Archive for February, 2008

Making handicrafts for heritage purposes

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Making handicrafts for heritage purposes. The idea of handicrafts is that it is a craft that is made by completely by hand. The crafts are useful and decorative devices that are created with the simplest tools.

These crafts often times have a significant religious or cultural base, which is another reason they are often times passed down throughout generation to generation through the heritage of families.

There are several different types of handicrafts. The main thing is that handicrafts are not just crafts for looking pretty. The usually have a function. Here are some of the different types of crafting you can do, in order to make functioning handicrafts that you can have for heritage purposes.

Here are some of the handicraft trades you can think about creating your handicrafting recipes from.

1. Beadwork is a great handicraft that implements the use of beads, string, small trinkets and more.
2. Assemblage is another type of handicrafting that is great for usability and fun. They are usually some type of collage in three dimensions.
3. Cabinet making is a type of handicraft that is really a great and useful type of handicraft. Cabinets are not only a craft but also an art.
4. Knitting is also a handicraft. The fun part about knitting is that you can wear and pass down from generation to generation the beautiful works of art you create for your family’s heritage and for them to enjoy.
5. Metalworking is a very different but beautiful type of handicrafting. You also can use many of the metal working ideas you make in every day life. The idea of metal wire working comes into this category also.
6. Woodcarving is another type of handicrafting that is very beautiful and useful.

There are all sorts of other types of handicrafting ideas. You can review all sorts of different types and recipes in your local library, or online. Here however we will look at a couple handicraft recipes that are easy, fun and usable after being made.

You can create beautiful jewelry or clothing accessories and adornment from bead working. The key is using beads and string to hook the beads on to or together to create beautiful jewelry affects. There are all types of bead working styles.

This link will lead you to several free bead-working patterns. There are several great patterns for holidays, daily use and more. http://beadwork.about.com/
Here are some assembly ideas that are easy to do. This link will make it easier to find some great recipes when you want to assemble useful works of art. http://www.decordelights.com/

Knitting as a handicraft is not as difficult as some of the others. However, it can be tricky to read the patterns, and use the hand movements necessary to make these beautiful and useful works of art. Here is a link that can help make knitting handicrafts easier. http://www.crazyauntpurl.com/archives/2005/06/easy_rollbrim_k_1.php
http://www.knittinghelp.com/patterns/free-knitting-patterns-adult-slippers-and-socks

Metalworking and wood carving and working are other great handicraft that an be absolutely amazing. Here are some great places to look for ideas, patterns and help. http://dir.webring.com/rw?d=Hobbies___Crafts/Crafts/;adv_on=y;t=s

All in all there is a great deal of ideas, information and patterns out there for you to use to create wonderful and useful handicrafts that you will be able to use for heritage purposes. It is up to you to decide where your handicrafting plans will start. Because that is what art is all about. What you can do to create beautiful things for yourself and your family in the long run.

 

 

Making crafts for the great outdoors

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Crafting is a wonderful way to involve your entire family and show your talents and creativity to your friends, neighbors and family members. You can make crafts for indoors as well as for outdoors to enjoy all year long. There are lots of different outdoor crafts that you can choose from to spruce up the look of your front entrance as well as your outdoor garden. You can select good quality outdoor craft projects that the whole family can enjoy not only to make them but also to display them in different spots of your yard to beautify it.

You may want to think of attracting birds and butterflies to your lovely garden by making appealing, colorful and inspired mosaic birdhouse, bird feeders or birdbaths. It’s very attractive to have these mosaic crafts in your garden and the birds will definitely settle for these decorative treasures. The many different colors can be eye catching in addition to the beauty of the spring flowers in your flowerbeds. Their functional aspects provide easy nesting areas for a variety of birds, which will make your garden even more appealing and gorgeous.

