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Chalkboard Calendar with Clay Tags

December 28, 2011 in Building and Repurposing, Gettin' Crafty

W.O.W.  I feel guilty. Has it really been almost 3 weeks since I last posted?! Sorry guys – I took myself a little holiday vacation and procrastinated my way through the month of December. :-)

I started working on this project a few weeks a long time ago. Who am I kidding… I made the tags in November!  Originally I was going to make an Advent Calendar….. but as December 1st came and went, it was time for a Plan B. I have to say – I’m mighty pleased with Plan B!

After reading Jaime at Craft Scrappy Happy‘s post about playing with air-dry clay to make some tags, I just HAD to run out and buy some. She used the clay to make clay plaques with some of her favorite quotes. I loved this idea, but wanted to take it in a slightly different direction. THANKS JAIME FOR THE INSPIRATION!

You’ll have to cut me some slack on this project… I don’t have ALL of the step-by-step photos. I picked up (and put down) this project so many times that I didn’t always take photos along the way. BUT – I came pretty darn close!  Without further ado – here’s a run-down of how you can make your own chalkboard calendar!

Creating the Chalk Board

The frame for this chalkboard is pretty stinkin’ big. I originally made it using cheap Pine 1×4′s for a print I’d picked up on clearance at Michael’s for $3.  I used my miter saw to cut the boards and then glued/nailed them together to form the frame. I added plates to the back (which you’ll see later in this post) to help stabilize it. Then I used anything and everything to distress the heck out of it. The frame was painted with white latex paint, sanded in areas and glazed with a graphite glaze. For the print, I used spray adhesive to mount it on a piece of cardboard and then simply stapled it to the back of the frame. All in all I had a large piece of art for under $10!  I wasn’t in love with the print though, so when my idea for this project came along, I knew exactly what to do…….

I pulled out the staples and removed the print!  Digging around in my shed, I managed to find a super thin piece of plywood left over from another project. Late last year I snagged a quart of chalkboard paint on clearance so I used that to paint 3 coats of chalkboard paint on one side. Then I used my brad nailer to {BAM BAM BAM} attach the board to the frame. Oh how I LOVE that thing!  (Sidenote – in the pic above you can see the plates I was talking about)

In the close-up photos above you can see the distressing and glazing a bit better. Also, you can see the black carpet tacks I added to the outer edges. I love the uneven heads on carpet tacks and have used them on a couple other projects too!

Time to work on the clay tags!

For me – this was the FUN part! I bought my clay at JoAnn Fabrics (with a coupon of course!) and my rubber stamps at Hobby Lobby (on sale 40% off). I love a good deal!

I rolled the clay out as though I were making cookies. Then I used a plastic cap to cut out a bajillion (or 50ish) clay circles. Using a straw, I punched out holes in each of the circles. This part of the project served two purposes:

  1. Make clay number tags for my calendar
  2. Make clay ornaments/gift tags for Christmas gifts!

I used the rubber number stamps to press numbers into each of the tags. I wasn’t worried about perfection here. Hand-made was exxxactly the look I was going for!

While I was at it, I used the alphabet stamps to make personalized gift tags for my family’s Christmas gifts. I also made several using a snowflake stamp. When wrapping gifts, I added a loop of jute twine to each tag before tying it onto a gift. That way it could be used as an ornament later! I wrote “To”, “From” and “2011″  using a silver paint pen on the back of each tag.

I let the clay tags dry for SEVERAL days.  I’m sure it was plenty more time than they actually needed, but I didn’t want to risk painting them while they were still wet.

When I was perfectly convinced they were dry through and through, I gave them a couple of coats (front and back) of a high gloss white spray paint. Then I used a graphite colored glaze to bring out the stamped numbers.

 Adding Hooks to the Chalkboard

I put off this part of the project for a couple weeks. Yup… I was cranking with motivation and then I hit a WALL. Please tell me I’m not the only one that happens to!

