Author Archives: itsm3889

About itsm3889

By trade I am a commercial Illustrator with a degree in biology. My real training began at Hallmark in the greeting card division in the early 80's. But since I can remember, I was always outside collecting things and then in my room making something out of them. I love texture, rust things, rocks, fabric, glitter and vintage jewelry. I am still illustrating and licensing my work, however I have taken it steps further, and have begun crafting with my own designs. I am also an avid seamstress, sewing for myself, my daughter, and my home. As I launch what I hope to be an inspiring and useful blog, I am also venturing forth with a store on Etsy.

stencil 2

Stenciling on Fabric

I am preparing for an art and craft show.  Which accounts for my lengthy absence.  Part of preparation is booth display. So, this weekend, I stenciled some muslin that I am using for table covers

stencil 2

I used:

1. 120″ wide muslim  (Rosebrand Fabrics, NYC. . . ordered and received it in 2 days no less)

2.  Martha Stewart acrylic satin finish paint (any acrylic would work.)

3.  sponge pouncing brush

4.  Palette paper pad

5.  stencil

The first step was draping the fabric over the table being used and seeing where the centers on each side fell.  Once you know where you want to position the stencil, or stencils, spread out the fabric on a table, on top of a sheet of foam core.  This gives you a good solid and flat surface to support the paint application.  Next lay out the stencil pattern, use weights to hold the pattern in place, especially if it’s a largish pattern. (I used garden tools. . . they were within arms reach). Next put a dab of paint on the palette, dip the sponge brush in the paint and began laying down the color with the sponge pouncer.  It was a bit time consuming using this applicator, but the results were worth it.  I saw some stenciled burlap in a store in Boston in the fall, and decided one day I would try it.  So here it is.  Yes it’s as simple as it looks and sounds.

Look hard at this next picture to see the acetate stencil.  It’s about 3 feet tall.

no paint


You can grab what’s handy to use as weights for holding the stencil in place when needed.  I am very “shoot from the hip”, whatever works. . . here with the stencil still in place. . .

with stencil

close upI am very happy with the way this turned out.  And the paint was essentially dry when I was done.  I believe you can use a sponge roller, but after trying it this way, I don’t think you would have the same control.  The edges were soft, yet defined.  I will photograph it all set up at the show. (early June)stencil 1

Thanks for reading, it’s me viv


playing with rocks and dirt.

Hey, this is a little different, a photo of what I am doing in my yard,  I am planting purple things right now.  I love how it looks.  Next I will be bringing in some large rocks, (mini boulders?).   Also coming, Hydrangea, Alium, Helio Bora, I don’t know plants, but I know the ones I like.  I hope you will enjoy this detour of sorts.

It’s me, vivpurple flowers

VW bot

Found objects. . . New Robot

It has been a while since I’ve posted.  It’s clear it is going to take a little bit of time figuring out a format, and the manner in which I would like to share information.  I have been busy, creating artwork for the licensing studio, “viv”, but I’ve also been working on some inventory, both for Etsy, but also for an arts and crafts venue in Providence RI called “Festival Fete”.  I was juried in only recently, so my focus needs to be on creating for the show.  I will pop in and out with updates, but again, when you have the ability to work in many different media, It’s almost harder to find your direction.

So here is a new robot, which will make his official debut at the craft show in June.  I would turn him into a pull toy, but it does not comply with child safety laws.  (can’t worry about everything).  Each time I create one of these characters, my technique gets better, and my confidence increases as well. And if you look closely, you can see Clark Gable behind the wheel, and Liz Taylor in the passenger seat.  Enjoy, it’s me, viv

VW bot


Going slightly off the beaten path, I recently found some great sandals except that they had cork soles.  I am not a fan of cork shoes, and frankly I do not think you would ever catch me wearing any, ever, but my immediate reaction to these was that I could add a pattern to the soles and take the shoes to a new level.  So after a little research on painting on cork I chose the following method.

Here are the shoes, before and after.  (got them at DSW)before after

What you will need:

cork soled sandals


permanent markers, one fine point, a second thicker marker for filling in

acrylic matt spray sealer

1.  Hold the stencil as flat to the sandal as possible.   The first step is outlining the stencil on the sole.  You will have to shift your hand as you move over the sole’s curved surface.



2.  After you are satisfied with your design, carefully fill it in with the thicker permanent marker.

close up3. the final step is to shield the leather and lightly spray the stenciled area.

And you”re done!

finishedIt’s me viv.



fixing holes in walls.

