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Fun tutorials, how-to projects, free downloads from jones design company

Oops. An unfortunate letterboard pinterest fail.

I felt so clever with my plan to alter my letterboard. As I gathered supplies, did the steps and took pictures as I went, I fully expected to knock your socks off with the finished product.

I’m sorry to say that instead of making something wonderful, I destroyed my letterboard.

It was absolutely a Pinterest fail.

Let me back up a second and explain why I tried this in the first place.

This is the letterboard in its natural black felt state:

It bought it initially to keep in the kitchen.

But I just didn’t like it in there. Our house is already pretty dark and with the dark cabinets, the black letterboard felt heavy and a little stark.

I loved having it in our main living space because the kids like playing with the quote and I think its funny to have a sarcastic saying or joke or inspirational quote nearby.

I came across an idea when I was collecting images and resources for my post all about letterboards (read that one here) that mentioned painting the felt to get a custom color. They used hot pink or something like that and while that was not the direction I wanted to go, I did learn that I could use a paint additive to make the paint usable on fabric.

My great idea was to use a neutral warm gray to paint over the black felt and tone the whole thing down. Can’t you imagine how pretty that would look to have a wood frame, warm taupe background and white letters? I liked the idea in my head very much.

I ran to the craft store and found the fabric medium and picked up two different colors of acrylic craft paint to use.

Here’s where I think I went wrong: I switched up the paint.

Instead of going with the craft paint, I pulled out leftover latex paint. My main reason was that neither of the craft paint colors was exactly right and I worried that if I made a custom mix I wouldn’t be able to exactly match it for second and third coats. So I went with a color of latex paint that I like (Rushing River by Sherwin Williams – it is what I used to paint the bathroom vanity seen here).  The fabric medium says to mix one part medium to two parts paint. I just eyeballed it.

Once the paint was ready, I taped off the frame with painters tape and got to work painting.

I started with a foam brush, but switched to a flat craft brush (pulled from my watercolor supplies) because it seemed like the foam brush was ‘scratching’ the felt and creating pills (is that the word?). The paint soaked in quite a bit and was very blotchy after one coat.

I waited overnight for the first coat to dry and added a second, then a third coat of paint.

After all was said and done, the final result was terrible.

The paint dried super stiff and scratchy and uneven. My tape lines are terrible and you can see black peeking through around the perimeter. The color looks blah and sort of clashes with the frame. The letters are nearly impossible to poke into the grooves.

Basically, I ruined a perfectly good letterboard.

Boo.

I wonder if where I went wrong was with the paint choice. Perhaps if I stuck to acrylic craft paint, it would not have dried so stiffly. Maybe I should have added more fabric medium (like a 1:1 ratio). I wonder if I watered down the paint in addition to the fabric medium, if it would have been smoother.

Or maybe if I would have just left the poor letterboard alone, everything would have turned out better :)

This one was a real pinterest fail.

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simple + sweet diy painted wood hangers

My adorable cousin and her husband had the sweetest baby last weekend. This is their first and we could not be more excited for this new addition to our family.

I know all families are different, so when you hear ‘cousin’ it might not be that big of a deal. But my sisters and I grew up feeling like our cousins were our extra siblings. We are a tight family who loves being together – holidays, birthdays, our annual Jones family vacation (where, ironically, out of the 24 people there, only two still have the last name of Jones!). What I’m trying to say is that sure, she’s my cousin, but Jen feels more like a little sister to me. And her new sweet baby? He’s practically my nephew :)

The baby was born last Sunday – on what would have been our late grandfather’s birthday. How special is that?! Of course we were praying for a healthy baby boy, but we were extra excited because they had not shared his name with us yet. Believe me, we tried and tried to get it out of them. I knew I wanted to make these painted wooden hangers for the baby and tried to find out his initials long before he was born … but to no avail. They were tight-lipped.

So on Sunday, January 14th when that baby was born, we were thrilled to learn his name:

Blake James.

And I finally got to paint him a set of wooden hangers.

I did this project years and years ago before I was a blogger. I figured it would be fun to share the simple diy in case you are looking for a unique, personal and inexpensive gift to give a new baby in your life.

Here’s what you’ll need:

wood baby hangers | pencil | craft paint | paintbrush

I get our wood hangers from IKEA. These petite hangers are $2.99 for five. You could also order them online (like these from Amazon).

STEP ONE: draw your designs

For baby Blake, I knew I wanted to do one with his initial, one with his full name and a few with simple outdoorsy icons. I found a font with simple adventure icons and used it as inspiration for my paintings.

The hangers are flat and very easy to draw on (and erase, if you want to re-do like I did a million times).

STEP TWO: paint the designs

Using a fine round brush and craft paint, I followed my outlines and added a coat of paint. Let it dry for a few minutes as you move on to the next hanger, then come back and go over with a second (and third, if necessary) coat of paint.

I gave my drawings a little bit of shading and a few extra details, just for fun.

The hangers only took an hour or so and turned out so cute.

To seal the paint, feel free to lightly spray with a spray clear acrylic (like this).

I needed to see how cute the hanger would look holding baby clothes so I dug through a bin with some of the boys’ baby clothes, found a sweet white sweater outfit (with yellow stains that appear with age – ugh) and gave one a try.

It’s a simple + sweet diy that makes for a unique keepsake for a special baby.

Congratulations, Jen and Brett and welcome to the world, baby Blake. xoxo.

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Homemade wreaths in the family room

I posted this photo on Instagram yesterday of the project I did the night before:

Cute homemade wreaths hanging on a branch.

I wasn’t planning on doing a full tutorial – this one was just something I wanted to put on that big, blank wall over the couch to enjoy for the Christmas season.

But once the comments and likes came through (my second most liked photo of all time – this one is #1, and rightfully so), I realized that maybe details would be appreciated in case you want to try this wreath project in your home.

This one is not particularly difficult, but it is a little labor-intensive. Making wreaths is not the fastest thing and it chews up your hands a bit, so be warned :) I started my wreath-making around 4pm once the kids got home from school, spread it all out in the family room with holiday baking shows on in the background. After a quick stop to make dinner and then again to tuck the kids in bed, I was finally finished and hung everything up around 9:30 pm. So give yourself a solid couple of hours to finish this one.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own wreath display:

embroidery hoops in various sizes | floral wire | greenery | scissors | string

Typically, wreaths are made on wire frames, but when I went to the craft store to buy a few, I didn’t see the options I wanted for size. I just figured I would make my own with wire hangers … until I saw the embroidery hoops and realized they would make the perfect wreath forms.

