Crafting | Newspaper chicks wreath

Hello, blog readers. I’m going back in time today to make a new home for some old friends.

chalk painted wreath with newspaper chicks and flowers

Loyal readers (with good memories) might remember the newspaper chicks I made back in 2015 by decoupaging newspaper onto some yellow plastic Easter chicks.

decoupage craft project

Back then, I had them displayed under glass…

decoupaged newspaper chicks

.. and made them their own miniature cheeseheads and Wisconsin Badger pennants. This year, I decided I wanted to perch them in a wreath.

Here is the back side of the wicker wreath I picked up at a thrift store to use for this project. You might be wondering why I took a picture of the back of the wreath instead of the front. So am I. #BloggerFail

white wreath

Here’s the front side of the wreath after I had it painted with some Rust-Oleum Chalked paint in Linen White. It only took one coat to cover.

newspaper flowers by

Next I made some flowers, by first cutting a few stacks of newspaper squares in various sizes. If you make your own flowers, I’d recommend not cutting any more than four or five layers at a time because you’re going to have to fold these squares in half three times.

newspaper flowers by

Here’s my first fold.

newspaper flowers by

Here’s my second fold.

newspaper flowers by

And here’s my final fold. You’ve probably deduced already that at this point you will want to take a sharp scissors and round off the two outside corners, like the photo says. Make sure you leave the inside corner uncut.
newspaper flowers by

Here’s what the rounded corners look like.

After your corners are rounded, you can unfold the flowers and cut about an inch or so into the petals along each fold line.

newspaper flowers by

I wasn’t happy with the shape of my petals at this point, so I went back and rounded the corners a little more.

newspaper flowers by

Once your petals are the shape you like, you can give them some dimension by pulling the layers apart and wrinkling them a bit or bending them around a pencil to make the paper curl.

making newspaper flowers

I also spattered some black paint on them. Then I restacked some of the papers so I had smaller pieces on top of larger ones. To finish off the flowers, I pierced the middle of each one with an old earring.

white wicker newspaper wreath

My wreath had a Styrofoam base under the wicker, which meant all I had to do was poke the earrings into the wreath to secure the flowers in place.

newspaper wreath

The last step in making this wreath was adding a newspaper nest for my chicks. I just ran a piece of newspaper through my shredder for that.

decoupaged craft

Don’t they look happy all nestled in to their new home?

newspaper chick wreath by


Makeover | Mini chest of drawers

white painted jewelry box

Here’s a little chest of drawers that I redid this week. (I think it’s supposed to be a jewelry box, but I’ve been keeping it on my desk to store office supplies in.)

mini chest before

This is what it looked like when I first got it. I picked it up for a dollar at a garage sale a while back. I thought it was a cute little chest, but I wasn’t wild about the orange-toned stain, which is why I decided to paint it.

mini chest makeover

Before painting, I wanted to distress the chest a bit to give it some character, so I added a few “wormholes” and scratches with a hammer and nails and then worked a little dark stain into them.

mini chest makeover with milk paint

I painted the chest with some white (technically, the color is called “Petticoat”) Folk Art milk paint. Milk paint is supposed to flake off if you don’t apply any bonding agent or primer, giving the piece a chippy/aged sort of look. Unfortunately, my milk paint didn’t flake. At all.

applying milk paint

After one coat of milk paint, the chest just looked streaky. And sad. In a non-chippy sort of way.

mini chest makeover by

So I applied a few more coats. The extra paint made the chest look better, but it also filled in all the wormholes and scratches that I had made.

mini chest makeover by

To make the holes and scratches stand out again, I traced over them with a pencil. I also sanded the corners of the chest (and a few other spots) and worked some stain into those areas.
mini chest of drawers makeover

Then I Mod Podged some newspaper onto the bottoms of the drawers.

mini chest makeover by
I brushed some watered down white paint over the newspaper to give it a faded, washed out kind of look and then added another coat of Mod Podge over the top to seal it.

mini chest of drawers makeover by
I liked how the bottoms looked so much that I decided to add newspaper to the sides of the drawers, too.

