Magazine Inspired Texture

Kids love to cut and paste. Recently Miss Tickles was visiting for the afternoon and wanted to make something. With some old magazines, scissors, paste, and paper, she had a wonderful time creating collages.


I didn’t want to be left out of the fun, so I also put together a magazine collage. I was mainly looking for images that would look like texture.


After looking at the collage for a few days, I thought it would be fun to recreate the “textures” with a black marking pen. I did not try to draw all of the collage, but as you can see from the photo, it almost has a zentangle look to it— although probably none of it is close to official patterns.


I also tried to recreate the textures with watercolor, which was much more difficult. I still have much to learn, but it was a good exercise!

Watercolor-Textures collage

What can you do with a magazine image collage to help grow your creative skills?

Pottery Impressed by Nature

Our front porch is populated by three different kinds of vines. Wisteria takes sole possession of one side, the other by some type of laurel bush/vine (which I don’t like) and a unique vine I have loved since we moved into the house. In spring, my favorite vine explodes with new leaves of a fiery red color and as the leaves mature the color changes to a light washed out green and then, finally, a darker green. It doesn’t matter how much we cut it back, it grows like crazy popping up in the middle of all the other plants. With an intense session of online investigation, I finally discovered it is an Ampelopsis Arborea or, more commonly called, Peppervine. The photo below shows new leaves and, if you look closely, the tips of some leaves are already starting to turn green.


This past December my husband Tom surprised me with some pottery he made that incorporated the leaves from this vine in the design.


Let’s take a step back and share a little history with you. In the summer of 1990, Tom had the opportunity to work for a potter friend and learned to throw pottery, eventually creating his own line of “Ugly Mugs,” beverage mugs with quite a variety of unique faces.



This fuzzy photo shows you some of his “Ugly Mugs”.

Well, I guess in his case, learning to throw pottery is like learning to ride a bike— once you’ve learned you can pick it back up at any time. Two years ago one of the crafters at Silver Dollar City’s Fall Harvest Festival, Nancy Fairbanks, discovered his pottery past and invited him to give the wheel a spin when he wasn’t on stage singing with the Sons of the Silver Dollar.

Photo credit: Nancy Fairbanks

Photo credit: Nancy Fairbanks

Again this past fall, Nancy Fairbanks invited him to play in the clay.

Nancy-Fairbanks Potter, Tom Johnson Silver Dollar City Performer

Nancy Fairbanks and her daughter pose with Tom at Silver Dollar City. Photo credit: Nancy Fairbanks

Nancy is well know for incorporating nature into her pottery. This inspired him to bring some leaves from our Peppervine and then to make impressions in the clay bowl and vase.


One of the pieces has the leaf impressions on the inside of the bowl. After throwing the bowl on the wheel he pressed the leaves into the wet clay. Later, during the glazing process, Nancy applied wax to the leaf patterns which kept the glaze from covering them. Once in the kiln, the fiery heat melts the glaze into the clay but keeps the leaf patterns clear.




So, now I have my favorite vines both inside and out to enjoy whenever I want.

A Unicorn and Her Stick Horse Friend Go to The Big Apple

When a granddaughter calls and asks her Pa if he can make her a stick horse, it’s not long before there is sawdust flying in his workshop.


But why stop at just a stick horse when it can be a unicorn! And if you’re making one stick horse, there’s no reason not to make two, since her little brother also needs a horse to ride.


Now Grandma was planning a visit soon, so it was decided the heads could go in her suitcase and the sticks could be sent through the mail since they were too long to fit her carry-on.

After Pa cut and sanded the heads, Grandma painted the horse’s eyes and the unicorn’s horn, made horse halters from a strip of leather cut off motorcycle chaps that were too long for Pa, cut ears out of scraps of leather, and sewed yarn to strips of heavy fabric for manes.


Pa used beeswax wood polish and conditioner to retain the natural cedar coloring and then used small brads to attach the horses mane and ears. He used upholstery tacks to attach and embellish the halters.



