So here’s a craft truth, mason jars are the most useful thing on the planet. They really are. If you were to peek inside my home you’d find them being used a vases and kitchen storage and paint jars and drinking vessels. They hold buttons and knitting needles on my desk, potpourri on my mantle and candles in my bedroom. So why not in the bathroom? And if a mason jar alone is a useful thing, it is even better with a flower frog lid attached to the top!
Difficulty level: Easy
Time required: Less than five minutes
Things to do:
1. Clean and dry your mason jar and then screw the flower frog lid onto it.
2. Test your toothbrushes to make sure they will fit into the holes. Some modern toothbrush handles may be too bulky for the squares of the lid. If this is the case, simply clip the wires between two or four adjoining holes to create a larger space. Using the flog lid keeps the heads of your toothbrushes from touching and germs in their place!
There’s nothing quite like the sound of jingle bells to remind you that it’s Christmas time, which makes a jingle bell wreath the perfect way to decorate your front door this winter that way every time you open the door, the tinkling will remind you of the season. This wreath uses rusty tin bells which will continue to age nicely as it graces your door though the winter weather and will look charming with any decor.
Things to do:
1. Thread on bell onto one end of the wire and push it 1-1/2 inches up from the end. Bend the wire up and around to secure the bell in place, leaving a tail free to connect the other end once the wreath is finished.
2. Starting at the other end, begin threading bells onto the wire one at a time, allowing the bells to stack, working them down as tightly as possible so that they surround and almost hide the wire.
3. Continue to thread and stack until you have filled up about 2-1/2 feet of wire. Loop the wire around into a wreath shape and thread the end of the wire through the loop created with the first bell. Wrap tightly and trim the wire.
4. With the remaining piece of wire, tie together the two larger bells and wire them onto the wreath to cover the join.
5. Slip the middle of the ribbon under the larger bells and tie a large bow just to the side for a splash of color.
Antique silhouettes, in today’s decor, are considered elegant artifacts of times past. Historically, owning a piece of artwork was the prerogative of the rich, so limners, or portraitists, created paper cut, black and white silhouettes to make portraiture more accessible to the poor, rural and less sophisticated. In fact it was known as the “poor man’s miniature”. They were displayed prominently in the home and considered very desirable. The year 1840 brought with it a new invention, the daguerreotype, which caught on quickly as the hot new trend of its time, and rendered obsolete the quaint art of silhouette picture-making. With updated techniques, silhouettes are making a comeback. More and more people are hiring others, or learning themselves, to make these elegant portraits.
Things you need:
White Apple Barrel acrylic paint
Heavy black permanent marker
Black, fine felt-tip marker
Black acid-free paper
White or ivory acid-free paper, pre-trimmed to fit the picture frame
Small, sharp scissors
Hobby knife and replacement blades
All-purpose spray adhesive
Things to do:
1. First things, first, please make sure you are working in a well ventilated area. Take photographs of your subject in profile. A plain background is best. Backlight your subject for greater contrast and don’t use the camera’s flash. Print or develop the photos.
2. Using the fine-tipped brush, paint the photo background with the white acrylic paint and allow it to completely dry.
3. Fill in the image with the black permanent marker. Use the black felt-tip marker to exaggerate small details like eyelashes, bangs, curls, hats, jewelry, etc.
4. Photocopy the photo and carefully cut out the image with the hobby knife or small scissors, taking special care around the smaller details.
5. Use the cut-out as a template to trace the image onto the black acid-free paper. Use the hobby knife to cut out the new image.
6. Apply spray adhesive to the back of the image and carefully center and affix it to the white acid-free paper. Smooth out any creases or bubbles with a credit card or your fingers. Allow image to fully dry before framing.
The kitchen is known as the heart of the home, and a country kitchen is known for its warmth, charm, and hospitality. Anyone can transform their kitchen into a country haven filled with down-home goodness and charming primitives. To do this a few key things must be remembered, but the rest is up to your own imagination.
Make Do and Be Practical
First and foremost, country decorating has to be practical. Look for storage and space solutions that perform their function, but that also have a “make do” primitive decor feel. Iron hooks for pots and pans, hanging baskets and bundles of dried herbs and flowers, homespun fabric curtains and table linens, rag rugs, open shelves lined with baskets, and mason jars filled with pantry necessities all recollect a time when mostly everything was made by hand from simple materials, and everything served a purpose.
Of course, today these effects will be both decorative and functional, but remember when decorating your country kitchen that nostalgia is key. Don’t be afraid to mix nostalgia with modern technology: your stainless steel appliances alongside a weathered sideboard, your digital espresso-maker alongside a stoneware crock of primitive wooden spoons; the idea is to evoke nostalgia as well as serve a function.
