Thursday, April 21, 2016

first book signing of 2016!

When I was at Chanel Shabby Rose last month for the rose painting workshop, I hadn't arrived early enough to really wander through the shop. I won't have that problem next Saturday, April 30, when I'll be signing copies of my first two books Tinkered Treasures and Seaside Tinkered Treasures from 1 to 4 p.m.

My book signing on Saturday is part of a weekend-long celebration of the shop's third anniversary. There will be special sales, entertainment and refreshments. I love supporting small business and am so happy to be part of the festivities!

Find  event updates on Facebook at both the Chanel Shabby Rose and TinkeredTreasures pages.

Book Signing
Date: Saturday, April 30, 2016
Location: Chanel Shabby Rose, 61 Endicott Street, Norwood, MA  02062
Time: 1 to 4 p.m.

About Chanel Shabby Rose
After a dozen years of being a vintage and antiques dealer, Mary Sergi founded Chanel Shabby Rose in 2013. Located in the historic WinSmith Mills at 61 Endicott Street in Norwood, Massachusetts, Chanel Shabby Rose has fifteen talented dealers, each specializing in picking and repurposing. Find Chanel Shabby Rose online at and Facebook.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

rose painting workshop with jo-anne coletti

Rose motifs are on my list of favorite things. Even more than real-life blooms, certain painted and printed floral patterns just cause my heart to race. The GASP factor! Imagine being able to paint roses? It would be like producing chocolate in your own home!

Source: Jo-Anne Coletti
When I began to notice Jo-Anne Coletti offering rose-painting workshops, I knew I had to sign-up! If you like roses, chances are you're familiar with Jo-Anne either from her monthly Say Ahh! feature in Romantic Homes magazine, or from her own romantic home being featured in publications.

Jo-Anne conducts her workshops in a variety of venues, including Mary Lou Sergi's Chanel's Shabby Rose in Norwood, an enchanting space housed in an old mill with sellers specializing in shabby/vintage/repurposed. I had always wanted to visit and now here was my perfect excuse!

At the workshop, there were probably a dozen of us seated, sipping white wine, giggling, excited to try our hands at painting roses. I was so busy concentrating on the lesson that I didn't take many pictures. 

Jo-Anne is wonderful instructor -- encouraging, patient, and helpful. She promised that we would all go home with a pretty picture. Even thought it was just a two-hour workshop, I left with many tips. And because Jo-Anne expertly worked my pink blob into a rose, I did go home with a pretty picture!

Back at home I'm excited to keep practicing. 

I admire the ethereal swirling rose-and-garland designs of artist Laurence Amelie and have been using her work as inspiration.

For some reason I have an easier time painting tiny roses. I suppose that makes sense as my handwriting is small and so are my drawings.

It's not always easy to find the time to paint but I want to be sure that I do because it's very enjoyable. At some point I'd like to paint roses on a piece of furniture.

If you're too far away to have a lesson with Jo-Anne, she has books filled with step-by-step instructions.

Visit Jo-Anne's website to swoon over roses in a variety of forms, from linens to vintage finds to photography, and of course, paintings!

Thank you for reading!


Note: The captions feature doesn't seem to be working properly. Please note that the window and chair with roses photographs are by Jo-Anne Coletti. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

crafting with mason jars by hester van overbeek

Ready to tinker along in the Girlie Office

Allow me to present the newest addition to my bookshelf:
Love this pic of the tea light holder project!
Crafting with Mason Jars is Hester van Overbeek's second book. With stunning photography by James Gardiner, it's another in CICO Books' lovely canon of how-tos featuring "over 35" projects.

When my review copy arrived complete with a canning jar, I couldn't wait to try some of Hester's clever ideas! If you're familiar with my own books, you know that I am right there with Hester in my adoration of tinkering with glass containers. 

Crafting with Mason Jars offers many fresh and inventive ideas, like these concrete place card holders which would also make nice balloon anchors.

I really like this hanging light complete with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions.

There's also sweet packaging projects like birthday in a jar ...

and picnic in a jar! 

Find behind-the-scenes peeks and more at Hester's Handmade Home, ordering information here, and the list of lovely participating blogs below:

Thank you for visiting and congrats, Hester!


Saturday, February 27, 2016

the tinkered dollhouse

Thanks to the information on digital photos, I know that it was September of 2012 when my husband and boys raced in through our backdoor to tell me about the air-hockey table they scored a few streets over on "Trash Eve." And there was a dollhouse left on the curb, too!

I think I'd always wanted a "real" wooden dollhouse, even if one never made it onto Santa's list. I did have a metal dollhouse complete with a bay window and molded single-colored plastic furnishings; there was also Barbie's van, if that counts.

But just like my Liddle Kiddles 3-Story, most of the decorating choices weren't mine to make, groovy as they may be.
Click to enlarge all photos
The trash-picked cornflower blue Victorian sat in the basement until recently when I began to give it double-takes as I passed by with laundry. Ideas began to form. Then just weeks ago on a snowy day -- the most perfect kind of day for a creative project -- I brought the dollhouse upstairs and into the Girlie Office.
The dollhouse was a bit grimy and so I gave it a gentle scrub inside and out with a soapy sponge, using an old toothbrush for detail areas. Next I painted the interior from top to bottom with whatever white paint was around, from Chalk Paint to craft paint.

