Category Archives: Crafts

Project #18: Pumpkin Pots

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OK, I know you’re thinking, “Gee… did you give yourself a concussion thinking up this SUPER creative and interesting idea?”  No.  I did not. I admit this one isn’t exactly rocket surgery, but it was easy, turned out cute, and is very kid friendly.

There are only a few materials for this one.  You’ll need a terra cotta pot (conveniently already orange!), a  Sharpie, black craft acrylic paint, and a small paintbrush.  If you’re doing with this kids, or if you’re messy like I am, put down some newspaper.

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Using the Sharpie, sketch out the jack-o-lantern face.  You can see my lines weren’t perfect… that’s OK.  You’re going to paint over them.  If you want some ideas for jack-o-lantern faces, check out this slideshow from Reader’s Digest.

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Carefully paint the shapes.  Terra cotta is very porous and it will suck up and dry the paint almost instantly.  If you make a mistake, it’s tough to undo.  You can, however, just use the other side of the pot and put the bad side toward the wall.  That’s what I did with my ugly first try.

That’s it on this one! Including cleaning the brush, I made 3 pots in about 45 minutes.  Stay tuned over the next couple of  weeks for more fall/Halloween projects.

Happy Halloween! Happy Crafting!

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Project #16: Race Bib & Medal Holder

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How do you know someone is training for a marathon? Just wait a bit – they’ll tell you.  (Thanks, Liz.)

OK, technically I only ran a half  marathon, but I was very proud and wanted a way to save my bib and finisher “medal” (which was actually a necklace).  I’ve seen  a lot of different medal holders on Etsy and decided to go for it.  If you’re a crafter/runner (or some other activity that ends with medals), maybe you can give it a shot, too!

Let’s start with materials.  You’ll need a wood block (mine was a 9×12 from the craft store – you could try a piece of plywood or something similar), sandpaper, paint and varnish, a cheapo foam brush, super glue, repositionable glue, hooks, clips, and letters (I used my Cricut – you can also try stickers or freehand painting).

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First off, sand the wood block. I needed to do a lot of sanding because the plaque I bought was in rough shape.  It was the last one the store had and I was feeling crafty so I decided to go for it.   If my Dad is reading this (and he’s probably not because his use of the internet is limited to emails about his golf league), he would probably be embarrassed I bought a sanding block instead of being tough and using  sandpaper over a scrap of wood… but I say it was four dollars well spent.  Side note: do the sanding outside.  Trust me – it’s messy.

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Next, choose a  base color and paint the whole thing.  The base color is what you want the letters to be because we’ll be using a masking technique.  It will also be the color that shows through when we do the weathering.   I used cheap craft acrylic and a cheapo foam brush.  You’ll probably need two coats.

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Sorry about the crappy picture. It’s hard to paint with your right hand and take a picture with your left. Also, it shows as an interesting shade of electric blue. It’s not.  It’s turquoise.  PS – let the paint dry completely before moving on.

Then you need to cut letters and stick them down.   I used my Cricut but if you don’t have one, try stickers for the masking technique.  You might also try rub-ons or freehand painting (if you’re feeling brave).  Use the repositionable glue because that will allow us to easily peel them up later.  I went for a really easy statement (and a play on the band Fun. – who really are fun), but you can try a favorite quote or your name or whatever you want.

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Then go ahead and  paint on the top coat.  This is the color that will mostly show – in my case, gray.  You may have to kind of blot/sponge around the letters to really get the paint over the letters.  Again, let the paint dry completely before you move on to the next step.

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Now it’s time to peel away the letters.  Hopefully by now, you’re seeing how the mask technique works.  If you opted for stickers instead of repositionable glue, be really careful here.  The stickers could leave that annoying sticky white paper mess behind.  If you’re using rub-ons or paint instead  of the masking technique,  apply your letters after  the next step – sanding.

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The next step is to sand.  I have no picture of the sanding – only the finished product.  It’s impossible to sand and photog and the same time.  Basically, you sand the edges and different areas to reveal the base coat color underneath and give it a “weathered” look. Again, do the sanding outside.  You will probably want to wipe away the dust with a damp cloth. The more sanding you do, the more weathered the look.  remember, a good chunk of the final project will be covered by race bibs – so you don’t need to do much sanding in the middle.

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Now, paint on the varnish.  Follow the directions on the label.  Let it dry THOROUGHLY before you add the finishing touches.   It might take a  few hours.

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The finishing touches – add the clips and hooks.  I used miniature clothespins (I painted them) and glued them down using Gorilla Glue.  I used one of my larger race bibs to determine the placement.

