Monday, December 31, 2018

Vinyl Decal Ceramic Tile Plaque: Dr Who Quote

I'm still a beginner with my Silhouette Cameo, though I'm starting to rack up the projects. Using the machine is really satisfying. You spend time designing in the program and searching for images you can trace or download and then it takes a few minutes to cut it. I love instant gratification.

So I've just started using adhesive vinyl for projects in my machine. I made some ceramic tiles for Halloween, I used the vinyl to do some glass etching, created simple monograms for our electric toothbrushes, and made some ornaments for Christmas. So I've worked out some of the kinks in the process. For this project I decided to take one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Who and put it on a 6 inch ceramic tile. I picked up a couple of these tan faux stone look tiles when they were clearancing them out at the hardware store for just this reason. 

I selected a text that I liked and typed up my quote. I made sure the finished design was less than 6 inches and then right clicked on my text and selected "Weld." Welding your text will keep it from cutting each letter separately if it's a script text like the one I chose. I also added a few Tardises (Tardi?) from Dr. Who in a few sizes because I wasn't sure what would fit. I used the trace menu to make these from clip art I downloaded off the internet.

After I ran the Silhouette with the vinyl settings, I used a scissors to separate my text from my Tardises. Then I peeled the excess vinyl off of the backing. I was left with a bunch of little bits of vinyl that needed to be weeded out of the design. I used a craft knife to help pick the little bits out of the letters. 

After I was done weeding, I cut a piece of transfer paper (this stuff feels a lot like masking tape--but it's a bit stickier and comes with lines printed on it) the same size as my design.

This is my first time using this stuff, and it's fairly sticky, so I slapped it on to my vinyl words without paying attention to getting it straight--oops. Then I used a dish scraper to burnish/rub the tape onto the letters. Make sure to go over all of the letters.

Then I carefully peeled the tape off of the vinyl's paper backing and the letters peeled off with the transfer paper. Then I positioned my letters/transfer paper as best as I could (this is where having the transfer paper straight would have helped) and burnished the letters down again onto the tile.

Then I carefully peeled the transfer paper back to reveal my design. If any of the letters don't stick, just smooth the tape back down and rub the letter down and then try again.

Then I selected my smallest Tardis and wedded the design. Since it was all one piece, I just stuck it on like a sticker and rubbed it into place with the back of my nail.

This ceramic plaque will probably get displayed on my book shelf, but you can add a picture hanger to the back with some super glue and hang it on the wall too. I really think I'm starting to get the hang of using vinyl decals. I can't wait to try out more projects. I put some links to some blogs that go into more detail about setting up the design and the cut settings in the Silhouette program throughout the article.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Alcohol Ink and Vinyl Decal Ornaments

A while back I got some plastic ornaments on clearance after Christmas...I just picked up a couple, so they didn't match any of the other ones that I had. These two odd ball sizes never got picked in my crafting, so I decided it was time to finally do something with them.

I used my Silhouette to cut out a bunch of snowflake shapes in vinyl. For most of these designs, I just found some free clip art online and traced it with the Silhouette program, but there are tons of snowflake designs available to buy and download, so pick whatever you like. I knew I was making the designs to be just a couple of inches, so they couldn't be too complicated.

After I cut out my snowflakes with the machine, I used a scissors to cut each flake out in a square. Then I peeled off the vinyl outside of the design and used a craft knife to help me weed the tiny bits out of the design.

After it was weeded, I used some painters tape and a dish scraper to make sure the design stuck to the tape. Painters tape works about as well as transfer tape for these little designs--so no need to spend extra money if you don't need to.

I carefully peeled the tape up to release the decal from its backing and then centered it onto the ornament and used my finger nails and the dish scraper to burnish it down before peeling back the tape.

This ornament is fairly flat--just slightly rounded--so it was pretty simple to apply the decal. I smoothed from the center out and the tape wrinkled in a couple places from the curve, but the decal didn't.

I repeated the same process with another snowflake. This time I selected a slightly smaller one to put on a round ornament. I weeded the decal and put the painters tape over top and burnished it. Then I peeled it back to release the decal.

Then I stuck the decal on the ornament. This time, I was more careful about smoothing from the center and watching for wrinkles since the ornament is a sphere and my design is flat. I did end up with one little wrinkle that I couldn't smooth out (it's pretty hard to see), but for my first try on a round ornament, it worked pretty well.

To make the decals pop a bit more, I decided to ink the ornaments. I used stonewashed and denim blue alcohol ink along with some silver and pearl mixatives to create a silvery blue background for my snowflake decals.

I dripped the blues into the ornament and then used canned air to blow them around and mix them. Then I put some of the metallics in and blew them around. I repeated the process until the ornament was covered and I was happy wit the way it looked.

