Record frame instagram photo wallHappy Friday! February went by so fast, right? Before March rolls around we thought we would go through some of our favorite posts from the month. Ready for a recap? Let's start with Elsie's record frame Instagram photo wall

Easy homemade tomato sauceDouble-stuffed oreo jello shotsHomemade pepper jack crackersBest baked sweet potato friesWe shared some delicious recipes for you to try, including easy homemade tomato sauce, baked sweet potato fries, cheddar chive popoversbowtie pumpkin pasta with sage butter, double-stuffed Oreo jello shots, homemade pepper jack crackers, red velvet baked pancakes, and more!

Hand lettering tips with ElsieElsie's hand lettering tips was one of the most popular posts of the month.

Charleston travel guideElsie and Emma visited Charleston, South Carolina and shared a travel guide filled with their favorite restaurants, shops, and colorful homes.

Upgrade your handbag with colorful spikesWe showed you how easy it is to upgrade a handbag as part of our "Try This" series.

Make real silver jewelry with metal clayDid you know that you can make real silver jewelry out of metal clay? This is one of our favorite jewelry DIYs!

Cold weather photography tipsTry these tips for taking photos in cold weather to get some gorgeous shots during the winter months.

At Home with Kara HauptWe brought back our At Home With series and shared this cute apartment.

Piggy scrapbookElsie and Emma went to meet Priscilla and Poppleton in Florida for Emma's birthday. This scrapbook is the cutest thing ever! 

Graphic embroidered artStatement shower curtain DIYDIY faux stained glassWood burned photo framesWe showed you how to make graphic embroidered art, DIY lap desks, faux stained glass, macrame yarn garland, and wood burned photo frames. We also shared tips and tricks for marbleizing paper and how to make a statement shower curtain

Happy Mail february unboxingThere are so many fun cards and stationary in our February Happy Mail subscription. We have almost sold out this month, so be sure to sign up here if you haven't already. :)

We are so excited to announce that Messy Box is launching in March! Be sure to sign up here to get all the details. xo. -The ABM Team

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)   If you've ever bought a new house or had to redecorate an entire apartment from the ground up, then you know it can take a while to get the whole thing done. I totally understand why people make the joke that if you're renovating a space, you're usually ready to redo the first room you renovated by the time you get to the last room on the list. My art room has been kind of the most neglected space in the house since we moved in over two years ago. I just didn't have a vision for what I wanted in that space, so it kind of got left in "decorating limbo" where it was half done for the longest time—until now! Although it took me a while to compile all the components, I think I've finally nailed down the perfect "creative space" vibe I was looking for in my art room.

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)     I was excited about this room's potential when we first moved in mostly because of the giant window. The overall room was pretty, well, dull compared to what I knew it could be. The medium tan walls and brown carpet made it feel rather dark—even with that giant window! Once we switched out the brown carpet for a light grey carpet, painted the trim and walls white, and added this awesome sputnik pendant light, it felt much brighter and airier.

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                    Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)I love the fun and pops of color that my colored mat gallery wall adds to the space. The black frames looked a little heavy with the white shelves underneath, so I painted them white and I think it helps keep the space looking fresh and light. I was wanting some low shelving beneath the gallery wall, and I got lucky because Josh was building a custom record cabinet for Elsie and first built it to the wrong measurements (hey, it happens). So guess who's got two thumbs and stole the rejected first build?? Me (please picture both my thumbs pointed inward at myself here). It fits the space perfectly, so it was a very happy accident on my end. Also, how cute are the vintage telephone and kitty planters? I love flea markets.

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                I made that bench recently for our two cats to sit on so they can stare out the window as part of their "neighborhood cat watch" program they are both enrolled in. Seriously? What is it with cats and looking out windows? I would say 99% of the time when we pull up to the house, at least one of them is looking out this window with intense concentration. 

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)    Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)    I had major debates with myself about what kind of storage I wanted to use in the art room, but I love when people use unique objects in unexpected ways. So I wanted something a little different. I thought maybe a locker room type of feel would be cool, and Elsie happened to have a set of lockers in her mudroom that she wasn't going to be needing anymore, so I scored on that one! After a coat of pink paint, they settled quite nicely into the space.  I cut pieces of wood to make shelves on the inside of each compartment (it didn't come with any of the original shelves) so I can stack bins, boxes, and my sewing machines in neat compartments. (Prints on the locker are from AlphonnsineGingiber, a vintage postcard, and a magnet I made with our mini photo magnet DIY).

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)      Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)        Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)        One of my favorite things that I've done in our house is this gold moon wall behind my art table. I'm telling you people, get a projector! Your list of DIY possibilities will explode. I grabbed a vintage office chair for my drawing table at a local flea market and just added the oversized architect lamp a few weeks ago. (I've been wanting one for years—finally!)

