Sunday, October 19, 2014

Easy Halloween crafts - A few from web world

I am not really big on Halloween and the spooky and creepy vibe they bring. May be because my daughter is still too young for the scary and spooky. So as far as the festivities go, cute pumpkins and banners are as far as I could go.

But that is not true with the rest of the world. Skeletons, mummies, cob webs, bats, blood - yikes - It is heights of creepiness. But That is exactly what older kids and adults who really understand the essence of this season go for. After all the intend is to scare away the evil.

Anyways, read on to find some easy yet popular crafts for Halloween from the blog land.

Whats Ur Home Story

First up is the most popular of Halloween crafts - that is carving pumpkins. It is more like a tradition than craft I believe. While there are hundreds of ways to turn adorable pumpkins into weirdos, here is one I found on Vidya's Whats Ur Home Story. I am adding just one picture here that is of a pumpkin witch; But while you are there for the details, search for Halloween decor. There are a number of interesting ones she has done over the years.

Emily A Clark - Bats on the Door

These bats hang out at Emily A Clark's door to bring in the Halloween mood for the family and visitors. It is a simple craft, easy to make but adds a ton of punch to the porch decor. Emily has given the details on her site which I have linked up here. While she has used them for porch decor, the bats can hang out at your mantles, stair cases landings - they will look wonderful as a banner too.

I Heart Crafty Things - Paper plate spiders

The adorable paper spiders are creations of Rachel, of  I Heart Crafty Things. one of the most creative artists I have come across. As with Vidya, she has done a number of craft projects which are easy, beautiful and light on pocket. Do check out her website for fun crafts and tutorials. This one I loved particularly because it is relatively cheap and easy for kids to make and paint.

Milk Jug Ghosts 

Yes, they are milk bottles turned into ghosts. I found this easy and no cost involved project at I came across this image through pinterest, but have found a number of similar fun crafts here.

pumpkin kitties from Sunset Magazine

Decorating with pumpkins is an endless, limitless endeavor. I found this innovative idea from Sunset magazine website, among many other wonderful ones. Paint,paper,tape,decoupage,glitter, stickers, beads - anything can go on them in any design you prefer.

There are a lot other ideas and creative designs out there, so many, so diverse that I can never cover even a single percentage of them. But to get started, to be inspired - I suppose you are covered here. I will be back on Wednesday to show you where these inspirations took me. So stay tuned, do come back.

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DIY : Yet Another Sunburst Mirror

Honestly friends, I must have seen sunburst mirrors a hundred times, if not more. Since I always had issues with too much trendy as long as design decisions go, I was determined "not" to have a sunburst mirror in this house. I thought I see them at least 5 times daily anyways , I don't need to have another one in front of my eyes all the time. In the blog land, it is mandatory that every home has minimum one.You don't believe me? Type in "sunburst mirror DIY" in Google search ( Any search for that matter) and see what comes up!

For the same reason when I finally had to make one, I decided I will have a whole sunburst wall  instead of just a mirror. And a simple sunburst mirror was the key to the wall. And thus I too have a mirror in this home in that category. Hope now I am officially part of Blog land.

So, here is how I made it.


1) A mirror. You get simple,light weight mirrors on the cheap from craft stores. If you are making this only as a decor piece with no intention to see your pretty face - even silver paint in gloss on a card board piece would work. I used a small mirror that I already had from a set of five decor mirror set.

2 ) Wood craft sticks. I bought this one.

3 ) Super glue

4 ) Paint (spray paint or acrylic paint - metallic or colored - your choice)

How to: 

This is one of the simplest of crafts.

Step 1 : To begin, try arranging the wood sticks in circle around the mirror until you get the look you want. It is important to measure and mark the length of the sticks so that they are all on the same scale and distance from each other.

Step 2 : To create the varying length for the rays, you may have to cut sticks.

Step 3 : Once you have the sticks measured and cut, you have to stick them to the back of the mirror in your preferred design. I used super glue, even hot glue would work.

Step 4 : After the glue dries, paint the sticks. Spray paint is easy to work with, just cover the mirror part and light coat, two thin coats would do the trick.

That's it. You have your own sun burst mirror.

Hope you liked this one and found it simple.
Happy weekend,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Inspiration Folder - Clay Modelling

In this enlightened digital era of ours, if there is one thing that is available in abundance is inspiration.What ever be your area of interest, food, fashion,jewelry, decor,design,literature,art, craft, science or just plain life - it is just the matter of putting a key word in the search box, you are presented with an overwhelming amount of inspiring stories.