It's a bit hard to tell from the photos, but these turned out really pretty--very shimmery and the decal stands out really well against the blue. These look great on my Christmas tree!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Wooden Bead Garland Refresh

As a child of the 80s, I saw a few Christmas traditions and decorations fall in and out of style. One of those was wooden bead garlands on Christmas trees. They were very popular in the 80s but were replaced with ribbons in the 90s and never quite regained their popularity. While shopping at a thrift store after Christmas last year, they had sets of wooden bead garland that were an exact match to a string I had from my childhood, so I picked up a couple more strings for a dollar.

I figured it would be really easy to spray paint the beads a single color to lose the 80s blue and rustic vibe. I ran out of my good silver spray paint (which would have been super schnazzy), so I opted for bright red instead.

I used a couple of big boxes and coiled the beads around the bottom and sprayed on a coat, and then another coat, and then another coat. A couple of the beads didn't want to take color. It was also annoyingly just above freezing, so I had to keep bringing the boxes inside to set. They stayed tacky for a long time.

Then I had to do my best to flip them over and repeat the process, but the beads rotate and there are just enough of them that flipping them over wasn't an easy process. I stood outside flipping every bead to see if it had been sprayed on both sides. It was a pain, but in the end I was left with 3 lengths of wooden bead garland in a lovely shade or red.

Truth be told, I probably should have 4 lengths of garland for the size of my tree (which is a 6 1/2 footer--nothing enormous), but I was able to get it around the tree and add a nice pop of color. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably paint this one by hand. I'm generally very pro-spray painting as it provides a nice smooth finish and dries quicker than regular paint, but this one was tricky with the rotating beads and the colder early December weather. Of course, this week it's been crazy warm and would have worked much better for spray painting--oh well. :) 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Spray Paint Ornaments

Over the years, I have tried several methods for decorating plain ball ornaments. I've decoupaged them, put photos and images inside of them, and tried several methods for alcohol inking them. One of my earliest projects on this blog was swirling around craft paint inside the ball ornaments. So, as I was thinking about what Christmas crafts I could do this year, trying to spray paint the inside of ball ornaments popped into my head. I had no idea if it would work well or at all, but I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I gathered a basket of plastic ball ornaments and a bin full of spray paint. I also grabbed an egg carton and some paper towels so that I could have a dying station for the ornaments that would keep them from rolling around.

The process was pretty easy. I sprayed paint into the ornament and swirled it around. If I wanted colors to mix, I'd spray them into the ornament when the paint was still wet. If I didn't want the colors to mix (like red and green), I waited for the paint to dry before adding more.

I used several brands and types of spray paint. The thinner cheap paints (like the $1.98 stuff from Wal-mart) were runny and difficult to work with. This didn't surprise me too much, but I used Krylon spray paint in a few different colors, and each color seemed to work differently. The red worked great, the blue and purple stayed really translucent and was a bit runny. The Rustoleum 2x spray paint stayed wet longer, which for this project isn't ideal, but it also had really nice saturated colors (see the dark blue below). So you may have to experiment a bit until you find colors and brands that work well.

So I added spray paint until I was happy with the ornaments. If my colors were mixing in a way I didn't like or if the paint got too runny, I would let it dry for a while and come back. On the plastic surface, sometimes the paint would pull away entirely and drip out, so be careful of leaving them turned upside down for long periods of time if they are still wet. I would leave them for a few minutes and then flip them back right side up. The spray paint may stick differently on the glass ball ornaments, I haven't tried them yet.

In the end, the ornaments turned out pretty cute, but they did require a bit of dry time in between layers to get full coverage. The finished product looks fairly similar to the craft paint variety and takes less time to dry. It can be just as messy if you aren't careful. I tipped one ball over with a little too much wet paint in it and ended up splashing the deck with blue paint before I got it over the paper towel--thank goodness I was out on the deck! I also got a fair bit of paint on my fingers from the opening of the ornament, so be prepared with extra paper towels!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas Ornament Collection

I've got some Christmas Crafts in the works--but until then, revisit some of the blog's classics with the Christmas Ornament Collection.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Textured Alcohol Ink Tiles and Alcohol Ink Thinner Tests

Over the past few weeks, I've been testing the thinners that are used with alcohol ink. I tested rubbing alcohol, Ranger Blending Solution, and Pinata Extender with dropped ink and with stamped ink. For the most part, I determined that the thinners don't react too differently with the ink itself. The Extender seems to thin the ink without separating the color quite as much, but in the end they all dry looking pretty much exactly the same. So I thought I'd try one more test--the fluid ink test. How do the inks behave when thinned heavily and blown around?

I used the same ink for each test--this time a Pinata (Rain Forest Green) Ink. I dripped a few drops on and then used a bunch of the thinning solutions and blew it around with a can of air to see how it behaved. The first test was of the Ranger brand Blending Solution. It moved freely and created a lovely green splash across the tile.


Next I tried the Pinata Extender. I dripped a few drops of ink and a splash of extender across the tile and a similar effect occurred with the ink, but it didn't move quite as loosely with the Extender.

