Scrabble Art

Looking for a really simple, easy but meaningful gift for the grandparents? When my husband was a kid, his family used to play Scrabble all of the time. I had seen large scrabble tiles used for wall collages saying words like “FAMILY” or “HOME”. I wanted to do a pared down version using all of the grandkids’ names.

You will need:

  • Strong adhesive (glue gun, E6000, etc…)
  • Scrabble letters (Tally up how many of each letter you will need so you know how many sets to buy.)
  • Shadow box frame preferably with matting
  • Printed or colored paper for the background (enough sheets for a redo if needed, see below)

Lay out your “scrabble board” on your background paper with the mat board so you know where to center them. I took one of the letters I knew I probably would not use (Q) and drew a heart with a black sharpie on back.

One thing I always think about when using the grandkids or kids names is what happens when you know your family is still growing? That’s why this project is so perfect, because of how simple it is, it would be easy to pull off the letters and make a new one for additional names!

GUEST PEACE: Cloud Quilt

I find myself pinning a lot of cute quilts on Pinterest that I envision myself making. I have absolutely no idea how to quilt though and I’m not too keen on the idea of taking a quilting class or doing research. When I saw a cute cloud appliqué quilt that I really wanted to make for my friends baby, I decided to just give it a go by cheating.

I picked out some pretty material patterns that I thought were complimentary and white cotton with little white spots for the quilt. The pattern pieces were the little remnant samples form Joann’s so they were really cheap.

I printed a cloud template from the Internet and began cutting out clouds. I quickly realized however, that the material would fray. I went back to JoAnn’s and found some fusible fleece to iron on to the back of the material so it wouldn’t fray. I picked the fleece because it offered some padding to make the clouds stand out.

Once I cut out all the clouds I pinned them onto the white cotton material and hand sewed them in place.

Following that I cut out rain drops with the remaining material and sewed them on under a contrasting color cloud. I used an embroidery hoop to help with this. This hand sewing process took a lot of time and my poor fingers got tired. I know there’s a clever little trick with the sewing machine to sew on small appliqué like this, I just didn’t know what it was and additionally, doing it by hand meant I could park myself on the couch, in front of the TV while I did it. Once I finished sewing on the clouds and raindrops I matched up the batting and back piece of cotton for the quilt. Now here’s where all proficient quilters will shake their heads in disapproval. To create the “quilt” effect I just sewed across with the sewing machine and created squares. I started in the middle and worked out so that it would be even and it was definitely tricky to keep in a straight line. There were a few instances where the material got caught up as the machine met a section that had already been sewed in the opposite direction but all in all it turn out fine. Finally I added on the trim to finish it off.
With a couple of left over clouds, I embroidered “For Aria, with Love” and sewed them on the back of the quilt.

It didn’t turn out perfect but hopefully that adds to the charm of this homemade project. I shipped it off all the way to my good friend Melissa in Singapore for her beautiful baby girl, Aria. I hope Aria has hours of fun tummy-time on this fun little “quilt”.

IMG_7534Samantha is from England but has been in the U.S. for almost 8 years. She has been an amateur knitter most of her life after her grandmother taught her at an early age. She loves crafting but struggles to complete projects. She has recently started making what she calls “cheat-quilts” – sewing quilts without using any correct technique. Samantha loves making gifts for friends kids and any time she completes a project she is very happy. She says that the best part about crafting is the relaxation it provides so she never takes any project too seriously.

See Samantha’s other Guest Peace: A Fun Christmas Jumper!

VDay Goodies

Here’s what is going in the VDay goodie bags this year!  I prefer non-candy goodie options, especially to this preschool age group.  Items are all from the dollar bin and put together with help from my almost 3 year old.  She had a blast picking out what should go in each bag.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 presetMini heart slinkies, erasers, and boxes of stickers!

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend!


