Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Baby Shower Gift Tips By Angela Green

If you are planning a baby shower or going to be joining one; I have a few tips I would like to share with you.

A Diaper Cake is very easy to make and a great all in one gift.

To begin making the cake, you start by rolling diapers and securing each diaper with a rubber band. Stand the diapers up around a paper towel tube. Secure the diapers by tying ribbon, yarn or string around the first row of diapers. Next add a second row around the first the same way. Repeat these steps until you have the desired amount of rows.

For the second cake layer, roll more diapers and attach around the tube just as you did the first layer. Also, do the same for the third layer of the diaper cake. Once you finish each row, you could wrap a thicker type of ribbon around each layer. This will help keep the layers secure.

Now, you can add baby items like rattlers, pacifiers, teething rings, socks or anything a baby may need into the ribbon around the cake. You could also place a teddy bear or some type of stuffed animal on the top. You could even take small soaps wrapped in ribbon and secure them around.

The perfect gift!!

How about a "baby themed" gift basket? I made a gift basket one year for my sister-in-law and she loved it. I simply took a huge white wicker basket and stuffed it with all kinds of goodies. I included towels, washcloths, socks, boxed cereal, bottles, stuffed animals, one of my handmade picture frames, two cross stitch burp cloths and whatever else I could fit in the basket.

A cute centerpiece would be a decorative can filled with goodies or a big plastic baby bottle. You could decorate the can with scrapbook paper, clip art and pictures printed from your computer. You could add all kinds of little goodies into these.

Don’t forget about Mom. I’m sure she could use a "relaxation" gift. Fill a basket with a soothing CD, candles (maybe Lavender scented), a bath pillow, a bath set, eye mask, a good book or anything that Mommy could use for a time out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips.

Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved - Written by Angela Green. Angela is the owner of AngelasGiftNook.com where she sells her handmade items including: Kitchen Towel Dresses, Custom Painted Signs, Cross Stitch Bookmarks, Gift Jars and More! Gift Wrapping and Cross Stitch Service also available.

Making Old Fashion Soap Balls by Debbie Hainline

Old fashion soap balls can be created easily using either ivory or dove soap bars, they have the look and feel of old soap. For a more grungy looking soap ball roll them in spices such as cinnamon before they are completely set up (Caution do not use if you do this your skin may have allergic reaction to the spices- display only)


1 cup of instant Quaker oatmeal
1 bar of ivory or dove soap
1/4 cup of water

Grind up the oatmeal in a food processor until finely milled but do not grind to flour you want it chopped up enough to break up the oatmeal flakes but still be visible.

Grate the bar of soap into small sliversPlace the soap and water into a large microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Stir the mixture once or twice making sure it does not bubble over.

When the soap is dissolved remove from the microwave and add the ground oatmeal slowly stirring constantly.

Let cool enough to touch then form into balls placing on wax paper to set and dry. It will take about 2 hours for them to set.

Oatmeal soap balls have a great old fashion look and can be displayed in old soap dishes, vintage jars, wooden bowls and baskets in primitive or country bathrooms or kitchens.

Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved—Written By Debbie Hainline on her "Two Old Crows" Blog - http://2oldcrows.blogspot.com/.  Two Old Crows is the web home of folk artist "Debbie Hainline" - "Teaching my knowledge about painting is as much a passion as creating".

Making Your Own Lavender Linen Spray by Debbie Hainline

Lavender is known for its wonderful aroma and soothing benefits. You can make this spray for ironing, to freshen sheets and towels in the linen closet, on old linens to freshen them, as an air freshner and on your pillowcase just before going to bed -it will relax you and help you fall asleep.

Ingredients for a 5 ounce bottle:

4 ounces of distilled water (tap water will cause it to become cloudy)
1 ounce of 100 proof vodka or ethanol (rubbing alc0hol -do not use isoproyl)10 drops of lavender essential oil
5 ounce spray bottle ( dark glass works the best)

Mix the essential oil into the alcohol, the alcohol will take on the scent of the oil. Slowly add the distilled water stirring constantly. Fill the bottle.

