Design Mom » make something http://www.designmom.com The Intersection of Design & Motherhood Mon, 12 May 2014 18:42:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Painted Boxes http://www.designmom.com/2014/05/painted-boxes/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/05/painted-boxes/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 17:19:14 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=47445

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and Styling by Amy Christie

Sometimes, I’m just in the mood to make something, so I come up with a project just because. This is one of those projects. Happily, this project happens to be stunning, and would make an excellent gift!

The boxes themselves are pretty fantastic, but fill them with some poppy pencils or note cards, and they’re even better. Make one for your mother. For your child’s teacher. For your best friend. Or just keep one on your own desk — they’re so pretty, they’re hard to part with.

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

I wish you could all come to my house to see these because, believe it or not, they are even more beautiful in person. I was even surprised at how lovely they turned out to be. And the how-to is so simple!

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

With a little tape and your favorite color scheme, you’re set to begin making beautiful designs.

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

Come see this simple project unfold!

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

Supplies:

- wooden pencil or artist box (I used this one and this one from Amazon.)
- paint
- tape
- sealant, optional

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

Decide on a design and use the tape to create it. Make sure to stick down the tape well to keep the lines clean. Remember, the tape will protect the wood, leaving it without paint. I used blue painter’s tape for everything. I cut it down to narrow strips for the larger triangles. Worked great.

Add paint in your desired colors and allow to dry completely.

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

Peel away the tape to reveal the design. Add a sealant if you desire or leave it as is. I loved the flat color against the wood.

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

And that’s it! Can you believe how simple? The only time consuming part is deciding on a design and trimming the tape to create it — but that’s the fun part too!

If you decide to make one, let me know. I want to see a show-and-tell of all your pretty painted boxes.

P.S. — Like to make gifts? Click here for tons of ideas.

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DIY: Crate Shelves — Make a Set of 15 for $125 http://www.designmom.com/2014/05/diy-crate-shelves-make-a-set-of-15-for-125/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/05/diy-crate-shelves-make-a-set-of-15-for-125/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 14:54:16 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=47351

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Images and text by Gabrielle.

As promised, here is a tutorial for the crate shelves we have in the Reading Loft. As you may remember, the inspiration for the shelves was this image. I liked that you can see through them and get a glimpse of the wall color behind. And I liked that there were various sizes.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

At first, I did a search to see if I could find a similar product to purchase — and these shelves from Design Within Reach seemed to be the closest thing. They’re gorgeous! But the price really added up fast when I considered how many I needed. Plus, I wanted more control of the exact dimensions of each box. So finally, I concluded making them was the way to go.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

We work with a handyman named Alex for some of the small projects around the house, and I hired him to help me with these as soon as I knew I wanted to make them. Alex is actually a sculptor (with an impressive portfolio) who does home projects on the side. It’s a huge bonus to me that he’s a sculptor, because it means he has an excellent eye for detail, and he’ll brainstorm solutions with me thinking as both an artist and a builder. And brainstorm we did!

I determined I wanted to use 3/8 inch thick plywood, but Alex was concerned because that was thin enough that the boards could split if we screwed them together. So I considered the thicker plywood, but it just didn’t look right — the proportions were off — too heavy looking. So we discussed ways to make the 3/8 inch plywood work. We looked at metal brackets and all sorts of fasteners. Then happily, Alex came up with this smart format.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Notches were cut out of opposite corners of each box piece, then the pieces were fit together. Simple and brilliant! Interlocking the cubes this way adds stability.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

And I love that we don’t have to mess with the simple profiles of the boxes by adding protruding hardware.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125 DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Want to make some shelves of your own? Then, let’s get started.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Project Overview & Tools

I would say this is an intermediate skill-level project. Ideally, you have access to a table saw (though anything from a skil saw to a table saw can work), a jigsaw, and a palm sander with 120 grit and 220 grit paper.

You’ll also need a measuring tape, wood glue, paper and pencil. If you want to make as many shelves as we have, plan on this project taking a couple of full days.

Instructions

To put them together, we bought 4 foot x 8 foot sheets of plywood. Then, had the lumber yard cut the plywood into 4 equal long strips that were 11.5 inches wide. We chose that width to minimize the plywood waste.

Note: I know 12 inches across seems like the easiest way to divide a 48 inch wide sheet into 4 pieces, but the saw eats up some of the wood, so if you go with 12 inches wide, the first 3 pieces will be fine, but the last one won’t be quite 12 inches. That’s why I recommend 11.5 inches.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Then, using a table saw at home, those long pieces were cut into smaller pieces for the 3 different box sizes. 18 inches, 15 inches and 12 inches — 4 pieces for each box.  If you don’t have a table saw, you can likely get these cuts made at a lumber yard as well.

Note: This part was a bit of a math game, figuring out how many pieces could be cut from each length of board. And depending on what size boxes you’d like to make, and how many of each you’d like, the math will change. So plan on pulling out paper and pencil for this part and sketching and measuring before you start cutting.

You can make the boxes in any size you like. I chose 18″, 15″ and 12″ based on what I was planning to store on the shelves, and based on the small loft where they were going to live. I studied our book collection, measuring several books as I went, to get a good idea of what would work. But if I was using these to hold toy bins, I would have measured the bins first and then designed boxes to fit around them.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

For the next part, a jig saw is needed. You’ll cut out 1/2 inch notches that go halfway across, in opposite corners, from all four pieces of wood on each box. I know that’s hard to picture, so definitely study the photos to see what I’m talking about. : ) This is the longest part of the process, and you’ll have lots and lots of half inch scraps piling up.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Once you have each piece looking like this shot (I made a blue outline to hopefully make it really clear)…

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

… you can put the boxes together like a puzzle.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

Then, to secure the pieces together, use a strip of wood glue wherever the pieces join, and 2 finishing nails on each of the uncut edges.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

We used a nail gun because we happened to have one on hand, but a hammer would also work just fine.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125   |   Design Mom DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

The last step is to sand them. A good plywood will be fairly smooth already, but going over them with a fine grit paper, then an extra fine grit paper will ensure no slivers for little hands. With a palm sander, this goes really fast! I was able to sand all of our shelves, inside and out, in less than 2 hours.

Note: I thought I wanted a clear matte varnish to give them a little shine,  so we added one, but it didn’t work the way I hoped at all! It raised the grain of the wood in a rough way and yellowed the boxes. So I sanded it all off, and kept them plain and unfinished instead.

DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125 DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125 DIY Crate Shelving - Make a set of 15 for $125

And that’s it! Our set has three of the 18″ boxes, five of the 15″ boxes and seven of the 12″ boxes — 15 crates total. (I don’t have instructions for you on the little triangle piece. Alex made that one with some trial and error from the shelving scraps. It’s so cute!) The whole set came under $125 for materials. Not bad for a full set of good-looking, flexible storage. If you make some, I hope you’ll tell me how it goes!

P.S. — Like to make things. Find all sorts of projects here.

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DIY: Monogram Soap Bottles http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/monogram-soap-bottles/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/monogram-soap-bottles/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:05:56 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=47001

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.  //  This post is brought to you by Office Depot’s #TeachersChangeLives program. Register your child’s classroom, so the students have the school supplies they need to succeed.

The end of the school year is approaching fast and I know you’re  thinking about something nice you can do for your child’s teacher. As you may remember, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about teachers having to buy supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets (you guys left the best comments!), so it won’t surprise you to hear that I think the best gift would be a donation for classroom supplies using Adopt A Classroom + Office Depot!

Final Infographic (new colors)

Teachers buy so many things for their students — from basic food, to warm coats, to field trips — and there are so many good, straight out of the box, practical items that would make great gifts. But I know sometimes it feels special to give a handmade gift, so I thought it would be fun to come up with something that would work at school or at home, and that could be personalized too.

