Sunday, December 13, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Twinkling Wreath

It's almost Christmas day and New Year's day arrives exactly one week later. Not much time to make a whole new set of decorations, so here's one that will take you from Christmas to New Year's Eve in the blink of an eye.  We'll start by making a tinsel wreath for Christmas

then on New Year's Eve, we can remove the red ribbon and add letters to the center to spell out "Cheers" and 2016 with Joy 3D embroidered letters.

Here's what you'll need:

Joy letters and numbers
12" Smoothfoam™ wreath - flat not rounded.
16" Disposable silver party platter
2" Wide silver, wired ribbon
1 1/4" Red wired ribbon
Silver tinsel garland
Floral Pins
Decorative LED lights for crafts
Lo-temp glue gun
Silver sequin pins

1. Cut a length of silver ribbon long enough to go around the wreath. With the edge of the ribbon aligned with edge of the foam wreath, wrap the ribbon around the wreath, securing at intervals along the edge with sequin pins.


2. Holding both ends, carefully pull the wire along the upper edge of the ribbon to gather. Pull as tightly as possible, then twist the ends together to secure.  The gathered edge will automatically overlap the front of the wreath.

3. Cut a piece of tinsel to go around the outer edge of the wreath then thread thru the coiled light strand. Pull the lights so the ends reach the ends of the tinsel.  Wrap around the wreath and secure with the floral pins.  Lights are optional, but they do add an extra sparkle.

4. Cut a 1" slot in the edge of the silver tray then glue the wreath onto the tray with the end of the  wire and battery box at the back of the tray.  Glue the battery box to the back.   
Note: The wreath should fit snugly within the rim of the tray.

5. Add a bow to the top of the wreath for a Christmas decoration, then glue the letters and numbers in place for New Year's Eve!  Enjoy!  Y'all come back now...................

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Friday, December 11, 2015

Candle Wax Ornaments

I love candle light, but no matter what I do, my large pillar candles burn unevenly and end up looking pretty yukky after a few evenings and I have lots of these....

I hate to throw anything away, so I decided to turn them into ornaments.

We've made handmade ornaments for the tree for years and I have to admit these are some of my favorites, mostly because they didn't cost anything!  Here's the tree with a sneak peek between the branches.

This is what you'll need: 

Candles, plastic cookie cutters, molds, silver thread, a ladle and a double boiler.  Yep, mine is very old. I learned how to make these in while living in Germany in the late 60's and make a new batch every couple of years of years or so.  They store well from year to year, but tend to melt and stick together if it gets really hot in the attic, or barn. Not a problem tho...  I simply re-melt them and make new ones! EZPZ.......  I recommend storing them inside.

Okay, let's get started:

Step 1:  Melt the wax in the double boiler.  It should be runny, but not too hot.  Be careful not to overheat.  BTW, since you'll be working with hot wax, this really isn't a craft for young children.

Step 2:  While waiting for the was to melt, make loops from silver thread.  I'm using a candy mold for these angels, so lay the knotted end of the thread into each angel shape.

Step 3:  Remove the pan from the stove, then use the ladle to carefully pour the wax into each shape.

Step 4:  After 2 or 3 minutes the wax will turn opaque on top.  Place the mold in the freezer.  After 10-15 minutes take the tray out of the freezer then tap quickly on the counter top. The was shapes will pop right out.

Step 5: You can also use silicone molds. This Father Christmas mold is available at Katy Sue Designs.  Designed for the cake decorating industry, it's also perfect for wax and paper clay as well as fondant. You can fill the mold completely or just the image. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes then peel back the mold and the shape will fall out.


Cookie cutters are also great shapes for wax ornaments. Place the cookie cutters on wax paper on a flat surface then ladle the wax slowly into each shape. After about 20-30 minutes, carefully pop the sides away from the wax. 


