Crafts, Decorated

Decorating Ideas – Places to Use Ribbon: Crafty Ways to Use Pretty Trim Around the House

Looking to add a little decorative punch to a room but don’t want to make a big commitment? Try using ribbon to spruce up some different areas in your home. It’s easy, inexpensive, and can be easily changed if you tire of it.

When decorating with ribbon try to use one that is of good quality. There are tons available at craft, art, and sewing stores. There are many that look great, although most people agree that grosgrain is the best.

Decorate Lampshades

Adding ribbon to lampshades is easy and it looks great. Whether it’s a table lamp, hanging pendant, or tiny chandelier and sconce shades, a ribbon detail will spruce it up. Use double-sided tape to attach pieces around the circumference of the top and bottom. Either place the ribbon so that it wraps around the top and bottom (folding over onto the underside) or leave a small space between the ribbon and the edge of the shade.

For a more bold look, place the ribbon vertically (from top to bottom) all the way around the shade to create a striped effect. What’s great about these ideas are that the ribbons can be changed with the seasons to create a whole new look.

Dress Up Curtains with Ribbon

Add a ribbon border to curtains and drapes for a tailored look. While it’s possible to use double-sided tape, it might eventually start to become unstuck (as drapes are opened and closed). A better idea is to use wide ribbon and actually sew it on. This is a great way to embellish a plain window treatment. It’ll look like you spent a fortune.

Accent Glass Doors

Glass doors that are either on pieces of furniture or a part of cupboards can benefit from a ribbon embellishment. Tape two pieces to the inside of the door, stretching them out diagonally from corner to corner to create an X pattern. Tape them in place. If desired, a sticker or medallion of some sort can be placed in the middle where the ribbons cross for a more finished look.

Place Ribbon Around Windows and Doors

Create a ribbon trim all around a room using double-sided tape. It’s a little unconventional, but that’s what makes it fun! Place the ribbon around the outside of windows and doors. Be sure to use a fairly wide ribbon so that it makes a statement. Thin ribbon will get lost.

Use Ribbon to Embellish Accessories

  • Tie ribbons around candlesticks to add a pretty touch.
  • Crisscross pieces of ribbon on a fabric-covered bulletin board for added sophistication.
  • Glue ribbon around a plain picture frame.
  • Sew ribbons to pillows in any number of patterns and designs.
  • Tie ribbons around plain plant holders.
  • During the holidays tie a piece of wide, seasonally coloured ribbon around the backs of chairs.

Ideas abound, so use your imagination and add ribbon anywhere you can think of.


Crafts, Decorated

How to Make a Photo Ornament: Fun Framed Christmas Decorations for the Tree

Making photo frame ornaments is a simple and inexpensive project that adds a meaningful touch to your Christmas tree. Photo frame ornaments also add an element of memory and history to your Christmas tree. They can be a record of how your children and family change from year to year.


  • wallet-sized photos of children or family
  • picture frames for wallet sized photos
  • drill
  • ribbon (Red or green for the holidays is nice. Alternatively, use ribbon that matches the color scheme that you or the recipient decorates in.)

Optional Supplies

  • pair of pliers


  1. Remove the kickstand for the photo. The easiest way to remove the stand is by using the drill to drill out the rivets that hold the kickstand in place. A pair of pliers may be necessary to finish the work.
  2. Drill two holes in the backing board for the photo.
  3. Clean the glass.
  4. Place a photo in the frame.
  5. String ribbon through the holes then replace backing board in frame.
  6. Tie a bow at the top of the ribbon
  7. Hang the finished ornament on the Christmas tree and you have a unique and inexpensive ornament that will be treasured for years to come.

Ideas and Suggestions

By the time people are grandparents, they seldom want things. However, they usually adore anything related to their grandchildren. Therefore, anything with a photo of their beloved grandchild is usually welcomed. Give photo ornaments as an annual Christmas gift. Make an ornament of each child for the grandparents every year. Give yourself the gift of a family portrait ornament or an ornament with a group portrait of your children for your tree. Someday, your children will have a rich inheritance of ornaments and memories from both you and their grandparents. They will be able to share their past with their own children by sharing the memories evoked by the photo ornaments.

