Archive for Paper

Under Construction: Beau’s 2nd Birthday Party (The Details)

Planning events is one of my favorite pastimes. Being able to craft a party that utilizes a beloved theme AND makes someone feel super-dee-duper special is so much fun!

My son turned 2 in June, so beginning in January, I started brainstorming theme ideas for his party. He’s not much of a napper, so I start way in advance since I get very limited time each day to design.

The funny thing? I chose a Construction/Tool theme before he was all that interested in it, and through the planning process, he became more and more fascinated with diggers and dozers and dump trucks. By the time his party rolled around, he was obsessed, so it all worked out. ;)

Let me also say this: Having a Silhouette Cameo made planning this party SO much easier. When I did Beau’s Woodland Party last year, I cut everything by hand. Oy.

LOVE my Cameo…it allowed me to cut out the heading and the pieces I needed to create some excavators. I used Sticky Doos from Hobby Lobby to give the machines some depth, and tore pieces of brown paper by hand to give the ‘dirt’ a jagged look.

Next, I created favors for each of Beau’s little friends. My mom, ever the incredible seamstress, used tea towels to make each child their own tool belt with two pockets.

I cut various construction vehicle from vinyl to create stencils for painting.

And the birthday boy helped remove the vinyl once the paint was dry.

I designed hang tags for some baggies I had leftover from a pegboard project and filled each baggie with chocolate rocks I found on Amazon.

Each tool belt was stuffed with a mini machine and a baggie of chocolate rocks.

Treats for our pals, ready to go!

Since we live out in the country, I knew I wanted to mark our driveway with a sign of some sort. I used my Silhouette to cut out vinyl letters to mask off black foamcore board.

Then, I learned the hard way (with a piece not shown here), that foamcore board does NOT like spray paint. Must be the solvents or something in the paint, but it makes the board bubble up and the paper backing peels away from the foam. SUCH a mess.

So, cue Plan B…acrylic paint. I tried a brush, but hated being able to see the brushstrokes. So I switched to a brayer I haven’t used since my college days of linoleum block printing.

Because the paper soaked up the paint, it took several coats, but it worked pretty well. Once the paint dried, I peeled off the vinyl letters and cut a black strip around the outside edge to mimic a true traffic sign.

One project I do each year is an age shirt. Let me tell you, truck fabric is NOT easy to find! We ended up with this psychedelic construction vehicles print.

But, once the vehicles were isolated, they looked pretty cute on a plain, brown tee. I purchased orange and yellow tin buckets to hold snacks and forks. I happened to have some construction stickers laying around to decorate the tins. I found hard hats at the party store and added the CAT logo in black vinyl.


To keep stress low as the party approaches, I always make as much of the food in advance as possible. I knew I wanted to make dipped pretzel rods, so I was excited to read they could be done up to a week in advance. So, I dipped, sprinkled, and packed away our pretzel treats.

Sugar cookies are always a big hit, too. My parents sent me this set of tool cookie cutters they found on Ebay.

I like to use this cookie recipe, as it holds a cutter shape really well and isn’t too sweet (the icing covers that!). I made royal icing in gray, brown, and yellow and got to work outlining and flooding all the cookies.

Cake decorating is a lot of fun to me, too. I had seen this tutorial about making striped cakes, and I knew it would be perfect for our construction zone theme.

Because the recipe makes two cakes, I was able to practice and perfect my angles. And my mess-making skills.

When it came time to decorate the cake, I pulled inspiration from multiple sources. I have a copy of the book What’s New, Cupcake? and it gave me the idea to create ‘trees’ from Tootsie Rolls and sprinkles.

And of course, Oreo cookie dirt! I made Beau his own little cake mound out of scraps and trimmings.

I used fondant to make miniature traffic cones, then added dyed coconut grass and chocolate rocks to round out the landscaping.

Of course, there was a dump truck, hauling a load of rocks from the quarry.

A little construction zone tape put the finishing touches on the cake display.

