Friday, February 3, 2012

Gift Inspiration for Valentine’s Day

Today, I discovered that one of my old craft creations was featured on as an example for a teacher’s gift idea. This made me realize that I should share some of my previous craft projects that are excellent inspiration for handmade Valentine Gifts. Although most of these can be found in my Picasa web galleries, I will save you the time in sorting through all the can do that later by clicking the link above. I hope that these will be a springboard to your own creativity!

 Idea 1: Use items you have to dress up something ordinary!

Skill level: Beginner. 
I used paper flowers, buttons and ribbon to turn this dull storage box into a colorful, gift that my daughter can use to store her hair accessories or casual jewelry. All you need are some great adhesives. My suggestion: Glue Art’s extreme adhesive squares.

Skill level: Beginner.
For this second example, I purchased colorful buttons and used the same adhesive squares to dress up this ordinary lampshade. Note: Until I figured out the exact placement, I used smaller pieces of adhesive on the back of each button. I also layered some of the buttons beforehand for more color and interest.

 Idea 2: Turn an old container (candle jar with lid) into a matching gift set.

Skill level: Advanced; see suggestions for making it a beginner level project.
Using  coordinating papers, stamps and supplies, I created this gift, card & bag matching set by recycling and lidded glass candle jar, covering the sides and lid and trimming with a sweet stamped saying. If you are not good at cutting and stamping use pre-cut elements, stickers, colored chipboard embellishments, silk flowers, ribbons and rhinestones to turn this into a simpler, yet wonderful project.

Idea 3: Personalize a frame and turn it into a piece of art.

Skill level: Beginner-Intermediate
You can see some of the steps for this project in my Glue Arts Project gallery. This same project idea can be done at any skill level based upon the steps you choose to add. 

Skill level: Beginner:
You can start out by simply dressing up a purchased frame (great use for those 40% off coupons at the craft store!) along with some basic embellishments like sequins, adhesive pearls, rhinestones or gems, maybe some silk or paper flowers and some ribbon. You will also require some type of permanent adhesive that is strong enough to stay adhered, yet small enough to use on tiny items such as thin ribbon. For this I, once again, used extreme adhesive squares on the items that did not contain adhesive backing. Create a ribbon with some long tails and attach to one of the top corners and trail the tails around the frame using the small adhesive squares to create a flowy feel. Then dress up with various sizes of adhesive gems or pearls to complete your beginner level gift. The frame is now ready for a photo.

Skill level: Advanced
Now, step it up by creating artwork to go inside your frame or on top of the glass. For this example, I mounted a photo of my girls onto a piece of pink paper trimmed to fit the window of the frame. I used svg diecuts of my Lovey Dovey Brushes set of digital art to cut black vinyl to add to the top of the frame. I used adhesive alphabet letters to add the phrase Oh so tweet tot he glass and filled in the space by adding black sequins with white pearls on top. Now the top art is easy to display and clean.

Skill level: Intermediate
This takes a bit more time and skill, but I used some basic punches to create my own handmade, sugared flower from cardstock, glitter, a paint brush and crystal effects.  To shape the flower and folded the punched floral shape, bent and manipulated it. I used adhesive squares to attach the segments to one another to form the flower, then brushed the crystal effects onto the flower and sprinkled with dazzling diamonds glitter to give it the shimmery look. I paired with other diecut stems. You can achieve a similar look by adding pre-purchased sugared flowers from Prima. I also added a vinyl diecut heart layered onto pink cardstock on top of the ribbon. For this, you can substitute a sticker or chipboard element.

Idea 4: Transform a heart shaped craft box into a 3D display for the love of your life. 

Skill level: Advanced to Intermediate
This project started with the purchase of a kraft heart shaped box with a lid and evolved into a mini 3-D display featuring a foam core photo cut out, diecuts, trim and other embellishments. This makes a nice shelf display and also works well as an anniversary gift, especially for a special anniversary. The measuring, gluing and cutting make this a more advanced undertaking.

Idea 5: Create a relationship keepsake box. 

Skill level: Advanced
When I spotted this kraft box with a two-piece framed lid, I knew it would be fun to turn into a shadow box keepsake gift for my daughter to keep all the mementos of her high school relationship. Purchasing a themed scrapbook collection makes this project much easier due to all the great coordinating papers and embellishments that there are to use. The square lid insert became my main canvas. Tip: you may want to dray a light pencil line around the window opening of the outer lid on top of the square so you will know what are is visible once assembled. Decorate away with elements. You can even add in personal items such as ticket stubs, photo booth strips, etc. This idea can also be used as a birthday idea featuring the person's special interest i.e. a sport they play, activity i.e. theatre or dance, or a hobby they enjoy.
This sits on Kylie's shelf as room decor and a place to store notes, photos and other mementos.

Idea 6: Create a scrapbook page featuring the things or people that you love.

