Posts Tagged ‘handmade’

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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So I am finally crafty again! Yes folks, after months of crafty deprivation I have returned to the land of easy. Here, in the land of easy to get materials, easy to get equipment, it is easy to please me.  Give me a nice pair of shears, a full belly, and a tub full of old fabric and I’m happy.  I’ve spent the last few weeks chopping, stitching, and scheming some use into the many tubs of fabric that has inhabited my parents’ storage space.  There are fabrics in there that date back to my childhood, others were collected by my sisters and I when we first started to sew, maybe um… around 10 or 15 years ago?

So what have I been doing armed with an arsenal of vintage fabric? With the help of my Mum, I’ve been creating some simple pouches, hats, bags, and other accessories from fairly simple patterns that I have drafted out in my latest handy dandy notebook.  Though we have plenty of prototypes kicking around the house now, the first finished items are a set of zipper pouches.  Making these simple pouches themselves was a breeze, but embellishing them was a bit challenging.  It took some brain noodling to figure out how to dress them up.  During my noodling I discovered a technique for making fabric flowers.  They come out beautifully!  But, but but… my fingers hurt.  There was a lot of stabbing involved, and my tender little fingertips have come to understand the nature of pain thanks to these pretty little flowers. Yowee.

Prairie Flowers Pouch

I’m on a “pretty” kick lately, and I’ve decided to open a small shop on Etsy to host all of the pretty things my Mom and I have been making.  When I get home I’ll relaunch Scribble Nation as well, and keep all the kooky stuff there, but for now I am in the mood for flowers, clouds, and sunshine.  You can find things that speak to that inspiration at GoraHandmade.Etsy.com.

More Pouch Porn:

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Lately I have been totally obsessed with the blog, Bakerella.  This amazingly talented lady creates oodles of gorgeous (and delicious, I suspect) baked and candied goodies.  On of her signature creations is the Cake Pop, a smooshed cupcake rolled into a ball, covered with melted candy, and popped onto a stick.  Basic Cake Pops are pretty cool, but what really blows me a away are amazing decoration ideas she comes up with for them.  She makes chicks, sheep, easter eggs, even mini cupcakes out of her Basic Cake Pop recipe.

Red Velvet Batter Looks Pretty Gorey

I have been dying to try these things out, so when my neighbor had a birthday I hopped on the excuse!  He’s a huge Bruce Campbell and horro movie fan, and I wanted to make something fun that would be unique, yummy, and hilarious.  So? I made him an army of Cake Pop Zombies!

I started out by making a run to my local party store, and then grocery store, to pick up supplies: lollipop sticks, candy melt wafers and dyes, red velvet cake mix, a tub of pre-made frosting, Red Hots, Baked Bean Candies, and a huge, red, gummy spider.  When I got home, I threw together the cake mix and popped it in the oven.  While the cake baked, then cooled, I prepped my candy for use as decorations.  I cut several of the Red Hots in half, giving me an assortment of creepy red eye shapes.  I chopped the Gummy Spider into bits so that it could be used as brains.

After the cake was cool, I popped it out of its pans and into a huge mixing bowl.  Using a spatula, then a fork, then a spoon, then back to the spatula, I smashed and crumbled the cake until it was totally pulverized.

Crumbling the Cake

Crumbling the Cake

Next, I mixed in the entire tub of frosting.  This is where I think I made my first mistake.  First of all, Bakerella’s recipe calls for Cream Cheese Frosting specifically.  This detail had abandoned my brain while I was at the store, so of course, I picked up Vanilla Frosting.  Secondly, Bakerella suggests adding just enough Frosting to moisten and bind the cake.  In my enthusiasm, I added the entire tub at once.  Not too bright.

Mixing the Cake with Frosting

Mixing the Cake with Frosting

Forming my Cake Balls was challenging.  They cracked, they crumbled, they were pretty much uncooperative in general, the little bastards.  They were more or less spherical by the time I popped them in the fridge to chill – that was good enough for me.  I melted the Candy Wafers as they chilled, then took them out to insert the lollipop sticks.

Oh Cake Balls!

Oh Cake Balls!

