Monday, January 29, 2018

Valentine's Day Plate

Back in November, I made a bowl with cartoon strips decoupaged onto the back. I used dishwasher-safe mod podge so the decorated bowl could still be washed. It worked pretty well. Decoupaged dishes are no longer relegated to being only decorative. So, I decided I needed to make a decoupaged Valentine's Day plate.

I found some cute decorative napkins at my local grocery store. Unfortunately, the design wasn't in the least bit circular (like my plate), so I had to cut it apart to get it to work on my plate. I grabbed my dollar store plate, the dishwasher-safe mod podge, a scissors, the napkins, and a foam brush. I later used a paper plate to keep the glass plate up off of the table while the glue dried. 

My first step was to remove the label on the plate and wash off any dirt or sticker residue. The dishwasher-safe mod podge recommends cleaning glass surfaces with rubbing alcohol--so I put some on a paper towel and wiped it clean before I started with my decoupaging.

I first cut the heart out of one of the napkins. I decided to leave a border of white around it figuring it would show any cutting imperfections a bit less that way. If I did this project over, I'd probably carefully cut the heart out so the white wasn't showing, but it still looks ok with the white edging.

I painted a thin layer of glue onto the plate and placed the heart in the center. I carefully smoothed the heart from the center out. Tissue paper and napkins will wrinkle when placed on the mod podge. They wrinkle a bit less if you use less glue (and they smooth out quite a bit as they dry). They are also less likely to tear if you go easy on the glue. However, if you use too little, it might not adhere.

After the heart was glued down. I cut apart the polka dot sections of the napkins into to 3 inch-ish sections and glued them around the edge. I made sure the edge of the plate was covered, even if that meant the napkin hung over the edge.

After I made it around the plate once, there were some areas where the shape of the polka dot design meant that the napkin didn't fill in the entire edge of the plate. I added more polka dots up to the edge of the center of the plate, just by layering more pieces of the napkin over the first ring of polka dots. I ended up using all of one napkin and a little bit of a second for this part of the project.

Once the ring around the edge was complete, I cut strips of white paper from the center of the napkin to fill in around the heart. Then I checked for any loose edges and made sure everything was glued down well. Be careful while the paper is all wet with glue. It's easy to tear the paper while trying to smooth things out. If you do tear anything, just carefully glue more paper over the tear. At this point, it kind of looked like wet toilet paper and wasn't very promising. But I knew it would smooth out as it dried.

The dishwasher-safe mod podge takes longer than regular mod podge to dry. The bottle recommends 3 hours between coats. It took at least 2 for the first application to dry to the touch. After it did, I noticed that some of the white paper had become translucent. I debated adding a sheet of white tissue paper to the back to make it more opaque, but I decided that I kind of liked the translucence. So I forged ahead. I trimmed all of the paper that was hanging over the edge of the plate with a scissors.

Then I applied a second coat of the dishwasher-safe mod podge to the back of the plate, smoothing the loose paper along the edge of the plate with my finger. This coat took a bit less time to dry and the paper got even a bit more translucent. 

It was dark by the time the second coat was dry, but you get the general idea. It was a fun project and I still have at least one more coat of mod podge to go before it is sealed. The bottle recommends 3 coats and then a 30-day cure before washing.

Valentine's Day Plate

On Monday, I managed to get in two more coats of mod podge--one before work and one after work. By Tuesday, everything was dry and ready to go. I can't wash it for a month, but I can set it out and maybe put some cookies on it on V-day.

The coolest part about the plate is that it's so transparent. It's hard to see when it's setting down on a table, so I took a photo of it in the sunlight. I'm just scratching the surface at the possibilities for mod podge on dinnerware. I can't wait for my next project.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Fired Alcohol Ink on a Mirror Plate

Last week I tried setting fire to my alcohol inks for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. So after a trip to Dollar Tree provided some mirrored candle plates, hubby asked what I thought they would look like if I fired the ink on them too. I couldn't get the idea out of my head, so I just had to try it!

Just like last week, I cleared off a heatproof surface (my stove top with an old cookie sheet on it) and cleaned the surface off (this time with glass cleaner and then with rubbing alcohol). I grabbed my alcohol inks, some 90% rubbing alcohol, and an eye dropper. After I had all of my supplies out, I cleared them all off of the stove top and out of the way of any future flames.