This seems straight forward enough, but I showed this to a contractor, and he’d never seen it done this way before.  There are any number of reasons why you would have a hole in a wall.   Moving wires, adding light fixtures, cable connections, college kids, (did I say that), and then mystery holes that you discover after you’ve moved into your new very old house.  I had my electrician add two fixtures over my bed as there is hardly enough room for a night stand much less a lamp on it that would give me enough light to read, sew or sketch in bed.  When he was done, I had seven holes of various sizes to fix.  Not a problem.

What you will need.

Scraps of wood, (you could probably use really stiff cardboard)  (I used paint sticks and pieces of wood cigar boxes.)

Some longish wood screws.  (you will use these to hold the wood in place)

Durabond 45 Powder   (ace hardware)

Bowl and paint stick for mixing

Spatula for spreading the plaster

So here are the holes, two in my bedroom, and then a massive one that was hidden in my kitchen. The inspector didn’t even see this one.



you can see that one of the holes already had a piece of wood with a screw ready to go.



ready to plaster


This is Durobond.  I am in love with this stuff.  It dries rock hard.  It also makes a mess when sanding.  Neither Lowes nor Home depot carries it.  Go to Ace Hardware.durabond 45

Cut your wood just slightly bigger than the hole.  There is no need for perfection here, as you will never see this piece of wood again.  For the small holes a single screw is adequate to hold the wood in place, the larger hole in my kitchen I used 2 screws.  Only put the screws in far enough to be able to keep a grip on the wood piece.  Next manuever the wood with screws in the hole, and make sure you can pull it up tight against the drywall with the screws.DSCN0644

Now you are ready to mix up your Durobond.  Cut a small hole in the bag, because this powder goes airborn easily.  I used a large spoon to put it in the bowl.  Add water little bits at a time, just when you think you need a little more, it will suddenly surprise you, so stir stir stir as you go.  If you add too much water, you can wait as some of the water evaporates, or try adding a little more powder.  You don’t want it to be too liquid it should grab the wood and drywall.  When almost dry, (5 to 10 minutes), you can gently remove the screws.  Your second application is to fill the screw holes, and create as smooth a finish as possible.mixed plaster

And now you are ready to do your first application



when still somewhat soft to the touch, gently unscrew the screws.



With the screws removed, wait for this application to dry and then do your second, again as smooth as you can to minimize any sanding.  You can see the kitchen “mystery hole” is ready for paint.  (And I think you can see that the kitchen is in need of serious work. . . later)

ready for paintIn this shot, you can see there is no evidence of any holes.


I think this is amazing.  Many thanks to my “go to guy” for house stuff.

It’s me, viv, becoming more fearless everyday.


Paintable wallpaper and a bathroom door

I wouldn’t be the first to say you can transform anything with the right attitude, tools and materials.  Here’s a perfect example.  The bathroom door in my bedroom was in pretty bad shape.  And I love texture.  Paintable Wallpaper and my love of texture inspired this bathroom door fix.


What I used / what you’ll need

original door

green frog tape


One Time Spackle  (ace hardware, this stuff is fantastic)

Kilz Water based primer

enamel paint for finish coat

Different color for trim

swelligant metal paint and patinas for hardware  (cindy Friessen)

paintable wallpaper (do a google search to find one you like.  This will be your biggest expense.)

wallpaper adhesive for non porous surfaces.  (lowes)

wood trim (I used the tiniest I could find)  (lowes)

sponge rollers for wallpaper glue and for paint.

1.  Take the door off the hinges and remove hardware, or tape it off with green frog tape.  Lay the door on some flat surface.  I sanded with a rotary sander, till most of the varnish was off, until I had a very smooth surface for the wallpaper.  Fill any holes with One TIme and sand again when dry.

door 1


2. Next prime the door with Kilz.  It needs to be white underneath the wallpaper.  Sand lightly when this dries.  The emphasis here is that you really want a very smooth surface.  I did 2 very thin coats of primer.  Cut the wallpaper to the size you desire.  (It helps to have a squaring tool of some sort.  I have a sewing ruler that is a right angle and works well.)  If necessary make sure you cut the paper away where it goes over any of the door hardware.   Also give yourself some pencil marks directly on the door so you know exactly where to lay the paper.  You do not want to do a lot of repositioning.  I was so happy that I was able to lay a glued piece without a second pair of hands.


