Thursday, May 23, 2013

Recycled Photo Album

A couple of weeks ago I was purchasing some new clothes and the store was offering a free gift with a qualifying purchase. After ringing up the sale, the store manager told me that I qualified for the free gift (photo albums). I didn't want or need the photo album, but the manager was so happy that I qualified for the gift that I didn't want to make her feel bad by refusing it. I accepted the album and headed home.

The album was fairly nice quality although the cover was ugly-dark olive green with large embossed flowers. I felt bad throwing a perfectly good album in the trash and offered it to several friends. No one wanted the album in it's current state. I had been looking for a make over project for my blog and this seemed like the perfect candidate. There was only one problem, the deeply embossed flowers covered a large portion of the front cover.  I covered the entire album cover with gesso. The gesso soaked into the embossed areas, but didn't cover them up. Next I tried modeling paste. I built up two thick layers of modeling paste but the flowers could still be seen. I painted the front cover with acrylic paint and let it dry. I mixed the blue paint, modeling paste and white paint together to produce a slightly lighter shade of blue. I dabbed the mixture onto the front cover with a foam brush to produce a textured surface. I set this aside to dry.

Here's the work in progress.

Original free photo albums.

Album covered with gesso and modeling paste.

Layer of textured paint added.

Close-up of textured surface.

Finished Album

I am so happy with the finished result and the fact that I turned an ugly photo album destined for the trash into an album that I would be proud to give as a gift. The textured finish on the album can be made in any color simply by mixing modeling paste with acrylic craft paint.

Directions for Butterfly Album:

Photo album or memory book
Golden Modeling Paste
Liquitex Basics Acrylic color-light blue, white
Recollections Adhesive Faux Pearls
Recollections Pearl trim
Recollections Butterflies- Aqua, Purple
Sheer white wire edge ribbon
Parchment color paper
Hot glue gun
Clear craft glue
Foam brush
Duraclear Satin Varnish

1.   Coat the album cover (front and back) with gesso. Let it dry.

2.  Apply a light layer of modeling paste to the cover and let it dry, then repeat.

3.  Using a foam brush paint the album front cover light blue. When it is dry, paint the back cover and album spine.  Apply paint to the edges of the album and let it dry.

4.  Mix light blue paint with modeling paste. Add white to the mixture until desired color. I added white until the paint mixture was one shade lighter than the paint in the tube. Be sure to mix enough paint and modeling paste to cover the entire album.

5.  Dip the end of the foam brush into the paint mixture. Dab the paint mixture onto the front cover. Place the end of the foam brush on the cover, press down and then pull up to create the textured surface. Once the front cover is completely dry, dab the paint mixture onto the spine and back cover. Let it dry.

6.  Apply a thin coat of craft varnish over the album (front cover first, then spine and back cover).  Let the varnish dry before applying to the spine and back cover.

7.  Apply a thin layer of clear craft glue to the adhesive faux pearls and press in place along the front edge of the album cover. Position the pearl trim on the lower part of the front cover and press in place. Leave a space wide enough to glue the butterfly in between the trim.

8.  Glue the aqua butterfly (with hot glue) between the pearl trim. Hot glue the purple butterfly to the right edge of the clear window on the album.

9.  Tie the sheer white ribbon around the front cover of the album and tie a bow. Trim ribbon edges at an angle (to desired length).

10. Print Memories or some other sentiment using Microsoft Word and the font of your choice onto parchment paper. Cut out and insert in window on the front cover of the album.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Creative Journaling

Brittany and I were running errands and decided to make a detour to Barnes & Noble with the idea that it would have to be quick because we had several other stops to make. The plan was to find our books and head over to the check-out. NO BROWSING! We walked into the store, headed toward the books and suddenly our plan fell apart. When we met in the middle of the store each of us had an arm full of books. We headed toward the check-out desk an hour later, but never quite made it there. Brittany spotted the journals lining the shelves along the wall. I found a beautiful handmade Italian leather journal with the Medici Lion embossed on the front cover. I love the Medici Lion! This book had beautiful ivory lined pages. Great for writing poetry but I wasn't sure how it would work with sketches. The journal was removable so I could replace it with a similar size sketchbook. The journal is so beautiful just as it is that I decided to sketch on the lined paper and cover the paper with gesso or some other medium when I don't want the lines showing through my drawings.
Medici Lion Journal

First sketch in the Medici Lion journal.

