Monday, April 30, 2018

Spray Paint Galaxy Notebooks

Ever have one of those, "Hey I wonder if I could..." moments when thinking up craft projects? Well, today I totally thought...hey, I wonder if I could spray paint those composition notebooks that have plastic covers. I had a small stack of them hanging out in my office, just sitting there....looking all lonely and sad, so I decided to jazz them up.

I picked a couple boring blue ones. One appears to be Mead brand...the other one is probably Target brand. I slipped a gallon zip top bag over the paper in the notebooks to avoid the edges getting completely spray painted. I folded the excess bag under the notebook and put them in a cardboard box and took them outside.

Then I grabbed some old spray paint. You'll absolutely need a black and probably a silver--everything else just depends on what you have in your stash. I had a medium blue and a bright purple and a teal and some white. I used a bit of all of those colors. They were all old, mostly Krylon, but the silver is Rustoleum. I started out by spraying the covers black and blue. The white printed labels need some extra covering (as did the white binding), so I let my first coat dry and came back for a second coat.

It was a beautiful warm breezy spring day, so the paint dried quickly and I was able to come back and start spraying swaths of other colors over my black and blue. I tried to keep it just a bit streaky so it didn't all blend together and just kept adding colors until I liked it. I even layered on a little more black after the colors so we didn't completely lose the black.

After I was satisfied with the covers, I took the notebooks out of the box to dry a bit more before flipping them over to do the back side.

After they had a good hour or so to dry, I put them back in the box and folded the zip top bags underneath. I started out with the black and a little blue spray paint again.

The back side went a bit faster since I knew what I was doing. I sprayed on the colors in streaks and layered until I liked the way it looked.

It's hard to really see the depth of color and how shimmery they turned out from the silver paint and the tiny little splatters of paint. They turned out really cool. So yes, you can spray paint composition notebooks that have plastic covers. The binding on the store brand notebook pulled away from the cover just a bit, but I think it will flatten as everything cures. I'm not sure how well these will hold up, so I might paint a thin layer of mod podge over the covers to keep them sealed so the paint doesn't scratch. I'll post an update if I decide to do that.

All in all, this experiment turned out really well, and I can't wait to try out the galaxy spray paint treatment again!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dollar Store Altar Candle Craft Project Collection

Over the years, I've decorated several sets of Dollar Tree's white altar candles. To see the whole collection click here: Altar Candle Collection

Monday, April 16, 2018

Alcohol Ink Splatter Gems

This blog's most popular post is from the first time I ever used alcohol ink on glass gems. Since then, I have tried out several strategies for inking gems. One that I could never get to work right was a simple drip and splatter technique

I had tried a few times to perfect the drip and splatter. I've been successful with tiles and vases and other larger surfaces, but never on the gems. So when I found some slightly larger (bigger than an inch) gems at Walmart, I knew I had to try it again. I rolled out my craft mats and brought out my alcohol inks. I also grabbed some rubbing alcohol, some paper towels, and some canned air.

I started out by dripping a single drop of orange alcohol ink onto my gem. Then I used the canned air to spread it out. A single drop will cover nearly the whole surface. Which leads to one of the biggest problems with this method on such a small surface, when you add another color, it often overtakes the first one, making it very difficult to layer multiple colors.

On the gem above, I have a red, orange and yellow drop of ink. This photo is before I used the air to blow the yellow ink. I think I decided not to so that it wouldn't clear out all the other colors. Another problem is that sometimes the ink will all blow off of the gem and pool underneath it. So it's a tricky process to get to work.

After getting a little frustrated with dripping, I decided it might work better to brush the ink on with a paintbrush (the brush above is a water brush, but I didn't put any water or alcohol in the reservoir--I used several regular paintbrushes too for this process). I simply dripped a drop or two of alcohol ink onto a plastic palette (but a disposable plastic bowl or plate would work well too) and used the brush to apply it to the gem.

I used the paint brush to smear on a blob of ink instead of dripping it. This allowed much more control for where the ink ended up at and how much area was covered. Not all colors of ink worked well for this process. The more saturated or bright colors worked the best.

While the ink was still wet, I used the canned air to spread it out. In the gem above, I had already layered a light green and an aqua before layering on a shade of blue. As I filled the gems in and added contrasting colors, I found that sometimes it worked to just dab the ink on with the paintbrush and not blow it around with air. I could create little circles and dots and fill in areas easily this way.

So I just kept at it--with a combination of dabbed, dripped, and dotted ink, I created some really pretty multi-color gems. I look forward to sealing these (probably with mod podge) and turning some of them into necklaces and some into magnets and possible backing some of them with foil tape.

Some things I learned from this project: 1. Be gentle with the canned air. 2. If you have too much wet ink on your gem, let it dry first for a couple of seconds before using the canned air. 3. If a color seems to disappear after blowing the canned air on it, try a different shade of that color--some seem to work better than others. 4. Keep a cup of rubbing alcohol and some paper towels around to clean the brushes and the palette--the colors mix very easily and turn muddy brown very quickly if switching between colors. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Glass Gems with Alcohol Ink and Enamel Paint

I was at Walmart the other day picking up some essentials and noticed that they started selling giant clear flat glass gems in the floral section. This was exciting for me since Dollar Tree had changed their one inch clear gems so they were iridescent (which sounds cool, but ends up obscuring the ink). Also, these gems were bigger, some near an inch and a half in size, which make for excellent pendants.

So I bought 3 bags of them (at 97 cents each). These flat marbles are made to be used in vases or jars as decorations, they are not designed to be crystal clear and many of them have fuzzy caterpillar like flaws in them. Some are chipped. And nearly all of them were dusty/cloudy.

