{TUTORIAL} Natural Leaf Cone Tree

After mentioning in my last post the virtues of using natural leaves to make wonderful cone trees, I decided to take my own suggestion and make one! 

With Fall around the corner, fallen leaves will soon be in abundance.  Sadly, one of our shrubs was sickly and didn't make it through our months of triple digit temps and scarce rain, so we now have a supply of leaves readily available.

I picked a small pail full of dry leaves in varying shades from greenish to burnt orange in color and checked them over carefully to ensure they were insect-free.   Didn't want to give any lazy critters a free ride into our home!

The supplies I used were:

~~Cardboard (paper mache) cone
~~Natural leaves
~~Hot glue gun (to attach leaves to cone)
~~Matte Mod Podge (to seal leaves)
~~Soft artist's brush

To begin, I clipped the stems from each leaf to enable them to lay a little flatter against the cone.  Then cut several leaves in half lengthwise and hot glued the halves around the entire base of the cone horizontally to cover about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the cone.  This will prevent any spaces of cardboard (paper mache) showing thru the leaves along the first row of  vertical leaves. 

At this point, I just began hot gluing the leaves to the cone vertically, slightly overlapping the sides of the leaves.  I only placed hot glue on the upper half of the leaf.

Repeated this process for the remaining rows.

For the very top of the cone, I used a flexible leaf and wrapped it around the tip to form a point, hot gluing it in place. 

To seal the leaves, I gave the leaf covered tree a coat of Mod Podge in Matte using a soft artist's brush.   In hindsight, it would have been best to apply the Mod Podge to both sides of the leaves (and let dry) before gluing them to the tree with hot glue.  The Mod Podge is supposed to seal the leaves and helps prevent them from becoming brittle.  I've read that hairspray can also be used as a sealer.

I think the natural color really does provide a nice touch of Fall, don't you?  Will keep you posted on how the color changes as the leaves age.  Have you used natural leaves in décor?  Have you found they age well?  What other natural elements have you used?

Thank you to Must Love Home and Dear Creatives for graciously featuring this post!

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The Crowned Goat 

Fall Cone Trees

It feels a bit odd preparing for Fall while our temps have been in the triple digits, but I'm excited about all the natural elements and warm earthy décor that come with Fall decorating. 

This weekend I gathered the cone trees that I've made to display throughout our home and wanted to share with you a few options for making them.

From left to right above, the trees are made using tea stained book pages, soft yellow twine, drop cloth strips, and natural jute string.  I can't take credit for the large grapevine cone tree - it was purchased at Hobby Lobby.

To make the string and twine trees, use a cardboard cone and starting at the tip of each cone and, using a hot glue gun, wrap the string or twine around the cone, leaving no gaps between the rows.  When shopping for string and twine, check all store departments - other than the crafting and home improvement sections, they can also be found in gardening and sporting goods.  And, if you don't find them in a color you need, as with most elements, they can be spray painted, brush painted, and even stained.

For the drop cloth tree, cut 1" x 3-1/2" strips from the drop cloth, form them into loops and, starting at the bottom of the Styrofoam cone, pin them to the cone using straight pins.   I wrapped the tip of the cone with string and topped it with a wood finial.

To make the book page tree, cut 1" x 1-1/2" strips from book pages and attach them to the cardboard cone in rows using double-stick tape.  I used tea stained book pages for my strips and if you missed the tutorial on tea staining, you can find it HERE.  If you like, you can also curl the ends by rolling each book page strip on a pencil or pen, unrolling and attaching to the cone.

Another option is to cover a cone with burlap strips.  For this one, I attached burlap strips to a Styrofoam cone using a low temperature hot glue gun, then spray painted the burlap with gold spray paint.

If you don't have access to cardboard or Styrofoam cones, you can easily make them from posterboard or cardstock.   There are many templates online - just do a quick search for "cone shape template." 

