Happy Halloween fellow blog-lovers! So unfortunately for you--I did not decide to write this blog entry until I had already begun with my design, however I think you should be able to follow along pretty easily from the description. Also...I have already changed my mind about the design several times, so we shall see if you end up with more detail. 

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I wanted the dress to have a sexy low cut back, since I was going for high drama up top--to do this, I sewed a piece of red fabric that was left-over from last year's costume (Poison Ivy's cape) on a slight angle to make a tube dress with a raw edge.
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I then used my floral wire cutters to chop the hook off of a wire coat hanger. I bent the hanger into a sort-of heart shape- and pinned and sewed it, badly, to the top of the tube-dress.
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okay--heres the start of the "evil" heart-shaped top. I did a super bad job of hiding the seam...so I'll have to see if I can fix that later. Luckily the top is flexible.
Next step to my Halloween costume, was to figure out how to make a hoop skirt. I am pretty cheap, and especially don't like spending a lot of money on a costume I will never wear again, (hence reusing Poison Ivy's cape) so I decided to make a hoop skirt using chicken wire and an old full sized fitted sheet I had from a smaller mattress I no longer used (the sheet turned out to be a bit large, requiring some creative sewing, but it worked okay--perhaps a twin would be better if you are buying one). I ended up buying a roll of flexible hardware cloth aka chicken wire from Home Depot, but I do anticipate being able to use this again, since I only used about 1/4 of the roll.   
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To make a wire hoop skirt, I measured out the chicken wire around my waist and made a cone shape
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Connect the hem of the sheet to the cut "waist" of the skirt--pro, it makes a faux waistband!
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And the hoop skirt is complete!!
Firstly, to make the wire skirt- I fitted the chicken wire around my hips, where I wanted the skirt to sit, and cut the wire, on an angle, to make the bottom circle bigger than the circle around my waist.  You can bend the wire edges around one another to make a complete circle out of the cut piece of wire. Unfortunately, this technique was poorly done, and I ended up with a small triangular hole in my skirt. You can fix this by cutting a small piece of wire and bending it to fit in the whole...or you can be lazy like me and just drape the skirt to cover the hole. Once you have the circle together, bend the wire to form the desired shape. 
Here's where I need to advice a safety warning. I highly recommend draping some kind of soft material (think fleece?) around at least the waist of the wire skirt. This will help protect your poor skin from getting cut-up and bruised like mine did. Once you have done this, test to make sure the wire is not poking through the fabric of the skirt (this really started to cause pain after walking down to the party, dancing all night, and walking back). Now that you have protected yourself better than I did...
I draped the fitted sheet over the wire skirt and cut a hole in the sheet where it met the smaller waist circle of the hoop skirt (my cutting is never straight, and don't worry if your cut is too small or large, since we will fix that in a second). Next, pull the bottom fitted edge of the skirt through the inside of the wire skirt. You can adjust the length of the skirt by pulling more or less fabric through the waist. I recommend trying on the skirt to see how long it will be, and to make sure that the wire shape is correct (mine got a little lumpy looking and was a tad short in the front because I did not try it on before proceeding to the next step.)
When you are ready (happy with the length) hand stitch the raw cut edges to the fitted edge of the sheet to make a waistband. This is nice because it hides the seam. You can adjust the draping as desired as you go (although i really recommend trying it on before you sew it completely shut), I liked how this looked asymmetrical when I was done, but you can also drape it a bit more evenly, or cut excess fabric (just be careful not to cut too much). The benefit of the chicken wire is that the skirt can be molded a bit to make your ideal shape--also the sheet is a bit thin, so a thicker fabric may be preferable, but I liked how the fitted hem made the fabric drape (again, please at least be careful to check for raw wire edges and bend them or cut them so as to not hurt yourself!)
  
After trying on the skirt with the red dress, I decided to add a bit of tulle. So I used my conveniently round dining room table to make a hoop skirt (what I should have done with the chicken wire--thanks for the idea, Mom!). I didn't really feel like carefully cutting the tulle, so I cut it in half, layered the pieces, and trimmed the triangular edges to make a rounded skirt...the edges are a bit "raw," but I think it works okay. To make the waist, I simply cut a hole in the middle of the tulle. I then sewed the two pieces of fabric together at the waist.  I did not secure it to the hoop skirt, but doing so will help to keep it in place better. I am not sure how necessary this was in the end--so I guess do as you like. 

