Mini Deer Ornaments with Retro Cafe Art Gallery

There is always something purely magical about handmade ornaments on a tree.  Sure, the ease and convenience of beautiful store bought is appealing, especially to me as I am very busy all of the time it seems.  But handmade just lends a genuine one of a kind look and always seem to stand out to me.

It’s good thing Retro Cafe Art Gallery has a plethora of cut-outs and pieces to make any kind of ornament regardless of style!  These little beauties are made from the Deer Mount cut-outs and are super easy to do.

Step 1:  Paint your base.  I used metallic acrylic paint and when it was dry, I stamped over the top with a funky cool filigree pattern.

Step 2:  Cover the adorable deer heads with patterned paper.  Glitter the antlers and add itty bitty tied bows.

Step 3:  Add final touches.  I used plain white dresden as my border.  You could use twine, string, or even wire for the hanger but I opted for gold chain and jump rings.

This type of project is perfect for gift giving, ornament swaps, or even for use as gift tags.  I worked in an assembly line fashion and not including drying time, these were done in about an hour!  Can you believe that?!

Stay tuned here for more Christmas and holiday decor items!

Supply List:
Retro Cafe Art Gallery Deer Mount Cut-Outs
Retro Cafe Art Gallery Dresden Border Fleur
Tim Holtz Idea-ology Paper Stash Christmas
Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paints
Jewelry Chain
Jump Rings

A Colorful Day of the Dead Canvas-Turned-Shadow Box for ColoriQue

Who doesn’t love a splash of color, especially during this time of year?  I know I’m a sucker for color, skulls, Fall, and anything Day of the Dead inspired.  You know what else I am?  I am a hoarder of all the cool things because I swear, at some time, **THE** perfect project will come along and I’ll have just the perfect idea for it!

Such was the case for this wood skull, sent to me by my iBFF, Jess Mutty.  She sent about a year or two ago and I’ve held onto it, just waiting for the “AHA!” moment to strike.  And boy did it!  Using one of the thicker canvases I had stashed away, I came up with this piece of decoration that just sings to me.

Take a flat, one dimensional wood cut and give it life by enhancing the features with rolled out Easy Sculpt clay and my signature bead work.

And just look at that vivid, lush color!  That, my friends, is courtesy of the amazing ColoriQue inks by Lisa Jimenez.  These inks are high impact, bold, bright, and absolutely blendable too!

I’ve used them on the clay detailing of the skull, but I’ve also used them on the Papel Picado from Retro Cafe Art Gallery.  Just look at that blindingly beautiful pigmentation!


In all honesty, I could’ve also colored my metal milagros charms with the ColoriQue ink (because it’s multipurpose as all get out!) as well, but they just looked marvelous in their bare, naked state.  And yep!  I’ve been hoarding those gems for a couple years too.  ::wink::

Add in some colorful glass seed beads to finish off the framing and I can call this bad boy DONE, SON!

Supply List:

ColoriQue Inks by Lisa Marie Jimenez: Turquoise Mountain, Avocado, Honeybee, Ruby Slippers, Grape Vine, Poppy, Black Diamond

Retro Cafe Art Gallery:  Papel Picado Cut-Outs (15 pieces)

ETI:  Easy Sculpt epoxy clay

Liquitex:  White Gesso, Black Gesso

Fire Mountain Gems:  Seed Beads, Undrilled 1mm Round Beads

Ribbon trim

Milagros charms



Jackolynn the Pumpkin Witch

I admit it!  I’m a sucker for pretty paper!  The paper I used for this Halloween gem for Retro Cafe Art Gallery I have been holding on to for years.  You see, I started out as a scrapbooker so I had built up this massive stash of paper.  Fast forward a number of years and I realized that I am probably done with the scrapbooking arena and have my feet firmly planted in the realm of mixed media.

However, the urge to play with paper comes along every now and then and I have to dig through the very little paper I kept and put it to good use.  This piece uses K & Company’s “Que Sera Sera” paper pad.

One of my favorite things to do is to make the simple look complex and complicated.  Jackolynn was constructed using the simplest of techniques.  You’ll be amazed.

