Search This Blog

Friday, July 29, 2011

Repurposed Picture Frames

I love going to the beach, which is why we have this post today.  But first, this candle.

We took my craft table out of our spare room.  It had become a catch-all, and I do my crafts elsewhere.  Besides, we needed the space and the table.  So, I had to clean it off.  While cleaning, I found (again) six votive candles that had melted together at the bottoms.  They were made of soft wax that wipes clean, so I stuck them in a bowl and lit them.  I felt kind of wasteful at first, as it was SIX candles all at once, but I have had them for over 10 years in a closet, and I wasn't doing anything else with them...  I loved the effect that it gave.  Once the candles melted down, it looked like I just had a candle with six wicks.  I thought I would share it with you.  You could use a bowl from a thrift store or yard sale.  Next time, (when my candles aren't melted together) I think I will try arranging them in a circle.  

Now, for today's idea.

As I said, I love going to the beach.  I don't really like swimming, though.  I prefer walking and picking up shells.  The only problem then, is that I have hundreds of shells and I have to figure out what to do with them.  I found some of them when I was cleaning my craft table area.  I also found some sharks' teeth and ray dental plates that Tommy and I found in a local creek.  They don't belong in a bag, they belong on display.  I have been reading some great craft blogs lately, and one of them is Simple Simon & Co.  I saw this and this and decided to create the displays you see below.  I wanted to create a small showcase for some of my items.  I tried one idea, and it was a disaster.  I actually tried it twice before figuring out a better way.  You get to benefit from my trial and error! 

You will need an old picture frame.  Mine are 4X6 and something smaller.

You will also need some paper (you could use fabric for a background, too) and large craft punches, or a ruler/compass and scissors.

I used 4X6 matting paper, but I still had to trim it down to fit inside the frame.  My first error was not realizing the way my frame fit together, and by tracing the back piece, the paper was still too big.

This is my first disastrous attempt.  I measured and drew guidelines and punched--and didn't realize my paper wasn't going to fit in the frame, and trimmed, and had crooked squares that had too much space in the middle... It was awful.

So I tried again.  I tried using the frame already over the background and laid my square templates over that to trace it, and then cut the squares with an X-acto knife, because my punch wouldn't fit over the square I had drawn.  It wasn't much of an improvement, as my sister will tell you that I cannot cut in a straight line.  I decided it was "good enough" because I didn't think I could do any better with the cutting.  Ick.

I moved on to the second frame, which I decided to make with circle displays.  Unfortunately, my circle punch wouldn't fit over the circles I traced, either.  Faced with using the X-acto knife again, I had an inspiration.

After you have finished laughing/gawking at the awfulness, here are the directions that work:

1.  Choose a background (solid or print), and cut it to fit inside your frame.

 2. Reassemble the frame with your background piece in front of the glass, and put the back on the frame.  My frame was designed with room for the glass, and so I had to put it in to keep my paper from wiggling around.

This is a view of the BACK of my project.  The paper goes in first, then the glass.

3.  Once the frame is reassembled, turn it over.  

4.  Use craft punches (or scissors) to cut out the shape of your display area.  This should be done on solid color paper (or something like parchment) to minimize distractions.

5.  Put photo splits or glue on your display shapes to make them sticky.

6.  Lay out your display pieces the way you would like them on the background in the frame, and stick them on.  (You could put more than 2 areas and they don't have to be the same.  You could mix and match... The possibilities are endless.)

These are the two frames I ended up with.

7.  Use a glue gun or other glue to attach your little objects for display.

These are what I had when I finished.

I hope I have inspired you to try something new.  It's okay to make mistakes.  I hope you enjoyed seeing mine, and I hope you benefit from what I learned.   And Mom, thanks for lending me the craft punches.  You didn't really want them back, did you????     (Just kidding.)

What types of things would you display?  Any other ideas for me to try?  Leave a comment!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Year-round Flowers to Enjoy

Well, my flowers are dry, and so I took them out of the book.  They didn't all turn out like I had hoped, but quite a few of them look very nice.  Unfortunately, the whole crinum lily I tried didn't work at all.  I think it would have been better if I had taken it apart and just used the petals.

Here is what I ended up with:

When I was in high school, a lady that I went to church with taught me how to make designs with pressed flowers.  I also found a lady at the Kanapaha Botanical Garden Show one year that makes beautiful designs, like landscapes and faces using only pressed flowers and leaves.  

This is what I do:

You will need paper, glue, scissors or a paper cutter, and clear contact paper.  You can use the Contact brand if you have some, but I prefer another product.