I made a little crown using playing cards that I had folded into halves and then securing them with duct tape. I don't necessarily recommend using the duct tape, since I didn't really like how obviously duct-tapey it looked. If you have  more time, I recommend trying some double sided tape placed inside the fold of the card, or else maybe some glue. I did not have time really, since I was doing this project the night of the Halloween Party I was attending...good call on my part, obviously.
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Tulle over the hoop skirt
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to make the crown, I folded playing cards in half--since I was planning on embellishing the dress with "hearts" cards anyway, I figured I may as well use the black cards for the crown. Waste not. Want not.
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For the points of the crown, i folded the card the same way i folded them for the circle part, and then i folded the tip into a point.
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I connected 7 of the folded playing cards by weaving one end inside the previous end and adjusting the size to fit my head. I then duct-taped them together at the seams. I also duct-taped the pointed cards to the middle of each seam...then I spray painted the whole thing gold.
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since I am not overly fond of all the duct-tape, I painted the ends with some sparkle nail polish...although I am still not sure it was such a good idea...I'd suggest using the duct tape on the inside of the crown, so as to not make the outside look so messy.
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Heart shaped scepter made from playing cards, duct tape and spray paint

I made a scepter to go with my costume by rolling playing cards and securing them with duct tape. The heart was made by folding playing cards and pinching them together at one end and curling them at the other with a little duct tape. I then sprayed the whole thing gold to match the crown. 

Now...on to the cape! (almost done!)

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Playing cards line the edges of the cape
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Cape was made with big draped sleeves and decorated with playing cards
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Spray painted paper roses sewn to the hem of the dress to make pick ups
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Close up of the playing cards that line he collar of the cape
To finish the costume, I made a cape from a large piece of satiny fabric that I bought at Walmart. I pinned the fabric around my chest where a button would be placed (if I felt like doing all that work). I also pinned the fabric to create sleeves that drape around the feet when not being used. I then draped the fabric where I had pinned it in the middle to make a sort of collar. I pinned playing cards to the back around the collar and then used the machine to sew all of the pinned places.

Last but not least, I added a few paper roses, for a bit of a fun finishing detail, to the bottom of the red dress.  (To make your own roses, see my tutorial here!) The roses helped to create pickups in strategic places, but if I hadn't already had some lying around, I doubt I would have gone to the effort. A couple of hand-stitches keeps them in place...and for a bit of extra fun, I spray painted them red (before attaching them to the dress, make sure they are dry!). 

 Probably it would have been a good idea to drape the sleeves of the cape a bit to hide the cut edge, and the collar is pretty uneven, with a messy stitch that shows where I sewed across the playing cards,, and the dress is not great...but I think the end result is sufficient for a Halloween costume.  For make up, I recommend pasty white powder and bright red lips (i tried to draw my lips in the shape of a heart and it didn't really work....but good idea I think!) So good luck with your own costumes and have a very Happy Halloween!!

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Voila! All Hail the Red Queen! lol
 
I've been meaning to share some of my recent greeting cards, which I have made for various folks and sundry holidays etc.
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Happy Easter! This little bunny card was made from thick colored paper cut into strips and covered in mod podge to adhere it to a piece of brown paper bag that I cut up. I then cut the bunny outline from a plain piece of letter paper and gave him a tail made from a balled up piece of cheese cloth. The flag was made by cutting little triangles from scrap paper and gluing a piece of hemp on top to serve as a string for the garland. I also added a piece of a paper heart-shaped doily that I cut up and painted. To be honest, I can't recall what the back of this card looks like (I think it's just brown paper with a short message)...so sorry!
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Welcome to our sisterhood! I made this sorority card for my favorite spring pearl '13 to welcome her home! It is made from a DSW bag that I stitched together with hemp. The heart on the front is hand painted, using a paper heart doily as a stencil, it is admittedly a bit sloppy (though made with love!). I traced the painted pattern with pen to clean it up a little bit. The Alpha Sigma Alpha is hand cut (obviously--it is a bit raw) card stock to which I stuck some tissue paper (I didn't like the orange color of the card stock). FYI the inside is opposite, so the top is black stripes and the bottom (where the message is pasted) is brown paper.
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Tis the season! Last year, I had a peacock themed christmas! Both of these cards are hand painted with a bit of ink outline. This one probably took the longest to make, and weighs twice as much from all the glitter paint...
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The glitter here is meant to be falling snow...also I've decided never to make snowflakes like this again..they're way hard for someone who's not that artistic...but they looked so easy!
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and finally, a card for a spring-time thank you. This one is hand drawn and painted, though it looks like it was made by an elementary schooler, i think it has a certain rustic charm, though maybe the butterflies are a bit much...
 

