August 15, 2017

Paw Print Clothespin Magnet DIY

Of the many household tools, one that is starting to go obsolete is the clothespin.  Not as many people hang wet clothes outside to dry on a clothesline anymore.  So what can you do with that basket full of clothespins just sitting in the laundry room?  Clothespins are finding new life with other purposes like a chip-clip or to hold papers on the fridge.

In this blog post, I will be providing you with instructions to DIY your own clothespin magnets. I was inspired to make these by one of my favorite Etsy shops: Sugar and Paint. The style I am making today is pet inspired; paw prints!  I am looking forward to featuring these at my Snowywinds Booth on August 26 at Dog’s Day in the Park.


Acrylic paint
Acrylic varnish
Paintbrushes and paint-sponge
Paint pallet
Wax paper
Round magnets
Hot glue gun

Step 1:
Make sure the clothespins are clean. Separate the spring from the two wood pieces. Make sure to keep the springs lined up with their wooden pieces. Early on I forgot to do this; when I went to put the clothespins back together they didn’t all line up correctly! :(

Step 2:
Paint the solid color. I use wax paper to prevent newsprint from sticking or transferring to the clothespin. *Depending on the age of the clothespins, you may want to apply a multi purpose sealer prior to painting the solid color.

Step 3:
Paint your design on the wooden piece you have chosen to be the front. To make a paw print, paint an upside-down heart, round off the top point, and add four toes. *Remember, dogs & cats have 4 toes!

Step 4:
Coat each wood piece with a clear varnish. Let sit overnight. This is important.  You do not want the varnish to be tacky when putting the clothespin pieces back together. If so, the mouth of the clothespin will stick shut.

Step 5:
Get the hot glue gun warming up. Assemble the clothespins making sure to use the correct spring for each wooden set. Using the hot glue gun, attach the magnet to the back of the clothespin about level with the spring. Remove any glue strings.  And voila! You have your clothespin magnet!

*All photos taken by myself

August 1, 2017

My Hippie Style

Flash back to my middle school years, a period of tying to discover and establish my self-identity. I found myself gravitating to the music of the late sixties, early seventies; the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin. On the TV show The Wonder Years, Kevin’s older sister was my favorite character. I loved the fashion styles of that period, so I started wearing tie-die and my Mom’s old “vintage” clothing. When low cut, bell-bottom jeans came back in style in the early 1990s, I had to have them. I would wear flowers in my hair and round “John Lennon” sunglasses. Peace signs were everywhere, including my Cold War poster hanging in my room. This was my style.
In high school, I began painting things in my newfound hippie style. My wooden desk chair was painted with multihued peace signs, paisley, and organic swirls. Then I started on my jeans: roses, the happy face, and more peace signs. I also painted some T-shirts for friends and myself. When the jeans wore out, I cut the painted part off and pinned them up on my cork-board. I didn’t know what I was going to do with these remnants, but I knew I wasn’t finished with them!

In the early 2000s I got my own sewing machine. I was very excited to try it out and start sewing. As my creative mind began to spin, the idea of making a purse from recycled fabric came to me. I had a pair of super comfy khaki pants that wore out beyond wear-ability. I cut the material into two panels. Then machine embroidered one of my jean pieces (rainbow peace sign) onto the top panel. I picked up some really cool fabric ribbon at Joann Fabric that reminded me of my Uncle’s camera strap. The ribbon is primarily black with bold colors; red, yellow, & green. While I have needed to make new bags for myself, the strap has been reused for the third time and has lasted 15 years.

Bag #2
I received (and still receive) a lot of compliments on my bag. Women asked if I made bags with other designs, like dragonflies, painted on them. This got me thinking… I started with a dragonfly bag. This bag was not only hand painted, but also had hand embroidery. I would sit outside in the evening and embroider. From there I moved on to my painted daisy bag, machine embroidery, and other repurposed fabrics like olive cargo pants and fabric samples. As I create and sew, it is my goal to encapsulate that 60s-70s hippie look in my bags.   

July 3, 2017

Hiking Kilauea

What is it like to hike through a volcano?  In her book, High Tide in Tucson, Barbara Kingsolver includes two essays on her trip to Maui and hiking the dormant volcano, Haleakala. Ever since reading those essays, I have wanted to hike in a volcano!  