Build A Little Character to Feel At Home
As Gail Abbott puts it in her book, Shoestring Chic: Extraordinary Style For Less, “A [country] kitchen is a far cry from the clinical, minimalist look of many modern designs. Mugs hang from cup hooks, storage jars and jugs compete for space on the countertops, and visitors feel immediately at home when they sit at the fine old pine table.” The more character you can add to your kitchen, the more its users will feel at home. Character, in a primitive country kitchen, comes from small human touches. A bowl filled with warmly scented “fixins”. Wooden and rusted pieces such as rolling pins, small buckets, and towel racks. In other words, pieces that appear as though they were made by hand long ago (or that actually were).
Comfort and sensory pleasure are also important components of your country decor. Add comforting details such as cushions, curtains, plants and wreaths, shelf-sitters, and garland or bunting. Handmade soap is a clean-smelling, healthy sink companion that is satisfying to use. A small vintage transistor radio can add another pleasurable dimension when tuned to happy music to cook by. Try to appeal to all five senses as you build character into your decor and visitors to your kitchen will never want to leave.
Create a Primitive Decor Focal Point with a Collection or Furniture Piece
Why not display a personal collection to help pull your kitchen together with a strong focal point? Any collection can make a great focal point as long as its components are country or primitive in nature: primitive dolls, pieces of Americana, baskets, old wooden crosses, and antique trade signs are a few possibilities.
A great piece of old furniture also makes a fantastic focal point, and has the added benefit of functioning as workspace or storage. Things like rustic, barn-wood tables, an antique pie safe, a vintage stove, or a well-worn piece of cabinetry with shelves are all wonderful, functioning furniture pieces that help pull a room together.
Remember to make do, be practical, add character, comfort, and a great focal piece and your kitchen will be transformed into a warm, welcoming primitive country environment for the whole family to enjoy.
Etched votive holders have been around for a while and are always pretty on a dinner table, in the window or just about anywhere. DIY your own etched candle holders using cast off jars and create just the look you want!
Things to do:
1. Using your craft knife or die cutter, cut pretty shapes out of the contact paper. You can either make a cut out stencil or use the pieces cut out and etch everything but the shapes.
2. Clean the glasses well and dry completely. Smooth the stencils on where you want the etching to be.
3. Brush the exposed glass with a thick coat of etching cream and allow it to set according to the manufacturers directions.
4. Wash the cream away with warm water and remove the stencils. Dry and insert the candles for use.
This craft is an exercise in creative upcycling! Inspired by Martha Stewart, turn an everyday coffee can into a lovely primitive flower vase. This would be perfect for a country floral arrangement or rustic wedding.
Things to do:
1. Use the handsaw to cut the twigs 1” longer than the height of the coffee can. Use the pruning shears to remove any leaves or offshoots.
2. Cover the work surface with newspaper.
3. Cover the outside of the coffee can with burlap fabric. Fold in the top and bottom edges, then hot glue in place.
4. Place a twig against the side of the can, turning it to find the flattest side.
5. Run a bead of hot glue down the flat side of the twig, leaving the top 1” clean. Press it onto the can. Hold it a few seconds until it sets.
6. Test each twig in this manner to find the best and flattest fit on each one. Keep gluing them until the entire surface of the can is covered.
7. Cut the twine into 18” strands. Choose a starting point and tie the end of one strand to the top edge of a twig, knotting it in back and leaving a 5 “ tail. The loop should be level with the top of the coffee can.
8. Wrap each twig by passing the twine behind the twig then circling the front, then around to the back again. Keep going in this manner around every twig.
9. When the last twig is wrapped, tie the two ends together in back and trim the excess.
10. Fill 3/4 full of water and arrange fresh cut flowers. Change water and re-trim stems every day.
Hearts have been lovingly collected throughout American history, including in primitive decor. In the 18th and 19th centuries, for example, pincushions, and other primitive stitchery in the shape of hearts, were widely available. In fact, heart motifs have been popular for household utensils, furniture, and primitive crafts since colonial times. Blacksmiths would finish off an implement with a heart-shaped handle or finial, and furniture was often finished with cut-out or painted-on hearts. Today, antique heart-themed molds, cutters and waffle irons are highly collectible. Of course, one of the most enduring heart-themed customs is the giving of valentines. The earliest valentines were handwritten, though the first mass-produced ones were available by the end of the 18th century. I decided to make little primitive heart sachets from country dish towels. These are super easy to make and people love them!
