Old book pages stars wreath

I am soooooooooooooooooo far behind on my Christmas craft projects!   In fact, I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t just take everything that I’ve finished in the last week and ‘pack it away’ for NEXT year!?!  (which I HAVE been know to do in the past.)   It’s such a nice surprise to pull out a box of craft supplies and find a bunch of projects already DONE!  Plus, I always seem to come across a bunch of really cute Christmas craft and decor ideas the week before Christmas, which is entirely too late for the current year, and I’ll have forgotten about them by next year . . . so I make up a few and stash them for next year!

I guess this next project isn’t necessarily Christmas themed, but it has a Christmas ‘feel’ to it.  Here’s the ‘inspiration photo’ from Pinterest:


And below is MY rendition:

P1230876I did a few more layers that it looks like the original one had; and I made my stars in four sizes, and some smaller than on the original.  Here’s how I did it:

While it’s really a very simple looking wreath, and easy enough to figure out ‘how to construct’ on your own; it was MUCH MORE time consuming than I had anticipated.  Putting it together is fairly ‘quick & easy’, but the PREP work is very labor intensive!  You have been forewarned!

:: First you have to hunt down for of five different shades and prints of book pages, and tear out a bunch of those.

:: Then go to your scrap cardboard stash  (What?!?!  Doesn’t everyone have a stash of cardboard scraps?!?! Mine are mostly cut up cereal boxes) and find some good size pieces of cardboard.

:: Next, it GLUING TIME!  Grab your bottle of tacky glue (regular school glue is a bit too ‘wet’ and will cause your paper to warp more) and start gluing your paper to your cardboard.  I spent well over an hour doing this.  *** (IF you are using reclaimed cereal boxes, BE SURE to glue your paper to the PLAIN side, not the printed size; as the pictures may show through some of the papers.)  Put your glued pages under a stack of heavy books to dry and flatten over-night.

:: The next day, or however long it takes your glued pages to completely dry and harden; find a star shape you like and trace out a cardboard template.  I used a plastic star ornament to trace, then cut a few down to smaller sizes.


:: Now that you have your templates, START TRACING!  Trace as many stars per page as you possible can, and be sure to make each star size out of each paper pattern.  I did enough for multiple projects, so not I have a stash of ‘ready to use’ stars whenever the creative mood strikes!  I also always do my craft project prep work ‘assembly line style’.  IE trace out ALL the star pages, then cut out ALL the stars.


::  Which, coincidentally is your next, and the most time consuming step; cutting out the stars!  I ‘pre-cut’ each page of stars by cutting away each one so that I can ‘detail cut’ them one at a time.  Then once I have my pile of individually ‘rough cut-out’ stars, I go back and cut along the lines.  Since the ‘points’ tend to get bent up easily, I just went ahead and rounded the tips of all of mine.


I ended up having to ‘press’ my cut out stars under those heavy books overnight again.

NOW FOR THE FUN PART.  I didn’t look at the inspiration picture until after I was done, as I did not want to ‘copy it’; but mine did come out very close to the same!

P1230862:: This next step WOULD have taken me an additional day (to make and let dry) if I hadn’t had a stash of them pre-made and ready to use.  I cut up circles of corrugated cardboard, glue two together, then glue strips of paper bag paper around it to make it nice and strong.  Press under heavy books overnight.


:: I put ‘stripes of glue’ all the way around my circle wreath form; added the biggest sheet music stars, evenly spaced out first.

P1230866:: Second layer of dictionary page stars between the sheet music ones.

P1230867At those two layers, my star ends started curling a bit for the moisture, so I decided to stop and re-press under those books overnight.


:: Next were the smaller sizes of stars and I wanted to be ‘raised’ a little.  I cut up small squares of scrap corrugated cardboard and glued them to the backs of the small stars before I glued them to my wreath.

P1230873:: Gluing on the raised stars.  I’d glue a few, then step back and look at it.  Add a few more and step back again.  this is the best way I know to prevent ‘over embellishing’.


First layer of ‘raised’ stars complete.


Adding a few more ‘layers’ of smaller raised stars.


Close up.


LOVE the vintage Japanese pages!

P1230876I think I’m done!!


One last peek at the inspiration photo.  So I need to add a bow to mine too?

EDITED TO ADD: Someone asked how I hang these; and since it took me several ‘trials and errors’ to come up with this simple way to hang my flat cardboard wreaths; here is how I do it:

P1240027I attach a piece of jute BEFORE I add the stuff to the front of the wreath.  I glue it in place, then glue (tacky glue) a few strips of paper over the ends to be sure they don’t pull out.

