DIY Home decor balls made from natural materials

Well, since it is officially “spring” now (had to insert a teeny bit of sarcasm there just because it is actually snowing here today… bleh), I thought I would share this fun idea so that if you want to do it, you can start collecting your materials this spring/ summer!

Check out this arrangement of decor balls! The variety is unique and interesting, and it has tons of visual interest with all the different textures. Guess what?! My mom made each and every ball from things she had growing around her home. Neat, right?

The balls that look like grapevines are actually jasmine vines that were growing out of control out on the deck and had to be pruned.  She wrapped the vines around a squishy fabric water toy ball which was easily removed after it was wrapped.  She let the vines dry and they held their shape.

This ball was made by poking the heads of wheat into a Styrofoam ball and trimming them to be uniform in length.  My parents grew wheat a couple of years ago as a ground cover, and my mom dried it, so they had it laying around already, but you could probably find it growing on the side of the road in a rural area if you wanted to use it for home decor.

What to do with the stems from the wheat?  Make more decor balls, of course!  We put the wheat in my mom’s bathtub to soak overnight.  This is all I can take credit for of this project. 😛  I had to go back home the next day, but my mom was kind enough to take pictures of what she did for all of us to see.

You could use a styrofoam ball to wrap the wheat around, if you had one, but if you didn’t, or you want to be really frugal, you can use some plastic cups like this and wrap the wheat around those- you will still get a nice round ball.

Wrapping the wheat is going to be much easier if you have one continuous strand, and the nice thing about wheat is that it is hollow in the stem, so you can fit one piece over another and make a long piece.  The important thing to remember is to wrap it tightly, holding your finger over the joint where the two pieces of wheat come together so they don’t come apart.

Fasten the wheat by tucking the last end under an already- wrapped piece, and let the balls dry.  You can really speed up that process by setting them on a heat vent or someplace where they get good air circulation.

For the leaf balls, there are two different techniques.  I wasn’t part of the process for the green leaf balls, so I don’t have any pictures of those being made, but I will explain it as it was explained to me.  The leaves were freshly picked, so they were very pliable.  Each leaf was pinned onto a styrofoam ball in a neat, overlapping pattern, using short pins.  Once the ball was covered with leaves, my mom set the balls in a bucket of flower drying silica for about four days.  This sped up the drying process and allowed the leaves to keep their bright green color.  You can optionally put several coats of mod podge over the leaves to add a glossy finish and help keep it all in place.

The brown leaf ball was made with a different method.  These leaves are ones that had previously been picked and pressed between boards, but they were still somewhat pliable.  Here are our materials: styrofoam ball that has been spray painted with gold floral paint, mod podge, and a foam brush.

We covered the ball with a coat of mod podge…

…as well as the bottom of each leaf.  Don’t worry, the leaves are not directly on the counter- there is a sheet of wax paper under them to make them easy to peel up.

We then began putting the leaves onto the ball.  But the problem with gluing leaves on balls is that… they just don’t stick very well.  So we used short pins to hold the leaves in place.  We only pushed them in a little bit because we wanted to be able to remove them easily later.

These leaves were glued/ pinned on in an overlapping fashion as well.  We gave each leaf a coat of mod podge after being pinned in place.

Each leaf was pinned at the top and the bottom, with the pin being poked at an angle.  We found that if you poke the pin through the leaf at an angle, with the head of the pin pointing away from the leaf, the leaves will stay in place much better and adhere more to the ball.

We made sure there were no gaps and added extra leaves where necessary to cover any styrofoam peeking through the leaves.

Once the entire ball was covered with the leaves, it got several coats of mod podge, and it was allowed to dry between each coat.  After it was dry from the first coat, we carefully removed the pins, then added the second coat.

I love how it turned out!

A few Christmas gifts

We’re back! After an exhausting but fun- filled out- of- state vacation, we are ready to go again! Did you all have a good time during the holidays?

I’ve got some fun projects that I am just itching to share, but first I want to show you some of the things I made for Christmas this year… ready?!

