Make a Mini-Book

A group of ladies from my church learned how to make mini-books last week. Since our time was limited, I printed monoprints ahead of time from my homemade gelatin plate onto card stock to use for the covers of the books.

Ladies-making-mini-booksFor the inside pages of the book, they could choose from three different sheets of paper with verses printed or plain paper to write their own sentiments. (See below for paper folding instructions.) Several ladies discovered a new fun crafting tool called washi tape, which they used to seal and decorate the edges of the paper pages.


For the next step, a coordinating piece of colored paper “binding” was chosen and stitched to the mini-book cover, with the center row of stitching attaching the pages to the cover. (Covers could be stitched by hand as well.)


Each was encouraged to make more than one mini-book so they could have one for themselves if desired and some to give away. If you are looking for a craft project to do with a small group, I encourage you to give mini-book making a try. Everyone had a great time and some are asking to do a gelatin plate printing workshop soon!


Are you ready to try making a mini-book? For the covers, you can use a heavier weight preprinted scrapbooking paper, or draw/paint your own designs on card stock, or try gelatin plate prints on card stock. Whatever you use, cut the paper to measure 6″ wide by 4 1/2″ high. Fold the paper in half to make a 3″ wide cover. If desired the corners of the mini-book can be rounded with scissors or a corner rounder punch.


To make the inside pages:

  1. Start with an 8 1/2″ by 11″ piece of paper. If you preprint your paper with verses or quotes on the computer, be sure to put the verses right side up on the left side of the page and upside down on the right side of the page. See photo #1 below. When folded correctly all the print will be right side up! (At the end of this post you can print out the pdf pages we put into our mini-books, if you’d like.)
  2. Fold the paper in half with the unprinted sides touching and the print side facing out.
  3. Open the paper print side up and fold each edge to the middle fold line.
  4. You should end up with 4 folds in your paper like an accordion pleat.
  5. Now fold the paper in half the long way with the print facing out.
  6. Refold the paper in half as in step #2 and cut along the center fold line through both layers of paper just to the next fold line (not all the way across the paper!)
  7. If you stand the paper up like a tent, it should look like photo #7.
  8. Pinch the paper together in the middle and you will have 4 sections with 8 printed sides. When you stitch the papers to the cover, you will stitch down the middle fold with 2 sections on each side of the stitch line.


To help keep the pages together, as well as make them decorative, place strips of washi tape down one side of each section and fold over to the other side.


Cut a 4 1/2″ by 1 3/4″ piece of paper (use card stock weight) and fold down the center lengthwise. With a sewing machine, or by hand, stitch the outer edges of the binding, matching fold lines, to the outside of the cover.


Then position the folded pages of your book to the inside of the center line (with two folded sections on each side) and stitch down the center line of the cover/binding.



And there you have a finished mini-book!

Here are the pdf files for you to print to make your own books:

Love Verses pdf

Encouragement Verses pdf

Prayer Verses pdf






Using Embossing Folders in Gelatin Prints

I am always on the lookout for new tools I already have on hand around my house to use with printing on my gelatin plate. Recently I purchased a couple of embossing folders on sale though I don’t own an embossing machine, but I thought they might work with making designs in polymer clay. So I pulled them out to experiment with on my homemade gelatin plate.

Sometimes for a starting background on a gelatin print, I squirt a little acrylic paint onto the plate, spritz it with water, and smear it around with my finger, giving the pulled print almost a watercolor effect.


Then I used my brayer to roll paint onto one side of the embossing folder and lightly pressed the painted side of the folder onto the plate in several places.


Adding “embossed” layers in different colors gives a nice effect.


I’ve used stamps on gelatin prints before, but had never thought about embossing folders. They work quite well. Now I may have to invade my mom’s stash of embossing folders! (I promise to wash all the paint off.)


I love the three dimensional look on this next print! I used the other side of the embossing folder design.


You can also roll paint onto the gelatin plate and then use the embossing folder to press into the paint to remove part of the paint from the plate to make a design.


Wet paint on gelatin plate using embossing folder to remove paint.


And of course, you can use the embossing folder like a stamp to get leftover wet paint off the folder on another piece of paper.


Have you used embossing folders in your gelatin prints?






