December 21, 2011

Easy Homemade Christmas Gift Tags

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
Instead of throwing all of your old Christmas cards into the garbage make gift tags! This project is super easy and beats buying tags in the store. You can also use cards from other holidays and occasions to make cute gift tags for birthday gifts. Simply cut the pictures from the front of the card out with scissors. Use a hole punch to create a hole. Add some ribbon or string and your done! Couldn't be any easier. You can add other decorations such as glitter, buttons, ribbon to the gift tags if you would like. Really nice cards can be made into gift tags that can later be used as Christmas tree ornaments or decorations. Be creative, enjoy yourself,  and most importantly, reuse paper that would other wise be wasted!

All that you need to create Christmas gift tags from cards.

December 8, 2011

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments and Snowman Figures

In an effort to not buy more Christmas decorations since I have a ton stored, I have been making all of my decorations this year. This project started as an attempt to make Christmas tree ornaments. My ornaments didn’t turn out very well. Cookie cutters would have made my ornaments a lot better. I’m not much of a freehander. The flat shapes cracked when baking possibly due to the temperature being to high.

Salt dough ornaments are a wonderful Christmas project to share with your family. The dough is easy to make, shape and bake. Creativity is endless when it comes to shaping and coloring the ornaments. As a child my Girl Scout troop would make dough decorations every Christmas. Even though I remembered making dozens of salt dough ornaments as a child, I couldn’t remember ever creating any as an adult. As soon as I began I started to remember how neat it was to make “cookies for the Christmas tree.” These ornaments don’t last forever, but will last for a few years if taken care of. For the longest longevity, seal ornaments and decorations with a clear lacquer finish to seal them.

Flour- 4cups 
Salt- 1 cup
 Water- Enough to moisten
 Oven and Metal Cookie Sheet
 Scrap Wire and/or Wood Skewer
 Optional: Acrylic or Water Color Paint
 Food Coloring
 Decorative Wire

Make the Dough:
  • Mix flour, salt, and water in large bowl. Add water slowly to the dry ingredients. Dough should be on the drier side and sticky.
  • Add flour or water as needed to get the correct density.
  • If you would like to color the dough with food coloring add it now. The dough can also be hardened and later painted without the use of food coloring. Kneed the dough and food coloring until the color is saturated.
  • Oiled hands and tools work well to keep dough from sticking when you’re working with it. If you use water or flour the dough density will change. 

Making Flat Ornaments:

  • Roll dough flat. I recommend 1/4in or thinner.
  • Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into Christmas shapes.
  • Place ornament on cookie sheet.
  • You have two choices for making a hole to hang the ornament from. One way is to use a wood skewer (or similar tool) to pierce a small hole in top of the ornament. A ribbon will be added after the decoration is finished for hanging. Another way is to take a piece of scrap wire, bend it into a U-shape, and then insert it into the ornament. A regular hook or ribbon can later be added.
  • Place cookie sheet with ornaments into the over. Bake at 250 degrees for at least one hour. Decorations may need longer depending on the thickness of the dough. To high of a heat will make the ornaments crack so be careful.
  • If you didn’t use food coloring it’s now time to paint and decorate your creation if you would like! 

Making Wreath Ornaments:

  • Roll dough into long snake like tubes. Cut equal lengths of dough.
  • Twist two lengths of dough together. Squish ends together to form a wreath.
  • Add a wire U to the wreath, or add ribbon through hole after baking for hanging on the Christmas tree.
  • Bake at 250 degrees for at least two hours. Decorations may need longer depending on the thickness of the dough. To high of a heat will make the ornaments crack so be careful.
  • If you didn’t use food coloring it’s now time to paint and decorate your creation if you would like!

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
Making Snowmen Figures:
  • Roll dough into three balls of varying sizes. Keep in mind that the larger the balls the longer the dough will need to bake.
  • Place bottom ball on cookie sheet and gently press down the form a flat spot on the top of the ball.
  • Add a scrap of wire in the center of the bottom ball. Leave half of the wire sticking up out of the ball.
  • Place second ball on top of first ball, threading the wire into the center of the second ball of dough.
  • Add another piece of scrap wire into the second ball of dough. Leave half of the wire sticking up out of the dough.
  • Place the third ball of dough on top of the second, threading the wire like before.
  • Make a carrot nose with a little dough and attach it to the snowman’s face.
  • Arms can be made a variety of ways. I simply took black craft wire and coiled it to make arms. The wires are then stuck into the side of the snowmen. You can also make arms with small sticks or salt dough.
  • Bake at 250 degrees until the snowman is harden. Decorations will need a long time depending on the thickness of the dough. To high of a heat will make the ornaments crack so be careful. I baked the snowmen pictured for about 6 hours.
  • If you didn’t use food coloring it’s now time to paint and decorate your creation if you would like!