The possibilities are also endless when it comes to decorating cones - you can use beads, beans, pine cone scales, design paper, fabric, glitter, ribbon, moss, raffia, etc. 

A good starting point is to set a color scheme and then search for items in those colors.   

Especially for Fall, leaves from a shrub or tree work really well and if they're not quite the color you're looking for, they can be spray painted.  Just drop them in a cardboard box, using one hand to apply the spray paint and the other to shake the box while spraying so the leaves are evenly coated. 

One last tip - when using Styrofoam cones and a glue gun, always use the low temperature setting - high temperature glue can melt the cone.  Don't ask me how I know this!   :)

Are you ready for Fall?  We're looking so forward to consistently cooler weather ... and much needed rain!

Thank you  to Craftaholics Anonymous, A Delightsome LifeWork it WednesdayImparting Grace, The Interior Frugalista and Cozy Little House for graciously featuring this post!

{TUTORIAL} How to Make Book Pages Look Old

It's no secret that our home is filled with an abundance of book page décor, and it's only rivaled by monograms and burlap!  But, finding old books that don't smell musty and well ... just OLD, is hard to do.  I love the character of aged book pages, but not the scent of years of being stored in dark, damp spaces. 

Fortunately, years ago I discovered that you can give not-so-old books an aged appearance, thanks to tea staining.

And, it takes very few supplies:

~~Book pages
~~8 tea bags
~~Baking sheet
~~Rectangular dish
~~Paint brush
~~3 cups water

Will show you three different methods for applying the tea to the book pages:  Soaking in tea solution, applying tea solution with a paint brush, and applying tea solution with a tea bag.

The longer the pages soak in the tea solution, the darker they get.  Or, if you're using the brush on method with a paint brush or tea bag, the pages become darker with each application. 

Let's get started!

To begin, preheat oven to 170 degrees. 

In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to boil and drop in 8 tea bags and boil for 4 minutes.  Let cool to the touch. 

After tea solution has cooled, you're ready to apply it to the book pages using one of three methods I mentioned above.  There are many more processes for tea staining, but these are the ones that I have tried so far and am familiar with:

To soak, pour tea solution in rectangular dish.  Place book page in tea solution and submerge.  Longer soak results in darker page.

To use paint brush, dip brush into the tea solution and apply evenly to the book page.  Carefully flip page to opposite side and repeat.  Continue until book page reaches desired color intensity.

To use tea bag as applicator, remove tea bag from tea solution but do not squeeze out excess liquid.  Wipe wet tea bag across page using instructions above for paint brush application.

Now that the pages are soaked with tea, we're ready for the last step - drying.

Place single layer of tea soaked pages on baking sheet without overlapping.  Bake in 170 degree oven for 3 minutes.  Carefully flip pages over and bake another 3 minutes.  Remove pages from baking sheet and repeat for additional pages. 

Note:  The book pages can be torn into strips prior to tea staining, if your craft requires strips instead of whole pages.

Another variation is to crumple the book pages prior to tea staining - just wad them up tightly into a ball, then unfold and proceed with tea staining.  This will give you a dried page that is slightly crumpled - a great look for making scrolls.

To give you an idea of the difference tea staining can make, see below:

I have also tried using strong coffee for staining, but found it had a lingering "aroma" that, to me, mimicked that of musty old books - why couldn't it instead smell like a quaint little coffee shop?  I prefer the tea because it doesn't leave a lingering scent.

You now have new book pages that look as if they've been sitting on a bookshelf for ages.  They're all set for using in crafts and décor items for your home or for gifts.

Wondering how you can use book pages in your décor?  Below are a few examples in our home:

Will be back soon with Fall and Christmas décor that contain even more book pages.  You've been warned! 

Thanks again for stopping by and I hope you give tea staining a try!

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{TUTORIAL) Wood Picket Shelf

Remember those picket scraps that were leftover from making the wood shutters?  If you missed that post, it's HERE. I used them to make a little shelf.  

