Friday, January 25, 2013

Meet Madeline

I had so many ideas for posts I wanted to do this past week, but alas nothing but laundry, taking out the pukey trash, and comforting sick kiddos before I got sick myself got done!  So those posts will have to wait until next week.  I did however receive a wonderful present in the mail yesterday, that is going to allow me to do so many more doll things in my shop.  I'm so excited about her that I just had to share this now!

So here she is.  Meet Madeline!  We'll call her Maddy for short.  It was the name I was planning on giving to our baby girl, but we went with something very different (and I wouldn't change it for the world).  She is a custom made Blythe doll from Takara Ice Rune RBL mold.

We celebrated her arrival with a little song and dance.

But it didn't last long.  She was worn out from her long trip here all the way from Portugal!

She's already taken to modeling which is good.  Here she is in my pink Valentine's doll hat already listed in the shop!

Now I get to start working on more hats and clothes for little Maddy!  Watch the shop for new items!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Say goodbye to the old logo, and welcome in the new.  My new logo and banners were created by my good friend who I'm relentlessly trying to convince to open her own Etsy shop!  She's a phenomenal photographer and clearly very good at design!  I gave her an idea of what I wanted, and she literally made it happen in minutes!

 Out with the old, and in with the new!

I was a little hesitant to change the design, but since I've also changed the focus of my shop and recently branched out elsewhere on the interwebs, I felt it was an appropriate time.  Next month, Handmade by CJ will be celebrating it's one year anniversary on Etsy, and I'm excited to have everything streamlined before that happens.

As sort of a checklist to myself to make sure I've updated all the correct places, and as a guide to Handmade by CJ here are links to where you can find and follow me on the web:

I think that about covers it!  Check all your bookmarks, follow me wherever you can.  I'm very excited about the new look.  Now just to get back to work on more posts and products!  Thanks everyone!

Friday, January 18, 2013

DIY Wall Art - Inspiration Leads to Creation

A few weeks ago, my best friend tipped me off to this post at Young House Love with a great DIY wall art project.  I love recreating fantastic things that I find (or am shown) online, and this was definitely worthy of recreating!  In fact, that piece was inspired by a poster seen on Pinterest!  I just love how the world goes 'round!

My painting inspired by Young House Love

Anyway, I won't walk you through a tutorial...that website has already done it.  But I'll show you the few photos I took along the way.  My piece is smaller, but it still looks great even from across the room.  I only had a 16x20 canvas on hand (and unfortunately no Michael's coupons at the time).  As you can see I also chose a different color scheme.  We are all about the grays in this house, literally!  I'm thinking about taking just one of the white spaces and making it a bright color to pop out, like orange or even red.  We'll see.  I'm still debating.

Getting the canvas setup is a bit time consuming, but I don't think this is the sort of design you could free hand!  I used a corner of an index card to get the points.

Here's what it looked like just before I started painting.  

And just after I finished.  It was actually still wet in that picture.  I wish I had snapped one about halfway through.  At one point I almost stopped, and was going to keep it unfinished because I liked the effect it created.  I had about half of the canvas completely done and just a few spaces blocked in on the other half making a gradient effect.  I may need to make another one!  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wine and Canvas

Have you heard of this great thing called "Wine and Canvas"?  If not, you are completely missing out!  I was just recently enlightened and attended my first wine and canvas event, and I can say with 100% honesty it will not be my last!
My First Wine & Canvas Event Painting
It's no secret I like to paint, but I'm still very much an amateur at it!  The great thing about Wine and Canvas is that you don't have to be a pro, amateur, or frankly have even painted before in order to attend.  They make it enjoyable for everyone.  The atmosphere was all around fun!  The staff was very attentive.  The music rocked at times and was questionable at others, but it was quite an eclectic mix  of songs.  As far as the drinks go, I didn't actually have any wine, but the margarita was pretty darn good!  All-in-all the experience was well worth the $35 price tag.  I can't wait to go back again!

Wine & Canvas

The artist's painting on the left, my painting on the right.  Not bad right?

Now that I've given a brief overview, here's a more detailed version of how it all works:

How To "Wine & Canvas"

1.  Check the calendar.  Decide which painting you want to do first.  Or if the painting doesn't really matter to you, pick any night your available to attend.  Either way, decide when you want to go first.  The location I went to releases the calendar for the following month on the 20th of the current month.

2.  Sign up. They recommend signing up in advance because some events will sell out.  The studio we went to seated 80 people however there were only 40 people there.  We signed up a week early just to be safe though!  This is done online, and you pay when you register.

3.  Show up early.  The location we went to recommended showing up 15-30 minutes early to get signed in.  We were eager and got there 30 minutes early, and I'm so glad we did.  We got our choice of seats and were able to sit up close near the artist.

