Author Archives: Dana McCranie

Dana McCranie

About Dana McCranie

Dana McCranie writes, prays, laughs, loves glitter and will hug you even if you try to shake her hand. You can often find her behind her camera, striving to build a photography business. You'll never find her as happy as she is dancing around her kitchen with her daughter, son and amazing husband.

Lovecard 13

Make a Valentine’s Day Card Personal with Your Own Font

Lovecard 13

You may not love your handwriting, but a little personal touch can go a long way when it comes to card making. Here’s one great idea for Valentine’s Day.

Fonts are just awesome. I love different fonts and typography, and my favorite stamps are quite often sentiment stamps. I suppose part of the reason I love these stamps is my inability to write beautifully. I do not love my handwriting, and I’m in awe of beautiful lettering. Sometimes in a coffee shop I forget to pick something out because I get distracted by the colorful, blocky letters.

Card Maker magazine offered a challenge to this long held opinion of my penmanship in the recent feature “Write it with Style–Stand Tall Alphabet.” The article features a beautiful card where the largest element is the word “Easter” handwritten by the artist in beautiful, tall letters. I stared at it for a while and decided I’d give it a whirl. I opted to make a card featuring the word “Love” in honor of Valentine’s Day. As I looked at my imperfect lettering, I thought of how imperfect my love can be and figured, “Why shouldn’t I allow my offering of love reflect that?”


Card stock
Paper cutter
Dimensional pop-ups
Red ink that coordinates with your card stock
hole punch
*All supplies I used were Stampin’ Up!
Lovecard 1
Base card: 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″
Gray Background for element: 3″ x 3 1/2″
Project Time: 20 – 30 minutes
Project Difficulty: Very easy
Step One: Start by folding your base card and stamping the background. Remember that using a coordinating color will create a subtle background that won’t compete with your featured element.
Lovecard 2
Step Two: Take your gray background and rough up the edges. You can use the edge of scissors or anything that will create a nice texture. I’ve even used my fingernail.
Lovecard 3
Step Three: Map out your words. It was important for me to try out my writing first on scrap paper to judge the sizing of the letters but also to see how it would look.
Lovecard 4
Step Four: I used just a few words from a stamp to add the “all my” to the card. To do that, I used a marker to ink only the words I wanted to stamp.
Lovecard 5
Step Five: Center your wording using a Stamp-a-ma-jig. This little product is a must-have for stampers. By first stamping your image on the plastic sheet and then lining the block in the corner of the handle, you can then place the words using the plastic sheet and then place the handle. Remove the plastic sheet and put the block in its place and you will have a perfect placement of your image.
Lovecard 6
Lovecard 7
Lovecard 8Lovecard 9
Step Six: Now write out your word using your marker. Remember to be forgiving of your imperfections. It’s all part of the charm of the card.
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Step Seven: Place the dimensionals on your main element and adhere it to the background. Then punch holes along the side and add your brads. Use a ruler or your grid paper to help you line them up.
Lovecard 11Lovecard 12
Step Eight: Finish your card by placing your finished element using the dimensionals to your base card.
Lovecard 13
Martha Stewart Living magazine February 2012

5 Magazines That Will Inspire You to Create

Martha Stewart Living magazine February 2012With so many crafting magazines of so many titles, blogger Dana McCranie offers her take on the five that draw her to her crafting table — every time.

There are few magazines I can’t enjoy for one reason or another. Each has its niche and, even within the world of craft magazines, each serves a different type of artists. I’ve found I have a few that I consistently go back to. The reason these titles are my go-to publications is because of their ability to provide quick, useful inspiration to get me to the crafting table. I love many magazines just for the sheer pleasure of witnessing the artistic process, but this list is dedicated to the publications that move me to create — every time.

1. Somerset Studio magazine – Although I’m not a mixed media artist, the content in this publication is always of such high caliber that I can’t help but try to duplicate some of what I see. The magazine features a consistent aesthetic that inspires a confidence within the reader. The result is that every time a reader picks up the magazine, a high level of artistry is expected.