Etched soap pumps fit the bill wonderfully! They’re easy to make, they look great, and you can pair them with a classroom donation, or give them as a stand alone gift.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

This is a smart, usable gift for teachers, but really, it will work for anyone on your list at any time of the year — a housewarming gift, a hostess gift, a neighbor gift at the holidays — or make some for your own house.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

The etching is so fun to do, you’ll want to etch every piece of glassware you have. Gather friends and have an etching party!

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

Come and check out this simple project.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

Supplies:

- sticker-back vinyl
- cutting blade
- etching cream
- brush
- letters in your chosen font (Archer is the font pictured here)
- glass bottle*

*Test the etch cream on the glass you intend to etch. Glass that is coated in plastic (to make it more shatter resistant) or glass that contains lead will not etch. If you find the glass won’t etch with cream, try an “etching paint“.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

First, cut the letters out of vinyl.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

Remove the adhesive cover on the backside and place the vinyl on the bottles. I found it easiest to tear off the bottom 1/5 of the adhesive cover and place it where I wanted it to be. When I peeled the rest of the backing off and stuck the rest of it down. Make sure all the edges are firmly pressed down.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

Apply the etching cream over the exposed glass. Follow the manufacturer’s directions regarding length of time and rinsing.

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

Add in a colorful soap and it’s set!

Easy & Pretty! Make an Etched Soap Pump for Child's Teacher   |   #teacherschangelives

Can you believe how easy? The only time consuming part is cutting out the initials — keep that in mind when you choose a font (straight lines are easier to cut!).

I hope you have fun making these, and I hope you think of a happy way to honor the teachers in your life this year.

P.S. — As part of the #TeachersChangeLives program, Office Depot teamed up with Adopt A Classroom to highlight the stories of educators throughout the U.S. that go above and beyond in the classroom. These stories range from teachers in underprivileged and underfunded schools, to teachers that take innovation in the classroom to the next level, and everything in between. With teachers already doing so much with so little, think how much more they could do with support from the community. Go here and scroll down to see all the videos — they’re really well done, they had me in tears! Here’s one of my favorites:

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Geometric Wire Bunny http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/geometric-wire-bunny/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/geometric-wire-bunny/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:30:12 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=46887

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Okay you guys, can you handle one more fun little project before Easter is officially here? (Please say yes!) Today, let’s make modern geometric bunnies. It’s a simple idea — wire formed to make the shape of a bunny — but it can be used in so many fun ways!

It was a little bit of a challenge to find the right wire but now that the leg work is done, it won’t be as tough for you. Plus, there’s a free downloadable template to help you out. There are two bunny versions in the photos. One is small and simple — you could make a dozen of these fairly quickly. The other version is oversize. As in 3 feet wide! It’s a little more challenging, but still totally doable.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

The smaller one is pictured here as a napkin ring, but it would also be adorable as an accent on a gift. Or you could hang one sweetly from an Easter basket. Or you could attach a long ribbon and use it as a springtime bookmark!

The larger one is oversize and quite dramatic. Hang it on your door in place of a wreath. Or display it on the wall above the sofa. It looks good as both interior and exterior decoration — and you can customize the color with ribbons!

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

Get ready to flex those muscles, the directions are below.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

Supplies:

- wire*
- pliers
- crimping sleeve (for stiffer, lower gauge wire)
- nails & board for little bunny sculpture, optional
- downloadable pdf of the bunny pattern (with one ear, and two ears — free!)

*For the large bunny, I used 12 gauge galvanized utility wire. It’s strong and holds its shape well. For the little bunnies, I used 18 gauge aluminum wire. I found both at a farm supply store.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

First, the little bunnies. You can surely try to sculpt it with just pliers, shaping it to fit the bunny PDF, however, I think I found simpler route: a nail form. At each ‘corner’ of the geometric bunny, hammer in a 1 inch nail. As seen above, I used 31 nails. At first, I tried to keep the two-eared look for the little guys but it was too messy. 

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

Start by wrapping the wire around a nail. The starting place is up to you but I found it best to start right under the face in hopes to hide the beginning-and-end connection with a ribbon. From there, pull the wire tight and taut around the form. NOTE:  Whenever the wire needs to change directions, you must wrap the wire around the interior side of the nail.

For instance, above, see at the base of the ear how I pulled the wire around to the inside of the nail so the wire would stay in place when I continued around the ear. Again, at the base of the ear on the other side, the wire was looped on the inside of the nail before continuing around the body.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

Continue around the bunny form, making sure to loop the wire around the nail when it needs to change directions. When complete, wrap the ends together. Gently pull to release from the nail form.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

Make as many as you desire. Wrap with a length of ribbon and use as you wish!

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

For the big bunny, you are going to need some muscle and a friend. To make sure the bunny form stays a bunny, the wire gauge needs to be low. But, low gauge means more of a challenge sculpting. Maybe a little sweat. : )

First, enlarge the bunny sculpture to just about 3 feet. Then, using a strong set of pliers, bend the wire around the image. A friend comes in handy to hold the already sculpted wire in place.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

Bend the wire at each ‘corner’.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

To complete it, again because the low gauge wire is so strong, it needs something called a crimping sleeve. From the store I shopped in, I saw different sleeves for the various gauges (12 gauge wire with a 12 gauge sleeve, etc). Pinch it with pliers.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

And that’s it! We dressed ours with satin ribbon in two colors for a more festive feel — you could pick any colors you like.

I hope this little project gets your imagination going. I’d love to hear if you make some — and how you put your creations to use!

P.S. — Like to make things? Find tons of great projects here. Looking for more Easter ideas? Go here.

DIY Wire Geometric Bunnies. Oversize and Mini. Perfect for Easter!    |   Design Mom

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Easy Cabbage Dyed Eggs http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/easy-cabbage-dyed-eggs/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/easy-cabbage-dyed-eggs/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:32:12 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=46603

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for a Ombre Look. Easy and totally natural.   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

I love the look of eggs dyed with plants and flowers, but every time I’ve planned on attempting it in years past, I get intimidated sourcing dye ingredients and stop myself up. So instead of gathering a dozen different materials and spending too many hours experimenting, I decided that this year, I would focus on one easy to find plant and see what it could do.

The plant? Common red cabbage. Available in every produce department of every grocery store in the country. Yes, it looks purple or sometimes red, but did you know it makes a great blue dye? It’s one of those things that’s hard to believe until you try it yourself.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

I love how they turned out so much I even want to keep the broken shells.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

I felt so much happy anticipation checking and rechecking them to see how the colors were changing. I could hardly wait to see the final results.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

Get the details below!

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

Supplies for One Batch of Blue Dye:

- 1 head of red cabbage, chopped
- 4-5 cups of water, dependent on the size of the cabbage head
- 1 to 1 1/4 Tbsp white vinegar
- baking soda, optional
- eggs to dye
- big pot, colander, cups for dye, towels

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

Toss the chopped cabbage into a large pot with the water. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. When it is complete, add in the white vinegar.

White vinegar is an acid which helps with the dye process. In my observations, the white vinegar also act as a color lightener. When I added it to my first batch of cabbage dye, I was nervous because I noticed the tone lighten to a more purply hue. In my research for this project, I found that baking soda acts in the opposite way. I added a pinch of it to the dye and the tone quickly turned more blue. I am not a chemist and, for the most part, I chalk the whole process of dyeing up to magic.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

So how do you get the different tones with just cabbage? Easy peasy. Simply vary the length of time the eggs spend in the dye bath. The deeper the tone, the longer the time. In fact, the deepest tones sat overnight! It was an easy process. I submerged the eggs and would just keep checking on them until I liked the tone.

All of tones pictured were achieved with cabbage — with one exception. The navy tone was achieved using a blueberry dye. Blueberries, crazy enough, make a reddish dye. I used a little of that with my blue dye to get the navy.