I knew I wanted some sort of edible “boulder,” so I made chocolate popcorn balls using this recipe. I made them late the night before the party and wrapped them tightly in cling wrap so the popcorn would stay crisp and not get soggy.

To set off the area in the kitchen where the food would be set up, I hung a black curtain over the windows. Then I created a banner from cut letters and shapes attached to satin ribbons.

As for party ‘entertainment’, what’s better than a bunch of rocks and dirt to dig through?!

I set up our pop up tent and draped a tarp over the top for shade. Orange safety netting, marker flags, and painted signs rounded out the construction zone look.

Stay tuned for pictures from Party Day so you can see all these details in action!

Suit Yourself

Wanna know what’s really fun? When your sister is super artsy-creative, too! :)

My youngest sister had an idea for a book called “Suit Yourself” and she didn’t just tell me about it, she drew up a schematic! Ha!

As you can see, she had a very specific idea in mind for her book. She wanted it to be multi-functional…something for writing and drawing.

So…I bound loose-leaf lined paper:

And, plain white sketching paper.

A special black/white/red inscription was added to the inside paste pages.

Would you believe I was even able to find paper with all four suits on it?!

The spine was covered in black canvas bookbinding paper for extra strength and red satin ribbons were added as a closure.

My sister was very satisfied with the results and by now I am sure the pages are just full of all her other incredible ideas!

Sonny…thanks for asking me to make this for you! It’s so fun to breathe life into someone’s artistic vision!

Handy Dandy Notebook

Several years ago, I made my sister a handmade journal cover for Christmas. And I just found the pictures of it (though most of the design process photos are missing *sad face*)!

That said, here’s a glimpse of what I made.

I started with some pleather/vinyl that was on sale at my local craft store. I measured and cut two hunks: one for the outside cover and one for the inside “pocket” flaps.

Then, since the wrong side of the fabric was so blah, I gave it a little pizzazz by painting it with a teal acrylic paint (which absorbed into the lining and gave it a nice, muted color).

My mother-in-law assisted me with sewing the flap fabric to the outer layer of fabric. ((I don’t own a sewing machine, nor do I know how to use one…add that to my crafting to-do list!))

These flaps would house the corners of a standard spiral-bound notebook.

Here is the finished piece unstuffed:

Complete with my sister’s doodles. :)

The covers of the notebook were then inserted into the sewn flaps.

Though I could’ve bound her a traditional journal or sketchbook, I wanted to make her a long-lasting cover that she could use for multiple notebooks. When you are a prolific writer like she is, you tend to go through a lot of notebooks!

I added a fun, jazzy button enclosure, too.

And here’s the finished product, all buttoned up and ready for the next story (based on the undone stitching around the button, you can tell this picture was taken months after the journal cover had already seen lots of action!)

Sonny, you are a terrific writer. I believe in you and your dreams. Go get ‘em!

Green Bambino Guest Log

It’s so fun when a new local store opens up and sells exactly what you need exactly when you need it! For me, Green Bambino is the perfect example of that truth.

The eco-friendly cloth diaper/natural baby products store opened up just months before I was due with my first baby (now known as Beau the 19 Month Old!)

I took a Cloth Diaper 101 class, registered for baby gifts, took a baby-wearing class, and got to know the incredible owner, Morgan.

Morgan’s #1 concern in her shop is providing an excellent customer experience. And, boy, does she! Not only does she have vast knowledge about diapers and natural baby products, she also has the heart of a teacher. Which keeps people coming back time and again.

Last year it became clear that Green Bambino was out-growing its location and Morgan made the decision to relocate…across the street!

Since I now consider Morgan a friend, I offered to make her a guest book for her new store.

In keeping with the store’s philosophy, I used only repurposed fabric or recycled paper to create their book.

All great guest books have a place to keep a pen!

I had this green fabric leftover from my wedding nearly 3 years ago. Its bright color fits perfectly with Green Bambino’s fresh and earthy decor. A brown ribbon gave the fabric a nice, finished edge.