December 4, 2011

Easy Homemade Chrstmas Ornaments

Just about anything can be used as a ornament on Christmas trees. Since I don't want to buy holiday decorations this year, I've been making my own. Here are two cute ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments. Both of these projects took less then 10 minuets to make.

Christmas Bottle Cap Ornament:
Want to have a small Christmas tree in your basement bar? You can easily use bottle caps from your favorite beer or bottled pop to make extremely simple decorations. Just hot glue a ornament wire onto the back of a bottle cap. Very simple. You can also glue bottle caps on to foam balls for a larger bottle cap ornament.

Beaded Abstract Star Ornament:
This cute ornament is very simple to make. You can easily enlarge or decrease the size of the star to fit your decor. Any type and size of beads can be used. Below you will find a rustic sketch of the order of the wire bends. To make the star abstract do not use perfect proportions for sides. I like to wrap the wire around the other wire where they intersect. You simply feed a few beads onto wire, bend wire, feed more beads, bend wire..and so on.

December 1, 2011

Make A Plastic Grocery Bag Christmas Wreath

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
We all remember making tissue paper wreaths in grade school. This project is a variation of this classic classroom craft. Made with used cardboard and plastic grocery bags, the wreath is inexpensive to create. Making a wreath this way is easy for children of all ages, making it a great winter break craft project.

Cardboard- Reuse clean cardboard from your home.
Plastic Grocery Bags- White and red if possible.
Glue-  See below about types of glue.
Pen/Pencil- To push the plastic onto the cardboard.

1) Make a cardboard ring out of clean used cardboard. This ring can be any size you would like. Clean pizza cardboard make perfect large wreaths with less cutting involved. Use a pie pan to trace the center circle of the pizza cardboard. Always use care when cutting, especially when children are doing the cutting. Ruff edges aren't a big deal because the plastic will cover them up. You can also clear coat/paint the cardboard ring now if you would like to make it sturdier.

2) Cut plastic bags into 2X2 inch squares.
Place the end of ink pen into the center of a plastic square.Holding plastic to the pen apply the glue of your choice.

4) Use ink pen to press glued plastic square to the cardboard ring. Hold for a few seconds depending on the glue used.

5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 until the cardboard ring is covered with plastic squares. Use red plastic (writing or printing on bags) if available on wreath to act like berries.

6) Let the wreath dry overnight (depending on the glue used). Decorate with beads, bows, or anything else you would like. Try to find things in your home to reuse as decorations!

A Few Thoughts On Glue:
I used both white school glue and super glue to make this small wreath. The white school glue worked fine, but takes longer to dry and doesn't have as strong of a bond. Super glue works instantly, and the bond is very strong. When making this craft with children I would use school glue and just handle with care. School glue was best applied by dipping the plastic while on the end of the pen in a puddle of glue on a paper plate. I also found it better to let the white glue set until it got tacky before using to attach the plastic squares. Other types of glues can be used in this project when being made by adults.

November 28, 2011

Paper Bead Christmas Garland

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
Last week I made a few Paper Beads. After painting the beads I decided to make a Christmas garland with them. This garland is very similar to the Garland that I made last week. It's currently draped around a window inside our travel trailer. Our Christmas tree is outside in our screen room, so this garland makes the perfect Christmas touch inside. Painting the beads was a pain in the rear. I ended up stringing them onto yarn to paint them. I also let them dry while strung. Because of the paper that I used two coats of paint were needed. Even with two some dark spots can still be seen. A third is really necessary. Having paper with prints that compliment your project will make things much easier since the beads won't have to be painted. Spray painting might be an easier way to paint the beads. I'll will have to give it a try next time.

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com

November 27, 2011

Make Your Own Christmas Beaded Garland

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
This year I found myself able to have a Christmas tree for the first time in four years. Because we have a ton of decorations in storage in Wisconsin, I don't want to buy a bunch of new things.  I made this garland today for our tree out of beads I already had. I'm planning on making all of my decorations this year, and will post the projects as they are completed.

Beaded Christmas garlands are simple and common. Although garlands can be bought already completed, making your own garland allows you to customize the garland for your home's holiday decor. The project is easy, and the possibilities are endless. 

Step by step directions aren't really needed for a project of this sort. Just about any type of string material can be used to string the beads on. Beading wire, fishing line, bead thread, or even yarn if the bead holes are large enough.  A simple knot on one end and your ready to start. I chose to use jewelry crimps to make loops on the ends of my garland. These loops can later be used to hang the garland if needed. Let your creativity be your guide. Happy Holidays!