Step 1:  Grab that paper you’ve been hoarding and get ready to hack into it.  Trace each piece and cut them out.  Glue each cut piece to its substrate.  See that file in the photo below?  It is THE key to get nice, flush, and fresh edges.

Step 2:  Use an ink pad to ink your edges.  Ready for the mind blower?  Embossing powder!  Get your embossing pad and powders and go to town on those edges!

Step 3:  For the base, add moss for an instant upgrade!

Step 4:  Assemble your pieces and admire at how simple it was to do!

Supply List:

Retro Cafe Art Gallery Articulated Victorian Pumpkin Art Doll Kit
Retro Cafe Art Gallery Pumpkin and Jack-O-Lantern Cut-Outs
Retro Cafe Art Gallery Mini Bats Cut-Outs
Iced Enamels Relique Powder Carnelian
Piccolo Embossing Powders: Gilded Rose Gold, Shamrock Dreams, Girls Night Out, Mossy Glen
Embossing ink
E6000 adhesive
K & Company “Que Sera Sera” patterned paper
floral moss
printable face


A Journey Through Simplicity

This is my monthly post for the wonderful Retro Cafe Art Gallery and while I usually do technical tutorials, I feel I need to do a different type of tutorial.  This particular step by step serves as a reminder for me.

Often times, I get so wrapped around how big, grand, and detail oriented I feel my projects and creations must be, especially when I am representing another company or shop.  After all, isn’t that what my “claim to fame” is?  Aren’t my creations most noted for the amount of detail that goes into each piece?

The pressures I put on myself are stress-inducing and as a result, I often hit a road block that I can’t seem to get over or through.  What happens in the end is I sit down, get to work, and hate every second of it.  Something that is suppose to be joyous and a release from the day to day turns into the day to day and a chore.  The mojo flees.  The creativity stagnates.  The desire is extinguished.

Please.  Sit back, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and just relax with me as I take you through my journey in simplicity.

It’s important to remember where we started as crafters and artists.  For me, it all started with a piece of pretty patterned paper and a photograph.  While I no longer scrapbook, I do still have remnants of those deeply seeded roots.  As such, it’s only fitting that I use a piece of patterned paper as a starting point.  Since I work in mixed media and I was focusing on more humble beginnings, collage seemed to be the way to go.  Simple yet effective.  On one side, I have this beautiful patterned paper, on the other, newsprint tissue paper.

Once my tiny shrine was assembled, I had to laugh as I sat down to add beads.  I guess I can never truly let go of the smallest details.  I came to understand that these tiny beads which are applied one by one with a needle and glue are very much a part of my art journey.

What this simple, tiny shrine has told me as it came to life is that detail may not be my problem.  Size is.  This teeny piece has taught me that even the smallest of projects and ideas can carry the same impact that larger pieces like my dolls and crowns do.  And maybe it isn’t necessarily about impact but more about heart.  My heart, soul, and a lot of self reckoning went into this itty bitty darling but the vision it has blessed me with is much grander.

“Go big or go home” can be equally applicable to the smallest of undertakings.  It’s okay to keep things simple even if your idea of simple may be a bit different than what is literal.  For me, “simple” means small.  Details can still be big, like the beads and the jewelry finding tucked inside this shrine.  But scale doesn’t always have to be “bigger is better”.

Supply List:

Retro Cafe Art Gallery Mini Houses Shrine Kit
Firemountain Gems Seed Beads
Patterned Paper
Tissue Paper
Mod Podge
Bookmark Blank
Jewelry Findings


Aged Crown Finish

I have received quite a large number of requests on how I did the finish on my Crown of the Ocean.

Because of the response this piece received, I decided it’s time to share just how simply this aged finish is to do.  Keep in mind that I am not replicating this finish exactly.  I am using a different crown base with different colors because this base will be used on my next crown.  You’ll have to stay tuned to see how it turns out!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Retro Cafe Art Gallery Style 2
Ten Seconds Studio VerDay Patina Paint System
Art Alchemy Metallique Paint “Steampunk Copper”
Gold Leaf
Leaf Adhesive
Heat tool

Stand by to be blown away at just how easy this is to do!