They come in many different sizes (I bought a large, medium, small and extra small for variety). Besides being quite inexpensive ($1.50-$3.50 each), you actually get two wreaths out of each hoop when you separate them. And, I like that even if the wood of the hoop shows through when finished, it feels more natural than a wire frame would.

Okay, onto the greenery.

I used four different types – cedar, boxwood, pine and olive. I clipped the pine and a few branches of cedar from our yard and the others I bought at the wholesale flower market. Sometimes you can find greens at the grocery store or you could try a local florist.

You could mix the greens for each wreath, or keep them separate, as I did. I do like how each type of greenery has a distinct leaf shape that is really highlighted when on its own.

To make the wreath, gather small clippings of the greenery and wire to the form, overlapping as you move around to hide the stems and wire.

Here’s a good wreath-making how-to from Martha Stewart, if you need better instructions :)

In total, I made seven wreaths – two out of cedar, two boxwood, two olive and one pine.

To hang my wreaths, I used a stick I have been saving. I think it came from our yard and maybe the boys were playing with it outside and they left it on the patio. It was a great shape and size and so I peeled off the outer layer of bark and have been hiding it away waiting for the perfect use. This is it!

I simply wrapped each end with a piece of thin macrame rope (from here) and hung from a nail in the wall.

Next, I tied on each wreath at random lengths with plain bakers twine (similar to this). I like the organic and imperfect detail the strings and knots give to the whole arrangement.

And now our family room feels so much more festive.

I hope this little how-I-made-it was helpful!

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A DIY pillow inspired by the new Magnolia Hearth + Hand line

Oh, new Magnolia Hearth + Hand line at Target, you are adorable.

I ordered a few things this weekend and while I was in the store earlier this week, I saw the whole collection (or at least what was left of it in my store) in person.

One of the items I almost bought was this cute embroidered pillow.

If you know anything about me, you know I have a sliiiight obsession with pillows. I’ve tempered my pillow-collecting habits a lot since moving, but still, a good pillow has the ridiculous ability to make me put it in my cart.

This sweet embroidered pillow almost found it’s way into my cart, but then I had second (rational) thoughts.

First, I don’t need another pillow.

Second, if I do add more pillows to my life, I strongly prefer down-filled inserts. Pillows from Target do not have down inserts and they do not have zippers to replace the inserts. Therefore, I have to cut the opening, pull out the old insert, add a down insert and stitch it back up. I’ve done it plenty of times before, but it’s kind of a pain.

And third, I knew I could DIY this one very easily with things I already had at home.

So cute Hearth + Hand pillow did not come home with me, but yesterday – in just about an hour – I recreated my own version and I love it just as much.

If you’re feeling crafty, this is a great, very simple project to try.

Here’s what you’ll need:

white pillow cover | down insert | black embroidery thread | embroidery needle | scissors | ruler | pencil

I happened to have a white linen-like cover from IKEA and figured it would work perfectly for this project. I usually get my down inserts from IKEA as well, as they are very inexpensive.

Okay, on to how I embroidered the pillow …

STEP ONE: mark out where your X’s will be

I started by putting my ruler diagonally from the bottom left corner up to the top right corner and marking every 3 inches.

From that mark, I measured over 4 inches and made another mark. Then used that second mark as a guide for where the next diagonal line would be.

Here’s a illustration to help explain what I mean:

You could put your marks wherever you like, of course. Mine are not perfectly equal, but that doesn’t bother me.

STEP TWO: thread the needle and knot the end

STEP THREE: Embroider an X

At a mark, make a stitch going up from under the pillow cover and over diagonally about a 1/4″. I just eyeballed the stitches to make them about equal.

STEP FOUR: tie off the thread

You’ll want to trim the ends of the knots pretty closely so that they do not show through the right side of the pillow cover.

Once you embroider all of your X’s, you’ll have this cute pillow.

I added the down insert, zipped up the bottom and my project was complete.

This pillow was a super easy project and gives that same cute look as the Hearth + Hand version.

You could try this with any color combination of pillow cover and thread. Black cover with white x’s? Green and white for Christmas? Shades of pink for your daughter’s room? So many possibilities.

I’m pretty proud of myself for resisting the store-bought pillow and using what I had at home to create my own version. Hope you are inspired to make one of your own, too!

OTHER SOURCES

chair (similar) | check blanket | side table (similar) | mug

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Our favorite November Tradition: the thankful tree (with free tags)

Each year, on November 1st, we pick back up with a favorite family tradition of creating a thankful tree.

You may remember this from years past … here’s the first post I wrote about it (from 2011!), and another a few years later. We missed doing a thankful tree last year – with the chaos of moving and selling our old house, we just didn’t have a sense of normalcy yet.

But this year, I’m bringing it back.

Basically, the premise is this: print out some tags, cut a branch from your yard and pop it into a vase (or any container. Add small rocks to hold it in place, if needed), have your family write something they are thankful for on a tag each day, hang them on your tree.

By Thanksgiving, you’ll have a tree full of reminders of all the things you have to be grateful for. And, more importantly, you will have practiced and encouraged the beautiful work of being grateful. That’s my favorite part.

Okay, so to make things super easy for you, I have created a handful of tags you can download a print for free. They are all found in THE ARCHIVE, our library of freebies.

For our tree this year, I’m using the simple kraft tags (found here).

Start by printing them on a color printer. I used a slightly textured off-white cardstock, just to give them some interest, but you can use any paper you have on hand.

We have 6 people in our family and if we each do a tag every day for 23 days leading up to Thanksgiving, that means I’ll need 138 tags. So depending on your family size, print off the quantity needed, and enjoy the quiet repetition of cutting, trimming, hole-punching and tieing. I feel like it’s much easier to get the whole stack prepared ahead of time all in one sitting rather than running out mid-month and doing it all again.

So, after your tags are printed, cut them all out. A paper cutter comes in handy here (I use this one), but you can use scissors as well.

Then cut those little notches out. I switched to smaller scissors to make this part easier.

Using a small hole punch (this is the one I used), punch a hole in the top.

