Saturday, February 9, 2013


February, 1904
FANCY WORK by Maie Cabot
                 “The custom of sending valentines seems to grow in favor each year, but the style has changed and they are taking on a more practical form.  Books, sachets, confectionery, flowers, and dozens of pretty heart shaped articles for use have taken the place of the wonderful combination of lace paper Cupids and rhymes.  We are told each year that the custom will not prevail long, but when the 2nd week in February rolls around the windows are full with beautiful creations.  Dainty cards and sentimental ones, vie with the more costly and practical heart-shaped articles.”
                  Except for the fact that today there is not even the slightest hint that “the custom will not prevail”, the paragraph quoted above is as true today as it was 109 years ago.  Over the next few days I will be giving you some mini “valentines” with a different twist…they can be used to decorate a mini room (vintage or modern) for the holiday, to help fill the shelves of a heart-themed shop, to send as a token of love to a friend, or simply making a “heart-something” just for the pure fun of “doing-it-yourself.



A practical, yet decorative, addition to a room setting. 

You will need:  #26 gauge wire + wire cutters + wooden hearts in approx. sizes shown (craft stores offer these hearts in bags of asst. sizes, while not necessary, they will make the shaping easier 
(  ) +  round toothpick with or without a turned end  +  Dremel Rotary Tool and/or pin vise
(  ) with a  drill bit  small enough to ream out a round toothpick  +  tacky glue  +  paint or stain of choice

          Cut two, 6” lengths of wire.  Cross them at the middle and twist them tightly together about 4 times…remember to twist and not just wrap one wire around the other. 

          Shape twisted wires as show in diagram.  Form wires into heart shapes using wooden hearts as a form or heart diagrams as a guide. 

                  Cut a round toothpick to a 1 ½” length for the handle.  Use a pin vise and/or a drill or Dremel Moto tool with a drill bit slightly smaller then thickness of toothpick to ream out a hole down in the center of one end of the toothpick handle.  It should be deep enough to take approx. ¼” of the extended wires.  Sand other end rounded.  Insert wire ends (which have been cut to depth of hole in handle) into handle with a bit of glue.  Let glue set.  Stain or paint handle as desired.  A thread tie may be added.  

Go beat the dust from your mini rugs!


                  You will need 12 matching hearts.  These may be the red printies as given here or you may choose to use the printies for the top of the hearts and cut matching hearts from solid red paper which is slightly heavier, such as cardstock/scrapbook paper….this is what I did .  Note: If you choose to use the heavier paper method, to make the cutting faster, simply cut 6 printie hearts out in a continuous strip; add dots of glue to the back side of the printie strip on areas around, but not touching the hearts and press onto the heavier paper.  You will now be able to cut the front and backing hearts out together.  You may also choose a decorated heart for the lowest heart from the images given. 

Click on image to save to computer.
Print onto Bright White paper at best printer settings

                 Glue two hearts together, red sides facing up, by running a thin line of glue on the back side of the front heart, from side to point to side and then pressing onto the red side of the 2nd heart.  This will form a pocket to hold the valentines. 

                 Glue each of the  6 heart pockets to one another, starting at the bottom with a decorated heart  using the graphic photo somewhat as a guide.  

           Make a red thread tassel using the directions given for Project #1 and glue to point of bottom heart.  For the hanger, make a small thread loop and glue to it to the back of the top heart.

                  Print Valentines onto Matt Presentation Paper using best printer settings.  Cut out and arrange as desired (along with some envelopes, if desired) in heart pockets.


The Woman’s Magazine, February, 1904, called this project from their Fancy Work column “a cunning little contrivance”.  

(As it appeared in the magazine)

You will need:  copy of Letter Holder printie on bright whate paper +  a quality glue stick + tacky glue diluted to the consistency of honey + pointed toothpick or pointed stylus +  cotton sewing thread

Cut out base piece and base backing piece.  Score along the four sides of the base piece, fold edges to back and glue to hold.  Glue the base backing piece evenly to the back of the base, using a quality glue stick.  Cut four, approx. 4” lengths of white cotton sewing thread; tie them together on one end with a knot.  With your finger tips wipe a bit of glue over the group of threads and immediately twist them tightly; hold until the glue sets and the twists hold their shape, adding a bit more glue if necessary.  Use the twisted thread to cover the top and bottom edges of the base and to form the hanger at the top…knotting each end of the hanger before cutting.  Make e tassels of the same sewing thread by holding four, 4” lengths of the thread together and tying a tight overhand knot in the center.  Tie two more knots on each side of the center knot, spaced well away from each other.  Add a dab of the watered glue to one end of each knot. On the other side of each knot cut the threads to approx. 1/8” length; fray out the threads.  Cut the threads off just past the other end (glued end) of the knot.  Attach the tassels to the twisted thread on the bottom of the base with a tiny dab of tacky glue.  Set aside.

