DIY Cake Topper {with template}

DIY Cake Topper {with template}

I think this is the fastest turn-around post I’ve ever done! We had my daughter’s 12th birthday party this weekend and now here I am writing about it. It usually takes me a week or a month or more to sort through photos and write something. But seriously, isn’t this the cutest cake topper? I really wanted to share because it’s pretty easy to make and just so colorful and happy. You only need a few supplies that hopefully you have lying around your house. I also am providing you with the banner templates. You’re welcome! Here we go…

simple cake topper with an artsy flair

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~ Templates (Ava template here, Ellie template here) I provided a few sizes depending on the length of your child’s name.

~ Alphabet rubber stamps / I have some old ones from High School, if you can believe it, but you can buy cool ones on Etsy or Amazon.

~ Ink pads / I love Colorbox or Versacolor

~ Two paint brushes, or skewers

~ Baker’s twine, or any yarn

~ Colored tapes or washi tape

~ Scissors and scotch tape

rubber stamped cake topper

Making your cake topper:

~ Print out your template and choose which size banner will work best with the length of your child’s name.

~ Rubber stamp their name. I have lots of color ink pads, but this would also look really cool with just black. Or…you can just write their name in freehand. Or paint it, use colored pencils or just black sharpie. Whatever is easiest!

~ Cut out the banner a little bit outside of the gray line.

~ Flip the banner over and scotch tape the two paintbrushes (or skewers) to the back. Try and point the bottoms inward just a little bit.

simple cake topper with an artsy flair

~ Make your garland by cutting off a two foot piece of twine or yarn. Starting in a few inches, fold a piece of colored tape over the string. Fold about three or four pieces in a row, depending on the length of the name. Leave a little space and then repeat with the folded tape. Make three sections of tape. You may have to cut off the end of the string, but leave a tail of about three inches.

~ Use the scissors to cut the tape into triangle flags.

~ Starting at the top of one of the paintbrushes, wrap the string around the brush a few times, then drape it over to the other side and wrap it again around the other brush. Swag it one more time (three times total) back to the other paint brush. At this point you will want to take a teeny piece of scotch tape and tape the string to the back of the brush. Cut the string at the end if needed.

~ Put the cake topper on the cake by pushing the paint brushes in about an inch.

simple cake topper with an artsy flair

simple cake topper with an artsy flair

My daughter celebrated one of her birthday parties with her dear friend, hence the two cake toppers here. I love toppers because they are just so happy and make the birthday kid feel so special. You don’t even need a very extravagant party if you just have an awesome cake topper and some cool gifts…and a sentimental, loving card. I’ve had those birthdays in the past and they rule!

xo, Bar


14 Amazing DIY Painted Leaves

14 Amazing DIY Painted Leaves

Are you ready for Fall? Here on the East Coast, we had an absolutely beautiful summer. The most gorgeous, perfect weather that I can ever remember. It was one of those summers that made me feel like I was living in California, not Connecticut. Absolute heaven. Needless to say, nobody is ready for the cold weather to come. Which is why I needed to do this round-up. I needed something beautiful to look at to get me ready for Fall (normally my favorite season). I think I succeeded! I am officially accepting that seasons come and go, and I am ready for the final chapter of the year. Hello gorgeous leaves!

beautiful + simple ideas to paint leaves this fall

1. Leaves colored by my kids with water-soluble crayons, see the whole post here.

2. These gold-leafed leaves are so gorgeous! I couldn’t find the source but had to include them just for inspiration.

beautiful + simple ideas to paint leaves this fall

3. Leaf fish! I just love these. So clever, by Hazel Terry.

4. These leaves by Elena Nuez have a super cool Aztec vibe. I’m digging the little white dots, so simple.

beautiful + simple ideas to paint leaves this fall

5. These stacked animals are the bomb. I love the eyes. By Katya Enseling.

6. The delicate drawings on these leaves are pure art. I couldn’t find a source for these either. Grrrr…

beautiful + simple ideas to paint leaves this fall

7. Coolest ladybugs I’ve ever seen! By Terry Hazel.

8. Slightly obsessed with this simple treatment by A Subtle Revelry. So pretty.

beautiful + simple ideas to paint leaves this fall

9. Alisa Burke is a genius. That’s all I have to say. See two of her stunning leaf DIYs here

10. …and here.

