Blog: DIY

Faux Cactus Rock Garden – DIY Play Date

Last week Kim and I had another Play Date together to create a few Faux Cactus Rock Gardens! This was an easy project and I think the results are pretty darn cute.

I love succulents and cacti – they are plants that almost anyone can keep alive and they have such interesting, sculptural shapes. But let’s say that you really do not have a green thumb… well I’ve also been seeing a lot of faux versions too using materials that are usually hanging around and easy to get… like rocks! Yes this is a good old painted rock project – suitable for all ages and skill levels :)

Our materials were: rocks (variety of shapes), 3 colors of green acrylic paint, paintbrushes, Moonlight white opaque ink pad, my Embroidery and Fan-fare rubber stamp sets, a pink archival ink pad (Cactus Flower is a great color), gravel, and a few small terra cotta pots. We also wound up using yellow paint, old newspaper and a glue gun.

The process is pretty easy – just paint your rocks different colors of green using acrylic paint. We found that higher quality paints like Golden and Liquitex covered better and were more vibrant. Those rocks suck up the paint like a sponge.

And no matter what, you will have a green thumb when you are finished this LOL. Keep some wipes handy or wear gloves even to avoid painty fingers.

We painted a bunch of rocks, and we also made some small ones yellow for a few cactus flowers.

For the cactus spines we used Moonlight White – an opaque white ink pad – and rubber stamps from my Embroidery stamp set. The stamps that worked super well were Running, Grannies, Star Fish, and Chain Link – they really made our faux cacti look distinctive.

Here is Star Fish in action, putting on some faux cactus spines.

And my Chain Link stamp is nice for the long rocks… er cacti ;)

And here we have Grannies. Unmounted or cling rubber stamps will help you stamp on the uneven rock surface. And if you miss a spot, just go back in with more.

Here are our finished cacti! A big variety of shapes, colors, and spine styles.

For the cactus flowers we used my Fan-Fare stamp set and a pink ink pad – Archival Ink Cactus Flower is just perfect!

We glued the cactus flowers onto some of the cacti using hot glue.

To prepare the pots for the gravel, we filled them most of the way up with old newspaper. Our gravel bag was pretty small and this was an easy way to fill them up and still have enough gravel for the top.

Time to top it off with our cactus gravel.

We used both short, wide pots and regular small terra cotta pots. You could use any small pots or containers you have on hand. We found about .5 – 1″ of gravel was needed to support the rocks.

Now the fun part – arranging our little Faux Cactus Rock Gardens! You can spread things out…

…or go naturalistic with some unpainted rocks too!

Choose a variety of shapes, colors, and one with a flower to set the mini desert scene. You get the picture. Have fun with it! Get the kids involved – this is one everyone can do.

Give it a try! In addition to some old newspaper and rocks, here are the supplies we used:

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke

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    SUPER cute and I have killed cactus before.

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City Scenes Votive Candles – DIY Play Date

Last week Kim and I got together for the first time since 2019 for one of our epic Play Dates!!! We had such a nice time gabbing and making art and just enjoying the experience of creating together. Our project? Votive candles using my NEW foam stamp designs! It was an easy peasy project to get us back in the groove and the results are very nice. Here’s how we did it:

The supplies are simple: my new foam stamps (Clockwise from the top they are Powerhouse, Church, Brownstone, Lady Liberty, Hydrant, and Row Houses), Grafix Dura-Lar matte film, black acrylic paint, brayer, double stick tape, LED votives, and scissors or a paper trimmer. We also dressed some up with Posca markers, but more on that in a bit ;)  The whole idea was to have the buildings and such silhouetted so that the light shines through all the details. Read on!

We started out by rolling black acrylic paint out on palette paper with a brayer. We both liked Carbon Black Golden Fluid Acrylic paint for this – a nice opaque black. Then we rolled it on the stamp (in this case, the Church stamp) and stamped it on the Grafix Dura-Lar matte plastic sheet – a matte white plastic that is kinda translucent with light behind it. You could also use a StampBuddy here too to ink up your stamps.