Old mop bucket Upcycle!

This rusty old mop bucket!  What do YOU think of when you come across something like this?P1210052Even thought this bucket is pretty rusty inside, it’s an ‘industrial’ model and much bigger and sturdier than the smaller ‘home models’.  There just HAS to be something unique and useful that I can make this into!

P1210053The wheels still work great, so a ‘rolling’ something . . .

P1210054The first thing I did was ‘deal with the rust’.  I didn’t want to cover it or remove it, but we all know that once rust starts, it continues unless treated somehow.

P1210055So I took a can of clear MATTE (you don’t want ‘glossy’ rust!) spray paint and gave the outside a couple of coats, and the rusty inside a good 3 coats.  The clear spray ‘darkens’ the color of the rust a tad, but it still looks very ‘naturally rusted’.


Next, I had Michael cut a round piece of wood for me that fit the top of the bucket; and I painted it grey.

P1200969Then I rifled through my fabric stash to find fabric that would match,  Settled upon this blue, white and grey homespun to cover the foam round that I had.

P1210056This round seat cushion pillow form that I had bought was a ‘no sew’ style.  It has a deep slit on one side and you just ‘wrap and tuck’ your fabric into the slot!  How cool is that?!?

P1200970Put them all together and you have a rolling fool stool!

P1200972With lots of STORAGE space inside!

P1200968I was originally making this to sell in my booth st Stars, but then I thought about those ’round tool trays’ that they make to fit the 5 gallon plastic work buckets . . . .

313ZGKCDFRLLike this!  And I decided that it would be the perfect rolling tool storage seat for my new garage workshop!

P1200970How cool is that???

Altered tins

Got these cute rectangular tins EONS ago; when we were still doing primarily primitives in our store in Hillsboro.  I think they had repro vintage laundry detergent labels on them.  They were on clearance and super cheap, so I bought a CASE of them; in sets of 3 graduated sizes.  The smallest about the size of a box of band-aids.

P1100939I did sell a few of them ‘as purchased’ in a little laundry vignette in the store with old wash tubs, wash boards, old clothespins etc.  (the above three are currently at Stars)

STILL had a lot of them left.  So I made primitive tea stained labels to put on some of them to sell alongside the vintage bottles that I similarly labeled.  (photo from Stars 2010)

You can see the can a little better in this picture.  So I did that with a bunch of them and sold them as such.  Then I started working on more of them and got as far as covering the original label with dark brown or tea stained paper; then I stopped.  Recently found that box of them; and with those ‘blank canvases’ made these new altered versions:

P1100842So I dug through my piles of scrapbook paper and embellishments and started layering stuff on!

P1100843even did the sides of some of them!

P1100844And some had to be covered on the backside too because they were all scratched up.

From my previous experience with selling these in our store, I knew that people would HAVE to take the lids off.   That’s the first thing they did when they would pick them up to look at them.  Take the lid off.  Even though they are obviously EMPTY.  It’s just human nature.  We want to SEE what’s inside.  But the lids were a very snug fit and it took time to get them back on.  Hence, at the end of every day at the store, I had to walk around and puts the lids back on all the tins!  sigh.  Since I can’t ‘be there’ to replace  the lids at the malls, and don’t want them to ‘go missing’  (you’d be amazed at what ‘walks out’ of those places!?!) I GLUED them on when I started this project!  (which does NOT necessarily guarantee that I WON’T find them with the lids taken off!)  double sigh!

P1100845I just sat at my coffee table in front of the TV one evening, glue bottle in hand, and altered away! (Aleen’s tacky glue is the ONLY glue I use!)

P1100846The ‘fauxen’ (faux frozen!) Charlotte’s are ones I molded with Sculpey clay.  Bought the mold to make them on etsy.

P1100847The moon face is molded clay too.  (Got this mold at the craft store)  The key is from a pack designed for paper crafts; flat on the back side so they glue down nicely.

P1100848And the top of that one.

P1100849Another face from the same mold set.  Embossed butterfly bought in a package at craft store.  You’ll notice that I also used these as wings for some of the Charlottes.

P1100850And another flat back key.


Vintage looking photos from an embellishment pad.  TONS of great stuff in that thing!

P1100852Bingo card from the same pad.  Tiny clay moon face on butterfly.

P1100853These particular crowns are made from a paper die cut.  (not a die cut MACHINE; don’t have one of those YET!  But the little single ones you can buy at the craft store)

P1100854Another (smaller!) Charlotte.  I used my Ralph Lauren tobacco glaze to ‘antique’ the Charlottes and moon faces.