The last one I tried was the Rubbing Alcohol. It was the thinnest of the thinners and the ink splashed across the tile very easily. The end results looked the same for all three thinners--for the most part. The only difference was that each thinner is a different thin-ness. So the the rubbing alcohol is the most watery and the Pinata Extender is the thickest of the thinners, so it doesn't move quite as easily across the tile--which could provide a little more control. The Ranger Blending Solution falls somewhere in the middle.

In the end, after all of my tests, I have come to pretty much the same decision. The rubbing alcohol costs about 10 cents and ounce, whereas the Blending Solution and Extender come in well over 2 dollars an ounce and the results are not vastly different from the cheap stuff. So for the beginning alcohol inker, the rubbing alcohol will do the trick. If you're a serious inker, the Extender provides a different enough result from the rubbing alcohol that it may be worth trying out, but the Blending Solution doesn't seem terribly different. And no matter what, you'll want to use the rubbing alcohol for cleanup since it's so much cheaper.

In the process of cleaning up during this project, I discovered an interesting technique. I ran out of ceramic tiles while testing the dripped ink and the stamping, so I used the same tile for each of the tests above. While I was cleaning the tiles off with rubbing alcohol and a napkin, I noticed that the napkin's texture would lift some of the ink off and leave the rest, creating a neat texture across the ink. So after testing my last splash of ink, I messed around with the technique. I added color and a little thinner and waited for the sweet spot. It seems to work the best when the ink isn't completely wet and isn't completely dry. If it's wet, the napkin will soak most of the ink up and leave a void. If the ink is dry, it won't lift any of the ink and leave the texture.

This is definitely a technique that I'll have to try again. I used some Bounty brand napkins, but I'm sure other brands of napkins and possibly paper towels will work for this technique. I look forward to trying out different textures soon!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Game Night Stamped Alcohol Ink and Vinyl Decal Coasters

A couple of weeks ago, I tested how different alcohol ink blenders/extenders worked in comparison to 91% rubbing alcohol. I started with a simple splatter tile test. I decided the next thing I should test would be how they behave when stamping the ink.

So I set up 3 4-inch ceramic tiles to test. The first one used 91% rubbing alcohol, the second used Ranger (Tim Holtz) brand Blending Solution, and the third used Pinata (by Jacquard) Extender. The dark dot of ink on each tile is a control (what the ink looks like without any thinner). Then I tested a single dot of ink with the thinners and stamped them until the ink started to run out/dry up. As you can see--the Pinata Extender allowed for the most stamps, with the rubbing alcohol coming in second, and the Ranger Blending solution coming in third. All three thinners thinned the ink. The rubbing alcohol and the Blending solution created some white overly thinned areas, and the Extender seemed to blend with the ink the best, but they all did the job.

Next I stamped on some additional colors to see if there was significant difference across the tiles. I added colors and drops of thinner to the felt and stamped until the tile was completely covered. The end results aver very similar. The Pinata Extender solution seems to edge out the others, but at an eighth the size and over twice the price, I'm not sure it beats out rubbing alcohol for every day use.

So I was left with inked tiles, so I needed to turn them into something. I had some vinyl meeples (people pawns that have become an emblem for hobby/strategy board gamers) that I cut when I was making initials for our electric toothbrushes. I figured they would make good coaster decals. So I peeled them off of the vinyl backing and stuck them down like stickers.

They were jazzed up a bit, but they still felt like they were missing something.

So I inked the edges so they weren't stark white. The edges aren't glazed, so the ink soaks into the tile, but at least it wasn't such a contrast--they can blend in.

I felt like the tiles needed a bit more blue to correspond with the decal and to add some depth to the ink. So I stamped on some contrasting dots.

Then I used some blending solution (rubbing alcohol would work just fine for this) on a cheap cotton swab (the plastic variety with tightly woven cotton work perfect for this) and dotted the solution on the tile to remove ink in places and create little bubbles of white.

When I was happy with my contrasting ink and dots of white, I painted a thin coat of mod podge over the tile to seal it. It's important to seal alcohol ink on coasters as the ink will run if it comes into contact with any alcohol based liquid. Clear acrylic sprays work too, but they can react with the ink (so be sure to spray a very thin coat on to start). 

Mod podge can get gummy if exposed to a lot of water, but I haven't had any problems using it to seal coasters. If you are worried, use the outdoor or dishwasher safe mod podge or spray your mod podge with some acrylic sealer (the mod podge should keep the ink from reacting to the spray sealer as long as you use light coats).

Then I cut some squares of white felt and glued them to the tile back with tacky glue to finish off my coasters.

Now I have the perfect coasters to use on game night! What started as a test, turned into a fun set of tiles. Though I'm starting to see the potential of the Pinata Extender, the rubbing alcohol works just fine in most situations.