Thursday, February 23, 2012

Custom Binder Clips

As a teacher, one of my most used office supplies is the binder clip. So when I saw these on Pinterest, it seemed like the perfect project.

I started off by choosing a few slightly dinged up binder clips from my stash of office supplies.

For this project you'll need:
Scrapbook Paper
A scissors and/or paper cutter
Mod Podge and brush
Optional: A post-it note

I started off by making a pattern of the binder clip with a post-it note. You could use any size binder clip you want, but the one's I used ended up being 1 1/4" wide. When I wrapped the post it note around it and trimmed along the top on the opposite side, I ended up with a piece of paper that was 1 7/8" long and 1 1/4" wide. I took my post-it to my paper cutter and cut a 1 1/4" wide strip off of a 12" piece of scrapbook paper. I then used a scissors to make the short cut (a lot easier to make that cut straight). You could just as easily stick the post it note to your scrapbook paper and cut around it--which would come in handy if you had a pattern you wanted to center on the clip.

I chose a black and white pattern so that it would match the edges of the binder clip. Any pattern that would look good with black would do. It would be pretty easy to pop the silver parts of the clips off and spray paint the base if you were hoping to use a paper that didn't go well with black.

I was working with a pretty thick scrapbook paper, so I pre-folded the paper before gluing it onto the binder clip. If you were working with a thinner paper, you could probably skip this step. Next I spread the Mod Podge onto the paper and smoothed the paper onto the clip, being sure the edges were glued down well and the paper was smooth on the bottom (which can be a bit curved) of the clip.

After the paper is securely glued and left to dry, you can come back and spread on a protective coat of the Mod Podge. I was pretty liberal with last coat since I know the finished product will do it's fair bit of stretching and bending when being used.

I set the binder clips on their side to dry for a few hours and they were good to go!

I ended up with a cute set of custom binder clips. I can't wait to make more!

Note: I still have these clips--7 years later--and they've held up surprisingly well! Also, I mentioned spray painting the binder clips to use with different colors--I don't recommend that. The paint scratches off pretty easily--and worse yet, it leaves paint marks on the paper you're clipping.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Washer Necklaces

I knew I had to try these washer necklaces as soon as I saw them. It turned out to be a great quick and easy project.

Here's what you'll need:
Washers (yep, from the hardware store)
scrapbook paper
Mod Podge (and a brush for application)
a craft knife and cutting surface
fine sandpaper and/or emery board
leather cording or ribbon

After you've chosen your scrapbook paper, use the washer as a guide to trace around with a craft knife (or trace around with a pencil and cut out with a scissors--but the craft knife was a bit faster and got a closer cut).

Next, apply Mod Podge to the fronts of the washers and carefully place the paper rings onto the washers. Make sure the edges are glued securely by running your glue brush along the edge of the washer after the paper is securely placed.

After the glue has dried, use sandpaper or an emery board to smooth out any not-so-perfect edges or any paper that hangs slightly over the edge. I wrapped the sandpaper around the handle of the craft knife to smooth out the center of the washers.

Next up is the finishing touch on the washers. Put a coat of clear glue like Paper GlazeDimensional Magic, or Diamond Glaze on over the top of the paper to give it a varnished almost resin-like finish.

For the large washers I went around the surface of the washer twice to fully coat the surface. The picture below shows the washers with one ring of glue.

When you've applied enough glue, then use the tip of the glue applicator or a toothpick to smooth out the glue and to work out any bubbles. 

The glue takes overnight to dry to a clear finish. Then you can use ribbons or leather cording to create your necklace.

I purchased $4.00 of cording and $1.60 worth of washers for this project (and had the glues on hand)--but I have lots left of both for future projects, so the cost of making 4 necklaces was probably only a couple of dollars.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Milk Jug Light Diffuser

I first saw this quick project for creating a milk jug light diffuser on EPBOT (which is essentially the creative blog of Cake Wrecks creator Jen Yates). Since I hope to be taking more photos of craft projects, I figured trying out a simple way to make the pictures a bit better would be a no brainer.

All you need for this project is an empty milk jug. Clean it out and peel off the label. Cut the bottom and the spout off of the milk jug. That's it. Simply put the jug over whatever it is that you are photographing and take your photo through the opening at the top. The picture below was taken on an overcast day, indoors, with no flash or overhead lighting. Not too shabby.

Then just crop the photo down to get rid of the unsightly milk jug. :)

This key chain was in a Valentine's Day care package my sister sent me. I thought it would make a great test subject for the milk jug--and the bonus is that I get to show off her handy work. Well done sis!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Glass Gem Magnets

After making the glitter magnets, I felt the need to try out some of the other designs out there for using glass gems. Using scrapbook paper to make magnets seemed like the next logical project.

This is a crazy simple project. Grab your glass gems from Michael's or the dollar store (be sure to look for ones that are smooth without cracks or lines). Find some scrapbook paper or magazine photo. Cut the paper to the size of the bead and glue it on the back. Since the gems are not perfectly circular and each are different, I just held the gem to the paper and cut around it (you could trace around the gem or use an appropriately sized circle punch if you've got one)..

The only tricky part about this project, is that I have seen tutorials using all kinds of different glue. I had no idea what would work out the best, so I started by using Mod Podge. Mod Podge worked very well except it dried just a bit cloudy and left voids where there wasn't enough glue. It especially didn't work well for the shimmery scrapbook paper I picked out. It may work better with a matte surface paper, though. After that had dried, I saw an article about how someone had used hot glue. Great--I've got tons of hot glue--it's super cheap and dries clear. So I gave it a whirl.

