December 26, 2013

A $15.00 Cabinet Transformation

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

I wanted to share a project I snuck in before Christmas.  Since this was for a friend, it was a little out of my usual realm of transformations.

My friend picked the paint color and graphics and I love them!

"Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual"

Ernest Hemingway

What a steal this was at the thrift store

For $15.00!

Since this cabinet is for the bathroom right next to the commode, my friend picked a graphic for the side at just the right height lol!

I went over the graphics with the blender pen one to many times and the paint lifted on the top ship.  It was Ok for this project, but I have made a mental note to not over do the transfer.

I have no idea where my friend found the graphics, so if you know, I will be happy to give credit 

You can find the blender pen transfer method HERE at Graphics Fairy, along with other transfer methods. 

After I painted and transfered the graphics I gave it a light sanding to distress it a little.  Then gave it a coat of clear wax followed by a coat of Annie Sloan dark wax. 

The perfect bathroom cabinet and it was only $15.00...My friend loved it!

I feel like I have been running a marathon....Anyone else feel like that?  I think we all got caught off guard with the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

We have been so blessed here in Orlando with Perfect 75 degree sunny weather.  I'm having a ball with my 17 and 21 year old nieces that are visiting from Minnesota.....They are loving this weather!

 I have some big changes and happenings coming in the new year for The Polka Dot Closet....I can't talk about it quite yet, but I am so excited to take you all along as I embark on this new adventure !!

Have a Happy and safe New Year! 
You have all enriched my life more than you will ever know!

Happy Creating

December 18, 2013

Christmas...A Trip Down Memory Lane

 When I was born 100 years ago pictures were taken mostly on special occasions because cameras, film, flashbulbs, and developing were all very expensive.  

Christmas was one of those special occasions.  Yep, everyone brought out their Kodaks and flashbulbs at Christmas 

I think I was 3 in this picture.  I love looking in the background...Check out the cool TV.  The coffee grinder on top of the TV and the grandfather clock were already vintage and used as decor pieces.  The walls were painted a clay color, everything in decorating cycles around again.  

How about that Charlie Brown tree?

I was 5 in this picture.  I remember getting this huge stand up cardboard doll for Christmas and I loved my black patent leather shoes that matched hers.  

That's my brother Scott in both pictures, he's 13 months older than me (And I never let him forget it lol!)

I'm signing off for Christmas and it's going to be a busy one

 My Mom is moving Friday to one of those fabulous 5 star retirement communities that has a dining room, coffee shop, every activity under the sun, transportation, weekly housekeeping, a gym, (When we toured the community there was a lady in the gym lifting weights, she was 103 years old!!!!).   Mom will be just a mile from my home, right in downtown Orlando.  It's really a fun place and I'm so excited for her.  Then Monday my 17 and 21 year old nieces are coming from Minnesota for 9 days, fun, fun, fun.....Yikes, hold down blog world for me, I will drop in when I can.  

 I wish you all a wonderful Christmas.  One that is filled with tons of memories captured on pictures to be passed down through the ages.......Now, don't forget to buy flashbulbs!

Happy Creating

December 13, 2013

A Few Small Projects

Oh my gosh...Christmas is only days away and I just did my decorating last night!  I know everyone is showing their gorgeous holiday decorations, but I have decorated my house pretty much the same for the last 3 years....Am I the only one that doesn't switch it up every year?  Here's my Christmas post from 2010 lol!.....Yep, it looks pretty much the same. 

So, I'm interrupting holiday decor posts to show you a few small projects I did for my booth.

  Having "Smalls" is the bread and butter for those of us with booths and my shelves were getting pretty bare. 

The graphics were all done with water slide decals

Metal boxes of any kind are so hot right now, customers are buying them as soon as I bring them into my booth.  They love them just as they are or, with any finish and if you add graphics.... all the better!

 This was just a plain grown file box 

A little paint, some distressing and a water slide decal and it sold immediately

You are now free to return to the regularly scheduled programing of blogs filled with gorgeous holiday decor and projects

Have a great weekend.  I know yours, like mine, will be filled with fun holiday parties!

Happy Creating!

December 9, 2013

Curb Alert....Birdcage

I was just driving down the street by my house and there sitting next to a garbage can was a wooden bird cage

Screech....U turn.... I always get a little embarrassed picking up other peoples trash, but It does not stop me from doing it!  Especially when I see a perfectly shabby rusted bird cage.  

 It was in perfect condition, but since it had been used for a real bird I put on my gloves and got out the scrub brush.  I love when I find something that does not need a transformation, of course I had to do Something!   

So, I got out the $2.00 roll of vintage wallpaper I had previously picked up at a thrift store...

