DIY Home: Sequined Initial Wall Art


I think this craft is so fun and so easy, and it’s really inexpensive, too. This would look really cute in a child’s room, and you could even color-coordinate by purchasing packages of sequins in individual colors.

Here are my instructions. All you need is cardstock in your choice of color, glue (I used Original Tacky Glue in the gold tube, available at any craft store), and sequins. If you’d like, you can download my template HERE. There’s a page for every letter, and you print on 8.5 x 11 paper then trim along my outline to make an 8 x 10 page, suitable for framing. Make sure you print out at 100%.

Instructions:

  1. Print out the letter(s) you want on cardstock. We need to use cardstock because we’re going to use a lot of glue, and cardstock is strong enough to support it. Be sure to print at 100% so that when you trim along the box, you’re left with an 8 x 10 page, which will fit perfectly into a standard 8 x 10 frame.
  2. Now apply the glue. I did a section at a time, starting with the outline (go a smidge outside the lines so that the lines won’t peek through the sequins along the edge) and then filling in.
  3. Next apply the sequins. (I bought a pack at Michael’s for $3 and it’s enough to do 3 of these projects.) I don’t have a technique, per se, but I do have a piece of advice. Try to separate and fluff the sequins in your hand before applying because they tend to “nest” in the package. I sprinkled them onto the glue like I was sprinkling (a lot of) shredded cheese onto a pizza. Pay attention around the edges, as you may need to place a few by hand to cover up the outline of the letter.
  4. Continue to fill in the entire letter, section by section, until complete.
  5. Let dry overnight. I recommend putting something heavy on each corner of the paper, as paper with that much glue tends to curl.
  6. The next morning, hold up to a window, and any spots you’ve missed will become obvious. You can fill those in by hand with individual sequins. Note that when you hold it up, and loose sequins will fall off as well, so you may want to do that in an open space you can vacuum easily. After filling in any bare spaces, allow to dry 24 hours.
  7. Frame and hang! (Note: since this artwork is three-dimensional, look for a frame whose clips may allow for some give.)

This would also make a great baby gift for new parents. If you know the color scheme of the nursery, you could coordinate (you can purchase sequins in individual color packs instead of the big bulk package like I did).

DIY Kid Craft: A New Kind of Tissue Paper Flower


Who remembers making tissue paper flowers? Folding strips of different colored paper into an accordion, tying the center, then opening up the whole thing for fiesta day at school? That’s what I think of when someone mentions tissue paper flowers. But here’s a new (at least to me) twist on these classics, and you probably have everything you need already.

Below are my instructions (all you need is tissue paper, glue, construction paper, a popsicle stick or a green pipe cleaner, and a willing participant). If you’d like, you can download my template in a variety of sizes HERE, but you can just as easily freehand it. No artistic background required!

A special thanks to my 4-year-old son for completing this sample project. Those are his cute little hands in the photos.

Instructions:

  1. Cut a piece of construction paper to the desired size to serve as the background. (If you read MY LAST BLOG POST, you already know my tip about starting with pre-cut paper the size of a frames you have on hand so that you can display the artwork immediately–and, you don’t risk needing to cut the artwork just to fit it into a frame.)
  2. Use a pencil to draw a simple flower (or many flowers, depending on how large your paper is). Just a stem, two leaves on the stem, a circle, and some petals. Don’t spend too much time on this…it’s going to get covered up anyway.
  3. I recommend gluing the stem down first and, while that’s drying, you can prep all the other pieces. Use either a green pipe cleaner or break a popsicle stick into long, thin pieces and use one of those. Glue to paper and set aside to dry.
  4. Prep the tissue paper for the petals first, as this is a job your child can do while you’re using scissors to prep the remaining pieces. All you need to do is tear lots of different colored tissue paper into pieces about the size of your child’s hand (he or she can help with this step, too). After you have a big stack, ask your child to crumple each piece into a tiny ball.
  5. While he or she is working on that, you can prep the leaves and the grass for a finishing touch. Cut two leaves approximately the shape of what you drew. Use green construction or even green foam sheets if you happen to have any. For the grass, cut a few sheets of green tissue paper as wide as your background paper and a few inches high. Stack them, then make vertical cuts, leaving about half an inch between the bottom of your cut and the bottom of the tissue paper. See the photo if that’s confusing. We’re making stems of grass by using this technique.
  6. Now it’s time for gluing! This is where your child can take complete control. Trace and fill in the petals with glue and then allow your child to add the tiny balls of tissue paper, creating whatever color combination he or she would like! If you’re feeling really fancy, you could use a yellow pom pom for the center of the flower.
  7. Once the petals are all done, your child can glue on the green leaves to the stem. I recommend that you glue the grass on as a finishing touch.