To give your home a nice welcome to visitors throughout the year and during holiday seasons, consider making wreaths that match the season you are celebrating. You can use your own creativity to arrange a beautiful wreath using evergreen boughs, berries branches, pinecones, bright yellow flowers, basically anything colorful, unique and that show the type of season you are celebrating. The wreath will simply add beauty to your front door and is very inviting to
guests, visitors, friends and family members. You can also use any items laying around your house such as straw, small pots, flowers and a grapevine wreath to make a very unique wreath for your garden or for your front porch.

How about making an arbor or adding a wishing well in the center of your flowerbed to enhance the look of it for everyone passing by to enjoy. You can use all sort of old pieces of furniture and turn them into masterpieces. You can use them to plant different kind of spring flowers to add colors and interest to a specific spot. Perhaps you can also use an old small wagon as a planter by drilling holes for drainage, add heavy plastic with holes, gravel and soil to make a very useful planter.

Making simple and easy crafts for outdoors would add so much to your yard and value to your house. There are so many craft projects that don’t require special knowledge or skills to make and to enjoy. Your outdoors can look as pretty and attractive as your indoors if only you take the time and effort to create something special to enhance the look of your garden as if it’s one of the rooms inside. Try different things to beautify your yard. Making your very own crafts for outdoors is truly the best and cheapest way to enjoy your garden. Outdoors crafts are very attractive especially when you use your imagination, your talents and skills to create that very unique design. People like seeing special and one of a kind pieces of furniture or handmade crafts on the front porch or in the garden. There are so many ways to upgrade your outdoors using what you may already have or spending a little money. Either way, your craft will simply be outstanding among the colors and beauty of your flowerbeds. It’s really hard for passers to walk by and not notice the crafts you made. Upgrading your outdoors with unique crafts is simply the best decision you can ever make.

 

Learning to use wax in crafting

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Learning to use wax in crafting. You can use wax in several different ways. The crafting options with wax are open to ideas, thoughts, and recipes. The key to using wax is in knowing how to work it. In this article we will cover a few things you can do with wax, and what you need to do to work it.

Lets take a look at the wax crystals first. They are easy to use, and are great for kids. It is great to let the entire family make inexpensive gifts from the wax crystals. This is mainly because there is no hot wax.

These are the basic tools and supplies you will need.

1. Wax crystals, which ever color you would like
2. Pre waxed wick and wick tab
3. Spoon
4. Scissors
5. Small glass bowl or what ever container you want the candle to be made in

Now make sure the container you are using is clean. Also lay out a newspaper or work cloth in the area you will be working in. The surface can get sticky if there were any spills.

Now place the wick in the middle of the container. Pour in enough of the wax crystals to make a decent sized candle. Level out the crystals. If doing multiple layers, use a spoon to smooth them out. Keep the wick in the center. Trim the wick and light the candle. Easy!

That is only one way you can use wax in crafting. There are many more. The thing about wax is it is not what it used to be. There are all types of different waxes, ideas, and recipes you can use. Here is another.

Using a mold to make wax be the shapes you want. You can make many different shapes, sizes etc with wax and a mold and if you do it right, you have some great gifts all will enjoy.

These are the basic supplies and tools you will need.

1. A wax melting pan or double boiler
2. Stainless steel measuring cup
3. Candle mold
4. Candle mold stand
5. Scissors
6. Knife
7. Newspaper
8. Large paperclip
9. Wax paper
10. Wick
11. Candle wax
12. Scent if you want it
13. Coloring if you want it
14. Cooking spray or wax release spray

Make sure to fill all molds from the bottom up. If the mold has strange curves or parts that are uneven if you fill it differently you will find it is going to come out with parts missing if not.

It will be important to use a cooking spray or candle release spray inside of the mold prior to putting the wax in the mold.

The wick you use should first be about 2 inches longer that the figure size. It can be trimmed after the wax is cooled and completed.

Pour the wax in the mold. Getting it as completely smooth as possible. Then allow the wax to completely cool. Remember this will be hot. So supervision of younger crafters is very important.

Remove the mold from the wax and trim up any areas of imperfection. Then you have it a nice wax candle.