...And lined the bottom

I priced it at $32 and put it in my booth at Orange Tree Antiques.   I was not surprised that it sold in a couple days, because bird cages are hot right now.   

I love a good curbside find....What was your best curbside find???

Happy Creating.....Or......Finding!


December 3, 2013

How To Get Your DIY Projects Published: Part 2

I still had so much to share with you about how to get your projects published that I had to break it into two parts.  You can read part one HERE
Remember, I'm sharing with you my experiences.  This is not to be confused with an expert's "how to" on the topic!!!

 In part two let's talk about:
How to increase your chances of getting "found"
How to write your article
Who does the photography (if you don't)?
Do magazines pay you?
The impact on your business/blog

How to increase your chances of getting "found"

Just being on the web anywhere can get you "found".  It could be on a blog, Etsy, Pinterest, etc. Editors are scouring the web and keeping an eye out for projects that are a perfect fit for their magazines.  My "French Market bags" were found by 
the Haute Handbags editor on Pinterest.

A little tip regarding Pinterest:  I made a pin board entitled "My Projects" in order to give editors (or anyone looking) the opportunity to take a peek at my other projects easily.  If you have all your projects in one place, it will maximize their exposure.  Additionally, for those who don't blog, it keeps all your projects in a nice, tidy space online. 

How to write your magazine article

Imagine:  After waiting weeks or even hear from an editor.  Great news...they want to publish your project!!!  After you jump up and down, you will have to take a deep breath and actually write the article.  Don't panic!!  They will give you their parameters.  Usually they will ask you to forward the following:  A paragraph about the inspiration for your project (usually they will require a minimum/maximum word count), a supply list, instructions for your project, and a short bio on yourself.  Do the best you can, they are professionals and will make any corrections needed (thank goodness for that). Before publication you will usually get a proof of your article to make any corrections to their changes.  For example, I laughed when I received the proof back from Altered Couture

Under the supply list for my fabric flower was:

-Polyester fabric lining
-Vintage buttons and jewels

TORCH?? What?!?!  ...I sent back an email that basically read: "No, no.  A candle/open flame will work just fine!  No torch needed." LOL!

They will always ask you to include a short bio that will be featured alongside the article.  I frequently read bios accompanying articles and some are pretty darn impressive!!  I used to think the editors wrote these bios (I'm not sure how logical that line of thinking was) but I now realize that the bios are actually written by whomever's project is being featured!!

Below is the bio I include to all publications for print:

     After working in pharmaceutical sales, Carol Turner left the corporate world to pursue her dreams.  She combined her skills in sales and marketing with her creative talents and opened her online store, The Polka Dot Closet, at  Carol also shares her numerous and varied DIY projects and detailed tutorials on her popular blog:  If you are ever in the Orlando area, be sure to visit Carol’s retail space at Orange Tree Antiques in Winter Park, Florida.

So, for example, who wrote "...her popular blog..." in the bio??  I did!!  It can be embarrassing and feel slightly egotistical "tooting your own horn".  However, remember that you're writing a bio because you are about to be published!!  Take liberty with three or four sentences and give readers the best impression of yourself that you can!

Who does the photography?
Easy answer:  Sometimes it's you and sometimes it's the magazine.  Most publications will ask you for photographs of the project. Even if this is the case, I email and ask them if I can send my project into the magazine for them to photograph.  Honestly, most magazines will want you to photograph and email them photos of your own project.  I still always ask and have been lucky enough here and there to have publications do the photographing.  Some of you may prefer and (or) really enjoy taking photographs of your projects, but if not, don't panic!!  I'm not a professional by any stretch and I have taken most of the photographs for my articles.  If you don't feel comfortable taking your own photos, think about who you know that is skilled behind the camera.  The photos of my first published project were taken by a neighbor girl that was taking a photography class.  I asked and she was thrilled just to be credited in the article.  If you have one nearby, venture into a local camera shop and see if they know someone who would like to take photos in exchange for having their work published...I would bet that you'll get some takers; everyone likes to see their name in print!

Do magazines pay you?
It is such an honor and privilege to see my projects in print that the monetary value is truly never even a thought (I'm not exactly sure anyone could make a living on getting projects published anyway).  However, here's the scoop:  Each publication is different.  Here are the ranges of compensation for getting published:

1.  Just the incredible honor of being published
2.  Getting published and a free copy of the magazine
3.  All of the above plus $25-$35 dollars per published page.

This has been my experience with compensation.  However, let's get real...the compensation part is just "icing on the cake".  The true joy is in the honor of being published!

