Learning Calligraphy

I worked on learning the alphabet today. My little calligraphy station:


This was the result of watching the first of four calligraphy classes by Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls:


My hands are so shaky that I don’t think I’ll be helping any friends with their wedding invitations anytime soon, but I do love being able to create some beautiful lettering:



Disclaimer that the law requires me to add: I am an affiliate of Creativebug, but all opinions, suggestions, lack of skill and results are my own. 


State of the Art: Painting on Maps


Michaels is celebrating their Big Brand Sale starting this Sunday and as part of that they asked me to make a project using my favorite art brand. I picked a brand that I’ve used for as long as I can remember and one that I’ve carried into the most wide variety of projects: Liquitex.

There are so many ways to use Liquitex products because they are intermixable and colors match across ranges allowing you to layer tube color, paint markers, spray paint and ink, or work wet onto wet with mediums.


The project I came up with was to create these cute little paintings using old maps, a fun way to recycle old maps you might find while cleaning out the car or your National Geographic magazines. You can stencil whatever you want on the canvas: a state outline, words, wedding dates:


On any scale:


Besides old maps and a canvas to start I used Liquitex Acrylic Gesso and Liquitex Matte Medium:

Using Liquitex for map paintings and collage

I used a few old maps, but the stamps were an old piece of scrapbook paper I had laying around:


Step 1: Cut a piece of map to the size of the canvas being used.


Step 2: Put a generous coat of Liquitex Matte Medium onto the canvas using a paint brush. The medium works like glue and because it’s archival quality won’t disintegrate and yellow over the years. It also creates a nice matte quality if you are gluing something with a glossy finish.


Step 3: Press the map onto the canvas and try to smooth out as many air bubbles as possible. A credit card is the perfect sized tool for this.

Using Liquitex to create collage

Step 4: I created a template for my design using Powerpoint but you can do this in Photoshop or just freehand your design. I placed chalk transfer paper underneath the template and outlined onto the canvas.

How to transfer an image to canvas

Step 5: This was another design for another canvas.


Step 6: Once I had my outline I used a brush to fill in outside the lines with the Gesso. Gesso is used as a primer but is great for white-out because of its opaque quality. Without Gesso you would probably have to paint multiple coats:


On the other canvas:

Using Liquitex Gesso

Didn’t they turn out cute?

DIY  Stenciled map painting

Save those tattered Road Atlas’s for quick little gift ideas:


You can also use the same technique using paper, magazines etc!



It was so fun helping Michaels celebrate their Big Brand Sale, which launches next week, and getting to create a project using product from a brand that I love!

Check out all of the Liquitex products in store or on Michaels.com – and great news! Liquitex is on sale for the next 2 weeks! Just check out the Big Brand Sale landing page for more details.


Click below for more fun art tutorials for gifts or home decor (or here for direct link):



How to Make a Plastic Feather Necklace

DIY Feather Pendant Tutorial - 3D Printing Pen

I’m loving these feather pendants I made the other day….five in all in a variety of shades. I used two to make this plastic feather pendant necklace:

How to Make Feather Pendants

I made the feathers using a 3D printing pen. As a Michaels Maker, I had a chance to try out the new 3Doodler 2.0 3D Printing Pen and this was the project I came up with:

Plastic Feathers Made with 3Doodler Printing Pen

Here’s the 3D printing pen called the 3Doodler:


It was pretty easy to work. Boo actually read the directions and figured it out first, plugging it in was the first step. Second step: feeding these plastic rods down into the pen. The rods melt, and come out whatever shaped-metal tip you use:


I knew I wanted to make something practical that would get some use: feather pendant necklace was the first thing to come to mind because I have a metal feather necklace I wear a lot, and I actually lost it for about a month before it showed back up again. So why not have some backup jewelry in the same style? To start I drew a feather and then replicated it into multiples onto a piece of tracing paper:

How to draw a feather

Using a gray colored plastic rod I began to trace and draw parts of the feather directly onto the tracing paper:

3D Printing Pen Tutorial - 3Doodler 2.0

I worked on several feathers at the same time:

3D Printing Pen Tutorial

Switching between different color rods:

3Doodler Printing Pen Project Idea

I kept layering colors of plastic until I had the below effect. The plastic peels right off the tracing paper when cool:


Blue, clear, black, gray and white feathers:


I attached two feathers for a pendant using a rustic lobster clasp also from Michaels:


A finished plastic feather pendant:


Cool right?


