Category Archives: Tutorials

Postdated: Easter Crafts

I don’t normally get into holiday crafts, but I saw Alisa Burke’s post about her lovely canvas wrapped easter eggs, and wanted to try my own. Over my students’ spring break, I needed a craft, and as the canvas might have been a little much (just for materials and time, if nothing else) so I improvised. I did the same project with two 4th grade students, and they each made a handful of great looking eggs. The two I finished were done alongside my students, and the last one I ran out of time to decorate. I may do more eggs later, holiday or not!

Three Eggs

This one is my favorite:

Green Egg

How did I make them? Pretty simple.

1. Take a plastic egg, and decoupage with tissue paper and white glue.

2. When sufficiently covered, decoupage other colors if needed.

3. Glue decorations such as rhinestones, buttons, sequins, flowers, etc.

4. Let dry.

Tada! Pretty Easter egg!


Starting the Wish Journal Workshop

I mentioned in the last post that I’d registered for Samantha Kira’s Wish Journal Workshop, so as promised, I’ll tell you a little more about it, and how it’s going so far.

I deliberated about it for a few weeks. On the one hand, I’ve been following her work and her YouTube videos for a little while, and I really enjoy them. Plus, I just love her spirit and helpful nature. Not to mention her art is lovely. However, I’ve been dancing on the edge of “broke.” Not there yet, but between TWO car repairs and computer issues, Christmas gifts, valentines, and a birthday (ok, and some personal indulgences) I had dipped heavily into my savings. I had put my spending on hiatus (aside from gas money). But… it was only $20 (as compared to the $45-$70 range I often see). And it was her first paid workshop, so I really really wanted to support her. I decided I’d get an outside opinion. So I explained the situation, and then the conversation went something like this:

Koby: I think you should but first you need to promise not to get frustrated or give up.

Cassandra: I promise.

Koby: Pinky-promise.

Cassandra: *offers her pinky*

Koby: Put your hand on your heart and cross your eyes.

Cassandra: *covers her heart and stares at her nose*

Koby: Now repeat after me. “Spiders snakes and a lizards head–“

Cassandra: “Spiders snakes and a lizards head–“

Koby: “If I quit, I’ll die till I’m dead.”

Cassandra: “If I quit, I’ll die till I’m dead.”

And there you have it. I’m bound by oath and pinky-promise to finish the class, and to remain in a cheery, positive mood. Thus far, I have!

Right now, I’m finishing up the page backgrounds. I mixed a full bottle of two new colors for myself to use as base colors (well, and in future projects too!) My three base colors are a lovely creamy “Jade” sort of color, a grayed lilac mauve sort of color, and a gold/suede sort of color (ok, I mixed that too because “honey brown” was too bright in comparison with the dreamy feel of the other two.) I may later accent with my awesome “berry wine” color. It’s so pretty.

For the background collaging, I’ve been using book pages, graph paper, lined paper, security envelope linings, junk mail, and scallops cut from a lovely peacock colored advert I’d collected years ago (Now I wish I’d collected more– this used the last of it.)

At first, I thought I’d stay one-sided, as Samantha Kira suggests, but looking at the pages once they were cut, I just knew I wanted ALL the pages painted (which IS an option). I’m trying to follow her directions as much as possible, and do the project her way (at least the first time through) so I don’t miss anything simply because I think I won’t like it. But in this case… I really do love the way the pages are coming out! I’ve gotten the back sides collaged, but not painted yet.

Cutting the pages I was a little bit worried about (I think it was Samantha that said in a video that there should be a class for artists on using X-Acto knives. I definitely need it!) It turned out that, though the poster boards came from the same two packages, bought at the same time from the same store, they were NOT evenly cut. (Also… either I did something REALLY bizarre with one of them, or one package did not actually have 5 like it said. Oh well.) I’m not sure if precisely exact edges matter, but I used my mini binder clips, ruler, and X-Acto knife to trim the edges until they were even. I lost a quarter inch on each side, and strained the muscles in my hand (apparently the muscles used in holding down a ruler are fairly weak) but I did it with no major mishaps, crooked lines, or blood-spill.