3.  To apply the glue, I lay brown craft paper on top of the door, lay down the wallpaper wrong side up, and applied the glue with a sponge roller. I then quickly pulled the brown paper out, grabbed two corners of the wet wallpaper and lay it in position on the door.  Because of the texture, I used my hands to burnish it.  The smoothly sanded surface was what made this work so well.  (Sorry no picture of this stage, but using the door as the flat surface worked perfectly rather than running through the house with a sheet of glued paper. . . )

4.   Next paint the door.  I used 2 coats of the oil based enamel paint and a sponge roller to go over the whole door, wallpaper and the sides of the door.

painting door


5.  Measure your trim, grab your miter box (if you have one), and saw the trim with 45 degree angles for your corners.  You can use the one time to fill in any little gaps when you connect these pieces.


6.  Paint the trim BEFORE you nail it in position. (I used my bedroom wall color) Once dry, use small wood nails to lay the trim down.  I was going to use some wood glue, but decided it wasn’t necessary.  Honestly I didn’t want to figure out how to apply constant pressure to the trim as the glue dried.  I sunk the small nails into the trim using a tiny screw driver, because of course I couldn’t find my nail sinks.  (Found them as soon as I was finished).  Use the One TIme caulk to plug the tiny nail holes, sand when dry and paint.door6

7.  Finally, I replaced the door knobs with vintage looking crystal, (it just felt like the right look) and rather than buy the whole door knob kit, I used Swelligant Bronze metal paint on the rest of the hardware. Once dry, using cotton balls, I applied several coats of Stazon dark brown archival stamping ink.  That darkened everything to the right value of bronze.  (Swelligant is a product by Cindy Friesen, there are any number of tutorials on how to apply this metal patina.)

You are done. Remount the door.  I absolute love how it came out.  There wasn’t a single hitch. . .


* the trim around the door was already painted when the door was reattached.  It is sticking in the upper right hand corner, and I am in the process of sanding the door down, until it stops sticking of course.

That ‘I did it, I am finished” moment is highly elusive in the world of “do it yourself “.

Now imagine all the possibilities with this wallpaper.  There are some beautiful designs, and i was thrilled at how easy it was to work with.  I did not however, use this paper where I needed to put down more than one piece and match the repeats.  That’s a bit more challenging.  Another time perhaps. Probably the kitchen.

it’s me viv


DIY, by viv

Although I have not even begun to test the outer limits of chalk paint, it is only one of many materials I do and plan to work with.  But before I go in search of the next piece of furniture, or next project to share, please indulge me as I demonstrate my credibility as a crafter, illustrator and designer.

Beginning with Hallmark Cards, I have been a commercial illustrator since 1982, and over the years I have created many art pieces for my daughter, my home, and my friends.  The internet has become an endless source of information and inspiration on just about anything you can think of.   Consequently I have become a student of what I love, making things.  My tool box and skill set grow a little more everyday.

So here we go with some show and tell:

dresserSome time between 1984 and 1986 I found two dressers for $40 In Kansas City.  In 1992, while pregnant, Using acrylic tube paints, I painted one of them for my daughter.  I think it is our first family heirloom.  While finishing the very last drawer, my water broke.  Good timing.  Fact, true story.

mirror fullmirrir 4I found this mirror in New Hampshire in the late nineties, and it was the first project i tackled when I moved into my last home.  We lived there for 12 years.  This mirror nows hangs in my new bedroom in my new old house.  Formerly a white frame, I transformed it using acrylic paints and metallic waxes, and vintage german glass crystals, of which I have a wonderful rather large collection.


This next piece is a memory quilt that I made for my daughter for christmas last year.  I had so much fun dressing her when she was little. As she out grew her cloths I cut the designs out of the fronts of t shirts, and some dresses, and threw them in a box for later.  The end result is a machine washable queen size quilt.  It is lined with cotton batting to keep it soft, the polka dots are felted wool roving, and it has a flannel backing.  She really does love it.  And I still have a small box of a few more pieces so she may get a couple of pillow covers still.

Here are a couple of my robots. . .

Moe + teetsie

Lastly.  this is one of several of my favorite easter bunny illustrations.  It’s early I know, but if you’re interested in a giclee or several other format options please visit my etsy store. (I love easter)  I will be listing them soon.


Thanks for reading, it’s me, viv 


paper clay china repair

I have to admit that I have been distracted by trying to finish my bedroom, and have neglected getting this paper clay project started.  And I can see this is going to be a constant challenge.  In my real life, I am an illustrator, there is an “about” page, and I will regularly post, things I have made, or painted, to give myself some credibility, because I think that’s important.  So after much consideration, I think the paperclay project will be a small animal, nothing too complicated, but something to get your feet wet.

