no-fuss paper roses

January 30, 2011 § 68 Comments

I promise these are the easiest paper roses you’ll ever make!

The ornamental design of paper doilies is what makes these roses so naturally exquisite.  Because the beauty is intrinsic in the material, these paper doily roses require little fuss to look beautiful.

1. Take an 8″ red paper doily and cut a straight line to the center.

2. Roll the doily, making sure the wrong side faces up.

3. Twist the end.

4. You may use floral tape to create a stem, but I used what I found at home — green painter’s tape.

5. Optional: you can cover the stem with ribbon for a more polished look.

There you have it — a paper rose in seconds!  These paper doily roses are not only simple to make, they are also very inexpensive.  I managed to pick up half a dozen red paper doilies for $1 at the dollar store.

A bouquet of these is certainly a stunning substitute for bows when wrapping gifts, but, with the help of some glue and magnets, I also fancy having a beautiful collection of paper roses on my fridge!

wine cork pens

January 28, 2011 § 43 Comments

Have I had too much wine, you ask?  In fact not.  By heredity, I have been cursed with the  Asian affliction of poor alcohol metabolism.  It is a factual genetic mutation and you can read about it on Wikipedia here and on Wise Geek here, if you want an explanation on why most of your Asian colleagues were flushed red in the face from a sip of wine during the office holiday party last month.  For that reason, I’m no big wine drinker at all, despite what the evidence says in the above picture or in my craft room (a never-ending stash of wine corks).

I loved this project because it took no more than five minutes to complete and I got to use my drill.  Yes, it’s as simple as that.  Carefully drill through the center of your wine corks (better if you have a drill press), and slip over a pen.  But please — no drinking and drilling.

sneak peek!

January 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

I recently finished writing a craft tutorial for Canadian Living (my first guest blogging appearance!) and I’m really excited to let you have the first peek here before it goes live on their The Craft Blog the week before Valentine’s.  Any guesses what I made?

belted cup cozy fringe

January 26, 2011 § 12 Comments

This week on Iron Craft: Challenge #4 “Get Cozy”. The challenge is to make a coffee cup cozy.

My version is fashion-inspired, using patterned felt, given some fringes, and secured with a camel microsuede belt.

You will need felt, microsuede, and a belt buckle from an old, unwanted belt.

1. Cut the felt to size.  I used the paper cup cozy as a template.

2. Cut the microsuede to size.  This will be the belt.

3. Punch a hole and insert the prong.  Glue shut.

4. Glue the belt on the felt.  Create a narrow strip for the band.  Punch holes (make sure to wrap it around the cup to ensure the placement of the hole is accurate and the belt will be snug).


Head over to Iron Craft to check out the wonderful creations by many creative crafters.

heart ties and baubles

January 25, 2011 § 12 Comments

I have a couple of heart ice cube trays I picked up at the dollar store years ago.  I finally found a different purpose for one of the trays other than, well, ice cubes or molded chocolate.  I decided to make these heart ties and baubles by molding some plaster and doodling away.

If you have a little girl, they’re going to love designing their own hair ties and baubles.  There is a more durable variety of plaster you can use for this purpose.  As for me, I think I’m going to use these to accent some small boxes for my Valentine.

You will need a heart ice cube tray, unused hair ties, plaster, disposable bowl, disposable spoon, and permanent markers.

1.  For baubles, you will need to cut open two hair ties.

2. Mix plaster as directed on the package.  Carefully spoon into mold.  While plaster is still wet, place the hair ties in the mold.  For baubles, you will need to place two cut hair ties.   Make sure the hair ties are upright.

3. Doodle your desired pattern using permanent markers.

You can really personalize these by writing names and initials.

I can even see the baubles being used as napkin rings for a Valentine wedding – one heart having the initial of the bride and the other, the groom.  Or they can be used as favor tags for a small box of truffles.

istanbul was constantinople

January 23, 2011 § 9 Comments

It seems the “plane” of paper, plate, and plane is lagging far behind.  I hope to make up for the lag today.  The third installment of my Istanbul trip was on my to-blog list for December.   Over the holidays, instead of compiling my own thoughts and experiences of Turkey, I watched Hallmark Channel’s reruns of Martha Stewart’s adventures.  They were a great reminder of the marvelous time I spent in Istanbul last summer and of the delay my travel posts are experiencing.

