Archive for February, 2012

Crafts for Kids: Dramatic Tie-dye

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Tie-dye has been a popular form of art for many years, and while a tie-dyed T-shirt brings to mind hippies and the summer of love, using tie-die to decorate fabrics can be a fun craft for children to learn how colors work together.  Tie-dye is fun for kids because sometimes you get the results that you expect, while other times your creation is a complete surprise.  This project is best done outdoors on a sunny afternoon.  Make sure you have plenty of room to move around your pots and string a clothesline for drying garments and fabric.

Age Group: 6+

Time: 2- 3 hours – but allow all afternoon for experiments with color and overnight to dry

Materials Needed

  • 3+ packages of dye for fabric – like RIT®
  • One gallon of plain white vinegar
  • A pot for each dye color
  • Stirring sticks
  • A big bunch of rubber bands
  • Rubber gloves to protect hands from dye
  • Old clothes – you will get at least one stain on something you are wearing.
  • Clothesline for drying.


  1. This project is very messy.  Plan to tie-dye on a sunny afternoon, and plan to do it outside.  By dying outside you will not have to worry about drips and spills.
  2. Suit up with your old clothes and gloves.
  3. Boil water – you can boil inside and bring outside if you do not have hot plates outside.
  4. Follow directions on the dye package.
  5. Make sure everything that you are dying is pre-washed.


  1. Make sure that you follow instructions when preparing the dye so that you end up with bright, vibrant colors.  Adding about a cup of vinegar for every three gallons of water will keep color from fading.  Stir well to completely dissolve.
  2. Twist fabric and secure with rubber bands.
  3. Dip fabric or a portion of the fabric into the dye for several minutes.  Start with lighter colors and continue on to darker colored dyes.  This is where the experimenting comes into play, and it is a great way for kids to see what happens when different colors mix.
  4. After dying is complete, rinse fabric in a bucket of fresh, cold water with vinegar added.  Repeat several times.
  5. Hang fabric on clothesline to dry overnight.
  6. Wash dyed items with laundry soap and vinegar before wearing.  Make sure to follow washing instructions on any garment that you are washing.


  • Experiment with mixing colors by putting dyes on top of each other to see what you get.  Start with light and move to dark.  Rearrange your rubber bands and see how the pattern changes.
  • Find interesting things to dye.  Any natural fiber will dye well.  Beach towels or table napkins are excellent candidates for dying.
  • Use dye as paint instead of dipping.  You can paint it directly onto the fabric with an artist brush.

Make it a Learning Experience

  • Read how dye works.  Look up the history of dyes and which civilizations first used them.  Find out how dye is made today and compare how ancient civilizations made dye.
  • Understand why vinegar makes colors brighter (on Easter Eggs as well).
  • Find out when tie-dye first became popular in the U.S.
  • Find out how to make natural dyes, and compare to how they make store bought dye.

Clean Up

  • Dye water is safe to dispose of down a drain, but it may stain anything it touches.  This includes hands, clothes and sinks.
  • Clean dye spills with cold water because hot water sets the dye and makes it permanent.
  • Throw away all used gloves and open packages of dye.

Jessica Ackerman of, is an interior designer who illustrates how simple it can be to use abstract metal wall sculptures and contemporary metal wall decor.

Photo credit to Twins Squared.

Using Turquoise to Create Magic in a Little Girl’s Bedroom

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Decorating a child’s room is fun for parents as well as kids; really, how often do you get to express your inner child when decorating other spaces of your home? Themes and colors that would be too over-the-top elsewhere are welcome in a little girl’s room where bold patterns, whimsical themes and bright colors are allowed to intermix and express a budding personality. Letting your little girl in on the fun will help you zero in on a color palette and theme that she’ll love. Here are some ideas for creating a special bedroom space for a little girl a color that’s a current favorite among girls – bold, beautiful turquoise.

Bold Color Options

Of course, because turquoise is a strong, bold color it can stand on it’s own against a neutral background. It explodes against white and looks beachy with sand or taupe. Earth tones lend a grounding influence and black and white let you explore a pop art feel. But don’t be afraid to use turquoise with other bold colors. Girls love hot colors like chartreuse, hot pink and yellow; mix these brights against a backdrop of white on a bedspread and sprinkle in a mix of geometrics with contemporary floral prints or polka dots for a bedroom that is girly yet sophisticated.

