Monday, July 28, 2014

Death Star Fun Foam Impression Stamp

Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary last week, and I wanted to make a geeky gift bag to put a few gifts into as a heartfelt gesture.  I also thought it would be cool.  So I decided I should try to make a Death Star stamp.  I mean, really, who doesn't love the Death Star (you know, except the people of Alderaan and pretty much all of the Rebels, but why split hairs)?

I figured the easiest way to make a Death Star stamp would be to make an impression stamp with fun foam. I tested this concept awhile back and made some very basic stamps, but nothing quite this large.  I started by finding a coloring book outline of the Death Star online.  

I put my cut out Death Star on top of my foam and drew around it with a ballpoint pen.  I then cut the circle out of the fun foam.

Next I drew over the most prominent lines on the Death Star with my ballpoint pen to get a general impression.  The pen doesn't sink in much when drawing on top of the paper, so just get the basics.  Then I removed the paper and filled in and drew over the big parts.  I also took a little artistic license and just tried to make it look as good as I could for a basic free-handed Death Star.

Then I grabbed a piece of cardboard and trimmed it so it was the same size as my Death Star circle.  Then I used the leftover cardboard to smear some E6000 glue over the back of it.  I firmly pressed the Death Star down, and then put the stamp under something heavy and flat until it dried (a book would work great).

After it dried, I used some gray pigment ink to make a stamp on my craft paper gift bag.  It turned out very light and a bit blotchy.  I used a lot of ink, but it still didn't make a good impression, so I ended up going around the design with a black Sharpie to make my gift bag (not what I imagined, but hubby still loved it).

Since that didn't work out quite the way I intended, I grabbed some craft paint and a brayer to give this stamp another try.  I mixed together white, black, and silver paint to make a charcoal gray (since I was printing on white, I went a bit on the darker gray side).

I covered the stamp in a thin layer of paint and then gently set the cardstock on top and rolled over it with my brayer.  The stamp came out much more clearly, still a bit rustic looking, but much better than with ink. Of course since this is a cardboard and fun foam stamp, you'll probably only get a few print sessions out of it before the fun foam gets dinged or the cardboard bends, but it's a cheap and fun way to make a completely customizable stamp.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vellum Photo Candle Holders

I've seen quite a few projects that used vellum to create luminaries or candles holders or lanterns with printed photos on them.  A long while back, I picked up an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of vellum at the local Michael's figuring I'd get around to making something with it eventually.  Well cue eventually.  This week I printed a set of photos of my family onto the vellum to make some candle holders.

I opted to use Word to make my print outs because it has a feature where I can easily see how big in inches (not in pixels) my photos are and it doesn't alter them from that measurement when you go to print it (as has been the case with some photo printing programs).  I measured my candle holders which ended up being about 10 inches in circumference and about 3.5 inches from the lip on the bottom to the top edge.  I made my photos 3.6 inches because I'd rather they be a bit large and need to be trimmed than not be big enough to go all the way to the top edge.  I put the document in landscape setting and imported 6 photos (3 in each strip) that were 3.6 inches tall and approximately 10 inches total (the document was set with 1/2 inch margins). I set the photos to the sepia tone that's set in Word (it's just a bit warmer than the black and white in Word).  There was just enough room for the photos I needed--no margin for error.  So I decided to do a bit of research about printing on vellum with an ink jet printer since I'd only have one shot at it.  It turns out it doesn't always work so easily.  My printer doesn't have a vellum setting (first choice), or a transparency setting (the second choice), but it did have an option to print a fast or draft print (third choice) that uses less ink since the vellum doesn't soak the ink up. So I set it to fast and hoped for the best.

When I printed it out, the vellum immediately rolled up, so I had to grab for it as it came out of the printer. Which means I smudged it in a couple of places.  No panicking yet though, it still looked pretty good.  I let it dry for about an hour before I proceeded.

After the vellum had dried, I set out my candle holders, a paper plate (to set anything that gets full of glue on), a foam brush, a scissors, and my mod podge.  I cut the photo strips out and checked to see if they needed to be trimmed.  They were a little taller than they needed to be (as planned), so I trimmed them a bit so that I wouldn't be cutting off any heads later.

After the strips were cut out, I painted some mod podge onto my candle holder and carefully placed the strip of vellum onto the glue.  I gently pressed the vellum down into the glue and made sure that it was sticking.  I continued gluing all the way around the candle holder in sections and carefully pressed the vellum into the glue and smoothed it out.

