Monday, March 27, 2017

Getting Organized

I've been crafting for my whole life, but I've gotten pretty serious about it in the last few years. That means I have tons of supplies. I try my best to buy them at reasonable prices, but it's of very little consequence if I end up not being able to find them or ruining my supplies because they are tossed in a random box or thrown in a pile. So I've been making an effort as of late to store my supplies better. 

Metal dies are a bit tricky to store. They need to be kept flat so they don't bend and they can be sharp or at the very least, a bit pokey. I had been storing them in a plastic shoe box with my embossing folders, but I was worried they'd get bent and it was hard to see what I had. So I bought an Art Bin Magnetic Storage Case. This box is fairly small--about 10 inches--but stores a ton of dies.

The box comes with 3 Magnetic Die Sheets and you can buy more to fill it. 3 sheets doesn't seem like much, but I was able to fit two complete sets of dies on one sheet. It's nice and compact and the dies are secure on the magnets.

The embossing folders in that same plastic shoe box needed a home of their own too. They aren't as tricky to store, but I found the Darice Embossing Folder Organizer which keeps them all neatly tucked away. Unlike the ArtBin Die box, this portfolio is rather large (bigger than a binder coming in at 17+ inches).

It has 4 pockets per page (double sided) and holds 40 embossing folders.

The pockets fit both 4 x 6 and 5 x7 folders. I took a picture of the larger Cuttlebug brand folders and a smaller freebie folder side by side. They both fit perfectly.

My last organizing challenge was moving my alcohol ink supplies out of a cardboard shoe box and into the Sterilite Stack and Carry Box. I picked mine up at Big Lots for a discounted price.

In the bottom layer, I was able to store all of my inks and my color guides with plenty of room for more inks and my applicators. The second layer stores my craft mats, water pen, plastic palette, air can, eye droppers, etc... The only thing I couldn't fit in the box was my rubbing alcohol bottle.

I'm excited to have my supplies so easily at hand. What storage and organization tips do you have for your craft supplies?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tissue Paper and Mod Podge on Drink Mix Containers

I'm no stranger to decoupaging tissue paper onto plastic containers. It's an excellent way to cover surfaces that aren't perfectly straight and that need to remain semi-flexible and sealed once finished. So when I had managed to accumulate three of these lovely little containers for Target's version of Crystal Light, I knew exactly how to cover them. 

I grabbed my Mod Podge, a foam paintbrush, some coordinating tissue paper, and a scissors.

I used the container as a template for the tissue paper. Tissue paper is tough to cut straight, so if I'm using a scissors, I'll fold the paper to create a cut line. Another good way to cut tissue paper and keep it straight is with a rotary cutter and a ruler. I tend to cut it just a smidge bigger than I need, I'd rather have too much paper than not enough.

Then I spread a thin layer of mod podge onto the container with my foam brush. You don't need much, just enough to get a good seal between the container and the tissue paper. If you use too much, the paper will soak it up and become very fragile (and more likely to wrinkle or even tear).

Next, I gently smoothed the paper onto the glue. Be careful not to rub hard or use wet or sticky fingers with this step. If your fingers become sticky with glue, take a break and clean them so they don't stick to the fragile paper and tear holes in it. Solid colored paper tends to be a bit less sturdy than the stuff that has printed patterns on it, so be extra careful with the plain tissue paper. 

Since these containers have a bit of a flair at the top, I couldn't wrap the paper around the container straight and smooth, I ended up having to tuck the excess at the corners. I tried to keep the top edge straight and just fold the extra over as neatly as possible.

After I was done gluing the paper on, I tipped the containers up and glued any excess paper from the bottom edge down. I find that this looks neater and cleaner than trying to cut it the exact right length and worrying about it being straight on the top and bottom. I let them all set and dry for a bit while I put away the tissue paper and scissors and washed and dried my hands. Since I was making three of these containers, that was enough time for me to start sealing the first container I had worked on without the paper being too wet to work with. A good 5-10 minute rest is recommended to keep the paper from tearing. Letting it dry completely is also totally fine, but I'm terribly impatient.

On the sides that had folded over edges or corners from the irregular shape of the container, I made sure to glue under the folded edge before I put a layer of glue over top to seal it. I try to apply enough glue that it sinks into the tissue paper and creates a thin layer over top. Be careful not to apply it too thickly that it won't dry clear (big globs may not dry all the way or may take a really long time to dry enough to turn clear, so give it a quick check for drips before you leave it to dry).