Voila!! A work of art has been created! Allow to dry thoroughly and then frame.

Encouraging and Preserving Your Child’s Masterpieces

If your child is anything like mine, you accumulate handmade artwork at an alarming rate. Personally, I love it, and I think each piece is wonderful in its own way. And I think we can all agree that creative time is great for hand-eye coordination and for imagination. But let’s be honest, some masterpieces are truly worth framing, and others are more suited for the “save” bin.

I’ve divided this post into two categories: Encouraging and Preserving.

Encouraging: I have a couple tips to share about giving your child all the tools he or she needs to be able to create art freely.

  1. Be prepared. I’m sure you already have the obligatory arts and crafts bin and the smocks to go with it. I do, too. In addition to that, I also purchased a huge roll of brown paper at Home Depot. I found it in the section with all the painter’s tape, it’s about 3 feet tall, and who knows how many feet long. It looks like standard brown craft paper, but is much thicker. To be honest, it was so long ago that I don’t even remember how much it cost (I think it was $10 or $12), but that just proves how long it will last. I cut a big piece of that paper off and lay it across the floor, table, or whatever surface my son is using at the time. Then he can paint, glue, whatever on his smaller paper on top, and when arts and crafts time is over, I just roll up the large sheet, crumpling it in to itself, and toss it. No mess!!
  2. Plan ahead. I go to the craft store at least once a week. My favorite is Michael’s, but I’m sure this would work for any craft store, or even Target or Walmart. I buy a value pack of a certain size frame. For me, I prefer black 5×7 frames, and I can buy a package of 10 for less than $10. Then, I pre-cut my son’s standard white art paper (and some black construction paper, too) that he uses as the background for almost all projects into 5×7 sheets. Now, he has a stack of paper just begging to be turned into art and I have frames at the ready. And more importantly, if he creates something gorgeous, it’s already the right size for a frame.
  3. Let your child be free. Ok, so maybe I’m the only one who needs to follow this advice. My perfectionist/OCD tendencies sometimes make it difficult to just allow my little one to create whatever he wants, how ever he wants. I do catch myself giving my son advice on where to stick the tissue paper, or telling him that area of the picture has enough blue and that maybe he should try some yellow. But the look on his face reminds me that such comments are not necessary. He has much more fun when I keep my recommendations to myself and tell him that everything is beautiful. He’s only 4. I think he deserves that consideration.

Preserving: Here’s what I’ve learned about saving artwork from my experience so far.

  1. Keep artwork protected and dry. I have a plastic bin with a lid where I save all non-frame-worthy artwork. I keep it in a closet and occasionally slip parchment paper between pieces if I’m worried about glitter or something sticking to other paper. This works great for me, but I make sure to leave all artwork out 24 hours to completely dry before I put it in the sealed bin. I know that seems like an obvious step, but the last thing you’d want is to put something in a sealed container that was still wet with glue.
  2. Devote a wall. Something else I’ve learned is that my son gets a real kick out of getting his artwork displayed. (Bonus: If you purchase multiple of the same frame, anything you put in there will automatically look like a collection when hung on the wall together.) We happen to have a rather large laundry room with a door that serves as a secondary entrance to our house. I’ve devoted one wall in the laundry room to my son’s artwork. It’s perfect because it’s kind of out of the way, but everyone who comes in that door of the house walks right by it. There’s limited space, though, so let’s say I can fit 11 frames on the wall. If he creates a 12th piece of artwork, it replaces one that’s already up there and then the old one goes into the “save” bin. Those are the rules (and my son can choose which one goes). And speaking of rules, don’t think you have to hang everything in a straight line. Mix it up and have some fun. (Helpful tip: collections usually look better when using an odd number, so having 7 frames will look more balanced and interesting than having 6 frames. Plus, having 7 gives you the opportunity to hang a row of 3 on top of a row of 4, or if you have a narrow wall, a row of 2, a row of 3, and another row of 2.)
  3. Other ideas for preserving masterpieces. If your child tends to create large art that can’t be framed, lots of online stores sell kids art portfolios (they look like giant expandable file folders). Or how about this one? If you really have no space and/or are emotionally ready to part with some older artwork, take hi-res photos of each piece and turn the photos into a coffee table book! Shutterfly, Lulu, and Walmart have terrific options. They’d also make fantastic holiday gifts for grandparents.

