Merchant Kitty

Crafting resources, classes, and merchandise

Category: Gifts (Page 1 of 3)

2×4 Fall Art

Reversible Thanksgiving / Christmas Blocks with 2×4’s

We made these reversible thanksgiving/ Christmas blocks from 2 x 4’s for the craft show.  Of course they are super easy (after the nasty cutting and sanding stage).  We color washed them and decoupaged scrapbook paper to the front and back.  This first set is free handed letters.

2x4 holiday blocks

give thanks and Christ is born reversible holiday blocks from 2×4 scraps


We also made some with letters cut with the Silhouette.

2×4 pumpkin blocks

But what I really fell in love with was the 2×4 block pumpkins.  I decoupaged all four sides and added a stem and burlap leaves.  The stem is a paper funnel wrapped with yarn or jute.  I painted my burlap with decoupage (actually I ran out of Modge Podge about half way through, so you will be happy to know I substituted elmer’s glue straight from the bottle with no noticeable difference).  The “decoupage” made the burlap stiff so I could cut out leaf shapes.  I wrapped a bit of craft wire with brown floral tape and hot glued the burlap leaves to it after wrapping it around the stem.  They were a little more work with the stem and flowers, but oh, so worth it!

2x4 pumpkin blocks

2×4’s decorated with scrapbook paper and stems are fun and festive

2×4 pumpkin

Here is a taller large pumpkin in a 2×4 grouping.  I used the freezer paper transfer method to apply lettering and flourishes to the pumpkins and hot glued them together.  They don’t like to be dropped on concrete though.  I think I have dropped them about 3 times now and had to glue them back together.

2x4 pumpkin art

pumpkin fashioned from three 2×4’s

4×4 pumpkins

These pumpkins are made from fence post.  I just used some scraps for the stems.

pumpkin blocks from 4x4 fence post scraps

pumpkin blocks from 4×4 fence post scraps

Have you used salvage wood for your fall decorations?  We would like to hear about it in the comments!

Pallet Art

I have been busy in “the dungeon” (the garage) preparing pallets for painting.  Pallets render beautiful wood that is perfect for distressed signs.  The older and shabbier the wood the more beautiful it seems to be.  My only complaint would be dis-assembly.  They are an absolute pain to get apart.  I am not a big fan of sawing and sanding either, but even with new wood, you would be in for that.  It’s best just to spend a day committed to being filthy and get it done.

pallet with color wash

Color wash pallet art. Adjust the intensity of the color by adding water.

My favorite way to finish old wood is to white wash or color wash.  I am not very scientific about it I am afraid.  I have become very lazy.  I just wet a paper towel, barely ring it out and dab it in paint and rub it in like lotion.  If you want it darker just get more paint.  If you get it on and decide it is too dark, just make sure your paper towel is wet and wipe it away.  You get a nice color but are still able to see all the wood grain and character flaws that make each piece unique!  If your wood is too new and you are wanting that old weathered look, you can go back over the edges and larger scars with a bit of black (if you do a color other than black).

hand painted pallet art

Free hand lettering on pallet art

Now about lettering…  There are several ways you can go about it.  There is always the vinyl letter standby.  You can rub on a transfer using the freezer paper method. (One thing to mention is that on a dry surface like unfinished wood or color washed wood is that you  cannot wipe away mistakes like you can on a painted surface.  The thirsty wood absorbs the ink readily.  The third way is to free hand your lettering.

Lately I have just been super lazy.  I don’t want to cut or print anything out, I just want to get to it.  So I lightly pencil in my letters.  I don’t worry about the font style or anything like that, just get the basic size down.  There are a few key components to nice free hand lettering:

  1. Keep the aspect ratio correct.  Lower case letters and a little more than half of upper case and tall letters.  All letters keep the same height and spacing.  If your size gets off, return back to the size at the beginning of the word so that it looks like it is on purpose.
  2. Keep your letters on a straight plane.  If you find it is impossible to keep them straight, your only option is to make them crooked on purpose by tilting each letter a different direction
  3. Match your characters.  If your saying has more than one e, then your e’s should look the same.  Lower case a, d, q, o, p, b, & g should have the same roundness and legs or matching serifs (the little marks at the end of the legs)  Lower case r, n, m should also look alike.
  4. I usually rough in my letters, and then go back and fill in thicknesses, fancy curves, and serifs, always erring on the side of less, since you can always make the letter thicker, but once it is too fat your stuck, unless your good at getting the paint off.
  5. Keep telling yourself, you can always paint over it, and many times you can wipe off mistakes with a brisk scrub, and it is just a pallet.  The world is not over if it fails.  Pep talks help me to keep moving forward when I inevitably get to that point where I think I have messed it up beyond hope.  I find myself at that stage in nearly every craft I take on.  “It’s ruined now.  All I can do is try to fix it” And I spend the rest of the time hoping no one sees it until I am able to rectify a colossal mistake.
  6. Take a look at similar pieces and try to see what makes it better than yours.  Many times it is a subtle shadow or an added color that gives it depth that you never noticed before.  If you are all done with your lettering but it just doesn’t have that gorgeous feel, yet you know your letters are well made, it might be that depth that is missing.  I will sometimes take a dry paper towel and rub off a little paint, or water down some dark paint to create shadows under and around my letters.  I might add another color with colored pencil or outline with a sharpie for some stark definition. It might need the color of the letters on the edges of the sign to pull it all together.