Back in November, I began recounting my trip to Istanbul in the posts Inspiring Istanbul ( dedicated entirely to Turkey’s beautiful İznik Tiles) and Turkish Delights (highlighting all the mouth-watering exotic fare that had me bursting at the seams during my trip).  I left out the most important post for last — the historical sights of Istanbul.  Istanbul is rich in history, having been the seat of four empires throughout history.   Yes, once upon a time, Istanbul was Constantinople.  I think we all learned that from a song!

Istanbul is the only city in the world situated in both Europe and Asia.  The continents are divided by the Bosphorus Strait, along which the city is built.  Most residential areas are in the Asian side of the city, commerce and main historical sights on the European side (shown above).  There are two very busy bridges connecting the two continents, but the best way to cross the strait is by taking one of many frequent ferry rides across.

Our first stop — the most famous sight in Istanbul, the Hagia Sofia.  Now a museum, it was once the largest church in the world for nearly a thousand years.  It wasn’t the architecture that had me in awe, as is usually the case when I travel.  What had me marvel here was the combination of Christian and Muslim relics.  The Hagia Sofia was once converted into a mosque, and despite being so, the Christian iconography was not entirely eradicated.

The next stop was just across the way, Sultanahmet Mosque or Blue Mosque — a breathtaking structure with walls fully adorned with blue tiles.  My most memorable moment at the Blue Mosque was outside in the busy courtyard where O.T. left me alone for a few minutes.  A Turkish lady, around my age, approached me, paying compliments to my dress and purse and asking what country I came from and how I was enjoying my tour.  I automatically felt wary, as I had been forewarned about the rampant pick-pocketing happening throughout the city.  In the end, I realized she just simply enjoyed speaking to foreigners, likely wanting to practice her English, which she spoke very well.  I was embarrassed that while she spoke to me about her cousin in Montreal and her hopes of visiting North America one day, I had my purse guarded with both arms across my chest.  I feel awful!

Within the same tourist block is the famous Topkapı Palace, from which there is a magnificent view of the Bosphorus Bridge and the Asian side of the city.

I was wide-eyed at the sight of beautiful İznik tiles at Topkapı Palace.  Every building within the palace walls were either gilded with gold or covered in porcelain.  I also had my first ever visit to a harem.

Down the street from Sultanahmet Square is an underground wonder, the Basilica Cistern.  It is a large ancient underground water receptacle, built way back in the 6th century.  When I first discovered the sight years ago through an episode of The Amazing Race (I’m a loyal fan), I knew it is one of those sights I had to visit in my lifetime.  I’m happy I had the chance.

Of course, my absolute favorite place in Istanbul is a market.  But not just any market.  The Egyptian Spice Bazaar.  I will go back to Istanbul in a heartbeat just so I can go back for a stroll in the Spice Bazaar.  I love crowded markets.  I fell in love with everything that was there.  Turkish delight confections (as shown in my previous post), exotic spices, dried fruits and vegetables, ceramics, belly dancing outfits, hookah pipes.

I begged O.T. to take me there more than once.  I had to go back to try a turban (I really wanted a belly dancing outfit, but they are expensive!) and he went back for a ceramic trinket as a souvenir for my aunt in San Francisco (how sweet!).

Next door to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar is the Grand Bazaar — the largest covered market in the world, with nearly 60 covered streets and 4,000 shops!!!  It was an overwhelming labyrinth of stalls selling rugs, ceramics, clothes, and other Turkish knick-knacks.

Another famous site is the Maiden’s Tower on a tiny little island in the middle of the Bosphorus, a prized landmark in Istanbul.

For one entire day, we took an hour long ferry to Big Island in the middle of the Sea of Marmara.  We embarked on a 2 hour bike ride along the perimeter of the island, as well as through the busy shop-lined streets of the island’s center.  That was my most favorite day.

