Two Old Crows Folk Art Tips

Sharing the tips and techniques we have learned over the years with other in the hope of sparking their imagination and inspiring them to create
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Mirror Mirror
If you're interested in seeing your creations - graphic or otherwise - in an objective way, hold the item up in front of and facing a mirror from a distance of 3 to 5 feet.. You'll be better able to critique your item and tell where another detail may be added, or another color repeated, or an area needs to be broken up with an addition of something.I rely on this method with everything I make and it never fails to give me success!
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How to Rust Items for that Primitive Look
Monday, October 30, 2006
Rusting Items

This recipe will nicely rust safety pins, jingle bells, or anything else you want to 'age' for your primitive creations.The most important thing to remember about rusting, is that you will want to buy the cheap brand of pins, safety pins, bells..ect that you can find. The more expensive brands have a shellac coating on them that you will have to sand off before rusting. Makes sure they are NOT brass either -brass will not rust.Do this outside away from children and pets.....the fumes are terrible !

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup bleach
1 teaspoon salt

Directions :

Combine the ingredients in an old quart jar.

Add items you want to rust and cover loosely - place in a safe spot and let set for at least 2 days.

Line a tray with a couple of layers of paper towel and remove the items with an old fork from the mixture. place in the sunshine .......the items will begin to rust as they dry. Move them around so that they dry on all sides.

Perfectly rusted bells, pins, and any other item you wish to rust.

Caution: do not throw the mixture down the sink- dispose of properly where no animal or child could come in contact with.

For more great crafting tips visit us at Two Old Crows

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 11:57 AM   0 comments
How to Distress Wood and Metal
Friday, October 20, 2006

Distressing Wood and Metal

Distressing is one of the most effective and easiest ways to age furniture or a painted piece. We can take a new piece and make it look like it has been around for years and been touched by hands many times with a very simple technique using candle wax. I prefer using beeswax candles for this but any white candle may be used.

First look at the piece and decide if you wish the finished piece to look like a piece that has been painted many times over, if so you will need to paint two colors. If you wish the finish piece to be bare wood where rubbed off you will only need to do a topcoat.

Sand the entire piece with a fine grade sandpaper and wipe with a tack cloth

If you wish a color beneath the paint rubbed off apply it now and allow to dry for 2-4 hours.

Using the candle on its side rub over the entire piece, paying special attention to the edges and corners, anywhere the piece may have been touched alot ( around handles) areas where it would have naturally gotten distressed

Now paint the entire piece going over the wax with a topcoat, be sure to paint with the grain of the wood. Let dry thoroughly

Using steel wool rub the paint in the direction of the grain of the wood. Where there is wax underneath the paint will come off revealing either the bare wood or the color beneath. Avoid rubbing the steel wool against the grain as this will create an ugly scratch effect rather than a smooth distressed look

If you wish you can repeat this process to make the piece look like it has been painted several times in different colors

When completely finished wipe the entire piece with a tack cloth and protect the piece by varnishing.

Distressing can be done on both metal and wood.....just remember to follow the steps given before to prepare the surfaces for painting

For more great crafting tips and techniques visit us at Two Old Crows

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 3:01 AM   0 comments
How to Make Grungy Candles
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Grungy Candle

Grungy candles are very easy to make and just take a little time and patience


Pillar or regular stick candles - I look for these on sale or at backyard sales.
Spices such as cinnamon, crushed cloves,ginger,allspice, grated lemon peel, grated orange peel (use any mix of these spices you like)
Fragrance oil such as cinnamon ( you can scent these or not)
Paint brush
Wax paper


Carefully melt your wax adding the fragrance if you like

Place wax paper on your table and add any mix of the above spicesPaint one strip on the candle and then while the wax is still hot, roll that part into the spices. Continue until completed.

Let your candle dry for at least 48 hours before using.

Try very hard not to get the hot wax and spices on your candle wick. But, you can apply extra wax on the candle to look like candle wax is melting down the candle.