I’d be wearing it but Boo stole it for her own wardrobe.

how to make feather jewelry


A little bit more info about the 3Doodler:

  • The 3Doodler 2.0 is THE must-have 3D printing pen that is an easy to use (and fun!) tool for crafters, artists and even designers!
  • The slim, light-weight pen draws dimensional figures and structures and is much more affordable than a 3Dprinter – you have to check it out!
  • You can purchase the pen directly from Michaels.com– and if you need some additional project ideas check out this awesome video.


{Giveaway is over. Winner is #62. But please feel free to leave a comment below still listing your favorite book!}


How to Make a Paper Bag Floor

How to make a brown paper bag floor tutorial

Bryson City Outdoors has been open for business now for 2 months!  I still can’t believe how fast the renovation went. (You can read about the full recycle-heavy green renovation here). Here’s the sign going up (made by our friends Liz and AJ from reclaimed wood):


And March 31 we had a preview party for a small group of friends and family:


And this is what the building looked like before the renovation:


Yikes. I’m not sure anyone had even notice the building before…and it’s at the corner of Main Street and Everett! It had been patched together for years and years as  a tire shop, pawn shop, real estate office, and leather shop and maybe even a few other things. We found so many signs in the building it was crazy.

As a result the floor was a mismatch of concrete, outdoor carpeting, and various levels. Brett decided to try a paper bag floor in the bathroom last winter to see how it would turn out. It worked so well that the guys decided to go with a paper floor throughout the entire store. Here are a few photos that my friend Sarah Mattingly took that show the finished store interior:

How to make a paper bag floor - the ultimate guide and time lapse

The green tape marks the ADA ramp:

Low Cost Flooring - Paper Bag Floor using glue and grocery bags

The retail store gets a lot of traffic as you can imagine and the floor has held up extremely well. Funny that it looks like more like an expensive concrete finish than paper! The great part about the paper floor is that if it shows wear in a few areas it can be easily patched.

Here’s the quick tutorial:

Instructions for making a paper bag floor - recycled flooring


Step 1. Gather Materials
A large roll of contractors paper or paper grocery bags
Elmer’s Glue-All by the gallon
Floor-grade polyurethane (Oil-modified Minwax)
A large bucket for mixing
Plastic gloves

Step 2. Mix the glue and water at a 50/50 ratio in the bucket. Tear (or cut depending on what look you are going for) the paper into large pieces. For a mottled look like Bryson City Outdoors crumple up each piece. Dip each piece into the glue mixture until fully saturated and then lay into place on the floor. Make sure to smooth out any air bubbles.

Step 3. Continue the process until the floor is completely covered.

Step 4. Allow the floor completely dry. This may take a full 24 hours or more depending on what climate you live in.

Step 5. For the final protective coat, use a paint roller with a light nap and roll on the floor-grade polyurethane. Make sure to have adequate ventilation for this step!  Allow this coat to completely dry and then your floor is finished!

A great way to cover up super hideous tile or a bare concrete floor. I think the total cost came out to about 60-70 cents per square foot.

There’s a time lapse video of the guys laying part of the floor posted on the blog at Bryson City Outdoors…you can click here or click through below to watch. There are also more detailed directions!

Paper Bag Flooring Time Lapse


Awesome right? Make sure to stop by and see the store in person if you are in Bryson City, NC but you can also pick up a hat or t-shirt online here! #lifeoutside

Aren’t these two adorable?



