Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pressed Pansy Cards

Paper Cutout Cards

These beautifully rendered floral cutouts look elaborate but are easy to make.

•Paper of your choice, from Martha Stewart Crafts

•Sharp pair of embroidery or cuticle scissors


•Utility knife with replacement blades

•Transfer paper

•Bone folder, from Martha Stewart Crafts

•White craft glue (or spray adhesive), from Martha Stewart Crafts

•Glue stick (if using heavier paper), from Martha Stewart Crafts

•Fine-tipped brush

•Self-healing cutting mat

•Flower templates
These beautifully rendered paper cutouts require only patience, concentration, and a careful hand to make. The materials required for even the most elaborate cutouts are simple and inexpensive -- paper and pencil, scissors and knife.

We used two main cutting techniques to produce our designs. One is to cut a single shape, often drawn along one continuous line, from unfolded paper (like a silhouette); the other method is to cut one or more designs from folded paper, resulting in double images or repeating patterns.

Step 1 : Trace the Templates

To start, use transfer paper to trace the templates, which will keep the design right-facing. For cutting designs from folding paper, do not fold the paper more than two or three times. Score creases with a bone folder for precision. Before you begin to cut, secure the edges of the folds with paper clips, or staple the folds together outside the borders of the design.

Step 2 : Cut the Shapes

Paper is easiest to handle if you begin cutting from the center and work your way out to the edges. Pierce the paper with scissor tips or a pin to gain entry into small spaces. A utility knife is ideal for cutting curved shapes, and central and small areas. Rest paper on a self-healing cutting mat, and apply steady downward pressure on the blade. Guide the knife toward you, holding the paper taut with your free hand. Scissors are best for large shapes and outer edges.

Step 3 : Attach the Cutout

Once you have begun to cut on a fold, never open the paper to check your progress; it is nearly impossible to realign it, and the symmetry of your design will be spoiled. To eliminate the chance of a tear, you'll need to change knife blades whenever the paper starts to pull as you try to cut.

Before pasting a cutout onto paper or another surface, you may flatten it in a heavy book for a couple of days or press it with a cool, dry iron. Mark and measure carefully for placement; even freshly glued cut work cannot be moved without risk of tearing and distortion. Use white craft glue and a fine-tipped brush, or spray adhesive with good ventilation. A glue stick can work for pieces cut from heavier papers.

Elegant Eggs

Inspired by an easy Japanese technique, we've created these delightful decorations to enjoy this Easter and next.

Preparing the Shells

You can empty the contents of a raw egg without damaging the shell. (If you prefer, use wooden eggs, available at crafts stores.) Carefully twist the point of a utility knife against each end of the egg to create two small holes. Insert a long pin through a hole to pierce the yolk. Blow out the insides with an egg blower, available at crafts stores, or with a rubber ear-and-nose syringe. Let drain; rinse. Blow out again, rinse again, and let dry.

Tools and Materials

Blown-out eggs


Origami paper

Embroidery scissors

Small paintbrush

Glue sealant, such as Mod Podge

Elegant Eggs How-To

1. Mark egg's length plus 1/4 inch on paper; roll paper around egg's circumference, add 1/8 inch, and mark. Cut out resulting rectangle.

Crepe-Paper Spring Birds, Nest & Eggs

Quince branches set the stage for a scene adopted from the newly invigorated outdoors: birds perched beside nests. This flock watches over quail eggs that have been dyed different colors.
Some of the materials can be found at crafts stores and florist shops; others might come from your yard.

1. Make head and body: Use a glue gun to affix a small polystyrene ball to the rounded end of a larger polystyrene egg (for each bird, vary placement slightly to create different body postures); let dry.

2. Cut a 7-inch square of colored crepe paper. Lay the body near the bottom edge. Beginning at the breast, wrap the body, stretching the paper to fit the contours as you go. Brush with tacky glue.

3. Taper back end to create tail. Twist front end to create a beak; brush with glue. Trim with scissors while paper is wet; let dry. Wrap beak in brown floral tape; trim. For eyes, press in map tacks.

4. Make wings: Tear strips of crepe paper in desired hues. Overlap strips to create a color gradient, and glue. Cut out 2 rectangles; glue to each side of the bird. Taper ends to form wing shapes.

5. For the breast, cut a paper oval in a contrasting color, and glue
Coconut-Fiber or Grapevine Nest
Sources: Loose grapevine, from B&J Florist Supply, 212-564-6086
This nest is a cluster of grapevines, shaped by hand and then set onto a quince branch. The eggs are naturally speckled but have been dyed shades of green and blue.

1. Gather coconut fibers or grapevines to form a ponytail; secure 1 end with 24-gauge brown wire.

2. Curl secured end to form a coiled base; continue to curl, adding new bundles and wiring every few inches until nest is formed. (Ours are 2 to 4 inches across.) Secure end with more wire. Adjust by hand to create a cup for eggs.

Dyed and Speckled Eggs

1. Stick flathead pins into a foam board to create a drying rack. In a heatproof jar, mix 1 tablespoon vinegar, about 5 drops of food coloring, and 1 cup hot water. Place eggs (they can be hard cooked or blown out) in dye for 1 to 5 minutes, depending on desired color intensity. Transfer eggs with tongs to rack; let dry about 30 minutes.
2. Put a piece of felt into a cardboard box. Dip a stiff-bristle paintbrush in watered-down acrylic paint; spatter over felt. To transfer, gently press egg against paint; let dry. Repeat to add more speckles.

