Monday, September 30, 2013

Spray Paint Marbling

Talk about an instant gratification project!  This one is super easy and super fast.  It is by far the easiest marbling method that I have tried so far.

You'll need:
a plastic bin that you can get paint on (I used a $2 plastic dish bin from Big Lots)
some cardstock or watercolor paper (any slightly heavier weight paper that isn't glossy should work)
spray paint (I had the best luck with dark colors and metallics)

Fill your bin half full with water.  Spray the surface with spray paint.  Drop the paper on the surface.  Turn it over.  If the paper didn't catch as much paint as you wanted, dip it in again.  If you want a more "stirred" pattern, shake the bin a little to mix up the water before you put your paper in.

Here's what the process looks like with some unstirred black and silver spray paint (click the photo to make it larger):

Some things I learned from this project: WEAR GLOVES! I got spray paint all over my fingers from dipping and removing the paper.  It took days to get all the paint out from under my nails.  Work fairly quickly.  Spray paint dries fast and you may end up with some odd results if you're messing around trying to take pictures between when you sprayed the paint and when you put your paper in. Other than that, it's super easy and really fun. The next time I do this project I'll make sure I have more dark spray paint available and I'll probably try out stirring/combing the paint with a bamboo skewer--although you get pretty cool results with just jiggling the water bin a bit.

I can't wait to use my marbled paper to make some cards and gift tags.  In the meantime, I took the one piece of paper that had marbling only in weird spots (I was using this piece of paper to clean up the excess paint in the bin before I started with some fresh colors, so the leftover paint didn't cover the whole piece of paper), and I cut some strips out to make some cool bookmarks.  I ran the paper through my laminator to make them durable and glossy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Plastic Pony Bead Suncatchers

Recently I saw some really neat projects made by melting plastic pony beads (you know, the kinds kids use), so I thought I'd give it a try.  I wanted to use the tartlet pans shown in this tutorial, but alas, we don't have a Dollarama and I didn't see any at our local Dollar Tree.  So I thought I'd try using muffin tins.  All of the tutorials I had read said the plastic doesn't stick once it cools, and my muffin tin is a cheap one, so I wouldn't be out too much if I had to replace it (thankfully, I didn't).

Next I picked up some pony beads.  You can get these in bulk for about 6-8 bucks a pound, but I didn't think I'd need that many, so I bought two 500 count bags of translucent beads from Wal-mart for $1.97 a piece.  I still have plenty left for another project and I won't have a ton laying around that I won't use.

I made six little suncatchers in half of my muffin pan. For 5 of them, I just dumped some beads in it and shook it around a bit until they settled.  Then I thought I'd try making a pumpkin and made a layer of orange, then I squeezed two green beads in to create a stem.  Then I put a hex nut in each of the multicolored compartments to create a hanger for later. I didn't put one in the pumpkin as I didn't want it to mess up my stem.

I had preheated the oven to 400 degrees and opened all of the windows I could.  Then I popped the pan into the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.  I peeked at it a couple of times to make sure nothing was smoking or that it wasn't melting much faster than anticipated. After about 10 minutes, it got a bit stinky from the plastic fumes. When the 20 minutes was up, it was still bumpy looking, so I left it longer and checked on it a few more times before finally pulling the pan out after about 30 minutes.

I left the pan on the stove to cool for about an hour (they might have been cool before that, but I was waiting for the fumes to subside in the kitchen).  I could hear them popping and contracting as they cooled. When I went to take them out of the pan, I was worried for a second, but then they just slid right out (Yay for the cheap non-stick finish!).  There were some bumpy/spiky edges, but I was able to grind them down with my dremel.

Pony Bead Suncatchers straight from the pan with some bumpy edges.
Then I strung the colorful ones up with some fishing line and hung them in a window with some suction cups. The pumpkin turned out kind of cute, but without a hanging hole, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. Aside from the smell, this was a super easy craft.  They were fun to make, and I can't wait to mess around with the process again.  If you decide to try it, just be sure to open your windows!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Alcohol Ink Washer Bracelet

I had some of the smaller washers left from my alcohol ink washer necklaces, and I knew I wanted to make a bracelet.  So I scrounged through my jewelry parts box and found an old lobster clasp.  Instead of the single loop through the washer that I used for the necklace, I did it twice and  tied a knot on each end.  Then I tied the lobster clasp on one side and tied another knot, and did the same with a jump ring on the other side.

I think it turned out pretty sweet for a leftovers project, what do you think?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Adventures in Dehydrating: Bananas

I made a quick stop at the local grocery store the other day and found that they were selling a cartload full of bags of ripe bananas for 99 cents (each bag had about a dozen bananas in it).  These weren't the make banana bread with me now or I'll go all gushy bananas either, they were the eat me today because I am ripe bananas.  So I bought a big bag of ripe bananas because I knew that we could dry them.

We used a banana slicer to cut our bananas. It is quick and provides a uniform thickness.  We have also used a mandoline to cut bananas, but they are slippery and sticky, the banana slicer is quicker and less of the banana gets smashed to bits in the process.

I laid out the slices in our dehydrator and set it to the fruit and vegetable setting (135 degrees) and let it go.

