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Self-Acceptance Rainbow Mini Art Tutorial

Longtime readers know that I’m a big fan of both gratitude journaling and self-acceptance. As I wrote in the post for April’s blog planner printables, I was not at all surprised that a recent study found acknowledging your negative emotions is key to releasing them. Of course it is! In today’s self-acceptance art tutorial we’re going to use this to our advantage to name and then release self doubt and criticisms. I chose to use a rainbow because it’s easy to paint and because it has positive connotations in almost every religious, folk, and mythological tradition.

self-acceptance rainbow mini art tutorial [click to continue…]


I’ve shared a couple of book-related posts in the past, but have never turned anything about books into a regular series. I’m currently toying with the idea of sharing a monthly, or maybe bi-monthly, post about books I’ve read. It feels important to me for a few reasons. For starters, The Artisan Life tagline is “crafting a naturally inspired life.” To me, this means not only literal crafting, but also a slower-paced, more ‘natural’ and mindful way of living. It means being more conscious about staring at screens, particularly now that my baby girl is watching. Additionally, I sometimes struggle with figuring out what to read next. Amazon’s suggestions are typically a list of books I’ve already read or listened to! I hope that by sharing some of my recently read books, I’ll be able to help folks with similar tastes figure out what to read next (and maybe I’ll attract some good suggestions, too!).

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As I mentioned in the galaxy art tutorial post, I worked hard to use up as much of my non-shippable craft supplies as possible prior to our move. This DIY alpaca painting on a wood plaque was a double whammy project for me. My craft paints weren’t allowed, but I also wanted to turn a wood plaque into ‘something’ so it couldn’t be potentially classified as a non-shippable. (They won’t move “building materials” and some people say their movers took this proscription very seriously by not allowing any scrap of wood so I wanted to play it safe). Today I’m sharing how to use an easy pattern transfer technique and a free traceable alpaca pattern to make this cute DIY alpaca painting! It’s super easy and you don’t need special tools or materials. You don’t even really need a wood plaque – you could easily do this painting on a canvas or even a sheet of art paper. Let’s get started!

DIY painted alpaca with free traceable pattern

If this llama/alpaca silhouette looks familiar, that’s because it’s a resized version of the pattern from these upcycled llama ornaments. I wanted to draw a whole new critter, but I just didn’t have the time because I was so busy with Baby and packing. I added a tail…then I removed it because I couldn’t decide what kind of tail I wanted this alpaca to have. Alert? Down? Cute and fluffy? I really couldn’t make up my mind. Please just add on a tail if you’d like and make it however you’d like!

Materials needed for a DIY alpaca painting on a wood plaque

  • An unfinished wood plaque. As I mentioned above, anything else that you can use acrylic paints on will work for this project.
  • My plaque was about 7″x5″ and the printable pattern is sized accordingly.
  • A pencil. I prefer a non-mechanical pencil with soft lead, but any ‘normal’ pencil will work, & a ball point pen. It does need to be ball point, not gel, rollerball, etc. -or- Scissors & a pencil. My favorite for drawing and tracing is always my SumoGrip .9mm pencil. You can either transfer the image using the technique I demonstrate or cut around the alpaca silhouette and trace around it. Cutting takes more time, but I thought I’d offer it as an option.
  • Paint. I used various acrylic craft and hobby paints.
  • Paintbrushes. Smaller brushes are better for this project than big flat brushes or foam brushes.
  • Paint pens/markers – optional but a good way to add embellishments. Ultra fine Posca pens, Sharpies, etc. would work well. The paint pen Sharpies would also be a good choice.
  • A hanger or easel. It’s very easy to add a sawtooth hanger to your plaque so you can hang it on your wall. There are obviously other types of hangers available, but I have a box of 100 sawtooth hangers so they’re what I like to use.
  • And, of course, your free traceable alpaca pattern! Grab it from Google Drive right here.
    • For a smaller or larger plaque, simply print the pattern at a different scale (for example, 80% for a smaller plaque, 120% for a larger plaque)

How to trace and paint your alpaca

Print your alpaca pattern. You can either cut it out or flip it over and scribble graphite on the back. To ‘transfer’ the pattern instead of tracing a cut out, hold your pencil at an angle and cover the area with the printout, as shown. You do not need to cover the whole page or even the whole alpaca – just the lines.

easy image transfer technique with a pencilPosition the pattern face up on your plaque. If you’re using a cutout, trace around with a pencil while holding firmly in place. If you’re using the graphite transfer method, draw over the pattern firmly with your ballpoint pen. Don’t press so hard that you gouge the wood, though! I darkened my lines with a pencil to make them more visible in the photo, but this also makes them harder to cover with paint. They do not need to be as dark as what’s shown – they only need to be visible enough for you to paint in the alpaca.

trace over pattern with a pen

Paint in the silhouette. I used white paint so it would stand out on the natural wood background, but use whatever color you’d like.