P1100855The biggest Charlotte of the bunch.  These wings I cut myself from scrap paper.

P1100856The top.


P1100858Vintage dictionary page is from an actual old dictionary.  I use the paper from it a LOT.  Really inexpensive to buy at a thrift store.  Another ‘flat back’ key.  The vintage post card images are cut from a 12×12 sheet of scrapbook paper covered with them.


P1100860Half a Charlotte???  Well, I didn’t have enough clay left to make a whole one and I didn’t want to waste that last little bit of it! (what can I say?  Waste not, want not!)


P1100862Bird cage die cut from an embellishment pack.


P1100864Just layers of papers and a single embellishment.

P1100865Top.  ALL the tops have at least a strip of paper on them.  I only took pictures of the tops that I added MORE than just the paper to.

P1100866Another vintage look picture from the pad.


P1100868Funny cartoon image from the embellishment pad.

P1100869And another one of those flat keys.  Now that I’ve actually USED the keys, I’m wishing that I had bought MORE of them!

But more often that not, I buy stuff like that ‘when it catches my eye’ and it’s sometimes YEARS before I actually USE it.  And by then, if I decide I want MORE, they don’t have them anymore?!?!  But maybe that’s a GOOD thing!

I did all of these in one evening, in front of the TV.

TUTORIAL: Rustic bird finials

P1070135Here’s a picture of some of them in my booth at Curiosities.  And here is how I made them:

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 006I gathered assorted thrifted pillar candle holders and a bag of styrofoam balls, also from the thrift store.  (styro is CRAZY expensive to buy new!)

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 007It took a bit of trial and error to find the stands that best fit the size of styro balls I had.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 008Don’t forget to try them UPSIDE down too.  Oftentimes it’s a better fit. and the wider flared top as the bottom created a good visual balance.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 009Perfect fit!

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 010Once all paired up I glued the styro to the base with tacky glue.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 011I wanted my birds to have crowns, but lately the paper and glitter crowns have been getting bent.   So I formed crowns out of Fimo clay fitted to the top of the birds heads.  Popped them into the oven to dry (per package instructions).  Then gently popped them OFF the birds heads, to glue them on permanently with e6000.   

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 012I positioned the birds on their pedestals, then glued them on with e6000.  But IGNORE that!  I learned the hard way that I SHOULD have plastered my styro FIRST, then glued the birds on.  

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 018Got out mu big ole tub of joint compound and covered the styro balls with a thin layer and let dry overnight.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 022And NOW glue your birds onto the covered balls using e6000.  Let your glue dry for a day, then add another layer of the joint compound.  You can smooth out the joint compound with your hands once it’s partially dry.  I wanted to leave some of the lumps and bumps for a more organic look.  You can also sand off the excess lumps and bumps once completely dry.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 025I wanted the WHOLE piece to have that organic look, so after the second coat on the balls dried, I applied little bits ‘here and there’ on the birds and the bases.  Let dry overnight again.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 026

And sand to smooth as much as you want.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 024This one is a bigger ball than the rest of the others, and the base has some nice decorative indentations on it so I didn’t cover them with joint compound.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 029Then I spray painted then all white.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 030Forgot to mention that I bought the birds at the craft store.  (on SALE of course!)

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 032Did this one little one with no ball, just for some variety.

7.5.13 curiosities only 009Voila!!

4.10.12 stars birds 025This is a batch from a couple of years ago with just the birds on white pedestals.

4.10.12 stars birds 035And some more from my ‘pre-crown’ days!

4.10.12 stars birds 083And some more!  Yep!  I make a lot of these, because I SELL a lot of them!

5.1.13 Stars Curiosities 024And some that I put the sheet music crowns on.

4.16.13 Cuiosities Stars 034



6.4.13 projects CURIOUS Stars 088And some with glitter crowns and even as cloche toppers!

Old table legs upcycled into Candle pedestals

6..25.13 projects big chair 087Start with some round and square little wood plaques from the craft store.  ( I always have a stash of these ‘on hand’.  Buy a few every time they are on sale.  SO many uses for them in crafting!)

6..25.13 projects big chair 088Then hunted some tin candle pans I had leftover from my ‘primitive days’.  You don’t really HAVE to add these, but I do if I have them on hand.

6..25.13 projects big chair 089Cut your tables legs down to whatever size you want your pedestals to be.  Where the ‘turnings’ are in the wood determines where it’s best to cut on some styles of turned table legs.  These two pedestals were made from ONE leg; and I had 3 of those legs which made six pedestals.

