Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thanks to my APJ sisters

I wanted to thank some of my APJ sisters who made our Christmas even more special. This fall the bear who frequents our home decided to tear through things behind our home. I had our fall and Christmas decorations stored in large "durable" plastic totes alongside our back deck. For the life of me I can't figure out why on earth the bear tore threw everything. The things in the totes were smashed, chewed, stomped into the wet snow and mud alongside our hillside. I've never experienced anything like it before with the wildlife. Obviously there was no food in it so I can't explain it's behavior.
One of the APJ sisters, Libby... began to gather some other sisters and they in turn sent me some very precious fall decorations and Christmas decorations. It was such a wonderful gesture and I don't have the words to say how special that was. As I was putting up the tree this year and trying to get other decorations up... I would cry when I realized my gingerbread man collection was gone, nutcrackers gone, kids special ornaments.... on and on. I still get sentimental and sad about the losses but when I look over and see the sweetest gifts ... I realize how wonderful people are and how not ever having met me ... they really gave me the best gift of all- love for another person!
I just wish I could hug each of them and for a moment let them feel what I felt when I received their gifts!!! Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I was thinking of some decorating ideas that could possibly stir up some ideas of your own. Some ideas are included in an article I submitted in the Dec/Jan issue of the Prim Sisters Gazette. There are usually many momentos that we have of our loved ones that are tucked into the back of a closet or cabinet for safe keeping. Think of the items you have in a new way. You want to have them for sentimental reasons because these may have belonged to loved ones who've passed. Think of these items as small treasures you can share with other family members who will be thrilled with the memories. Wouldn't you rather have them be physically tangible and out there to remember them by than tucked away in a box?
If you have an old tablecloth that was always on your grandmothers table...can you use pieces of it in projects for yourself as well as other family members. The warm winter shirt from your grandfather or tattered wool coat of your favorite aunt can become treasures. I know it may be hard at first to take scissors to them but bring those memories from your closets to the every day living in your homes. Turn those items into long thin stockings, minature tree skirts, table runner & pockets for tucking in decorations. If you make a fabric pocket out of something special...you can prim stain it then fill it with greens, cinnamon sticks, a vintage photo clothespinned onto the edge, a whisk or spoon they used to cook up memorable holiday meals, or maybe sew on a couple of tackle box treasures. Bring out an old tool box of your uncles and set a miniature tree inside it with some pretty Christmas greens and tiny lights. Use the skates that you or your relatives skated with as curtain holders at the top of your windows. Use the small tab at the back of the skate to attach to either side of the top of your windows and slide a long length of stained muslin or warm plaid material through the blade in the space between the blade and the bottom of the skate. Bring out special dishes from loved ones table settings and use them to display ornaments, rag balls, salt dough ornies, etc.
I wish each of you a very blessed Christmas and an extra special wish for some new memories with some old treasures!! Lots of hugs to you all!!! Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, November 22, 2009

