Tag Archives: crafts

DIY Enchanted Forest Hallway

I looked at my hallway right around the new year and I says to myself: Self, that hallway really ought to be an enchanted forest! And so it shall be.

It’s a long, z-shaped hallway, with a narrow little bit that is just a connector between the front and back of the house. Because of the shape of the hallway, there are two long straight halls that stared at a blank wall. I read somewhere that putting a pattern on the wall you walk toward made a long hallway feel less … eternal, and that’s originally where I got the idea for the forest. Because I wanted an indoor forest with magical birds. Because who doesn’t?

I used this post as inspiration and as a starting point, but I wanted a) a light background with dark trees and b) some depth, so I added another layer of trees.

1) First, tape off the stuff that you don’t want painted. This lamp is going away eventually, but I needed it for now…especially because I haven’t bought its replacement yet.

enchanted forest1        enchanted forest 2

2) Paint your base coat. I picked my colors by going to Lowes and grabbing four colors in the same spectrum, a light bluish-gray/white, a light grey, a dark grey, and a so-dark-almost-black. But do better than us, and do the math. We’ve got tons of extra paint.

You can kinda tell that the wall color is different. Kinda. Trust me, it is; it went from peachy-beige to bluish-grey.

enchanted forest 3         enchanted forest 4

3) Tape some trees. I got some hefty use out of my blue tape over the next few days. At first I was following my inspiration post pretty closely, but then it became clear blue tape does not want to stick to heavily textured walls. So I did my best. I agree with her recommendation to flare the trunks of the trees out a little, but don’t go too crazy; you’re looking at the middle of the trees here, not the base or the canopy. Oh, and remember, this is the farther-away layer of trees, so don’t fill in all your gaps yet; you’ve got another layer on top of this, too.

For the branches, I taped kinda free-form. I overlapped the tape with the trunk, then cut away the parts I didn’t want. Remember that a branch must always be narrower than the trunk it branches off of, and branches get thinner the farther out they go.

enchanted forest 7 enchanted forest 6 enchanted forest 5

4) Cut out anything you don’t want. Like I said, I cut out the parts of branches that needed to connect to the tree. I started to follow the original poster’s suggestion of x-acto knifing the trees, but it was quickly clear that I was cutting the wall, not making much difference in the tree, and overall wasting my time. I’d skip that step. If you’ve got textured walls like I do, it really, really won’t matter anyway. Plus you can always touch it up later.

5) Paint! Fill in the trees with your lighter grey color. It took me two coats.

enchanted forest 9       enchanted forest 8

6) Peel off the tape and admire your handiwork for a moment. Look at the nice trees you have!

7) Tape more trees. By now, you’re a total pro at this. Remember, these trees are closer to the viewer, so they may be just a scootch bigger. Or not. Whatever, it’s your enchanted forest. Make your own rules.

enchanted forest 13       enchanted forest 12

8) Cut out the unnecessary bits and paint some more! You’re so good at this by now! Wow!

Remember, trees aren’t uniform, so let them flow, overlap, do what feels right. You’re using the darker paint for this section of “closer” trees, and you’re adding to the illusion by painting them overtop the lighter-colored trees.

It’s starting to look like a proper forest!

enchanted forest 15       enchanted forest 14

9) Get some bird templates. Now if I’d not been doing this on a whim, I might have planned ahead, but no, I didn’t, so I had to run out at this point and go looking for some nice bird templates. And then it turns out that there weren’t any flying bird templates, which is stupid, so you ask your husband nicely and he makes you one. Which is pretty sweet.

enchanted forest 16

10) Tape bird templates to the wall and paint! I made my enchanted birds gold, but pick whatever color you like. I discovered gold paint from the home improvement stores is stupid expensive. So forget it. Just go buy some cheap acrylic paint from the craft store. It’s like $2.