Just before putting on the finishing touches, Pa had a brainstorm that saved postage, ensured the stick horses to arrive intact and make storage for the horse/unicorn easy on Mom and Dad. He cut and drilled handles from some leftover maple branches (see bunk beds post). The handles could then be dismantled to fit into Grandma’s suitcase for delivery and into a storage container when not being ridden around Central Park. Pa made sure the sticks fit into the handles so they were secure when ridden but easily separated. Using household wax keeps them from permanently sticking into the handle.



Here are the stick horses saying goodbye to their farm friends and heading to NYC. Maybe they will meet new friends there, like the horses who draw carriages around Central Park!




Make Your Own Reed Diffusers


I tend to save things. My minimalist kids would say I save too many things. I like to think of it as being practical. I might need them for a project someday. A bunch of cute little blue bottles somehow accumulated in a box under the sink over the past few years.

Last week, I needed those cute little blue bottles for a project I did with our lady’s church group. We covered the bottles with clay. The ladies had a great time playing and creating with the polymer clay to make bottles for aromatherapy reed diffusers for their home. I even had enough bottles (with lids) to send each lady home with an additional bottle filled with fragrance oil.

The project fit perfectly with our devotion for the evening based on 2 Corinthians 2:15:

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.

Before our gathering, I decorated three bottles to help give the ladies ideas. I’ve never baked clay on glass before, but was assured by researching online it would work very well. I baked the bottles according to the clay packaging instructions just like other things I have created with clay. Using Premo! Sculpey® I baked at 275° for 30 minutes for 1/4″ clay thickness.


Some of the ladies had previously worked with clay and some had not, but I think they are all eager to try more clay explorations.

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered BottlesPolymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Polymer Clay Covered Bottles

Have you tried covering glass with polymer clay?

What’s in Your Pocket? Dry Erase Video Promo

I know it has been awhile since I (Melinda) have posted on the blog. I have been sharing pictures on instagram though, so if you would like to keep up with my creative projects, check it out.

My family and I just got back from a 70 day trip to the west coast and back. You can follow along on our adventures through our vlog. During that time we have been finishing up writing, editing, and publishing our new book. Here is what My Hubby wrote about the book, What’s in Your Pocket?, on the BecauseFamily blog.


I was asked last fall to help a few families with setting up security on their kids’ phones and computers. I went to their homes and sat with them and explained everything their children could do on their phones. I talked them through certain apps that are popular but their kids probably are too young to use. I even took them step by step through the process of setting up parental controls on their computers. Those opportunities were eye opening.

whatsinyourpocketoverIt didn’t take long to realize that this assistance was needed in more homes than I could ever visit. This is why my wife, Melinda, and I spent that last six months writing “‘What’s in Your Pocket?’ The parent’s guide to protecting your children online.” This book is short and sweet and intended to be a handbook to help parents gain the confidence they need to navigate their children’s online culture. The risks are real and the consequences are too dire to think about. We MUST pay attention to what our children are doing on their phones, tablets, or computers. 

“What’s in Your Pocket?” contains steps for finding out the info you need to set up your parental controls. It outlines a three step plan to affordably (almost free of cost) set up filters and accountability systems on your phones and computers, and it walks you through ideas for keeping communication open with your children about their online and social media accounts. You can buy the book on amazon. Buy one for yourself and your kids and your friends. 

To promote our book, we made a dry erase board style video. It was a lot of fun to draw for the video, and My Hubby edited and a friend did the voice over. I have enjoyed using my creativity to help our family’s ministry. Always remember that your creativity may look different from someone else’s, and what you are creative in can be super helpful to your family or work.

Make a Rabbit From a Towel

Children love to snuggle a soft squishy stuffed animal friend. We have just completed the pattern for our One Towel Cuddler Rabbit made from one soft 100% cotton bath towel. It is available for immediate download in our Etsy shop.