Gail_newGail is a native of Florida, but has now adopted California as her own, thanks to her love of avocados and mountains (one of which Florida is lacking). She has been working as an in-house book designer for over 8 years and works on freelance illustration projects in her spare time. She has illustrated one educational digital picture book and hopes to publish one of her author/illustrated stories one day as a classic picture book. For her, picture books bring together her love of illustration, typography, and printing–and she will yammer on about them for hours if you let her.

For the past number of years, I’ve made it a habit to create nursery art for friends, family, and close coworkers when I find out they’re expecting. I’ve tried to make them a bit fancier each time in an effort to push myself to get better at my art and build a portfolio of work. More complex = more time, and recently I’ve run into a dilemma. Between the day job, my own personal art projects, and the number of IOUs for friends and expected little ones, I found that I had more of these art pieces than time to create full colored illustrations for. To find a solution, I had to simplify: pen-and-ink drawings, maybe a hint of color. That is all.


Swatches_scrapI decided to make use of what I had lying around: scrap watercolor paper (Arches, 140 lb), remnants from larger sheets that I cut down to sizes needed for various finished projects. I cut the remnants into 5×7 sizes, with any smaller pieces heading straight to the scrap bin, to be used later to test watercolor mixes before I apply them to finished pieces. Each large sheet of watercolor paper is too expensive to let anything go to waste.
Dog_closeup_eraserDrawings were done in pen-and-ink, sometimes being sketched out first in pencil, sometimes drawn freeform and impulsively. That is particularly true with some of my favorite animals: foxes, elephants, giraffes. They are fun to draw and I’ve probably drawn them a few too many times.
Once drawn, I add a touch of color to accent but not detract from the final images.
The images come from a combination of what I know a person wants as an image and what I’m in the mood to draw that day. They are a nice change of pace from the portfolio pieces that I redraw and redraw until I am (sometimes) happy with them. These are play.

Those of you familiar with Mel and her new years announcement might be able to guess which one of these I created for their nursery.


To follow Gail and her artful adventures:
twitter: @nightengailart
instagram: nightengail

Toddler Table

This project was inspired by Laura who remodeled her own little Ikea LATT table. Thank you for the idea Laura!

My nephew celebrated his first birthday in September and for Christmas/Hannukah, my husband and I thought it would be the perfect time to get him his own little table.  We wanted to customize it to match the furniture in their home, so my hubby tried staining for the first time.

It was helpful that the table comes unassembled as we were able to lie them out all outside.  The smell of the stain was pretty strong.  Being novices, my dad suggested we use a rag rather than a brush.  We also learned that it is better to take long sweeping strokes rather than short ones.

img_7957While my husband tackled the staining, I worked on the seat cushions inside.

Using foam about 3/4 inch thick, I cut a square to fit the inner portion of the seat that comes with the chairs.  You want to make sure to leave those flaps on the sides of the seat uncovered so that they can slide into the assembled seat when building the chair. I cut the fabric with enough room on each end in order to fold them over to the back.
After folding the fabric over, I used a staple gun to affix it to the back and cut the excess fabric.

After assembling the chair, I was able to slide in the cushion to see the finished product!
It was great to give it to him.  We could tell he loved it and hopefully it doesn’t give his parents too much of a heart attack when he tries to stand on it! 🙂

Agate Coasters

At Christmas I wanted to give my work team something fun and useful with a little dash of glamour.  The school colors where we work are purple and gold and I remembered that awesome little tub of hypnotizing gold paint Desiree from Heirloom Paper introduced me to.  I also remembered the beautiful agate coasters she had at her home during her crafting night and how she painted them with the awesome gold paint.

I found these purple agate coasters online and they came four to a set which was perfect for our four member team.

Using a thin paintbrush, I painted just the edges of the agate coaster to give them each a little pop.  The best thing about this paint is how much of a shine it gives you and how close to metal it actually looks. To increase the shine factor, you can even add a coat of clear gloss.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

The set came with four little, self adhesive, plastic bumpers to put on each coaster.

