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DIY Sketch Dinnerware

To continue the creative Christmas posts…DIY sketch dinnerware! I made a few mugs, and the appetizer plates below, and it was so fun to tailor the designs to each recipient.

The little sketches are all done with regular or super fine Sharpie, and drawn onto plain glazed ceramic that I picked up at various home good stores. After drawing on the plates or mugs, I baked them at 350 degress for one hour, and then let them cool completely in the oven.

I found that going over the design twice to three times prior to baking really helped them stand out, and also enhanced longevity through wash and wear.

I’ll definitely keep these in my arsenal of gift ideas. I’d love to try some with colored Sharpie too. So cute!

Watercolorist in Training

All of the holiday gifts have been distributed, which means it is time for the creative Christmas recap!! I was almost 100% successful in making all of my gifts this year (I’d say 5% were store-bought), so I figured I’d share some of my ups and downs (this is the first in a 5 part series which I will lovingly call “Creative Christmas.” Get excited!). I had a great time working on projects for friends and relatives; I wish I could have made even more! Guess I’ll have to start earlier next year!

I’ve never used watercolors before, but decided that now is as good a time as any to start. And I love them! The variety of tones and depth of color they produce is completely different than acrylic or oil paint, and I am moderately obsessed with the way they elevate representations of everyday objects. The little vignettes I painted are specific to the interests of the recipient…

…an avocado for a guac lover…

…a set of little wine bottles for a vino-loving friend…

…the Fire Island lighthouse…

…and a very glamorous artichoke (which I finished in a gilded frame).

The largest painting (the lighthouse) is 9×12 inches and framed to 11×17 (I forgot to photograph this), with all of the others fitting in 5×7 frames.

I loved working with a small brush and building layers of color and detail. I will certainly be continuing to refine my style and I can’t wait to make more gifts!!

Check back soon for part two of the Creative Christmas recap…(*hint* – it has to do with DIY patterned china!)


80th Birthday Party

My Grandmother is turning 80 in November, and we recently threw a birthday celebration for her and 60 of her local friends. My family planned and coordinated the entire event, with everyone pitching in to make food, and my brother and cousin acting as bartenders. I created the event theme, which allowed me to tie everything together – from the handmade invitations and decor, to the event signage, all the way down to the napkins and plates, I tried to make sure it was a cohesive event that represented the fun, slightly quirky, guest-of-honor.

We rented a 15×30 ft tent to make sure we’d have a dry place if it rained, and also used one of the buildings on my family’s property that previously housed a local shellfishing business. Being able to have the party in a place with so much family history and character really added to the event.

To decorate the tent, I made large tissue paper pom-poms in shades of pink, red and orange to tie in with the floral theme of the invitations. They added a punch of color to the ceiling, and looked pretty as they swayed with the breeze.

The centerpieces for the tables were wreathes of paper flowers. Some of the wreaths held a single glass hurricane and candle, and some larger ones had a set of three in various heights and sizes. Each table had a slightly different centerpiece, which added depth to the decorations, and the colors really stood out against white tablecloths. I made the wreaths by creating small crepe paper flowers of different sizes and colors and adhering them to cardboard ring bases. They turned out exactly as I hoped, adding a punch of color to the tables with a simple, elegant design.

Food was very important to me for the party – I wanted everything to be bite size, require no utensils, and be a little different than “normal” finger food. We also had a bar with wine, beer, sodas and juice, as well as the star of the show – the “mimi.” The mimi was our specialty cocktail, per request of my grandmother, (who we all call Mimi) which was a strawberry basil margarita.

We had a nice blend of fresh, sweet and savory treats, from individual dip cups with crudites (I loved these and will be making them for other occasions – so cute and easy!) and fruit kabobs….

…to cranberry, turkey and arugula wraps, cucumber and herb tea sandwiches…

…and wonderful sweets including snickerdoodles, fudge brownies, blonde brownies, and raspberry pecan crumb bars.

The food turned out great, and looked so pretty arranged on white plates of various sizes. We were able to cut nice bite-sized pieces of the baked goods by freezing them in large blocks after baking, and slicing while frozen right before the event.

I wanted to tie the invitation into the party itself, and I was able to incorporate the paper I used for the liners in the envelopes into signage for the guest book and specialty cocktail. We asked all of the guests to write a little note on 4×6 paper in various shades of pink, orange, and coral. We are combining these notes with photos of the event into a special album for my grandmother to remember her party!

Because 80 is such a milestone, I wanted to include some pictures of my grandmother through the years. I set up a little vignette inside the “Shuckin’ House” (as we fondly call the building which previously housed the shellfish business) complete with antique frames, vintage signage I found already on the shelves, buoys, and a little clothesline to display more photos. I loved the mix of vintage and modern, and the mini clothespins looked so cute! Everyone enjoyed looking at the photos and reminiscing, so it made a fun stopping point on the way to the bar.

The bar set up ended up being one of my favorite parts of the event – I used a table that is always in the Shuckin’ House and is usually covered in oyster bags, waders, and fishing lines. It was so fun to clean it up and see it used in a different way. The table itself is gorgeous – it has a metal top with a beautiful patina, and was used by my great-grandfather when he was in the shellfishing business. We set up galvanized buckets in white and silver with ice and drinks, and my brother and cousin helped pour beer, wine, and the specialty cocktail.

We all had a wonderful time celebrating 80 years – my grandmother looked beautiful, we had perfect weather, and everyone enjoyed visiting and chatting. It was a great event, and I think all of the decor and food turned out just how we had all hoped.

Here’s to many more celebrations!

Paper Wreath

Finding unique birthday gifts is always a challenge, especially for friends who are equally – if not more – crafty than myself. My friend Ashley made me a beautiful wreath for my birthday out of newspaper, which I absolutely love as it is not only covered in ruffles (my favorite) but also typography. To continue the “year of wreaths” I created one out of cut paper leaves for her birthday.

I found my inspiration from another paper wreath I saw online, which was made out of leaves that had been punched out of scrapbooking paper. I couldn’t find a punch that I liked (they were all too realistic looking) so I hand-cut each leaf. It was a rather painful undertaking, but absolutely worth it in the end. I think that the more abstract look of these leaves really emphasizes the swirled pattern they create through layering.

I choose three papers – a patterned pale grey, a darker grey, and white, and cut a whole pile of leaves to start. I made a cardboard base by tracing a large bowl, and then cut out the wreath shape with an exacto knife. Prior to gluing each leaf, I put a slight fold at the base, which helped provide the final texture of the wreath. After that it was time to glue – I used a hot glue gun, put a small dot onto the cardboard base, and placed the crimped leaf onto it. I made sure to vary the colors as I went, which created a nice overall pattern at the end.

The texture of the wreath sort of forms itself as you go – just be careful of the placement of each leaf and the swirling pattern will emerge. I love the abstract nature of the finished product – I knew it would be the perfect gift for Ashley, and would suit her style. I plan on making other versions in the future and adapting them for various occasions – I think this would be so cute in holiday shades!

Black & White Easter Eggs

Happy Easter! I’m so pleased warm weather is coming back, and looking forward to celebrating Easter with my family. Every year I try a new egg project, and this year ended up being one of my favorites.

I blew out a dozen white eggs (with a little help) and then decorated each with a different black and white pattern. I used two thicknesses of sharpie, and made an effort to vary techniques and visual weights for each pattern.

I think the overall effect is clean and modern, with a little bit of whimsy from the less-than-perfect hand drawn patterns. I’ve never been one for fussy patterns or pastels, so these are just my taste for holiday decorations.

I think these will look nice beyond Easter and I look forward to figuring out what to do with them next!