Next, cut a bunch of pieces of string to size. I ended up using crochet yarn that I’ve had forever and like it’s tiny size. Baker’s twine is cute or any other string you prefer. Just loop it through and tie a knot in the top.

Darling tags just waiting to be written on.

In years past, I have used a bare branch, but this time I decided to try it on a clipping with leaves still on. I know those pretty leaves will die in the next week or so and when they do, we’ll just switch to a naked branch.

But for now, that leafy branch makes the perfect thankful tree. We’re excited to keep this tradition alive this year.

Grab your free tags today and get them all ready for the first of November! Don’t forget that there are a few different designs to choose from, so if the kraft ribbon tags aren’t your thing, perhaps one of the others will be just right:

You can download all of these designs – and so much more! – in THE ARCHIVE.


SOURCES

bar cart – it’s on sale right now! | green vase (similar) | green moss candle | le pen | silver tray – vintage | art

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How to create pom pom garlands (like the ones on our porch swing)

We’ve been spending a lot of time out on the front porch this summer which means I’ve been showing more photos of it. And in nearly every one of those photos is the porch swing with pom pom garland draped above.

I mean, how adorable are those girls?! But the questions and comments I most receive when showing the porch swing is “where is the pom pom garland from?“.

And so, here I am today to tell you.

The garland was originally made for a Christmas decoration, but I ended up liking them so much, they’ve become a year-round decoration. They are super easy to make, the supplies are minimal and you can just flip on your favorite show and keep your hands busy creating.

Here is how to make a simple diy pom pom garland.

To start, gather your supplies:

pom-pom-supplies

chunky yarn (about 3 rolls) / pom pom makers (2 sizes) / embroidery thread / upholstery needle / scissors

HOW TO MAKE THE POM POMS

wrap-yarn-for-pom Open up the pom pom maker and wrap the yarn round and round the first side. The more your wrap, the fuller your pom pom will be.

Once the first side is full, string your yarn across to the other side and wrap.

cut-pom-maker

Fold the sides in together and trim through the center ‘trough’ to cut the yarn. Make sure you keep the pom pom maker closed so you don’t loose all that yarn!

Next, cut a piece of yarn just a little bit longer than the circumference of the pom pom maker. This will be used to wrap around the center to hold the pom together.

tie-pom-and-pull-apart

Tie the piece of yarn around the center of the pom maker, extra tight.

Now pull apart the pom maker and your pom pom is free.

trim-pom

Trim long pieces of yarn and fluff.

Continue this process a bunch of times until you have a big, gorgeous, fluffy pile of pom poms.

HOW TO MAKE SMALL POM POM GARLAND

cut-string-for-garland

Cut a piece of yarn to desired finished length of the garland.

needle-and-thread-through-pom

Thread needle with embroidery thread in a color that matches your yarn. You don’t necessarily want to see the thread. Knot one end a few times to make a thick knot.

Place the poms where you want them on the garland, poke the needle through the center of the pom (so it catches the knotted piece that holds it all together) and stitch into place.

stitch-through-pom

You can stitch a few times back and forth to make sure the pom is secure

stitch-through-yarn-garland

In between poms, run the needle through the center of the yarn, then stitch on the next pom. This just allows you to use one continuous piece of embroidery thread instead of tying off knots, trimming and starting again with each pom.

small-pom-garland

Then hang anywhere and everywhere!

small-pom-garland-hanging

TO MAKE THE LARGE POM POM GARLAND

how-to-make-a-pom-pom-garland

Start by making large poms using this pom maker (3 3/8″). The big pom poms take much more yarn to make, so grab an extra roll of yarn just to be sure.

braid-yarn-1

Cut three long pieces of yarn in desired finished length and tie knot in top. Tape to tabletop to hold in place.

braid-yarn

Loosely braid the yarn and knot the end. This will give you a more substantial garland to stitch the poms onto.

stitch-large-pom

Thread your needle with the same embroidery thread, knotting a few times at the end to catch. Now run the needle through the center of the pom (trying to grab onto the center string that ties it all up).

stitch-large-pom-to-garland

Stitch onto braided yarn (a few stitches to hold securely).

needle-through-braid

You can knot, cut the thread and start again with the next pom, or in between poms, run the needle through the center of the braid, then stitch on the next pom in desired spacing.

large-pom-garland

Isn’t it fantastic?

I went on a spree a few Christmases ago making a bunch of these garlands after seeing them hanging in my friend Erica’s house when I took photos for a Coastal Christmas house tour:

I made a bunch of my own and they’ve made their rounds, first at our old house, and now at the new.

The garland looked sweet hanging from the shelves in my old office (see lots more of that room here).

small-pom-garland-on-shelf Remember our old cottage kitchen? It was so light and pretty. The big bummer about it was that we looked out our kitchen window directly at the side of our neighbor’s house and so I put up the pom pom garlands to distract my eye from looking much beyond.

At Christmas, I made a few and hung them in the windows with beaded garland and a boxwood wreath in the center. It was so pretty and gave the window Christmas spirit without being bold and colorful.

I liked the garlands on the window so much that after christmas, I pulled off the beaded garlands and the wreath and left up the poms.

And then in February, I moved them over to the diy chalkboard as birthday decoration for our son.

chalkboard-birthday-pom-pom-banner And now, here they are on the porch swing. I don’t actually remember why I put them up outside? I must have done it when we were moving and I came across the pom pom garlands and didn’t know where else to put them so I tied them up to the chain. I didn’t intend to leave them there, but they add such a whimsical touch, so I guess I’ll just leave them.

Making a pom pom garland is just about as simple of a craft project as they come. I love how they add subtle texture to any space and look great year round. Go ahead, my crafty friends, and make a few pom pom garlands for your home!

pom-pom-garland-by-jones-design-company

(Pin it and save for later!)

Enjoy!

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How to get the look of graphic cement tile (for much less)

As promised, I’ll show you the steps for creating the look of graphic cement tile, for much less.

Off the entry of our house is a quiet living room. One thing we loved so much about this new house was the potential for impactful updates that didn’t cost a fortune. This room is a great example. With the help of paint, we’ve created an updated space that works with our modern/traditional style and sets the tone for the rest of the house.

The biggest impact in the room is undoubtedly the graphic fireplace tile.