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Then, add the hooks at the bottom.  I found these really cool push-pin hooks at the hardware store.  WARNING! Make sure you put them low enough that the race bibs won’t cover them.  I definitely had to pull out my first attempt with the claw end of a hammer and move them.  Curse words were involved.  Also,  measure to make sure they’re placed evenly.

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That’s it!  All that’s left is to clip on your bibs and hang your medals.  All of my medals are “finisher” medals, but maybe if I keep up with running, eventually I’ll place in my age group. Or – maybe I’ll get lucky with a small race that only has 3 people in my age group.

Happy Crafting! Happy Running!

Graham Crafter is BACK!

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If we were still in elementary school, I should have to write “I have neglected my blog.” 50 times as punishment.  We’re not, so I’ll just claim that I’ve been busy. But, it’s a good busy… I bought a house! It has needed a lot of work.  So basically, I’ve purchased the most expensive craft project in history.

I’m going to use GrahamCrafter to post a few before and after shots, and also to post some how-to projects.  I’ll continue with regular craft projects, as well.

I’ll start with the master bedroom redo.  Here are a few “before” shots:

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Let me start by saying I don’t care for blue.  At all.  And this was a lot of blue.  Here is the after…

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The re-decorating included: Behr “Plum Smoke” paint, new carpet, new blinds, Martha Stewart bedding, some new furniture, some refreshed old furniture, a new light fixture, new lamps,  and new wall hangings.  Here is another shot:

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I probably should have pushed the fabric drawers in a little more neatly before I took the picture, but I didn’t think of it until later.  You might be looking at this photo wondering, “what are those little doors for?” Well, I’ll tell you… they’re for the best spot in the house:

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Project #14: Glitter Jars

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OK, this is a really easy and really quick project.  I had something else in mind for tonight and it was a total disaster.  So, I had to come up with something on the fly.  AND the Tigers have a playoff game tonight so it had to be quick.  Glitter jars it is!

We’ll start with the supplies.  You need a jar (clean out a food jar and remove the label), glitter, Modge Podge, a cheapo foam brush, and possibly ribbon or cardstock to add a little decoration.  You may also want a file folder (more on that later.)

There aren’t really many steps here.  You basically just brush on the Modge Podge and then dump on the glitter.  BUT! I have a little tip for you.  Open the file folder and lay it down before you dump the glitter… then read on…

After you’ve dumped all that glitter onto the jar, you probably have a mess that looks something like this:

If you used the file folder, you now have an easy way to clean up the glitter with as little mess as possible.  Just shake the glitter into the crease and use the folder to funnel your little sparkles of wonder back into the jar.

Happy Crafting!

Halloween Idea

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Here is an idea that combines two previous projects: Project #11: Glitter Pumpkins, and Project #8: Decorative Letters. You might recognize my windowsill at work from the “Go State” letters that used to be there (never fear, Spartan fans… they’re still out – just on a shelf now.) I apologize for the grainy look to the photo – I had to do a LOT of edits to get rid of the shadowy backlight effects from the beautiful sunny day we’re having.

A new project will be posted tonight!

Project #13: Halloween/Fall Invites & Cards

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Oops… I didn’t quite crop the bottom of that photo well enough.  Hopefully, you’re too mesmerized by the AWESOME cards to notice.  This week’s project is actually three in one… one card made entirely with my Cricut, and two without.

The supplies for this one are pretty basic.  At the very least, you need scrapbook paper, basic stickers, and glue.  I like to use pre-cut cards (they come with matching envelopes), but you can make your own with a simple fold.  You’ll also need a paper cutter (and/or Exacto Knife), possibly a black stamp pad, and I like the fine-point glue pens for the little pieces.  If you have a Cricut, I used the Wrap it Up and Lyrical Letters cartridges.

We’ll start with the witch card.  I know you’re super impressed with the clever “Ghouls’ Night Out” saying.  But take note! You can only use my cute invitation idea if your costume is discernible from “Whore.”  If you put on some lingerie and hooker heels, you’re not a “sexy cat” or a “sexy ladybug.”  You’re dressed as a whore.  Alright, with that said… let’s make some crafts.  This one is done entirely with the Cricut.  I used the Wrap it Up cartridge to do the witch… I used black cardstock for the main body, purple glitter cardstock for the accents (I LOVE GLITTER), green cardstock for her arm, leg, and face, and yellow cardstock for the broom and her sock stripes.  The letters are 1″ and I used the base font from Lyrical Letters.