Step 1:  Coat crown base in gesso.  I do this so that the paint that will be applied in the next step stays nice and vivid without absorbing the chipboard color.

Step 2:  Apply acrylic paint with a sponge brush.  I brush it on and then dab over it to give it a rough finish.  It’s also a great way to hide brush strokes that you don’t want to be seen.

Step 3:  Once the paint has dried, use a sponge brush and randomly dab the iron paint from the VerDay kit onto the base.  Remember, perfection and precision are the enemy here.

Spray with patina spray and apply second coat according to product instructions.  Once it has cured, about 4 hours, this is the finish you end up with.

Step 4:  Be sure to carefully read the directions on the bottle of leafing adhesive.  If it is applied incorrectly, your leafing will not stick properly and will flake off.  Once your adhesive has dried for the requisite amount of time, stick the leafing on like you would do foiling.  Again, precision is not the goal here.  We want a random, muddled look that adds to the aged finish.

Step 5:  Use a SOFT paintbrush and brush away the excess leafing and finish the edges.  If you notice you have some hard edges in the leafing, simply scratch at it with your finger nail.  I recommend using a cheap synthetic watercolor brush.  A hard brush will remove the leafing.

Keep brushing the leaf and finishing the edges until you are happy with how it looks.  You can also reapply the adhesive and leaf to cover any “holes” you may see.

Step 6:  The easiest way to I have found to shape the crown without creasing it is with a heat tool.  Gently heat up the chipboard bases from behind and slowing shape the crown until the ends connect.  Take your time and be patient otherwise you will end up with creases.

Connect the crown pieces with the brads that are included and call it done!

The wonderful thing about this finish besides how simple it is to do is the crown could be considered complete at this point.  It’s such a beautiful and high impact look that any further embellishing is not necessary.  However, if you’re like me, more is more!

“Gabriella” Santos Shrine

Hi everyone!  I’m back today to share with you a project that was intended to go one direction, but in the end, took on a completely different idea as one idea failed and another proved to be fantastic!  I wish I had taken photos of the mishaps that forged the road ahead for Gabriella, but alas.  I did not.  In all honesty, I think I was too frustrated to even think about grabbing my camera.

You see, at first, she was going to have the face of Frida, but since that idea fell apart, more like broke upon my floor (literally), I decided to go in a different direction instead.

I have had this beaded beauty in my cabinet for some time now, just waiting for the perfect piece to put it one.  And talk about serendipity!  If you have followed me for a while, these pieces are hand beaded one by one using a needle, glue, seed beads, and micro beads.  Her “halo” is a piece of magic in itself.

I also wanted to try my hand at painting.  Not just regular shading, full color type painting.  Actual images in the vein of tole art painting.  I knew Gabriella was going to have a mix of cultural infusions and I wanted the shrine to be of a Mexican folk art style.

The inside of the shrine is a very cool printable from Xquizart that simply enhanced the look I was going for.

Gabriella’s heart is always at a low and hot smolder.  Passion for life, even in death is her mantra.

Would you like to know the secrets in assembling this piece?

Step 1:  I always prep my pieces with gesso simply because I almost always end up painting them.

Step 2:  I used Sandra Evertson’s “MUSE” stamps and stamped into Apoxie Sculpt.  I cut the excess clay away and used them in other moulds.  You notice the Frida face?  Yeah, well, she broke when I dropped her, thus the change in direction.  You can paint the pieces without the clay being dry.  It’s perfect for us impatient types.

Step 3:  Draw your design onto your pieces.  I used a pencil and then painted it in with acrylic paint.

Step 4:  Trace panels onto paper.  Cut and glue them to each piece.

Step 5:  Highlight the flowers with a white pen and ink edges.

Step 6:  For Gabriella’s smoldering heart, paint a base coat of acrylic paint.  Once it dries, apply a thick layer of Kroma Crackle that has been tinted with acrylic paint.  Heat set it with a heat tool.  This technique is one I learned from Michael DeMeng.

The Santos heart that serves as Gabriella’s bodice was done using a faux Kintsugi effect which I demonstrated on Facebook.  You can find the full video here.

Assemble your pieces using an industrial glue like E6000 or Goop.