2. Cloth Paper Scissors magazine – I love this publication for its whimsy. Every issue features artwork that transports the reader to another world. Each little vignette is like a lesson is storytelling through creativity that provides a unique level of inspiration.

3. Family Fun magazine – From the first time I picked up Family Fun, I was hooked. I was initially drawn to the magazine because I was looking for fun activities to share with my young children. It didn’t take long to realize this magazine offers just as many great ideas and content for adults. The best thing about the projects in Family Fun is that they’re almost always easy and inexpensive to recreate.

4. Creating Keepsakes magazine – As a card maker and avid stamper, I like to see artists putting stamps to paper and samples of cards. While Creating Keepsakes focuses primarily on scrapbooking, I’ve always been so impressed by their approach and how many useful resources they offer. Their sketches can be adapted to cards and many other projects, and I always find myself pulling out my card making supplies after reading this one.

5. Martha Stewart Living magazine – Martha will always be my first love. Martha Stewart Living is the first magazine where I remember counting down the days until the new issue was in my hot little hands. I have the fondest memories of every project I’ve ever attempted from the pages of this beautiful publication. Even when the project looked nothing like what was on the page, I still had fun with it. Martha Stewart Living was my sole resource for crafting inspiration and instruction for years, and for that reason this magazine will always have a special place in my heart.

"The Color Orange" from Art Journaling magazine winter 2011-2012

Why I Fell in Love with The Color Orange

Art Journaling magazine Winter 2011-2012

Art Journaling Winter 2011-2012

Blogger Dana McCranie never particularly cared for the color orange–until an issue of Art Journaling magazine helped her see it through rose-colored glasses.

Generally, if you ask me what my least favorite color is, orange will probably be my first response. Orange and yellow have always landed low on my list of color choices for just about anything. I was born in the late ’70s when orange was everywhere and most commonly paired with dark brown.

Although those were good years in my memory, I have shunned orange ever since. It’s the most frequent color I push aside when making any project. I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m a graduate of the University of Alabama and our rival, Auburn University, sports the colors orange and blue. I guess I’m just predisposed to love crimson.

The most recent issue of Art Journaling magazine may be changing my opinion about the color orange, however. There’s something about seeing a thing through the loving eyes of someone else that casts it in a whole new light. It’s the difference between visiting a city as a tourist all alone and staying in a city with someone who loves it. You get two totally different perspectives, and the latter often leaves you with more of an affection. This is the exact effect that artist Sandee Hyde had on me when I read her feature titled “The Color Orange.”

I was drawn to the article by the display of two pages from Hyde’s own art journal. The pages are vibrant, beautiful mixed-media works of art. They tell the story of an abnormal Electrocardiogram (EKG) test Hyde had and how it made her feel. In the description of her work, she mentions her love of orange and how she thinks she was born with an orange crayon in her hand.

This artist using this color to share her fears really touched me. She took the color orange, which in her eyes is one of the most beautiful we have access to, and harnessed it to display the depths of her fear. Rather than being a tourist bringing my own perceptions to what orange communicates, I got to be a guest, and I felt like I was seeing this color for the first time in many ways.

What a beautiful lesson about preconceptions I learned from this artist’s journal. I don’t know how I’ll put it to use, but thanks to Sandee Hyde I have a feeling my next project will include many shades of orange.


How to Create Handmade Cards in Minutes

Paper Creations magazine winter

Paper Creations magazine

Who doesn’t love receiving a handmade card? But then again, who really has hours to make them? Here are five tips for making cards in a flash.

Once I started making handmade cards, it became an addiction. I was so dedicated to sending handmade cards that when I ran out, I would put off sending a card until the occasion had passed–just to avoid the store-bought variety.

Clearly this was defeating the point of reaching out and showing someone they were loved. I recently came across a box of blank cards that were given to me as a gift years ago. I’ve started using those when I’m out of my handmade favorites. However, I still enjoy sending the homemade ones, so I devised a five-tip strategy for stocking my card box so I can get my handmade cards created in a timely fashion.