Thanks to my projects being featured on Marifet, I realize I have some Turkish readers on this blog.  To my Turkish friends, I would like to say Merhaba!  Bloguma hoşgeldiniz!  To my friends who haven’t seen Istanbul, I hope I could inspire you to visit the city one day.  If these photos here don’t convince you, I’m sure Martha Stewart’s episode “The Istanbul Show” can make the sell (I have watched it so many times).  I plan on returning to Istanbul many times over.

faux metal bib necklace

January 21, 2011 § 21 Comments

Yesterday’s faux metal flowers have been crafted into a statement bib necklace!

I think people might find it pretty hard to believe that this beautiful accessory is made out of a piece of Con-Tact vinyl shelf liner (brushed nickel finish), brads, and ribbon.  The process was so simple, but the result has so much impact.    The Con-Tact paper proved perfect for this purpose.  Because it is vinyl, the product is soft, flexible, and very light.  A real metal bib necklace of this scale would be so much more cumbersome to wear, no matter how thin the metal sheet would be, not to mention the bothersome sounds of clanging.

You will need faux metal flowers (if you’re just tuning in, you can find yesterday’s tutorial here), black brads, black satin ribbon, 1/8″ hole punch, and a pair of scissors.

1. Cut small, random lengths of ribbon between 4″ to 6″ in length.  For each length, fold in half.  With a 1/8″ hole punch, punch a hole right through both layers of ribbon.  Feed the flower through the hole and close the brad.   The flowers are now attached to loops.

2. Feed each loop of flower through a 36″ length of ribbon.  Along the center of the ribbon, arrange the loops 1-1/2″ apart.  Punch a hole at the top center of the loops and secure to the main ribbon with a brad.

3. To close the gaps between the loops, weave through two additional rows of ribbon and attach at each end with a brad.

You have the option to stop at step 2 if you want to let the flowers simply hang.  Or you may proceed to step 3 to create a woven bib.

I am now imagining an endless line of accessories to create using these faux metal flowers.  They can be attached to headbands, barrettes, hair ties, pins (for brooches), even purses.  I think I will apply the same techniques on copper and wood grain Con-Tact paper for a much different look.  Faux bois flowers?  I’m loving the thought!

faux metal flowers

January 20, 2011 § 20 Comments

Who else here has an obsession with self-stick decorative shelf liners?  For me, not any self-stick decorative shelf liner.  I love my Con-Tact Paper (wow, this sounds like a paid endorsement — I promise it isn’t!).  Over the years, I’ve started a collection.  There are finishes like faux metal, faux leather, faux velour, and faux bois that are available at most hardware stores.  There is an endless list of crafty things to do with the material, as it provides the illusion that an object is something that it is not.  I realize, I really need to craft with this stuff more often.

I’ll start with something simple enough: faux metal flowers.  Paper flowers are the most popular of paper crafts.  Well, with a simple switch in material, those flowers are suddenly modern and cutting-edge.

You will need a roll of Con-Tact brushed metal shelf liner (I used nickel finish), brads (I used copper), and a pair of scissors.

1. Cut  a length of the liner.  Peel off backing and fold in half so that you have a double-sided sheet of faux-metal.

2. Trace petals.  You may create any shape you want, but you are welcome to use this downloadable template I whipped up to facilitate the process.

3. Cut petals.

4. Punch centers.

5. Attach petals with brad.

6. Pinch petals towards the center to add dimension.

Time to use them as embellishments!  I’m sure you can imagine all sorts of things to embellish with these flowers.  I’ll be back tomorrow to show you what I made with these.  Stay tuned!

edible bunting

January 19, 2011 § 25 Comments

This week on Iron Craft: “Just Bunt”.  The challenge is to design and create bunting, which seems to be all the rage in décor these days.

I thought making decorative flags would be simple enough, being a stationery designer by trade.  However, I would be remiss if I weren’t to explore this challenge outside of the usual parameters (of paper).  So, I decided to save my beautiful stock for something less, well, flat.  I moved on to my next obsession: food.  My bunting is made out of 100% candy.

Thank the geniuses who invented Fruit Roll-ups for providing the world with edible paper, pretty much (albeit very sticky).  Hats off to the masterminds behind licorice lace.