Once your alpaca is completely dry, you can lightly pencil in your decorative details. I made some basic lines but didn’t draw every single thing I wanted to add.

pencil details on alpaca

Go crazy embellishing your alpaca! They get dressed up in all sorts of things – blankets, pompoms, tassels, etc., so you can get as colorful and creative as you’d like. I used Sharpie markers for my embellishments. You can use a paintbrush and paints, but markers are easier to work with in this instance. As long as you’re coloring over previously painted areas, you’ll be fine – markers tend to bleed and feather on unpainted wood. If you’re using paint pens, they may or may not feather so you might want to check on the back or something before you start drawing on unfinished portions of your wood.

color alpaca details with markers

Add more decorative elements to the wood plaque, if you’d like. For example, you could add bunting, cacti, or text. As I mentioned above, markers will feather on the wood, so this is a good place to use paint. I only added a few sprigs of grass to keep it simple. (Also because, let’s face it, I don’t have all that much free time!)

diy painted alpaca with free pattern

Add a hanger to the plaque’s back, if you’d like. Sawtooth hangers are typically quite easy to attach to soft wood with just a screwdriver.

My husband asked me to take a photo of this alpaca plaque with his latest knitting project – an Andean-style chullo hat. He’s very proud of it, and rightly so.

He made the hat from a Knitpicks kit. It came with enough yarn to make at least two more hats – he’s already planning what he’ll do differently next time! You can see more of the hat in this photo of it posing with a watercolor of an alpaca I did this spring. (I guess I’ve had camelids on the mind quite a bit recently!)

alpaca watercolor painting with knit chullo hat

Are you feeling the llama/alpaca craze?

Natasha of The Artisan Life-01

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A Hui Hou – Thoughts on Leaving Hawaii

The time has come to say “a hui hou” to our island home. We’ve been here twice as long as we originally imagined and, while a part of me will always be sad and want to ask my husband “Remember that time we lived in Hawaii?” I also know that it’s time for us to go. Today we’re boarding a plane for the Mainland and I don’t know when, if ever, we’ll be back in Hawaii. People keep asking if we’ll return to visit, but it’s a very long way from the East Coast!

So much has changed for us while we’ve been in Hawaii, and most of the changes emphasize why it’s time for us to move on. We’ve gotten engaged, married, and had a baby since moving here. My husband’s family wasn’t able to make the trip from Florida to Hawaii for our wedding because it was prohibitively expensive, but his submarine schedule gave us no real choice to go elsewhere. We’ve both lost family members including, most impactfully, my dad and grandmother. Our LG is currently the only “next generation” family member in my entire extended family and the only grandchild on my husband’s side. (He can’t really keep his cousins straight, so I’m not sure if any of my husband’s first cousins have kids! I love to tease him about the time he told me someone was his “uncle or cousin or maybe just a neighbor or something.”) It’s time for us to be closer to family. Additionally, it’s time for us to be done with submarines. I know there are plenty of submariner families, but losing my dad while my husband was on deployment and unable to return home at any point to help was an incredibly difficult experience for us both. He will probably be on deployment again at some point in the future since he’s going Reserve, but it shouldn’t be on a submarine and the circumstances will be different.

We’re also tired of all the traffic and construction on Oahu and constantly frustrated by the high prices. We did the math and realized that we could have purchased a house in my home town with all the money spent on rent since my husband first moved here! But on Oahu that same money would get us about 1/6 of the way towards buying something small on a lot so tiny it’s measured in square feet. There’s a serious lack of affordable housing and it’s a major problem of ra lot of people. We’re ready to be somewhere a bit more savings friendly and where we can have a bit more “peace and quiet.” Living in an apartment building where everyone’s windows are always open means it was never really quiet, plus we were by a pretty busy road. It became increasingly annoying after LG was born – it’s quite aggravating to have sudden loud noises wake your baby on a regular basis! Motorcycles, dogs barking, even neighbors snoring and sneezing were all regular sounds.

