Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Books and Materials

These pretty little handmade notebooks are made with collage paper, newsprint, embroidery floss, and greeting cards.  You can use blank greeting cards or used cards to make your notebook covers, giving you a great way to re-use your latest pile of birthday or holiday greetings.

First, take your greeting card and your collage paper and plot out how you’d like to arrange the paper.  Try to cover every bit of the card.  If you’re using a used greeting card as your base, make sure that the paper you are using to cover the card is thick enough to hide any pictures or text.  They will look fugly when they show through.

Scheming the Fold

Next, use your favorite paper glue to cover every bit of the card with your collage paper.  I use a glue stick, since I find school glue or mod podge gets my paper too wet (then it warps!).

Glue Time

Carefully trim the cover after it has dried to make sure all of your edges are even.

Snip Snip Snip

Measure your card, then cut 15 – 20 rectangles of blank newsprint in a slighty smaller size than your card.  I would suggest going at least 1/2 inch smaller on all sides.  You can cut these by hand, but if you have a real paper cutter, it will make your pages come out much more evenly.  As you can probably tell, mine were hand cut.

Fold your pages in half and place them inside your cover.

Using your favorite punching tool, poke holes through the center fold of your pages and cover simultaneously.  I’m crazy, so I use a dremel with a drill bit.  I’ve seen folks use awls, heavy duty paper punches, and a huge variety of other things to poke these holes.  Just choose your favorite and go for it.  Just make sure your holes are all lined up nicely, or stitching it will be a huge pain, maybe even impossible.

Holy Moly

Now take some string and thread it onto a nice big sewing needle.  A tapestry needle would be ideal.  I used embroidery floss to bind my notebooks, but you can use any kind of sturdy thread or string.  Some good ideas would be twine, hemp, or very strong yarn.

Stitch through the holes in the book in one direction, like so:

Stitch Stitch Stitch

Then, turn around and stitch in the other direction.  While you are going this direction, slip your needle through the next stitch over every chance you get, this will make each stitch more even and secure.  See what I mean?

A Close Look at the Stitching

Tie a knot when you get back to the beginning.

Tying the Knot

Fold the notebook back down.  It won’t want to stay closed very much, so you should press it under something really heavy for a few hours, or maybe even overnight.

All finished!


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During a move a couple of years back I found myself packing up hundreds and hundreds of CD cases.  The numbers were staggering, but their sheer volume, once in front of my face, was hard to handle.  After I’d filled a box (or three) I started to doubt the sanity of packing and moving the insane collection into my new home.  So, I decided to toss the cases.  One by one, I packed my discs into humongous CD binders.  In no time I had condensed the size of my music collection by 3/4.   Though I was relieved to see my burden shrunk, I felt a pang of sadness at letting go of the cases for all of my favorite albums.  How many countless hours had I spent pouring over each and every one of those liner notes?  I knew and loved each one.  How could I just chuck them into the garbage bin?  Being crafty, my mind fashioned a strange compromise.  I pulled the liner notes from the CD cases and stashed them away in a plastic bag in anticipation for the day that I figured out how to make something creative with them.

I used the stash as a sort of paper buffet for some time.  I used the pictures and text inside the liner notes to make buttons, magnets, and collages, but it wasn’t until much later that I came up with the greatest use for my old CD books ever, the Album Bouquet!  One day I got my hands on a flower shaped paper punch, some beads, and a spool of floral wire and it all came together.  Here’s what I made:

RadioHead: Kid A

The Misfits: Static Age

PJ Harvey: Is This Desire?

Here’s how you make them.

