Monday, October 27, 2014

Alcohol Ink Jack O'Lantern

The last time I was at Dollar Tree, I saw this metal flower pot and the first thing that popped into my head was "I could totally alcohol ink that." My husband was suspicious, but for a buck, he just shrugged his shoulders and we kept shopping. Of course I didn't need another decorative flower pot, so I had to come at this from a different angle.  With Halloween fast approaching, I decided I'd try to make a candy bowl.

I brought out all of my orange and gold alcohol inks, my craft mat, my ink stamper, and some wide painter's tape.

Using a scissors, I cut out a basic Jack O'Lantern face and stuck it onto my flower pot. Then I loaded up my applicator stamp with all four shades of orange and started stamping.

When I first applied the ink, it went on in big patches, as you can see above. It's more of a water color blotchiness.  I like a more stippled look, so I kept stamping until I covered the whole container and then came back over the ink a second time to make it a little more textured in color.  I had to load up my stamper 3 or 4 times with ink to cover the entire flower pot.  Then I put some ink along the very edge of my applicator to get along the top and bottom lips of the pot.

Then came the moment of truth.  I carefully peeled the tape back to reveal my Jack O'Lantern face.

It came out mostly clean.  It's hard to tell from the glare in this photo, but there were some blotchy spots that I cleaned up with a q-tip dipped in alcohol ink.  I then went back over the edges of the triangles with my applicator inked just along the edge again to make things look all neat and tidy.

When it was dried (just a few minutes), I took it out back and sprayed it with some clear acrylic sealer so that it wouldn't run or drip if anything alcohol based was ever spilled on it.  After a few more minutes of drying, I filled it up with candy and took some pretty shots in this beautiful fall weather we're having before I set it on my kitchen table.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Duct Tape File Pocket

Midterms are due by the end of the day today.  I've been grading my butt off for weeks.  So it seems appropriate that I whip up a very quick school related craft so that I can get back to grading.

In one of my classes I'm using one of these manilla folder pockets to hold a folder for each student that they can put homework in and take homework out of once it's graded.  The system has been working pretty well, but the pocket...that's another story.

The sides are starting to fall apart.  So before I have a major malfunction, I figured it was time to tape it up. Of course if I'm gonna tape it up, I might as well make it look pretty.

I decided on black and white stripes of duct tape with an accent strip at the top.  I started by striping the black and white along the front side. I cut the duct tape just long enough to overlap onto the sides and carefully placed it along the bottom fold. I alternated the tape until there was room for just one more stripe at the top.  Then I put my accent stripe on.  

I repeated the process on the back side and then ran two strips of black tape across the bottom and one strip up each of the sides. I trimmed away any excess tape on the top of the folder, put a couple of pieces of tape on the inside where the corners had been ripped, and I was good to go.  And there you have it, a quick project for school. Now this file pocket should last through the end of the semester.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mod Podge and Tissue Paper Decorated Halloween Candles

I have been wanting to do some crafts with those great plain white altar candles they sell at Dollar Tree for ages, but it seems like every time I go to Dollar Tree, they are all sold out of them. Well not this last time.  I picked up 4 and set them aside.  I knew I wanted to decorate them somehow, but I wasn't quite sure with what.  Later that week, I was at Walmart picking up some necessities and came across this cute halloween tissue paper.  For starters, who gives "halloween gifts"?  Someone must because there was a little endcap with halloween gift bags and tissue paper, so I snagged up the orange and "Happy Halloween" printed tissue paper (it's Hallmark brand, so it may be available at stores other than Walmart too).

So I grabbed two of my altar candles and some mod podge and a foam brush. My first step was getting the darn sticker off of the side of the candle.  I filled up my kitchen sink with a few inches of warm water and they came off pretty easily, just some sticky residue remaining (thank goodness for goo gone). 

Next I used a scissors to carefully cut out squares of tissue paper that would wrap around my candles. I just laid the candle down and cut it about a quarter of an inch taller than I needed--I figured a little extra was better than not enough, I could always trim some off later. I made sure not to make the squares too wide, though, so there wouldn't be more than about a quarter of an inch or so of overlap.

I started by finding the seam in the glass candle jar to use as a vertical guide.  Then I painted on an inch or so of glue to get it started.  Make sure your tissue paper is started straight so it doesn't end up crooked on the top or bottom.  Once you have it started, it's all about carefully applying the tissue paper.

The tissue paper becomes VERY fragile once it gets wet with glue, so use just enough glue to stick the tissue paper on.  Carefully pat the tissue paper onto the glue (be careful not to rub it) and try to keep your fingers free from glue so that they won't stick the paper and rip it. Once you have the paper wrapped around and gently tapped onto the glue, let it sit for 15 minutes or so to set up.  You may be tempted to rub down the paper or press down bubbles, but just tap it into place and let it dry.  The less you touch the paper, the better.

After the glue had set, I trimmed the top edge of the paper down to the rim of the candle jar.  Then I brushed on a coat of mod podge to seal the surface and turn the tissue paper even more translucent. 

I let that dry for another 15 minutes or so and then put some black ribbon on the rim of the candle jar.  You could decorate with some glitter or dangle some halloween charms from the rim, but I was fresh out of both (well I had glitter--what kind of crafter would I be if I didn't have any glitter--but none that would coordinate with the colors of my tissue paper).

The candles were cute as soon as they were dried, but they were even more impressive when I lit the candles.  As the wax burns, the lights will glow through the tissue paper more and more!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Prepping Acorns for Display

We have a young oak tree in our yard (well, young is relative when it comes to oak trees--it's about 15 years old, not too big yet), and this is the first year we've had noticeable numbers of acorns in our yard, so I decided to gather them up and get them all polished and sealed to use in a glass vase.

Here they are just picked up from the yard, nothing fancy--lots of caps had fallen off, and I found more caps than acorns, but for my first harvest, not too bad.  I washed them off with some dawn to get all the dirt off.  Then I let them sit outside for a couple of days in the sun to make sure they were good and dry.  Then I put them in a zip top freezer bag and popped them in the freezer for a few days to make sure any bugs that might be crawling around in them were killed off.  I've read tutorials where folks spread them out on a cookie sheet and baked them at low temperatures for a couple of hours, but I didn't want to mess around with that with such a small batch.

After I took them out of the freezer and let them warm back up to room temperature, I popped the caps off of the few that had stayed stuck on and polished up the acorns.  Many of them had this scuffed up waxy build up (as seen in the photo above).  So I took a soft paper towel and buffed them up. A real cloth might have worked even better, but the paper towel did the trick (as you can see in the photo below).

The transformation from wiping them off with the cloth was pretty impressive.  Next I lined all of the acorns up sitting on their tops and neatly arranged the caps, so I could spray them with some clear acrylic spray.  I chose a matte sealer so they would still look realistic instead of glossy. If you had some sad looking acorns you could even spray paint them some fancy color instead of sealing them.

I gave them two coats and let them dry for just a few minutes before bringing them inside to glue the caps on.  I used a hot glue gun and spent a good while matching caps to acorns.  Even with quite a few extra caps, they were tough to match when I got down to the last few acorns.

I filled the cap with glue and pressed it on.  Easy peasy.

When they were all recapped, I threw them into this amber colored candle holder that I picked up for a few bucks on clearance at Target.  It's not very full, so I'll definitely have to harvest again next year, but I'm on my way.