Even after letting the vellum dry for over an hour, I still had inky fingers after smoothing the vellum out onto the surface of the candle holder.  It looked like I had just read the Sunday paper. So I left the candle holders overnight to dry to make sure that all of the bubbles had smoothed out and the ink had a chance to really set.

I was left with a bit of an overhang of paper, so I trimmed carefully along the top edge of the candle holder. Then the next day, I put a coat of mod podge over the entire surface of the candle holder to seal the vellum in place and make it a smidge more transparent.

Things I learned from this project: 
  • Apparently there is special printable vellum that you can buy at office supply stores, you may get a better print out on that paper than the kind you buy at the craft store.  
  • Your image will not come out crisp, it will be sort of an impression of the image instead.
  • Vellum doesn't soak up much of anything, including the Mod Podge, so be sure to use a good layer of it when you stick it to the glass so that it adheres well, and so that you don't' end up with any streaky places where it's slightly more transparent in one spot and a little less in places where there wasn't enough glue.

Other than all of that, it's pretty easy, and I look forward to trying out more projects with vellum in the future.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Crafting Revisit: Alcohol Ink Washer Necklaces

Alcohol Ink Washer Necklaces Tutorial

Alcohol Ink Washer Necklaces are my most popular blog post.  There's good reason, too.  They are really cute and really easy.  All you need is a pack or two of alcohol ink (a 3 pack retails for $7-10, but you can use a JoAnne's or Michael's 40 or 50% off coupon to get an even better deal), an applicator (I made mine out of scrap wood and velcro), felt, some rubbing alcohol, and something to work on (I have a craft mat, but parchment paper would work well too). Oh and you'll need some washers and some cording to make the necklaces too.

I decided to make a few more necklaces because I have a bunch of bright alcohol inks that I didn't have when I tried this craft the first time.  I grabbed some washers from my local hardware store and a couple of large washers that I had in a kit to secure a shelf to the wall (no small kids at our house to climb on the furniture, so they were just sitting in a scrap pile).

I picked out some bright colors and dotted the felt on my applicator and started stamping.  If the surface of your washer is very smooth, you may have to stamp over your washer several times to get a stippled look. Just stamp until you like the way it looks.  The ink will darken a bit as it dries--so don't freak out if it looks too bright.

My washers looked fairly rainbow colored when they were done--they turned out pretty cute.

When they are done you can seal them with clear acrylic spray or mod podge so they don't smear if they come into contact with alcohol based liquids (like hairspray or perfume) and don't scratch. I strung my washers up with some braiding cord and layered some of my washers that were the same colors on top of each other. You could use ribbon or other types of cording and embellish with a bead or two if you like also.

I loved the way my big wall anchor washers turned out, I'll have to keep an eye out for more washers like them in the future.  Happy crafting!

Alcohol Ink Washer Necklaces

Monday, July 14, 2014

Memory Glass Sun Catchers

A while back, Tuesday Morning had boxes of Memory Glass on sale for 99 cents a box.  I picked up a few shapes and styles figuring that I'd find something to do with them eventually.  Well I saw an interesting tutorial to create a faux leaded edge with embossing powder that I knew I had to try.  So I made some little sun catchers.

I picked out some stamps from my collection that would fit on the little square.

I carefully set the square on top of the stamp.  It smudges and smears easily on the glass so the glass needs to be set on, pressed down and lifted up carefully (I learned that the hard way).

The stamp turned out a little thin across the top, but there is there enough to emboss.

Then I scooped clear embossing powder and let it cover the ink.  I tapped as much of it off as possible.

Then I used the heat gun to set it (the photo of heating it up on my cork trivet turned out blurry, so you just get the finished product).

Next up, the leaded edges.  I used double sided tape folded along the edges to create a faux metal edge.

This time I scooped up silver embossing powder onto the front and back edges of the tape.

Once the tape was completely coated, then I used the heat gun to liquify the embossing powder.

Heat one side, then let it set just long enough for it to cool enough to touch and flip it over and heat the back side.  Be sure to heat it on a surface that you're ok with getting a little embossing powder on as it may stick as you heat it up.  Move it off of your heat proof surface to a nonstick surface as soon as possible to finish cooling (I got a little cork on one of mine because I didn't).

When they were all finished, they looked like they had a metal edge.  It did also end up glittering most of the glass squares with a little silver, but it still turned out pretty nifty for just double stick and embossing powder.