6..25.13 projects big chair 091Grab a round or square wood plaque to add to your candle base; as shown.  (I use e6000 to glue them on)  As you can see in the one on the right, I added a second round plaque to the TOP of my pedestal; strictly for decorative purposes.

6..25.13 projects big chair 090

BUT, if you don’t happen to have any tin candle pans to use (I don’t even know if you can buy these anymore!?!) this is one way you can make your pedestal without them.  Of course you wouldn’t actually ever be able to BURN your candles on such a solid wood pedestal!   Just remember that your TOP plaque goes on upside down, to allow more surface area to hold your candle.

6..25.13 projects big chair 092Here are the six pedestals I made out of three table legs.

6..25.13 projects big chair 094I also had 2 table legs with these square sections on them.  Decided to cut each leg into 3 pieces; for three graduated sizes of pedestals.  Six total from the two legs.

6..25.13 projects big chair 095I elected to use the square bases on all of these since the sides of the legs are square.  And, as you can see, I used graduated sizes of rusty candle tins on these.

6..25.13 projects big chair 093Alas, my tin candle pan stash is dwindling and I had to ‘make do’ with what I had for tin pans for the second set of these.

6..25.13 projects big chair 096I glued the candle tins in place using e6000 also.  YOU do need to wait a day between ‘gluings’ though.  I glued my wood bases on, let cure overnight; then glued on the tins and let cure overnight.  For the pedestals with TWO wood plaques, it took an additional day.  

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 019Since I needed to prime the tin pans before I could paint them, I just sprayed the whole things with flat black paint.

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 020I painted them two different shades of blue (although BARELY different!) and a sage green. (Brush on acrylic paint this time)  I WAS going to use Turquoise, my beachy blue and green, but my beach blue has become SO aqua that it looks almost just like the green?!?!

7.4.13 CUR + projects dresser 021So the plan was to create 2 sets of three with the square legs and three sets of 2 with the other; so I selected my paint colors accordingly, to have different colors in each set/pair.  Then I sanded them; the wood part AND the tin part.  And yes, I used my orbital sander.  Hand sanding is just too much for my ‘bad back’.

I ALWAYS put candles in candle holders when I am selling them.  (and again, I always have a small ‘stash’ of candles for this purpose; mostly purchased on close out).  Even just a simple white or cream color candle from the dollar store looks better than NO candle at all when it comes to ‘marketing’ your items.  Sometimes the buyer will opt to leave the candle behind and just buy the pedestal.  Fine by me!  I’ll wrap that candle up and use it again later!

7.5.13 curiosities only 052One set of each has gone to my space in Curiosities.  (displayed as sets, but priced individually)

7.5.13 curiosities only 053

A set of each will be going to Stars next week.

Published in: on July 6, 2013 at 10:24 am  Comments (2)  

FAQ: How do you paint signs with stencils?

I was actually ‘in the process’ of taking pictures and doing this post a couple of weeks ago when I was so unceremoniously interrupted by etsy; and side-tracked by that whole process.  And while I went into great detail on how I do things in that post (per the requirements of etsy), I did not include every tiny detail.  It was long enough as it was!   I’ll be reusing some of the photos from  that  post , but not going over ALL the same information.   Just filling in some of the blanks.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 146I almost always have a stash of ‘ready to stencil’ boards on hand for sign making.   That prep work is kinda BORING and when I feel like creating, I don’t feel like having to do the boring part first!  BUT, there are also times when I’m NOT feeling creative at ALL, but I still need to use my time wisely and be PRODUCTIVE.  That is when I sand and base coat my sign boards.  PLUS, I can   sand, base coat, topcoat, touch up the edges and distress a good FIFTY sign boards OUTSIDE on a dry day.  If I have to do that work inside on my craft table I can get maybe five done at a time!  So I really TRY to never have to prep sign boards inside; except maybe for an occasional custom order.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 141That way, when the creative mood hits and I’m ready to stencil on the sign designs, I can get LOTS done in one day.  I almost NEVER make one sign at a time.  Even custom orders get sandwiched in with more ‘like signs’.  It’s just a better use of my time to do several at a time.   It takes the same amount of time set up and clean up and to clean a stencil after TEN uses as it does after ONE.   Som why not use it ten times and save on clean up time?!?

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 124I store my sign stencils in manilla folders.  I have WAY too many of them to just put one per file, so I file similar themes together and use paper between them in the folder.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 137BEFORE I start stenciling I set up my sink for cleaning the stencils.  The SOONER you get that left over paint into soapy water, the easier it will be to clean.    I”ve found that DAWN dish soap works best.  I put a couple of squirts into a dish pan and fill about half way with warm water. (which becomes sudsy!)  As you can see from the above stencil, not ALL of the paint always comes off.  And some people will tell you that you don’t need to clean the paint off at all.  But if you want to get more than 10 uses out of a stencil, you’d best clean off some of that left over paint!  If it builds up enough you will no longer have a ‘sharp (as in PRECISE!) edge to your stencils and you letters will be sloppy.

