Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Deer Head Art

Friday, December 5, 2014
*I was given a stencil from Royal Design Studios to complete this project and will receive compensation in the form of credit to their store for this post.  I hope that the fact that I am working for more stuff from Royal Design Studios shows how much I like their products. ;)  The ideas and opinions are all my own.

You know when you see something and you just really have to try to make it for yourself?  I have been feeling this way about this darling sign from Peabody and Sassafrass.  Did you click over?  Isn't it gorgeous?  The whole look they create is just fabulous.
When I was contacted by Royal Design Studios about creating a holiday project I was excited for a reason to create some new art inspired by their gorgeous creation.  And when I went to Pinners Conference and saw this deer head from The Wood Connection- I knew exactly what I was going to do.
Here's how it came together.
I started off with a piece of wood.  This one is 15 1/2" square. It actually part of another project that I never put together so it was already cut with the holes drilled in before I started.  I started with a coat of dark gray paint.  Once it was dry, I used this Photo Texture Cream from Poppy Seed Projects and layered on a thick coat that was full of strokes and peaks.  This will make sanding in some texture at the end much easier.  Allow to dry thoroughly.  I let it dry overnight because I really did lay it on thick.

 Once the texture cream was dry it was time to start adding the colors for the final project.  I started out adding the cream.  I used Antique White from Annie Sloan Chalk Paint because I had some on hand and it was the perfect color, feel free to use any kind of paint you want.  For the red, I wanted a color that would match a project I am still working on, so I ended up mixing up my own color, but I simply used acrylic paint so find whatever color you love.  This is where the Royal Design Studios stencil came in.  I wanted something that would add some interest and dimension to the project and finally decided on this Herringbone Pattern Christmas Stencil.  I absolutely love the look it gave my project.  They have so many fabulous options it was hard to choose, but this one was a simple, classic design that was exactly what I was looking for.  Because there was so much texture on my board, it was hard getting the lines exactly perfect, but I was hoping for a bit of a handmade/ distressed look, so I wasn't worried about it.  When you purchase a stencil from Royal Design Studios they send you directions on how to stencil if you don't know already.  I found these tips really helpful because I am definitely no expert.
While my paint was drying I prepped my deer head.  I traced the shape onto the paper I wanted to use, cut it out and mod podged the paper to the head.  Then I let it dry.  Once it was dry I sanded the edges of the deer to get rid of any extra paper that might hang over the edges.
The final step before assembling is to distress our board.  I used a fresh piece of sand paper and sanded over the whole thing.  You will see that the raised parts exposed the gray underneath.
Once I decided where to place my deer head I realized that the brown head wasn't standing out as much as I would like, so before I glued it down I went around the edges with some charcoal ink and it was exactly the touch it needed.

 As I said in the beginning, I was loving the look of the Peabody and Sassafrass piece and the thing that really sent their piece over the top was the felt flowers on the bottom.  So I pulled out my bucket of felt and went to work.
 I started out with my go to pom pom flowers using strips of felt that were about 6" long and only 2" wide.
The next flowers I made were these pinched posies.  I cut out small irregularly shaped circles and put a dab of glue in the centers and pinched them up.  I used about 6 circles per flower.  Once the glue dried I glued all the pieces together.  The last flowers are just strips of irregularly cut felt rolled up into a flower, super simple.  I cut out some holly leaves and ran a line of glue along the center then pinched it in half.  Once the glue cooled I opened it back up and it it had this great ridge in the center.
 Of course the last step is the ribbon.  I'm not sure if I'm going to keep this on it forever, but for now I love how simple and understated it is and that it lets the deer head and flowers take center stage.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Do you change your holiday decor every year?  I like to add a few new pieces each year, and I try to retire others too, just so I don't have a gazillion boxes to store from year to year.
Have a fabulous Friday!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cricut Explore Black Friday Deals

Friday, November 28, 2014
*This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are my own.

Just popping in this holiday weekend to share with you some amazing deals on the new Cricut Explore.  In my last post I shared 10 reasons I love my Explore and because I love it, and you, I thought it only fair of me to let you know about the awesome Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to be had.

You can find deals on great bundles, including the exclusive to Design Space Frozen bundle, and great starter bundles that include the scoring stylus and pens and other great deals.  Plus, I have a couple other coupons you can add that will make your deal even better.

During the month of November you get free shipping on all orders using code FREESHIPNOV.   Plus, you can get an additional $5 off an order of $50 or more with the code CRICUTBF5.  And the code EXPLOREBFBLOG will get you another $10 off your Explore bundle.  If you add it all up, you can get a bundle for as low as $214!!