 To make the hangers, thread a needle with the silver thread. I then sit in front of a lighted candle and heat the needle so I can pull the thread thru the top of each ornament. Keep re-heating the needle and thread all the ornaments.  Don't cut the thread. Starting with the last ornament, pull the thread thru until it is long enough to make the hanger. Cut, then knot the ends together. Repeat until you have a hanger on each ornament.  This method is a little faster than threading them one at a time....

Time to hang them on the tree, or add to decorations around the house.  You'll notice that your wax ornaments will glow when nestled among the lights on the tree branches - so pretty.


Hope you enjoy this fun recycling project, I also shared how to make the bows in a post earlier this month - they're EZPZ too!  Y'all come back now.... more easy ornaments to come!

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Thursday, December 10, 2015

CHA and The Arts & Crafts Industry

What would you do with $650? Well, put your thinking caps on because this may be your opportunity to win!  Are you ready?

Organized by CHA Designer member and marketing consultant, Lisa Fulmer, almost 60 CHA members from around the world are coming together to help celebrate the CHA MEGA Show’s 75th Anniversary with a blog hop, Dec 7th thru Dec 11th.  Each day there are posts from CHA members about the show: new products, workshops, demos, make'n takes and, from me, a personal note about our industry - where it's been, where it's going and a little about my Life in the Craft Lane. 

I attended my first industry trade show, formerly HIA, in 1991. I was a professional crafter and had heard about a great show where manufacturers from all over the US and other countries exhibited their products.  To say it was overwhelming was an understatement.  My brain literally went into overdrive then froze from all the creativity I was exposed to.....  I haven't missed a trade show since.

So much has changed over the past 25 years. "How to" craft books and craft magazines have, for the  most part been replaced by internet tutorials, TV shows have become secondary to YouTube videos and designers now have the opportunity to brand and promote themselves thru personal blogs and self publishing via e-books.
The industry pendulum has swung from family crafts, to scrapbooking and is now focusing on home dec, mixed media and the makers who are bringing it all together.  The fact that Arts & Crafts is a billion dollar industry has not escaped the investment companies and over the past few years, many of the family owned businesses soon became part of these large dollar driven entities.  Many others have consolidated under one large company, but still retain their identity.

In a creative driven industry, change is inherent and each year, there is always something new to look forward to.  It never ceases to amaze me how many new companies exhibit at the show each year and it's always exciting to walk thru the doors on opening day.  For the past few years I have taken photos of exhibitor booths as a I walked up and down the aisles, then posted them here on my blog.  If you've never been to the show, you can walk the January 2015 show with me here:

My craft business has grown and changed dramatically over the past 20+ years. I have graduated from professional crafter and decorative painting teacher, to author, managing editor, graphic designer, product developer, consultant for major companies, host of a national TV show for 15 years and manufacturer representative for popular shopping channels.  I'm currently working as Design Team coordinator for 3 industry manufacturers and author the Trending Thoughts column for Bella Crafts Quarterly, an online magazine.  The one constant is my passion for crafts and being creative.

There is always something new to learn and education is an important element of CHA. There are 2 days of workshops, demos and seminars before the show floor opens as well as during the show.  Not only for designer members, there is something for everyone.

Attending the CHA show each year is like a family reunion.  I look forward to seeing old friends, meeting new designers and oftentimes teaching seminars on things I have learned over the years.  Designers have a tremendous support system with constant contact thru Facebook groups, where they generously share information to help each other and grow the industry for us all.

Now let's get back to the $650.....  there are 3 steps to enter using the Rafflecopter widget below:
  1. Leave a comment (mandatory) answering the question - "What is your favorite "can't live without" craft supply or tool?"
  2. Tweet about the giveaway.  (Include #CHAshow and tweet daily for extra entries.)
  3. Answer a multiple-choice poll about how often you "cre8time" for crafting - double entry value!
Anyone and everyone in the US and abroad is eligible to enter, even you and your team. CHA staff are the only folks who are not eligible.  This is day 4 of the blog hop, so don't forget to check out previous posts - tomorrow, Dec 11th  is the final day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Card Gift Boxes

I save cards... all kinds - Birthday cards, Easter cards and especially Christmas cards.  I keep them in a basket in the corner of my craft room and use them for all kinds of crafty goodness.

