Pet Pop Art

Doodle's Cats 22

I’m going to preface this by saying I’m a bad friend. Doodle and I, you know, have almost the same birthday. Which was in March. Which was like four months ago. And do you know when I finally had a chance to make Doodle’s birthday present? It was last week. And the impetus behind that was that Doodle would actually be in town for me to give it to her. See? Bad friend.

Doodle's Cats 21

But while I may be a bad friend, I DO make wicked awesome birthday gifts, and I’ve had this idea on the brain for MONTHS.  I have been sitting on this photo frame since like JANUARY. Doodle and her husband the Cyclist have two cats about whom they are seriously nuts. Like if you think I am a little too obsessed with my dog, then you don’t know obsessed. Anyway. I got the inspiration from this idea at A Beautiful Mess and kind of ran with it.  When I told the Cyclist about my idea he proceeded to spend the afternoon sending me picture after picture of his beloved cats.

Doodle's Cats 1

I boosted the contrast on the photos and resized them to fit in the appropriate spots in the photo frame.

Doodle's Cats 3

Then I printed the photos out in black and white on neon paper. You can pick this stuff up at Staples or Wal-Mart. It’s important to print out two copies of the photo on two different colours of paper.

Doodle's Cats 2

Once I had them all printed, it was time to start cutting.

Doodle's Cats 4

First I cut out the photos from the paper I printed them on and made sure I had appropriate pictures to put in all the vertical and horizontal spots in the frame. There were eight spots and I had nine photos to choose from just in case I needed to do some manoeuvring.

Doodle's Cats 5

So now you have your two photos. Decide which one is going to be your background colour and then just leave that one completely alone.

Doodle's Cats 6

Take the other one and figure out what the object is that you want to show up against the background and carefully cut it out with a craft knife.

Doodle's Cats 7

Then take the cut out piece and apply some adhesive to the back. I used a glue stick because I knew that the paper would then be pressed against glass and so I wouldn’t have to worry about it peeling off. Then you just stick the contrasting piece right on top of the other piece, using the image as a guideline. It means you can’t screw it up.

Doodle's Cats 8

Then you just do it all over again.

Doodle's Cats 9

Having the same image underneath means you can match up shadows and sticking it on makes it much easier.

Doodle's Cats 10

Finally everything is cut out and stuck.

Doodle's Cats 11

Then it’s simply a matter of putting the pictures in place.

Doodle's Cats 12

Doodle's Cats 13

The finished product – it’s leaning on a granola bar for balance at the moment.

Doodle's Cats 14

I can’t decide which picture is my favourite!

Doodle's Cats 19


Matchbox Gifts

Matchbox Gifts 14

My mother is absolutely obsessed with match boxes and the things you can put in them, so I kind of had a lightbulb moment when trying to figure out a present for her birthday last week (normally I handle the cake but this year my dad insisted that he had it under control). If you have a mother with a similar fetish, maybe this will work out for you for a nice Mother’s Day present.

Matchbox Gifts 8

For my mother’s wee giftie, it was just a silly little thing: I decided to give her MAGIC BEANS. But instead of magic beans it was actual bean seeds that she could plant shortly in the garden. And then we could eat the beans. I also gave her some rosemary seeds because I killed her rosemary tree while she was in Florida.

Matchbox Gifts 1

I love these little tiny glass jars you can get at the dollar store.

Matchbox Gifts 2

Matchbox Gifts 4

Matchbox Gifts 5

Don’t worry, I DID label all the little jars.

Matchbox Gifts 6

I decided to make a matchbox from scratch so I could ensure it was the right size to fit my beans. In order to do that I downloaded a template from the internet. I cut it out and used scrapbook paper (it’s a decently stiff cardstock) for my boxes.

Matchbox Gifts 7

I used a craft knife to get things exact, but it’s a pretty easy template to cut out.

Matchbox Gifts 9

Then a little bit of strategic adhesion with craft glue.

Matchbox Gifts 10

And the beans, they fit! They’re a little loose though.

Matchbox Gifts 11

So I padded the bottoms of the boxes with a bit of felt.

