Let's Just Try It

a compilation of inspiration and creative endeavors of a mom and daughter duo

Category Archives: Tutorial

Art By Putty Knife

This was definitely a classic “Let’s Just Try It” project!  A photo posted on Pinterest got my mind going, and a verse that I have always wanted illustrated were what got me going.  All it took was a big canvas with the right dimensions, a putty knife, Acrylic Gel Medium and my tray of acrylic paints.  One afternoon of joyous painting – it felt like the days when my mom would sit me at the table with fingerpaint – colour mixing and mashing…. so much fun!

This is how simple it is: Mix acrylic gel medium to give acrylic paints texture (or I suppose, use oils!). Use a paper plate as the palette – start with the lightest colour and load the putty knife-edge with the colour – stroke down for one, stroke to the side for the second. PIck up a bit of the next colour and stroke on the palatte to blend the colour slightly – continue working through the canvas, laying down the background. Work in the focal point (in this case, the tree).  Let dry.  Add leaves when dry.  (NB: the leaves consisted of a significant amount of gel as I wanted them to stand up on the canvas – I wasn’t entirely happy with the result – and definitely shouldn’t have worked on it at 10 pm!

Image

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In true “Lets Just Try It” style – let me share what I learned….

  • A rough sketch of the elements of the painting can give direction for colour change as you go. It wasn’t entire a “fly by the seat of your pants” project.
  • Mix enough paint with the gel medium to get you through the entire painting. Matching mixed colours and gel is a difficult task – luckily this particular technique does not require exact match!
  • Edges are tough to tackle with a stiff putty knife – a softer, more flexible one would have been better
  • Blue tends to dry more transparent my end result was not exactly what I had hoped for as the overlapping of the colours were not disguised with the blue – of course I had to wait until it was dry to discover this!
  • Paint in the detail while the background is wet for a fun way to add tone to your detail. My tree trunk was painted with the same base colour, but when dragged through the wet background, picked up the light and dark elements.
  • Decide BEFORE you start whether you imagine a frame or not.  Sadly, I painted this on a stretched canvas, and have decided it definitely needs a frame…. I will have to seek professional advise about how to make that happen.
  • Finally, take your time on the final details!  I was so determined to finish in one day, that I got a bit sloppy on the leaves. It resulted in a slightly cartoonish looking tree.  Next time I will save the leaves for a fresh day, and spend time on some detail.
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Heart Shaped Mini Wreath

Most times, it’s the little things that count.  The unexpected kiss on the cheek, the wink across the room, the help when unasked.

There is nothing nicer than leaving a little gift for someone anonymously, and this little heart wreath is a simple way to show those you love that you appreciate them. Leave them hanging on the door, from the car mirror or maybe even on the shower handle.  Depending on the size made, it would take no time at all to whip up half a dozen. They use mostly scraps or repurposed materials and cost almost nothing.

Materials:

Medium Gauge Wire – (recycle an old hanger!)

A pair of pliers and a wire cutter

Masking tape

Scraps of fabric (left overs from sewing projects, old pillowcases, bits of worn out clothing)

Bits of Ribbon to hang with

Step One: Bend a small heart from a piece of wire.  Tip: start from the bottom of the heart and bend upward. Bend each side of the top of the heart by gently bending the curve around.  Perfection is not needed.

Step Two: Twist the ends of the heart together. If too long, trim shorter.  Tape ends with tape for safety. ( if the twisted section is too long, as it is above, trim with a pair of wire cutters. The tape will hold it together.

Step Three:  Tear strips from a variety of types of cloth.  The width required will depend on the size of wreath made.  For a 7 inch wreath, I used approximately 1 inch wide strips. If using very thick material, make narrower strips.

Step four: Cut the strips into a length that will make an easy hitch knot.  My sample was made with approximately 4 inch strips

Step five: Tie the strip onto the frame using a hitch knot. ( Fold the strip in half, forming a loop. Fold over the frame, insert the ends of the strips through the loop and pull tight.

Continue all the way around the frame pushing the knots close together and varying the colours and patterns.

Step Six: To finish the wreath, pull the ends of the knots apart from each other to give it a fluffed appearance.

Tie a longer length of ribbon in a loop and thread it around the wreath to form a hanger.

Ta Da! A cute little gift to brighten someones day!

* Options (I love options!)

Use a bigger frame and wider strips to make a really fluffy wreath

Use scraps of ribbon, or widely different textures of fabric for a beautifully diverse wreath

Hang a string of beads from the middle or the bottom – or a charm – or a bow – the possibilities are limitless!

Quick But Warm Two Tone Lap Blanket – No Sew!

While I have basked in 91 degree weather today, my friends and family back in the States have endured a winter of note – snow, power outages and now flooding. In honour of them, I have spent my Saturday making some lovely warm lap blankets – perfect for an evening of book reading or television viewing. Come July, I’ll be ready!

It all started with a bargain R99.00 ($12.00) for four beautifully colour coordinated polar fleece blankets on sale at my local Pick N Pay shop. They are a little thin, but perfect for the project I had in mind.

Materials and Tools:
1) Cheap and ready-made polar fleece blankets, but fleece bought from the local fabric shop would be as good, if not better.
2) A pair of Scissors
That’s IT!

Step One:
Layer two coordinating blankets (or lengths of fabric) on top of each other


Step Two:
Cut slits through both layers – 8 or 9 centimeters deep, spaced 3 or 4 centimeters apart. It is important that the cuts are consistently the same depth.


Step Three: Starting at one corner, begin to tie a basic square knot, using the bottom blanket’s strip tied to the top blanket’s strip.

Tip: Don’t tie too tightly as this may cause puckering.

Work around the blanket until the top is tied to the bottom along all edges.