Flattening pages beneath heavy books so they didn’t warp and curl (much).

Some favorite pre-paint collage bits.

Tomorrow (or perhaps tonight before bed) I’ll paint the back sides, and then I’ll be ready to fold and bind my pages. Yay!

Tom Kha Gai

Okay, so I KNOW this is an art blog. And I KNOW my resolution was to do three projects each week– implication that they’d be ART projects, but… I think this counts. Because… it does. And because I was having such a low week and couldn’t get started. And because it was definitely a project.

For the last month or two, I’ve been craving Tom Kha Gai– Thai Coconut Chicken Soup– off and on. A week back, I had the opportunity to get thai food with a friend who is back from London for a few weeks. (I’ll have to tell you about the present he got me later.) I got a whole pot of Tom Kha Gai in the awesome special flaming soup pot they have– one day I want my own flaming soup pot. I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially with my throat roughed up as it was.  I enjoyed the left overs too. And then… I still wanted more. Apparently the craving was not appeased.

I looked up a few recipes, and though I was initially a bit daunted, I at first thought I’d do it with friends, then got impatient. So… I purchased the ingredients and made the first batch last night. Many ingredients I had to find at the local seafood market– lemongrass, galangal, palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, good quality coconut milk, etc. The fish sauce I had previously, and the mushrooms and chicken stock could be found in any grocery store.

I planned to get cooking as soon as I got home from work, as tuesday we usually just have left overs or fix our own food.  It was the perfect day. Except– I got home and my mother had brought home chicken. Nonetheless, I went at it at midnight (being that I am a night owl anyhow).

Rather than use just one recipe, I cobbled together three to get it as close to the restaurant type as I could. What I ended up with was this (or thereabouts):

  • 2 cans coconut milk (chaokoh brand this time…)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, sliced and ground (retain upper stalk for extra flavor)
  • 1 oz (as best I could estimate) galangal, grated (or finely chopped if you are surprised to find you don’t have a grater after all)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half.
  • 2-3 thai chilies, chopped (or 4 if you think it’s not spicy enough because it takes a minute for the kick to catch up. Unless you REALLY like spicy, I don’t suggest adding the fourth chili. Thankfully, I do.)
  • 2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb port0bello mushrooms, chopped (I think I want different mushrooms next time, but oh well)
  • 1 or 2 lumps palm sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (I’d suggest less)
  • 2 teaspoons red curry (mainly for color, but… didn’t hurt flavor-wise)
  • a large sprinkle of saffron (for color)

Basically, toss lemongrass and stalk, galangal, chilies, lime leaves, and palm sugar into a pot with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil(and if you’re smart, you’ll allow it to boil longer than I did so the lemongrass will soften a bit). Add coconut milk, fish sauce, curry, and saffron. Reduce heat and stir. Add mushrooms and chicken. Cook until chicken is fully cooked.


  • Lemongrass smells AMAZING. Like lemondrops. I want to cook more things with lemongrass just for the smell, and I don’t even like lemons much. It’s a bit woody in texture though.
  • Kaffir lime leaves smell like limes.
  • Galangal is HARD to chop. Even more difficult to chop up tiny. Hence the purchase of a grater as my family apparently lacks one at the moment. Smells like a radishy ginger.
  • Coconut milk soup as I made it was not nearly as orangey-colored as it was at the restaurant. Not sure. Maybe the tamarind stuff in one of the recipes?
  • Fresh Thai basil might have been good.
  • Thai Chilies take a bit to catch up with you. At first taste, they aren’t that spicy, but about 30 seconds later, its much stronger. Keep that in mind before adding extra chilies.
  • I may add bamboo or snowpeas in the future.

Projects for this week down: 1 out 3

Time left: 1 day (I may have to fudge this).