Adding the gold paint really upped the “fancy” factor on these.  Thank you Desiree for inspiring this project!

GUEST PEACE: Fabric Leaf Coasters

246676_4716433631114_1290277048_nJulie a fifty-something, married, full-time working mom of recent college grad Eric and college junior Ali.  After two years, she is starting to discover some good things about the life of an empty nester:  expanding from focus on the kids and career to her place in a larger world, with time to appreciate both natural and designed beauty.  So she crafts and bakes now whenever the inspiration strikes…. why not?

I needed coasters for our high rise condo and have always liked fabric coasters.  I searched online but couldn’t find fabric coasters that I really liked, so thought I’d try making some myself.  I wanted to add an organic touch to our contemporary decor, so I chose to make coasters that mimic various leaves:  maple, palm, gingko, etc.

1.  Sketched a few different leaf shapes onto felt and cut them out.

2.  Cut out a matching shape in a complementary felt color.
3. Embroidered the “veins” on the outward side of each felt leaf.  I used both metallic and matte embroidery flosses.4. Hand stitched the two sides together (right sides out) and embellished with a crystal droplet bead for a little bling.
I love how they turned out!  You can use different leaves or colors for different seasons.  Or different holiday themes:  Hearts, flowers, snowflakes, etc.  Maybe even initials or words.  They cost pennies to make and they’re both decorative and functional!

Marbled Clay Craft Night

My first craft night, so generously hosted by Guest Peacer and invitation extraordinaire, Desiree from Heirloom Paper Co!

On the agenda: marble clay dishes and pendants from A Beautiful Mess. (For complete instructions see here and here.) On the menu: Blackberry Jam Fizzies, which were quite good.  I have never had a drink with jam in it before and it is the perfect amount of sweet.

For the dish, I picked turquoise, whites and just a hint of gold, black and light blue molding clay. Twist, loop and then twist again, over and over until the grain is the thickness you are looking for.

Roll into a ball, roll flat and cut out to the size dish you want.

Mold into the bottom of a dish and bake!

To make the pendants we simply cut out the shape we wanted from the rolled clay and baked with the dishes.

My favorite part was the discovery of this addictive gold paint. I used it to paint the edge and pump up the gold clay swirled in the dish.

Gold jewelry bails were glued to the pendant and then strung on a chain.

It was so much fun to see how everyone’s dish came out as they were all so different. I loved how the hot pink in my BFF’s dish pops and the black and white pendants looked like real stone.

I had a really good time crafting with one of my BFFs and meeting other talented ladies who love to craft as well.  Thank you so much for inviting me Desiree!

Mammoth Love

About a month ago, my awesome family so graciously let us and our good friends use their condo in Mammoth Lakes, California. We wanted to do something to thank them as we had such a wonderful time there. Decorating for your home is a hard enough feat never mind decorating for your vacation home.  As I love the challenge of interior design, I thought that some custom made, Mammoth inspired pieces would be a welcomed addition.

If you are familiar with Mammoth, this symbol should also be familiar to you.

Using the same technique as my personalized pillows, I added on the Mammoth logo and a green heart to a pillow I found that matches their couch.

During our time there, my husband and I went on a mini excursion to capture the beauty and nature among the grounds of their condo complex in photos. I picked out these IKEA frames, a personal favorite, in this very rich but modern brown.

We picked out a handful of photos to have printed and put them in the frames. These days, it is so easy to take photos with our phones always handy, but don’t forget to take the time to print some of them.  You really can’t see all of the detail on your devices and I think you will be surprised at how much better they look printed.

While my husband took photos with his DSLR, I took the one of Lake Mary with my iPhone 6 and was amazed at the quality of the 8×10 print. Here are some of our favorite shots.

I was so excited to give these to my family because I know how much they absolutely love their home in Mammoth and I hope these gifts represent that love for them!