Getting Creative with Stencils

A number of years ago I went looking for a particular stencil with a basic checker-board design. I must have visited every single art and craft store in Melbourne … and I found nothing, not a single stencil in sight. I was even prepared to settle for a similar design, but finding a stencil during that time was impossible.

Now you can find them in art shops, craft shops and online stores … in fact you name it- stencils can be found almost anywhere! These days with so many designs available you can be sure you will find a stencil that suits your needs.

A stencil can be applied onto so many surfaces from wooden furniture, canvas, paper and fabric. Just to name a few.

Here are some tips that will help you achieve the best stencil results possible.

Decide on the position of your stencil. Don’t be afraid to play around and reposition your design until you are happy with its placement, then, tape it to your chosen item with low tack sticky tape – such as Magic Tape (placing the tape on a couple of the corners of the stencil should be sufficient).

The Magic Tape will keep your stencil in place and will ensure that it won’t move as you paint inside of it.

Dip the tip of your dry stencil brush into the paint, wipe any excess paint off on a paper towel  (after all remember that stencilling is a dry brush technique) then gently pounce in a straight up and down motion over the design. Let it dry.

Usually the first coat gives you a dry brush effect but if you want a solid coverage keep the stencil in place then repeat the last step after the first coat is dry.

Carefully remove the stencil, then if required place the stencil on another part of the item and repeat the same process then let it dry thoroughly.

Once you have finished with the stencil, wash it as soon as you’re done with warm soapy water. Pay attention to the  corners of the design, make sure all the paint has been removed to ensure a crisp outline next time you use them. Allow the stencils to dry flat before storing them flat as well.

Happy painting,


Giving leather a fresh new look!

Do you want to give your old leather and leather-like items a fresh new look?

Hand painting leather is a great way of creating one of a kind leather goods and it’s never been this easy. I decided to give a faux leather pouch and a notebook cover a makeover with DecoArt Patent Leather paint and I must say the results were amazing.

I used three colours from DecoArt’s extensive range; Black, Turquoise and White. Although both my patent leather pouch and notebook were originally black, I only needed a couple of coats for full coverage.

I used the “slip-slap” technique and I had to work quickly to achieve the blended look, using two brushes, one for the darker blends and one for the light colour mixing. Using two brushes decreased the chances of needing to rinse the same brush – after all for best results– do not mix this product with water…

 This product can be used on any leather or leather-like item; such as handbags, shoes, belts and upholstery.


About DecoArt Patent Leather

It’s specially formulated to be flexible to prevent cracking or peeling.

Ideal for leather and faux leather surfaces.



Soap and water clean-up.

Comes in a range of colours, including metallics.

Not suitable for Suede & Nubuck.


Tips and how to use DecoArt Patent Leather

Clean and dry surface thoroughly before applying.

Tape off any metal pieces that you don’t want paint on, like the buckle or metal finishes.

Stir bottle instead of shake. (If you shake, let it sit for 15 min to allow bubbles to settle)

Apply evenly with a soft-bristled brush.

Work quickly and do not over brush.

Watch for drips and immediately smooth out with the brush.

Allow to dry completely between coats and apply a second coat if required.

Do not mix with water.


Happy panting



Inspirational Quotes

 I’ve been drawn to inspirational quotes long before they became a huge fashion thingy. The great motivational power that can be found within the lines of a few astutely chosen words in fancy handwriting or HUGE text; printed on a t shirt, notebook or techie thing (just to name a few) can be quite uplifting and energizing. Sometimes they may even reinforce what we already know (or think we believe we know) about ourselves.

Often these short bursts of stimulation can be just what we need so we can get started with doing what we need to do and escape the daily struggle of a vicious circle.

Many of my designs are inspired by some of my favourite quotes. They motivate me to get back on my feet to face the challenges of life with ambition and determination.

One of my projects which is based on one of my favourite motivational quotes is published in this month’s issue of Handmade magazine Vol 36 No 11– Your wings already exist, all you have to do is fly– is a painting design with brightly coloured textured letters.

I’m hoping it will benefit others to make the most of their life.

I also have another project in the same Handmade issue, this one is a really simple and quick cross stitch, my Fox and Panda is stitched on timber medallions. You can hook them onto a bag, zipper or anything you like with a piece of twine.