1. The interchangeable card: Often we get hung up on not having a card with the right sentiment. We stamp a few birthday cards, a few sympathy and a few thank yous. But what if you have five birthdays in a row and no need to send a thank you? You can make the most of that stamping time by making a handful of identical cards and leaving a block of space for a sentiment. Then, measure to fit several squares to fill that space and stamp multiple, various sentiments. That way you can just grab the sentiment you need and glue it to the card.

2. Poach your magazines for ideas: We often sit and stare at our workspace waiting for a muse to shake us into inspiration. Don’t hesitate to pull out your craft magazines and start copying what you see. This isn’t cheating–I promise. There is little chance you will exactly duplicate what you see anyway. Paper Creations magazine is a great place to go for just this type of jump-start, as all their samples provide a helpful guide.

3. Upcycle everything: There’s no reason you can’t cut and paste the front of that hilarious birthday card and either decorate it or send it right on. Don’t let a lack of fancy paper keep you from making your own card. Take a page from your magazine and create a humorous collage on the front. You really can make an amazing card from very little.

4. Don’t rule out digital: If you haven’t begun exploring the realm of digital paper crafting, you’re in for a treat. Many great programs and resources allow you to create a digital card and then have multiple copies printed by a professional printer or at your own at home. You can also use this method for creating hybrid cards that are half digital, half handmade.

5. The assembly line is king: When I’m really in need of filling my card box, I usually try to create one general card that I can use as a template and then measure all the elements on that card. Next, I cut all the paper for the card, do any stamping and treat the process like an assembly line. I fully complete each element and save assembly for the end. This also lets you include children in the process because you can delegate a job that suits them.

Most of all, remember that sending a card is about showing someone they are loved. Getting the card in the mail–no matter what it looks like or where it came from–is essential to communicating that love.

kids' curtain rod art gallery 08

How To Display Your Child’s Artwork With a Cafe Curtain Rod

kids' curtain rod art gallery 09

Completed curtain rod art gallery.

Blogger Dana McCranie offers simple, step-by-step instructions for creating a tasteful home art gallery to display your little one’s school projects.

Kindergarten has brought a lot of changes to our home, the most profound being the sudden influx of artwork on a daily basis. This flood of beautiful work made it a priority for me to find a way to display my daughter’s best work before filing it, or (gulp!) getting rid of it. FamilyFun magazine recently featured a Velcro-based art strip, but I went with a cafe curtain rod and drapery clips instead. Here’s what I did.


  • Cafe curtain rod
  • Drapery clips
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Beautiful works of art
  • A drill and a cute owl pillow are not necessary but make the project much more pleasurable


Project Difficulty: Easy
Time Needed:
1-2 hours

Step 1: Expand the rod to fit area you want to fill. Then measure your cafe rod. My owl pillow is better with numbers than I am.

kids' curtain rod art gallery 02
Step 2: Calculate the center of your rod and use the tape measure to help you mark it on the wall. I used my pencil to mark the holes before drilling them. Then, calculate equal distance in both ways from your mid-point and place your next two pieces of hardware.

kids' curtain rod art gallery 03
Step 3: Place your rod on the hooks to ensure you are happy with the placement.

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Step 4: Now is the hardest part: selecting which pieces you will hang. I let the owl help me with the selections.

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Step 5: You can clip the pages and then hang them up as I did in the photos, or you can remove the rod and run the clips on and then clip your pictures. This would be a great activity to have your children participate in.

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Step 6: Stand back and marvel at the beauty of the imagination of your child. They will love seeing their work displayed as much as you do.

kids' curtain rod art gallery 08

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Art doll tutorial step 4

Tutorial: How to Make Your First Art Doll

Art doll tutorial step 9

Intrigued after reading Art Doll Quarterly magazine, crafter Dana McCranie sets out to make her first art doll—and shows you how.

I’ve been thinking about attempting my own art doll since the first time I read Art Doll Quarterly magazine. I love seeing these amazing creations come to life. Recently, I saw a tutorial for a doll in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and decided to give it a try. It was not as easy as it looked in the magazine, but I learned several things along the way.