Supplies used to build the shelf (click on supply item for sources and/or additional info):

~~5 dog-eared ends of picket boards
~~10" 2x4
~~Drawer knob
~~Cordless brad nailer

Additional supplies used after assembling the shelf (click on supply item for sources and/or additional info):

~~Fine sanding sponge
~~1" disposable paint brush
~~Behr Espresso Beans paint
~~Two D-ring hangers

To begin, I lightly sanded any super rough areas and attached two of the picket ends to the short ends of the 2x4 with the brad nailer.  If you don't have a brad nailer, small nails or screws will work just as well.

Then, attached the three front pickets.

Next, was to drill a hole in the center picket for the decorative drawer pull (didn't get a pic of that step).  Attached the drawer pull temporarily to be sure it was where I hoped it would be.  LOL   

If you've not yet checked out the selection of knobs and pulls at Hobby Lobby, you'll be pleasantly surprised - and, when they run their half off sales, the deals are even better.

Searched my paint/stain stash and tested the underside with Dark Walnut stain, but didn't like the look, so used Behr Espresso Beans paint instead.  After letting it dry - which didn't take long thanks to our 100+ temp days here in Texas - I installed two D-ring hangers centered on the back of the 2x4.  Reattached the drawer pull.

Just a small wall shelf that made good use of leftover pieces of picket boards.


An advantage to using picket fencing boards is that they're inexpensive - if you don't like your final product, you haven't made a major investment.  And if you've recently completed a fencing project, you likely have leftover pieces to reuse.

Have you used cedar picket boards for anything other than fencing?  Did you find them easy to work with?

{TUTORIAL} DIY Monogram Candle

Looking for a cute and quick personalized gift or home decor item that's fun to make?  These monogram candles can be custom made for any occasion ... in any candle size and style - from votives to pillars, traditional or flameless.

For this tutorial, we'll use dollar store votives.  They came four to a box and are the perfect size for hostess gifts or party favors.

Supplies used:

~~Votive candles
~~White tissue paper
~~White glue
~~Letter size cardstock (8-1/2"x11")

Votive candles and white glue were purchased at the dollar store.  All other supplies I had on hand.

To begin, design your candle monogram - I used Microsoft Publisher (you can use Word or any other program that you have and are familiar with) and experiment with size and shape by printing a test page on regular paper to ensure the individual monograms fit your candles.

Next, cut tissue paper slightly smaller than cardstock and tape one of the short ends of the tissue paper to the short side (8-1/2") of cardstock.  Again, only tape one end - this is the end that will feed through your printer.  Be sure to tape it completely across, leaving no gaps between the edge of the tissue paper and cardstock. 

I then placed the taped end of the cardstock/tissue paper into my printer using the manual feed tray and sent the Publisher file to print.  The monograms came out nice and sharp on the tissue paper.

Remove the tissue paper from the cardstock and now the monograms are ready to be cut out manually with scissors.  Have not yet experimented with designing them using my Silhouette and letting the Silhouette cut them out of tissue paper - that's a project for another day!  :)  You don't have to cut them out perfectly, just be sure not to cut into the colored area of the monogram - leaving a little excess white tissue paper around the monogram is fine.

(You'll notice that my photos feature various monogram letters - R, S, K, etc. - was working with several for this tutorial.)

Ready to apply the monograms to the candles?  It's the fun part!  Apply a bead of glue around the candle.

Press the monogram to the candle and, using your fingers (the fun part!), press the monogram into the glue to remove any air bubbles.  The dollar store glue worked much better than thicker craft glues - it enables you to manipulate and reposition the tissue paper monogram without tearing.  If your glue is thick, just thin it a bit with water.

When you work your way to the back of the monogram, trim any excess so the ends meet neatly.  

Use additional glue to cover the outside of the monogram - this will give it a nice, semi-shiny appearance when dried.

This same process can be applied to wicked and flameless candles in all sizes and shapes.

And, that completes our monogram candle tutorial!  So glad you joined me!