Gift Idea: Watercolor Set

Lately I’ve been finding myself staring at beautiful watercolor paintings on Pinterest (see here) so I decided to ask one of my favorite bloggers, Creature Comforts, on Twitter what sort of kit she’d recommend for a newbie watercolor artist.  Her answer?  The cheapy kits at craft stores! Ha!

Not sure whether that should’ve been a relief or intimidating, on a recent trip to Walmart, I picked up a Crayola kids version, which I think is very clever, because what’s the use of spending a lot of money (the artsy watercolor kit was about $20 in comparison, so still, not that bad) if you’re not even sure you’re going to like it?  Exactly.  So, $1.88 later plus about $5 for a watercolor pad and another few dollars for a nice pack of brushes in various sizes (which I’m sure to use again for other crafts), I had all I needed to try my not-so-skilled hand at watercolor painting.  I made it a little easier on myself by looking at photos of paintings I liked to see how I might need to add brushstrokes or use color to blend shapes but all in all, knowing I’m not a painter, I was happy to just have an afternoon of creating and trying something new.

my first foray into watercolors
— an easy, striped card

If you’re looking for a clever gift idea or stocking stuffer, a cute little watercolor kit would be a fun, thoughtful gift for kids and crafters on your gift list.  And, you can even get a kit for yourself to make beautiful gift tags and cards to personalize gifts this year!

Here are two inexpensive gift sets for the would-be artist on your list:

1. via Target  |  2. via Consumer Crafts

1. Travel Easy Watercolor Set from Target $12.99

2. Creative Dimensions Art Set 79pc. $14.97

DIY: Sweater Waves Wall Art

I’ve had this sweater that I’ve worn far beyond its glory days (perhaps it didn’t used to be so thin?), and well, it’s tissue paper thin now, which means it’s uber soft and faded in certain areas (read: not presentable enough to even take a before photo) but somehow still the perfect shade of light turquoise/teal that I just love no matter what. I didn’t have the heart to give it to Goodwill despite the fact that I knew I couldn’t wear it anymore without facing public ridicule and serious eyebrow raising so I kept it in my scrap fabric pile for a few months with the idea that I’d likely turn it into some little poms or something.  While inspired during a craft session for Dr. Merrett’s bridal shower (more on that soon!) I decided to whip out the good ol’ Elmer’s glue and get creative. I didn’t really have a plan in mind but I’m quite pleased with the result, which to me really highlights the shades of color that I love and pairs it with softly rippled ruffles that remind me of ocean waves. If I had been starting with white fabric, I think this would be absolutely stunning as an ombre piece or even with multiple fabrics and textures depending on the look you’re going for.  Please forgive my photos as I started crafting in the early afternoon and by the time I got around to this one, it was totally dark and I was already sprawled out on my living room floor.

The items you’ll need are: foam poster board, Elmer’s glue, scissors, and strips of fabric long enough to cover the size of your poster board. Plus, if you need to cut down your poster board (I cut mine in half so my fabric would wrap all the way across): a yard stick, pencil, and exacto knife.

To cut the foam posterboard to your desired size, use your yardstick and trace a faint pencil line to mark where you’ll need to cut with your exacto knife. Be sure to lay out your fabric to make sure you’ll be able to get it all the way across.  Use your exacto knife to press into the foam along the line. Once you’ve made the line through one side of the foam, you can easily prop your posterboard up and use your exacto knife to cut down the other side.

Using scissors I cut the arms, back and front of my sweater into long, thin strips, pretty much cutting vertically the whole way around. I found it easier to cut up the seam of the arms and on the sides to give myself rectangles of fabric to work with.  (also, if there are buttons like my sweater/cardigan had, be sure to snip those off and save for later crafting use!) If you’re using fabric, it’ll be a bit easier – just cut long thin lines of varied widths.  They needn’t be perfectly straight by any means, in fact a little curve will add to the wavy, ruffle effect later on!

Start at the bottom of the poster board and work your way up.  Pick a piece of fabric and on the back, add a thin line of glue to the top, then lay it glue-side down onto the poster board (in the photo below, the glue appears at the bottom, but that’s just because it was easier for me to flip it up to place – do what works for you).  If it bunches a bit there’s no need to straighten it out, as this will create some dimension for ruffles when layered.  Wrap the strip to the back side and secure with more glue if needed. It doesn’t have to be pretty on the back – no one will see it.

Keep doing this for every strip, making your way up the board.  Don’t worry too much about glue showing, as your next layer should cover it up.  Also, don’t be afraid to vary how much room you put between strips. Here is a closeup of mine from an angle looking down so you can see all the imperfections:

And here’s what it ended up looking like (bad lighting, I know):

I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. Any grand suggestions?  I am thinking of keeping an eye out at thrift stores/Goodwill/garage sales for an ornate, large frame that I can spray paint white then mount this inside the empty frame.  Or, someone suggested I use it as a pinboard. Would even be a lovely backdrop piece on a styled table. I haven’t decided but I do adore it and I’m happy my sad little sweater has a new life. 

Also, I had a few strips left over and some that weren’t long enough to cover the width of the board, so I loosely twisted and spiraled them to create a few messy fabric flowers using some dots of hot glue to keep the shape.  I used them on the tables at Dr. Merrett’s bridal shower. Here’s a sneak peek of how those turned out, along with a yarn-wrapped letter for her soon-to-be last name: