The Haunted Hollow Tree: This is an original mixed media of pyrography, water color, and casein paint.
Most commonly known as “wood burning”, pyrography is the traditional art of using a heated tip to burn or scorch images onto natural materials such as wood or leather. It is a challenging medium to work in because the permanent nature of burning requires constant precision and missteps are not easily corrected. It is very much like drawing in a sense, but done with a hot wire tip instead of a pencil. The different tonal values and subtle graduations are created carefully by varying the pressure and temperature of the pen tip.
I feel pretty confident saying that I believe you may never find a checkers set more fabulous than this hand painted wooden “Pirates vs Ninjas” set by Goosegrease. This set even has oversized “king me” figures. That’s above and beyond if you ask me!
I’ve been watching this seller for some time now, and covet their little wooden peg families. Last winter I even had a bit of a brief fantasy about ordering a “portrait” set of dolls made to represent our family. My plan was to take pictures of the little wooden dolly family at the typical holiday card locations (ie beach, park, in front of the hearth…) and then use it as our holiday card. This would kill two birds with one stone in that it would make a great gift for my kids and also spare me the agony of trying to get four kids to smile semi-convincingly all at once.
Goosegrease has a sister shop, Goosegreaseundone where they sell their checkers set as DIY blanks. I wish I had the patience to paint them myself. I might be tempted to do a set of pink ninjas vs classic pirates so we could play girls vs boys. But having seen the perfection that is this original design, I don’t think I could ever come close to matching it. This is on my holiday wishlist. For me!
When we were children, at one point or another, we always attempted to write on the wall. Most of us succeeded–much to the exasperation of our parents. If only they knew! One chalkboard paired with a few nontoxic chalkboard markers would have satisfied us for hours. I was an artsy kid, and that moose, painted by Houndstooth Design, is making my inner child squeal with glee. Josh runs Houndstooth Design from his St Cloud, MN home. He finds worn down toys, the sort most children would toss aside because of their chipped paint, and turns them into ethereal chameleons. You can leave notes on a pig in your kitchen or your kids can make a rainbow horse with non-toxic chalkboard markers. At the end of the day everything cleans up with a bit of soap and water.
Small spaces demand quite a bit from their dwellers. Every corner needs a purpose. “No wall left bare” was my motto when I moved into my first studio. Very often we overlook our walls when trying to figure out where to put all of our stuff. We buy boxes and baskets, maybe a few new shelves for the closet, but what about that 3’x3′ space on the kitchen wall?
Ken Rozema of KARoz Woodworking in Toronto, Canada builds these fantastic “Mail Message Centers”. I’m particularly fond of the chalkboard and corkboard combo. Sometimes a bit of paper stuck to a wall isn’t dynamic enough. Say it loud with a few bright colors or stick that very important receipt on the cork side. I’m always struggling with my mail (usually it ends up on the dining room table, after a 2-day layover in the living room) so a dedicated mail spot will help make it a one-way trip from the mailbox to the wall.
Speaking of kitchens, I’m sure you’ve got those random containers with random what-have-you stored inside them. I’ve tried label makers, but they look so boring, and the small font is hard to read. I like big, bold labels. The sort you can read from across the room, so there’s no question that yes, there is enough sugar for my husband to make me an apple pie this weekend.
Braden’s Grace Wall Art of St Augustine, USA makes peel-n-stick vinyl chalkboard labels. These little guys can be used indoors or outside, and can be transferred between surfaces with no messy glue or tape. A great solution for those random containers, be they in the kitchen, office, or playroom, that need a little bit of organizing to help make your life simpler.
Despite the magic of chalkboard, there’s really no mystery to it. Chalkboard paint can be bought at any hardware store, and almost anything can be painted with it. You apply it like any other paint. First goes down a primer and then the chalkboard paint. The best part is that it’s non-destructive. When your kids are grown and you don’t need that black chalkboard wall anymore it’s easy to prime and paint over it. However, most of these paints may have varying levels of toxicity. Carefully read the warnings on the side of the box.
There are companies that sell non-toxic chalkboard paint. Hocusadabra in Hong Kong is committed to selling non-toxic child friendly products, including chalkboard paint. Hocusadabra supports independent artists from around the world, and is opposed to BPA in children’s products. In a world where craft supplies tend to get made cheap, easy and chemically they’re doing their best to offer non-toxic alternatives.
In case you were wondering, chalkboard paint does come in different colors. Black is the easiest one to find in hardware stores, but I think it’d be pretty snazzy to have a cobalt blue or cherry red board hanging in my living room.
Check out these great wristlets I discovered in the Try Handmade Gallery!
Eye Candy by Christi: I started sewing 5 years ago when my Mammaw gave me her old sewing machine. The first thing I made was a simple square handbag, and my family was amazed! Now I will admit, your family will embellish the truth abit, but since then I have greatly improved my techniques and designs. I have also ventured into a few other mediums since, including paint and resin. I strive to make fun, stylish, and unique accessories that are also durable.
I wrote a few weeks back asking why you choose to shop handmade.
At the end of the day I know one thing that continually draws me back to sites like Etsy is the sheer variety that is available in some categories – above and beyond what you can find at any brick and mortar store.
What’s great about this is it means that you don’t have to be constrained to the current trends at the big box stores – particularly, if for whatever reason those trends don’t speak to you.
One category – that is often unsung but I think is a wonderful one? Pillows!
For those of you who sew, you probably make a lot of your own… But for those of us with no sewing machine – it’s nice to know all the variety that’s available right at our fingertips.
I know interior designers say that items like pillows should be the last thing you consider as you’re decorating – but I think it’s ok to consider them earlier on in the process as a means of gathering inspiration and also so you know what’s available generally. Sometimes knowing what accessories are available can help you see the big picture and can be key as you’re deciding about more important items like furniture and paint.
Burlap pillows have become very popular over the last little while – and this clever shop, Next Door to Heaven, allows you to customize your pillow with the word or destination you’d like.
Classic patterns in bold colors fill the be still shop – one of my personal favorites!
Nuka’s shop features a lot of adorable pillow covers including some with popular characters from Alice in Wonderland.
The pillow at the beginning of the post is from Home to Roost.