Tag Archives: frugal

Pagan Medallions


Most of the time, I don’t wear jewelry unless it is meaningful to me in some way; my wedding band, a gift from one of my children, or something that reminds me of my spirituality. Pagan jewelry and pendants are not something you can get at any corner jewelry or department store. You usually have to seek out a new age or occult shop to find them. Whereas, other religions can find their symbolic jewelry, pendants and medallions anywhere. It’s not fair, I know. But think of it this way; it just gives us more opportunities for craft projects! You can make your own Pagan medallions depicting any deity. It takes surprisingly few materials and is relatively inexpensive.

a bezel
deity image
small scissors
mod podge
small paintbrush
(pourable) liquid glaze

Use an internet image search to look up a deity image for your medallion. I especially like the classic look of Johannes Gehrts’ Norse deities. Save the image you want and use a photo editing website like pixlr-o-matic or befunky to change the tint of your image to your liking. Shrink it to the size you need and print it out. Using small scissors, carefully cut out your image to fit the inside of the bezel. Brush a thin layer of mod podge on the inside of your bezel. Press the image into the bezel. Use the blunt end of your paintbrush to make sure its pressed down on the edges and all over. Brush a thin layer of mod podge over the image. Now this is very important: let it dry thoroughly and completely. When image is dry, carefully pour the liquid glaze into the bezel to cover the image evenly, turning the bezel back and forth to make the glaze go where you want it. Do not try to use a paintbrush or other tool to move the glaze around. Lay your medallion somewhere that it won’t be disturbed for at least 24 hours. Don’t be tempted to touch the surface too soon, or it will leave a fingerprint. When medallion is completely dry, attach to a necklace or bracelet.

 Pagan Medallions

figurine makeover


Recently while thrift shopping, I came across a figurine of an angel holding a rabbit. “Oh neat”, I thought- “that can be a depiction of Ôstara for my Spring Equinox altar!” I didn’t much like the colors though; it never seems to look right to me how small figurines have the details painted in. Then I remembered what I did for altar statues before I started sculpting; I made them look “rustic” with layers of acrylic paint. So now I’ll share that method with you…

You’ll need:
white acrylic craft paint (or acrylic gesso)
dark acrylic craft paint
light beige or off-white acrylic craft paint

1. First, clean all the dust and grime off your thrift shop treasure.

2. Next, paint a layer of thick white acrylic paint or acrylic gesso. This will make the subsequent layers of paint look even. Let dry thoroughly.

3. Now give the figure a rough layer of dark acrylic paint, concentrating on getting paint into the creases. I used a shade of green called “thicket” for the figurine shown here. Let dry thoroughly.

4. For this next step, use a sponge instead of a paintbrush. Dip the sponge in a light shade of acrylic paint like “parchment”. Lightly blot the sponge and dab over the figure; mostly getting the raised parts. Don’t try to get paint down in the crevices. Let dry.

There you go! From cheesy to rustic in four simple steps.

figurine makeover

A Druid Child’s Altar


One of the things that can go a long way in the spiritual development of children is to help them set up an altar of their own in their room. The altar set-up in Ár nDraíocht Féin is a bit different from most other forms of modern Paganism. We don’t follow an “elements” system, but rather, we venerate the Triple Hallows of Well, Tree, and Fire. ADF is a very family-friendly, child-friendly, budget-friendly tradition. No expensive tools are necessary, nor even desirable. In fact, an ADF altar could be just three bowls and a stick! However, most people (including kids!) want to be more creative than that, and it doesn’t really cost much more to do so, perhaps a little more time and craftiness. Most of these ideas have the option of crafting something, so as to really personalize this sacred space. Any of the ideas listed below could be used for an adult/family altar as well.