 My story is no different. While I have a number of regular places ( read pages) I frequent for ideas, Truth be told, sometimes even a regular scene from a mall or road side is inspiring to me. But I am most grateful for some people in my life who never stop to amaze me with their talent, nobility and creative energy. I am so happy that some are my friends and some others I look up to.

I found the medium of clay to craft, from such an inspiring friend. Vijayeta is an artist who makes beautiful hand crafted jewelry with polymer clay. While I am not really a "jewelry" person, the details and flexibility the medium offers is great to create small but beautiful sculptures and artifacts. Which is exactly what I love doing on spare afternoon theses days. Especially with Diwali ( the celebration of lights for Indians) fast approaching some hand made clay lamps are welcoming change and fun to do.

There are a number of types of clay in the market suitable for jewelry and handicrafts.

Air- Dry clay : 

It is the regular modelling clay and the most organic and cheapest type of clay available for modelling.

Polymer Clay :

Polymer clay is a type of hardenable modeling clay based on the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It typically contains no clay minerals, but like mineral clay a liquid is added to dry particles until it achieves gel-like working properties.Once done the part is oven baked to get the finished product.

Metal Clay 

Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silver, gold, bronze, or copper mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelry, beads and small sculptures.

All the above information is from Wikipedia.

All these are very similar in use, only deviation being the drying time and method.

Since the air-dry clay is the cheapest, it is what I use for my small projects. Making these small things are really easy and simple. All you need is patience, to make a design and drying time - lot of patience. Other than the clay itself, I have used only regular things available in any home, as knife, small bowls etc to make these. For added protection I have used a sealer as the top coat.

Basically, you decide on a shape and size of the model you want to make and mold it with hands. From small lamps to planters, beads to bowls possibilities are endless.

In case you wonder - It is my own hand

I used to wonder how Viji ( Vijayeta) found energy & time after her IT career and two kids in school and various other artistic endeavors ( she is very active with our Indian artistic associations ) for making those beautiful pieces of jewelry. But now I know because every time I see my small lamps lighted up or that imperfect bowl ( That is my first creation) holding nick knacks, it brings a smile - it is insanely gratifying.

Ready for Diwali

My very first one

Stay tuned for some "how-to" notes for some of these crafty decor artifacts and then some others and do get a tub of clay and join the club of "clay fans".

Keep Smiling,

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Design Elements : Accent Wall

By definition a focal/accent/feature wall is that one with a different design than all other walls in a room.Everyone who has operated a camera knows that finding the right focal point and having a steady focus is one of the most important of keys for having a good photograph. Well that is very true when it comes to pulling a room together too. Having a focal wall/Feature wall/ Accent wall takes a room from being "so-so " to  "oh ,Wow". 

What is a focal wall? As name suggests it is the wall that takes the focus, the center stage in a room. While there are any number of ways to design one, most common route taken is to paint the wall in a different color, one that compliments or create a contrast. This is the easiest way too. But what if you want something different than this expected design?

Then you have a number of options too.

Have you heard of the blog Vintage Revivals? Mandi is extremely good at designing great wall treatments. The honeycomb Hexagon wall she created is one of my favorite wall treatments.

When it came to designing an accent wall for my daughter's room, I went with the easy and less permanent  option of wall decals, ( For one, this is a rental, and second we could get tired of the design ) that is number 6, from above list.

Finding decals and stickers is not really easy , especially so if your budget is on the lower side and you don't want characters or themes. Akshara is in love with polka dots and I wanted a pattern that is classic enough to survive trends and since this is also an easy pattern to create on a large scale I decided I will have dots on the wall.

I considered a number of designs with polka dots to put on the walls. But then thought, may be these are all expected designs and there is no added fun or whimsy in these. I thought about it for a while and when she started talking about sun and planets ( Courtesy Dr.Seuss ) I knew I could easily create a sun on the wall. That is how this wall came into existence.

So here are the materials needed.

1) A roll of copper/gold contact paper. I used these. Copper is trendy these days so price looks to be increased)

2) Scissors

3) Yarn and tape to mark and measure lines

4) Tape to measure.

Creating it was easy and took only an evening ( One Saturday evening and 2 pair of hands, of course a little girl for assistance). We measured the center of the wall and kept a mirror in hand to mark the center. Then created straight lines with yarn and sticky tape. First 4 quarters, then again the middle of each quarter , until it looked sufficiently filled.

