LOOK! It’s Me…

That’s exactly what I said when I received my copy of this month’s Handmade magazine.

But, in all honesty

Being featured in Handmade’s Inspirations section was really not a surprise…

You see, I knew it was coming…

but I had no idea how it was going to be presented… then, seeing it in print for the first time

Was quite Amazing.

Handmade Vol 36 No 4 is Handmade’s Special Christmas Edition (yep Christmas… it’s almost that time of year again).

Inside this issue, there are lots of handmade goodies to make; from decorations to gift ideas.

And there is a project in there by me…

My Inspiration Jars

Now, I’ll be off to buy myself a couple more copies….


Happy crafting,



Father’s Day Project

It’s almost Father’s Day in Australia and to honour this special day I’m sharing a quick and easy handmade gift idea for the men in your life.

Father’s Day?

Now, I know what you’re thinking

I know… I need to clarify

I know we’re in August

But … Australians celebrate father’s day a little later than the rest of the world. Dad’s down under need to wait until the first Sunday of September for their special day.

This black vinyl passport holder was a $2 find in a bargain store, but a little bit of crafting magic makes it a fabulous stand out from all the rest.

Passport Holder

©2015 Effie Carayannis


Passport holder- size (100mm x 1400), can be vinyl, leather, or patent leather

Andy Skinner Stencil – Route 66 (12″x3″)

Fine grade sandpaper

Cling wrap

Paper towel

Old toothbrush

Basecoating brush

No. 4 stencil brush

¼ inch angle shader

No.10/0 liner brush

Americana Multi-Purpose Sealer

Americana Glazing Medium

DecoArt Americana Acrylics: Lamp (Ebony) Black, Bittersweet Chocolate, Neutral Grey, Fawn, Light Mocha

Americana DuraClear Varnish – Matte

TIP:  To paint the cover of the passport holder, open it out and face it upwards, so you‘re painting the front and the back of it simultaneously.  Refer to the picture for guidance when applying stencils.

Let’s paint the design
  1. Give the passport holder a light sand before you begin then apply a coat of Multi-Purpose Sealer using the basecoating brush, allow it to dry then sand once again.
  2. Base with two coats of Lamp (Ebony) Black using the basecoating brush, allow the first coat to dry before applying the second coat.
  3. Mix equal parts of Glazing Medium and Bittersweet Chocolate and apply this with the basecoating brush, while this is still wet, place a piece of the cling wrap over the top, press over it with your hand so wrinkles form; then remove the cling wrap carefully. Allow to dry.
  4. Mix equal parts of Glazing Medium and Neutral Grey, apply over the cover as previously and repeat the Cling wrap process. Allow to dry.
  5. Place the required section of the stencil over the background referring to the picture for placement. With the dry stencil brush pick up a little Neutral Grey, wipe any excess paint off on a paper towel and gently pounce over the design. Let it dry.
  6. Keeping the stencil in place, pounce over the same area with Fawn/Light Mocha/Bittersweet Chocolate 2:2: touch, allowing some of the first layer to show through.
  7. Carefully remove the stencil, place the required section on another part of the cover and repeat the process then let it dry thoroughly.
  8. Side load the angle shader with Lamp (Ebony) Black and float beside the left hand side and underneath each letter and element.
  9. Add water to the Fawn/Light Mocha/Bittersweet Chocolate mix to make a runny consistency, load this on the toothbrush then run your finger through the bristles to splatter a little over the piece.
  10. Paint within the “PASSPORT” inscription using Lamp (Ebony) Black loaded on the liner brush.
  11. Apply a couple of coats of Varnish using the basecoating brush.

Americana products and Andy Skinner stencil distributed by DecoArt Inc. online store DecoArt.com store


Happy Father’s Day,





It’s no secret how I love to stick to timetables, lists, diaries etc. So this unscheduled post is a bit out of the ordinary for me.