We have long-terms plans to change up the whole facade of the fireplace, which left me with an almost risk-free freedom to try something completely crazy to give the fireplace a much-needed facelift. If it was a total flop, no big deal. We’ll likely pull it all out eventually anyway. Sometimes I just need creative license to try something new and the fireplace was the perfect canvas.

Before we get into the how-tos, let’s look at the before and after:

Ah, I love a good transformation!

The tile is a little crazy, I’ll admit. And yet, it feels so fresh and happy, and that makes it worth it.

If you have a space in your home (a fireplace surround, backsplash, floor) that needs an inexpensive update, perhaps this how-to will give you just the inspiration you need.

Gorgeous graphic cement tile has been a trend in home design for the past few years and it just keeps growing. While I could have just purchased tiles to replace the granite tile on our fireplace, I wasn’t excited about spending a bunch of money on an update that might not stay longterm. So rather than buy, I turned to my DIY ways and decided to just paint the surround to look like cement tile. And I’d say it worked!

To get started, I had to select a pattern. A quick search on Pinterest offered so many gorgeous examples. I looked through photos and tile companies until I found a pattern that I met my two criteria: 1. I could live with the pattern and 2. The pattern could be easily replicated and handpainted.

After narrowing it down to a couple of finalists, I decided on this pattern from a company called Tabarka Studio. I loved the simplicity, the handpainted feel and it seemed like a very simple pattern to paint.

The trickiest part was figuring out the math to make the pattern perfect.

The tiles on our fireplace are 12″ x 6″ rectangles, but I figured I could fake them into 6″ x 6″ tiles. I used a piece of grid paper, a ruler and pencil to find the correct proportions and then painted a few samples to give it a try.

DOWNLOAD MY TEMPLATE BELOW

With my pattern selected, I started in on the fireplace makeover.

STEP ONE | Clean the tile to remove any dirt, soot, etc.

I just used dish soap, an old scrub brush, and a magic eraser.

STEP TWO | Paint tile with primer

For the base coat, I used basic Zinsser Primer, taping off the carpet and around the mantle first.

With just that first coat of primer on there, I knew this was going to be a good choice. I taped up my paper samples just to make sure I loved the pattern, the scale, and figure out placement.

STEP THREE | Paint the base coat

I could have used two or three coats of primer, but the white was a bit stark for our house. Instead, I pulled out extra flat ceiling paint (Shoji White, by Benjamin Moore) which has a much creamier, warmer undertone.

STEP FOUR | Draw the pattern

Using a ruler and pencil, I first marked the tiles into 6″ squares (just drew a line in the center of each 12″ tile). On every tile I made small marks in equal increments along all sides and connected the lines, alternating the diagonal direction.

(That sounds super confusing. Sorry. I explain the pattern making process in the template pdf. Download below.

Penciling in the pattern was the most labor-intensive step. It took a few hours (maybe 4 or 5? split between a few evenings) and I just popped in my headphones and listened to a book or podcast.

STEP FIVE | Paint the pattern

Using a 1/2″ flat artist’s brush, paint between the lines. This part doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact, one of the things I love the most about the inspiration tile is how imperfect and handpainted it looks.

For paint, I used black chalkboard paint. My main reason was that I was hoping to get that dusty, slightly aged look (see below for more on that) and didn’t want any sheen.

Painting was much faster than marking the pattern. The first coat took about 2 hours.

The tile would have been fine with one coat, but it was a little more transparent and the brush strokes were slightly more visible than I wanted, so I went back over with a second coat.

You can see the difference between one and two coats above, and the finished fireplace below.

FULL DISCLOSURE: 

Our chimney has a small water leak that has caused the paint to bubble. I started the project earlier this winter and only got so far as painting the base coat and marking the pattern. At that point, we were having carpet installed and everything from the upstairs was piled in the living room for several weeks. Once the carpet was done and furniture moved back up, I went back to work on the fireplace. We were experiencing the wettest winter ever and unfortunately, moisture had caused the paint to bubble.

My two options:

Sand down the paint and start over (knowing that until the chimney is completely fixed, water will likely leak and cause damage again).

Just keep going and embrace the bubbled paint.

Guess which option I chose :)

You can’t really see the texture unless you are up close and it honestly doesn’t bother me at all. It may cause the paint to wear more, so I’ll keep you posted if it all starts peeling off anytime soon.

Also, when I removed the tape, it pulled up a bit of the paint from the tile. I just went back over with my brush and touched up.

STEP SIX | Season the chalk paint

 

To get that more aged look, I rubbed chalk all over the black paint and lightly wiped it off.

You may remember I did the same thing with the painted lamps in my studio. This post explains the process a little more.


And it’s done!

The graphic pattern gives the otherwise traditional room a nice dose of energy and the classic black and white pattern still feels versatile.

Many have asked – on the living room reveal post and Instagram – if the paint holds up the heat of the fireplace. I would love to give a great answer … but the truth is, we haven’t had a fire in the fireplace since painting the tile. I think it will be just fine because the tile doesn’t get very hot, but I can’t guarantee it. Most interior latex paint is rated to withstand the heat of a fireplace surround (around 200*).

If you paint an area that gets much more wear and tear, be sure to use several coats of protective finish (like this) to seal. This post is a good one from another DIYer who shows how she painted her tile floors.

I put together a guide with my template and how-to instructions to make recreating this project a bit easier.

The download is free and can be found in THE ARCHIVE, my library of freebies. If you are already a JDC subscriber, just enter your email address; if you are new, pop in your email and you’ll be in!

If you do paint your tile, please let me know! I’d love to see how it turns out …

Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you asap.

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A tricky little trick to make instagram photos one million times better

I shared this photo a few days ago on instagram:

We just recently had the walls painted, new trim and carpet installed and things are looking so much fresher upstairs (more on that soon!). We still have trim to caulk and paint, pictures to hang and furniture to arrange but I couldn’t help but bring up a struggling fiddle leaf fig tree into our bedroom.

While walking through the room on Saturday morning, the tree looked so pretty with the light of the window and so I did what I do and stopped to snap a photo and posted it on instagram.

Instagram is a funny thing because while, yes, this is an actual photo I took, it is also teensy bit untrue.

We could talk about this all day long and go super deep into how social media can become just a snippet of the best of the best and leave out the not-so-pretty of everyday life and cause feelings of inadequacy and comparison and ugly things.