Artfully Inspired Life 2016


In my pursuit of learning more about lettering in art, I signed up for a year long class from Joanne Sharpe, author of the book, The Art of Whimsical Lettering. The class is called Artfully Inspired Life 2016. Rather than trying to learn how to hand letter new fonts that look exactly like someone else’s, Joanne’s focus is teaching you how to use your own handwriting as the basis to create fun fonts to use in your art.

Since you have to take the class to find out the techniques, I will just give you a teaser with a few photos of what I have created this month.



If you are interested in learning new lettering skills I encourage you to sign up for the class now and get started!


Meditative Sketching

Do you ever find yourself wanting to draw something but feel no inspiration? Sometimes starting with a simple pattern can inspire a “bigger picture”. Last week I pulled up A Little Lime‘s website and settled on this pattern design using the second variation of the StepS pattern to get me started.

I was in a stressful situation at the time and drawing the design helped me to slow down and put my mind on a more peaceful track. My thoughts were focused on prayer and I drew ribbon-like letters to help me remember to always keep prayer woven into all situations in my life.


I colored the design using colored pencils and outlined with a fine point black pen. Even though I have never seen a flower like this before, it was fun to imagine it could exist.

How to Cure a Curling Knitted Scarf

Nearly two years ago I decided to give knitting another try while visiting my daughter. You can read about it in this post. On the next visit in the fall of that year, I purchased some very soft Superwash Merino yarn at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio (a wonderfully inspiring shop to visit in NYC) to knit myself a scarf. I decided to just do the whole thing by knitting a row and purling a row, just to get the process imbedded in my brain and my finger muscles. I later learned this stitch is called the stockinette stitch. The scarf did not get completed by winter and when spring rolled around, I set that project aside. A few weeks ago I picked it up again, had to relearn what I was doing, did a lot of “reverse stitching”, learned how to make corrections when something went wrong and almost quit several times. However, I decided it was not going to conquer me and I would FINISH!

What I learned from experience is the stockinette stitch loves to curl at all the edges of your piece, which is why experienced knitters know to plan some kind of border edge when making scarves so the scarf lays flat instead of curling into a rope. (Here is an explanation of why it curls.)

stockinette-knit-scarf with curled sides

After reading online of several “possible” solutions, I decided the best route for me was to hand stitch the long edges together. I used all of the yarn on the scarf and had to sew the sides together with regular thread.


When I turned it right side out, it laid flat. With the temperatures dropping to frigid a double thick scarf will feel great.


Next time I knit a scarf, I will probably follow a pattern. But I can say I learned much more about knitting with completing this project— and that feels good!

Who Wants to Build a Snowman?

My grandkids love playing dress-up with the Anna and Elsa apron costumes and accessories I made last year. This Christmas, I made an Olaf costume for each family thinking their little brothers would enjoy being snowmen.

olaf costume

Ninja Boy enjoys donning the costume and collecting hugs from everyone! Now that he is eight, he is usually not too crazy about hugging but as soon as the costume goes on, he freely dispenses warm hugs. (He’s quite the actor!)

olaf costume

“Hi, everyone. I’m Olaf, and I like warm hugs!”

To make the costume, I started with a large white cotton bath towel, cut about a ten inch strip off one side and folded the towel in half wrong side out. I sewed the sides together leaving arm holes and finished the arm openings by sewing bias tape over the cut edge. Using a child’s shirt as a guide I cut an opening for the neck and finished that edge with bias tape as well.

olaf costume body

The buttons were made from circles of black flannel. I turned under the edges of the flannel and hand stitched them in place on the front of the towel. Before completing stitching the edges down I tucked in a little stuffing to make the buttons puffy. I did not try to make exact circles as I turned under the flannel edge because I wanted them to look rough like pieces of coal.

olaf buttons

To make the snowman head, I used a white baseball cap for the base. Using the leftover strip of towel (cut from the bath towel) I measured the distance around the bottom of the cap (including the distance around the brim), allowing for a folded edge on each side, and cut the strip that length. The already finished edge of the towel strip became the “hem”  for the head piece and I turned under each short side and stitched a zig-zag stitch to finish.

