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.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Decoupaged Thanksgiving Plaque

This project started out as a fail, but I managed to save it in the end. I had bought a wooden plaque from Walmart to try out a printable iron on product for wood. It sounded like a really cool idea, but I didn't get it to work on my first try--so a post about that will have to wait until I figure the stuff out.

The first thing I did was measure my wooden plaque. The surface measured about 6 1/4 inches in diameter.

I found an image of a fall wreath (a free printable of a watercolor wreath) from the website Place of My Taste that I used to create my design. I inserted the image into Word and adjusted the color so the background was white. Then I found a font that looked like a brush script and put the words "Give Thanks" in the middle. I adjusted the size of the whole thing to be about 6 1/4 inches so that it would be the right size when I printed it out. For the iron on version, I mirrored the text, but since that failed, I returned the text back to normal and printed it out on a piece of card stock covered in tissue paper. I've used this method a few times on the blog. It's really easy if you have a top loading ink jet printer. Tape some white tissue paper onto a piece of card stock. Fold all of the edges over and tape them with transparent tape and just print your design.

I let my image printed on the tissue paper dry while I prepped my wooden plaque. The failed attempt at ironing on the design left a blurry partially transferred image and a slightly bumpy surface, so I dug out my vibrating sander and buffed it up as best as I could.

The design was stubborn, and I'm sure if I had been patient and dug out some lower grit sandpaper, I could have removed more of the image, but I knew I was going to have to paint the wood anyway to get the best results, so I just made sure it was smooth. Then I dug out some white craft paint and a foam brush. I wetted my foam brush so that the paint would thin a bit (more of a white wash) so the grain of the wood would show through.

I painted my wooden plaque with a coat of white craft paint. When I was done, I took a second pass over the top of the plaque to hide the old design a bit more. Then I let it dry for about a half an hour--it could have probably dried a bit longer, but I was inpatient as usual.

I cut my tissue paper out into a circle while still attached to the card stock (much easier to cut tissue paper that's on the card stock then by itself). I painted a thin coat of mod podge over the plaque and did my best to center the design and tap it into place.

After a few minutes, the glue had absorbed a bit and had started to set. I made sure my fingers were dry and then smoothed out a few of the wrinkles and the edges. Then I left it to dry for about an hour.

Then I came back and painted a layer of glue over the top to seal it. Images printed with ink jet printer ink tend to smear a bit, so don't brush too much, just get the glue on and make sure there aren't any globs. If you need to do another coat later, it won't' smear like it did with the first pass, so just get the glue on for this coat.

I ended up happy with one coat of sealing mod podge. It turned out so much better than the first attempt. The white washed wood is a perfect surface to decoupage white tissue paper--it disappears on the surface. I can't wait to try it again!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Alcohol Ink Splatter Tiles: Testing Rubbing Alcohol, Blending Solution, and Extender

I'm pretty thrifty, so even though I've been pretty obsessed with alcohol inks for the last few years, I've been too cheap to buy the blenders and extenders that the ink companies sell. I use rubbing alcohol to thin my ink and clean up after my projects. It's worked well, but I've always wondered if the specially created thinners would work better. So I broke down and bought Ranger's Blending Solution and Pinata's Extender to compare with my usual 91% rubbing alcohol (70% works pretty similarly if that's all you have at home. I tried that out in another post.).

So I laid out three ceramic tiles (all bought at the same time from the local hardware store) and decided to compare how each of these thinners worked. I used Pinata's Baja Blue and Ranger's Sailboat Blue as a basis of comparison. The Pinata ink is in the lower portion of the tile (and has dried) while the Ranger ink is in the upper portion of the tile and has just had the thinners applied. I used two drops of the Pinata ink and one drop of the thinner on each tile and three drops of the Ranger ink and one drop of thinner. 

The ink reacted slightly differently when the thinners were first dropped onto the inks (as you can see in the upper drop that hasn't dried yet), but they dried to a very similar appearance. The extender seems to react with the color of the ink less and instead spreads the ink. The rubbing alcohol will turn the ink white before mixing with the ink and smoothing out. The main difference in the reactions was that the Pinata ink was thicker and didn't spread as much or become as translucent. This didn't differ between thinners.

So I decided to test out how the different thinners behaved when blown with canned air. And for the most part, the ink thinned out the same. The rubbing alcohol is a bit more liquid, so the ink moved around a bit more freely and with less control when using the rubbing alcohol than with the other thinners. 

To finish my testing, I tried the splatter technique that creates little cells in the ink when emptying a nearly empty eye dropper or pipette onto the ink. I knew the rubbing alcohol would work, but I needed it for the comparison. I emptied just about all of the rubbing alcohol out of the dropper and squeezed the air through it to force out tiny droplets. The alcohol created distinct circles and cells in the ink.

It was tricky to get the blending solution into a dropper since it comes with it's own squeeze tip. The blending solution didn't react quite as much with the ink and wanted to come out in larger drops (like the light green ones in the center of the tile) since it's thicker than the rubbing alcohol.

The extender reacted the least. It was easier to get into the dropper since it has an open top, but the ink didn't turn completely white in the places where I splattered the solution. Instead it just lightened the ink on the places where the extender dropped.