I’ll save that conversation for another day.

Today I’m more talking about enhancing reality. Kind of like how makeup enhances our features, I’ve found some tricks that enhance what comes out of my camera.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here’s the photo of the fiddle leaf fig tree straight from my phone:

I promise it looked much lighter and prettier in person, but this is the best my camera could do with the minimal natural light it had to work with.

NOTE: I turn off all artificial lights when taking photos – both with my real camera and iphone camera. It was what the pros did when they photographed our old house for the magazine, so I’ve just followed suit. I do find that photos are much less grainy and true-to-life color without artificial light. It just makes it super tough during our very dark and gray winters/early spring here in the Pacific Northwest to take natural light photographs.

This is where helpful tools come to the rescue.

To get my photo instagram-ready, I do a bit of editing.

After snapping the photo in the regular camera app, I first edit the photo using Afterlight, and then do any retouching using the TouchRetouch app. Both are paid apps (.99 and $1.99, respectively) and worth every dime.

Here’s my process:

Start by opening the photo in Afterlight.

To make edits, click on the second icon over and scroll through to find the appropriate tool.

All photos I post on instagram go through at least an adjustment to the brightness. It makes a huge difference.

For this particular photo, I brightened it twice and reduced the contrast just a bit, then saved. When saving for instagram, be sure your finished size is 800 px or higher for optimal resolution.

I usually stop at this point for most photos, but in this case, I wanted to remove those two uncovered outlets to clean things up a bit and let the tree be the focus.

NOTE: I struggle with this a little bit. I mean, isn’t it totally a misrepresentation to photoshop out outlets, crumbs, cords, spots, etc?! I waffle between LET’S BE COMPLETELY REAL! and ENHANCE IT ALL!

For this photo, though, I decided those outlets were just distracting and was happy to make them go away.

Here’s how that happens:

Rather than opening photoshop on my computer, uploading the photo, editing, saving, air dropping it back to my phone and then posting … I use the TouchRetouch app. It is certainly not as powerful as photoshop, but it does the trick for iphone photos.

Open up the brightened photo and click on the Quick Repair button. With the tap of your finger, you draw over the spot you want to remove and it magically disappears.

It’s seriously so fun. And so easy. The software just clones from a nearby area, so it may take a little bit of trying before it comes out right.

Once you’re done, click to save and you’re set. You can post directly to instagram from this app, or open instagram directly.

Again, here’s the side-by-side:

Kinda crazy, right?! Do you hate me for posting doctored photos?!

I discovered the retouch app while on our road trip and used it a couple of times to clean up some photos.

One was this photo of a random bus sign we parked nearby while getting gas:

The old sign, blue sky and fluffy clouds were just so eye-catching. What wasn’t great was the highway billboard and extra wire running along the bottom and so through the magic of three taps I pulled those out.

Another time the app came to the rescue was when a random kiddo at the pool found his way into our photo with our besties:

With some brightening and retouching, the colors are happier and the lurking boy is gone.

Here’s one more example:

After a full day of sweaty sight-seeing in Savannah, we ate at the most delicious restaurant and felt so grateful for these kids who were such great travel companions. I wanted to document their cuteness, and loved that great boxwood-covered wall and industrial light, but was not so happy with that white thermostat. By removing that and cloning the boxwood out further to the left, the photo becomes cleaner and highlights my little darlings.

I don’t use the retouch app often, but it sure is wonderful when I need it.

I do, however, brighten every single photo I take.

It’s a tricky little trick that makes my instagram photos one million times better.

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How to get the brass-look drawer hardware for (much) less

The drawers in the studio finally have hardware.

It took forever to put them on and here’s why: I’m terrible at it. Seriously, terrible. I put the cabinet/drawer hardware on in the kitchen and pretty much every one is crooked. How is that possible when you have a template and measure over and over again before drilling? I can not say. I’d like to blame the drill.

Regardless, I decided I was not willing to install the hardware on the drawers in the studio because they really needed to be straight and my track record wasn’t promising. With 12 million other projects in the house, the drawer pulls kept getting pushed off until my darling husband finally gave in to my constant request and worked his magic.

NOTE: installing hardware should not be this difficult. Simply find the center of the drawer, mark where the screws will go, drill a small pilot hole and then increase the drill bit to the correct size of the screw.

Now that the pulls are installed, let me start at the beginning and show you how they came to be.

My inspiration for the studio desks was this picture of the same dresser from ikea with brass bar pulls. I instantly fell in love with the look and wanted to recreate it in the studio.

After searching every resource possible online, I found that long brass pulls are crazy expensive. I adore these from Schoolhouse Electric, but there were two problems. 1. I was hoping for something longer than they offer (ideally 15-18″) and 2. $74 per pull was not in the budget. My sister has the same pulls in her gorgeous kitchen and while they are expensive, they are beautifully made, very heavy and true statement pieces. I just couldn’t justify it for this space.

Since I kept coming up short, I decided to improvise with a cabinet pull diy.

I found a 10-pack of 15″ bar pulls for $49.49. The size was good, shape was minimal, but color was wrong (they only came in satin nickel).

I figured it was worth a try to change the color with my go-to gold spray paint.

I rigged up a way to spray them to get even coverage by poking a hole through a cardboard lid and screwing in the pulls as you would on a drawer front. This little system worked great!

It only took a couple of light coats and the pulls were looking more in line with my vision.

The gold spray paint (Rustoleum Universal metallic in Pure Gold) has a pretty champagne-y gold finish and they would have been fine, but I was hoping for something just a bit more patina-ed and worn. Something that would more closely mimic the look of aged brass.

Out came the Gold Leaf Rub ‘n Buff.

This stuff is basically shoe polish for metal.

You take a glob and rub it onto the surface in a circular motion with a rag. It doesn’t take much until you have a richer golden/brassy color.

See the difference? On the left is the paint alone and the right has the polish on it.

How about a little side-by-side comparison:

For just $5 per pull + spray paint, polish and a little bit of time, I am really happy with the results.

If these were going to be used in a daily, high-use area – like a kitchen, for example – I might be a bit more cautious about choosing a spray painted pull. I can imagine that the paint will scratch over time and they may not look as good. For this space, though, they work great. And they look so nice on the dressers-turned-desks.

