Deer Head Silhouette Wall Art


Recently, we rearranged our living room. We’ve been in our current place for about two years now, and I guess that’s how long it takes before we start itching to rearrange and add new decor. Our TV used to be on the mantle (I know, terrible, but we don’t have a whole lot of options). It’s now in front of a window, which I’m not sure is much better, but we no longer have to strain our necks way up to watch movies and, the best part is that it opens up a huge new project space: a mantle to decorate! And, I am not taking this responsibility lightly.


I found some old framed needlepoint woodland creatures that I’ve deemed mantle-worthy, but that still left about 3/4 of the space left to be filled. Thinking about keeping with the woodland theme, I rummaged through all the old frames, canvases, etc. I have lying around. I came across this wooden plaque (which are super cheap to pick up at Hobby Lobby) and a few frames. The plaque actually fit perfectly in one of the frames and I got the idea to make a faux deer head “mounted” on the plaque.


This is a seriously easy project that’s fun and whimsical but visually bold. You could really use any image or colors, but I wanted to play off of the idea of (the animal-friendly version of) a mounted deer head, and I mounted the plaque to the outside of the frame, instead of to the back, to enhance this feeling.


You’ll need:

Wooden plaque
Silhouette of a deer ( I just googled it and printed out my favorite, found here)
X-acto knife
Self-healing cutting mat ( I love this one for small projects)
Acrylic Paint (background color of choice, I went with black)
Silver or Gold Sharpie or paint
9001 or other high-strength adhesive
Antique frame


Paint wooden plaque desired color and let thoroughly dry. Make sure silhouette is properly sized for the plaque. Once you have the right size, cut on the image outline with an X-acto knife on a self-healing mat. Once your image is cut out, secure it with a few small pieces of tape to the plaque, so it doesn’t move around and trace with a pencil.


Remove image and make any adjustments or artistic changes to the outline. Then, trace the pencil line with a silver or gold Sharpie. The silver and gold Sharpies have more of a paint-like quality to them, so I don’t recommend trying black or other colors. Fill in the outline once and let dry for a few minutes.


Going the other direction, add a second layer of Sharpie, using the side of the tip to sort of paint it on. Last, retrace the image to make sure the edges are clean. You can do any small damage repair with a black Sharpie. Once the plaque is dry, apply adhesive to frame where the plaque will be. Let the adhesive become tacky for a few minutes before pressing the plaque into place. Once in place, set a heavy stack of books or other objects on top of the plaque to bond. Let sit for a few hours. There you have it!


I know this will be a lovely addition to the the rest of the little creatures I’ve already got pegged for the wall. Stay tuned to get a view of the full mantle once it’s finished! 



Retro Valentine Votives


I always seem to get into the Valentine’s day spirit pretty early. Not because I’m a particularly mushy person. Not because I love pink and glitter and stuffed bears and chocolate. Nope. It goes back to the fact that I have to have plenty of time to get Valentine’s crafts in. Every year growing up, I would make valentines for everyone in my class, my teacher, friends, and relatives. All completely homemade.This tradition went back to my great-grandmother and each year, my mother, brother and I would pore through heaps of paper doilies, glitter glue, sequins, buttons, ribbons and books with old Victorian photos we’d cut out and use.


We would sit around our dining room table coming up with new variations on “Roses are red, Violets are blue…” only sometimes reusing what we had masterfully crafted in years past. And we would write each poem with care into the little construction paper heart cards covered in all kinds of lacy, heart-filled goodness. This was a real commitment, folks. And worth every second. The whole Valentine’s season just screams “be crafty!”— it is ingrained in me.


Not until recent years have I continued to come across retro valentines with hilarious, corny and sometimes downright creepy sayings and characters. The last time I saw some in an antique shop, I knew I had to snatch them up, though I didn’t know what I’d do with them.

Since our Christmas decorations have come down (admittedly a little late) there has been a void of candles and mantle-type items. The fact that we have an odd amount of votives (or vases I use as such) and the inspiration of the weirdest of all valentines with a girl in a cauldron being cooked over a fire, I thought these would be the perfect use for the valentines.