Marbleized Easter Eggs

Nestle each of your marbleized eggs in its own bed of grass. Using cardboard dividers, create 12 compartments in a shallow box or an empty shirt carton, then fashion a snug nest of dried grass inside each square. Save the lid for storage.

Tool & Material:

•Egg blower, Aunt Marge's 2-hole Egg Blower,

•12 eggs

•Several mixing bowls, shallow and deep

•Measuring spoons

•Liquid measuring cup

•White vinegar

•Food coloring, including liquid brown food color,

•Spoon and fork

•Olive oil

•Paper towels


Step 1

With an egg blower, pierce the top and bottom of each egg, puncturing the yolk; carefully expel the contents. Rinse, and let dry.

Step 2

In a small mixing bowl, combine 3 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and a few drops of food coloring. Place egg in dye, and leave it submerged until it turns the desired shade.

Step 3

In a wide, shallow bowl, prepare a second batch of dye -- which will provide the swirls -- in a darker shade or a different color. Liquid should be 1/2 inch deep. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Run a fork through this mixture, creating curlicues of oil on the surface.

Step 4

As oil swirls, place dyed egg in mixture, and roll it once around the bowl to pick up oil streaks; remove the egg.

Step 5

Gently pat egg with a paper towel.

Step 6

Let it dry. You can experiment with color combinations: Vary the base tints and the swirls to achieve striking contrasts, subtle shadings, or multihued richness


Crepe Paper Easter Creations

Beautiful and durable, crepe paper lends itself to countless applications. In fact, a strip of crepe paper conforms perfectly to an egg's shape. Glue bands of it to a bunch of eggs, affix tiny crepe blooms, and pile them in a bowl for a simple, elegant display. You also can use the paper to create lifelike flowers with egg centers. Or add crepe ears to an egg and watch it turn into a bunny.

Even leftover egg cartons can become winsome baskets trimmed with pleated crepe skirts. Start with plain or dyed blown-out eggs, and then choose from the sweet embellishments provided here. Soon you and your kids will be turning out colorful crafts by the dozen.

Chubby Bunnies How-To

These adorable table decorations can double as place cards; write names on one side of each egg with a marker.

1. Using template as a guide, cut 2 ears (in direction of grain) from a folded sheet of crepe paper. Fold back base of each ear, apply glue to underside, and adhere to egg. Draw eyes with a paint pen. To make a nose: Glue a pom-pom over one of the holes used to blow out the egg. To make a tail: Glue a larger pom-pom over the other hole.

2. Arrange a fringed strip of crepe paper "grass" in a mini muffin-cup liner; place bunny in liner.

Easter Eggs Dyed With Onion Skins

Materials Needed

Here is what you need to make these kind of Easter eggs: - eggs - onion skins (pieces as large as possible) - 20 cm (8 inch) squares of cloth - rubber bands - a pot of boiling water - some vegetable oil I start saving onion skins for a month or two before Easter... I guess that's pretty much all of Lent. If you don't have enough onion skins saved up by Easter,…

step 2Wet Everything

Soak your onion skins in a big bowl of water. (I just used a small bowl since I made a single egg for this demonstration.) Be careful with your onion skins. When they are dry, they are pretty fragile and you want to keep them as large as possible. Just dip the squares of cloth in the water, then wring them out so they are damp. Also dip the eggs in the water; it he…

step 3Wrap The Eggs With Onion Skins

Wrap onion skins around each egg. If you are lucky, you'll have skins from the top or the bottom of an onion. These naturally conform to the shape of the egg. If not, just make sure you cover the entire surface of each egg with pieces of onion skin. The water should help the skins cling to the eggs.

step 4Wrap In Cloth

Place an onion skin wrapped egg in the middle of one of your squares of cloth. Wrap the cloth snugly around the egg so the onion skin presses tightly against it. Securely tie off the top of the cloth with a rubber band.

step 5Hard Boil

Carefully add each bundled-up egg to a pot of boiling water. Boil them for seven minutes or so, until they are hard boiled. If you happen to crack one of the eggs when you are putting them in, add some salt to the water; that'll supposedly keep the whites from leaking out of the crack.

step 6Rinse In Cold Water

Once your eggs have boiled long enough, carefully pour off the boiling water and run some cold water into the pot to cool the eggs down.

step 7Unwrap The Eggs

Carefully remove the rubber bands and take the eggs out of the cloths. Peel off the onion skins (you can toss the used onion skins into your compost). Voila The shells of the eggs will now be covered with beautiful patterns transferred from the onion skins in shades of brown, yellow, and green.

step 8Give The Eggs Some Shine

Wipe the eggs dry. Put a little vegetable oil (I used canola oil) on a cloth or paper towel and rub onto the eggs. The oil gives the eggs a nice shine and seals their pores which should help them fresh longer.

step 9The Finished Eggs

There you have it. Use your Easter eggs as decorations for a few days, then crack, peel, & eat 'em. (Ever since I was a little kid, I always crack my hard boiled eggs against my forehead!) When you peel the eggs, you'll notice that some of the colour has bled through the

Cracked Egg Dessert

What appear to be cracked eggs are something better, or at least sweeter -- scoops of mango sorbet in chocolate shells.


Use a sharp paring knife to split hollow chocolate eggs, available at specialty-food stores, in half, using the seam as a guide. Use a melon baller to scoop sorbet into each shell. Serve immediately, or freeze up to 2 hours.

Rich Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting and Truffle-Egg Nest