Sophisticated Pinch Pottery

February 18, 2014, 09:00 am  Posted by Linda

Don’t you love the texture on these pieces? The lidded  jar with its boldly carved ridges, is rugged yet organic and the teapot’s floral motif while prominate, is graceful and perfectly suited to the pot’s plumpness. The forms are both pleasing to the eye and functional. What I find especially remarkable is that both of these sophisticated works were created using only simple pinch pottery techniques.


Susan Halls is the author of newly released Pinch Pottery: Functional, Modern Handbuilding. Utilizing techniques readers may have learned long ago in summer camp, like making pinch pots, Susan shows how easy it is to create a wealth of ceramic forms that are refined and incredibly modern looking. She begins with  simple shapes anyone can make, like the classic pinch pot, and then moves on to pinching a sphere, a wide bowl, a trumpet shape, and finally a cylinder. From there Susan demonstrates how easy it is to cut, alter, and combine these shapes to make more complex forms.












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Free Snowflake Design Christmas Cookie Project

December 18, 2013, 08:00 am  Posted by Linda

When I smell the spicy aroma of freshly baked gingerbread, I get a warm, holiday happiness feeling. These cookie rounds, decorated with glittering snowflakes, make pretty tree ornaments or festive party treats. Since each  snowflake is unique, it’s a perfect design for freehand drawing. Imagine the visual impact of a platter full (or tree full) of snowflake cookies, each with a different lacy design.



If you go the white flooded cookie route, why not try making the snowflake design in a color like blue, or silver—or a bold pink, even? This cookie design and 60+ others can be found in Bridget Edward‘s Decorating Cookies. The yummy recipe and how-to instructions can be found here.

So is it a delicious cookie or a pretty ornament? You decide.


Free Embroidered Holiday Card Project

December 05, 2013, 07:55 am  Posted by Linda

The holiday season is now in full swing; there are gifts to be made and greeting cards to be sent. In this world of mass-produced and yes, electronic holiday cards, wouldn’t it be nice to slow down and create a card for those you care for? If a picture says a 1000 words, then a handmade card says ten times that. While making a beautiful, heartfelt card is a labor of love, it doesn’t have to be all that laborious.

Geninne Zlatkis, author of Making an Impression, shows you how to create a stamped, tranquil town under a night sky full of embroidered stars—she even supplies you with a template. The beauty of this card is that once you create the stamp of the town, (made with simple, straight lines), then you can easily stamp up multiples for your family and friends. The limitless options of embroidery floss available—including metallic and glow-in-the-dark fibers—makes it easy to personalize each card. You’ll find the instructions here.


Free Fast ‘N Easy Halloween Project

October 21, 2013, 08:00 am  Posted by Linda

I love Halloween, and I love Halloween decoration ideas—especially if they’re simple and clever. Susan Wasinger, author of Artful Halloween, hits both of those nails directly on the head. For example, her Black Doily Spider Web project is one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that?!” ideas. Armed with doilies, readily (and inexpensively) available at yard sales, and a can of black spray paint,  you’re all set to adorn your dining table—or with the addition of a bit of string, your curtains—with delicate doily webs.

If you have a get-together planned, these webs are sure to impress. Click here for the project instructions.

Oh, and look closely–see those cute little spiders? They’re also in Artful Halloween–so much scary cuteness in one book!






Fall is for Stonescaping

September 30, 2013, 08:00 am  Posted by Linda

Except for the intrepid cool weather crop gardener, this time of the year most folk are hanging up their trowels and rakes for the season. And while the fall weather may not be conducive to a bounty of blossoms in your landscape, it is a perfect time to do a little hardscaping. Hardscaping elements—walkways, paths, garden walls, water features—are the backbone of any yard. You begin with a good plan as to how you like to use areas of your yard (relaxing, entertaining, vegetable gardening) and build the foundation. Patios for cook-outs and dining alfresco, water features to soothe the nerves,  garden beds for planting veggies, herbs, shrubs, and flowers and paths and walkways to navigate it all.

The cooler temperatures of the season are perfect for working with stone. Whether you’re building a patio, firepit, or retaining wall out of rock, the crispness in the air will boost your energy level. The Complete Guide to Stonescaping:Dry-Stacking, Mortaring, Paving & Gardenscaping by David Reed is 216 pages of basic what-you-need-to-know-about-stone know-how and instructions for how to build walls, paths, patios, steps, terraces, and borders. This book is a compilation of David’s two popular titles: The Art and Craft of Stonescaping and The Art & Craft of Stonework.


Hundreds of detailed how-to illustrations and step-by-step photographs remove the intimidation factor and help weekend stoneworkers create beautiful and useful stone projects that can be enjoyed for years to come.


A generous gallery of stonework project ideas provides tons of inspiration.


And a “before and after” photo section illustrates the possibilities.


As author David Reed tells us, “Stacking and laying stone are more popular today than ever. Why? In our high-tech world, stonescaping allows us the rare opportunity to reconnect with our natural surroundings. What’s more, working with stone offers tangible, deeply satisfying, and lasting rewards. Set three stones to make a garden bench or stack a small retaining wall—just a few feet long a couple of feet high—and you’ll know exactly what I mean…If you can handle a shovel, wield a hammer, and lift small stones, and if you’re eager to spend some time outdoors, the world of stonescaping is yours.”



Easy to Make Glassine Poppies

May 21, 2013, 08:00 am  Posted by Linda

Enlist the kids’ help to make a bouquet of cheery poppies to grace the summer picnic table. This is an inexpensive project that besides a pair of scissors, requires only paper, glue, floral wire and tape, and correction liquid. This is a great project to do with children as the glassine blossoms require creasing, which can be accomplished through shaping by hand (crumpling in the fist). Older children can further assist by applying correction fluid to the fringe of the flower center.

This flower design is one of 25 varieties you’ll find in Paper Blooms, by accomplished paper artist, Jeffery Rudell. Click here for the instructions.


Paper Blooms Inside Peek

April 19, 2013, 08:00 am  Posted by Linda

In his new book, Paper Blooms, Jeffery Rudell demonstrates how to create 25 simple but extraordinary paper flowers. Jeffery, an accomplished and versatile paper artist, guides readers through how to construct flowers in his signature style—polished, pretty, and modern— utilizing numerous step-by-step photos to visually illustrate how to construct the various flower components: stems, petals, and foliage.

The flower varieties are constructed from materials including purchased papers, glassine, vellum, coffee filters, and paint chips. The paper selection helps determine each flower’s aesthetics—opaque to gossamer, bold and striking to understated elegance.

Beautiful inspiration pages give readers ideas for the many ways the flowers may be used—as a whimsical cupcake topper, a decorative element for a place card or package, or a more elaborate room decor element.


The Art of Hand Lettering

March 13, 2013, 08:15 am  Posted by Linda

In this increasingly fast-paced world where thoughts are communicated in abbreviated text and then transmitted and received in nano seconds, I’m heartened to see a renewed interest in hand lettering. Putting pen to paper is a good way to slow down and really consider what message you want to impart—whether to others or just yourself. Hand lettering nourishes both the creative and intellectual parts of our beings and the beauty of it is that anyone can do it. Whether you scribble, print, or write in flowing script, you’re already hand lettering—it’s simple to take it a step further. Creative Lettering:Techniques & Tips from Top Artists, a just-released title, encourages readers to explore the possibilities…



by adding color,

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Free Divinity Sundaes Recipe

January 14, 2013, 05:00 am  Posted by Linda

Chocolate, sugar, and caramel, who doesn’t love sweets?!  Whether they’re crunchy, chewy, or melt-in-your-mouth, sweets are awesome. Which is why they make terrific gifts—and Valentine’s Day is just a mere month away. What’s your favorite treat, or your sweetheart’s? Chocolate and nuts, chocolate with fruit, plain old milk chocolate? Butter crisps? Toffee? Marshmallow crème puffs? Can’t pick just one? That’s why Sweet Confections has 40 tasty recipes to keep your sweet tooth happy. Here’s a sampling of the options!


Left to Right:

Top row: Honeycomb Candy, Divinity Sundaes, Mixed-Nut Dark Chocolate Truffles

Center row: Fruit Jam Jellies, Vanilla Cheesecake Fudge, Toffee

Bottom row: Caramel Pinwheels, Pina Colada Truffles, Orange Walnut Chocolate Nougat


And because we want your sweet tooth to be happy, we’re giving away the Divinity Sundaes recipe (see center of top row for pic). Enjoy!

Nom nom nom…


thanks to Shannon Y for being recipe consultant!


Pretty Stamped Stone Gift

December 18, 2012, 08:00 am  Posted by Linda

Old St. Nick will be making his rounds a week from now. With Christmas just a scant seven days away, it’s time to get serious about those last minute gifts. This time of the year you have little time and maybe even littler cash. What you need is something quick, inexpensive, and beautiful. Check, check, and check—we’ve got you covered.

Ready? This will be easy. In a nutshell, here’s what you do: 1. find a smooth, pretty stone (free), 2. carve a simple stamp from rubber (can even be a white rubber eraser—cheap), 3. stamp your carved image onto your rock, and 4. add little dots of color, if you want to. Presto, done! What you now have is a lovely piece of art to give (or perhaps keep). Uses? Create several and line them up down a tabletop for a stunning centerpiece, or personalize each with a name and use as a place card and a party favor. Nestle one in a potted plant container, or use it as a paperweight. Arrange a few on a windowsill, or sprinkle them in a flower garden, make a larger version to serve as a pretty doorstop…and so on.



Click here for the complete how-to instructions and the plant templates. These and 48 additional signature motifs by Geninne D. Zlatkis can be found in Making an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps. Geninne is an illustrator and blogger living in Mexico. Her illustrated prints and licensed designs have been available through Urban Outfitters and are featured on an organic fabric line with Cloud 9 Fabrics and a pocket planner from Galison.