Save money. Keep your eye open for beautiful or unique frames throughout the year. See if you can find suitable frames on sale.

Do not try to use matching frames. The ornaments will be more memorable from year to year if you use different frames for each holiday. It is, however, nice to use the same frame for all the ornaments you make in a given year. Using matching frames for your ornaments in a given year but different frames from year to year will strengthen the memory associations with the ornaments.

A fun gift for a schoolteacher or Sunday schoolteacher is to make ornaments of all the children in the class and hang them on a tree in the classroom.


Crafts, Decorated

Make a Wall Pocket: A Special Place for Noteworthy Letters

Handwritten letters are rare in this age of electronic communication. Why not celebrate the noteworthy event by storing and displaying you letters in this fun wall pocket. This wall pocket would make a great house warming gift for a close friend or relative with whom you exchange letters.


  • a small wooden wall pocket (thrift stores are a good place to find them cheap)
  • old sheet music (thrift stores are great for old sheet music purchases)
  • images
  • text
  • large sheet of white paper to make patterns
  • scissors or X-acto knife
  • paint or water-based stain
  • decoupage medium
  • sand paper
  • acrylic or polyurethane finish


  1. Sand and clean the wall pocket.
  2. Lay the wall pocket down on the paper. Trace each side of the pocket, in order to make patterns for the sheet music.
  3. Cut out the patterns. Lay each pattern piece against the pocket so that you know where to trim. Trim edges that extend beyond the edge of the pocket. Keep trimming down the pattern until the pattern fills the side it was created for with a few millimetres of wood edging all the way around.
  4. Paint or stain the wall pocket to the tone desired. Allow the paint or stain to dry. (The example uses a dark brown water-based wood stain.)
  5. Use the pattern to cut out sheet music to fit the wall pocket. Trim sheet music as necessary to fit (similar to how you trimmed the pattern).
  6. Print out an image you like to decorate your wall pocket.
  7. Create text to glue over the sheet music (use a font and words that appeal to you).
  8. Using decoupage medium (thinning it down with two parts water to one part medium is helpful), glue the sheet music to all sides of the pocket.
  9. When the sheet music is dried on, add the text and images where you want them. Allow to dry.
  10. Cover with several coats of full-weight medium (do not thin with water).
  11. Sand if necessary.
  12. Seal with an acrylic or polyurethane finish to protect it from water.

Helpful Hints and Suggestions

If the papers you are using are different shades of white try tea staining them to create a more uniform look. The colour will not necessarily be even but the papers will all share the same shadings.

Tea Stain

  1. Lay papers (do not allow them to overlap) in a shallow tray.
  2. Cover the papers with a strong tea.
  3. Allow the papers to soak in the tea for at least half an hour.
  4. Remove papers from the tray and place on paper towels to dry.



Die Cut Machines Unplugged: Ellison, Accucut, Pazzle, ScrapSavvy

Several readers lately have been asking what is the difference between all of the machines. They all tell you they are wonderful. Truthfully, they are. But which one is right for you? Here is some information on several brands to try to make this dilemma a little clearer.

AccuCut GrandeMARK and Ellison’s Prestige Pro are the commercial sized manual machines while the ScrapSavvy and Pazzle are designed with the individual in mind.

AccuCut’s GrandeMARK uses a plastic panel to grip the paper or fabric and hold it in place. This insures that the cut isn’t distorted as it passes through the roller. AccuCut has 80+ new dies to be released in January. The machines are primarily geared to the retailer; the new dies will be geared to the crafter. They also have an optional embossing kit and 8 different texture plates. If you have an earlier model and want the Grande MARK, they offer a trade-in feature that will give you a discount. The only piece that has to be purchased regularly is the cutting plastic panel. It will work for hundreds of cuts but needs to be replaced periodically. Price range is about £595.00.

Ellison’s Prestige Pro uses a cutting pad to create the die cuts. Ellison promises accurate cuts without distortion. 134 new designs are being released. These machines are geared primarily to schools although more and more crafters are using them. They also have the embossing capability and texture plates. The warranty is a lifetime limited warranty excluding the cutting pad and the bearing assembly. Price range is about £395.00.