Working with wax for crafting really can be fun. The key is to use safety, and thought of what you are trying to accomplish. You can do so much with wax that it is silly not to try a few different crafting ideas to find the ones you really like.

 

Learning to make beautiful artwork out of clay

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Learning to make beautiful artwork out of clay. Clay can create amazing art. There is really no age limit to clay working. I guess as long as you don’t eat the clay, you are good to go. Here are some great ideas, and some tips for learning about clay art and how to work it.

There are so many beautiful things we see around us that are made from clay. For example, flower pots, baskets, bowls, and much more. So here are some great ideas and some hints to learning to make beautiful artwork out of clay.

Start out lets take a look at some of the basics. These are things you need to know in general.

1. You will find there are a couple different types of clay that can be used for making clay artwork. There are the synthetic clay types. Then there are the earthen clay types. These are more like the original clay that was find in rivers etc.
2. There is hardening clay, which is used for the items that need to harden like plaques, figurines, and vessels. Then there is the non-hardening clay. This is reusable clay. It can be formed over and over and never gets hard.
3. You will find that the hardening clay can be hardened by baking, fired and air-dried. The method you use will depend greatly on your preference and the recipe being used.
4. http://www.michaels.com/art/online/displayArticle?articleNum=ae0238 This site can answer many metric and preparation questions you may have where clay artwork is concerned.
5. You will want cutting tools, sculpting tools and shaping tools also calipers and a few other tools to make sure you can get the form out of the clay you are looking for.

Here is a fun recipe you can try. It is simple and actually very beautiful. The artwork is called a clay basket with different kinds of fruits. This site will give the full instructions and what you will need. Check it out at: http://www.webindia123.com/craft/other/clay/clay.html

For the wee clay artists there are simple art projects that can be made. This is a really good motor skill action for smaller children and helps them have pride in their works of art. Here is a site you can check out for making clay for ornaments. http://www.happynews.com/living/crafts/clay-kids-crafts.htm , or http://www.ehow.com/how_11091_make-homemade-clay.html

Modeling clay is also great for learning to use your hands, and get definition for the first while. It is not always easy to get the clay to do what you want. Here is a site you can check out that will make creating modeling clay it easier. http://www.pioneerthinking.com/modelingclay.html

You can also find that there are many clay art classes available through the mail, online or in your local recreation centers and other community facilities. It is a good idea if you plan on getting serious about clay artwork to learn as much as you can about the art.

You can also learn a great deal from art magazines. For example this online magazine has a great article about polymer clay basics. You can find information like this all over. Knowing where to look easily does it. Check out this online magazine. http://www.ebsqart.com/artMagazine/za_304.htm

This site also can help you with many questions you would have about clay art. There are beautiful recipes, patterns, and much more. http://vickihardin.com/links/

Learning to make beautiful artwork out of clay is easy and can be very fun. Simply take some time to learn the resources that are out there, and you will see there is a great new world of artwork available.

 

 

 

 

 

How to make tile boards

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

So you have discovered the world of tile boards and want to create something of your own.  Learning how to make tile boards is easier than it looks and they make great gifts or home décor for around your own house.  The most popular way to use tile boards is for tile pictures.  You can choose your own picture to use on the tile board and make it into a great wall hanging.  Here are some simple directions on how to make tile boards.

What you will need
 A picture of your choice
 Ruler
 Tile board
 Plastic cups for mixing
 Scissors or exacto knife
 Newspaper or something to cover your working surface
 Mod-Podge (there are other things you can use just ask your local craft store worker)
 Pins or blow dryer (used to pop bubbles)
 Alcohol or baby wipes
 Scrap paper
 Plastic or latex gloves
 High gloss coating
 Masking Tape
 Sponge Brush
 Acrylic Paint (needs to match the picture)

Now that you have everything you need, let’s get started on the actual project. 