 My mom used to have the best contact paper for this, and I used it all.  I hadn't seen any more for years.  I looked online, in stores--nothing.  But, my husband suggested Central Florida Office Supply, and there it was.  This is better than the Contact brand for a few reasons.  First, it is completely clear.  Second, it is cheaper.  I was able to buy it by the sheet, so  I only paid for as much as I needed.

In case you are not in Gainesville, I took a picture of the logo on the contact paper so that you could find a supplier in your area.

I used white cardstock for this project, because it is inexpensive.  However, it is nice to have a pretty background for your design.  You can use chalks to color your paper.  I chose to use watercolor pencils.

I shaded a background with the pencils,

and then went over it with water to blend the pencil marks.

After the paper dried, I used my paper cutter to cut a rectangle out of the painted area of my paper.

Now, it is time to arrange the flowers.  These are individual petals and leaves arranged together to make a picture.  You do not have to, but it makes it easier if you use a dab of glue to attach each piece to the paper.  I used cheap "school glue."

Cut your contact paper to size.

Peel off the backing and attach it to the paper background.  It helps to start in the middle, or at one end and smooth it down as you go.

I had trouble getting my contact paper to be just the right size, so after I stuck it down, I had to go back and trim the edges.  This is okay.  Nothing has to be perfect.

 I designed this to be a bookmark, so I used a hole-punch in the middle of the top section.

I cut a piece of ribbon (6-8 inches) to thread through the hole.  Double the ribbon and pass the "loop" end through the hole.  Thread the two ends through the loop and pull the two ends tight.  

Here you are!  You could add this to a card, or make it a card by putting a personal message on the back.

The second thing you could do is make a picture, using the flowers and leaves as objects.  The picture I got at the garden show has hot air balloons.

To start, make your background as before, but bigger.

Cut it to the size you want,

and arrange your flowers.

The brown-eyed susan reminded me of a sun, and leaves make great trees.  I made the butterfly out of five flower petals.  

Glue the pieces down, cut your contact paper to size, lay it over your design, and trim the edges.

This is something that you could do with kids, too.  Go out, identify flowers, pick them, and dry them, and then the kids can have a great time coloring backgrounds and arranging scenes with the flowers.  You can do the contact paper part for them, and they can give them to grandparents!

Leave a comment if you try my ideas, or better yet, email me a picture!  I love feedback:)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A post with three titles: Pressed Flowers or I have a new website! or I have a business now!

Well, my cyber friends, I have been very busy in the past few days.  Tommy and I did receive our paper work from the state and the city, and so we are now officially in business.  We now have a company called Redding Creative Arts, offering photography and custom scrapbooking services.  If you have a minute, you can check out our site,

I also had time to get some flowers and press them.  Why?  Well, pressed flowers make lovely bookmarks, greeting cards, and art.  My mom and I found an artist that makes pictures only using pressed flowers and leaves.  I have a scene of hot air balloons flying over woods.  You can do something just as pretty, and for very little cost.  Pressing the flowers is the first step, and as long as you don't get arrested for stealing flowers from people's yards, it is pretty much free!

To begin, collect some flowers and leaves.  The leaves are important, please don't forget them.

Then, you will need some white paper or tissues.  You are going to flatten the flowers, but it is important to remember this as you lay the flowers out.  Try to get the petals as open as possible.  You may have to separate petals from the more elaborate flowers.  Arrange the flowers on the white paper so that they do not overlap.  

Next, lay another sheet of paper or tissue over the top of the flowers.  You may need to gently flatten this some.  

Put your "flower sandwich" into a book to press, and stack other books or heavy objects on top of it.  I used this particular book because it had large pages.  I paid 10 cents for it and it was water-damaged when I got it.  If the flowers get it a little bit damp, it won't make much of a difference.  If you do not have such a book, I have this suggestion:  Put your "flower sandwiches" in newspaper, and put the newspaper under a stack of books.

You should check the flowers after about a week to see if they are dry.  If they are, take them out and store them in a dry place.  Sandwich bags work nicely.

A few words about drying flowers:  You should try drying things that you like, but throw in a few odd things, too.  You never know how you will be able to use them in your pressed flower designs later.  Also, colors change as the flowers dry out, and sometimes after a flower is dry, it does not look as pretty as you thought it would.  Don't stress over the ones that don't work.  That is part of the reason why trying odd things is important.  As flowers change, you may find that you like the result.  White flowers may turn a bit brown as they dry, and flowers that are more moist will dry differently than flowers with drier petals.  Experiment!  It's fun!

Next week, when my flowers are dry, I'll show you some ideas on how to use them.