Now comes the really disastrous part!  For some reason, I found coating these Cake Pops to be extremely difficult.  Because the Cakes were a little loose, they left crumbs in the coating!  Plus, I could not get the candy to stop tracing so that it would leave a smooth surface.  In fact, I couldn’t even dip the pops because the coating was just way too thick.  I am totally clueless as to what went wrong here.  I wound up having to spread the coating on with a spoon, which looked sort of awful.  I suspect that A) my Cake Pops were too big, and too shoddily constructed, and B) my candy coating was maybe not hot enough.  I had it in a double boiler, but maybe it needed more heat?

Coated Cake Pops

Coated Cake Pops

Zombies turned out to be a great first run of the Cake Pop recipe.  I’m afraid the technique has escaped me a bit, and I couldn’t for the life of me achieve a smooth surface on my Pops.  These guys ended up with all kinds of weird deformities.  Good for zombies, but if I had been trying to make cute chickies or easter eggs I would have had to abandon ship.  Luckily, all these craters, cake crumbs, and cracks gave my little Zombie Heads extra charachter.  I even decorated the true casualties, the Pops that has smashed or fallen from sticks during the candy coating process.

Cake Pop Zombies

Cake Pop Zombies

I used a tiny paring knife to carve out mouths and eye sockets for my zombies.  I filled these cavities with colored candy coating, dribbling them with blood and black ooze.  Some of them even had their heads chopped open so that I could show off their gummy brains. Yum?

Yummy? Terrifying? Yummyfying?

Yummy? Terrifying? Yummyfying?

Dean, and his wife Meg,  seemed to like his Zombie Army, though I think they might have freaked out their kids. 🙂

The Zombie Cake Pop Army!

The Zombie Cake Pop Army!

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One of the most unique apsects of our wedding had to be our venue.  We chose The Heirloom Arts Theater for its affordability, its character, and most of all, its unique layout.  It didn’t hurt that the owner’s sister was a close friend of mine either.  Though the Heirloom is unarguably a very cool place, it doesn’t exactly scream “wedding!”, so we knew redecorating it would be a challenge.  We needed to dress it up without compromising its natural charm, and we needed to be able to transform it in a very short period of time.  We would only have three hours the morning of the wedding to get it ready.  We called on our family and friends, and were thrilled when they showed up in hoards to help that morning. Together, we transformed the Heirloom with time to spare.

Michelle, my maid of honor spent a few nights surging huge pieces of fabric that we used as curtains and valances throughout the theater.  She also pumped out a few throw pillows that we used to turn an awkward set of steps into a loungey seating area on the theater’s balcony. Between the fabric, and some carefully placed faux flowers, we kitsched the heck out of what was a pretty much punk rock setting. Take a look at the before and after photos of the bar, for example:

Heirloom - Downstairs - Bar


The stage was another focal point that needed tackling.  We went through a lot of crazy ideas before we settled on a pretty simple, but cute solution.  We covered the back curtain with silver, blue, and white stars, making the stage look a little reminiscent of an elementary school production.  Then we lined the edge of the stage with foil garland, and shiny cardboard letters that spelled out “Mary & Scott Forever”.

The Stage

We used strings of Christmas lights anywhere we could to add a touch of extra light.  Our good friends, Brian and Melissa, found every cute niche to stick lights in, giving the place a little extra glow.  It looked especially cute in the entrance and hallway, where we also created a kitschy Elvis shrine, and hung a floral ceiling decoration.

Heirloom - Entrance
Entrance Before

Setup - Shrine
Entrance After (In Progress)

A Closer Look at the Elvis Shrine

Heirloom - Bottom Floor - Facing Entrance
Hallway Before

Hallway After

The bathrooms were pet projects of my sister, Sarah, and I.  We expected them to be in much worse condition. Usually, when you think of concert hall bathrooms you expect tons of grafitti, bashed fixtures, and general grossness. Not so with the Heirloom! We were amazed at how well both bathrooms looked when we stopped by to take a closer look.  On the day of the wedding it was easy as cake to dazzle up both rooms.  We turned the ladies room into a super feminine, pinup parlor, while we gave the men’s room a retro casino lounge theme.

Heirloom - Men's Room
The Men’s Room Before


Setup - Men's Room
These are pictures of the men’s room about half-way finished. We also added Betty Page playing cards and a life size Elvis cutout (in a gold lame suit).

