DIY Mondays

starburstmirror-pbAs any one of my friends can tell you, I’m pretty thrifty. I’ve never met a garage sale I didn’t like, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I love walking through the dollar store looking for things to craft with. The DIY website Dollar Store Crafts has tons of low-cost and cute craft ideas, but what I really love is the High Concept section where it shows you how to make high-style art for cheap. I found this tutorial for a retro mirrored wall hanging inspired by a $450 Pottery Barn piece. It’s pretty impressive and costs under $10 to make.


headboardI’ve always been pretty minimalistic when it comes to decorating my bedroom. All of my artwork usually ends up in the living room or other parts of the apartment, and by the time I get to the bedroom there’s nothing left. Now that I’m living with the lovely Ms. Em and Jess, my bedroom has become like a womb to me – a little cave in which I can retreat to to work on projects, watch movies, or just chill. We have 3 artists in the house, so the common areas are fairly well covered in arty goodness, but to my absolute joy, every wall in my bedroom is decorated floor-to-ceiling with all of my favorite things.

Every wall, that is, but one: the wall above my bed.

I’ve never had a headboard but I’ve always wanted one. I’ve gone back and forth about buying one, but it’s always seemed like a completely superfluous purchace, because really, no one needs a headboard, they’re just really pretty and to quote the Dude, they really bring a room together. I’ve finally come up with the perfect design that’s not only easy to make, it’s relatively cheap to do, which appeases the Frugal Monster in my head.

** NOTE: This headboard is a work-in-progress for me, so I don’t have completed pictures yet, but once I do I’ll post them up so you can see the finished product.

You Will Need:

– 5 rectangular artist’s canvases of the same size (I used 10″ x 60″ pieces – bigger is better)

** if you want to make your boards a custom size, make a frame out of 2×2 wood pieces and cover them with canvas.

– 5 colors of paint (more is better – you do not want to run out midway. For a 10″ x 60″ piece, I would get a quart of paint per color just to make sure I’ll have enough)

– picture hanging hardware (get this at any big box store in the hardware section)

Paint the canvases and let dry. I would recommend at least 2 or 3 coats to make sure your colors are really vibrant. Open up your hanging hardware and screw the eye bolts into the top 2 corners of each painting. Wrap the wire securely around the eye bolts, keeping the wire as taut as you can – when you hang these, you do not want to see the wire at the tops of the paintings. On the wall, measure out your nail holes. You’ll want to use 2 nails per canvas and you’ll want to leave about 2″ of horizontal space between the canvases, with about 12″ of space between the bottom of the bed and the bottom of the lowest canvas. For mine, I measured 13″ vertically and 36″ horizontally. Make sure everything is level or the end result will look lopsided. Hammer your nails and hang the canvases in the right order, and you’re done!

candleThis week’s DIY project comes from one of my new favorite websites, Design*Sponge. They have gorgeous pictures and posts of all sorts of loveliness, and they update it with tons of new stuff daily. The blog has been around for years, so their archive is practically endless, and they have a ton of DIY projects for the at-home crafter. This project looks adorable and it’s one of many great ways to reuse cute Altoids tins. You could do this with any metal container, just be sure to put it on a heat-proof surface when lit. Find out how to make this cute project HERE.

You can make a cute jewelry holder using old picture frames and some fabric. I’m making a few of these for the upcoming Red Hot Art Fair as jewelry displays, but I plan on keeping them after the festival to hold jewelry and as a mini bulletin board for my desk. You can also  hang them in a cluster on your wall for adorable framed art. 


– picture frames – 5″x7″ or larger work best for bracelets and necklaces, but small frames would work great for earrings

– paint

– varnish (optional)

– foamcore, cardboard or cork bulletin board material

– fabric

no-sew fusible tape (check the sewing section at your local craft store – if you can’t find it, fabric glue will work, but it won’t look as nice)

– iron

– scissors and utility/craft knife

– straightedge/ruler

– straight pins or tacks

First, we need to prepare the frames. If you don’t have any old picture frames lying around your house, you can find them at any thrift store, garage sale, or parents’ or grandparents’ basement. Make sure you take out any glass or plastic on the front of the frame – we won’t be using it, so set aside for use in a different project. Take out the back of the frame as well – we will be using this later, so don’t get rid of it. Paint the frame as desired – if you used white or any light color like I did, be prepared to do several coats until you get a good solid color. I would recommend varnishing the frames to protect the paint job and give it a good finish, but this step is completely optional. 

Next, cut your insert material down to size – cut it about 1/8″ smaller than it should be to accomodate the fabric. I work at a sign shop, so I used some of the spare foamcore we always have lying around (hooray for recycling!). Lay your fabric down and put the insert on top. Cut around the fabric, giving yourself at least 2″ on all sides. Cut the hem tape in 4 equal strips and lay it across the insert material. Place the fabric on top, and make absolutely sure it’s lined up the way you want it because after it’s tacked down, there’s no going back. Fire up your iron and run it over the fabric to heat the tape  and stick the insert material and fabric together. (Note: If you’re using glue, spread it in a thin layer and lay the fabric over the insert). 