I then used a scrap piece of acid-free davy board and carved out a baby footprint (no easy feat with davy board, let me tell you!)

For the inside pages, I used repurposed letterhead from my old job! They were just going to throw it away. Can you believe that?! So, I cut the top portion off to get rid of the logo, and printed a motif on the cover page of the book.

Then, the inside pages were filled with lines where store patrons could write their names and hometowns. Though Green Bambino is a local store, it’s the only one like it in Oklahoma City. Even people from surrounding states travel here because they have no such stores at home!

Last time I was in the store, I saw several pages full of signatures, but I didn’t get a chance to really look through it. I can’t wait to see how far people have traveled to experience Green Bambino! It’s a terrific place.

If you are expecting or know someone who is, I highly recommended swinging by the store (or their website) to see how their offerings might make your life better! :)

Nothing But the Blood

In college I took a class called “Experimental Bookmaking.” In the class we were encouraged to explore a range of materials, try new stitching techniques and even redefine what “book” means.

It’s always fun when someone hires you to make a book and they trust you enough to just let you run with it. The book below is a perfect example.

Theresa has had me make several books for her over the past few years. Mostly she has ordered gifts for others, but this time, she wanted a prayer journal for herself. And she said I could design it any way I wanted! :)

I experimented with exposed board for this book. I cut ruby-red bookbinding cloth in a wave shape to cover the spine and connect the covers, and the white part of the cover is raw Davy board, which I shaded with a white Prismacolor pencil.

I then added snowflake brads to the spine for symbolism and to give the book a little embellishment.

Inside the book, I designed the paste pages. I printed the lyrics to the worship song “Nothing But The Blood” and accented that particular line.

I knew Theresa was planning to use this book as a prayer journal, and I wanted to keep this reminder at the forefront of her mind every time she opened her book.

Theresa: Thank you again for being such a loyal customer. I always enjoy designing books for you. I hope the pages of this book are now filled with answered prayers and reminders of God’s provision in your life!

Be blessed!!

Burlap Book

I mentioned in this post that I love making books for other artists. Some times, other artists are even willing to trade their art for mine. Win-win!

Abi and I were meeting up to do a photoshoot for BodSchool, my personal training business. She takes incredible photos and I wanted to bring a thank you gift that I could give her until I was able to make her official sketchbook.

In college, I purchased a book that teaches how to bind books without any glue. As you can imagine, that makes the process much quicker, as you don’t have to wait for anything to dry!

I had some burlap scraps another friend had given me and decided that would be the perfect material to try something new.

I chose to make a “quarto” sized book (a fourth of a page) from 8.5 x 11 paper. The final size was roughly 4.25″ wide x 5.5″ tall…a great little book for stuffing in a purse or camera bag!

I burned the edges of the burlap to give it a more finished look (and also in hopes it would keep it from fraying so badly). Have you ever smelled burnt burlap?! Eww.

Since Abi loves green, I chose olive-colored paper for the pages. It also looks really great with the earthy burlap, don’t you think?

The stitching I chose was Long Stitch/Link Stitch. The sections are sewn together so the stitches are exposed on the spine like this:

I really like how you could see the stitches if you knew to look for them, but that the twine also blended in nicely with the burlap.

This was a really fast book the make. The thing that took the longest was learning the new stitch, but even that went quickly once I got the hang of it.

Abi, thank you again for being willing to trade art! I love making unique things for unique girls like you!

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Tony & Melanie

One of my favorite kind of books to make is a wedding guest book! It’s exciting to be a part of a day that marks a new beginning for a loving couple.

Melanie and Tony asked me to create a one-of-a-kind guest book for them. The Scripture verse “My lover is mine, and I am his” graced the cover.

Their wedding colors were earthy tones, so I mimicked this in their book using soft, brown recycled paper, brown satin tie ribbons, and earth-toned papers for the pages.

A nice, green paisley paper added the finished touches to the inside cover.

And no wedding book would be complete without a little personalization!

Names and a very important date, all surrounded by heart-shaped brads.

