This framed saree fabric, also available from Firozi, is perfect for boho decor:
If you’ve seen global textiles on Pinterest, no doubt you’ve come across framed Mali mudcloth and framed kuba cloth from Congo. There’s framed Thai hilltribe fabric. I have framed Fortuny fabrics. So why not hang framed saree fabric as well, and celebrate it?
Sarees often have enough different designs on one saree, that you can mix and match coordinating colors and designs, similar to this from BHG. Though I am not sure this is saree fabric:
Look on eBay and Etsy for vintage sarees, and look for sarees that have a lot of different designs on one saree. You can easily create this look.
Here are vintage saree borders in embroidery hoops, used as frames, from Etsy shop FoundVintageObjects:
Using embroidery hoops is an interesting idea when the saree is embroidered. You can even use very large embroidery hoops to show off a large piece of fabric.
I saw something on Instagram that made a lot of sense. Don’t set a New Year’s resolution! Instead …
Set a theme for the new year
Now I’m a believer in SMART goals, definitely at work where accountability is crucial. But in other areas of life, maintaining accountability for everything 24/7 can get tiring. And sometimes a focus on a single SMART goal can make you lose sight of the big picture.
For example, losing weight is a common New Year’s resolution, right? A lot of people vow to lose 15-20 pounds by spring, when we peel off the winter layers and feel more exposed. (It’s really easy to hide under sweaters and coats!) But what if you don’t lose those 15-20 pounds? How do you feel? You feel great if you do lose them. But if you don’t, you shouldn’t have to feel like a failure, like there’s something you didn’t achieve. Why not set the goal with more room to achieve it, something more aligned with a big picture. Like, “live healthier.” To achieve this goal, there are many things you can do daily:
You can eat more healthy foods.
You can sit a little less, move a little more.
You can do more things that make you feel happy.
You can get more sleep.
You can get outside and breathe fresh air more often.
All these things help you live healthier. You can take a different step every day toward the goal. If you really want to build in more accountability, write on a calendar daily — write what you did that day that fits the theme. You get the variety of having different ways to become healthier. And you may find that you also lose weight by living healthier! But your goal is broader. More like a theme …
Living with a theme and broad goals is more likely to lead to a sustainable lifestyle change. You make little changes in different areas of your life, and over time, they add up to big change. If one of those little changes drops off, it’s okay, you’re still doing the other changes. That’s a success! When we feel successful, we’re more likely to keep doing what we’re doing. This is why the idea of a New Year’s Theme really resonated with me.
So what’s my 2016 theme?
Oh yeah, I get the irony.
I got the theme idea online, on Instagram. I’m writing about the theme online, on this blog. But after this post, I’m logging off! I’m not going to mindlessly visit Pinterest or Facebook or blog analytics. While there are many life benefits we get from being online, there’s a whole life to live offline too. I’m afraid we’re forgetting that between smartphones and laptops and tablets and all the time they demand from us. But it’s our choice to let them take over. Read that sentence again. It’s our choice. Those of us old enough to remember life before 1995 remember a life with no internet at all. Cell phones were car phones. The fact that cell phones are still used in cars is another issue — if you’d like to know what I do with my workdays, I work on preventing cell phone distracted driving including hands-free. Yes hands-free is not risk-free! When we literally can’t put our phones down, it’s a problem. Life shouldn’t be lived through a phone. Or a computer screen. I don’t believe that’s really living all that life has to offer.
Offline, I want to move around more. Sitting can kill you. Yes it can. Go Google it (but not for too long!). I want to fix up more things around the house – like DIYs that actually involve plugging a tool into an electrical outlet. I NEED to get on airplanes more often — big jets and our little four-seater airplane — and go places. I want to paint more. I want to go big with that. Today I’m assembling a 40″ x 50″ canvas, to finally paint an idea that’s been mulling around in my mind. It’s time for it to flow out through the paintbrushes. First, I’m gonna test it on small canvases. I want to paint our kitchen cabinets. I want to build a large patio wrapping around the sunroom on the back of our house.
All these things are Living Offline. Maybe I’ll build the patio. Maybe I won’t. Heck, maybe we’ll finally sell our house this year instead, which we’ve been talking about for years. That’s a big idea and big work. I’ll get some of these things done. And I’ll surely do other things I haven’t thought of yet. By December 31, 2016, I’ll have a whole long list of things I did offline in 2016. That will be a big success!
