How To Make Clay Ornaments & Gift Tags

The Best DIY Clay Tag & Ornament Tutorial

I wanted a really simple Christmas tree this year.

Earthy Neutral Christmas Tree

Complete with earthy tones and natural elements off-set by a delicate smattering of little white stars.

However, when I couldn’t find any said little white stars, I figured I’d have a go at making my own.

And I’m so glad I did!

Not only did it give me the opportunity to personalise my ornaments as desired, it was so quick and easy.

Natural Rustic Christmas Tree Decorations

The possibilities are virtually endless plus it’s a great project for the kids to get involved with too (as evidenced by the little hands in my tutorial pics!).

As a side note, I love the quirk of ‘Charlotte’ needing to spill over two lines…and the fact it took her a moment to recognise it was her name :)

YOU WILL NEED…

Clay Ornament Supplies

1 OVEN-BAKE CLAY

I used Sculpey Oven-Bake Polymer Clay in White (794 g/1.75 lb). I must admit, the price seems steep for the size of the pack and I hesitated at first though it goes a long way. I made close to 50 stars at a cost of around just 45 cents each.

Or course, you could also use air-dry clay, salt dough, baking soda dough, or other similar hard-setting mediums.

2 ROLLING PIN

Just to flatten out the clay.

3 COOKIE CUTTER

I used a simple star though you can get as creative as you like or go free-form!

4 SKEWER

Anything round and pokey should do the trick. This is just to create a hole for the string. I used a bamboo skewer though you could also use a knitting needle or drinking straw, or so on.

5 STAMPS (OPTIONAL)

This is entirely optional. I used some basic rubber letter stamps to create words and names. You could also use shape, image or pattern stamps, and even other textured items, like lace or leaves. I wanted a simple embossed look so didn’t use any ink though you can use regular stamp ink too if more defined markings are desired.

6 OVEN

To bake the clay.

7 STRING

I used my favourite; red and white baker’s twine.

 

THE PROCESS…

Easy DIY Baked Clay Ornaments

STEP 1 KNEAD

The clay is quite firm to begin with so knead it for a minute or two until it becomes smooth and pliable.

Use a clean, non-pourous surface to avoid soiling the clay or having it stick. You may even like to lay down some grease-proof paper.

Easy DIY Baked Clay Ornaments

STEP 2 ROLL

Flatten out the clay using a rolling pin.

The thickness is a personal preference. My stars vary a little though on average are around 6mm (1/4″) thick.

Oven-Baked Clay Tags Tutorial

STEP 3 CUT

Just like making cookies, use a cutter to create as many ornaments as desired.

Clay Ornaments DIY

STEP 4 PIERCE

Press a skewer through to create a string hole.

DIY Hand-Stamped Clay Ornaments

STEP 5 STAMP (OPTIONAL)

If desired, embellish your ornaments with some words, patterns or textures.

I left most of my stars blank though stamped several with Christmas-y words and family names. I also created a few to use as gift tags. They aren’t perfect though that’s the point – they have a lovely, organic, homespun quality which, ironically, is in fact perfect :)

As mentioned in the ‘You Will Need’ section above, I wanted a simple embossed look so didn’t use any ink though you can use regular stamp ink if a more prominent design is desired.

DIY Clay Ornaments

STEP 6 BAKE

Place on a baking tray and bake at 130° C (275° F) for around 15 minutes per 6mm (1/4″) of thickness.

Try not to over-bake as the clay may brown and bubble and can become brittle.

How to Make Oven-Bake Clay Tags Tutorial

STEP 7 THREAD

Once cool, attach some string to form a hanger.

Easy DIY Clay Tags

STEP 8 HANG!

It’s really that easy!

DIY Clay Ornaments

Of course, this is just one basic example of what you can do with oven-bake clay. Like I mentioned earlier, the possibilities are virtually endless.

You can also paint or seal the clay if you’re after a different colour or sheen. Just have a play around!

And remember, although I’ve used my clay stars as tree ornaments, don’t forget that they also make really beautiful gift tags.

Natural Neutral Christmas Tree Decorations

Signature

If you’d like to save this project for later, feel free to pin the image below.

How to Make Your Own Clay Tags & Ornaments

 

My First (decent) Christmas Tree!

Natural Neutral Rustic Christmas Tree

I’ve never had a decent Christmas tree.

The year we moved into our first home, we didn’t have one at all.

The following year we bought the cheapest, nastiest faux tree from the supermarket…for $12…the night before Christmas. Needless to say, it wasn’t the finest of specimens.

A few years later we ‘upgraded’ to another faux tree from a different supermarket. Let’s just say it’s not that hard to upgrade when your initial tree looked like a dried sprig of rosemary.