All you need is:

a paintbrush
clear candle votives
old valentines or clippings
tissue paper (optional)


Let’s get started:

First, wash the votives with hot soapy water and dry. Make sure your clippings or cards are cropped as you’d like them. For heavier stock paper that will be adhered to a round votive, it’s best curl the paper to the shape of the votive by placing your thumbs on the underside, index fingers on the top, and rolling your wrists outward to make the shape into an arc. The paper will begin to conform in the same manner as if you take scissors to a ribbon. This will prevent the heavier stocks from cracking or peeling away from the votive.


Paint Modpodge onto the back of the valentine and stick the valentine to the votive. Starting in the middle, press the paper down in small motions, making sure to get out any air bubbles. Paint Modpodge over valentine and glass, going in one direction and paying special attention to the edges, where they are prone to curl up. If this is your first Modpodge experience, don’t be alarmed, it will dry clear though it looks white at first. Let dry completely, about 15-20 minutes. Cover with a second coat, let dry and viola! Mantle-ready.


Another variation is to use tissue paper as a background to the valentine. In this case, paint one stripe of Modpodge the length of the vase or votive. Press tissue paper gently onto this strip. Continue to paint in strips around the votive, pressing the tissue paper gently down each time, all the way around. Cut off all but 1/4 in. of excess tissue paper at the top and bottom. Fold in the top and under the bottom, and Modpodge them into place. Cut off excess where the seam meets and Modpodge into place. The Modpodge will soak through the tissue paper, so allow to dry completely before touching, or it will tear. Once dry, cover the back of the valentine with Modpodge and add to the tissue paper covered votive. Cover entire votive with one coat of Modpoge. Allow to dry, then cover valentine portion with one more coat. There you have it!


I hate to play favorites, but the girl in the cauldron is really taking the cake on this one.

Moonrise Kingdom Halloween Costumes

Months ago, we weren’t halfway through watching Moonrise Kingdom in the theater when Andy leans over, grabs my arm and whispers, “Halloween costumes.” Which sounds like a normal enough thing for one person to say to another. But this is coming from a guy who wore the same Halloween costume for four years in a row. That just about describes his level of enthusiasm for the holiday. Just along for the ride, but surely not driving the Halloween car.

So, you better believe I grabbed these characters by the horns and went with it. If you haven’t seen Moonrise Kingdom (which you should!), the story is set in the mid-sixties and follows Suzy Bishop and Sam Shukusky, two misfit twelve-year-olds on the island of New Penzance, who run away to be with each other. (The photo below is from the movie, check out more here.)

Though I kept my eye out for costumes items for a few months, I didn’t find much and, being empty-handed, finally had to get pretty serious a couple of weeks before Halloween. I soon discovered that there were no pink dresses, saddle oxford shoes or coonskin hats where we live. Believe me, I looked everywhere. This meant sewing and improvising and sewing more. Yep, I sewed a coonskin hat out of furry fabric. Something I never thought I would do in my life.

I also made the dress I wore. Yes, from scratch. It was the first time I’d made something from a pattern and not from deconstructing other clothes or using existing pieces as a guide. For those of you who don’t know me too well, it was kind of a miracle I read through the instructions without just jumping in and cutting all over the place, much less followed the directions all the way through. But I made it and it stayed in one piece and it looked like a real dress! That’s the idea, I guess.

But talk about a learning experience. Like when the lady at the fabric store emphasized that I should go by my measurements and not size, which put me at eight sizes larger than I usually wear. So I trusted her, but when I actually put the dress on for the first time, it was like a large tent. And that, if you’re new to sewing, you should read the directions 28970 times before you do anything drastic like cut fabric. No mistakes there, but there might have been if I’d only read them 28969 times.

