Lines Across

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Geometric Colored Pencil Holder

*I was thrilled to get to create this fun tutorial and to snap some creative pix of some of my favorite Office Depot supplies as a part of a sponsored campaign. You can also share your creative pictures and how you use your Office Depot finds with #GearLove on social media.

When I first headed to Office Depot, I had big plans of making something very cool with basic office supplies like Post-its, washi tape, and paperclips. Of course I also couldn't resist getting some fun cupcake erasers, Sharpies, and scented markers as well. Also, did you know that Fiskars makes special scissors for cutting tape? The little blades are coated with a no stick surface so that the sticky tape residue doesn't build up. (P.S. I found everything picture above in rainbow glory at Office Depot... even the Sweedish Fish!)

However, I brought my four year old daughter along, and we both had a blast picking out some colorful office and craft supplies. She insisted we get this big tub of air dry clay, and I thought it would be a fun summer activity. But later when we got home and we playing with the clay, I got this idea to make a cool colored pencil holder. I wasn't totally sure if it would turn out quite how I had imagined, but it did!

I ended out using white paint, brushes, and a blade for cutting clay that I already had at home. However, you can find everything you need for this project at Office Depot.

What you need:

1. Crayola Air Dry Clay
2. Colored Pencils
3. White Paint
3. Box Cutter or large blade
5. Optional: Gold Sharpie Paint Marker

What you do:

1. Start by rolling a large piece of clay into a ball. I ended out making one for 12 colored pencils, but you could make a much larger one as well. The great thing about clay is that if you don't like how it's looking, it's super easy to start over.

2. Flatten the ball into a little dome. You are going to cut away at this later, so make it a little bigger than you think you may need.

3. Start pushing colored pencils into the ball. I used an old set I had lying around, because a little bit of the wet clay may end out sticking to the ends of your pencils. They are easy to clean though. I left all of them in to make sure that none of the holes were crossing and to see if I liked the way they all looked together.

4. Wiggle and twist each of the pencils to make the hole a little bit larger, then take them all out. Set this somewhere to dry overnight.

5. The clay won't have dried fully overnight, but will be harder and stiffer. I double checked that all of the pencil holes were still big enough.

6. Get your clay knife, box cutter, or sharp kitchen knife. Start cutting away chunks of the clay at random angles. It will create a cool geometric pattern. Make sure to cut away every surface of the clay so that nothing is rounded. Once again make sure that all of the pencil holes are clear of any excess clay, and let it dry again.

7. The clay probably needs 2 or 3 days to dry. Once it is dry, paint it with a couple coats of white paint, and enjoy. You could also use a gold paint marker to color in one or a few of the faceted areas.

(I picked up all of the Scotch Expressions washi tape in these pictures at Office Depot. Their selection of colorful tapes was seriously the largest I've seen anywhere.)

I had so much fun making this colored pencil holder, and I just love how it looks on my desk with my other colorful supplies. What's great is that you could make a million different versions of this same idea with air dry clay. I want to try making one to hold my Sharpies! You could also make one for your kids to hold their crayons. You could make one to hold your collection of gel pens. And what's great is that no matter what you end out making, you don't have to measure or drill anything!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

DIY Abstract Watercolor Canvas

I'm thrilled to announce that there will be a few new contributors here at Lines Across, starting with the oh so talented Natasha of Violet Tinder Studios. You may recognize her as @violettinder on Instagram and my partner in crime in the colorful candy pictures we've been sharing with #thecandyrainbow. Her colorful feed and artwork will brighten your day, and I'm so excited to see what all she has to share with us. 

P.S. If you're new to watercolors, you should check out my watercolors for beginners series, starting with this post on basic watercolor supplies.

Hi, I’m Natasha of Violet Tinder Studios! One of my very favorite things to do, is to paint. Typically, watercolor paintings are done on watercolor paper- it’s easy to store, it lays flat in a frame, and it’s generally more inexpensive than canvas. Lately however, I’ve been using my watercolors on canvas- it just creates the coolest look! Because canvas is denser and has more indentations, the overall effect is more textured and dimensional. Another perk is that it’s much more durable- you can wipe, blot, scrape, scratch- and the canvas remains intact. If you make a mistake (or even just want to try out different layering techniques), you don’t risk warping or shredding the canvas as you can with paper. Sounds like fun? Good, it is!! So let’s get to work!

(I also used this technique to create a lot of the prints in my Etsy shop, including the Turquoise Geode print shown above, as well as this free iPhone wallpaper where you can really see the texture of the canvas.)

