art · Color · DIY · Kids

Class Art Project: Abstract Flower Garden

abstract flower garden unframed

I’ve got the painting bug.

Not the one that makes me want to paint walls and furniture at my house (although there are a few surfaces that could use a coat or two).

No, this time, it’s the art painting bug.

It started when I volunteered to help out with the Art Auction at my kids’ school. I’ve been volunteering weekly in The Girl’s kindergarten class this year, but there haven’t been a lot of chances to help in The Boy’s 3rd grade class. They need volunteers for PE, but all the PE times conflict with other commitments. I’ve gone on a field trip or two, but I’d love to do more, so this seemed like a good opportunity.

I scoured Pinterest for class art project ideas.┬áThis sent me down the path of art images and art websites and art tutorials. I got lost in the colors and the techniques and the beautiful finished pieces. (Check out my “(art) projects + inspiration” board on Pinterest – I’ve been going crazy over there.)

To pick a final project for school, I created a Pinterest board of ideas and shared it with The Boy’s teacher. Her favorites were my favorites, and we picked our final idea quickly.

abstract flower tutorial

The project inspiration came from Art is Fun, a great website that has lots of tutorials on drawing and painting.

I thought this project could be adapted well to a class project in which each student created a square, and then all of the squares would be assembled into a grid to make a “garden” of abstract flowers. (There are 25 students in The Boy’s class, perfect for making a square grid.)


I did a little practice before taking it to the 3rd graders. The Girl and I spent a couple of mornings painting little squares of paper to see how long it would take to dry between layers. (Most dried within 15 minutes.) I think she got the painting bug, too.

Here’s what we used:

water color paper (I cut the paper down into 4″ x 4″ squares, one for each student)

-acrylic paints (I used these “Bright Colors” from Michaels)

brushes of different sizes (larger for covering the background, smaller for detail work)

We worked on the project over the course of several school days, anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. Working in these time frames allowed us to break it up into smaller steps and to allow the paint to dry between layers and before going back to add details, such as lines, dots, and swirls.

When the students were finished, I had them write their initials in white paint in the corners of their pieces. To make the initials as small as possible, I gave them toothpicks to write with. They practiced on construction paper a few times before finalizing on their pieces.

I LOVE how they turned out – each one unique, like the students who created them. I took some snapshots of their work and put them in a little slideshow below so you can see each one and appreciate the creativity and detail that went into them.

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Once they were all complete, it was time to assemble. I couldn’t find a piece of poster board large enough to fit the frame I had purchased, so I bought a piece of mat board at Michaels.

abstract flower garden - art auctio project

I arranged and rearranged the art pieces on the mat board, making sure adjacent pieces had different color borders and balancing the use of color throughout the piece.

I attached the pieces in a grid using acid free double stick tape.

I placed everything inside this frame I ordered on Amazon.

abstract flower garden framed

I LOVE IT!! I loved working with the kids on it, seeing their different ideas and styles of painting. I loved getting to be in the classroom, getting to know the kids a little bit more. And I LOVE the way it turned out – bright, beautiful colors, individual styles, and a really striking piece.

abstract flower garden unframed

It will be auctioned off to the highest bidder to raise money for our school. Both kids really want us to win, but even if we don’t, the painting bug has bitten our family, and we’ve got PLENTY of ideas and projects to keep us busy this spring!

DIY · Jewelry · Style

DIY Leather Earrings

DIY Leather Earrings ::

I’m on a leather kick these days. I keep thinking of projects I want to make out of recycled leather. Which is good, because one of my recent ongoing projects started out like this:


A free leather couch that comes with a really long, crazy story. I want to tell you all about it, but I’m going to wait until the BIG project I’m planning is finished. I’m just not sure when that’s going to be because I keep hitting snags. But it’s coming. I promise.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about some other things I’d like to do with recycled leather, and earrings was high up there.

I’ve seen leather earrings online for years now, but I never thought about making them myself. Then my friend, Christy, made a pair, and I loved them. And I remembered some leather I thrifted years ago for just this kind of thing. (I was on a leather kick then, too, when I made this clutch from a thrifted leather jacket. I still use that clutch all the time, and it’s one of my most visited projects here on the blog.)

I bought this coat, thinking it might make another great clutch, but as is the story of my life, I never got around to it because other projects and ideas got in the way.

DIY Leather Earrings ::

But, when you want to make a pair of earrings YESTERDAY ALREADY, the coat hanging in your closet seems perfect. I chopped off a sleeve and got to work.

DIY Leather Earrings ::

I was going to free-hand an almond shape, but then I spied a wire hoop I made when practicing for these earrings, so I traced it onto cardstock and cut it out.

DIY Leather Earrings ::

I used a Sharpie on the back of the leather to trace around the cardstock.

DIY Leather Earrings ::

I cut them out with a regular pair of scissors, then I used an awl to poke a hole at the tops for the ear wire. I made my own ear hooks out of gold filled wire and added them on.

DIY Leather Earrings ::

The whole process took less than 5 minutes, so I decided to make some more!


The back of the red leather has a dark orange tint, so I made a pair of those.


They look great with the new Mets hat I just bought for Little League games.


Then I tried a cut-out pair.

DIY Leather Earrings ::

I really like how these turned out!

DIY Leather Earrings ::

Now, I’ve been trying to clean that “free” tan couch for over a week. (Husband says, based on the amount of labor we’ve put into it, it can no longer be called “free”.)

As of Monday afternoon, I had a tiny piece of the tan leather that’s perfectly usable, so I made a pair of earrings out of that, too.

DIY Leather Earrings ::

These might be my favorites. But the orange ones are a very close second.

If the BIG leather project doesn’t end up working out, I’m going to have A LOT of leather to work with, so, friends and relatives, you might be getting a pair of these for birthdays and Christmases for years to come. Hope you like tan!


etsy shop · Jewelry · Style

Caftans + Bold Earrings

It was a cloudy, rainy weekend here in Northern California. I am NOT complaining – we NEED rain, I LOVE rain, I look forward to dark, gray days to light candles and dig out blankets and feel cozy and wintery. Plus, it’s been pretty cold, so it FEELS like winter, finally.


I’m also starting to think a little bit about spring. The Boy started baseball last week, and The Girl is running barefoot everywhere as if it already were sunny and warm. We’re starting to sign up for summer camps. The REALLY warm weather will be here before we know it. I think it’s the perfect time to consider….

…a caftan!



This is the first one I found YEARS ago. I didn’t even know what it was (a robe? a nightgown? something from another country?) But the embroidery was so lovely – I’m a sucker for good needlework – that I had to have it.

Turns out, they are perfect for warmer weather because the long, loose fabric billows away from the body and keeps you cool.

(For a brief history of the caftan, check out this article.)



I fell for this one because of its cross-stitch design, a skill I used to be pretty good at back in elementary school. The gradient of color played out in tiny stitched X’s is just so great.




This one’s perfect for spring – bright coral with white embroidery.



This one is my favorite – a soft chambray with thick white cotton embroidery thread. I think this is the one I’m going to keep. The rest will be going in my Etsy shop this week. (And I’m always on the lookout for more, so I’ll add more as I find them.)


And aren’t they fun with big, bold earrings?


I’ve been playing around with a couple of different earring designs lately – a 3-tier drop and a big almond shape. Both designs feature upcycled vintage beads I’ve found at antique shops and thrift stores. Because most of the beads are vintage acrylic, they are fairly lightweight and easy to wear.



You can check out these and more earring designs over in my Etsy shop. (Click on photos above for more details.)

So, would you wear a caftan? If I invited you to Caftan Party? (It’s a thing – see here and here.)