Nov 29, 2012

Personalized Christmas Ornaments

I get a lot of questions in my inbox.  I try really hard to stay on top of them and respond and I love getting your messages.  Last week was no different, well, except there were a few more messages than normal.  If you remember, I posted a picture of an ornament I made and was giving away to a few lucky readers.  After that post went live, my inbox did too.  I had repeating messages asking me how I made it, well, I'll show you.  Be warned though, they are kind of addicting.  Here's the exact ornament just in case you don't remember it...

Supplies Needed:

Polymer Clay, for this one I used Pearl Sculpey Clay with a small piece of red for the heart
Circle cookie or biscuit cutter
Paint, I use a dark brown
Poly urethane (not shown)
Sharp tool, I use a paper piercer from Lasting Impressions
Ribbon and embellishments (not shown)
paint brush (not shown)
Also keep on hand some water and paper towels (not shown)

Let's get started and be sure to stick with me to the end because I'll show some other ideas you can do using the same techniques.

Step 1:  Pick out your stamp.  I picked up my Angel stamp at Hobby Lobby.  Then, take a chunk of clay and condition it.  If you've never worked with polymer clay before conditioning just means you are going to knead it and squish it for a few minutes to soften it up really well.  Once it is soften, flatten it out and smooth as much as possible.  

Step 2:  Carefully but firmly push your stamp into your clay.  Depending on the softness of your clay will depend on how hard you need to push.  You want to leave a good impression but you also don't want it to be a really deep imprint either.  

When I was done stamping into my clay, it looked like the photo above.

Step 3:  Take your circle cutter - I used a biscuit cutter - and center it around your design and then cut your clay into a circle.  (I know mine was already in a circle but it just came that way when I flattened my clay, the cutter made the circle more uniform)

Here it is stamped and cut out.  We're getting there!

Step 4:  Next, grab your piercing tool.  Carefully poke small holes all along your stamped design.  You could totally by pass this step but I like the extra touch and I think it helps the paint stick into the design.

When you are done with step 4 it will look like the above photo.

Step 5:  Take a very tiny amount of red clay and condition it, then shape a small heart and press it in place onto your angel.

Step 6:  NOT SHOWN - Cook your clay in a pre-heated oven at 275 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Step 7:  Next, paint your design with the brown paint - don't use black - black paint tends to stain the clay.  So, brush on the paint and then, quickly before the paint dries, take a damp paper towel and wipe off the paint.  You want the paint to stay in the grooves of the design but it should come off of every where else.  

When you have removed all the paint it should look like the photo above.  Just enough paint to define the design.

Step 8:  Next, paint on a coat, or two, of polyurethane and let dry

Step 9:   Finish off your ornament with ribbons and embellishment as desired.  

Fun Right!  Ok, so what are some other things you can do to dress them up and personalize them?  Well, here's some more ideas....

Idea 1:  Before you add the coat of polyurethane, paint on some color.  I love using Lumiere.  It's an iridescent looking metallic acrylic item that has some sparkle it.  You can paint it on just like other paints.  It's cool.  It comes in lots of different colors.  You can see more samples of ornaments where I used it below. 

Idea 2:  before baking your clay, after your front is designed, add a holiday greeting to the back

Idea 3:  Use other colors of clay.  Red, green, blue, anything goes.  If you use a colored clay, think about using a light colored paint like white so your design will show well.

Idea 4:  Personalize the back of the ornament with a family name and give them as gifts or use them as personalized tags for gifts.

Idea 5:  Add some cute little embellishments like hanging beads and such.  This also shows a message on the back.

just a cute tree

Idea 6:  Use multiple colors of paint or Lumiere to paint your stamped design.  Again, this has to be done before you add the polyurethane.  

Idea 7:  Similar to the others, only this one shows that you can add a family name or message to the front instead of the back.

So, there you have it - have fun and email me if you have questions.

Oh, and should you want to by pass the whole creative process, I do have these in my Etsy shop and I'm happy to do custom orders!  Plus, good news.  I'm now excepting credit cards in my shop so no need to go through Paypal if you don't want too!