I grabbed a few colors of ink and dripped them so that I had ink covering most of the surface. I learned from my trial run on the tile last week that you need more ink and rubbing alcohol on the surface than you'd think to keep the flame burning across the surface.

After I covered it in ink, I dropped on some rubbing alcohol with the eyedropper. Then I set it on fire with a long-handled lighter. It achieved a pretty good flame across the surface this time, so I was excited for the flame to go out so I could examine the results.

But it was fairly blah. I'm not sure if it was the ink colors I chose or the reflective qualities of the mirror, but it definitely needed more contrast.

So, I got to work adding ink and rubbing alcohol and setting it on fire in little sections. I even ended up dripping just a drop or two of ink on and lighting it on fire immediately. This seemed to work fairly well, and I was happy with the more precise results it offered.

After more ink and rubbing alcohol and more fire, I was fairly pleased with how it turned out. It's really hard to get a photo of the ink on the mirror. They always come out looking blurry. In person, it looks more reflective than blurry. It definitely looks different than any other surface I've tried to ink.

All in all, I'd call this second foray into fired alcohol ink a success. It turned out pretty cool (or hot...pun intended :)). I hope to refine my methods with fire and keep finding new surfaces I can try it out on. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Setting Alcohol Ink on Fire?

A long while back, I watched a video where someone set their alcohol ink on fire on a ceramic tile. I thought, well hey, that's cool, but what's the point? It seemed a bit like a stunt to me, so I never tried it. But the video popped back up on my Pinterest feed and I was like, what the heck, I guess I'll give it a try and see what the fuss is about.

So, I gathered my supplies: Alcohol Inks (I used Ranger brand for this project), a 6-inch ceramic tile (these cost about 50 cents a piece at your local hardware store), some 90% rubbing alcohol (I bought mine at Target), an eye dropper, a heatproof surface (I used my ceramic stove top and a little old cookie sheet), and a lighter (long handled would work best). 

I removed all alcohol based items from the stove so only the sheet pan and my tile were on it, and I turned on the hood fan (see, I was being careful, Mom :)). Having a pot lid to set on top of it if it got out of hand and a fire extinguisher nearby would also be good ideas. I picked a few colors of my alcohol ink, and I squirted them onto the tile randomly (and then set the inks down away from the stove top).

After I had a good bit of ink on the tile, I used the eyedropper to drip the rubbing alcohol onto the tile (and set aside out of the way). The rubbing alcohol thins the ink out a bit and provides more fuel for the flame.

Then I used the lighter to start the whole thing on fire. The flames weren't as big as I expected them to be (see the right side of the tile) and only parts of the tile caught on fire. I had to go back and light the other side and kind of drag the flame over the tile to make sure it all lit on fire.

I was impressed with the effect the fire gave the ink. It blended colors together without them turning brown and made the ink an even darker more vivid shade. Since my first stab at the colors seemed to need some contrast and to fill the tile in a bit more, I added more ink and alcohol and repeated the process.

Getting closer, but not quite, so I added some more blue and more rubbing alcohol spritzed on and fired it one more time.

I think it turned out really neat. The colors are so vibrant. Alcohol inks are vibrant to start with and they come out even more saturated with color after firing. You do need a fair bit of ink and alcohol on the tile to get it to start on fire, and I was surprised that the ink still seemed tacky afterword even after starting it on fire. The flame didn't get too big and the tile never got really hot, so it didn't feel like a crazy stunt while I was doing it (that said--still take smart fire precautions if you try it).

In the end, I think this method has a lot of potential for decorating tiles. These tiles would make great trivets, but I'm not sure what kind of sealer would work best against hot pans--anyone have any ideas? If not, I'll spray seal it and use it decoratively.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge?

A couple months ago I made some cute bowls using the funny pages from the Sunday paper (follow the link for the original post). They were a lot of fun and could be used decoratively, but I wanted to be able to use them for snacks or even my Saturday morning cereal. So I used some dishwasher safe mod podge to glue the paper on. I followed the instructions diligently and even allowed extra dry time between layers. Then it said I would have to wait at least 30 days for the glue to cure before I could put it in the dishwasher. I waited 62 days (I just set them on a shelf bottom up and forgot about them through the end of the year).