What you’ll need:
* 1-4 paintbrushes (I like to use a variety of shapes to create different brushstrokes, but feel free to use as many as you like)
* A watercolor paint set (prices range dramatically but if you’re just starting, you can get some good, inexpensive sets from craft stores. You’ll probably want to stick with the dry pans if you’re just starting, as they’re easier to clean up and store than tubes.)
* A cup of water (you’ll want to rinse your brush in between colors to prevent creating unintended colors… water is also key to creating some fun effects)
* Your canvas (Most craft stores like Michael’s and Joann’s carry a wide variety of shapes and prices… 8x10 is a good size to give you enough canvas to work on, but still be easily transportable)
* A couple paper towels to blot up extra water/ wipe the canvas/ dry the brushes

Step one:
Lay out all your materials, including putting some butcher paper or newspaper under your canvas. Even watercolor painting can get messy! If you’re able, choose an area of your home that gets good lighting. It’s so much easier to see the colors and water-effects in a well-lit area.

Step two:
Part of the fun of painting on canvas is the looser, more abstract look it creates… so go with it! Pick a color palette to work with, and start by creating abstract brushstrokes on the canvas. Dots, lines, wide strokes… just have fun with it! Try playing with letting the colors bleed into each other- while one color is still wet, take another color and let that stroke brush against a previous one… the water acts like a magnet, pulling the two colors together and blending them where they meet. The more water you add, the further into each other the two colors will mix.
Make a brushstroke you don’t like? Take your paper towel and gently using the edge, wipe away the area you don’t like. It should wipe almost entirely clean-away! If there’s still any color residue, add a tiny bit more water to that part of the canvas and wipe again. It should virtually erase it!

Step three:
Keep adding colors and strokes to your liking, until the canvas slowly fills up. If you do NOT want certain colors to mix/touch, allow the first layer to dry completely before adding another. Generally, a fresh layer added to a dry layer will just “sit” on top, rather than blending together. Another great thing about watercolors, is that you can come and go as you please! If you must step away, and your painting dries, just add more water and it’s ready to go again.

Remember, if you paint something you don’t love, that’s ok! Unlike acrylic, it’s not permanent. Just wipe it off with some water, and continue- or better yet, layer on top and keep going! 
Most importantly, have fun!!!!

I would LOVE to see what you create- share them with me on Instagram, using #VioletTinderxLA so I can see your masterpieces!
Xx Natasha

{P.s. Find me on IG @violettinder and visit me at!}

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pink Color Study

I'm sharing another color study series today: Pink. You can see the original post over at I Spy DIY, and read the first post with the story of how I started taking these kinds of pictures here: Yellow.

There’s just something about pink craft supplies that always get me. As I’ve been collecting things of different colors and taking these color study pictures on Instagram, I’ve realized that by far I have the most pink things. I especially love that shade that is like a dark hot pink.

I love the ombre look of this pink thread, and how the different shades of pink buttons look all mixed together.

The color pink pictures brings out the girly and romantic side of me, and I just couldn’t help arranging some pink things into a heart. Maybe later I’ll put on my pink pajamas and fuzzy pink socks and watch chick flicks while eating ice cream covered in pink sprinkles.
I just love this quote by one of my very favorite artists, Andy Warhol: “There is beauty in everything, just not everyone sees it.” While I don’t believe that everything is equally beautiful, I think that there are so many simple things in our lives that we never really notice, but that have so much beauty. Things like scissors, or tape, or paper clips. Sorting things by color and arranging them together really makes you look at some of these simple everyday objects in a new light, and appreciate beauty in often overlooked places.

Be sure to share your color study type pictures (pictures that focus on generally one color) on Instagram with #lacolorstudies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Colorful Mother's Day Gift Basket

This past year, my mother has done so much for me and my family, and I really wanted to give her the best Mother's Day ever. Even though she works so hard at her job every day, she spends all of her free time helping me out and supporting my endeavors, and playing with my three kids. #Bestmomsdayever #collectivebias

Even though she is more of a math person and less artsy, she has always had a huge appreciation for beautiful things and colors, and she has always inspired me to appreciate beauty all around us, and enjoy nature and colors. Whenever I see something that is an especially beautiful color, or a cool picture of things lined up in rainbow order, I want to share it with her.