Matchbox Gifts 12
I broke this photo. It’s okay, though, because it wasn’t a very good one anyway.


Then tied up both boxes with pretty ribbon to give to my favourite mother!

Matchbox Gifts 13

Match boxes (even custom-made ones) are a great creative way to package up smaller gifts of jewelry or what-have-you. Keep that in mind the next time you’re doing some complex wrapping and you don’t have a perfect box to hand.

Baseball Keychain

Baseball Keychain 25

Now we get into all the gift posts that I didn’t have a chance to post before Christmas. But this is why we have the DIY Gift tab so you can look ’em up in time for NEXT holiday season. This one is pretty easy, and you can whip up two of these baseball keychains in less than an hour.

Baseball Keychain 4

So what you need is a leather baseball (old or new, it’s your choice, though I like the weathering on an old ball), 2 keychain jump rings (they tend to be sold in pairs), a sturdy sewing needle, some red embroidery floss, a craft knife, and 2 small carabiners (optional). You could also use a pair of scissors to cut the thread, but I just used the knife, like a badass.

Baseball Keychain 1

First, take your baseball and rest it on a sturdy surface and hold it firmly in one hand. Use the craft knife to cut along the seam of the ball, severing all the threads that are holding it together.

Baseball Keychain 8

Now you can peel off the two leather pieces.

Baseball Keychain 11

Discard the ball (it’s basically just a tightly wrapped ball of twine).

Baseball Keychain 12

Peel off the string that is stuck to the underside of the leather pieces.

Baseball Keychain 13

Try to get as much off as you can.

Baseball Keychain 16

Now you can pull out the cut stitching.

Baseball Keychain 15

Two naked baseball halves. They will be slightly sticky and so will adhere to themselves when you fold them.

Baseball Keychain 17

But before you do, make sure to thread a jump ring on and slide it to the narrow part of the leather.

Baseball Keychain 18

Now cut yourself a lengthy piece of embroidery floss and thread it onto your needle so that the thread is doubled.

Baseball Keychain 19

Start sewing. I thought about using the blanket stitch here but I wanted the thread lines to align with the old stitching grooves so I ended up just using the whip stitch.

Baseball Keychain 20

It was easier to align the grooves on my second one.

Baseball Keychain 24

Keep going until you get to the other end.

Baseball Keychain 22

Tie off your thread and tuck it between the folds of the leather piece to hide the knot. Add your (optional) carabiner and you’re all set. Feel free to monogram the keychain as well.

Baseball Keychain 23

Glitter *may* be involved.

Lite Brite Dandelions 44

I saw this little bit of neat a while back and I’ve always wanted to recreate it for someone special. But of course by recreate I mean do it in a completely different way. Nevertheless.

Lite Brite Dandelions 38

What you need for this, however you decide to do it, is an artist’s canvas, some paint, some electric or battery-powered lights (LEDs are safer), a knife for cutting, a brush for painting, and some glue for, well, gluing. In this particular project, there was also glitter involved.

Lite Brite Dandelions 1

First, check and make sure your lights are working. Yes? Good.

Lite Brite Dandelions 5

Now, paint your canvas however you like. I was going to do mine a nice metallic, but then I thought better of it and went with a soft matte gray instead. Because I didn’t want to distract from the glitter.

Lite Brite Dandelions 7

Lite Brite Dandelions 8

As for your design, well, that’s up to you. The original idea was just sort of abstract, like fireworks. But you could do constellations (like someone’s Zodiac sign), or something more Lite-Brite-y. Or a marquee. Whatever you want. For mine, I decided on a dandelion, where each seed of my favourite flower (and I’m not ashamed to admit that I love that plucky weed) corresponded to a light.

Lite Brite Dandelions 10

Here’s a quick sketch I did once I figured out my idea, just for proof of concept.

Lite Brite Dandelions 6

I lightly marked out the design on the painted canvas with a pencil. I had to make sure that the design was big enough to accommodate the size of the lights I had purchased.