Cut out the pink hearts in a strip and glue back to back to the pink-heart-backing-strip.  Let glue set.  Carefully cut out the 6 hearts.  Set aside.

Cut out the 6 decorated hearts and the matching plain white hearts, eliminating as much of the black outline as possible.  On the inside of a decorated heart run a thin line of tacky glue just inside the edge, from side to point to side as marked.  Glue the decorated heart, evenly, to a plain white heart, making sure the formed, heart pocket will open from the top.

To add dimension to the lettering on the base piece and the heart designs you will need a tacky glue about the consistency of honey, so you will probably need to add water to yours.  Add water as needed and stir until smooth.  Using a pointed toothpick or pointed stylus, pick up a tiny dab of glue and “draw” over the lettering on the base piece and the ribbon design on the decorated hearts.  Take you time and do a neat job.  Hint: if you add the glue while holding the pieces in your hand you will find the job easier if you put some glue on your left thumbnail (assuming you are right handed) and use it as a palette.  This way your hand and eyes will not have to go so far from your work to add more glue to your tool.   Let the glue dry thoroughly.  You may choose to add a tiny jewel or no-hole bead, etc. over the flowers on the heart design. 

Glue the heart pockets to the base using the diagram as a guide.  Start with the top two, then the two outside center ones, next the center one and then the bottom one.

When all glue has set fill the heart pockets with envelops and mail as desired.  Use the printies given here and/or design your own that then may be personalized as desired for a bit of fun or whimsy. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Each year the Chinese celebrate various holidays, but the major one is New Years.  The date coincides with the new moon and will be somewhere between January 21 and February 19.  This year it falls on February 10th.  The Chinese name each year after an animal.  Legend has it that a long time ago Buddha called all of the animals together to help protect and guard the new year.  Only twelve came forward and to those were given designated years.  This year is the Year of the Snake.  Various meanings are given to each of the 12 animals and for fun these meanings can be used to tell our fortunes by the year in which we were born.  This is often called the Chinese Zodiac.  To see what your animal and your fortune is do an online search here   and elsewhere.

Chinese New Year is celebrated with parades, parties, and many special events.  There are splendid decorations, delicious foods, delightful games, songs and stories, and enough tradition to fill a book.    
Alas, for most of us the closest we will get to celebrating this holiday will be more like this miniature scenario I have created for your DIY pleasure….Chinese take-away and maybe a bit of perusing Chinese cook books. 

Enjoy!   Happy HSIN-NIEN,


Print book covers on Matt Presentation paper at best printer settings.  Print pages on Bright White paper at best printer settings.  Scoring lines before cutting out make the job easier. 

Working on the yellow book:  This will be a blank page book.  Use a pointed stylus to score spine and flap lines.  Fold on scored lines.  Using either an unlined scrap tablet or an unwanted magazine, cut a page section that is slightly smaller all around than the book.   Remove pages until the whole is slightly thinner than the spine section of the book jacket.  Glue the spine of the pages to the spine of the cover using a quality glue stick.  Glue the flaps of the book jacket over the first and last pages of the book. 
The ochre and black books:  Score and fold on spine lines.  Cut a page section as described above and glue into the cover by adhering the inside of the cover to the first and last pages of the filler piece.

The open book:  Use a copy of either the black or ochre cover ( you will not be seeing the cover if displayed as seen).  Working on the long page printie, score on all lines.  Fold the pages accordion-style, with the first fold an inward one.  Using a quality glue stick, glue the pages together in pairs, from the back side.  With the two printed pages showing, press down on the pages to slightly flatten.  Glue the first and last pages to the front and back sections of the cover, placed so the spine of the pages is lined up with and touching the spine of the cover.  With the book open, press flat until the glue has set.

 Make copies of containers on Matte Presentation paper.  Score on all lines before cutting out.  Carefully cut out the container.  Fold all side sections up and inward.  Glue the flaps over the sides, overlapping them.  Fold the tops inward if the container is to be closed and outward if it is to be displayed open.  A wire handle can be added if desired…with the advent of the microwave the wire handles seem to have disappeared from the containers.

            Make printie of placemat front and back onto Matte Presentation paper.  Cut out and glue together, back to back using a quality glue stick. Tint edges of mat to match the border using water color pencil or permanent marker pen.  Using a small ball stylus, trace over the woven pattern with enough pressure to indent the paper, adding dimension. 