What is the impact of being published on your business/blog?
In my experience, the short answer is: Not much!  This was so surprising to me.  I had no idea what to expect the first time I was published.  I had dreams of my blog becoming crazy popular, and retailers calling me wanting to buy products; I didn't know what to expect.  I thought "this is big; really big!"  However, the truth is that I've received a few new blog followers. Also, when my "Vintage framed paper dolls" and "French Market bags" were published, I sold a few in my online store.  That's it.  Though my dream of being published did not have a huge "impact", this has not in any way stopped me from submitting projects to be published.  As I've already mentioned, the prize is really the honor, not so much the residual effect. It's so much fun; a total natural high, and it gives me the great feeling of validation.  

I hope this answers a lot of your questions and demystifies the "getting published" process.  Even if you aren't a crafter, magazines and newspapers are always looking to publish gorgeous houses, outdoor spaces and inspiring short stories.   Every one of you has something news worthy to share with the rest of us.  

 I would feel so proud if you were able to use my experiences to help you get published.  I'm sure those of you who want to be published will be.  Please let me know if my posts gave you the gentle nudge you were looking for and I would be thrilled to blog about your successes!!!

Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can help you in any way.

Happy Creating!



November 24, 2013

How To Get Your DIY Projects Published: Part 1

Thank you for all of your kind comments on my last post about being published in Altered Couture Magazine.  

So many of you deserve to get your work published, and you expressed an interested in a post with tips on how to make that happen.  Well girlfriends, your wish is my command!

 I'm going to put a huge DISCLAIMER on this post.  I'm sharing with you my experiences.  This is not to be confused with an expert's "how to" on the topic!!!

No experience needed
You don't have to be a big time blogger or even have a blog to get your work published.  Twelve days after I started my blog (the very one you're reading now) I got an email from the editor of Romantic Homes Magazine that said "If you are ever interested in submitting a project for the 'Make It' section of Romantic Homes, please contact me."  Well, I nearly died.  I photographed three different projects and emailed them to her the next morning and she picked my Vintage Framed Paper Dolls that were published in the September 2010 issue.  ...I had only been blogging 12 days! 

Yes, I said you don't even need a blog to get published.  The editor of Haute Handbags spotted my French Market bags on Pinterest and contacted me to see if I was interested in having them published.  Uhhh (duh)...Yes!  I was interested!!!  They were published in the Spring 2013 issue.  Anyone can post a picture on Pinterest, no blog needed.  

What projects are magazine worthy?
 This is totally subjective, and I can only explain it as a gut feeling.  I have done 1000's of projects, but the ones I submit are the ones I really love.  It also helps when you get great feedback on your project from friends, family, or the blogging community.  For example, with my "Altered Jean Jackets", it was when I wore it in public and strangers stopped to ask where I bought my jacket.  It was published in the winter 2013 issue of Altered Couture magazine.

Something yet to be published that I have a "gut feeling" about is my "Bulletin Boards With Shabby Lace Pockets".  I love these and they have gotten a great response on Pinterest and my blog.  My gut feeling is that it will be published.  Now, I have yet to submit the project to any magazines--but I will.  Stay tuned...lets see if my gut is right.

Does your project have to be original? 
Lets face it, very few projects are really original.  A good example is my Vintage look dress form that was published in the July 2013 issue of Somerset Life.  Goodness!!  People have been transforming dress forms forever!!!  Mine was a new dress form made to look old.  I used Walnut Ink to "age" it, and added Paris graphics with the blender pen method...Now, I had never seen anyone use this exact method.  So, the idea was not new, but my method was.  I had a new twist on an old idea.

Of course it goes without saying:  You can never directly copy someone else's project; magazines will state this in their submission guide lines.

Can it be a previously published project?
Yes and no.  It cannot have been previously published in a magazine. However, it can be previously published in a blog post or Pinterest.  In fact, most of my published projects were already posted on my blog and Pinterest.  A great example is my French Market Bags.  I wrote a blog post on them in November 2011 and they were eventually published in the March 2013 issue of Haute Handbags when the editor spotted them on Pinterest.  They had been in circulation a long time before being "found".

A word on photography 
Whether my project is "found" by a publication's editor or I submit them directly to the publication...I must have good photos.  I personally don't do a lot of what I consider "artsy" photos.  I try to take only clear, concise photos of my projects.  Many of my photos are taken with my run-of-the-mill Kodak digital because I don't want to drag out my SLR and tripod.  Through trial and error, I've realized that if I can take a photo that is (1) not blurry and (2) has good lighting, I'm happy (and publications usually are too).  Following these two standards seems to work for me when submitting project photos to magazines.  Now I won't say that I don't spend more time than I should (sometimes) trying to capture that perfect image, but the point is that we don't have to be professional photographers to get the photo just right. 
Ok, so I have the perfect project.  Now, how (and where) do I submit it?
Of course, I (and you should too) choose a magazine that is appropriate for the project I am submitting.  For instance, I submitted my altered jean jacket to Altered Couture magazine.  Alternatively, I felt my water slide decals would be perfect for the Romantic Homes "Make It" section (they were subsequently published in their November 2011 issue).