Skip the lines at Walmart and shop online for the best Cricut deal.  And with Free Shipping you don't even have to get dressed. ;)

I promise no more selling posts for a while, I just thought it would be mean of me not to save you money. lol

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

10 reasons I love my Cricut Explore

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
*This is a compensated post, as well as a post that contains affiliate links.

I want to start by saying that I almost never write posts like this.  I have nothing against bloggers who write sponsored posts, but I struggle with having to write something that doesn't feel authentic to me.  It's not my job to sell you on things and my opinion might not be the same as yours.  But, once in a while the opportunity to get paid to write a post I would write anyway comes along and I have to jump on board.

I have been participating in the Cricut Design Space challenge and have made it into the top 10 a couple of times.  In order to participate, Cricut sent me a new Explore machine.  I have been a cricut owner for years and purchased my previous machines.  I was super excited to get to try out this new machine.  I had heard such great things about it and I have to say, I was not disappointed.

So, here they are- my Top 10 reasons for loving my Cricut Explore:

#10- The new I-pad app.  This app is in Beta testing and will be released in January, but I was able to participate in a webinar that showed how this app will work and I have to say I'm super impressed.  I don't even own an i-pad, but I might need to fix that. ;)  The reason this is in my top 10 is not necessarily because of the app, but because it is a reflection of the responsiveness that Cricut has developed to its customers.  People asked for an app, the ability to design remotely and one that would work on the i-pad- and Cricut listened.  They are listening to the Facebook groups and what their customers are saying and I think that's amazing.  I believe they truly care what their customers think, and I couldn't always say that.  They are making huge strides to turn things around in this area.  They are also working tirelessly to bring new features and tools that people want.  So, if a specific feature isn't available yet- wait a bit and I'm sure it will be.

#9- The machine itself.  It's light, easy to pull out and put away.  I don't have a space where I can leave it out and hooked up all the time, so it's nice that it has it's own storage area to keep extra tools and blades right in the machine.  It even comes with a carrying bag.  And it's quiet!  It's nice that I can still hear my music while it's working. :)

#8-   All of the Cricut images.  I have quite a few cartridges from over the years and have always loved the options they provide me for my crafting, but now, you don't have to purchase the entire cartridge, you can just purchase single images if that's all you need.  And this leads me to ...

#7- Print then Cut.  All of the Cricut images are available to be turned into printables- with a simple click of the mouse. 

#6- Creating your own images.  I'll admit that the ability of the Silhouette to manipulate the images you are cutting, and to upload your own images was something I envied for a long time.  I am so thrilled that first with Craft room, and now with Design Space, Cricut allows you the versatility to take your projects to even greater heights.  :) From welding letters to create one cut image, to slicing off bits and pieces, to arranging them on the mat for projects using vinyl and heat transfer, you have so many more options now.

I used the weld feature to create the cherish word art in this project.
#5- uploading your own files is free.  You can purchase external .svg, .jpeg or other cut files, or create your own in other software, such as Adobe Illustrator and upload them to Design Space at no cost.  It's exactly the feature I used in my Scalloped Advent Banner.

#4-  Write, Cut and Score- I love all of these features.  I have not used the pens much- YET.  But, I have some great plans ahead for those.  I do love the score tool and the cuts, well they are awesome.

#3- If you've wondered about how the Explore cuts- it is after all a digital cutting machine- wonder no longer.  And independent lab took the Explore and the Silhouette and tested them side by side.  You can read all about the results and find out how the Cricut vs. Silhouette contest turned out.  Long story short- the Cricut won. :)

#2- The materials the new machine can cut.  In addition to how precise it is, this machine can cut everything from leather to balsa wood.  It's pretty impressive.  I even took a piece of laminated cotton and threw it on a mat to see if it would cut- it worked like a dream.  I have much more playing to do with this feature, but I have been super impressed so far.

#1- Ease of use.  This is far and away my favorite feature.  Most of the bloggers I talk to think this is a downside, but honestly, I don't always have time to build a project from scratch.  Sometimes I just want to load a project and get cutting.  The software, machine and app are all intuitive and are built to be user friendly and simple to understand.  I love that when I have a specific project in mind I can create it myself, or if I just want to create- I can jump on Design Space and get going. 

So there you have it, my reasons for loving the Cricut Explore.  There will probably be more along the way. :)  I'm sorry if you're seeing a lot of posts like this in your feed right now, as you can imagine, there is a huge push before Black Friday to generate a buzz, but if you've read this long, then hopefully that means you value my opinion.  I really do love my Explore.  I've been a huge Cricut fan for years and I'm so grateful for the opportunities I have had to create great projects and participate in the Design Space star contest.  If you have any other questions about the Explore, feel free to ask in the comments or e-mail me.

One final note, there will be some great deals on the Cricut Explore come Black Friday.  I can't spill the beans just yet, but stay tuned. :)

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