DIY: Photo Album

I really enjoy taking photographs and have been wanting to make an album for quite some time, after being inspired by MH Studios. While my album is not hand embroidered – although I would love to do that someday – I love the feel of the handmade paper my album is constructed from, and thought I would share my supply list and process steps for anyone else that is interesting in putting together a modern album too.

My album was purchased from TopDrawer in Chicago and is made by Lamali Paris

The most helpful first step tip came from a photographer friend who suggested I add all of my desired photographs into an album on Lightroom (or on iPhone) and cull them down from there. This significantly sped up the process of selecting photos. I started with a large album inclusive of all photos from a trip, and was able to quickly narrow them down to 150 photos. From there, I did edit my photos with a batch filter that I created on Lightroom. While I loved my filter on screen (a bit moody with a slight blue tinge), it felt a tad dark in print. I’m not entirely sure how to perfectly trouble shoot that next time, but I will probably spend a bit more time making sure that my subjects faces are brighter in my next edit, before I print.

I edited my photos in Lightroom and printed at Printique – very happy with the quality!
  1. Album: the best albums I have found are by Bindewerk and made in Germany, but are available at Scriptura in New Orleans. I called the shop to place my order and they were so helpful. These albums are classic, wrapped in linen and have thin waxed paper sheets between every page to protect the photographs. They are beautiful classic albums. For this project, I found a special handmade and hand-bound album at TopDrawer in Chicago by Lamali Paris
  2. Photo Corners (3 packs): Lineco Acid Free Ivory Corners, 252 / pack. Three packs provides corners for 190 photos
  3. Photos: I printed 150 3.5×5″ photos and had room left over for another trip in my album. I used Printique printing service, which was cheaper than Artifact Uprising and had the best selection. I was very happy with the quality of the matte photos with white border that I chose
  4. Micron 005 liner pen

I organized my photos into piles by “event” then put 2-4 photos in each page turn as a placeholder for photo corners. Once I identified where each photo would appear, I used the photo corners to pin them down. I put the corners first on the photo and then stuck them down. Given the handmade rough paper edges that this album has, I eyeballed the positioning, but for a “tighter” more formal album, a ruler would be helpful.

Using 3.5×5″ photos from Printique (150 prints), I fit up to 2 per page with room to spare
I used a Micron pen to write a note on each photo within the white border

I am happy with the 3.5×5″ sized photo prints and the way this album turned out. I am going to work on a Bindewerk album next for my son’s first three years, and our family trips!

DIY: Briolette Necklace

Inspired by the lovely Ivarene Gems and a box of briolettes I had in my craft drawer, I made a sapphire necklace and I haven’t been able to stop churning out the gems since! Here is my DIY for an easy [to make] necklace that is super special.

A DIY Briolette knotted necklace in process
  1. Natural Silk size 2 thread (size 3 works, but was a bit tight for my beads)
  2. ~45 briolettes for a longer necklace, ~37 for something shorter (Etsy is the best place to find briolettes, or your local bead shop). My watermellon briolettes ranged in size from 3x6mm to 7x10mm
  3. A hat pin or thicker needle
  4. For clasp: 2 sterling thread protectors, a clasp, two small round beads, jewelry glue
Natural silk thread in size 2 is best for this project

Before we start, the main technique utilized in this project is tying knots with the aid of a hat pin (or thicker needle). This is a similar technique that is used to string a pearl necklace, but there is forgiveness in this project that doesn’t require your technique to be perfect (loose pearls isn’t a great look, but if you have some space between your knots and your briolettes your necklace will still look great). There are a lot of how to videos on youtube for pearl knotting that may be helpful to watch in advance, but generally the technique is to simply tie a loose knot (loop the size of a quarter), stick your needle into the open loop, pull the tail and use the needle to manipulate the knot into position. When the needle is tight in the loop, you can slide the knot up and down the string and position perfectly. OK, Let’s start!

The needle is used to position the knots. Tighten the knot around the needle before you pull it out

Step One: Begin by laying out all of your briolettes in the order you’d like them strung. I organized mine from smallest to largest to smallest (end to end).

You can also organize the briolettes by color for an ombre effect !

Step Two: Attach your clasp. Take all of your thread off the cardboard and wet the silk to get out the kinks (you can fully submerge). Thread one round bead (reserved for your clasp) onto the “needle” attached to the silk, then up / down the clasp protector and back down through the bead. Pull the string all the way through until you have a few inch tail, and utilizing the hat pin, tie a knot as close to the bead as possible to secure. Later, you will further secure this knot with a drop of jewelry glue.

Completed clasp at top of image. Tighten each knot down on the needle and use the needle to position
The tail of string shown on left is only a few inches long and will be cut off after the knot is glued
Briolettes organized by size

Step Three: Using the attached needle, thread all of your briolettes in the order you’d like them to appear. After they are threaded, I wrap the needle end of my thread around the card it came with to roll up my extra string. Do not cut the needle – we will need it later to finish the clasp.

Finished clasp and knotted briolettes

Step Four: Once all of the briolettes are threaded, starting at the clasp, tie three knots in a row, positioning with the needle, then push down the first briolette. Tie three knots in a row, positioning with the needle, then push down the second briolette, and so forth, until complete.