5.8.13 StarsCURIOSITY 109

I use acrylic craft paints for my sign making.  And FOLK ART brand is the only brand I will use for the lettering.  It’s thicker than any other acrylic craft paints and has more pigment.    I KNOW they make special ‘stencil paint’ and special brushes for that special paint.  (I remember stenciling a sunflower border in my kitchen 20 years ago like that.  The paint came in little round plastic cups and was more like a soft CRAYON than paint.)   That is NOT the stuff you should use for making signs!!  Use the liquid craft paints; the thicker the better when it comes to using stencils!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 003These are the kinds of  ‘pouncers’ that ‘they‘ tell you to use.  THEY are wrong!  These do not work very well at all.  And trust me, I’ve made THOUSANDS of signs, and  I  KNOW what works best!  These sponge or soft rubber pouncers just fall apart after a couple of uses, and they don’t give you a very sharp line at all.  I used to spend HOURS touching up the messy edges of my lettering before I happened upon the BEST applicators ever!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 004YEP!!! Cosmetic make up wedges!  These work like a dream, and are much easier to hold onto and my hand doesn’t get all cramped up when I am making a lot of signs.

*CLEANING YOUR PAINTING SPONGE AFTER USE:  I actually don’t  bother cleaning mine.  I just wrap in a plactic baggie and store in a sealed plastic container.  These don’t stay as “moist and ready for re-use” as the brushes and rollers that I save  for re-use in a similar way,  as shown here.  But it still saves a lot of water otherwise wasted for cleaning such a small item.  Besides, I usually make SO MANY signs at a time, that I practically wear tehm out in one use!  Still I save them.  If the paint has dried out on the end, I can usually just cot of the dry crusty part and get another use or two out of that same sponge again.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 139I use a scrap piece of cardboard for my ‘paint palette’.  Squirt out a blob of the black paint and VERY LIGHTLY dab the wide end of your sponge into the paint; just enough to get a little bit of paint.  Then you POUNCE your sponge around on a dry area of your palette to work the paint down into the sponge.   You want it to be ‘moist’ with the paint, but not WET.

Using blue painters tape, tape your stencil into place, then POUNCE your paint loaded sponge over the open parts of your stencil.  DON’T RUB it.  POUNCE it.  Quick, short dabbing motions until it’s fully covered with paint.  You WILL need to re-load your sponge with paint often.  DO NOT try to speed up the process by using more paint on your sponge.  All that does is make your edges BLEED.

4.1.13 etsy STARS 010This is what your lettering will look like if you have too much paint on your sponge.  The edges will BLEED and be sloppy.  So, yes it takes longer to use a very lightly paint loaded sponge; but you get a better product!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 008THIS is how you want your lines to look!  When you are completely done stenciling your design on your board, immediately take your stencil and submerge it into your pan of soapy water.  I let mine soak for a few minutes.  Then lay the stencil flat in the sink, put a drop of Dawn dish soap onto a kitchen scrubber (like a greenie) and GENTLY scrub the paint residue off your stencil.  As I already said, not ALL of it comes off.  And DO be careful to not ‘snag’ the pointy parts of your stencil with your scrubber.  I lay my washed stencils on a towel to dry.

4.1.13 etsy STARS 002I kind of got ahead of myself a bit there.  FIRST, right after you remove your stencil, your lettering will have ‘gaps’ in it.  That is just the nature of a stencil.  For example, they can’t completely cut out the middle  of the letter “O”, so they leave little ‘tabs’ to hold the center in place.  PLease, PLEASE, PLEEEEASE  never leave your signs looking like this with the ‘tab gaps’ showing.  It’s very quick and easy to fill them in!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 005Use a very fine paint brush with just a tiny bit of paint on it and ‘connect the lines’.  Be sure the lettering is dry before you do this so you don’t smear your paint.  And you might need to thin your paint a little for this process.  But only thin ‘a dot’ of paint on your palette.  NEVER add water to the bottle!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 006On some signs, you can barely notice the gaps (top sign); but still, please take ONE minute to fill them in.  It looks SO much more professional with them filled it.  I literally CRINGE when I see a sign made from a stencil with the gaps showing!!

4.1.13 etsy STARS 012And with a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to stencil HUGE signs like this!  I actually did FIVE of these signs in one ‘sitting’!

