Aug 26

Make a Ghastly Garland

Halloween Trends Feature Colorful Charm and Whimsy (Project Included Below)

Ghastly Garland

Ghastly Garland

(ARA) – Halloween has become the second most-decorated holiday of the year. Decorations for house and yard to welcome trick-or-treaters are all the rage. This year an estimated $4.96 billion will be spent on holiday decor in addition to costumes, making it the sixth largest spending holiday of the year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

Keeping up with what’s in style this Halloween season will help you have the hippest, spookiest house on the block. “Creating festive Halloween decorations can be easy and fun for the whole family, whether you’re a beginner or advanced at crafting,” says Susan Atchison, trend expert for Jo-Ann Stores. “This season, creepy, scary monsters are out. Instead, a new cast of goofy ghouls takes their place with silly expressions, crazy colors and lots of whimsical, kid-friendly charm.”Slightly surprising colors are popping up this Halloween, bringing lots of animated personality to the color palette. Lime green, bright purple and electric blue combine with classic orange and black to create fun color combinations — not frightening. For a slightly more sinister Halloween atmosphere, use shades of gray and olive green paired with spicy orange, golden yellow and dusky blue. Or, the traditional colors of orange, black, brown and yellow appear in almost every possible shade and hue to recreate the simplicity and charm of a vintage Halloween.Whether you’re hosting a Halloween party or just decorating for trick-or-treaters, these easy ideas from Jo-Ann Stores will add a playful, creative touch to your not-so-scary venue:

* Give trick-or-treaters a warm welcome to your home with metal stand-up figurines in vivid colors and lively expressions.

* Dress up your table with a “Boo” table runner and candy dish, jack-o-lantern serving dishes and not-so-spooky trays and platters to add character and charm to your Halloween monster mash.

* Find partyware and décor in matching bright colors and themes to set the tone for Halloween parties at home or in the classroom.

* Display Halloween goodies with a Frankenstein and Skeleton treat bucket — a fun way to watch even the littlest monsters scream with delight at the treats displayed at their own height.

* Deck the walls and windows with a ghastly garland of spiders, bats, monsters and pumpkins for a playful fright (see instructions). Add a strand of colorful sparkling lights to create fun shadows inside and out.

* Create a personalized treat bag, use colorful fur, felt and yarn to create a cat, a scary or funny face — for a fun alternative to the typical plastic pumpkin treat bag.

For more ideas and a monstrous selection of the latest trends in indoor and outdoor Halloween decorating projects, visit your local Jo-Ann fabric and craft store.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Ghastly Garland

Supplies and Tools:

* String-along Poms, black
* Textured yarn: black, green multicolored, green ribbon — 1 skein each
* 1/8 yard purple tulle
* 15 black chenille stems
* Craft foam sheets: 1 orange, 1 green, 3 purple
* Sticky-back craft foam sheets: 2 black, 1 white
* Wiggle eyes
* Scissors and pinking shears
* Purple embroidery floss, 1 skein
* Alphabet template, optional
* Tacky glue
* Hole punch
* Push pins


1. Create ornaments:
a. Pumpkins: Cut two 5-inch orange craft foam circles. Decorate with wiggle eyes, black craft foam nose and mouth, and green craft foam stem and leaf.
b. Monsters: Cut two 5-inch flower pot shaped green craft foam pieces. Decorate with wiggle eyes, green craft foam nose, round orange craft foam cheeks, chenille stem smile and black craft foam hair. Gather 5- by 10-inch tulle, wrap short end with floss to form fan shape and glue to the back.
c. Bats: Cut seven 8-inch bat shaped purple craft foam pieces. Cut BEWARE! letters out of white craft foam then glue onto bats. Glue on wiggle eyes.
d. Spiders — Using pinking shears, cut six 3-inch circles of black craft foam. Place eight 6-inch chenille stem legs between two circles, then glue together to form one spider. Glue eyes on both sides of spiders.

2. Attach the String-along Poms to the wall with push pins to make assembly easier.

Allow about a foot of Poms to hang down on each end.

3. Attach ornaments to Poms using chenille stems or yarn. Cut the black and green multicolored yarns together in various lengths and tie between each pom-pom. Cut green ribbon yarn and tie so the tails stick out above the garland. Do the same with scraps of purple tulle.