After a week of work and a lot of pinpricks later, I couldn’t be happier that I’d gone for it or more thrilled about how it turned out. Then, a few finishing touches of the binoculars (what she pretends is her magic power), bug earrings Sam fashioned for her (and pierced her ears for), bold blue eyeshadow (purposely with the finesse of a 12-year-old), lots of time with a blowdryer and hairspray to get my short bangs locked into place, and the proper socks and shoes… I was the spitting image of Suzy (apart from being 12 and lopping off my hair, that is).

When it was all said and done, besides our good friends, only  a few people we saw that night recognized who we were. Andy was asked if he was Davy Crockett more than once and I was even asked if I was a pilgrim (I cannot make this stuff up, folks). But we loved them and it was worth it for the few people we didn’t know who approached us and told us how, how perfect the costumes were.

On Andy: Coonskin hat: homemade with furry fabric from Hobby Lobby, Glasses: Walmart, Shirt: His grandfather’s from 1951, Brooch: Homemade from vintage jewelry, Pants: The Gap, Shoes: ASC

On Molly: Dress: Made from Simplicity pattern 3833– Dress A (collar and cuffs freehanded) from JoAnn Fabric, Earrings: Homemade from plastic bugs, Socks: Walmart, Shoes: Urban Outfitters

It may take longer, but we sure do love homemade costumes. Check out some of our friends’ below: Daryl from the Walking Dead, a cactus and Fifty Shades of Grey. Did you make a costume this year? It was worth it, right?

Sunday Antique Market

This past weekend marked our first trip to the “3rd Sunday Market” in Bloomington, IL. The market is overwhelmingly insane in the best way possible. I never could have imagined so many antiques in one place at one time. Any other attempts I try to make at describing the vastness that is this market will not do it justice, so I’ll leave it at that. If you live anywhere near by, I would highly recommend checking it out.

The mission was to find tabletop decorations for our wedding. The vision is that every table will be different, down to the tablecloths and napkins, so finding “matching” decorations is much more of a self-imposed suggestion than a requirement.

The beginning of the trip was mostly spent soaking it all in, deciding exactly the types of items we were looking for and how much we were willing to pay.

In the end, we came away with a few pieces we loved. Some adorable tabletop planters that will be filled with simple succulents, a zany tablecloth and old Bingo cards. Because, hey, at $1 for the bundle, we can find something to do with those Bingo cards.

Miraculously we used enough self control not to buy anything non-wedding related. And I think next time we’ll be much more mentally prepared for what we’re wanting to find and we’ll end up with a much bigger haul. That’s a good thing, right?

What are your favorite things to keep an eye out for when antiquing?

Classic Movie Star Wall Art

At some point in high school, I came to own the book Perfect Pairs. It’s an adorable little picture book with stars from black and white films. Immediately, I knew I couldn’t keep all of these wonderful images pent up in this book, so, knowing I would find some way to display them, I cut out my favorites as silhouettes. I ended up arranging them on canvases as a collage multiple times, but never liked anything enough to glue it down.

Fast forward 7 or 8 years. I had carried these cutouts with me for years in one craft box or another… I was an art major after all, so I have quite a collection of these boxes.

Sometime between snagging 75 cent “damaged” (or charming, character-filled) frames from Hobby Lobby‘s clearance section and coming across these cutouts, I was struck with an idea to put the two together. Knowing I would need a little splash of color, I decided to put scrapbook paper behind the images.

Besides the intricate gold frame below on the left (which my brother picked up for me at a junk shop), I estimate that this project cost me around $10 total.

This project is ridiculously cheap and an incredibly easy way to fill up wall space with multiple small frames. And I can say, after years of carrying around these movie star scraps, I couldn’t be happier with how they ended up being displayed.

You could really cut out silhouettes of anything you like, including black paper into shapes or pictures you took yourself. Have fun making your own silhouette art on the cheap!

Owl Button Art

I have been drawn to old knickknacks as long as I can remember. One of my very favorite things to do when I went to my great-grandma’s house (which was at least a few times a week as a child) was go through her huge collection of old buttons. I could sit for hours sorting them into colors and  imagining what outfits they had all belonged to.