Lite Brite Dandelions 13

Lite Brite Dandelions 14

Then I discovered that the ugly deflectors on my Dollarama lights weren’t glued on and I could pull them off, meaning I was just left with the pretty little diode!

Lite Brite Dandelions 11

Lite Brite Dandelions 12

Then I cut out holes big enough for the lights to poke through.

Lite Brite Dandelions 15

I basically just needed to poke a hole with the Xacto and twist it a bit. While I was doing this the Pie started trying to make me mess up, which I did, on the very last hole. Then he started giggling and saying he shouldn’t tease me when I have a knife in my hand. How well he knows me by now.

Lite Brite Dandelions 16

Then I poked through the lights. Make sure to test them and see how they look! Of course my camera plus low light equals blurry photo, but you get the idea.

Lite Brite Dandelions 17

Lite Brite Dandelions 18

Lite Brite Dandelions 19

Then, if you want, you can secure them in place with a bit of hot glue around the back, but I’ll do that later. I don’t want the lights to get all glittered up.

Lite Brite Dandelions 20

Now, for the front, I had to fill in the rest of my design. With glitter. I used regular school glue to fill in the parts of the dandelion seeds and stalk.

Lite Brite Dandelions 21

Then dusted them with appropriately-coloured glitter.

Lite Brite Dandelions 22

Then let it dry.

Lite Brite Dandelions 24

You can dust away loose glitter with a soft fluffy brush and some compressed air. I did most of this outside.

Lite Brite Dandelions 26

And sealed up my glitter again. Yes, I have a jar full of jars of glitter. That stuff is dangerous.

Lite Brite Dandelions 27

The seeds took forever because I did the little actual seed part first.

Lite Brite Dandelions 28

By the time I was done with all the white fluffy bits I was so done with glitter in general.

Lite Brite Dandelions 29

Here it is after I went at it with compressed air for a bit. It seems to work best on the superfine metallic powder.

Lite Brite Dandelions 31

It looks pretty good just on its own.

Lite Brite Dandelions 32

Then I added back in the lights and secured each with a drop of hot glue. This is where I discovered that if you don’t use glue sticks for a while they yellow. Fortunately you can’t see this on the front.

Lite Brite Dandelions 33

I also secured all the loose wires and the battery casings. It doesn’t look pretty but you can’t see it so who cares?

Lite Brite Dandelions 34

I like it. I like that it looks neat during the day, with the contrast in gray and glitter, and then when you turn it on at night the light sparkles off everything but the background (except for the few stray bits of glitter embedded in the canvas). I also like how the seeds kind of look like dragonflies. NEAT!

Lite Brite Dandelions 46

Lite Brite Dandelions 47

Three-Dimensional Name Plate

3D Name Plate 26

I was perusing Not Martha a while back and she was talking about a company called graypants, which specializes in products made from recycled cardboard.  While that is totally cool and I am behind that all the way (someday I will make/buy these gorgeous scraplights), what struck me about this in particular was graypants’ company sign.  It was the company name, carved out of several sheets of stacked cardboard.  My first thought was that is so nifty.  My second thought was I can do that.

3D Name Plate 11

So I did.  With my nieces’ names.  I get these sheets of cardboard stuffed into some of my book orders at work as packing material, so they were a good (and lightweight and small, thereby mailable) surface to work on.

3D Name Plate 6

First I picked fonts to work with.  They had to be easy enough to cut out of cardboard, but also with enough difference in them to sort of semi-express my nieces’ very different personalities.  Hard to do in a font.

3D Name Plate 1

I printed the names, in their respective fonts, out and from that created a stencil on card stock for each. This was easily done by flipping the name over and tracing it in pencil on the back.

3D Name Plate 2

And then flipping it onto the card stock and tracing it again on the front.

3D Name Plate 3

Which left a faint pencil outline for me to cut.

3D Name Plate 4

3D Name Plate 5

Then I got to work.  Tracing the outline of the name twice onto each cardboard sheet, I carefully cut it out with an Xacto knife and some very small scissors.