But this impromptu post is about me, the person … not the arty-crafty someone I’d rather you perceive. So here’s a little about me…

I have the migraine gene.  A genetic disorder passed down to me from my parents.  Medically, the exact cause of migraines is still a mystery. There is no cure, just preventative treatments; which don’t seem to work for everyone.

For the past thirty plus years I have suffered from migraines, which in recent months have progressed to a chronic condition. I suffer from these daily, usually curled up in bed and isolated in a dark and silent room. Please don’t confuse these with the norm of a headache; the symptoms of a migraine can only be described as turmoil; involving extreme pain. I can only describe it as an intense throbbing or hammering to the head, usually located on one side (for me it mainly affects my left temple and eye and forehead). Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and unsteadiness on my feet. I become light sensitive, sound sensitive and smell sensitive. And if you think you can tip toe past me during a migraine episode – you will still sound like a stampede of horses racing by.

Over recent weeks I have had a couple emergency visits to the hospital, home visits from the paramedics, followed by a weeklong stay in hospital due to the escalating severity of the pain and symptoms. At the Doctor’s request I received Intravenous Lignocaine Infusion continuously for the whole week. But the symptoms persisted. Then dehydration followed (due to the increased vomiting). Receiving IV fluids was a no-go due to my tiny inconspicuous veins collapsing every time an attempt was made to insert another intravenous cannula. Next, the anaesthetist was called in … but still, those stubborn little tubes of mine were not going to be tempted … not by anyone. So rehydration was a very slow process.

During my stay tests were performed. An MRI scan for the head and an MRI scan for the neck. More medication was administered, and medications were changed.

In the hope that I can find some relief for my pain, any inconsistency with these investigations would have been a blessing. Although I must admit it was comforting to hear the results showed very little other than moderate disc degenerative disease in my cervical spine.

And still there is not much left to do other than more trials … let’s change medications and try different migraine preventatives. For the moment the best outcome I can hope for is to reduce the severity and frequency of my migraines.

So, let’s see how we go.




It’s Frrrreeezing in Australia!

So what does one do?

Rug up, stay warm and create some crafty goodies.

I must admit I can’t wait till spring; when the wind chills ease and the rain and grey skies are almost behind us. But I still believe winter is a great time and season to slow down a little and explore new creativity…

In the meantime, while my countdown to spring continues I’ll just curl up on my comfy couch and cross stitch.

Cross stitch is such a simple craft. It’s just one stitch, cross stitch, the rest is all in the counting of the little squares.

You only need a few basics to get started; Cross stitch fabric, tapestry needle, embroidery floss, scissors and an embroidery hoop.

Here are some tips to get you started
  1. Wash your hands before you begin.
  2. Fold the fabric into quarters to find the centre, then mark the folds with lines of tacking in a contrasting sewing thread. The tacking lines should intersect in the centre.
  3. Place the fabric in an embroidery hoop to keep the tension even.
  4. Begin stitching in the centre of the design.
  5. Don’t knot the end of the floss, just hold it down behind the fabric and catch it down with your first stitches,
  6. Make sure that all upper stitches lie at the same angle.
  7. Always work back into the previous needle entry.
  8. Avoid carrying threads across the back of the work as this may lead to shadows on the front.
  9. To end off the thread, run the needle through the back of several stitches to secure it.
  10. Always remove the fabric from the hoop when not in use.


Happy stitching,


DecoArt Media Misters

Pushing through my project deadline schedule leaves me very little time to create.

But occasionally I manage to sneak away … and play a little,

you know … just to clear my head for a minute.

 For a quick background I like to choose DecoArt Media Misters. You can create some really interesting effects with very little effort. Just gently shake and mist over the surface …. There’s no mixing and no brushes to contend with and … No basecoat required. 

DecoArt Media Misters are great for mixed media projects.

 They work well on porous surfaces such as paper or cards.


Spray a combination of several colours over each other… then watch them disperse, creating different colours and unusual effects.

DecoArt Media Misters look great over textured surfaces and they’re easy to use with stencils too.

