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.