Approximate Crafting Time: 3 hours
Skill Level: No experience needed

Aug 25

Three Spooky Halloween Craft Projects

How to make your Halloween festivities extra spooky

Ghostly globes

Ghostly globes

(ARA) – Halloween is the second most decorated holiday, so it won’t be long until ghouls and goblins, witches and vampires, pumpkins and candy corn adornments begin appearing in advance of trick-or-treating and haunting celebrations.

This year, instead of buying your decorations, why not brew a little imagination? Just stir in a few items you already have around the house and a couple of cans of spray paint to create bewitching, inexpensive pieces for your home and yard. Here are three project ideas to inspire and help you easily put some extra spookiness in your Halloween trick-or-treating.

Ghoulish gravestones

Turn a couple of old boxes into a chilling graveyard to keep the goblins and vampires at bay.

What you’ll need: Black granite textured “stone” spray paint, such as Krylon’s Make It Stone; spray adhesive; glow-in-the-dark paint; boxes (note: old shipping boxes work well); foam or wood letters; various Halloween decorations; hot or super glue; packing tape; newspaper; large nails or ground stakes; and scissors.

How to do it: Set up a spray paint area in a well-ventilated area by covering a table with newspaper. Assemble a box and tape over folded seams leaving one end open, as that will serve as the bottom of your gravestone. Cut a name plaque to fit the box from the cardboard of another and affix with spray adhesive. Glue letters onto the plaque.

Embellish the top of your gravestone with glued-on Halloween decorations, like a bat or skull. Paint the entire gravestone with two to three coats of “stone” spray paint, letting it dry between coats. Once it’s dry, highlight areas with glow-in-the-dark paint. Place a stake in the ground, prop up your box and enjoy scaring the neighbors with your ghoulishly gorgeous graveyard.

Ghostly globes

Add a spooky twist to your outside walkway on All Hallow’s Eve – without having to carve several messy pumpkins – by creating glowing ghostly globes.

What you’ll need: Round glass votives; newspaper; one can each of white frosted glass, white and glow-in-the-dark spray paint, such as Krylon Glowz; and a black craft pen.

How to do it: Cover your workspace with newspaper.

Spray several light coats of white frosted glass paint on the lip of each votive and let dry. Next, add several light coats of white paint to the outside bottom of votives, blending the white seamlessly with the frosted glass. Let dry completely. Spray the entire exterior with glow-in-the dark paint, which will allow your votives to shine even when not lit. Finally, draw facial features with a black paint pen.

Spooky party servers

Embellish your Halloween party buffet by transforming ordinary terra cotta pots into spooky party servers.

What you’ll need: White primer; pumpkin orange, gloss white and gold glitter spray paint; black webbing spray from Krylon; brush-on black paint; repositionable adhesive; assorted terra cotta pots and saucers; metal or enamel bowl; glue; paper; pencil; scissors; and a small paint brush.

How to do it: Wash the pots and saucers. Allow to dry. Spray all the terra cotta with white primer. Let dry and spray with gloss white. Once dry, turn pots upside down and glue the bottom of a saucer to the bottom of each pot. Draw ghosts, tombstones and other scary characters on paper. Cut the shapes out and spray one side with repositionable adhesive.

Position the paper shapes randomly on the pots. Spray the outside of the bowl and terra cotta pieces with pumpkin orange paint. Once dry, spray all the pieces with black webbing spray, then lightly with gold glitter spray. When all the paint is dry, remove paper templates and add details, such as features on the ghosts and words on the tombstones, with black paint. Be sure to not to place unwrapped food on any painted surface.

For more Halloween decorating inspiration, there are a plethora of arts and crafts websites, such as, offering tips, tricks and inspiration to help you spook your family, guests and trick-or-treaters.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Aug 15

Combining Scrapbook Text and Photos In Creative Ways

Woman scrapbookingAlmost every scrapbook will contain a combination of text and drawings or photos. After all, the whole purpose of a scrapbook is to capture your experiences and memories for all time. One of the most common ways we do that is to record words and images. There is an infinite number of ways to do that to express your unique creativity.