mini chest of drawers makeover by

Next, I dug through my stash of craft supplies until I found some label holders for the fronts of the drawers. The ones I had were the right size, but the wrong color.

mini chest of drawers makeover by

So I painted them with some black chalk paint.

mini chest of drawers makeover by

I nailed the label holders onto the fronts of the drawers and printed out some labels to go inside of them.

wooden organizer makeover by

Then I filled the drawers with office supplies and called the project done.

jewelry box makeover by

I didn’t get quite the chippy look I was hoping for, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I definitely prefer the white paint to the orange stain.

labels on drawers

And the labels are a great addition. No more blindly opening and closing each drawer when I’m looking for ink or tacks or a thumb drive.

wooden chest makeover

The newspaper sides are a sweet little detail, too.

milk painted jewelry box

Crafting | Newspaper flowers

So I was supposed to be packing and shopping and generally getting ready for vacation today.

paper crafting

Instead I made newspaper flowers.

paper crafting
Why? Because newspaper flowers don’t make themselves, people.paper crafting

Plus, I had this little tray full of silver baubles sitting on my coffee table, and every time I walked past it, I would think, “This little tray would look so much better with a few newspaper flowers on it.”

So I finally broke down and made some.

paper crafting

For the big flowers, I grabbed a few random circular things from around the house and traced around them.
paper crafting
 Then I cut out the circles and cut slits into them, to make petals.
curling paper
I curled the edges of the petals by wrapping them around the end of a paint brush.
paper crafting
 Then I stacked the circles, from largest to smallest, gluing each layer down in the center as I went.
paper crafting
 To give the flowers some shape, I pressed down with the end of a paintbrush while gluing.
paper crafting
I topped off each flower with an old earring.
paper crafting
Then I fluffed and bent the petals to give the flowers more dimension and spattered some paint on them, just because.
paper crafting
To make the little button flowers, I punched out some newspaper circles …
paper crafting
… and glued the circles together into five-petal flowers.
paper crafting
Then I sewed a button on in the middle of each one.
paper crafting
Probably not the best use of my time the week before I leave on vacation.

But they make me happy.

Valentine’s Day | Hearts on a string decoration

Valentine’s Day decorations are generally not my thing. Most of the mass-produced ones out there are way too saccharine sweet and frilly for me.
Valentine's Day craft project
So this year, I decided I’d make my own Valentine’s Day decor: something with a vintage industrial vibe that I wouldn’t mind actually hanging in my house.
Valentine's Day craft
I started with these little aluminum pans that I found at a thrift store. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with them when I bought them — but I knew it wasn’t going to involve baking.
Pretty much every craft project I do lately begins with a coat of black chalk paint, so that’s where I started with this one, too.
Then I cut a few hearts out of an old newspaper to layer over the black background.
And, as luck would have it, I had the letters I needed to spell out the word “LOVE” in the stash of random letters and numbers that I have hoarded over the years.
I wasn’t thrilled with the bright colors, so the letters got a coat of black chalk paint, too.
Then I put some silver craft paint over top, slapdash style, letting the black peek through for a tarnished metal effect.
Valentine's Day craft
I drilled holes in the top and bottom of each pan …
drilling a hole in a metal pan
… just big enough to pull a piece of twine through.
Valentine's Day craft
I grunged up the newspaper hearts with some watered down paint and old coffee grounds…
Valentine's Day craft
… and I Mod Podged the newspaper onto the bottom on the pans.Valentine's Day decoration

To tie the hearts all together, I threaded pieces of jute twine through the holes.
string of hearts
I had a few beads on hand that I added here and there. (I wish I would have had more.)

string of hearts

The last step was to glue the letters on over the newspaper.
string of metal hearts
(The letters have magnets in them, but the pans are aluminum, and unfortunately magnets don’t stick to aluminum; hence the need for glue.)

Valentine's day craft project

Here’s the completed string o’ hearts. Love it.