Here’s a little tip if you’re working with this many tiny pieces… lay everything out and make sure you know exactly where you want it before you glue.  As my Dad would say, “measure twice, cut once.”  Except actually, he would measure like 27 times and then use a bunch of non-specific pronouns to say where he wants you to put something until nobody understands him.  “No! Not there! Move that here! HERE! Oh my God!  HERE!”

 

Next up is a card using a torn paper technique.  This one is pretty easy.  Tear three ovals for the pumpkin.  It helps if you use a pencil to sketch them first so you have guidelines for the tearing.  I also sliced very thin pieces of green cardstock for the tendrils.  You can give the tendrils a little curl and texture by wrapping them around a pencil.

 

The rest of this one is just assembling and gluing.  I chose a light green and white patterned paper as an accent.  I used the stamp pad to ink the edges of some of the rectangles.

Last but not least, here is a VERY easy Halloween party invitation.  The hardest thing you have to do here is cut.  It’s cute, but not fancy, and it won’t take long to make.  That means you can do many in a short amount of time — an important thing to keep in mind when making party invitations.  For this one, I chose a patterned spiderweb paper and two solid colors.  Here is a picture of how to ink the edges:

The more times you run the edges along the stamp pad, the thicker the color will be.   All that’s left is adding the sticker.  This one is by K&Company and has a 3D adhesive so it makes the sticker stand out a little.

Happy Crafting!

Project #12: Wood Block Photo Transfer

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If you check out the early days of Graham Crafter, you’ll see that some of the first projects were in preparation for my sister’s wedding.  Today’s project was post-wedding… once we had the photos.  All of the beautiful photos came from Timeless Elegance Photography.  I can’t say enough good things about them.

I was inspired to make this project after watching this succinct but adorable video on wood block photo transfers:

That video pretty much sums it up, but if I left it at that, this wouldn’t be much of a blog post.  So we’ll start with supplies.  Please note that not all the supplies are pictured.  I only photographed the ones I used to make the photo blocks.   The other stuff came about later as I worked to assemble one pretty, finished product.  You will need: photos printed on regular copy paper (printed in reverse – more on that later), acrylic gel medium (I used Liquitex), wood blocks (I used unfinished wood plaques I found at the Hobby Lobby), craft acrylic paint, the ever-useful cheapo foam brush, Modge Podge, ribbon, and scrapbook paper.  You may also want the little decorative touch – I chose a silk orchid because orchids were the main flower at the wedding.

First things first… I painted the edges of the wood plaque (the parts that won’t be the area for the photo transfer.)  If you’re using a more rustic piece of wood or going for an unfinished look, you may want to skip the paint.

Start by doing the photo transfer.  The very beginning is to print your photos.  They work best on a laser printer using regular copy paper.  You should have a setting on your printer to print the image in reverse.  Because we’ll be laying the photo face down, NOT printing it in reverse will make your people look backwards.  Trim away the edges of the photo to make it fit your space.  Then cover the space for the photo in gel medium.  Gel medium is pretty thick and looks like really heavy glue when you first apply it.  The thicker the coverage, the fuller your image transfer will be.  So if you want a more rustic look, use a bit thinner coat.  But let’s be real – this bride and these bridesmaids will look good no matter what.

 

Once the gel medium is on, lay the photo face down.  Smooth out any wrinkles and bubbles.  The photos don’t maybe show this step real well.  Check out the video above.  After this dried a bit, I touched up the painted edges.  Let the entire thing dry overnight.

 

The next day, your block will look exactly the same, but dry.  You now need a bowl of water and a sponge.  Using the sponge, get the paper wet and start removing the paper.  Once it’s good and soaked, use your fingers to start peeling away the paper.  The image will have transferred to the gel medium.  It’s MAGIC! If only they made gel medium with glitter.  You know what else is magic? That between trimming and peeling away the paper, a photo of bridesmaids turned into a photo of the happy couple.

 

Scraping away the paper might take a while.  You might have to go back and get little bits that stuck around the first time.  But once you’re done, let everything dry and brush on some Modge Podge to seal the deal.  This is magical Modge Podge – it turned the photo BACK into the bridesmaids!

From here on out, assembling this project looks a lot like Project #10: Halloween Sign.  Use a staple gun to attach the ribbon that connects the blocks to each other.  I used two strands of thinner ribbon and tied them into a bow at the top.  For a bit of added fancy, I used Modge Podge to add scrapbook paper to the back of the photo blocks.  This covers up the ribbon and staples, and generally classes up the joint a bit.

 

At the very end, I used my trusty glue gun to attach the orchid.

When you’re done, give the awesome finished project to your sister and favorite brother-in-law.  Then watch your sister try to decide where to hang it.  Happy Crafting!