All that having been said, there are things I will miss. The water here is really lovely (though I think South Carolina’s beaches are way better! But SC’s water is dark and murky thanks to lots of streams and rivers). I’ll miss the opportunity to photograph the Milky Way. I will absolutely miss the opportunity to take sunrise and sunset photos over the ocean. I’ll miss Kaena Point, my favorite place to take sunset and Milky Way photos, and also where I took many of my favorite self portraits (the sunset photo lower on the page is from Kanea Point). I’ll really miss the gym down the road we’ve walked to for years. I’ll miss friends. I’ll miss those times when I managed to find some peace and was able to hear the trade winds rustling in leaves and smell plumeria blossoms. I’ll miss the idea of of living in Hawaii.

I think part of it is that we’re currently just not the type of person who really thrives here. If we wanted to live the surfer lifestyle, for example, I’m sure we’d have very different feelings about leaving. If our families were here that would change things, too. My husband grew up in Miami and didn’t mind the traffic and crowded beaches when he first arrived, but has come to really appreciate a greater amount of personal space. He went from telling me that he kind of liked sitting in traffic (???) to being frustrated with just how busy everything is all the time here. It’s pretty sad, actually – I know that tourism is a major industry for Hawaii, but I hope they decide to put the breaks on development soon. We visited Molokai this winter and I can’t blame the people there for not having stoplights, elevators, streetlights, etc. If I lived there and looked at Oahu, I’d say NO WAY! Keep that junk out of here! It amazes me that people still rush to develop places when you can so plainly see the detrimental impact of overdevelopment on other tourism and costal areas. (The same goes for Charleston, SC. I haven’t been there in three years and I hear it’s an incredibly different place these days.)

I have learned a lot, grown, and changed during our time in Hawaii and I’m thankful for that. We have plenty of good memories and an absurd number of photos. It’s forever changed my perception of the Mainland. After living in, apparently, the most geographically isolated place on Earth, I just can’t see anywhere OCONUS as being ‘in the middle of nowhere’ anymore because it’s so comparatively easy to get somewhere else.

Aloha, Hawaii. It’s been real, but it’s time for us to go.





Hey, everyone! I wanted to share a quick Currently Crafting post and a free printable Hawaiian coloring page! If you’re just here for the coloring page, you can find it at the bottom of the post.

I’ve been very busy preparing for our move and didn’t have much time for art or crafting this month. Moving out somewhere you’ve lived for 5 years + baby having a “Wonder Week” and her 6 month vaccines = recipe for major exhaustion. Because we won’t see our household goods for about two months (and I already have some serious doubts about their condition once they arrive), I packed as much of my watercolor and art supplies as I could reasonably bring. Which, honestly, wasn’t as much as I’d have with me in an ideal world, but hey. It’s plenty for now. {{Speaking of limited supplies, these are almost all cell phone photos, so please bear with me! Better photos will return to The Artisan Life once I’m no longer living in a hotel room.}} We spent a week on Ford Island, where the photo below was taken, and are spending our last couple of nights treating ourselves to a mini-vacation at the Hale Koa hotel in Waikiki.

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Easy Hot Glue Mermaid Tail Necklace Tutorial

Over 90% of the ocean remains unexplored – you can’t prove there aren’t mermaids! If you want a fun and easy mermaid necklace to celebrate summer, then this tutorial is for you. Today I’m demonstrating how to make a hot glue mermaid tail necklace and then turn it into a fun necklace that’s ‘splash proof’ so you can wear it to the beach.

DIY mermaid tail necklace with hot glue tutorial [click to continue…]


Free Blog Planner Printable for May 2018

It’s almost May – yikes! When this post goes live, it will be pack out day for our household goods. I’ve spent weeks trying to get things organized and separating out what we might need before our HHG arrive in SC. Since we plan to do maintenance work and my husband needs interview clothes, we need a variety of items for ourselves. Then, of course, theres all of LG’s things! We anticipate being without the bulk of our belongings for about two months so it’s been difficult to pack all the things we probably will actually need without going too overboard.