Many scrapbookers will write descriptions under photos. But even simple text recording the date and location doesn’t have to be plain. You can dress it up by using an interesting font. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have the skill to create one, there are hundreds you can buy. Or, you can find one on the Internet, print it out and paste it under the photo.

Now that you’ve got your creative juices warmed up, you can take your scrapbook to the next level.

Images always bring to mind more than just what’s shown in the photo or drawing. They bring all sorts of associations with them. Those bring more memories to mind, and those in turn still more. Use that to spice up your text in both content and form.

Turn a simple phrase into a work of art by enlarging it, splitting the sentence in half, turning it upside down, coloring it, moving some words above or below the others, separating them off…. The possibilities are endless. But be clever and do more than just alter them at random. Let the associations those images bring to mind guide you.

A photo of a snow-capped mountain from a winter vacation may bring to mind two levels, separated by the snow line. Shape your sentence into a triangle and color the words on top in white, while those below are soft greens and browns. An image of delightful deer bouncing through a forest suggests movement. Let your words dance by running them up, down, up, down on top of the picture.

Make a window page, with photos covered by small square flaps that reveal or cover the photo as you want. Then place your text on the outside to give a preview or on the inside to label the photo.

Now go 3-D. Many scrapbooks are two dimensional and the creativity they display within those boundaries is amazing. But use that third direction to bring your scrapbook to a whole new level.

Scrapbook cubes are a great way to get started loosening up those limitations in your thinking. Make a photo cube by cropping photos and placing them on a cube made of plastic, cardboard or metal. You can make your own or buy just the size you want.

Paste the photos on the cube, then use text to describe and decorate. Simple phrases can be placed above or below the photos, just as you would on a scrapbook page. But how about taking advantage of that third dimension and laying them on the edge? They can stream out along a ribbon or lay across a corner.

There’s only one limit to the way you can creatively combine photos and text in your scrapbook: your imagination.

Jul 27

Scrapbooking – Basic Supplies to Get Started

scrapbookingOne of the great things about scrapbooking is how inexpensive it is to get started. All you need are a few basic supplies that don’t cost much. Unless you do all your scrapbooking digital style (on the computer), you’ll need something to store all your memories in. So, the first requirement is a good album.

You can go with any size that suits your fancy. Two standard sizes are 8 1/2 in x 11 in and 12 in x 12 in, but you could go with 11 in x 14 in for those larger photos. Even larger albums are available if you want to make a really special gift for yourself or a cherished friend or relative. A basic 8 1/2 x 11 album will go for around $10 and a 12 in x 12 in album is usually less than $20.

Don’t worry about finding paper and other supplies if you go larger. Paper comes in every size from 1 in x 1 in Post-It notes to 2 feet x 3 feet or larger. Art stores are a good second alternative if you can’t find just what you want in the scrapbooking section. And all sizes come in all sorts of colors and designs. Your imagination is the only limit, not the materials available.

You’ll need something to cut and trim the paper, so a sharp pair of scissors and an Xacto knife are really helpful. A sturdy paper trimmer is always helpful for those who aren’t very steady with scissors or knife.

Remember, you don’t always cut exactly straight lines or 90 degree angles, though. Sometimes you may want to create a round page, a hexagonal page or some other shape to go with your design. Sometimes interesting items call for an equally interesting background. A good stencil or template will help there.

Part of that design will usually be hand written or drawn, words and illustrations. So, you’ll need some good pens and pencils. A range of colors is helpful. Start with basic black and expand as your needs grow. Green on red paper or red on green paper is great for Christmas, but don’t forget about all the other holidays. And, also, as far as a scrapbook is concerned, every day might be a holiday.

You’ll need some adhesive to attach photos, locks of hair, buttons, ribbons, poems on cards or paper…. In short, anything you might want to put into your scrapbook! Old-fashioned small bottles of paper glue with a small brush in the top still work well, provided you get the acid-free type. But take advantage of technology advances and get yourself a glue stick, glue dots or double-sided tape for those small, quick additions.