I created a “Nativity Story” binder based on one my mom made when we were young. It was something we read out of on Christmas Eve and the children acted out the story as it was read. It was a tradition that I loved, and have missed it since I have been away from home, so it was time to make one of my own.

It includes the Christmas Story from the Scriptures, Christmas Hymns, and beautiful artwork which I was able to get off the internet- legally, I might add, as all the art was either public domain or explicit permission given for downloading and printing. Score!

I spent 20+ hours compiling and beautifying to my satisfaction, and getting it ready for printing. I had it printed on glossy cardstock and put it in page protectors in a three- ring binder. I covered the binders with fabric, decorated, and gave several away as gifts, as well as keeping one for myself.

 I referenced this tutorial at for the binder cover, and this one for the ornament embellishment.

My son needed a tiny pillow for sleeping, because he is old enough to need/ want a pillow, but regular sized pillows usually have too much loft (at least after washing them so many times) so they aren’t comfortable, so I bought a little pillow which is a decorating pillow meant to be covered, and I cut down a regular pillowcase and embroidered his name on it.  Overkill?  Probably.  What two year old is going to appreciate that kind of detail?  The truth is it is for me.  I like that kind of stuff.  So there.

 My mom requested an eye pillow/ cover thingy, so I drew one out and this is what I came up with:

Crepe backed satin on the front, and also for the elastic casing, and a sateen finish cotton from the extra pillowcase fabric for the back:

I saw this cool idea on Poppies at Play and promptly made some of these stylish washer bracelets for my youngest sister.  I liked the idea of giving her a variety of colors and patterns, so I mod podged different papers to both sides of the washer, and used a variety of ribbons with the idea of making it all interchangeable.

Here are the other sides of the washers…

And here she is modeling how cute the bracelets are on…

I decided to add the option of a necklace…

 Fun and easy project!

For our Christmas Eve pajamas tradition for my boys, I made these Superman PJs out of Marissa’s husbands PJs that he got last year which were too big for him.  Didn’t cost me a dime!  My husband got similar PJs at the same time so all three of my boys had Superman pajamas!  Oh the cuteness!

I used pajamas my boys already had as patterns for these.  I used the tutorial for the 90 minute shirt from made for the baby’s shirt.

As a companion to the pajamas, I made these Thomas the Tank Engine slippers for my toddler.  I made these slippers so they wouldn’t slide off his feet, and they keep his feet so toasty warm!  I am putting together a tutorial/ pattern which I will share if I can ever finish it.

Action shot!  Toddlers are not very cooperative models, but you get the idea.

Well, there’s more, but this post is getting long, and frankly, I am tired (only been home 24 hours, and fairly sleep deprived).  I will post more of my Christmas projects and stuff soon, and then we will get to some new stuff- yay!

Photo Clock Makeover

Remember Marissa’s post about revamping a clock?  Well here is another one… I thought I was pretty clever for thinking of this idea, but it turns out that it has been done before.  And the way it turned out isn’t quite as beautiful as I envisioned it.  Oh well.

I think part of my problem is that I am not loving the bright turquoise in my kitchen, but I guess I will keep it there for the time being.  It would go better in another room in my home, but I need a clock in the kitchen!  So for now it stays.  I do think it is an improvement on what I had before…

Yep, it looks better now.  How did the transformation take place?  Some masking tape and a grocery bag…
A can of spray paint…
A wedding photo and Inkscape…
Some experimenting with pretty fonts and a sheet of card stock…

And finally some mod podge and matching ribbon and white tape for the clock hands.

I think I would like to try this kind of thing again, just with a photo inside.  The text on the outside was pretty hard to get right, at least with the programs I currently have available to me.  The rest of it was fun though and I would say it was a good learning experience!  
Any other clock makeovers out there?  I’m still in the market for ideas.