I completed the tiles by splattering a little rubbing alcohol on all of them so they had matching patterns of drops. They turned out pretty cool, and in the end, I have decided that more testing is needed to determine if the name-brand thinners are worth it. My initial reaction is that since they cost 2 to 3 times as much for significantly smaller bottles than the rubbing alcohol, that for the casual crafter or beginner inker, they just aren't worth it. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Thanksgiving Candles

I'm addicted to Dollar Tree Altar Candles. They are those plain white jar candles that you can pick up in a variety of places, but at Dollar Tree, they are only a dollar (duh :)). So I've decorated them in just about every way I can think of (click here to see my other altar candle projects); however, I didn't have a set of candles for Thanksgiving. I needed some to replace my Halloween candles since I was putting away all the jack-o-lanterns in favor of the generic fall and Thanksgiving stuff.

I found some cute napkins at Dollar Tree when I bought my last batch of candles. They had pumpkins at the bottom and a bunch of fall/Thanksgiving words printed above. I thought the long napkins would be just the right size for the altar candles (and they were). So I grabbed two candles, the napkins, a jar of mod podge, a foam paint brush, and a paper plate.

I opened up the napkins and noticed that the second layer was loose, so I peeled the napkin apart. Sometimes the napkins will be really well embossed and you don't have to peel them apart, but if they come apart when cutting or are loose, peel them apart so they don't come apart when you're trying to glue them.

I used the jars of the candles as a guide to cut the napkins. After rolling the napkin around the jar, I noticed that the pumpkins would over lap. They were just a bit too far apart from each other on the napkin to get two pumpkins neatly on the candle, so I decided to cut two panels--it would mean two seams, but two whole pumpkins would be visible.

I glued the larger panel down first by spreading a thin layer of mod podge down on the candle with my foam brush. Use just enough glue to secure the paper to the surface. Less glue will mean less wrinkles and the napkin won't get as wet. Wet or sticky napkins tear very easily.

I arranged the napkin so it was straight at the top edge of the candle and then tapped the napkin down. Be very gentle and make sure your hands stay dry so as not to tear the napkin. I glued the free edge down after the napkin was placed by spreading a bit more glue on the candle and tapping the rest of the napkin down.

Then I switched to the other candle and repeated the process. I didn't glue the back panel on just yet because the napkins were very fragile, and I didn't want to tear it while handling the candle. The time it took to glue the first panel on the other candle was just enough time to stabilize the glue a bit. It wasn't quite dry, but it was dry enough that my fingers wouldn't tear the paper from just picking the candle up. I then glued the other panel on the back. I had to trim the panel a bit to fit so the excess wouldn't overlap the other pumpkin design. Then I spread a thin layer of glue down and tapped the napkin panel into place while trying to line up the top edge with the top of the candle jar and the bottom edge with the design of the other napkin panel.

Once it was tapped into place, I glued the free edges down where it overlapped with the first napkin panel. I tapped/very gently smoothed the napkin down.

Once the napkin panels were all glued into place, I left them to dry for about an hour so that the napkins wouldn't tear when I added the sealing layer of glue. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but the napkins are loose along the edges in some places. I like to err on the side of not tearing the napkins and just try to get them into place without fussing about if all the edges are perfect--they can be glued down better when the sealing coat of glue is applied.

Because I am impatient, I glued the bottom edges down while I was waiting for the rest of the paper to dry. I carefully flipped the jar over and painted a tiny bit of glue along the bottom edge of the candle and smoothed the napkin over with my fingers. Then I added just a bit of glue over top to seal the napkins. Then I left them flipped over to finish drying.

Once the candles were dry, I spread a sealing coat of mod podge onto the candles. I spread a thin layer, making sure not to leave blobs or clumps of glue and smoothing out any loose edges. Then I let them dry for a couple hours. Sometimes I quit there with decoupage projects, but the napkins absorbed the glue, and it didn't appear as sealed and slightly glossy as I would have liked, so I painted on a second coat and let it dry.

I ended up with cute pumpkin candles for Thanksgiving. I'm so glad I have some Thanksgiving candles to replace my Halloween ones on my kitchen table. These white jar candles are such an inexpensive blank slate. I'm always looking for a new way to decorate them. This is the first time I've used a long napkin with an irregular pattern, but they turned out great!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Quick Craft: Electric Toothbrush Monograms

I've been using vinyl cut on my Silhouette for the last few projects on the blog, this one is just a quick little bonus. Hubby and I got some electric toothbrushes--but the same toothbrush. They do come with a little tiny colored ring to tell them apart, but I thought I could do better.

So I opened up the Silhouette Studio and typed in our initials and adjusted them for size and shape until I liked what I saw. I figured that if I was cutting out initials, I might as well fill the whole few inches of vinyl straight across the 12 inch width, so I threw a couple other designs on there that would be appropriate in blue (I'm sure they'll come up in some post later on) and cut it all out.

Cutting on vinyl is pretty easy once you have it set up. I used the recommended settings from the program and let it go. Once my designs were cut out, I cut the strip of vinyl off the roll.

There wasn't too much room on the toothbrush handles, so I kept it simple with one letter for each of us. The letters ended up being about 3/4 inch wide and a little over an inch tall. I cut them out of the vinyl and just peeled them off and stuck them on the toothbrushes like stickers--easy-peasy.