February 25, 2015

Best St. Patrick's Day Ideas

Here are some of the best St. Patrick's Day decorating ideas
from the Miss Kopy Kat blog over the last three years. 

Click on the highlighted text to take you to the original blog post.

This tutorial actually shows you how to make ANY shape of burlap door hanging that you 
would like.  This shamrock shape and a cross shape were the ones I used for the tutorial. 

This is my most ambitious St. Patrick's Day project to date. The original idea was to do a tutorial
on how to make a faux stained glass window. I somehow lost (or forgot the memory card for 
my camera) the pictures I took for part of the making of the window so I had to make it a tutorial
about How To Enlarge An Image For DIY Projects  (which I did have the pictures for).

There are still plenty of pictures and instructions in the tutorial. I just followed the directions
on the bottles of stained glass craft paints and you can too. He usually stays up for Easter too. 

This blog post shows a vignette of a collection of my favorite Irish Blessings printed out on
aged-looking paper. There are instructions on how you can make this look too if you would like.
It really IS a blessing to have these lovely sayings to look and think about through the day.

I  love the look of soldered bottles but knew I was not going to get a torch and soldering
material to make actual soldered bottles. This is a tutorial on how to get the look with inexpensive
craft products. You could use whatever you like on the top of the bottles. I made these with a
St. Patrick's Day theme. These are also really pretty with shells on top instead of shamrocks.

This tutorial shows how to add scads of shamrocks to things you already have in your home
for quick, easy and inexpensive St. Patrick's Day decorating.

Printable to Frame For St. Patrick's Day
The main part of this post was done a couple of years ago but I have had requests
for a printable for the saying. It is a teeny bit naughty...you decide if you want it in
the living room or the bedroom. I recently added a printable to the post with
 instructions (if needed) on how to print it out the text and frame it (if wanted). 

It's March and St.Patrick's Day is just around the corner.
I hope these ideas will spark you to do even a wee bit 
of Irish decorating in your home!

I am sharing this post over at these blog parties:
No Minimalist Here's Share Your Style
Imparting Grace's Grace At Home
French Country Cottage's Feathered Nest Friday
Our Life In A Click's Friday Favorites
I Heart Naptime's Link Party Palooza
Meatloaf and Melodrama's Snickerdoodle Sunday
Dwelling's Amaze Me Monday
Peeled Wellness' Tell 'emTuesday

February 13, 2015

DIY Faux Birch Branch Wreath

This faux birch branch wreath is made in the shape of a heart
so it is perfect for Valentine's Day or a wedding. It is made from
a surprising item that comes from the hardware or home
improvement store...spray insulation foam!
The Faux Birch Branch Wreath can be made in any shape that you want for it to be. 

The particular wreath started out life as a "for demonstration
After hanging around other projects going on and begging
to be made into a wreath itself, I imagined that it looked
kind of like a tree branch (or two). I decided I could try 
to make it into a 3-D Valentine for husband, Tom Kat. 

If you want to make one for yourself (or someone else),
here's how...

Get a can of "Great Stuff" insulation foam at a hardware store
or home improvement store. Get the can that says it fills 1 inch
or less cracks or holes, not the big gap filler can. 

Draw the shape and size you want to make the
 wreath in on paper.
I have lots of newspaper so I use it in crafting. The paper will stick to the back of the wreath form so if you think
the newspaper will bother you, use some other type of paper. The newsprint is easy to cover with paint, however. 

"Great Stuff" can be a dangerous product. It is not intended for 
crafting but filling household gaps and cracks. Follow ALL of
the directions on the can PLUS do not let your kids or pets
touch the sprayed out foam until it has cured for 8 hours. 

Since this wreath is about 16" wide and high, it got three
layers of foam to give it strength and dimension.

Luckily, I can spray the foam out better than I can draw lines on the computer.  

After I sprayed out the heart wreath form, I had almost a whole
can of foam left so I used it for another project I had been 
thinking about...faux wood slices. 

 If you were making only faux birch branch wreaths from the can,
 you could get at least three wreaths that size per can (16oz size). 
The can costs about $4 so that is only $1.33 per wreath.

How much the foam swells up is dependent on the temperature
and the humidity. Since it is winter, this foam did not puff up
very much for this project. Be prepared to practice a little. 

After 8 hours, you can pull it off the paper you sprayed it out on.

This wreath form hung around with the faux wood slices while
they were being made (really they are his siblings..same mom can).