1. Choosing your picture.  Naturally the first thing you will want to do is choose a picture.  Types of paper that work best for this project are original photos or copies made on photo paper, and calendar prints.  Scrapbook paper also works but will have to be sealed with modge podge first.  Of course you can always try others, but these are the kinds that work the best for tile board projects.  A note on pictures with faces.  Make sure you choose a board that will work with your photo.  Cutting the picture can distort the lines so you will need to be careful what board you choose.  A suggestion is to take the picture with you when you go shopping for the tile board.  Place the picture on the tile board to see how it will lay out.
2. Choosing a Paint color.  Again, it is a good idea to have your picture with you when you are choosing paint colors because you want to choose colors that compliment your picture.  The paint color will act as the grout of the tile board.  The darkest color tends to works the best.
3. Sand the tile board.  You can lightly sand the tile board if you need to.  Make sure to sand off uneven corner and remove all the dust from the grooves.  You can use tack cloth to wipe away the dust.
4. Paint the tile board.  Make sure you paint inside the grooves and up to the tile sections about 1/2" with your acrylic paint.  If you use a thinner piece of paper, make sure you paint the entire board as the paper may be slightly transparent. 
5. Place your picture.  Place your picture on the tile board to get an idea of whether or not it will fit when you cut it.  Try and place it so the tile lines don’t get in the way with your design.
6. Cutting the picture.  Working from the top rightside edge, mark your cutting line with your exacto knife.  You can then make a small notch on the top and bottom where you want to cut.  Cut that line with a cutter.  Continue cutting around the picture; do one side, then the top and then the inside cuts.  Lay your cut pieces on the board to make sure they fit and look how you want them to. 
7. Glue your picture.  Glue each section of the picture to your tile board using craft glue.  This is where the Mod-Podge comes into play.  Make sure that the edges lay flat and are completely secure.  Also be sure that no glue gets on top of the picture.  If you do get glue on the picture, you can wipe it off with your alcohol or baby wipes.  A not on the wipes: do not rub excessively or you will take the color off. 
8. Add embellishments.  If you have any sort of sticker, jewel, or embellishment that you want to add to your picture then add them now.  Using your masking tape, mask off the edges on the back side of the board before you add the Mod-Podge.  Then coat the entire project with two or three coats of Mod-Podge.  The Mod-Podge looks milky when it is applied, but will dry clear. 
9. High Gloss Coating.  Look over the product packaging instructions before you begin, and always wear gloves while making this project.  Find a place to do this last step where you can keep your project out of the reach of children, pets, or anything that could potentially knock it over.  Place your tile board on 4 paper cuts.  Place some sort of newspaper or cardboard under the tile board to protect the surface from drips.  Mix in equal amounts of each bottle.  By using clear plastic cups to make sure that you mix equal amounts of each bottle.  Unequal amounts cause the mix to remain soft.  Mix well!! 
10. Pour.  Make sure your tile board is sitting level before you pour the mixture over.  Use toothpicks, or a blow dryer (set on low) to pop any bubbles that do not spread out on their own.  You can also just blow on it to remove the bubbles. Let the board set for 10 minutes.
11. After 10 minutes use a piece of scrap paper or tooth pick to drain the excess resin.  This is what will create the tile look.  This may need to be done several times to get all of the resin out of the grooves.  Using your sponge brush you can spread the mixture around the corners and edges.  Edges of the picture corners will not sit back down once lifted, so be careful as you spread not to catch your picture. 
12. Let your tile picture dry for 12 hours.  You can now rip off the tape from the back of the tile board.  

 

 

 

How to Make Great Thanksgiving Decorations Yourself

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Enjoying autumn is easy when you learn how to make great Thanksgiving decorations yourself. There are so many options – the main key is to incorporate the season’s colors and harvest.