I cut an opening for the mouth (the distance around the brim) and sewed a piece of mesh cloth from an old mesh lingerie laundry bag into that opening (so the kids would be able to see.) I stitched the towel strip and the mesh to the inside of the bottom edge of the cap and brim. I chose to stitch the adjustable strap closed because I did not want the velcro catching on the towel fabric. (See finished back of cap in picture below.)

olaf head back

I made the carrot nose from a triangle shaped piece of orange flannel and stuffed it with cut towel scraps to make it firm and somewhat lumpy. I hand basted the large end of the carrot together and hot glued it to the front of the cap and part of the brim. I used Heat’n Bond adhesive to iron black flannel circles for the base of the eyes and eyebrows to the cap. To easily iron the pieces in place, I held a thick hot pad inside the cap with one hand and ironed the pieces in place with the other hand. I didn’t burn any fingers in the process! I hot glued googly eyes over the black circles.

olaf costume head

I hand stitched a large felt tooth to the front of the brim and then ran a thin bead of glue along the edge underneath to keep it from flipping up.

To make the “sticks” on top of the head, I covered some doubled over pipe cleaners with tubes made from an old brown sweater. I cut a slit in the top center seam and stuck the pipe cleaner tubes into the hole, then hand stitched them to the seams inside of the crown of the cap.

Using the same brown sweater, I made “stick” arm gloves. The hem edge of the sweater was the hem of the gloves.

olaf costume arms

olaf costume


“Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be a… happy snowman!”





Birthday Panda


Brenna copyMiss Tickles is 4 years old! BrennaBirthday

I wanted to make her a new blanket for her birthday and had this cute flannel fabric for awhile.


I thought the panda on it was so cute and wondered if I could make her a stuffed panda to go with it.

I made a sketch on some scratch paper. I started by cutting out a piece that would be big enough for the face and added the fabric and stitching. I kept telling myself that I would try to do as much as I could and then have mom help me with the rest. I know that mom has created stuffed animals before, so I figured I would have to use her expertise.

I just kept cutting out shapes that I thought would work and sewing them together. I ended up working on it long enough that I figured it out on my own! I’m sure if I had asked for her help it would have turned out even better, but I am so happy with the results. Miss Tickles loved it too.



BrennaMommyPanda copy

She loves sleeping with her new blanket and her panda doll.


Another Winter Coat Modification

What do you do when every winter coat you can find for little girls is 100% polyester and the little girl who needs to stay warm is allergic to polyester? We shared the solution we came up with for that same little girl two years ago on this post. Now she is four and her coat is too small. Our solution for that coat was to line the hood with cotton flannel so her face would not be rubbing against the polyester fabric. Usually she was wearing long sleeve clothing and the inside of the coat was not touching her bare skin so she was ok. While searching for a coat this year, all of the warmer winter coats had fake fur (polyester) around the hoods and we knew the previous solution would not work.

So we found a cute light weight jacket (without fur) amongst all the polyester coats and a 100% cotton hoodie to modify into a warm winter coat.


For extra warmth, I hand sewed a layer of cotton quilt batting to the inside body of the pink jacket. I did not add batting to the sleeves or the hood.


Then I removed the zipper from the hoodie, turned the hoodie wrong side out and hand stitched the edges of the hoodie to the inside of the pink jacket. (Notice she now has hidden pockets on the inside of her coat!)  I positioned the sleeves of the hoodie inside of the jacket sleeves and did a small hand sewn tacking stitch through the jacket and hoodie on the underarm seam just above the ribbing of the hoodie. That way the sleeve cuffs are still flexible but stay in position when pulling arms out of the sleeves.



I could have started from scratch and made a coat for her but there wasn’t time. The weather was turning colder and she needed a coat.  Sometimes it is easier to modify what you can find when you can’t find exactly what you need.

Another coat modification I made a couple of years ago was for my pregnant daughter who wanted to stay warm for the last couple months of pregnancy without spending a lot of money on a new maternity coat. See what I did in this post.


Karla Dornacher: A Woman of Inspiration

Somehow in the past couple of years while visiting with crafters and artists at Silver Dollar City’s Fall Harvest Festival, I missed meeting a delightful new friend. This year her booth was located right across from the stage venue where my husband performed each day with the Sons of the Silver Dollar. He knew from talking with her and her husband that I would enjoy connecting with her. So I finally made it out to the city and made a new friend. Her name is Karla Dornacher.