To make sure that your mix of colors will work, choose colors of the same intensity. Paint chips and color swatches will help you eliminate shades that clash. Also spend some time in the bedding department of your favorite stores playing with pattern and color. Many bedding options are built around coordinated variations in fabric patterns that repeat the same color theme in the bedspread, bedskirt, throw pillows, window treatments and linens, thereby eliminating much of the guess work for you.

Turquoise-Inspired Themes

Turquoise lends itself to several themes that girls love. What you choose will depend on your daughter’s taste and age. Here are some themes that you can build around the color turquoise:

  1. Southwest Theme: This style is built around desert colors like sand, clay, rust and slate accented with bold flashes of turquoise. The look can be mission or rustic-inspired for an older girl or focused on lizards and horses for a younger girl.
  2. Going Glam: Nothing says “glamour” like silver and turquoise; then add deep rich chocolate brown for a touch of sophisticated elegance. A curved top upholstered headboard with buttons and piped edges makes this look as sweet as confection. Choose soft fabrics like chenille, satin, and faux fur to add texture without overdoing pattern. Crisp white keeps the look clean and fresh.
  3. Tropical Delight: Young girls love mermaids and everything under the sea and no color represents tropical waters as well as turquoise. Use beach theme accessories, tropical fish, and ocean inspired wall décor to bring this theme to life.
  4. Retro Revisited: A chic retro look is easy to create by adding baby pink to turquoise along with black and white. The sock hop look can be pushed to the limit by hanging old vinyl LP’s on the wall, along with vintage 50’s accents and fabrics for toss pillows and window treatments. If you can sew, a poodle skirt makes a great topping for a side table.

Jessica Ackerman from, has skills in all areas of abstract wall art and contemporary metal wall sculptures.

One Thorough Closet Cleaning means being Organized Forever

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Most people cannot stand cleaning out their closets, and it is no wonder. There are things in the back of the closet that they have not seen for years, and wading through the items takes forever. However, by cleaning closets and organizing what is put back in the closet, never again will a homeowner be faced with the unpleasant task of rummaging through a messy closet or having to clean it out.

Check Out the Space

A closet that is not organized is a messy closet, so organizing is the logical place to start. Most closets are a simple box with a clothes rod and a shelf. If a homeowner is trying to get maximum usage from their closet, this storage design wastes a lot of space. Altering this configuration even a little can make it work much more efficiently.  Sometimes a simple alteration like removing the top shelf and adding another clothes rod is enough to lend order to the previously chaotic closet interior. This one simple change effectively doubles the closet’s storage capacity. When the inside of a closet is organized, items to not get shoved to the back and forgotten and it is less likely that the closet will once again become a bulging mess.

Closet organization goes beyond bedroom closets. For example, simple additions like adding shelves in the kitchen pantry that are tall enough for a can may even triple the amount of storage space in a pantry. Look at the best way to use a closet or pantry space, and then configure it accordingly.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Configuring the closet properly, however, is not the whole equation to keeping a closet neat. Once the closet is organized, make sure to edit belongings. Going through belongings and only placing things that are currently used in a closet is a good formula to use. Anything that is not being used can be stored in an attic, donated to charity or thrown away. Doing a thorough editing job makes the contents of the closet easy to access and easy to continually edit. So before mindlessly stuffing new items into a closet, notice what they are intended to replace, and get rid of the old item. Never again will the closet have to be cleaned.

Find an Organization System that Fits

If making a minor alteration to the closet’s interior design does not use the space as efficiently as possible, then it may be a good idea to add a storage organization system. Closet organization systems are available in many different sizes and styles, and most of them are modular, so that they can be tailored to a homeowner’s needs. Installing additional shelves, drawers and cubbyholes along with custom hooks, rods and pegs can make it quite effortless to keep a closet neat and functional, never to be cluttered again.

Online contributing editor for, Jessica Ackerman has extensive design experience, using wrought iron wall decor and abstract metal wall decor.

Stuffed Shirt! Turning Old Shirts into Pillows

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

You can turn tired old shirts into colorful throw pillows for every room of the house! This is great way to recycle usable fabrics and add some decorative pizzazz at the same time. Many times, a shirt may just be out of style, torn, stained or outgrown, but it still has usable fabric. If you want to recycle a worn or damaged shirt into a pillow, choose the best fabric remnants. Look at your old shirts with a fresh eye to create throw pillows in whatever colors, shapes or sizes you desire.

Matching Fabric Types to Use

Nearly any fabric will do when making a pillow, but some are better than other for various reasons. For example, soft old T-shirts make extraordinarily comfortable pillows that are great for cozying up for a quick catnap. T-shirts also come in a rainbow of colors, so it’s easy to coordinate them with the decor in a child’s bedroom, the family room or wherever you’d like to use them. You can use an imprint on a T-shirt to turn a pillow into a fun themed accent.