As the containers dry, some of the wrinkles will smooth out, but unless you were super careful when applying the tissue paper, some of the wrinkles will stick around. It's part of the charm of decoupaging tissue paper.

I took this photo right after they were dry to the touch, so they were still a bit wrinkly, but even if they don't smooth out, they'll make great containers for my office supplies. They'd also work great for cosmetics like storing eyeliner and brow pencils, hair ties, sample packets, etc... What would you store in these containers?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Applying Alcohol Ink with Wax Paper

After last week's second experiment applying alcohol ink with plastic wrap, I was eager for more unusual application methods. I found a couple of white ceramic tiles and figured they were the perfect medium for trying something different, so I grabbed some wax paper. I figured the effect would be fairly similar to the plastic wrap.

I rolled out my craft mat and brought out my alcohol inks. I wiped off the ceramic tile with a paper towel wetted with some rubbing alcohol and let it dry.

To get the tile covered in ink, I started by squeezing some ink onto the tile.

Then placed the wax paper onto the tile and lifted it up. It created a wet mix of colors.

I layered some additional colors on and applied the paper repeatedly. I would place it on the tile, wipe my fingers over it and then lift it up. I would reposition the paper to move any ink that was still on the wax paper to a different part of the tile. As I continued to apply the paper, it started to dry out and soak into the wax paper (it even bled through the paper).

As it dried out, it created an interesting stamped texture. I really liked the texture, but I wasn't real happy about the colors all muting together, so I kept adding bolder colors to try to create more interest. I would sometimes apply ink to the wax paper and fold it over (like a Rorschach ink blot) before applying it to the tile.

On my second tile, I tried crumpling the paper with ink on it.

This application method created even more texture. I tried without much luck to try to apply color in in a controlled fashion to create patterns, etc.. but had very little luck. Random seemed the mode of the day.

If you didn't believe me about the ink soaking through the wax paper--here's the proof. So if getting ink on your hands is not your idea of a good time, you might want to wear gloves with this method. I usually don't get quite this much ink on hands. I was able to get most of it off with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol. Hand sanitizer also helps. If you can get most of it off, the rest will fade in a day or two with normal hand washing.

I had some success adding contrast with some yellow and red ink and really enjoyed this new method.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Plastic Wrap and Alcohol Ink Candles

This fall I tried a new technique with alcohol ink that I had been wanting to try: plastic wrap. The first project I used this technique on was a decorative wine bottle from the dollar store. For that project, I struggled with the plastic wrap not being large enough to cover the whole bottle, so when I decided to do it again, I picked a project that I could easily wrap a piece of plastic all the way around. I also thought I'd be more adventurous with my color choices (last time I chose colors all in the same color family). So this time I chose to make some rainbow colored altar candles

I put down my craft mat and chose a selection of rainbow colored alcohol inks in bright shades. Then I scraped the labels off of the altar candles (and used some goo gone to remove any leftover stickiness). Then I tore off a sheet of plastic cling wrap and put it down on my craft mat.

I randomly dripped my colors onto the plastic wrap. I noticed that the green was mixing with some of the other inks (pink, red, and orange) to create brownish tones.

To make sure it covered the whole candle, I dripped some rubbing alcohol onto the inks to help it spread.

Then I set the onto the plastic wrap and rolled it up. I ran my finger over any areas that looked like they were missing ink to spread it out and set it aside.

On my second sheet of cling wrap, I made a point to start with the colors that would blend well (the orange, yellow, red, pink, and finally purple). Then I added the blue and green carefully into any voids so they wouldn't run together as much.

Again I dropped a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol onto the sheet to help the ink spread.

The second candle turned out a bit less muddled and brown. I was a bit worried that they wouldn't look like a set, but I left them alone while I cleaned up my craft mat and hands of ink.

I did a test on the first candle and peeled back part of the plastic. The ink was still quite wet. It created a pretty watercolor-like pattern, but I was hoping for rainbow candles, so I rolled the ink back up and let it set. I had seen a tutorial online that let the plastic sit on a ceramic tile (which I haven't tried yet), so I thought I'd leave it to dry.

After watching an hour long show on Netflix, I came back and checked them. They were a bit less runny, but still wet under the plastic. Alcohol ink generally dries quite quickly (less than a minute), so I wasn't quite sure what to do, but I decided to peel the plastic off since the colors seemed even less defined than when I first peeled the plastic off after inking. I'm not sure I needed the added rubbing alcohol from my first applications. If you're going for soft colors, though, I'd recommend using the extra rubbing alcohol to help spread the ink.