3D Name Plate 7

3D Name Plate 8

This is definitely the most time-consuming part of the whole thing, and is tricky if you’re working with large or dull scissors.  I regretted my choice of that G early in the game, but kept going because it looked good.

3D Name Plate 9

I made each name ten layers thick, and glued the layers of each letter together with Mod Podge, which I think is my new favourite substance.

3D Name Plate 10

3D Name Plate 14

Then I took some acrylic craft paint and coloured in the sides of the thing, just for visual interest.

3D Name Plate 18

And then I painted the surface of the letters in a slightly different colour, mostly to hide my accidents when I failed to colour inside the lines.

3D Name Plate 20

Then I glued all the letters to each other, in the way that they best fit in terms of a glue-to-surface ratio. I used hot glue to stick the letters to each other, just for security.

3D Name Plate 21

I left off hanging materials, because I’m not sure what the girls will want to do with them and so I wanted to give them some leeway.

3D Name Plate 23

But I think they turned out rather well. The girls can put them on their bedroom door, their wall, or their desk — whatever they want!

3D Name Plate 25

Jelly Bean Row

Jelly Bean Row

I love Quality Street chocolates. They remind me of everything good. And I love the colourful wrappers they come in. I’ve wanted to make something out of them for years. This year at Christmas I made sure to save all the wrappers so I’d have lots to work with.

Jelly Bean Row

Quality Street also appeals to my environmentalist side. You can re-use the tins for anything you like. You can recycle the foil wrappers that go under the clear ones, and recently, the company started making the clear wrappers out of vegetable products, so you can actually COMPOST them. How cool is that?

Jelly Bean Row

So what am I making with these?  I’m glad you asked.  St. John’s is famous for its colourfully-painted and artfully crooked row houses.  They’re often likened to a line of jelly beans, stacked on their ends — Jelly Bean Row.

Jelly Bean Row

If you watch any of those ever-popular tourism Newfoundland and Labrador commercials, you’ll see a few of them (though in real life they’re not quite so quaint — or clean).

Jelly Bean Row

So I thought I would make a few out of Quality Street wrappers, something to send people to paste in their windows, or to hang on their Christmas trees as ornaments, something that will catch the light and give them a taste of St. John’s at home.

Jelly Bean Row

Jelly Bean Row

The house construction is pretty simple.  I used black construction paper, folded in half, as a frame.  Then I cut out the frame using a craft knife and inserted and glued down the wrappers in the appropriate spaces.  Then I cut out windows and doors from the black paper as well, making sure to glue them to both sides so the ornament is reversible.

Jelly Bean Row

The problem with this particular material is that the wrappers always want to go back to their wrinkled state, and the construction paper doesn’t do a lot to prevent it.

Jelly Bean Row

A heavier-grade card would probably work better in keeping the stuff rigid, but at the same time, it would be harder to manipulate.  I wanted to make several of these hanging ornaments and create a sort of mobile for Doodle for her birthday, but the physics of it continued to defeat me — the ornaments were simply too light to be able to balance everything properly.  And I had it all planned so the houses went up on a slant, too!

Jelly Bean Row

Alas. In any case, they are pretty enough placed in a window or on your tree.

Jelly Bean Row

Painting Glass and Ceramics

Adding a personal design to glass and ceramics is very easy and something fun you can do with creative kids. You can pick up plain glass and ceramic housewares secondhand, and I find some good stuff in the clearance section of places such as Home Sense and Winners.

I used the Vitrea 160 and Porcelain 150 pens that I picked up from Michaels.

To make your designs, you can freehand with the pens, or use masking tape to contain your ink.You can also use transparent adhesive masking (from Lee Valley) to create a stencil as well.Peel the mask away carefully.  This is easiest to do when the design is still wet.Once the design has dried you can use a razor blade or craft knife to carefully scrape away any ink that has bled through the masking.If you’re not happy with your design, you can always use a scrubby sponge to scrape it off and begin again.  Leave your final design to cure for 24 hours, then bake your glass or ceramics in the oven according to the instructions on the ink.That’s all there is to it.  Have fun!