Well her favorite color has always been green. She especially loves lime green, so much so that every time I see anything that is that color green I immediately think of her. I wanted to put together a very fun and memorable gift basket for her for Mother's Day this year, but I didn't have a ton of time or money to spend. So with the help of the "One-Stop Shop" by American Greetings at Walmart, I was able to pick out a cute green card, a Mother's Day gift bag, green tissue paper, some Ghiradelli chocolate squares (minty green of course), and I was able to fill the gift bag with a collection of green gifts.

My kids also love colors, and have been helping me out with the color study type pictures I've been taking lately. So of course, they wanted to help out with the fun, and insisted I included some green jelly beans as a part of the gift. You can stop by Walmart and check out the convenient display and find everything you'll need for the #bestmomsdayever, from cards and wrapping, to candy, flowers, and gifts.

What are some other great ideas of things to include in a colorful gift basket?

#BestMomsDayEver Giveaway- $4,000 Prize Value

Monday, May 4, 2015

How to Use Stock Photos in Your Blog or Small Business

Thank you GraphicStock for sponsoring today's post. Even if you're someone who loves taking pictures and creating graphics, stock photos can be a very useful tool for your blog, website, or small business. Lately, I got a chance to download a lot of gorgeous high quality stock photos for free at Graphic Stock, and I've already used them a lot of different ways. For example, not only are all of the images featured above available for free at Graphic Stock, but so is the image of the computer screen I used!

All of the graphics and pictures below were put together in just a few minutes with free stock photos (except for the picture of me!).

How to get 140 stock photos for FREE:
1. Go over to Graphic Stock and sign up for the free trial.
2. You will have to give your credit card info, but you won't be billed anything for the first 7 days and there is no obligation to continue using it.
3. Cancel before 7 days. I'd recommend setting a reminder on your phone for the 6th day, just so you don't forget. And if you really like having access to all of the stock photos, there are some great monthly plans available.

There is a huge database of over 250,000 images available to download. Plus, all of the images are 100% royalty free and come with unrestricted rights for both personal and commercial use.

How to enhance your blog or small business with stock photos:

1. Incorporate stock photos into your website design. I especially love these watercolor images. However, a lot of people think of their website design as being limited to the header and sidebar. Remember that the content of your posts and pages is important too, and you can always create graphics with text to share things instead of just typing things in. For example, you could download an image or a notebook, and use a handwritten type font to write out your personal about me section.

2. Create printables or graphics to share on Social Media. You don't want to take credit for painting them or creating them yourself, but you can download a lot of cool backgrounds and textures, and then add text or quotes on top of them. This is a great way to share more beautiful and quality content on social media, especially if you're still working on your own photography skills. This one is so simple, you can even use apps on your phone (like A Beautiful Mess) to create text on top of a cute background from Graphic Stock.

3. Add cute text or word bubbles to your pictures.

4. Use them as backgrounds. I added "hello spring" over this beautiful watercolor raindrop background.

5. Use arrows or icons in blog posts and tutorials.

6. Create cute graphics for special promotions and announcements. Instead of just saying you're offering 20% off, or announcing that the summer line is now available, share the news with a beautiful graphic.
7. Use them when creating your business cards. There is even a large selection of pretty business cards that are already designed. All you have to do is add your own text.

I'm also giving away a year's subscription to! That's a whole lot of free stock photos and images ($588 value)! This giveaway ends May 18, 2015. How to enter:

1. Sign up for the free 7 day trial
2. Download at least one image.
3. Leave a comment below sharing which image you chose and how you plan to use it.

Don't forget to set a reminder on your phone to cancel your subscription after the 7 day trial if you don't want to be charged.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to Decorate a Space that Fosters Creativity

You've probably noticed that I love bright colors by now. That's why I was thrilled to get a chance to style this gorgeous yellow side table from Sauder's Soft Modern collection. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder. As always the opinions, photos, and text are all mine.

I had beautiful ideas in my head of how I would decorate my yellow side table. When it arrived, my 4 year old daughter Lyla helped me put it together.

She helped me pick out the perfect plant to go on top of my little yellow table. She even helped me paint the black and white brushstrokes planter for the colorful plant. (I just love how black and white looks next to bright yellow. I'd also recommend keeping your colors and decorations very minimal when working with a bright and modern piece like this one.)

Lyla also helped me pick out some books from around the house to set on the table to give it a little more height. (The table is very low. This look is very modern and trendy right now and looks great with other low furniture, but I also wanted to give the table just a little more height. A lamp would also do the same thing.)