Store in a cool dark place and shake well before using. Test on fabric in an inconspicious spot before spraying the entire piece.

Other non staining essential oils such as juniper, eucalyptus, rosewood or peppermint can be substituted for the lavender.

Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved—Written By Debbie Hainline on her "Two Old Crows" Blo - http://2oldcrows.blogspot.com/g. Two Old Crows is the web home of folk artist "Debbie Hainline" - "Teaching my knowledge about painting is as much a passion as creating".

Fleecing Wool Felt by Debbie Hainline

To give wool felt that aged look making it perfect for crafting is very easy by following a few simple steps. This technique will only work on wool felt you can also do it with 100% wool fabric.

1. Using cold water wet the wool felt completely do not agitate. Colors should be done separately because dyes will be let loose and can run ( expect the water to change color)

2. Squeeze out by hand as much of the water as possible do not wring the fabric this will only stretch it and make the fibers weak.

3. Place the fabric in a dryer on the regular setting and nearly dry ( I find that this takes about 20 minutes in my dryer) Do not place both dark colored and light colored fabrics together they will bleed on to each other.*Place an old towel in the dryer after removing the fabric and continue to the drying cycle- this will remove any excess dye from your dryer.

4. Lay the fabric flat to finish drying smoothing out the wrinkles the best you can with your hand.

5. Press with a steam iron.

This fleeced wool felt in great for making sheep, crows, penny rugs and other primitive items . It may be tea stained to give it an even more worn look.

For more great crafting tips and techniques visit us at Two Old Crows.

Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved—Written By Debbie Hainline on her "Two Old Crows" Blog - http://2oldcrows.blogspot.com/. Two Old Crows is the web home of folk artist "Debbie Hainline" - "Teaching my knowledge about painting is as much a passion as creating".

Tea Staining Fabric by Debbie Hainline

Tea staining has been around a long time and was first used to hide stains on linens. It is one of the most popular ways to stain fabric and gives it a warm antique look. Different types of teas such a green tea, black tea, rasperry and herbel teas will give you different tints and tones on fabrics so don't be afraid to experiment a bit. Hibiscus tea will give you red tones while black teas give more of a soft brown or cream tone to the fabric. Tea staining works well only on natural fabrics- muslin, cotton, linen and wools dye well. It is very easy to do and just takes a few simple steps.

If you fabric is new be sure to wash it first to remove the sizing before dying.I have found 4 cups of water and 4 single cup tea bags will dye one yard of fabric.

Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat add tea and let set for about 5 minutes until the liquid turns the desired color. Remove the tea bags from the water if you dont the tea bags may make dark stains on your fabric.

Wet the fabric in water thoroughly, removing excess before putting in the tea mixture- stir gently.

Let soak for approxiamately 10 minutes checking to see if the fabric is dark enough. Remember you fabric will dry a shade lighter.

When fabric has reached the desired color remove from the tea mixture and rinse well with warm water and a mild dish soap- if you dont the fabric may become damaged by the tea- tea contains acid which can destroy fibers over time.

Line dry or place the fabric in the dryer. I like to put the fabric in an old pillowcase to protect my dryer and if Im going to put in white clothes right after I will wipe the dryer out if it jeans I just dont worry.

When the fabric is dry if you want it darker repeat the process , if the fabric is too dark wash the fabric in a gallon of water to which you have added 1 tablespoon of bleach this will lighten the fabric- rinse thoroughly and redry.

If I am going to use the fabric for something that is going to be washed I will soak it in a gallon of cold water to which I have added 1 tablespoon of vinegar to set the color.

Have fun tea staining - remember the possibilities are endless -old linens, clothes, etc can all be tea stained !

For more great crafting tips and recipes visit our websiteTwo Old Crows.

Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved—Written By Debbie Hainline on her "Two Old Crows" Blog - http://2oldcrows.blogspot.com/. Two Old Crows is the web home of folk artist "Debbie Hainline" - "Teaching my knowledge about painting is as much a passion as creating".