Her paintings are bright, colorful and filled with inspiration. Everyone who steps into her booth feels loved and welcomed and as she shares stories of her life, people want to open up and share stories from their lives. She always has words of encouragement and makes people glad they stopped by. While visiting with her a young teen stepped into the booth and shared that she had been inspired to start drawing after meeting Karla the year before. She showed us pictures of some of her drawings on her phone and we were both amazed. I made several trips out to visit Karla’s booth and listen to her inspiring stories.


As a child she loved to draw and doodle and even had opportunity to attend college to study art with a full scholarship. However, she switched paths before starting school when she fell in love with her soon to be husband. Her life as a wife and mom was still filled with creativity, just not in the direction she had first planned. She knew her talent was a gift from God after surrendering her life to Jesus Christ ten years after she married and wanted to use her creativity to honor the Lord. It wasn’t until her daughter was getting married that she began painting and hasn’t stopped.


She began her art business by holding home parties to sell her art prints. At the parties she would share the stories of each painting which was inspired by scriptures. Women attending the parties asked her to write down what she had shared about each painting because they wanted a reminder of the symbolism for encouragement in their lives. So she began writing the “story” of each painting and attaching it to the back of the prints. This writing eventually led to her writing and illustrating many gift books published through J.Countryman Publishing. Her works of art also were licensed for use in home decor and gift items. She loves to speak to women’s groups sharing about her life and challenging them in a closer walk with God. You can read more about Karla on her website.

Coloring books for grownups are all the rage these days and Karla has two coloring books of her beautiful drawings available for purchase.


I bought her books and was happy to learn that she gives permission to copy the pages for use with small group gatherings. A few weeks later I shared some of her coloring pages with a small womens fellowship at my church. Most of the ladies were skeptical when they first walked in and saw color crayons, pencils, markers, and watercolors sitting on the tables. They probably thought I had forgotten it was a ladies group and not kids night.  I shared with them a bit about Karla and her work and how they could incorporate doodling and coloring into their time of Bible study and devotions.


Some of my sermon note doodles

They got excited and dove right into coloring. You can purchase Karla’s coloring books and other art here or here.


One of Karla’s coloring bookmarks

Karla also has available on her website coloring pages for kids you can download free. I printed off some of her Thanksgiving pages for the grandkids to color this week. Here’s the link. Print off some of her coloring pages for your kids to color this week at your Thanksgiving festivities.

Karla-Dornacher-Coloring-Pages Karla-Dornacher-Coloring-Pages Karla-Dornacher-Coloring-Pages



Home Again!

I am back home again after spending a few weeks with these superheroes.


I was proud to once again cheer my daughter on as she ran her second NYC Marathon. She makes it look so easy!


mile 24

And she shaved 39.5 minutes off last year’s time. Way to go, Kara!


I spent many hours coloring and drawing pictures with my grandkids and coloring the walls (not with my grandkids!) The kids just had moved into a new apartment and my main goal to accomplish while there was to paint their walls for them. Mission almost accomplished. Songbird doesn’t want plain walls in her room— she is asking for a mural. Sounds like a fun challenge for Grandma next trip!

We enjoyed a fun girl’s night out watching Disney On Ice. Kara and I had as much fun watching Songbird’s face enraptured with every scene as we did watching the skating. When scenes from the movie Frozen were performed on the ice, we were thrilled to hear thousands of sweet little voices all across the arena belting out each song along with the performers.


My sister from Colorado came to NYC on a business trip and afterward, she and I took Songbird on an adventure by bus to visit our sister in Pennsylvania for a few days. My sister just happens to live close to the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA. If you ever have opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it— and you don’t even need to have a kid with you to spend a day playing and creating—but it helps! We all had a great time.


The creating continued when we returned to my sister’s house…

Model-Magic Stamps

My granddaughter has the best outlook on life. For her everyday is the BEST DAY EVER!


When her great aunt said, “But you told me yesterday was the best day ever and the day before that was the best day ever,” she replied, “Everyday is the best day ever!”  She reminds me of my grandmother who lived to the age of 97 years. Anytime someone would ask her what day it was, she answered, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

When I returned to NYC, my son, Daniel, who also happened to be in the city on business, took me on a date to the Metropolitan Opera.


Ceiling in the Met


I am a blessed mom and grandma.