Happy crafting,


New projects on their way

Today I’m sharing a couple of projects that are a work in progress.

I found these lovely cactus cut-outs made from MDF. I hear cactus is the new pineapple these days (actually I’ve heard it for a while now) so I better jump on the bandwagon before it’s gone.

I’ve primed them and lightly sanded these so they’re already for painting.

My second project is a cross stitch.

I have promised myself I will not buy any more embroidery threads until I make some use of the ones I already have (Yeah right, I’ve heard that before).

I picked out a selection of threads out of my thread box and I’m ready to start stitching and have sworn off entering another craft shop until this project is finished.

I’ll keep you posted…

Happy crafting,


Cutlery Tray Makeover

As time passes some things fall apart, and other things look tired and worn as though they are from another era. Sometimes we can transform the broken down and the old into something new and exciting.

My cutlery tray is something I’ve had lying around for over twenty years. In its prime it appeared a couple of times a year for large family gatherings, ecstatically filled with napkins and polished cutlery; taking the lead position at the beginning of the buffet.

Then…I found something else to replace it with…so it made its way to the bottom of my painting stash and there it sat for many years.

So this year I decided to awaken the still dust of the past and make my humble tray useful again and bring on its lustre…

First I filled any imperfections and nail holes with a little wood filler, then I gave it a light sand using fine grade sandpaper followed by a wipe down with a clean cloth.

Next I applied a couple of coats of Americana Décor Chalk Finish- Whisper with the basecoating brush and I let it dry.

Then I brushed on a generous amount of DecoArt Vintage Effects Colour Wash -White over this. I added DecoArt Extreme Sheen Metallic Paint- Pewter and blended it with the Vintage Effects Colour Wash. Next I added a bit more Pewter here and there for an extra streaky effect.

For the pattern I used a couple of stencils; Andy Skinner- Baroque and DecoArt Americana- Café Paris. I only used small sections of the stencils. I turned them upside down and back to front so I can achieve a uniform design around the narrow outer side of the tray. I used Deep Midnight Blue with the stencil brush to apply the design.

 The edges and the mid section of the tray (where the handle is) are painted with a mix of DecoArt Americana Deep Midnight Blue with a little Slate Grey.

Then finally, I applied a couple of coats of DecoArt Americana Soft-Touch.


Happy painting


Ahhh, love is in the air….

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love. It‘s a day where loved ones, family and friends can show how much they care for one another.

I love making this day special for my family so today I am sharing a really super simple project with you to help create lifelong memoirs and embrace bonds with the ones you love.

My Love monologue is a really easy painting project; it’s basically just” basecoating” and can be completed in just an hour or two.


 What you need:

MDF Love monologue

Basecoating brush or flat brush

Liner brush

DecoArt Americana Multi-Purpose Sealer

Fine grit sandpaper

DecoArt Americana Acrylic paints: Green Tree, Laguna, Brilliant Purple

Americana DuraClear Varnish – Soft Touch

Let’s paint:

With the basecoating brush, apply a coat of Multi-Purpose Sealer, allow it to dry then give the monologue a light sand.

Basecoat the letters L and E with Green Tree, then, use Laguna for the remaining letters. Next, with Brilliant Purple basecoat all around the flat edge and separate the letters where they meet with the same colour using the liner brush. The inside edge of the O and V are painted with Green Tree.

Two or three coats should be sufficient for a good coverage and don’t forget you may use a hairdryer to speed up the drying time.

To finish apply a couple of coats of varnish.

Ta –daa!

I love how these three colours come together…

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your loved ones,



A sad start to the holiday season…

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and I truly wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.

The holiday season started out on a sad note for my family.

We went through one of the more excruciating experiences of our lives – the euthanasia of our dear dog, AJ, just days before Christmas. Our beloved dog was part of our lives for almost sixteen years and lately had become so frail and unwell. After a long illness and triumphing through several strokes, she had lost ten kilos of weight throughout this time. During the last few weeks of her life, AJ was barely able to walk, while her usual ravenous appetite had almost disappeared.

Right to the end she tried with all her might in being my creative companion, my guardian in the garden and my excited escort to the clothes line. Even though her efforts resulted in an unsteady shuffle accompanied with moans and groans. Picking up the wash basket in the morning has not been the same for me since she passed.

It’s been quite devastating and I sincerely don’t think I can ever go through this again.

