A Famous Bird Illustration…and where to get your own (for FREE!)

If you follow me socially you may have already seen a little snippet of this project.

Print Your Own Free Audubon Flamingo | The Painted Hive

I wasn’t going to dedicate a whole blog post to it, though in the end I decided it really does deserve one.

Ages ago you might recall I published a post about the work of naturalist James John Audubon which included a link to a great website where you can download high-res digital copies of his stunning illustrations for around $14. That’s a bargain.

Printable Birds (High Res Large Scale)

A little while later however one of my lovely Facebook friends informed me that the Audubon website also offers large-scale digital copies of his illustrations. For FREE. Now, that’s really a bargain!

I had already purchased my $14 digital copy of his American Flamingo though decided to download one from the free source too (see the end of this post for full instructions on how to find and download your own). There were some slight differences (size, colour, noise) though nothing major.

Large Scale Free Printable Flamingo | The Painted Hive

I LOVE this illustration. It’s probably one of his most iconic works. And my little Charlotte loves it too (hey, flamingos are pink, what’s not to like?) which is the main reason I acquired the digital image in the first place – to print a copy for her bedroom wall.

Audubon American Flamingo Free Printable | The Painted Hive

I was leaning towards creating a wall chart with it though decided instead to make use of a large gilt frame I already had (found for $30 on eBay a year or so back).

To format my image and have it printed I used the same process I always do for large-scale art (you can read about it in detail in my post here which contains a full tutorial).

Basically, I measured my frame opening, re-sized my image to fit (which included some cropping), made a few small edits (just to clean it up a bit) then ordered a print through the Officeworks online service.

It would have cost just $22 (for a 59cm x 84cm/23″ x 33″ full colour poster) though for an additional $10 I up-graded my paper from 160gsm Coated to 200gsm Satin. In my opinion it’s totally worth it for a print like this which isn’t behind glass.

I’ve seen much smaller Audubon reproduction prints being sold for triple the price of mine so please don’t pay too much!

When it arrived I was blown away. The quality is superb! Really.

Audubon Flamingo Printable

To frame it I simply removed the reproduction painting which was already in the frame and used it as a template to trim my flamingo print to perfect size. I then attached my flamingo to the rear of the existing artwork (that way I can always flip it over again if I feel like a change) with strong double-sided tape. You could also use spray adhesive or decoupage medium.

Note: If your frame is empty you can simply cut your own new backing sheet from a panel of thin MDF or thick card (or similar). I have a simple tutorial for filling “naked” frames here.

Vignette Collage

To hang it I avoided the need for any nails and screws by using some Command Hanging Strips. I love these things! There were no studs in the right place anyway so it saved me a headache.

I’ve styled the print with a copious amount of antique books, some old tin globes I’ve collected over the years and a pair of thrifted brass swans from my local op shop.

Tin World Globes

Brass Swan

Only one more big-ish project and a few little details to go then Charlotte’s room will finally be complete. Yay!

Free Printable American Flamingo | The Painted Hive




1 Go to the Audubon website.
2 Hover over “Birds” in the horizontal menu (to the right of where it says “Audubon”).
3 Click the option you want (for example “John James Audubon’s Birds of America”) and a new page will open.
4 Scroll down until you see thumbnails of all the illustrations.
5 Click the illustration you want and a new page will open.
6 Scroll down a little and click “Download high-resolution file” (in blue text beneath the small version of the illustration) and a new window will open.
7 Click the image which opens in the new window to enlarge it to its full size then right click and save it to your computer.
8 That’s it!

You may be asked to subscribe to the website in return for downloading the image. This isn’t a requirement though is a nice way to say thanks.

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Kick Butt Lighting…and an awesome giveaway (open internationally!)

This is a sponsored giveaway in collaboration with Parrot Uncle and the Mom It Forward Blogger Network.

More than mere thwarters of darkness, light fixtures are among some of the most decorative elements we can use to adorn our homes.

And they are one of my fave things to drool over! Problem is, they can also be super pricey.

Which is why I was excited to learn about Parrot Uncle.