Supply List:

Large Exquisite Santos Doll Antiquity Shrine Kit
Relics & Artifacts® “Rising Spirit IV with Wood Support”
Relics & Artifacts® “Flaming Hearts Ex Votos I”
Relics & Artifacts® “Ancient Soul”
Sandra Evertson “MUSE” Art Stamps “Mandala”
Sandra Evertson “Muse” Art Stamps “Muse”
Kroma Crackle
E6000 Industrial Adhesive
Xquisart “Hippie Chick”
Tumble Fish Studio “Cut apART”
Signo Uni-Ball White Gel Pen
Liquitex Acrylic Paint
StazOn “Jet Black”

“Make A Wish” Butterfly Doorplate

I remember when Kristin first came out with this beautiful Escutcheon Plates.  They were unique, simple, beautiful, and I had to have them.  Buuuuuuuut I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them.  Until now.

I’ve recently developed a newfound love for dies and my kids got me this Tim Holtz butterfly die with coordinating embossing folders and I’ve never used it.  Until now.

As many of you already know, I also love Relics & Artifacts and will continue using them when I can.  Especially now.

You know what else makes me all sort of giddy?  When friends come out with cool stuff to use.  Like Lynne Moncrieff’s stamps.

Would like to see how I put all of the elements I love together?

Step 1:  Prepare your pieces with gesso.  When gesso dries, use an adhesive and sprinkle glitter onto the plate.

Step 2:  Cut butterfly and emboss with coordinating folder.  Paint with acrylic paint and highlight with Inka Gold metallic rub.

Step 3:  Paint framing element with acrylic paints.

Step 4:  Use the flourish stencil and acrylic paint over the glittered doorplate.

Step 5:  While the doorplate dries, paint the Flora piece with acrylic paint and highlight with a lighter color.

Step 6:  Stamp sentiment and cut works apart.

Step 7:  Chalk the edges of each paper cutout and arrange on doorplate.

Step 8:  Add beading detail.

Simple stuff using elements we all love!

Supply List:
Retro Cafe Art Gallery Escutcheon Door Plate Style 1
Retro Cafe Art Gallery Large Flourish Stencil
Bohemian Jewel Aquamarine
Inka Gold

DecoArt Glamour Dust
DecoArt Acrylic Paint
“Lynne’s Affirmations” stamps
Tim Holtz Butterfly Die
StazOn Jet Black ink


Crown of the Ocean

Hi everyone!  I’ve gotten the crown itch again and this is one I’ve been wanting to do for what seems like forever.  My heart has always been drawn to the sea.  I always feel rejuvenated and at peace when I set on the sandy beach and stare out at the horizon.  This crown is the result of my combine respect and appreciate for what the ocean gives us and the power it wields.  It is full of life and just has it harbors it, it can easily take it away.  It has the power to render things from the small and insignificant to the mighty and regal, aged and fragile.

Here’s a brief tutorial on how I put this Crown of the Ocean together.  Because this piece never had a completed vision in my mind’s eye, I do not have proper stepped out photos.  This was totally a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of project.  All I knew when I started was that I wanted it to be a sea theme.

Step 1:  Paint your crown base with acrylic paints, both matte and metallic.  Once it dries, get the oxidized effect using any number of patina-creating kits out there.  After the patina fully cures and dries, apply gold leafing randomly all over the crown.  Dress it up with some dresden trim that has been treated with patina.  Finally, glue ball chain around the crown.

Step 2:  Paint your fancy shells using white gesso.  Apply a coat of opalescent paint in the center of the shells.  Use gold acrylic paint to dress up the outside edges and bring out that shine with a high impact metallic glaze.  I used Tattered Angels High Impact paint in “Antique Gold”.  Use a paintbrush and spread some resin on the inside of the shell and sprinkle some microbeads and add a pearl. The resin seals in the beads but it also looks like water.

Step 3:  Use the coral fans as embellishments!  Dress them up with Iced Enamels “Carnelian” or any other corally color you have.  You could even mix paints to achieve just the right orangey shade.

Step 4:  Start attaching your pieces to the crown base.  I started with the heavy shells first and then built around them.  You also will want to use a very strong glue like E6000 or Goop.  make use of those shells you found on your last trip to the beach!  Keeping them au naturale adds a softening contrast against the glitzy gold and vibrant coral.