beautiful + simple ideas to paint leaves this fall

11. Completely madly in love with this leaf. I can’t stop staring. The geometric pattern is perfect. by Gabee Meyer.

12. More two-toned leaves. I can’t get enough! By Emily Isabella.

beautiful + simple ideas to paint leaves this fall

13. I love these doodles with a metallic sharpie made by kids. Jean Van’t Hul from The Artful Parent also shares how to preserve leaves. Brilliant!

14. These leaf animals are freakin’ charming!! More photos on Babble.

Are you feeling the Fall vibe? I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but…I can’t wait!

xo, Bar


Weaving with Kids

Weaving with Kids

I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with weaving lately (ha ha), ever since May when I saw these beautiful pieces made by Rachel Denbow. After seeing cardboard looms all over Pinterest this summer, which totally fueled my fixation, I decided to make some looms myself for my little campers. The week we made these I had five girls at art camp ranging from ages five to seven (and one 14 year old helper extraordinaire). I wasn’t sure what would happen, or if they could even handle weaving, but I decided to just give it a try.

make cardboard looms and show little kids how to weave and you will be amazed by what they can make

Turns out, they LOVED WEAVING! My daughter and I did it with them so it was complete side-by-side, art-making bliss. I love that in the end, you couldn’t even tell the difference between my weaving and theirs (I’m only showing you theirs in this post). In fact, I loved theirs even more than mine because they were way more free with their choices and their technique. (Isn’t that true for most art making! Those little ones are so unhindered by vision and plans. They just enjoy the process.)

make cardboard looms and show little kids how to weave and you will be amazed by what they can make

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Here’s what you’ll need to make your own looms and weavings:

~ A piece of cardboard about 6” x 8”, and two strips for the top and bottom.

~ Exacto knife or scissors

~ Ruler

~ Yarn (I buy mine at Michael’s, but these little guys are super cute for a project like this)

~ Plastic needle

~ Masking tape & Scotch tape

~ Pom-pom maker (optional)

~ Pony beads (optional)

~ Twigs

Making the loom:

1. Take your ruler and put it across the top of your piece of cardboard, about 1/2” from the top. Draw a straight line with a pencil. Now measure in 1” and make a hash mark. Continue on and make 12 hash marks about 3/8” apart all across the top. Do the same at the bottom. You can space them out however you would like, but this is just what I did for my looms.

2. Using an exacto knife, or scissors, cut along each hash mark, stopping at the 1/2″ line.

3. Glue on the strips of cardboard so that the top of the strip aligns with the 1/2″ line (strips are about 1/2″ wide).

4. Cut 12 pieces of yarn and thread each notch, making sure to leave a tail of about 3” on the back. Tape these ends to the back with scotch tape. Make sure the threads are fairly tight (but not so tight that it’s stretching the yarn). These vertical threads are called the warp. You have your loom!

make cardboard looms and show little kids how to weave and you will be amazed by what they can make

Make your weaving:

1. Cut a piece of yarn about 2 feet long. Thread it through the plastic needle and then tie a knot at the top of the needle.

2. Starting with the first warp thread, slide the needle underneath and then up over the next thread, and then back under the third thread, and so on. Use this under-over pattern until you get to the last warp thread. When you get to the end of your first row, pull it through all the way, leaving about a 3” tail. You can tie this tail in a knot around the first warp thread to secure it for the little kids, but after they weave two rows it won’t be in danger of coming out anymore.

