It's the holiday season, and I declared that this would be the first year in awhile and the first of many... that I would not succumb to the winter blues. This season used to make me feel very down about not celebrating with all of my family the way I used to while growing up or not being where I always imagined being by this time in my life. To help me do that this year, I poured myself into creative projects for myself and others. This blog post documents a few DIY projects that are easy and fun, and perfect for decorating your space for Christmas.
1. Holiday Wreath
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of crafting another front door piece, this time requested by my sister and with the help of my niece on a lovely Friday evening. My sister had seen versions of what she wanted in several stores, but all of their prices were $50 and up. I offered to help, and the picture above is what we created together. She supplied all of the materials, my niece created the design (seen in the photo to the left in action), and I led in the project's execution. We started with a plain wreath, many variously sized and colored ornaments, a bow, scissors, needle and thread, and glue gun with glue sticks. Below, you can see a photo slideshow of how the wreath transformed, step-by-step.
2. Tree Topper Star
A little over a year ago, I had the desire to break into new traditions for the holidays and wanted to decorate my own tree. Still living at my older brother's house during the time, I didn't get to do this immediately; but I remember browsing online and seeing different holiday-inspired decor styles and spotting one particular piece that I really LOVED. The sixth idea on a list from Decoist entitled "8 Beautifully Unusual Christmas Tree Toppers" incorporated old sheet music in a very unique design that I HAD to try for myself. Of the two examples of the sheet music design, one (seen in the first photo in the gallery below) was from a featured blog site, Thoughts from Alice, now alicewingerden.com.
This tree topper reminds me of the real story and meaning of Christmas and the star the Magi saw that led them to Baby Jesus. Last December, I wrote a blog about how things were changing and for the good. Newly baptized, that blog was about a Canvas Creations I co-facilitated in celebration of the "Reason for the Season." We discussed the Messiah at that paint party and the star the wise men saw that led them to Bethlehem. Creating a star tree topper this year felt like a divine part of God's plan. It was a joy to put together and I love how it completed my Christmas tree. Photos below show more of the process.
This year is the first that I've realized that I am not alone in dealing with [my] loss, and I don't have to deal with it by myself. People all over the world from backgrounds of all kind, as shared in this NPR article, cope differently with the disruption of loss and changing holiday traditions. Loss is a form of grief, as my therapist tells me; and everybody grieves in their own way. Since I was a teenager, the shifted dynamics of my family trickled into the way I felt about observing the holiday season. It became challenging for me, but I now find purpose in those challenges and in that past pain and hurt. As of result of it, I encountered God's love as well as the love for art and creating. I have the power to observe the holiday in the way I CHOOSE; and I celebrate love, joy, peace and Christ all throughout the year. Crafty DIY projects like these ones are all a part of my continuous observation of these important things in life.
3. Handmade Musical Ornaments
My niece made a small fan the night we made our DIY wreath together. Even though she used regular, lined paper and crafted it because she was hot and wanted to cool down; her little creation is what inspired these additional tree ornaments. Photos in the slideshow and gallery below both document the transformation of these pieces as well as the perfect little tree that helped me get in the Christmas Spirit.
As I move forward with creating my own holiday traditions in the years to come, I want to make sure I always do two things; (1) Seek, find, and keep Christ front and center in the season, and (2) Honor and enjoy life and the loved ones I have in it. The old sheet music tree topper and these matching handmade ornaments were a couple sparks to the beginning of new traditions for me.
What an exciting time it's been to continue to settle in at home, and make it [for the most part] everything I ever imagined while incorporating my own personal style. During this time, I've also had the chance to step away from social media and better manage my intake of everything going on in the world. It was a much needed break, and allowed me great amounts of time to slow down, refocus, and plan for the future. DIY projects are an awesome way to relax and get creative.
This door decor project was one of my favorite to do during my social media break. Though I am a fan of wreaths, which are commonly hung on doors... the beautiful arrangements whose ring or circular shape is meant to represent eternity are also laid on graves and often seen as related to death. Growing up, I would always hear my Mom say she (or Liberian people in general) didn't use wreaths for decoration on their doors/at home because of this. I was looking for a design that would be just as gorgeous as a wreath, but way different than what you'd typically see hanging on a door or at a funeral.
Within a few minutes of online searching, I found a design that I liked and looked easy enough to replicate. I skimmed through my craft supplies, frames, and outdoor spaces and scavenged for all of the materials I needed (needle, thread, small branches and twigs, faux flowers, pine cone, plexi-glass, frame, ruler wood burner/stencil cutter, chalk markers, sealant, 3M hanging strip, scissors, spray paint, water, a rag and hot glue gun)! After some short, sporadic sessions of putting everything together, I hung up the sign on my front door... for $FREE.99! To seal and weather-proof the piece on the door, I sprayed the chalk ink lettered design with fixative, but that left it with a foggy residue I was not happy with. I ended up testing which spray of the ones I had on-hand were the best on sections of the first piece. Then I redid the lettering on a new cut of the plexi-glass. Of the four sprays that were tested, Krylon's Crystal Clear had the best results. Pictures in the gallery below show a little of this project's behind-the-scenes process. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed and/or feel inspired to create one of your own! Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section if you have any!
In the words of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, "There's NO place like home!" I'm officially ten full weeks in at my new place, and this is the very first time I have felt "at home" since moving to North Carolina. The word [home] alone is one that has given me mixed feelings my whole life. Growing up in two separate households from the ages of 12 through 18 as well as living as a first-generation [naturalized] American, "home" always felt bittersweet and family gatherings grew to feel strange. I dreamed of one day starting over and being able to create a home and family of my own. Fast forward 11 years, and I'm almost halfway there!