This online lighting store offers thousands of gorgeous fixtures, from table lamps, ceiling pendants, flush mounts and wall sconces, in a huge range of different styles. Prices are incredibly reasonable (like, hold-up reasonable – which, as a budget-focused decorator, is incredibly important) though the absolute best thing is that they offer FREE international shipping on all orders over $50! Yep, this company wires all of their fixtures to meet the electrical requirements of the destination country and then they ship for FREE worldwide (oh, did I mention that already?). And there’s no risk because returns are offered for FREE too!

Here are a few of my faves (judging from my picks I think I have a soft spot for their industrial style light fixtures)…

Lighting Under $100

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

Lighting Under $200

1 | 2 | 3 | 45 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12


With their inexpensive range of wall scones, economical flush mounts and discount home pendant lighting, Parrot Uncle offers-up real alternatives to those glorious high-end fixtures which used to either render us poor or hold us at arm’s length. It’s so exciting! I even had a little fun scrolling through my Pinterest pins and trying to find comparable fixtures to those in some of my fave rooms…

Industrial Arm Wall Sconce

Glass Shade Wall Sconce $62 | Bathroom Image


Dome Lantern

Three Light Bucket Lantern $134 | Dining Room Image


Glass Orb Pendants

Glass Orb $63 | Kitchen Image


Box Pendant

Industrial Box Pendant $387 | Dining Room Image


Rustic Wood Chandelier

Rustic Wooden Chandelier $178 | Dining Room Image


Box Lantern

Lantern Pendant $224 | Dining Room Image


Industrial Pendant

Simple Industrial Pendant $31 | Living Room Image


Honeycomb Sphere Pendant

Honeycomb Sphere $179 | Kitchen Image


Industrial Dome Pendant

Industrial Dome Pendant $68 | Dining Room Image


Industrial Chrome Pendant

Industrial Chrome Pendant $202 | Kitchen Image

Prices in $AUD.


Ready to win your very own light now?


 Simply head on over and check out all the affordable light fixtures from Parrot Uncle then come back here and leave a comment letting me know which is your favourite.
Easy as that!

Giveaway commences 4 November 2015 and concludes 13 November 2015.
Open internationally.
One winner drawn at random.
Prize is one Rustic Slender Industrial Cage Pendant



And, in addition to giving away a beautiful light fixture, Parrot Uncle also wants to offer all my lovely readers some further discounts…

10% off all new products (CODE: 10%)
5% off all vintage lights (CODE: Numberone5%)
5% off all wooden lights (CODE: Numbertwo5%)

Discount codes valid until 25 December 2015.

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A New Room Re-Do | The Plan

I always feel a little hesitant publishing posts like this.

Posts which open a chapter on a new room makeover with the implicit promise of ensuing chapters culminating in a somewhat timely finale.

Finales are not my strong suit.

In fact, over the past few years, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut about projects in progress. If I wait until I finish something first at least then I can feign efficiency later on. Right? And no-one will have died from boredom (or collapsed with anticipation ;) in the meantime.

Though, enough is enough. This era of procrastination needs to end! So, I’m throwing caution to the wind by blogging about plans for this new room re-do. The idea is that sharing the journey will help propel me to the finish line! You with you?

Anyhoo, here’s the plan…

This makeover is for a space at my parent’s house: their open plan living-dining room. Mum and dad don’t want to make any major changes or spend too much cash so as usual I’ll be focusing on making the most of the space using furniture and accessories.

Here are the before shots…

Room Before (3)

Room Before (6)

Room Before (1)

Room Before (2)

Room Before (4)

Sorry they’re not the best (taken with mum’s phone).

As you can see, it’s a long-ish, narrow-ish room with a nice, neutral canvas. The main catalyst for re-doing the space is the fact the billiard table will be going (after 20 years!) so the proper dining area can be reclaimed. For the past two decades the dining table has been in the breakfast nook off the kitchen (which you can just see in the above pic) which has always been too squishy. We will be retaining the couches (which are only a few years old) though most of the other furniture (all of which mum has had forever – and now isn’t quite right for the space) will be replaced – with a focus on finding second-hand bargains.