Step Five: Once all beads are knotted in place, unroll the remaining string, thread the second round bead, then up/down through the string protector, back through the round bead and tie off a knot to finish. Use jewelry glue to secure each end knot. Once glue is dry, trim the thread close to the knot.

Finished piece, prior to trimming the tails

Step Six: Attach your clasp to each thread protector. Complete!

The end tails can be cut closer to the knots and glued down (mine were ultimately trimmed further)

Raleigh baby room surprise

I remotely planned a baby room design for my friend Meghan in Raleigh. You can see some of my planning here. Last night, while Meghan was sleeping, I made it happen in 4 hours. The best part about this room? All of the major ingredients to make it fabulous were less than $600.
As a reminder, this is what the room looked like before. It was basic – nothing particularly special about this room, but it is a room everyone can relate to. It is a basic bedroom!

A very basic baby room – the “before” shot

Meghan had recently carpeted and painted the room so there was a nice base to work with, but decorating wasn’t a first priority with the baby only 4-weeks away. The baby gender is unknown and Meghan wanted this room to “last”, so the design is intended to be gender neutral and sophisticated so it will be age appropriate for many years.
When working on a budget, the best way to make a big impact for less dollars is to hang a mural wallpaper. Lulu and Georgia has beautiful choices. I needed 2 rolls for this project. I began at 9PM and started with wallpaper.

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It was my second time installing wallpaper and I did it alone, so I trust anyone could do this. The paper is pre-pasted so all you need to do is use a sponge to spread water on the back of the panel, hang, and push out the air bubbles. The pre-pasted glue is a bit “slimy” in texture once it is activated, so you have some time to maneuver the panel and slide it into place so it matches up. I trimmed the base, top and around the outlets with a sharp x-acto knife and a straight edge (the same tool I used to smooth out the wallpaper).

After the wallpaper was done I worked on the curtains.

DIY Pom-Pom Curtains: The curtains are Threshold from Target. I bought pom-pom trim from Amazon and 1 roll of HeatnBond hem tape. This is all you need, plus an iron. These curtains were less than $50, TOTAL, for BOTH panels! All you need to do is iron the pom pom trim to the inside edge of the curtain with the HeatnBond hemming tape. I had to set my iron to a much higher steaming setting than the directions recommended, but that worked fine. This took ~20 minutes.

Iron on pom-poms, make fabulous curtains for <$50 total

The finished panel from the front. So beautiful and so easy and so inexpensive!

After I finished the curtains, I arranged the furniture around the edges of the room, accessorized with a $36 Lulu and Georgia Zeba pillow, a $48 trio of West Elm frames filled with my own animal watercolors and laid down a $163 Lulu and Georgia Nasra 5×7 rug.

West Elm gallery frames with watercolors by me

Lulu and Georgia Nasra rug, 5×7, brightens up the room and adds a nice extra layer

While I initially planned to make a DIY mobile, I found this Blabla mobile on eBay for $40, so I went with that given retail is $170+. Whenever I’m looking for something special, I always check Ebay first and I always bid under list. Even if the item is an auction item (and doesn’t have a buy it now option), I will message the seller and ask if they will take a lower price. Why? Because negotiating is fun! 😉 This one was listed for $60 and I got it for $40, muahaha.

My Ebay Blabla mobile is FAB and entirely handmade! Fits jungle theme perfectly.

I finished at 1AM. Surprising Meghan was the best, she loved it. 🙂

A 4-hour makeover, complete! Lulu and Georgia Mural

Jellycat doll, Pehr bag, Target Lamp, Wayfair chair, Lulu and Georgia pillow and mural and rug



Potter Barn crib, BlaBlah (Ebay) mobile, Target side table, DIY pom-pom Target curtain, Lulu and Georgia Mural

Paintings by me! Lulu and Georgia jungle mural

The drawer pulls we planned to update are delayed from China, but they are en route and will be mint green porcelain.

Love you Meghan and baby S to-be! Lulu and Georgia jungle mural

It was such a fun project and I’m so lucky that Meghan let me express all my ideas freely and completely trusted me with this room after a half bottle of wine. Love you Meghan, and baby S!

DIY: Rope Credenza

It’s labor day weekend and we’re making a credenza!

Once upon a time I set my eyes upon a rope credenza at a property that we visit annually on the East Coast. The second I saw it I thought, “I could make that”. And alas, the time has come. Our den walls are plaster so we cannot hide our TV wires within the walls. We will hang a Samsung Frame TV and hide the wires in a credenza. Since I was not originally planning on needing this piece of furniture, I wanted something simple and inexpensive while still appearing high end. I covered the entire IKEA Henmes sideboard in rope. (Naturally!)

Supply List:
1) IKEA Henmes sideboard, light brown, 2) 1,200 feet of 5/16″ Manila Rope, 3) Glue gun and glue sticks, 4) A paintbrush like this, 5) New knobs (optional) and longer screws to fit (rope requires screws to be slightly longer)

Pro Tip: This project took me 14 hours start to finish, so you need a weekend. I’d also recommend a very sharp knife and scissors for cutting the rope.