The blueberry dye mix I used was 2 cups water to 2 cups blueberries. I boiled them together for about 30 minutes and then I added 1/2 Tbsp of white vinegar.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

And that’s it! If you’ve every wanted to experiment with natural dye, I highly recommend red cabbage as the perfect starting point — that one ingredient can create a full ombré look!

Tell me, Dear Readers, have you ever tried dyeing your eggs with plants or vegetables? Do you have a favorite technique? I’m especially interested in easy-to-find ingredients that I can pick up at 11:00 PM when I’m at the grocery store buying last minute lunchbox ingredients any way. : )

Also, I’d love to hear if you’re trying any special techniques to dye your eggs this year?

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Project Kid & Wise Craft http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/project-kid-wise-craft/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/project-kid-wise-craft/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:30:57 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=46525

Craft Books05

Images and text by Gabrielle.

I’ve got two really cool books to share with you. Both are craft books — one for kids, and one for grownups. Oakland has been a rain fest over the last couple of weeks so I’ve been pulling out the craft books for rainy day ideas, and I can heartily recommend both of these volumes. They are chock full of solid, creative ideas!

First up, a book for the little ones called Project Kid. It just came out today so it’s fresh as can be! The author, Amanda Kingloff, was the Lifestyle Director at Parents Magazine for ages and she comes up with the happiest things for kids to make. All the projects are really doable, and they focus on materials that are easily accessible — and that you probably already have at home.

Craft Books06

I think these needlepoint fly swatters are genius — I love crafts that have a practical application!

Craft Books08

And I think these silhouette pennants look so good. You can find more about the book, book related events, plus a cute intro video, at the Project Kid website.

Craft Books01

The second book is called Wise Craft. It’s full of truly useable projects that look chic and handmade in the best possible way. The clever creator, Blair Stocker, focuses on scraps, found materials and thrift store finds for her projects, which means you can make these idea without emptying your pocketbook.

These are more sophisticated projects you’ll enjoy making yourself, and you’ll enjoy keeping around the house for as long as possible.

Craft Books02

Like these handsome felt panhandle covers.

Craft Books03

Or these charming trinket bowls — I want a stack of them!

Tell me, Friends. What’s the crafting situation at your house? At our house, everyone likes to create — whether it’s writing stories, making movies, building forts, or baking cupcakes — but I would say Betty and Oscar are currently the most likely to get crafting (and they LOVE getting inspiration from the Project Kid book, by the way). As for me, my craft-making urges come in waves, and I find myself using holidays as an excuse to get out my scissors and glitter and glue. I can totally see myself using the Wise Craft book for gift giving inspiration.

What about you? Do your kids like to make things? Do you?

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Book Report http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/book-report/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/book-report/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 16:30:49 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=46114

Super easy! This poster was made from postcards of book covers by Penguin. You can buy a whole box of them on Amazon. Search: Penguin Bookcover Box

Image and text by Gabrielle.

I’m writing this from JFK while I wait for my plane to San Francisco. It’s been a wonderful, jam-packed trip to New York full of get togethers and meetings. And I was able to fit in one more meeting this morning before I grabbed a taxi to the airport — a meeting with my editor at Artisan Books!

Earlier in the year I mentioned I would be giving updates about my book from time to time, and I think today is a good day for one of those updates. Because this very week, I’m handing in the manuscript. That is a big deal! No images yet, just text. An entire book’s worth of text. My editor, Lia Ronnen, will begin reading it this weekend and then the major editing begins.

In this morning’s meeting, we didn’t look at the manuscript at all. Instead, we talked about what size the book should be and looked at a dozen existing books for reference. We also talked about what style the photography should be, and even got into a little bit about what the book design should be — an aspect of this project that I am especially excited about.

We also talked and talked about all sorts of things because Lia is endlessly interesting.

Then I was introduced to 8 people on the Artisan team that will end up helping with my book in one way or another. It was wonderful for me to put names to faces, and being in the office was so reassuring. Artisan is responsible for some of the most beautiful, most useful books out there — like the Kinfolk book and the Remodelista book and the Young House Love book too — and I know they’ll make sure that what I create is remarkable.

One of the takeaways from today’s meeting that I was most excited to share with you is the amazing poster at top. It’s a DIY poster that was Lia’s idea and hangs in her office. She used postcards of book covers from the Penguin collection, and attached them to a posterboard. Simple, genius and beautiful! I love the idea so much. I think I should copy it for the reading loft. I thought you’d like the idea too!

That’s it for today’s book report. And hey, I’d love to hear if there’s anything you’re particularly curious about as for the book goes.

P.S. — If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to in New York, feel free to check out my Instagram stream.

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#GetMessyContest with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/getmessycontest-with-mrs-meyers-clean-day/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/getmessycontest-with-mrs-meyers-clean-day/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 16:30:04 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=45687

It's a Mrs. Meyer's #GetMessyContest! Win a custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a party for up to 30 friends, led by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom.

By Gabrielle.

You Guys! I’m going to host a crafting party at your house! With up to 30 of your friends! For reals!

Here’s the story: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is hosting a Get Messy Contest that encourages families to have fun getting messy together — then enjoy straightening up. And guess what the Grand Prize is? A custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a celebration for up to 30 friends, led by yours truly. (That’s me!)

Yes, indeed. Mrs. Meyer’s asked me to help host the party, and to come up with cool crafts the guests can make, and I responded instantly, “Yes, please!” So I’ll be at the party too! If you’re the Grand Prize Winner, I’ll be heading your way (by plane or by car, depending on where you live). I’ll come to your house, and I’ll lead the crafting, and I’ll chat up your guests, and I’ll Instagram the whole thing. Let’s take a selfie together at the party!

It's a Mrs. Meyer's #GetMessyContest! Win a custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a party for up to 30 friends, led by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom.

Want to enter the contest? It’s a really fun one. Snap an image of a messy crafting situation at your house and upload it with the hashtag #GetMessyContest. Your friends and family can vote for your messy picture, and the top 10 finalists with the most votes will receive a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Gift Bucket and will be entered for the grand prize. From there, the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day team (and me!) will come to the home of the Grand Prize Winner, install the custom creativity center and host a party!! You can find more details at GetMessyContest.com.

The last day to upload an image is March 28th, so you have just under two weeks left to enter. And I hope you do enter! Because I want to come to your home so we can get our crafting on.

I’m super excited about this contest, and happy as can be about working with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. I’ve been using their products for years. I was first drawn in by the vintage vibe of their labels, and kept coming back for the amazing aromatherapeutic scents (lemon verbena! geranium!) and because the products are really hardworking. Bonus, the products are earth-friendly too — biodegradable, made from naturally occurring ingredients, packaged in recyclable bottles, and never tested on animals — for example, their dryer sheets are compostable!

I’m excited to see your messy photos — I’ll be watching the #GetMessyContest photo gallery. I hope you win, because I’d love to meet you! : ) Okay. Now I’m dying to hear what you think of the contest. Are you going to enter? Do you have any crafty messes at your house to take pictures of?

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A Perfect Gift: Hair Twists with Wood Beads http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/a-perfect-gift-hair-twists-with-wood-beads/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/a-perfect-gift-hair-twists-with-wood-beads/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 17:54:29 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=45324

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photography and assistance by Gina Vide of Willowday.

My girls have worn their hair long — shoulder length or longer — for years now. It wasn’t always so, and I’m sure it won’t always be so. But for now, like many families, we keep a generous stash of hair bands in our bathroom drawer ready to secure hair into ponytails, braids, and buns as needed. So when my friend Gina from Sweden sent me a photo of wooden bead hair ties she’d made, I had to get in on the action too! They work just like a standard rubberband — you put them on with a typical figure 8 twist, then adjust them so the beads are on top. The beads are such simple accent, but they add loads of charming personality!

