31 March 2024

Five Things for April

Hey, hey everyone!

Here are the things I'm thinking about as the month of April arrives:

spring, almond blossoms, flowers, trees, nature, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

The bare trees of winter are blooming again...TADA! Cherry blossoms and almond blossoms are always a sight to behold and I never take this miracle of new beginnings for granted.

children's book, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

I read somewhere that, "You're never too old to read a children's book," that's why I'm never shy to borrow one from the library. This book, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, is a classic. Now that it's springtime and the trees are starting to grow their leaves, I thought it was a good opportunity to re-read it. The illustrations are simple but the story profound. It's about a boy and his relationship with a tree -- how the tree generously provided in every stage of the boy's life. Have you read this book

butterfly, butterfly stamp, butterfly crafts, handmade, crafts, paper crafts, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

The arrival of flowers also mean the arrival of butterflies. I love butterflies and butterfly crafts like this bookmark will keep me inspired this season.  

Delicious Days in Paris, butterfly, butterfly stamp, butterfly crafts, handmade, crafts, paper crafts, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

Look how cute they look in between pages...TADA! Other options include a butterfly paper weight, a butterfly wall hanging, or a butterfly cupcake stencil.


Do you have impostor syndrome? I honestly have bouts of it and I'm finding different ways to overcome it. Here is a lovely read about impostor syndrome

Karen Abend, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, online workshop,

If you want to participate in something creative where you'll get fresh ideas on how to use your sketchbook, I highly recommend Sketchbook Revival. It's fun and it's free! 

UPDATE: I've been participating in the Sketchbook Revival every year. It's usually done in the Spring (and I always block it off in my calendar). But this year, Sketchbook Revival will happen in the fall: 

Karen Abend, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, online workshop,

I'm very sorry for the confusion! But here are photos from past sessions:

Emily Mills, Sketchnotes, Karen Abend, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, online workshop,
Sketch Notes with Emily Mills 

Karen Abend, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, online workshop, doodles, doodle blogs, Mike Lowery
Doodle Blobs with Mike Lowery 

doodles, doodle journal, Karen Abend, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, online workshop,
Doodle Journaling with Karen Abend 

Maybe these will spark some ideas for you to start a sketchbook or fill one that you already have...TADA!


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24 March 2024

Decorating Easter Eggs with Rubber Stamps

Hi there! Easter is coming up (March 31st) and I wanted to try an Easter egg decorating technique using some craft materials that I already had on hand.

eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Let's begin with a few eggs.


eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Here are cherry blossom-themed stamps. They are cling-on stamps meant to be mounted on acrylic blocks so that you have a better grip when stamping. 

eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Without the acrylic block, the stamp is more flexible allowing the print to adhere to the rounded edges of the egg.

eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

It's not a perfect print but I think the flaws add a handmade charm.


eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Now, let's try some alphabet stamps.


eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Just be aware that it might take two or three tries to print each letter -- just carefully follow the curve of the egg. 

eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Use them to spell out greetings or names. 


eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Here is another set of stamps. I used the words to make these Christmas gift tags.

eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Today, I'd like to use the flourishes.


eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

They're a little tricky to use. Instead of a clean print, shadows or repeats are formed.


eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

But they do add a unique pattern.


eggs, Easter Eggs, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Here are my Easter Eggs decorated using rubber stamps and ink pads...TADA!


eggs, Easter Eggs, egg cups, Easter, Easter egg decorating ideas, Easter crafts, rubber stamps and ink pad, blah to TADA, craft ideas, how to decorate Easter Eggs

Use the eggs as table decorations or additions to an Easter basket! And if you need more Easter Egg decorating ideas, you can find them here, here, here, and here

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17 March 2024

Treasures from the Trash: A Lamp Shade

Hey guys, it's so nice that you're here!

This week is all about finding treasures from the trash. From chairs, shelves, and tables, I've seen them left on the curb, ready for its new owner or to be picked-up by the recycling truck. 

Look what I found this time:

lamp, light fixture, uses for old lamp shades, treasures from the trash, curbside finds, blah to TADA, crafty recycling, interior design, recycle, crafts

It's a white lamp shade. 

lamp, light fixture, uses for old lamp shades, treasures from the trash, curbside finds, blah to TADA, crafty recycling, interior design, recycle, crafts

Other than the torn inner lining, this lamp shade looks clean and in great shape. Simply remove the lining and give it some good sanitizing. Pop it on a lamp that you already have to give it a new look. 

Here are other ways to update the lamp shade:

via Pinterest

Take a permanent marker and write on the lamp shade with brush lettering or calligraphy. Write down a favorite poem or compose a love letter.

via Anthropologie

Another idea is to paint on the lamp shade. Use various shades of acrylic paint to make graphic designs in your favorite colors.

via Etsy

Apply a design to the lamp shade using a block printing technique, stamps or stencils.

via Pinterest

Botanical embroidery is another cool idea using a pattern (or draw freehand) and embroidery floss.

via Anthropologie

Why not attach crochet flowers, felt flowers, patches and appliqu├ęs to give color and femininity to the lamp shade?

via Life As Mama

Gluing on some pompoms -- ready-made or handmade pompoms work just as well!

via From Britain With Love

Pompoms on the edge of the lamp shade are a sweet touch, too.
Decoupage on the lamp shade is another neat idea if you are working on a themed room.

via Williams-Sonoma

Painting the lamp shade is an option, too. It can match the lamp base by using a single color or use contrasting colors to turn the lamp into a unique statement piece. 

via Tommaso Guerra

Whether the shade is used on a table lamp, a floor lamp or hung as an overhead light fixture, these updates turn a plain lamp shade from blah to TADA!