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                        Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                        Love that "XO" print and question mark marquee light. I'm always looking for ways to add a bit of cheeky fun to a space, it's what makes the room so much more interesting to me. Also, I'm a sucker for a black and white rug and the large cowhide is great for the space.

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)          Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)          Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)          Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                           I bought an old filing cabinet and painted it gold to hold all my spray and acrylic paints. Filing cabinets are such good organizational pieces and they look really cute in painted colors. Also, that Ric Rac Cactus on the shelf is one of my favorite kinds of plants. I buy one pretty much anytime I see them around.

Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                      Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)          Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                             Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                      Colorful art room transformation (before + after!)                             I can't believe it's taken me this long to get the room together, but I'm so glad that it's finally complete! It's been way too long since I've done more fine art types of projects, so I can't wait to get back into my pencil drawings and play around a bit. Thanks for taking the tour with me! You can see the rest of our home tours here if you're interested ;) xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Janae Hardy and Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)         As part of my job, every once in a while I schedule some time to walk through craft store aisles to peruse what new products have come out or see if anything interesting jumps out at me. There's one product in particular that has caught my eye several times and I've always wanted to give it a try to see if it's actually as cool as the photo on the box tells me it's supposed to be. It's this photo printing kit that allows you to print a photo using (wait for it) the sun. I've seen sun-activated ink or fabric before, but I loved the idea of being able to "print" a photo rather than only use objects to block out the sun to make negative space designs. I was a little skeptical that the process would work well enough to be worth it, but it totally does! So we're teaming up with our friends at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores to show you how it worked.

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
-Lumi photo printing kit
-white cotton fabric
-8" x 10" canvas
-access to a washing machine
-staple gun
-glass from a picture frame bigger than 8" x 10" (optional)

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial) First you'll want to pick the photo that you want to print. Try and pick something that is a relatively simple photo without a ton of pattern or busy textures happening (subjects against a light or white background look best too). Use a photo editing program to change the photo to black and white, increase the contrast so the image becomes more distinct, and invert the image so the darks become light and vice versa. Print your photo twice onto two of the transparencies that come in your Lumi printing kit (to get a really dense black that the sun can't get through, it helps to stack two transparencies on top of each other). Line up the transparencies and use clear tape to tape them together. 

Gather your cotton fabric, double transparency, and ink packet from the photo kit. I had the clearest photo transfer when I used a thin smooth fabric as opposed to a textured canvas type cotton, so keep that in mind when you are buying fabric. Use tape to outline an 8" x 10" area on your fabric, pin the fabric to the thick foam core board that comes in the kit, and take your supplies into a dimly lit area that has a window (if possible) for ventilation (the dye smells pretty strong). Break the dye packet in half, squeeze the ink onto the fabric, and use the folded ink packet to spread the dye onto your fabric (just stay within your taped border). As you can see in the photo, this method shows the brushstrokes around your photo, so spread the dye in a manner that you'll want to show up later. 

Once the dye is spread, blot the dye with paper towels to remove any excess (you just want a thin layer of dye), and position your transparency on top of your dye with the ink side of your transparency facing up. Either pin your transparency or place a sheet of glass from a picture frame on top to keep the transparency in place. 

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial) Place your fabric board out in direct sunlight and allow the ink to be activated by the sun. If you don't use the glass on top, your photo can be done in about 12 minutes on a sunny day and about 30 minutes on a cloudy day, but you'll want to double (or even triple) your exposure time if you use the glass sheet. The best time to do this is during peak sun hours in the afternoon (from around 11-2), but if you miss those times, just leave it out there a little longer. I left mine in the sun during peak hours for 45 minutes. The exposure is done once the dye has reached it's darkest color (so pull it sooner if you want a lighter print).

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial) Once your photo has been exposed to your liking, bring the fabric inside and remove the glass, transparency, and tape from the fabric. Immediately drop it in your washing machine on the hot/cold cycle with one of the detergent packets from the photo kit to wash off the extra dye from the fabric (otherwise your white areas will just keep developing).

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)       I would definitely suggest washing it twice as the kit advises. You can see the difference above from the print I washed twice (on the left) and the one that kept exposing a bit longer after one wash (on the right).

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)        Once your print is washed and dried, you can iron it flat, center it on your canvas, and use a staple gun to wrap the fabric around the edges of the frame and secure in place. That's it! You're done!

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)
Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)            This was such a fun project to try and I'm so glad that I finally got to play around with this product. I like how the finished photo kind of has a bit of a vintage feel to it and the scraped ink lines around the photo make a cool printed texture as well. Obviously you could do this method on lots of other projects like t-shirts, pillows, or fabric to make into purses, etc., but I'm really happy with how my little canvas project turned out. Here's to trying new things! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection.