Of course, they remind me of the hair bobbles of my childhood — with colorful plastic balls at the ends. But these are much gentler on your hair and more modern looking. Plus, you can make them in any color you like!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

I think a small box with 3 or 4 of these would make such a sweet gift. You could create them in springtime colors and include them in an Easter basket. Or they would be wonderful to make a birthday party — a happy little activity that guests can make and use right away.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

I’m just crazy about the contrast of the glittery band or colorful shiny elastic against raw wood. If you prefer a glossier look, you could paint the beads to match or compliment the elastics. The combinations are endless. These hair twists are easy to make; fun to make alone or with friends on a craft night!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

A special touch for the girls in your house — and for yourself as well. Let’s start making!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

SUPPLIES

- Wooden beads (1/2-3/4″)
- 5/8″ fold over elastic (you can do a search for folded elastic to find tons of sources, Sunshine Shoppe is where the elastic pictured came from.
- wooden skewer
- scissors

INSTRUCTIONS

Measure and cut one 12 inch piece of fold-over elastic. (Optional: Once cut, seal the ends by singeing their edges over a candle.) Choose 2 wood beads. These beads can be raw wood or painted with hobby paint, if desired.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

Carefully thread the elastic through the bead and pull close to the end. It’s helpful to coax the elastic through the bead by pushing it through with a wooden skewer.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

Tie a knot about 1 inch in from the end.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

Repeat this same threading and knotting of the elastic band on the opposite end.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

Fold in half to estimate the middle…

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

… then gather the beads and knot the band together as close to the beads as possible. Once the elastics have been knotted, your beaded hair ties are ready for wearing and giving!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

HOW TO WEAR

These hair twists are worn like traditional hair bands. Start by fitting the elastic around pony tail, keeping the beads on the outside.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

Twist the elastic into a figure 8 and draw the second loop up and over the pony tail.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

Adjust the double elastics that are now holding the pony tail into place so that the elastic is flat and so that the beads are on top.

Wear with a beautiful smile. : )

——–

THIS WOULD ALSO BE GREAT FOR:

- Easter gifts.
- Classmate Valentines.
- A birthday party/slumber party activity.
- Party favors.

P.S. — Like to make gifts? Here are more ideas from our Perfect Gift series.

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Bargain DIY Concrete Floor http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/bargain-diy-concrete-floor/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/bargain-diy-concrete-floor/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 22:26:54 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=45149

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

I’m pleased as punch to tell you about the concrete floor experiment that we tried in the reading loft of The Treehouse. I love how it turned out! The texture is wonderful. The floor looks layered and feels like it has depth — but the whole surface is barely 1/8″ deep! It’s easy to clean and maintain. It has the industrial look I am every drawn to. Plus, it was inexpensive and totally DIY-doable.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

I originally thought we would put carpet in the loft, but then I changed my mind and thought I would rather install a sweepable surface with an area rug on top. I made some inquiries about concrete floors and was told the weight of true concrete would be too heavy for this area, so I shifted my attention to tiles. But about that time, Jenny Komenda published a blog post about resurfacing her laundry room counter with a thin layer of concrete and I wondered if I could try the same method on the reading loft floor to achieve a concrete look without the heavy weight.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

I finally concluded: why not try? The space is small and a low-traffic area. The materials are a bargain, so if it failed it wasn’t too great of a loss. Plus, if it was a disaster, I could cover it with tile or hardwood and hide the evidence. : ) So I gathered the materials, and when Ben Blair was in France (and I was consequently bored)  I went for it!

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

Would you like to see how it came together?

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

Let’s start with a few before shots. As you can see, the loft is a small raised area above the family room. The whole area is about 7 x 10 feet, and can be accessed by a ladder. The floor was unfinished — a simple plywood subfloor ready for carpet, tile, hardwood, or in our case: concrete!

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

Next, let’s talk materials. The magic ingredient is Ardex Feather Finish. This stuff is simply a delight to work with! You can apply it in thin, thin, layers and then build it up to a beautiful finish.

The only trick is we had to call around to find someone who stocks it — it’s not widely available at every hardware store. We found a list of suppliers in our area here.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

You’ll also need a trowel or spreader — I liked using a couple of different sizes — plus an old bucket and spoon for mixing the Feather Finish.

Once I had the appropriate supplies, I followed directions found here and here. Essentially, you pour some Ardex Feather Finish (it’s a powder) into your bucket and add some water, then stir. You’re going for the texture of a thin pancake batter. I never measured the Feather Finish or the water. I would just add a little of each till the texture was right. I also worked in small batches — because this stuff dries really fast!

After it’s mixed, I let it sit for 1 minute in the bucket to achieve a sort of “soft set”, then I would pour it out onto the floor and use the trowel to spread it. The first layer went directly on the plywood. (I swept and dusted it really well beforehand.)

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

I worked in very thin layers. In fact, I could see the plywood through the concrete for the first few layers. I was working on this late at night, so I would do a layer, then head to bed and then let it dry over night. Which means the project dragged out for days! But the layers actually dry quite quickly, so you could truly tackle this on Saturday and finish the whole thing.

Before I added each new layer, I would take a putty knife and scrape off any bits of dried concrete that were protruding too much, and I would give the entire floor a very light sanding. Then I would sweep up the dust and add another layer of Feather Finish.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

Ultimately, I built up 6 thin layers and then topped it with a thicker layer. But the whole thing is quite thin — maybe 1/8″ thick max.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

One thing I learned: You can still see the seams of the subfloor (notice the vertical line on the right hand side of the photo above). In the case of the loft floor, having seams showing is fine with me because I knew it was an experiment and I had low expectations — plus, I’ll be adding an area rug which will cover the major seam anyway.

But if I were doing it again, I would put down a layer of burlap cloth first. Apparently, applying the concrete over the burlap will hide the subfloor seams and prevent cracking. (I learned that little tip the day the floor was finished — I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m dying to!)

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

At this point, I departed from the tutorials I linked to above and tried concrete stain, instead of the recommended sealant. This was a tip from sculptor who has worked with concrete before and knew this would add depth. And it totally did.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

The stain definitely created depth and also left bluish areas that look really cool! I really like how the stain affected the overall look.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

One other thing I learned: In addition to the Ardex Feather Finish, I also bought a bag of Ardex SD-M. The Feather Finish only comes in gray, but the SD-M comes in either gray or white. I chose white. I’d read that you can add a layer of SD-M on top of the Feather Finish if you want a whitish floor instead of a gray one — and that you can even tint or dye the SD-M if you want colored concrete.

Since the floors downstairs were white-washed, I thought it might cool to keep the concrete white as well. So for layer number 5, I used SD-M instead of Feather Finish. Turns out, I didn’t like the look of the white at all! I much preferred the gray. And it might have been my imagination, but I felt like the SD-M wasn’t as easy to work with as the Feather Finish. Anyway, for layer 6, plus the finish layer, I went back to using Feather Finish.

And that’s it. Pretty darn easy. Plus economical too! A bag of Feather Finish costs about $15 (in our case, the loft needed one full bag), and then you’ll need some concrete stain. A whole new floor for about $30 in materials! The reading nook is really coming together. I can’t wait to show a full before-and-after once I have it fully furnished and looking as charming in real life as it does in my head. : )

One last note: as I mentioned above, the reading loft is low-traffic area. The concrete is doing great, but I really have no idea how this would hold up in a hallway or kitchen. That said, I think we might try it in another space — possibly the boys bedroom, or even the family room! If we do, I’ll be sure to share anything new we learn.

I’d love to hear what you think! Do you like the look of concrete floors or are they too industrial feeling for you? And would you ever try this sort of project/experiment yourself? Or do you prefer to stick to more proven methods?