ATC Tutorial: The Making of “Neverland.”

Take a peek at how I made  “Neverland.” Many of my ATCs use a somewhat similar thought process. While I’m sure you are capable of all these techniques, I always find it fascinating to see how other artists work, so I thought I’d share. And who knows? You might learn something. Also, there is a mini-tutorial on drawing a compass rose included. Enjoy! 🙂

ATC Tutorial: The Making of “Neverland.”

Neverland Step 1Step 1:Choose a suitable page of text, preferably one that is nice and yellowed, like the one pictured. Using an extra-fine tipped felt pen, draw your map. I used my brown “Le Pen” pen, but the Steadtler fine tip pens in the picture would work, as would one of the new sharpy pens. As you can see, my map looks pretty pathetic right now. Just have faith and continue on. Trust me. I was worried too. Also, ten points if anyone can recognize what book this is from.

Neverland step 2Step 2:Using a medium to light brown colored pencil, shade the edges of the land (essentially, all the beaches). I shaded about half a centimeter in, then let the color fade out. Don’t forget to shade the islands too. Also, I shaded the sides of the mountains for dimension.

Neverland step 3Step 3:Using a tan colored pencil, shade towards the interior, starting where the previous color began to fade, then lighter towards the center

Neverland step 4Step 4: Using a dark brown pencil, shade just inside the lines, giving the effect of blending the linework into the colored pencil. The shading should be only slightly wider than if you were drawing rather than coloring.

Neverland Step 5Step 5: Shade in the forest areas using a light green. It shouldn’t be much more of a tint, so don’t make it too dark.

Neverland Step 6Step 6: Shade the perimeter of the water, along the beaches and around the islands using sky blue. Fade the color as it moves further from the edges.

Neverland Step 7Step 7: Using a slightly darker shade of blue (even though you can’t tell in the picture for some reason, the pencil is a different color blue) outline the edges of the water, like you did with dark brown on the land. If needed, make and touch ups to the map (I did more shading with tan, and extended my sky blue further down so there would be enough for the card) and then set it aside.

Neverland Step 8Step 8: Using your ultra-fine tipped felt pen, draw a compass rose. Now, if you are trying to draw one without a reference, its pretty intimidating. However, with a bit of guidance, its really not so bad. I created a mini-tutorial to help you along.

Neverland Step 9Step 9: Using the dark brown pencil, shade in the darkest parts: the undersides of the East and West points, the center facing parts of the SW and SE points, and the undersides of the NW and NE facing points. Concentrate the darkness towards the center. Also, shade a bit of the North doo-dad (I forgot and had to go back and do it later).

Neverland Step 10Step 10: Shade in the lighter shadows using the light brown. I shaded the right side of the North and South points, the top of the SE and NW points, and the tips of all the darker points.

Neverland Step 11Step 11: Using tan, shade all metal parts (star points, rings, and North doo-dad) with tan, coloring over the parts already colored.

Neverland Step 12Step 12: Lightly color over all metal parts with orange and yellow to warm up the colors some and make them seem more like gold or bronze.

Neverland Step 13Step 13: I am a naughty tutorial maker. I should have done this in two steps, but I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t take a picture until this point. Oh well. First, I used blue to color in the center background segments, and then shade the edges of the outer background segments. Then I colored over both with robin’s egg blue, touching up with blue where needed. Then, I used robin’s egg blue to add just a bit of shading and dimension to the metal parts, mainly shading corners and darker areas.

Neverland Step 14Step 14: Check to be sure your compass looks done. I darkened some of my shadows, drew in “creases” on the main star at NW, NE, SE, and SW, and lightly shaded the letters. Once you are satisfied, cut out, leaveing some edge around the letters and compass. You may also want to ink the edges, but do so carefully.