  • Fire Hallow: glue fire-colored tissue paper all over a re-purposed small jar and put an LED tea light in it. (No actual fire, of course.)
  • Well Hallow: use a plastic “cauldron” salsa server. Aside from aesthetically pleasing cauldron shape, they won’t break or rust (and I’m always finding them cheap in thrift stores). You may have one in the kitchen already, or a small bowl you’d like to use instead.
  • Tree Hallow: put sticks or branches in a jar or can. (The branch holder in the picture below is a vegetable can with variegated green & brown yarn wrapped around it.) Add pebbles to keep it from tipping over. Another option for the Tree Hallow is to make a paper bag tree or a woven tree.
  • Offering Bowl: make a salt dough bowl (for dry offerings only; like cereal and dried fruit), or use an ordinary bowl or plate from the kitchen. Remember to place your offerings outside after your rituals/devotions, so as not to attract pests. (Under a tree is a good place to leave offerings.)
  • Deity Images: these can be drawings or coloring pages. In the picture below, you’ll notice the coloring pages are small black & white print-outs colored with crayons and pasted to colored paper. You may want to frame or laminate yours so they’ll last longer, or just fasten them to the wall, as is, with ticky-tack. If you want to try sculpting deity images, salt dough is a very good (and inexpensive) medium for experimentation.
  • Ancestor Images: these can be memoirs, or photos/drawings of one’s Ancestors, or Ancestor dolls. Another option could be to make a salt dough skull to represent them. It is optional to have Ancestor imagery here, as the Ancestors may have their own shrine elsewhere in the home, or their regalia only brought out for special holidays.
  • Nature Spirit Images: can be represented in a small nature collection. Given how kids love to collect feathers, rocks, seedpods, etc., Nature Spirits imagery may soon threaten to take over the entire altar! It may be a good idea to give the Nature Spirits their own altar/shrine.
  • Blessing Cup: this can be any kind of drinking vessel, perhaps a favorite cocoa mug. Sometimes you can find neat plastic goblets at thrift stores or in dollar stores around Halloween. Any kind of juice, mint water, or just plain water are all great choices for a child’s (or anyone’s) “waters of life”.
  • Divination Tool: there is a wide variety of divination methods to choose from that may be suitable for children or beginners. The simplest would be those that give just yes or no answers like a magic 8 ball. Simple answers can also be read through certain methods with runes, serpent stones, and dowsing, as well. The Wise Gal Tarot book describes 7 different kinds of divination and has a simple, yet colorful tear-out tarot card set in the back.
  • Extras: your child may want a bell (or bell branch), symbols/pictures of the Three Realms of Land Sea, and Sky, and silver-colored beads/coins for ‘silvering the well’ (they need not be real silver)

After you’re all set up, see my article, “A Druid Devotional for Kids” for further inspiration.

child's altar

Crafting with Salt Dough


Years ago I used to make goddess figurines and such with plasticized clay (like fimo or sculpey). This time around getting into crafting again, I don’t really have much of a budget for craft supplies. I also don’t like the idea of the permanence (plasticized clay is non-bio-degradable) and the artificial feel. (I don’t know if they still have them, but there used to be a warning label on the packages of some brands that said they could possibly cause cancer.)

Since I don’t have access to cheap clay, nor a kiln to fire it in, salt dough came to mind as a cheap and natural alternative. At first I thought it wouldn’t be strong and durable enough to make things to hang on the wall and last a while, but then I remembered a special recipe I had jotted down from a library book (sorry, I don’t remember the title). The book called the recipe “alum dough”. It’s a salt dough recipe with less than the usual amount of flour (1 cup instead of 2), and some alum thrown in. I call it “Strong Salt Dough”.

Strong Salt Dough
1 cup flour
1 cup salt
1 teaspoon alum
½ cup water or more
Mix dry ingredients. (Alum can be found in the baking isle with the spices.) Add enough water to form a stiff dough. Stir and knead until well-mixed and pliable. This dough has a coarser texture than regular salt dough, because of the 1:1 salt to four ratio. For best results, air dry after forming into desired shape. (I’ve tried baking this kind of dough; it puffed out a lot and browned on top.) If you do want to try oven drying, test it out on a little unformed lump of dough first at 200°F or less.

When completely dry, this dough is pretty strong. I’ve made wall plaques from it, poked a hole in the back with a tack before drying (for hanging), and they stay on the wall. I’m sure some day, the things I’ve made with this kind of salt dough will deteriorate, but that’s a good thing.

The kinds of tools I use for working with the dough are a pizza-cutter (sometimes using a knife will pull and drag the dough instead of making a clean cut), toothpicks, skewers, rolling pin, and I’ve also used the face molds that I used to use for making goddess figurines. I’ve made molds with strong salt dough too; from a Greenman plaque and various thrift store figurines, to get a better variety of face molds. Rubber stamps have also been useful.