Earlier this year, the phrase "Home is where the heart is" had me pondering the idea of 'home' once again. I was participating in an art auction and fundraiser hosted by the Carrack Modern Art and Smashing Boxes for Habitat for Humanity of Durham, where they used the phrase as the event theme. "Where was my heart?' I wondered.
The answer is that my heart is in good ol' North Carolina... for now. NC is where I found what I love to do and where I learned to heal, forgive, and love myself fully. NC is where I finally came out of my comfort zone and grew up. I am grateful for this place. I settled into my first apartment here. I lived by myself for the first time here, and I feel like I can call the place I reside "home" without any lingering feelings of sadness.
In the ten weeks it took me to settle into my apartment, the wall art I imagined hanging up in my bathroom slowly came to life. I wanted some art to match a piece of counter top decor and the beach-theme shower curtain and colors of my bathroom. I learned a lace and spray paint technique while teaching at Seeking the Self summer camp this past July, which I tried out on the background, then used other sources of inspiration from there. See below for pictures of the transformation and read on for the revamped classroom caddie, refurbished bookshelf, and reused window decor projects I did for my living room as well!
Summer is a busy time for an Artist that's involved in camps. As the time for longer and warmer days end each year, I get a little nostalgic and reflect on all of the great things the season brought. This year I returned to Hidden Voices and Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate's Seeking The Self (STS) Camp as an Assistant Art Instructor and also joined SEEDS' Summer Camp as a Guest Teacher to [finally] complete my North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program's Community Partnership Project. Working with the kids lesson-by-lesson to come up with a concept for a mural we designed together and began painting was a challenge, but very rewarding. I met many talented young artists and it was a pleasure to teach them some of the basics of art and design. Photos from SEEDS' Camp directly follow. Read on for more about STS Camp after that!
Hello, hello... hey hello, hello! Today, I am writing to share steps for creating your own chalkboard sign(s). Last July, I had the pleasure of lettering wedding signage (shown in photo) for the first time for a friend. Prior to this experience, the only time I had ever made signs on chalkboard was while working as a part-time barista years ago in a local Starbucks. Oh, the things you discover while you're trying to figure life out! Coffee culture, hand-lettering and custom chalk menus seem to all naturally group together as a 'thing', and thankfully I left with a small appreciation for them all by the time my barista days were over.
This past week, I got the opportunity to be a part of a project that brought together the works of a group of phenomenal businesswomen. A local baker, the one who actually did my aforementioned friend's wedding cake, saw the ceremony and reception signage, and then connected and hired me to do signs for her daughter's 7th birthday soon after. I also hand-lettered gift bag name tags and painted a few custom frames for her party. I'm so filled with joy to know the words I took the time to write last summer left such a grand impression that it led me to do more. If you're ready to make your own inspiring chalk signage, keep on reading (and/or feel free to contact me for your chalkboard signage needs)!
Materials for this DIY:
*For the chalkboard spray paint, I've tried both of these brands. You can find 1 in home reno' stores, i.e. Home Depot or Lowe's and 2 in local craft stores, i.e. Michaels or A.C. Moore.)
**I used a variety of chalk pens from the Craft Smart, Chalk Ink and Bistro brands. All great!
I used the following items, but they are not required to create your chalkboard sign; completely OPTIONAL.
Thanks so much for checking out this post and I hope it helps with whatever creative projects you might be working on! My step-by-step process is in the slideshow and photos from the party are in the gallery below. Until next time... peace!
First of all... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
In the spirit of new, this post is about trying new things. Take my Sakura Gelly Roll pens-to-planner cover experiment as example number one! I've used their classic white gel pen for years (no, gel pens never went out of style- lol), but recently got pens from the metallic and the souffle lines and was waiting to try them out on something fun. What better place to test them than on a plain and boring 2017 planner cover? Only a few days in and I'm already on the mission of adding color and pazazz to year 2017. As you can see [from the photos in the gallery below], the souffle ink is transparent while it's being applied and has a solid, vibrant 3D pop once dry. I am happy with my doodle results and now love using my cute, new weekly-yearly planner. The only thing I noticed after applying on the plastic surface was scratching of the souffle ink and smearing of the metallic ink. To avoid this, I suggest covering with an archival laminate or adhere some sort of adhesive to protect your newly decorated surface!
On to example number two! I also tried my hand at sewing apparel (by request) to start off the year. The red, brown, and yellow tank top shown in the slideshow of photos belongs to my mother. It is one of her favorite summer tops, so she wanted me to make her another one... using the bottom fabric of a dress she wasn't as crazy about. "OK, sure..." I agreed, but was terrified by the thought of completely messing it up. I did it anyway, and though I made some errors, they were either very minor or easy to undo and fix. The only way to improve your skills and build cofidence with something like this is to practice and you have to try and start somewhere in order to do that! There are several ways to sew apparel: with a pattern/kit, with a completed piece/mock up as a guide, make your own pattern design from scratch with measurements, or just freely make something on the whim/drape and pin. Easy for me, I was able to use the already made tank top as a guide. This is one of the easier methods and I show photos of my step-by-step process below.
December 17, 2016 was a day full of ugly holiday sweaterness. See Why Designs and TYPE USA ran a third Canvas Creations at the 4020 Lounge at the Saucy Crab Restaurant in the afternoon (HUGE THANKS to everybody for coming) and by night, I was ready for my friend JaNell's (of J. Cardinal Events) '80s-themed murder mystery party.
The invitation to the party was the spark of motivation I needed to create the imagined demo painting for our event, which then turned into the inspiration for my ugly sweater design for the party. See the photos in the slideshow below on how I created this look, suggestions on how to make your own, and some party pictures!
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