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.

Somerset Studios magazine's November-December 2011 issue

How to Stop Hoarding Art Paper and Put It to Good Holiday Use

Somerset Studios magazine's November-December 2011 issue

Somerset Studios magazine's November-December 2011 issue

Encouraged by an article in Somerset Studio magazine, crafter Dana McCranie discusses documenting her favorite paper designs then using them creatively.

I’ve confessed to you my love of paper before. You know this about me. What I haven’t told you is how much of it I hoard and never use because I’m just waiting for the right moment. What about you? Are you sitting on a beautiful stash just waiting for the perfect project? In the column Make It Your Own in the November/December 2011 issue of Somerset Studio magazine, artist Michelle Ward offers a challenge to paper hoarders like myself in her article “Claiming Paper.”

Ward admits to being a paper collector, but she also shares how she got over letting sentimentality keep her from making use of this collection. After deciding she would use the paper she had, she started a journal page to document her favorite sheets. She would put a small clipping on the page and then add an entry about why she was drawn to the paper. She calls it “me first” journaling. Then, she puts the rest in a “use me” pile. She also says that she likes to claim the paper she has by putting her mark on it and she encourages readers to do the same. In this article you’ll find beautiful examples of her process of claiming the paper she has and putting it to use.

At this time of year, we are constantly in need of wrapping paper. After seeing how Ward has taken various papers and personalized them, I am crossing gift wrap off my shopping list. From spray paint with stencils to stamps and paint, it is exciting to see the new life these different papers receive. It is a beautiful way to use your resources, save money, be creative and also personalize what you are giving.

Converted shoe organizer

How to Turn a Shoe Organizer Into Helpful Home Storage

converted shoe organizer step 1

Converting a shoe organizer can provide you with a central location for all the little things you tend to misplace.

Dana McCranie shares a tutorial on repurposing a basic shoe organizer into a family storage center that houses little things that can easily be lost daily.

My husband places the things from his pockets in a little grouping each day when he gets in from work. His keys, cell phone, sunglasses, badge and change live in a cohesive little family. The problem arises when it is time for them to go back to his pockets and off to work the following morning. The group is quite transient, never landing in the same spot from one day to the next. Because we have two children and the mornings are hectic enough already, we needed a solution to gather all the things we fight about losing daily.

I have been really inspired by the ways I’ve seen shoe organizers repurposed. There are several out there, but the one example that got me motivated was from Better Homes & Gardens.


  • Transparent shoe pocket organizer
  • Decorative paper pack
  • Thin cardboard for the chalkboard labels
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Sponge brush
  • Sticky strip tape or mini-glue dots
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Chalk

converted shoe organizer step 2


Project Difficulty: Easy
Time Needed: 2-3 hours

Step 1: Measure your shoe pockets. I cut the paper to fill the entire slot and then added the chalkboard label pieces at the end.
My measurements were as follows:
24 decorative paper strips: 9 3/4″ x 4″
24 chalkboard strips: 1 1/2″ x 4″

Step 2: Cut the paper strips and set them aside. Now you will need something to use for the chalkboard labels. You can paint any type of thin cardboard for this. I wouldn’t use anything too thin because it will curl when you apply the paint. I used the back side of the cover from my paper pack.

converted shoe organizer step 3

Paint your cardboard and let dry. Once it is dry, cut it into the appropriate sizes. If this project doesn't force you to purchase a paper cutter, nothing will.

Step 3: Apply the sticky strip tape or glue dots to the backs of the labels. I recommend covering the corners and the middle to get the best hold. Apply labels to the decorative paper.

converted shoe organizer step 4

Step 4: Prepare the chalk strips by rubbing them with chalk and erasing them before you label them. Take some chalk and label your slots. We have four family members so I decided to assign each family member their own row. We use the extra spaces for the things that belong to us all.

converted shoe organizer step 5

Step 5: Place the papers into their slots and add your items to be organized. You may decide to attach the papers to the organizer with the glue dots if you don’t want them to move around. I left mine loose so I could change the design from time to time.

converted shoe organizer step 6

Step 6: After you use the organizer for a day or so, you’ll probably re-label the pockets. This is especially true if you have a 2-year-old and your original placement had scissors and the iPod on the bottom row.

converted shoe organizer step 7


CardMaker magazine January 2012 issue

How to Jazz Up Your Snail Mail to Loved Ones

CardMaker magazine January 2012 issue

A magazine like CardMaker can provide helpful inspiration and insight on techniques when you want to make something special for a loved one.

Buying a card off the rack can be handy during the hustle and bustle, but taking the time to create a one-of-a-kind salutation can make someone’s day.