Here’s my rough virtual plan…

After Concept Rendering

After Concept Rendering

fter Concept Rendering

After Concept Rendering

And here’s an overhead view to give a better spacial indication…

3D Concept Rendering Overhead

The general layout will remain the same because it just makes sense, plus mum and dad don’t want to have to re-wire for the TV. I have convinced them to re-wire the lighting however. You can’t see the ceiling lights in the before shots though there are three in a weird zig-zag configuration which doesn’t help with zoning the room. Instead, we are going to position four recessed downlights above the living space and one feature pendant over the dining table. I already have a cool DIY plan for that one!

The flooring, walls and ceiling will remain un-changed. I have persuaded mum to paint her old-fashioned lead-light door though.

The fireplace was mum’s idea. She has a thing for them though no desire to install a real one. She actually already bought an inexpensive electric unit, complete with surround, around six months back. I know some people have a massive aversion to electric fireplaces. I don’t hate them though I’m not sure if I would use one in my own home. Maybe.

Anyhoo, you may have seen my recent post where I gave hers a mini makeover (click the preceding link to see it before)…

DIY Marble and Brass Hearth | The Painted Hive

It’s perhaps going to look a little lost on that big, blank wall and maybe a bit small in comparison with the TV though we’ll make it work. I voiced the idea of some kind of flanking shelving, though mum and dad weren’t keen on that idea – and as you might be able to tell from the overhead rendering, there’s not really that much space for more furniture. I think we’ll wait until everything’s in place to decide if the fireplace needs company. Maybe we’ll use some surrounding artwork or something.

Speaking of artwork, I’m not decided on that yet either. Once again, I’ll probably wait until the room begins to come together to make final decisions on the placement of any wall decor. Same thing with the cushion, ottoman and curtain fabrics.

Soooo, that’s the general concept. Remember, it’s just a rough plan, though what do you guys think? Would love to hear any suggestions.




PS I’m in the process of upgrading my RSS feed and email subscription service. There may be a few bugs during the migration so apologies if you experience any issues. If you’re not already subscribed, now would be an awesome time to sign up! There is an email subscription bar at the end of each of my posts and in my sidebar :)


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DIY Block Printing on Fabric

DIY Block Printing on Fabric | The Painted Hive

I’ve been in love with beautiful block printed textiles for ages now.

I don’t know what started my slight obsession (let’s just blame Pinterest) though despite my adoration, up until a month or so ago, I didn’t actually own anything block printed (let’s just blame procrastination).

A few years back (yes, years) I started looking around for some block printed fabrics and other ready-made items, like quilt covers and throw cushions, though most of what I came across was either too pricey or just not quite right.

Note: If you are interested in purchasing block printed textiles – in favour of crafting your own – I found Etsy and eBay did have a nice and affordable range (mainly direct from India).

So, I decided to have a go at making my own! This way, not only could I completely customise my design in terms of colour, scale and pattern, I could also choose my fabric and it would be an easy, fun, affordable and rewarding DIY.

When I first starting looking for wood blocks a few years ago, finding them was a little tricky (even suitable rubber stamps were elusive). They have become much more prolific of late though and can now be found in loads of places for really great prices. Initially, I went on a mad online search, eventually narrowing down eBay as a good source. It’s funny though. At the time (around four years back) I saved a heap of wood blocks to my ‘Watch List’ though never actually bought any. It took stumbling across some at a local homewares store recently to finally prompt me. Sometimes there’s just something about buying stuff in person.

Anyhoo, let’s do this thing.


You will need…

DIY Block Printing Supplies

1 Fabric.

I’m totally cheating and using a ready-made plain cushion cover I found on sale ($6 from Spotlight – Ikea has some great ones too!). Of course, you can use whatever you like. From fabric off the bolt, which you can then make something from, to numerous other pre-made items, like; bed sheets, curtains, lamp shades, throw rugs, dish towels and so on.

Note: Remember, your fabric doesn’t need to be light or neutral. You can stamp onto dark or vibrant colours if you use a contrasting toned paint.

2 Acrylic paint.

Any good quality water-based paint will suffice. I just used some left-over craft paints I already had to mix up a custom colour.