Neverland Step 15Step 15: Here is where things start coming together. Cover the ATC base with the map drawing. Decide on placement of the compass (don’t be afraid of overlapping or letting parts hang off the edge)  I already had an idea in mind, but I discovered one problem: the compass faded into the map too much. I tried blue tissue paper first, but the blue I had was too bright. I then tried a bit of white, and it was a perfect balance of translucence and visibility, and the wrinkled/torn look added to the feel of the card. So I arranged the two, and glued them down.

Neverland Step 16Step 16: I tried folding back the excess edges (don’t cut! It leaves raggedy edges) and I noticed the eye was wondering right on out of the top corner. Can’t have that! So, I used another scrap of tissue paper to provide a barrier. The bottom right looked a little bare, so I chose a fleur de lis style flourish stamp and stamped it in brown. I stamped it faintly in the top left corner too, but you can barely see it.

Neverland Step 17Step 17: Through the whole project, I was trying to choose a quote, and I wanted something related to adventure. The first part of this kept coming into my mind, but it said blue to me (like flying in the sky…) not maps and such. I had a few other ideas, but when I went searching, and I saw the full line, and I decided it was perfect afterall. Now is the time to write it out. Decide on where you want it broken up (each word? each letter? phrases? if so, which?) and write it out as such. Make sure you write it small enough. Also, if you’d like, tint the paper. When I wrote it the first time, I tinted it a light blue with prismacolor markers, but it was too large. The second time, I decided I liked white better.

Neverland Step 18Step 18: Last step! Cut out words, ink the edges with brown, and decide on placement.  I chose to have mine somewhat follow the torn edge of the white tissue paper, and group by phrases (as two phrases were split into two segments.) Play with it till you find something that looks good and reads right. Glue everything down. Fold any excess edges from tissue paper or compass onto the back and glue them down as well. Finally, ink the edges with brown. Voila! Done.

I hope you enjoyed it, and maybe found a bit of inspiration. As always, I’d love to see anything you make. Drop me a link and I’ll take a look.

P.S. Take a look at my other ATCs.

Tutorial: How to Make an Aged Treasure Box (Part 2)


Here is the rest of the tutorial I promised. If you missed the first half, be sure to start at the beginning.

Without further ado…


Step 9: Take a look at your shape. Now, if you have been painting it like you were supposed to, you would think it should be ready to go. However, when I picked it up, I noticed I really liked the way the paint had bled onto the underside. The blotchiness was perfect for a leaf. Decide which way it looks nicest, and decide on positioning. If you have a small box, there might not be much choice, but if your box is larger, there might be a few options. Once you have decided, put a layer of carpenters glue on the backside (not too thick or it will squish out. I think I used too much) and glue in place. Allow some time to dry (and clean up any escaped glue).


Step 9 1/2: You might notice some doodling on the box. I tried using a ballpoint pen to engrave the box with little leaf and vine designs, pressing hard to essentially carve them. My hope was that paint would sink in and show up. It really didn’t show up so much in the end. However, when Dani and I made the Peter Pan box, she used a metal tipped calligraphy pen to draw her map and some pictures on the sides. The pen bled some, so we had to go over it repeatedly, but it turned out really nice. I’d imagine if you have a dip pen and some india ink, you could get some really nice results. However, that will take some experimentation on your part.

Step 10: Once the shape is pretty firmly attached and the glue is at least halfway dry, add an additional coat of ochre followed by a coat of brown. Colors won’t hurt, but they are optional. This is just to make sure the shape does in fact look like part of the box.


Step 11: Now begins the aging. Before, we were watering paint quite a bit. Now, we want it a bit thicker. It still needs some water, so that it’s a bit runny, but it doesn’t need to be completely watery. Mix up some runny black, and apply it in strategic locations such as corners, edges, especially the bottom edges, around the edges of shape, and fairly heavily on the inside corners. Crevices and grooves should be fairly dark too. Anywhere you think grime might accumulate, add some black. As you add the black, put a layer of water to dissolve the edges so there are no distinct brush marks. Add additional layers if needed.

Step 12: Add some black to the metal bits such as hinges and fastenings. Most of it won’t stay, and you will likely need to add layers, but it will help keep the metal parts from appearing too new and shiny.