Bring more color to your deskIf there's one thing I'm always needing more of, it's cute storage options. It's just not always easy to find exactly what I need in the right size or style for the right price. I decided to try my hand at making my own wire baskets out of galvanized mesh wire from the outdoor section of the hardware store. My sizes were only limited by the width of the mesh wire, but I didn't need anything wider than what was offered and had plenty left over after making the three shown. 

Customized wire basket DIYI added some decorative leather tabs just to dress them up a bit and used colors that feel like spring because it's dreadfully cold and frozen outside right now. I also think these would be beautiful in gold or copper with pink leather accents! I love the color and texture they add to my studio workspace. 

- 2' roll of galvanized hardware mesh wire
- wire cutters
- pliers
- leather or vinyl
- awl
- metal ruler (not shown)
- leather needle (not shown)
- waxed linen or embroidery thread (not shown)
- spray paint
- scissors
- work gloves

IMG_5495Step One: Decide how wide and long and deep you'd like your basket to be. The only limitations are the width of your mesh wire. I cut my first and largest wire basket out first by counting twelve squares in from each corner and then cutting twelve squares down. I then repeated on the opposite side to cut out the other corner. Shown above is my narrow end. I then measured from the new negative space corner about 20" and made note of where I should cut my next two squares.

You're basically making a swiss cross shape, but you can stretch the length or make the edges shallower, etc. Note that I trimmed the edges to be mostly flush on one flap but left the long ends on the side flaps. This is just for a cleaner finish when you fold the sides up. Also, I suggest using work gloves as you cut through this wire as it can be sharp. If you have a sharp edge that didn't get cut close enough, you can can bend it back and forth near the seam line with your pliers and it should come off pretty easily.

Step2Step Two: Place your metal ruler (or something else that is tough and straight) along the long edge where you want to fold your side up. Think of the long wire as your seam. I did my best to fold my edge up without bending it out of shape. Repeat with the opposite edge and then the last two edges.

Bend your wiresStep Three:  Once your edges are bent up, you'll want to maneuver things so that your sides meet. Gently bend the long ends of one side around the outside of the other edge and fold under. Repeat with the other edges.

Spray paintStep Four: I love the utilitarian look of galvanized metal but I also love a colorful workspace. Emerald green has always been a favorite, so I went with that knowing I could easily use these baskets in my studio or either of the kids' rooms for when they're needing a little more storage space. Also, remind me to wear my gloves next time I'm spray painting on the porch in twenty degree weather! Sometimes a girl just has to move fast to make it happen!

Leather StrapsAdd Leather StrapsStep Five: Cut two 1.5" x 5" handles from your leather or vinyl. If you don't have leather on hand, you could also use felt wool. Fold each in half and poke four holes through both ends of your straps as shown. Awls are sharp, so be sure to protect the work surface under your leather. Use a self-healing mat or push through over a rug. 

Step Six: Thread your needle and fold your strap over the edge of your basket. Make sure it's centered and with about 1/2" of a tab above the top of your basket. Start from the holes on the inside of the basket and create an 'X' shape as shown on the outside. You'll finish your thread on the same side you started. Tie a double knot and trim your end. Repeat on the opposite side of your basket.

Stitch them onYou're done! You can make a variety of the same size or a trio of baskets in different sizes. This specific mesh wire is sturdy enough to carry whatever would fit in the smaller two sizes shown but the larger size isn't quite strong enough to physically carry heavy things in. It's more for corralling those larger items and designating a space for them. 

Make your own wire baskets and then spray paint them in your favorite shade. Get the details at www.aBeautifulMessI could see a large one in a bathroom for organizing hand towels, a medium one in a kitchen for displaying cookbooks, and a small one would be lovely to make a gift basket for a friend, or darling with a plant friend hanging out inside. Where would you add some wire baskets? -Rachel

Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Make your own interchangable acrylic message board and leave yourself short, inspirational messages or use it as a perpetual calendar. Get the full tutorial on www.abeautifulmessHave you ever had something you couldn't get out of your head until you made it happen? This acrylic message board was that project for me. It started out as an idea for a holiday countdown, but then it felt like too many supplies to only be used 30 days out of the year. So then I thought it might work as a perpetual calendar, but then things got really busy around the new year and I couldn't squeeze it in in time for Jan 1st. So it sat in my head. And sat. And sat. Finally, over the weekend, I managed to figure out everything I needed to make it happen, and the idea morphed from a calendar into a message board. Now it's got a day job AND a dream job!