You’ll need:

  • CD Liner Notes
  • A Flower Shaped Paper Punch
  • A Mini Hole Punch (1/8 inch)
  • Floral Wire
  • Medium Sized Seed Beads
  • Double Sided Tape
  • Floral Tape


  • Start by carefully removing the cover of the album and setting it aside.  This will be used as the vase, or wrapper for your bouquet.
  • Cut the remainder of the liner into strips that are just a little wider than your flower shaped punch.
  • Punch as many flowers as you can from the liner, then put them together into pairs of two.
  • Now punch two tiny holes into the middle of each pair of  flowers using your 1/8 inch hole punch.
  • Cut several 5 inch lengths of floral wire.
  • Line up a pair of flowers so that the holes in the middle align, then carefully thread a piece of wire through one of the holes.
  • Slip a bead onto the wire, then thread about 1 inch of the wire through the other hole in the flower so that the two ends of the wire are underneath the flower.  Carefully twist the two ends together.
  • Repeat the last two steps until you have tons of flowers.
  • Arrange the flowers into a pretty bunch, then secure the stems together using floral tape.
  • Roll the album cover into a cone and secure it from the inside with a piece of double sided tape.  Curl the edges on the outside cover down a little to make it extra pretty.
  • Place your bouquet of flowers into the wrapper and present it to your favorite music lover.

If you are wondering what to do with the empty jewel cases themselves, you will be happy to learn that they can be recycled.  However, your local recycling center is unlikely to take them, as they are made of a material that is notoriously difficult to recycle.  But fear not, the internet has come to the rescue.  Visit GreenDisk.com to learn how you can have your cases ethically disposed of.   Or, if you are feeling crafty,  check out the Top 14 Ways to Reuse Unwanted Jewel Cases.  Yet another option is to call up your local used CD store to see if they’d like to take your cases.  Second hand music stores are often in need of extra jewel cases, so your local shop may be happy to take them off your hands.

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Apparently, I can’t get enough of Amy Butler crafting paper.  After finishing off a tin of Green Tea the other day I got the bright idea to redecorate the can and give it a second life.

Supplies! Craft Paper, Empty Canisters, and Glue.

How To:

  • Find a canister you’d like to remodel.  You can probably find some likely candidates in your pantry.  Tea tins, tobacco canisters, coffee cans, and powdered drink containers are just a few examples.
  • Remove any problematic packaging from the container.  If it has a paper label, you may want to leave it on.  As long as it is smooth and well adhered, it will actually help to keep the decorative paper attached.  Things you may want to remove include stickers, pamphlets, or oddly places labels.  The best thing to use to remove them is a adhesive remover solution, but if you don’t have one handy, you can try mayonnaise, hot water, nail polish remover, or even vegetable oil.
  • Carefully cut a piece of decorative paper to fit around the container.  It is best to use thick papers like card stock or scrapbook paper, otherwise you may be able to see the original packaging underneath.
  • Using School Glue or Elmer’s Glue, spread a thin layer of glue evenly across the wrong side of your paper.  I like to spread thin circles instead of spreading it flat, but the choice is up to you.
  • Carefully attach your paper to the container and hold it firmly until it has dried enough to hold its own shape.
  • You can add a line of ribbon in a corresponding color to the paper’s edges to give the container a more finished look.  Just measure it out and attach it with a very thin coat of glue.

All done!

Your finished canisters can be used for about a million things.  Try using them to hold any number of little doo-dads. Take the lids off and they can hold paint brushes, pencils & pens, silverware, or faux floral arrangements.

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I stumbled upon these cute little house shaped knick knack shelves during a recent trip to Salvation Army.   I love tiny things, and anything that shows off tiny things, so these little shelves were definitely coming home with me.

The shelves before their crafty makeover

The shelves before their crafty makeover

I took a quick trip to Michaels and picked up some white craft paint and a stack of Amy Butler Scrapbook Card Stock then rushed home to get started on a makeover for my little house shelves.  If I had been thorough, which you probably should be if you decide to make a similar project, I would have sanded these shelves down.  I skipped that step and found that even three coats of white craft acrylic would not make my shelves pretty.  It just couldn’t overcome the nappy old brown varnish on the shelves.  Eventually, I whipped out some artist’s white acrylic, which was thick enough to do the job.  It worked, but a quick sanding would have saved me time and some expensive paint.  After painting both shelves completely, I picked out some paper from by Amy Butler stack and got to the fun part. Using newsprint to create templates for the shelf cavities, I carefully traced the shape of each shelf onto my decorative paper.  I cut each piece out and trimmed it as needed so that it would lay perfectly flat inside the shelf.  Then, I used a foam brush to apply a VERY thin coat of Elmer’s Glue (you can also use Mod Podge) to the back of each piece of paper.  After gluing, I placed the paper on the wall of the shelf, and smoothed it out with a dry foam brush.