Distressing and finishing your sign:

No pictures for these last instructions.  I USED to sand my signs and distress them again AFTER I lettered them.  That was MOSTLY because, before I discovered using the make up sponges for my applicator, I had a lot of ‘bleeding’ no matter how DRY my applicators were.  That extra sanding took care of  some of that bleeding around the edges.

Since using the wedges for applying the lettering I find that I don’t ever NEED to add that extra sanding step.  So now I distress MORE when I am prepping my sign board, DON’T distress again after, and save myself a little extra work!

Do add a coat of varnish to your finished sign.  I prefer MATTE (NO SHINE) but it can be hard to find.  I just had to spend $56.00 on a GALLON of matte varnish because they were out of quarts and are discontinuing it altogether at the paint store!  sigh.

buy my stencils from several different places on-line.  MOST of them have the very same stencils and pretty much the same price ranges, so it doesn’t much matter who you buy from.  Be prepared for a bit of ‘sticker shock’!  Stencils are NOT cheap; and probably not really worth buying if you are only going to use then ONE time. I    I buy mine in bulk quantities to get discounts; usually at least $100.00 worth of stencils at a time.

While I cannot tell you ‘which stencils I got from whom’, here are the sites that I have purchased most of my stencils from:

http://maisondestencils.com/     Scrappin Along Stencils      The Stencil Smith

Happy sign making!

Dear etsy, HERE’S your sign!

My dearest blog readers,

Please pardon this post and all the annoying superfluous pictures of equipment and piles of wood.  etsy has ‘requested’  that I provide them with PROOF that “I” hand make the signs that I sell in my etsy shop.  I sent them links to the several posts in my blog where I show and tell how I make my signs, but that was not good enough for etsy.  Nope.  I am required to take CURRENT step by step pictures;  and those pictures MUST include a piece of paper with the date on it.

***EDITED TO ADD:  Oh my word!!  I just ‘double checked’ the incredibly ANAL list of etsy’s requirements to prove all this, and I see that I overlooked that I was supposed to also put my etsy username on that dated piece of paper that I had to show in every picture!  (so that they can be SURE that it really was me who took the pictures)  Hopefully posting it here on my blog will satisfactorily fulfil that requirement.  Afterall I DO continually promote my etsy shop here in my blog.  ***

I really couldn’t think of an easier way to ‘show and explain’ to etsy my sign making process from start to finnish other than posting it here in my blog.  I wonder HOW other etsy sellers do it when they are questioned about their hand mades???  Far too many photos and details to be able to just attach pictures to an email!!


4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 122Paint brushes used to paint sign surfaces.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 123MORE paint brushes and paints.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 126Yep!  I buy my much of my paint by the gallon.  And mix some of my own colors in smaller containers.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 127Stacks of wood for sign making.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 134MORE wood for signs.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 135And still MORE wood.  The wood I use is ‘reclaimed’ (stuff that other people were going to throw away!)  So I get as much as I can, whenever it’s available.  When I get into ‘sign production mode’, I can easily use up two big stacks of wood in a weeks time.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 130This is my scroll saw that I cut sign boards to length with.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 131And this is how I position the wood for cutting.  Sorry, I don’t have enough arms and hands to be able to take a picture of me doing the actual cutting AND take a picture at the same time.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 128This is my 4″ belt sander that I use to sand the edges and surfaces of the sign boards before I paint them.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 133After I cut and sand the sign boards I ‘base coat’ them with black paint.  Then I let that paint dry.  (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the paint drying!)

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 136After the black base coat is dry, I paint the top coat color and let it dry.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 129After the color top coat dries I use this orbital hand sander to ‘distress’ the sign; by sanding off some of the topcoat and allowing areas of the black base coat to show through.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 148Then I go to my file of stencils and select the file that contains the stencil that I need for that particular sign.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 124I probalby have 50 or 60 stencils in my current sign making repertoire.  I keep them in file folderds of 2-4 stencils each; grouping similar themes together for easy identification.  This is the file that contains the “Paris” stencil used to make the specific sign you inquired about.  I also have other PARIS stencils in different fonts.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 138I position the stencil on the painted and dsitressed sign board, applying some blue painters tape to the egdes to hold it in place.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 139Using acrylic paint and a small sponge applicator, the paint is gently and carefully ‘dabbed’ over the cut out parts of the stencil.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 140

I carefully remove the stencil, then remove the blue painters tape that held it in place;  and take the used stencil to the kitchen and put it in a pan of soapy water to soak for a bit before I wash off the paint residue (which never actaully comes ALL the way off, as you can see in the picture of the stencil).  During this time the stenciled on paint dries.  (sorry again, no picture of the paint drying!)