All kudos to the manufacturers aside.  A rant…..I went to two grocery stores and two Walmarts before I found Fruit Roll-ups!  What gives?  Is it a fad of the past?  Fruit-by-the-Foot is fully stocked at all stores.  Betty Crocker must have conclusive market research that children prefer their candy in strips instead of sheets.  But how about grown-up children like me with capricious urges for edible bunting?!?  And don’t get me started on licorice lace.  I couldn’t find the never-ending one-length kind anywhere.  I do love me my Pull-n-Peel, though.  Even if it comes in shorter lengths, it does the job and makes my tummy grin wide (or just wide).

To make your own candy bunting:

1. Take a sheet of Fruit Roll-ups and cut into a triangular flag.  Press a cookie cutter, if desired.  (I wish I had letter cookie cutters to create a version spelling “Eat Me”.  For now, this bunting is a hearty ode to Valentine’s).

2. Press licorice lace about 1/2″ from the edge, with enough hanging on each side to facilitate bow-tying (I used two pieces of Pull-n-Peel).  Fold the edge over the licorice.

3. Trim the remnant into a narrower triangular flag and add licorice lace as above.

4. Tie the two flags together into a bow.  Trim the bow’s tails.

5. Repeat pattern.   NOTE: The candy has much more weight than paper.  It is best to create separate lengths of bunting, each having no more than 4 sheets of Fruit Roll-ups (remnants included).

Kids may just be asking for this as party décor for their next birthday.  Though I can imagine it would be torn apart and eaten before the last guest arrives.

There’s a lot of miniature bunting going on cakes and cupcakes as well.  This, being translucent, is a great alternative to gum paste.

candy heart coasters

January 17, 2011 § 14 Comments

Here’s a conversation piece for your coffee table — conversation candy heart coasters.  It’s the perfect time of year to make and use these.  You will not be able to get your hands on any of the candy after next month (and after you’ve forever set them in silicone rubber).

You will need:

a. A paint stirrer or anything disposable with a flat edge for spreading.

b. If I had the budget to buy resin, I would have.  But for now, the best I could do is clear silicone rubber caulking.  You can get a tube at the hardware store for about $3.  It doesn’t give the best clarity.  Even though it is labeled as “clear”, it is translucent (foggy).  Rubber will not dissolve the candy into a pool of sugar, unlike water soluble adhesives such as clear glue.  Please NOTE: this is not a craft for kids.  Uncured silicone rubber is malodorous and may cause irritation.

c. Conversation candy hearts.

d. Plastic lids.

1. Spread a generous layer of silicone rubber on lids (1/8″ thick)  Carefully smooth out until even.  The smoother, the less bubbles and holes.

2. Arrange your candy hearts, right side down — if you want the letters to show, they should be facing the plastic (left example); if you want only the heart shape to show, the letters should be facing up (right example).

3. Generously cover all the gaps and candy with silicone rubber.  Carefully smooth out until even.  Let dry for 24 hours or as suggested on packaging.

4. After the rubber has cured, turn the lid over and trim away the lip (only if you have the type of lid with a recessed lip).  The rubber will be cured on the plastic and cannot be removed without being destroyed.

The top of the coaster will be the plastic side and the bottom, the rubber side.  Conveniently, these coasters are non-slip!

Just don’t forget to save some candy on the side, because once they’re set in, they are there for good!

sheep plush out of mitts and gloves

January 16, 2011 § 28 Comments

So you’re wondering what to do with an unused faux-wool car wash mitt, an old pair of black fleece mitts, and an old pair of black chenille gloves (you’re not alone,  it’s been a confounding daily ponderable for me, too).  Well, with these items, you can make a new friend.

That’s right, I made this lovable little sheep using the above variety of mitts and gloves.  I picked up the car wash mitt from Dollarama a while back, saving it from a life of grimy slavery.  Perhaps my American readers can rescue a similar mitt from the Dollar Tree.  The advantage of living through blistering cold Canadian winters is I have a stash of old mittens and gloves to append to the car wash mitt.

To recreate this little fellow:

1. Sever the thumb off one of the fleece mitts.

2. On the second fleece mitt, cut along the side opposite the thumb.  Stop once you reach the length equal to where the thumb is joined.