We left some room at the bottom of the film and stamped across the width, leaving room on either side to eventually tape the ends together. In this one I am stamping the Brownstone foam stamp.

Here I am inking up Lady Liberty

… for a nice impression :)

A lineup of Hydrant stamps… cue the dogs!

Keep in mind that when stamping on plastic film the surface is slick and the stamps can slide if you aren’t careful.

The Row Houses on the left turned out fine but I slipped a bit with Powerhouse on the right. We each had a couple misfires so plan on having some extra sheets of plastic just in case.

With some of the mistakes, we created masks to use in building up more complex, layered scenes – a great way to use those.

Kim stamped Row Houses and Brownstone and then used the masks to add Church to the background for a little streetscape.

Looks pretty neat all together like that.

I first stamped Church, then added Powerhouse, and then…

…I added Row Houses to the left…

And then I finished with Lady Liberty!

We created a variety of sheets to move on to the next step:

I broke out my new Dahle trimmer and we cut things down to size. We experimented with trimming some with a margin around the image – room for tape and a little lift off the ground.

We also fussy cut some for a different effect!

Looking pretty good there Lady Liberty! The choice is yours on how you want to trim them.

We also tried coloring some in with acrylic markers.

Here are some details in those stained glass windows.

Using double sided clear tape we got ready for the final assembly.

Coming together and holding tight with permanent tape.

Here are our City Scenes votives ready for illumination – LED lights must be used with these to be safe.

Let’s light them up!!!

For the taller ones you may want to use a taller LED votive or stack the votive on something inside the sheath.

Love this one that I fussy cut!!!

And now after dark…

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and maybe you’re feeling inspired to make some foam stamped votives of your own. Please do!!! And I hope you join us back here for our next Play Date :)

Here are some of the supplies we used:

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A Look Back – Spring DIY Ideas – Cool Stuff You May Have Missed 25

A Look Back – This time I’m looking at some Spring DIY Ideas that are great ways to get creative and make a few lovely things for this time of year. A stenciled umbrella to help you chase away those springtime showers in style? Yes. A vertical garden using your favorite rubber stamps? You betcha. A paper wreath project that the whole family can make? Read on and enjoy!

A Look Back is a blog series to show you some projects and posts that you may have missed – sometimes going WAY back in the archive. I think it will be fun to revisit a few ideas that we haven’t seen for a while. I’m excited to see how a little look back might inspire something new in the future :)


Spring showers got you down? No problem – grab a boring old umbrella and give it a little style with stencils and spray paint. I loved decorating a simple white umbrella in colors and patterns that made me happy no matter what the weather. And bonus – this little compact white umbrella was great in the summer to keep the sun off on particularly hot days in the city. Check out the full tutorial here.

 

Every year the weather warms up and I long to be outside and to see flowers! And while those little plants are growing bigger, I love to have colorful pots adding pops here and there in the garden. I painted and used rubber stamps to make some simple terra cotta pots a lot more fun. Read the DIY steps here.

 

I’m a pattern junky as you know, so this DIY was a no-brainer. Tote bags get a ton of use so why shouldn’t they be just as cool as the rest of your stuff? I used rubber stamps and fabric ink to stamp my shopping bags with bold patterns. See my inspiration and step-by-step instructions here. And then take your lovely new bags and go support a small business in your hood!

 

What do you get when you combine plain fabric scarves with stencils and fabric markers? Beautiful watercolor-like patterns and a one-of-a-kind wardrobe staple. This is an easy project with just a few supplies. See the instructions here.

 

Here is a spring project that the whole family can do together. I used colorful paper and rubber stamps to make the “leaves” and then glued them to a cardboard ring that I cut from an old box. Read all about it here.