Step 5:  Finish by attaching starfish.  I left mine their natural color so that the color of the coral is tied in with the rest of the crown.

Now sit back and admire your crafty genius!

Supply List:
Retro Cafe Art Gallery “Regal Chipboard Santos Crown Style 1” (you will need two)
Retro Cafe Art Gallery “Coral Cut-Outs”
Relics & Artifacts “Coquille”
Relics & Artifacts “Daisy Chain Small”
Ice Resin

Iced Enamels “Carnelian”
VerDay Patina Paint System
Liquitex Acrylic Paint “Gold”
Tattered Angels High Impact Paint “Antique Gold”
Art Alchemy Paint “Rich Turquoise”
Art Alchemy Opal Paint “Blue-Gold”
Art Alchemy Micro Beads “Bronze”
Art Alchemy Micro Beads “Splash”
Art Alchemy Micro Beads “Copper”
Tim Holtz Ball Chain
Gold Leaf and Adhesive
E6000 Adhesive
Shells, pearls, and starfish

A Teaser of My Heart

I’m active in my art universe again and working to keep this place here, my little creative space on the interwebz, updated!  I have a sneak peek here of my latest piece on the Relics & Artifacts® Muse!

I wanted to try something new and you’ll have to head over to see what I came up with.  Let’s just say, I needed to remind myself to LIVE OUT LOUD!

A Return and a Flaming Heart

Oh man does it feel GREAT to be back!  When the lovely Kristin of Retro Cafe Art Gallery decided to take some time away in order to prepare for the arrival of her gorgeous daughter, I thought it would be a good time to just relax, enjoy the down time and focus on other avenues such as school.  Now that the shop is open, it’s time to give this space here a little much needed TLC and what better way to start off on a new foot than sharing my HEART with all of you!

I’m always a sucker for shrines, shadow boxes, and niche boxes and this is one I’ve had in my stash for some time now.  To sit down with the pieces and paint and just let the process take over was pure magic.

After seeing some beautiful Mexican folk art pieces by my fellow Art Sister, Kim Collister, I was inspired.  I just let the vision in my mind flow through my hands but at the same time, I wanted to keep an element of traditional inspiration in the piece.

Shall we take a journey into my technical process?

Step 1:  Prep your Fancy Flaming Heart Milagro Shrine pieces with some gesso and color those babies!  Go wild, honey!  Go.  Wild.

Step 2:  Bust out that acrylic paint and sponge brush and go to town!  I like the bumpy look so I dabbed the paint onto the heart rather than brush it on.  You can also dab it onto your hands.  I may or may not have done so myself.Step 3:  Add more color and accent with some shading.  Like splatters?  Then splatter away!  (Mine ended up getting covered up, but I’m okay with that.)Step 4:  Glue everything together.  If you are like me and use E6000 or Goop, don’t forget to open a window.  I think I may have gotten a wee bit loopy unintentionally huffing the Goop.  I’m a sucker for beads and if you’ve seen my work, you’d already know this about me.  Why should this piece be any different?

Step 5:  More fine beading on the flames and tips.  For the niche, add some glue and dump some microbeads into it.  Why wait for that glue to dry?  Bust out the Goop (and a fan!) and glue your charm in.  Lovin’ my dainty border?  Take a length of seven of the small daisy chain dresden and cut that baby in half.  Be sure to use super sharp scissors!

Step 6:  Make a margarita, sit back, and just admire your creative process!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy not only my return to blogging but the re-opening of Retro Cafe Art Gallery.  I’m sure I speak for the rest of my Art Sisters by saying we are thrilled to be BACK!

Supply List:
Fancy Flaming Heart Milagro Shrine
Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint “Gold Rush”
Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint “Rich Turquoise”
Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint “Fresh Orange”
Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint “Ancient Coin”
Finnabair Art Ingredients Micro Beads “Copper”
Relics & Artifacts® Dresden Trim “Daisy Chain-Small”
Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint “Cadmium Red Medium Hue”
E6000 Glue
Milagros Charm
Seed Beads