Search

My Green Velvet Life

Where everything sticks.

Category

recycling

Repost: (Tight)wad Bows

Last year after Christmas, I was fooling around with the gigantic mess of leftover wrapping paper on my art room table and I discovered a fun and ultra easy way to use leftover wrapping.  I had decided I would not publish it until the following year during holiday season, so it would be fresh in your mind as you find yourself buried in a mountain of leftover Christmas cheer.  (And you will, no matter how neat you try to be!)

Well here it is the Christmas season once again and . . . ta da!  My idea makes its debut tonight:  Use your leftover paper to make bows!

Take the wrapping paper in your hand (pattern right side up), then squeeze and wad up in the middle:

Take the ends and fold under (all around, until it has a circular shape), then staple in the middle:

At this point, you have a respectable bow, although your staple will show if you look closely.

But don’t stop there! Make at least one more bow to layer on top. You can layer even more if you’d like. I did cheat a bit on the smaller red bow. Instead of stapling I just taped it in the bottom.

These bows might be perfect for you if:

  • You love the less-than-perfect, homey, vintage look.
  • You don’t want to spend one cent on bows.
  • You are creative but not crafty.  You are maybe a little clutzy.

You could even wad up the kids and let them make all the bows for you.  They love elf work!

So wad do you think?

Staple Up These Blisters for Oozy Fun!

Here’s a shocker. I’ve actually made few cards lately. I had been saving some odds and ends of used packaging blister packs for a quite a while and finally found time to use them creatively.  Unfortunately, the photos don’t quite show off the shiny blister packs stapled to the cards, but I hope you get the idea.  I did cheat on the last one. There is no blister pack.  I simply wrapped yarn around the flower stems.  I am incredibly lazy.  You can be too.

Trashy Greetings

Not feeling too creative or clever lately.  Typically, this time of year is a bit blah in Wisconsin. Although this year we have been treated with greenery and blooms busting forth well before Easter, my mood is stubbornly sitting on the blah side.  I guess my internal clock really loves how gray afternoons and icy mud puddles seem to nod approval to laziness, quiet reflection, and even a bit of indulgent self-pity.

Okay I’m really not here to trash our beautiful spring.  But I am here to talk about trash. I love saving strange bits of garbage in hopes of discovering and sharing their fantastic artistic potential. Here are a few greeting cards I’ve made the last few weeks. Each one is just a bit trashy and a great big easy. (Notice some of the elements are simply stapled together. Because sometimes I’m too lazy to glue.)

This “black vase” is wrinkled-up paper from a bag of coffee. (Hint: Berres Brothers makes the yummiest coffee and the coolest waxy black packaging.)

This “silver vase” is a piece of cream cheese wrapping. A bit messy to wash but so worth it. And you guessed it. My beloved painted cardboard too.

This “silver vase” is a bit of shiny cardboard from a package of face lotion. I wrinkled it for a fun effect.

This blue background is from one of my favorite art trash resources: a Mentos candy wrapper.  This gorgeous material is always a hit with the kids. (The candy is a hit with the kids too.)

And this “brown vase”is from a Starbucks coffee cup wrapper.  It’s so nubby I’m gonna die!

Now go forth and have your own trashy fun!

(Tight)wad Bows

Last year after Christmas, I was fooling around with the gigantic mess of leftover wrapping paper on my art room table and I discovered a fun and ultra easy way to use leftover wrapping.  I had decided I would not publish it until the following year during holiday season, so it would be fresh in your mind as you find yourself buried in a mountain of leftover Christmas cheer.  (And you will, no matter how neat you try to be!)

Well here it is the Christmas season once again and . . . ta da!  My idea makes its debut tonight:  Use your leftover paper to make bows!

Take the wrapping paper in your hand (pattern right side up), then squeeze and wad up in the middle:

Take the ends and fold under (all around, until it has a circular shape), then staple in the middle:

At this point, you have a respectable bow, although your staple will show if you look closely.

But don’t stop there! Make at least one more bow to layer on top. You can layer even more if you’d like. I did cheat a bit on the smaller red bow. Instead of stapling I just taped it in the bottom.

These bows might be perfect for you if:

  • You love the less-than-perfect, homey, vintage look.
  • You don’t want to spend one cent on bows.
  • You are creative but not crafty.  You are maybe a little clutzy.

You could even wad up the kids and let them make all the bows for you.  They love elf work!

So wad do you think?