School Christmas Shoppes/Fair

It has been 9 years since my first booth at the elementary school Christmas shoppe. Generally there has been several tables of trinkets provided by a large vendor for the school district. Things like tiny footballs, plastic paperweights, small stuffed animals, pens for favorite grandpas... the list goes on and on. They have risen in cost over the last few years.
We have some wonderful staff and a sweet lady who has overseen the shoppe for the kids and allowed a few of the parents to set up small tables as well. They have included items like fleece scarves, tiny stockings with candy, carob coated dog biscuits, jewelry,cute holiday pins, hot cocoa mixes, etc. I usually have a large table and a tall picket fence to display my things on. This area is beginning to catch on with some primitive decor and a little bit of folk art so mountain/cabin theme was the general theme. I have made snowman pots, painted muffin tins, snowman and santa pins, glass bead pins with vintage photos,handpainted canvas wallets, canvas cd holders, canvas aprons, handpainted hammers, handpainted combs, fresh wreaths, handpainted signs, small plastic toolboxes with handpainted scenery on them, homemade fudge inside copper cookie cutters wrapped in holiday clear wrap,handpainted glass ornaments with roses, mountains, and cute sayings, small lights, and too many other things to list.
I want something special for the little ones to pick out for their families. The teachers, staff and parents enjoy the variety of things at the shoppe. It's not that I don't love the tiny plastic ship/pencil sharpener that our son gave for Christmas one year. He beamed when we opened it! I just want to put some thought in what is made available for the kids to use their pocket money on. I knock down my prices a lot and make things very reasonable so they can have something special and not stamped made in China on the entire gift. It is without a doubt one of the best weeks I have at the school during the year for me emotionally. Dressing up in Christmas sweaters, wearing santa hats and helping the kids walk around is so fun. I don't think a single year has passed when we haven't seen many children whose parents or guardians have been laid off...they do not have any money to spare for a gift let alone getting one for their little selves. The highlight of the week is when the moms get things together and make a very special store opened only to invited guests during quiet time. We take anything we can spare and display it on the tables for the kids to pick from. They are absolutely free of cost and the children can have as many gifts as they feel they need. They also get to pick out something special all for themselves. As I'm typing this, I can't help but get emotional. These precious little peanuts are not greedy in the least... they are reserved, deliberate in their gift chosing, never one time greedy to get it all, and reluctant to pick out something just for themselves. I saw one little boy who couldn't have been over 3 1/2 feet tall...struggling with two plastic bags full and THE BIGGEST smile I think I've ever seen. He put them down and ran back for hugs and said thank you too many times to count.
I've always counted on making a little bit of Christmas money at this show, but honestly... more than that... I have counted on my heart expanding in size many fold while seeing compassion, relief, joy, and gratitude on the kids faces. Once our littlest girl leaves the elementary school in 3 1/2 years I've asked to have an honorary booth since I won't have a student there anymore. I just can't imagine not being there for years and years to come.
I'm posting a few pics of the items I have sold over the years there. The snowman pots posted earlier are one of them. Maybe your local school doesn't have a Christmas shoppe/fair... but perhaps you could go in and ask the Principal if they know of a couple of families really struggling this year. You could even go to the police dept/ social services and ask. They won't give you specifics but enough to make something personal for their families. People often think of baskets of food for them, but maybe if you make something you could donate it and wrap it for their family as a surprise. Nothing to embarrass them... but quietly "Santa" could bless them with some handmade gifts made with some thought of them and a lot of love! Please consider this and if your heart leads you to do something...how precious of you!
Have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving and meaningful start to this holiday season! May God bless you and your family richly!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Here is the APJ contest entry I finished. I LOVE painting on vintage wooden ironing boards. They invoke the warmest feelings and have a great surface to paint on. I don't know if you can see the details or not. Inside the larger snowman is a nativity snowman scene. It was a lot of fun to do! Hugs!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

God Bless Our Veterans

I just wanted to send out a very happy Veterans Day to our Vets. Thank you and God bless you for your service to our great country. Our family loves and values every effort you and your families have made in your lives for each of us. It's our wish that each of you has a blessed holiday season and a prosperous and happy new year! Be safe and you are in our hearts!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Prim Grubby Iceskate

I had to delete the photo and the post for this tutorial. I asked that it not be copied or reposted without my permission and unfortunately it has been. I'm sorry for the inconvenience and hope that in the future the people that stole this & who were not artistic on their own without swiping my tutorial can find other means to find inspiration. I hope I can find other means to share my tutorials.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Taking time to do the shows

I wanted to post something about working a craft show or a booth. This past weekend I went to one of the largest outdoor craftshows in southern Colorado. The setting was absolutely gorgeous... in a historic landmark park, near Pikes Peak in the background, beautiful grounds. I have gone for many many years to this event and look forward to it every year. There are thousands of people who come to it.
I noticed a few less booths/tents this year and that is probably attributed to the economy. At first glance you see several EZ-ups in various stages of set up. This show opened on a Friday late afternoon and I was there first thing at opening on Saturday morning. That was a surprise that so many people had not taken the time to be finished setting up with hundreds of people already getting into line. I know that between getting the last of your items made, tagged and packed that you can be so exhausted during set up. The problem is... I don't want to stand there and wait for the set up while I have already stood in line for 30-45 minutes already to pay to get in. The vendors were still trying to assemble displays and then frantically hanging their items from the poles and the upper tent structure inside. That doesn't make it look appealing at all. Those are potentially lost sales because of a lack of preparation.
I also noticed very few attempts at a welcoming entrance to the space. Something autumn... cornstalks, scarecrow. mums... anything like you would use to draw someones attention and make it welcoming. The entrances into the booths were generally tight and not easy to manuever around in just by yourself. When you put decorative elements (or for sale decorative elements) at your entrance... attach it to the posts to keep it out of the way. Keeps the tripping and manuevering to a minimum.
I was surprised at how vendors didn't take advantage of using varying heights to display their items. Nothing up near the eye level mostly flat on a table or leaning on the front of the tables. It won't make your eye travel to see all of what is available in that booth.
Lastly... and most surprisingly I was so disappointed at the lackluster greetings if any I received when coming up on a booth/tent. I tried to engage the vendors, admiring their wares and they seemed very disinterested and sat solemnly in a chair behind some items. Very few smiles, hellos and just a general who cares attitude. In this economy every sale is important. Take the time to say hello, make small talk and make people feel welcome in your space!! If you don't... it is easy to just shrug shoulders and move on to the next one... which is what I did. It doesn't cost a single penny to wish someone a good day, smile, and be genuinely pleased that someone took the time to pause and look over the things you took such time to work on. People will remember that and perhaps the next year or the next show when they see you again they will be eager to say hello and come in again. Kindness matters !!! I hope everyone has a lot of success with any shows they are working on and enjoys the upcoming season when they can visit the latest booths of wonderful creations!! Wishing you many blessings and a delightful autumn season, Dawn !!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Textured Snowman Pots

