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.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Blown Alcohol Ink Plastic Easter Eggs

A while back, I dyed some plastic Easter eggs with the traditional alcohol ink stamping method. When I found a few white eggs in a set of pastel plastic Easter eggs, I knew I needed to revisit the process for even crisper colors.

This time, though, I tried a different method: canned air. The egg halves are pretty light and it's nearly impossible to ink them put together as an egg. So I inked them in their halves and used a bamboo skewer through the holes in the eggs to hold them in place.

I dripped some ink onto the eggs and then used the canned air to spread it out.

It's pretty simple. The only thing you have to watch out for the ink mixing and getting brown. It's especially problematic along the connection half line. Otherwise layer colors and blow it around until you like the way it looks.

I tried to use the same colors on the top and bottom halves of the eggs so they'd match up and then set them aside to dry.

In the end, they turned out pretty cute, and I can't wait to find some more rare white eggs in those collections of colored plastic Easter eggs.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Easter Egg Wreath Repair

6 years ago I made a wreath out of plastic Easter Eggs. It was one of my first in depth projects I posted on the blog. I was super pleased with how it turned out since it was made out of old plastic eggs and Easter grass that I just had laying around, but it looked brand new.

Every year since then I have dutifully hung my egg wreath on the door each Easter season. This year, I discovered that the wreath had fallen off of the shelf (it probably got bumped when getting out Christmas decorations) and broke. Two eggs fell off and a few got broken when it fell on the concrete basement floor.

One of the broken eggs I was able to find a matching egg in my stash and simply swapped out the top halves. I added a little extra glue to it just in case it didn't fit perfectly together. The other egg--the purple one, I couldn't find a matching half for, but I did find a few eggs that were pretty much the same color. The top half of the egg wouldn't fit on the old bottom half, but the whole egg did sit neatly into the bottom half of the old egg. So I just glued the whole new egg into the old bottom half with hot glue, and you can hardly tell.

When I was done gluing back on the eggs that fell off and replacing the broken pieces, I added a little bit of Easter grass in a few places (with a chopstick) and then gave it a good hair cut. After 6 years, the grass had started to get a little hairy looking, so a little trim was needed.

All in all, it has held up pretty well. The eggs have started to fade a bit and the bow is a bit more smooshed than it used to be, but otherwise, it still looks great on my front door.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Spray Painted Plastic Galaxy Eggs

Over the last couple of weeks I have been digging into my stash of plastic Easter eggs to jazz them up. I used washi tape and decoupaged Easter napkins to decorate the eggs, but this week, I decided to break out the spray paint. And, arguably, I think this project turned out the best of all of my plastic Easter egg projects this year.

I grabbed a cardboard box and split the eggs open so they would lay flat and not roll around in the box. I started out with a teal spray paint (Rustoleum's Lagoon).  I made a few quick swipes across the eggs and then let it dry for a few minutes.

Next I grabbed a purple spray paint (Krylon Plum) and followed up with a Blue (Krylon True Blue). I knew I didn't want complete coverage of any one of the colors, so I painted in stripes and zig zags across the eggs trying to cover the plastic underneath, but not the other colors of paint.

I finished it off with some silver spray paint (Rustoleum Metallic Silver) that I tried to spray on in speckles as best as I could. I held the can a little higher and moved it rapidly over the eggs. After the silver spray paint, I was feeling pretty good about the project. They were looking really pretty. I let them dry for a couple hours so that I could put the eggs back together.

After I put the eggs back together, I realized that the coverage looked pretty good from the tops of the eggs, but the sides were still really bare. I didn't know how to spray the sides without them rolling around in the box.

I grabbed an empty egg carton and set the eggs in the carton on their sides. I used the lid too since I needed to lay the eggs on their sides and I couldn't use every egg slot. The two eggs in the middle on the lid did roll a bit, but the others stayed put, and it was much better than free floating in the box.

I repeated the process on both sides of the eggs with the teal, purple, blue, and silver paint. If I do this project again, I'll probably try for a darker blue since the blue and teal paint sort of blended together a bit.

But the end result is so sparkly and pretty. It's hard to capture in a photograph. And...aside from figuring out how to keep the eggs from rolling, this project was super simple and fast (only slowed down by dry times).