Even growing up, when we usually had real trees, they were always sparse, and gangly, and wonky, and somewhat peculiar. As I later discovered this was because my parents couldn’t justify the expense of a farmed tree – apparently Dad used to simply head into the bush and lop the nearest dangling branch.

Of course, we didn’t really care, and it doesn’t really matter, and it’s not hard to make the most of what you’ve got, though for aesthetes like me (and probably you!) isn’t there just something lovely and comforting and desirable about a really beautiful Christmas tree?

So, this year when I was invited to review a tree from Balsam Hill, it seemed like the right time.

I received the Fraser Fir (Candlelight LED).

Rustic Natural Christmas Tree Decorated on a Budget

Although it’s available in a range of sizes, the somewhat petite scale of the 137cm/5′ tree seemed just right for our little home.

Earthy Neutral Christmas Tree

Now, I’m not gonna lie, these trees are an investment. However, from the moment it arrived the expense seemed warranted.

Something about this tree just felt special; I mean, you know it’s special when it comes with its very own pair of gloves, right?

Balsam Hill Pack Flatlay

The foliage is very realistic and with some shaping (as all faux trees require) a lovely natural form can be achieved.

One of my favourite things is the integrated light system. Yes people, ‘integrated light system’! No more weaving of tangled and unruly string lights!

Balsam Hill Fraser Fir by The Painted Hive

Since the kids have been old enough to care about Christmas, I’ve let them decorate our tree (mind you, this usually involves the hanging of three baubles before they get bored!).

So, this year, for the first time, we’re having two trees.

This one is mine!

Rustic Natural Christmas Tree

And apparently Coopers :)

I wanted a natural, neutral, home-spun scheme (surprise, surprise) with a tiny hint of red.

I used just four elements…plywood houses, hand-made clay stars, little pinecones and a wooden bead garland.

Natural Rustic Christmas Tree Decorations

The plywood houses were just $2 each from Kmart. Originally, the wood was raw and quite blonde, which is fine though just a tad stark for the look I was going for, so I lightly stained them to give them some depth and warmth.

House Christmas Tree Decorations

Making the clay stars was fun.

DIY Clay Star Ornaments

I don’t do a heap of crafts though when I saw the price of shop bought clay ornaments I figured it was worth a try. And it was such a rewarding and simple project – and perfect for the kids to help with. Some of the stars are blank though many are personalised with our own words (I have a full tutorial here!).

The pinecones were free of course and add just the right hint of earthiness.

I was going to make my own wooden bead garland though I happened to stumble across this one in a local dollar-type store for cheaper than it would have cost me!

Natural Neutral Christmas Tree Decorations

Again, the wood was originally raw so I very lightly stained it to knock-back the coolness.

To conceal the stand and add some extra festive cheer, I packed the base with a variety of wrapped “gifts”. In keeping with the neutral scheme I used browns, blacks and creams with a dash of red.

Christmas Tree Gifts

These “gifts” are mainly just appropriately shaped and sized items from around our house. It was so sweet to see how excited the kids were once they spied them, even though they are mainly just empty cereal boxes and books off our shelves.

Christmas Tree with Natural Decor

We don’t usually have our tree in the living room, mainly because there’s zero space, though given this is a petite tree (and the fact I wanted to take some pretty photos!) I rearranged some of the furniture to make it work.

Balsam Hill Fraser Fir Christmas Tree

I hope you like it.

Signature

This post is in partnership with Balsam Hill.
All ideas, imagery and opinions are my own.

Rustic Natural Christmas Tree

 

 

A “New” Vintage Desk & Swivel Chair

So, I know it’s basically December and publishing a post without any hint of pine needles or flocked snow is seemingly akin to impudence, though let’s be rebels!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been chipping away at Riley’s bedroom re-do, with the most recently completed project being his new desk.

Boy's Room Vintage Desk and Chair

A month or so back I found this old hall table at a local antique warehouse for $120.

Vintage Child's Desk

It was perfect though, being standard table height, just a tad too tall (sorry, I don’t have a before pic). You see, along with operating as a functional desk for a four year old, I also needed this item to act as his bedside table.

Fortunately, curtailing fully grown furniture is in my repertoire! In the past I’ve already shortened a hall table to become a desk (for my daughter), a console table to become a TV cabinet, a dining table to become a coffee table, a dresser to become a bench seat, and I could probably go on!

Child's Vintage Desk and Chair

Anyhoo, it’s a very easy process as I’m sure you can imagine. I simply used a basic hand saw to trim off an equal portion of each leg (around 18cm/7″).

Because my desk legs were turned (as can be seen in the photos – notice the two pairs of bands, well, there used to be three pairs), I chose to use the lowest turnings as my trim point due to the fact they were set at around the right height. This made my cutting easy and created a nice flange on the end of the “new” feet. However, because the turnings were only set at around the right height, it also meant that the desk ended-up a little shorter than ideal.

