Monday, December 30, 2013

As Seen on Pinterest: Cloudy Solar Light Fix

A few years ago, we picked up these great color changing solar light orbs.  After years outside (including our harsh winters), the solar cells had clouded over and the lights had mostly stopped working.  I tried wiping them down with a wet rag, but the cloudiness was not just dirt.  So I thought I'd try one of the fixes I'd seen online.  On Pinterest I have seen folks use clear nail polish and acrylic sealer.  I figured the acrylic sealer would be a better long term fix, so I propped my lights up, wiped off any dirt, then sprayed them with clear sealer.

The results were downright miraculous.  The solar cell went from cloudy white to clear and black again in seconds.  I let the sealer dry, and they were still perfect black.  You could once again see the metal lines in the solar cell.

Unfortunately, I can only give this As Seen on Pinterest review a "Sort of Works" verdict.  After they dried, I put them back outside, and even after several sunny days, the orbs were still working about as well as before (one was dim, and the other two I have were not working at all before or after the spray).  It could just mean that my lights still have something else wrong with them (like needing to replace the battery that holds the charge or some loose wires, corrosion, etc...).  So if you have some clouded over solar lights, it's worth giving this fix a shot to see if it solves your problem.  It definitely works at clearing up the solar cell, but it's not a cure-all for old solar lights.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Clothespin Ornaments

The clothespins they sell at Dollar Tree are really chintzy.  They don't really pin and the wood is jagged and sometimes broken.  Needless to say, they didn't work very well for traditional clothespinning tasks; however, I figured they would work pretty well for crafting.  So I took apart 12 clothespins--just popped the springs off.  Then I used some wood glue (but white school glue would work fine too) to glue the two flat sides of the clothespin together.

Once the glue was dry, I arranged them into a snowflake pattern (you could also use 5 clothespins and make a star instead).

I ended up using a glue gun to glue the clothespins together as straightly as I could.  I knew the glue gun glue would set quickly and provide a little bit of flexibility to that I could try to straighten them.  Since these clothespins are so wonky, they didn't all fit together perfectly, so the glue gun helped me fill the gaps between the clothespins.

After the glue was cool and set, I painted my snowflakes with some white craft paint.  If you wanted to, you could go ahead and hang them on the tree after painting them whatever color you wanted.

Since these were such cheap clothespins, I opted instead to glitter them up (as it hides all kinds of imperfections).  I went with clear and silver on one and clear and gold on the other.


I painted Mod Podge onto the ornament with a foam brush and then glittered, Mod Podged again, and glittered again.  Then I let it dry and put Mod Podge on a third time to keep it from shedding glitter all over everything. Once they were dry, I strung them up with some silver cording and hung them on the tree!  It's an easy project that just requires a little waiting for glue to dry.  It would be the perfect project to let kids help with.

Merry Christmas to all my readers! Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Melted Pony Bead Ornaments

A few months back I melted plastic pony beads in a muffin tin to make some cute rainbow colored sun catchers. I had just enough beads left to make another project, so I thought I'd try my hand at melting some in cookie cutters.  I lined a pizza pan with tinfoil and arranged my cookie cutters.

Next I filled the cookie cutters with a single layer of beads.  Instead of mixing all of the colors together, I sorted them and put 2 or 3 different complimentary colors in each one.

Next I used the same method for cooking the beads as last time.  I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and opened a bunch of windows (be sure to do this on a day you can open windows--it stinks).  I let them cook for about 30 minutes before they were mostly flattened.  One the cookie cutters didn't work so hot--the beads didn't melt into the crevices, and so it had to be tossed after melting.  But the rest all turned out great. They all popped right out of the cookie cutters once they had cooled (they did leave a little plastic residue that I had to scrub off though).

After they were out of the cookie cutters, I used a sanding attachment on my Dremmel to knock down any jagged edges.  Then I drilled holes in the top of the ornaments so that I could hang them.  I lost two more ornaments during this process.  The drill bit would accumulate melted plastic as it drilled, so my first method of just going quickly to try to prevent the build up, didn't work.  I got the bit completely stuck (with melted plastic surrounding it) in the ornament and had to break the ornament to free the drill bit.  I found that slowly drilling the hole part way and then flipping it over and drilling it the rest of the way was the method that worked the best.  It may work better with a more powerful regular drill--but I couldn't find the charger for my drill's battery, so I made due with the Dremmel.

Below are the ornaments that survived.

I strung them up with some cording and hung them on the tree.  They really shine and twinkle when lights shine through them.  I hung up all of my surviving ornaments, but I think the hearts will become sun catchers for Valentine's Day. So whether you're hanging them in your window or on the tree, they are a fun little project.