I love the artwork and/or the sentiments and can't bear to throw them away, so I recycle them into gift boxes and tags.

It takes very little time and all you need is a paper trimmer (or ruler and craft knife), embossing stylus (or dead ball point pen) and some glue.  I usually look for cards that have an even border all the way around like this one, then I don't even need to measure.

Here's what you do:

Step 1:  Cut the card in half along the fold line, then score straight lines along each side of the front of the card the same distance from the edge.  If your card has a border that's the same width all the way around, like this one, score along the lines around the center image.

Step 2:  Cut one slit at each corner from the outer edge to the point where the scored lines meet. This is to create the tabs.  You can use scissors, or a paper trimmer. 

Step 3:  Fold the sides toward the back of the card then fold the tabs inward and glue in place to create the top of the box. 


Step 4:  Score and cut the other side of the card to create the bottom of the box.  TIP: Make the borders around the bottom of the box about 1/16th of an inch wider so the top will fit over the bottom more neatly.

I always have so many cards to choose from, I never run out of gift boxes! 

Some of the card fronts however,  don't always make the best box tops. A few of them have a separate dimensional piece on top.

I remove these carefully and either adhere them to heavy weight card stock and make a gift box from scratch, or punch a hole in the top then add ribbon to make a tag.

People don't seem to send as many Christmas cards as they used to, so I have to admit, I have been known to buy boxes of cards when they go on sale after the holidays....  just to make these little gift boxes.... LOL   Enjoy!  Y'all come back now...........

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Cookies for Santa

Another week or so and we'll be making cookies for Santa. We usually make them on Christmas Eve, otherwise Santa's cookie plate will look like this....

I started by making a pattern for my die cutting machine including a line around the circle to make placement a little easier.  You can find the pattern in the "Personal Images" tab here on my blog. You will also need a small sea sponge, etchall™ etching crème, pik tool, etchmask™ and transfer paper.

Step 1:  Cut the pattern from etchmask. 


Step 2:  Weed (remove) the areas to be etched, including the circle line, with the pik tool while the etchmask is still on your cutting mat.

Step 3:  Cut a piece of transfer paper large enough to cover the pattern, remove the backing, then cover the circle with transfer paper.

Step 4:  Carefully lift the pattern from the mat then place at the center of the front of the plate. You can etch on the back if you like, but you will need to remember to cut a mirror image of the pattern. Make sure the pattern is firmly secured on the plate then carefully remove the transfer paper.  Check to make sure all the tiny pieces are in place. (Insides of the letter "e" for example.)

Step 5:  Cover the rim of the plate with scraps of backing paper, or whatever you have available to prevent any accidental etching.  Cover the areas to be etched liberally with the crème.  Etchall crème is reusable, so you can't use too much.  Let sit for 15 minutes then scrape the crème back into the container.  Rinse the plate to remove any remaining crème, then remove the pattern and extra paper.
NOTEThis product will etch porcelain, so do not rinse over a porcelain sink!!! It will etch that too.


Step 6:  To create the lacy, snow effect on the rim, dip the surface of a softened sea sponge into the crème. (New sea sponges are always soft, but if it has been used before it will be hard. Soften under running water then squeeze out any water.  Dry thoroughly before using.)  Spread the crème on the sponge by dipping it gently on your work surface. Dab etching crème all around the rim of the plate on the back.  Leave for 15 minutes, then rinse. This method produces a lacy etched look, but usually there is not enough creme to scrape back into the container. 

Here's a photo of the plate in black and white so you can really see how pretty the etching looks on the rim.  You can see lots of etched glass ideas for Christmas and order etchall products online at

Instead of adding words to the center of the plate, sponge the etching crème all over the back of the plate.  A set of these etched, glass plates would make a unique addition to any holiday table! 

Now it's time to bake some cookies for Santa!  Enjoy!  Y'all come back now......

Yours truly,
Julie :)