The high temp hot glue nearly burned my fingers off as I tried to adjust the paper and smoosh out the excess glue so that there were no bubbles or ridges. So I tried the low temp gun and it cooled too quickly to get it smoothed out at all. It ended up being a lumpy mess. So aside from maybe using it to glue the magnets on, I'm nixing hot glue completely from the recommended glues for this project.

I tried E6000 glue next. And it worked pretty perfectly aside from being just a bit sticky. It dries clear--not cloudy. The gem on the right above, was done using E6000 glue (and the gem on the left--hot glue). And it works great for gluing on the magnets when everything is dry.

You will need the following:
clear glass gems/flat marbles (regular or large as long as they are smooth on the back)
scrapbook paper or other decorative paper of your choice
Mod Podge (and a brush) and/or E6000 glue
craft magnets

You'll also need a good small scissors, a paper towel for excess glue, and a surface to work on that can get glue on it. I like paper plates or sheets of parchment paper--but whatever works for you.

Step #1 Cut paper to the shape and size of your gem.
Step #2 Glue paper down with a dollop of E6000. Smooth paper and squish out any excess glue--wipe away with a paper towel. Let dry.
Step #3 Attach a craft magnet to back with a small drop of E6000. Allow to dry until magnets are secure (I usually wait at least overnight) before using.

Notes: I recently saw a tutorial using silicon adhesive, I'll have to try that out next. I did try Aleene's Paper Glaze (similar to Dimensional Magic or Diamond Glaze) glue and it worked very similarly to Mod Podge, so if you have that around and don't have the other glues, it should work just fine. Also, the craft magnets you can buy at Michael's are just strong enough to stick the gem to the fridge and maybe hold a single thin sheet of paper--if you're looking for more than decorative magnets--buy the neodymium magnets--they are much stronger.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ceramic Tile Coasters

When I saw this project on line, I knew I had to try it. Super easy and inexpensive and they end up looking like classy expensive coasters. So I went through the stack of scrap book paper that I had acquired. I chose a muted swirly design that I thought would work well with lots of different decor and whacked it to pieces with my trusty paper cutter. (What, you don't have a paper cutter? Well you must not be a crafty teacher then. :) It is a worthwhile investment if you do projects with paper regularly, but I'm sure a ruler and a scissors or a rotary cutter would work just fine.)

You'll need the following:
4- 4 1/4" ceramic tiles (They usually sell for about 15 cents a piece at the hardware store)
1- 12" piece of scrapbook paper of your choosing
Mod Podge and a foam brush for application
1- Square of craft felt or fleece remnants (or you could uses stick on felt circles)
Fabric glue (or a glue gun with glue)
Supplies for cutting paper and fabric (I used a paper cutter and a rotary cutter)

My total cost for a set of 4 coasters (minus glue) was around $1. I never buy anything full price though, so $2 may be a more realistic total.

I cut my squares 4 1/8" by 4 1/8" so there would be a tiny little border around the edge of the tile. The tiles angle just slightly at the edge, so having a little border makes it easier to get the edges to lay down flat--but your tiles might be slightly different.

Next, apply the Mod Podge to the top surface of the tiles with a foam brush. Apply any excess glue from the brush or tile onto the back of your paper before you lay it down, especially along the edges. If you want a little more wiggle room once you've laid the paper down, put on a little more glue--it will allow you to slide the paper around more (but it can make the paper wrinkle if you use too much, so don't go too crazy on the glue).

After the glue has dried, use the foam brush again to apply a thin layer of Mod Podge over the paper to seal it. I allowed that coat to dry and put on a second coat. If you're worried about drippy drinks, you may want to coat the coaster with some acrylic sealer once you're finished, but the Mod Podge finish should be fine for light use.

Once your coasters are dry, you can then finish off the rough underside of the tile with a piece of felt or fleece. I had some felt squares lying around (you can pick them up for pretty cheap at Wal-mart or Michael's), so I used the tile itself as a template to cut the felt with a rotary cutter and a cutting board. In order to keep the felt from being larger than the tile, I slid the bottom and right edge of the tile just slightly over the edge of the felt and then used a the rotary cutter to very quickly cut the material. Using a pen to mark the felt this way and then cut with a scissors should work just fine too.

Glue the felt squares to the bottom of your tile using a fabric glue like Tacky Glue.

When I was done, I ended up with a classy looking set of tile coasters. I was pleased with my project, and when I showed them to hubby he said, "They cost how much to make? You could totally sell those!" This is high praise from the man who puts up with my piles of in progress projects. :) I'm not sure I want to start churning out tons of coasters, but they would certainly make great gifts!

Note: If your tiles are still slightly tacky from the mod podge even after drying for days (which sometimes happens)--a light coat of acrylic sealer helps and makes them more water resistant and take away the tackiness. However, I haven't had any problems with the mod podge alone getting gummy from drinks dripping on the tiles.

Pictures of more completed tile coasters can be found on this update post: More Scrapbook Paper Coasters 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Crafting in Process: Loom Scarf

I was able to pick up some round hoop loom and long loom sets from Tuesday Morning. Each set had four looms for $7.99. I thought it was a steal! (They are just like this one below that sells for $16-25 on Amazon.)

So now I have to teach myself how to use them. Since I have zero knitting skill and I was taught how to do the basic crochet stitch about 10 years ago and have forgotten it all...I'm a real novice when it comes to doing this kind of stuff. My husband bought me a book...and I watched some videos on youtube...and then I started making a scarf using the most basic stitch pattern and a variegated yarn. This is what I have so far--I'll update you when it's done. Perhaps I'll do a tutorial if I get to the point where I feel like I have a clue at what I'm doing. :)

Happy Crafting!