Nature is a huge inspiration to me, both spiritually and creatively.  From luscious greens to beautiful flowers to geographical magnificence.  These loves have taken me all over the United States searching out beautiful places where I connect to the Earth.

In July 2014, my husband and I flew to the Big Island of Hawaii for our honeymoon. This was not your traditional Hawaiian vacation focused on sandy beaches and coconut drinks.  We came for the volcanos, more specifically Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The main feature is the active volcano, Kilauea with its Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road. The date we were there, the south side of Crater Rim Drive was closed between the Jagger Museum and Chain of Craters Road due to volcanic activity.  While we could not get close enough to see the lava flowing, we saw the glowing smoke rising from the Halema’uma’u Crater.

To the east of the main Kilauea Caldera is the Kilauea Iki Crater, dormant since 1959.  The crater is a mile long and 3,000 feet across. Beginning with a steep and rocky descent, the hiking trail takes you 2.4 miles across solid lava with scattered steam vents, then back up switchbacks through lush rain forest.  Ahu (stacked rocks) mark the trail across the crater floor.

The porous and jagged rocks of the western side of the crater made for difficult hiking. Sturdy shoes are a must!  ‘Ōhi‘a bushes populate the rugged terrain bringing back vegetation to the crater.  The ruggedness turned to a smooth surface about midway through the crater.  Also the temperate increased.  At 3980 ft, the beginning of our hike was drizzly and chilly even in July.  As we reached the steaming part of the crater, we were unzipping our coats and removing our hats.   

It was truly amazing to see the remains of volcanic eruption.  That a force from under the Earth’s crust shot up sprouting red hot lava 1600℉ is mystifying.  The Hawaiians attribute this activity to Pele, the spiritual force of the volcano, and her various moods. Whether it is science or gods, it is truly amazing.  We live on an amazing planet that somehow has the right combination of elements to create this geological and ecological beauty.

I hope you have glimpsed the impact this hike has had on me.  I will always remember it.  If it is not already on your list of places to see, put it there!  

All photos taken by myself

June 17, 2017

Summer 2017!

School is out for summer!  Let Summer 2017 begin! 

This past Saturday was the kick-off event for Snowywinds Studios’ Summer 2017 event season. I was all set up at Sonnewald Natural Foods and magnets were the hot item. Currently, there are three events scheduled with the possibility of two more to be added.

When I was a kid, my parents would drag my brother and myself to all kinds of “-- In the Park” events around Maryland and Pennsylvania.  I would always appreciate the handmade products for sale.  Even in my teen angst phase, I still appreciated these artists creations. Deep down, I knew I wanted to do that one day with my own art.  Art was always my favorite class in school and making crafts was my favorite aspect of scouting (tied with hiking in the woods.)  In 2015, I finally took the leap and began doing in-person events with my very own maker business, Snowywinds Studios.

Entering the world of vendor events has definitely been a learning process.  I love the personal contact of art & craft shows, festivals, and flea markets.  My customers can actually hold my creations, try my bags on, and learn what makes me passionate about creating.  Participating in events has also been valuable in networking with other sellers within my community.  Last, I learned so much about branding and merchandising, which is an art in itself.  

When it comes to in-person events, I am still trying to find my niche.  My products are made from repurposed materials and I’m Earth conscious (The 3 R's = Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Check out this video with Jack Johnson!).  Nature themes abound in my art; flowers, mushrooms, butterflies.  My love of pets also finds its way into my art.  The three events I have lined up so far include yoga, dogs, and flea marketing.  

Before I go, I want to give a shout out to the Etsy Team Craft Fairs... it's a living! for all the advice and anecdotes shared in the discussion feeds.

Feel free to comment, contact me, &/or visit my Facebook page!

May 13, 2017

My Etsy Shop


I began my Etsy shop in 2011. It doesn’t seem like that long ago. I had less than 20 listings, but it was finally time to go for it. I kept at it, gradually adding more pieces and improving my listings. The next year I finally had 2 sales!
Today my shop has just over 50 listings with a goal of reaching 100 listings by September.  My listings fall into two main categories; handmade handbags and hand-painted gifts.  Both reflect my hippie style and unique artistic style.  I enjoy painting with bright colors.  Two of my favorite artists are Frank Stella and Henri Matisse, both known for their use of bright colors.  I was very fortunate to be exposed to modern art at a young age, having visited the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.  I also had two fantastic art teachers in high school who found it essential to take their students to prominent art museums to witness the work of the masters.