The day I stamped my first handmade card, my husband and I were visiting Chattanooga, Tenn., for our second wedding anniversary. We were walking around the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and we came across this wonderful shop called Little Lace Lady. As soon as we stepped through the door, my husband knew he was in trouble.

Not only were there beautiful souvenirs and knick-knacks, but half the store is devoted to rubber stamps, decorative paper, scrapbooking supplies and other crafts. It just so happened that a free card-making class was about to begin. My husband was in a generous mood and agreed that I should take the class while he explored the train.

I had never stamped before and as soon as I made my first impression, I fell in love. I couldn’t believe how exciting this one little act was. I can still see that little hedgehog with a flower in his hand smiling back at me as if to say, “Welcome to stamping.” We colored him in with art markers and then–as if that wasn’t enough–she let us use glitter. I thought I would bubble over with joy. After completing that card, I was hooked. That night I was so excited that I actually went out and found a Michaels arts and crafts supply store so I could start making cards immediately.

That was almost nine years ago. I have no idea how many cards I’ve made since that first one, but I do know that card making remains my favorite craft. There is something so special about a handmade card. When I peek in my mailbox and see an envelope from a fellow stamper in the stack, I go for it like a kid in a piñata frenzy. I can’t wait to see what beauty awaits.

Most of my card-making friends start with the envelope. A decorated envelope signals something so heartfelt waiting inside. When you open a card that was handmade specifically for you, it is such a special feeling. I keep all of the handmade cards I receive. They are little pieces of art made with the utmost of care from people I cherish.

On the other end of that spectrum, I believe I gain just as much by making a card for someone else. When you invest the time to make a card, you think about that person during your creative process. You might choose a color they like or an image that is of significance to them. Throughout the process, the recipient and the occasion are at the forefront of your thoughts.

Devoting your energy and creativity to this activity in the name of someone you care about has weight. It connects you to them and it is such a beautiful way to share a sentiment with someone.

drawer lining project tutorial step 12

How to Dress up Your Dresser Drawers

Crafty blogger Dana McCranie provides a tutorial for turning bland drawers into something more snazzy.

I have this old dresser that came to us as a bonus when we bought my daughter’s bedroom furniture from a friend. It arrived on the truck and I wasn’t sure what I would do with it, but it is a sturdy old girl so I kept it. For the first year we used it to provide a means of keeping my son out of the kitchen. Recently I realized it fits perfectly in my bathroom and would be ideal for linen storage. It is a little basic, though, so I wanted to snazz it up a bit.

Since I love, love, love scrapbook paper, I have loads of it. I decided I would line the drawers with pretty paper. I realize this project doesn’t provide much in the way of functionality. However it did inspire me to get my towels laundered, folded and put away, and that made every step worth it.


  • Drawers
  • Designer paper of your choice (I chose a pack with coordinating sheets so I could cut and mix and match.)
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brushes
  • Paper cutter
drawer lining project tutorial step 2

Although the measurement of paper will be proportionate to your own drawers, I will provide my measurements just as an example. My drawer measures 27 3/4" x 14 1/2".

drawer lining project tutorial step 1

The paper collection I used was "Where the Heart Is" by Zoe Pearn and is distributed by My Mind's Eye.


Step 1: I would recommend cleaning your drawers really well first and then sort your paper. For each drawer, I used two full sheets of one design. Then I used one and a half sheets for the sides and a quarter of another for the mid-section. Once you choose your favorite designs you can start cutting.

drawer lining project tutorial step 3

Step 2: I don’t recommend letting your child participate in the cutting process as any little one near a blade is obviously dangerous and a bad idea. However, my son rarely listens to me and tried to help with the cutting. Once I took a photo of him, I took the cutter away and realized the rest of this project is pretty kid friendly and so he helped with the remainder.

Step 3: Your next step will be to lay out your pages before you start gluing. It is kind of like putting a puzzle together.

drawer lining project tutorial step 4

My drawers required the following paper dimensions and I worked from the outside inward:

  • Two sheets 12″ x 12″
  • Four strips 12″ x 3″
  • Two strips 4″ x 3″
  • One strip 12″ x 4″
drawer lining project tutorial step 5

Step 4: Now let the kid-fun begin and hand your little one a sponge brush and they can start painting on the glue. I poured some onto a paper plate for my son so he wouldn’t tip the bottle over. Once you apply glue to the back of the paper, you can place it in the drawer and as I said before it is best to place the outer border first.