Skill level: Beginner-Intermediate
Beginner to Intermediate scrapbookers of all levels can create a page related to love: people they love, things they love or stories about being in love. These layouts can be framed in a 12 x 12 frame as a gift, mounted onto foam board to lean against something or given with a long piece of ribbon, some push pins and two spring-hinged clothes pins to hang on a ribbon banner on a wall.

Idea 7: Purchase a mini scrapbook album kit and 
personalize with photos, journaling & embellishements.

Skill level: Beginner-Intermediate
Even advanced crafters can make the best out of pre-made kits. As a beginner, you can simply assemble per the kit contents and instructions, or you can deviate by adding your creativity and own items to turn into a more advance project design. This was a small gift album I made for my mother, shown with photos of my sister and niece. Each page had some sweet photos that I knew she would enjoy. The finished album is pretty enough to leave out on a table top on display, and always close by to thumb through and experience a bit of family love.

Idea 8: Recycle packaging into a wonderful treat box.

Skill level: Beginner
I just love when I can recycle or repurpose things I have into wonderful gifts for friends and loved ones. This treat container was created for my niece from the empty packaging from my Glue Arts adhesive cartridges. I washed, dried then decorated it with stickers, gems and a tag. I used silk flower petals, trim and a button to make my own decorative flower. The epoxy sprinkles added a fun "sweet" element to this treat container which I filled with candies. This also makes a regiftable container for the recipient to pass along the love.

Idea 9: Cover simple boxes with stamped or diecut designs to make lovely gift boxes.

Skill level: Beginner-Advanced
As you can see, I love working with small boxes. We all have them and they come in so many fun shapes and sizes. Covering them with paint, papers, fabric, ribbons, trims and embellishments makes them that much more enjoyable to receive. Fill them with covered candies, add tissue and cookies, bath salts, packages of tea bags, cocoa, or use as an elegant way to give jewelry as a gift.

Idea 10: Dress up a store purchase.

Skill level: Beginner-Advanced
Embossing is a very elegant, yet simple crafting technique that always looks so impressive. It requires a stamp, either pigment or embossing ink pad, a heat tool and some scrap paper to recycle the unused embossing powder back into the container. For the candle wrappers, I used white embossing powder with a flourish and a heart stamp. You can take this simple candle wrapper idea to the next level and turn this into a romantic tabletop display by decorating a vase and creating a Valentine pick to put inside the vase. Ribbons, gems, floral picks, flowers, photos, etc. can be added to customize each item.

I hope that these ten Valentine Gift making ideas help you to 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Clean House = Creativity Interupted

When I saw this post on Facebook about housecleaning, I knew I would have to blog about it at some time or another. You see, housecleaning is one of my least favorite things in life to do. I joke that I am allergic to it, but seriously in some ways I am...well, at least to the cleaning products. The only other things I dislike more are prepping taxes and the length of time it takes to get hair color and highlights! O.K., enough dreariness for the day.

You have to admit there is a certain amount of truth to this statement. Anyone who relies on their computer for work feels at a total loss when things aren't working right. Just the other night my husband booked a hotel which turned out to be a time share with no internet. He woke up at 6:00 to go to a coffee shop just so he could check countless emails that would have taken forever on his phone. For me and the world of creativity, I can get lost in the creative process. I would feel at a real disadvantage not to have use of my scanner or computer. I still have my sketch pad and laptop to fall back on, but the day my house looks like a museum means I have quit being creative.

On the creative front, I have a set of digital Valentines called Owlentines. Yes, I have admittedly become obsessed with Owls. That is my college girl's school mascot and I hadn't designed anything with owls up until now. My 3 latest sets can be found on Mygrafico...What A Hoot, Owl Love U 4ever and my soon to release Owlentines set. Locate my shop under the designers pull down menu > Cheri Wenger :D.

These are my three favorites from that set. One is a photo Valentine that you can use, the other two are single panel printable or emailable cards. Here is a peek at those:

On another creative front, I had the opportunity to do an impromptu photo shoot of our 16 yr. old daughter, Kylie. She looked so adorable in her scarf and the jean jacket she borrowed from her sister's closet. I would say shhh, but she saw the photos on facebook and busted Kylie 6 seconds after I posted. She just doesn't like to share her possessions, LOL! My lifestyle photographs are taken with available lighting. This session had me dodging the sun’s brightness as it crept in and out of the clouds.

Photo Tip for the day: Did you know that the best times for shooting photos are when the sun is low in the sky? That means early morning hours or right before sunset. The warm glow the sun gives photos at these hours is magical. But when the sun is shining bright, tuck around a shaded corner that still has some bright light to get that warmth you are looking for with out the shadows. You can also set your SLR camera's fill flash to a low setting to counter those shadows when shooting in sunlight.

Here are my favorites from that photo shoot using a vintage effect on the photos.

Today, I regret to say that I am doing more housework than I care to be doing, but I will get it out of the way so I can get back to creating, illustrating, photographing, and just plain living life creatively!