We miss you AJ.

R.I.P our dearest pet



Merry Christmas

Hello friends. Well, it’s that time of year again, Christmas is almost here and a new year is just around the corner.

Thank you for sharing your stories, special moments and your creativeness. In so many cases your ingenuity has left me in overwhelming admiration. I am so lucky to have found you all.

Your friendship and support is truly heartfelt.


I hope you all enjoy Christmas with family and loved ones,

I would like to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year. I hope 2018 is an incredible year for you all.

Thank you so, so much for being here,



A Christmas Workshop

Last weekend I held a workshop.

It was for the SFDAV end of year Christmas Luncheon which was held in our lovely community hall.

We spent the day laughing, sharing, creating, eating and meeting new likeminded people. And what a great turn up we had. We had two workshops running in the morning. Heleen held one and I held the other.

I taught my Nativity candle Jar.

What a great job my students did. They made me so proud…

You can just add a couple of battery operated tea lights inside the jar and watch it glow.

 Then we sat down for lunch in the afternoon. Lunch was delicious with all the festive trimmings. There were handmade cards and gifts for everyone. Then came the raffles; there were so many winners. The prizes included woodwork, painting supplies, cakes, gingerbread houses and lots of crafty goodies. They were all mostly handmade by our talented committee members.

After lunch there was time to sit and chat. Catching up with old friends …and making new ones.

A truly beautiful day!

Happy painting and a Merry Christmas to you all,



How to Paint a Nutcracker

With Christmas just a month away I would like to share a  post with you. It’s  one I posted about a year ago which is getting a lot of action lately; it’s becoming one of my most popular posts.

I’ve been enthused by nutcrackers since I was a child.

You know the ones … the kind that resemble little kings, soldiers or policemen that pop up at Christmas time. These figurative wooden doll looking carvings with stern, almost angry faces come in a range of sizes – from a few inches tall to full adult height.  I use to refer to them as little men, unbeknown to me until later in life that they were derived from what was once a functional tool.

In 1872 Wilhelm Füchtner, a craftsman, who was known as the “father of the nutcracker”, created and commercially manufactured the nutcracker doll. And ever since the nutcracker has remained a classic custom used as a Christmas decoration all around the world.


Maybe it’s the statuary strength they portray that I find appealing, or is it their colourful military style uniform that catches my eye?

Never the less I would love to have a house full of them.

Not long ago I purchased a few little men nutcrackers (unpainted of course)…



… and I lovingly added life to them.


 What a joy they were to decorate.


Adding my choice of rich colours was so satisfying… 


  I respectfully added the traditional composed nature on their faces.


 I thought of adding a smile or maybe a smirk … or even a wink ….


Nahh …I couldn’t do it… I love them just the way they are… :>


Here are some tips on how to paint your very own Christmas Nutcrackers

You can purchase unpainted wooden nutcrackers at selected art and craft shops.

1. Firstly, remove the hair and beard from the nutcrackers by warming the areas up with the hair dryer, this softens the glue so they peel off easily. For best results work on a small section at a time, this way the faux fur comes off in one piece. If you happen to rip it (like I did), don’t worry, you can purchase faux fur from craft stores.

2. Then remove the limbs, you may use the hairdryer again to soften the glue if required. If you can’t remove the limbs don’t force them as you may break them, you can still carefully paint around them while they’re attached.

3. Sand all the pieces using a fine grade sand paper and wipe them clean with a lint free cloth.

4. Prime all surfaces with a coat of Americana Multi-Purpose Sealer

5. I used the following paint colours:

DecoArt Americana Acrylics:  Cool White, Flesh Tone, Light Mocha, Royal Purple, Santa Red, Festive Green, Lamp (Ebony) Black.

DecoArt Dazzling Metallics: Emperor’s Gold

6. Mix Light Mocha/Flesh Tone 3.1., this will be used for the skin tone. You can pre-mix this and store in a small airtight container so it won’t dry out. This will come in handy for touch ups if required throughout the project.

7. Now the fun starts! Begin painting. Be creative, make it your own.

8. Apply several coats of Americana DuraClear Varnish – Gloss. Allow to dry thoroughly.

9. Attach the limbs with PVA glue. Let them dry.

10. Next neatly attach the hair and the beard with a small amount of PVA Glue.


Happy painting,