Collecting | Secondhand stars

star ornaments
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll collect almost anything. Except for stuff that’s made specifically to be collectible. Hummel figurines? I’ll pass. Precious Moments? God no. Those faceless Willow Tree people that everybody else loves? Not my thing.collection of stars

But turn me loose in a thrift store or at a garage sale and I guarantee I will find some random castoff that has absolutely no monetary value that I will just HAVE to have.
And then I’ll find another one. And another one. And another one. Case in point: my collection of secondhand stars. Most of them cost next to nothing.
Some of them I’ve given makeovers, like these two. The star on the left was unpainted cardboard when I bought it. The one on the right was one of those plastic glow-in-the-dark models. I gave them both a coat of copper paint and now they look like they’re metal.
These were all basic pine stars that I’ve picked up one or two at a time. Most of them were unfinished wood when I bought them. One was bright blue. I painted them all white, glued a little newspaper on them and grunged them up a bit.
collection of stars
This one was obviously a cookie cutter that someone had drilled holes in and turned into a Christmas ornament before casting it off.
star Christmas ornaments
Most of these were bright shiny gold stars, which I didn’t love, so I brought them home and painted them silver.
collection of stars
I tend to put out a star or two here and there occasionally, but most of the time, my stars live in a box.collection of stars

With Christmas coming, I decided I’d pull them all out and give them a chance to shine.
They’re still just a bunch of random, discarded, picked-up-at-a-thrift-store-for-a-quarter-each stars.
collection of stars

But all together, they make a lovely collection.

Makeover | Painting and decoupaging pumpkins

Over the years I have collected a hodgepodge of fake pumpkins and gourds from thrift stores and garage sales.

Some are Styrofoam. Some are plastic. One is really heavy (and I have no idea what it’s made of).

This year, I decided to give them a makeover.

pumpkin craft project

I started by basecoating them all in white. (I used gesso, just because I had a bottle of it stored in my basement that I bought for a project a couple years ago. I’m sure white craft paint or primer would have worked just as well.)

newspaper pumpkins

I liked the white, but I wanted some variation amongst the pieces, so I decoupaged newspaper strips on a few.

decoupaged pumpkin

The newspaper was a little heavy and hard to work with, especially around all the curves of the pumpkins, so I scanned part of a newspaper page into my computer and printed it out onto a piece of tissue paper — which is harder than it sounds. I had to tape the tissue paper to a piece of regular 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper to get it to feed through my printer, and it took more than a few tries before I managed to get a piece to emerge from the printer un-torn.

pumpkin craft

Decoupaging on the tissue paper was easier than working with real newspaper.

decoupaged pumpkin

After I ran out of the newspaper-printed tissue paper, I remembered I had some tissue paper with faux handwriting on it, so I dug that out of my stash.

decoupaged pumpkin

I decoupaged the faux handwritten tissue paper onto a few of the pumpkins and gourds.

white pumpkins

On the remaining plain white pumpkins, I dripped and splattered some paint on, using browns and blacks and beiges.

decoupaged and painted pumpkins

I wound jute twine around the tops of the pumpkins. To make the twine spiral, I dipped it in watered down Mod Podge, then wound it around a pencil until it dried.

decoupaged and painted pumpkins

I had pictures of that process, but they were taken on an old point-and-shoot digital camera during the time when I couldn’t access my iPhone photos. And then I robbed the memory card out of the point-and-shoot to use in my work camera. And then when I downloaded the work pictures, I apparently deleted the blog pictures. Grrr.

pumpkin crafts

Anyhoo, I’m much happier with how the pumpkins and gourds look now than they did before.

before and after
An old crackle pumpkin (that I always set in the back because it seemed a little garish) now looks like this:
crackled pumpkin

The number 4 is from an old perpetual calendar that I bought at a thrift store. I repurposed the calendar part long ago, but the numbers were still in a cabinet, waiting to be used. I may tie a few more to some of the other pumpkins.

This fakey fake big orange pumpkin has now been transformed….
white pumpkins
 … into this. I like it ever so much more now.
decoupaged pumpkins

I did this project about month ago. It just took me forever to get photos rounded up and get everything together because (if you read my last post you know) my life was kind of in chaos from about Sept. 14 through about yesterday (knock on wood). I started a new job, was taking a night class and my home computer died.

pumpkin crafts
I also somehow managed to get Mod Podge on the lens cover of my old point-and-shoot when I was attempting to use that as a backup for my iPhone camera. Now the lens cover won’t open at all. So my old Cannon Power Shot may be joining my old Windows Vista PC in technology heaven.