I’ve run across button art from time to time, but never found anything that struck a real chord or matched my current decor. When I finally decided we needed something to spruce up our bare-walled owl-themed bathroom (and I happened to have an antique mirror on hand as a base), I knew just what I’d saved so many good buttons for! (Our shower curtain and toothbrush holder below are from the wonderful Modcloth.)

There are so many quirky and downright hilarious buttons in her collection that I have often wondered what practical purpose they could have ever had. I never imagined there was much I could do with the funny little carrot buttons, but during this project, I figured it out. What a perfect owl nose one turned out to be!

Ninety-five percent of the time spent on this project was rearranging buttons before gluing anything down. If you have to fudge a little to get buttons to fit, they’ll inevitably leave glue residue behind from sliding around. I must admit, this was difficult for me since I’m better at jumping into a project and figuring it out as I go.

After laying out the design for the owl and using up a slew of gray and brown buttons, I couldn’t help but feel there was a little depth, and color, missing. That’s when I picked out a few buttons each in white, yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, blue and black and scattered them over as a second layer in that order to create a highlighted section and a shadow. I feel like it became as dimensional as a button art owl could be without being raised 5 inches off the wall.

Once the owl design was done came the decision whether to leave the little character floating there or not. Eventually I took the plunge and started gluing the branch down underneath it that I’d fiddled with for a half hour. In the end, I think it grounds the composition nicely and I’m glad I included it.

Tips on making button art (especially when adhering buttons to a mirror):

  • Clean the mirror with window cleaner that contains amomnia with a lint-free towel
  • Use a heavy duty clear craft glue like E-600 or SureBonder 9001 (you can find these at any craft store)
  • Keep a Q-tip and/or small razor on hand to clean up bits of glue that squeeze out before it dries
  • Place each button in your design before gluing anything. Rearrange, rearrange, rearrange. This part takes hours; the gluing is quick and easy!
  • For buttons with a raised back loop (as opposed to four holes), use wire cutters (found in the jewelry section of craft stores) to crop off the loop and sand the little part that is left with a course metal file. This mainly applies to the bottom layer. If you add a second layer, the button backs may actually help them stay in place.
Good luck with making your very own button art!

Wedding Party Proposal

I wanted to do something out of the ordinary to ask my closest friends to be in my wedding. Most of them live hours away, so a dinner or gathering isn’t really an option. When I came across this idea from Rinse. Repeat. I knew it would be a perfect way to put my artsy craftsy skills to use and do something more than an email or text.

I found some slide-top wooden craft boxes at Hobby Lobby that would be just the right size for mailing. I got busy mixing my paints and writing up little cards explaining all aspects of the wedding. On the cards I included the categories: The Wedding Party, The Attire, The Wedding and Everything Else. I included descriptions of the wedding day: how the ceremony will be outdoors in front of an oak tree at my parent’s house and how everyone will have a unique dress along with information on hotels, rehearsal dinners and whatnot. I also wrote up little bios so everyone could get to know each other since my best pals are from childhood, college and beyond and are spread across the United States (and Japan!), and they’ve not all had the chance to meet.

In the box, I also included a fabric swatch of a fabric I was inspired by for the wedding colors (as well as the colors of our last apartment). That way, when everyone is picking out their own dress, they’ll have a color to match it to. On the outside of the box, I used a thin Sharpie marker to do the lettering and painted a circle of flowers around it that match our wedding colors.

In all, I made nine boxes, one for the Maid of Honor and my best friend since the sixth grade, Katie; three for bridesmaids: my college friends Erica and Jodi and my frequent dinner date Lorin. Rylee and Megan, friends from way back are in the wedding party as guest book attendants, which will be a blast since we’re doing instant photos! My college roomate, Emily will be stationed at the gift table and Andy’s sisters, Erin and Abby will pass out programs. I am pretty convinced this will be the best wedding party of all time.

And the best part, they all received them and I couldn’t be happier to announce that all of them have agreed to be part of the big day!! Whew!