Folk Art Painting - Brush Care by Debbie Hainline

This is truly a do as I say not as I do- I ruin many brushes by not taking care of them properly and good brushes are expensive. The tips here I have been told many time by other teachers and they will extend the life of your brush and make painting much easier.

Buy the best brushes you can afford and take care of them !

Remove the packing "goop" out of new brushes before using with water.

Rinse brushes often when paintingUse old brushes when painting a rough surface.

Do not let your brushes stand in water- this will ruin the tips and will also break down the glue that holds the bristles. It is very difficult to do liner work with a brush that has a hook in it which is what happens if a brush is left resting against a surface. Chisel edges will be ruined making them hard to float with. Carefully press your brush down on bottom of the container flaring the bristles like a fan and move back and forth several times removing the paint. Blot on a dry paper towel and lay flat.

When you are finished painting give them a thorough cleaning.

Try not to get paint down into the ferrule (metal part of the brush) and remove promptly if you do. Paint stuck here will cause the bristles to separate not allowing for a good tip or chisel edge to a brush.

Never put your brushes in hot water - use only cold or luke warm, hot water will set the paint into your brushes.

When finished painting take the time to clean your brushes thoroughlybrushes can be either cleaned with cake soap or liquid cleanerCleaning with cake soap- I prefer ivory soap for cleaning brushes. Stroke the brush back and forth over the cake of soap then work into a lather in the palm of your hand. Repeat as many times as necessary to remove the paint ( the lather will no longer turn color but remain in its original color).

Cleaning with a liquid soap is the same method except that instead of stroking the brush back and forth over the soap you need to place a small amount of the liquid soap in your hand ( I use shampoo for liquid soap remember bristles are hair if you are buying good brushes).

Reshape the brush- I reshape brushes by placing them in my mouth( that's right) bringing liners and round brushes to a fine tip and flat brushes to a chisel edge. Spit makes a great brush shaper!

Store you brushes so as to protect your tips from bending. Brushes should be store flat. Brushes stored upright may eventually has loose bristles.

Just remember to take good care of your brushes and they will last a long time and be a good investment !

Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved—Written By Debbie Hainline on her "Two Old Crows" Blog - http://2oldcrows.blogspot.com/.  Two Old Crows is the web home of folk artist "Debbie Hainline" - "Teaching my knowledge about painting is as much a passion as creating".

Folk Art Painting-Transferring the Pattern by Debbie Hainline

Transferring your pattern on to your piece can sometime present problems....your pattern may not fit properly even on piece of cut wood ( this is because the wood may have changed size a bit from sanding or from the wood cutter not having the original pattern).

Place your pattern on the design area and line up the edges the best you can making sure the pattern is straight vertically and horizontally in the middle of the pattern.Other helpful hints to transferring a pattern are below.

Tape your pattern securely to the piece.

Choose correct piece of transfer paper for background. White transfer paper should be used on dark backgrounds and black or gray graphite on light backgrounds.

New graphite or transfer paper should be wiped with a paper towel to remove the excess otherwise your transfer will be to dark and smudges will appear on your piece. If this does happen carefully remove the smudges with a artist gum eraser ( this type of eraser will do less damage to your painted surface )

Slip your graphite paper between your piece and pattern making sure the graphite side is against the piece - I don't know how many times I have traced a pattern only to find out I have traced to the back of the pattern piece rather than the piece.

How much of the pattern should I trace is often the question ? I only trace the silhouette then basecoat and then go back in a trace the details in. Any details I feel comfortable free handing I do not trace.

Only use light pressure when tracing with your stylus other wise you will dent the surface. Begin at the top of your pattern and go in continuous path jumpy all around the pattern will only make you lose your place. You can always left your pattern and graphite very carefully to see where you are if you lose your place but be very careful and realign when placing it back or your pattern will be off.

When finished check your work carefully and remove any wrong placed lines or smudges with you artist gum eraser.

Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved—Written By Debbie Hainline on her "Two Old Crows" Blog - http://2oldcrows.blogspot.com/. Two Old Crows is the web home of folk artist "Debbie Hainline" - "Teaching my knowledge about painting is as much a passion as creating".