Forgive for the poor quality pic - old ones captured on a phone camera, I didn't really pay attention then

Then we cut out circles from the contact paper and applied them to the walls. Easy and simple.

Once we had the walls completed, I had the mirror frame spray painted with copper metallic paint and created a sun burst mirror created out of it.

It took about 4 hours to complete the wall, I think could have finished it earlier if we had used pre-cut peel and stick dots that are available in stores like Urban Outfitters. I didn't opt for them because they would cost me much more than I originally planned. Anyways, here are some closer shots.

While browsing through my folders to find the photoes of individual steps, happened to find a picture of this room in its previous life. Here it is for a final before and after shot.

Before :

After :

See how a can of paint and some self adhesive paper make all the difference in the world? I like that simple and easy solutions can make any place a happy space. What do you think?  Do you like the idea of focal walls and easy fixes?

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A little Girl's Own Place - A Room Tour

Here is the second part of the story that we started on Monday. Before I say anything else, here is a warning. This entry is loaded with pictures and words. But I am sure no one will have complaints. A picture can say a thousand words right! I couldn't post the whole room in the last post because of the number of pictures, now you will realize how I true I was.

As I mentioned in the last post, I started out with a plan and have stuck to it for the most part. We bought the rug first, and painted the room next. Then came the bed and the book shelf. We already owned a toy organizer ( I wrote in detail about it here ) , dresser and pouf . We have a doll house too, which has also made an appearance in this space. That concludes the list of major furniture pieces.

Now the details.

Akshara loves colors, especially pink, yellow, green and red. I am not sure why the girls automatically shift to this fixed theme of pink and purple. Is it the TV and toy/clothes market responsible? What ever is the reason, I am thankful that some how yellow, green and red are in play too.

Her fixation over pink and yellow has been there for last 7, 8 months, so nothing new. We had a birthday party in the same color theme. Anyways, you will encounter these colors through out the room - may be a little too much? I would have kept the colors a bit toned down if it was up to me, but this is her room - everything she loves.

The bed is from Ikea ( MINNEN it is called ). I love it for its shape and design. It is low to the ground and has side rails which was comforting for me when she started sleeping alone. And those side rails with a feminine design, kind of cute right! They sell mattresses that fit the bed too. Assembly was super easy.

The focus wall, it has sun and its rays on them. The polka dots are contact paper cut into circles. She only asked for sun and moon, this was the easiest and the cheapest way I could bring a sun in the room.

The canopy over the bed is something I found online - Zulily. I had all plans to make one, tutorials sound easy, but this one turned up for $ 15 which definitely would have costed the same or more with DIY.

The supposedly night stand in the above picture -  Actually is a step stool from Ikea, which I painted yellow. It serves us a night stand and when we have to reach top of the closet which is on the near by wall it turns into its original self.

All the above pictures depict one side of the bed. The dresser is a craiglist find, from the story the previous owner said, it belonged to her grand mother. So it has definitely seen generations. It is hardwood and someone has done a poor stain job. I am still on fence about painting it. But something is stopping me - painting - once done it would be difficult to go back to the original version . Let us see.

The art works on the wall - they are reminiscence of our craft times together. So many afternoons, so much fun and so many messes - We keep them in rotation.

The top of the dresser has some of her rock collections (  most recent ones - The girl picks up rocks from any where and every where) and our lotions and potions ( Apparently even four year old needs some in this era ) .

The middle of the room is where we play and write. We have a table and chairs ( mismatched - lame - but in my defense -lost one of the pink chairs in a poor attempt to spray paint vinyl ). The green one is "DORA Chair" which is result of an un-supervised ( read - non mom-supervised)  shopping spree by dad and daughter.

We have already talked about the book shelf and toy storage. They stay the same though shelves are arranged differently each time. The laziness creeps in while cleaning up!

The lamp is from target clearance Isle - of course painted by yours truly. It is thin cloth shade which is really not ideal for ordinary paint . You can not see from photo, but paint has bleeded over many places - another lesson learned ( should do your research before doing anything - wiser people leave you guidelines to follow ) .

The above pictures show the other side of the room, where we have toy shelf, our hide-out and closet.

Are you tired of seeing pictures? I did warn you in the beginning right? Thank you so much for sticking with me till here. But no kid room tour is complete without a picture of her in the room  - so one final shot and we are done.

So that's it for today folks - Will be back on week end with an easy DIY - we love that the most right? wouldn't like to miss.

Do drop your valuable comments. I would love that. Happy weekend.

Keep Smiling,