So … what is your theme for 2016? What change do you want to make in your life?
You can barely get through Instagram without scrolling past a footsie on patterned tiles. Follow a number of design and travel grammers, and these footsies will happen to you. Boldly patterned tiles are trending. People are noticing them enough to photograph them. People are making even bigger commitments to these tiles. They’re putting bold patterns on their bathroom floors:
And on kitchen backsplashes:
I’m in the camp of people who worry about resale value, to be honest. Lately I’ve been “beige-ing” my house, so there won’t be anything offensive to future open house visitors. But I still love a good strong bold pattern (just like I like my coffee). Moroccan tile. Turkish tile. Tile in Iran. So patterned, so colorful, so beautiful! Last year my flights to and from Marrakech were routed through Lisbon, Portugal. I had an overnight in Lisbon. (I recommend scheduling an overnight in a city while traveling — your flight could be cheaper and you get a taste of an additional place, if only for a day!) Lisbon is famous for its tiled facades. While searching for something to do in Lisbon, I discovered Portugal’s National Tile Museum (aka the Museu Nacional do Azulejo). Here are Portuguese mosaics you will see there:
Tile is not as easy to make as you might think it is. You may think you take a slab of clay and just cut it in squares and just put some color on it, right? Oh no. Many years ago I took a tile-making class at the Ann Arbor Art Center, taught by Nawal Motawi of the famed Motawi Tileworks. (And, crap, I really miss living in Ann Arbor with easy access to things like that!) We learned the factors can make a tile go very wrong, very warped. And how to make things go right. You might have an idea in your mind of the color you want, but the tile can have a mind of its own when fired in the kiln. The glaze — the stuff that colors the tile — can do predictable things or weird things. Knowing the skill from start to finish of making tile made me appreciate Portugal’s National Tile Museum.
First, the setting of the museum. It makes your jaw drop in awe! It’s in an old crumbling convent attached to a church. The slight crumbliness meshes beautifully with the old tiles, as some tiles are chipped and marred just like the building:
Here are photos snapped as I strolled through the museum …
You get glimpses of the tile mosaics across courtyards and through columns:
Not all tiles are only geometric. Some showed interesting scenes. This is a tile mural called The Leopard Hunt, made in the 1660s:
The leopards look really worried, as they should. It’s just tile, but the feeling feels real:
Ugh. It’s like they’re saying, go vegetarian, people! And light a fire for warmth, don’t steal my fur pelt!
This next mural was my favorite, also from the 1660s. “The Chicken’s Wedding.” Whaaat? I know. I don’t know!
Okay, what is happening here?!? I had fun checking out every detail of this chicken wedding mural:
The chicken looks not too sure. Everyone else is having a good time. The only thing I know for certain about this story is, that mural was huge and it didn’t fit in one photo.
This gives you an idea of scale of some murals:
And here’s an idea of the realistic detail:
I loved the designs on these modern day tiles by ceramics artist Cristina Bolborea. The description really resonated with me — they’re evocative of a journey of a traveler and his impressions of far off fairs and their products, with layers of carpets and fabrics, and Islamic influences. Perhaps elements that are the only survivors of a temple forgotten today:
I had just left Marrakech, so these tiles reminded me of the shapes, patterns, cabinets, and carpets I had just seen there.
Here are some contemporary tiles made in the 1980s, still working with blue:
Look right or look left, and you see this setting around the tile galleries. I loved this old/new contrast:
How do I remember details more than a year after taking these photos?
a traveler’s photography tip:
When there are signs, first take a picture of the sign, then a picture of the art or tourist attraction. This way, you will always have all the information. It may be too small to read on your phone or camera, but you’ll be able to read it on a computer screen.
After enjoying the tiles, stop in the museum’s cafe for a jolt of Portuguese coffee. The best! I’m Googling today for more Portuguese coffee — we happened to buy Nicola coffee at HomeGoods of all places and we need more, more, more. So strong, so good. This coffee from a Lisbon cafe is what made me remember the Lisbon tiles, and that I hadn’t shared them here yet. Also enjoy museum cafe specialties like Codfish au Gratin with Pine Seeds and Raisins, maybe with a glass of Rioja, while viewing tiles that were once in a palace kitchen. So there, maybe putting these tiles in a kitchen is timeless despite our trends!