If you like to create on the computer, you’ll want to experiment with different kinds of paper for printouts. But you’ll also want to invest in some CDs and recording or CD burning software. That way you can easily record the baby’s first word or a favorite piece of music. You can store the CD in the scrapbook or just make it part of your overall scrapbooking collection.

Jul 26

Felt Fun: “The Cute Book”

“The Cute Book” by Aranzi Aranzo

“The Cute Book” by Aranzi Aranzo

This weekend I came across the best craft book full of great felt projects – “The Cute Book” by Aranzi Aranzo (who also has a ”Bad Book” – for when you’re cute-d out).  It’s full of the coolest (and yes, they really are the cutest) patterns for all sorts of creatures.

So my six-year-old daughter and I did some over the weekend and we both had a great time – it’s really the perfect craft for all ages – and pretty cheap too!

So what it entailed was tracing the patterns, then cutting them out of the felt, then doing some sewing with embroidery thread and an embroidery or quilting needle (BTW, she’s using a very blunt quilting needle here – works on felt and safe for youngsters if you keep an eye on them), and a bit of glueing here and there.

When it was all done, I ended up with a super cute fish and my six-year-old just had a good time coming up with her own creations!

So if you’re looking for a fun and affordable project, this is definitely a great book to check out!

Jul 01

Digital Scrapbooking

scrapbook memoriesFor generations, scrapbooks were made of paper and plastic. And those still make for great media to record your memories. But since the invention of the personal computer and, even more so, the Internet, scrapbooking has reached new heights. Scrapbooking has gone digital.

Not so much a replacement for offline scrapbooking, digital scrapbooks expand the range of options. New forms of creativity, easier production and manipulation of images and text, and all sorts of other benefits flow from digital scrapbooking. But before talking about some of them, it’s best to explore just what digital scrapbooks are.

Digital scrapbooks either create or store those treasured photos, poems, journal entries and more on a computer. The source of the images can be either from a digital camera, some photos scanned by a scanner or off the Internet itself. The text can be a old diary scanned or re-typed, created using word processing software, or copied from any of the millions of sites around the world.

Many scrappers prefer a mix of offline and digital scrapbooking. That allows them to use all the tools for creativity available – image manipulation software, text editors, as well as craft skills like coloring, sewing, hand illustration or calligraphy.

Many software packages exist to help the scrapbooker create and manipulate images on a computer. Photoshop is one of the most well known, but there are many others. Mastering one takes practice, but most can be picked up and used in no time for basic functions like copying, cropping and changing basic attributes.

You may want to change the resolution, the image size, select and mix portions of the image or change the colors and contrast. With image software, that’s easy to do. And it can be done with more than just photographs.

Scrapbooks contain all kinds of images: copies of reality, pure imaginative inventions and a mixture of the two. Image software provides a range of functions for integrating drawings with photos, zooming, layering text over images and much more. Very high-end packages like the pros use cost hundreds of dollars. But there are many others that range from free to just a few dollars.

Fortunately, both image and text can go both ways using a computer – in or out. You can use a digital camera to create an image, then upload it to the computer using supplied hardware and software. You can use image manipulation software to alter or just print it, then put the output into your offline scrapbook.

But you can also create text off line, scan it into the computer and store the results forever. You can use word processing software to make it easy to copy huge blocks of text, change fonts and print it out to add journaling to your hardcopy scrapbook.

Computers add sound and video capability to go beyond a manual scrapbook. You can record the baby’s first word or first step. You can store those experiences forever on the hard drive, on an Internet storage area or burn them to a CD. Store the CD inside your offline scrapbook and you have a complete album containing text, photos, words and video.

The possibilities are limited only by your boundless imagination.

Jun 27

What Is Scrapbooking?

Woman scrapbookingScrapbooking is keeping a diary, but a very special kind of diary.

Men and women both have been storing their memories and experiences in written and visual form for thousands of years. Some cave paintings in France are over 40,000 years old. But diaries really took off in the 18th century. With cheaper, more plentiful and easier to use paper, keeping a diary became commonplace among royalty and commoner alike.

But a scrapbook is more than just a written diary. It holds photos, snippets of baby’s first hair, a special flower from that first dance… anything and everything that might be important to the scrapbooker. There are as many different items, and as many different styles, as there are individuals who keep a scrapbook. The name may say ‘scrapbook’ but it probably should say ‘precious memory book’.