My my! What a long name for such a simple project! I was sick of looking at the plastic generic soap container that I have been refilling like a dutiful conservative lady...so I enhanced it a bit. I'm not sure I would use these colors again (it would be nice in metallics or in an antiqued color--maybe even just plain old white) but its a bit late now for such thoughts, I just used what I had on hand. So now after much delay and a bit of rambling, I present to you my DIY faux-milk glass Polluck-inspired hand soap dispenser!!! (I still think the name is too long)

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You will need: paint (your choice, I used regular craft paint), mod podge (or equivalent, for finishing coat), paint brushes (or paper towel, or cloth), hot glue gun (low temp glue is best, unless you don't mind burns) and of course your soap dispenser (cheapo generic variety with label peeled off)

For this simple project you will need: paint, brushes, paper towel (or cloth), mod podge, hot glue and your soap dispenser.

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Apply hot glue to bottle to make small dots
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Cover the entire bottle (mine could definitely be more symmetrical, but I find I don't care)

Using your glue gun, apply small blobs of glue to the dispenser, covering the entire surface. I recommend using low-temp hot glue (not that I had any), to spare your finger tips...oooor you could just avoid touching the hot glue (I am just incapable). If you only slightly depress your trigger, so that the glue releases very slowly, your dots will be more even, however you may end up with slight points from where you've released the trigger (or strings, which can be clipped later--unless you're a bit lazy, like I am, then you can just leave em be).

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Cover the bottle with paint of choice, use a paint brush to fill in gaps between dots

Once your glue dots have dried, cover the bottle in paint. I started with a brush, became impatient and used a paper towel to blot paint and cover the surface a bit quicker. I then touched up areas that I missed or where I chipped the paint (do be sure to let the paint dry between coats). I used a towel to blot on additional coats of colors, (purple and white) to achieve the speckled "Polluck" look.

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When happy with the paint, cover in mod podge to seal, using a paper towel to get better coverage.
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Don't be afraid of the mod podge! (But do try to avoid getting it in the dispenser top cracks--which will make the dispenser difficult to use)

After you are happy with the paint job, and it has dried completely, use mod podge to finish and help protect against future wear and tear. I used a paper towel and blobbed on a thick coat of mod podge to cover the entire bottle. Try to avoid getting glue in the cracks of the dispenser top, since it might make the dispenser difficult to use.

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Voila, the final result, in its home...this was so easy I might make more for different seasonal decor!

And that's it really! Once dry, the dispenser is ready to use! The mod podge will make it a bit more difficult to chip, and it can be rinsed in the sink to clean (I recommend not using very hot water, since you will risk melting the glue).

 
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A lovely DIY spring table arrangement using my DIY no-sew placemats, coasters, napkins and silver wear fasteners.
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They're washable!

Today I would like to share one of my more clever ideas (if I do say so myself). I made some lovely fabric placemats which can be very easily washed with a wet cloth and soap (or your favorite cleaning agent--tho I don't recommend bleach, since it will discolor your fabric), or by rinsing briefly under weakly flowing water (warning: water that is too hot or a high pressure will melt the mod podge and can cause spotting).

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For this project you will need a piece of fabric, a piece of cardstock, a magazine, scissors and mod podge

To begin this project you will need a few supplies (most of which I usually have on hand). If you are wondering, I got this nice floral patterned quarter and the cardstock from Walmart, but if you have a spare piece of fabric, that will work too.

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Cut the cardstock to your desired size. If you are more clever than I, you will consider measuring the length, and tracing a line with a ruler before cutting
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Line up the precut cardstock against the fabric (you can use spray adhesive to temporarily stick the pieces together, just make sure to use the wrong side of the fabric

I use fabric shears (danka dear mother), and regular craft scissors (don't ever cut paper with your fabric shears!). Measure out the desired width of your placemat (I recommend tracing with a ruler so that you will not have crooked edges like I do) and cut the cardstock. Use your measured cardstock to cut down the fat quarter, leaving an inch or so of fabric as a border (you can use more or less, or cover the whole piece of cardstock, depending on your tastes--this will be the back of the placemat.

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Place your magazine article between the cardstock and the fabric, use enough to cover the whole piece of cardstock
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Leave a border around the cardstock to make nice edges and place the cardstock, magazine side down on the wrong side of the fabric

I used pages from a magazine to add extra support to my placemat. I thought that the waxy pages might help to protect the paper from water damage. I am not sure that it actually works, but hey---it doesn't hurt! If your fabric is especially thin, you may want to use an extra piece of cardstock so that you cannot see the magazine through the fabric (or you could just skip this bit). If you've decided to proceed, use a paintbrush and some mod podge to stick the magazine to the cardstock. Then place the cardstock, magazine side down on the wrong side of the fabric. The excess mod podge on the magazine will adhere it to the fabric (don't worry if its not, we will be adding more mod podge later).