The perfectionist in me always strives for realism in my art, but yet I can not avoid modern impressionism.  Following after my grandfather, Frank Winter, I use photographs to draw and paint from. After conceptualizing the design in my head and sketching my idea, I turn to photographs to get the detail, color, and proportion.  Even when using ‘unrealistic’ colors, for example pink mushrooms, I still seek to get my proportion and shading correct.

Snowywinds Studios on Etsy allows me to share my creations.  Today, I find myself painting on recycled slate shingles, seashells, and fabrics.  My in-person events also include hand painted bricks, river rocks, and clothespins.  Nine months of the year I am a school teacher.  As summer break approaches, I look forward to getting more ideas from my head to the paint brush.  My artistic journey can be followed more closely on Instagram: @snowywindgrams

“I paint flowers so they will not die” ~Frida Kahlo  

April 14, 2017

Painted Seashells - Garden Decor - How To DIY

For as long as I can remember, my family has gone to the ocean for vacation and relaxation.  One of my favorite activities as a girl was collecting seashells.  I had my seashell guidebook to help me identify each type of shell.

In fact, I still collect seashells when I'm on the beach.  Back then, I would show off my collection while the young entrepreneur in me was trying to think of a way to sell them; oyster shells with a natural hole were strung on yarn to be worn as a 'necklace.'  In more recent years, I have brainstormed ways that I can turn shells into home decor.

After researching and testing, I narrowed in on three ways to feature seashells; ornaments, magnets, and now garden decor.  I found that due to their light weight, seashells make ideal canvases for hand painted Christmas ornaments. With the aid of gorillatough Gorilla Glue®, I turned smaller seashells into magnets; seashell beach magnets Etsy listing.  And most recently, I am using larger shells to make garden decor.

In this week's blog, I am providing a tutorial on how to make hand painted seashell garden decor. For this DIY, you will need:

  • seashells - I prefer clam shells for their round shape.
  • small paint brushes - size 2 and smaller
  • medium flat paint brush
  • acrylic craft paint
  • Mod Podge
  • paper towels

Step 1: Clean the shells with a damp paper towel to remove excess sand or sea salt.

Step 2: After planning and sketching out your design, begin to apply the acrylic paint.  For this design, I painted the black first on the shells with lettering and I painted the orange first for the Oriole Bird shell.  Once that was dry, I painted orange over top of the black lettering.  Then I sketched in the Oriole Bird design with a small brush.  Last, I filled in the black sections of the bird, making sure to put extra coats where needed.  

Step 3: The final step is to coat the shell with Mod Podge.  This seals the acrylic paint design and protects it from the elements.

These painted shells will make their way to my brother's house.  He is a lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan.  But you can paint any team motto and mascot on your garden decor shells!!

Let me know how this goes for you!  Leave a comment below or send me a message.

April 2, 2017

Welcome to my new blog!

Several years ago, I had the idea to create a blog about books and hiking. I love being outdoors in nature, but I am also a bookworm. I can lose time in a used book store or sale. But, I had difficulty thinking up one of those witty blog names, and the blog idea faded away.

Fast forward to 2017, I have finally created my blog. Though I still plan to write about books and hiking, I will also be sharing:

  • my art
  • art & craft show adventures
  • how-to's
  • and inspiration.

To start with inspiration...
Since I was a toddler, my parents have immersed me in nature; camping trips, day hikes, learning about trees, and planting flowers.  They even allowed me to plant an acorn in the back yard when I was 5. 
"The mighty oak was once a nut like you"

Nature continues to inspire me. While I enjoy painting acorns, flowers and butterflies grace much of my art. My hand-made bags are primarily earth tones and include painted daisies. Pieces of nature form the backdrop for my product photos. I am looking forward to summer when I can paint outside on my back porch.   

I will end my first blog post with some of my favorite places I've hiked:
  • Yosemite National Park, CA
  • Minnewaska State Park, NY
  • C & O Canal Towpath, MD
  • Camp Echo Trail, PA
  • Anything overlooking or along the Susquehanna River
Gertrude's Nose, Minnewaska, NY

Thank you for joining me on this new journey!