Google made me this lovely twinkle gif of the snowflake ornament--how cute is that?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Embossed Gift Tags

I'm just getting started using embossing powders (I did a basic tutorial a couple months back).  If you've never used them before--this is a pretty straight forward project.  I used a tag punch to make some gift tags and then used rubber stamps and pigment ink in a similar color to the embossing powder I wanted to use. All of the ones pictured happened to be gold because they turned out the most vibrantly.

After you've stamped on the ink, then cover the ink completely with embossing powder.  I found that it worked out pretty well with these little tags to scoop up the leftover powder and shake it off.

Once it's covered in powder, place it on a heatproof surface and use a heat gun to melt the embossing powder to a shine. After it's raised and shiny--your tag is all done.

Now I just have to wrap some packages to put these tags on.  Happy gift wrapping!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Scrabble Tile Ribbon Ornaments

I've been meaning to make some ornaments using Scrabble tiles for ages.  We're big gamers at our house, and I love Scrabble.  I decided to go with something simple and streamlined. I had picked up a couple of boxes of Scrabble for crafting purposes at the local Goodwill a while back.  Since most of these sets are missing a tile or two, they work perfect for crafting. I happened to have some ribbon in my scrap bin that was just a bit wider than the tiles.  I think it was salvaged from a gift a few years back, so it has the Christmas spirit already in it.  I chose some festive words, found my tiles, and laid them out on the ribbon.

Next, I just glued the tiles onto the ribbon using a dot of hot glue on the back of each tile.  I made sure to trim the edges of the ribbon at an angle so they wouldn't fray as much, and then I made a loop at the top and glued it neatly to the back with a thin line of hot glue. 

Next I slipped the loop of the ornament over one of the branches on my Christmas tree, and there you have it, a simple streamlined Scrabble tile ornament--a perfect quick craft to squeeze in during the hectic holidays.

Below is what the new ornaments look like at night with the tree all lit up. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Paper Strip Ornaments

After I made my paper strip pumpkins, I knew I wanted to make some ornaments for the tree out of paper strips too.

I cut 8-3/4 inch strips from a piece of 12 inch scrapbook paper. I then cut the 8 strips into 4 inch pieces so that I could make 3 ornaments.  Then I punched a hole on either end of each strip in about the same spot on each one.

Use a metal brad to attach the strips together.  Then bend paper gently so the brads are at the top and bottom of what will become a sphere and carefully pull the strips apart so they create a ball.

You'll end up with these lovely paper orbs.  I also made a larger sphere using some green paper (also 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches long, with about 14 strips).  When I was done, I just pulled the top brad out and poked it through a piece of ribbon and then poked it back through the paper ball.  Then I tied the ribbon at the top.  I'm sure there are more elaborate ways to attach a bow and decorate these spheres--but with what I had on hand, I thought the green ribbon would work the best--so I kept it simple.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Alcohol Ink Glass Ornaments

Last week I watched a video from Ranger (the folks who make alcohol inks) of a project where you drip ink into a glass ornament and then spray it around with a can of air.  It looked easy and fun, so I thought I'd give it a try!

If you want to try it out too, you'll need: alcohol inks, glass ornaments, and a  can of air with a straw on the nozzle.

Start out with your plain glass ornaments. Drip 3-5 drops of alcohol ink into the ornament. You can then swirl it around a bit if you'd like, or you can just stick the straw from the can of air into the ornament and spray and see what happens.

You get something that looks like the pink ornament above once you've blown it around with the air. I left the pink one alone for a few minutes while I worked on a second ornament so that I could let the pink ink dry a bit and not mix quite as much with the next color I put in the ornament. Then I layered the ink until the inside was covered.

I ended up with beautiful rainbow colored ornaments with a swirl of transparent color inside.  They took just about 15 minutes to make two ornaments--so it's a quick and easy project.  I wish I had some inks that were in more "Christmasy" colors, but the rainbow effect turned out very pretty and I can't wait to hang them on my tree when I set it up this weekend.

I made some more of these great ornaments with some slightly different techniques.  Check out the revisit here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Crafting Revisit: Alcohol Ink Coasters

The first time I decorated tile coasters with alcohol ink, I had just started using alcohol inks--I was a total newbie.  I had read a tutorial online that just dripped the ink on the coasters and mixed with rubbing alcohol, so I gave that a try.  It turned out well enough (though not like the example photos) to encourage me to play with the inks more.  After making my own applicator (because I'm too cheap to buy the real one), I learned how much quicker and easier applying these inks could be.  So I thought I'd revisit decorating ceramic tiles to make coasters--this time using an applicator.

So this time I took out my homemade applicator and dripped on the alcohol ink. I used all 6 different colors (because that's what's in my current stash--I have the Nature Walk and Farmer's Market sets).

You can squeeze multiple drops in one spot or single drops all over. The "blotches" you'll get will change a bit in size. Once you start "stamping" the alcohol ink on to the tile, just keep stamping until it looks the way you want it to.  It's super easy.