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10 March 2024

A Sketchbook Practice: Watercolor Warm-Ups

I am delighted by your presence today!

Last month, I showed you a sketchbook exercise wherein we created our own color story.

pressed flowers, feather, seashell, leaves, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, journalling, doodles, abstract art, the blank page, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

We started by collecting things from nature.

swatching, sketchbook, journal, art journal, watercolor, blah to TADA, ideas to fill a blank page

We then used these hues to develop a color story.

sketch, creative practice,swatching, sketchbook, journal, art journal, watercolor, blah to TADA, ideas to fill a blank page

These colors dictated the mood of a painting, which can eventually become patterns for items that we can use or sell commercially (ex. paper goods, fabric, packaging design).  

watercolor, watercolor paintings, watercolor warm-ups, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, art, sketching, creativity, blah to TADA 

Today, I'll share another idea to turn a blank page from blah to TADA!

I learned this technique from Faith Evans-Sills, a painter, author and teacher. She taught a class at Sketchbook Revival a few years ago called "Watercolor Warm-ups: Gathering Color and Pattern Inspiration."

watercolor, watercolor paintings, watercolor warm-ups, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, art, sketching, creativity, blah to TADA

We'll start with a reference photo or magazine tear sheet (bottom left of the photo) to determine our color story.

watercolor, watercolor paintings, watercolor warm-ups, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, art, sketching, creativity, blah to TADA

Translate this on the blank page using watercolor.

watercolor, watercolor paintings, watercolor warm-ups, sketchbook, sketchbook practice, art, sketching, creativity, blah to TADA

When the paint is dry, add details with pens in different colors to bring in depth and contrast.

Let me show you my version of Faith's technique:

swatching, sketchbook, journal, art journal, watercolor, blah to TADA, ideas to fill a blank page

I used the colors from a catalog (right side of page): fruits in shades of green, yellow, and orange.

swatching, sketchbook, journal, art journal, watercolor, blah to TADA, ideas to fill a blank page

I added more paint and some pen marks.

washi tape designs,swatching, sketchbook, journal, art journal, watercolor, blah to TADA, ideas to fill a blank page

What I made reminds me of washi tape. Maybe I can develop my own designs? That would be fun!

I hope you can use this technique when you're feeling a creative block or daunted by the blank page. Faith reminds us: "Inspiration can be found everywhere. It's always simmering in there if we tap into it. Stay open."

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03 March 2024

Five Things for March

The month of March is here. It's a month that's a bit bittersweet for me because of birthdays in my family and also death anniversaries. It's both celebration and a reminder of loss that I will mark with appreciation and remembrance. 

George Washington Bridge, spring flowers, spring, spring time, yellow flowers, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

This March, I look forward to being surrounded with forsythia flowers, nature's first announcement of spring. Forsythia tell us about the cycle of life. From barren trees to sprouts of yellow that eventually turn into leaves...TADA! 

art materials, sketchbook, colored pencils, Prang watercolors, paintbrush, scissors, crayons, crafting materials, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

Did you know that March is National Craft Month? Let's create something this March, maybe something simple like origami or stickers to something more elaborate like embroidery or jewelry. We not only get to tap into our artistic side, we show up with something that we made with our hands...TADA! 

Hello Watercolor, Watercolor is for Everyone, Creative Girl, Art Starts with a Line, books, books for creating, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

If you are ready to get your craft on, the library is a wonderful resource for craft books. There are so many topics to choose from that range from watercolor, gouache, lettering, calligraphy, more calligraphycollage, drawing, crochet, portraiture and stamp carving. I would love to learn about wood carving, punch needle crafts, and Shasiko (Japanese quilting) and I'm pretty certain I can find these books at the library...TADA!

stationery, Daiso, letter writing, snail mail, correspondence, paper, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

Japanese stationery is LOVE. I've been a stationery collector since I was a little girl (I would save my allowance and the pretty paper and envelopes always gave me a thrill). Old habits die hard and I'm not stopping now! The pastel prints and springtime vibes of these ones instantly turn my day from blah to TADA!  

home organization, bathroom organization, clever tips for the home, blah to TADA, photo by Claire Mercado-Obias

Can I share an organizational tip? I use an elastic hair tie everyday when I put my hair up into a bun. I made a spot inside the bathroom cabinet to hang it. It's just a plastic hook with adhesive backing where I park my hair tie. It's such a simple solution but avoids all the "Where did I put my hair tie?!" drama. A special spot in your drawer or tie it around a comb or hairbrush are other ways to give hair ties a home...TADA! 

I wish you all a meaningful and merry month of March!