One easy craft you can make is to make a pumpkin vase, which can be put outside on the porch or used as a pretty Thanksgiving centerpiece.  This can be done with a medium-size pumpkin or smaller. You can do any size you like, but it’s best to not to use one too big for this craft because the pumpkin will overwhelm the flowers you put in it. The first step in making the pumpkin vase is to hollow it out like you would a jack-o-lantern.  Cut one to three small holes on the very bottom of the pumpkin, depending on the size of the pumpkin. These holes will be for drainage when you water the flowers. To finish, place a pot of flowers inside the pumpkin. This pumpkin vase looks especially nice when filled with red, orange, or yellow chrysanthemums.

A great way to greet guests into your home is make a beautiful wreath to hang on your door. This can be made simply with a plain, grapevine wreath and by attaching various seasonal decorations with a hot glue gun. Some decorations for your wreath could include mini pumpkins or gourds, fall foliage, berries, a miniature cornucopia, or some Indian corn. You could also wrap some orange or Thanksgiving-themed ribbon around the wreath or make a bow to attach at the bottom. You may want to use some floral wire (which can be found at almost any craft store) to keep things in place better as you attach them. Wreaths are a great decoration to make because they are relatively easy to put together and can be completely unique.

Decorative napkin rings are a nice touch to any Thanksgiving dinner table.  There are many different ways to be creative and make a napkin ring that fits your style.  One easy way to make napkin rings is to cut a piece of colored cardstock in a strip that’s about two to three inches wide and five to six inches long. Roll the strip so that it forms a ring and then staple it together. It’s a good idea to wrap the cardstock ring around the napkins you intend to use before stapling, so that you don’t make a bunch of rings that are too small or too big. Next, use a hot glue gun to attach some fake autumn leaves or any other Thanksgiving embellishment you come across.

A classic and beautiful Thanksgiving decoration that can be easily made is a horn of plenty, or a cornucopia.  To make this you can either start with a cornucopia already made or with a cone-shaped basket (to bend the end, steam it so it’s pliable and turn the end just a little).  Depending on how long you want your decoration out or if you want it to be portable, you may want to put it on tray or some other flat, portable surface. Put a bunch of autumn leaves on the tray – you can either use ones collected from your yard, a nearby park, or from the mountains or you can use artificial leaves from a craft store. Either works just fine. Once you’ve covered the surface with leaves, stuff the cornucopia with raffia or straw about halfway. Put the cornucopia on the tray and begin to fill with fruits and vegetables, starting with the larger vegetable in back. Some fruits and vegetables you could use are small pumpkins, gourds, acorn squash, Indian corn, or apples. Have the vegetables and fruit overflow out of the cornucopia and onto the leaves. As a finishing touch, fill in some of the spaces in the cornucopia and around the fruit and vegetables with leaves. You can also scatter some cranberries or acorns around the display. The display should last about a week or two, depending on what kind of produce you use.

In addition to the crafts mentioned above, you can decorate your home easily with just small pumpkins and gourds placed around the house, or with a group of candles over some autumn leaves. With these few ideas you can make great Thanksgiving decorations yourself and  make your house look warm and welcoming for the autumn and Thanksgiving season.

How to Make Great Halloween Decorations Yourself

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Halloween is becoming more popular each year and people are going all out when decorating for this spooky holiday.  There are many ways to make great Halloween decorations yourself, whether you prefer a frightening or fun approach to Halloween.