Note: You could use specialty fabric paint or ink instead (you then wouldn’t require any textile medium). I personally prefer using standard acrylics because they are more affordable, easier to find and come in a wider variety of colours.

3 Textile medium.

This magic stuff is what makes regular acrylic paint washable. There are heaps of different brands. I used Jo Sonja’s Textile Medium ($20 from Spotlight) because it was the first one I came across. This stuff isn’t super cheap though you only need a really small amount (around one part medium to two parts paint).

Note: As touched-on above, if you use specialty fabric paint or ink you don’t need to use any textile medium.

4 Wood blocks (or rubber stamps).

These come in all different sizes and designs. The one I used for this project measures around 7cm x 5cm (3″ x 2″) and has a simple paisley design ($6 from a local homewares store). Although I stumbled upon mine in a store, they are also easy to find online. A quick Google search will reveal loads (eBay and Etsy are two good sources).

5 Kitchen sponge.

This forms your “inkpad”. You can use anything which is slightly squishy and absorbent.

Note: Alternatively, you can use a foam roller or a small portion of sponge to manually apply paint to the stamp.

6 Paint brush.

This is just for mixing-up your paint and spreading it onto your sponge.

7 Iron.

To heat set your paint and make it washable.


The process…

Step 1 DIY Block Printing

STEP 1 Launder and iron fabric.

This isn’t entirely necessary though it does provide a nice clean starting point. Pre-washing your fabric ensures any factory coatings or chemicals are removed and also allows for any shrinkage. Ironing just makes your fabric neat, smooth and ready for stamping.


Step 2 Indian Hand Stamping

STEP 2 Mix acrylic paint with textile medium.

Pour your paint into a dish. If, like me, you’re creating a custom colour (I used black, white, cobalt and cadmium to achieve a deep green-grey) ensure the paint is well combined and that you have enough for your entire stamping project. Mix your acrylic paint with the textile medium as per directed (mine was at least two parts paint to one part medium).


Step 3 Printing onto Fabric

STEP 3 Spread paint mixture onto sponge.

Using a paint brush, spread a generous amount of your paint mixture onto your sponge. You now have a custom “inkpad”.

Note: As mentioned above, you could instead use a foam roller or small portion of sponge to manually coat your block – I just find the inkpad method cleaner and easier.

It is tempting to forgo this step and simply dip your block straight into some paint though in my experience this produces uneven results, even when excess paint is blotted on a paper towel.

If needed, place a piece of card, wood or plastic beneath your sponge to avoid paint penetrating any underlying surface.


Step 4 Textile Stamping

STEP 4 Coat block and print onto fabric.

First, lay your fabric on a nice, even surface which isn’t too hard. If needed, use an old dropcloth (or similar) to provide a little bit of cushioning (some give is needed to produce even prints – particularly if you are using a hard wood block as opposed to a soft rubber stamp).

At this stage, think about the general look you’re going for (placement/spacing/position of prints) and, if desired, measure and mark your fabric. I simply eyed mine.

Dab your stamp on the “inkpad”, ensuring thorough and even coverage, then press it down firmly in place on your fabric – you can even give it a bang – before carefully lifting.

Continue with your design, re-dabbing the stamp before each new application to ensure consistent prints.

DIY Block Printing

Don’t forget to re-coat your “inkpad” as required too.

Allow to dry thoroughly (my textile medium directions recommended 24 hours).

Note: I recommend doing a trial stamp first on a scrap of identical or similar fabric to gauge how much paint and pressure is needed.


Step 5 Using Textile Paint - Heat Setting

STEP 5 Press with an iron to heat set paint.

Follow the directions on your textile medium to heat set the paint. I believe the general idea is to use as hot an iron as your particular fabric will take and press your prints for a minute or so until the paint changes slightly in tone. Depending on the delicacy of your fabric you may want to use a thin cloth as a heat buffer.

Note: Although your item should be hardy enough to withstand normal laundering, I like the idea of using a gentle cycle – just in case.

And, it’s as simple as that!

How to Block Print onto Fabric

I am sooooo in love with this DIY!

As suspected, it really was easy, fun, affordable and rewarding. I may be slightly addicted!