Folk Art Painting - Tracing Your Pattern By Debbie Hainline

Tracing a pattern is time consuming but it is important to trace a pattern accurately. Distortions can cause problems later . Below are a few tips I find helpful when tracing.

Always use tracing paper - it is much more transparent then other paper and will allow you to trace details accurately.

You can trace with the fine point of pencil or a mechanical pencil. I prefer fine tip black markers these do not smudge and smear giving me a much sharper line.

I will either tape or paper clip the tracing paper to the pattern. Be sure you trace on a nice flat surface to make your tracing more accurate and easier.

Tracing takes time so I like to store my finished tracing in a plastic sleeve in a 3 ring binder for future use with this I might add any notes, pictures, etc. making the next time I do this project easier. Be sure you note on the tracing where it came from- as your collection of patterns grows it will become difficult to remember what book, magazine, etc. that pattern originally came from.

Copyright © 2006—All Rights Reserved—Written By Debbie Hainline on her "Two Old Crows" Blog - http://2oldcrows.blogspot.com/.  Two Old Crows is the web home of folk artist "Debbie Hainline" - "Teaching my knowledge about painting is as much a passion as creating".

Saturday, September 23, 2006

1001 Uses For Acrylic Medium by Andrea Pratt

Medium for acrylic painters is like the flour in a baker's kitchen. In simplest terms, it is the polymer emulsion in which pigments are suspended to create acrylic paint, but it has many other uses. Consider this an advertisement for the stuff, thinly disguised as an art lesson. Third possible interpretation: it's a self-congratulatory essay on my pioneering photo display technique. Or, as Greg would say, "Giving away all your secrets again, eh?"

Sometime last year I heard about making polymer transfers from magazine pictures for use in collages. The technique is simple: apply several coats of acrylic medium to the magazine cutout, allowing time for each layer to dry. When the final layer is dry, soak it in some warm, soapy water and then carefully peel off the paper. What you're left with is the image embedded in a thin sheet of plastic. Magic!

The first thing that occurred to me was that I could use my own digital photos, printed using a good-quality colour laser printer. Before I knew it I'd tried it myself and used the photos as collage elements in an acrylic painting. But recently I decided that I wanted to try the technique as a way to display digital photos as artwork. Here's what I came up with:

Using acrylic gloss medium, I applied ~10 coats of medium to my print. This took several days as I wanted each layer to dry completely. I used a small house painter's brush, stroking in a different direction each time. The resulting surface texture is a little like linen.

Meantime, I prepared the surface that would take the transfer. Opus cradled panels are perfect for this as the wooden panel is smooth, and the cradled sides mean it can be hung as-is to create a contemporary look without framing. But first they must be primed with several coats of gesso.

Once dry, I soaked the picture in warm, soapy water for a few minutes, gently peeled the paper off the back, rinsed and hung the polymer transfer up to dry.

Next step: I applied a thin layer of my amazing and indispensable acrylic medium to the surface of the cradled panel and placed the transfer down on it. You will see that the image is slightly bigger than my 8" x 10" panel. I carefully pressed the image flat, working out the bubbles as I went. You will never master all the bubbles, no matter how careful you are, so I dealt with the last few stubborn hold-outs by pricking them with the tip of my x-acto knife.

When I was satisfied that the image has adhered to the surface properly, I flipped it over and slowly cut away the excess transfer, using an x-acto knife. Take your time!

Almost there! I painted the edges using black acrylic paint because They say that 'black goes with everything,' but that's up to you. But wait! We're not done with our fabulously versatile acrylic medium. Cut 50-50 with water, gloss medium can make a decent varnish to seal the painted sides.

Putting hanging wire on the back of these panels is a bit tricky, so I used the kind of hanger you can get in any hardware store and voila! Photo art!

posted by Andrea Pratt July 3, 2006 on her "Colouring Outside The Lines" blog (http://didrooglie.blogspot.com/).

Copyright © 2006 - All Rights Reserved - Andrea Pratt. Andrea Pratt is an award-winning artist whose work is exhibited internationally.