Here are some more pallet signs!  Reward for good behavior in the dungeon!

Life is better in flip flops wood sign

hand painted wood sign


Pallet salvage

Reversible pallet salvage
Happy Harvest/ It’s beginning to look a lot like Chirstmas


Key sign with hooks to keep your keys

Key storage Made from salvaged pallets

Pallet decor

This fence like structure created from salvaged pallet wood gives you instant hanging space in any corner

Tune my Heart to Sing thy grace salvaged pallet sign

Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace hand painted wooden sign

A yawn is a silent scream for coffee with coffee hooks

A yawn is a silent scream for coffee with hooks for coffee cups


Paint Can Spruce Up

paint cans as cookie tins

paint cans embellished with scrapbook paper and burlap makes a great decorative container or popcorn & cookie tin to give at the holidays


We purchased these paint cans for a ladies retreat in October.  They are super easy to class up with scrapbook paper, or fabric and ribbon.  New cans can be purchased from your local paint dealer.  Ours cost $2 and we decided it would make a great cookie/ treat tin for the holidays.  It takes two papers to cover each can.  You can remove the handles to make it easier to manage.  Punch holes where the handles go with a large hole punch or circle cutter. Paint cans are great because they have straight sides so there is no guess work getting your paper to fit.  You only need to hot glue the edges of the paper.  One thing to note is that the cans are metal which means they cool down your glue very quickly.  It helps to apply the glue to the paper instead of the can, but you still must work quickly before the glue cools. Add a contrasting belly band, a wide ribbon or a strip of burlap.  We added burlap and burlap rosettes.

Experience Painting Classes with MK

I just wanted to show off the awesome work by the ladies in the painting class Wednesday morning at Java Loft!  This is a three part project featuring different coffee drinks and then hung together with a ribbon.

Painting Class

Showing off our art!

Painting Class

Showing off our art!

Merchant Kitty Painting Class

The Java Loft provided a beautiful and appropriate atmosphere for our coffee painting!

Painting Class

Skills improving with the 3rd and final canvas

Painting Class

Working hard on a three piece coffee painting.

Art Class

Painting means every piece is unique! A quick look over the shoulder!

Painting Class

Working on the backgrounds for our first canvass.

Painting Class

Painting and friends! A perfect way to begin the day!

Painting Class

Ladies enjoying friends and art at the Java Loft

This particular class was a morning class which we got to enjoy with our coffee!  Friends, art, and coffee.  Now that is what I call therapy!

Merchant Kitty offers all kinds of classes from painting, to signs, and paper crafts to sewing.  If you have a group or event I can adapt for your group.  I will be in the Clovis, NM area throughout the summer.  See more on the Merchant Kitty website.

I just want to say thank you to Java Loft in Clovis, NM for a lovely time.  They have great coffee, a beautiful facility, and wonderful service!

Owl Mixed Media

I got a chance to step out of my comfort zone this week trying to match a nursery for a baby gift.  I generally stick to a vintage look like floral and damask, but this needed some harder contrasts and a whimsical look.  So I took inspiration from a scrap book pad for style direction. The stripes and dots which became the tree came from one of these pages.  I made a quick chevron template from a stripe page.  The flowers were a design based on a polka dot backround in the paper pack. What helped it really pull together was outlining everything with a brown sharpie.Then I cut out coordinating owl shapes from the paper pack and decoupaged them on to the painting.  The eyes were flowers.  I used the Sharpie to write the verse.  Then I hot glued some gems on to the eyes and spritzed opalessence over the entire piece.  Viola!

mixed media owl

Mixed Media Owl










Using Old Tools for Decoration

In an attempt to make these tools more decorative for a ladies meeting, I tried the freezer paper transfer method to apply some verses that went along with a construction theme.  Once you have tried transferring with the freezer paper method, I promise you too will want to print on anything that stands still!  These tools would be perfect for that man cave or fancy garage or workshop or displaying grandpa’s old tool box, Father’s Day or masculine birthday.

Verses were transferred to these tools using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to these tools using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to these tools using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to these tools using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to this tool box  using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to this tool box using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to these tools using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to these tools using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to these tools using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

Verses were transferred to these tools using freezer paper and setting with matte finish.

blue print decorations

These blue prints were made by printing out and then spritzing the paper with diluted blue ink.