For both machines it is imperative that you explore the dies before purchasing. It will be an investment when you add the cost of the dies. Make sure they offer the dies you need although both companies offer custom made dies.

Both offer extra large surfaces allowing for large die cuts, can be used with fabric for the quilter, and offer starter kits.

ScrapSavvy vs. Pazzle

Your own PC drives these machines and both come with software packages to help you manipulate and customise your own designs. They are smaller than the manual machines: 12-13 inch.

The software for the machines really makes the difference. The machines are opening possibilities galore by making them connect to the computer but what the machine will and will not do will depend largely on the software you get. You will need to make sure the software is compatible with your computer too.


Crafts, Decorated

Customising your cushions: Stencilling throw pillows and cushions

I recently bought new cushions for the dining room chairs. They were nice and green. Just solid green, nothing special cushions. In reading the package I found they were made of canvas fabric. If this isn’t an invitation for embellishment, I don’t know what is.

We recently created our own stencils.

Stencilling seat cushions or throw pillows is a small job with a big pay off.

Materials needed:

  • Stencil
  • acrylic paint (oil based paint if for the bathroom or outdoors)
  • stencil brush or sponge
  • tape or pins

Tape or pin your stencil in place. Pinning is more secure but may buckle. Tape will not buckle but you need to use strong tape. If you use tape that is too strong it could leave yuck(tape residue) on the cushion.

Before you decide on colour think about how bold or subdued you want the stencil to be. For example on a light sage green seat cushions:

for a subtle accent use one or two shades darker sage than the cushion or go lighter such as ivory or very light sage.

for a medium intensity accent, use a colour in the same tone such as dusty blue depending on the other colours in the room or a dark version of the sage.

For a bold accent, use a contrasting colour or a very dark colour, such as orange/red or dark hunter green.

Stencilling is tricky because you don’t want any paint to get underneath the stencil edges. When stencilling something soft, it is a good idea to hold the edges down as you work.

Whatever brushes or sponges you use, do not brush the paint on. Daub it on. If you brush, you will not get the same effect and risk moving the stencil or getting paint under the edges.

You can use more than one colour. Try blending one colour edge into another by putting colour on your sponge or brush sparingly. You want so little you should even brush it onto a scrap paper first to get even more paint off. Then daub the area. Now repeat with the second colour. Now go back to the first colour and continue to repeat until it is the desired coverage. This take patience but is worth it in the end.

Once you have completed the pillows or cushions allow them to dry completely. There are fabric sealers you can spray on or just use it as is.

You can also use layers of stencils. To get a more intricate design create a different stencil for the background, distance, midrange, foreground and main object. Then starting from the back, stencil one on top of the other. Allow drying time in between.

Now comes the really fun part. Look around and see what else you can tie into this design. You can stencil the floor to look like a rug. It also will make the chair cushions look like they were purchase in an exclusive line to match the rug.

Keep in mind that you can make these for gifts and personalise them to the recipient.

You can stencil the wall, the door, the table, or the drapes. The list goes on and on. Enjoy and email me what you did. I love to hear from you.



Making a Pinched Clay Pot: Knead, shape, embed a design, paint, and dry this Native American classic craft.

Native Americans have a long tradition of craft work ranging from colourful beadwork to intricate dreamcatchers. There are beautiful clay pots and amazing leather goods. Native Americans have an affinity with the earth. They have learned many lessons from the ancestors but one that is most imperative is learning to live with the land instead of thinking they own it. Many of their crafts celebrate this philosophy. The feathers used to make headdresses, corn husk for dolls, birch bark creations, all come from these traditions of taking from the land only what you need but never depleting it. There is not only a respect for the land, there is also the need to give back to it.

In this project we are going to make a clay pot similar to how the Native Americans have created them all through history.

Materials needed:

  • air dry clay
  • paints
  • glaze or varnish
  • paintbrushes
  • Black fine point permanent marker (optional)
  • hand towel

You will need a piece of clay about the size of an apple.

Knead the clay on a hard clean surface as you would bread dough to get the air bubbles out. This also increases the elasticity of the clay as it warms in your hands. Once you are satisfied that it is thoroughly kneaded, begin shaping it into a ball. We do this by cupping our hands together with the clay between and applying pressure for a moment. Shift the clay and repeat the pressure. Continue until you have a symmetrical ball of clay (or close to it).

