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.

Grandma Crafting Memories_featured

It All Goes Back to Grandma: How My Love of Crafting Reminds Me of Her

Grandma's WisdomWhat other “mother” figure will you be celebrating or remembering this Mother’s Day? Blogger Dana McCranie shares some of the wisdom her grandmother passed along to her.

Oh the joy that fills my heart every time I make a new crafty friend. It is like opening up a present on Christmas day as we share our different interests and what we can teach each other.

Just today I made a wonderful new friend and we delighted in our shared love for all things creative.

What is striking to me is what a journey creativity is and the common connections of creativity to family and heritage.

She mentioned her lifetime of crafting was a direct result of her mother living through The Great Depression and I instantly and longingly thought of my Grandmother. I related to my friend because my Grandmother was a woman that made the most out of everything.

My Grandmother and my Mother are the seeds of my ever-growing love for crafting. I have often thought every time I see the term “up-cycled” that it really just describes what my Grandmother did all along.

On my way home, I thought more and more about my Grandmother and all the things she made throughout my life and how much I treasure them. There was never anything incredibly fancy and she often made them from remnants, as was her way, but I absolutely cherish anything she touched. The quilt is probably my favorite of these creations. Each one has such a beautiful story.

My favorite one is comprised of what I believe to be a potpourri of remnants and the base of it is a pink I’ve never really cared for, but it is the warmest and softest blanket I’ve ever owned. It is tattered and the filling is starting to spill out here and there, but it is a work of art in my eyes. She never needed all the supplies I convince myself I have to have to be creative. She took what was available because she had to, and she made it into something useful and magical.

Need fueled her creativity and her craft and the result has been these heirlooms I can’t imagine ever parting with. It is more than a quilt, but it is actually a warm and constant reminder of her love. It is hand-sewn and I can’t tell you how often I’ve stared at the stitches, some uneven, and pictured her soft and sweet hands gliding through the fabric.

In her thrifty nature, my Grandmother also considered an alternate use for everything before disposing of it. I will never forget the amusing search for the real butter container in her refrigerator because there were always at least four impostors on the scene. As much as I used to sigh as I opened lid upon lid seeking the real butter, yesterday I found myself cleaning out a butter container and storing it with a smile in our cabinet.

Her lessons live on in me and I’m always so full of gratitude when I recognize a piece of her wisdom setting up shop in my life. She was a woman who was so worthy of imitation and I hope my life can resemble hers in even a small way. I am looking forward to making my first quilt one day and I hope my new friend can teach me how. I think I’ll start saving scraps for it now and I’ll think of Louise as I make it.

 

Southern Living March 2013_featured

4 Things Southern Living Taught Me About Flowers

Southern Living magazineYour thumb may not be feeling very green this spring, but a beautiful garden can be simple with these four tips.

When it comes to keeping things alive, I feel like I’ve got all I can handle with two kids, a husband and a cat. Yet, I still gaze longingly across the street at my two neighbors who both maintain beautiful gardens.

Joann, who my children consider their adopted grandmother, is as lovely as the flowers that sing out from every corner of her yard. She has such a way with the earth, and when you step into her yard you feel as if you’ve entered a magical place.

While I would love to have this same touch with flowers, I’ve killed every one I’ve ever planted. Still, looking across the street at those flowers growing so beautifully just yards away gives me hope.

In my optimism this year, I decided to dive into the pages of Southern Living magazine for gardening inspiration, and I made a few discoveries. Here are my top four:

1. Flowers and plants look beautiful in diverse community. Just as we are strengthened by a strong and loving community, when you plant the right flowers and plants next to one another they not only look pretty but they also thrive.

2. The addition of a few colorful flowers and plants can add a heap of curb appeal to your home. Groups of plants and flowers, even in different sized pots, can boldly proclaiming the joy of spring at your front door. I contrast this look in my mind against the empty space in front of our black front door, and I’m astounded at the impact a few bright flowers have on how welcoming a home feels.

3. Container gardening can be a great starting place for a novice like me. It’s easy to look at the sprawling gardens presented in the magazine or in my neighbor’s yard and become overwhelmed, throwing in the towel before I start. In reading about window boxes in this issue, though, I realized that starting small can later inspire a more extensive garden.

4. Building a relationship with the flowers matters. You may be giggling a little as you picture me singing to a sad little wilting flower. This isn’t entirely out of the question if you know me at all, but what I’m referring to is learning. When you build a relationship with a person, you learn their likes and dislikes. If I treated learning about different types of plants and flowers like building relationships with people, perhaps I’d learn how to better care for them.

This year I’ll attempt to nurture at least one pot of flowers. If I can “get to know” a couple plants and flowers, hopefully my garden community will continue to grow.

For a limited time, get a one-year subscription of Southern Living magazine for just $10!

Scrapbooks Etc magazine's December 2011 issue

5 Suggestions for Meaningful, Handmade Christmas Gifts

Scrapbooks Etc magazine's December 2011 issue

Magazines like Scrapbooks Etc. are great inspiration for handmade gifts.