And just like with my life-sized house, I wasn't quite sure where to begin so I turned to my pinboards at Pinterest.

I love working with paper and making collages and so that's where I started.

Like a blank canvas, the dollhouse was primed and ready for experimenting without worries of practicality or cost! I could "install" a white-washed brick wall, I could hang expensive wallpaper ... With a little trompe l'oeil ... design intended to trick the eye.

I began to search online for patterns and prints and rugs and clocks. I measured the approximate size each item needed to be, downloaded images, re-sized, and printed them.

Not one to worry about scale, I began to size-up things around me for their small possibilities. See the little London calendar in the lower-right corner? It's from the thumbnail page of an actual calendar. I gathered things like ornaments, toys, doilies, jewelry charms, and more. 
In keeping with my tinkering-ethics, most furnishings needed to be handmade and as simply as possible. Three flat toothpicks and a small craft stick were fused with glue into an easel shown above. Paintings were found online, printed to size, and backed with card stock; I even painted over them for an authentic look (but mostly because it was fun). The ice cream parlor chair is a Martha Stewart/K-Mart ornament from years ago.
The bed was made from craft sticks, first painted brown, then white-washed with craft paint for a shabby look; a small hole-punched rose adorns the rustic headboard. The pillow is fabric folded and glued over a stretched cotton ball; the bed was "made" by affixing layers of fabric to the frame.

All original windows have been replaced (for now?) with dotted vellum scrapbook paper.
A couch was also built from craft sticks and all very trial-and-error. Once a frame was constructed, it was wrapped with soft fabric secured beneath folds with hot glue; small cotton-filled seat cushions and pillows were hand-sewn or glued together to top the couch. A band of tiny ball fringe hot-glued along the base of the "slipcover" hides imperfections and gives a finished look.
How could I tinker a dollhouse and not include a bottle cap? 
Gosh, I could go on and on and this is already a lengthy post. If you click on the photo above, you will see the inspiration pics (first and third columns) and how each translated into the design of the dollhouse (second and fourth columns).

More peeks inside:
An image of my parents on their wedding day, sized to fit a charm, makes a meaningful little accent.

The eat-in kitchen includes a table, hutch, wooden bowls and buttons-as-dishes from Wood Items and More painted and then decoupaged with floral paper. The lantern is a project from my first book done on a smaller scale. Actual miniatures are from Michaels, Playmobil, or childhood. A scrap of fabric serves as a roller shade.

Every home has things that need fixing so I didn't bother to repair the missing step! Ha!

A chandelier fashioned from twist-ties is finished with cabochons and beaded trimming.

An ironing board from Michaels is treated to a new (paper) cover.

Cabbages & Roses wallpaper and bunting, and a Laurence Amelie painting are printed-out features that take this interior from dollhouse to dreamhouse. Note the treasured reading material on the chair.

Scale-schmale ... obviously I'm decorating this house as a tinkerer and not a miniaturist.

And I haven't even started on the exterior!

Find updates at my tinkered treasures pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for reading and happy tinkering, always!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

boho style: behind the screens

Way back in June my dear friend (and fairygodmother) Fifi O'Neill, asked if I'd be interested in creating a project for a new magazine she was developing called Boho Style. Of course! Fifi envisioned a portable multi-patterned backdrop that could be used to create a cozy space indoors or out.

I decided to use sturdy plywood and roped the hubs into helping.

I looked through my own stash of fabric and found some lively prints from Annette Tatum and Amy Butler that I thought would work well.

I also discovered a cool shop in Providence specializing in Boho called Restored by Design. The shop features A WALL of trimming and notions by color (which I knew in an instant must be from Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods, a seller I had remembered from a visit to Brimfield years ago)! I picked up some ball fringe, appliques and ribbons in a palette of dusty mulberry.

The uber-talented Matthew Mead signed-on to be the stylist and photographer. I decided the Cape Cod Lavender Farm would make a stunning backdrop. Turns out by the time our calendars allowed for the shoot, most of the lavender had been harvested but the grounds still made for a rich location.

Even in the shade, I swear it felt like 100 degrees shooting on that July afternoon on Cape Cod. I have to admit that I wilt in the heat but Matthew was so nice to work with. For the indoor part of the shoot, Matthew and I decided that he would bring "the prop" back to his studio in New Hampshire. I will never forget Matthew passing me on the highway and seeing the fabric-covered screens perched on the back of his pick-up truck, the silk flowers and ribbon flapping in the breeze. Makes me chuckle.

And now here it is -- all pretty in a two-page spread in January on pages 144-145 in the first-ever issue of Boho Style! Find the other page and the complete tutorial in the magazine.

If you look closely, you'll notice lime green lace draped over the screen: it's a MYRTEN lace curtain from Ikea. The best method (I found) for coloring these polyester panels is to soak them in a mixture of water and acrylic paint. Once there is even coverage, gently wring-out and hang outside to dry, then finish in the dryer alone.

Also look for my article Paint Magic about artist Debbie Dion Hayes of My Patch of Blue Sky, on pages 8-17!

Find Boho Style on newsstands (any minute now) or visit this link for ordering information. Find updates and additional peeks at the magazine on Facebook at BOHO STYLE, the Magazine by Fifi O'Neill.

Thanks for reading!