I thought I would post a tut on the snowman pots that I have made for many years. I do several different kinds but we'll go with the textured one for now. These pots are for wrapped candies or goodies... NOT for plants and definitely not for food to directly touch the pot. Prewrap some homemade goodies and place it inside this sweet little snowman pot.

For the supplies you will need:

* terra cotta pots with all labels and stickers removed (you pick the size you want)
* off set spatula (ONLY for craft use-NEVER FOR FOOD)
* paint brush/ paint rinse container
* acrylic paints- white and any other colors of your preference
* interior latex texture paint
* clear or white glitter/ glass glitter
* table covering/floor covering
* old long shirt
* pumpkin colored sculpey clay
* toothpick
* parchment covered OLD cookie sheet (NOT USED FOR FOOD!!)
* black buttons for eyes/ or choose something you'd like for the eyes
* OLD powdered blush with brush
* black thin line fabric paint in a bottle (ie..tulip)
* varnish for sealing interior and lip edge of pot
* E6000 glue
* Qtip

Paint the interior of the pots you are making with a color of your choice. I used black inside mine. Along the rim edge of the pot you can paint it however you wish. You can do a solid color, plaid, stripes, tiny snowflakes, a scripture verse, a seasonal greeting, or perhaps someones name painted along the edge. After this dries paint the outside of the pot below the lip with your white acrylic paint. Do not worry about complete and even coverage. It's just to help hide the terra cotta color from peeking through the texture you will be applying. You can apply a thin coat of varnish to cover the interior of the pot and the decorated edge of the pot. Don't worry about covering the white painted sides with varnish. Let the varnish dry. After this step take your offset spatula and begin spreading the latex texture across the sides of the pot...without getting it onto the decorated edge. Do not make it a thick layer. Evenly spread it just enough to cover the sides of the pot. Do not put any texture on the outside bottom of the pot. You can use the offset spatula to carefully push up the texture just enough to meet the painted edge of the pot. Use a Qtip to wipe a very small dime sized area of texture from the area you will want to glue on the nose. If you want you can sprinkle the glitter on the textured area for a little new snow sparkle. Tap gently to release the loose glitter. Set the pot(s) aside to dry thoroughly for at least a full day if not a bit longer. While the pot dries get out the pumpkin colored sculpey clay and pinch off a small ball of it. Place it on a very clean work area and make sure your hands are clean as well. Knead it and roll it into a ball. On one side of the ball roll it slowly to bring it to a cone shape. Flatten out the large end so it will adhere to the side of the pot. Take your toothpick and make small lines randomly across and around the entire "cone" to give it the appearance of a carrot. You can bend it slightly or leave it as is. Bake as directed on sculpey package. Watch it carefully so it doesn't brown or burn. It may take a tiny bit longer if you make a thicker nose. Once the nose(s) have been baked and cooled completely, varnish with a thin coat. Let dry completely. Take your textured pot once it's dry and add a little bit of blush where the cheeks would be. Put a dab of E6000 on the end of the nose and attach it to the pot in the spot you wiped clean with a Qtip. When this is set, glue the buttons or whatever you chose for the eyes with the E6000. You can make a tiny white highlight mark at the top of each eye. When the glued items have set you can add a squiggly "happy" smile line with the fabric paint. Be sure when you do get ready to squeeze the fabric paint that the paint is to the tip of the bottle so the air bubbles don't pop and splatter on the texture. Let the pot dry again and fill it with whatever makes you smile. I have some other ways I've made the pots that you can see in the picture. Have a blessed day!!! No reproductions of this article without my express permission, thank you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Painting on chairs!