Once everything is stuck together and cooled down, flip the whole thing over. Now, class, we’re going to learn Upholstering 101: Cut the corners of the fabric off at a 45 degree angle. When you fold the excess fabric around the insert, there shouldn’t be any overlapping fabric and you should have a pretty clean corner (see diagram below).

fabric-corner-diagram1Cut some more hem tape to fit the end of the fabric flaps you just made. Fold the flaps up, put the tape underneath, heat up the iron, and tack the flaps down just like you did before. Put the insert into the frame and check the fit. If you have something on your frame that secures the back down, fantastic. If not, just run a bead of glue (hot glue works best but any glue will do) along the inner edge of the frame where the insert sits. Place the insert into the frame and if desired. run another bead of glue around the edge to caulk it in and make sure it’s completely sealed. Attach a cardboard easel or picture wire to the back for hanging. Hang bracelets and necklaces from the frame using straight pins or tacks, and stick earrings directly into the surface. Since we covered the inserts in fabric, the holes disappear once you take the pins out, so you can configure these however you like and make them hold as much as you want.

Lucy Ford album artI was hanging out with the lovely E.W. and her musician boyfriend on Saturday, and as payback for dragging him into Michael’s and asking his opinion on craft supplies we let him drag us to Cheapo. For those of you who aren’t from Minneapolis, Cheapo is a giant music store with a huge record collection in the basement. Now while E. Dub and I enjoy all sorts of music and wouldn’t ordinarily mind going to a huge record store on a balmy Saturday afternoon, I was unaware that doing so would result in us having to physically drag her BF out of the record-filled basement. (She tried to warn me – I didn’t believe her.) Since we spent a good hour roaming around the store, I had a lot of time to look at all of the amazing album art on display. It was almost like going into a museum filled with 12″ masterpieces just  piled together in racks. I have bought records on numerous occasions with no intention of listening to them. I honestly don’t even know how to work a record player. Album art is slowly dying, and I think it’s about time to display some of these gorgeous works of art instead of letting them languish in record store basements. 

It’s unbelievably easy to make art from albums. I’ll give you 2 different ways to do this and you can pick the one you like best. Both of these options look better when they’re hung in groups, so make sure you have a few albums to hang. 

1. Framed Art: Go to your local megastore (or to Michael’s if you have one near you) and find the frame section. Chances are, they will have frames specifically for albums. (Scrapbook frames usually work well, too.) If they don’t, look for a simple frame that’s at least 12″ x 12″ x .5″ deep. Remove the record from the sleeve, pop the sleeve in the frame, put the frame together and poof, you’ve got art. (Bonus points: paint  or collage ticket stubs onto the front for a custom frame). If you don’t want to listen to the record, save it for later craftiness (or make a music geek’s day by giving it to them).

2. Unframed Art: Go to a hardware store and pick up a few L-shaped screws (ask the counter person if you aren’t hardware-store savvy). Screw them into the wall about 9″ apart with the short leg of the “L” pointing up. Put the album on the rack you’ve just created and marvel at how you just decorated your room in less than 5 minutes.

suncatchersAhh, spring. I don’t think anything can beat the feeling of walking out of your house without a jacket for the first time in 6 months. Here in Minnesota we always act like this is the first springtime we’ve ever experienced – as soon as the temperature goes above freezing, people flock to the outdoors, some wearing much less clothing than what would normally be appropriate in 40 degree weather. To celebrate the newfound warmth, I’ve decided to post a quick and easy DIY project that will get you in the mood for the coming months. These look best if you put a few of them next to each other. All you need for this are:

– highlighters or water-soluble markers

– scissors/knife/Exacto

– pliers

– paper towels

– clear jars or bottles with lids (if you don’t have fancy little jars like the ones pictured, anything will work as long as it has a lid)

– water

Fill the jars or bottles most of the way full with water and set aside. Now the fun part: take apart the markers by removing one of the ends. I recommend using a pair of pliers for this as the endcaps can be tricky. I also recommend having some paper towels handy, as you are dealing with markers. Remove the inky tubes inside and place on the paper towel. Depending on the size of the jar, you may need to cut the tubes to fit. Place the tubes in the desired jars (one color per jar unless you’re feeling adventurous) and wait. In a few seconds, you’ll see delightful little swirls of color soming from the ends of the tubes. This is exactly what we want to happen. Cap the jars and lt them sit for a day or two, swirling periodically to mix the color. After a day or two, remove the tubes if you like (I chose to leave mine in but it’s not necessary) and sit on a sunny windowsill. Voila – instant suncatchers!

** Bonus points: wrap wire or string around the tops of the jars securely and hang them in front of a window (again, securely – you do NOT want these to fall and open up) for a fancy hanging suncatcher!