And what’s precious is different for every person – man, woman, girl and boy. One girl may remember vividly that first home run in little league. A boy may want to record that first ribbon won in the spelling bee. A mother will want to keep a newborn baby’s bracelet from the hospital. Dad will want a photo of his son’s graduation from high school.

But for every scrapbook, some selectivity is required. We can’t yet store every item ever encountered. Even one running digital diary of daily thoughts and photos would consume more disk space than all the computers of the world! So, many are built around a theme.

For some it may be a coherent theme maintained across the years – the first kiss, the first published poem, the last love letter. For others, it’s a chronological journal of events in one’s life, however random. For still others it may be the family photo album full of great vacations, supplemented by descriptions, decorations and items gathered on those joyous occasions.

A scrapbook can be large or small, made of paper and plastic or purely electronic. It can be a set of volumes running from birth to death or it can be a single valued album with just the highlights of a life well lived.

But for every scrapbooker it is probably at least one thing: a treasured personal storehouse of disappointments and delights, sad times and joys, lows and highs. Because for every scrapbooker, the act of arranging those concrete reminders is sometimes nearly as important as the memories themselves.

Through scrapbooking we arrange those memories outside ourselves. It allows us to find a springboard that will bring them back to life, however momentarily and faintly or vividly and forever. We bring our experiences to life and re-live them, sometimes with nostalgia, at others with passionate glee.

A scrapbook is forever, passed from hand to hand, generation after generation. It is the history of our lives, told by those who thought them important enough to convey to ourselves and those who came after.

Jun 27

Scrapbooking Tools

scrapbookingYou’ll need a variety of tools to help you make your scrapbook everything you want it to be.

Basic scissors are a great starting point. But remember to get ones that fit your hand. Scissors come in all sizes and many shapes. Some people work best with ones with small finger holes, others need a larger opening. Some scrapbookers will want ones with very sharp points, others prefer the added safety of rounded corners.

An Xacto knife is another indispensable tool. There are times when it’s ever so much easier to slice on a board rather than cut. Expand on that idea by investing in a cutting or trimming board or mat. That will save your desk or kitchen table from looking like a bunch of airport runways with lines at all angles.

A trimmer will allow you to place a flat object, usually paper, then slice a clean straight line in one motion. There are all sorts of fancy ones with ruled edges, paper holders and other features. Some have interchangeable face plates. But don’t forget the key feature: sharp blades that are safe and easy to use.

A hole punch is another handy tool for scrapbooking. If you print out something on the computer or buy some paper for a scrapbook page it will often be a continuous rectangle. But many scrapbook designs call for storing pages in an album that is similar to a three-ring binder. That creates a need for a hole punch to avoid making ragged-edged punctures in the paper.

Three-hole punches allow you to adjust where the holes should go to fit any scrapbook album style. At the same time, they make it easy to line up the holes and create them with one simple push. But a single-hole punch can be equally useful. Many small items, like an invitation to a special event or a ribbon won in a contest can be stored securely in a scrapbook by making a single, clean hole.

You may want to invest in a cropping tool. Many professionals who have to trim or crop photos find they can’t live without one. They can be as simple as a special pair of scissors or a knife that will trim photos and illustrations to just the right size and shape.

On the higher end of the scale, small machines will allow you to feed your photo in and have it cropped to just the size and shape you want. They also allow a scrapbooker to create a dazzling array of paper or cardboard letters and unique personalized embellishments.

Don’t forget to order a personalized stamp pad or die cut. You can give your scrapbook that unique look that anyone will identify with only you. It could be a personally created design, your name, a logo… anything! Go one step further and get embossing powder and a heat tool and you can permanently encode your own personal design onto any page.

But be sure to add that set of pens and pencils, with stencils and templates, that allow you to journal and color your scrapbook to your own personal taste.

Jun 27

Scrapbooking – All About Vellum

scrapbookingScrapbookers have taken to vellum as the perfect material for enhancing their creative efforts.