Huge thanks go out to my Mom because the clear quilt cutting guide she bought me years ago turned out to be a LIFE-SAVER.

First I started out by laying out the tags on the board to get an idea of the spacing. Then I stretched out a tape measurer and decided on exact spacing. I found the center vertical line and marked that row first. I used my handy-dandy little level to draw lines horizontally.  Then I measured (with the quilt guide) and marked each individual hook location.

I hammered a small nail into each marked spot and then hand-twisted THIRTY-FIVE hooks into the holes. Yowch… my right thumb was angry with me when it was all said and done. BUT – seeing those tags hanging on the board helped me to push forward and get it over with.

 The Big Whoopsie

Sometimes… free isn’t always better.  I was SO excited that I had a thin piece of plywood big enough to make my chalkboard surface. I never thought about the fact that I’d have 35 pokey, scratchy hooks sticking through the back. Bah. Think Dana… THINK!

Back to my scrap pile, I dug around for some scrap pieces of plywood that I could glue/nail to the back of my frame to create enough of a gap between the frame and the wall.  I don’t have a photo of this step (SO SORRY), but you can avoid this all together if you make your own by simply using a thicker piece of plywood. Whoops!

…and with that mishap patch-’em-up repair, my calendar was ready to hang on the wall!

The Big Reveal

After weeks of working tirelessly procrastinating endlessly, I’m so super excited to show you……

In the photo above… I have to explain. That big gap to the right was once occupied by a tall chest of drawers. I gifted the piece to my sister for her baby’s room and am currently shopping for something new (aka old) to refinish. In the meantime, I live with the big vast gap of nothingness. Also, the random leafy thing above used to perfectly frame the TV when it sat on the chest. It was originally one of those brass pieces that likely originated from Home Interiors. I scooped it up at a thrift store for a buck and spray painted it black.

I love the way the tags turned out. Smitten might be a good word for it. :-)    I can’t wait to use this chalkboard to track things in the new year!

Hope you had a wonderful Holiday and are gearing up for 2012!


Special thanks to Home Stories A2Z for Hosting!

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Book Page Ornaments

December 9, 2011 in For the Holidays, Gettin' Crafty

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve walked down each and every aisle of Christmas ornaments at WalMart. Apparently I think that they’ll just magically get some in stock that I actually like. No such luck. Can’t blame a girl for trying!

BUT – I had an idea on a trip to a thrift store yesterday. I could buy some old ornaments and Mod Podge torn strips of old book pages to make my own!  PERFECT.

Here’s a quick and easy run-down on how I made my new ornaments:

  1. Scope out some cheap ornaments at a thrift store…. OR grab some of the ornaments off the back of your tree… where our unwanted ornaments go to be unseen. :-)    I found my glass ornaments for $1 a dozen.
  2. Tear your book pages into narrow strips. I found something around 1 cm worked well for the size of my ornaments. Remove the ornament caps/hangers so you’re left with just the glass ball.
  3. I applied the full strips so that they would span from opening to opening. I worked in an X-Pattern and then filled in the gaps as I went.
  4. Keep working your way around. Set it aside to dry and then apply one more coat of mod podge to the top to seal it up nice and tight.

Once they’re dry, just pop the tops back on and you’re ready to go!

I think it would look great to do some bigger (and smaller) ornaments with this same finish to mix in. Oooooor I could go get some scrapbook paper to complement the book pages. Oh the possibilities!

I threw some in this dough bowl with a mixture of small ornaments and pine cones. I like the lighter color they add to the mix.

…and I can’t help but share this picture of Emma. Apparently watching me photograph ornaments is exxhausting!

Oh how I love that puppernut. :-)

Be sure to check out these great link parties!

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Mason Jar Pendant Light

December 8, 2011 in Building and Repurposing, Kitchen, Wall Decor

It dawned on me today that I’ve never really shown you my kitchen makeover… except for a look at the kitchen island I purchased off Craigslist and gave an updo. I promise you next week I’ll show you the full room… but for now, well… frankly, there are dirty dishes in the sink and I don’t feel like washing them. :-)   Honesty’s the best policy, right? So instead, I thought I’d show you one of my favorite parts of the room.