3. For your next row, go back the other way by doing the opposite over-under pattern as you did for the first row. (If you go under and over in the same way as the first row you will be undoing what you just did. This mistake does happen with the littles so make sure to check on them before they begin each row in the beginning, Eventually they get the hang of it).

make cardboard looms and show little kids how to weave and you will be amazed by what they can make

4. Once you have a few rows, use your fingers to push up the weft yarn so that it’s snug. Be careful not to pull too hard on the weft yarns after each pass through because your weaving will start to cinch in at the middle. Of course, this did happen to all of us, but I thought I should warn you anyway! First time weaving mistakes.

5. When you are done with your first color yarn, or if you decide you want to switch colors, simply end it with about a 3” tail remaining. It might start to look sloppy with lots of tails hanging out all over, but don’t worry ~ all of them will be taped to the back at the end.

6. Start the next colors in the same way you started the first, leaving a tail of about 3”.

7. When you get to the end, just cut off the yarn that you are working with. Not to sound too redundant…but don’t forget to leave that tail. :)

make cardboard looms and show little kids how to weave and you will be amazed by what they can make

Taking your weaving off of the loom:

1. When you are finished, undo the scotch tape in the back and carefully pull off the warp threads. I didn’t take any pictures of this process for some mysterious reason, but it’s fairly straightforward…it’s just that you have to be careful because the weft threads could come off easily.

2. When your entire weaving has been pulled off of the loom, tie all of the warp threads together at the ends. Tie 1 & 2 together, 3 & 4 together, and so on. You should have six knots at the top and bottom. Double knots.

3. At this point, it’s time to deal with the tails coming out of the sides. The reason to leave the tails on the longish side is so that you can thread them through the needle, and then gently weave them through the back a few times before trimming them. If you don’t want to take this extra step, you could just tape the tails to the back with masking tape.

4. Also use masking take to tape down the top and  bottom warp threads to the back of your weaving.

(back view) make cardboard looms and show little kids how to weave and you will be amazed by what they can make

Finishing your weaving:

1. Technically, you are now done with your weaving. Hooray! But if you want to embellish with pom-poms and beads, and hang it on a twig, then read on. Just a note: The kids didn’t do any of the finishings, except for the pom-poms. I did all of the taping, beading (kids picked out their colors) and attaching it to the twig. They watched as I did it all, but it was too finicky for their little hands.

2. We made our pom-poms with a pom-pom maker (I highly recommend these things…they are good for life!). But you can also do it the old fashioned way: around your fingers. Here is a good tutorial for that way. Don’t forget to leave a longish tail with the piece of yarn that you use to tie the pom-pom. You will thread this tail through the needle and then attach it to your weaving by going through the bottom (front to back) and then taping it on the back. You can add beads to your pom-pom before you attach it to your weaving.

3. To attach the weaving to the twig, cut a piece of yarn, about a foot long, and string it through the needle. Starting on one end, loop the threaded needle through the top of the weaving and around the twig, wrapping the twig all the way until the end. Tie knots on either end, then trim and use masking tape to tape the ends to the back.

4. Lastly, to attach the hanger, simply cut a piece of yarn about 18” long (this will be trimmed, but better too long than too short), and fold it over. Loop the folded end around one side of the twig and make a knot. If you want to add beads, now is the time. To finish off the other side just tie it around the twig in a double knot and trim.

make cardboard looms and show little kids how to weave and you will be amazed by what they can make

make cardboard looms and show little kids how to weave and you will be amazed by what they can make

I know there are like a million steps, but the steps for the kids are pretty simple and fun. It’s the making of the loom and the finishing that involves some busy work on the part of the adult. I personally LOVE busy work…and I’m betting that if you’ve read this far, you do too.

One thing I forgot to mention is that this project is a great way to introduce some new vocabulary for the kids. They learned warp & weft, and they learned about woven fabric vs. knit. We talked about how so many things in their world are woven: the shorts they are wearing, their sheets and pillows, towels, tablecloths. It was such an eye opener and so fun to see all of this new knowledge sink in.

I hope you try weaving, it really is so cool.

xo, Bar