drawer lining project tutorial step 6

Step 5: It doesn’t matter how messy your child might get the front of the paper, because you’ll be coating that in glue as well. The more you saturate the paper with glue, the more chance there will be for bubbles and wrinkles. Personally I just see this as adding character, but if you don’t enjoy that you might apply the glue a little more lightly. I would also not advise you to use my son as your glue painter either, if you want it applied lightly.

drawer lining project tutorial step 9drawer lining project tutorial step 8

Step 6: Once you have your pages placed and glued down, you can start to apply the Mod Podge to the top of the paper. This will create a very nice finish. If you are having trouble with your edges popping up, smoothing the glue across the edges with your fingers will help them lay down.

drawer lining project tutorial step 11

Step 7: Once you have glued down your pages and have applied a thin layer of medium to the top, you are ready to go.

drawer lining project tutorial step 12

Now that the drawers looks so pretty, I have to come up with a plan for the exterior.

stamps for card-making in photo by Dana McCranie

3 Essential Stamps for the Beginning Card-Maker

stamps for card-making in photo by Dana McCranie

The amount of available stamps can be overwhelming to beginning card-makers; start with essentials that will still be useful as you progress. (Photo by Dana McCranie)

Diving into the art of rubber stamping is one of my favorite craft memories. It was as if an entire new world of creativity had been opened up to me. However, I do also remember feeling overwhelmed by all the available options and believing that I needed a lot of items to make anything worth sharing with others.

This is a common misconception. I will not deny my love for glitter and all things sparkly, but once you have your ink and card stock you can really get by with just a few well chosen stamps. For a card-maker, I think there are three essential types of stamps to cover a majority of occasions.

  1. Greetings: While a blank card with just an image is nice and has its place, I think some sort of greeting collection is essential to set up a good base for your card-making. It is nice to invest in a set that might include the holidays and occasions you create for the most. My favorite set has been a collection of definition stamps that define words like “journey” and “happiness.” The definitions are versatile and can be used for a variety of sentiments. When choosing sentiments, I think variety is always something to consider.
  2. Background: If you want to really give your cards polish and kick them up a notch, try layering. Backgrounds can be extremely useful, and any stamp can be used as a background. Use a small image and repeat it, or use one large image. Either way, it is good to have a few stamps that will give a little texture to a dominant image.
  3. Inspiring Image: Your main event stamps are going to be the images or even the words that you love the most. You need a few stamps that are inspiring enough to you that they drive your design. My recommendation here is to choose a few stamps that you love and that appeal to you, rather than something you think someone else would enjoy. If you choose your stamps for anyone other than yourself, they will never be put to use. You have to be inspired by the image for it to be useful in your collection.

One of my favorite gifts is to take a large background stamp and create a basic background on a handful of cards. Then I just stamp different sentiments on each card and perhaps add a little glitter. No matter which stamps you choose, just remember you don’t have to have it all to create beautiful cards that any recipient will appreciate and enjoy.

Pinterest pinboard

Pinterest: A Website That Feels a Bit Like Coming Home

Pinterest pinboard

The website Pinterest allows you to create pinboards about various topics and populate them with images and ideas.

As I write this, I’m waiting to board a plane in New York City. I’m homeward bound and with every beat of my heart, my excitement to see my husband and children grows. I love to travel, but there is absolutely nothing like the feeling of returning home.

I had a similar feeling when I was recently introduced to the website I had to request an invite and wait about a day for it to come through. From the first moment I arrived at the site, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of both excitement and ease. The corners of my smile widened as if I was running into an old friend on the street.

The site is set up like a pinboard where you organize images of the amazing things you find within the site. You can find out more about how others use the site and what you can find there on Pinterest’s About page. I describe it as a mecca for all things beautiful.

You create your own boards where you re-pin photos of things that interest you. Whether it is a photo of a shelf made from old suitcases or a recipe for peanut butter frozen yogurt, you can arrange the items however you like. Currently I have 18 boards and 99 pins. I am following the pins of 49 other Pinterest friends. You can re-pin things to your boards and you can also share them in several ways, including Facebook and Twitter.

As you build your boards and network within the site, each visit gets better as your home page view fills with images of things that delight and inspire you. I find that every time I visit my home page, the experience becomes more personal. In the way that seems to get a little better at closing in on music I love, as I follow certain people and re-pin items, it seems my Pinterest experience gets better and better.

Each visit becomes more reflective of my own personal style and it is an Internet experience I enjoy above all others. The site has touched on something special and the quality of content is very impressive. One description of the site that I found on the etiquette page reads: “Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love.” I would add, “and make you giggle and clap and lose countless hours in front of your computer.”

The ease of use and the overall aesthetic of the site has captured a feeling so beautiful and familiar; it is akin to that unique feeling of coming home.