The above sequence of photos will give you an idea of what the tile looks like as you work. Using the applicator with the ink from the above photo, the first photo shows the tile half stamped, then the tile once it's been filled with a single layer of ink, then the third photo shows the tile after I had gone over it again with the applicator to create a second layer and fill in the gaps. You can keep stamping to break up the color or to cover any white spots until it looks the way you want it to.

The above photo is the finished product--still wet. The color darkens a bit as it dries. This one turned out quite bright--and quite pink (and hubby says it's his favorite of all four coasters because it's the brightest :)). I used the same stamper to create my next tile (I didn't add any ink to the applicator--just kept stamping) and it was darker in color from the inks starting to mix on the applicator. I also found that I liked the look of smaller dots of ink--but both looked so much better (in my opinion) than just dripping the ink onto the tile. If your "blotches" are larger than you'd like, layering the ink by stamping over it can help to break it up.

Once the ink has dried, I cut squares of felt to glue onto the bottom of the tile with tacky glue so that they could be used as a coasters. I haven't sprayed them with clear acrylic sealer yet, but I plan to before I start setting my wet drinks on them.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Washi Tape Pencils

A few weeks ago I spotted a cute craft that I knew I needed to try: Washi Tape Pencils! They looked quick, easy, and cute--that's my kind of craft.  So I picked out some smooth round hardwood pencils from my stash of office supplies (What, you don't have a stash of office supplies?  Well then these are the ones I used.)

Next, I picked out some washi tape from my collection that I thought would cover well enough that you wouldn't see the black of the pencil (or the printed logo on the side of the pencil) through the tape.  I then stuck the tape along the metal eraser edge of the pencil and ran the tape down to the end, being careful to center the pencil in the middle of the tape as I went so it wouldn't go on crooked. I trimmed the tape off with my scissors.  Then I smoothed the tape onto the pencil and repeated the process on the opposite side.

When I was done I had a covered pencil.  Cute for jazzing up any office pen cup and putting a smile on your face the next time you need to use a pencil. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Paper Strip Pumpkins

Just in time for Thanksgiving decor--out with the jack-o-lanterns and spiders and in with the pumpkins and gourds--I made some paper strip pumpkins.  I read a few different tutorials for these online (even one from Martha Stewart), but I ended up adjusting the instructions slightly to minimize the amount of paper needed.  

To create two large pumpkins and four small pumpkins you will need:
2 orange 12 x 12 sheets of scrap book paper
1 sheet of green scrap book paper (for the leaves--an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet or some scraps should work)
12 metal brads
two green pipe cleaners
one paper lunch sack
hot glue gun

Cut your 12 x12 sheets of orange paper into 7/8 inch thick strips.  The first piece of paper I chose had an ombre effect that took the pattern from yellow to dark orange (so it looks like different piece of paper--but it was all cut from the same sheet).  

You should end up with 14 strips of paper.  Cut the strips into 8 inch pieces with 4 inch pieces leftover.  The 8 inch strips will be used to create the large pumpkin and the 4 inch strips will create two smaller pumpkins.

Next, use a hole punch to punch holes in both ends of the strips.  Try to get them in approximately the same place on the strip, but if they aren't exact, don't panic, you should still be able to wiggle the brad through the holes.  Put the brads through the holes on both ends to connect all 14 strips of paper. You may end up with some slight bowing like in the photo below, but that's ok, it will still work just fine.

Next, pick up your strips and bend them in half to start your pumpkin.  Start carefully pulling the strips apart to create your sphere.  With the long strips, they should come apart very easily.

Next, repeat this process for the smaller pumpkins, but only use 7 of the strips for each small pumpkin. The smaller strips will be harder to pull apart, but once you get it started, they should be easy to arrange into a sphere.

Next I cut some leaf shapes out of some green paper.  I used the template on the Martha Stewart project page to get a general idea of the shape.  After that, I just winged it for the smaller ones.  When I was done, I used a green colored pencil to draw some veins on the leaves to give them a more realistic look.  Then I folded the leaves in half (along the long vein) and bent them a bit so they wouldn't be completely flat.

Next I wound some pipe cleaners around a pencil to create the little spiral vines. I left a little tail at the end to glue on the pumpkin and cut it with a scissors. The hardest part of this whole project to me was figuring out how to make a stem for the pumpkins. I ended up rolling up strips of brown paper from a lunch sack and then trimming it off. I glued the pipe cleaner down first, then the leaf, and then the stem on top of it. Once the hot glue dried, I adjusted the pipe cleaners and trimmed off the stems. In the end, I think they turned out pretty well.  Making the spheres was the most gratifying part of this project, and I look forward to messing around with width and sizes to make some holiday ornaments very soon. :)