(Dorm Room Decorating) For the Walls: Part 1

Remember the decoupaged boxes from my last post? Here is the art/ display aspect.  My sisters Marissa and Cara and I got together a couple weeks ago and did this in an hour or two.  The great thing about it is that once again, we only used recycled materials, so it was completely free.  As an added bonus, my junk/ craft supplies were diminished, giving me a little more space!  This one actually ended up in my craft/ sewing room:

These are the lids from the boxes Cara used for her dorm room. She has the lids hanging like this, and the matching boxes are on shelves, organizing her stuff.

The idea was that box lids were kind of shaped like canvases which totally qualifies them to become art, right?  You get the look of a canvas without spending the money, plus they were lightweight enough to hang from the tack strip on the wall.  That is a good thing, because as I recall from my dormitory days, it is pretty hard to hang things on cinder block walls, and regular picture frames are too heavy for the tack strip.  That leaves the option of posters and sticky tack or bare cinder block walls.  >>shudder<<

These are the boxes we started with…

I went with a black/ white text background.  I cut each page into strips and mod podged it to the top and bottom of my box, gave the whole thing an extra coat of glossy mod podge, and let it dry.

Next I made several accordion flowers by cutting brightly colored magazine pages in half lengthwise, then folding back and forth to make the “accordion”, folding the whole thing in half, and gluing the edges together.

I experimented with trimming some of the circles a bit to get different sizes.  I could also visualize using tissue flowers, or using cardstock or scrapbook paper.  I really like having a little texture on the boxes.

I debated a bit as to how to attach the flowers to the boxes, because I wanted them to be removable.  So, I cut out small circles from a magazine cover using the bottom of a cup as my guide…

…cut out the circles and dabbed some hot glue in the center…

And secured them to the backs of my flowers.

I then just put a piece of double stick tape on the flat sides…

…arranged the flowers on the boxes, and pressed them into place.  The flowers are lightweight enough that they stuck just fine, and I haven’t had any flowers fall off. Best of all, they can be easily removed and put inside the box, along with anything else, for easy transportation and/ or storage.

There are several ways the boxes could be hung; my highly professional method was to string a piece of tightly stretched yarn across the back.  We’ll see how it holds up, but so far so good.

Can I say again that I just love the idea of functional decorations?!  No need to find a box to pack up your decor in; the decor is the box!  It’s a great way to personalize your room.  I thought about making my boxes into a statement about consumerism by using old sales receipts as the background, and pictures of material goods on top, but strangely, the need to be all philosophical seems to have left me since graduating.  Ah well, I can still ponder on the metamorphosis of materials destined for the trash bin into fun and functional decor. 

(Dorm Room Decorating) Decorative Organization: Part 2

Here are two more easy, economical, and decorative ways to organize stuff for your space- challenged room.  (All the things in the Dorm Room Decorating series were designed for or inspired by the decorating needs of my sister Cara who is a college freshman and learning to adjust to dorm life.)

Pencil can: I cleaned out a canister that had bread crumbs or something in it and mod podged some pink stripey paper all the way around it.  Easy button easy.

Then, for added decoration, we made over a dozen origami lilies and attached them to pipe cleaner stems.  Each flower has a little message or encouragement written on its base. Here are instructions on how to fold the lilies if you are interested!

We wanted to add some more variety to the decor and storage in the dorm room, and we didn’t want to spend any money, so we went hunting through my craft supplies and found a few boxes, a bunch of magazines, and some mod podge. 

It seemed obvious that these things could make beautiful and functional art!  We used the lids as “canvases” for wall hangings.  Look for a post or two on that in the coming week.  Cara made the bottoms of her two boxes match the lids, so that they could be used separately or together as decorative, matching storage containers.  The great thing is that at the end of the year, she will not have to specially pack these decorative items, she can use the box and lid together to pack other things.  Brilliant!

These boxes are so fun.  Cara really let her personality come through on the pictures she chose for her boxes.  She was very drawn to bright colors, especially pinks and yellows (like most of her room).  We had to laugh as we did this project because it was so reminiscent of the Art Literacy classes we had in elementary school- but it was really fun!