Few things are more satisfying than giving a thoughtful Christmas gift that you made yourself. The key is to remember it doesn’t have to be perfect.

It’s easy to accumulate a big pile of Christmas gifts bought just for the sake of buying, not to mention bills. But a thoughtful gift is about more than just a hefty price tag, and it can be as simple as giving your time to someone.

The key is to not be intimidated by the term “handmade,” and here’s why.

There is a blog I fell in love with this year, Nesting Place. My favorite line on the blog was pretty instrumental in changing my approach to my home and creativity in general: “I’ve got a secret that will unlock creativity and hope for your home. Ready? Here it is: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Yep. That’s it. All you have to do is believe it.”

This one sentiment really spoke to an internal battle in my heart. I go to the site often and let these words wash over me.

I share this because I think when you consider making gifts, I believe this statement should be your motto. Making a gift for someone is not about perfection. If I could give a gift to you, dear reader, it would be the realization that putting your heart into something is one of the most beautiful gifts anyone can receive.

Here is my list of five suggestions for handmade, meaningful Christmas gifts. They are also fun to make and won’t tax your money or time resources. Happy creating, my crafty friends.

  1. Anything, and I mean anything, made out of fleece. Fleece is the wonder material for the sewing-challenged—in other words, me. Last year I not only created blankets from it, but I also made scarves. All that’s required is fabric and good scissors. There are tons of patterns online for hats and pillows and who knows what else. I even made myself a blanket and it is the warmest blanket we own. I love the idea of giving something that provides warmth.
  2. Plastered hands. There are a variety of options for using your kids’ hands and the kids love it. You can find kits at a craft store. We made a garden stone for the grandparents one year and they still show it off. My favorite creation was a mold of my hand holding my daughter’s. My late father kept this mold on the shelf in his kitchen and now it is on my mantel. It’s one of my most treasured items.
  3. Photos for the win, every time. If you have children, are a child or know a child in your family, take pictures. Don’t sweat it if you aren’t great with photography. Remember the aforementioned motto. It doesn’t have to be the greatest photo of all time. There are endless possibilities when it comes to photo gifts these days.
  4. Handmade cards or scrapbooks. These don’t have to take as much time as you might think. Giving someone a set of blank cards is an awesome gift. I personally love everything I’ve ever received made from paper. If you have an idea for a scrapbook that you would like to create as a gift, but feel low on inspiration, there are a lot of ideas in magazines like Creating Keepsakes magazine.
  5. Showing up. When it comes down to it, there is nothing more meaningful to others than this. Get creative and figure out how you can bless someone with your time. Do you have a friend that really needs a night out but can’t get a sitter? Consider offering to babysit as your gift. This is where those handmade coupon books come in handy. I’ve been blessed with people in my life that see me figuratively waving the white flag and they come to my rescue every time. Whether it is to make a meal, hang a shelf in my pantry, babysit, help me clean or just sit with me while my kids go crazy, they show up and I am blessed.
Somerset Studio magazine Fueling Creativity article

Somerset Studio Magazine Reminds Us Why We Create

Somerset Studio magazine March/April 2012An article in the current issue of Somerset Studio magazine reminded blogger Dana McCranie of the many reasons she loves to create.

There was something about the March/April issue of Somerset Studio magazine that drew me to the article “Fueling Creativity” by artist/writer Soraya Nulliah. I think it was the stunning mixed media journal that appeared on the page. A beautiful juxtaposition of colorful stamps, inks, paints and paper commanded the attention of the reader and made me want to know more about how it was created.

The article explains that the journal was the result of a creative rut Nulliah was experiencing. She took refuge in the pages of her little book after finding herself less than enthusiastic about returning to her canvas.

Nulliah points out the beauty of an art journal in its total lack of constraints. There isn’t even an expectation to finish it because it’s a journal and, by very definition, a work in progress. She explained that her lack of emotional attachment to the outcome reinvigorated her creative passion. I think any artist can relate to this problem. The article forced me to question the motivation behind the art I create. I realized I rarely create for myself alone.

Everything I make is usually a project that can be tied to my work in some way. Even when I make cards, I immediately send them out. It caused me to ask a tough question: What would I make if I were creating simply for the joy of creating, and how would I feel about the process? This freedom could only open up possibilities in my growth as an artist and as a person.

I loved that the reader also gained insight into the process the artist used to create her journal. I realized that this might be the perfect place for me to start the freeing journey of creating for the sake of creating. I think one result of living in such a productivity-focused society is that even our playtime is often repurposed as multitasking to fulfill some other need. I might just have 30 minutes to craft, so I’ll use that time to crank out that birthday card I need to send by the end of the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the practical nature of being able to use creativity to bless others. This article just got me thinking about the beautiful nature of putting color to paper just to enjoy the splendor of the practice.

In the end, we see that diving into a constraint-free project like this art journal inspired Nulliah so that, when she did return to painting, she could proceed with a new assurance. She knows that every time she gets stuck, the refuge of pursuing new artistic horizons awaits like an old friend ready to take her as she is and remind her why she started creating in the first place.