Nov 25, 2012

Cutting Table Creativity

Do you remember the Christmas tree napkins from a few posts back?  I posted about them because they were the hot project item that seemed to be popping up at the cutting table that week.  Well, this past weekend, as I did another shift at the cutting table, I noticed a new craft item had taken over on the popularity scale.  (Maybe I should do a weekly top ten from the cutting table) Anyway, several customers were in buying felt and lots of it.  After some chit-chatting and sharing I learned it was another idea they had all seen on Pinterest.

Of course I had to come home and look it up.  It's cute and I can see why it was the new hot project.  Sadly, my kids are too old for this type of thing but I know lots of my readers have little ones at home.  If you are one of them, this is a pretty cute little Christmas craft.   And, from all I've read, it's easy too.  So, if you missed it on Pinterest, here it is....

When I did my search this is the site that came up first.  It's from Sol and Rachel Do a Blog - you should go check out her blog. She has several other great photos of her fun little project.  Plus, in the same post, she has shared other fabulous ideas worth your time.    

Also, for more information on how to make your own tree, go visit this post from Johnny in a dress.  She has great photos too and some information on how she hung it up and such.  Good info there!

So, my compliments to these two creative crafters.  Thanks for sharing your ideas and I'm glad they ended up at the cutting table this week!

Nov 24, 2012

Nativity - Baby Jesus

Two posts in one day!  I don't usually do that but I know you are waiting on these tutorials so here you go, the last and final one.  I give you ...

The Baby Jesus

You will need:
Clay in Pearl, Beige, gold (or Yellow) and Hazelnut
Tin foil and a sharp tool, a tooth pick will work.

Nativity Tutorial - Mary

Mary!  She's here!  I love her.  She is made with all the same steps as the other figures but since she is the only female in group, we've got to give her a girlie look.  Let's get to it...

Supplies, you will need... 

Nov 23, 2012

The Good and The Bad

First, I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving.  I did.  We don't live by family so usually it is just my small family of 5 and we will we have the traditional meal but the feeling isn't the same as when you share it with others. Yesterday, though, we had a friend join us.  Once we knew she was coming it changed everything.  My girls were so excited and we had a great day.  Edible food, some games, and some crafting.  Good times, indeed!

So, moving on... do you want the good news or the bad news first?  Let's just get it bad news out of the way.  I've been frustrated with myself about this one and it's taken me a while to process it and to be ready to talk about  -  did you notice the lack in blog posts?  Ya, me too.

I deleted Mary!

In my haste to wrap up and clean out old files from the Nativity tutorials, I cleaned out Mary.  Sometimes I think these tutorials aren't meant to be.  And, I have Baby Jesus but it felt weird to post him and not her.  No need to fret though, she has been re-created and the mother and baby will make their debut together.  It will be a long tutorial but I'm not separating them again because I'm not taking any chances.

Now, onto the GOOD news.

Want to know who won the little Holy Family set?  

Well, it was lucky #6
Who happens to be.....



Julie's comment was pretty cool and I'm happy that this little set is going to be given to her daughter, check out her entry comment:

"Would love to see more jewelry projects and maybe kid friendly projects! Your nativity set is gorgeous! Would love to win this for our little six year old...she has a small nativity set that she refuses to put away after the holidays...says she can't put baby Jesus in a box for the rest of the year! So she is probably the only little one I know who has her ragged little set on her dresser 365 days a year!  Thanks for a fun giveaway and for sharing on your blog!"

Congrats Julie!  

Also, you know, I did the give-away because I had hit a combined total through google, my feeds, facebook and a few other social networks of 6,000 followers.  Because of this, I think I should actually give away 6 prizes, do you agree? 1 prize for every 1,000 followers.

Julie won the Nativity which was the big prize but these 5 other readers will be sent a custom Then She Made ornament!  

(I love these ornaments.  I created 20 of them last week for a custom order.  I  loved them so much I made some more for me and put Merry Christmas on the back)

Those winners are:

#22 - Jen
#13 - Sarah
#14 - Kristina
#12 - Heather
#72 - Karen

I kid you not, those numbers came up in that order on - it was really odd to have three numbers all in a row, well kinda - the 12 came after, by you know what I mean.