Decorating the painted shelves

Decorating the painted shelves

I chose to leave my paper matte, but if you want to add a little shine, sparkle, or just some matte protection, I would suggest adding a thin layer of Mod Podge to the paper after you’ve glued it in place.  These dried lickety split, so I got to hang them on the wall right away to enjoy them.

House Shelves

House Shelves

House Shelves

House Shelves

House Shelves

Now what will I put inside?

*Post featured on CasaSugar.com!

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Hooray! My video with Etsy has been published in The Storque, Etsy’s online magazine. I had a really great time making this video with the folks at Etsy.  They are all super nice and dandy to work with. Despite some goony faces I made I think it came out quite nicely. Thank you to everyone who emailed me with your words of support and congratulations. You guys are the best!

Michelle and I cracked up over the bit where I add the salt to the water. We were recently making fun of ourselves for both having the weird habit of adding involuntary sound effects to everything we did. The proof is in the pudding! You can hear me making a “fizzz” sound when I add the salt to the water!! What a wacko I am. LOL. Michelle and I both do this all day without ever thinking about it. I’m libel to make “vroom vroom” sounds while driving, “sizzle” noises while cooking, or even “bow wow” noises at my dog. I can’t help but add my own soundtrack to everything I do. At least Michelle has motherhood to blame it on. Not me! I think mine just comes from my brain being a mirror image of a toddler’s.

Anyway, I also went to Etsy in Brooklyn yesterday to teach my class, Bath & Body 101. I have taught a lot of classes at work (employee workshops) and I’ve run many workshops with The Scissor Squad through the years, but this was my very first class teaching strangers. Luckily my whole class was filled with really nice, enthusiastic students. They asked really great questions, kept the conversation lively, and were really patient when we ran into a few hiccups along the way. I learned a few things too:

– Next time I’ll be bringing triple the amount of spoons, cups, and bowls that I think I need.
– Next time I’ll bring double the amount of ingredient that I think I need.
– Next time I’ll prep some of the ingredients ahead of time to make some parts move quicker.
– Next time I’ll schedule moving day any day EXCEPT the day before my class!

That’s right. We MOVED yesterday! About 85% of our belongings have been transported to our new apartment in Danbury. Unfortunately, our lease doesn’t officially start until August 1st, so 15% of our stuff, us, and the pets are camping out for the rest of the week in the old apartment. The worst is over, but we still have a week full of evening moves ahead of us. Plus painting, patching, and touching up. Summer is always a crazy time for me, but this year it has gotten bananas!


One more thing, guess who got mentioned in The NY Post!?!? ME!! OMG – They call me a “beauty baroness.” Nice, huh? Julie from Etsy told me that they requested permission from Etsy to use my photograph from the Bath & Body 101 Class Listing so she said to keep my eyes peeled to see if I could find where it ended up. I just did a search for “Etsy” on their website and found THIS. If anyone sees a hard copy of the post that has this in it PLEASE email me (maryhelenorama at gmail dot com). I’d be your BFF if you would mail it to me.

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I was doing some block printing on Sunday and was going to take a photo when I realized my camera was on my desk ALL the way upstairs. So I took a video with my Flip instead.

I made about a ga-billion little shopping bags for our upcoming shows.  I had these little Hello Kitty bags stashed away forever. It's nice to finally use them!

P.S. Make sure you watch the part after the credits – there's a surprise.

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The long awaited Glamour Cross Tutorial is HERE!!! Woot woot. We’ve donned our chipmunk personalities to show you how to make the kitschiest crucifixes in town!

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