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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!
 
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!
 
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Oops! What a messy cut!
Edges make a difference!
Now for those of you, like me, who stubbornly refuse to adhere to common sense and wisdom, and who continue to not use stencils, rulers, or to sketch ahead of time, it can be suprisingly hard to draw a straight line, let alone cut one--or maybe I just missed that lesson in kindy-garten. While it really is in your benefit to use the aforementioned tools, there are some alternatives. You can fold and tape edges of paper and fabric to hide excess material. If you've already gone ahead and made a messy cut, errors can sometimes be fixed or can be compensated for with a little creativity. Make scalloped edges where you've cut a little unevenly, and fringe hides many errors! If you've over-compensated for a messy edge by making fringe and then accidentally cut a piece of the fringe incorrectly (this will leave an obvious empty chunk), you can sometimes glue missing pieces back into place using hot glue, or the adhesive of choice for your project...not that I've ever done this. So, happy crafting clumsy ones--and remember, sometimes it's just easier to use a ruler..
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A lovely fringe can hide many errors!