A word of warning: Do not light these candles they are for decorative purposes only. If you are going to sell these or give them away be sure to include a warning with them

For more great crafting tips and techniques visit us at Two Old Crows

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 2:55 AM   0 comments
How to Preserve Fall Leaves
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Preserving Fall Leaves

Fall is a wonderful time for a walk and we all see leaves that we wish we could keep forever, now we can by one of the methods below. Choose beautiful fall leaves for their shape and color and avoid leaves with imperfections. It is better to pick leaves or branches from the trees directly- the ones on the ground are already dry. Each method has it merit and all are very simple - so take the time for that fall walk and find some leaves to decorate with !

Pressing a Leaf in a Book
This is probably the easiest method if you are just wanting to do a couple of leaves. Take an old thick book and place the leaf between the pages making sure it is completely flat- it will take a few days to dry but will last for many weeks and retain its wonderful color.

Pressing Leaves in Wax Paper
Place the leaf between two layers of walk paper and cover with an old towel or cloth rag. Press the fabric with a warm iron sealing the wax paper with the leaf between. Let cool and carefully cut out your leaves.

Microwaving Leaves
Choose the freshest leaves with the brightest colors do not use fallen leaves. Place leaf on two sheets of paper towel in the microwave and cover with another sheet of paper towel. Run the microwave for 30-180 seconds - check often and be careful you can start a fire. If the leaves curl up after removal they are not dry enough, if they are scorched you have left them for too long. Let the leaves dry flat for a couple of days then spray with a sealant

Glycerin Method
This is my personal favorite method and I have found it works the best.
To preserve the leaves on the branch set the branch stems in a bucket of warm water for about 1 1/2 hours. Mix 2 parts water and 1 part glycerin in a saucepan, bring to a boil for 1o minute and set aside to cool. Cut stems of branches at an angle and smash so that they can absorb more glycerin solution. Place the stems in the glycerin solution and store in cool place. When you see beads of glycerin on the leaves remove and wipe each leaf with a clean paper towel. Hang to dry .
To preserve individual leaves.Remove any debris from the leaves. Bring a mixture of 1 part glycerin and 2 parts water in a saucepan to a boil. Pour the mixture into a heat proof container and submerge the leaves. Keep in a dark cool place until the leaves change color. Remove the leaves and dry with a paper towel.

All of the above methods work. The leaves I have preserved with glycerin have lasted several years. If I just want to bring in some branches and place in vase I just add 1/2 teaspoon of glycerin to the water and change weekly. Glycerin can be found an any drug store.

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 8:46 AM   0 comments
How to Make Sweet Potato Garland
Sweet Potato Garland

Sweet potato garland is a wonderful accent to primitive or country decor. Stringed sweet potato garland is perfect for hanging on a primitive tree or as garland on a fire place or doorway. I don’t suggest putting it outside unless you don’t mind the varmit and birds eating it.

Sweet potatoes ( you can use regular potatoes)
Instant coffee
Spices- nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon
Cotton string

First make your coffee staining mixture
3 heaping tablespoons of instant coffee (I have found that the more expensive coffee gives a deeper stain)
1 cup of boiling water
Mix the two and let steep for a few minutes

Stain your piece of cotton string with this mixture by dipping it in and letting it dry ( I would not do a garland more than 6 feet long) dry this completely.

Do not peel the potatoes but just cut into 1 inch cubes

Mix equal amounts of your spices together in a pie pan

Soak the cubes of potatoes in the coffee mixture then roll them in the spices covering thoroughly ( I like to roll them all once and then roll again)

Tightly string the cubes together because they will shrink while drying

You can let these air dry or place in a 150 degree on a cookie sheet. Be sure to keep checking and scrunching them together as they dry to prevent gaps. ( Have found they are impossible to move on the string after drying)

These are a wonderful addition for fall decorating

For more great crafting tips and techniques visit us at Two Old Crows

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 7:14 AM   0 comments
How to Make Rag Garland
Friday, October 13, 2006
Making Rag Garland

Making a rag garland is so simple and a great way to use up all of those fabric scraps you have lying around. They are great to use as swag and on trees. You can even do this on strings of lights instead of the the twine to make them even more festive

Scraps of homespun and other types of fabric

Cut a piece of twine 5" longer than the length of the finished swag you want

Make a fold at each end about 2 1/2 " long and tie it into a knot, leaving a loop for hanging.