Heirloom - Ladies Room
The Ladies Room Before

Setup - Ladies Room
The ladies room is almost done in this photo. Sailor showed up later on with Betty Page playing cards, and neon colored parasols. You can’t see them very well here, but we also had some really cute pink and green paper lanterns hanging over the stalls, courtesy of Mrs. Leonard.

We rented a wooden dance floor to encourage folks to boogy, and to give the main area a little more depth.  We also rented buffet and round tables and teal linens.  The color of the table cloths helped to bring out the deep red color of the walls, making the whole main are appear brighter and more lively.  We threw in some red, turquoise, and silver balloons, and decorated the tables with our etched centerpieces, votive candles, and sprinkled them with faux daisies.  For the ceremony, we covered the dance floor in chairs, creating an aisle, and a place for most of the audience.  Others sat at tables, or watched from the balcony above.  After the ceremony, we had friends clear the dance floor while servers passed out champagne.

Heirloom - Main area
The Main Area Before

The Main Area After

The same theme of tables and chairs continued on the balcony, providing a more secluded area for people to hang out.  We added some extra candles up here, Michelle’s leopard pillows, some fabric to cover the upstairs bar window, and just for laughs, a life size cutout of Boba Fett.

Heirloom - Upper Level
Balcony Before


Balcony After – Not very descriptive shots, but you get the idea!

Here’s a slide show of our morning helpers getting the Heirloom all dolled up! (With some other pre-wedding shots thrown in.)

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The wedding has come and gone, and I am proud to report that it went off without any major hitches.  Naturally a couple of things strayed from the plan, but overall the evening turned out better than I had dared to hope.  It was pretty much perfect.  All in all it was a night to remember, and is in no danger of fading into a mush of cookie cutter wedding memories.  Mission accomplished!

While obviously the big things going according to plan had plenty to do with the party's success, it was the little things that added sweetness and personality to the event.  My Mom and sisters, and my new favorite red headed Floridian, James, did an amazing job putting together the wedding favors and programs.  They created over 100 of each!

MatchBox Favors
These little Match Boxes were first thought up as wedding favors by our buddy Sailor at Hot Rock & Dye.  Originally, I envisioned hand stamped collages of glitter and construction paper, but Heather decided to take these little guys to the next level by designing their paper covers on the computer.  She put together an adorable template of leopard, red, and black, complete with the wedding date, then used four adorable puns and catch phrases on the other side. She used "Hunka Burnin' Love", "A Perfect Match", "Flame On", and "Hot Stuff". These were so cute, and very popular! We only ended up with a handful left over the next morning.

Wedding Programs
Heather also designed these matching programs.  They featured an awesome tattoo font, a heavenly piece of clip art on the front, and more art from the centerpiece stencils inside. Awesome!

Tiny Cake Favors-1
All of the favors were outstanding, but the most amazing of all were the tiny cakes that my Mom made.  She started out by assembling almost 200 little blue boxes that arrived flat stacked from EFavorMart.com.  Then, she created hundreds and hundreds of little bows from blue and gold ribbon.  She attached ribbons and bows to all of the boxes, and then started on the cakes.  Tiny Cake Favors-4She baked mini cupcakes from both yellow and strawberry flavored cake, and then carefully trimmed each cupcake to a uniform shape.  When they were all ready, she glazed them with a white chocolate ganache, then dipped the tops in melted white chocolate.  As if that wasn't wild enough, she topped each tiny cake with a pair of handmade (by her, of course) gum paste cherries!  Even the little bows attached to the cherries were made by hand with ribbon and hot glue.  Heather designed and printed tiny cards to accompany the cake boxes, explaining the tradition that went behind them:

Tiny Cake Favors
Legend says that if an unwed woman places a slice of wedding cake under her pillow, that night she will dream of the man she is going to marry! Thanks for being with us as we watched our dreams come true! To play the game, place this box of cake under your pillow tonight and dream your heart out!

Tiny Cake Favors-2
There are many more photos to come.  I'll keep posting as they flow in.  Next, I'll share photos of us setting up, and explain how we transformed the Heirloom into a swanky fifties dance party

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