Cover the whole piece of cardstock with mod podge. Fold the edges of your fabric border around the cardstock; add more mod podge on top of the fabric. Try to smooth out any wrinkles with your fingers. You will notice that my raw edges left a few strings, but not to fear--if you've been careful and have trim neat edges, this won't be an issue, if not--try to push the strings into the edges of the border to hide them (you will need to do this before the glue dries). Allow the back of the placemat to dry before proceeding (otherwise you will get junk stuck to it).

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You can use a paper towel or a large brush to cover more area quicker.

Once your back is dry, cover the whole front of the placemat with mod podge. You can use a paper towel or a large brush to cover more area quicker.  Smooth out wrinkles with your fingers. Allow the whole mat to dry before attempting to use or handle it...and that's it. You're done! The placemat will be stiff, but flexible, with a water resistant, easy to clean surface (and they're awfully pretty!)

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When it's dry, your placemat will be stiff but flexible--and reversible
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Hopefully your mat isn't quite this uneven! Chalk it up to my poor cutting skills and my inability to remember to use a ruler!
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The back of my placemat is not as well done as it could be, (I got better with #2...but still failed to follow some of my own simple tips) but if you are a bit more patient, you may be able to smooth the wrinkles, trim the edges and not stick a bunch of crumbs to it before its dry
 
I have excellent intentions of making a dozen or more of these and hanging them on twine to look like lovely streamers. I had wanted to do this originally for Valentines, but lost all ambition (or got wrapped up in something else) and so I am only just now getting a chance to share this with you...better late than never, I suppose. 
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I printed some maps using my handy-dandy inkjet and the interwebs for inspiration. These get cut into thin strips of differing sizes.
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Curl one side of the V inward to make a half-heart..
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Spread extra mod podge around the area to add a finish to the strip, The mod podge acts as a sealer to help prevent fading, and ink running.
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Try to cut in pairs so that you have two strips the same size for each increment. You will need one longer one to be used as a stem.
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Attach each end of the half heart to the center stem piece so that they meet at the top and bottom to form a full heart.
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I recommend leaving a large stem accessible at the top of the heart (to easily allow you to attach these to twine and hang)--i did not do this, which caused the heart to warp later after having been hung from one side.
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Bend each strip in half and pinch to make a v shape. You can cut these in half to make more layers.
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seal the bottom and the top of the half heart with mod podge, starting with the smallest pieces closest to the center and adding larger pieces to the outside.
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...and repeat until you're satisfied.
I think I probably added a few too many layers here, and some of the pieces didn't curl as well as I wanted but that's okay, it's definitely good enough for my grapevine wreath... and I envision many of them hanging in garlands. What fun things will you make with this technique?
 
For this easy project, I washed some used kitchen jars and made vases to hold some of my paper flowers (to see how I made them, check out this blog post). I have been making so many of these guys lately that I just needed somewhere to put them until I am ready to use them in other crafts (I think a wreath is in order!).
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This was an olive oil bottle that I transformed using a spare piece of lace!
The first of these three was made using a spare piece of lace and some twine. I simply wrapped the lace around the bottle and secured it in place with the twine. My lace is wrapped twice, which makes it stiff enough to support itself at the neck of the bottle. I also simply folded the excess lace ubdrneath the bottle. If you'd like a more transparant look, or have less lace, you could cut a measured amount and use mod podge to seal the fabric to the glass. Alternatively, you can stiffen lace with fabric starch to make a delicate vase minus the glass olive oil bottle.
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Burlap wrapped spaghetti jar
Similar to the above oilve oil vase, here I used a piece of burlap and secured it with twine at the top and bottom of the jar. Since burlap frays easily, I recommend cutting in between squares to get a straight edge. Also, as above, mod podge will seal the burlap in place and help prevent fraying (but make sure to trim any strings before you do this or they'll stay there!)
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Hot sauce bottle with pearlescent mardi-gras beads
For this simple vase, I painted a spare mardi gras bead necklace with a pearlescent paint. This was a little tricky, since the plastic material of the beads is resistant to paint. After using several coats, you can still sort of see the gold through, but I think they look much better! I didn't want to hide the fun shape of this bottle, so I simply wrapped my faux-pearls around the bottle! I am thinking about making another by painting the inside...maybe a peach or a light blue? What do you think? 
 
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With spring finally underway (ish) here in Colorado, I've decided to attempt some gardening this year (wish me luck!). I have a few plants from my office that were started for me by some green-thumbed colleagues, but they're starting to overgrow their little pots (or cups of water...I'm a very devoted horticulturist, if you couldn't guess by now--the one in the mug is what've been taking care of myself--ha!). I've been staring at this little pot problem for a while--since fall really, (hey let's keep politics out of it! ba-dum-pum pssht!--okay, back to work) and spring, as well as some glaring from aforementioned colleagues, has finally convinced me to do something about it!