But as I work to get the stages done and photographed, here is the list of what you will need for your own adventure in paper clay. You will also find pins, toothpicks and skewers handy as well as a good size chunk of styrofoam to stick your pieces in to dry.  I put a soaked folded paper towel at the bottom of a tupperware like container for my working paper clay.  It can sit in there for a long time and still be

And while you’re waiting let’s take a look at the repairing of my pigeon.wing tip

After applying the clay, allowing it to dry and sanding it smooth, I apply a coat of gesso and sort of blend it into the pigeon’s body.startingpaintingiamslob

Now working with acrylic, I will do my best to mimic the other wing.  You can see that I make a mess when I work.  Fact.  True story.pigeon finished

Once satisfied, I seal it with any acrylic medium, preferably with a little gloss to it.  And there you go.  Honestly you really can’t see the break.  I’ll look at it again tomorrow to see if it needs anything else, this photo doesn’t do it justice.  The next time something “nice” gets broken, you can try this technique.

I will be back as soon as I can with a step by step, that you can try or simply use as the impetus to start your own project.  I just want to say one more thing.  You have to let this clay dry as you build it up.  This is why I haven’t gotten the project together yet.  It requires planning and drying time.  You will need patience.  But it’s worth it.  And you might have more than one going at a time.

Thanks for reading.  It’s me viv.

Paperclay, because I love it.

First off, I just wanted to quickly point out that there now exists a subscriber button on the right side as you scroll down.  Sign up if you’d like to be pestered by me, viv.

About 8 years ago, I was contracted to do several gift lines.  To get through the initial stages, I had to create sculpted prototypes translating my flat illustrated figures to 3D.  Enter Paper Clay. Easy to work with, it is extremely light when dry, sandible and paintable. You can drill it, carve it, embed objects into it, the possibilities are endless.  This was my very FIRST sculpt.pumpkin stack

I have since also discovered it can be used it to repair porcelain. Here is a small bird that I broke off of a dish (intentionally). The bottom was ragged so I patched it so that the bird can sit.

fixed bird

The other fix, is this raku pigeon. One of the wings broke, so I patched it with the paper clay, sanded it smooth.  Photos of the finishing process will be in the next post, promise.


wing tipThis doll bust is a project I am in the middle of.  Unfortunately I don’t have “beginning” pictures but the head and the bust were each done separately.for scale

Both started with styrofoam squished and molded to the approximate shape. The clay was wrapped around the styrofoam roughly and then set aside to dry. Water is all that’s necessary to work the clay.  The second layer provided the final shape and details.  After drying and sanding to the desired finish, I drilled a small hole in the head and in the top of the bust, inserted a short but thick piece of wire and added a thin paper clay neck.

Finally this small bird may end up with the above bust.  Not sure yet.

tiny birddoll head

For more examples of what you can do with this amazing material, simply do a google image search of “paper clay”

Following is a list of what you will need to do a small project.

1. paper clay

2. small dish of water

3. styrofoam

4. wire and pins

5. rubber tipped sculpting tool

6. papertowels

7. fine sand paper

8. One Time spackling compound

THe next post will be a paperclay project. Oh boy.

I need to take some pictures. . . be back soon. . .

it’s me, viv

chalk paint, Viv’s second project

My camera has arrived, so now we’re in business.


As this project also still needs a wax finish, I did break down and buy a can of Annie Sloan’s soft wax for painted furniture and walls.  It will go a long way. I picked mine up in Boston, at Maison Decor.

a sloan wax

There were 2 panels and two drawers to be painted.

1.  tape off the areas to be painted


2.  apply first coat of chalk paint.  after it dries, check for smoothness, maybe lightly sand, and give it a second coat it you think it needs it.

3.  spray the back of your stencils with a light sprayable adhesive that allows you to reposition the stencil easily.  Try Michael’s or JoAnn’s.


4.  take a lighter chalk paint, and apply that coat over the stencil.  I was loose about this part.  The areas were small, and you really can’t screw it up.  This was my first attempt at sentciling furniture.  If necessary you can repaint the base coat and do it again.  Honestly this was less than a half a day of work.


5.  apply an acrylic glaze with a bit of pigment (I used umber) over the painted areas to tone it down.  So there it is.

full painted

In my next post I will be pulling out one of my favorite sculpting mediums, Paperclay.  Here’s a sneak peak of what you can do. . . This is my Humpty Dumpty action figure. . . Paper clay is amazing!


it’s me, viv