3. On that same mitt, cut the cuff.

4. Sew the thumb on the open side of the second mitt (both turned inside out).  Sew the mitt shut.

5. Cut a slit along the middle of the mitt, the length of the car wash mitt cuff.  Turn right side out.

6. Cut together in one piece the index and middle fingers of the chenille gloves (pairs of legs).  On one of the gloves, sever the thumb (tail).

7. Turn the car wash mitt inside out.  Rip small openings in the seams for the legs and the tail.

8. Fill the legs and tail with the remaining unused fingers of the gloves.  Feed through the designated openings and sew onto the open seams of the car mitt.

9. Turn the car wash mitt right side out.  Fill with your choice of material.  I suggest the leftover pieces of mitts and scraps of an old sweater.

10.  Fill the head.  Wrap the opening around the cuff and sew together.  Add eyes.  My own eyes were set on the big googlies.

I know I won’t miss the mitts and gloves, now that I have something else to love.

high heel treat box

January 14, 2011 § 34 Comments

Here’s a sweet step to a sugar high in preparation for Valentine’s day — a paper shoe filled high in the heel with candy treats.

Perhaps you’re beginning to catch on to my obsessive need to design boxes after the itsy bitsy spider box for Halloween, Thanksgiving’s harvest candy corn boxes, and the crazy Christmas advent lego-inspired boxes ( which may have led you to the conclusion that I may experience lapses in sanity).  :p

Conveniently, all I had to do was some digging into the coffers for Valentine’s.  I designed the first version of this high heel box almost a decade ago — I was still doing my undergrad in architecture, not yet knowing that my future will not be as an architect but as a stationery designer and crafter (oh, if my old self could talk to me now…she would not talk to me).  Thanks to Leo Mascariñas who helped me style and photograph the above shot a couple of years back, which meant today, I only had to worry about the tutorial pictures!

Download the high heel favor box template right here.  You will see there are two parts.

1. Trace the heel template onto black cardstock.  Cut, score, and fold according to the lines.

2. Fold in all four trapezoids and adhere with double-sided tape.

3. Your heel box will look like this.  Set aside.

4. I added a small gingham graphic pattern and name directly on the sole template file before printing on cardstock.  You can print just the template if you want to use scrapbooking paper for the sides of the shoe (the circles) and write or stamp the name instead.

5. Take a circle and tape under the shoe, with the pattern facing out.  Repeat for second circle.

6. Punch a hole on each circle, close to the top middle edge.  Tie with ribbon.

7. Tape the sole to the inner wall of the heel, opposite the lid.

8. I would suggest creating a brace for the bottom of the shoe to prevent any flopping around.  Instead of a brace, you can even make a small, shallow “shoe box” to sit the shoe on as a brace…just randomly thought of that now and wish I did before I took the pictures…

Since my life has revolved around the wedding industry this past half a decade, the box was tweaked for bridal showers.  But now, I’d like to give it new breath for Valentine’s.  Or a Sweet 16.  Or a super-stylish-sexy Sex and the City party.  There are many, many ways to celebrate women.  However way you choose to celebrate, don’t let your guests walk away without these shoes!

army draft dodger fights the chill

January 12, 2011 § 29 Comments

I love a great challenge.  Iron Craft’s taunt, “1 year, 52 challenges…are you creative enough?”, is one I am not willing to dismiss!  I discovered the site last week, the day before the first deadline and scurried for the challenge: “Lighting the Winter Gloom”.  I hit the clearance bins that Tuesday night for white Christmas lights and they were sold out.  But I didn’t leave empty handed.  I snagged red lights, despite that my shining idea is deferred to another time.  I couldn’t submit — red lights weren’t going to work for me on Iron Craft, not with the unusual idea I had in mind.   Instead, I crafted a Valentine’s-themed wall lamp and am heartily pleased with the outcome even with my lack of submission.

Now, this week, it’s all fair game.  The challenge is: “Stay Warm” and make a draft dodger (a clever cloth contraption to keep the cold air at bay).  I read the post and my idea instantaneously dawned.  Draft dodgers fight the chill.  Army men are drafted.  Army men fight…well, the idea came together quite orderly (Yessir!  Pun intended, sir!).  These are not the type of  “draft dodgers” evading enlistment!