Special instructions for using DecoArt Media Misters
  1. Gently shake the misters before use.
  2. Press the nozzle down a little for large droplets.
  3. Press the nozzle all the way down for a fine mist.
  4. When you have finished using the misters, clean the nozzle out to prevent it from clogging. Fill an empty bottle with water and replace the cap with the nozzle, keep spraying the clean water through the nozzle until the water comes out clear.

For more information on this product, visit- http://decoart.com/mixedmedia/misters


This post is part of the series “Experimenting with creative materials”


Happy painting,



Painting Technique -Faux Woodgrain

There is nothing quite like the look, the charm and the character of natural timber. And I do believe with all my heart that the natural beauty of woodgrain cannot be replicated. The depth which woodgrain can achieve when used as a surface can enhance any artwork. And the results can be rather exquisite.

But, as a Decorative Artist there are instances when I need to imitate woodgrain onto a non timber surface. And that surface is usually MDF.

MDF is one of the most popular surfaces for decorative painting as there is no grain to contend with when cutting or sawing. It’s smooth and dense, has no knots, is easily machined and can be cut into various shapes and sizes.  MDF is easily routed, allowing intricate decorative designed edging; an important attribute to Decorative Art. Its smooth and compact trait also provides the perfect surface for fine detailed painting.


Faux Woodgrain – with Warm White and Raw Sienna


Faux Woodgrain- with  Buttermilk, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Bittersweet Chocolate

Here I’m sharing my technique for faux woodgrain

What you will need

Surface of your choice

Base coating brush

DecoArt Americana Drying Time Extender

Two or three colours of Acrylic paint that work well together

Such as-

DecoArt Americana Acrylics;

  • Warm White with Raw Sienna.
  • Raw Sienna and Bittersweet Chocolate
  • Buttermilk, Burnt Sienna and Bittersweet Chocolate

Use the brush to basecoat the surface using the dominant colour.

Paint a thin coat of Extender over the background.

Place separate puddles of your colours on your palette. (Do not mix them together)

Load the brush with the dominant colour then pick up a little of the secondary colour on one corner of the brush.(If you want to add a third colour- you can pick up a little of this as well on the opposite corner).

Choose the direction you want the grain lines; horizontal or vertical.

Apply long brush strokes in your chosen direction and keep them as straight as possible allowing a streaky woodgrain finish to form.

Do not over blend the colours.

Rinse the brush and re load it in the same manner after every few strokes. This prevents the colours from over blending into each other.

Avoid over brushing the same area so you don’t lose the effect.

Allow to dry thoroughly.


This post is part of the series “Experimenting with creative materials”


Happy painting,


Deadline Dilemmas

Publishing deadlines are looming over my head as magazine production turns its focus on preparations for their Christmas issues.

My Christmas designs are now due. I’m busily putting my schedule in order by prioritising each project by its cut off date.

And one by one each project will go through the same process;

After finalising the design; a pattern is created, step by step instructions are typed; patterns and outlines are drawn, then measured and checked. Next, the entire work is reviewed. Finally, the completed project is safely packed and posted; making its way to the editor’s desk- hopefully before the clock stops.

Understandably all deadline situations are different and we all need to find what strategies work best for our circumstances.

 Here are some tips that work for me when facing a deadline


  1. Make a List

Keep a list of each project along with its due date. I write mine on a whiteboard near my workstation and refer to it daily.


  1. Prioritise

Be sure to prioritise each project in order of its due date. Work on one project at a time. I find I work faster by staying focused on the same subject. Once it’s finished and turned in I can clear my head and start fresh on the next one.


  1. Break up the project into smaller tasks

A big chunk of work can seem intimidating. I prefer to divide this into smaller sections of separate tasks.                    So … I make another list – this time I break up the project into smaller chunks.  Completing a smaller piece of a large project and checking it off shows me that I have made progress.


  1. Take regular breaks

A fresh eye always helps me eliminate mistakes that can cost me more time later.


  1. Allow time to Reassess

Leave reasonable time to re evaluate the entire project, just to be sure it flows well and meets expectations.


Happy planning,