 I of course turned to our ever-steady friends, google and pintrest to get some crafty ideas for resolving my spacing issues.  (I've shared some of my search results below!) 
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image source: The Graphics Fairy http://www.graphicsfairy-diy.com/2011/06/french-flower-pots.html
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image source: Market Nine http://kristieshelton.com/?p=595#more-595


I just love all these lovely whitewashed pots! I don't have any terracotta, unfortunately, but I do have some old plastic pots that I found in the garage...and what a great way to give them a little shine! (or rust--ha!) 
I found this super cute vintage-esque flower pot on The Graphics Fairy. It was submitted by a blog reader named Bernadette, who used terracotta pots and liquitex to transfer a "vintage french image" to the flower pot. 
Needless to say, these flower pots are gorgeous! And apparently this trend went a little viral, since I found tutorials all over the blog-o-sphere...and here's the best part--you can make these pretty pots with Mod Podge! (my favorite!) 
If you haven't the patience for the video, I've also linked to some blog tutorials from Heaven's Walk, Market Nine (left), and Town and Country (below), who has shared a cute stool with the same transfer method...or you could scroll down to see my version of this flower pot! 
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image source: Town and Country Living http://www.town-n-country-living.com/how-to-transfer-graphics-with-mod-podge.html
To begin, I took one of my little plastic pots and painted it white using some regular craft paint. I think a streaky look is okay here, so don't worry above completely covering the pot. 
Here's my pot after I've painted it. I thought it looked a little too shiny so I took a paper towel and blotted the paint (be sure to use a towel with a simple pattern, since it will transfer onto the paint--and sometimes you don't want cars on your flowerpots.
                                           Happy with my white, I added a bit of age to the pot by blotting it with gray paint. 

I think it looks nice to lightly press the gray into the pot, so as to not overwhelm it--I also think it makes the pot look a little more weathered--but you can see the examples above and choose your own level of color blending.  If you think you've added too much, just blot it with a clean paper towel or add more white paint.
Just blot till you're happy! I think mine came out okay, i may smear it a bit more next time--since I quite like the way the bottom looks on my finished pot. I tried not to fuss too much with the paint, since I'll be covering it anyway with this lovely toile print that I got from the interwebs.
The image transfer is pretty easy to do with mod podge, although I recommend using a darker image than the one I am using here, since you will be loosing some detail with the transfer...also the ink color does change a bit, mine looks more blue in the finished project...but since I need to replace my printer ink, this is as good as it gets.  Also, if you want to transfer words, remember the mirror effect and print backwards. 
Cover the whole image to be transferred in mod podge. I probably didn't use enough...I think in this case more is better, and allows more detail to be transferred. 
Make sure your painted pot is completely dry before you stick the image to the pot, mod podge side down. Be sure to center the image where you would like it before pressing it into the pot...if you try to move it after sticking, you may end up with wrinkles the way I have here. If you do have wrinkles, try to smooth them with your thumb and press all areas of the image into the pot.  Let the paper dry completely. I have read that some people will speed up drying with a hair dryer, but since I was pretty tired at this point, I just let mine sit over night. I think it was probably dry much sooner than that, but in the end, laziness won out. 
The next morning, I dipped paper towel in water and completely saturated my image. 
With the paper completely wet, you can rub it off using your thumbs and leave the image (and a bit of mod podge stain) behind. It took me a few tries to find a good spot to rub the paper (I recommend starting from a corner) and I ended up chipping some paint off by rubbing too hard, but I think it makes the image look more natural. 
Here's the finished product! I added a little bit of paint to the corners of the image, using a paper towel to blend it. If you'd like, you can seal the pot with a top coat. Now I just need to decide if I should cover the whole pot with more toile ...I may just have to make more! Happy crafting!
 