Thing to do:
1. Pick two scraps, or cut out two pieces, of the fabric approximately 4” square, and pin them sparingly but securely around the edges, right sides facing.
2. Using the fabric pen, free-hand draw a heart about 3” tall. Don’t worry about your heart being perfectly symmetrical, imperfection is the calling card of the primitive arts. Feel free to slightly elongate the heart shape in the typical manner of primitive heart motifs. Practice on a piece of paper before drawing on the fabric.
3. Move the pins so that a few are inside of the heart shape to hold the fabric together without shifting. Use the pinking shears to cut out the heart motif on both pieces of fabric at once.
4. Machine or hand-sew the two heart-shaped pieces together with a ¼” seam allowance. Leave about 1-½” open along one side.
5. Use the regular scissors to carefully snip into the seam allowance along the point and the curves, for ease of turning. Turn to right side, using the turning tool to fully turn out the heart’s point.
6. Stuff firmly with fiberfill, using the turning tool to get the stuffing down into the point and evenly into the curves. Fill the center of the heart with potpourri.
7. Turn the un-sewn portion ¼ to the inside and hand-sew using a slip stitch to close.
These little ornaments can be whipped up in no time from things you probably have hanging around the house. They make perfect gifts from kids to their teacher and friends and smell divine for years. If the dough is rolled smoothly, the finished surface can be written on easily, so consider making extras for holiday gift tags! Look for large containers of inexpensive cinnamon at discount stores or on the bottom shelf of the spice aisle at your supermarket.
Things to do:
1. Slowly mix the cinnamon into the applesauce, stirring carefully to avoid puffs of the spice from billowing over the side of the bowl. Once mixed, incorporate the glue into the batter.
2. Sprinkle cinnamon onto your parchment and roll out the dough to a 1/4″ thickness.
3. Cut shapes using cookie cutters – a gingerbread man shape makes a particularly cute ornament.
4. Peel off excess dough and use the stray to cut a hole in the top of the ornament for hanging.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until stiff. Allow it to cool and thread loops of ribbon through the holes.
*Glossy 3D paint can be used to mimic icing when decorating these ornaments like gingerbread men*
Grapevine decorations are one of the heralds of fall. Hardy and outdoorsy, grapevine stands up well to the autumn elements and looks warm and inviting for guests and family alike. In addition to wreaths, grapevine garland can be formed into a woodsy pumpkin to nestle amongst the orange beauties on your front doorstep to welcome fall. And don’t forget to stuff them full of Christmas lights on Halloween to add to the eerie glow of the evening!
Things to do:
1. Soak your grapevine in a tub of water for a few hours to soften it up. This will make it easier to work with.
2. Leaving a 6″ long tail out the top, bring the vine around into a loop and wrap wire tightly where the two layers meet. The tail will be the stem of the pumpkin.
3. Loop the vine around again, making approximately the same size loop, and secure with wire. Remember that some of the most interesting looking pumpkins are knobby and slightly uneven, so having your loops identical isn’t necessary.
4. Continue to loop and secure until you have reached the end of the vine, working the loops around to form a pumpkin shape.
5. Untwist or cut the small wires that hold the vine in bunches so that the strands of the vine can be spread out.
6. Use the small wires you just removed or short lengths of floral wire to pull strands of vine together to keep the vine evenly distributed around the pumpkin shape.
7. Wrap a sort length of wire around the stem to help keep the loose ends formed into shape.
This time of year, peaches and cherries are filling up the farmers marker and roadside stands and in our house we’ve been buying them both by the five-pound bag. And while we’ve been eating as much as we can, I also like to turn some of the fruit into jams and preserves to remind us of the summer months all year long. And once I have my store cupboard stocked with jams, jellies and pie fillings, I start giving them away. Which means I have to have some pretty little jar toppers ready to go for all my fruit gift giving needs. These jar toppers are inspired by old red work and flour sacking embroidery, but instead is done with tone on tone brown thread on burlap sacking.
Things to do:
1. Cut an 8″ square from the burlap. Draw or trace the image of your choice onto the center of the square. If you need inspiration, I suggest any of the Sublime Stitching series!
2. Stretch the fabric in your hoop and cover the outline of your image using either stem stitch or slipstitch. Fill in leaves with satin stitch. Tie off your thread and trim the tail close to the edge of your knots.
3. Using your jar ring as a guide cut a circle about 4″ wider in diameter than the ring with your embroidery in the center.
4. Centering the circle on your jar top, either screw the ring over the fabric or tie around the neck of the jar with a length of ribbon.