So-Cool-It-Squeaks Art

Art doesn’t transform.  It just plain forms.  — Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), American pop artist

In a small fit of creativity, I challenged myself to pick up three pieces of litter from the parking lot and use them for a little art project.  It took me about 30 seconds to discover my items: a piece of worn wood, a red plastic chip from somebody’s car light and a round plastic piece.

And here is my masterpiece!  I simply glued the pieces onto a painted piece of recycled cardboard.  For embellishment, I used recycled foil candy wrappers and two non-recycled items:  blue glitter and an orange plastic jewel.

This would be an awesome and ultra cheap party project.  Of course, you’d need to designate a safe place to scavenge for garbage items.  For kids, you’d also need to be watchful to ensure nobody scores something disgusting such as a dirty hamburger wrapper.  But don’t let that scare you.  This is squeaky clean fun!

Cheap Easter Fun

Don’t throw away those pretty foil candy wrappers! Use them to make these colorful crosses with the kids on Easter afternoon:

Supplies
  • White school glue (and a plastic lid or disposable container for your glue)
  • Foil candy wrappers – a mix of colors is the most fun
  • Wooden Popsicle sticks
  • Fat paint brushes  or just use your fingers (we did and it worked better than the brushes)
  • Large plastic bag or packaging to work on (plastic is nice because it won’t stick to your project)
  • Wet paper towels or baby wipes.
  • Optional: magnets to put on back.
Instructions
  • Eat candy.
  • Save your wrappers, smoothing them flat (this is a little tough for preschoolers).
  • Tear wrappers into little strips or whatever shapes you like.
  • Stick your brush or fingers into the glue, then, one at a time, smear over strips and press onto 2 wooden sticks .  It doesn’t matter if you get glue on both sides of the wrappers.  It’s messy, but the glue dries clear.
  • Once the sticks are decorated, glue them together to form a cross.
Notes
I made these with my five-year old grandson.  He loved it, but it was difficult for him to press the wrappers all the way.  I helped him a bit, and then quickly decided his looked great even if not perfectly pressed down.
 
Your fingers will be full of glue!  But clean-up is easy.
 

Have a blessed Easter!

 
 

A (Salty Wisconsin) Spring in My Step

While much of the country is enjoying green grass and budding trees, us northerners are thrilled just to glimpse the geese flying bravely in the whipping March winds while we make mad dashes through our salt covered parking lots to our still frozen cars.  Salt is our friend all winter.  It keeps our roads and sidewalks safe.  It is the secret to outsmarting Cold Mother Nature.  But aside from all that important stuff, it drives us crazy with its ability to stick to e.v.e.r.y.thing.  In March, we’re so ready to wash away the salt and season our eyes with color once again.

The other day I did stop in the parking lot long enough to catch a few pictures of the lovely stuff.  Perfect material for a little Photoshop fun.  See the faded cracks?

So what’s under your feet this time of year?  Bet it would make great art . . .

What’s on Your Christmas List?

Are you feeling it? That longing for simplicity and joy in the midst of running around like mad trying to keep up with the season? What is on your wish list? I have a feeling it’s not something from a department store. Most everyone is feeling the pressure of producing lovely Christmas memories on an increasingly smaller budget, while of course the dollars we get hold less and less value. Time to take a deep breath and think about all the things that make you smile at Christmas time.  Here are some of my favorites. (Cliche warning!  If you venture beyond this paragraph don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Enjoying the views of Wisconsin winter from our house on the hill.

Off to the woods to cut down our tree.  Okay, the woods aren’t ours.  They belong to the Christmas tree farms.  We’re lucky to have so many beautiful places here in Wisconsin.  This year we got ours extra early so no snow . . .

Our tree filled with memories of a lifetime.

Christmas carols.  We all have our favorites.  Here are some of mine:

That Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
December Child by Cyndi Lauper
A Baby Just Like You by John Denver
Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Music Box Blues by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (anything by these amazing people!)
Bluegrass, White Snow by Patty Loveless
Santa Train by Patty Loveless
Suzy Snowflake by Rosemary Clooney
Frosty the Snowman by Fiona Apple
Face of Love by Jewel
Here was a Man by Johnny Cash
Cool Yule by Louis Armstrong
Winter Song by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
Winter Light by Linda Rondstadt
Mary Had a Little Lamb by Garth Brooks
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Patty Loveless
Go, Tell It On the Mountain by BarlowGirl
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd
What Child is This by Tanya Tucker
While Roving on a Winter’s Night by Darol Anger
 

Making cookies with the kids.  It’s always a mess and there’s usually yelling at some point.  This is actually an old Easter picture but you’ll get the idea of the craziness.  Don’t worry.  No human mouths touched his finished cookies.

