AIM TODAY: Resolutions for a Creative 2015

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I’m not usually one for New Years Resolutions, because I feel like the best resolutions are the ones you come up with throughout the year- the little pep-talks you have to encourage yourself to look at challenges as possibilities.

But if there’s a good time to put all those thoughts together into one big life plan, New Year may be it. So here’s a list of my goals.

Keep Moving Forward

Sometimes it is so much easier to stand still and let the world settle around me. It’s easier to watch TV than try out new tools, which is a blessing and a curse. Of course, we all need some time to relax and watch television, but we need to find a balance between watching our favorite shows and being creative. Currently, adults don’t actually watch that much television on average when compared to other age groups, according to (to see the cable tv statistics click here). However, I can sometimes spend a few hours watching my favorite shows, so I need to find that balance. It’s easier to be disappointed with the things you’ve already done than be excited about the things you’re going to do next. But if you stagnate and let life become a series of routines then you will stop seeing the possibilities to grow and explore.

So I’m going to let go of 2014. I’ll remember the good, and sweep away the bad. It’s a new year after all.

Do It Quick and Cheap First

Sometimes the ideas come at me in droves, and it’s tempting to go out and buy every tool or supply I could possibly need. But then I’ve invested money and time in a project that might or might not work out. So I’m going to try to do things on a small scale first. Low pressure and low investment to judge how much enjoyment I’ll get out of a project before I take a bigger leap.

Find New Ways to Save Money at Home

New Year is a great time to reflect on your outgoings and to try to find areas where you can cut costs. For example, a friend of ours recently switched home insurance providers and was able to make a big saving. After comparing a few different insurers and policies online, she decided to get home insurance through simply insurance. Comparison websites are a great place to start when it comes to finding the insurance you need at the best possible price. Home insurance is essential if you want to look after your property, so I must take a look too to see if we can get a more affordable home insurance deal.

Look for Challenges

To keep the ideas from drying up, I’m going to seek out challenges and chances to let my brain run. I’ll keep looking at my trash as a source of art supplies, and seek outside inspiration. (If you’re looking for some help on the inspiration front- join our DIY Craft Challenge.) Rather than buying something, I’ll try to make it first.

Cork Robots. Definitely weird.
Cork Robots. Definitely weird.

Try something weird

I’m going to try to do more projects outside of my normal wheelhouse. I’ll use materials I’m less comfortable with, make things that are more whimsical than practical, and just generally try new things.

Cut Back the Pressure

The pressure to make something (especially to make something “good”) can get so overwhelming that I get the maker’s version of writer’s block. So this year I’m going to practice what I preach and give myself a break whenever I feel like I need it.


Have More Craft Couseling Sessions

Also known as a PARTY. I’m going to try to have more craft parties with my friends, and do all sorts of things I might not do otherwise. I love being surrounded by other people with the drive to make stuff. (Our craft parties take all different forms, but my favorite have always been the ones where everyone brings something to work on, and shares with the group. Like nail polishin’.)

Don’t be a Craft Hoarder

I love to collect tools and supplies– and that can be a problem when my collections get overwhelming. So this year, I’m going to use minimalism as an inspiration to make more (and make faster.) If I don’t use something in a reasonable amount of time, I’m going to get rid of it. That way I’ve either done something, or I have space to put the next thing I DO make. (Sound familiar?)

Look at Everything

I get overwhelmed by what’s going on in my life. (If I say “I’m just so busy” one more time…) Sometimes that means I start living a more internal life, and stop noticing the beautiful things around me. It’s easier, but it’s not sustainable. This year I want to do more looking. Looking at the weird plants in my yard, looking at the work of artists and crafters– just generally seeing more.

Pay it Forward

Finally, I want to keep building a creative community that embraces our need to make, build, problem solve, prettify… you get the drift. I want to help everyone see the creativity in their lives, and chase away the little voice that says “you can’t do it”. (Because you can. I know it.)

I’m sure I’ll have a million other little rules for myself this year, but I think this is a good start.
What are your plans for 2015?

AIM DIY: Hand Print your Gift Wrap – Part2

IMG_5075From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

After I had everything inked up for the hand printed wrapping paper, I looked over at the ink brayer and decided I wasn’t done printing. The 3″ surface of the brayer seemed perfect for decorating smaller surfaces and decorating gift bags.

For this design, I used the same basic shapes- lines and circles- but on a smaller scale.

Supplies I used

• 3″ Ink Brayer like this one
• Packaging Tape
• A piece of craft foam
• A hole punch
• Block or relief printing Ink- I used oil-based relief ink from Daniel Smith, in white. Speedball inks should work well too. (Make sure to read the cleanup instructions when you’re choosing an ink.)
• A smooth piece of glass or ceramic to spread ,my ink out on. (I used an old fridge shelf.)
• Plain gift bags, boxes, and everything else you can get your hands on. (Cats are off-limits.)