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faux-antiqued frame with burlap and fabric.
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image source: The Wilted Magnolia. http://thewiltedmagnolia.blogspot.com/2011/11/blue-mason-jars-and-silver.html
I love the way this silver is displayed in mason jars for the table setting
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image source: http://frenchlarkspur.blogspot.com/2010/09/junk-bonanza-part-two.html
Silver displayed in rusty springs from French Larkspur--it's very pretty, but I would be nervous about ruining my silver but touching the oxidized metal! Maybe you could cover the interior with fabric or lace to protect the silver?
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image source: http://www.aperfectgray.com/2010/01/i-refuse-to-polish-silver-in-my-kitchen.html
I have been trying to think of a nice way to display my silver, a lovely surprise that my grandma bequeathed to me this year at Christmas. --I don't have any kind of aurmoire or other similar display, and my cabinets are not ideal either (my childhood home has beautiful overhead cabinets with glass doors! sigh) 
For now, I have the box that the silver came in (the one  my grandma gave me), opened and sitting on top of an end table--but it is not a great way to see the pretty detailing in the daffodil pattern. Eventually I'd like to polish my set and supplement it with some of the pieces  I've found online.  
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image source: http://www.amazon.com/Rogers-Bros-Daffodil-Silverware-Advertisement/dp/B004J8AW0W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364362919&sr=8-1&keywords=1847+Rogers+Bros+Silverware+Daffodil
I love this advertisement for my Grandma's silver pattern that I found for sale on amazon. It reads: "Lilting new design that has more brides agreeing 'Its the thing to own!" Is it sad that my first thought, delight aside, was that the word "lilting" would never appear in an advertisement today. 
One of my favorite things about silver is the way that it can tarnish and still look so lovely! Sometimes that patina is even nicer than the polished variety.  When my Grandma gave me her silver-plated flatware, I decided to frame a few pieces with that unpolished look intact (I plan to polish and use the rest!). After some thinking, I remembered a frame that I purchased for some DIY halloween decorations last year and decided to revamp it a little. 
I saw this framed display on pintrest from A Perfect Gray---and thought it was so beautiful, that i must give it a shot!  I especially love the way the gold in the frames picks up the tarnish in the silver. (oh and how cute is that little fork?)  I even have a space just like this, so I that may even steal that idea! with a few modifications, of course! I decided to use burlap and fabric to revamp my ce
I already had aroll of burlap (walmart $5), which I bought on a pay-day high. Since I'd never used burlap before, I thought it best to get used to it in a small strip rather than trying to handle a whole ream; although I have since seen that many websites and even home depot  carry bulk varieties to help you save your pennies. I think that I may take this route if I go forward with some of my burlap wreath plans. To add a little something extra, I used fabric squares that I purchased a while ago (when I was making my floral place-mats). You can buy a pretty decent sized sample square of fabric at most craft stores, which may not be terribly economical, but is highly convenient if you only need a little bit of fabric, or if like me, you have some need to buy lots of different types of fabric but don't want to spend too much.  To create the faux-antique frame, I used a few colors of regular craft paint. I happen to have a decent (if not oldish) supply of paint from my sorority days back at the wag--so I'm rarely in short supply there, and I generally encourage you to try and use what you have around the house...paint can be so expensive! For this project, I used purple to add some low-lights and a mix of gold and white paints to add the highlights.  Lastly, I used some sandpaper to wear some of the edges a bit---oh and of course, I also used mod-podge to seal the frame and keep it from shedding too much (after the sandpapering). I wasn't entirely sure how it would turn out, since I'd originally planned on using silver paint--only to find that I was out, and my gold paint required thinning since it was so old and gungky.

With the frame completed, I could concentrate on creating the backing that would hold my silver. I decided to try and preserve my materials (so that I could take this apart and reuse, just in case)--so if you are less material-concsious, I would suggest using mod-podge or some other similar sealent to attach the burlap and fabric to the frame backing. In my "thrifty" state-of-mind, I used clear packing tape to hold the fabric together. 
This old black plastic frame is from Walmart. I purchased it around Halloween time for some spooky art projects. Needless to say, I abused it and it fell off the wall (I continually make the mistake of trusting wall mounting tape...it doesn't really seem to work for anything that weighs more than a poster--I'm not sure how I used to hang so many things in my dorm room except that maybe the concrete walls were more susceptible to the sticky glue pads...ha!)
I decided to paint it prior to gluing it together, for some un-remembered reason,and after making it more difficult for myself than necessary, I recommend gluing first. To "antique" the frame, I started with my darkest colored paint, the purple, which I selected to add a bit of warmth and dimension--to try and make the frame look less plastic. You could probably also use brown or red to accomplish this.
Next I added (a lot of) gold paint on top. (Originally I planned on using silver metallic paint, but I still can't seem to find it anywhere!) I purposefully glopped the paint into cracks in the frame, and tried to paint on the sides and edges in patches to make it look more natural and "weathered". Finally, I finished the paint by highlighting in white. I tried to make sure not to use too much of the white in one place--since I wanted it to highlight and not overwhelm the frame. 
After painting, I added mod-podge to the frame and then immediately began sanding down a few of the places (corners and various patches so as to make it look weathered. A bit of a warning, since I did use a plastic frame, and they aren't really meant to be sanded, and so I removed quite a bit of paint and made a huge mess at this step...so lay down some paper! (or an old magazine, like I frequently use) 
After I was done sanding these, I hot-glued the frame together (I ended up painting over the glue with black...and have recently been thinking about purposely decorating the frame corners with hot glue "vines"---perhaps I'll save that project for later. 
To decorate the back of the frame, start by cutting your burlap. I recommend testing the length by wrapping it before cutting (so that you don't end up with too little or too much!) You can also tape down the arm support (if you plan on hanging your frame. 
When cutting your burlap, try to cut a straight line between the squares--if your cut is not straight, the fabric will fray!


