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DIY Cardboard “Candy” Cottage + First Friday Crafting

Happy December + Happy Holidays!  Save yourself long hours in the kitchen spent mixing, rolling, cutting and baking gingerbread dough – use cardboard instead for a ~ DIY CARDBOARD “CANDY” COTTAGE!

This fantastic upcycled material is abundant and easy to use.  Plus, you can avoid a sugar melt-down by skipping the temptation (and expense) of supplying bags of candy, sprinkles and royal icing – and sculpt your own candy cane columns and gumdrop windows using modeling dough.

This open-ended, creative process is fun for ages 5-12 (or, say, age 35+, if Mama is so inclined).  These cottages can be used as holiday ornaments, wall hangings, or added as a 3D element to a canvas painting, as shown here.  You can even make a village; a timeless, long-lasting heirloom, completely made by – hand from the heART!

Traditionalists who want a classic edible gingerbread house (complete with candies galore) can skip the inevitable sticky cleanup at home, and instead, deliver their children to December’s FIRST FRIDAY ~ CANDY COTTAGE WORKSHOP at HANDMAKERY, where crumble-proof walls and every sweet adornment will be provided.

See the full CARDBOARD “CANDY” COTTAGE article in Winter Edition | Issue 10 of the MOUNTAIN PARENT magazine offered FREE throughout the Roaring Fork Valley in print (oh SO beautiful) and/or online throughout the world!


  • Printable download
  • Pencil + eraser
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • White school glue
  • Hot glue (adult use)
  • Clear wrap
  • Masking tape
  • Modeling dough: Crayola Model Magic (white)
  • Tempera paint + brush
  • Glitter (fine white)
  • Chalk markers (optional)
  • Embellishments- white pom-poms, red & white paper straws, striped cupcake papers, wire stars, & white string.


ONE  Download a FREE printable template on  Prepare a cardboard cottage cut-out ahead of time by cutting out two shapes:  one will be the cottage, the other will be the roof. Using white glue, attach the cardboard cottage to the cardboard roof by overlapping just a bit and gluing in place.  Dry.

TWO  Have a mixture of smaller pieces of cardboard scraps available that can be cut and used for pop out details.  Lighter weight cardboard is ideal as it’s easier to cut. Corrugated cardboard adds a wonderful texture and is also easy to cut.  Architectural pieces can be drawn and cut to create doors, windows, porches, fences, shed roofs, steps, a chimney, and more. Draw, cut, arrange, and glue down detail pieces using white glue.  Dry. Cottages will become one-of-a-kind mini-relief sculptures!

THREE  Cover completed cardboard cottage with clear wrap and use masking tape on the back of the cottage to temporarily secure.  This protected surface will allow modeling dough pieces to be placed on the house to dry without attaching to the cardboard cottage and will keep the cardboard protected from paint.

FOUR  Keep cottage covered with clear wrap.  Move into making accents using Crayola Model Magic which is a fantastic product for use, flexibility, and simple drying.  Start by rolling coils to imply snow and icicles. These pieces will take on the look of white icing. These snowy details can run along the edges of the roof, cottage, above the door + windows, and atop the chimney.  Use modeling dough to also make candies such as gumdrops, mints, candy canes, and other savory + sugary treats. Wreaths, snowballs, and snow piles can also be fun additions. Allow pieces to air dry in place, on top of the clear wrapped house.

FIVE  Paint dry modeling dough candies using paint and a small brush.  Allow painted pieces to dry on top of the clear wrapped cottage.  Pieces that are to remain white are beautifully painted with white glue and sprinkled with fine white glitter for added sparkle.  Dry.

SIX  Carefully set all modeling dough piece aside and remove the clear wrap.  Arrange pieces in place for gluing down onto cardboard. Most dough pieces can be glued with white glue.  It can be helpful for an adult to hot glue fragile icing pieces for strength and a quicker dry time.  Use chalk marker to add small details of color on the cardboard cottage.  White chalk marker can imply small areas of icing and colored chalk marker can add vivid details to the cardboard pieces.  Now, you can add your embellishments including,  white pom-poms, red & white paper straws and striped cupcake papers, wire stars, and white string for lights.  Most embellishments can simply be glued in place onto the cardboard. 

Be sure to tag @handmakery on Instagram with your Cardboard “Candy” Cottage creations as we’ll be featuring your work on our feed! #candycottage

A peek inside the studio at a mini-exhibit + recognition ceremony for our Winter-IE Wonderland Workshop as family and friends gathered to celebrate Cardboard “Candy” Cottages atop a wintery landscape!



