Big Owl Door Decoration

It’s really no secret how much I like owls.

I’ve made them as a group. And I’ve made them small.

As the season changed here in Kansas City, I’ve noticed some really good Fall door decorations, and I saw a large owl that was simple and striking and cute. So I set about to make one out of paper, and quickly got off track.

What should have been a twenty minute project of drawing, cutting and gluing on some eyes developed (in a good way) in a major weekend project of experimenting with making different textures.

My inspiration was this wood and paper craft. I decided I wanted something similar, but entirely out of paper.

First, in Adobe Illustrator, I drew up the body and tree shape so I could play around with sizing.

The basic shapes for the big owl door decoration

Once I was set, I exported the head and body as a DXF file, and then opened that file in Silhouette Studio. I separated it into two different cuts, so I could make it taller than the 12″ limit of my cutting mat. I cut it out brown textured paper.

I put the two pieces on a thick piece of corrugated cardboard and traced that. I removed the two loose pieces and then cut the shape with an x-acto knife, since it’s way too thick for my Silhouette. The trick to cutting thick cardboard is to not try and cut it through all at once; just go around several times slicing and poking and sawing until it cuts all through. It’s all going to be covered anyway, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Head and body of big owl door decoration set to cut out of cardboard

For my “feathers,” I set up several grunge textured digital backgrounds in Adobe Illustrator and printed them on thick smooth cover stock. . I had the Silhouette cut many shapes based on the body shape – it’s a smaller version that kind of looks like an acorn. Once they were all cut I tested a couple of arrangements to get a random look. Then I started gluing those on the cardboard from the bottom up, stopping where the the head piece would overlap.

Feathers to cut for the big owl door decoration

For the head, wings and feet, I cut scalloped pieces from the same paper stock as the head, wings and feet, and then glued them on, overlapping from the bottom to the top. This gave those portions nice texture, and with the extra layers, it created more sturdiness in those pieces.

scalloped texture for the big owl door decoration feet

I cut circles of white and black for the eyes, and a triangle of orange became the beak. I glued the head, wings and feet on top of the cardboard, making sure to overlap the feathers so none of that background showed through.

All the pieces to assemble big owl door decoration

For the tree branch from the inspiration photoI used a digital wood grain background paper I printed, and I cut leaves of two sizes from two different shades of green paper.

And once everything was all glued up, I created a different way to hang this on my door. I have been punching a hole in a rectangle of a cereal box to use as a picture hanger, but that tends to tip the decoration at a precarious angle.

This time, I cut two rectangles and punched two holes (off center). I threaded a thin piece of wire between them before gluing that down.

new hook for big owl door decoration

Once the glue was completely dry I wrapped the wires together to make loop. This gives me a little more fudge factor when looking for the center balance on the nail on my front door.

Celebrate Fall with a big owl door decoration made from paper! | suzerspace.com

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Paper Bag “Leather” Finish

Simple technique gives a coffee can an upscale finish

I’ve seen a lot up upscale Mod Podge posts on the blogs and Pinterest – really cool things like map covered dresser drawers and tables, and some stunning wall and floor treatments.

Personally, I remember this craft from art camp – tearing tissue paper or napkins and carefully gluing them around a glass votive candle holder to create a stained glass “masterpiece.”

I decided to use this technique to cover a coffee can I keep in my kitchen to keep my dollar bills. It’s my “rainy day” fund – whenever I end up any one dollar bills in my wallet, I move them into this can. This serves two purposes – 1) It means I can’t buy overpriced and really bad for you snack food at the candy machine at work and 2) those dollar bills add up.

This process is pretty straightforward.  I took a paper bag that didn’t have printing on it, and cut two 1″ wide pieces that were long around to go around the diameter of the can. I glued those even at the top and bottom to hide the can edges. Then I tore the bag into small pieces.

paper bag pieces for a coffee can leather finish

I crumpled up and smoothed out the little pieces to give them some texture. And then I realized I didn’t have any Mod Podge in the house. There is an ongoing battle on the Internet on whether you can just use watered down Elmer’s glue for this, and I’d say for a project like this, the answer is yes.

To keep from ruining a foam sponge, I went a messier route. I dipped each little crumpled piece into a tub of water, and then wrung it out. I then squirted a little Elmer’s on the piece, and rubbed the glue into the water into the paper. I then applied them onto the can, being sure to overlap enough so none of the can showed below. The glue is water based, so all the mess washed off my hands pretty easily.

I think because I used watered down glue instead of Mod Podge it ended up without the shiny finish. So while this was supposed to look like leather, it kind of looks more like cork. I like it, and my dollar bills are now living a classier life in my new decorative finished can.

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Easy Upcycle Sewing: Boxer PJ Shorts

I’ve brought up before that I’m not a serious sewist. I learned the basics in high school, and used the heck out of a one-yard skirt pattern the first year I had a real job.

But unlike paper crafting, where I will spend hours gluing on little bits or learning how to weave hot air balloons, my patience is kind of short with sewing.

With the gift of a good machine from Mom, I’ve started over. And I’ve been working the Internet reading and sewing along with several good beginner tutorials.

Free patterns are a big help, and I’ve also found that upcycling old shirts also boosts my confidence as I sew, since if I completely botch the project, I can cut it all into rags, which is what was going to happen to those shirts anyway.

I spied this cute little pattern for boxer PJ shorts over at Melly Sews, and after reading the directions, I knew it was within my skill set. It was the first time I had used a PDF pattern, but I have an awesome oversize printer at work, so I didn’t even have to tape the pieces together, I could print it full size.