A great place to start is Stampington and Company.  They have 30 publications on topics including quilting, making jewelry, paper crafting, prims, dolls, aprons, stuffed animals, journaling, and much more. When you go to this link you will find all of their publications.  Also, their site will list the type of submissions they are presently seeking insofar as "challenges" for upcoming issues and submission guide lines. 

 In fact, look in any of your favorite magazines for submission guidelines or an email address.  Next, write a short and concise email to the editor.  Here is the email I sent to Sommerset Life about my Vintage Look Dress Forms (my subject line just said "Magazine Submission"):  

Dear editor, I am an avid reader of Sommerset Life.  I am submitting (attached is project photo) a new dress form that I altered to look old.  I would be thrilled if you would consider it for publication in a future issue.  It can be difficult to find a true vintage dress form so I think your readers would enjoy seeing how to alter a new dress form to give it that "old" look. 

Another option is to "snail mail" your project to a magazine for consideration to be published.  I have only done this once and it was returned a year later with a rejection letter.  Personally, I like the email route, but the choice is yours.  

Now you wait for a response (the hard part).  I've had editors get back to me as quick as the same day, but some respond months later (which is always a pleasant surprise after I've all but forgotten the original submission).  Alas, sometimes you never hear back.  Don't give up!!!  Re-submit in a few months, or try another magazine or another project!!  One of my rejected projects was my altered sheet music dress form...which, by the way, I still think is fabulous and this particular publisher totally missed the boat (lol)!  Always take rejection with a grain of salt.  It's just part of "the game".   

Don't forget your local newspaper
When I found out I was going to be published the very first time I thought it was the biggest thing in the whole world.  I actually considered it newspaper worthy.   The crazy thing did my local newspaper the Orlando Sentinel!!!  I sent the editor of the Style section an email that essentially said: "I wonder if you would be interested in a story on a local girl that is going to be published in Romantic Homes, a national magazine?"  The style editor emailed me back within minutes and said "Yes! Can I come tomorrow with a photographer and interview you?" (True story.  Can you believe it?!)  I was thrilled when I opened the paper and read the story about my journey in the "DIY" world culminating in getting published!  

The amazing thing about newspapers is they are syndicated around the country.  I only had 200 blog followers at that time and heard from many of them that they had seen the article in their local papers.  I have no idea how many papers the story was actually in.

  ...I still have so much to share with you about my perspective of how to get your projects published!!  

On my next post I'll cover:
How to increase your chances of getting "found"
How to write your article
Who does the photography (if you don't)?
Do magazines pay you?
The impact on your business/blog

I sincerely hope these posts will give you some perspective (and perhaps give you a gentle nudge) on the realities of getting your projects published.  If nothing else, this should show you that 90% of getting published is you making it happen!!!

You all deserve to see YOUR name in print, and I can't wait to read about your projects in the next issues of my favorite DIY publications.

Stay tuned for my next post coming after the holiday: 

How To Get Your DIY Projects Published: Part 2 

Until then, may you and your family have the perfect Thanksgiving holiday!!!  I hope you and the turkey both leave the day stuffed!!

Happy Creating!


November 20, 2013

Altered Couture Magazine Published My Altered Jean Jacket, Slip, And Flower Pin

 Remember when I did the post on "Altering a vintage slip and jean jacket"

 Well....Altered Couture published it in their winter issue!!!  How cool is that!!

They also included my fabric flower tutorial....You can find it HERE

Thank You Altered Couture It was a privilege and honor to be in your fabulous publication

I have to say it is quite a kick to see my name in print....

....And you can see your name in print too, if you want to...Maybe you just need a few tips and tricks on making it happen!

This brings me to a Question.......I was wondering if you would be interested in a post on "How to get published"?   I hesitate to write this because I don't want it to look like I think I'm some great expert.  I'm not an expert, the only reason I would honestly write it, is because so many of you deserve to have your projects published, but maybe you don't know where to start or you need a gentle nudge.  

Of course there is no secrets in "The Polka Dot Closet"...I will tell you everything I know from my experiences, including;

What projects are likely to get published?
How to contact magazines
Do magazines pay you?
How to write your article
Does it have to be a new or original project?
The impact on your business/blog
How to increase your chances of editors "Finding" your project

So, let me know if you are interested and I'll get right on it!

Happy Creating!