           Make copy of plate on Semi Gloss Photo Paper.  Cut out and tint edges of plate to match border color, using a water color pencil or permanent marker pen.  Lay the plate on a slightly giving surface such as a scrap of cardboard or matboard and trace around the border edge with a small ball stylus.  Start with just a slight pressure the first time around, adding more pressure on subsequent go-a rounds until the edge turns up slightly.  You can slightly lift up the edges of plate with your fingers if the tracing pressure does not work for you.
                                            THE FOOD

             Fried Rice:  Make a cold-porcelain type of air-dry clay.  
       In a small saucepan, mix together, ½ cup baking soda and ¼ cup cornstarch; add 1/3 cup cold water and stir until smooth.  Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture holds its shape and resembles mashed potatoes.  Remove from heat and cover until it is cool enough to handle.  Knead in 3 tablespoons of a Tacky glue until the mixture is smooth.  Store in an air tight container, such as a plastic baggie.  The clay may be colored with chalk dust, craft paints, etc.  The clay will air dry hard.  Of course you may choose to add a polymer clay such as Fimo, Sculpey, etc.

 For the fried rice, knead in ochre colored chalk dust (scrapings from chalk) or acrylic .craft paint into a small pinch of clay.   Roll out thin, chop up and let dry some.  The drying time may be shortened with heat.  When the rice mixture is almost dry, use a razor blade to chop into fine bits…miniature rice-size.  Let dry thoroughly.  Cut up bits of orange fun foam for carrots.  For peas I poured some green no-hole beads into a small container and tossed them with a bit of pea-green acrylic paint.  When dry I added them to the rice and tossed.
             -      I filled a take-out container with the fried rice and finished by dribbling watered down tacky glue over the mixture…it will flow, over and down and hold the mixture together without disturbing it.
--    I placed a serving sized portion of the rice on a piece of plastic wrap and dribbled some of the watered-down Tacky glue over it.  When the glue had set I pried up the rice and glued it on the plate.

Stir Fry:    To make as seen, you will need rolls of dark green, yellow, and ecru floral tape.  Floral tape comes in many colors and has many uses miniature-wise….check online and/or you local craft stores.  Cut the tape in half lengthwise.  Pull and twist the tape into a tight, thin piece.  Cut tape into mini string beans.  Repeat for onion slices using yellow or ecru color tape.  Cut carrots slices from orange Fun Foam.  Toss all of the pieces together on a piece of glass.  Make a light brown glaze mixture by adding a drop or two of amber color nail polish or amber color resin dye   to clear nail polish.  Or you may choose to use a transparent glass stain.  Add enough of the amber coating to your stir fry to cover and toss.  Fill a take-out container with the stir fry.  Add a portion to your plate.

Kung Pao Chicken:  Cut yellow floral tape half lengthwise.  Cut lengths into squares.  Roll squares into irregular shaped balls for the chicken.  Mix in bits of green and red floral tape  peppers  prepared as for the stir fry veggies above.  Mix chicken and veggies together with the amber “sauce” mentioned above.  Fill a take out container.  Spread a little bit of the amber dye on your serving plate and top with the Kung Pao Chicken.
Noodles:  Noodles can easily be made by separating the individual threads that make up threads such as Knit-Cro-Sheen.  The individual threads will be very thin and should be a bit “curly upon separation.  Lightly roll the threads into a ball in the palm of your hand.  Toss with some veggies and meats and “sauce” depending on the dish you are “cooking”.

Cut slivers from bamboo skewers.  Cut into 13/16” lengths.  Sand one end tapered to a point and the other end squared-off.

Fortune Cookies:  Punch a round from manila folder paper using a ¼” round paper punch.  Lay a round toothpick across the center of a punched round and fold the round in half.  Remove the toothpick.  Holding the folded round by the very edge of the unfolded edges, use the fat edge of a round toothpick to lightly push in on the folded edge of the cookie-to-be to indent it just a bit.  Pinch the two pointed end of the cookie slightly together to get the fortune cookie shape.   Tint the unfolded ends of the cookie an amber/toasted color with chalk dust applied with a small flat brush.

          The body of the teapot is a bead and can be made of glass, plastic, wood, resin, in various shapes and sizes.  The spout and handle are  plastic coated telephone wire shaped with needlenose pliers.  The base and lid are punched rounds of tag board.  The knob is a seed bead.  As seen the whole pot is painted white and decorated with lightweight paper cut-outs.  Fingernail decals, and tiny stickers are also something to explore.  A final finish is clear nail enamel.  These types of teapots are fun to make and you should be able to find some interesting beads and findings in your miniature stash to create your own designs


 Giving of red envelopes holding money or small gifts are a Chinese New Year tradition to enhance happiness, prosperity, and luck.  Our local Chinese restaurant, Dragon Palace, (which is wonderful and we are so lucky to have in this small community) always includes these fun little gifts during their New Years
Print on to Bright white paper on best printer settings.  Cut out &score on tab and flap lines.  fold in half and glue sides to tabs.  Fold down green flaps. 

For your enjoyment and inspiration the following are photos of my February 1995 magazine DIY project, CHINESE NEW YEAR.