Christmas cards, a dying tradition I just can’t let go.  I save all of my favorite cards and dream over them during the season.  What a sap I know.  But don’t knock it.  It’s a great way to relax and simply enjoy beauty–no standing around in an expensive art museum, plus you can drink hot cocoa if you promise not to spill.

Handmade gifts.  When we were young newlyweds, we made most of our presents for family members.  Nowadays I try to at least make ornaments for all of our kids and grandkids each Christmas.  Here is one I made in 2008 using an old greeting card and painted cardboard.

Finding gifts in unexpected places.  My daughters and I love to spend the entire year keeping our eyes open for presents at rummage sales, Goodwill, St. Vinny’s  and small thrift shops.  No amount of mall shopping could have unearthed this little treasure.  Does anybody know more about these beautiful containers?  I’m picturing a little granny with her crochet hook . . . The cards all have a similar look.  I’d love to know who the artist is.

100_6658

Attempts to get all the grandkids in front of the tree and smiling at the same time.  We came close in 2006!

Remembering the excitement of getting ready for Christmas when my girls were little.   I can still smell their little shampooed heads.  My doll babies.

Wishing all the hurt away.  Let us remember the beauty of Christmas can be a source of great pain for many people.  But don’t stop celebrating because we have sadness and worry.  Just add a little compassion and gentleness to your gift list.  It’s the ultimate gift you can afford to give everybody, even yourself.  It’s free and personal.  It’s the original Christmas gift, recycled for over 2000 years.

Fuzzy Distress Signals: A Paint & Yarn Addiction

I really don’t know how to paint or knit or crochet.   Well, my wonderful mother-in-law did teach me to knit and crochet when I was a very young lady but I never practiced enough. The only way I can explain why I’ve been so hung up on messy, distress painting and playing with fuzzy yarn is that it is FUN.  Proof below that you don’t need to be a talented genius or spend tons of time to be artistic and creative.  You just need to PLAY.   It also doesn’t hurt to buy a nice selection of Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paints (cracked cardboard, where have you been all my life?) or spend a few hours yarn-hunting on eBay.  I admit it.  I’m a needy-stuff artist . . .

This one’s a little corny but with a touch of charm.  I had cut some green metallic ribbon and accidentally noticed how it looked like glitter.  Before I knew it I had a little garden.

This one reminds me of a girl with dark hair blowing in the wind.

Don’t be afraid to crack up a little and sprout your inner wild child. Be messy. Because there’s no messing up.

Feeling Giggly? Try Cardboard Therapy Fit for a Gaggle of Princesses

My daughter was so inspired by our fun cardboard witches, she expanded on the idea for my grand-daughter’s birthday party. (See my September 7 post: “Feeling Witchy?”) The children made cardboard princesses. It was an enchanted affair. Check out her pretty decorating:

For the cardboard creations, it didn’t take much to transform the witches into sparkly princesses. She used the same cardboard but painted them in time-tested little girl colors and sprinkled them with glitter. She did this beforehand to prevent staining up any of the royal gowns.

I love how she used the cardboard for part of the centerpiece.

She displayed assorted paper shapes, flowers, gems, yarn/ribbon and faces ready for little princess hands to work their magic.

She made these lovely faces using our balloon punch. Who’d have thought a balloon face could be so pretty?

And, ala! Each little girl made a new princess friend to take home:

And a little time for princess cake . . .

And painted on princess crowns and bracelets. Tul-le-lu-jah go Beans girl! I love the fairy tale of you.

And they all lived happily ever after . . . Let life be sweet for every five year old . . .

Feeling Witchy? Cardboard Therapy is the Place to Make New Friends

 

Did you have a nice Labor Day weekend?  Here at our house we didn’t do much other than hang out together, which is the best ever.  I had taken off work Thursday and Friday in order to  . . . ahem . . .  clean up my flower beds and get a little serious housecleaning done.  Well, other than attacking a jungle of six foot weeds in the front yard (special thanks to Boy, my newly hired garden man) and cleaning out my art room, I didn’t get much work done.  I could write a list of all the things I didn’t get done, but you don’t want to see it.  I’m sure you have one of your very own.