Tony and Melanie, thank you for allowing my art to be a detail in your special day. Here’s to many, many years of wedded bliss!

Easy Charms: A How-To

I needed a Christmas gift idea for my 9-year-old step-daughter. Even though she is easy to please, it can be hard to come up with original ideas for her (are tweens just generally hard to buy for, or what?!)

After rummaging through my scrapbook paper and crafting supplies, I decided to make her a set of one-of-a kind charms. They were SO easy and fast to make. I’ve included step-by-step instructions so you can make a set for someone special…or yourself {you ARE someone special, after all!}

I thought I would use basic acrylic tiles, but then I found these amazing charms by Tim Holtz. I bought mine at Hobby Lobby for $9.99 (less 40% thanks to their online coupon!). I already had the paisley paper and the two other necessary supplies…

…Mod Podge:

…and jewelry jump rings:

I chose which tiles I wanted to use for Jo’s gift and traced around them on the scrapbook paper, choosing various designs from within the pattern. I then used a scissors to cut out the swatches.

Each tile got a thin coat of Mod Podge.

And the corresponding paper swatch was attached to the back of the tile.

Repeat for all tiles.

Here’s how they look from the front. So cute, huh?!

Next, I used a bookmaking awl (a large needle would also work) to punch holes in the top of each of the charms.

I recommend punching from the back through to the front. This way, the ‘ragged’ edge around the resulting hole ends up inside the hole of the tile, giving each charm a clean look.

Next, grab a jump ring and place it over the jaws of a needle-nosed pliers. Gently open the jaws to stretch the ring open.

Thread the opened ring through the hole you punched in the last step and use the pliers to squeeze the jump-ring back shut.


Now they are ready to go on a chain!

Here’s the set…different shapes, different sizes, all corresponding and ready to be mixed and matched.

A bought a set of ball chains and they were the perfect finishing touch for these tiles.

I had so much fun making these…good thing that package of charms has 48 pieces! Our girl may be getting another set for her birthday! :)

You could make these for any holiday or occasion. They could be jewelry or key chains or wine glass markers or tags for your kids’ stuffed puppies….the possibilities are endless!

Have some fun with these! I’d love to hear what you create!


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Dear Abi

I believe everyone is an Artist. Some people may not recognize what they do as “art”, but it takes on so many different shapes and forms. Perhaps you’re surrounded by art right now and don’t even know it!

Cooking is an art. Loving your kids and keeping them fed, bathed, and entertained is an art. Crunching numbers in a budget is an art. Maintaining a healthy marriage is an art. Masterfully hammering boards together and building something that didn’t used to exist is an art.

Since art is everywhere, sometimes even the people who DO call themselves Artists don’t realize how many artistic passions they’ve left undiscovered.

One of my favorite artists, Miss Abi, is an A-MAZING photographer. And fashionista. And writer. And, and, and…as it turns out, a sketcher!! Who knew?!

Abi and I love to trade art with each other. She took some terrific photos for my new business, and I paid her back by making her an 8.5 x 11 sketchbook.

Her favorite color green in a fun pattern, plus her name and some BLING!

A pen loop (because what good is your sketchbook if you forget a pen?!) was built in as well.

Abi, thank you for being my go-to girl for all things photography (and fashion advice, which I am certain I desperately need more of!).

I love your zest for life and hope this book will be just one of the many places you chronicle all your dreams and adventures this year and beyond! Love you!

A Journal for Kelley


Personalized, handmade gifts are always a great thing to get someone beginning a new chapter of their life.

So when Kelley was graduating, Donna knew that a Z as in Zebra journal would be a great gift for her.

With your name on the front, there’s no mistaking it’s yours!!

I love funky geometric patterns, and this one portrays all the fun, exciting, scary, new adventures most graduates are just itching to embark upon.

Inside the front cover, Donna wanted to include an inscription with the verse Jeremiah 29:11

So fitting!

Donna, thank you for asking me to make Kelley’s journal! It excites me to think of all the dreams and plans and big ideas its pages contain by now! :)