I walked there from the Baixa tourist area of Lisbon, but it was a long walk and I got off track and lost numerous times despite having a map that seemed clear. Usually I’m very good with directions; seriously this was the first time in life I got lost so much and I’m … uh, I’m not going to say how old I am but it’s a lot more years than you think because my profile photo is 10 years old. The older that photo gets, the more reluctant I am to change it! I was even able to navigate the Marrakech medina alone. But a seeming straight road in Lisbon really threw me. I was walking by myself and wondered a few times if I was making a big mistake that I’d be sorry for. And I’d call myself an “aware traveler” not a “worrying traveler.” It was a relief to finally see “azulejo” on a sign. You will be looking for this:
On the way back, I stopped at the nearby train station (I think it’s the Santa Apolonia stop) and took the train back to the big square near the Baixa area. People will tell you that you can walk, but take a taxi or the train.
Here are some in-progress photos to entice you. A base coat of Florence color Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan:
It’s a glorious blue! Blue doesn’t really go in my house colors, so there’s rare occasion to use blue. Here I’m smearing some Olive Chalk Paint all over it. And next, some Country Gray Chalk Paint and Vaseline technique to make chippy paint distressing:
My favorite part of this project was playing with Modern Masters Metal Effects, where you can make rust and copper verdigris. The color turns before your eyes! I painted black plastic shutter hinges with copper paint then used Modern Masters aging patina solution to make verdigris:
Isn’t that copper verdigris cool? And it’s so easy to do!
The final result is a shabby shutter Christmas table centerpiece:
The reason I built the shutter from scratch with new wood is, I really don’t have time to find real old shutters at vintage and antique shops. And, I’ve removed the shutters off our house and cleaned them before. I know what nastiness lurks on and especially behind them. Even though you can clean old shutters, I’m not sure about putting that on my dining table. So I built shutters — easy! with just wood glue! — from a few pieces of aspen wood from Menards.
For the full DIY tutorial and tips to build the shutters and paint, visit my post at the Paint+Pattern website.
BEHIND THE SCENES
I thought I’d share a few behind scenes pics with you. Because I live near Chicago and had to do this project in an unheated sunroom. It’s the room with the most natural light! But in winter it gets dark for photos by 3:00 in the afternoon so I’m boosting the lights, both with additional lighting and in Photoshop.
So here’s what you see:
And here’s what I see:
I could have set up even more lights. Sometimes I’ve worked later in the day with three white lights and additional halogen lights bounced off the ceiling. But I was working fast to get painting done before it got too dark for any photos. That’s winter for ya in the north!
And ohhhh, the sunroom was chilly. And a nice warm room was just within sight …
But I can’t photograph in there. Everything photographed in the house under lights turns yellow-orange. You can see the yellow-orange glow here. It can be adjusted in Photoshop to some extent but doesn’t look as good as natural light.
So in the winter I do a fair number of projects in the sunroom, in the cold, and you’d never know it from photos!
While photographing our dining table, I had to be careful with composition because just out of frame are unfinished walls with holes in them! With blue tape waiting to be painted:
If you look carefully, in the upper left there’s more unpainted walls and blue tape. The dining table is just to the left out of the shot. So this is why photos are cropped close. It didn’t occur to me how difficult it is to photograph the dining room and keep these unfinished walls out of view!
Often in blogs, you see only what we want you to see. We become experts at composition and camouflage. And moving things just out of view. Like cat toys all over the floor. The extra length from 18 feet of garland:
A better, more ambitious blogger than I would make another blog post out of that garland. Do something beautiful by draping it somewhere. You can tell I have no ideas — “something” “somewhere.” I have a full-time job. This blog is a hobby. So I pooled the garland on the dining table so a cat wouldn’t get into it (they’re trained to stay off the dining table, mostly) and called it a night:
It sat there like that for three nights and three days. We’re sorta busy so we don’t even go in the dining room most days. I probably shouldn’t be telling you these things. You’re supposed to think blogger lives and homes are perfect. Of course that is never true! On the third day, I finally cut the garland off at the end of the table and moved the pile to the living room. Which is currently getting painted, and maybe painting will be done before Christmas and maybe the garland will wind up draped beautifully, somewhere over something …
Meanwhile, let me distract you with the gorgeous patina on the shutter hinges! I was able to get that done:
(P.S. Please don’t notice the total lack of pretty holiday napkins. If you came here to dine for real, I promise I would find some for you!)