He even came to the photography session when they were having
their photos made for the blog post "Make Faux Wood Slices".

Finally, I had a little time to spend on making him into a 
masculine, rustic, woodsy wreath for Tom Kat. 

I started out with three colors of acrylic paints to try to make
him look like birch branches bent together in a heart shape.
These acrylic craft paints are available wherever crafts supplies are sold.  They are usually $1 - $2 a piece. 

The front of the wreath has more nooks and crannies and looks
more like a branch. It got a coat of the lightest color. When the
front was dry, the wreath was flipped over to also get painted.

You will see the newsprint paper still on the foam. Pull all of it
off that you can, but some will still be stuck to the foam.

Just paint over it. You might need two coats to cover it completely.
The surface that has the paper on it will not have as much dimension/bumps/wrinkles.

Add the medium-colored paint to the wreath in horizontal,
side-to-side strokes to mimic the way birch branch bark looks.

You don't want to cover the original color completely so you
can dip your brush in water frequently while painting. 

Even after adding the third and darker color in the same way,
 the "branches" just looked brown, not birch-y.

I got back out my real birch slice, a Christmas card with birch
branches on it and a picture I took at Hobby Lobby (of a frame
painted to look like birch branches) to see what I was missing.

I didn't have the darker lines and knots that the real birch does.
My "branches" got a watered-down brushing with the lightest
color paint and some lines drawn on with a brown marker.

Then some darker paint was added to mimic the knots and
darker areas on real birch branches. 

Since I am using this as a Valentine present, 
I goggled "initials carved into trees" to see how they really look. 
I added our initials on the wreath.
 "Miss Kitty Loves Tom Kat" is what those initials mean to us. 
I used the brown maker and then the black marker over the brown to make the initials...easier than paint. 

Since I already have a more "showy"  Valentine wreath on the
  front door and this is more of a personal wreath, the "initial
 carved" faux birch bark wreath has been hung on the back door.

I was never happy with my paint job trying to make the wreath look like two branches so I finally cut a  small  
slice out of the foam to make an actual break in the foam. Then I painted the insides of the slice. 

The faux birch branch wreath only weighs a few ounces. 
It got hung with fishing line that shows more than I want it
to. Since the wreath is so light, I am going to change out for a 
lighter weight fishing line so it won't show so much. 

The wreath got painted on the back too so that it even 
looks good from the inside of the house. 

I like this wreath so much that I formed some smaller ones
(on a spray foam session for another project). These hearts
are only one line of foam thick and smaller. When they are
painted, they will be good companions to the original wreath. 

In real nature branches are not perfect so it does not bother me
that these are not a perfect heart shape either. They are quirky
and cute (and would be very inexpensive decorations). 

Faux Birch Branch Wreaths would be great hanging at an engage-ment party or rustic wedding with the bride and groom's initials "carved" into them. They are so easy and fun to do! 

My love to YOU at Valentine's Day!!!

February 9, 2015

DIY Wood Slices Without Wood

Have you ever looked at your black-hole-of-a-fireplace and wished
that you had a wood slice cover to hide it like this one?
By Virginia at "Live Love DIY" blog

But you knew in reality that you, like me, do not have the wood-
working skills to accomplish that so you were excited when you

Only, when you tried to get the fabric to make the faux wood
screen you found out that the fabric cannot be ordered online
 and the closest store to buy it at is a 2.5 hour drive away? 

Well, you come up with "Plan C" for a wood-slice-look 
fireplace cover. The "wood slices" are made with insulation
foam in a can. Any (even slightly) crafty person can do this.

You do not have to find a wood source, or slice wood, or 
cut another piece of wood to attach the slices to, or bleach
 slices, or look for bugs, or worry about the bark falling off,
 or be concerned with how much it weighs.

I was trying to re-create a insulation foam heart-shaped wreath
form for a tutorial but only needed one. With almost a whole can
of spray insulation foam left, I thought I would try to make faux
wood slices with the remaining foam so it would not go to waste.

I like to use my newspaper for crafts...it is my way of recycling.

Of course, the main purpose of the spray foam is for insulating,
not crafting. Follow all of the safety precautions listed on the can
(which can be found at home improvement and hardware stores)
PLUS do not let your pets or children near this stuff for 8 hours.
It sticks to whatever (or whoever) touches it before then. 
Looks like piles of  pale pet poo-poo.  

The temperature and humidity plays a big part in how 
much the foam will eventually rise up. 

