Monday, April 25, 2016

Ceramic Tile and Tissue Paper Wall Plaque

I picked up some tiles at the hardware store to make coasters, but I also grabbed some 6x6 ceramic coasters to make some other projects with. This white tile turned into a decorative wall plaque with one of my favorite Dr. Who quotes.

The first step is to find a design that you want to use. I found this one online. It had been posted to Pinterest and Tumblr. I think it was originally on a t-shirt, but after a little searching, I couldn't track down it's original source. If you know who designed this, let me know in the comments so that I can give them credit.

After I found the design I wanted to use, I pasted it into word and made sure the design was just under 6 inches so that it would fit neatly on my tile. Then I used the technique from my first Tissue Paper Photo Transfer project to print the design onto tissue paper that had been taped onto a piece of card stock. After the print came out clean (I replaced the 10 year old printer from the other project), I used my paper cutter to cut it down to a 6 inch square (I left it attached to the card stock so it would cut through the tissue paper neatly). If you don't have a paper cutter, I'd recommend a rotary cutter to get a straight line with tissue paper.

Next I put a very thin coat of mod podge down on the ceramic tile with a foam brush. Less glue means less wrinkles and less chance for warping or ripping of the paper. It also means that as soon as you set the paper down, it won't move, so keep that it mind.

I carefully lined up my paper and tapped it onto the glue. Then I smoothed it out. I was pretty pleased with how the initial gluing turned out. There were minimal wrinkles and the design stayed crisp and clean.

However, when I started painting my sealing coat of mod podge onto the top of the paper, the ink started to smear just a bit. I stopped spreading glue and tried to clean up some of the edges where it smeared by running some fresh glue over top. I left it to dry overnight and then came back and painted another thin coat over the top. It smoothed out a bit as it dried, but the design wasn't as crisp as when I first glued it down. Oh well, now I know to let the design dry all the way after it's initially glued down, and be really careful with the first thin coat of mod podge you glue over the top of the ink jet design.

It still turned out pretty well, so I grabbed a sawtooth picture hanger and some super glue to attach it.

I lined it up at the top of the tile with the ridges so it would be easy to get a nail underneath and put two generous dollops of glue on the tile to attach it. I let it dry over night, and it was ready to hang.

It was a pretty quick and easy project for some small wall art, and I can't wait to try it again.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

DIY Scarf Hanger

I had this spare package of plastic shower curtain rings (they came with a shower curtain liner that I picked up on clearance for 2 dollars) and I needed a better way to store my scarves in the closet, so a quick DIY project for a scarf hanger seemed like a great idea. 

I took the curtain rings out of the package and popped them onto a hanger. I chose a hanger that was a bit sturdier (for a plastic one--I'm sure a wooden hanger would work even better, but I didn't have a free one).

After the rings were on, I strung my scarves through the rings, and voila! This was a super easy and quick solution to my scarf storage problem. It isn't perfect though, as the rings slide to one side and make the hanger tilt pretty easily. I may have to use some twist ties or zip ties to make one on each end and one in the middle fixed so that they don't all slide, if it works, I'll take another picture and post it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Guide to Adult Coloring Books

If you haven't heard about adult coloring books, you've been living under a rock. I have always loved coloring, so I was really excited when these books started popping up everywhere. As I have been coloring, I've learned a little bit about what to look for in your coloring books and supplies, and I thought I'd share some of my advice and a few of my colored pages. I'll try to keep this post updated as I try out more books and art supplies.

First off, I use colored pencils in my coloring books. I have tried several different brands, and I have a few to recommend. Prismacolor Verithins (pictured above) are a really nice set of hard colored pencils. Prismacolor is a very well known brand of artist quality colored pencils. Their "regular" Premier colored pencils (pictured below) are fairly expensive (about a dollar a pencil unless on sale), and are very soft and vivid. They are great for coloring large areas in bright colors.

However, most coloring books have lots of tiny little areas to color, which makes the regular Prismacolor pencils a bit tricky to work with. Prismacolor Verithins are their thinner harder cousins. They hold their sharpened tip very well and are great for coloring in the tiny spaces in coloring books and they are far more vivid in color than most of the harder colored pencils I've tried (oh, and they cost half as much as the regular Prismacolor colored pencils at about 50 cents a piece).

Update (7/16): Husband got me a set of Prismacolor Scholar pencils (pictured below) for my birthday. They are fantastic. They fall right in between the Verithins and the Premier Prismacolor pencils in hardness--which means they are "medium," and they run around the same price as the Verithins at 50 cents a piece. The package indicates they are supposed to be less likely to break, and they also come in a really nice plastic easel case that's very convenient.

My other colored pencil recommendation is regular Crayola colored pencils. They have a medium soft lead and bright colors at a great price. They are your best value bet (at around 25 cents a pencil).

I know it's not a very exciting recommendation, but after trying several brands, I gravitate towards the Crayolas and the Prismacolors. If you have recommendations for other brands to try, let me know in the comments. (I love excuses to buy art supplies! :) )

As for coloring books, I have flipped through dozens of them at Barnes and Noble and Walmart (they have a surprisingly large collection of them in the book section) and searched through lots of reviews on Amazon. Some things to look for are: designs that get you excited to color, designs that are intricate enough to keep you interested but not so intricate that you'll find it tedious, and nice thick paper.