First… here’s a look at the BEFORE. This picture was snapped the day I first toured my house. It’s very builder-grade, but has tons of potential.

The power actual comes from the ceiling where that awesome (read with sarcasm) brass light is.  THEN, they apparently wanted more light over the sink… so they ran power down the wall to an equally awesome (really lay on the sarcasm) light was mounted behind that scalloped board.  I make an ick face every time I think about that whole arrangement. So glad it’s gone!

I’ve always LOVED mason-jars-turned-pendant-lights.  Like L.U.V. them. I had it in my mind that I could make one and there are TONS of how-to’s out there for a full run-down.  (Kara Paslay gives a great one here) Seems most people use a work with whatcha got approach, and I did the same. I knew I wanted one…. but I didn’t necessarily run out to get the supplies. Instead, I tucked the idea away for a rainy day.

<Enter rainy day>  Shopping at Lowes a while back I stumbled on an AWESOME find. I found a 3-Light Mini Pendant Light Kit for TEN. BUCKS.   $10!   Yup.   Ten.  And you want to hear something crazy?  I almost walked away from it. I know right!… nuts.  The problem was the light fixture was white, and at the time I had it in my mind that I wanted brushed nickel to match my cabinet hardware (more on that next week).  Here’s a link to the nickel finish light, available online. It’s regularly $50, so I really scored a deal.

SIDENOTE – For those of you with recessed lighting, you can still play along!  Check out this recessed light conversion kit to turn it into a pendant light!

So with my $10 Kit in hand, I skipped my happy hiney on home. ……and put it in the basement……. to collect dust……. for a few days weeks.  Hey – Just being honest!

Meanwhile, I shopped around in some local thrift stores until I found 3 jars that were similar shades of blue and had that awesome seeded glass detail that I love.  Finally…. I had it all!

Here’s where you have to forgive me. I don’t have in-progress pictures of this. I forgot. I’m sorry. :-(   But in my defense – this was pre-blogging!

So the ceiling light, board above sink, and light mounted to board were removed, leaving me with a nice, tall space above the sink. Already SO much better!  I have a skylight in the kitchen so it allowed so much more light to shine on the counters after that board was gone.

The new pendant light kit was installed on the ceiling and I had lots of spackling, and painting to repair the wall and cabinets. But still…. SO worth it.

I had to rig the jars a bit to make them work. The lids that came with my jars were the old zinc lids with a porcelain cap. I was afraid to drill through them (and ruin them), so I just swapped them out for the modern day caps with the rubber seal ring. I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but so far – so great!

For the lids:

  • Drill small holes in the top to allow ventilation when the light is on. You want the heat to be able to escape!
  • Drill a larger hole for the pendant kit. I used a hole saw for this. Probably not the ideal way, but it worked! I already owned one, so I attached it to my dry and gave it a shot. The lids got hot, and I had to really hold them down to keep them from spinning, but I managed to crank three lids out before I lost my nerve (which was dwindling!).

Then… easy peasy…. Just attach the lids to the dangling pendant cords.  Screw in a bulb and then twist on your jar. DONE!

Check out the after… I hope you love them as much as I do!

(The pinwheel was made by my sister Christy for my other sister Karen’s baby shower this summer. I thought it was fun so I snagged it and brought it home. Makes me think of my nephew every time I see it!)

You’ll notice all of these photos are cleverly taken with the sink jusssst out of shot. :-)   I told you – the dishes are dirty!

And in case you’re wondering, these three bulbs put out a LOT of light. I have no need for additional lighting in the kitchen at night. It’s not SUPER bright, but it’s plenty bright for me!

I better go do the dishes now so I can show you guys the rest of the kitchen. It’s amazing what painting the cabinets can do!

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