I think handpainted chairs are so special! You can take a keepsake...your childs first rocking chair or your fathers chair that he always used at the table and really personalize it. There is something uniquely welcoming with a chair. It invites you to rest, perhaps we will slide it next to that special someone to share some smiles, and an empty chair can invoke anticipation of a friends visit. We can rock in them, sit with our arms resting on them, or watch our little ones squiggle at the thought of being big enough for their own chair. They can be painted to suit well in our nests or perhaps be painted to look perfect in a friends home. I love painting everything from large adult rockers, adult chairs, small rockers, and childrens chairs.

I want to preface this with the fact that you can make it amazingly simple or as ornate as your hands (and patience :) ) will allow. It's up to you. First...if this is a keepsake you are keeping or giving look at it as such. Are you going to use colors and designs that will go along with the memories of the chair? If it's your dads...you can use colors that invoke him and his preferences. Did he like to fish, hunt, work on his car, camp, bbq, construct...use these images and put them on the seat or along the top back of the chair. I like to paint and use pictures to inspire me. If handpainting isn't your thing maybe you could find some images that represent the feelings you are trying to convey and modge podge it onto the chair. You can even modge podge a cut length of fabric from your grandpas shirt or grandmas apron onto the top back of the chair/rocker. For a childs chair you could make it with tiny flowers for a little girl or a race track across the top back down the arms and onto the seat for a boy. For my taste I don't really get into the aspects of decorating with licensed characters. There is enough of that stuff out there to choke a horse. Besides if you are going to go thru the effort of doing this work...why have what someone else has. You can use simple strokes to paint petals, leaves, vines, etc and the end of your paintbrush or end of an eraser for circles or berries. Handlettering is also a nice personal touch but you can use thin paper letter cut outs and modge podge them on if that's your preference.

When you pick out your chair...take a good look at it. If it needs some minor repairs, sanding, peeling paint... get that out of the way. Prep it by cleaning it very well. All the spindles, slats, rockers need to be scrubbed up. If not you will see extra bumps and even dirt/grease rolled in your work. Yikes! The extra attention to the details will make it worthwhile in the end. After you've cleaned it you can lightly sand the entire thing. This to remove the top layer so your paint will adhere nicely to the chair. After completing this you need to take a damp cloth/tac cloth to get in and around all the crevices and it will remove the sanding dust. You can choose to spray prime the chair grey if it is unevenly colored to give it a nice jumping off point. I have done it both ways so it is just personal choice. Decide ahead of time your colors and use painters tape to contain the areas you want to paint. For example if you want to paint the spindles/slats one color and the seat another... tape off areas to keep the paint colors crisp and separate. It may very well take several layers to give adequate coverage. Thin even coats are really crucial to a nice look. Do not use thick layers of paint to hurry the job. It looks blotchy and generally pretty bad. If you are in a hurry.... wait and do it when you have the time. I use my absolute favorite PLAID brushes for painting chairs. They have some larger ones to cover more area, but I love the control of smaller brushes. Yes it takes longer but it's worth it. Believe me... one chair in particular that I painted took me about 24 hrs total. I didn't want to see a chair again for at least a week LOL! It was worth it though in the end. After you have completed the chair and like what you see...you can spray clear acrylic paint to seal it or varnish it with a few light coats. Now...pull up a chair and enjoy having created something that will bring lots of smiles and uniquely yours! I would like to give credit to Renee Mullins for her snowman design that I handpainted on the middle chair seat!! Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Can't get my profile picture to show

I'm frustrated because no matter what I seem to do I can not get my profile picture to show up when I am following other blogs! The grey shadow box that currently shows makes me look like I'm in a line up...LOL!! I wish I had the computer skills to get what is in my head onto my blog, etc.... someday??? :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Upcycled Summer Treasures

Finally we are into a spring/summer weather pattern. The snow has let up for the time being here at nearly 9000 feet. Venturing into town can be an adventure now not for the winter driving skills but for garage and yard sales. Going through the local paper the night before and planning your quest for undiscovered treasures is essential to success. Be prepared with your money separated into different pockets or areas of your purse. You don't want to pull out a few $20 dollar bills to bargain with. Break it up into dollar bills and five dollar bills. Plan ahead. When you have an idea for a project you would like to make write in a small notebook and bring it along with you. For example...if you want to make a shabby chic light fixture with candles... list an old light fixture with several arms. List old/vintage small teacups and saucers. List old chain, spray paint, hardware pieces, old jewelry...on and on... Make sure next to the items to put a notation that you are "planning" on a candle light fixture with these items. If you have a photo you've copied/cut out of a magazine or online...tape or paste it with your list of items needed. If you know that the area you are wanting to make this lighting fixture for needs a 4 foot chain... put the measurements of how much chain you will need.
Open your imagination this summer. Use an old tin camping coffee pot with the lid on it for a birdhouse. Take off the center knobs to reveal a small opening where the birds can come and go from their new home. Tip the pot on its side and screw in some eye hooks on opposite ends of the handles to attach small chain to suspend the birdhouse. You can also use old coffee pots for floral arrangements with electric candles for a pretty accent to your kitchen. The coffee pots can be used for plants as well. They are self contained so nice for things like this.
I'll be going through some upcycling ideas and hopefully some before and after pictures to go along with them. I'd like to do some seasonal things as well.
Harvest your blessings and happy beginning of summer!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Looking for inspiration