Extra scraps of fleece could be used to decorate the center of the blanket – imagine flowers cut and fastened with a big bright button scattered across the face of the blanket.

Flower Pin- just for the fun of it

My great-grandmother used to wear the most beautiful brooches. I remember as a little girl wondering over how pretty they were as I sat on her lap and smelled her perfume.

This flower could be used as an adornment on just about anything. I made one for Elizabeth’s birthday out of an old book – she’s a fantastic writer and is just about to finish her degree in English literature, so it seemed fitting – but any unique paper would look great. I have some beautiful scraps of pearlized and embossed paper that I will use one day and make a pin to wear. I’d love to make some out of old music sheets to put on my Christmas tree this year

Tools and Materials Needed:

For the pedals:

Tim Holtz Alterations BigZ Die

– Alternatively, hand cutting a similar shape would work great!

Die cutting machine

Craft Glue

Coloured Tulle (fine netting as used on wedding veils)

Small coloured feathers

standard sized brad

old-fashioned button

Step One: Cut from your favorite paper 5 large flowers, plus one extra

Step Two: Cut from the coloured tulle netting –  4 large flowers

Step Three: Paint the front and back of the paper flowers with craft glue. This will stiffen the pedals and allow shaping and curling later

Step Four: When the glue coated flowers are dry, trim the flowers as follows:

Flower #1, #2 and #3 – Leave as is

Flower #4 – Trim away one pedal

Flower #5 – Trim away two pedals

Step Five: On Flower #4 and #5, with a touch of glue (hot glue or craft glue), fold over the trimmed side to form a slightly curled 4 and 3 pedaled flower

Step Six: With the tulle netting, trim only one flower of one pedal, and glue as in step five.

Step Seven: Layer as follows: Flower #1 at bottom; Tulle net flower; Flower#2, Tulle net flower; Flower #3; Tulle net flower; Flower #4 (trimmed to 4 pedals); Tulle net flower (trimmed and glued to 4 pedals); Flower #5 (trimmed and glued to 3 pedals). Rotate each layer slightly to offset the pedals

Step Eight: Insert metal brad through the center of each  layer and flatten at the back. Trim brad ends if necessary

Step Nine: Glue feathers around the back of the bottom flower, bending where necessary (hot glue works well)

Step Ten: Glue extra flower over the back to cover the brad back and the feather stems and glue the button on top of the brad head.

Finishing: With the end of a pencil or paintbrush, curl the pedals slighty as desired to give a dimensional feel to your new creation

Quirky Vintage Art in an Afternoon

I whipped this up in just one afternoon with nothing more than an old canvas, some paint, modge podge and a paper printout.

Here is how you can too:

1. First, trim and distress your printout. I used an image found on Google (since this is for private non profit use, we aren’t violating any laws) and printed it on my inkjet printer. I  used ink to distress the edges of the image.

2. Using the Podge, spread a very thin layer over the image, and let dry. This helps the ink not smudge. Using a foam brush makes your life easier, but a wide, clean paintbrush will work too.

I have tried this technique several times, and each image does have its own hiccups. The idea here is for the layer to be ridiculously thin. If you see the colours smearing, stop, and let everything dry thoroughly before going forward.

If you are using an image from a laser printer, you can skip this step.

3. Paint the edges of the canvas and let dry.

4. Spread a thin layer of Podge over the canvas and carefully lay out the image, smoothing out any bubbles with your hands.

5. Here’s where I got a little crazy. According to decoupage experts, you should wait until this is dry before adding a coat of Podge on top. I didn’t. I wanted as much texture as I could (including wrinkles and creases) so I threw on a coat right over the top of the print out. Embrace imperfection!

Three coats of Podge and one coat of sealer was sufficient for this little guy.

There you have it! Quirky art in one afternoon with just an old canvas, modge podge, and a printer.

Underwater Blooms

Elizabeth and I reached our creative pinnacle with the advent of her wedding – the goal was a gorgeous wedding on a budget – and we put all our creative energies into coming up with some unique ideas to accomplish this.  Everything except the cake, dress and bouquet were done with the sweat of our own brows (even the groom-to-be helped out! )

One of my favorite results were the table arrangements for the reception tables. Being that Elizabeth had chosen the weekend after Valentine’s Day, we weren’t sure what the availability of red flowers would be, but we found a unique assortment of red beauties that worked perfectly in our underwater plan thanks to the helpful florists at Multiflora in Johannesburg.

Requirements:

3 various sizes of clear glass vases  (sourced as a rental for the largest, and purchased from a local discount store for the medium and smaller size)

Variety of sturdy bloomed flowers or berries (gladioli worked very well, as did the rose and “berries” which we discovered later were actually round chilies!)

Glass pebbles or clear seed beads

Clear fishing line

Heavy fishing weights (and I mean heavy!)

Tap water, or sparkling water for a bubbly
effect

The day before the wedding, we forced open the gladioli by steeping them in rather warm water.  We then pre-tied the heavy weights onto the bottom of the stems with a short piece of fishing line.  On the morning of the wedding, with the help of our soon to be new sisters in law and mother in law – the blooms were placed into the vases, the glass beads were poured into cover the ugly fishing weight and finally we poured the water into the vases (making quite a mess on the floor!). A pretty little floating candle on top of each vase added a lovely sparkle to the table and provided that oh-so-important romantic touch.

Things we learned:

  • Standard fishing weights are not heavy enough! I ended up on an emergency run to the hardware store looking for anything heavy and ended up with the biggest nuts I could find. These worked very well.
  • Beads move when adding water, so plan to have a nice long chop stick or spoon on hand to cover the weights after the water has been poured.
  • It takes a little time for the air to work its way out of the pedals of the flowers, so don’t panic if they refuse to sink at first. Once the air is out, it works great!