Luckily, this was actually a blessing in disguise as it gave me the idea of adding these castor wheels from Early Settler. They boost the height a tad and complete the desk perfectly!

Brass Castor Wheels for a Desk

I love furniture with little wheels! Don’t you?

On the same day I bought the desk I also picked-up this sweet vintage swivel chair.

Yellow Vintage Child's Desk Chair

I found it on eBay for just $19 and I LOVE it.

It’s got the perfect amount of grunge, is a bit unusual and is even height adjustable.

Vintage Yellow Child's Desk Chair

Initially I thought I was going to have to paint the desk because the yellow of the chair seemed to clash with its golden wood. Though the colour combo is growing on me. I guess I’ll reserve judgement until the whole room is pieced together.

Speaking of the whole room, if you’ve been following along with the makeover, then you’ll know that these pics have clearly been taken elsewhere. I’ve staged my living room for this shoot because in Riley’s bedroom the desk sits right in front of a full length window which makes it almost impossible to get a decent photo.

It also meant I could use the HUGE vintage wall chart that was going to be thrown away from the school my husband works at! Seriously, what were they thinking? I honestly have nightmares about all the cool stuff schools must have thrown away over the years.

Boy's Room Vintage Desk and Chair

Although there won’t be space for the wall chart in Riley’s room, the new textured rug and tennis rackets will eventually live there. So too might the brass magnifying stand and ram’s skull. We’ll see.

Signature

Catch up on all my posts about Riley’s bedroom makeover here.

Free Printable Large-Scale Vintage Christmas Signs!

I am sooooo excited to share these classic Christmas book title page printables with all of you!

Free Printable Christmas Signs

I’m the first to admit I’m not a huge holiday decorator, I think my blog’s scarcity of Christmas-themed posts can testify to that, though this year I wanted to create something we could all enjoy. And when I was designing these printable signs, I felt a sense of all-consuming enthusiasm I haven’t tasted in a long, long time.

Not that I’ve been wallowing in a puddle of a self-imposed misery lately. Just because over the past few (okay, several) months, I’ve been in a bit of a funk where little has seemed to come quite this freely…and easily…and joyously. It was honestly a pleasure to get my creative cogs a-whirring with this project and it felt so rewarding researching the origins of my chosen ‘works’ to give these signs a real sense of historical accuracy and authenticity.

16 Free Printable Vintage Style Christmas Signs!

In this bundle I am offering a total of 16 free printable large-scale book title page signs; four different classic Christmas tales each available in both Ivory and Cream and with either Black or Red artwork.

16 Amazing Free Printable Farmhouse Style Christmas Signs!

As always, each image has been fully optimised for print and, for your convenience, designed in 2:3 ratio (60cm/24″ x 90cm/36″) to fit standard frames.

CLICK A BUTTON ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD & VIEW

Due to the size of these files I am hosting them on Google Drive. You will be redirected there to complete the download process. 
Files are saved in zipped folders. Depending on your operating system they may need to be extracted prior to viewing. Due to their large size, some mobile devices may fail to load them.

Being large-scale, one of these signs alone makes a lovely statement though how amazing would they look hung as a collection? Imagine all four of them in a horizontal row on a long wall (someone needs to do this and send me pics, mkay)? Or in grid formation using slightly smaller frames.

Free Printable Farmhouse Style Christmas Signs

PRINTING

You can have these signs printed at any store which offers a good-quality, large-format printing service. Prices for a 60cm/24″ x 90cm/36″, full-colour print on poster paper generally range between $20 – $40. Black and white engineering prints on thin bond paper can be as inexpensive as $3. Colour engineering prints are also offered at some stores and usually start at around $10. If you’re unsure where to start looking, try Googling “print and copy services”. Otherwise, some stores include; Officeworks, Vista Print, Staples, Office Depot, Costco, Walmart. Along with having your image printed in-store, many companies also offer an online upload service. This can be handy if you live in a remote area or simply want the convenience of shopping from home. I have some basic instructions for ordering online from three different companies here.

FRAMING

For ease, I have designed these signs in 2:3 ratio to fit standard frames. You can find large 60cm/24″ x 90cm/36″ frames in lots of places with prices generally starting from around $15. If you’re unsure where to start looking, try Googling “poster frames”. Otherwise, visit dollar and discount stores, affordable department and homewares stores or Ikea. For a more authentic sign look, I recommend removing the glass/perspex from your frame and affixing the print directly to the backing board using spray adhesive. If you would prefer to DIY your own farmhouse style frame, you can find my basic tutorial here. Another easy DIY alternative is to create a hanging wall chart. This is a simple matter of attaching dowels to the top and base of the poster, similar to what I did here.

Free Printable Christmas Wall Chart Hangings

Another even simpler hanging method would be to use some pretty binder clips. These Kmart ones are cool.