Step 13: Take the old toothbrush and spatter the box, inside and out, with black. To do so, dip the toothbrush in the runny black paint, hold it a 3 or 4 inches from the box, and pull your finger across the bristles. I had better luck pulling my finger from one side to the other, rather than bottom to top, but experiment and find what produces better results for you. It might depend on the shape of the toothbrush, as there are all kinds of fancy toothbrushes out there. Try not to view it as a toothbrush anymore. Its pretty gross looking, haha.


Step 14: This part is fun. Here is where we put all kinds of dents and dings in the box. Take a hammer and beat it up. Make sure to smash in all the corners (including those of the opening) and put lots of dings and dents along each edge (again, including the opening). These are the places that would likely get the most banged up. Try using both sides of the hammer, and various angles. When Dani and I made the Peter Pan box, we also dropped it down the staircase and scraped it against a stucco wall. Both were actually accidental, and for a moment, we both thought “oh no!” but then we realized, it just added more character. So… go ahead. Throw it down the stairs if you would like. Just make sure no one is standing at the bottom.


Step 15: No good aging process is complete without a little burning. I started out using a lighter, but either it was dying, or didn’t like being on for too long, so I migrated to the stove. I turned the burner on to the highest setting and held the box over the flame till it caught fire. I then removed it, and it quickly died down and smoldered. I did a few of the corners, the handle, and one edge. The worst part of this is it probably –could- catch fire, and the box itself gets hot. Obviously, be careful.

Step 16: These last few steps may seem a little strange, but stick with me. We are going to cover the box with wax. If you’ve ever felt something old and wooden, like the rail of a historic ship, it has a dull smoothness to it. Not slick like varnish, but simply… smooth. I imagine it’s a combination of wearing and oil from hands and more grime. We are going to replicate that with wax. First thing, we need to melt the wax. If you have a melting pot for wax, awesome. You are set. If you either can’t afford one, like me, or just haven’t had a need for one, don’t fret! What I did was used aluminum foil to make a little cup that would hold about 1/3 to a ½ cup liquid, and fashioned a handle to hook onto the edge of a frying pan (so it wouldn’t tip). In hindsight (and for future projects) I think a small tin can like the sort tuna comes in would work even better. Whether you are using a melting pot, foil, or a can, get your wax melting. I’d imagine beeswax or cooking paraffin would work. I took plain votive candles.

Step 17: While the first candle (or chunk of wax) is melting, cover your work station with foil. Newspaper won’t work. It will stick to the wax, and thus, to your box too. Take one of the candles (or wax chunks) that were set aside and, as if it were a crayon, begin rubbing it into the wood as much as you can. It helps to make sure all parts of the box at least get some wax.


Step 18: When the wax is melted, pour it over the box. Don’t pour all at once, but rather, about 1/3 of it. Use a paper towel to rub it in and spread it around, then pour more wax on another part of the box. You don’t want it too thick, or else it really will look like you poured wax on it, and even a slight scratch will show up in the wax. Repeat the pouring and spreading until all melted wax is used, or the wax needs to be remelted. Add another chunk of wax and continue melting. Repeat until the whole box has been coated, inside and out.

Step 19: Take a hair dryer or heat gun and on a hot setting, soften/melt the wax on the box, and continue to use the paper towel to spread the wax as evenly as possible. If there is excess, let it drip off onto the foil. Once it is even, give a brief bit of heat to each side so the wax remelts, and then sets clear. On the inside, you may want to allow extra wax to settle in the corners, if this hasn’t happened already. On my box, it happened of its own accord.

Optional Finishing: You may want to line the inside of your box with velvet or embossed felt. If so, either skip the wax on the inside and glue it in, or press the felt into a thick layer of wet wax. I chose not to line mine, as I liked the wood look.


And there you have it. Your very own aged treasure chest. Enjoy.

P.S. If you create one, take a picture and send me a link. I’d love to see how it comes out!