And after all of this, Lyla had absolutely fallen in love with this little table. Yellow is already her favorite color, and she just adored this piece of furniture with it's little yellow drawer. So of course, I decided that she could have it and that it would be the perfect creative space for her.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably read a little about how Lyla is my shadow and loves making things, painting, taking pictures, etc just as much as I do. So I put her little yellow desk right next to mine, and decided to maker her her own creative space.

Now she keeps some of her most important craft supplies in her drawer: her watercolors, her little green scissors, some crayons, and of course washi tape. (..and apparently a little panda. I agree with Lyla, he is totally essential!) This modern yellow side table is the perfect size for a 4 year old's desk.

Here are a few tips for creating a space for a child that fosters creativity:

1. Bright colors - decorating with bright colors like the yellow desk and the rainbow brushes creates a stimulating space for kids.

2. Decorate with craft supplies. I just love how the pink ruler and paint brushes look on the wall over Lyla's desk... and so does she. It really makes the purpose of this area so clear.

3. Add some inspiration. I painted some letters to spell out M A K E... short and to the point. Plus, even though Lyla isn't reading yet, she knows what that word spells. You could also hang some cute printables.

4. Use washi tape. Hang artwork with washi tape. It's colorful and removable, and you can change out the art on display from time to time.

5. Keep it simple. We have a ton of craft supplies, but I like to keep them up and away from the kids. I wanted Lyla's desk to be simple and not overwhelming, so I encouraged her to pick out just a few supplies to keep close at hand in her drawer. That way, the little desk stays clear and ready for a quick project. She especially loves coming home from school and making cards for her friends.

One of the things I love about Sauder furniture is how affordable and versatile it is. Be sure to check out the Sauder lookbook to see more examples of the different ways real people decorated the same pieces in their homes. You can also follow along with Sauder on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Do you have any advice for putting together a creative space? What few items would you include in your essential drawer?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Watercolor for Beginners 4 - Polka Dot Art

It's been a while since I shared a watercolor tutorial, but I have a few more posts and projects still in the works. This polka dot watercolor art is really fun, and so easy that even little kids can do it. If you're new to watercolors, I'd start with this post here: BASIC WATERCOLOR SUPPLIES.

And if you love polka dots even half as much as I do, you'll want to check out all of the great posts and projects happening during POLKA DOT WEEK! Thanks so much Rachel from R & R Workshop for organizing!

What you need:

1. Watercolors (I use and love this set )
2. Q-Tips
3. Water
4. Palette
5. Watercolor paper
6. Letter shaped stickers (These would be great but maybe a little small)
7. Paint brush
8. Paper Towel

What you do:

1. Start by mixing some watercolors with water in a palette. I ended out using the four different shades of blue that came in my set of 24 watercolors. You could play around with a lot of different fun colors and combinations. You may want to test your mixes to see if they need more water or more pigment.

2. Place your sticker letters on your paper. You may want to press the stickers on your hand a few times to make them slightly less sticky, so they don't tear the paper when you pull them off. I actually used vinyl and my Silhouette to cut these letters, but stickers work just as well.

3. Dip a Q-tip in water, then in one of the colors. Start pressing down all over your paper to make little watercolor dots. You want more dots closer to and right around the letters.

Tip: If you want your dots to have that uneven watercolor look, you can go back in with a small paintbrush and some clear water, and add a little drop of water to the center of a dot while the paint is still wet. (I didn't use this technique here, but I often do and it is really pretty!)

4. Switch colors and add more dots. It's really important that you don't let dots overlap while the paint is still wet or even a little bit wet. Keep adding colors and placing more dots.

5. Take a little break and let all of the dots dry. You may need to add a little water to the watercolors you mixed in your little palette to keep them from drying out.

Tip: Even after watercolors have completely dried on your palette, you can add water to them and they will still work perfectly.

6. Go back in and add some more overlapping layers once the first set of dots are dry. It's really important that there are a lot of dots directly on and around the sticker letters. If you leave too many of the edges blank, the letters won't look crisp and clear.

7. Let the second layer dry, then carefully peel away the stickers, and enjoy your little work of art.

This is also a really fun craft for kids. I added some letters to another piece of watercolor paper and mixed up a few colors for my 4 year old daughter Lyla. Although she definitely started mixing some colors together and ended up with a lot of brownish dots, and she wanted to add some pencil drawings to the mix, it still turned out cute, and she had a lot of fun.

This girl loves painting maybe as much as I do, and it really is a great joy to make projects with her.

Catch up on the Watercolors for Beginners series:

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