It comes to me every so often that we all need to be inspired. It's such a personal place that it can be delivered from and taken to. Everyone can state the obvious. They will tell you to think long and hard and just do it. I think it's so much more subtle than this. It's not that it's difficult or that it takes any talent.
Between the washing machine churning, the phone ringing, husbands and children needing our attention, and life in general...it must seem like our thoughts never stop jingling. Just as we take our quiet moments to pray, we can take small moments to refresh ourselves. I'm laughing to myself thinking how I thought I could go into the bathroom, lock the door, and take a long & warm bath to have those moments. Then the knock on the door. Not just one knock. Several over the duration of the now shorter bath experience. A small voice from the other side of the door excitedly asking if she can please wear two different color socks. Oh and can she please make a house for her stuffed animal babies out of my dresser drawer. These are monumental questions that need answered.... right then. Actually these are the small moments I was speaking of earlier. These are my inspirations.
It lifts me when I hear my kids voices (not as they are yelling back and forth in the stairway..lol!) You know what I mean...those voices that bring you to a center point. Enthusiastic, joyful, questioning, insightful, and full of boundless energy voices. That inspires me. I enjoy when I am working on a project and our teenage son comes up to me with a huge grin showing me his latest drawing. Looking over his paper and seeing the amazing detail he creates in his artwork lifts me. Noticing what he thinks is important helps me look at things from another perspective. I tell him how tickled I am that he takes such care in shading or in his line work. A phone call from our oldest daughter excitedly telling me about the beautiful hair bows she is making for her baby girl and to sell. I click on her photos of them and my heart melts. She is inspired to create out of love for her little girl. I know that's a part of inspiration.
Inspiration is in our homes, in our family and friends, in music, in our favorite movies, and often times inside us all along. I remember back to when I was a little girl (yes I can remember that far back :) ) and seeing the perplexed look on my moms face when she saw her decorative rock disappearing slowly from the front flower bed. I didn't think just a few rocks I needed for some projects would be missed. After all...I saw her scoot around her craft area looking for just the right materials for her latest project so it seemed perfectly natural for me to do it. The pet rock craze had taken off and in my simple thoughts I just couldn't believe people paid for a plain rock. I mean... a "plain" rock. That was a canvas for all kinds of things. Ladybugs, turtles, mushrooms, smiley faces, and hearts. I was so completely excited to dress up these silly rocks and couldn't wait to give them and sell them. Hence... the disappearing decorative rocks out in front of the house. It still makes me smile how happy it made me. Those are the moments that I look back to to regain a little bit of my enthusiasm. Why I fell in love with creating things and making people happy with them in the first place.
Be inspired. Go outside and take a walk. Look at the colors. Put on some of your favorite holiday music even in July. My family and friends will tell you that it would not be off the wall for me to be playing White Christmas in June. I'm sure my children will have a fascinating time associating holidays with only certain times of the year! Not! Look through magazines and go into the sweet little stores that have things for your homes. Talk to your friends. Pay attention to the colors you like, the styles that catch your attention, words that describe your feelings. It all matters.
This I believe is the most important part of inspiration.... Be an Inspiration! Rarely do we become artists because it is just within ourselves from birth. It's because of the experiences we've had. My parents were a tremendous inspiration to me. Everything from building little houses out of toys, little Christmas choo choo train out of a Hersheys baking cocoa can, halloween costumes, home remodeling and decorating. Remember... you have someone or perhaps several people who may be watching you. Bring them along! Let them shine. Be gracious and share some of what you know. I am grateful that God has blessed me both with the desire to create and the ability to do so. I want Him to come through in what I do. Everyone can have something special to offer, it's what you do with it! Do it with gratitude, grace, a loving heart and be a blessing!! Be inspired!!

Harvest Your Blessings