SMP Craft
21 Oct

How to Tuesday: Mason Jar Luminaries!

This week we were lucky enough to have the lovely Lizzie Poteet guest post for us. Lizzie is an assistant editor at St. Martin’s Press.

After years of living on top of my neighbors in a Manhattan high rise where the term “outdoor space” referred to a courtyard you share with 100 other people and where to get any sort of greenery you have to go to the often smelly park down the block—after years of this Urban Life, I’ve finally moved. To Brooklyn. The land of milk and honey for people who want to live in New York, but not live in New York. My new place is precious—high ceilings, older building, brick walls, and more importantly outdoor space. Glorious, private, just for me outdoor space. My backyard is a strip of concrete with a garden bed, but it’s mine, and so in honor of Halloween and moving, I decided what better way to share my good fortune than to host a housewarming pumpkin carving party?

Well known fact one: moving is expensive. Well known fact two: parties can be expensive. Well known fact three: crafting is fun. So in honor of Halloween and outdoor parties, let’s talk about how you can use items around your house to make some kickass party decorations for this spooky season.

Mason Jar Luminaries:

I saw an idea for this floating around Pinterest and immediately thought “I can do that.” The idea is to take mason jars—or if you’re thrifty like me and want to save those mason jars for pickling, you can upcycle that mostly empty jar of salsa in the fridge—and paint their outsides fun festive colors so that when you put a candle in them, they let off this pretty, colorful glow. Check out this one I found on the Crafts by Amanda blog.

However, most of the luminaries I saw online were very childish. Jack-o’-lanterns and ghouls, and being a twenty-something without children, I wanted something a tad classier. So I whipped out my copy of Stencil It and got to work. Once my basecoat was dried (aptly named “pumpkin spice”), I secured my stencil….and failed. Miserably.

Two things I learned: You really should invest in a stencil brush to get the best results. And if you fail, acrylic paint on glass scrapes right off.

In the end, I decided to go Banksy/creepy with a little Russian doll luminary.

What you need:

Acrylic paint of your choice
Mason Jar
Krylon Clear Glaze
Candle (one that is small enough to fit in a mason jar but large enough to stand on its own)

Step One: Paint the outside of your mason jar a solid color making sure to get an even layer of paint. When the paint dries, it’ll probably look streaky and the perfectionist in you will be severely tempted to add a second coat. Resist the temptation. Let it dry.

Step Two: Tape down your stencil of choice onto the mason jar and dab paint onto the area. Stencil It will have useful hints on how to not mess up like me.

Step Three: Let the paint dry and then spray it down with the glaze. Add the candle and enjoy!


IMG_4778            IMG_4780           IMG_4798

 stencil it
Buy a copy of Stencil It and get started today!

Barnes & Noble

Check out our October and November titles!

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24 Aug

Goodreads Giveaway: Stencil It!

How can it be Sunday already? It feels like just yesterday I was looking through Stencil It for some tips for Freebie Friday. If you enjoyed the tips on how to stencil with paints then you will be very pleased that this week you can win your own copy of Stencil It!

stencil it

Not only does this book come with 15 stencils that were specifically designed for the book, but Stencil It is filled with 101 ideas of how to stencil nearly everything in your home. In addition to these one-of-a-kind stencils are tips to achieve that breathtaking effect you’re looking for. These tips come from the author, Helen Morris. Helen is the founder of The Stencil Library which boasts a catalog of more than 4,000 stencils. Helen and her husband, designer Michael Chippendale, have developed a wide range of designs, techniques, and media, successfully stenciling materials such as glass, mirror, concrete, fabric, wood, plaster, paint, and paper.

Helen demonstrates some of these techniques and illustrates the stunning effects that can be achieved. Using a range of different paints, as well as crayon, metallic leaf, varnish, and plasterwork to create a textured finish, she presents a collection of diverse projects for every surface in your home. In themed chapters—”Flowers & Foliage,” “Figurative,” “Birds & Beasts,” and “Architectural & Decorative Details”—there are trailing leaves and falling blossoms, letters to spell out words and stars that can be applied in endless patterns, pretty butterflies and cute dogs, as well as signature decorative details from different periods and countries.

With Stencil It you learn how each stencil can be used in different configurations, sizes, or colorways to create dramatically different looks. The stencil templates included with the projects and all the other designs featured are available from The Stencil Library. So act fast! You have through Wednesday to enter to win your own copy.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Stencil It by Helen Morris

Stencil It

by Helen Morris

Giveaway ends August 28, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 Can’t wait for fate? Take matters into your own hands and buy it today!

Barnes & Noble


Check out our August and September titles:




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22 Aug

Freebie Friday: Stencil It!

