Shine a Little Light

The lighting in my art room is a sad, sad thing. It consists of this 70s ceiling fan:

70s ceiling fan

Plus the fake wooden blinds you see in the background that I need to mainly keep closed in an effort to keep out the burning sun.

Even with the ceiling fan lights on, this room is DIM. Except then it’s also covered with shadows. That is so not what you want for a room that you create and photograph in.

Better lighting is desperately needed.

But what?

I seriously love all kinds of pendants, like the ones below. (Click the photos for the original sources, and please pin from there.)

 Varaluz Urchin 1 Light Mini Pendant

hand-blown glass pendant lights from Curiousa and Curiousa

DIY woven lamp by Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou

Let’s face it though, if I have issues with a ceiling fan throwing unwanted shadows, pendants like these or a chandelier of any sort will just make the situation ten times worse.

Unless I put them off to the side and just stare at them instead of, you know, using them. (Always an option.)

What I really need

What I really need is something that lets the natural light flow in during the day, while blocking out the heat, and that distributes light evenly at night without creating shadow issues.

So probably that means two things: some type of heat-blocking window covering that you can’t see through and a magical light that is located somewhere other than dead center in the room.

(I’d also like to have a fan to help cool me down and get rid of oil paint fumes, but maybe we can’t have everything.)

I don’t actually have a solution to this problem yet, but identifying the issue is the first step, right? If you have suggestions for what might work, by all means leave them in the comments. Meanwhile, I’m on the hunt!

No-Sew DIY Velvet Pumpkins

Velvet pumpkins are all the rage. They’re also pricey, starting at $22 and heading up from there. I’ll let you in on a little secret though: they’re easy and inexpensive to make, even if you don’t know how to sew. Scroll down for a tutorial on how to do exactly that.

No-sew DIY velvet pumpkins (plus other fabrics)

When you make them yourself, you can get as creative as you like — branching out into other materials and patterns like these.

I used cinnamon sticks for my stems to give them a nice scent, but you could just as easily use real pumpkin stems for a slightly more realistic look. I wasn’t worried about my fabric pumpkins looking realistic though :)

The materials

This project doesn’t require a lot of materials. All you need are:

  • Fabric cut to the desired size (thicker fabric is easier to work with)
  • Stuffing
  • Hot glue gun + glue sticks
  • Something to use as a stem (cinnamon sticks from the grocery store, real pumpkin stems, twisted grapevines, or even sticks from your yard)

You can also use twine or cording if you want to add a little extra touch like I did on a couple of the pumpkins. You’ll want to substitute a regular stapler for one of the hot-gluing steps if you hate burning your fingertips as much as I do. (If you won’t be putting the pumpkins anywhere toddlers or pets can pull them apart and eat the staples, that is.)

How to make a no-sew velvet pumpkin

Start with fabric cut in a rectangle that’s the desired size. The longer the rectangle, the shorter your finished pumpkin. Because I wanted a polka-dotted velvet pumpkin, I started with this upholstery scrap I’d found in a thrift store.

1. Lay your fabric out good-side up.
Rectangular fabric scrap

2. Fold it in half so the good side faces in and the short ends of the original rectangle meet.
Right side faces in

3. Hot glue the original short ends together so you end up with a tube that’s open on both of the new short ends.

Fabric tube

4. Scrunch one of the ends of the tube together and hot glue it (or if you value your fingertips, staple it a few times) together in a bunch.

Don’t worry about how it looks, because no one will see it. Just get it all stuck together. (Note: if you’re using thin velvet or thinly-woven burlap, staples are the smarter choice here. Just ask the blister on my fingertip.) You could probably also tie it off tightly with thread on thinner materials, but I didn’t try that.

Scrunch one of the ends together and secure

5. Turn the fabric good-side out.

Turn the fabric good-side out

You’ll end up with what’s essentially a fabric bag.

Fabric bag

6. Stuff your bag/pumpkin tube, being careful not to over-stuff it. You want it lumpy like pumpkins are.
Add stuffing

7. Scrunch up the fabric to close up the remaining opening and hot glue the heck out of it, being careful to get most of the glue where it won’t show on your finished pumpkin. The stem will cover up the center, so don’t worry about that part.

It still won’t look very pumpkin-y at all yet. Don’t get discouraged; just keep going.

I have no pictures of this step because I was busy using both hands to burn my fingers. Wear something to protect your fingers or use a NON high-temperature glue gun for this step, unlike what I did. If you’re not determined to do this project 100% no-sew, you could sew a loose stitch around the edge instead, draw it closed, and tie it off. I’m equally likely to stab myself, so I just stayed with no-sew.

8. Optional: If you want to add twine or cording, wrap it around the pumpkin a few times at this point and tie it off on whichever end of your pumpkin looks worse. You’ll end up with something like this:

Fabric pumpkin wrapped with twine

You can also just skip this step, especially on plain velvet where the folds themselves will naturally create a pumpkin-like shape.

9. Hot glue the stem onto the top of your pumpkin and step back.

Stem on a velvet pumpkin

Suddenly, it will look pumpkin-like :)


No-sew DIY velvet pumpkins No-sew DIY burlap pumpkin

No-sew DIY velvet pumpkins (plus other fabrics)

No-sew DIY velvet pumpkins

(See That DIY Party, Made by you Monday, Motivation Monday, Inspiration Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Monday Handmade, and A Stroll Thru Life for more DIY.)

Finding Inspiration

Inspiration is all around us

Knowing where to start with design can be hard, especially if you’re starting with a blank slate. But inspiration is all around us. It’s a matter of opening yourself to it, breathing it in, and then letting it out.

Start with the things you love. Things that speak to you in some way, even if they don’t make sense. I used to worry about what people would think of my ideas. When I stopped doing that, a funny thing happened.

I felt free to express myself. To break the rules, or follow them. To do what felt right.

Feeling good about your own choices matters more than what other people think.

The art class

I took an art class a few years back. We were all supposed to paint a scene from a magazine, probably of Oak Creek Canyon. The scene had red rocks, a light blue sky with clouds floating in it, a blue-green river, and some green trees.

So I did this:

Red rock scene

Not because I’m some kind of rebel, but because I wanted to see a night sky, and autumn leaves. I wanted to see the shadow of a large cloud on the rocks, because I love the way that looks in real life. Then the river really felt like it should be mostly browns and oranges to reflect all that fall.

People pointed out that I was using the “wrong” colors, but so what?

Art and design isn’t about doing it “right”. It’s about doing what you love and letting it shine. Even if it’s not perfect, or not what you’re “supposed” to do. Being you is really all you need.

Where to find inspiration

In the case of my painting, I got inspiration from looking at the picture we’d been given and wondering what it might look like at night.

But inspiration can come from anywhere. A feeling on a hot day, the color of a towel, a movie you see, a phrase on the radio. Anywhere. It’s really all around us.

You know what you love.

Breathe in the ideas, and then let them out

Breathe in the ideas, and then let them out, re-imagined in a way that works for you and the restrictions that you have. (Restrictions meaning, for example, you want somewhere to sit in your living room and you have $150 to make it happen.)

Build upon a small thing, like a pattern that makes you smile, and pull out colors and textures to make the room over time. Most of all, be personal. It’s YOUR house.

Let it reflect you and the things you love.