Cut fabric strips 2" x 6". Each strip will take up about 1/4" of space on the garland so the length of the twine will determine how many strips you will need. For example for each 12 " of garland you will need 48 fabric strips. You can experiment with the strips to make it more or less full to your liking

Tie each strip of fabric into a knot around the twine, centering the knot on the fabric strip. Repeat for each strip of fabric

This takes some time but is great project to do in the evening watching tv. The possibilites are endless with the different fabrics you use.

For more great crafting tips and techniques visit Two Old Crows

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 6:58 AM   0 comments
How to Make Paper Mache
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Dryer Lint Paper Mache

This inexpensive recipe is easy to make and works in those plastic candy molds very well. Just allow enough time for drying.

1 cup of lint from the dryer
1 cup torn up tissue paper (want colored use colored tissue paper)
2 tsp. liquid starch
2 cups water



Mix lint, tissue paper, liquid starch and water altogether and blend until smooth in the blender

Pour into cheesecloth draped over a bowl and press out as much of the liquid as possible

Add to mold and press tightly

Let air dry

Remove from mold carefully and sand lightly

Now you can paint these up anyway you like ......they make wonderful Christmas ornaments sprinkled with mica flakes or glass glitter.

For more great crafting tips and techniques visit us at Two Old Crows

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 7:38 AM   0 comments
How to Make Grubby Tags
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Making Your Own Grubby Tags

Grubby tags are a great addition to any primitive or country project. They can be used as tags on baskets, packages or even as Christmas ornaments too. You can make them as elaborate or as simple as you wish with decorating. The directions below are for the simple basic grubby background to the tag.

3x5 index cards ( You can substitute boughten shipping tags but I like using index cards - they are less expensive and you can make them any shape or size you want.)
3 heaping tablespoons of instant coffee ( the more expensive brands will give you a darker color - if you use a cheaper brand you may want to add more)
1 cup of boiling water
Few drops of vanilla ( I like vanilla for a scent, but do use cinnamon oil at Christmas time...the choice of scents is yours)

Cut the index cards into the shape you want and punch a hole in the top ( I have used star shapes, Christmas trees, bells, snowflakes besides the standard tag shapes)
Mix the hot water, instant coffee and vanilla well then apply with a sponge brush to both sides of the tag place on a drying rack to dry ( I use an old window screen but a baking rack will work also)
Let the tags dry thoroughly turning them over a couple of times .
If they dry to light you can restain them.
To hurry up this process place them on a cookie sheet in a low temperature oven for a few minutes
If you would like the tags to have a motley effect spray them with a bit of water before completely dry.
Should the tags curl up ( I find this happens more often when I dry them in the oven) press them with a old iron on the cotton setting ( a pressing cloth may be used if you dont have an old iron)
You should also stain the string you use - embroidery thread may also be used as string as well as torn homespun or raffia

Once they are completely dry the fun begins. Writing should be done with a permanent sharpie marker. Embellishments such as mica flakes, buttons, rubber stamping, bottle caps, vintage copies of photos, vintage images can all be used. Also like to paint on the tags with acrylics. If I do more than just write on them I do modge podge them. If the items you add seem to light colored just add some of the staining mixture to them with a q-tip.

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 3:25 PM   0 comments
How to Make Your Own Dried Orange Slices
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Drying Orange Slices

Drying your own orange slices is quite easy and is a wonderful addition to potpourri, wreaths and garland for the coming holiday season.
You usually are able to cut 12 slices from an orange

Choose fruit that is in good condition and not too ripe

Cut each roange crosswise into 1/4 inch slices

Place slices between paper towels and remove as much moisture as possible

Spray a cookie sheet with non stick vegetable spray ( oranges contain alot of sugar and have a tendency to get sticky making them stick to the pan) and place the orange slices in a single layer, do not let any of them touch

Dry in a 150 degree oven for approxiamately 6 hours. Check every 1/2 hour. If the fruit appears to be turning brown the oven is too hot. Shut off for 15 minutes and start again. Turn fruit over if the edges appear to be curling

When dry the fruit slices should be pliable

This same method can be used for drying any type of citrus fruit. They may also be sprayed with shellac before using.