If you are a control-freak or perfectionist, this project is
 not for you. The foam just kinda does what it wants to do. 

I squirted out different sizes of foam piles close to the 
eventual sizes I wanted the slices to be. The foam gives 
a unique edge to each slice...not a perfect round.
Think "rings of trees" as you are squirting out circles of  foam. Have a center then circle around like a lollipop. 
Maybe because it is Winter (?) these piles did not rise up very much. 

After 8 hours, you can pull the piles of hardened foam off of the
paper you have sprayed it out on. Expect the paper to be stuck
to the bottom...it will be. 

Here are some tips I learned (the hard way)...

Tips for Making Faux Wood Slices From Insulation Foam
1. The foam will stick to whatever you spray it on.
Use a solid colored paper to spray the foam on
if newsprint bothers you. Newsprint can be
 covered up with paint, however. 
2. If you spray the foam on a fold/crease in the paper,
it will stay. Keep away from fold/creases to increase
the chance that the slices will look more real.
3. If you encounter air pockets when you pull the paper
off of the foam mound (and if you don't want your
faux wood slices to have that look) glue another
scrap of paper on top of the air pockets before
4. If some of your foam mounds have freaky/
not-found-in-nature edges, you can cut them 
off with a serrated knife. Cut edges are
 harder to paint then non-cut edges so try to
 be as tolerant of abnormalities as possible.

Pull whatever paper you can easily off of the mounds.
It will not even soak off...I tried. 

My assumption in the beginning is that I would cut the rounded
top off of the foam mound and then use the cut flat surface
to paint and use it as the "good side" of the faux wood slice. 

I had bought a real birch wood slice at Michael's to use as 
a "model" to paint the faux wood slices. I found out in
experimenting that the paper side (non-cut) of the foam slice 
was easier to paint, smoother and looked more like the real
 one than the cut surface. I went the paper side as the "good side".
Real slice is the largest one. Cut surface of foam wood slice is top left; paper side of faux wood slice is bottom.
This one real slice was $7. A whole can of foam is only $4 and you can make lots of faux wood slices with one can.

So, I went with cutting off the top of the foam mound to make 
the "slice". A serrated kitchen or steak knife works great. 
I guess I should tell you to never ever use that knife again for anything else but crafts...consider yourself warned.

Most of the slices turned out about 3/4" high...more or less. 

Here are the faux wood slices after being "sliced"...

Now, an interesting thing I discovered is that pictures from the
newsprint stuck and looked pretty darn good on the faux slices.

This made me start to wonder if these foam slices could 
intentionally be sprayed out on photocopied pictures, images
or text and be used as name tags, ornaments or banners. The 
edges of the faux slices could be painted like bark and leave 
the images intact to give the illusion of a real wood slice. 
Another project for another day (or month or year). 

After making the mounds look more like slices, it was time to
put some paint on these puppies. For a base coat I chose a light
neutral color of paint. Chalk paint covers the best but acrylic
craft paint works fine too. 
You could make your faux wood slices in darker colors. I have a light color fireplace so I wanted light slices. 

Chalk paint covers the newsprint in one coat. 
Acrylic craft paint takes two coats to cover the print.
If you want an inexpensive small batch of DIY chalk-y paint, my "recipe" is included in this blog post.

After experimenting with the paint process, I decided that an
"assembly line" process would be the quickest way to get these
faux wood slices looking as real as possible (for me). I am the
only person on the "assembly line". 

Operation One on the Assembly Line
Paint A Base Coat On Each Slice

This would be like putting a primer on the slices. It makes 
putting the following paint layers quicker.
I found that it worked better to paint the main flat surface
first, let it dry and then pick it back up to paint the sides.
The cut surface did not get paint since it will not be seen for this project.  You could paint it if both sides will be seen.

Operation Two on the Assembly Line 
Paint The Inner Rings of the Wood Slice

The "assembly line" was moved to two card-table-type tables 
smack in front of the TV so I could watch the Super Bowl AND
do a craft project. Even though I did not "have a dog in the fight"
I enjoyed the game, the commercials and the half-time while
painting faux wood slice faces. 

When I got up the next morning I was surprised to see that 
the wood slice faces did not look as good as I thought they did 
the night before. Too much Super Bowl partying? The rings
 needed to be more obvious before moving on to the next operation.

Hoping that a quick fix would be a brown Sharpie or art marker
to make rings, I tried those....

Ummmm...not terrible but not the look I was after. 