As you can see, there was one additional problem: the new pulls don’t line up with the pre-drilled holes.

So for the next diy, I patched the little holes for an (almost) seamless look.

We had a container of this patching paste in the garage, so I pulled it out and got to work.

I just dabbed a bit on my finger, sm0oshed it into the hole and wiped the excess away.

The holes were not quite covered after one coat, so I went over it again with a second and this time used a ruler to scrape it flat against the surface. A putty knife would probably be the tool of choice, but a ruler was right there and I didn’t feel like searching out the right tool, so I just went with it. #thestoryofmydiylife

Usually when you use this patching paste, you lightly sand off the excess and then paint to cover. In my case, I didn’t really want to sand the drawer fronts for fear that it would take off the pre-finished white paint. While my original plan was to paint the dressers a deep green, I’m really happy with the white for now and want to live with them this way for a while.

It dawned on me that since the paste washed off my fingers with soap and water, perhaps it would wipe off of the drawers as well (just the little bits of excess around the patched hole).

So with a bowl of warm, soapy water, a scrubby sponge (my fave from here) and a paper towel, I gave it a try.

A little bit of scrubbing and the patching paste came right up, just as I hoped.

If you look closely, you can still barely see the holes, but not enough to really notice.

Overall, I feel quite happy with the hardware choice and achieving the brass look for much, much less.

SOURCES

dressers | wood countertop | pulls | lamps | chairs | sheepskin | floating shelves | floors

wall + trim color: Shoji White by Sherwin Williams

For more about this space:

The Finished Studio

The Classic + Modern Design Plan for the Studio

A Hiccup in the Plan

Semi-Diy Table Lamps

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how to camouflage outlet covers with wallpaper

Up in the studio (and throughout the whole house, actually), the outlets, light switches and wall plates are almond colored. I’m assuming this almond color was the standard back in 1992 when the house was built. Not a huge deal except that they look pretty grimy next to all of the white walls.

So on our very lengthy list of house projects is the tedious task of switching out not just the plate covers, but changing the actual outlets and light switches to white throughout the house.

Up in the studio, the outlets/switches/plates are also the almond color and they really do stand out against the walls.

The light switch in the above photo is the goofiest of all because in order to trim the window, we had to notch it out to fit the plate. Since it is right at my eye-level while I’m working, it’s been one of those things that I felt motivated to find a solution to.

Replacing all of the outlets/switches/plates in the studio falls very, very low on the project-totem-pole so an in-between fix was in order.

My answer: decoupage.

I did this same project five years ago in our old house. The issue then was that I had just painted the walls a dark color and the white plates stood out too much. Covering the plates with a pretty scrapbook paper was the prefect solution.

In this case, my goal was to make the plates look meaningful (and hopefully camouflage the almond-toned outlets and switches in the meantime).

This project is truly simple, fairly fool-proof and requires only a few dollars worth of materials.

Here’s how to decoupage outlet and light switch covers:

SUPPLIES

wall plate | pretty paper | Mod Podge (in matte finish) | paintbrush | scissors

A few notes:

  • No need to buy new wall plates – just take them off your wall and reuse them.
  • I prefer matte Mod Podge for this project so that you don’t get a glossy finish.
  • As for paper, the possibilities are endless. In our last house I used thick scrapbook paper. For the studio, I’m using a sample of the most gorgeous wallpaperWhatever you choose, go for something on the thicker side to reduce the puckering that can happen with thin paper.
  • I am not decoupaging the front of the paper for these outlets, but I did in our old house. It just depends on how durable you’re wanting them to be.

Okay, let’s get to it.

STEP ONE

Cut out a piece of your selected paper approximately 1/2″ larger on all sides than your plate.

STEP TWO

Coat the front with Mod Podge, flip it over and press to the center of the paper.

STEP THREE

Cut a notch in each corner.

STEP FOUR

Brush on glue and fold around edges.

If your paper doesn’t hold down, use a small clip to keep it in place while it dries.

Once the Mod Podge is dry, remove the clips and continue on (this only takes a few minutes).

STEP FIVE

Poke a hole in the center of the opening, then make several cuts around the circle.

STEP SIX

Brush on decoupage medium to paper, fold and press firmly to hold. Again, these little clips come in handy to hold it all in place as it dries.

After a few minutes, grab your cover, screw it in place, step back and admire your work.

Now I no longer cringe at the dingy looking outlets! The paper adds a subtle visual interest that looks purposeful.

The outlets are still clearly off-white, but look less out of place with the addition of the wallpaper.

And now I don’t mind looking at that goofy light switch anymore because it is covered in my favorite paper.

#itsthelittlethings

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When you can’t find the table lamp you want, you improvise

After all the back and forth and option-weighing, I decided the desk in the studio will stay as originally planned. We’ll adjust the chairs to raise them up a bit and call it good.

I actually feel very happy with the decision and can continue on with putting the studio together …

Next up is adding in more ambient light in the form of table lamps. The light of table lamps is nice to work by and will also anchor either side of the desk.

In my initial design board, I planned on using these white textured lamps from Target. I liked the simple shape, but when I went to order, there was only one available (what?!).

As a second option, I came across this handsome ceramic lamp from West Elm, which I also really liked. I just couldn’t justify spending $300 on lamps for my office.

While out shopping the other day, I saw a pair of these column table lamps on clearance in the kid section and snatched up both of them for $45.

The shape is great, I love the wood base, the color was definitely not right for my studio, but I had an idea of how to fix that.

Enter the good ole days of DIY-Emily.

(Side note: I have not done a DIY project in almost a year. Crazy for a crafty girl who loves a DIY project! I’m glad to be back, friends. Glad to be back).

By altering these lamps, I hoped to create a hybrid of the two inspiration lamps – combining the shape of the first with the chalky gray color of the second. And because I didn’t spend much, I figured it was worth the DIY risk.

After taping off the base and neck, I painted on two coats of basic black chalk paint.

As chalk paint does, it dried a nice matte gray-black.

I could have left the paint as is, but went with the next step of ‘seasoning’ the chalk surface.

Typically, you season a freshly painted chalkboard to cure the surface and allow for full erasing once you start writing on it. These lamps won’t function as writable chalk surfaces, but I still wanted that pretty mottled look that seasoning creates.