I’ve done a lot of stenciling projects over the years shared here and here. I’m also endlessly inspired by other people. There’s a lot of creativity out there! While I enjoy doing a complex project for the challenge of it, life is also very busy. It’s good to have easy projects too. So I scoured the world (okay, the usual sources like Pinterest, Google Images, HomeTalk, Paint+Pattern but those cover the world!) for some good ideas that are:
Easy (and sometimes fast too!)
Often these are practical things that you can make prettier with paint and stencils. These projects are easier because they involve:
One paint color
So here they are, the Top 10 Ideas …
Stenciled Grocery Shopping Bag
At Mendez Manor, Nicole stenciled these blank grocery shopping bags she found on Amazon and a stencil found at Michaels. This project is easy and super stylish:
Crazy Little Projects made a cute little project. Holiday placemats could be expensive for only rare use, but it’s fast and easy to stencil a holiday theme on a plain placemat. You could even use them double-sided. Use the stenciled side for the holidays and the plain side the rest of the year:
Simple Lettered Signs
Simple signs but big style! These signs have beachy themes, but Donna at Funky Junk Interiors shares many different sign ideas. These are lettering stencils painted on simple planks of wood. Super easy:
This is a really creative idea. Though I would caution, don’t put much paint on your candle and keep an eye on it while burning it. Just over Thanksgiving, we burned a candle that was heavily coated with paint (much more paint than these stenciled candles) and the paint pooled in the melted wax and the flame shot up. We had to blow it out. I think this idea could be okay on large 3″ diameter pillar candles and if you go light with the paint. This project was done with Mod Podge and sand. There’s a discussion about flammability in the Hometalk comments:
I thought I’d seen it all. Because I’ve spent way too many hours of life looking at things. But I had never seen this. A stenciled mailbox? Of course. Why not!
Stenciled Chair Backs
Stencils are an easy way to add one-of-a-kind personalized style to chairs. These beautiful French chairs were given a new look by Cedar Hill Farmhouse blog, with stencils on grain sack fabric, applied to the backs of the chairs. You just gotta see the before picture. You will never believe the improvement!
Now, the chair restoration and reupholstery is professional and may be more complex. But the stenciling part is not too hard and it’s something you can do on chair backs in your home.
From Shanty2Chic, here are easy and inexpensive picture frames. They look like they took a lot more time than they really did to make them! I think these would make great gifts. Paint frames in a color your friend or family would like:
Okay. How many is this now? 1, 2, 3 … 8! Here’s two more …
Pillows are smaller and you can get a great effect with a combo of one paint and one stencil on an interesting fabric. And the nautical theme here by Canary Street Crafts is so fun:
Canvas Wall Art
Stencils make it possible for you to create easy wall art. This has a few more paint colors than the ideas above. But this would still be very easy to do. Now that I look at it, this is not a DIY, you can actually buy this set readymade at Michaels! But I leave the idea in because you could do this with stencils:
I hope some of these inspired you to try some stenciling projects! Which would you try first?
In the previous post, I shared a super fast and easy tutorial for making scrapbook paper Christmas tree ornaments. Simply trace a paper mache ornament on scrapbook paper, cut the paper and glue it on. Sounds simple, but if you choose a fabulous paper, it can look like much more work than it really was! Like this ornament I made:
Add rhinestone embellishments to make it fancy. Check out the tutorial for some useful tips about how to glue scrapbook paper — I’ve had problems with wrinkling in the past but found a good solution.
Today, we’ll talk about adding another layer of pattern with painted stencils. If you want to stencil on scrapbook paper, I recommend choosing a lighter paper with a more subtle pattern like this paper:
Your ornament doesn’t have to be beige! In fact that’s not very Christmas-y, is it? I think it worked for me because I’m using metallic paints and those can always be made to look festive. You can choose any lighter color. You just want to be sure there’s some good contrast with the stencil color, and it’s easier to paint a darker color on a lighter background.
Next, choose a stencil. You can use a Christmas theme stencil. You don’t have to though. I’ve built up a collection of stencils, as a contributor for the stencil company Royal Design Studio’s blogzine of stenciling ideas, called Paint + Pattern. So I used Indian, Moroccan, Turkish, all kinds of stencils to paint patterns on my ornaments. Think a bit outside the box. You don’t have to use a super small ornament-sized stencil. Those are hard to find, anyway. You can use part of a bigger stencil, like I did here:
This stencil is actually really big. The ornament fits only a very small part of the stencil design, but that’s okay, it gives you a really cool abstract pattern. (And you can see I didn’t clean it before using it again! Oh well.)