IKEA Henmes sideboard: $329

Mecox has some interesting rope covered furniture that serves as a nice inspiration for this project. While I won’t be exactly mimicking this piece, I liked it very much.

Mecox Pawley Abaca Rope Dresser: $1,875

The rope I am working with is from Knot & Rope supply.

1,200 feet of 5/18″ rope from Knot & Rope Supply

Beginning with the drawer fronts, work from the outside in to cover them in rope. Do the same with the top of the sideboard. For the drawers, I worked from the center out because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t covering the holes for the drawer pulls, but in retrospect I think this was a harder path. It was harder because I had to measure in from the outer edge to make sure I was starting in the right place.

Process if you begin in the center, and work out. I found it was easier to work outside in

For the cabinet doors and sides I wrapped the center section first, similar to the top and the drawers, but cut separate strips for the outer border.

Beginning at the outer edge, wrap to center, then cut strips for sides

I cut the rope with a Global knife that I will be taking to get sharped on Tuesday. Not to say it’s dull now, I’m just expecting that is possible…

Cut separate strips to cover the border edges

All the pieces coming together in the living room for assembly

After the credenza was assembled, I glued down the trim pieces.

Ikea Henmes hack, covered in rope

I appreciate that I am did not go into too much detail here, but I am expecting the likelihood of some fellow-crafter following in my footsteps to DIY this piece is somewhere around 0% (rounding). So, please reach out to me if you do want to do this, and I can help guide you through.

Ikea hens hack, covered in rope with Samsung frame tv (waiting on frame)

I will have a piece of glass cut to top this off and help protect from dust. The knobs were replaced with cast iron knobs that I found online for $20. The Samsung frame tv will have a maple frame that is still on it’s way to us.

DIY: Bistro Table

Making use of the scrap pile…

Bistro tables are expensive and it is not hard to DIY. I made a bistro table for our kitchen and am very pleased with the results. This table cost ~50% less than big box retail alternatives, is custom, better quality and has beautiful marble that is superior to the box store choices. It also took less than 1 hour to assemble and required very little time to procure (all online, no in-person).

Supply list: 1) Marble / stone: I purchased mine at Stone City in Chicago by simply emailing, reviewing pictures and selecting for custom cut, 2) Silicon adhesive, 3) Piece of wood, 4) Bistro table base: mine is available here

Pro Tip: Marble from scrap is generally less expensive, as are straight cuts (vs. circle) to produce. This marble was from scrap and was cut to size in a 30″ hexagon.

First, I ordered my base (link above) and emailed the stone yard to get pictures of available scrap pieces.

This is the image that the stone yard (Stone City, Chicago) sent me of my chosen (by email) slab

The specs of this piece of marble is a hexagon, 30″ across the widest point. When the marble was delivered, I glued the wood to the base with silicon glue and let this dry overnight. The stone yard did apply mesh to the base of my cut slab so the glue would better stick.

Glue wood to marble, screw base to wood! (Do not screw base directly to marble)

Flipping the table upright is a 2-man job (eek, I did it alone) given the table weighs close to 125 lbs.

Protective plastic covers the surface

The last step is to simply peel back the protective covering and treat the marble for stain resistance. I love this little corner for weekend coffees in the AM!

Complete DIY bistro table with Frontgate chairs and Schoolhouse Electric lights

The table is very sturdy and does not wobble whatsoever.

DIY: 14k Gold Earrings

DIY jewelry making

Today I took a break from my usual home photography and made two pairs of earrings. I had been searching for weeks for the perfect gems for these earrings on Etsy and Ebay and finally found the right selection. This was a trickier jewelry-making project because the chain and the wire was so thin and small. It was hard to wrap those loops! And, I can’t even begin to give instruction on how to do this yourself because frankly, it takes a lot of practice, but you can find a great tutorial on how to wrap loops here, which is the main skill required to pull these off, and the supplies are as follows:

Supply List: 1) 6-ft of 14k Yellow Gold round wire, 30-gauge, dead soft, 2) 5-inches of 18k Yellow Gold 1.5mm oval cable chain, 3) 1 pair of 14k earring posts with 5mm balls and open rings (to attach the chain), 4) 1 pair of 14k earring backs and 5) various heart faceted briolettes from 5mm to 10mm in size.

Pro Tip: As you make your loops, never forget to “link” the next piece (the chain link) before you close your loop. If you forget, you won’t be able to open your loop back up and add a chain, or a next loop. The only case where this is an exception is for the open loop on the post.

I am a very crafty person and I have always been good at painting and making things myself. My mom and dad are both so talented, and I am sure I got some of my skills from them. I remember spending time with my mom in the basement growing up doing crafts together, and helping my dad in the wood-shop. I took my first (and last) jewelry making class on the Indian Reservation near my hometown when I was a teen, (many years ago!) but otherwise have been self taught.

14k gold earrings that I made today with various gemstones that I sourced from Etsy and Ebay

I cannot wait to wear these! If you like them too, you can find them here!