If you are right handed put it in your left hand and lefty’s, put it in your right. For the sake of demo I am going to use the right-handed method. I put the clay in my left hand and push my right thumb into the middle making sure to not break through. Beginning with the bottom, I am going to work my way around the clay, giving it a continuous quarter turn as I pinch the clay making the bottom of my pot with my thumb to thin out the bottom clay but not so thin as to make it weak. Be careful you don’t just go wider and wider. Flatten the bottom on the kneading surface.

Now begin working on the sides. The idea is to pull the clay upwards as you are thinning it out. I use my thumb from the inside and my pointer finger on the outside of the clay. Continue rotating the clay in your hand as you work it with your other. If it gets too large you can cut off the excess.

At the top of your pot, smooth and round off the rim. You can put a design in the clay if you like or you can wait for it to dry and paint it. While it is drying, wet your hand towel and lay it over the pot. You want it damp not sopping. This will keep it from drying too fast and cracking.

Remember with the paint colour to look for colours in nature. Below is a link to a page about the symbolism found in Native American art. Check it out. After the paint dries you can outline the symbols with your black marker to make them pop.



Weaving a Grass Basket, Bowl, Dish: This South African craft can be made with a variety of materials and painted, stained, or stamped.

For centuries Zulu people have braided and woven grasses into bowls and baskets, formed pottery, created intricate embroidery and beadwork, and sculptures using the same techniques that have been used through the ages.

Visit this gallery in South Africa for :African Art and Crafts from the finest craftspeople.

Are you ready to try your hand at making your own basket? Simply follow the directions below. Once you get the basics down you can have fun trying different alterations.

Materials Needed:

  • Needle
  • Upholstery thread
  • Grasses, pine needles, or whatever you have growing in abundance
  • optional – bowl to use as formI used pine needle but you can use any material you have with the same technique.

I prefer to use the materials while they are still green because they are more malleable. They will turn brown later.The bundle measurements given are for the thickness of a round bundle. Length doesn’t matter. Regardless of the length, you are going to attach the bundles in a staggered pattern. Think in turns of making a braided rug but you have a lot of short pieces. You would overlap each one to the next. We will be using the same concept.Take about 1/4 inch bundle and using the end of a 36″ piece of thread, tie the bundle in the middle. Put the needle on the other end of the thread. Loop the thread around the bundle and through the back to the front. Take a second 1/4 inch bundle and lay it next to the first bundle. The top of the second bundle should come to the middle of the first.Now wrap the thread around the entire bundle and then through the back to the front. Continue from the halfway point of the first bundle to the halfway point of the second bundle. Fold in half and begin sewing the two bundles together, looping the thread around the new bundle by putting the thread through where the two bundles meet.Sew the next loop to include the previous bundle. Continue to the half way point. At each halfway point add another bundle. Continue working until you get to the end of the previous section. Fold around it and sew into place using the technique discussed earlier of sewing a loop around the new bundle by putting the thread through were the two bundles meet.Sew the next loop to include the previous bundle. Continue around while shaping the basket by placing the new bundle on the side of the previous bundle, slightly raised from the previous bundle or directly on top of or below the previous bundle. There is no wrong way.Your basket can be dish shaped, bowl shaped, vase shaped or plate shaped. After you have done this once and understand the basics, you can try new materials, different threads, different shapes and sizes. You are only limited by your own creativity.When you have finished, end off by sewing into the basket to reinforce and knot. You can either leave the vessel as is or add colour by painting, staining or even stamping.Use some of the traditional symbolism below to tell your own story

  1. Lines painted can represent tears and recall the pain of death. The tears also denote the hardship of a woman’s life
  2. Large eyes, ears, and nose signify the ability to see and hear everything
  3. A small mouth conveys the idea that the you should be slow to speak to give you time to think and not say something in haste that can not be retracted.
  4. Black denotes the relationship between the living and the dead.
  5. Red symbolises life and women
  6. White rimmed eyes express uncontrolled anger.
  7. Zig zag geometric patterns refer to moral principles, a difficult moral path that all people must follow if they are to succeed in life.
  8. The checkerboard pattern represents opposing sides: ignorance and knowledge, dark and light, good and evil, wise from stupid, male from female


Crafts, Reuse Reduce Recycle

Simple Straw Brooms for Dolls: An Easy Primitive Design

The simple design creates a primitive ornament that can be displayed by itself or tucked in the hands of a doll. From tall, spindly handles, to short, bristly brooms, the pattern is easy to adapt in order to create any size and style of miniature broom.