It's been pretty hot and humid here, so even with the AC running, these took a bit longer than usual to dry. They usually take 12-16 hours, but this time they took 24 hours to dry.  We like our dried fruits to err on the dry side, so these were dry to the touch and crispy along the edges while still being flexible.

It took about 10 medium sized bananas to fill the 5 trays of our dehydrator.  For $1 and a little effort, we ended up with one quart sized bag full of dried banana chips.  I'll be keeping an eye out for the ripe banana bags in the future!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Embossing Powder

I have wanted to try out embossing powders since I first saw them when I was in high school (which was ages and ages ago in case you were wondering).  It's been only recently that I realized I already had some of the things I needed to make it all work.  I had lots of stamps and lots of pigment inks (as opposed to dye inks) that could be used, I just needed a heat gun (which I rationalized could be used for other things) and some embossing powder.  So when my hubby offered to make an Amazon order using some credit card rewards, I bought myself an inexpensive heat gun and a variety pack of powders.

On my first try (as depicted below), I used a white ink on a dark paper so that the image would show up nicely for photos.  Unfortunately I wasn't super careful about making sure the powder covered really well and ended up with the white ink showing through a bit in the final sunflower.

Using the heat gun was very easy.  I just put my paper on top of a heat proof surface (some cork trivets) and held it a few inches from the surface until the powder melted and turned shiney.  After a few tries I learned to make sure there's plenty of ink on your stamp, that the powder covers all of the ink (don't be stingy--you can always dump the excess back into the jar), and not to tap too hard to remove the excess from the ink (a very light tap works great--if there is any excess powder near the ink, you can remove it with a paint brush).  I also learned that if you are using colored inks with colored powders it works best for the two to be pretty close in color (not all that surprising really).

Now that I've figured it out, I can't wait to get my hands on some clear ink and clear powder to add to the versatility of my embossing.  Clear ink can be used with any color powder and clear powder can be used with any colored ink.

The next thing I tried out after figuring out the process was to try a resist technique.  I used a patterned stamp and my lightest powder to get a white on white design.

Then I stamped over the design using some small ink pads.  When I was done, I used a makeup sponge to wipe any excess ink off of the embossed areas.  It didn't turn out quite as bright as I had hoped, but the concept definitely works, and I can't wait to try it with watercolors or other types of inks.

When I was all done making my embossed patterns, I whipped them up into some cards.  After all this time, the whole project was pretty easy.  I'm so glad I finally got some embossing powder and a heat gun. :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shrinky Dink Charm Bracelet

So I had a bunch of shrinky dink charms....what do I do with them?  Make a charm bracelet of course.  I just happened to have a jewelry making kit that I picked up at Walmart on clearance for $1 that included pieces for a charm bracelet, a necklace and a set of earrings.  The charm bracelet had a bunch of similar round charms, so I thought I'd cannibalize the parts and make my own personalized charm bracelet.  But you could easily make it yourself with a 7 or 8 inch chunk of cable chain from the craft store, a lobster clasp, and some jump rings.

The best part of this bracelet is that the charms are practically free to make (aside from the cookies I have to buy), so when I come up with a new idea or get sick of a charm, I can swap it out very easily.

If you missed the posts where I explained how these were made, check them out: Homemade Shrinky Dinks and this week's Shrinky Dink Tardis Necklace.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Shrinky Dink Tardis Necklace

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first foray into Homemade Shrinky Dink art.  I had so much fun, even though I had no idea what I was doing.  I learned pretty quickly that outlines worked really well, so I knew almost immediately that I wanted to try some more--and the first idea on my list--a tardis pendant.  For those who don't know, the iconic blue police box is Dr. Who's timemachine/spaceship.  Tardis stands for: Time And Relative Dimension In Space.

To make my tardis necklace dream a reality, I needed to go buy some more cookies at our local grocery store (such a hardship--they were delicious).  I then cut the flat pieces out of the cookie container (made from #6 plastic) and placed it over a couple of outlines of the tardis that I nicked (Dr. Who is a British TV show afterall) off the internet. I carefully traced the outlines with Sharpie. I made a black one of just the front, and a blue outline in perspective.  I punched holes in the tops and placed them and a few other outlines on a small cookie sheet lined with foil.  I put the Sharpie on the pan to give you an idea of scale.  The tardises (tardi?) were about 4 inches tall.

I popped them in a 350 degree oven and set a timer for 2 minutes.  When the timer went off, the plastic was all warped and curling up.  So I waited another minute and they were much flatter.  As you can see below, they shrink a lot.  The large tardises ended up being about 1 1/2 inches tall when they were done.

One thing I noticed as different from the last batch was that the larger pieces were more likely to be a bit warped when they shrink.  The drawings aren't truly straight, even with my careful tracing.  They weren't warped enough to ruin them, but it was an interesting phenomena.

I put a jump ring on my black tardis outline and strung some suede cord through it and tied a knot.

I also put a jump ring on the blue Tardis, but I strung it up with a ball chain instead.

Wondering what I'm going to do with all the rest of my little shrinky dinks?  Stay tuned!