As far as I can tell, you can make nearly anything with “strong salt dough” that you could make with the regular kind. I’ve gotten a couple of craft books at the library that had pretty good ideas in them. I’ve been searching thrift stores and used book stores for more. All the best ones seem to be from the 1970’s. I found one that can be read online (PDF); “Morton’s Dough It Yourself Handbook”. That one has some awesomely funky projects in it, a good idea book.

So coming up, I’ll be sharing pictures and processes for various things I’ve made lately from salt dough; goddess figurines, wall plaques for my shrine, ritual beads… Stay tuned, I’ve spaced them out to post at various times throughout the year.

crafting with salt dough2015 UPDATE: I have found that “regular” salt dough can be just as strong as “strong” salt dough when baked instead of air-dried. For a regular batch, use 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and about a cup of water (no alum). Bake at 250°F until completely dry. You can paint completely dried projects with acrylic craft paints. Seal your best projects with clear acrylic sealant if you want them to last longer. See all my salt dough articles here.

Foraging in Autumn


According to Billy Joe Tatum, these are some of the wild edibles we may find in the autumn of the year: acorn, amaranth, Bee balm, Black cherry, Black haw, Black walnut, Butternut, Chickweed, Chickory, Chinquapin, Chives, Dandelion, Day Lily, Dittany, Dock, Elderberry, Garlic, Grape, Ground cherry, Hickory nut, Huckleberry, Jerusalem artichoke, lamb’s quarters (seed), Mint, a variety of mushrooms, Mustard (seeds), Pawpaw, Pecan, Persimmon (after the first frost), Prickly pear fruit, Purslane, Raspberry, Sassafras, Sumac, Sweet goldenrod, Violet, Watercress, Wild ginger, Wild plum, Wild rice, Wild rose hips, Winter cress, Wood sorrel, and Yucca.

I have foraged (or “wild crafted”) a few of these myself at one time or another.  September is “nutting time”, and there are several nut trees just a few steps from my door.  I think I got most of the pawpaws from the small pawpaw patch that I found.  As for dock, I didn’t know it was still good to pick after the seed heads turned brown, hmmm.  Perhaps if they were cut down by the ditch mowers and new leaves popped up?  Some of these other items I’m going to have to go hunting for.

Frugal and Crafty: Sewing


I’m one of those people who were kind of thrifty before the recession.  For example; we don’t have cable TV, we cut our own hair, get most of our clothes from thrift shops, and most of our books and movies from the library.  I love the serendipity of finding something I need (or will need) on the cheap, or free.  I found my daughter’s bed frame leaning against a dumpster- sanded and varnished it and it’s beautiful!  I often find great kids books on the “free cart” at the library book store- usually the only thing wrong with them is they need a little tape. 
I like to make my hobbies thrifty too.  I love re-purposing things.  From time to time I’m going to write about the thrifty crafts/hobbies I enjoy.  This time it’s about sewing.

There are several books out there about reworking old t-shirts.  My youngest daughter and I really got into some of those.  She was especially interested because she often gets t-shirts for school clubs, etc. that are way too big for her, so these books helped her come up with cool ways to alter her t-shirts to fit better and look really fashionable:  Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay, and  99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim, and Tie Your T-Shirt into Something Special by Faith Blakeney, Justina Blakeney, Anka Livakovic, and Ellen Schultz (both from the library, of course).  She had so much fun making these shirts, that she is now interested in fashion as a career and is going to take sewing classes at school.
I don’t sew very often now, but when my daughters were little it was a big hobby of mine.  I made their old receiving bankets into nightgowns for them when they were toddlers.  Back then, WalMart had cheap fabric and half-price patterns- most of the WalMarts around here don’t even have a fabric department anymore. 
Some of my favorite things to sew didn’t require patterns though.  For a simple skirt, all you need is to sew a fabric tube in the length and width you need, make a casing for the elastic, thread it through, sew it up and sew up hems.  When my girls were little, I made halter dresses for them using this method with shoulder straps sewn on the top.  Another method I like is to cut the top off of some old jeans (or over-alls), and sew a skirt bottom (gathered at the top with a gathering stitch, no elastic) onto it. 
I found a lot of helpful instructions for sewing without patterns from these two books I found at the library: Clothes without Patterns by Fay Morgan, and Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre.  Also, this month’s edition of Ready Made magazine has some pretty awesome ideas for re-crafting clothes.