After rubbing chalk all over the lamp, I wiped it in with a dry cloth and blew off the remaining dust.

The finished color is just the chalky black I was hoping for.

The lamps are now flanking the desk and look so nice!

Even though I initially wanted a pair of white lamps, these lamps remind me that bringing a touch of black into a room is always a good idea.

This was about as simple of a DIY as could be and I’m happy to be back in the crafty game.

Have you created anything lately that you’re particularly proud of? I’d love to hear!

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how to turn hand-lettering into a digital file

soshedid

Even wonder how to turn your hand lettered art into a digital file that you can use to overlay on a photo or have printed to display? Maybe you’d like to alter your original art – move things around, add more space, resize or recolor?

This post will show you just how to do it all.

NOTE: Get ready for A LOT of photos! I like to give as much detail as possible to show you just what steps to do and make things super clear. Follow along as you try this out and you’ll end up with a digital file you can save, print and share with others.

1. CREATE YOUR ART artworkspiral

I drew out this saying as a lesson in the Simplified Penmanship handwriting course using an art notebook and pen.

2. SCAN YOUR ARTWORK scan-the-art

There are so many different scanners on the market and you can use whatever works for you (even snapping a photo with your iphone can work!). I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap portable scanner. It is small and portable and I like that when it is not in use, I can just unplug it and store it in a basket. When scanning, you can change the settings to fit your needs. I like to scan at the highest resolution (600 dpi for color; 1200 dpi for black and white).

savefile

Rename your scanned image and save in appropriate file.

3. Adjust in Adobe Photoshop
2photoshop

You will use photoshop to clean up your artwork and remove the background. Open up the file in a new document.

1gray

Begin by changing your file into a GRAYSCALE image (if you did your lettering in color, the next two steps will not apply).

2bright

Next, open the BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST tool and move your contrast all the way up. This will make you blacks blacker and whites whiter.

2brightcont

4. CLEAN UP YOUR ARTWORK 3erase

If there are any areas where pencil marks show through or you want to clean up lines, smudges, etc., now is the perfect time to do so.

I like to zoom in close and use the ERASER tool to remove the imperfections.
3erasefinish

Keep in mind, this is hand lettering, so no need to make it flawless!

5. REMOVE THE BACKGROUND

4newdoc

If you’d like to remove the background so that only the lettering on a transparent background remains, follow along with this step. This is not necessary (especially if you will be turning your lettering into a vector in Illustrator – see #7 . I do this mainly when I scan watercolor artwork and I want to isolate each item and remove the background – see this post for more on turning watercolors into artwork).

To remove the background, you’ll need to create a new document with a transparent background. Make your document the size of your scanned artwork.

7magicwanderase

Copy and paste your art to this new document.

magicwand

Using the MAGIC WAND tool, click on the background and click delete.

7erasebackground

You’ll see the white background removed and a transparent background. Inside the closed shapes the background will remain, so just click and delete each one.
7transparent

You’ll end up with your lettering on a transparent background. Go ahead and save as a PNG file (this will preserve the transparency. A JPG will not).

6. OPEN IN ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR 8illustrator

Start by creating an artboard at the correct size for your finished print (mine is 8×10 in).

9backgroundcolor

You can add a background (make a rectangle to the desired size and add a fill). If you are happy with your artwork, you can save as a pdf at this point and you’ll have a great artprint!

7. TURN YOUR ART INTO VECTORS

If you’d like to move, rotate, recolor or resize your lettering, you’ll need to make it into a vector. A vector is an image made of anchor points and paths (rather than pixels) that will allow you to alter your art without losing quality.

trace

You’ll use the IMAGE TRACE function which you can find in your top tool bar or from OBJECT>IMAGE TRACE. I like to use the black and white logo setting.

10-expand

Next click EXPAND.

10expanded

The result will be your artwork made up of tiny anchor points and paths (as seen with the blue marks) and a white background.

ungroup

To remove the white background, right click and select UNGROUP.

12-pullapart

Now pull that top white layer off and delete.

12erase

Go back through and delete the inside shapes to remove the extra white layer.

13vector

You’ll end up with individual vector images for each of the shapes in your artwork.

group

If you’d like to keep each word or line together, select the items, right click and GROUP. This will allow you to move and resize the words as a group rather than independently.

8. MAKE ADJUSTMENTS TO YOUR ARTWORK
14move

Now that you have vector images, you can make changes to your artwork. Go ahead and move words to reformat your design.

15recolor

Or recolor one letter at a time, whole words, or the entire phrase. To recolor, click on the art, open the COLOR PANEL and select a color. You can change the fill (the inside color) or the stroke (the outline color).

16resize

One of the best parts of turning your art into a vector is that now you can resize without losing any resolution. Group the whole thing together, hold down shift and pull the whole group out however big or move it in to make it small. You will not see blurry edges no matter how large or small you resize.

17-finish

When you are finished making edits, save your file!

If you are using it for printable artwork, save as a PDF.

If using for digital lettering, save as PNG.

If using as an image, save as a JPEG.

shebelievedwindow

Learning to turn your hand lettering into digital images opens up so many fun ways to use your art!

double-line-tiny

Interested in learning more about the art of Penmanship + Lettering or how to use Adobe Illustrator? I’d love to teach you!

Simplified Graphic Design - Adobe Illustrator for Beginners / jones design company simplifiedpencover
Click the images to learn more about the online classes offered.

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DIY Bulletin Board

DIY Bulletin Board / jones design company

Slowly but surely, Audrey’s room is coming along.

The gallery wall really stepped things up a notch and it got me motivated to add some cuteness to the other walls. When you have one side of the room filled with art, it makes knowing what to do with the other walls a little tricky. Add more art? Leave them blank? I’ll do a full room tour soon so you can see the walls in context to each other, but I decided that more art would feel too busy and I just wanted one large piece to fill in the area opposite the gallery wall.

I had an extra frame that didn’t get used in the gallery – a vintage painting that I covered with music pages and wrote ‘twirl’ on a few years ago (you can see it in my old office here). It wasn’t anything special and so I decided to reconfigure it and turn it into a bulletin board for my girl.

