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Monday, 29 February 2016

Paint and Decoupage Empty Jars

I love taking things out of its original packaging and putting it in pretty containers. This is true for my studio, the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. For this reason, I wash empty jars that have an interesting shape. I love the coffee jars that have a square shape to them as they pack away so neatly. I had two more empties today and decided to paint and decoupage them.

I washed and cleaned two empty coffee jars. I also got myself a large flat brush with soft bristles and a Tuscany Chalk Paint by VanDaniQue.

I have done a previous blog about painting bottles with Chalk Paint, but at that stage it was still very much experimentation on my part. In the meantime, I have had some preschoolers in to paint their own bottles and the three bottles have been in constant use in the kitchen. I mention this, because I had some misgivings about how well the paint jobs would last. I am very impressed! Read that blog here.

I prefer to turn the jars upside down when I paint them. The simple reason is that I can then paint the bottom as well. Start by painting the first coating and allow to dry.

You can even paint the plastic lids with this brilliant paint.

Give the bottles a second coating of paint.

On the left you can see the jar that has had a second coating. The jar on the right has only had one coating and is still very transparent by comparison. I recommend painting at least two coatings, and possibly even a third.

The lids also need a second coating.

I am now going to decoupage some pretty pictures onto the jars. You can either use Modge Podge to do this with, or you can buy the much cheaper version of Acrylic Gel Medium. Both work equally well.

Paint the back of the pictures with your medium. Cover the surface well.

Place the picture on the jar (my jar is still upside down), rub out all air bubbles and creases, and paint another layer of gel medium over the picture to seal it. Allow to dry.

Once the gel medium has dried, you should paint 2-3 layers of VanDaniQue Varnish over the whole bottle.

Wait between coatings for the previous layers to dry.

The lids should also receive varnish coatings.

The 'front' view of the jars.

A 'back' view of the jars.

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Sunday, 28 February 2016

Baking Jewish Challah with Rye Flour and a Sourdough Starter

Jewish Challah is a plaited yeast bread that is eaten with festivals. I adapt this popular dish to include a little Rye flour and to use my sourdough starter. As always, I will also give directions for using other raising agents.

Measure 4 cups (4 x 250 ml) cake flour into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt.

Add 1 cup rye flour (250 ml). Mix everything together.

Add 2 cups sourdough starter (500 ml).
Option 1: If using instant dry yeast, mix 1 packet in with the dry ingredients.
Option 2: If using active dry yeast, add 1 packet to the water and sugar and allow 10 minutes to develop. Then add it to the dry ingredients.

Add 1 cup lukewarm water (250 ml) and 2 tablespoons (25 ml) sugar.

Add 2 eggs and 100 ml melted butter/margarine.

Mix everything to bring the dough together.

Knead the dough into a pliable ball. If too dry, add more water. If too wet, add more flour. I added almost another cup of rye flour to mine. The consistency of your sourdough starter will determine whether yours will be drier or wetter.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl.

Cover with plastic and put in a warm dry place to rise.

Once the dough has risen. prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray and a coating of flour. Coat your work surface with flour as well.

This is what the risen dough looks like.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes and then divide into four equal balls.

Roll these balls into strings.

Press the strings together at the top.

Starting on the left, fold the first string over the second. Fold the third string over the fourth.

Now bring the fourth string over the first.

Repeat those steps all the way down. Fold the ends in when done.

Put the dough on the prepared baking sheet.

Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm dry place.

When risen it should look like this.

You can mix egg and salt, or milk and sugar to paint the dough with.

Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the loaf.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 35-40 minutes. Once the bread comes out of the oven, coat once more, if you used milk and sugar. Do not coat again if you used the egg and salt mixture.

Allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack.

To prevent a hard crust from forming, you can cover the loaf with a damp tea towel while it is still hot. The steam will soften the crust.

Serve with some homemade jam, cheese, tomato, or whatever you may fancy.

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Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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Saturday, 27 February 2016

School Holiday Project 19: Making Masked Cats

Today's project is a real fun one where the kids get to paint, trace, cut and stick things. I especially love the tracing aspect of this project as it helps them to develop their fine motor skills for when they need to be able to hold a pen when they need to write. I also give some tips for adapting the project when doing it with older children.

For a nice sturdy base, I cut apart a six liter milk carton and use the large flat sides.

This is then painted in the color of the child's choice. We used acrylic paints for this project, but you can use any craft or water-based paint with equal success. My color choice fell on Fluorescent Rose.

Use a large flat brush and cover the whole background with this color.

You will need a pair of scissors and an egg carton for the next step.

Assist the kids to cut two egg spacers apart from the rest of the carton.

Punching out the bottoms of the cartons is optional.

My choice of color for the mask fell on Cadmium Yellow.

Paint the front and back of the egg carton.

For my own example project, I stuck the mask in place before I added the drawing. With the kids, I already knew how much space I had available and let them do the drawing first, sticking the mask down in the last step.

I've had these handmade buttons lying around the house for years. They were baked from Fimo clay, but you can use any buttons, beads or eyes for the project.

Making sure that the paint is completely dry, I was ready to use a black Sharpie marker to draw the cat with.

For the younger kids, I would only make a dotted line so that they could trace and draw the cat themselves. Older kids can copy the lines from the example. Point out the shapes to them verbally, or by drawing along on a separate piece of paper, e.g. the head is a circle, the ears are triangles, etc.

Lay down some glue dots for the buttons.

I once again used those old clay buttons that were cluttering up my space.

As a final, optional step, I added some detail to the button line, mouth and ears. I now had an example to show the kids so they could make their own.

Mixing colors for projects with kids is always a great idea as this will help them to understand at a young age already how color comes to be. In this case we simply mixed a lighter shade of blue, but the kids found it very interesting and entertaining.

Allow them to paint their own backgrounds, encouraging them to fill the whole page. In exercises like these you can often pick up on learning disabilities where kids will not be able to cross the center line, or work right to the edge. If the problem persists, have it checked out by a qualified person. Do NOT make the child feel inadequate or guilty for not being able to perform to your standards.

While the backgrounds are drying, the kids can paint the egg cartons and glue the eyes in place.

I draw the dotted outline of the cats for the kids.

They then trace the outline.

And the result shows their uncertainty with handling pens still, but it is a really good exercise that was executed beautifully. Well on par with the age group.

This is the outline for the younger child.

I was too late to catch her in the act, but managed this sneak pic of her critically surveying the outcome of her work.

And excellent work it is!

They then stuck their masks and buttons onto the cats.

Lastly, they were given free reign to draw their own whiskers onto the faces.

Job well done!

For more crafty ideas and great products, visit
Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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