For this Freebie Friday we decided to mix it up a bit. Instead of a pattern or project download, we’ve given you some FREE TIPS on using paint and a stencil brush from Stencil It so you can get started on your next design project immediately!

stencil 1   stencil 2    stencil 3

stencil it

There are lots of ways to customize your home: paint, new furniture, fancy home decor items from those fancy catalogs you never seem to ask for…but by far, one of the most expressive—and least expensive—is stenciling. Did you know stencils have been used for centuries to decorate interiors? It has come a long way these past few centuries! Helen Morris, founder of The Stencil Library, has kept stenciling a popular craft by developing numerous designs, styles, and techniques. (She’s even stenciled on glass, mirror, concrete, and even plaster.) Stencil It shows 101 ways to stencil in your home. From lamp shades to walls and even furniture, you’ll learn how to achieve new decorative schemes by using various configurations and color combinations to create a range of dramatically different looks. Stencil It comes with 15 specially-designed stencils to help you turn your entire home into a blank canvas.

Ready to start? Buy your book now!

Barnes & Noble

Check out our August and September titles:


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28 Nov

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Pumpkin Pie


Anne Spieth is the Library Marketing Manager for Macmillan and loves to cook and bake. Since this is the first Thanksgiving that she’s hosting friends and family at her little NYC apartment, she decided to do a test run of pumpkin pie from the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites cookbook. She made one large pie and 12 mini pies and they look amazing (Time to crash Anne’s party!)

Bravo, Anne!

finished pumpkin piefinished-mini-pies


Yields one 9.5-inch pie and 12 mini pies

Serves 8

Prep time:

Pastry: 15 minutes (or 0 if you buy a pre-made crust like Anne did)

Filling: 10 minutes

Bake time: 55-65 minutes


One 15-ounce can cooked pumpkin puree
3 large eggs, beaten
½ cup pure maple syrup (or ¾ cup brown or white sugar)
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk (or 1-1/2 cups of other milk, such as cream, half-and-half, soy, almond milk, etc.)
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
(Anne also added a pinch of allspice and nutmeg)

But wait! Before diving in, remember the apron! 


And the potholders!


Okay, now you’re ready!


1) Make the pie crust and fit it into the pie plate
2) In a large bowl, whisk together all the filling ingredients until smooth


Ready for Oven
3) Pour the filling into the unbaked crust and bake for 15 minutes at 425 F
4) Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and bake for another 40-50 minutes more until the crust is golden and a knife inserted about 2 inches from the side comes out clean
5) Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until serving time

6) Enjoy!


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7 Oct

Kitchen Crafts: DIY Apron for a Stylish Chef

When I was little, my grandma would make me sit by her and help her make dinner. As I grew, my mom tried to do the same. I always tried to get out of it by making one excuse or another. Even today, I’m not that big on cooking. It’s just not me. I’m more of a reader and a crafter. So today, I decided to do a little of both. I was working on a book called Mug Cakes and decided to try some of the recipes out. I put on my mom’s ratty old apron and inspiration struck.

Stencil It

I picked up Stencil It: 101 Ideas to Decorate Your Home and decided to make myself a new apron. Okay, I didn’t ‘make’ it. I bought a plain apron and decided to spruce it up. I flipped through Stencil It and for some reason, I picked the Russian Dolls stencil. I’d picked up the apron and some fabric color spray at A.C. Moore.


First, I tried to figure out which size doll to use. As you see in the image, there are three of them. And then it struck me! I could use all 3. One for my grandma, one for my mom and one for me. It was too serendipitous to not use them as they were. I picked a gold color to go with the beige apron. I followed the instructions on the can. I also used masking tape to place the stencil in place. I kept a few old newspapers at hand to cover the rest of the stencil to keep the color from getting on the fabric in unwanted places.


Next, I thought that the three dolls looked too lonely so I picked the biggest flower on the stencil and started painting it in the border. It took me about an hour to stencil the entire border and even then I realized I had made many mistakes. But at the end, when I looked at the finished product, I knew whenever I would wear the apron (the paint was still wet — so it wasn’t instantaneous) I’d think of those times with my grandma. Next time I decide to try out a few Mug Cakes I’ll be sure to take a picture of me and post it to our Twitter!

Have you worked on any cool projects lately? Let me know so I can try them out as well!

– Mitali


Get your copy of Stencil It: 101 Ideas to Decorate Your Home from your fave local bookseller or click on any retailer link below:

Barnes and Noble
Powells Books

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CAUGHT CRAFTING: SMPCraft’s Spotlight on NYC Crafting

SMPCRAFT #CAUGHTCRAFTING Thursday morning, Astoria, Queens. Accessorizing with a lovely temporary floral tattoo she learned to make from DIY Temporary Tattoos: Draw It, Print It, Ink It by Pepper Baldwin!



Father's Day is less than three weeks away -- Sunday, June 19th in the U.S. -- just enough time to start prepping for what would make dear old pops feel loved....What dad, what MAN, wouldn't want to get a bright red tool box full of homemade BBQ, bacon, and chili flavored chocolate? Or a handmade Paracord hammock? Does he play golf?--hand dipped tees? Does he like to hike? Enjoy nature and the great outdoors? How about homemade beef jerky? Or does he enjoy watching sports--Remote Control Cookie? What about beer? One of the coolest new items coming out of Japan is a Frozen Beer Slushy Maker by Kirin Ichiban that perfectly pairs with the DIY black and tan soap! Scroll and click for more homemade DIY Father's Day gift ideas sure to make pappy happy! Hashtag #SMPCRAFT #DIYFATHERSDAY!

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