Fun Decorations
These fun decorations are great for involving kids in the Halloween festivities.  With these few Halloween craft ideas, your house will be envy of the neighborhood:
 To make silhouettes for your windows, use white chalk to draw on black construction or butcher paper. Some fun, easy shapes to draw and cut out could include ghosts, bats, cats (or a cat on a picket fence), jack-o-lanterns, owls, or a witch flying on a broomstick. Stick them to the inside of your windows with double sided tape. When the lights are on in your house, the silhouettes will stand out at night.
 Try a new spin on the jack-o-lantern – use white pumpkins, use the stem as a nose, paint pumpkins (ghostly light blue pumpkins are fun), stack pumpkins like a snowman (either making a tall, jack-o-lantern man, or three heads on top of each other), or using turnips and gourds. When you mix these with the classic jack-o-lantern, your porch will definitely stand out.
 To make your porch even more decked out, try the classic cheesecloth ghost. This is a fun project to do with kids and you can make a variety of sizes and shapes. To make each ghost, you’ll need cheesecloth, a balloon, an empty 2-liter plastic bottle filled with some rice (or anything else that will weight it down), masking tape, a wire hanger, ½ cup of liquid starch, black markers, and fishing line.  Cut the cheesecloth into a three-foot square.  Blow the balloon up to about 5-7 inches in diameter, knot, and place on top of the bottle. Use the masking tape to secure it to the bottom. If you’re using the wire, twist it to extend it from the sides of the bottle. Pour the starch into a large bowl and completely dip the cheesecloth in the starch, squeezing out the excess once it is drenched. Open the cheesecloth and drape it over the balloon. Let the cheesecloth completely dry. Once it has dried, use the markers to draw eyes and a mouth on the ghost, while it is still on the balloon. Remove the ghost from the balloon carefully. To hang the ghost, thread the fishing line through a hole in the top of the head and hang around the porch (or inside).

Frightening Decorations
When it comes to decorating for Halloween, some prefer to make decorations that belong in a haunted house. These creepy crafts are especially great when decorating for a party. If scary Halloween decorations are your taste, here are a couple ideas to try:
 For this craft, you’ll need to purchase some tall candles or tapers, in white or off-white (off-white gives it more of an antique look), some candleholders (shop at a thrift store – tarnished brass candleholders also have an antique, haunted house look), and a red candle (this can be any size – a small votive candle would even work).  The goal of this craft is make the candles appear to have blood dripping down them. To do this, put the tapers in the candlestick and place on a paper plate.  Light the red candle and let it burn until some of the wax puddles around the flame. Drizzle the wax down the tapers as much or as little as you like. Once the red wax is dry, remove from the plate and put the candles wherever you want. To give an extra spooky effect, you can use fake spiderwebs around the candleholders.
 To make your home look like the laboratory of a mad scientist, you can make creepy specimen jars out of produce from your local supermarket. You’ll need some interesting glass jars or vases to start with. Next, you’ll need some fruit and vegetables – you can use a fennel bulb, cabbage, cauliflower, or grapes. Place the each vegetable or fruit in the container and fill the container with water, tinted with food coloring. The fennel bulb (a heart) could have red tinted water, the head of cabbage or cauliflower (brains) in yellow water, and peeled grapes (eyes) in green tinted water. To make the jars extra creepy, make antique looking labels for each "organ".  

With these ideas, you’ll be on your way to making great Halloween decorations for your home and for Halloween parties. Not only will your family and friends enjoy your decorations, but also the little ghosts and goblins who come trick-or-treating to your haunted house.

How to Make Great Easter Decorations

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Decorating for Easter can be an especially fun thing to do – saying goodbye to the cold of winter and welcoming the coming of spring.  You can welcome springtime to your home by learning how to make great Easter decorations. Here’s a few to get started:

The first decoration most people think of when they think of Easter is the traditional Easter egg. Many people don’t realize how easy making their own dye really is – most people already have all the ingredients in their cupboard. So before you run out and buy the overpriced box of dye tablets, try this recipe:

Set out a cup for each color you want to do. For each color, add a teaspoon of white vinegar and 20 drops of food coloring to a ½ cup of boiling water. Dip the egg for about five minutes, but you can make them as light or dark as you want by adjusting the time.

The traditional method of preparing eggs is to hard-boil them (if you’re going to eat them, be sure to keep them in the refrigerator).  But if you’d like to try something new, try making blown eggs. This method allows you to keep them longer. 

To make blown eggs, carefully stick a needle in each end of the egg. While sticking the needle in, carefully move the needle around to break the egg yolk. Hold the egg above a bowl and blow in the other end; blow until the egg is empty (save the insides and you can cook the eggs in an omelet later, too).   Handle the eggs carefully since blown eggs are much more fragile.