If you have flying and sitting birds, make sure you mix it up so the birds are kinda tastefully spread out. Or don’t, make a flock, that’s cool too! It’s your enchanted forest, after all!

enchanted forest 19       Enchanted forest 18

This…took a lot of coats of paint. Some as much as four. Just tape it, paint it, then come back an hour later and paint it again. I painted it in between loads of laundry.

enchanted forest 20      enchanted forest 17

11) Add bark details. Take a small paintbrush and your dark paint and add some swirls, swoops and swishes to your dark tree trunk. Then, if you’re like me, you’ll probably want some on your lighter trees, too. I mixed some of the dark tree color with the light tree color and wham: instant medium grey. Paint that on your lighter trees, and you’ve got a pretty nice forest.

enchanted forest 22       enchanted forest 21

12) Touch up and clean up. I didn’t like the pointyness of some of my branches, or the rough spots where the tape got weird, so I went in with pretty much all the paint colors and a small brush and freehanded details until they looked acceptable. But maybe you followed this guide flawlessly and did it perfectly the first time—awesome! Next up, take off the tape. It can be a little finicky, but peel firmly and steadily and you should be okay.

Then, enjoy your forest!

enchanted forest 24

I intend to buy a old-timey outdoor-lamp-lookin’ lamp for the fixture, and then I’ll paint in a light pole so  it’ll look a little Narnia-ish, but overall, I’m pretty happy with my enchanted forest. It’s definitely not in every house! 😉enchanted forest 23

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Making a Book, Literally

How to Make Your Own Hardcover Book

This is just neat: this man on Reddit made his own book, in a very literal sense. He has good reason for not buying it: it is originally in a different language, without an official English translation. But he procured the English version and wanted to keep it on his shelf. Ta-da, build-your-own-book!

The process is both complicated and relatively simple. It looks time-consuming, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone who is really passionate about the idea.

The steps essentially are:

  1. Acquire text for book. Print it out on good paper.
  2. Fold printed pages into “signatures” (folded-in-half sections).
  3. Measure where the stitches for the binding should go.
  4. Poke holes into each signature. Looks time-consuming.
  5. Sew the signatures to each other. (Careful about keeping those suckers in order.)
  6. Put glue on the outside edge of the stitched pages. Let dry.
  7. Trim and sand down rough edges on the pages.
  8. Acquire old hardcover book you don’t want; remove the cover (you could also make your own. See Pinterest).
  9. Add cover pages and any other details to your text.
  10. Recover your new book cover.
  11. Glue in the pages.
  12. Enjoy!

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How To Make Paper Roses

Because I am a foolish and cheap person, I am making paper flowers for my wedding. For what? I’m not sure exactly; I just know I want them. For centerpieces, for bouquets, for boutonniere, for whatever.

But they are $7 each to buy! (Though there are some really beautiful bouquets for sale on Etsy, if you’ve got more money than time).

I have a dictionary I rescued from a trashcan, and I like crafty things anyway, plus I figured making paper flowers would be a good way to get to do wedding things in the months before I could do anything practical.

As it turns out, it’s good that I started early. That $7 isn’t for supplies or difficulty: it’s for TIME. These suckers just take awhile. I can typically make two or maybe three during a movie; that’s about 30 to 45 minutes per flower.

So if you are brave, have some time on your hands, and want some cheap but pretty decorations, here is how to make them (cobbled together from several online tutorials and my own screw-ups).

1. Gather Supplies

Paper Flowers- Gather Supplies

I have my dictionary (circa 1970, a very good year), floral tape, scissors, Tacky Glue, and floral wire. I bought the Tacky Glue, floral wire, and floral tape at the craft store for less than $5. You could probably use Elmer’s glue or something similar instead, but this is NOT a craft for hot glue unless you have very burn-resistant fingers. Tacky Glue works great and dries pretty quickly.

With just these supplies, you’ll be able to make 30 flowers with stems. (You could make far more if you just need short stems).