Here you see while you’re painting the stencil, much of the paper pattern might get covered up with paint, but don’t worry:
The pattern will peek out when you’re done:
It’s hard to see there, but I swirled several metallic colors through the stencil – silver, bronze, gold. The color changes depending on how the light hits it.
Have fun mixing and matching different colors and patterns. Here’s a collection of ornaments I made in an afternoon, some with just a painted base on the paper mache instead of scrapbook paper:
You can see here I decided to add some colored rhinestones:
You can find sheets of rhinestones like this in scrapbook supply aisles at craft stores.
My sister brought her Quaker parrot to my house for Thanksgiving and here’s the parrot saying “okay” and “hmmm-mmm” to my work:
Literally. Those are among the many words she says. And she really did say “okay.”
Another way to make your ornament interesting is with contrast in texture and finish. I glued a glittery scrapbook paper on an ornament, then stenciled with Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan which has a matte finish. The combo of glitter and matte paint looks interesting. It’s hard to photograph so here they’re tilted into the sun:
Here’s another example of placing a stencil partially on the ornament, and the pattern result:
Here’s a mix of stenciled ornaments and ornaments decoupaged with scrapbook paper, to show the huge versatility even with a limited color palette:
Christmas tree ornaments can be so fast and easy to make. It’s really satisfying to have a big pile of ornaments like this, after just an afternoon of gluing, painting, drinking, singing and laughing:
These were made with scrapbook papers, metallic paints, stencils and some rhinestone embellishments. Today I’ll show you how to make Christmas tree ornaments like these. They look luxe, but they’re super easy!
You can find these supplies online or at any major craft store. The curvy paper mache ornaments I used were found at a Hobby Lobby store. I haven’t found the same ones online. You can also often get ornaments on sale up to half off, or use a coupon which brings the cost to only $1 to $1.50 each.
Choose an ornament and a scrapbook paper. You can use any scrapbook paper you want and there’s thousands of designs available in stores and online. But if you think you also want to paint stencils on your ornament to make layered patterns, it’s best to choose a lighter color paper with a more subtle pattern. Something like the Prima Ledger Papers at Amazon. Some scrapbook papers I used were glittery so that’s another option for a fancy festive look!
Step 1. First, paint the edge of your ornament. I used metallic paints but you can use whatever color you want that coordinates with your scrapbook paper.
Step 2. Trace your ornament shape on scrapbook paper and cut it out.
TIP: Cut slightly inside the trace lines, so your cut-out won’t wind up bigger than your ornament.
TIP: Mod Podge is very popular and you may have some in your craft supplies. I’ve used Mod Podge as a glue for a few scrapbook paper projects, and had wrinkle problems with all those projects. I tried every solution I found online to minimize the wrinkles. It helps to use a thicker scrapbook paper, and to smooth the paper from the middle toward the edges with a hard straight edge like a credit card or ruler. But I still had wrinkle problems. So I tried Aleene’s Tacky Glue instead. It’s less wet, more tacky, and I found even thin papers did not wrinkle. Yay! So based on my small experiments thus far, try Aleene’s Tacky Glue instead of Mod Podge if you’re gluing scrapbook paper.
You can apply the same paper to both sides of an ornament, or glue different papers on each side of an ornament. I made each side of my ornaments different:
That doubled the creativity, but now I’ll have a hard time deciding which side to show on the Christmas tree!
SCRAPBOOK PAPER ONLY
Once your scrapbook paper is glued on, you could call your project done. Super easy! I used a glittery chevron scrapbook paper on one ornament, and that was it, simple was beautiful and that ornament was done:
SCRAPBOOK PAPER + RHINESTONES
For another ornament, I added a few colored rhinestone embellishments and called it done. With a paper this pretty, it didn’t need much more:
You can cut apart rows of rhinestones to use smaller pieces. And if the sticky backing comes off, as it did for a few of my rhinestones, just use some of the Aleene’s Tacky Glue to adhere them.
SCRAPBOOK PAPER + PAINT AND STENCILS
For some ornaments, I painted stenciled patterns on the scrapbook paper:
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of compensation at no cost to you if you purchase after clicking the link. I post affiliate links when I’ve purchased from the company myself or used the product myself, and can confidently share the company or product. This helps offset the cost of running this blog for you!