A handmade broom lends a sense of old-fashioned charm to period pieces and dollhouses, especially Halloween projects. The materials used vary from soft broom corn silk to durable craft straw bound a sturdy doll-sized handle. Whether a traditional small wooden branch or a smooth wooden dowel, the main requirement for a complete broom is durability of the materials.

Materials Needed:

  • one sheath of broom corn silk OR
  • one package of craft straw
  • one tree branch or wooden dowel
  • needle-nose pliers
  • rusty craft wire
  • glue

Choosing the Broom Materials

Selecting the right materials depends largely on the type or style of broom wanted and the nature of any companion pieces. True primitive design encourages the use of real broom corn silk, or the soft bristles grown for folk art brooms. A knobbly stick serves as the handle, complete with stubs, curves, and broken ends.

For an equally primitive appearance, but less traditional construction, craft straw makes a good substitute for more expensive broom silks. A package of synthetic straw can make several brooms depending upon the size. Thin wooden dowels cut to short lengths can take the place of tree branches as doll-sized broom handles.

Steps for Making the Broom:

  1. Cut the dowel or break branch to length desired.
  2. Select a large sheath of straw or corn silk, trimming away excess materials and shaping in the form of a “broom head”.
  3. Smear the handle with glue and place in the middle of the broom head; press the straw around it.
  4. Cut a piece of rusty wire and wrap tightly with needle-nose pliers around the broom straw, cinching it close to the handle.
  5. Brush the wire with craft glue to help hold the wrappings in place.

Finishing the Broom

Paint and distress the broom’s handle for an old-fashioned touch of colour; plain wooden handles can be coated with a protective sealant or treated with stains to darken or lighten the wood. Trim the end of the broom’s bristles to create uniformity or remove bent or overly-long straws if desired.

The finished broom is ready to tuck into the hands of a Halloween witch, lean in the corner of a shelf with simple primitive ornaments, or whatever means of display the artist chooses for their unique primitive creation.



Handmade Studio At Home: Studios For Handmade Crafts

Many people want to have a place to sell the products that they make. There are several ways that this can be done including selling from a space at home. It’s not as hard as many people think, they just have to know where to start and what they need.

Finding Space For The Studio

The first thing that needs to be done is to find a space. The best space for a home studio is probably going to be in the garage or in a room with a door that leads to the outside. This can be one that is attached to an enclosed porch or entryway. This will help to keep customers in that part of the house and not in the rest of the living area.

When The Craft Studio Should Be Open

There are some times of the year that having the craft studio open is going to be a good thing. The best times seem to be right around thanksgiving so that customers can shop for Christmas presents. This is the time to have all the Christmas and seasonal crafts that may be made out for the customers to purchase. It’s also a great time for advertising the craft business.

Making The Craft Studio Legal

Before the studio is open. The legal problems should be looked at. Zoning can be a big issue because many neighbours will not want customers parking in front of their homes to attend a craft studio even for a short time. It’s important to make sure that the business stays legal and that there are no problems from the city. A good idea is to call the local chamber of commerce and ask them who to talk to about the laws in that state and town.

Having a craft studio in the home is really not that hard. All anyone needs to know is what the laws are and how to stay legal with the business. It can be a lot of fun to open a craft studio and to sell the products that they love so much. Anyone that is looking at a fun and easy way to sell the products that they make should think about what they can do to sell their products at home in their own studio and why they are doing it in the first place. That way they will truly enjoy it and will be happy that they did things that way.

Many people want to have a place to sell the products that they make. There are several ways that this can be done including selling from a space at home. It’s not as hard as many people think, they just have to know where to start and what they need.