My army of soldiers fights the chill on this crafty draft dodger.  Of course, I have the step-by-step tutorial so you can recreate this project!

You will need:

a. A 3″ wide strip of foam, the length of your door or windowsill.

b.  Brown burlap and natural burlap.  It may seem counterintuitive to use a fabric that has a loose weave, but burlap in fact possesses proficient insulating and protective properties. explains some uses of burlap, including as energy efficient curtains.  Convenient that it’s inexpensive.  I spent just over $1 on this burlap, and have remnants to use for small future projects.  Perfect, too, for my army barracks!

c. Beans.  I used less than $1 worth of soy, as they are some of the cheaper options.

d. A brave army of toy soldiers.

1. Cut the brown burlap to size (enough to wrap your strip of foam with an allowance for seams).  Fold in half.  Sew the length and sew one of the short ends.

2. Turn the tube inside out.  Carefully feed the foam through.  I used two long dowels to aid in this process.  Sew the end shut.

3. Sew small squares and rectangles and fill with beans.  The best way is to sew long, narrow pieces (about 1-1/2″ to 1-3/4″ in width) into tubes, then cut into shorter lengths (between 1-1/2″ and 2-1/2″).  For each piece, sew one end, then fill, and sew shut.

4. Arrange and adhere the small bean bags using a hot glue gun.  Or you can sew them on.

5. I opted to glue thumbtacks on the bottoms of the soldiers, to give them the freedom to huddle and arrange positions.

Now my windowsill is armed and guarded.  Is it snow or an oversize white flag I see blanketed outdoors?!?

leopard décor orbs

January 11, 2011 § 8 Comments

O.T. and I have short nightly reviews of my projects here.  He had little insight on yesterday’s leopard lunch bag luminaries other than “It’s okay, just not up to your caliber”.  It’s interesting to be told what isn’t my caliber, which leaves me to wonder what is.  Where is potato-stamping ranked along my yardstick of creativity?  I thought it through and know he isn’t altogether right.  Sure potato-stamping is a rudimentary craft, but it doesn’t mean the method will produce elementary results.  Not always.  Not if I can help it.

At the same time as I made the leopard luminaries, I fashioned these décor orbs using the same leopard potato stamps that have been well exploited on this blog for the past two posts (now make it three).

There’s little to this project other than said stamps (if you’re just tuning in, you can see me make leopard potato stamps on a previous post here),  styrofoam balls, acrylic paints, and some glossy podge.

I really wanted to leopardize a pair of canvas shoes when I realized I don’t own canvas shoes to begin with!  Darn, that would’ve been the best of the series, had the idea materialized.  I would love to see if any of you have leopardized any objects from home.  But alas, for me, this shall be the last time my lovely leopard makes its impression.  It’s been three days.  Potato stamps meet compost.  Compost, potato stamps.

leopard lunch bag luminaries

January 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

As promised, I set off on a potato-stamping spree. I made for the kitchen in search of some less-likely candidates to pre-exist in leopard print. The lunch paper bag beckoned!

I’ve been wanting to fashion some type of luminary craft over here, and my freshly carved leopard potato stamps were leaping to be used.

All you’ll need are said leopard potato stamps, brown paper lunch bags, scissors (if you want to have luminaries of varying heights, as I’ve created), dark brown paint, and black paint.  If you are just tuning in, I carved leopard prints out of russet potatoes yesterday, and you can click here to see how I made them.

I think these leopard lunch bag luminaries may be a brilliant choice to illuminate a chic outdoor party or even a bridal shower for the trendy bride (maybe on the rooftop?)!

*Now, lunch bag luminaries have made themselves present over the past decade, and I haven’t unearthed horror tales of fire mishaps using these things.  In fact, I have been to a successful party where at least 30 paper bag luminaries were lit, in the backyard of course!  The bags were filled with an inch of sand which acted both as niche for the tea light (in a tea light holder) and as a fire retardant (in case the luminary is accidentally budged.  I wouldn’t suggest using these indoors.*

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