I probably don’t need to explain this, but we just used sponge brushes to put the mod podge on the boxes, then smoothed on the magazine pictures.  We then coated the whole thing with glossy mod podge.  Since these boxes were meant to be functional, Cara decided to protect them further by wrapping clear packing tape around the corners to hopefully reduce the signs of wear that will surely appear.

And there you have a free, fun, functional and attractive storage solution, which is a great way to personalize and add color to a rather utilitarian space.

Banana hanger repurpose

We got a banana hanger as a wedding gift a year and a half ago, and I think it is awesome. I put it on our registry, and was so excited when we actually got it. But its funny that we kept it for a couple of reasons:

1. We don’t eat bananas (they give me stomach aches)
2. We therefore don’t buy bananas often

Come to think of it, I don’t know why I registered for it!

I didn’t want to just get rid of it though, I knew there had to be another use for it, and I had to find another use for it, because I am still kind of attached to how cool it is (I know, I’m a nerd, getting excited about kitchen accessories). Here is what I did so I could justify keeping it:

1. I spray painted the base black
2. Then I mod podged some pretty red rose paper onto the base as well, for some added color

An EASY makeover, and now it is fit to hang pretty things on…like necklaces…

I was also thinking it might be cool to use the hanger as a candle/lantern holder….future craft project? I think so!

Sassy Shelf Makeover

My Husband found this poor shelf at a school surplus sale for just Three bucks, and decided to bring it home and give it new hope. It was terrible – it had big ugly plastic hooks (Which we had to lovingly break off, because there were no screws holding them on) and some pretty bad screw holes where it had been secured to the wall it had previously hung on. I was assigned to do most of the prep work, after my hubby informed me he hates sanding. And since its so cold outside, I did all of the sanding in…(dun dun dun!) our living room…(not a good idea – that dust is hard to clean up, and I didn’t even mention the decreased air quality)! Anyway, I learned a couple lessons for furniture makeovers:
1. Don’t sand in your living room.
2. Don’t use wood glue to fill in big nasty holes, it takes multiple applications (it took me about 5-7 applications) and a lot of wasted glue by the time the holes are finally filled. Use real wood hole filler (or whatever its called).
3. SAND AFTER YOU FILL THE HOLES. Unfortunately we realized this after it was too late… you can see where the glue was covering the wood, and instead of the wood grain showing through the paint, you just see smooth patches where the glue is
4. Glossy finish paint is best for furniture, it just looks so much more classy.

So, ‘nough talk, here’s the fun part…pictures! Before, and after:

See the yucky holes? Poor homely shelf.
(You should have seen it before, with those terrible plastic hooks)

Looking much better already, with a fresh coat of glossy black spray paint…

Now, with a little help from Mod Podge, scrapbook paper, and some cute knobs from Home Depot (not to mention my wonderful hubby who drilled all the holes, and hung the shelf):

Drum roll please….

TA-DA! Look at my gorgeous new shelf!

up close and personal:

Some Decorating ideas:

Hang pictures/plaques from the knobs…

…and put pictures on top. This is how it looks, currently, but I’m going to be thinking of other ways to adorn my lovely new shelf!

I’m Linking to:

Craft Day- mod podge blocks (cardboard version)

Marissa and I have been getting together about once a week to do a crafty-homey type thing. This project was the result of Marissa wanting to make something in the “home decor” department. We thought letter blocks were cute, but didn’t have any wooden blocks. We ended up downloading a paper folding box template and making our non-cubical cubes out of cardboard. (Not recommended, for time management purposes) Then we covered them in paper- black and white scrapbook paper on one set, and brown craft paper on the other. It’s all held together with generous amounts of Mod Podge. I love the contrast of the red letters on the black and white. I used wrapping paper to make the letters on the Christmas block set. We traced around enlarged letters from a font we liked on the computer so the letters would match (I don’t consider myself an artist in that department at all). Anyway, despite being fairly time consuming (mostly assembling all the little boxes) we had fun putting this project together.