Sewing newspaper stars

sewn paper stars
This little white shadow box of mine gets a new look every so often.

For the summer, I thought I’d go with a patriotic theme and stitch up a few stars to display in it.

I prefer my stars to be a little on the wonky side. I found a template here and printed it out.

I traced the templates onto newspaper…

cut the stars out….

… and then stitched them into pairs like I was sewing a pillow together…

…except that I wasn’t going to turn the seam to the inside with these.

I left one small section of each star unstitched so I could stuff some shredded paper in to give the stars a little dimension.

I sewed seven stars altogether (but in the end, I only had room for five in the shadow box).

I used a seam ripper to separate the two layers and to push the paper down into the points.

Once the stuffing was done…

… I sewed the last section closed.

Next, I dug a piece of black scrapbook paper out of my stash.

The backer board for the shadow box is Styrofoam, so I attached the paper with a few old brads that I just pushed into the foam.

Then I pulled out my thrift store sign letters to see what kind of patriotic phrase I could spell out. (These are all the letters I have, so it’s a challenge to make complete words, let alone phrases.)

paper stars

In the end, I decided to use “e pluribus unum,” because what’s more all-American than ancient Latin? I used a big popsicle stick as a straight edge to line the letters up on, then attached them with rubber cement.

paper stars

I also used rubber cement to attach the center of each star onto the back of the shadow box. Then I pushed small brads in at each of the points.

e pluribus unum

And there you have it: my Wonky, Neutral Patriotic Shadow Box.

(If you want to see what the shadow box looked like in the winter, I blogged about it here.)

Crafting | Decoupaged chicks

Mod Podge

I don’t decorate much for Easter these days. Primarily because most of my Easter decorations look something like this:

I admit I have a huge soft spot for kitschy flocked holiday decorations (which is why I own these chicks in the first place). But I don’t do pastels anymore. And most Easter decorations are some baby-soft shade of pink, purple or, like my little chicks, yellow.

Instead of leaving the chicks languishing in a box on a closet shelf again this spring, I decided I’d give them a makeover and then set them out on display. Step one in the makeover: Tear off the faux velvet covering…

… which left me with three naked, slightly scary looking plastic chicks. I grabbed a stack of old newspapers and a container of Mod Podge to proceed with the makeover when The Boss showed up.

I swear that cat has a sixth sense. He can be on the other side of the house — or the other side of the planet — but the minute I set a bowl of cereal or an open container of Mod Podge in front of me — BOOM — there he is. Blocking me from eating/decoupaging and shedding his fur all over my breakfast/project.

I  decoupaged the chicks in three parts: the wings and tails first, then the breast area and finally the head, using different parts of the newspaper as I went along.

When I started, I thought this was going to be a quick little project. But, as usual, I’d drastically underestimated the amount of time and detail work involved…

… and I forgot to factor in the additional time involved in removing each of the individual cat hairs that kept appearing in my Mod Podge.

I debated whether the chicks should have eyes or not. But they looked a little freaky being eyeless. So I popped the original plastic eyes back in initially.

After I was done with all of the decoupage, I scrounged around the house looking for other alternatives to use for eyes and found some old brads that were the right size. I thought the brads gave them a more vintage industrial look that matched their new personalities better than the plastic eyes.

Then I painted all of the beaks orange to match their feet.

Mod Podge
After a few touchups and a light coat of watered down white paint over everything, the chicks were done.

I dug out some dried moss and glass jars and started playing around with ways to display the chicks.

Mod Podge
Does anybody else see Dumb Donald from “Fat Albert” when they look at the chick above?

Mod Podge

Anyhoo, I liked how they looked under glass.

Mod Podge
And look who showed up again while I was taking pictures of the completed project:

I think he was disappointed to see there was no open container of Mod Podge anymore, so he quickly stalked off.

Mod Podge