I hope this list of Spring DIY Ideas inspires you to try some new things and get creative. Here are some of the supplies I used:

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A Look Back – Cool Stuff You May Have Missed 21 – Fall Play Dates

A Look Back – This time I’m looking at some fun fall play dates that Kim and I had back when we could get together in person and play with my stamps and stencils. Some of these are very seasonal (pumpkins) and others are just nice ideas for when you need an indoor activity to do. Read on and I hope you try some of these project ideas too!

A Look Back is a blog series to show you some projects and posts that you may have missed – sometimes going WAY back in the archive. I think it will be fun to revisit a few ideas that we haven’t seen for a while. I’m excited to see how a little look back might inspire something new in the future :)


This project was a great way to decorate pumpkins without getting out the carving knife and spreading gourd guts all over your kitchen LOL. We used my stencils and acrylic paint and came away with some very cool decor. Check it out here.

 

Here is a project that you can pull together with all those collage papers and deli papers you have in your stash. We gussied some of ours up with my foam stamps and acrylic paint and then cut out simple leaf shapes for a wall hanging. This is an easy fall project for all ages and abilities. Check it out here.

 

Has colder weather and shorter days got you thinking about indoor activities, curled up in front of a fireplace? Embroidery is an ideal activity if you just want to relax and chill. We used my Stroll Around the Block and Stroll Through the Hood 1 and 2 rubber stamps as a guide for our colorful stitched projects seen here in this post.

 

Thinking about sprucing up your decor while spending more time at home? We used my foam stamps and fabric ink to create modern pillow covers for our living rooms here in this play date post.

 

Your Thanksgiving table may be a little smaller this year but it doesn’t have to be any less Instagram worthy – check out these napkin rings we created using my stencils and pan pastels for a one-of-a-kind holiday tablescape.


I hope you enjoyed this look back and are inspired to try a few of these craft ideas.

Here are some of the supplies we used:

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DIY Vertical Garden – Stamped Flower Pots

This project has been a long time in the making – I began during the renovation of my house last year and then put it all on hold until this spring. Anyway, I’m happy to share with you my DIY vertical garden that I made with simple terra cotta flower pots, some acrylic paint, my rubber stamps, and stazon inks.

Here’s how I did it:

I painted a bunch of pots on the outside with a colorful array of acrylic paint. I know these may not last forever, but I am happy to enjoy them for definitely a few seasons :)

Can you tell I like happy colors lol

Then I went for rubber stamps that would work well around the rim. Here is one from my Hex Set Large set – and that set has 6 stamps that would work perfectly for this. I used Stazon inks.

Here is one of the stamps from my Floral Tile Small set in action – another great stamp set option for making a group of pots with an array of designs.

I created quite a few in a variety of colors and patterns.

I installed the pots on the fence in our back garden. The fence is old and a bit shabby and a new one is not in the budget right now, but until it is – here is a nice pop of color. I used some nifty brackets to hang the pots – see the link in the supplies below.

I got a variety of different flowers in a mix of colors to fill them.

Like these! I got a flat from a local plant shop that created a mobile plant store in a truck that they drove all over the city, selling plants, while we were being careful during the lockdown. Pretty cool way to support a local small business!

Ta-da! My colorful vertical garden :)

And a view of our happy oasis. I love spending time back here with hubby at the end of each day. 

Are you planting anything this year?

Here are some of the supplies I used for this fun project:

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke

    |

    So bright and cheery Nat. That’s a nice oasis you have there!

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Layered Stencil Holiday Cards – DIY Play Date

Last week Kim and I got together to make some holiday cards based on this snowflake card I made for my Deck of Cards Challenge – Kim was really excited about playing with the process. It is so simple and easy and wow does it make some gorgeous cards. We made a stack of layered stencil cards – snowflake inspired designs, patterns that reminded us of stars, and just festive layers of color and shape that would bring joy to the season.

All you need is: blank cards, stencils with a radial pattern, Distress Inks, ink blending tools, masking tape, and some pens or markers to finish them off.

We began applying the Distress ink through a stencil, held in place with masking tape, onto the front of a blank card. Here is my Valley Road stencil.

This one we blended out the color – the inks work really well for blending – and kept the design a single layer. I would later add a top to the design as if it were a tree ornament.

But the real magic happens when you start building up layers of color and pattern. Here is my Toledo stencil as a first layer in blue.

Then we rotated the stencil and added another layer in green. Be sure to have several different ink blending pads for different colors – so you do not contaminate the colors.

The resulting layers of color and pattern have a softness that is quite lovely. Here I added in some extra sparkle and lettering with a fine point pen.

In this way, layering up different stencils with different colors, we created some beautiful holiday cards.

Sometimes we used larger stencils like my Manhattan stencil here, and only stenciled a small part of them.

Here we taped off a part of my Star Struck stencil.

We found that about 3 layers of pattern and color gave us the most successful designs. We also played with the color wheel – the above cards use all warm colors, just perfect for a star.

The above card was made by layering up my Valley Road, Flower Maze, and Grove Street stencils. To really push the snow element, we added my What’s the Point stencil for the dots.

We hope you give this technique a try – get some stencils and ink and try layering up some designs. You will love the results!

Here are some of the supplies we used for these cards:


Have you stopped by my shop yet for my Five Day Frenzy Sale? You can save 25% off ALL physical products – my biggest sale of the year! It’s a great way to take part in Small Business Saturday – we appreciate your support :) Just use the coupon code FRENZYFIVE at checkout to save. Enjoy!

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Grungy Cards – DIY

I thought I would make a few cards using a monoprinting technique with my new Mixed Media Chips.

On a gelli plate I rolled out some acrylic paint with the Midtown 1 and Midtown 2 chips.

Then I printed directly onto blank cards. To attach the chip, I used Coccoina glue stick. I always loved this glue stick- smells a bit like almonds and I am so happy that I found it now also available in the states. It is great for paper and thin paper embellishments.

In addition to my nice and grungy monoprint I also stamped part of the My Home rubber stamp on this one.

This one I snuck in my Love Knots stamp for the xxxooo.

And this one got really yummy grungy and then I also added my Love Tag stamp. I’m really happy with how they turned out, especially with the addition of the painted Mixed Media Chips.

Here are some of the supplies I used:


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Cyanotype & Stencils – Play Date

This was such an interesting and exciting play date with Kim – so excited to share it with you today! I have wanted to try cyanotype (aka Sun Printing) for a long time and we finally did. Now this did require some prep ahead of time, and it definitely is an active process, but the results are very cool.

I purchased a cyanotype kit on amazon (link below) that was a 2 part mixture. You can find the chemicals a lot of places, just be sure to follow the directions on the packaging. My kit required some prep 24 hours before we did the actual “printing”. As for supplies, we used the cyanotype kit, large paddle brushes, gunked up stencils (YES – this is one argument for not cleaning them lol), and a surface to print on. We chose wood frames, some fabric, and watercolor paper. Following the directions of our kit, we painted the surface with the mixture in a dimly lit room and let them dry. Ours worked best when we allowed them to fully dry.

Then it is time to head outside on a nice sunny day. We first did the frames. Here you can see 2 frames covered with an array of stencils. If it is windy you will need to weigh the stencils down.

Here is my Santiago stencil on the frame, catching the sunlight. Our mixture was a greenish yellow when it went on and slowly turned to a bronze color when it had been exposed to enough light.

And here is my Toledo stencil on a frame.

When they have exposed enough, you race them inside and rinse them until the water turns clear. The covered areas will wash away to reveal the wood color and the areas exposed to sunlight will begin to turn a beautiful blue.

Over the next few hours they will cure to full color and look just gorgeous!

Stencils with thicker lines worked a bit better and we learned that it is safer to weigh the stencil down in case wind picks up.

I just love the variety you can get and it all just works together because of that wonderful blue.

We also tried fabric with stencils (Hamilton and Star Struck here) and leaves. Weigh everything down and try to find flat leaves so you get defined edges. The fabric and paper exposure was really quick – so have a plan and all your stencils and objects ready to immediately put down on the fabric when you bring it outside.

Here is some paper with leaves and grass – all of these blew in the wind very easily so we did not get a good print here. I would put rocks on them next time. The top paper had some stencils and rocks. Setting up multiple papers at once was a bit hectic as they started changing very fast. Make a plan, have plenty of extra material (stencils, leaves, rocks, etc) and expect to just roll with it.

The paper process was the same – rinse immediately after bringing inside. Here you see a print I made with my Buenos Aires and Versailles stencils getting a rinse.

We let them dry in the sun and you can see some interesting results.

Definitely something to play around with here.

After a bit, the blue really came out.

My Valley Road, Park Blvd, and Broadway stencils came out very crisp.

We rinsed and dried the fabric as well. Here you see some leaves, vines, and a peek of my Exchange Place stencil in the corner.

These were pretty unplanned compositions. It is worth getting familiar with the process and just playing at first. Kim and I are planning a second play date now that we know how it works and then we can better prepare for what we make in the end.

Regardless, it was really awesome to see the potential and beauty of cyanotype printing.

We are imagining all sorts of fabric and clothing projects :)

Another variation we did: stamping with my new rubber stamp sets and black stazon ink onto transparency film.

I stamped the film with my Fantastic Large stamps and then put it on top of a treated pillowcase… It blew off several times in the breeze hence the “double vision” look to the print.

But still a really cool idea for future cyano projects!

So as you can see there is so much potential to using this medium with your stamps and stencils. We are just getting started and will definitely share future adventures with you as well. Don’t be intimidated by the process – it isn’t that hard and the results can be sooooooo nice and surprising some times. I hope you give it a try!

Here are some of the supplies that we used:

Comments (2)

  • Rae Lynn

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    These turned out so cool! I love the blue!

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Foam Stamped Pillow Play Date

A couple weeks ago Kim and I got together for a little home decor play date – stamped pillows. We used my newest foam stamps, some fabric ink pads, and white cotton pillow cases (we already had inserts). This was a pretty quick and easy way to refresh the living room.

Take the time to iron your pillow cases first. The stamping will look better if you’re working on a smooth fabric.

Slip something sturdy and smooth into the case before you stamp to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the other side. We used some styrofoam pieces I had laying around.

I made my own stencil out of transparency sheets for a sponged background. It’s hard to see in this photo, but it is a shape that is sort of classic mid century.

I filled in the shape with yellow ink, slowly building up the density of the color on the pillow case.

Then I went back in with gray ink and my Jazzed foam stamp. If you don’t want the edges of the foam stamp to print, press more lightly on the stamp. I like the added visual texture here and the authentic block print look.

I also stamped with my Groovy foam stamp – it connects really well with the Jazzed one to make a longer, continuous design.

I filled in some of the other areas with additional yellow shapes.

Kim stamped a subtle background pattern using a pale green ink and my Signals foam stamp.

Here’s the complete background.

Then she came back and stamped my Jazzed stamp over it using gray ink.

I began a second case using blue ink and the same hand made stencil.

I sponged in the abstract shapes.

And then I added the Far Out, Jazzed and Groovy stamps over the shapes.

Kim’s second case began with a background using my Mid Century Squared stamp.

She finished her second pillow with my Gnarly stamp again in gray. After the cases dry, follow your ink manufacturer’s instructions for setting the ink, end enjoy your new home decor!

Stamped pillow cases are a very quick way to spruce up your sofa.

My cases look great on our teal sofa.

I love how the yellow one compliments some of the books in the background.

And the blue one is definitely my favorite – I might make a second one in this color.

I planned it so they also work with some of my existing pillows.

I hope you try this project – just another way to use foam stamps and fabric inks. Here are the supplies we used:

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke

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    Love these! Nice way to add a new look for sure with just a fine new pillow with a groovy pattern.

    Reply

  • susan

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    oh, Nat, these are adorable! (i have used your elephant stamps to do pillows for a friend.) i love the block print look you got from the foam stamp mounts. now i know my next project!

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