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 142After the stenciled on lettering dries, I use a very fine paint brush to touch up any details that need it.  Let that dry, then I apply a coat of matte varnsih and let it dry.  (no picture of varnish drying either!)  And yes I DO buy my varnish by the gallon too.

4.12.13 signs CURIOSITIES stencils 013(undated stock photo) After I apply the varnish I put the paint brush I used to apply the varnish in a jar of water to soak.  Then I use a hammer to attach a ‘nailless sawtooth hanger’ to the back of the sign.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 144But in reality, I  NEVER make just ‘one sign’ at any given time.   To maximize my productivity I work in a modified assembly line manner.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 127Some days I’ll do nothing but sand a couple of piles of sign boards.

Then the next day I’ll paint them all with the black basecoat, and leave them out to dry.

Then the next day I’ll paint them all with the topcoat color, and leave them out to dry.

Then the next day, I’ll hand sand and distress that same batch.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 147Then after all that is done,  I store those stacks of ‘ready to stencil’ boards in my craft room.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 145Sorry !  I forgot my ‘date card’ on this picture!  Having a lot of boards prepped and ready to stencil really streamlines the whole process for me, and cuts down on the actual amount of time I ultimately spend on each sign.  Predominately set up and clean up time.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 145And by having a multitude of boards ‘prepped and ready to paint’ when I get a request for a custom color of a certain sign; I am able to go ahead and make a whole BATCH of that particular sign, in several colors; and stock up my etsy shop.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 141It doesn’t take any more TIME and effort to clean a stencil that was used to make six signs that it does to clean it after making just one sign; so why not MAKE MORE and WASTE LESS TIME ON CLEAN UP.  Same goes for paint brushes.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 143Finished signs are stacked and stored on a shelf.  (Heaven forbid!!!  I forgot my date card again!)

So, etsy, does THAT clear up any suspicions you may have had that I am  not hand crafting my signs myself??

It sure would be nice if etsy would give sellers ‘some kind of recognition’ for having gone through this tedious process of proving they hand make their items.  Perhaps even a simple notation of some kind that this particular item has been individually vetted by etsy would be nice.

4.26.13 **Edited AGAIN to add:

So, now that etsy has seen waht they need to see, I can explain why all this REALLY ‘gets my goat’!  And it’s not that I minded having to PROVE that my items are hand made by me.  What is so annoying is the sales of ILLEGAL licensed designs is absolutely rampant on etsy, and they DO NOTHING about it.

The ONLY time they will question a seller of such items is IF the holder of the license of that design (Disney, Sports Teams, Barbie, Hello Kitty, spongeBob . . .there are THOUSANDS of them) complains.   Because that is ‘all the law requires.

BUT, if one person, ANY one person, contacts to etsy and says “I don’t think that person hand-made that item.”  A full-blown investigation is launched.  And they require you to show every single step in the process and every single tool and piece of equipment used. (as you can tell from my post!) It’s a LOT of work, let me tell you.

And ALL it would take for them to validate someone selling licensed designs is to have them show their ‘credentials’.  And it HIGHLY unlikely that ANY of those sellers actually DO have permission.  It costs a LOT of money to ‘buy’ that permission.  If they could afford to legally acquire permission to sell a licensed design, they wouldn’t NEED to sell on etsy!

It’s the ‘turning a blind eye’ to illegally sold items on etsy that really annoys me about this whole situation!  It’s perfectly okay to sell ILLEGAL products, but don’t you dare sell a hand-made item that bares any resemblance to something that is manufactured!

Stepping off my soapbox !

Quickie cupcake Christmas ornaments

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 059Now these aren’t the MOST realistic looking cupcake ornaments, BUT, they are pretty fast, easy and inexpensive.

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 062They would look more real if I could figure out a way to ‘frost’ them with spackling compound.  I have the frosting tips and the compound and I know how to use a piping bag.  It’s just that I’d need three hands to do it because these are so lightweight that they’d have to be ‘held in place’ while I pipes, and I need 2 hands for piping!  So, this method will have to do for now!

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 011Ingredients:

Styro snowball ornaments from Dollar Tree

Mini cupcake paper liners

Cardboard circles cut from scrap board to fit inside your paper cups.

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 012Glue your cardboard into the bottom of your cups.  IF your cardboard has a ‘design’ on it, be sure the design is facing UP.  Otherwise it will show through the bottom of your cup, as the paper is fairly thin.  I do this to ALL my cups at once, first.