I painted watered down acrylic paint over the drawn rings
 so that the the drawn rings are slightly visible but painted
 on rings mute them. The slices are about a day old now in the
photo below. Note that the foam "draws up" the paper some
and makes wrinkles...more on the smaller ones than the larger.
I personally don't mind the wrinkles and other irregularities of the foam slices...they just have more personality.

In the light of day and drinking only coffee, I continue in 
"Operation Two" of getting rings painted on the top of the slices.

You can Google "Images of Wood Slices" to get good pictures 
of what actual wood slices look like to give you a guide in
your painting...lots of variety there.

I just kept adding watered down paints in wiggly circles on top
 till each slice looked enough like a wood slice at a distance. 

Whew! That "operation" took the longest time of any process.

Operation Three on The Assembly Line 
Paint the Bark on The Slice

In real trees there is a layer called the phleom or "bast" that is 
the inner bark. It is between the tough outer bark and the tender
inner layer called the "sapwood". In different trees, these layers
are different thicknesses. The top part of the slice with the most
rings is the sapwood. Now the other two layers are needed. 

The inner bark is usually a different color than the other two
colors...like a distinctive ring around the other inner rings.
The tough exterior bark will be the outermost ring and its
 color will continue down the sides of the slice.

Depending on the look you want the outer bark can be light
or dark. If you don't want a solid color, you can layer washes
of other colors once you get a base color on for the bark.

Don't be like me and spend too much time on painting the bark
layer if you are using these faux wood slices for a fireplace cover.
They barely show once the slices are mounted on the board.

If you are using your faux wood slices for a project that
 might be seen from both sides, you might want to give
 a quick coat of paint to the "bad side" of the slice too.

 Since the back of my slices will not be seen,
that part of the slices did not get painted.

Operation Four on The Assembly Line 
Arrange & Glue Slices On The Board

Here is my stash of  finished faux wood slices ready
 to go on the board that will be the fireplace cover...

The mounting board that I used is just a black foam project
board that you can find in craft stores. It wasn't quite long
enough to fill the whole opening of my seldom-used 
firebox but the side screens help hide that fact.
You could use other products to mount your foam slices on too. Heavy cardboard would probably even work.
 Having a dark background behind your slices gives a feeling a depth so I would recommend making the board dark.

I had been trying to think how I was going to make it stand up
but the whole thing ended up being so lightweight that just
slipping it under the flue handle (at the top) holds it up.
(Let me know if yours if more difficult and you need help...I have some ideas that I didn't need to use.)

To cover up more of the board, mix large and small slices.

I did end up cutting a few slices in half to try to cover odd
spaces but that exposes the fake foam inside. Guess I could
paint that but by now I am tired of painting these.
Do the slices look like cinnamon rolls? I hope folks don't think "Why does she have cinnamon rolls in the fireplace?"

Some glues will melt foam but I had done a trial run with this
Elmer's glue and it did not. It did a fine job of holding also.

Put a generous amount of the glue on the back of the slice on a
 flat surface. To not mess up the arrangement of slices, I just 
picked up one slice at a time to add the glue and then put it 
back in its spot on the board. Let it all dry flat for several hours.

Here is the faux wood slice screen in the firebox when I still
had up the Winter-themed mantle and bookcases...

I like it much better than looking at fake-y gas logs or the 
big black firescreen that had been used to hide them.

I put the real wooden candle holders (that my son and 
daughter-in-law made for me a few years ago) nearby
 hoping it will increase the chance that folks might think my
 slices are real too. Plus, I like the candle holders. 

I'm not an artist so the slices don't look exactly real...

...but I kind of like their individuality and quirkiness..

Now that I have my Valentine Mantle up, I like that the screen
gives a much lighter feel to the fireplace area instead of blackness.

Speaking of light...the screen only weighs 1.5 pounds.
It can easily be stored away (only about an inch thick)
when I want to have a plant on the hearth instead. 

The monetary cost was $10 ($4 for the can of foam,
$6 for the board) since I already had the paints and glue.
The glue is $3 and craft paints are around $1 each or so if you need to buy some
The main investment was my time. It did take longer
 than I thought it would to paint the slices but 
I was experimenting along the way

If I do more faux wood slices in the future I won't 
worry so much about trying to get them close to real
 and just go for quirky and fun 'cause that's how they
 turned out in the end anyway!

Let me know if you make some faux wood slices too...
I would love to see them!

I am sharing this post at the February edition of
Best of The Nest hosted by Dimples and Tangles and others

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