Happy Holidays! Tag us @handmakery with your creations on Instagram!  Follow our blog for more inspiring process-based art projects!  As always, thank you for following along on this artful adventure!  Send us a note anytime!  We’d love to hear what you’re thinking and dreaming!  Much love and happiness creating in this creative + colorful world full of collaboration + connection + community!  

xo Ami

Lummi Sticks + 5Point Film Festival

You may have seen on our Instagram, we partnered with 5Point Film Festival while they were on tour in Carbondale, Colorado!  The festival ran Thursday-Sunday with an exciting array of inspiring films and community events.  5Point stands for balance, commitment, humility, purpose, and respect.  They lineup 4-days of  inspiring programming, and gather special guests, athletes, filmmakers, and our community together in one – 800 seat venue!  On Saturday, following the Youth Adventure Films (free for 12 and under), we squeezed in some adventurous art making with hundreds of local children!  Between the arts + crafts, the much-loved annual ice cream social + community picnic, and all the overflowing inspiration from the outdoor adventure films, you’ll see many beaming smiles!  Thank you to all the local families that came out for this festive afternoon!  We were honored to be back at 5Point making + creating with young artists!  Thank you for inviting us to create LUMMI STICKS with children in our outdoor studio 5Point Film, so great to be back for another year.  Take a peek at how we crafted these simple sticks with just three simple steps!


Excited to announce HANDMAKERY’S online registration for (hands on + mixed media) SUMMER + SCHOOL YEAR 2016/17 ART WORKSHOPS!  Early enrollment is encouraged as space is limited!  Take a peek into our adventurous + artful workshops for children and upcoming art-filled community happenings!  May’s First Friday and Family Block Party are just around the corner, hope you’ll be joining us: Creating In Our Outdoor Art Studio: Summer Lovin’ Style!

Be sure to stay in touch and connect on our Facebook + Instagram + Pinterest!

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Contemporary Cuckoo Clocks

You may have discovered on Instagram that we recently hosted a summer workshop for 6 – 9 year olds- CRAZie FOR CONTEMPORARY CUCKOO CLOCKS!  Beyond excited to jump into this workshop as it has been a project that has been stirring in my mind for quite sometime.  Thrilled to see it come to life!  As a little girl growing up, one of my great-grandmothers had a beautiful, hand-carved, traditional, wooden cuckoo clock in her tiny home.  I remember traveling to my great-grandmother’s Colorado home in the summer for weekend visits with my family.  My sister and I were always mesmerized by her cuckoo clock.  We were sure to be in the living room at the beginning of every hour to see the chirping bird make its grand entrance and to hear cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo!  Definitely a favorite childhood memory that I can still visualize and hear as it was yesterday.  Although our workshop’s cuckoo clocks were not mechanical, the children loved every moment of personalizing and piecing them together!  Once we were in the midst of our mini-art exhibit at the end of the week, I was reminded of how BIG impressions are made in little + simple childhood days!  I hope each of these children walk away with a special memory to hold.  I’m thankful for each and everyone of my childhood memories, as they take me back to the heart of who I am today!  Take a peek!

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Contemporary Crafty Clutch

Summer is here and we celebrated our kick-off to June with our first summertime CRAFT NIGHT: Under the Stars + In the Studio!  Our special summer craft nights are open up to crafters ages 6-9 and we host one of these special evenings each month in our art studio (a great date night parents)!  This time around we happened to have all girls jump into fill our workshop, so we hopped on creating a freshly designed + one-of-a-kind + DIY CONTEMPORARY CRAFTY CLUTCH!  A very simple project that we were able to just about complete in two hours!  We came across these simple + little felt clutches and swooped on a huge stack, knowing they’d be so much fun to embellish with our crafters!

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DIY Woodland Valentine Box

LOVE IS IN THE AIRtist!  Happy Valentine’s Day!  We hope you have a love-ly day planned with your little lovelies!  We are SO excited to give you a peek into our latest workshop HANDMADE WITH LOVE: making + creating for Valentine’s Day!  All winterLONG we’ve been dreaming of creating our original + one-of-a-kind “Woodland  Valentine’s Box” and now it is here!  Oh la la, all the endless possibilities!  Enjoy our little + festive + Valentine DIY!

woodland valentine box |

Materials + Supplies + Our Process:

Each artist collected their own woodland + natural treasures in a sweet basket based on a list we had sent home which included:

• stones/river rock • snail shells • acorns • small twigs/driftwood • smaller wood forms • pinecones • dried pods • dried leaves • feathers • moss • more!  We encouraged each artist be an observant treasure hunter out on exploration!