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 013You really NEED to use tacky glue for this next step.  I pretty much use nothing but tacky glue (unless otherwise specified) for all of my gluing.  For these in specific, the tacky glue is especially important because you have to HOLD the paper in place until the glue sets; which is only about a minute with tacky glue.

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 014Put a good sized dot of glue (bigger than a pea) in the center of the cardboard base.  Then put glue around the entire inside rim of your cupcake liner, going about 1/8″ down.  With the way the lined is folded, you’ll only be getting glue on the INNER folds of your cup.  (sorry! forgot to take a pic of that step!  Will TRY to remember to take one and add it in later)

Holding the tip of the ornament, place it, centered into your cup; then use both hands to gently press the cup to the ball.  It won’t hold completely right away.  Just keep holding and gently pressing down for about a minute, until it no longer pulls away when released.

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 015

Just in case you’re tempted to skip adding the cardboard to the inside of your cup; this is what you will get!  It will look like the one on the left.

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 016I let mine dry overnight before this next step.  Apply glitter to the exposed part of the ball.  Apply a liquid adhesive (nod podge, varnish, thinned white glue) with a paint brush and sprinkle on your glitter.  I do this over a bowl.  After a few cupcakes there is enough glitter in the bowl that you can ‘roll’ your cupcakes in the glitter.    Let this dry overnight too.

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 060Add your sprinkles!  Apply some of the same liquid adhesive to JUST the top area and sprinkle on your sprinkles.  I found a BIG bottle of these colored sprinkles at Dollar Tree!

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 058Let dry and you are done!

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 056I got these cookie tins at Dollar Tree too.

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 061Added tissue paper to nestle the cupcakes in the tip and a little clay ornament to decorate the top!

12.2.12 DT finds etsy 065I’ll be selling these in my etsy shop

UPcycled old jars

I’ve got a HUGE stash of old jars (mostly SMALL ones) that I have been saving for AGES for ‘just the right’ craft project to use them for.   THIS just might be it!  (click on the brown bold THIS to go to the tutorial)

How, if I can just FIND some of the pretty paper napkins everyone is using on crafts like this!!  All the blogs I’ve seen state they are napkins they already HAD.  Anyone know WHERE to look for napkins like this.  LOTS of craft projects to use them for.


How I make my itty bitty crowns

Getting ‘crown fever’ like me?  Hankering to put a crown on anything you can? Here’s how I make these tiny crowns.

I buy the KRAFT color cardstock at the craft store.  For some reason it’s heavier than any of the other colors.  Cut one sheet in half  lengthwise; giving you 2 pieces measuring 4-1/4″ x 11″.  Then cut each of those into 1″ strips.  You can make 22 crowns out of one piece of paper.

I use a scrap piece of paper the same length, folded in half as a guide for the halfway mark.  You want it to overlap a bit, so apply your glue slightly FARTHER than the halfway mark, as shown above.

 I use Aleen’s tacky glue.  It is my ‘go to’ glue for just about everything!  These are BIG 16 oz bottles, and I can easily go through one in a month!  I don’t like their bottles for applying the glue with though,  So I have a smaller Elmers bottle with the twist top that I fill with Aleen’s to use.

Roll your partly glued piece into a little tube.  It will end up being double thick with a smidge of an overlap.  Slip it over your finger (whichever finger it fits over!) and with your other hand make sure it’s all tightly pressed together; AND nice and ROUND.

I do mine ‘assembly line’ style.   Gluing ALL my strips into the cylinders at once before going on to the next step.

 Let them dry completely.  I leave mine to dry overnight.

Once completely dry it’s time to cut the points of your crown.  You’ll need a VERY pointy pair of scissors.  I highly recommend snippers like this as opposed to regular handles scissors.  Much less fatigue and NO BLISTERS from the handles!

Just snip at an angle, then  snip again to make a “V”, then keep snipping all the way around.  If your crowns are smushing when you try to cut them, they aren’t DRY enough.  And you have one perfect tiny crown!  To apply the glitter, I use a pair of needle nose pliers to hold my crown by.  Brush glue all over the outside of the crown then DIP it into my container of glue.  Drop onto a plate to let dry.  Do ALL your crowns like this; then go back and glitter the spot that you missed where your pliers were.  Once completely dry you can spray with a clear varnish if you want to minimize ‘shedding’ of the glitter.

Everything looks better with a CROWN!!

For making the vintage sheet music crowns, follow the same basic steps, but glue your music paper to the cardstock first.  No glitter needed as the final step for these.


Published in: on May 15, 2012 at 10:02 am  Comments (4)  
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