Here’s how I did it:

bulletin-board-supplies

SUPPLIES

frame with backing / roll of cork / hot glue gun / scissors / fabric for covering (optional)

You could use any frame – brand new, from your storage closet or from a thrift store. The one I used was just a few dollars at the thrift store and was a painting that I wasn’t sad to cover up. I lucked out and the frame I used was just slightly smaller than the dimensions of the cork – you may want to measure the cork before purchasing the frame just to make sure it fits.

STEP ONE

pop-picture-out-of-frame

Remove the backer from the frame. It was easy to just bend the nails back to pop out the art (the back is pictured).

STEP TWO

trace-and-trim

Lay your backing on the cork and trace. Then cut to fit.

cut-out-cork

STEP THREE

hot-glue-cork

Starting from one side, add a bead of hot glue and press to hold. Continue for the rest of the cork.

You can stop at this point – pop it back in the frame and use as is. Or continue on to cover the cork with fabric.

STEP FOUR

cut-fabric

Lay the cork covered backing front-side down on fabric of choice (you’ll want the front of the fabric face down, too). I adore this sheet set from Target (it’s what I have on my bed) and found a set on clearance not too long ago. I debated … cut it up? Or keep it for a second set for my bed? I opted to cut it up.

Just cut it a few inches larger than your cork board on all four sides.

STEP FIVE

wrap-fabric

Pull taught and secure with a bead of hot glue. It helps to glue down one side in the center, then the opposite side to keep things lined up and smooth.

Fold in corners (I cut out part of the fabric to keep things less bulky) and hold with hot glue. It was super helpful to have a geometric print to follow so the lines stayed straight.

STEP SIX

put-in-frame

Pop the backing into the frame. Mine ended up tight enough to not need nails to hold it in place, but you could tap little nails into the sides if you need to.

Flip it over and admire the cuteness!

DIY bulletin board / jones design company

I added a few special things – artwork, photos, a flower garland (no longer available from Target) and a few of Audrey’s pretty necklaces – but my guess is that she’ll cover it with art and notes and little pieces of randomness that girls seem to collect. It will be a great place for her to display her special things.

DIY bulletin board / jones design company

This diy bulletin board was just the right touch for the big empty wall.

DIY bulletin board / jones design company

I have a few more projects to finish in her room and then it will be complete! Stay tuned for a simple window treatment diy and an unconventional pillow tutorial coming soon.

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diy stamped leather keychain

stamped leather keychain / jones design company

Getting mail is one of the best parts of my day. What is it about opening the mailbox and being surprised by what’s inside?! It’s often filled with junk mail or bills, but every once in a while a magazine comes or a note from my sister (she’s so good at sending cards!) and it just makes me smile.

Now I have one more thing to smile about while getting mail because our mailbox key now boasts a handsome leather keychain.

diy stamped leather keychain / jones design company

It was perhaps the simplest of all diy’s. But sometimes simple is the best. So just in case you’d like to adorn your keys with a new keychain, here are the steps for a diy stamped leather keychain:

supplies

SUPPLIES: key fob + ring leather kit (from here item #414913) / scissors

DIRECTIONS:

put-keychain-together

Put key fob together as directed on package. The instructions suggest using a rivet tool, which I don’t have, so I just pressed the two metal pieces together to hold and it’s fine. You could probably get a more secure fit with the right tool but here’s the deal: I’ve had this same keychain on my regular car/house keys for a few months and it’s stayed together just fine.

plain-keychain

Of course you could leave the key fob alone and it’s a cute petite circle. Or you could continue on and turn it into a skinny ribbon shape.

Here’s how to do that:

cut-keychain

Cut a straight line up both sides, then a small notch out of the bottom. Over time, the edges will wear down for a nice patina, so don’t worry to much about having the lines perfect.

keychain-and-key

Again, you could leave it as is, which is what I use for my main keychain. It’s crazy how much it has deepened in color and worn into this really pretty aged leather keychain. You can see it in the photo below:

lilacs-on-desk

Or if you’d like to add extra detail with a word, number or monogram, you can stamp it.

Here’s how to do that:

letter-supplies

SUPPLIES: metal letter stamps (from here) / jewelry hammer (like this) / sponge

mail-letters

Choose the letters you want to stamp. They are mirror image so they impress correctly, just fyi.

stamp-keychain

Start by dampening the leather slightly. Then hold the stamp in place and gently tap with the hammer.  If you have a scrap piece of leather, this is a great time to practice stamping. If you press too light, the letters won’t show up. If you press too hard, you’ll see the circle imprint of the letter stamp.

Tap out your message and you’re done!

diy stamped leather keychain / jones design company
diy stamped leather keychain / jones design company

Isn’t it a great little key chain? These would make great gifts (graduates? new home owners?) or even as labels on a backpack or bag.

like-this

 

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simply embellished copper tags

embellished copper tags / jones design company
We celebrated my mom’s birthday this weekend. She is many wonderful things, but perhaps one of her best qualities is her completely authentic excitement over opening gifts. Every one is the best gift ever! which makes you feel pretty great as the gift-giver.

diy-copper-tag

Receiving gifts is not my love language, so I have to work a little extra to come up with something unique and meaningful to give to my mom who most definitely does experience love through gifts.  I may not be the greatest at gift purchasing, but I really do enjoy wrapping.

My go-to gift wrapping style consists of subtly patterned paper, a pretty ribbon, an embellishment – like a flower or ornament – and a tag.  My mom gave me a gift years ago (like for high school graduation maybe?!) with a copper tag and I’ve kept it all these years. When I came across these copper gardening tags, I knew I needed to grab a pack to use in wrapping up her birthday gift.

Because it’s such a simple and inexpensive embellishment for wrapping, I thought I’d show you how to make your own embellished copper tags.

SUPPLIES

copper-tags-supplies

4″ copper tags / stylus (or ball point pen)

HOW-TO

write-on-copper-tag-hand

Using a sharp-tipped stylus (or ball point pen), press into the copper as you write your message. Adding some extra padding underneath helps with the embossing (I just stacked up a few sheets of scrap paper).

write-on-copper-tag

It’s so pretty how the light reflects on the copper and makes the lettering stand out.

write-on-copper-tag2

Once your message has been written, simply tie on to the gift using the attached copper wire.

embellished copper tag for gifts / jones design company

Such an fun way to make a gift extra special.

copper-happy-birthday-tag
Do you have a favorite or unexpected way to embellish gifts?

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