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Donut Valentines http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/donut-valentines/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/donut-valentines/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 00:34:29 +0000 Amy Christie http://www.designmom.com/?p=44957

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Every year, I try to come up with a really good last-minute Valentine idea. Something you can whip up the night before, long after the craft store has closed. This donut valentine is perfect! It will work with a fresh batch of heavenly Krispy Kremes, but will be just as charming with a box of “donettes” from the grocery store (or the gas station!).

This I think we can agree on: everyone loves donuts. So, if you want to win over your Valentine, the odds are in your favor that a ribbon-clad donut will do the trick.

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

This might appear to be a very simple Valentine and happily, I can tell you it most definitely is. Bonus? A free printable of the tags!

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

So grab a dozen donuts (plus some extras because I can’t resist), and let’s get started.

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

Supplies:

- donuts
- glassine bags
- hole punch
- ribbon
- baker’s twine
- free printable tags

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

First, put donuts into the glassine bags. Try not to lick your fingers every time. Friends don’t like pre-licked donuts.

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

Fold the bag over and punch two holes. Thread the ribbon through and tie.

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

Cut out a tag from the downloadable document. Punch a hole, string it with baker’s twine and thread it through the same holes used for the ribbon.

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

See that? Simple as can be. And easily adaptable with grocery store items if you find yourself putting these together after hours. Happy making. And happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. — Find more Valentine’s Day projects and posts here.

 

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Felt Treat Boxes http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/felt-treat-boxes/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/felt-treat-boxes/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 19:19:06 +0000 Amy Christie http://www.designmom.com/?p=44672

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Let the countdown begin! Valentine’s Day is in one week. And I’ve got the perfect little project for you just in time. Present your Valentine with a handmade felt box, complete with a custom design cut out made just for them. Simple construction with a sophisticated look that can hide any number of sweet treats and gifts inside.

Make them for your kids, your honey, or even for classmates. In fact, Betty really wants to give these at her class party. We’ll see how ambitious we’re feeling!

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

I should note, these little gift boxes aren’t just limited to the heart-filled holidays. They can be modified and styled for any time you need to give a gift. Think birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Day or a random Wednesday when you feel extra kind.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

This project was adapted with custom lids from the excellent tutorial on How About Orange. I love how the top-cutouts add another dimension, more color options, and a whole different feeling to the boxes.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

The gift recipient of these will have so many reasons to love you. It’s a kind gesture, includes a thoughtful gift and is encased in a beautiful gift box. Win, win and win.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Grab your scissors and glue gun and let’s get started.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Supplies:

- felt – stiff felt is best but there are more in-store color options with regular felt — I used some of both for the boxes pictured
- felt box directions and printable found here
- scissors
- glue gun
- cutting blade

Note on felt: The original tutorial calls for stiffened felt which I wholeheartedly agree with. However, stores offer more color choices in the regular felt. If a more flimsy box doesn’t work but you must have a particular color, consider doubling up and using two layers of felt. Or wrap regular felt around the stiff stuff.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Follow the steps of cutting out both the top and bottom of the box per your dimensions.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Fold and adhere the triangle flaps to the square edges flaps. Take notice of creating 90 degree angles at the corner. Do this for the bottom of the box.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Before putting together the top, cut a simple shape wherever you want it placed. I found scissors were best for me but you might find a cutting blade works better.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Then assemble the top, again with the glue gun.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Add a contrasting color behind the shape and glue in place.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Last step: Stuff with goodies!!

If you decide to make some, I’d love to hear about it or see photos. I can’t wait to see what you create.

P.S. — You can find more Valentine’s Day projects and posts here.

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Etched Wooden Heart Key Fobs http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/etched-wooden-heart-key-fobs/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/etched-wooden-heart-key-fobs/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2014 19:45:41 +0000 Amy Christie http://www.designmom.com/?p=44670

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Olive’s school is very into wholesome and handmade, and we’ve been thinking hard about what sort of non-plastic and non-commercial Valentines she can make for her classmates. And since I reignited my love affair with my wood burning tool while working with spoons, cutting boards and sliced birch, I’ve been on the look out for more opportunities to burn stuff — it’s just so fun!

So after some brainstorming and failed projects, we came up with this really cool project: wooden heart key chains!

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

With store-bought wooden hearts, these little tokens of love are ever so easy, totally customizable, and sweet as can be. (Plus, inexpensive!) A perfect little project for Olive.

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

So go grab your etching tool and let’s get started.

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

Supplies:

wood-burning tool
- wooden hearts (I found mine in Michael’s in the woodworking aisle, but you can also find them on Amazon)
- jump rings
- key ring
- pliers

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

Like we mentioned in the other posts, wood-burning consists of using the highly heated tip of the wood-burning tool to burn designs or patterns into wood. When the design is complete, add enough jump rings to satisfy and connect to a key ring.

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

These designs are very simple (yet beautiful, right?) and the options are endless.

An optional step when your design is complete is to stain it or apply paint — the “Be Mine” version above was an experiment with white stain. Of course you can also leave the wood as is.

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

Tie on a red ribbon, and these are ready to give to your Valentines!

P.S. — Love to make things? Here’s a link to tons of excellent projects.

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The Treehouse: Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial http://www.designmom.com/2014/01/the-treehouse-whitewashed-bricks-tutorial/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/01/the-treehouse-whitewashed-bricks-tutorial/#comments Mon, 13 Jan 2014 14:00:31 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=44326

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle.

I’ve got another Treehouse report for you today, all about our fireplace bricks and how I whitewashed them. Plus, I worked in a little story about the bricks in my childhood home as well (find it when you click through).

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

When I started to consider whitewashing the bricks, I looked up as many tutorials as I could find. This one and this one seemed to have the most clear instructions, and both mentioned using leftover white wall paint they had on hand. They both showed examples of more paint coverage than I was looking for, but I figured I could just dilute the paint more and get less coverage.

As I read further, some commenters recommended using lime, or other natural paint products that would let the brick “breathe”. I didn’t know if I cared whether or not the bricks breathed, and whether or not it was worth looking for alternatives, when I already had spare latex wall paint I could use. But the more I read, the more I thought it was at least worth looking into.

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

In the meantime, I decided I’d better do what I could to clean the bricks first, because the front of the fireplace was covered in soot.

Ready to see what the process was like?

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

This is the fireplace when we started. Not bad looking, but coated in soot.

(By the way, all but the “finished” photos were shot fairly late at night, which is when the work was happening, and why the images have a yellow tint.)

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

I really like the carved wood piece — it’s one we inherited when we bought the house. It was hanging from wires. We took it down while we cleaned and whitewashed, and I can’t decide where I want to hang it next. But that’s for another post. : )

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

Here are a few more shots so you can see the bricks from every side. You may notice there’s one brick that juts out, forming a small shelf. I put a roll of blue tape on it, so you can see it better:

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

On the sides and the back, where the brick isn’t covered in soot, I think the brick is actually very pretty. It reminds me so much of the brick my parents used in my childhood home.

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

A side story about that childhood brick: We moved from California to St. George, Utah when I was 5, and for about a year, we rented a home while we built another home. During the time period when we were building, the City of St. George decided to tear down the old library building that was constructed by the early residents of the town, Mormon pioneers. And the building was made of beautiful sandstone brick.

Well, the town offered to let residents take that original sandstone brick. You would come to the demolition site, climb the scaffolding, and use tools to chip off each brick one by one. You could take home any bricks that you chipped away.

Chipping those bricks is one of my earliest St. George memories!

And I laugh when I think about it now, because it’s the sort of thing I can’t imagine would be allowed these days — too much potential for lawsuits.

Anyway, my family used those bricks on the bottom section of our house (you can see it in this image), and those bricks were used inside on our living room fireplace as well. They were beautiful, and I loved knowing they had some history.

All that to say, I actually like these bricks! And did consider just cleaning them up and leaving them as is. But ultimately decided they could still stand to be lightened up a bit.

white washed brick09

First step, was removing the carved wood piece, moving all the fireplace accessories, and cleaning the brick. I looked up instructions online and discovered that foaming bathroom cleaner (like Scrubbing Bubbles) was universally recommended.