Keep yourself motivated with this acrylic message board that doubles as a perpetual calendar. Find out how to make your own on www.abeautifulmess.comThe hardest part about putting this together was figuring out measurements and having patience while I cut acrylic rectangles. I made a few mistakes because I was impatient, but overall it all came together in the space of two interrupted afternoons. Now I have a fun display board to keep me motivated in my studio and to use throughout the house as a calendar or holiday countdown. I am SO thrilled that this idea finally came to fruition. Sometimes things just need to sit a little to become the best version of themselves, huh!  

Supplies for acrylic message boardSupplies:
- 12" x 12" precut piece of wood from Michael's (or cut your own down to size)
- two 18" x 24" acrylic sheets. I tested two thicknesses and the one shown was harder to cut through. I suggest the Duraplex brand or anything around 2mm thick. It will also be the cheaper option. 
- two lengths of 1/4" x 3/8" x 2' balsa wood
- two lengths of 1/4" x 1/4" x 2' balsa wood
- 3.25" vinyl alpha and number stickers. I used a set from Michael's that I found in the scrapbook section. This size fits best with the size of the wood I'm using, but you can adjust your sizes for both as long as you adjust all of your measurements consistently.
- general purpose sandpaper
- utility knife or Plaskolite's Plastic Cutting Knife  
- self healing mat
- wood glue
- alligator hanger for mounting to wall (optional)

IMG_5432If you're using 3.25" vinyl stickers like I did, you need to cut your acrylic to measure about 1" taller so that you get about 1/2" of negative space on the top and bottom. Part of this might be covered up by the lip of your balsa ledges. This means your acrylic should be 4 1/4" tall. Your width will vary depending on the width of your letter or number. I suggest adding about 1/3" to each side of your letter or number's width. This will help space them out evenly no matter what word or abbreviation you spell. 

To prepare to cut your acrylic, place it on your self healing mat and measure about 4.25" from one edge. I then placed my metal ruler on the line where I was going to make my cut and used my utility knife to score a straight line against my ruler. Once I made the initial score, I repeated scoring it with more pressure to help make the cut. I may have had to score it 10 times to get a deep enough cut. Then I laid it against the edge of a table and applied downward pressure until it snapped off. 9 out of 10 times I got the clean cut that I made with my knife. Once I got lazy and didn't cut it deep enough, it just broke off where it wanted to. 

After getting my length of 4.25" acrylic cut, I would measure out each letter with about 1/3" to spare on each side and then make another round of cuts with my utility knife. This is the tedious part, but it's also pretty fun to see your stack of numbers and letters grow. 

NOTE: I suggest wearing heavy duty work gloves for this part as you'll be applying pressure to your acrylic and using a sharp tool. Safety first! 

Carefully cut your acrylic with a utility knife and metal rulerIf you want to make this part easier, you can use the thinnest acrylic sheets you can find or maybe skip this and use transparency sheets like the kind you can print on and use with projectors. It won't have the same sturdy look, but it might be another route to try.

IMG_5461As you can see, I can fit about 3-5 letters across the width of my message board depending on their width. If you were only wanting to use this as a calendar, you could cut one length of acrylic per month and just add three letters each such as 'Mar' or 'Dec'. This would save some cutting, but you'd also need to ensure you have multiples of regularly used letters such as 'a' and 'e'.

Sand and cutPrepare your cut of wood by sanding it lightly and wiping off excess sand with a damp cloth. Then cut your balsa wood so that you have four lengths of both sizes that are 12" wide. You can use your utility knife or sharp scissors. Sand down your ends.

IMG_5464Run a thin line of wood glue along the top half of your wider piece of balsa wood (1/4" x 3/8") and place your other size on top of it so that the top edges are flush with each other. Repeat with the other three sets. These will create your ledges. Since my wood glue needed some time to dry, I placed my glued balsa ledges next to each other, covered them with another piece of flat wood, and placed heavy things on top to help keep the wood from warping while the glue dried.

Glue the edgesOnce my glue was dry, I found the center of the board and lightly marked it. I placed two of my ledges together in the center with the lips facing opposite directions and glued them to the large piece of wood and to each other. Then I gently fitted a piece of acrylic to find the measurement for where my top and bottom ledges should go. You don't want them too tight, but you don't want them to fall out either. So just make a mark with a little wiggle room and glue it in place. Again, I placed something on top of these while they dried. 

Add your acrylicAt this point you could paint or stain your wooden base. You could also add an alligator hanger to the back if you wanted to mount it to your wall. Add your acrylic and find a home for your new favorite project!

A perpetual calendar made from precut wood, acrylic, and vinyl letter stickers. Get the full tutorial on www.abeautifulmessI'm going to find a way to use it for Smith's first birthday decor and will be sure to pull it out when we countdown to Christmas. 

Switch out your letters to give yourself a tiny motivational speech or add numbers to keep track of what day it is!Heck Yes you canIn the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my new signage in this happy corner of my studio. What short phrase would you display on yours? -Rachel

Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.


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