Free Printable Christmas Wall Art Signs

And, you can even use ready-to-go poster hanging strips. These function like clamps (usually using magnets or screws) and require little to NO work. They can be found in lots of places nowadays. Check out Etsy or eBay or simply Google “poster hanging strips” or “poster hanging rails”.

Free Printable Wall Art Signs with Poster Strips

I really wanted to style some of my pics for this post with a live, traditional-style, tabletop tree…though I couldn’t find one at any of my local plant nurseries! So, instead I opted for an Aussie alternative. Below is a native Albany Woolly Bush – partnered with seasonal cherries, of course!

Free Printable Farmhouse Style Christmas Signs

I hope you love these signs!

And please feel free to email me pics or tag me in any social shares if you use them in your decorating – I’d really love to see.

Signature

 

Free for personal, non-commercial use only.
Reproduction, republication or redistribution in any form is forbidden.

 

 

How To Make a Bed from a Head & Foot

Easy DIY Tutorial for Adding Rails and Slats to a Bed Head & Foot

Have you ever come across a really lovely (and super affordable) old bed only to pass it up because it was missing its rails and slats?

That’s almost what I did when I was hunting for Riley’s “big boy bed”.

You may have heard this story before…

I stumbled upon an antique cotton reel bed in the deepest, darkest corner of a local antique store behind layers and layers of dusty old rugs.

It was gorgeous and inexpensive and perfect (and a rare find for here in Australia). Only catch was…it wasn’t really a bed at all – just a head and foot!

How to Convert a Bed Head and Foot

Having never converted a basic head and foot into an actual bed before, I had no idea where to start. Though I knew it couldn’t be all that hard.

Fast forward one exchange of money for goods, some car Tetris to transport said goods home, and a few quick Google searches for “bed brackets”, I realised this project was going to be even easier than I thought.

STEP 1

The first thing we did was purchase some planks of wood to form the rails. We chose 10cm (4″) wide x 3cm (1″) deep pine which we cut into 190cm (75″) lengths. This is the length of a standard single (twin/bunk) mattress.

STEP 2

Next, we needed somewhere for the slats to sit. My husband got all fancy here and routed an “L” channel into the actual rails.

DIY Bed Rails and Slats Tutorial

Don’t mind the fact this looks a bit messy. The mattress sits on top so none of this is visible.

The easier option would be to simply screw some sort of slat shelves to the inside of the rails instead. You could use basic timber strips or some metal “L” trim like this…

L Trim for Bed Slats

Note: Before you attach your slat shelves (or route in your “L” channels – if you’re being fancy!), ensure you know the depth of your slats and determine where you’d like your mattress to sit in relation to the rails. Obviously, this will influence where the shelves need to be positioned. As can be seen above, we decided to make our slats flush with the top of the rails so our “L” channels needed to be the same depth as our slats.

STEP 3

To attach the rails to the head and foot we used bed brackets.

Bed Hook Brackets

These are easy to find online, come in a few different styles and sizes and are a cinch to use – though you do need to be careful with your placement to ensure the rails sit nice and straight and neatly abut the head and foot.

Now, I was a bad, bad blogger and didn’t take progress pics of attaching the brackets because, well, I never really planned to write a tutorial about it. You see, I thought this was going to be a relatively boring project that no-one would care less about. Turns out I was wrong. Since mentioning it a month or so back I have received so many questions I thought it deserved its very own post.

So, given my lack of foresightedness, here’s a photo I stole from the internet which clearly shows how the brackets work.

Bed Brackets DIY

Basically, first we attached the male components to the inside of our rails. Then we attached the female components to the head and foot. And then they simply slot together like so…

How to Add Rails to a Bed

Pardon the holes. They were there when I bought it.

STEP 4

With our frame now joined we measured the opening and cut some slats to fit.

DIY Bed Base Slats

We went with 14cm (5″) wide x 2cm (.7″) deep pine. There are six slats in total spaced at around 15cm (5″) intervals which merely rest in place.

STEP 5

Finally, to finish things off, I stained the rails a warm mid-brown to co-ordinate with the existing head and foot.

DIY Bed Base from a Head and Foot

Unfortunately I can’t get the whole bed in one photo. Those of you familiar with my house know the story – tiny rooms, weird angles.

I just mixed up a colour using left-over stains I already had on hand.

So, there you go. For anyone who’s been hesitant about snapping-up a head and foot in the past, or for those of you who may already have something languishing in a deep, dark corner somewhere, I hope this provides some clarity and confidence. As you can see, it’s a relatively quick and simple project.

Now, I know it’s been slow going however things are progressing in Riley’s room. And I’m super excited about the next step which will completely transform the current look…sconce hack and gallery wall here we come!

 

Signature

Catch up on my previous posts about the room makeover here:

PART 1 – THE PLAN
PART 2 – THE PAINT