2. Cut Out Petals

Paper Flowers - Cut Petals

You’ll want petals in about 4 sizes: itty bitty; sort of roundish; large; and giant. They look sort of like Hobbit-hole doors or church windows. For the littlest ones, you’ll want the flat bottom bit to be at least 1/4 of an inch or you won’t have enough paper to work with. The big ones can be up to 3 or 4 inches, but you need them to be less wide at the base; anything more than an inch, inch and a half or so gets really unwieldy.

I don’t use a template, and I don’t really think you should either. Some oddity is useful for a project like this, and makes them look more like real flowers. Just get a range of sizes and you’ll be set.

Paper Flowers - Petals with Curls

I find I work best conveyor-belt style, so I cut out all the petals first. You’re going to need more petals than you think you will, so just make a bunch. With thin dictionary paper, you can cut out 4 pages at a time; just stack them together and cut away. I prefer to cut from the bottom edge and work up, so all my words are left-to-right, but this really doesn’t matter in the end. It’s just easier for me.

3. Crumple

Paper Flowers- Crumple

Now that you have painstakingly cut out all those petals, you need to crumple them up. Take a few in your hand at a time and wad them up into little balls. Then uncrumple them a bit. You want your paper to be wrinkly; it makes the flowers look a little more realistic (trust me, it really does). I find it useful to sort of push the petal into my palm with the thumb of my opposite hand because this gives them a bit of a natural curve, but as long as you crumple them up, it doesn’t matter much. Crumple, then smooth out again.

4. Roll Edges

Paper Flowers - Roll Edges

Now that you have crumpled them, you’re going to gently roll the edges back. Just the top, and for the smaller ones you may just make one roll; use your judgement. To roll the edges, I just fold the desired edge over a piece of floral wire and roll it between my fingers a bit until it takes the curl. This becomes the BACK side of the petal, the side that will face out.

Paper Flowers - Lots of Petals

Do this on all your petals. See how they lay differently now? They’re a tad more dynamic.

5. Prepare Your Floral Wire

Paper Flowers - Floral WireOk, so your petals are complete: now it’s time to get your floral wire ready. If you’ve got the long kind like you see here, bend it in half, then cut with your scissors (it make take a bit of work, but it’s doable). Bonus points if you have wire cutters.

Paper Flowers - Bend WireThis is an important step, one that I didn’t find in other tutorials! If you may be moving your flowers around at all (or, um, if you have cats like mine who will immediately pull any flowers out of a vase), you need to now put a little loop in the top of your wire. Just bend the pointy bit down on your newly shortened piece and fold it into itself. It doesn’t have to be very big at all; you’re just making a place for the petals to “grip” so that when you drop your flowers (or your cat knocks them all off the counter), you don’t also lose your bud off its stem.

6. Glue On Petals

Paper Flowers - Wrap PetalsTime to glue on your petals! Start with a dot of glue on one of your small petals. You’re going to place your wire loop right in that glue dot and then fold the petal over it, left to right. Basically just pinch it. Count to three. Your Tacky Glue should then be dry enough for you to keep going.Paper Flowers - Add More PetalsIn order for your rose to look like a real flower, you need to alternate your petal “start points.” Basically, don’t stack them all up behind each other. At this point, the project is less science than art; just do what feels right (bonus points if “what feels right” is a Fibonacci sequence, like in nature. I…am not that good).

Work small to big, using just a bit of glue on each petal. When you get to the bigger petals, your dot of glue will be some a thin line–just run your glue along the bottom, then pinch it around. Keep going until you feel like your flower is flower-like. Like this:

Paper Flowers - A Rose By Any Other Name7. Tape It Up

Next, you’ll need your floral tape. Cut yourself a piece about an inch and a half long.

Paper Flowers - Floral TapeThe tape should be slightly tacky but not actually sticky at this point, and it should be pretty easy to roll off. Cut it with scissors; tearing it is hard (on purpose).

Paper Flowers - Tape the StemYou’re going to pinch your floral tape at the base of your rose. You’ll then slightly pull on your floral tape, causing it to stretch and become sticky. Wrap it around and slightly up onto the paper. This, for our horticulturalists in the crowd, will be how you make your sepal calyxes (everyone else: this is the thick green bit at the bottom of your flowers.)

Paper Flowers - Completed StemIt should look kinda like that. It will be thicker at the top, and naturally thin out toward the green floral wire.

8. Ta-Da! You’re Done!

Paper Flowers - Completed BunchStick ’em in a vase and enjoy them! You may find the stems don’t “sit” well in the vase; the paper can be a bit too heavy. I just twist several wires together and that holds them in pretty well. If you’re using them for display, you could now put in some pretty stones or otherwise camouflage the floral wire, but mine are only temporarily in a vase, so this is perfect for me!

Good luck on your paper flowers! Let me know what you use them for.

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Killer Craft: Build Your Own Zombie

Gorgeously Gruesome ZombiesMy grandmother is the perennial thrift store shopper, and periodically she finds something wonderful and weird. This time, I was the recipient of her bounty: my very own Gorgeously Gruesome Zombies kit!

Basically it’s a little craft booklet with instructions and templates on how to make 8 plushy “zombies” (they’re kinda liberal with what constitutes a zombie, though, thus the quotation marks. Personally I don’t think a construction cone should qualify. Nor a caterpillar, though I guess that’s scary-ish?)

But it combined two awesome things! Crafting + zombies = fun, right?

So, for your viewing pleasure, my very own DIY zombie, in step-by-step process.

First, prepare your supplies.

Assemble Supplies

Second, read the section on the “zombie kid” and discover it doesn’t include all the supplies you’ll need. Be annoyed but grateful you have a ridiculous assortment of scrap/craft supplies.

Read Instructions

Third, trace templates from back of the book and then pin to felt.

Zombie Templates

Fourth: Cut out clothing and body parts. Feel ghoulish.

Body Parts

Fifth: Build your little Frankenstein’s monster body with the help of craft glue. He’s a spiffy chap.

Construct Body

Sixth: Sew monster’s front to his back. Be annoyed that he’s apparently wearing body paint clothes as his back is flesh-colored (grey). Add some blood to his stumpy arm.

Sew Em Up

7: Tell your zombie to stuff it.

Stuff It

8: Make a face. Ignore weird instructions to apply gross eyeball after head is complete and do it now because it makes way more sense. Be squicked out by the dangly eyeball. Love your zombie even more. Make a Face9: Sew him up.

Sew Him Up

10: Make sure he has a fat head.

Fat Head

11: Make a hat! Wish you also had a dashing red top hat of your very own. Be jealous of your zombie creation. A Hat!

12: Attach head to body. No Neck

13: Make him fancy.

Fancy Zombie Creation

14: Electrify.

Just kidding. Don’t add electricity to your zombie. It won’t work, anyway. They’re undead by nature.

Do store your zombie in a safe place to keep your cotton-stuffed creation away from your BRAIIIINS….

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Get a Hobby, You Bum!

For some aspiring authors, writing is serious business. And, sure, I get that. You want to do something well, you want others to like it, you want to get published and make all the money (or at least enough).

But after reading article after article about writing as a business, it starts to feel like this:

And that, I think, is a little much.

I don’t think writing or book-making or whatever should be your end-all-be-all. In fact, I think making it so would be a quick way to stifle your creativity. You need to do other things sometimes, too! Take on new experiences! In other words, get a hobby!

honeybee cupcakes

I have a couple of hobbies, and while that sometimes makes scheduling a bit tricky, I think it also makes my life richer.

For example, I bake overly complicated cupcakes.

(These had buttercream icing swirled, yellow jellybeans decorated with black icing, and almond slivers for the wings to make honey pots with bees for a baby shower.)

I also do a lot of random crafts. I went through a wreath phase earlier this year, and also made this door hanger.

The point is, do something else sometimes. It’s good for you.

And, you never know: you might get a great story idea while you’re AFK.Speak Friend and Enter

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