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The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers

What woman doesn’t love flowers? Seriously. I swoon for gerbera daisies. My hibiscus bushes in full bloom are a source of unmatched joy. And any floral-scented perfume is a gift I love to receive.  So when I was told I’d be handling the publicity for a flower-making craft book, I did a little happy dance around my desk.

The book publishes in two weeks and is called The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers (Abrams | STC Craft), by an amazing artist named Livia Cetti.

The subtitle, A Guide to Making Unbelievably Realistic Paper Blooms, is no joke. Livia’s flowers look breathtakingly liek the real deal. Just look at this centerpiece…

And for my northern virginia and DC friends, just look at these cherry blossoms! With our never-ending winter weather, the trees around the National Park won’t be looking this fabulous.

Speaking of DC, author Livia Cetti had the honor of decorating The White House with her realistic tissue paper petals. At the time, Michelle Obama had hoped to bring in hibiscus flowers for a Korean state dinner. But, they were not in season – so the organizers called on Livia to craft the next best thing! How cool, right?

Livia shares her secrets for gorgeous crepe paper blooms. Step-by-step instructions guide the reader through the basics, like bleaching the tissue paper, freehand painting with bleach, painting leaves, working with wire, making pom centers, wrapping stems, and sculpting petals. There’s even photos for each step of the process…

Then Livia gets to the good stuff – making flowers!

(This beautiful photo, taken by Addie Juell, makes me want to lean down and drink in what must be a heavenly scent!)

There’s projects for 25 of the most popular flowers you can think of…Rose, Dahlia, Jasmine, Sweet Pea, Tiger Lily, Tree Peony, Begonia, and more!

Livia also explains how to combine individual flowers to create arrangements with eye-popping color!
There’s an additional 23 projects for arrangements -from garlands and wreaths to wedding flowers, like corsages and cake toppers.

I’ve invited my craft club to come try their hand at making tissue flowers from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers. As soon as the weather starts to feel like Spring around here, I’m setting the date!
I can’t wait! This book is so inspiring – the styling is simple and modern, which speaks to my home decor style. Of course, what room doesn’t look lovely with gorgeous flowers?

If you want to pick up a copy, here’s your link!
Learn more about Livia Cetti here.

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Handmade for the Garden – time to craft for the outdoors!

Even though its only 30 degrees outside, I know Spring is knocking on the door. Even some of the trees are sprouting little buds. I wouldn’t doubt that green shoots will be out of the ground soon. So, what better time to start crafting items to enhance my outdoor space!

And I have the perfect book to help!

Handmade for the Garden, by Susan Guagliumi. Published by STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Book.

This new book publishes next week and includes 75 do-it-yourself projects for all kinds of pretty and functional backyard goodies – like mosaic pots…

and newspaper pots for starting seeds…

or self-watering planters made from recycled garden hoses…

even a rustic arbor or trellis for your climbing roses and plants!
I especially like this hardware cloth garden basket project – perfect for hauling in my freshly picked tomatoes.

There’s a section of the book that even includes projects for making gifts from your garden, like garlic braids.

And what I really love about this how-to book is that it doesn’t shy away from the seemingly more challenging DIY – it teaches readers how to experiment with cement & hypertufa to make bowl-shaped flowerpots and box-shaped planters, or pretty stepping stones and decorative pieces like bird-baths. There’s also a section on bending and shaping copper to make ornaments for garden stakes or fence posts. And for those readers who prefer the very basic, there’s simple projects for stamping and stenciling pots. The point is – there is something for absolutely every garden enthusiast and every level of maker in this book!
The photos by John Gruen are gorgeous, and the writing is clear and precise. And the author, Susan, is a doll. Seriously, what a nice woman! Just check out some pics from the gardens outside her home!

Susan’s kitty, Buster! (you know I can’t resist sharing a photo of a pretty cat – especially one enjoying a bird bath!)

Lord – I’d love a raised bed like this full of tomatoes!  Guess what – there’s a project in the book for making these grapevine coiled tomato towers!
I just love Handmade for the Garden – it combines so many of the things I adore – crafting, gardening, and a general appreciation for the outdoors. Now to choose my first task!

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March is National Craft Month!

It’s the second day of March and you would think Spring temps might be settling in. But no. Instead we are preparing for another foot+ of snow tomorrow. So it seems fitting that March is also National Craft Month – because we’ll have plenty of indoor time for making stuff!

As a publicist for a craft book publisher, I see plenty of awesome makers, who share their talents with readers. In honor of Craft Month, I’ll be sharing thoughts, photos and projects from some of my favorites – and from those I think you’ll be most interested in.

First off, I want to share some pics from a book that has the coolest concept – it’s called BiblioCraft, and is written by a Rare Books Librarian, from the New York Public Library – Jessica Pigza. Her book includes wonderful craft projects inspired by resources from the library. And the projects were created by some of today’s hottest crafters – like Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney, Heather Ross, Anna Bondoc, Natalie Chanin, Liesl Gibson and many more.

(Published by STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Book, an imprint of ABRAMS. Photo credit: Johnny Miller)

Part one of the book teaches you how to use your library – think call numbers and catalog searches. Part two is the meaty project section, and you see the library resources that inspired the creativity.

Take a look…

This marbled fabric pouch was designed by Jodi Kahn, 
and was inspired by an early 19th century marbled endpaper.
This throw blanket was designed by Natalie Chanin, 
and was inspired by a book of Alabama’s natural history and poetry.
These adorable animal votive holders were designed by Grace Bonney, and were inspired by a book called Historia Animalium, that features artwork of animals as they appeared four centuries ago.
These pillows were designed by the author, Jessica Pigza, and were inspired by handmade sheets of paper that included the animals as watermarks.
All of the projects in BiblioCraft include complete instructions, so you can make them, too. And check out your local library – its probably just brimming with goodies to inspire your next project – perfect for when you’re home-bound in a snow storm!
You can learn more about BiblioCraft here.
Check out the author here.
Check out the publisher here.
Buy the book here.