So my first step was to clean them and sort them based on their clarity/flaws. I used a paper towel wetted with rubbing alcohol to clean them and sorted them into clear, barely flawed, and very flawed (left to right) piles. I put the very flawed ones aside to use for something else.

Another new and exciting development is that I finally saw a Tim Holtz applicator (the official applicator sold by the folks who make the Ranger alcohol inks) on sale on Amazon for a good price and broke down and bought one. I usually use my homemade applicator. It is well loved and well inked at this point, so I was really interested to see if there was much of a difference between the two.

So I started out with my old trusty stamper and a few shades of green ink. I put four or 5 drops of ink on the applicator, which was enough to get a good base color on four gems. I stamped each one several times until I started to see the ink separate just a bit and create little ring patterns.

I then proceeded to add colors. I ended up with three different sets of base colors: green, green-blue, and blue. Then I used the new stamper to add accent colors--two drops of ink at a time--to each gem. The store bought applicator itself was pretty much the same as my homemade version (aside from the handle). The felt was a little better quality then the kind I buy in the kids crafting section and cut up. It left fewer strands of acrylic on the ink in the stamping process, so I might shell out for the pre-cut felt the next time I see it on sale as it should fit on both applicators. But overall, I saw no significant difference between my little homemade stamper and the store bought one.

After I was satisfied with my color combinations (which took about 4 pieces of felt each with 3 different colors of ink on them each stamped several times), I set the gems aside to dry for a bit.

And then I decided to try out another new supply in my craft cabinet: enamel craft paint. Folk Art and Americana both sell versions of this special craft paint designed for painting on glass. It's supposed to be dishwasher safe after baked in the oven or allowed to cure for a month. I didn't need the paint to be washable, just to stay on the gems and provide contrast, so I didn't bake it.

This isn't the first time I had tried backing alcohol ink decorated glass gems with white paint. The first time, I used white spray paint. The gems had great contrast, but the process was fussy. It required that I tape all of the edges with painters tape and spray several coats and then the glue on bails didn't stay on as well as usual. So I was looking for a simpler process.

The paint was particularly thick (I bought the wicker white Folk Art variety from Walmart), and it spread on kind of sticky until I thinned it a bit by wetting my paint brush, but by that point I had already put a gloppy coat on. And the ink had already bled into the paint. I applied a couple more coats to get a more finished product, but the result ended up a bit muddled. Even after a few coats, the ink still seemed to bleed through the layers (as seen above).

The colors didn't come out any where near as crisp as they did with the spray paint version. I'll probably give it another whirl where I let the ink dry for a day or two before painting. Or maybe I can try a coat of mod podge or spray sealer to seal it before painting on the white paint, but at any rate, it's a bit of a work in progress. 

I did find that the gems from Walmart are nice and clear after cleaned and that my old trusty homemade stamper works just as well as the store bought version. I also determined that painting the backs by hand with a brush is an easier process--even if it takes a few coats--but as is, the finished product doesn't come out as clearly as spray paint.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Crafting Revisit: Magnetic Pin Dishes

One of my most popular posts on this blog was from way back when I was just starting the blog about 6 years ago (has it really been that long!?!). I had seen a picture on Pinterest of a thrift store plate being turned into a magnetic pin dish. I though this was a fantastic idea. The original post I was inspired by has long since been taken down or disappeared into the ether of the internet, but my original magnetic pin dish post is still available. At some point or another, I revisit all of my most popular posts to see if there are ways I can improve on the original. This project I've never revisited because I hadn't come across a decent deal on the neodymium magnets needed to make the pin dishes. But I recently picked up a batch in an Amazon order, so there were no more excuses!

The next step was to get some plates or bowls that would work for this project. I stopped at the neighborhood Goodwill and had several options. The plates or bowls need to have a few features: not too thick of a base, a ridged base (so the magnets don't keep it from sitting flat on the table), and a nice curve to keep the pins from sliding out.

Though I could have brought home at least half a dozen choices, I ended up with 3. A saucer with blue flowers (this one was the largest and had a relatively thick base), a small bowl with a couple of flowers and a textured edged, and a newer small bowl with flowers painted along the edge. The smallest bowl was 79 cents and the other two were marked at 99 cents. Most of the bowls and plates that would work were marked around 99 cents at my local Goodwill. You may be able to get them for less at a rummage sale or at a non-chain thrift store....but 1-2 dollars is probably fairly standard for small glassware and dishes (at least in the Midwest).

I picked up some 10 mm (just under a half inch for those not savy in the metric system) neodymium magnets. They came in a nice little case, and would work great for fridge magnets. They are fairly strong, but they are the absolute smallest I would go with for this project. I had some 1/2 inch magnets from Michael's that were more magnetic for the first time I did this project. I'd recommend those over the 10 mm ones.

For this project you will need: a small bowl or plate, neodymium magnets, and e6000 glue. You may be able to use super glue or an epoxy glue if you've got those instead. 

My first step was to test the magnets on the dishes to see if they would hold pins. I just held one to the bottom of each and put some pins in the dish. All of them worked ok. So the next step was putting a small dollop of the e6000 on the bottom and attaching the magnets. One tricky aspect of working with neodymium magnets is that they are really magnetic. They attract each other pretty easily. The photo above is an example of what happens if you put your magnets too close together--they will slide right out of the glue. So I put one on each plate and let it dry for about an hour and then came back to add more. 

Because these magnets were barely strong enough for this project, I wanted to add extras to the bottom of the dishes. So I ended up using little strips of cardboard to keep them from pulling out of the glue and attracting to each other.

Once they were dry, I filled them with pins and was good to go.