Once your burlap is securely in place, make sure your lines are straight in the front (if you've used mod-podge, it should be wet enough to allow a minimum of adjusting, and the tape is easy enough to readjust, as needed. If you are using mod-podge, add a top-coat layer to the burlap covered frame to hold it in place, prevent fraying, and make it sticky enough to add your fabric layer. If you are securing your fabric layer with tape (which, after doing it this way, I do not recommend). You can add "double-sided" tape by folding a piece in thirds and sticking it to itself and then to the burlap. Press the fabric firmly to stick. Then add another piece of tape to the back of the frame. If you're wisely using mod-podge, sandwich the fabric with sealant by adding a coat to the burlap and coat to cover. 





I also added a little bit of twine to the largest spoon, and looped it through the backside of the fabric. 
After messing with my display several times, I had to add more tape to keep the fabric in place--next time I will use mod-podge to secure the edges, since I really hate the way the tape looks....of course adding in extra tape would not have been necessary had I decided on a way to display the silver before trying to secure it in place. So again, I recommend testing things out before you make anything permanent. 
Tape the raw edge of the fabric to the frame (or, use mod-podge to get a permanent seal) and wrap the burlap around the frame. Use tape to keep the burlap  in place, but try to hide it on the backside of the frame. It's okay if some gaps remain in the wrapping, but center those messy areas in the back so they are not visible. 
Now that you've got your back covered, tape or glue down any raw edges (if you feel so inclined). 
Now to add the silver to the frame, I sewed fishing line to the fabric portions. A note here;  if mod-podging,  you may want to sew the fabric first and then lay it on the burlap so that the fabric is not so stiff as to break your needle.
Arrange your silver on the fabric before sewing to figure out how you'd like it displayed...otherwise, if you're hasty like I am, you may have to take the stitching apart a few times before it looks right.  I recommend adding the fishing line directly below the widest part of your silver, in this case, the spoon ladle. Also, if you loop the fishing line a few times loosely, leaving the needle attached, you can easily tighten and knot the fishing line after slipping the silver through your loose loop. I attempted to hide my knot on the wrong side of my fabric, but since I'd already attached it, the knot ended up on the "right side"--but I don't think it's too obnoxious as long as the ends are well trimmed. It really depends on how anal-retentive you are; for instance, I must have fixed my stitches three or four times in order to get the silver to lie straight--and it's still, annoyingly, a little crooked.  I eventually discovered that if you loop the needle through the same entry hole, it will be relatively straight--also try not to stitch your silver too close to the edges of the fabric, unless you are planning on sealing the edges with mod-podge, since the weight of the silver will strain the fabric and make the edges curl up. 
To finish, secure the frame to the decorated back with hot glue. You could also try to tie the frame to the back with fishing line (if you do not want to make your frame permanent). If you use fishing line, tie the sting like a package around the length and width of the frame and knot it in the back (Make sure this is very tight--otherwise your whole display will fall apart when you go to hang it!) Actually, for this step, I recommend using hot glue. If you need to remove it later, you can try reheating the glue and cleaning it off with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Take a look at these tips for removing hot-glue.  I think the next time I make this, I may be tempted to add some additional decoration to the frame, though I recommend keeping it simple the first time around, sometimes adding that extra detail is just a little bit too much! In any case, I quite like the way it turned out...despite not having that metallic paint I specifically purchased for this project...I blame the dogs (since they can't defend themselves!) Happy crafting!
 
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image source: http://gardendancing.blogspot.com/2010/06/amazing-world-of-succulents.html
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image source: http://prudentbaby.com/2010/12/prudent-home/diy-simple-stunning-living-succulent-wreath-2/
I have been noticing a lot of these pretty succulents included in wreaths and in centerpieces lately.  Since I'm a bit, shall we say, thrifty, I wasn't sure where to get these without spending waaay more than I wanted (which is any amount, really--I love flowers, but have a hard time convincing myself that purchasing them is a valuable investment, especially when I could easily make them!). 