For a rustic look, try old flannel shirts: Make a patchwork pillow by combining material from several flannel shirts. Or use dress shirts for a more refined look: Button up a preppy pinstripe shirt or a tuxedo shirt with covered buttons for an unexpected accent.

Design Tips and Ideas

There are several approaches you can use to turn shirts into pillows. You can simply cut strips, squares, circles or irregular shapes from old shirts and piece them together to make a shirt. You can use one fabric for the back of the shirt and another for the front, or mix and match fabrics just as you would with new fabrics.

You can also make the shirt itself part of the design, as suggested above for a dress shirt or tuxedo shirt, where you use the button placket portion of the shirt in the finished pillow. To make this project very easy, sew the edges of the pillow shut, then simply unbutton the shirt and add the stuffing.

A T-shirt is ideal for shirt-theme pillow in a child’s or teen’s room. Use a team or school logo shirt or a T-shirt with a theme that matches the décor of the room. For example, a teen girl would just LOVE a pillow made from her boyfriend’s football jersey. For a young child’s character theme room, make a pillow from a T-shirt that features the chosen character.

Tips for Sewing the Pillow

Most of the time, the pillow should be sewn with the shirt turned inside out. Securely stitch the seams of the pillow and then turn it right side out. You can stuff the pillow with loose fiberfill or use a pillow form if your pillow is in a standard size. Loose fiberfill is a better choice for pillows that have an unusual freeform shape.

With signature design style, Jessica Ackerman, an online writer with, describes bold approaches to contemporary metal wall hangings and abstract metal wall hangings.

Creating Spaces with Design, Light and Color

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Anytime that you are decorating a room, you do not want to underestimate the importance of light in your design. The quality of color changes depending on the light under which it is shown, and understanding how light and color work together can be very useful when you are pulling together a room design.

The Color Palette

Deciding on your color palette is one of the foundational elements that impacts the design and finished appearance of a room. You can go in virtually any direction that you please when you are selecting the colors for your décor. For example, you may decide to go with a monochromatic design in your room. This color scheme simply used a variety of shades of the same color. You can design a room in blue, and your color palette could range from the softest pastel blue to the darkest midnight blue. Creating a room using these two hues and all of the shades in between, you can build contrast and harmony in the room at the same time. To form gradient colors of blue, you can begin with a medium blue and gradually add white to make it lighter and gradually add black to make it darker. By mixing your own gradients, you can concoct virtually any color of blue that you wish. You can accent your monochromatic color scheme with white or black for a little contrast. You may also want to try using analogous colors in your room decor, which can be done by developing your color palette from colors that touch each other on the color wheel. For instance you may want to use green, blue and blue-green in your room design to create an analogous color palette in your design.

You could also try using complementary colors for your room palette by selecting colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. For instance, purple and yellow or red and green are complementary colors. While these colors are polar opposites, they work very well together as complements. For a balanced room design you may want to consider using complementary colors in less saturated hues like a soft butter yellow paired with a pale lavender. Using a triad, which are colors that are equidistant on a color wheel, also builds a very attractive color palette for a room’s design.

Light and Color

Now, pair color with light. The intensity of a color describes the brightness or dullness of the color. For instance, when a color is used in its purest hue, it would be called a high intensity color. By mixing a color with its complement, you create a duller hue. The three aspects of color – light, intensity and hue – can be combined in a myriad of ways to create a pleasing visual appearance in your room’s design. When you take a completely saturated light color like yellow, it will cause objects to look bigger than a completely saturated dark color like blue. So you can control the appearance of the size of your room just by keeping the aspects of intensity, hue and light in mind.  In general, warmer shades like yellow and red seem to approach you while cooler shades like blue and green appear to recede from you.

Using Light and Color to Design

By choosing a single color and placing it as the predominant color in the room, you can instantly create a room design with a cohesive look. You can also use analogous colors to make a room visually interesting, and you can use a triad of colors to add even more excitement to your room design. When you balance the light and intensity of a color, you create a very pulled together and cohesive look for your room design. For instance, by using pale shades of butter yellow and lavender, you create a far more unified look for your room than if you were to design it with butter yellow and bright purple.

Targeting “do it yourselfers,” Jessica Ackerman writes regularly for, offering simple illustrations of contemporary metal wall sculptures and abstract metal wall sculptures.