How to Make Stamped Solder Pendants

How to make stamped solder pendants solder jewelry

This was such a fun project. I made all of these cute little pendants using plain old plumbing solder! I think they resemble wax seals or old coins:

Bernzomatic torch projects: jewelry pendants

Basic List of Materials (a little goes a long way):

TS4000 Bernzomatic Trigger Start Torch
MAP Fuel Canister (yellow)
1 Roll of Sterling Plumbing Solder
1 Roll of Copper Picture Wire (18 Gauge)
Non-Asbestos Soldering Block
Lead-free Water-Soluble Flux
Rubber Craft Stamps (Postmarks)

Optional but Recommended:
Parchment Paper
Bon Ami Powder

Each pendant only requires a tiny bit of solder and a few inches of copper wire making it a very inexpensive project:


Here’s my TS4000 Bernzomatic Torch. It ignites with just a push of the button so it’s not scary or hard to use. Once you start torching…it’s kind of hard to stop!


The pendants are primarily made up of metal from melting this sterling plumbing solder:


To created the base of the pendant I used 18 gauge copper wire. Using pliers I created this “8” shape:


I use a non-asbestos soldering block to fire against. It can withstand the heat:


Brush a little bit of flux onto the copper wire. This will help the solder adhere to the wire:


Using the torch, carefully heat the solder so that drops of solder begin to fall into and around the copper circle. It doesn’t have to be precise. Once there’s enough solder to fill the circle let the piece cool.  I put parchment paper underneath because it will catch any extra beads of solder that can also be reheated to create pendants:

molten solder stamping

Use the torch to remelt the solder. If you burn heat in a circular pattern around the edges the solder will shift towards the center into a circular glob:

rubber stamped jewelry

Take a regular craft stamp, mine are the “Far Off Posts” set by Dawn Houser:


Press the rubber stamp onto the molten solder. They need to be wood-mounted so you don’t have to get your fingers near the molten solder.


One the sterling solder has cooled you can just tap the stamp on the block and the pendant will fall away:


Kind of addicting to make these…feels a little like minting money: [Read more…]

Denim Fabric Silhouette Portrait on Canvas


Recycled denim crafts - silhouette Michaels Makers


This month’s challenge for Michael’s Makers was to create something using denim, one of the new craft trends for 2015.  For my project I took a side profile photo of Boo and collected the following materials: a stretched linen canvas, a roll of denim, and red embroidery thread:


I carefully cut out Boo’s silhouette:


And traced it onto a piece of the denim:

crafts to do with old jeans

Before cutting out the image I used a paint brush to apply glue around the image to keep it from fraying:

what to do with old denim

Once it was dry I carefully cut out the silhouette and applied glue to the back:

repurposed jeans

I spread the glue to the edges using a paint brush and then pasted it down onto the center of the  pre-stretched linen canvas:


Next I used a needle and the embroidery thread to stitch Boo’s name and date:


A small detail but a nice personalized touch:




The finished silhouette:


Gift or home decor idea! [Read more…]

DIY Upcycled Infinity T-Shirt Scarf

how to make a diy infinity scarf using t-shirts

Last April I taught a class on making t-shirt infinity scarves at the SNAP Conference in SLC.  I’m just now remembering that I hadn’t posted a tutorial for them…so better late than never!  The scarves were a hit…they are so easy to make that each person in the class made more than one.


I had precut all the squares for the class:

knit scarf instructions and tutorial - recycled t-shirt projects

Here’s Boo with infinity scarf samples I made and wearing the scarf she made: recycled and upcycled t-shirt projects - infinity scarf


Love all the colorful combinations:


To make your scarf, first you need to cut a bunch of 11″ squares from t-shirts, pajama pants, etc or just knit-by-the-yard:

upcycled t-shirt projects

For the adult sized scarf you need 8 squares per scarf and the child sized only needs 6 squares.  Lay them out in the pattern you want the finished scarf to be. 2 rows of 4:


Sew each row of 4 together first using a sewing machine or a serger, like you are making a quilt. So you will have 2 long rectangles: [Read more…]

Vintage Inspired Art Supply Boxes

Craft Room Organization - Vintage Inspired art supply boxes via lilblueboo.com and #michaelsmakers

This month’s Michaels Makers theme is New Year’s Craft Resolutions. The challenge was to start the year off with craft resolutions and since we just moved into our new home I get to start completely from scratch again with my creative space. Michaels wanted me to share my creative space and since I haven’t even had a chance to unpack I thought I’d share the huge space I left behind in California…remember this?

