccoli florets are forming the treetops in a magical forest, it’s a lot tougher to reject them!


You don’t have to be an expert chef to compose clever dishes. Just have fun seeing what picture you can create with what ingredients you have.  It’s more assembly than anything else. You’ll be amazed at what you come up with!


 Food Art by Samantha Lee

Photo via Samantha Lee, Eatzy Bitzy

 Food Art by Idafrosk (Instagram)

Photo by Idafrosk (Instagram), via Handmade Charlotte

 Food Art by bambini_pucillo (Instagram)

Photo by bambini_pucillo (Instagram) via POPSUGAR moms

The gorgeous final products prove that you can be creative just about anywhere. Let the refrigerator be your palette and the plate your canvas!


Have you given food art a try? Would you? Show us your creations!


Posted by Andi Thea, on October 10th, 2013 at 8:54 pm. No Comments

Category: adults,food art,kids Labels: , , , , , , ,

Scribble Artist Interview with Yulia Brodskaya!

Scribble Town (ST): Yulia is everywhere!  We first discovered her while flipping through an Oprah magazine and then saw her work featured in Material World: The Modern Craft Bible.  Yulia is an expert paper artist and is generous to share her tips!  Where are you and what are you up to these days?

Yulia Brodskaya (YB): I live close to London, very busy with my paper art and two little kids.

M Real by Yulia Brodskaya

M Real by Yulia Brodskaya

ST: I have never seen anything like your art.  How would you define your work?  It seems to be a peaceful combination of craft and fine art.

YB: I just call them paper artworks; but I don’t normally try to put any labels such as craft or fine art or even focusing on the term ‘quilling’ too much. I use a combination of paper manipulation techniques to create my paper artworks.

Jungle Bird by Yulia Brodskaya

Jungle Bird by Yulia Brodskaya

ST: How did you discover this artistic process of creating paper artworks?  Was there somebody that encouraged you?  With your two kids perhaps they help with the playful aspect of your images!  Your birds and butterflies look like they will just fly away.

YB: I always had a special fascination for paper, I’ve tried many different methods and techniques of working with paper, for instance Origami, paper collages, however Quilling technique turned out to be ‘the one’ for me. I started to use it about five years ago: I was planning to create a small brochure with my hand-drawn illustrations to be sent out to potential clients and I was looking for an eye-catching image with my name ‘Yulia’ for the cover. I created a number of hand-drawn variants, but I didn’t like any of them and then I remembered an image from some school book showing a paper strips standing on edge, so tried to make the letters using this technique and apparently the attempt was successful; over the next couple months I switched to paper illustration completely.

Nature by Yulia Brodskaya

Nature by Yulia Brodskaya

ST: Through playing and dabbling we just stumble upon what we didn’t expect! Where do you find yourself feeling really inspired to create?

YB: In my little studio.

ST: How do you manipulate your paper? What is the process?

YB: I use cocktail straw and little cocktail sticks for rolling the paper strips (I didn’t know that there are specially designed tools available when I taught myself to shape the paper strips, I started to use the cocktail straw and I still use it now). Also, scissors, twisters for little details, glue and of course paper paper paper. For the process the best thing will be to search for some basic youtube lessons.

ST: Yup, anything can be a helpful tool especially when you know what your aim is.  Cocktail straws do the trick!  Yulia, any tips for our scribblers out there?

YB: Just have fun with it; it will be a pleasure if you enjoy it. The process is very slow and time-consuming so if you are not enjoying it the whole experience can be a plain torture.  I have a fish pattern that I designed for my workshop in Shanghai, it is very simple, people can use it as a basis for the quilling experiments.

ST: Thanks Yulia!  I’m going to give it a try!

Pure by Yulia Brodskaya

Pure by Yulia Brodskaya

Father’s Day Homemade Gift Guide

Now that we’ve celebrated the moms, it’s time for Father’s Day this Sunday! How do you plan to celebrate the special fathers and father figures in your life?

Dads can be pretty tough to shop for.  A great alternative to spending money on a gift is to create something yourself. A homemade gift is unique and personalized, it took time and love to make, and it’s cost effective. And who can say no to that?

Here is a round up of some of our past craft tutorials that could be tailored into perfect homemade Father’s Day gifts:

DIY mug

photo: Oh, Hello Friend

For his morning cup of coffee or tea, why not give Dad his very own personalized mug? With just a dollar store mug, some Sharpie markers, and access to an oven, you can create a one-of-a-kind cup that’s sure to become his favorite! Another great variation is a personalized chalkboard mug. Take that same dollar store mug and grab some chalkboard paint and chalk.

DIY phone cover

Photo: Unexpected Expectations

Keep the personalized gifts with Sharpies coming with a unique phone case! If your pop has an iPhone, try creating a neat cover for him. With a plain white phone cover and permanent markers, you can design an exclusive phone case. Draw a picture, create an abstract design or pattern, or write a personalized message.

Does Dad have a green thumb? Paint a terracotta pot for him to showcase his plants in! It’s sure to dress up any office, patio, or windowsill.

I don’t know about your dad, but mine leaves pens and pencils all over his desk.

Regardless of their profession, most dads need something to write with so a pen and pencil receptacle makes a very practical present. Try altering this pencil vase (you can use a shorter vase or jar and golf pencils to make it smaller). You can also use the same technique for this wine goblet and apply it to a jar or cup for a perfect pencil holder.

Magazine Collage    Melted Crayons

photo: Pro Arts                      photo: Whatever

Maybe your dad has an office or room that could use a little decorating. Try a fun project for beautiful and original artwork to spruce up dear ol’ Dad’s walls. Grab some magazines and recycle them by making a colorful collage. Or discover the possibilities of melted crayon art with this gorgeous abstract masterpiece or this bit of pointillist perfection. Try something a bit more experimental with watercolor paint, salt, and glue.

Don’t forget to wrap your homemade gifts! Here are some great ideas for creative ways to wrap presents with plain brown paper.

Hope these ideas help you get started on a special gift for the dads in your life. Feel free to browse our archives for more fun crafting inspiration. Have a wonderful Father’s Day!

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