I’d spray it on, then let it sit for a minute or so until it was turning yellow/brown from absorbing the soot. Then I used a scrub brush and a bowl of water and scrubbed the brick clean.

I put old towels at the bottom to absorb the water that spilled down the front as I scrubbed. and I ended up coating the bricks 2 or 3 times as needed, and using the whole bottle of cleaner!

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

When I was done, Ben and I went to a late movie so the bricks could dry. We shot this photo when we got home. The bricks were about 75% dry by then. Looks much better, right?

But notice the center section of bricks is mostly red, and side sections have a white, chalky texture. The soot and cleaning apparently removed the chalky texture. Some of it did come back as the brick fully dried, but there was still a big difference. By white washing the brick, my hope was to bring that chalky texture back and amp it up.

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

As I scrubbed, I also discovered there were a few bricks that had been painted white. An experiment from decades ago? Who knows?

But having that handful of painted bricks really showed me the difference between a brick that can “breath” and a brick that can’t. The bricks that hadn’t been painted responded to the cleaning and the new paint on an individual basis — some absorbed more than others depending on their composition. But I noticed while I worked that it was easy to see why the word “breathe” is used. The bricks that had been painted didn’t react at all, and felt “dead”.

It was very interesting to experience the differences.

At that point I was fully convinced I wanted to try a paint product that would let the bricks continue to “breathe”. So I started my internet research and found something called milk paint which looked very promising. And when I posted about whitewashing the bricks on Instagram, I received some emails/comments from readers who had used milk paint, so that was extra encouragement. (By the way, the comments on that Instagram are fun to read. Lots of strong opinions on whitewash!).

white washed brick13

So I picked up some milk paint that I found at an eco paint store in Berkeley. (It’s sold all over the country, you can find store listings on their site). It was about $15 for this little bag of powder (and I didn’t even use half a bag for this job).

Two nights later, when I knew the brick was fully dry, I started the white washing. It was basically an experiment. I would pour some powder in a little bowl that had a lid (the kind you use for leftovers) — like maybe 1 to 2 tablespoons of powder at a time. Then I would add water and stir it until it was like milk.

How to Whitewash Bricks - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

Then, I would paint it on brick by brick…

Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

…and immediately wipe some off with a wet sponge until I achieved the coverage I was after.

Here’s the first section I did:

Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

About an hour after taking the photo, I decided the coverage was too thick, and used the sponge to wipe off even more. And the next batch of paint I mixed up, I made even thinner.

If you are using milk paint, I would recommend starting with very thin paint and going from there. You can always add another layer!

Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

Here’s the finished brick shot that same night, a few days before Christmas.

Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

And here’s the finished brick, shot yesterday. That one dark brick? It’s actually not dark, it’s just the shadow from the little shelf.

Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

Fun Fact: I still haven’t finished the job! I did 3 sides in time for the holidays, but I still haven’t done the back section. Conveniently, that means I can share this photo that shows the back and the side at the same time so you can see the difference really clearly:

Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

I really like the end result. The bricks are certainly lighter, but you still see lots of texture and color coming through.

One interesting thing about using milk paint: it doesn’t seem to adhere to the bricks in a fiercely permanent way. Meaning, if I wanted to scrub it off, I don’t think I could get to back to the original brick, but I could get fairly close. And if I need to clean it in the future, I can already guess I’ll need to follow up the cleaning with another light coat of milk paint.

Also, some reviews I read said the milk paint would have a slight dairy odor until it dried, but I found it to be odorless.

Whitewashed Bricks Tutorial - using natural paint that let's the bricks "breathe"  |  Design Mom

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you like how it turned out? Or maybe you prefer the original brick (it won’t hurt my feelings, I promise.)? And have you ever tried something like lime or milk paint? This was my first experience with it.

P.S. — Here’s the before and after right next to each other for easy reference:

Whitewashed Bricks Before & After  |  Design Mom

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The Perfect Gift: Custom Fish Bowl + Free Downloads + Win an iPad Mini!! http://www.designmom.com/2013/12/the-perfect-gift-custom-fish-bowl-free-downloads-win-an-ipad-mini/ http://www.designmom.com/2013/12/the-perfect-gift-custom-fish-bowl-free-downloads-win-an-ipad-mini/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 17:00:52 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=43904

A cute gift idea! Customize a fishbowl with these (free!) downloadable doodles. #DIY

This post is brought to you by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Donate $5 and give a miracle to a child in the hospital this Christmas.

CMNH Logo

By Gabrielle, created with Amy Christie for Design Mom.

As I mentioned last week, I’m working with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to raise awareness and encourage donations. This month, a million children will be spending the holiday in their hospital bed, and they could really use a miracle. So CMN Hospitals’ created a campaign where you can donate $5 to honor one of those children. They even have a real-time counter that tracks donations, and every time $5 is gifted, the counter goes down by one.

That warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you do something good is probably enough temptation to donate, but as a little extra encouragement, I mentioned I would personally send one of my favorite children’s books to 50 (that’s right, 50!) different readers who donate — I’ll randomly pick 50 people among all who donate, which means if 100 people donate, there’s a 50/50 chance of receiving a book. Just a $5 donation! And you could receive a book worth $20. Not a bad deal.

iPad Mini

BUT. Apparently books are not the temptation I thought they would be (hah!), and I’m hoping for a bigger response with this post. So I’m upping the prize. Way, way up. Fifty people will still receive a book, but there’s a new grand prize, too! Let me know you made a donation (by commenting below, or on the earlier post), and you’re automatically entered to Win an iPad Mini. Plus, I’ll donate the value of an iPad Mini, in the grand-prize winner’s name to CMN Hospitals!!!

Yep. A $5 donation (or more!) enters you to win. Once again, this is not a CMN Hospitals contest, it’s just me doing what I can to help. I really hope you donate — I’d love to send you a book, and I hope you win the iPad Mini! You have until December 25th, and as of this posting, your chances are good. : )

A cute gift idea! Customize a fishbowl with these (free!) downloadable doodles. #DIY

While you ponder donating, I thought it would be fun to share a fun DIY gift idea for those children cooped up in a hospital — a simple fishbowl customized with sea-themed doodles! I think watching a little fish paddling around its bowl could be a calming way to spend some time. And adding happy illustrations to the bowl is an easy way to make this simple gift into something special.

As you probably know, you have to be careful about what you bring into a hospital gift-wise — no latex balloons, fresh flowers, stuffed animals or used toys. I called our hospital and asked if a small fishbowl would be okay, and they said yes, but you might want to ask your own just in case, because each hospital has different guidelines.

A cute gift idea! Customize a fishbowl with these (free!) downloadable doodles. #DIY

Just think, a simple doodle can transform a plain fish bowl into a fun and interesting home for our finned friends — without having to buy (or clean) extra accessories.

If you’re worried about your doodling skills, we took care of that for you. With the help of illustrator Stephanie Frey, we have three underwater scenes you can print off and trace on your choice of fish bowl.

A cute gift idea! Customize a fishbowl with these (free!) downloadable doodles. #DIY

You can choose from a school of fish, the ocean floor (with pirate’s treasure!), and seaweed and coral — or choose all three!

Ready to find out how simple it is? Come see!

A cute gift idea! Customize a fishbowl with these (free!) downloadable doodles. #DIY

Supplies:

-fishbowl
-marker*
-printable fishbowl scenes — treasure + ship, school of fish, seaweed
-tape

*To doodle, there are a number of marker options. The basic permanent marker will work although it won’t withstand scrubbing but if you’d like a change of scenery often, this marker will work fine. The oil-based permanent marker is what I used. It has better color opacity and really sticks. It can be removed with rubbing alcohol or acetone if you make a mistake. Finally, there is the option of porcelain or glass markers. These are made for drawing on glass surfaces and require a little oven-cure to make them permanent. Just follow the directions of the manufacturer.