Click here to see a detailed post on my old creative space.

Art Studio space ideas

Now I’m starting over with a much smaller space but I’m more inspired than ever. This month I thought I’d start with a few handmade boxes with a vintage inspired theme to hold various art supplies.

Art Boxes05

Michaels sells various sizes of pre-made unfinished wood boxes like this one:

pre-made unfinished wood box

I created an image using plain text and printed it out onto regular paper.  Here are the images I used as jpegs if you would like to save them and use them:

Free art template for wood art box crayons


Once they were printed I taped each in place over a piece of transfer paper. I used the kind of transfer paper with white chalk on the other side because it leaves just a faint line when you apply pressure to it. I traced each letter carefully with enough pressure to transfer the image to the wood:

How to create perfect letters - transfer paper

Then using black acrylic paint and the tiniest paint brush I filled in all the letters.  I have a VERY shaky hand so if I can do it, you can do it.  Since I am going for a distressed look it doesn’t matter if the letters are perfect anyways:

How to paint letters - the art of lettering

Once the black paint dried I used a brush and rag to apply a coat of wood stain:

Staining wood - Rustoleum Golden Oak Stain

It will take a few hours for the stain to dry but here are the finished boxes:

How to organize a craft room or creative space

Love the look of these and they will look great stored anywhere: a shelf, a desk, a table.  A great idea for a gift too:

DIY Crayon or Pencil Storage Container

Filled with crayons:

Crayon storage idea - How to organize kid stuff

Here is the “Artist Supply Co” box:

Making a vintage inspired paint box

Filled with all of my watercolor painting supplies:

Organizing art supplies and painting supplies

Not just organization…home decor accent too:

Vintage inspired organization - DIY art boxes


More organization posts I’ve done here: [Read more…]

Easy Picture Frame Vanity Tray

DIY Vanity Tray using a Photo Frame


I made this easy little picture frame tray for my fall decor but now it doubles as my vanity tray.  It’s easy to keep clean and dust free and can be made out of any photo frame:


Picture Frame Tray

A collection spot for jewelry and perfume bottles that usually clutter my dresser:

Organization Ideas for Bathroom and Bedroom

Here is the same tray when it was being used to decorate the dinner table for fall:

fall table decor ideas and wedding table decor #wedding #falltabledecor #entertaining

I started with a raw wood frame knowing that I was going to distress it:


I used a “barn wood” technique that I’ve shared before on the blog: How to Antique and Age Wood Instantly.


I used my vinegar and steel wool concoction on the wood: [Read more…]

How to Make Sharpie Owl Pumpkins



I am a big fan of Mexican art…especially sugar skulls.  I used black and silver Sharpie markers to turn these faux styrofoam pumpkins into owl sugar skulls for my Halloween decor this year.  Michaels is challenging customers to “trick a pumpkin” this year and post the creations to Instagram. Make sure to read more at the bottom of this post on how to enter your own!

If you do a google search for “sugar skull” you will come across a variety of images you can pull ideas from. I make up the doodles as I go along, but starting with the round eyes first:

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas without Carving - Sharpie Doodle Owl

Tip: If you mess up, use a damp Magic Eraser to lightly wipe the area until the mistake lightens or disappears completely!

I used 4 different size pumpkins and made them all their own unique version:

How to decorate a pumpkin without carving it ideas #diy #pumpkin


I used a silver sharpie on the black/chalkboard pumpkin:Decorating a chalkboard paint pumpkin with sharpie


The large pumpkin took around 30 minutes to complete: [Read more…]