My two favorites right now are Joyous Blooms by Eleri Fowler (pictured above) (she also just released a My Mother, My Heart that has a Motherhood theme) and Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford (pictured below) (she also has Secret Garden, Lost Ocean, and Magical Jungle due out in Aug. 2016). I like Joyous Blooms because it is filled with colorful garden themed designs that are large enough that I don't feel like I have to sharpen my pencils every ten seconds. It also has some Mandala type designs like the wings above that are very soothing to color because of their repeating nature but are sort of a twist on a traditional Mandala (by being made of wings or butterflies or flowers). The Basford coloring books have some designs that are a little more intricate than the Fowler designs.

The Enchanted Forest is filled with animals and trees and whimsical designs like the treehouses below.

Basford also has note cards you can color that correspond with each of her books. The peacock design below is a notecard from the Secret Garden set.

If you look closely you'll see I colored out of the lines a bit on this one. The design is tiny, only about 2 1/2 inches across, so you'll need good sharp pencils for those notecards.

Update (7/16): My newest coloring book was picked up in the "bargain" section at Barnes and Noble. It's called Coloring for Creativity. It's 288 pages long! It is filled with a ton of designs. The paper isn't as thick as my two other recommendations and the designs are often printed right into the center binding, but you definitely get a lot of coloring options for your buck with this one (as it's under $10 online and at Barnes and Noble). The same publisher also has one called Coloring for Tranquility that's on my wishlist.

Happy Coloring! If you've colored in some great books, let me know in the comments so I know what to try out next!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Scrapbook Paper Poetry Coasters

Happy National Poetry Month! Making coasters with scrapbook paper and mod podge was one of my earliest projects on this blog. I liked them so much that I made a whole bunch more. Since I hadn't made any in awhile and I wanted to do a project that celebrated poetry month, I thought I'd try printing text on some patterned paper and use that to make coasters.

The hardest (and most time consuming) part of this project was picking the poetry lines I wanted to include. It was so hard to narrow it down. I wanted fairly classic poetry that was also uplifting. After browsing my library and lots of googling, I finally picked my poems. Then I set up a Word document to print them out. I have a large format printer, so I can set up a document that's 12 x 12 and stick the whole sheet of paper in my printer. If you don't, cut your paper down to 8 1/2 x 11. I used the rulers in Word to make sure my text was about 3 1/2 inches wide since I knew the tiles were just over 4 inches. After lots of hemming and hawing about text choices and spacing, I printed my poetry and then cut it into 4 x 4 inch squares with a paper cutter.

After my paper was cut out, I spread a layer of mod podge onto the tile with a foam brush. Then I carefully placed the paper onto the tile so that there was an even edge around the paper.

Then I smoothed the paper down to make sure it was sticking securely. I repeated this with all of my tiles and squares of paper.

After all of the papers were glued onto the tiles, I painted a thin coat of mod podge onto the tiles. It was such a thin layer, that by the time I was done painting the glue onto all 4 tiles, the first was nearly dry. I painted on a second thin coat and then set them aside to dry.

After they were dry, I cut squares of white felt for the bottoms of the tiles.

I used Tacky Glue to glue the felt onto the tiles. You could also use a hot glue gun.

Once all of the felt was glued on, the coasters were complete. The poems I selected lines from include: Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese," W. B. Yeats's "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven," Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," and Emily Dickinson's 314 ("Hope is the Thing with Feathers").

They turned out pretty subtle, but the concept totally works. I can't wait to make some with shorter quotes and larger fonts. Happy poetry month!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Recycled Altoids Tin First Aid Kit

We've been on a spring roller coaster here lately. I started this project to recycle an Altoids tin on a day when I spray painted in my winter coat.

I left the tin outside just long enough on each layer just long enough for the spray paint dust and fumes to subside, then I brought it inside to dry, then readjusted the tin and brought it back out again.

Because it was cold and I kept adjusting it, the spray job was not as good as it could have been. I blame impatience--quality spray paint jobs are all about light coats. I also accidentally left the tin in the above position to dry. It made a bit of a mess along the hinge. I let it dry for a few days, scraped off any excess paint and sprayed it one last time.

After I was reluctantly satisfied with the paint job, I found a piece of scrapbook paper and grabbed some mod podge.

I traced around the tin on the back side of the paper with a pencil. Then I used a scissors to cut out the paper on the inside of the line (I used the width of the scissors as a guide).

Then I painted some of the decoupage glue on the tin lid with a foam brush and stuck the paper onto it.

After letting it dry just a bit so the paper wouldn't bubble or curl from being too wet, I painted another layer of mod podge over the top of the paper.

Since the spray paint was scratching easily (maybe a primer would help, who knows), I painted the glue over the whole tin so that it would be sealed and not scratch. I used the edge of my paper plate to rest the lid on so that the lid wouldn't stick to the base (like it did with the paint).

After it dried, I decided to turn my Altoids tin into an emergency kit for my purse. I glued a strip of magnetic tape (recycled, found in my stash) onto the lid with some super glue to stick some safety pins. I thought about putting on a another strip to keep a couple of needles strung with thread, but decided to pass for now.

Instead I decided to create a little first aid kit. I grabbed a couple antiseptic wipes, a little first aid cream packet, a variety of band-aids (regular, butterfly, and fingertip), and little plastic container filled with ibuprofen.

It filled the tin up nicely, and now I'll be ready for just about any situation. What else should I put in my old Altoids tin?