The inspiration for these pattern designs came about because we have children in our family who are allergic to polyester. Most of the soft, cuddly, stuffed animals in the stores are made with polyester fabrics and polyester stuffing. Even on the rare occasion of finding a stuffed animal made with cotton or other natural fiber fabric, they are usually filled with polyester stuffing. These fibers can work their way through the cloth and onto the child’s skin. We designed these One Towel Cuddlers so they could be 100% safe for our little ones with allergies by making the outside and inside of the toy with all natural fibers by using one cotton bath towel.

However, if allergies are not a concern for your loved one, you can make our pattern using any soft fabrics and stuff with the fiber stuffing of your choice.

This pattern is available for instant download and has detailed instructions, materials needed list, and pattern pieces. Rabbit size is approximately 14″ from the top of head to the tail end. The ears and legs are floppy. Because there are no small parts to come loose, this rabbit is a perfect cuddly companion for infants and toddlers.

Sew a rabbit this week as a special gift for a sweet little someone you love!



Start With a Background

Usually I want to have an image in my mind or a picture or object in front of me before starting a painting or drawing. Sometimes it can be fun to make a background and see where that background leads me.

I tried the technique of splattering some watercolor paint on the paper and then spraying a fine mist of water onto the paint and letting the paint spread. The demonstration I saw used this method for an ocean scene.


When the background dried, I wasn’t seeing ocean. The longer I looked at it this background brought to my mind hanging bunches of wisteria blossoms. We have a large wisteria plant in front of our porch and it is not yet in bloom but is loaded with buds. It won’t be long! Here is a shot of last year’s early blossoms.


So my background became the setting for wisteria blossoms for my painting.


Next time you are not sure what to paint, make a background and see where it leads you!

Learning More About Watercolor

If you’ve been reading our posts for a long time, you will know that I have greatly desired to learn to watercolor. The medium of watercolor is fascinating to me. One reason it intrigues me is because when it is done well, it feels like light is coming through the piece. You have to think backwards with watercolor because you have to start with the lightest colors and work your way to the darkest at the end. You can’t cover up darker paint with lighter paint the way you can with oils or acrylics.

A couple months ago I came across a site offering online watercolor classes that looked interesting. Three technique videos were offered for free and I gave it a try. After that I kept receiving emails offering really great deals (for a limited time) on their classes, but with all the family visiting and a trip out of town, I could not take them up on any of their offers. Then I did have a free week and they made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I spent that week watching many of their videos explaining various techniques and also watching artists do complete paintings from start to finish. I really enjoyed listening to each artist explain each step of the process and why they did things a certain way. After watching several different artists, it became obvious there is no right way or wrong way to do things —each had their personal preferences and reasons for what they did.

Before the week came to an end, I needed to stop just watching and start doing. (See previous post.) One of the paintings I did was of lilies. In the image below, the painting done by the artist is shown on my ipad on the left and my finished painting on the right.


After watching an artist explain how to paint roses, I decided not to try imitating her painting, but instead found a photo of a rose online (shown on the left) and used it for reference for my painting (on the right below).

Rose Watercolor

If you are interested in learning more about watercolor painting, check out (I am not receiving any compensation from this company. I just am sharing about a site from which I learned a few things I didn’t know before.)

No More Procrastination

Are you guilty of watching all kinds of videos and reading tutorials about how to do a particular type of creative activity? And then watching more? And more? And never giving it a try yourself?

Are you procrastinating? We usually think of procrastination as something we do to avoid something we don’t want to do. But this is something you want to do! Watching videos and reading tutorials are great ways to learn about a new skill or technique, but if you never give it a try, the skill will never become yours.

While working on a page for the class I am taking to learn more about whimsical lettering techniques, I found a quote that fit well with the concept of spending too much time thinking through something in your head, but never accomplishing the task.


You’ll never plow a field turning it over in your mind. ~Irish Proverb

Your first attempts may not look anything like what you saw or read about, but with continued practice, you’ll get there. Then you’ll be able to develop your own unique style.

What are you wanting to learn? Are you spending all your energy watching someone else do what you want to create?

Quit thinking about it in your head and START!