A cute gift idea! Customize a fishbowl with these (free!) downloadable doodles. #DIY

The only step is to tape the printable in place and then trace it with the marker on the outside of the bowl. That’s it! You might need to resize the print-out to fit your bowl. Most of mine were reduced to between 70-80% size, except the ocean floor which was enlarged to 125%. And feel free to rearrange them to fit your needs. Whatever works!

A cute gift idea! Customize a fishbowl with these (free!) downloadable doodles. #DIY

Once you have the doodles just the way you want, add the water and fish (make sure to follow all the instructions for introducing the fish to a new bowl). Note about the fish: A commenter mentioned that Beta Fish thrive in fishbowls, but Goldfish do not. Good to know!

A cute gift idea! Customize a fishbowl with these (free!) downloadable doodles. #DIY

Tie a ribbon on and it’s ready to give!

We hope this idea comes in handy while you think of gifts for kids in your life this year. And we hope you’ll keep hospital-bound kids in mind as well, and honor them with a $5 donation. If you’d like to enter to win the iPad Mini or one of the 50 Books, comment below (or here), and let me know what name you donated under.

Best of luck! And thanks for all the good you are doing this holiday season.

CMN Hospitals

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The Perfect Gift: Personalized Profile Pillows http://www.designmom.com/2013/12/the-perfect-gift-personalized-profile-pillows/ http://www.designmom.com/2013/12/the-perfect-gift-personalized-profile-pillows/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2013 14:00:22 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=43768

DIY: Easy Profile or Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift!

By Darcy Miller. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.

Note from Design Mom: This project is by Darcy Miller — you may know her as the long time Editor of Martha Stewart Weddings, and one of the most talented people on the planet. I met Darcy a couple of years ago and have loved exchanging emails with her and following her adventures on Instagram. When she reached out with photos of these charming pillows, I knew right away I wanted to share them here! Without further ado, here’s Darcy:

With Thanksgiving coming very late and Channukah coming very early, I was a little last minute on this year’s holiday gifts. But you’d never know it from what we gave my husband — it’s a personalized, handmade present that just happens to be easy enough to make quickly.

DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift!

When it comes to gifts for my husband, my daughters and I are always big on making things. My middle daughter Ella, who is eight, loves to sew and takes lessons at a wonderful little sewing shop named Pins & Needles. Over Thanksgiving weekend we decided to make Daddy throw pillows for his office, inspired by pillows that Rachel (the owner of Pins & Needles) whipped up for her nieces. First, we went to B & J fabrics and picked put materials that would go with his couch — a rich black velvet and gray flannel and linen.  Then we spent a few hours sewing together at Pins & Needles (truth be told, Ella did most of the work — and even squeezed in making jeggings for her sisters!).

DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift!

The pillows were a huge success, and seriously easy to do. Now we want to make more for our grandmother’s couch — one for each grandkid — but that’s 8 more pillows(!), so we might be waiting for Christmas break when Ella has more free time to sew. Along with being the perfect thing to give to grandparents, these profile pillows would be a great gift for a engaged couple or for newlyweds; how cute would it be to have the 2 silhouettes facing each other on the pillows?

Materials/Tools:

- Camera (you can use your phone to get a simple shot)
- Photo-copier/Printer
- Pins
- Paper and Fabric Scissors
- Fabric Adhesive (Heat N Bond Ultra Hold)
- 1/2 yard of two different fabrics (one for the front and one for the back) – if you want a larger pillow you should plan for more fabric
- 1/3 – 1/2 yard of fabric for your silhouette
- Coordinating Thread
- Pillow Insert or Stuffing
- Sewing Machine
- Black marker or Sharpie

Step 1: Photograph your child’s profile against a white or neutral wall — make sure you shoot their profile.

Step 2: Cut out the front of your pillow in the dimensions of the insert and or size you would like it — make sure to add 1″ around all four sides for your seam allowance. We opted for an envelope back since it is the quickest and easiest way to finish a pillow. Cut out two pieces of your back fabric the width of your pillow adding 1″ and then for the length add 5″ – 6″ for the overlap. Put these aside for a moment.

DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift!

Step 3: Print out the photo on a home copier or your local copy place on an 8 1/2X 11 sheet of paper (the photo should be as big as you would like it for the size of your pillow). Trace around the profile using a black marker or sharpie — be careful around  the facial features as this will help you keep them really defined when you cut it out in the fabric. Cut out the shapes you have marked. Note: using a smaller scissor when you are cutting out around the facial features can be helpful.

DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift! DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift!

Step 4: Iron on the fusible fabric adhesive (follow the directions for using the fabric adhesive) to the fabric you have chosen for your silhouette and pin the photo onto the fabric. Cut out — again, being careful around the facial features.

DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift! DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift! DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift!

Step 5: Peel off the fusible fabric adhesive and place in the center of your pillow front fabric. Iron in place – pin in a few spots to ensure it stays in place. Using a straight stitch and matching thread top-stitch around the profile – go slowly here especially around the facial features.

DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift!

Step 6: Now you are ready to put your pillow together — with your two back pieces — fold over about 1/2″along the short side of one of your back pieces, pin and sew in place (this will give the “envelope” back a nice finish). Follow the same steps for the other piece. These two pieces will overlap on top of each other – that is why you made them a bit bigger along two of the sides.

Step 7: Now with rights sides together, pin your two back pieces to your pillow front and sew along all four sides using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Cut your corners and turn right side out — making sure to push out the corners. Stuff your pillow insert or stuffing so the pillow is as fluffy as you would like.

DIY: Easy Silhouette Pillows. A wonderful personalized gift!

You’re finished!!

pins and needles shop, nyc

If you’re ever in NYC, be sure to visit Pins & Needles — they make this simple project even easier. And if you love the look of silhouettes (the original, pre-Facebook “profile picture,”) here are 5 more silhouette project ideas from Martha Stewart Weddings: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Happy Holidays!

——-

THIS WOULD ALSO BE GREAT FOR:

- A wedding gift.
- Adding to a child’s bed.
- A birthday gift for a niece or nephew.

P.S. — Like to make gifts? Check out our Perfect Gift series.

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Papier Maché Holiday Ornaments http://www.designmom.com/2013/12/papier-mache-holiday-ornaments/ http://www.designmom.com/2013/12/papier-mache-holiday-ornaments/#comments Fri, 06 Dec 2013 17:37:07 +0000 Amy Christie http://www.designmom.com/?p=43666

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

Images and text by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Remember the Man in the Moon garland from a few months back? We loved their simplicity and cheeriness so much that we had to do to a variation for the holidays. The little sculpted faces were too cute to pass up!

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

 

For our holiday ornaments, we settled on Santa, Mrs. Claus and a pair of elves, but you can decide for yourself who you want to create. Instead of stringing them into a garland like before, we kept the integrity of the ornament ball, leaving the string loop so they could hang individually.

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

Again, to keep the mess to a minimum, the base of these ornaments are store bought papier maché ornament balls. With a little air-dry clay for facial features and some paint to give it color, these ornaments are much simpler than they appear. Seriously. You can make these.

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

Just think how darling these would be peeking out from the boughs of the Christmas tree! Or you could made a set as a fun gift. I break it down step-by-step below. Let’s get to making!

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

Supplies:

-papier maché ornament balls
-air-dry clay
-paint
-paint pens or permanent markers (for fine details)
-felt, optional

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

This project starts out with sculpting facial features. Noses, cheeks, pointy ears for the elves, facial hair, eye brows and chins. I detailed this process more in the Man in the Moon post but it is all about shapes and smooshing them down to connect them to the ornament surface.