So today was the fated day. The dishwasher was half loaded with plenty of room on the top rack to put the bowls and not have them touch anything else while washing. I filled the bottom rack as normal and ran them through a wash (with the "pots and pan" wash and "heated dry" cycles because it's an older dishwasher and those are the settings I normally use to get everything clean and sanitary).

I let the whole cycle run and then let it cool down. Everything was still a bit warm when I finally checked on them, but they had had plenty of time to cool down a bit and dry off (I think they were sitting in the dishwasher about 2 hours after the cycle finished). I was slightly surprised to find them in pretty much the same state as I had put them in the dishwasher. 

Sadly, one of the bowls jostled itself during the cycle so that it was a bit stuck between the prongs and I tore the paper as I pulled it out of the washer. The finish felt firm and slightly glossy--perhaps a bit less glossy than when they went in, but definitely still sealed. The paper didn't feel soggy or look doughy anywhere. Even where it tore, the paper was dry. All and all, I'd say it was successful. Just be careful where you position the pieces in the dishwasher so the paper doesn't tear against any of your dishwasher's prongs.

Verdict: It works! Would I use the dishwasher regularly with these--no probably not, I don't think they'd last very long regularly using the dishwasher. But they would work just fine for hand washing and occasionally running through the dishwasher.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Best of the Blog 2017

Happy New Year! It's that time of the year where I like to reflect on the projects I've made over the past year and share with you some of the most popular and some of my favorites. It's always amazing to look back and see all of the things I've made, and it encourages me to come up with great ideas for the next year.

Most Popular Posts

Most of the posts that are the "most popular" were posted in January and February of last year. They have had the benefit of being up on the blog the longest, so they have more hits. This one surprised me because I considered it to be a bit of a failed project, but coming in at #1 for hits was my Alcohol Ink Mirrored Candle Plate. I tried spreading ink on this plate in about a dozen different ways, and though it was always cool looking, I never ended up with one I was happy with. Clearly, it's time to revisit that post and try again.

My second most popular post of the year embodied many of my alcohol ink posts this year--trying different techniques and surfaces. I've inked a lot of different things, but this stamped glass bowl from Dollar Tree turned out really cool, and I'll be keeping an eye out for more textured glass to ink in the future.

My #3 most popular post of the year was this quick bookmark project. I used some spray paint marbled paper that I had made (and is one of my long-running favorite projects) and cut some shapes out of the paper with my Silhouette. It could easily be done with a basic paper punch, though, and is a great way to utilize that marbled paper.

My #4 most popular post this year was this project decorating altar candles from the dollar store with alcohol ink. I tried a technique that I've been working on mastering this year where you smear the ink on using plastic wrap. The candles turned out great, and I can't wait to find other projects that I can use that technique on.

My 5th most popular post was this metal flower pot from the dollar store that I decorated for Valentine's day with alcohol ink. A quick heart out of painter's tape and a lot of pink ink later, it turned out great!

Honorable Mentions

Since most of the posts that have seen the most online love have come from early in the year, I thought I'd pick a few of my favorite projects from the rest of the year to share as Honorable Mentions.

My first honorable mention goes out to my bowls made from the Sunday funnies. This project is fairly recent, but it was so much fun to make. The decoupage glue I used claims to be dishwasher safe, so stay tuned to find out how well it works now that the requisite curing period is over. 

Another one of my favorites from this year were these cute candle holders I made by punching out tissue paper and decoupaging it onto some glass candle holders. I have been trying to make paper punched candle holders since the early days on the blog and I was really excited to finally get it to work right (tip: you have to punch multiple layers of tissue paper to get it to work).

It wouldn't be a "best of the blog" post without featuring some kind of glass gem project. My favorite from this year was when I used circle stickers on some smaller glass gems to make magnets. These were my choice to feature because they turned out so bright and fun. The white backing of the stickers really made the colors pop!

I thought I'd also feature another alcohol ink project I did this year where I tried a different application technique. For this one, I applied ink to ceramic tiles with wax paper. I thought it turned out so differently than any other application process I've used so far, and I can't wait to try it again.

My last honorable mention goes out to the paper punch heart bowl that I made for last Valentine's day. It was the first project where I finally mastered punching tissue paper with a paper punch, and I loved the way it turned out. 

I hope you find some inspiration from this last year's projects! I can't wait to make more in 2018!