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
What I Used To Make A 8 Foot Garland:
93- 10mm Acrylic Beads
67- 15mm Acrylic Beads
25- 20x13 Acrylic Beads
8 1/2 Feet Beading Wire
Jewelry Crimps for each end

November 25, 2011

Make Your Own Paper Beads

Paper beads have been  made for a long time. The idea isn't new by any means.  Beads made this way use to be common place, but seldom are these beads made in the home anymore or worn in jewelry designs. I remember the first time I learned of paper beads. My grandmother had given me a necklace made of handmade paper beads that she purchased at her church craft fair. I wore the necklace for years, and still have it in storage.  I hadn't thought of the necklace in ages until flipping through a jewelry supply catalog recently. The catalog had a metal tool for sale that is used to make paper beads. Seeing the tool made me think of the necklace and about trying to make my own paper beads. Chances to reuse things that would other wise be garbage are always my favorite.

The Tool:
I used a screwdriver instead of the tool specifically made to make paper beads. I tried using a pen, pencil, and a bamboo skewer to roll the paper around, but none worked. Metal keeps the bead from sticking to the rod, so it can be easily removed. Crochet or knitting hooks could also be used as long as they are metal.

The Paper:
We don't keep much scrap paper around, so my paper choices were kind of limited. I practiced making beads with different weights of paper. I found that thicker paper is needed for a beginner to make a well formed bead. Maybe with practice newsprint could be used. I tried with bad results. I believe the necklace that I own is made of paper beads from wallpaper scrap. The thickness of the wallpaper would be perfect for making paper beads. If I had some I would certainly try using it. The bright colors of the wallpaper would also make a better fit then most magazine pages. I ended up using the back and front covers of a couple of magazines. The prints/colors aren't really idea for jewelry, but made good practice. Cutting the paper was my biggest hangup. The paper needs to be cut at at a sharp angle and be 9-10 inches long. It took a little of trial and error to get it just right. Changing the paper triangle size easily changes the bead dimensions. Be creative!

The Other Stuff::
The only other things you will need to make paper beads are regular white school glue, a paint brush (useful but not necessary), paint or clear coat (also not necessary), and a pair of scissors. The glue is used to form the bead and to seal it. The optional paint or clear coat can also be used to seal and finish the beads. The paint brush is used to apply the small amounts of glue needed in the project. You can use your finger, but it gets messy!

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com

How To Do It:

1) Cut triangles of proper proportions out of preselected scrap paper. Read the paragraph above to help you choose your paper. 

2)Begin to wrap paper around screwdriver (see above for other tools) rod while applying a light coating of school glue to the inside of the paper triangle. Start wrapping paper from the base of the triangle. Layer of glue should be very thin. Wipe off drips.

3) Continue to wrap the paper around the screwdriver rod while applying glue until the entire triangle is rolled with the point on top. Remove bead from rod and allow to dry.

4)When dry, apply a thin coating of glue to seal bead. You can also paint or clear coat the bead at this time. Allow to dry again.

5)Enjoy your new creations!

UPDATE 12/01/2011: I've been making lots of these beads lately. Here are a few tips that I found to make the process easier. When I made my first batch I thought it would be as simple as wrapping paper around a rod. It pretty much was, but the beads weren't very uniformed. I didn't research how to make paper beads before I tried my first batch. I just made my own technique, so needless to say the technique needed to be worked on.

1) Don't spread glue on the whole strip of paper, just the last inch or so towards the point. It will stay fine with only a small amount of glue. 

2) Wooden skewers can be used to roll the beads around as long as you only add the glue to the last inch. These small skewers allow for smaller beads.

3) A ruler is a big help when cutting the paper for the beads. I now draw all the triangles out before I cut verses cutting freehand. Much more uniform shape for the beads.

November 14, 2011

Nose To The Grind Stone

The Queen of Procrastinators has finally finished something! To be fair, I've been producing and listing lots of jewelry on Etsy and have even started my Christmas gift craft projects. I've just procrastinated finishing any of my many crochet projects. In the last week I finally finished the crocheted sweater dress that I started a couple of months ago for my niece. I also finished a hat that I have no idea when I started. I found my knitting looms under the bed, and a hat was already started. I finished it last night and plan to send it to my other niece, Alexis. 

Girls' Sweater Dress Complete!

Besides making things for sale and gifts, I've been working on writing down patterns for a few custom crafts that I have made. Writing patterns seems to be something you have to do as you are crocheting. I'm having a hard time going back after I've created something to figure out exactly how many stitches where used.! I need written directions for a couple of my crochet creations. In the future I would like to make more, and need them to be uniform. Without a pattern I can reproduce projects, but their proportions may not always be the same. Of course there is a great benefit to this blog if I can finish some of my own patterns. The main theme of posts so far have been about selling things, which was not the main intention of the blog. I would like it to be a place to share different craft ideas and projects with others, and get their feedback about said projects. Selling stuff is secondary, and as much of a hobby as making the creations! Practice makes perfect!