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

The next step is paint and specifically, layering the paint to get the best results. The first layer was the skin tone followed by the hair colors.

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

That step was followed by cheeks, lips and eyes. Regarding the eyes, I like to put down white first to make the color I chose for the eyes really pop.

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

I did go back to Mrs. Claus and amped up her hair by adding clay to her hairline.

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

To finish, I used a marker to add fine details around the eyes and lips.

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

To give the Claus’s a more festive look, I added a scalloped circle at the base of Mrs. Claus’s face and a simple felt hat to Santa.

DIY Papier Maché Ornaments. Santa, Mrs. Claus & Elves!   |   Design Mom

Then hang them on the tree!

P.S. — Like to make things? Find more of our fun projects here.

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Make It: Autumn Arrangement http://www.designmom.com/2013/11/make-it-autumn-arrangement/ http://www.designmom.com/2013/11/make-it-autumn-arrangement/#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 16:00:01 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=43443

Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions.

By Gabrielle. Photography by N. Underwood.

Oh my goodness. It’s Thanksgiving week. It’s here! How are your plans coming along? Menu lined up? Linens decided? How about a centerpiece? If you’re looking for some inspiration, you’re in luck. The amazing Kiana Underwood, a talented florist here in the Bay Area, created a step-by-step tutorial for the gorgeous autumnal fruit-filled arrangement pictured above. And she is generously sharing it with us today.

Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions.

From Kiana Underwood:

Centerpieces don’t always have to have flowers. A centerpiece with mainly fruits and some succulents makes for an unusual, but lovely centerpiece for a Thanksgiving or general autumn dinner table. I used a basket frog to secure the top-heavy fruit branches in this shallow fruit bowl, and it worked out perfectly.

Flowers and fruits used: persimmon, citrus, ornamental pepper, date, succulent.

Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions.

Place the basket frog at the center of the bowl, then insert your citrus branches with equal weight distribution on each side. If you don’t distribute the weight evenly, the branches (and your frog) will topple over.

Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions. Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions.

Add the persimmon branches.

Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions.

I found these lovely ornamental peppers at the market. Their color compliments the rest of the arrangement beautifully, so I added some in between the citrus and persimmon.

Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions.

Place the succulents on one side of the centerpiece for some lovely asymmetry.

Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions.

Finally, add the dates for some additional texture and for a draping effect. 

Fall Arrangement

Not only is this fruit-centric centerpiece beautiful, but it will last quite a long time!

——-

Stunning, right? And so simple that it’s totally doable too. A huge thanks to Kiana for sharing! If you’d like to see more of Kiana’s work be sure to check out her charming blog, Tulipina.

P.S. — Like to make things? Find more excellent tutorials here.

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The Perfect Gift: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch http://www.designmom.com/2013/11/the-perfect-gift-etched-snowflake-ornaments-in-birch/ http://www.designmom.com/2013/11/the-perfect-gift-etched-snowflake-ornaments-in-birch/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 17:00:40 +0000 Amy Christie http://www.designmom.com/?p=43010

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

This project post is brought to you by Lowe’s Home Improvement. Create your perfect holiday setting with help from Lowe’s.

lowe's logo

Text and images by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Birch snowflake ornaments! This is the 3rd (and last) project in our mini-series of cool things you can make with a wood burning/etching tool. Project 1 is here. Project 2 is here. Birch trees are just lovely for the holidays. Paired with a slip of ribbon or twine, an evergreen bough or two, and these little ornaments will instantly give your home a rustic, woodsy, holiday feel, and have you ready to greet the first snowfall with a big grin.

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

The interior of the birch branch was soft so etching was very easy and the process was very quick.

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

And these couldn’t be more affordable to make! You could cover your tree with them. Or hang them on doorknobs around the house. You could give a set to your niece who’s just settling into her first apartment. Use them as gift toppers, or give them as holiday party favors!

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

Don’t worry if drawing snowflakes isn’t your thing — feel free to copy mine! The designs I made are totally easy and simple to mimic.

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

Flex those fingers and let’s do this.

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

Supplies:

etching tool
- birch branch
bow saw
drill and small drill bit
- ribbon or natural twine

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

First thing to do is to cut the branch into slices, the width of which is your choice. Honestly, the bow saw made it through the branch really easily but if you aren’t up for sawing, look for a friend with a power tool and a willingness to assist you. Real birch does peel a little and the sawed edges were a bit rough so I rubbed them down with a rag towel to soften the edges.

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

Use a pencil to draw the snowflakes on the cut pieces and then burn away.

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

When the flakes are done, use the drill to make a hole for a ribbon.

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

And finally, add the ribbon or twine to hang, and they are ready for the tree or gift topper. The red ribbon adds a very Christmas-y pop of color, but if you like a really natural tree, twine would keep the palette neutral.

DIY: Etched Snowflake Ornaments in Birch. So easy!   |   Design Mom

And that’s it. Easy as pie. Just be sure to slice up plenty of birch, because these are so fun to make, you won’t want to stop. Speaking of which, don’t stop with snowflakes! You could etch any design you like. Wouldn’t a monogram be fun?

Happy Making!

——–

THIS WOULD ALSO BE GREAT FOR:

- Simple neighbor gifts.
- Classmate gifts.
- Creating a garland of snowflakes, or you could spell out Happy Holidays.
- Party favors for your holiday party.

P.S. — Like to make gifts? Check out our Perfect Gift series.

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The Perfect Gift: Etched Cutting Boards http://www.designmom.com/2013/11/the-perfect-gift-etched-cutting-boards/ http://www.designmom.com/2013/11/the-perfect-gift-etched-cutting-boards/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 17:30:28 +0000 Amy Christie http://www.designmom.com/?p=43008

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

Text and images by Amy Christie for Design Mom. Tree illustrations by Eloise Renouf.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve created a 3 part series of cool gifts you can make with a wood-burning or etching tool. Today’s project: cutting boards! (Find the first project here.) When the holiday season rolls around, I often wish I had a whole new collection of platters to set my table with, so I knew these would make great gifts! Just think, with a few strokes of a heat tool, wooden cutting boards can go from lacking to lovely.

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

As you whip up a couple of these as gifts for friends and family, be sure to buy extras for yourself! Serving ware never looked this good.

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

The technique is the same as it was for the spoons I shared yesterday, however the density of these cutting boards was different, more solid. The etching process changed for each board, but, as you can see, the result is the same.

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

Adding a simple design really personalizes something store-bought.

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

Ready for round two? Let’s go!

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

Supplies:

etching tool, the same one I used for the etched spoons
- cutting boards, any size, shape, design. Note, I found etching on dark wood is nearly impossible to see. But if you have your heart set on a dark-toned board, give it a try.
- phrase in your favorite font, inspiration designs

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

To add a word or phrase, type it up in your favorite font and print it out. Transfer the lettering onto the cutting board using transfer paper or by simply rubbing a pencil on the backside and then tracing around the letters. You could use a family name (wouldn’t that make a neat wedding gift?), a holiday message or a favorite word or phrase.

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

Maybe a more graphic design is your style. I repeated triangles around the outside of this little handled board after being inspired by this image.

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

Outlining works but filling them in is also a really cool effect.

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

Doodles works just as well. I was inspired by these tree sketches by Eloise Renouf and drew them on the board surface free hand, then burned them in place. Please note, if you have plans to sell these boards, you’ll need to create or commission original illustrations.

DIY: Etched Cutting Boards. So easy and they make a really cool gift.  |  Design Mom

Do these get you inspired? I hope so! If you make one of your own, I’d love to see a photo. Happy gift making!

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THIS WOULD ALSO BE GREAT FOR:

- A personalized wedding gift.
- A house warming gift.
- A birthday gift for a foodie.
- A Mother’s Day gift.

P.S. — Do you like giving handmade gifts? Don’t miss our archive of great gift ideas!

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