• a box + lid with a cut opening on top + paper mache + dictionary pages

• a sheet of moss for the box top + additional moss in varied shades of green

• paint for box top edges

• hot glue + glue gun

• scissors + glue stick + white glue

• repurposed cardboard tubes + paint + brushes + corks

• air dry clay for mushrooms + paint

• empty thread spools + washi tapes for feet

• woodland trees to paint

• tapes + stickers + twine + shiny stars for garland

• decorative paper straws + wire + eye screws + star wire

• miniature vellum envelopes + card for personalized letter

woodland valentine box |

We used repurposed dictionary pages to symbolize “vintage love letters” and to provide one of our favorite  elements, text.  Both the inside + outside of each box needed to be paper mached.  The children loved the paper mache process, working with their hands + getting messy + creating as a community of little owls!

woodland valentine box |

We used repurposed cardboard tubes to create fallen forrest logs and to create little mushroom bases.  Tubes were easy to cut, shape, paint and lightweight to glue!

woodland valentine box |

The children loved our collection of sparkly + shiny stars, metallic stars on wire, plus festive Valentine paper straws to create their base for their decorative garland.  We found some lovely bottle brush trees to painted pink and used air dry clay to create sweet + little + hand-sculpted mushrooms!

woodland valentine box |

Several low-temp glue guns were brought out so the children could arrange their  collected + woodland box top treasures to glue down.

woodland valentine box |

A peek through the woods as this little one heads to detail, just after getting her woodland treasures arranged and glued down.

woodland valentine box |

A few weeks before our workshop began, we had over 100 thread spools donated to our studio.  These quickly became the feet on our boxes, with the fabulous addition of washi tapes!  Each artist enjoyed creating their own distinct + personalized patterns on all four feet!  We were SO excited about this detail, that was just meant to be!  We had just the right amount of spool sets for our artists and of course a never ending collection of washi tape.  Winding tape on spools provided just the perfect amount of creative coordination for our 6 – 9 year olds as they teamed up to assist one another!  The feet were then glued on all fur corners.

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A four feet closeup, demonstrating just how this addition gave our Woodland Valentine’s Boxes a raised + pedestal like feel!  Definitely a favorite + personalized addition to set this project off!

woodland valentine box |

Minutes before “painting white polkadots began” on the mushroom tops!

woodland valentine box |

Extra long + wooden handled cotton swabs worked as a fabulous + fun tool for the polkadot detail!

woodland valentine box |

Each artist crafted a sweet + handmade garland using white stickers + polkadot stickers + washi tapes + red and white twine + marker, along with a personalized tag with their name for our mini-art exhibit!  The variety and individualized designs were so fun!

woodland valentine box |

Detailing + dotting the mushrooms…

woodland valentine box |

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woodland valentine box |

A closeup of a woodland forest!  Here you can see the opening for letters of love!

woodland valentine box |

woodland valentine box |

We had each of our HANDMAKERY families bring an extra special + handmade + one-of-a-kind card + envelope to our mini-art exhibit + recognition ceremony to gift their artist!  It was so special to see each family deliver their handmade Valentine to their little one and watch all the reactions of joy + love + surprise + excitement!  Many of the children were surprised their parents were also artists and knew how to make handmade cards from scratch.  Most of the families greatly enjoyed the opportunity to create something handmade for their child and this gave them the perfect opportunity!

woodland valentine box |

Another beautiful + handmade card from the heart!  This little one was overjoyed by this special Valentine created by her Mom + Dad!

woodland valentine box |

woodland valentine box |

We had discovered teeny tiny vellum envelopes and had the idea of each artist writing a “VALENtiny” to hide in their woodland forrest, to be discovered by their family!  This VALENtiny (above) was for a special + much loved Daddy!  It was a fabulous night celebrating with all our HANDMAKERY families at our traditional mini-art exhibit + recognition ceremony with the lovely addition of festive cupcakes and punch!  A night filled with love + laughter, memories + connection, definitely a day to remember!  Follow us on Instagram to see more adventures in our art studio!


Winter Vintage Cottage


Our Winter Vintage Cottages were created in our workshop HANDMAKERY FROM THE HEART: making + creating to give with 6 – 9 year olds!  The Winter Vintage Cottage was our third project in a six-week session!  The children absolutely LOVED working on these!  Most children created their cottage as special gifts for a loved one!  We were excited that the cottage could light up with a flameless tea light and be used for a nightlight!  With all the windows it has fabulous ambiance!    Our biggest challenge was finding enough of these fabulous little houses, but with friends and family searching across two states, we had just enough for our seventeen HANDMAKERY artists!  Thank goodness for family and friends that searched high and low, making room in their travels for these delightful pieces to inspire!  Here is a little gift to welcome your NEW YEAR focused on making + creating + crafting + exploring creativity + being hands-on + celebrating mixed-media!  Enjoy our DIY to guide and inspire you in making your own Winter Vintage Cottage!

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A Rainbow Celebration!

Rainbow play dough via HANDMAKERY.COM

Over the weekend a sweet + adorable HANDMAKERY friend turned the magical age of five!  We were thankful (and of course SO excited) to have the opportunity to celebrate with this little one, her friends, and her family!  She loves rainbows and made a wish to have “rainbow” as her birthday theme.  She made a second wish to celebrate turning five at HANDMAKERY: A Children’s Art Studio located in beautiful Carbondale | CO!  We were honored and decided to celebrate her special day with mixing up magical + rainbow play dough!

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