Even this beautiful `$10 wreath made with faux-succulents from the craft store featured on Milk and Cuddles is a bit out of my price range--although I do love the way the greenery looks on the grapevine, and since I've recently bought one from the thrift store, I may use it in my succulent project. I have also seen some beautiful window boxes and window frames made with succulents... With so much inspiration, how can you go wrong? 

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image source: http://milkandcuddles.com/2013/02/make-a-wreath/
That being said, I began my search for a DIY paper succulent tutorial. After some quick googling, I discovered this tutorial by Twigg Studios. After some modifications of my own, I created a lovely paper succulent to share with you all. 

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image source: http://www.twiggstudios.com/2012/07/diy-paper-succulents.html
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image source: http://www.twiggstudios.com/2012/07/diy-paper-succulents.html
In the lovely Twigg Studios  tutorial, they use paper, which is hand-painted with water colors and then delicately curled. I quite like the effect, but was looking for something a bit stiffer.  Having made several versions of paper flowers, I thought that paper towel rolls, which were already close to the right color, would be ideal. I also used a bit of colored paper to add some dimension and texture to the succulent. 
For my paper succulents, I used a paper-towel roll to cut leaves. I cut half of my leaves in the regular brown and the other half I cut from a paper towel roll that had I sprayed with adhesive and stuck a piece of green-colored paper.
Once all the leaves were cut, into triangles of different sizes, I began gluing them together in a sort of "throwing-star" (pinwheel) shape, so that the corners touched and there was a hole left in the middle. I layered gradually smaller pieces on top of one another, with the corners pointing in the empty spaces, so that each empty space was eventually covered with a leaf. I also tried to intersperse the green and brown leaves, to add a little dimension to my faux-succulent. 
After I finished stacking my leaves for my succulent, I bent some of the edges with my fingers to make them look a little more natural, and less stiff.  For a few finishing touches, I rounded a few of the edges (to make it look a little softer, and more natural). I then added some purple paint to the leaves edges and centers....and voila! My version of the paper succulent. Now I only need to make ten or so more for my wreath! (sheesh!) I think I will try a different kind next, maybe with fewer leaves...check back for updates. 
 
Lately I've been having trouble with my glue gun. You may have noticed how sticky it looks in some of my pictures...
As I was standing in the craft aisle at Walmart, I decided there had to be another solution. After all, though my gun was thoroughly destroyed, I had only had it for a few months (what can I say, I am hard on my stuff). So I opted to try to clean my gun instead of buying another (mind you, I am talking about the cheapest version that they sell at Walmart).
After some internet sleuthing, I found this tutorial from Instructables.com which shows IPA (rubbing alcohol) to be very useful in separating objects from the thugs to which they'd been glued. Using this method as a guide, I started by rubbing cold IPA on the outside of the tip, where the metal meets the plastic, to try and remove backed up glue. This did not really work in my situation (there was just too much glue!), although it did help me to remove some of the glue that was smeared on the table from previous projects.
WARNING: the next steps attempted involve the use of heat, and tools to take apart the glue gun. It is likely that the following steps are not recommend by the manufacturer and they may void any warranties under which your equipment is covered.
I then attempted to use the IPA while the gun was plugged in. Please see the above warning if you haven't already. I used a cotton swab to remove glue from the crevice between the plastic and the metal tip. As I was doing this, I noticed that glue was dripping out of some of the holes where the gun was screwed together. I turned the gun off and let it cool back down. I then grabbed a screwdriver from the garage and removed all of the screws from the device, taking it completely apart (actually it sort of sprang open and fell apart, but it sounds better if I say I took it apart-ah well, I guess the jig is up). Just don't forget to remove the electrical pieces.
With the gun open, I was able to remove the most solid pieces of glue from the holder (there was a significant chunk in the rubber piece that sits between the metal tip and the plastic holder. I then soaked the pieces in IPA, to hopefully dissolve some glue.
After an hour or so of no real progress with the soak, I decided to try to boil the metal pieces, since these were the culprit of the glue gun failure. I have to again point you to the above warning. I placed the metal tip in a pan with a decent amount of water and brought the whole thing to a boil. After a short while my progress was clear. I could see bubbles being released from both previously glue plugged ends.
After boiling the metal for a little while, I took a bamboo stick and used a pair of prongs to remove the metal tip from the boiling water. I inserted the bamboo stick into the wide end of the plug and scraped any remaining glue from the inside of the tip. Since the tip was in boiling water, the glue is very pliant and easily removed.
I let all of the pieces dry for about an hour before putting it back together. Luckily the gun has many notches and it is pretty easy to see how it all fits together.
Once back together, I tested the gun---voila! It works perfectly (albeit still a bit dirty looking) and I saved my $6!