But, anyway, this post isn’t really about moving – it’s about free blog planner printables for May 2018! If you don’t have the post planner calendar page yet, you can download the whole year’s worth of calendar pages and post idea sheets at once. Find the details in this post here!

Of course, there’s a May blog stats tracker page for you:

May blog planner printable preview

And this month’s goals/intentions sheets:

May goals and intentions worksheet preview

I only show one page of these as a preview, but the goals/intentions sheets actually have three pages to help you plan out your goals and break them into steps.

Of course, all these printables are living over on the printables for members area! If you’re not a member, you can just subscribe using the box below this post. To be honest, I haven’t even sent a newsletter since I don’t know when so you totally won’t be signing up for any spam! I really want to create some unique content just for email subscribers, but that project will have to wait until LG is a little older.

What are you working on now? Are you moving or doing any remodeling this summer?

Natasha of The Artisan Life logo



Welcome to another post about our Montessori-inspired parenting philosophy, why we chose cloth diapers, a paid & free cloth diaper pattern roundup, and why we’re loving cloth.

Cloth diaper pattern roundup

I’d already researched cloth diapering and decided I wanted to give it a go when a friend offered me her cloth diaper stash just a few days after I “announced” to friends on FaceBook. A few months later another friend who I know a completely different way and hadn’t mentioned cloth diapers to asked if I wanted a stash of cloth diapers she’d been given previously. I guess I seem like the ‘type’ to use cloth diapers and I’m totally okay with that! I did wonder, however if this perception came from my fondness for upcylcing and if folks assumed I wanted reusable diapers mostly for environmental reasons. Mainstream disposable are notoriously horrible for the environment. They’re believed to comprise 30% of non-biodegradable waste and account for an estimated 7.6 billion pounds of trash each year in the US alone. And then there’s the ridiculous quantity of oil used…the list goes on and on. {{I suggest you check out this post from Small Footprint Family for a full accounting with a thorough list of sources at the end if you want to know more.}}

However, I have to confess: large-scale environmental reasons are actually not my primary motivation for choose cloth diapers. [click to continue…]


DIY Shabby Embellished Clothes Hangers

I’ve been doing a lot of closet and drawer cleaning lately while preparing for our upcoming move. It really got me thinking about clothes hangers and how they’re something that tends to be cheap and unattractive – a ‘necessity’ that we literally hide away in the closet! When you think about it, it feels a little silly to put your favorite and important clothing on some icky piece of wire that you got for free or a flimsy piece of plastic. A couple years ago I bought a handful of wood hangers and spruced up a few of them in this post, but never got around to fancying up more them. Today I’m sharing another way to beautify your clothes hangers with this DIY shabby embellished clothes hangers tutorial! They’re great for displaying a special piece, for photos, or just for making your closet feel a little more special.

DIY Shabby Hangers Tutorial

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It’s been a little while since I shared a free printable for Wellbeing Wednesday, so I thought it was time to post another! Today’s printable features a geometric pattern on a hand painted watercolor background and reads “You are the universe.” If you’re familiar with Eckhart Tolle, you may have seen this as part of a longer quotation, but I chose to keep it short because it’s actually part of at least three different Tolle quotations!

I’ve read:

“You are the universe expressing itself as human for a little while” (probably the best known version of the quotation)

“You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe”

and “You are the Universe becoming conscious of itself”

That’s why I kept the printable’s version short – you can mentally fill in the rest with whichever version speaks you most loudly. Here’s what the printable might look like if you had a cool looking space to hang it in:

you are the universe free printable

Or, closer up:

you are the universe free printable preview

If you’ve never read any Eckhart Tolle (or maybe even are wondering who he is!), I think The Power of Now is a good place to start. There’s also an official Eckhart Tolle website with articles, discussion boards, etc. where you can read about his philosophy.

As usual, this “you are the universe” free printable resides in the printables for subscribers area of the blog. Not a member? You can enroll using the box at the bottom of this post! Between Baby, moving, transitioning from active duty, etc. I actually haven’t sent a newsletter in ages (oops!), so you’re definitely not signing up for spam or a sales funnel – just plenty of great free printables!

Do you have any favorite inspirational quotations you’d like to see turned into a printable? Please let me know!

Natasha of The Artisan Life-01



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