There are creative ways to display Easter eggs. The most common way is in an Easter basket, filled with plastic or paper grass.  A fun spin on the traditional Easter basket is to grow real grass in a basket and then put the Easter eggs in it. You’ll have to plan a little in advance to have the basket ready, but the results are worth it.

To make a basket with real grass, you’ll need a basket (any type will work), wheatgrass seed (which can be picked up at most health food stores), aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and potting soil.  About two or three weeks before you decorate for Easter, line the basket with foil and fill with soil.  Sprinkle the seeds on the soil and cover with about ¼ inch of soil. Cover the basket with the plastic wrap and put in a warm place. Once you see little grass sprouts, take the plastic wrap off and water it when it appears to be dry. The grass grows pretty quickly and should be ready in time.

Another way to display your decorated eggs is to hang them as ornaments. Hanging eggs on tree branches is an old European custom. You can bring this tradition to your home easily.  Start with blown and dyed eggs.  Next, wrap some pretty ribbon around the egg and glue in place. You’ll want to cover the holes in the egg next, so on one end, glue on a bow or flower. On the other end, put a pin with a round tip through a loop of ribbon through the hole and glue it. To display the ornaments, put some freshly cut branches from a flowering fruit tree (like cherry blossoms) or a pussy willow in a vase (without water), and hang the ornaments.  You’ll bring the outside indoors and give the home a breath of fresh spring air.

These ideas are just a start to the many other great Easter decorations you can make. With just a little creativity, a little skill, and a lot of pastel colors, you can welcome springtime into your home and enjoy the Easter holiday.

 

How to Make Great Christmas Decorations Yourself

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Decorating for Christmas is one of the treasured parts of the season: putting up and trimming the tree, decking the halls with boughs of holly, and hanging stockings on the mantle.  As you get ready for the holiday season, you can make great Christmas decorations yourself by just following these simple ideas:

1. Bring the Outdoors In
Chances are, this isn’t much of a stretch for anyone – bringing in an evergreen tree is part of the festivities. But you can take it step further.  Go out in the yard, a walk in the park or for an outing in the mountains with your family and collect pinecones in a variety of sizes. 

The pinecones will look pretty under the tree, in a glass dish (maybe with some potpourri), or in a planter outside (a pile of pinecones looks much better than dead plants or dirt in a planter).  You could drill a small hole in one of the top prongs of the pinecone and put a wire ornament hanger through it – the pinecones look great on a Christmas tree or on pine boughs.  To give pinecones an extra special touch, sprinkle some glitter in a brown paper bag, spray the pinecone with adhesive spray, and drop it in the paper bag. Shake the bag, pull out the pinecone, and let it dry before decorating with it.

Another way to bring the outdoors inside is to use elements from nature in a wreath. You could use a plain grapevine or pine wreath (the pine wreath can be artificial or real) and add pinecones, red berries, holly, or some branches from another kind of evergreen plant.

2. Bake Some Decorations
What reminds you of Christmas more than a house that smells of gingerbread and sugar cookies in the oven? Bring that warmth into your home by using cookies to decorate. This is a great way to include kids in making Christmas decorations.

Cookies can be used in various ways. One popular way is to use them as Christmas ornaments. You can either make them from scratch or from prepackaged cookie dough – gingerbread and sugar cookies both work great for ornaments. Before baking them, poke a hole in the top (or you can make wreath shaped cookies). One the cookies have cooled frost and decorate them any way you’d like. After the frosting has set, thread some ribbon through the holes and hang.

You can also use cookies in Christmas wreaths. Gingerbread stars and people with white frosting and dragees (those silver little balls used for decorating cookies and cakes) look particularly nice in a wreath. Just attach the cookies to the wreath with a hot glue gun.

