Monday, September 16, 2013

DIY notepads with old hardcover books

My mom recently brought over a lot of my old toys and books for George to enjoy. In the pile of treasures we found a set of miniature Sesame Street hardcover books from 1980. The binding was shot and the interior pages were falling out. Instead of recycling them, I wanted to think of a way to upcycle them. I found this tutorial and set to some very easy work of converting these books to blank notepads. My next project will be to turn the interior pages into adorable notecards!

Supplies: 2 pieces of wood, all purpose tacky glue, blank sheets of paper (cut to size), clamp

Clamp the paper between the two pieces of wood. 

Apply tacky glue along the spine of the notepad. Let dry.

Apply glue to the interior spine of the cover. 

Set the notepad of paper into the glue filled spine of the cover. Close book and let dry. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Getting Lost in Westeros

As someone who dabbles in map illustrations for wedding invitations, I can't even wrap my head around the task of mapping the entire geography of Westeros, the setting for George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones books. This is an interesting behind the scenes look at what it is to create epic maps (literally and figuratively):

Monday, January 21, 2013

FOSSIL Tinspiration

When I posted about the fun FOSSIL tins that came with the watches that my husband and I bought each other for Christmas 2010, I couldn't imagine what a fun connection I would make with Coralie Renaud, the manager of the FOSSIL store in downtown Paris. After stumbling on my post, she wrote me a lovely email complete with photos of her FOSSIL tin collection. I had no idea there were so many and that the design of these tins was such a big deal. Needless to say, I was incredibly excited when she sent me a box full of tins all the way from her store in France! She even included the book, Tinspiration, The Art & Inspiration of the Fossil Tin.  I've photographed some of my favorite tins for this post. Can you believe this isn't even all of what she sent me? These tins have so many uses - I think I'll use mine to organize my teas, sewing supplies, jewelry, and maybe some of my cooking spices. Merci beaucoup, Coralie!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Discovering new objects each day with Cooper-Hewitt

Cocktail wallpaper. United States, 1936-56. Image source:
As someone who is always looking for new design inspiration, "check out the design world’s best new blog" was music to my ears. The New York Times made my week with their article about Object of the Day. Object of the Day is a site produced by the curators at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.  They are featuring one object from their endless collection each day. I know I'll be checking back regularly as their treasures continue to be revealed! I love the vintage papers and book cover designs. Who knew that there was such a thing as Cocktail Wallpaper?

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Fellowship of the Beer

This Christmas my husband and I put our creative minds together and printed nine custom Lord of the Rings beer labels, one for each of the nine members of the Fellowship. It started off being a fun gift for my sister and her husband, but developed into a much bigger project as he altered quotes from the books for beer selling purposes and I came up with the visual concepts. I loved the finished products: a line of beers to rule them all and in the drinking bind them!

I have posted pictures of each label below.  If you're a real Tolkien fan who wants to live in the Shire like us, you can dig into the details of all the altered text after the jump.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Create your own whimsical garden art

Want to create a whimsical look for your garden or yard? Paint the panes of an old window and create the magic of a secret garden. Read on for my instructions and tips for this fun and (pretty) easy project. 

  • a window with a wooden frame
  • sand paper, if needed
  • exterior primer
  • exterior paint
  • window cleaner (like Windex)
  • 1.5" paint brush to paint the window frame (and mineral spirits to clean the brush and your hands)
  • paint brushes for artwork (at least one should be a flat brush with a minimum width of 0.5")
  • acrylic paints (avoid white)
  • painter's tape
  • clear, acrylic varnish spray (like Krylon)
  • a cup of water and a couple paper towels for cleaning and dabbing brushes between colors 

1. Start with an old window with a wood frame. We recently renovated our bathroom and were lucky enough to have lovely, old windows to save for this exact purpose. 

2. Sand as needed. I didn't do very much sanding on mine. The nice thing is that these are supposed to look "vintage." Once the window frame is prepped, apply a coat of exterior primer to the wood frame. 

3. After the primer dries, apply at least 2 coats of exterior paint. I chose a satin finish paint but anything goes. As long as you are using exterior paint, your window frame should hold up fine outdoors.

4. Wait about 48 hours for the exterior paint to dry. Once dry, you can move the window to a flat position on your craft table. 

5. Before you get to the fun part of painting on glass (nearly there!), you must clean the glass with a glass cleaner like Windex. This will save you a lot of pain while you are in the middle of the painting process. No unexpected smudges in the way of your lovely colors! 

6. As for your painting, that's totally up to you. You can use a guide if you would like. The guide method I like best is one that doesn't require any markings on the glass itself. Simply sketch your design on a large piece of paper (I used a large, flattened cardboard box). Place the window on top of your sketch and paint according to the lines you see through the glass.

7. After your painting is done, apply at least 2 coats of a clear acrylic varnish (like Krylon brand) to the painted surface. Use painter's tape to cover the wood frame and avoid a gloss coat over the wood surface. Make sure to spray outdoors or in a very well-ventilated area. Cover your mouth with either a mask or some sort of bandana or cloth to avoid breathing the fumes. This coating will ensure that the acrylic paints will hold up outdoors. I would still recommend bringing your window indoors during the winter. 

8. Once the acrylic varnish dries, you are ready to display your artwork!


Acrylic paint: Acrylic paint dries very fast. Do not try to go back and repaint something that has already dried. Things will get very frustrating very fast! If you do encounter this situation, as I did when I first started, you can just use water on a cloth to wipe away the entire section of paint and start over. 

Opaque colors: White or black paint is going to be nearly opaque. If you want the light to shine through your entire window, do not use white or black. When I wanted a little more definition, as seen in the edges of the leaves, I just waited for the initial leaf painting to dry and then went back with the same color of green and applied another layer on the border of the artwork. 

Brushes: When you are covering a larger area, use a flat brush that is at least 0.5" wide. Detailed spots will benefit from smaller brushes.

Water: Do not use water to thin the paint. Just apply the paint as it is and then add more color when you want the color to darker/thicker on the glass. 

Artwork: Keep it simple. This is not a detailed process. Due to the quick drying time of the acrylics and the issues with using water, you shouldn't try to get too detailed. Though, if you do want more detail, you can always add to the colors after they dry. Just remember that you can always add color. Taking it away is more problematic. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Heart and Soul: My Painted Piano

This past spring I painted a piano. A whole piano. However I wanted. It was an awesome experience.

I was one of 8 artists chosen to participate in a public art project called Heart and Soul: the University City Public Piano Project. I knew I wanted my piano to be brightly colored, fun, and inviting. I started with a basic sketch of flowers and leaves. Six cans of green spray paint and various buckets of acrylic colors later, I transformed my piano into a magical garden, complete with a hobbit door and hanging lanterns. For nearly three weeks in June, these eight unique, elegant, colorful, and wacky pianos were scattered throughout West Philadelphia for outdoor, public enjoyment. My piano was in Clark Park—a great location considering the green, growing motif of my illustration. I loved seeing so many people playing my creation. It held up surprisingly well thanks to the acrylic paint and clear coats of varnish. The best part? Now this beauty's in my living room. Check out the video from the opening reception below. At the 1:14 mark, you'll see George playing his heart out!

Finished piano. Photo by Ryan Collerd. 
Before (left), First step (right)
8 finished pianos. Photos by Ryan Collerd.
My piano being played in Clark Park. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
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