But my play list!  I accomplished so much!  On top of my list was holding and feeding my newest grand-daughter, shown here with her mom.

And enjoying my five other grandkids.  Didn’t get any pictures of them (I think I was too busy holding the baby–oops sorry kids!)  Beans, my other grand-daughter, managed to snap some of her own pictures though.  It’s always interesting to see the world through the eyes of an almost five year old.

 

We went shopping at Michael’s, our favorite craft store, where I stocked up on my favorite acrylic paint:  Folk Art Metallic Sequin Black.

Which brings me to the title of my post.  To top it all off, tonight I went to Cardboard Therapy.  I really didn’t have a clue what I was going to make.  I just starting painting and playing.  Cardboard is so amazing and so free!  When you paint it, it gets all wrinkly and beautiful.  Love.  It.

And how cool is it when you accidentally spill something like, let’s say, orange glitter, and it couldn’t look more perfect if you had planned it?

Well, before I knew it, I had a brand new friend.  I won’t go into the details of how I made her.  I stayed up way too late already, plus I’m going to make more of them for an upcoming village festival, so I’ll sound very official and say it’s a trade secret for the moment.

One hint though, I used painted cardboard.

Okay, you knew that already, so here’s one more hint:  One of the most fun gifts you could ever give somebody (kids, teens, college students, little old ladies, etc.) is a little box of cardboard pieces along with a few bottles of acrylic paint and a paintbrush.  You could easily give this unforgettable gift for less than $10. For this project, I obviously used a few more items than cardboard and paint, but trust my grandkids–you can have loads of fun with just the paint and cardboard alone.  Try.  It.

What’s in Your Art Gallery?

There is no abstract art.  You must always start with something.  Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.  — Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Spanish artist

All of us have an artist wondering around in our souls.  So many of us just don’t pay attention, whether we’re busy, tired or simply unsure of ourselves.  And so we think we’re not artistic.  I said exactly that about myself a few posts ago.  Hmmm . . . did you notice my first sentence?  Did I really mean wondering not wandering?  Like there’s a little guy hanging out in there, finger painting on your rib cage, wondering why in the heck you don’t let him out to play once in a while?

I like Picasso’s quote because it reminds me that we don’t have to conjure up anything out of thin air to be artistic.  We just need to relax and notice.  Notice the used coffee filter, the dog’s hair flying across the room, the quick kisses before seeing the kids off to school.  It’s all beautiful material meant just for you (just what you’re thinking when you are vacuuming!).  You certainly don’t need to make one single piece of art out of any of it.  Just living is the best art of all.  And thanks to our amazing gift of memory, we each have our very own art gallery full of everything we love.  Does your art gallery have any finger paintings?

If you look closely at my flower fridge magnets, you’ll see some familiar things: orange juice lids, shiny coffee can liners and bits of yarn.  Here are instructions, along with pictures of one I made tonight (the others I made last Christmas).

If you’re not familiar with some of the items you can get them in any craft or scrapbooking store.  You can make as fancy or glittery as you like.  It’s your garden!

You will need:
metal orange juice lids
foil coffee can liners
paper (anything you like–I used an old greeting card for these instructions
glitter (optional)–if using glitter you’ll also need regular white school glue to coat your flower
very large glue dots (much easier and safer than a glue gun)
magnets
bits of fuzzy yarn
paper brads (fasteners)
large round and flower paper punches (optional)  You can also simply cut with scissors.  Most craft stores put their punches on sale every so often.  They make great gifts for anyone who likes to be creative with paper, etc.  Warning: They are very dangerous for children and should never be used without adult help.
 
 
 
Punch or cut a circle out of the coffee can liner.  If punching, you’ll notice it is a little tricky getting the liner into position because it is thick and stiff and wrinkly.  I have pretty good luck if I first press out the liner with something heavy.
 
 
 
Using a glue dot, attach the punched circle to OJ lid.
 
Punch or cut a flower out the paper.
 
Push a brad through the center of the flower and then push open the tips of the brad so it is fastened.
 
Attach paper flower and yarn to coffee liner/OJ lid:  Put one large glue dot in middle of liner and take another glue dot and pull apart to make  a few small ones–put them around the circle, then twirl your yarn around and press into glue dots.  Press the paper flower with brad into the large glue dot in the center.
 
Press a large glue dot onto magnet, then press onto back of lid.
 
Take a picture of your work!  It will serve as a good reminder for days when you’re not feeling very talented.
 
