Monday, May 25, 2015

Paper Triangle Spiral Ornament

This craft project was inspired by a recent trip to Tuesday Morning where I snatched up this Martha Stewart Craft Kit that includes a template for making spirals and stars out of paper for just $3.99.

The kit includes this plastic triangle template, a craft blade (that supposedly uses standard utility knife blades) with a retracting plastic guard, and a small instruction pamphlet. The kit is designed for 12 inch square sheets of paper--the standard in scrapbook paper sizes.

I was excited to try it out so I searched my stash for a 12 inch piece of scrapbook paper that had patterns on both sides. I learned that most of my scrapbook paper stash is single sided, but I did manage to find a nice high contrast piece of paper. 2-sided paper is now on my list for the next trip to the craft store.

I folded the paper into a triangle and opened the plastic template. The paper fits neatly inside.

Then I used the included knife to slice along the grooves in the template. It took about 30 seconds to cut the paper. It was really easy and fast.

When I was done, I was left with this nicely sliced piece of paper. I looked to the instructions for the next step and was left scratching my head.

The instructions are incredibly vague: "Staple, tape, or glue the opposite corner tips of the outermost band together." Huh? What band? Which direction? So off to youtube to see if I could find some better instructions. Then the problem was not knowing what to call these things, but after some searching I found some instructions that helped. All the videos I watched started at the center taping or gluing the first square together one direction, then flipping the piece over and doing the next band or square the other direction.  The first two squares had to be taped (or glued) as my stapler wouldn't fit underneath.

After the first two, I continued folding the bands toward each other, but this time I stapled the points. I kept reversing the direction with each band/square. to finish out the spiral.

If you're still having a hard time picturing the process, check out this video:

The first couple minutes of the video shows how to cut the paper yourself if you don't have a template, and around the 1:55 mark, it shows the process of creating the spiral.

When you're all done you have this cool spiral decoration that can be hung up with a piece of fishing line or by stapling a ribbon to the top. You can continue to make 5 more of them and staple them together to make a star/snowflake. A star using 12 inch paper would be quite large though, so I tried out some smaller pieces of paper with this template to see how they worked. 

The 8.5 inch square (I just folded the triangle and cut off the excess from an 8.5 X 11 inch piece of cardstock) turned out pretty well. I just placed it in the middle of the template and cut the grooves that lined up with the paper. I also tried a 6 inch piece of paper, but felt the strips were a bit too wide to be truly successful. In my searching for instructions, I found out that Martha Stewart also sells a smaller template that's designed for 6 inch paper squares.

This was a super easy and quick project, once I figured out how to fold the paper. The instructions leave something to be desired, but the template works really slick.  If you want to check to see if your local Tuesday Morning has one of these kits available for purchase, you can try their product locator hotline: 1-800-901-0881 with the SKU: 1529920 and your local store's zip code.

Neither Tuesday Morning nor Martha Stewart Crafts compensated me for this post (but I wouldn't mind if they did, I like them both a whole lot).

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sharpie Tile Coasters

Today's post is a total craft experiment. The folks over at Sharpie posted a tutorial for creating decorated coasters (in the style of alcohol ink) using nothing but some Sharpie ink and rubbing alcohol dripped onto the tiles. I was curious. I wanted to know how well it worked since a lot of people have some Sharpies lying around their house (whereas alcohol ink is a much more specialized craft supply). So I thought I'd give it a whirl. The first time I tried it (outside as pictured above), it didn't work at all.  It was warm and windy outside, and I didn't color solid lines onto my tiles, instead I had produced squiggles, and they didn't run at all when I put the alcohol on them (it was such a fail that I didn't even take any photos).

Fast forward to take two. This time I was working inside and I colored with the side of the Sharpie nib to get the most ink onto the tile as possible. I chose the brightest and boldest colors, and nearly filled the whole tile with ink. Just like working with alcohol ink, I had my craft mat on my work surface (parchment or freezer paper works well too).

Next I used a straw, and sometimes my fingers, to drip drops of rubbing alcohol onto the tile.

The ink doesn't react or run the same way alcohol ink does, instead, the alcohol sits on the surface and thins and mixes some of the Sharpie ink. Sometimes a circle will appear as you drop the alcohol onto the ink. I was pleased with the reaction since, this time, it appeared to be mixing a bit.

So I went ahead and colored another tile. This was a spare tile I had that was more of a satin finish instead of a glossy finished tile. I made a sort of rainbow across the tile and dripped alcohol on it.  It didn't pull away from the tile at all, but instead just lightened and mixed a bit.

After my first failed attempt, I put a ton of alcohol on these coasters to make sure that they did something. I was used to working with alcohol inks that react immediately, so I figured that if I left all of the alcohol on the tile, it would just turn into a brown pool of ink.  So I poured it off the tile.

That didn't really work so hot, it pretty much just slid the ink that had reacted to the alcohol off of the tile.

The glossier of the two tiles continued to change as it dried, and I could tell I had gotten the process wrong, that I needed to get the alcohol on the tile and then walk away and let it react as it dried.  That unlike alcohol ink, the process happens slowly instead of in an instant.

So I waited for the tiles to dry and remarked them up right over the old ink. One of the best things about working with alcohol ink is also true of working with Sharpies, if you don't like it, just wipe it off with alcohol, or let it dry and try again. So this time I inked up the tiles, dripped the alcohol over the ink, and then left them alone.

Some interesting things happened. The glossy tile reacted the most and had the ink pulling away from the tile in places.

The satin finish tile got muddy colored as it dried.

I'm sure with some more practice I'd be able to get some cool effects using alcohol and Sharpies, but if you have to buy all the supplies to make this craft, a pack of alcohol inks costs about the same as a pack of multicolored sharpies. You'll end up with fewer colors in your alcohol ink pack, but the learning curve is less steep.  I didn't have to try three times to get something even remotely close to turning out with alcohol ink.  

If I try this again, I'll apply lots of Sharpie ink like I did, but instead of covering the whole tile with a slick of alcohol, I'd shoot for dripping rubbing alcohol over about half to two-thirds of the tile and then let it dry without touching it and hope for the best. These tiles will definitely have to be sealed with a clear acrylic sealer or varnish or Mod Podge before being used as a coaster as the sharpie ink will rub off on your fingers after drying, so be sure to remember that step if yours turn out. Happy experimenting!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Flower Pens

I have had these blue silk roses for a while. They were purchased with a bundle of red and white roses in the clearance section at Wal-mart. I assume they were leftovers after the 4th of July. Since they aren't exactly a natural color, I didn't know what the heck to do with them. So I decided to make some silk flower pens with them for someone whose favorite color is blue. This fall I made a whole bouquet of flower pens, but this time I'm just making a little bundle.

Flower pens are easy, inexpensive, and make great gifts. You'll just need some stick pens, some silk flowers, a roll of floral tape, and a scissors. Floral tape is funky stuff if you've never worked with it before. It's available everywhere that sells craft supplies, and it's kind of like stretchy masking tape, but it's not very sticky. Line the stem of your flower up with your pen and start rolling and stretching your tape over the stem--sticky side up. It's not that sticky, so the side that you peel off the roll goes facing up. It's a bit counterintuitive, but you'll get the hang of it. You may need to tear off a little piece to wrap around the stem to get it attached to the pen to start with. Since the tape doesn't stick to the pen, but to itself, make sure you start with enough tape to wrap around the pen a couple of times.

Then just wrap and stretch the tape around the stem and the pen--overlapping as you go--until you've covered the entire pen. When you get to the end of the stem, wrap a couple of extra layers of tape over the end of the stem so that it doesn't poke through the tape later.

The stick pens I used for this batch of flowers had a rubber grip at the bottom of the pen, so I stopped my tape wrapping as soon as I reached the rubber grip. If your pen didn't have a grip, you can wrap the tape around the pen all the way to the tip. The added bonus of only wrapping up to the grip on these pens is that I could put the caps back on the pens.

I bundled my finished flower pens up with a pretty matching ribbon and they are all ready to be gifted.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Alcohol Ink Decorated Glass Soda Bottle

School's almost out (yay!), but until then, you'll have to settle for a quick craft. But let's face it--those are really the best kind anyway. The label peeled right off of this soda bottle so it was perfect to be turned into a vase. I grabbed my alcohol ink, craft mat, and applicator (with felt) and got to work.

In the photo above I had stamped my 5 colors all over the bottle once. I made a second pass and thought it had turned out pretty well, albeit a bit on the red side. So I cut some lilacs off of the bush and tested it out. What a perfect quick spring craft!