Since my brayer was doing double duty for this project, I made sure I rolled out a good amount of ink out on my glass palate. Then I cleaned the brayer with soap and water and dried it thoroughly.

Didn’t clean the brayer too well. But so what!?

Since I was going to be working with smaller pieces, I began by wrapping the brayer with packaging tape– sticky side out. This allowed me to stick small pieces of foam to the roller without fuss.IMG_4931I used two shapes to form my pattern- short strips and dots. I cut the craft foam into strips with a knife and put the pieces to the side, then

punched small holes out with two sizes of hole punches.

I cut and tore small pieces off the foam strip, and placed them in a kind of branchy pattern, decorating the ends with foam dots. The pieces stuck easily to the packaging tape making the whole thing easy peasy.

To ink up the design, I ran it back and forth across the ink palate until the foam was coated.

I tried a couple of different ways of decorating the gift bags, and settled on a basic “stripe” of design across the sides. The small pattern was a lot of fun to work with, and made a nice complement to the larger paper pattern.


The whole printing experience was such a joy. I printed everything I could get my hands on, and still want to do more. It’s such a simple way to make a gift really special.

and it’s so darn fun!!

What are you doing? Go print some gift wrap…
and send me photos.

AIM DIY: Hand Print your Gift Wrap – Part1


From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

For some reason I can’t quite master gift wrapping. I get the folding and the taping; but when it comes time to add bows or other decoration, everything just sort of unravels. (Literally, at times.)

So I discovered a trick- if you start with something unique and eye-catching, no one will ever notice your mistakes.

This year I decided to print a whole line of gift wrapping options– paper, bags, and boxes– for myself and for the store. It was easier (and much more satisfying) than I expected, and I ended up printing happily for a whole day.

I thought I would share the craft happiness by showing you two of the methods I used to turn basic kraft/craft stuff into something I love to look at.

First off, let’s talk great big, bold, wrapping paper…


Supplies I used

• Rolling pin
• Contact Paper to wrap around, and protect the rolling pin
• Craft Foam sheets and Craft Foam Stickers
• Double Stick Tape
• Block or relief printing Ink- I used oil-based relief ink from Daniel Smith, in white. Speedball inks should work well too. (Make sure to read the cleanup instructions when you’re choosing an ink.)
• A smooth piece of glass or ceramic to spread ,my ink out on. (I used an old fridge shelf.)
• A Brayer like this one.
• Plain kraft butcher paper.

To build a pattern like this one…



First I wrapped my rolling pin in contact paper to protect it from the stickers and double stick tape goo. I smoothed out as many air bubbles as I could, before trimming it to fit. (This is a very forgiving project.)


Since I had decided I wanted to make a pattern with lines in it, I used a piece of scrap paper to draw guide lines all the way around the pin.


I used the craft foam sticked first. This set included a whole bunch of sports ball shapes. I placed the circular balls along the guide lines I had drawn (randomly spaced)


Next I wanted to have thin lines of craft foam to place between the circles. To give them a sticker-like back I laid out several lines of double stick tape, before…


using my craft knife to trim them into strips.


I then placed these strips along the guide lines, and trimmed them where they met up with the circles.

IMG_4987I didn’t cover all of my guide lines because I wanted to add a little randomness into my pattern.

IMG_4918Once I had the pin covered with the design I wanted to print, I laid out a strip of ink on my glass and smoothed it out with my brayer. (Shown here half smoothed.) Once the ink was smeared out on the glass, I rolled the pin through the ink several times to make sure all of my pattern was coated. Then I did a test print on a scrap piece of paper by slowly rolling my design from one end to the other.

At this point I decided that I wanted to add more lines to my design. One of the nice things about this method is that you can add or subtract pieces as you go.

All inked up.

IMG_4995Once I was happy with the design, I went crazy. I tore sheets of kraft butcher paper into large squares (approximately 24″x24″). I inked up the roller, rolled the design all the way across the paper, reinked, shifted to the edge of my design and printed again. Since I was working with a randomish pattern of lines, the paper turned out great and was lots of fun to wrap with.


Tricks and Tips

• Pick a pattern idea that has some randomness to it. You will probably end up a little uneven, so it’s best to embrace the “handmade” look of it.
• If it looks like your roller is applying ink to your paper where you don’t have foam, consider adding another foam shape there to push your roller away from the paper. It will print, but that’s okay.
• If there’s no contact paper handy, you can cover the rolling pin with a pieces of card stock instead. Just tape it down with masking tape.

Things to Try

• Put a couple of colors of ink out on the glass and combine them to get a more tie-dye or ombre look.
• You can embed designs into the craft foam by simply drawing on it with a pencil or pen. I was too excited with the look of the solid shapes to try that with this project, but I plan to try it soon!
• This would be a great project to try with kids. Just grab a couple of sets of craft foam stickers from your local craft store (mine came from Michaels) and let them go to town!