Tutorial: How to Make an Aged Treasure Box (Part one)

I promised a tutorial on how I created my aged treasure box, so here it is. Its rather long, and I wanted to break it into three parts, but the natural breaking points dictated two. So here you are. Part one. Tune in tomorrow for part two.



  • pine box
  • wooden decorative element
  • paintbrushes
  • water jar
  • palette with paint wells (paint will be watery so a flat palette will not do)
  • acrylic paint: brown, yellow-ochre, black, and a few colors (I suggest a sky blue and a red)
  • sandpaper
  • hammer
  • carpenters glue
  • lighter (or a stove, if you are brave)
  • old toothbrush
  • wax (I used a few votive candles)
  • wax melting pot (a shallow tin or even a bit of aluminum foil in a frying pan will do in a pinch)
  • newspaper and paper towels

Thus begins the adventure….


Step 1: Set up a work space with newspaper, and make sure materials are accessible. If your workspace will need to be used for other purposes over the next days (for example, if you work at the kitchen table, like I do) make sure you have somewhere the box can sit to dry.


Step 2: Check to see if there is an evil price tag sticker. I didn’t do this and found it after I had started, but its better to get rid of it now. If there is, see if it will peel off easily. If so, you are one of the lucky ones and can continue to step 3. If not, keep reading.


If it peels off in pieces about equal to confetti like mine did, peel off what you can. Then, wet it, and continue rubbing to get as much of the paper off as possible. Finally, take some sand paper and sand away the sticky parts. Yes, I know. It’s a pain. Don’t look at me. I’m not the one that put the stupid sticker there.


Step 3: We will primarily be painting with watered down paints. Because the layers are thin, once they accumulate, they have a nice effect. Here’s how I watered my paints. Put a pea sized puddle/glob of yellow-ochre (or gold, or tan, or some other similar color) in one of the paint wells, and then add water until it is mostly full. It helps to use a medicine syringe. I don’t have the patience to carry the water drop by drop with a paint brush when I need to water the paints that much. Use a small paint brush to mix the paint. This paint brush is for mixing ONLY. Once the watered down paint is fully mixed, put the mixing brush in the water jar and take a small to medium size flat brush. Give the box a good coating with the thinned ochre paint, inside and outside.


Step 4: Don’t forget your extra shape, if you have one. I chose a leaf because I like leaves. A lot. You can choose whatever you’d like. Paint the top of your shape, and don’t forget the edges. The underside won’t show, so there is no need to paint that. If you should have a shape with grooves or beveling, make sure the paint gets in there too. Allow both box and shape a bit of time to dry.


Step 5: Once the box is relatively dry (its ok if it’s still a little damp) water down some brown paint in the same manner as the ochre paint, and give the box a coat of brown. Remember, the mixing brush is not to be used for painting (some of the thick pigment lodges itself in the brush and if you paint with it, it will show up on the box). Don’t forget the inside and your shape. Allow some time to dry as before.


Step 6: Water down a few colors of paint. As mentioned in the materials list, I recommend a sky blue and a reddish color. They show up nicely on the finished box. Additional colors won’t hurt. Once your colors are watered down, apply them to the box. This time, do not cover the whole surface. It should be patchy and/or streaky. This layer should be completely dry before further paint is added, to preserve the streaky effect. Otherwise, the paint is just dissolved into the other colors and you will have to redo it. Add some to your shape too.


Step 7: If desired, apply additional coats of brown and gold, and possibly more colors (don’t overdo it, but if you see a place that could use an extra streak, go ahead. Just make sure to let the colors dry.) Remember to add to your shape every time you add to your box.


Step 8: Water down some black, and give the box a coat of black. This will darken the box a bit, and start to add the aged feel. Again, shape too. Allow to dry completely. (Overnight should be sufficient).

This is already very very long. Part two will go up tomorrow. Your box needs to dry anyways.  Happy creating.

Update: Part Two is up.