Other uses for gingerbread are, of course, to make gingerbread houses. This does take time and effort (and lots of patience), but the results can be quite beautiful.  A gingerbread house can make a very nice centerpiece – as long as people in your family don’t pick at it and eat it!

3. Pretty Paper Projects
As a child, you probably made a bunch of Christmas decorations with paper. But, with a more careful, adult hand, you can make some of the same projects look elegant for your home.

One of the first paper crafts that come mind is the classic paper snowflake. You can use the traditional method of using a single piece of paper, folding it until it a small triangle, and then cutting it in intricate designs. Or you can try the much more complicated, but stunning 3D snowflake (you can find detailed directions for both the traditional method and the 3D method online).

The snowflakes can be displayed in many ways. If they’re flat, you hang them in windows and let the indoor light shine through. They can also be used in gift-wrapping or on a Christmas tree. They look really nice when hung with fishing line from the ceiling, in different lengths, particularly at the entrance of your home. You can also dust the snowflakes with glitter or use spray glitter. Or, for an interesting twist, you can mix in some red and green snowflakes with the white ones.

Other paper crafts can include the paper chain – when nice scrapbooking paper or other high quality paper is used, you can create a nice garland for your tree, mantle, or kids room. Paper ornaments can be easy or difficult to make, depending on what your skill level is. There are many patterns for paper ornaments and you can even make them with used wrapping paper or scraps.  A scrapbooking store is an excellent place to start and find great paper, stamps, embellishments, and interesting scissors.

This Christmas, make your holiday decorations a little more homemade. The results will bring warmth and character to your Christmas season and home.

How to make finger puppets

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Kids absolutely love finger puppets. This is a chance for you and your kids to get creative using materials around the house. There are so many ways to make finger puppets and you can use the most expensive materials to the cheapest ones to make finger puppets. The easiest way to make finger puppets is probably to use some of your old gardening, winter or fancy gloves. Cut the fingers off at the base and this will be the basis for the size of your finger puppet bodies and make a finger puppet for each of your fingers. Sew each finger puppet on the side together, left to right and around the top of the finger. Do not sew the bottom of the pieces together since this is where your finger will need to go. However, you should probably consider hemming the bottom around the edges to give a nice finished look while being careful not to close the bottom of the pieces, otherwise you will find it difficult to fit your finger in the puppet. If your puppet is more likely to be too narrow to fit your finger, you should start over again.

Once you are done with the body of your finger puppets, you will probably want to give them interesting features or the puppets will look too boring. In order to make the dressing and adding the trimming easier, it’s best to slip your finger puppets over the end of a dowel to keep them in place. This is the best way to hold them up while you are working on each one of them. You can use lots of ways to keep the dowel from moving by sticking it into a pot filled with dirt or between your knees. Insert wax paper or parchment paper between the dowel and the finger puppet to avoid having the glue stick to the dowel in case any glue runs through the material. After this, it’s really up to you to use your creativity, imagination and talents to make your puppets interesting and alive. You can probably find lots of craft materials lying around your house that you can use to bring your finger puppets to life.

With some help from your kids, you can have them draw the face and glue beautiful beads, beans or small stones to make the eyes. Cotton can be used for the hair, beard or fur. You can either buy a cute little outfit for small dolls at your local craft store to dress up each one of your finger puppets or cut out small scraps of felt or other type of material and design to make the outfits. Pipe cleaners are great to use to make arms, legs or antennae. A bag of feathers is simply wonderful for making birds wings and tails. A bit of yarn can be glued onto a puppet for hair or just to give them a smiling face.

Add a hat for one of your finger puppets. You can buy them or make your own. If you decide to make your own, you can have your kids decorate it however they want by painting it or coloring it with markers. This will look so cute once placed on your finger puppet. Of course you can visit your local craft store to give your finger puppet a better look by adding googly eyes or silky hair. After you are done with your puppet designing and like the way they look, leave them on the dowels for a while to dry any glue or paint applied. These finger puppets will be great for kids to use for their puppet show and will not cost you a fortune to make them.