This sketch is based on the Afghan Hound sketch that I did in August 2010.

Directions for journal page:

The dog was drawn with a No. 2 pencil. I used Prisma Color pencils for the face and fur.

Highlights to the muzzle and the fur were added with Derwent Ink Tense pencils. Wet a No. 4 round paint brush with water and blot the excess water on a paper towel. Carefully paint over the lines that you made with the Ink Tense pencils.

Color the background with a dark blue Ink Tense pencil and paint over it with water. Be careful not to get the page too wet or the paper will curl. Let the page dry and paint over it again if necessary.

Add a quote or your own thoughts. I added both. I used the quote by Eugene Delacroix: "Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything."

 I used the EK Success fleur de lis paper punch and gold handmade paper to make the fleur de lis for the heading. The heading is written with an India Ink fine point pen. Highlight the heading by going over the words with a magenta Prisma Color pencil.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Decorative Towels

Any one who has ever priced the decorative hand towels in the stores knows that they can be quite expensive. A few years ago we were throwing a party and I wanted a decorative hand towel for our Powder Room. I needed a Williamsburg Blue towel with lace trim to match my decor. After searching several stores I realized that this towel simply didn't exist, at least not in the market place. I ended buying blue hand towels and headed over to the fabric store to buy lace trim, fabric and embroidery thread.

I went about designing the hand towel. The process wasn't as simple as I had envisioned because the towel had two 1/2 wide chevrons (the same color as the towel) stitched 4 1/2 inches from the towel's hem.  Hmm, how can I work around this? The lace trim covered the chevrons but it's placement so far from the hem line looked out of place. I decided to use the fat quarter of fabric that I purchased for the heart design as a border. Next I made a heart template and drew the hearts on Heat and Bond. After fusing Heat and Bond to the wrong side of the fabric I cut out the hearts and then fused them to the towel.

I hung the hand towel in my Powder Room on the day of the party and forgot about it. Later, several guests approached me asking where I had purchased the towel? My mother-in law said "I know you made that towel and I want one for my bathroom." So on Mother's Day she got two towels to match her bathroom decor.

These towels make great Mother's Day, shower or hostess gifts and they are easy to make. 

Finished hand towel.

Close-up of hearts.

Directions for Decorative Towel:

Hand Towel
Fat Quarter or 1/4 yard of fabric to match towel: 100% cotton fabric
1 yard of lace trim
Heat and Bond for fusing fabric
Rayon machine embroidery thread to match the fabric
Natural color thread

1,  Pre-wash the cotton fabric and put in the dryer. This will pre-shrink the fabric so that your ruffle and hearts won't pucker when the towel is washed.

2.  Cut the fabric approximately 12 inches wide by 18 inches long. Fold the fabric in half so that it measures 6 inches wide. Fold under almost 3/8 inches on side edges of the fabric and the upper ends of the fabric and press (set the iron to cotton). These will become the finished edges of the ruffle. Sew the side edges of the fabric, using a 1/4 inch seam, with the natural thread, but don't sew the top edges yet.

3.  Use a long gathering stitch on the sewing machine to gather the fabric 1/2 inch from the upper folded edge. Pull the threads to slightly gather the fabric to make a ruffle. Pin the ruffle to the towel 4 1/2 inches from the bottom edge, covering the chevrons. Sew the ruffle in place using the natural thread, using a 1/4 inch seam.

4. Pin the lace trim approximately 1/4 inch from the top of ruffle and sew in place, using the natural thread.

5.  Make a heart template by drawing a heart at 1 1/2 inches on plain white paper and carefully cut it out. Use the template to draw two hearts onto the paper side of the Heat and Bond. Fuse the Heat and Bond to the wrong side of the fabric. Cut out the fused hearts. You can also use the Cricut to cut the hearts out of the fused fabric. 

6.  Pin the first heart approximately 5 inches from the side edge of the towel and 1 1/4 inches from the top edge of the ruffle. Pin the second heart slightly to the right of the first heart. The edge of this heart should touch the edge of the first heart and be 1 inch from the top edge of the ruffle. Carefully remove the pins, trying not to disturb the design and fuse according to Heat and Bond package directions.

7.  Wind a bobbin with the natural color thread and thread the rayon embroidery thread through the sewing machine. Set the sewing machine to satin stitch and carefully stitch around the edges of both hearts. You will need to stitch very slowly because of the towel thickness and the temperamental nature of the rayon thread. This thread has a tendency to break easily.