After they were done, I dug out some jewelry wire and wired up a square around each and a little loop at the top.  I haven't ever really worked with wire this way, so I'm sure something even cuter could be whipped up with some practice, but as it was my first time, I did my best with something pretty basic.
Then I was able to hang them up in the front window with some suction cups.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Duct Tape Shoebox Charging Station

After successfully covering some boxes in duct tape to make some simple storage boxes, I got the idea to make a charging station out of a shoe box and some duct tape.  I figure it was cheap, easy, and had to be better than the pile of cords near my husband's night stand.

The first step was to take a shoebox from a large pair of shoes and cut slits in it.  I cut a slit in the back that was large enough for my powerstrip's cord and 6 slits in the front of the box for the 6 outlets on the powerstrip.  After measuring the box, I realized that I could cut the slits 2 inches apart for an even look.  I just used a scissors to cut them, and though I tried to get them straight, it was hard to cut the cardboard.  I wasn't too worried about it since I knew I was covering it up with duct tape and that would even things out a bit.

Once all of the slits were cut, I ripped some 3-4 inch long pieces of duct tape and wrapped them around each of the sections of cardboard.  I figure out that the easiest way to finish the top was just to fold the top over and then fold the sides in.  If I needed to, I could put a piece of tape on the back.  It was way easier than cutting the tape to fold it.

After all of the sections of cardboard were covered (see a bit more even after the tape) I covered the rest of the box.  I tried to be as neat as possible, but depending on the shape and size of your box, you'll probably have to wing it a bit.  If something ends up looking a bit messy, just cover over it with a strip of tape. The black tape is pretty forgiving.

When I was all done with the bottom of the box, I covered the lid with black tape and then covered the edge of the lid with some galaxy print tape that I just bought for a little punch of color.

When it was all done, I plugged in some of his devices and set them on top.  It works out perfectly and was super cheap and easy.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Stars and Stripes Candle Holder

Last weekend I went to our local Dollar Tree to pick up some 4th of July napkins and some of those altar candles (you know the ones) that are such a great deal.  Unfortunately they didn't have any at our local Dollar Tree, so I was left with a conundrum: go to other Dollar Trees looking for them or wing it.  I chose to wing it. So I came home with one of these and a package of stars and stripes napkins.

I grabbed my Mod Podge, a foam brush, a scissors, and a paper plate (not pictured--I used it to keep glue from getting on the table) and got to work.  My napkins had a repeating design on each of its four quadrants, so I cut the napkin into four pieces and then pulled the two-ply layer off of the back of the printed part of the napkin.  Once pulled apart, you are left with something close to the consistency of tissue paper.

Based on the height of my candle holder, I trimmed a bit off of the top of the napkin and crumpled it up a little so that the inevitable wrinkling that happens when you glue it on looked intentional.

Then I spread some of the Mod Podge onto the candle holder with my foam brush and carefully applied the napkin.  I was careful to wrinkle/pleat the paper at the top of the vase so that it would bend around the curved surface and still appear neat at the top.  I left the bottom unglued until I was finished going around the entire candle holder with napkin paper.

After I had applied the first square, I cut the top off a second square and overlapped it slightly and glued it carefully onto the candle holder and continued around the sides.  One important thing to remember when working with napkins or tissue paper and Mod Podge: as soon as your fingers get wet or sticky, take a break.  The paper is fragile when it's wet and if your fingers are sticky, you'll tear holes in it.  So let it dry a bit and clean off your fingers while you're working to avoid holes. I have a horrible time with this rule as I'm impatient and don't want to take breaks, I just want to get it finished. So if you do end up with little rips or tears, just apply a second piece of tissue paper or napkin over the top of the hole and let it dry.

After I was done covering the sides with my napkins, I set it on it's top and glued all of the excess paper onto the bottom.  I then let the whole thing dry for about an hour before I applied a coat of Mod Podge over the top to seal it and turn it semi-transparent.  I apparently forgot to take a picture of applying the layer of glue, but once it's dry, it  turned into a cute candle holder.  You could also jazz it up with glitter or apply multiple layers of paper, but I liked the way it turned out with just one layer.  I dropped an LED votive on the inside and paired it with my homemade rockets from last year, and I have a nice little table for the 4th. I only used one napkin out of my package, so I also have festive napkins to use at our barbecue this year. Hope you have a happy 4th of July!