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 2:20 PM   0 comments
Thursday, October 05, 2006

Folk Art Painting -Stippling

Stippling is a wonderful painting technique for painting cheeks, plant foliage, fur and snow. It is easy to do with a few simple steps. When stippling you will need to use either a deerfoot brush or an old scruffy brush that you have gotten paint down into the ferrule. This should be a round brush and you may need to cut the bristles shorter

Basecoat and shade the area you wish to stipple first and let dry

You will need to put out 3-5 colors in the same shade that you wish to stipple with, start with the darkest color first and work to the lightest being sure to leave some of your basecoat showing through or your piece will just look muddy

Less paint is better- with a the dry deerfoot or old brush stick just the tips of the bristles in your puddle of paint, then pounce on a paper towel getting rid of the excess. Practise on a piece of paper if it looks heavy or blobby you need to remove more paint and test again.

When the color is light and airy you are ready to stipple on your project

Hold the brush upright at a 90 degree angle and pounce lightly using the tip of the bristles on to the project. Do not be heavy handed pounce lightly and slowly.

Use small circular motions overlaying the stippling so not to get definite lines

Repeat with the other colors remembering to go from darkest to lightest and remember you can always add more so do this lightly.

Stippling can be a lot of fun and a real tension just stipple away !

For more great crafting tips and techniques visit us at Two Old Crows (

posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 4:47 AM   0 comments
How to Make Your Own Dried Apple Slices
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Dried Apple Slice

Now you can have that aroma of fresh apple pie in your kitchen- that smell that is so irrestible. Dried apple slices are easy to make by following a few simple instructions

8-10 apples ( I find Red Romas work the best)
3/4 cup of lemon juice
2 tsp. of salt
8 tsp. of ground cinnamon
2 tsp. of ground allspice
1 tsp of ground cloves

Combine the lemon juice and salt in a large bowl

Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick

Soak the slices of apples in the lemon juice and salt for about 5 minutes making sure all of the slices are covered with the liquid.

Place slices on a paper towel and pat dry as much as possible

Combine the cinnamon, allspice and cloves mixing thoroughly and then sprinkle both sides of the apple slices with this mixture.

Place slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet

Dry in a 150 degree oven for about 6 hours- they should be thoroughly dried and pliable but not brittle

These apple slices will be perfect to craft with ..add them to wreaths, garlands, arrangements and potpourri....the smell is will be like having fresh apple pie everyday without the baking !

For more great crafting tips and techniques visit us at Two Old Crows (
posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 2:47 PM   0 comments
Monday, October 02, 2006
Drying Flowers

The things that can be made from flowers and herbs gathered in your own backyard, your neighbors garden or bought at the market are as diversed as the flowers themselves. Flower arrangements, wreaths, potpourri, swags, garlands and sachets. Drying flowers is really quite simple.

Choose flowers with twiggy stalks and small heads with the exception of hydrangea and sunflowers. Choose flowers when they are freshly blooming. Some of the best flowers to dry are artesmisia, baby breath, bachelor buttons, chinese lanterns, cockscomb, everlastings, feverfew, globe amaranth, hydrangea, larkspur, love-in-a-mist, salvia, statice, sweet annie, tansy, tea roses and yarrow.

First strip all the leaves from the first few inches of the stem. Tie flowers of approxiamately the same length loosely together into small bundles and tie with cotton string or twine.

Attach to a peg, nail, clothesline or other support so that the air can circulate through the flowers. This should be in a dry, dark, warm ventilated place such as an attic. If there is a long period of dry weather a garage or closet will also work.

Let the flowers dry until the petals are paperly and the stems are brittle. This can take anywhere from three days to three weeks depending on the flower and climate. The color retention of the flowers will depend on the type, site and climate

Now the flowers are ready to craft with ....have fun crafting !

For more crafting tips and techniques visit us at Two Old Crows (
posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 6:24 AM   0 comments
About Us

About Us: Two Old Crows was named for Debbie and Dean because we are old and grumpy. We enjoy scouring flea markets, antique shops and estate sales for vintage and antique items to mix with the folk art we create.
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