I dug through my stash of Mr. SuzerSpace’s too-big T-shirts, and found two of the same weight knit. They were different colors, but I thought that would end up with a cute look.

I followed the easy directions, although as usual I ended up having to use my trusty seam ripper to undo a section that I sewed in the wrong order. Nothing wrong with the pattern – I just got a little excited at the progress I was making and forgot to stop at the correct edge 🙂 .

My plan with the two colors had some upsides and downsides. I like the alternating color blocks, but it left me with a quandary for thread color. I didn’t know “clear” was an option for thread until after I finished these, but I like the contrasting blue that I chose.

I also tried to take advantage of the fact that knit doesn’t fray so as to avoid the leg hem, just letting them roll a little as they wear. Unfortunately, I did not pay attention when I cut the pieces, so two of them are on the wrong side, which means they roll the opposite way from the others.

No matter – they fit, are super soft and comfortable. I will definitely be making these again.

 

Little Owls

Quick, kid friendly fall decoration

As soon as September started, it seems like everyone began posting Halloween crafts to Pinterest and and Pumpkin Spice Everything photos to Instagram.

Me? I’m not in that big a hurry to push on to October.

Fall is my favorite season, and I like to enjoy all of it.

A quick craft to start the month were these little owls. They tend to show a lot on Kid Craft blogs, but I’m not sure who decided only kids get to do the easy crafts.

These start with toilet paper rolls. Most of the instructions called for painting them with brown paint, but I rolled brown construction paper around them and glued that on tight. Once dry, I trimmed the top and bottom even with the tube. Crushing in the top forms the ears.

My Silhouette Cameo made quick work of cutting the circles for feathers for the body. I used up some fall colored paper scraps. I drew bigger circles to cut from white paper for the eye parts, and then smaller ones from black paper for the pupils. I set those up to cut with even smaller circles inside to give the eyes more expression – some I did right on center, some I did off center. I cut the triangle beaks with scissors.

Cut pieces to assembly little owls

A little quick drying tacky glue and three little owls are ready to sit on my entryway table. I’m thinking about doing a similar version but turkey style for Thanksgiving. I may give those guys some legs that stick out so they can hold placecards. I’ll let you know how that goes 🙂 .

Little Owls created with toilet paper tubes and construction paper | suzerspace.com

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Hot Air Balloon Garland

Up, Up and Away!

For August, I wanted a garland for my back window that was very cheery. There isn’t really a holiday associated with August, so it’s kind of a free form craft month.

I decided on a hot air balloon garland, and there were a ton of inspirational ideas out there. Most of them used the same folded and glued technique that I used for the Tulip Flowers mobile and the Paper Cactus. There’s nothing wrong with that, except I wanted to do something different.

So I kept looking, and found this super cute hot air balloon mobile. It was designed for a nursery, but nothing about it really screamed “baby” to me. What did stand out was the paper weaving technique, which is something I never had tried before.

And down the rabbit hole I went. This site is full of amazing creations, and the instructions, patterns, downloadable files and videos you need to make them.

I’m not going to lie – this wasn’t really easy. But it wasn’t impossible. It was just really amazing to me to go from these two flower/spider looking things …

Hot air balloon garland beginning cut file

To an actual hot air balloon!

Hot air balloon garland assembled balloons | suzerspace

There is no way I can explain how to do these better than the site does. Once you get one done the rest are pretty easy, but the learning curve is a little steep. So if you want to create these, I highly recommend you follow their instructions.

I do have a few tips:

  1. Watch the videos. before you start assembling. And then do the first one near a device where you can replay bits of the video so you can really see what you are supposed to be doing.
  2. Definitely use the paper clips as clamps to keep it all from unraveling as you go.
  3. I used tacky glue instead of glue stick for the gluing of that last row. It was easier for me.
  4. Consider assembling the basket before you do the weaving of the balloon. Here’s why – the basket is really fussy, and if you give it time to dry between the two parts that need assembly, it goes better. And if you have the baskets done, then adding the balloon on it easy. If you go the other way, if you are like me, you will be impatient to get the balloon finished and rushing the basket assembly means a crushed basket assembly.
  5. If you are going to create a garland out of these, poke holes and thread loops into the balloon BEFORE you add on the basket. I nearly cried when I realized that I hadn’t thought that step through and it was very difficult to get the loops in when it was all assembled.

I was really happy with my balloons when there we finished, and I made some quick clouds to go between them on my garland. For this, I did use that fold and glue technique to get the 3D pieces.

First I drew up a simple cloud. And in reality, I didn’t draw anything, I just kept making circles of different sizes until they globbed together to make a cloud shape. These need to be perfectly symmetrical side to side to work, so plan that out as you go.

Hot air balloon garland cloud drawing

Hot air balloon cloud drawing

Using the Pathfinder tool in Illustrator, I welded those together to get my shape, and then exported the file as a DXF format, because the standard version of Silhouette can’t work with an Illustrator file, but it can import the DXF file with no problem.

In Silhouette Studio I duplicated that cloud shape until I had nine on a page (each cloud requires three pieces), and then sent that to cut on some smooth white 80# cover stock.

hot air balloon garland cloud to cut

Once they were cut and weeded, I folded each one in half, and then glued two halves together for each cloud, and let those dry a minute before gluing (and wiggling) in the third folded piece.

hot air balloon garland clouds

Before I added in that last piece, I slid in a loop of dental floss to serve as the hanger for my garland.

hot air balloon garland cloud assembled

Once everything was dry, I strung them all on twine and hung them on my hooks the back window. Since that window faces the sun, it’s impossible to get a decent photo, so the feature shot at the beginning of the post is that garland on my dining room wall.

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