Congrats you guys!  I'll be in touch to get your shipping information!
(Jen, Kristina, and Heather - email me.  I can access your profiles but not your email addresses)

Nov 15, 2012


Two super quick things

Don't forget to enter to win this:

Today and tomorrow are the last two days to enter, see this post for more details:

Free Shipping offer

Just a reminder that all purchases in my Etsy shop that are over $25 qualify for free shipping.
Just enter the coupon code FREESHIP25 at checkout.  This offer is good through out the month of November but if you are wanting an item for a Christmas gift, grab it now.  I will be retiring some of my designs so as soon as they are gone, I won't be making more.  

To shop, go here:  Then She Made Etsy

That's all for now!

Nov 14, 2012

Christmas Tree Napkins

I haven't said anything about this yet, but, it's time.  I'm a working woman again.  I took a job - it could just be the perfect job for me - at a craft store.  It's weird to work again and while I'm only working part time, it's totally an adjustment both physically and mentally.

The cool thing about it though is that I'm mostly working the fabric department and you know, for the most part, crafters are really nice people.  It's fun to chat about their upcoming projects and I love the people that are so excited about what they are making that they want to share and show.

More than once I've had a customer whip out a photo or a completed sample to show me.  One lady was making a skirt she saw on Pinterest and another was making a wreath.  It's pretty cool to see the creative process from this point of view.  Usually I'm the one creating but now I'm on the other side, the support side, in a way.

One thing I've noticed is that when a good idea pops up, it seems several crafters are all ready on it.  I had 4 different ladies show me their projects.  They weren't shopping together or even friends, yet all of them were making napkins shaped like Christmas trees.  Have you seen them?  I had not either.

So, I came home and looked them up, these puppies are apparently pretty popular, so in case you haven't seen them and are looking for a quick gift idea, check these out:

(photo by Picking Daisies)

Cute, right?  If you want the tutorial you can find it in a few different places online, here are some sites that I found the most helpful:

Picking Daises  - shows photos of the step-by-step process
Jo-Ann Craft  - very well written directions as well as more info like time needed to complete them
how-to-video - found this one on Pinterest, it's a video showing the how-to

I'm not sure I will make these, my project to-do list is pretty long already, BUT, I do like the idea and thought it was worth sharing.

And, in other news, I'm not working for the rest of the week so the tutorial for Mary will be up tomorrow.

Nov 12, 2012

Nativity - Joseph Tutorial

Well, new plan. I was going to do all three of the final tutorials in one post but I really didn't think that one through - it was too big. So, we'll break it down by day. Today is Joseph. He's made the same way as the wisemen and the shepherds but with different colors.

 Here's the step-by-step:

Nov 9, 2012

Holy Family Giveaway - Yes?

*** This Giveaway has closed***

Please note, on Jan. 15, 2013 - Feedburner had a hiccup and sent this post out to all my subscribers.  I got in my inbox too and what quite surprised.  Needless to say, if you are reading this post now because of the email please know the giveaway has ended and already been awarded!

Holy Moly!  I'm feelin' pretty dang happy right now.

My little blog, between my Google followers, blog feeds, Pinterest, etc..., has reached 6,000 plus followers.   Now, I'm fully aware that compared to most blogs, that is actually a very small number.  But, for me, since I never intended to be a big player, that is kind of a big number and it makes me happy.  That means that 6,000 people out there like something about what I do, liked what I made, agreed at one point with something I've said, or just follow along to see when I will self-destruct. (which could happen)

This news totally made my day.  So much so that I'd like to pass along the happiness!  

So, as I'm sitting here working up the tutorials for our last few pieces of our nativity: Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus, I just thought "hey, I should give this away!"  You guys have followed along with this Nativity project all year.  You've read the tutorials, and some of you are doing them.  You've pinned it on Pinterest, shared it with your friends.  You've emailed me questions, you've sent me pictures of your creations and well,  you've been patient with me when I've been slow to post and you were even supportive this past summer when life derailed my plans and it all means a lot.

So, as a thank you I want one of my readers to have this.  

(give-away includes the following:  Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, the manger and the stable.)

Do you want to win it?

If you do just leave me a comment and answer this one question:

Q:  What types of things would you like to see more of on  Then She Made in 2013?

And, be sure that you leave a way for me to contact you.  If your comment gets picked but there is no contact info, another winner will be chosen.  

I will keep this open for one week, all comments need to be made by Friday, November 16th, 2012.

Thank you all again!  I love my readers!

*** Edited 1/15/13 - this giveaway has ended - no further comments please

Nov 4, 2012


I was in Sam's club yesterday and almost lost my mind.  Ever feel that way?  Sam's can be overwhelming on a Saturday anyway but the tipping point for me was Christmas music.  Am I ready for this?  It just seems so soon.

I realized pretty quickly that I had two choices: 1)- freak out and avoid all stores until December 1st or 2)- Embrace it.

Because I'm not normal I went with option 1.5.  I settled somewhere in the middle.  Which, honestly was a good place for me, especially because I've got a Christmas song stuck in my head and there really is no way I can avoid shopping for a month.  I am going to focus on the gratitude of Thanksgiving though - I'm even decorating for Thanksgiving.  That's epic for me, especially since I avoided all holiday decorating in September and October.

Anyway, while I'm putting together some projects and tutorials, I thought I'd just do a quick FYI about TSM - ya, I just made an acronym for Then She Made, does that mean I've made it in blogland? Or maybe I'm just following the trends.  Whatev!

FYI #1:  Check this out.  My hubs and I had the opportunity of doing family photos for that awesome Katie at Katiediddesigns a few weeks ago.  That was awesome in and of itself as she has an adorable family and we had a great time shooting them.  However, as I was browsing Etsy the other day, I found her shop and discovered that she used some of the photos from our session on her new card designs.

Christmas card, Holiday or New Years greeting, Merry Freaking Christmas, digital, printable file (item 838)

I love them!  She is so talented.  I know this is the time of year that we all start shopping for Christmas cards and if you are looking, I highly recommend you go check out her designs.  She has so many!  Find her here: Katiediddesigns 
and if you end up ordering from her, make sure to tell her I said "hi"!  (and don't miss out on her paper straws!  My kids are begging - BEGGING - me to buy some)

Christmas, Holiday or New Years greeting card, yellow, gray, teal, digital, printable file (item 837b)

FYI #2:  Sooooo, Nativity club.  Ummm, ya.  I've definitely learned that having a 12 month long blog project might not be my thing.  However, we are almost done.  I did have a request come in that suggested I wrap up the project this month, in November, instead of waiting and doing the last piece in December.  It was a good idea and I agree.  So, later this week I'll be doing a full tutorial on the Holy Family.

I've also had a lot of requests from people wanting to buy the Nativity set.  I used to have it listed on Etsy but found doing the whole set was too time consuming.  However, I've decided to compromise a bit and am selling the Holy Family and stable.  This will only be listed for the month of November so if you want one, and don't want to make your own, buy it now! Holy Family on Etsy 

Blue Floral Pendant Necklace

FYI #3:  Our Etsy fund raiser has wrapped up (again, thank you so much for your help and support!) but I  have extra items left over in my shop.  So, for the month of November, all orders over $25 qualify for free shipping.  Just type in the coupon code FREESHIP25 at check out and shipping is on me!

FYI #4:  This week is the annual Harvest Party at our Elementary school.  I helped out a couple of years ago and I'm helping again this year.  Luckily I'm teaming up with... actually, to be honest, I'm mostly just supporting my friend as she's done all the work.  But we are doing this blessing mix again.  It's a fun thing to pull together pretty quickly and the kiddos can help by adding in all the ingredients.  You can see the origianl post here:  Harvest Snack Mix (a.k.a - Blessing mix)


Also, if you are waiting on an Etsy order all my remaining orders will ship tomorrow!  Wahoo!