Next I’ll show you how I made a smaller print to use on gift bags and boxes; but in the meantime, try this out.

You. will. have. a. blast.

I mean it.

AIM DIY: Shiny Robot Ornaments from Wine Corks

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Since this month’s DIY Craft Challenge Theme is Glitter I started thinking about all the things that sparkle around the holidays… and obviously thought “Robot”.

Actually, I’m not sure why I went straight to our metal friends, but that’s what the DIY Craft Challenge is all about! It’s a jumping off point for all your great ideas. I think glitter, I think robots. It’s just fine!

I’ve been playing with projects that use wine corks, and decided with a little paint, wire, and decoration I could make some amazing little guys for my tree.

The unusual suspects.


Supplies I used

• Wine Bottle Corks
• A large kitchen knife and cutting board
Folk Art Metallic Acrylic Paint – in Gunmetal and Silver Sterling and paintbrush
E6000® Craft Adhesive
• A nail and hammer and a scrap piece of wood (you could also use an awl)
18 Gauge Steel Galvanized Wire, needle nose pliers, and wire cutters
• Stud Earrings, buttons, and other decoration bits.

I used a few basic shapes to form my robots. Wheels were just thin slices off the corks. Bodies and heads were mainly full or shortened corks. Legs were cut long wise either in half or in quarters. I used a very sharp knife to cut several different shapes out and held those shapes together to see what looked “roboty” to me.

Once I decided on the shape of my robot, I painted each piece with the gunmetal color of acrylic. If you’re having trouble getting the paint to stick to the outside of the cork, rough it up a little with sandpaper.

After several (sloppy) coats of paint, I began drilling holes in my corks to run wire through. I love that using wire instead of glue means that the wheels, heads, and arms can all be spun or moved.

For the wheely robots, I ran the through the center body piece, and through each wheel.

Then secured the ends of the wire by making a loop with the wire, then folding the loops down against the wheel.

When I had a wire that I couldn’t run all the way through a piece, I applied a dab of E6000 adhesive to the end before pressing it into the cork.

Mad Robot Scientist Workshop

I have a huge stash of old earrings that were donated to me, and some of them were absolutely perfect for decorating the robots. It’s okay that they are a little mismatched; their hearts are in the right place. (Get it?!)

I had a great time making these little guys… and playing with them. I absolutely love taking the opportunity to look at everything in a new way.

Breaking down robots into a few basic shapes, then building them from an unexpected material.

While you’re brainstorming for the DIY Challenge, I encourage you to take the chance to try something a little different. Take the theme and run with it.

If you ever make robots like these, be careful.

They can get rowdy and make a royal mess out of your other decorations… especially if they have help.


IMG_4772What does your brain go when you think Glitter?

AIM TODAY: Get your space in order.

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Yesterday I picked up an unlabeled box, fought to pull the lid off, and was greeted by an explosion of confetti.

You might think that’s a funny prank- except that it was me who had the bright idea of putting the confetti in that box in the first place. Dumb. My own prank would have been thwarted by a simple “Confetti” label on the box. Next time- maybe.

If you’re like me, this dreary weather makes staying under the covers all day pretty appealing. I’ve been in kind of a creative rut, and even a self imposed vacation didn’t fix everything. Well, time to try something new…

Order to fight the blues.

It’s time to clean, organize, dump, and declutter. Here are a few ways I’ve been getting things in order:

• Organizing, filing, and labeling my tools and materials. I am much happier when everything has a home. I am ecstatic if that home makes sense and is easy to access. I try to keep my most-used tools handy, and put less-used tools and materials in labeled boxes that will be easy to find when it’s time to use them.
• Trying out those “I bet I could…” projects and tools. I have a tendency to accumulate ideas and materials, but it’s hard to get to everything. If I have little projects that have been sitting in my head for a while, I try to take an afternoon to try them out for real- even if it doesn’t feel like the best use of my time. If the project is a dud (which happens) I’ll know it and be able to move on to other ideas.
• Dumping materials and tools I’m never going to get to, or don’t really want. I’m trying to be really honest with myself about what I really want to spend my limited time doing. If I have a hole punch I will never use, or paper that I abhor, I’m better off passing it onto someone who would like it. If it’s something I saved from the recycling bin (no judgement) then maybe it’s time for it to go back in there… and maybe that “confetti” was really just the holes punched from a binding project.
• Similar to the “I bet I could” projects, I’ve been working on the small quick projects I put off in favor or more in-depth creative pursuits. Framing and hanging posters at my house, designing signage and displays for the shop, etc.

Do you have any tricks you use to simplify your work and your workspace? We’d love to see!