And as mentioned earlier, I was also able to completely customise my design.

On one side of my cushion I created a sparse-ish pattern…

Block Printing on Textiles After

On the other I experimented with something fuller…

Indian Block Printed Cushion Cover DIY

This fuller pattern was designed to make my cushion appear as though it had actually been made from a block-printed fabric, rather than having been post-printed, so I applied some partial stamps at the edges to create the illusion of a continuous pattern which had been cut through.

How To Hand Stamp Your Own Fabric | The Painted Hive

Stamping over the edges did produce some patchy prints due to uneven contact where there were seams and hems. This is something worth keeping in mind though it didn’t bother me one bit.

DIY Hand Stamped Textiles

In fact, I think any imperfections and little nuances communicate that this is a lovingly hand-made item, and make it all the more charming!

Have a great end to the week all :)



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Easy DIY “Marble” Hearth…and a fireplace makeover

Easy DIY Marble and Brass Fireplace Hearth | The Painted Hive

If you follow me socially, you may recall seeing a little snippet of this “marble” project already…

Faux Marble Slab with Brass Corners

Could you guess what I was making?

Well, in all fairness, my use as a fireplace hearth is rather obscure and it could have been almost anything. From a tabletop, to a decorative bread board, to a wall shelf, to a mantel, and everything in between!

This “marble” slab was designed to sit beneath my parent’s electric fireplace…

Electric Fireplace Before

Although there was nothing wrong with it and it already stood on a bulky plinth, I liked the idea of giving it a more authentic look and helping ground the entire unit (as it is merely freestanding) with a traditional hearth-like platform.

My initial desire was to use a solid slab of real stone. Ha, ha, good one Kristine. Turns out even an inferior grade off-cut was gonna be waaaay too pricey. So, I considered several other options including, though not limited to; laminate, engineered stone, concrete, paving, brick, tile and vinyl wrap, before eventually settling on a DIY experiment using…contact paper!

Yep. I had no idea how this was gonna turn out though for just $20, and only an hour or so of easy work, I figured I had nothing much to lose. Fingers crossed!

Soooo, let the experiment begin.

Remember, although I’m using my “piece of marble” as a hearth it’s essentially a solid slab which could have many uses (some of which I’ve mentioned above). Let your imagination run wild!


DIY Faux Marble Slab Supplies

Obviously, this forms the base and you can use whatever suitable material you like. I wanted my little brass corners, which are 22mm deep, to fit exactly so needed my base to be the same depth. I couldn’t find an off-the-shelf material with a depth of 22mm, so I simply attached some 4mm deep trim to an 18mm deep plywood off-cut I already had to bring it up to the right depth.

I used a carrara style contact paper with a light grey vein. It can be found online here at Crockers Paint & Wallapaper. The great thing about this supplier is that they offer contact paper by the meter, so you don’t need to fork out big bikkies on an entire roll. This particular paper is nice and glossy and pretty easy to work with too. It doesn’t stick to itself too badly and can be re-positioned if needed.

Note: International readers, it’s easy to find similar contact papers on eBay, Amazon or Etsy.

Thinking to use these gave me an “ah-ha” moment.

You see, the thing with contact paper is that no matter how neat the application is any corners will never look seamless or be super durable. They force an inevitable break in the pattern, which belies any illusion of realism, and produce a point of weakness due to exposed joins which are highly likely to peel.

So, for the sake of both form and function, I needed to conceal them somehow. For the longest time I was contemplating the best way to edge the whole hearth when a light bulb suddenly went off. Duh! I only need to cover the corners. I bet I can find some cute box hardware for that. Yes siree, I sure can!

Theses little brass corners can be found here at D Lawless Hardware and cost less than $2 for a set of four. Score!



Step 1 Marble and Brass Fireplace Hearth

1 Cut wood to size.

Determine the dimensions for your hearth (or whatever you’re planning to make) then trim your piece of ply (or whatever you’re using as a substrate) to size. If you’re not keen on cutting wood, the hardware store will probably be able to do this for you. As touched on above, I also added some trim to bring the depth of my plywood up in-line with that of my brass corners.