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com All Rights Reserved.
I've been working with acrylic beads and wire to create bead flowers. My Triple Flower Suncatcher was the first thing I made using the idea. I love it! It is so cute shinning in the bright sunlight of the desert. I made a pretty pink single strand suncatcher that was going to be for sale. After looking at it for awhile I decided to send it to my sister as a decoration for Kylie's grave. It's winter there now, so the suncatcher will have to be put out next spring. 

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com All Rights Reserved.

November 11, 2011

New Additions To Our Etsy Shop

Four new necklace and earring sets were added to our Etsy shop today! More new jewelry is coming within the next week. Lots of great gifts can be found in our shop. Christmas is right around the corner!

October 26, 2011

Triple Flower Sun Catcher

October 2011 Project

Please excuse the dirty window! This is the first of this type of craft that I have made. I've been playing with suncatchers lately. I'm going to keep this on for myself, but may make another soon to sell. The flowers are a little time consuming. I need to work on a better technique for wrapping the wire. <>Nicole<>

October 21, 2011

New Earrings on Etsy!

I finally started listing some of my new jewelry creations in my Etsy Store. I guess the title isn't 100% correct. A necklace was also listed! Christmas is coming up, and I'm hoping to set up a small booth at a couple of pre-Christmas craft fairs. Still haven't decided where exactly.

October 10, 2011

Cute Girls Crocheted Play Dress

Crocheted Girls Play Dress
I'm not sure why I never seem to completely finish any crochet projects. I love to start them, work diligently until 75-90% completion, and then stop and start something else. I recently started this little dress as a gift for my niece. The pattern is from a August 2002 issue of Crochet World that I picked up for $0.50 at a thrift store over the summer. I tried to find it online to share it, but was unable to. The pattern was easy to follow. I did change it just a bit. I used a larger hook and different yarn colors because that is what I had. I also added a button to the center of the "flower button". 

Crocheted Girls Play Dress
Overall the dress was easy to make and worked up in four days. I'm about 98% done with the dress. I'm hoping that writing about it will give me the motivation to finish the second strap. I have crocheted the strap, but need to make another flower button and sew it together. I would like to make a matching hat and maybe sock trims. Crochet World included a pattern for a beret that matches the dress, but I don't like it. I think that the butterfly hat that was suppose to be my next project will look cute with this dress. I haven't started looking for a pattern for sock edgings. I'll have to get searching! 

Our First Friend!

We would like to welcome our first friend! 

Thanks for the support!

September 10, 2011

Future Project- Olivia's Butterfly

I recently found this old blog post with a super cute hat. This will be the next thing I try! I've just got to finish a few things first. I've got a lot of small balls of yarn that will be perfect for small hats for small heads!

Here is the pattern- Vallieskids: Olivia's Butterfly

Crafting, Crafting, One, Two, Three

The summer is drawing to a close. Usually I would be saddened by this, but now I get excited. The end of summer means time to move along. We will spend almost two months this fall traveling to Quartzsite, Arizona for the winter. The trip is only 800 miles or so, but we like to take our time! I'm looking forward to some free time to finish some projects, rockhounding and maybe a couple hot springs.

I always seem to have some sort of craft project going. Right now I have a few things in different stages of completion. 1) A crocheted sweater for me that just needs the edging to be finished. (I'm not sure if I like this sweater. I may tear it out.) It's pictured to the left. 2) Another sweater for me in the same basic design as the other. 3) A crocheted ruffle skirt for my niece that just needs the elastic sewed on and some edging. (I'm not sure why I never finish something before starting something else. I finished this three months ago!) 4) Three different necklaces that need bracelets and earrings made to match. 5) A couple of beaded sun catchers that I just started.

I've also made a few beaded key chains this week. They are really cute, and girly. The key chains also could be used as a zipper pull on backpacks or as rear view mirror ornaments. I'm hoping to make a few more, and list them on Etsy, along with some other jewelry I've already finished, before we leave. During our up coming travel time I'll have lots of time to make things, but I'm not so sure how much internet access I'll have. I hope everyone had a marvelous Labor Day holiday. Happy trails and pleasant crafting!

August 25, 2011

Now Open!

I've been busy making jewelry with the many beads and stones that I have collected this past year. Along with crafting, I've been opening our first Etsy store and working on the finishing touches to this site. I hope to use this blog as a way to share the handmade products that we produce with the public outside of our travel blog.

Most of the summer has been devoted to "real" work and exploring our current Northern California home. Our upcoming fall migration will be a nice opportunity to focus on more craft projects (I always have a bunch in mind), and post more often on both of our blogs. 

Though jewelry is the first things that I posted in our Etsy store , I've been doing a lot of crocheting also. I've been working on a few patterns that I hope to share soon!

July 18, 2011


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