 

Last Christmas, I found an aluminum pan to use for my little photo session.  This would make a very fun arrangement for give-aways at showers, birthday parties, Mother’s Day brunches, visits to elderly care homes, etc.   The little round aluminum pans would be an adorable way to show off individual magnets for a teacher or co-worker gift.  

Visitors from Planet Shinius

As a follow-up to my recent post Thriftie Gifties, my grandkids are very excited to share their ideas for used bags.  We even roped in my almost 12-year-old grandson.  Most of the materials we used were recycled but we also added pipe cleaners and sticky back foam shapes (which stuck very well).  The cute hair strips and shiny ears are pieces of packaging stapled onto the bags.  Stapling worked really well for edges where little fingers can’t reach on the inside.  The pipe cleaners were simply punched through  the material.  Ideally, you could push the pipe cleaner through one hole and push it out through a second hole, then tie or curl.  Most of these, however, were simply twisted on the inside to stay–not recommended for little hands.

Thriftie Gifties – dedicated to Mom.

Out of clutter find SIMPLICITY.
From discord find HARMONY.
In the middle of difficulty lies OPPORTUNITY.
     — Albert Einstein (1879-1955), US (German-born) physicist
 

I don’t want to scare you away by saying the word “crafts”.  I am really not a crafty person at all.  Not artistic either.  I am actually quite sloppy and in many ways even impatient.  This is exactly why I love organizing, cleaning and poetry.  I can find simplicity in the midst of chaos.   And the coolest thing about it is that in the process of finding simplicity, I am being creative.  I am creating simplicity.  A basic statement, but really think about it.  Creating simplicity!

What does all of this have to do with my Thriftie Gifties title and my mom?  When I was in grade school, I was invited to quite the shin-dig of a birthday party, at least it was in those olden times.  (I am almost 50 in case you’re wondering.)  The entire class was invited and they even had a clown for entertainment.  My very busy mom of eight (last baby brother not yet born) somehow managed to buy a lovely, modest gift for my birthday friend.  I don’t remember a thing about the gift, but what my mom did with it stuck with me forever.  We had no wrapping paper in the house.  I was mortified.  My mom went to the messy stack of newspapers in the corner of the living room and pulled out the funnies.  By then I was in tears.  She assured me it was a very neat idea.  I did not believe her.  I hated her.  Of course I had no choice but to nervously march into the party with my ridiculous funnies-wrapped package.  What did all the kids say?  I don’t even remember (because they probably didn’t even notice).  I do remember being mad at my mom for a long time.  Yet . . . deep down . . . just a little . . . I was proud that my mom was so darn smart!

Well of course she was smart.  Wouldn’t our parents and grandparents be rolling their eyes at how nowadays we “re-purpose” our old bath towels, etc. and then write glamorous blogs about it?  I’m sure many people have used nothing but newspaper for wrapping paper all their lives.  Simple ingenuity has always just been about playful common sense.  It’s there for everybody.  A game we can all play.

So in memory of my mom and all of our smart elders, I’m sharing some fun gift bags you can make for absolutely free.  A reminder that I am a bit sloppy and impatient.  I am happy getting the idea but not so much making it look perfect.   If my amazing, artistic daughters would have been in charge of this project we’d have Martha Stewart squirming.  Tonight you’re stuck with just me.  But that’s okay.  I’ve shared the simple idea and hopefully thrown in a few harmonic thoughts.  Just do your own thing.  Decorate with magazine cut-outs or search the junk drawer for string and doo-dads.  Whatever.  It’s now your opportunity . . .

Save, wash and dry all kinds of paper/foil/plastic bags.  (This drives my hubby crazy!)  You’ll need to turn them inside out, unless you want to be super funky and leave as is.

For bows and ribbons, you can use almost anything.  I am fond of cutting (or just tearing as I did here) pieces from the ends of bags.  May not be very strong though so be careful when tying.  The best thing ever is large dog food bags.  The material is super sturdy and looks cool too.

For bows, just scrunch the material, then tie with whatever.

Use the fun dog picture or turn it over for silver.

Stryofoam sheets from shipped products is fun stuff to.  I made a bow but it ended up looking a little strange.

Oops I think it’s a headless angel (an idea for future post?)

Purple bow helped a little (or is it now a headless angel with a purple bow?)

Okay hopefully by now you get the idea!

Bits and pieces of fascinating possibilities.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: