Blog: Play Date

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

    |

    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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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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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

    |

    These turned out so cool! I love the blue!

    Reply

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Rubber Stamped Reusable Shopping Bags – DIY Play Date

After getting into making patterns with my rubber stamp sets, I knew I wanted to take that idea and use it on a couple fabric projects. Kim and I got together to put some of those lovely patterns to use on reusable shopping bags. Our neighborhood is getting rid of plastic bags in June so we wanted to be ready to shop with a unique tote or two.

The supplies couldn’t be simpler: white (pre-washed and pre-ironed) cotton tote bags, a selection of my rubber stamps, and ink pads that are for stamping on fabric. We used Tsukineko Momento Luxe inks – you can find the links for those below.

We both took a minute to page through the pattern book I made with all those Nat’s April Patterns. It has become a great source to go to for inspiration.

Before you begin stamping, put some cardboard or a magazine in between the layers of your bag so it doesn’t bleed through. Be careful of any creases or gaps or textures in this – it can show up in your stamping. It is best to find something smooth for in there.

I started with the Jewett stamp from my Fan-tastic Large set and inked it up in yellow. The fabric ink is kind of sticky and you have to be a bit fast and also thorough with the inking.

It is easiest to start your pattern in the center of the bag and then work your way out. That way it will be even left to right and you can decide how close to the edges you want to go.

The ink colors can be light in some cases and bolder in others.

After two layers of the Fan-tastic Jewett Fan, I switched to the Hamilton design from the Floral Tile Large set and started stamping in a magenta color.

Looks great already but needs something more…

I finished off the pattern with a stamp from the Fanfare set.

Kim jumped in with my Solid Fan in the large size to do a simple but cool scallop pattern.

She chose a lot of different fun colors – don’t forget to clean your stamps in between colors. Also, you can see that with the solid stamp, the texture of the cardboard insert shows a bit – not a bad effect but something to consider when choosing a liner.

Kim found another pattern in my book that she really liked. She chose three ink colors. And the pattern needed one stamp from the Small Hex set and the two Diamond Hex stamps from the Large Hex set.

She started with the red ink and then filled in with yellow.

Looks awesome! And shows you don’t have to cover the entire bag.

Kim’s bag and the pattern inspiration.

For my second bag I chose a pattern and decided to make it bigger. Tip: You will get a lot more done if you go with a larger stamp ;)

I began with the Space Oddity stamp from the Large Hex set, added a red Fan-fare stamp in the middle, and then I took a minute to choose my next stamp. More Fan-fare or the Broadway Fan from the Fan-tastic Small set?

I went with Broadway Fan :)

And here is the finished bag next to the inspiration.

Our bags included a little pocket pouch to fold the bag into for storage. We decided to stamp that too. Here I used the Fan-fare stamps and the Small Hex set.

Then you can store them like this.

They look pretty awesome! Remember to follow your ink instructions for setting the ink. Every fabric ink is different. These will need to be ironed to heat set the ink.

I’m ready for a plastic bag free Jersey City :)

Here are some of the supplies that we used:


Comments (1)

  • Mary Cheng

    |

    This is fabulous!
    I sew Boomerang bags http://www.boomerangbags.org for our local community to make people aware of plastic bag issues in our environment.
    I think printing with your foamies will add an artistic touch to our bags! I will give it a go with the inks you mentioned. I do have some of you foamies and hope there is more at a local craft fair next week!
    Thank you Nathalie

    Reply

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Rubber Stamped Easter Bunny Cards – DIY Play Date

Hippity Hoppity :) Kim and I got together for a Play Date with some of my new Rubber Stamps for the upcoming Easter holiday. We had a nice morning stamping some Easter Bunny Cards for friends and family.

For supplies we had my new Floral Tile Large and Floral Tile Small stamp sets, blank cards, colorful ink pads, some bunny images we printed off the internet, a craft knife, and repositionable tape.

First we carefully cut out some rabbit shapes, leaving both the outside and inside intact. These became our stencils and masks.

We used Scrapbook Adhesives E-Z Dots to temporarily stick our stencil to the front of the card. I love this tape – it’s easy to apply, sticks well, and comes off easily too!

We stamped into our bunny “stencil” with stamps from my Floral Tile Small set – the scale is just perfect for tiling into small areas. Here I am using one of the Hamilton designs.

Kim began with one of the Van Vorst designs from the Floral Tile Small set.

I used both the Positive and Negative Hamilton stamps from the small set and filled in the entire bunny.

And here is the big bunny reveal! Now to fill in the rest…

Put a bit of repositionable tape onto the bunny mask and place on top of your stamped image.

Begin filling the area around the bunny. Here I decided to use the Hamilton stamps from the Floral Tile Large set.

It becomes quick work with the large size stamps.

Kim worked with the Van Vorst stamps from the Floral Tile Large set to fill in the area surrounding her masked off bunny.

Looks pretty awesome when it is all done!

I experimented with outlining the bunny too – there are a lot of ways you can take these cards to another level.

Another card beginning with the outside, using the Versailles Positive and Negative stamps from the Floral Tile Large set.

And another using the Versailles Positive and Negative stamps from the Floral Tile Small set.

A very sweet bunny in blue using the Van Vorst Positive and Negative stamps from the small set. This dense pattern worked really well to define the bunny shape.

Kim getting into it – so fun with a lot of different stamp pad colors to choose from!

In the end we made quite a few cards – some that are really wonderful!

I just love this one I made with 2 bunnies!

Kim made a sweet orange one…

So fun to play with different iterations!

And then I realized that the stamped bunny masks should not go to waste – they looked great on the cards too!

Last one :)

We hope you try some of these techniques with my new stamps. Try mixing up different colors, playing with the positive and negative designs, and work with both sizes. We had a blast and can’t wait to spread a little Easter cheer with our cards.

You can find my rubber stamps in my online shop. Here are some of the supplies that we used in this play date:


Don’t forget! Now is a great time to shop in my Online Store and use the coupon code SWEEPSALE to get 20%off all physical products. Hurry! The sale ends April 15th at 11:59pm EST.

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Stamped Paper Wreath for Spring – DIY Play Date

Last week Kim and I decided to do a little Spring Play Date with my rubber stamps. We saw some cool pictures of paper wreaths online and thought we would try our own. We had just an hour or so and had fun making ours and dreaming of beautiful spring weather :)

You will need rubber stamps (we used my Stroll Through the Hood 1 and 2 stamp sets including the Powerhouse, Main Station, Brownstone, Warehouse, Lady Liberty, Mailbox, Hydrant, US Flag, Art Tag, and Love Tag stamps), ink pads, colorful paper, scissors, glue gun, and a cardboard ring. We cut our cardboard rings from old boxes, using plates to trace a circle and then cutting out the center.

  

Choose paper (and maybe even inks if you have a lot of colored ink pads) in an analogous color scheme – colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.

Then start stamping! Fill up the entire page with stamped images. It doesn’t matter how they line up – the point is to have some design and pattern all over the paper. Here is my Warehouse stamp in action.

Here is Lady Liberty and Brownstone filling a page.

We recommend stamping 3-4 sheets of paper.

Then cut out leaf shapes. 2-3″ works for a smaller wreath and 3-4″ works for a larger wreath.

Try to get as many out of a sheet as you can. It’s ok to cut through your stamped images at odd places.

In the end you will have a pile of leaves.

Try arranging the leaves on the cardboard ring to see how they fit.

You can experiment with color patterns too.

Use a glue gun to adhere the leaves in place. I finally bought a glue gun – yes can you believe this is my first ever glue gun? lol

Three leaves across seemed to cover the cardboard.

In the end you will have a charming little spring decoration.

Look at all the stamp images peeking through.

The big one is just right for hanging on a door.

Two paper wreathes, ready for spring.

One on the inside of Kim’s front door.

Looks nice on a smaller door here.

You can even layer them up for more impact.

This was a great way to use up some colored paper we had on hand and to have some fun stamping. I love how the stamps give it some more visual interest, and you could really play with ink colors and different papers if you wanted to. I hope you try it!

You can find my rubber stamps in my online shop. Here are some of the supplies that we used in this play date:


 

Comments (1)

  • stephanie

    |

    your art play date projects are always an inspiration! thanks Nat

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Stenciled Valentine’s Garland – DIY Play Date

For the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday Kim and I had a little play date to get in the spirit. This was super easy – done in an hour – and a fun way to use some stencils!

We got some heart stickers (2″ across), baker’s twine, my stencils, and acrylic paint in pinks, reds, and violet.

Then we started stenciling onto the hearts. Here I’m using my Broadway stencil and different pinks.

Choose a stencil with a pattern that isn’t too big, but the main point is to get some cool designs onto the hearts.

Kim used the Kassel stencil and lined up a bunch of heart stickers underneath.

This was a good way to do a lot of hearts at the same time and works nicely with a 9×12 stencil.

You can also work heart by heart and line up the stencil better. Here I am using my Valley Road stencil.

Here are some with my Manhattan stencil.

Look at all these fun designs! They are (top to bottom) Santa Fe, Valley Road, Broadway, Mesa Verde, and Beacon.

And more from Kim – Manhattan, Kassel, and Flower Maze.

Cut a length of the baker’s twine – however long you want your garland. Then put a heart sticker down and stick the twine to it. Stick the twine close to the top so the heart hangs the right way.

Then stick another heart on top to sandwich the twine. We spaced the hearts out with about 3-4″ in between each one.

Looks nice above a fireplace…

And on the bookshelf!

You could hang it on a chandelier or in a doorway or even on a little indoor tree.

We hope you try this one – it was great to play with color and pattern and the results are very cute :) Enjoy!

You can find my stencils in my Online Shop. Here are some of the supplies that we used:


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Rubber Stamped Waterless Snow Globes – DIY Playdate

This is my favorite Play Date with Kim yet!!! Seriously, I geeked out on this and had too much fun making a little Winter Wonderland under glass. We knew we wanted to do snow globes and waterless is the way to go – easy peasy and sooooooo cute! Here we go – waterless snow globes filled with little rubber stamped scenes to warm your heart this holiday season and into the winter beyond.

You’ll need a jar or cool glass cheese dome like I found. The size of the jar and lid will determine what rubber stamps you can use. We went right for my Stroll Around the Block house stamps, and the little street elements and buildings in my My Home is my CastleStroll Through the Hood 1 and 2 sets. Then we got some fake snow, some tiny trees and tiny people, heavy card stock, archival ink, colored pencils and ink blocks to color our stamped images, scotch tape, a hot glue gun and scissors. How many accessories you want to add is up to you – there are so many choices when it comes to miniature scenery – plants, animals, different people, etc.

My cheese dome was wide enough to have a little city scene in it, so I played with various arrangements to see what fit. Here I am testing out my Powerhouse, Queen Anne, and Brownstone stamps. You can use the stamps to see what will actually fit in your jars.

Kim had a canning jar that she found the Art Deco image would fit right into.

And another smaller jelly jar for a Lady Liberty snow scene :)

If you have small jars like baby food jars, you can choose small stamps like my Hydrant, Snail Mail, Mailbox, or Street Sign stamps.

Ok time to stamp! I’m using a few different stamps to build my snow globe neighborhood.

Next you cut them out, leaving a “foot” at the bottom to fold over and tape onto the lid. You can cut them out before or after you color them.

Color your stamped images with watercolor pencils – after all these snow globes won’t have any water :)

Kim added some seasonal details to the Street Sign stamp.

I love to use Derwent Inktense blocks with water and a brush, almost as watercolors to color in my stamps. They have beautiful rich colors and you can use a fine brush to get very detailed with them. Here I am adding some color to my Powerhouse stamp.

I chose a lot of different colors for my snow globe scene.

Use some tape to tape the image into the lid. Here is Lady Liberty, ready for winter I hope lol

She just fits.

Here is my scene and SQUEEEEEEL it is coming together so amazing!!! This was a test to make sure the lid fit.

Now I glued in some trees and shrubs with hot glue.

And people to bring your snow globe to life.

Kim put together 3 scenes.

Time for the blizzard!!!

Just spoon some snow into the jars.

Or gently spoon around the elements in the cheese dome.

On goes the lid

Kim assembled her North Pole snow globe :)

This is where we realized that for lidded jars, you may want to build your scene up a bit so it sits above the bumpy rim at the bottom of the jars. You could cut out a cardboard circle and paint it white and stick it in the lid first, then put buildings etc on top. We would definitely do that next time. Also if your jar has a colored lid, you may want to paint it with gesso before you begin.

But oh WOW this was sooooo fun! And looksie at my little winter wonderland!!! What a success and done in under 2 hours.

Take a stroll through my snow dome :)

Kim’s waterless snow globes – waaaaay cute!

That guy in the bottom cracks me up!

And for even more fun, I added a small battery operated tea light into the back of my snow globe so now it glows at night. Ooooooo!

I hope you try this project and I hope you have as much fun as we did. It’s a nifty way to get into the holiday spirit :)

In addition to my Rubber Stamps from my Online Shop, here are some of the supplies that we used:


 

Comments (4)

  • Sue Clarke

    |

    Love love love these Nat!
    Now maybe make some on shrinky material and you can use water too???
    Super fun project that you and Kim made.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

      |

      Great Idea Sue! We really wanted to have no glycerin or water involved – it was so much easier and gives more possibilities to add candles and use a cheese dome too :) It was so quick and I bet it is fun to make with kids too!

      Reply

  • stephanie

    |

    oh my gosh – how fun!!!

    Reply

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