Step 2 Faux Marble Fireplace Hearth

2 Wrap wood in contact paper.

This can be a little daunting and it’s hard to know where to start.

Conventionally, once the contact paper has been trimmed to size, you begin attaching it at one edge of your substrate, peeling the backing and smoothing the contact as you go. For whatever reason I found that method challenging and ended up removing the backing sheet entirely, positioning the contact on my base then smoothing it from the center, out. I wrapped both the long sides first, then trimmed off any unnecessary excess before wrapping the short sides. I made sure the corners were tight and relatively neat though as they were being covered I wasn’t overly fussy.

Obviously, the above pic shows the under-side of my plywood.

Step 3 DIY Marble Slab

3 Attach brass corners.

Simply hold your corners in place and hammer them home with little brad nails. My brass corners didn’t come with fasteners so I had to purchase some. I could only find steel brads at my local hardware store and was planning to paint the small heads with a gold paint pen, though they are so tiny it actually doesn’t matter.

Fireplace Makeover After | The Painted Hive

DIY Marble Contact Paper Hearth with Brass Corners | The Painted Hive


:: Because plywood isn’t naturally smooth, any surface texture may show through the contact paper. Ensure your surface is as smooth and clean as possible. Although it wasn’t too much of an issue for me, next time I would probably use something smoother, like MDF or melamine.

:: Check to ensure your piece of wood is nice and flat. The last thing you want is a slight curve or warp ruining your “stone” slab.

:: The contact paper I used comes in a width of 45cm. If you’re planning to cover something wider than this, you might want to search around for a wider product to avoid having joins in your surface.

:: I simply used my hands and the spine of a book to smooth my contact paper though you can buy specialty film applicator tools if desired.

:: Make sure your brad heads aren’t too small or they’ll slip right through the little holes in the brass corners. Don’t ask me how I know this.

:: The brass corners come with a clear plastic coating. It’s kinda hard to see so just be sure to remove it first.

DIY Marble Fireplace Hearth | The Painted Hive

Whilst this electric fireplace will never be as glorious as a real one, it still has a certain charm and does form the focal point in my parent’s living room. So, in order to make the most of it, we also gave the surround a lift with some fresh paint.

The original white factory finish was two different shades and, although the surround is made of wood, it looked quite plastic-ish.

Electric Fireplace Makeover Before

Fireplace with DIY Marble Hearth | The Painted Hive

Please excuse the terrible before shot (taken with a crappy phone camera by my four year old!).

The new moody colour (Colourbond Woodland Grey by Dulux) picks-up on the vein in the “marble”, contrasts with the light walls and gives the fireplace a much more sophisticated overall feel (the darker colour will also help balance the television which will eventually be mounted above the fireplace).

Fireplace Before

DIY Marble Hearth and Fireplace Makeover | The Painted Hive

As a finishing touch, I also painted over the visible gold text on the grill. It’s just a small detail though it does make for a cleaner look.

We contemplated adding a reclaimed timber mantel too though decided against it for now. Maybe that will happen in the future. Maybe.

I had planned to style this fireplace in a clean, trendy, contemporary way though no matter what I do things always seem to end up looking rather vintage-y around here :)

Fireplace Mantel Vignette | The Painted Hive

All of the accessories and artwork are thrifted.

Vintage Mantel Styling | The Painted Hive

The wingback armchair is from Ned’s (amazing price and free national shipping!). The block-printed throw cushion is an easy DIY project which I’m planning to post about in the future.

I am so rapt with the way this hearth turned out! Because it’s at my parent’s house I don’t see it everyday though each time I do it seems to look even better than I remembered! It’s almost a shame to cover it up with the fireplace (though, beautiful as it is, it would be kinda weird having a slab of faux marble sitting on the floor for no apparent reason!).

DIY Marble and Brass Hearth | The Painted Hive

Have a great week all.


Just in case you’re wondering why I decided to spruce-up my parent’s electric fireplace, I’m actually working on a room makeover at their house which I hope to share more deets about soon!

I was fortunate to be provided with the brass corners (D Lawless Hardware) and contact paper (Crockers Paint & Wallpaper) for this project.



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