4.  Grab a drink now or later, or both.  Drinks were reasonably priced, and there was plenty more than just wine to choose from.  There seemed to be a handful of red and white (house and premium) wines, domestic beer, margaritas, and a few other specialty drinks as well as soft drinks and a few snack options.  I think there was definitely something for everybody.

5.  Listen to the introduction.  After you've got your drink and had a few minutes to browse the studio which was lined with canvas paintings, it was time for the night to get started.  We listed to an overview of how the process was going to work from one of the artist assistants.  She talked about the canvas (ours were 16x20 gallery wrapped), the different brushes, and the evening's paint colors.  Beginners might want to pay extra attention here, but if you've done any painting before, this part is pretty self explanatory.

Photo from Wine and Canvas Indianapolis
6.  Paint away!  The artist also gave a quick overview of the order the painting would progress, and then got started.  I felt the artist went very fast here!  We had time in between watching her complete each step to do it ourselves, but it hardly ever felt like enough time.  We always wanted to keep working or touching up a section.  It's extremely hard to resist the urge to do so.

Our paintings at the break
7.  Take a Break.  About half way through there is a break time for drink refills and basically to let a section of the painting dry before you progress further.  I think it was 10-15 minutes or so, but I'm not really sure.  The time flew by!
My painting ready for the final elements
8.  Finishing touches.  The artist will walk you through whatever is left of the painting, including signing your name.  Again I wish we'd have had more time to keep working, but in the end it all turned out great and we were all happy with the result.

Photo from Wine and Canvas Indianapolis
9.  Say cheese!  The artist assistant snapped a few group photos of everyone's finished paintings.  It's amazing how similar yet different each one was.

Photo from Wine and Canvas Indianapolis
10.  Cry because it's over, and book your next event!  The event lasted just under 3 hours, but the time flew by like it was minutes.  We had so much fun, and are really looking forward to going again!

I'm eagerly awaiting next month's calendar release to see what the painting options are.  In the meantime, I think I need to pick up some extra canvases to start working on some more paintings with a few of the tricks I learned.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Etsy Contest

If you've been on Etsy and especially if you run an Etsy shop, you may have heard of the Etsy contest.  Items change daily and there is usually some theme or category to pick items for that day (often price point).  It's a great way for new shops to get more exposure or for established shops to increase their visibility.

My new infinity scarf is included as part of today's Etsy contest choices.  You can use this link to go vote for my scarf and help increase it's visibility along with my shop!  Thanks in advance!

You can find this soft but structured infinity loop scarf in my Etsy shop along with other handmade crocheted scarves, a few doll hats, and several original canvas paintings.  New items are being added often!

And for those of you already on Etsy, check out the Etsy Contest team for some great fun and promotion!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

DIY Shower Ring Christmas Wreath Ornaments

This past Christmas I was looking for a fun, easy, and ultimately affordable gift that I could help my 5 year old son make to give away to his classmates.  I saw these yarn wrapped wreaths on Pinterest and decided to find a cheap way to make them.  

I started hunting around for something to use in place of the wooden rings, and I spotted a package of shower curtain rings at the dollar store.  My son has 12 kids in his class so a package of 12 shower curtain rings for whopping $1 sounded just right to me!  

I already had the red ribbon, glue, and of course scissors in our craft stash, and I picked up the ball of green yarn for less than $2, and the bow stickers were another $1 at the dollar store (These aren't really necessary because you can tie a bow with the ribbon as well).  So if you're keeping track, that's a grand total of $4 for gifts for the whole class!

Now to get started making the wreath.  First I tied a knot on the top part of the shower ring.  Hold onto the  yarn to keep it in place and start wrapping, keeping the yarn touching as you go.  Every few wraps, I put a little dot of glue to keep the yarn securely in place.

Then just keep wrapping.  

When you've covered the entire ring, make sure to glue down the loose end of the yarn.

Here's what the ring looks like when it's completely covered.  I bought the green shower rings just in case any of the ring showed through, but you can't see any of it if you wrap it close enough.  So you could use any color rings you find!  

Now add your embellishments.  We used these little glitter bows and tied a red ribbon on to hang it with.  You could add little gem stickers as ornaments on your wreath, wrap multiple colors of yarn to change up the look, or tie on your own bow.  Get creative!

We put them in these cute little plastic snack bags to hand out.

Hang them on your tree, or your cabinets, or a door knob, and enjoy!  

Monday, January 7, 2013

DIY Christmas Sharpie Mugs

Surely you've seen this craze going around Pinterest?  I honestly can't count the number of links I came across before I finally decided to give this project a go.  And once I started looking into the technique, I was amazed at how many people have tried it.  Then I also was a little worried about the number of people that had poor results!

Most of the tutorials will tell you to draw your design on the mug with a regular Sharpie marker, then bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  I read other suggestions that said to bake it longer or at a higher temperature.  Some recommended a special type of Sharpie.  Some just said it wasn't worth the time because it won't work.  Well I'm brave so I decided to give it a go and see what happened.

Initially, I picked up 8 coffee mugs.  They are off white ceramic mugs and more curved than the standard coffee mug shape.  After we finished the first batch, I went back to the store and bought about 20 more.  Everyone got a mug from us this Christmas!  And we had so much fun doing them!

To get started, remove any stickers and wash and dry the mugs completely.

Then gather up all the supplies and choose a design.  Since we were planning on giving these away as Christmas gifts, I wanted the kids to be involved in making them as well.  All of the mugs have the kids' thumbprints incorporated into the design.  My favorite are these little reindeer inspired from a project found here.

The thumbprints are all done using acrylic paint.  I used the end of a paintbrush dipped in paint to make the nose, although this could also have been done with a red Sharpie.  The rest of the drawing, the eyes and antlers, and sayings, are all done with the regular Sharpies.  It's a little trickier than you'd think to write across the mug with a Sharpie.  My cursive wasn't the greatest, but that just makes it more personalized!

I let them dry on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes while also preheating the oven.  I decided to up the temp to 375 degrees to make sure it worked!  I put the whole thing in the oven for 35 minutes just to be safe!

Pull them out of the oven carefully and leave them on the baking sheet until they are cooled completely.  After that they got another wash and dry and were ready to be gifted!  I wouldn't recommend putting these in the dishwasher, but the paint and marker shows no signs of coming off after hand washing.  

This design was inspired by a DIY Christmas card found here.  We also did a version using a silver Sharpie for the cord and pastel colored lights.  Don't forget to add the date!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

365 Memories

Some of you may be aware of this new trend.  Project 365 I think some are calling it.  I've labeled mine "A Photo a Day".  I've seen it on Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and there are many more people doing it on their own blogs or websites.  It's simple, but powerful.  Snap one picture a day of anything and post it.  The possibilities are endless, and the memories you'll have to look back on at the end of the year will be priceless!

Day 1 Photo

The link to my project is in the sidebar on the left.  I know we're only six days into the new year, but I'm already having so much fun looking back at less than a week's worth of photos.  Most of mine have and will come from Instagram shots I took that day or just a random photo on my camera.  I will probably sort the pictures into separate pages by month as they accumulate so one page won't be so picture heavy.

Day 6 Photo

So are any of you doing a project 365?  Something other than photos perhaps?  It's not too late to get started on one!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Gallivanting Girl Blog: Giveaway Time!! Win a Free Print.

A friend of mine and fellow Etsy artist (Although it's a stretch to include my work in the same category; her prints and original artwork are simply amazing!) is having a giveaway on her blog for one of her prints.  It's definitely worth checking out so click on the link below!

The Gallivanting Girl Blog: Giveaway Time!! Win a Free Print.: I'll be choosing one lucky person to take their pick of any print in my shop.  Details below. Win a FREE print.  Your choice of print...

A few of my favorite titles include "Epitome of Sunny", "Oh Sunny Day", and "Turning Pages".  So search her shop, I'm sure you'll find a favorite too!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

News for the New Year

If you've noticed, I wasn't blogging much throughout December.  Many of our craft projects last month turned into Christmas gifts, so I'll be working on those posts now that they've been gifted out!  I can't tell you how excited I am about how they all turned out.

I spent a lot of time crocheting last month (Christmas gifts!), but it has really got me eager to start a new line for my Etsy shop.  I wanted to include some crochet when I setup the shop early last year, but I didn't quite have the hang of my stitches back then.  With a lot of practice and a whole lot of YouTube how-to's, I can almost do it with my eyes closed.  Well not really, I just watch a lot of Netflix instead!

For Sale on Etsy
I will be adding pieces to the shop as they're completed, but a couple new doll hats have already been listed.  I love these adorable Blythe sized hats!  I can't wait to make more.  As I get time, I'll also be adding some child and adult size pieces.

I'm not sure yet if I will be adding more art to the shop, although I was just commissioned to recreate my Eye of Jupiter painting that sold last year.  I'm definitely willing to take requests, but I'm probably going to be focusing on the yarn for the time being!

Aside from the shop news, I've also added a new page (look at the nav bar on the left) to the blog called A Photo A Day.  My New Year's resolution is to take a photo every day of something happening in our lives.  I'll post it to the top of the page each day with a short caption.  By the end of the year, I will have an incredible scrapbook of amazing little memories.

Well my work is cut out for me.  The only challenge is finding time to do everything I want to do.  So what are your New Year's Resolutions?