In olden days, paper was unknown. The technology for processing wood into pulp for writing simply didn’t exist. Instead, animal skins (usually calves, but often goats and lambs) were stretched and dried to make a flat surface that would accept ink. That’s why you see so many ancient books that have a special look.

Modern vellum is very different but the look is much the same. Translucent, veined and very delicate, vellum provides an elegant addition to scrapbook design efforts. But it can be a little tricky to use correctly.

Vellum isn’t as porous as paper so inks and glues have to be applied with care.

Since it doesn’t absorb ink as readily as paper, you need to be a little more patient with vellum. Allow ample time to dry. Some never will fully dry without help. You can sprinkle a little talcum powder on the surface and blow the remainder gently away.

Vellum can be fragile, but with care it can still be used in a computer printer. Here again it’s important to allow ample time for the ink to dry. If you print more than one page, remove the first one before the second prints out. If one side is shinier than the other use it for printing.

Since most vellum shows through the page with just a little light, you need to take care with adhesives. Unless you want the glue to show up, try a very thin layer, say by spraying. Or, use a machine such as the Xyron if you want to cover the entire back of the page. That can allow you to use vellum to make a soft cover for a special look on a wedding-oriented page, or for any other creative use.

Any glue used should be acid free. A good acid-free glue stick can be the perfect tool to attach the corners of a vellum page to your scrapbook. It won’t become yellow or brittle over time. But give it ample time to dry by keeping the book open longer than you normally would. If your corners show through because of the adhesive you can hide them cleverly with page corners and other design elements.

Be sure to use quality vellum that is both acid-free and lignin-free. Acid (usually weak sulfuric acid) is what eats parchment away over time. That’s why old books have yellow pages. That old look may be just what you want, but it will eventually make your pages brittle and fragile.

You can punch holes in vellum and doing so can make for a beautiful design. Take care when folding if you want to make multiple cut-outs with a single punch. Creative tearing can produce a rough edge to give your scrapbook page that medieval look.

Vellum is great for wedding or heritage scrapbooks, but it’s an equally great choice anytime you want that look that only vellum can provide.

Jun 27

Your Scrapbook Memories

scrapbook memoriesKeeping a scrapbook is a practice that goes back centuries in one form or another. But modern scrappers are luckier than their ancestors because they have so many creative tools at their disposal.

Look around and you’ll find scrapbook themes of every conceivable genre. Heritage scrapbooks, containing old family photos, letters, medals and other memorabilia are a popular choice. But there are hundreds more. Baby books, vacation diaries and many that are just a daily record of personally meaningful events.

But to put all those memories together you need tools. The basic supplies – album, album pages, scissors, colored pens and pencils, adhesives – are easy to find and inexpensive. But once you reach a certain stage you’ll want to invest in a trimmer, a cropping tool and a few others.

Even with just those simple tools you can create pages of dazzling variety. Punches let you pierce paper to make interesting hole patterns. You can use them purely as a decorative element or to allow photos to show through. With patterned paper, inks and chalks, you can make bright, cheery borders or ones that reflect your somber moments.

Even adhesive has become more than a utilitarian item, extending creative opportunities. Spray adhesive will allow you to attach an entire patterned paper in one sweep. Glue sticks, glue dots or foam squares make it easy to attach photos to your scrapbook pages in seconds. Good ones are acid-free and are designed to make it possible to remove the photo later without tearing. That makes it simple to make copies, rearrange and re-design later.

For many, their home computer has become the tool of choice as they bring scrapbook into the digital age. Scanners can add old photos and letters, but creating and manipulating images from original digital sources is a major enterprise. Digital cameras allow the scrapbooker to capture just the right moment. Software like Photoshop and others make it easy to adjust color, contrast, resolution, crop and do so much more with a few mouse clicks.

But even in the traditional media there are many new materials and methods. Use of vellum parchment is centuries old. Many monks in monasteries developed the use of animal skins for writing media to a high art. The modern form is made very differently but it retains many of the same attractive qualities, including that all-important look.

By combining old and new you can arrange your scrapbook text and photos in ever more complex and creative ways. The best thing about contemporary scrapbooking tools and techniques is they provide the means to express your boundless imagination. Yet, with all the great technology available the basic purpose remains the same: to store your precious memories.

Older posts «