Trex painted rock
Education Projects, Surface Design

Shimmering Dinosaur Painted Rocks

Do you remember painted rocks? If memory serves correctly, this craft enjoyed a mild popularity in the ’90s—at least, Mom had a book about them, and I recall my grandmother painting a few with me.

So imagine my surprise when, several years back, intricately painted mandala rocks began popping up on Pinterest. Who could imagine that rock painting, of all things, would enjoy a renaissance? Intrigued, I ran to Lowe’s, bought a bag of garden rocks, and—surprise, surprise—never used them. With so many artsy projects on my plate, the bag sat undisturbed for over a year.

I eventually gave Mom the rocks, thinking she could use them for actual gardening… but no. Rock painting wasn’t done with me yet. Suddenly, there were stories about people hiding painted rocks around their city. It became a city-wide game. Social media jumped on it. What could I do except succumb to the inevitable and finally paint some dang rocks?

But before we get started, make sure to check out this opportunity in honor of 2017’s upcoming National Fossil Day:


The National Park Service and National Fossil Day partners are sponsoring an art contest! The theme is “The Future of Fossils: People Studying and Caring for Our Fossil Heritage”. Make sure to check out their page for size requirements, entry form, and other information. Deadline is October 5th, 2017!

Ya’ll better be entering these contests, now. Don’t tell me I’m wasting my time!
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Decor, Home Projects

5 Miniature Treasures to Display in a Printer’s Tray

Is there anything more alluring than an antique printer’s tray? A single tray comprises dozens of little compartments perfect for housing itsy-bitsy trinkets. Grandma’s thimble? Check. A favorite toy car from childhood? Check. Your vintage button/game piece/bottle cap collection? Check, check, and check. Those are all excellent choices for display.

But what if you have more naturalist leanings? Not to worry: nature provides us with treasures that are just small enough to squeeze into a printer’s tray. Read on for ideas on what to include. If you have your own ideas, make sure to share them with us!

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Close up of painted tiles
Clay, Home Projects

Design a Polymer Clay Dinosaur Clock (Pt. 2)

Congratulations! You’ve stamped, sliced and baked your way through an entire package of clay. The kitchen lingers with the scent of baked polymer and your family is afraid to use the oven. Pat yourself on the back: you’re one of us.

But that mountain of baked tiles has begun to overwhelm you. There are just so many. You consider abandoning the project and binging on a Law and Order marathon instead.

Well, don’t. Painting and embellishing your polymer tiles is where you can really start making fun creative decisions, like color, sparkle, and added texture. Don’t get tripped up on trying to make every tile an elaborate masterpiece, either—mixing in plain tiles not only moves the project along but also gives the viewer’s eye a place to rest.

If you’re new to NCM, make sure to read part 1. Otherwise, let’s get started!


“Mom, why is there so much garbage on this table?” -Wallie, the perpetually put-out cockatiel

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Craft room
Decor, Home Projects

5 Tips to Rescue & Refresh your Craft Room

One day, by complete accident, I stumbled across an addictivedare I say dangerouscorner of YouTube: craft room tours.

Good golly, Miss Molly. After an afternoon of browsing these gorgeous craft spaces, I looked around my own room and was appalled by what I saw: dark furniture, garage shelving, too much clutter, lazy storage. What kind of hack crafter was I? Why didn’t I have a sleek, modern, 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired craft space furnished by IKEA? (Spoiler alert: I was broke. Also cheap. Maybe also too lazy to assemble new furniture. Just pick a reason.)

The point is, my white Sterilite drawers and beat-up shelves were no longer suitable. The wall color (beige, which absorbed a surprising amount of light) was hideous. The knick-knacks were suffocating. I was determined to rescue my room from the dark depths into which it had sunk.

And then I learned we were moving halfway across the country.

After panic-breathing into a paper bag, I figured moving is actually the perfect time to start over. I decided that my new craft space, no matter how small, would be different. Efficient. Cohesive. Affordable but not, you know, cheap. And most importantly, if something didn’t work for me, I wasn’t going to settle for it (I’m looking at you, garage shelving).

Fortunately, you don’t have to endure the soul-crushing stress of moving in order to follow these tips. All you need is a desire to refresh—nay, rescue—your craft space, the willpower to follow through, and your spare change jar. (Eh. You might need more than just spare change. Let’s read on and see!) Continue Reading

Apatosaurus rubber stamp on polymer clay
Clay, Home Projects

Design a Polymer Clay Dinosaur Clock (Pt. 1)

A few years ago, my mother came home with a gift: Laurie Mika’s Mixed Media Mosaics, a polymer clay project book. I thanked her, not mentioning that polymer clay was traditionally for jewelry makersand most of the time, the jewelry wasn’t to my taste. I planned to politely thumb through a few pages and then squeeze it somewhere on my bookshelf.

Oh ho ho, but that crow tasted vile. After devouring every word, I immediately bought a brick of clay, found a sturdy substrate and prepped my workspace.

After that, details become fuzzy. It’s all a blur of clay, paint and mica powder. I’m told that two days and 14 episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot later I finally emerged with my completed mosaic project, saying things like, “What’s tators, precious? What’s tators?” and “The Precious will be ours, once the Hobbitses are dead!”

That is how addictive polymer clay mosaics are. Once you start, you never stop looking for the perfect box, plaque, small table or, in this instance, clock to adorn with handmade tiles.

It seemed only natural to explore this amazingly fun technique with a dinosaur theme, so follow this multi-part series as we take a ’90s-era “country kitchen” clock and transform it into something Dr. John Hammond would be proud of.

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