My friend Noeleen came over for a snowy afternoon last week. We could have busied ourselves with corn chips and trashy TV, but instead we got crafty and painted coffee filters. Yay us! There were no particular plans for what to with them, except that it be nifty looking. Well, I think we succeeded. Each heart is like a tiny abstract painting. The only word for these is cheerful, which is exactly what I need in my life right now!
Valentines Day isn’t typically considered a big holiday for decorating, but for this of us who are still feeling the pangs of Christmas, I’ll take any excuse to get festive I can get. Sometimes that means stringing up some cards, or, in this case, stringing up some hearts.
Watercolor (I strongly recommend working with small tubes of watercolor rather than the flat palettes – the colors will be much richer. All you do is mix a pea-sized blob of paint with a spoonful of water and you’ll get a ton of color in a hurry. Kids will love working with big blobs of color too, instead of tiny little pots).
Twine. (Not string, twine. The kind with a rough and hairy sort of coarse texture. Smooth string will slip right through the holes, but the coarse stuff will hold just great. I found some red and white stripe twine at Michaels, but regular brown twine from the hardware store works great too).
The key to making a lot of hearts fast is to work in small batches. Before you start anything, divide your coffee filters into stacks of five. Also, think about working on a waterproof table cloth or lay out a flat plastic garbage bag. Most watercolors are easily washable but you don’t want them sinking into your table.
One: Keeping the wet filters in stacks of five, paint the surface of each stack and watch the colors run to the lower layers. When they dry, you’ll find that the top layers are saturated with color and distinct patterns, while the bottom layers will be more muddled and pastel. Hang each stack to dry overnight. If you are in a rush, you can throw them in the oven at 200f for 10 minutes, or throw in the dryer for a while.
Two: Take a stack of 5 dry filters (smaller hands may need a smaller stack), fold in half, then quarters, then eighths.
Three: Use a scissors to cut a basic heart shape. You know how this part works.
Four: Still keeping your stacks in place, use a hole punch to create random holes all over the surface of the heart.
Five: Run your twine through the holes in the heart. Enjoy!
PS: If you have leftover painted coffee filters (you probably will), you can make flowers out them. Look here, it’s easy!
The hearts will stay on the twine without knots. I promise. That’s why you need twine instead of string. Between the little hairs of the twine and the slightly rumpled texture of the coffee filters, they will stay wherever you put them. At the end of the season you can unstring them, or use them for other artsy niftiness.
If, for some reason, you can’t get your hands on coarse twine, I suggest using regular string and a pile of inexpensive beads slightly larger than the holes made by your punch. Instead of trying to tie knots in the coffee filters (which will likely tear) just tie a bead every 5″ and they will hold up the hearts just fine.
There really is no reason why these would need to be hearts. You could make them circles or squares or funny shapes. Hang them up in a window all year long. Or maybe use them for party decorations. Or a photo backdrop. I like the idea of a big bunch of them hanging on a wall like a giant tassel or something. Or maybe just in the corner of a ceiling. Or, bust out of the vertical thing. String them horizontal…
If you like the idea of this garland but don’t want to wait until Valentines, I made something similar with feathers last fall using markers, which were a little less messy (if you are into that).
Or, if you want to stick to the heart garlands, I made these out of plastic grocery bags. Yes, I said plastic grocery bags.