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Stacked Burlap Tree Tutorial

Recently I received a catalog to one of my favorite home decor retailers. It included gorgeous holiday items, like it does every holiday season. And every year, I sit, turn the pages, and day-dream about decorating just like the pages. (enter the loud, shrieking sounds of a tractor-trailer braking here) Why – because the stuff in this catalog is salty! I mean, geeze, why does everything have to be so friggin expensive?

When I spied their cute stacked burlap trees, I knew I had to have one. But wait, wouldn’t they look much more adorable in a little grove of trees – yes! However, each tree was nearly forty bucks! Damn, to get the three trees I really wanted – I’d have to spend the kind of money I spend on crap like, oh I don’t know – groceries!

So I made them…

Here’s how you can make your own stacked burlap trees, too.

Materials (all purchased at Michael’s craft store):
-Unfinished wooden plaque – I used small oval-shaped pieces – $1.49
-3/16″ wooden dowel (one dowel will make 3 12-inch trees) – $.39
-Wood beads with a hole through the middle – about .10 each
-Burlap – I got 2 yards of the red for $9.99 and a roll of the natural for $7.99 (You can get about 3 trees per yard)
-Paint, if you want to paint the wood base and bead

First, I painted the bases and beads white. After they dried, I drilled a small hole in the wood plaques, which became the tree’s base. Use a 3/16″ drill bit. Then I used a hand-saw to cut the wooden dowels down to 12 inches each. I inserted a dot of hot glue into the hole and inserted the dowel.

Grab your scissors and start cutting! You’ll be cutting and stacking strips of burlap that gradually go from about 4 inches in length down to a half inch. There’s no exact science here, in fact I never used a tape measure. As usual, I winged it.

Find something to make a small hole in the center of each piece. The tip of a pencil would work perfectly.

(okay, my finger nails are really not crusty, I swear – this is white paint!)

Slide the hole down over the dowel.

Start stacking your pieces of burlap. You want to turn them so that they are angled differently with each layer.

Get a good base going, and then start working your way up the three by cutting the strips a bit shorter in length. I used the previous layer’s length as a guide – I laid the last strip against the burlap and just cut the next row about a half inch smaller.

You will cut a lot of strips! While this is an easy and inexpensive craft, it does take time.

By the time you get to the top, your strips will only be about a half inch in width.
If you feel like the tree isn’t graduated enough, take them off and go back. I did that several times!

When there’s about a half inch of dowel left, it’s time to put on the bead.

Insert a tiny dab of hot glue into the hole.

And slide it on the top.

There ya have it!

I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. They look exactly like the pricey-retailer ones. Next I want to find white burlap and make a few more. Enjoy making your trees!

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Making a Sweater Pumpkin

I’ve seen sweater pumpkins all over the internet and Pinterest. They are adorable, especially when made in several colors and textures. And they look so easy. Guess what – they are!

Last night I was in my closet preparing to go to bed. I spied a sweater I’ve been hanging onto since last year, even though it wasn’t even close to fitting. My mind immediately went to the images of the cute, plump pumpkins from the net. Before I knew it, I was cutting it up.

First, I cut one side of the sweater out. As you can see, I cut around the arm openings.

Then I scoured my house searching for something to stuff it with. Ideally, you would want to use fiber fill or craft stuffing. I didn’t have either. But, I had an old body pillow from my preggo days 6 years ago. It’s just been sitting in a closet, so I thought, “let’s tear that baby open!” CRAP! The stuffing inside was a mixture of shredded up paper, styrofoam and craft fill. What a mess I made pulling handfuls of it out!

After I plopped down a few handfuls of stuffing, I gathered up the edges and wrapped my hands around what would become the pumpkin stem. (Wow, I need to work on my photography skills – suddenly the sweater is grey!)

Then I tied a long piece of twine tightly around the stem.

Next, I took the long pieces from the stem and wrapped them down along the sides of the pumpkin and tied them at the bottom.

And like wrapping a Christmas gift, I then wrapped them back up the opposite sides, and made the final knot on the stem. This gives the pumpkin its ridges.

Next, I cut another piece of twine. And wrapped it up, up, up the stem. I knotted it off and that was it!
I also trimmed the tops of the sweater from the stem, so there wouldn’t be so much hanging off.

I had the other side of the sweater, so I made a second pumpkin. I love the rustic, hand-crafted look of these pumpkins – they just feel like Autumn!

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Bunny “Ears” Craft Project

My son came home from preschool with this darling Easter project that I just adore. You can easily do this at home, with printed bunny clip-art you can find online (just Google ‘easter bunny clipart’), or by drawing your own rabbit. Then buy non-toxic craft paint, or even washable Crayola kid paint, and have your little ones rub it on their feet – most likely in their opinion the best part!

Step in the paper, and there’s your bunny ears! In my 4-year old’s case – giant jack rabbit ears! (are those size 1’s not the biggest feet you’ve ever seen on a kid his age)

I decided to take some beautiful wrapping paper, and make a frame for his project. This paper is from Vera Bradley, which I scored for 50% off. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it. I’m too cheap to spend $15 on a roll of paper that someone will just wrip off a gift – that breaks my heart to see expensive paper just tossed in the trash.

So here, we measured with a ruler, cut and taped to the backside. Saxon’s grandparents are going to love this!!

Happy Easter everyone!