Craft Class Clovis NM Squash Book

Squash Books from start to finish

Thursday, April 10th 5:00—7:00

in the Hobby Lobby classroom

Cost $15 includes materials and embellishments

Bring a friend for 1/2 price

What to bring (optional) a few photos or

2 dimensional memorabilia like ticket stubs

Please RSVP for classes by phone, text or email
Cash Check or Card accepted

Charlotte Crowder

Learn how to make a squash book, or just get together with friends or family and do a craft without having to clean up the mess or decimate your house! The Hobby Lobby classroom is located on Prince street at the back of the store. Just ask an associate to point you in the right direction (or act like your looking for a bathroom) Late comers are still welcome, so if you don’t make it at the beginning of class, don’t worry, this craft is an easy catch up, so if you miss the beginning it’s not a big deal. If you don’t know what a squash book is, see the previous post.

Squash Book Tutorial

Greeting Cards

I have been going through my Pinterest Pins.  I keep a selection of Cards that I want to make.  I came across a great deal for some paper collections and have been crafting away.  These are some of my results:

hand made card




Hand Made Card Ruffles 20140226_151811 20140226_151800 20140226_151747 20140226_151734 20140226_151723 20140226_151710 20140226_151652 20140226_151638 20140226_151624 20140226_151612 20140226_151531 20140226_151519 20140226_151504 20140226_151450 20140226_151439 20140226_151420 20140226_151333

hand made card20140226_151333


I have to admit, they are a little weird if you are not familiar with meringues.  They are made only with egg.  Not even the yolk, just the whites.  How good could it be right?  We were looking for some gluten free cookie options (not for me – I have no problem with gluten.  You can give all your extra gluten to me!  This was for the gluten haters.)  We saw quite a few recommendations for these meringues.

They are kindof like cotton candy.  They literally melt in your mouth when you bite into them, and they are very sweet.  I had a very low heat long cook time recipe which called for 2 hours cooking time at 200 degrees.  The results were “commercial style” meringues that were crisp all the way through.  I did however try some throughout the cooking time out of sheer impatience.  Lesser cooked meringues are somewhat chewy, but either way, they quickly dissolve like cotton candy once they are in your mouth.

They were a huge hit with the kids (keep in mind they are much more like candy than cookies).  I did discover getting the meringue to peak is a gamble.  There are unlimited reasons why people think egg whites will fail to “peak”.    Old eggs vs. fresh eggs, warm mixing bowl vs. cool mixing bowl, humidity, accidentally contaminating with egg yolk or some other oily substance.  Too many variables for an impatient have-to-have-it-now person like me.  I can’t wait the two hours to taste them!  The first time I tried, I knew none of these “rules”.  I was on the phone and not even paying attention.  I piped them out and they were perfect.  The second time was a flop.  That’s when I turned to the internet to try to save them.  I ended up throwing them out and starting over.  3rd batch were not as fluffy, so I just piped them out anyways.  They tasted fine, but weren’t as perfect looking.

The next  day, I got good peaks, but I wanted to try coffee flavored (YUM) and the coffee killed some of the fluff.  Who cares!  Did I say YUM?  So if you are going to try to make meringues and can’t decide what flavor to go with, try coffee instead of the flavor listed and add a little vanilla.  Also, they are best fresh, as in still warm in the oven when you are supposed to be leaving them alone to cook! ;)

I didn’t get pictures of the coffee ones – not because they were ugly- they actually looked ok, but because we were in a big hurry for our party.  I decided to write off non-peaking egg whites to “cranky chickens”.  So watch out!

coconut meringues coconut meringues cocunut meringuesSee the missing cookies?  “I’m sorry kids, there just aren’t enough!  I’ll have to make more”

One more cool thing, I didn’t know that you can pipe out meringue into shapes and use it for cake decorating.  You can pipe out letters and flowers and anything you can do with cake frosting and get crunchy little sugary cake decorations.   AAAAAhh some!

1/4 tsp flavoring (orange, coconut, almond, cherry, vanilla, whatever floats your boat extract)  for coffee you need about a Tbl strong coffee and 1/4 tsp vanilla and fold the coffee in right before piping

3 egg whites

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar (this helps the eggs peak – unless the chickens who laid them were cranky, in which case it gives you a good excuse buy cream of tartar and look like you are a smart chef)

3/4 c. granulated sugar (supposedly the sugar is an aid in getting the eggs to peak, although I find I can get eggs to peak just fine until I add sugar so I am sticking with the cranky chicken theory)

Add egg whites, flavoring and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl and whip egg whites to soft peaks.  Slowly add sugar and whip to stiff peaks.  If you over whip they fall back down so watch out.

To get that little two tone pinwheel, drop food coloring down the sides of your piping bag.  Pretty heavy if you want vibrant stripes.  Spoon meringue into piping bag.  Pipe meringue onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake at 200 degrees F for 2 hours.  Let the meringues cool in the oven to avoid cracking.  I skipped this step 3 times and  never got a crack so follow at your own peril.  Store in an air tight container.

For all those “don’t eat that it has raw egg in it” people, remember, meringue pies are put right onto the pie and only browned before serving.  These are edible at any time from the mixing bowl to the 3 hour cure time and basically taste the same other than texture changes.

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