I’d love to hear what your tips are. Please comment on this post to share with me and with other readers!

DIY Home: Simple Window Valance


 
When my family and I recently moved into our new home, we quickly realized two things: many of our windows are not a common size and we have a LOT of windows.

Unable to purchase pre-made valances, I decided to take things into my own hands and sew my own (the sample is one of the 4 valances in my office). I’d recently learned to sew and had even more recently received a beautiful new sewing machine for Christmas…and so began my adventure. Slowly at first, but once I developed a process, things moved quickly. I was able to make 20 valances in under a week, sewing only in the evening.

Below are my instructions, including one amazing time-saving tip (I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with that one!). You can also download the template and instructions HERE.

Instructions:
In this example, let’s assume you want your finished valance to be 24” wide and 12” tall and that you are using a 1” curtain rod. These initial measurements will vary based on your window and rod size.

  1. I recommend hanging your curtain rods first. Once they’re up, measure the distance between the brackets so you know exactly how wide you need your valance to be. This is especially important because we’re making a flat, tailored valance, not one that’s oversized and bunches up, allowing more room for error. In our example, we want the finished width to be 24”.
  2. Cut your fabric (I used medium-weight home decór fabric) 2” wider and 3” taller than what you want your finished valance to be. In our example, we’d cut a piece of fabric that’s 26” wide by 15” tall.
  3. Flip the fabric over so you’re looking at the wrong side. We need to create a 1” hem on the left, bottom, and right sides, and a 2” hem across the top, which will become the pocket for the rod.
  4. I use tailor’s chalk, but you could even use pen or pencil if you’d like, provided the mark won’t show through to the front of your fabric. Here’s the tip that will save you a lot of time: Draw a line 2” in on the left, bottom, and right of your fabric. Draw a line 4” down from the top. Then, fold your fabric to meet your chalk lines rather than pinning and measuring over and over again. Do the left, bottom, and right hems first. Fold your fabric in to your chalk lines. The chalk lines are 2” in from the edge, so when you fold in, you’re creating a 1” hem. Pin in place and iron creases.
  5. Sew left, right, and bottom hems in one pass.
  6. Remove from sewing machine and fold top down to meet the appropriate chalk line. Pin in place but do NOT iron to crease. Stitch across the bottom edge of the fabric you just folded down, close to the 4” chalk line. You’ve just formed the rod pocket!
  7. If necessary, feel free to line your curtains. I didn’t in my house because a) I didn’t have time and b) I didn’t think it was necessary. I was only going for looks, not actually trying to block out light.

If you try this out, please email a photo of your finished valance to carolyn@carolyncrowndesigns.com. I’d love to see!

A Welcome Note

Thank you so much for reading this post, and I hope you’ll follow my blog to get all kinds of great design ideas and craft projects.

Every year, as Halloween approaches, I begin to think about all the holiday crafts I can make this year. Some will be listed for sale in my online store, some will become Christmas gifts, and some are just for my family. I absolutely love making them, and the creative process is really a relaxation exercise for me as well.

My son, who is now 4, loves arts and crafts as well–and he’s REALLY good at them, too! So, from now until Christmas, in addition to my regular posts, I’ll be posting a number of DIY holiday projects. Many of them are kid-friendly! I’ll include photos and instructions, and what my inspiration was. I’ll also post all of these to the carolyncrowndesigns Facebook and Pinterest pages as well.

First up, a DIY home improvement project. Stay tuned!