I don’t usually work with clay or paints, so this was way out of my comfort zone. At first I wasn’t that happy with the result because it looks nothing like what was in the magazine. Then I remembered that this is art, and it isn’t supposed to look just like the magazine version.

I wouldn’t try this project on a day where you only have an hour or so. It needs to be done in steps and I’m not going to lie, it requires some patience. But it was enjoyable, especially when I started to dress her up. She may not be what I set out to create, but I love her just the same. I hope you enjoy the creation of Bernice.


  • Art Clay that air dries (Paper Clay was recommended, but I couldn’t find it and went with art clay. It worked just fine.)
  • Newsprint and flour for the papier-mâché
  • Sticky tape and glue
  • Aluminum foil
  • Skewer
  • Acrylic paints and brushes
  • Plastic water or soda bottle
  • A sheet of card stock
  • Decorative paper and accessories for adornments


Step 1: First cut your plastic bottle to size. There aren’t going to be exact measurements as you’ll have to use your own bottle as your guide. The size of the bottle will determine the rest of the measurements. Once you cut your bottle, apply sticky tape around it.

Art doll tutorial step 1

Step 2: Form a head with foil around the skewer. Take your card stock and cut it to fit the size of the bottle. Adhere the card stock to the bottle. I then decided to add some clay to the inside of the bottle at the top and bottom to help steady the head and weight the bottom.

Art doll tutorial step 2

Step 3: Take the clay and apply it around the foil and sculpt simple facial features. When you are applying the clay and making the head, remember that the clay can be rather weighty. If the head is too heavy, it will overpower the base. Adding clay to the mouth of the water bottle will create the base for her head and neck. Once you have her face and hair, slide the skewer into the bottle and use extra clay to connect her head to the bottle. You may even want to remove the skewer at this point. I ended up having to remove the skewer and glue her head to the base. Place her somewhere safe to dry. I let Bernice dry overnight.

Art doll tutorial step 3

Art doll tutorial step 4

Step 4: Now it is time to dig into your papier-mâché. This is the perfect time to involve children in the project. Get your little critters to shred the paper and apply it. I made a mixture of half flour and half water and it worked well for me. I think it takes working with it a little to get your consistencies. You don’t want the paper to have too much water or be too dry. When my helper used too much water on a piece of newsprint, I’d apply a dry piece over it. If he didn’t use enough, I would heavily wet the next piece I applied.

Once you get the doll covered from her neck to the bottom of her dress, you will want to fashion some arms. I used twisted newsprint and attached it with my flour mixture and later reinforced the connection with a little clay.

Art doll tutorial step 5

Art doll tutorial step 6

Art doll tutorial step 7

Step 5: After allowing your papier-mâché to fully dry, it is time to get painting. I used a tan color acrylic and used other paints to get the color I desired. Paint her face, neck and arms. Then choose your hair color and paint her hair as well. Let the paint dry.

Art doll tutorial step 8

Step 6: Once the paint dries the fun really begins as you start to dress and adorn your doll. I used a piece of decorative paper I had from the company Mind’s Eye. I used that as her skirt and attached it with the sticky tape. Then I took some old mulberry paper I had in my stash to create her shirt and scarf. I applied the mulberry with clear glue. I also used a strip of mulberry to soften the line between her paper skirt and shirt. I added ribbon around her waist and a strand of pearls to her neck. I also found a great flower that I attached a mulberry stem to and glued to her hands.

Finishing the project is the most fun and I encourage you to use what you have. All the accessories I had were from Stampin’ Up! and I loved being able to use them in this project. After I stood back and looked at this little doll, all that was left was to name her. For some reason I thought of the show “Barney Miller” and the wife of Detective Fish. Her name was Bernice. My mom and I used to watch “Barney Miller” all the time together. So in honor of those nights of watching Barney with my mom and playing gin rummy, I give you the quirky and lovely Bernice.

Art doll tutorial step 10