Quilting Arts magazine April/May 2012

Quilting Arts Gets Creative with Fabric Houses

Quilting Arts magazine April/May 2012Blogger Dana McCranie has never considered herself a quilter, but a recent article in Quilting Arts had her yearning for the skill.

Oh quilting, how I long to know your ways. For a person who has no idea how to quilt, I spend a remarkable amount of time thinking about it. It’s just one of those crafts I look at and wonder if I’ll ever learn.

My sweet grandmother tried to teach me, but it never quite took. I often read Quilting Arts magazine and just daydream about what my quilts will someday look like–if I ever find someone with enough patience to see me through the process.

In the current issue of Quilting Arts, I discovered a whole new level of motivation to learn this wonderful craft in an article titled “It takes a Village: Make a Unique Fabric House.”

The article kicks off with a photo of a little village of fabric houses complete with fabric trees. Seeing this three-dimensional exhibit created by quilters pushing their medium to new limits further ignited my desire to learn their craft.

Artist Kathy York was inspired by Painted Threads artist Judy Coates Perez’s three-dimensional houses and the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. York acted on this inspiration by inviting 16 artists to create their own fabric houses to share at the International Quilt Festival/Houston last fall.

Each house in the photo seems to have its own inspiration. York shares that her inspiration was hot flashes. I loved having insight into the spark that led to her creation and then seeing where her capable hands took her from there. York also treats readers to instructions on how to make their own houses, complete with patterns and dimensions.

Although I (still) don’t quilt and am not too swift with my sewing machine either, this article makes me want to throw caution to the wind and give it a try. I think any article in a craft magazine that motivates the reader to want to run and make their own version is a smashing success. As artists, can we ask for anything more than to provide a little inspiration to another?

How to Create an Uplifting Grief Journal

How to Create an Uplifting Grief Journal

Album 9When you just want to send a bit of sunshine to someone going through a hard time, a grief journal is a great gift. Here’s how to create one of your own.

I love scrapbooking magazines of all kinds. Publications like Scrapbook Trends and Creating Keepsakes are a great place to start for ideas. That said, the cover of the April issue of Scrapbooks Etc. magazine was immediately an eye-catcher for me. Displayed on a cake stand in an array of spring colors are cupcakes made from bakers twine.

The corresponding article, “Baker’s Dozen,” showcases 13 tips for using bakers twine in various projects. From wrapping to jewelry to accents, I enjoyed every sample provided in this feature. But number six actually got me on my feet and to my craft table.

The sixth sample showed how to create frames using bakers twine on your scrapbook pages. I love the use in this sample, but it was actually the book itself that led me to start a project of my own. The artist created a beautiful mini album using what looked like cut out tags. I’ve been anxious to send a little happiness to a friend who’s grieving the loss of her beloved grandmother, and I thought this type of album would make a great grief journal for her to record memories and thoughts as she faces this hard time.

Supplies:

I used my Sizzix Big Shot machine with the scallop square die to make my pages, but you can use any shape or tag you have on hand. You’ll just need several similarly shaped pages. I also used a butterfly die to create the embellishment on the cover.*
Decorative paper
Card stock
Embellishments (like pearls or rhinestones)
Stamps and ink
Metallic paint and dauber
Jump ring
Ribbon
Crop-A-Dile or large hole punch
Scissors
Adhesive

Project Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 30 minutes to 1 hour

*All supplies used in this project are from Stampin’ Up!

Step One: Start by running your pages through the Sizzix. If you want the edges to line up and be uniform, die cutting them is a great option.

Album 1

It helps to measure your die and cut the paper to fit before running it through.

Step Two: After you have your pages cut, arrange them in any order you like. I alternated decorative pages with solid colors.

Album 2

Arrange the pages any way you like.

Step Three: Plan any embellishments. I used the Sizzix to create the butterflies for the front cover of the book.

Album 3

Create any embellishments you plan on using.

Step Four: Tear a piece of card stock by hand to fit the size of your sentiment. Then stamp it in any color of your choosing. I like to use darker colors for sentiments I want to stand out.

Album 4

Clear stamps are great for alignment.

Step Five: To add interest, sponge ink and metallic paint around the edges of the sentiment.

Album 5

If you don't have a sponge or dauber, just drag the ink pad along the edges of the paper.

Step Six: Punch a hole through your pages. If you don’t have a hole punch strong enough to go through all the pages at once, use your first hole and a pencil as a guide for subsequent holes so your pages will line up.

Album 6

Punch a hole for the jump ring.

Step Seven: Load your pages onto the ring and close it to see if any adjustments need to be made to your holes or pages.

Album 7

This ring is so versatile because you can add and rearrange pages as needed.

Step Eight: Add any finishing touches and adhere your elements to your cover. If you have bakers twine, the article mentioned above has brilliant ideas for how you can enhance the look of your book. I didn’t have any on hand, but I will for the next one I create! I also embellished by putting some colorful ribbon on my ring.

Album 9

The finished creation