I knew I wanted to add some more colors to my candles--they were looking awfully mauve. So I grabbed another sheet of plastic wrap and dripped ink onto it and placed my candle on the plastic wrap and peeled it away immediately. I used the plastic to add both color and texture to the ink. I'd peel and stick the plastic even without fresh ink on it to move the colors around and create textures.

I repeated this action several times with the same piece of cling wrap--sometimes adding colors, sometimes not. You could probably get colors that come out cleaner and less brown if you changed plastic with each color. After 5-10 minutes of layering color and peeling away plastic, I was starting to get more rainbow colors. They were still a bit muddied, but they came out quite artsy.

It's hard to get a good picture of this technique (I noticed that with the wine bottle project too). They actually come out even prettier in person than they appear in the picture. I still feel like a novice at this particular inking technique, so I look forward to trying it out some more with different colors and surfaces in the future.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Recycled Peanut Container turned Condiment Canister

Just a quick recycle craft tutorial this week. You know you might have a problem when you need to make a special container for your hot sauce packets. That being said, I needed a special place for my hot sauce packets. :)

So I salvaged a peanut container from the recycling and made a label by finding a photo of some peppers and then searching for a transparent logo to drop over the top. I put it all together in word and added my own glowing text. Then I printed off the whole page onto regular printer paper (24lb white).

Then I cleaned the label off of the peanut container. It was a stubborn one. It required a trip through the dishwasher, scraping, goo gone, more scraping, more goo get the idea. But once it was clean I measured the area that the old label covered and cut my new label to size with a paper cutter. This particular container called for a 3 1/2 inch tall by 8 inch wide label.

Then I used a foam paintbrush to apply a thin layer of mod podge and applied my label.

I painted the glue onto the container and carefully wrapped the label around the front and sides of the container. Then I let it dry for a few minutes so the paper wouldn't be damp and likely to tear.

After it had had a little bit of time (say 10 minutes or so) to set, I then put a thin layer of mod podge over the whole label to seal it. Be careful not to brush aggressively on ink jet printed images--they can smear. I put a layer on with a light touch and then just smoothed out any areas that looked goopy. If you think it's not sealed enough, it's better to put on a thin layer and let it dry then to add more glue when it's wet. It would be much more likely to smear or tear.

I waited about 30 minutes before filling it with hot sauce and popping it in the fridge.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Simple Knotted Suede Bracelet

I bought myself a subscription to Martha Stewart Living last week. It was on sale--I don't usually buy magazines. After I rolled my eyes at Martha's calendar for March (which listed her plans for starting her garden and throwing birthday parties for her grandchildren), I came across a little project for a bracelet that I could do (and had all the stuff to make). Then, I went into my craft stash and got the things I needed and actually made it. Seriously, how often does that happen (and from a magazine no less and not the digital wonderland of Pinterest)? The answer--I can't remember ever making something I saw in a magazine.

Well, there's a first time for everything. I started by fishing some charms out of my bins of jewelry making stuff. I found some skeleton keys, an owl, an Eiffel Tower, a shamrock, and a little blue circle that says "Happiness." I started by using some jewelry pliers to attach jump rings to the charms. If you've never made any jewelry, jump rings are one of the first things you master.

They are just little rings that you can pry open and pinch closed to attach beads and charms to chains or necklaces. They are pretty easy to work with if you have some small pliers. If you don't have a set of jewelry pliers, a needle-nose pliers will work, but it may leave marks on the jump ring.

After I put rings on all of my charms, I strung one onto about a foot of faux suede cording. The magazine suggested a foot, but I found out later that if you have a bigger wrist (as I do) you'll probably need more.

Then I made a loop (the bracelet) and tied one of the free ends in a regular overhand knot over the other side of the cord. Then I repeated it on the other side. (Picture of overhand knot below if you can't see it in the picture above.)

Then you have a bracelet. Just trim off a bit of the extra cording and you can slide the knots to adjust the size of your bracelet. This first one I tried to make turned out tiny. I am not tiny.

So to get a better idea of how big I needed my bracelet, I tied one knot and then slide it onto my wrist and had my husband help me tighten it to about the size I wanted. Then I could tell how much cording I needed, etc... Once you have one made that's about the right size, the rest are easy peasy. I ended up needing about 18 inches (I did not measure, so I'm guessing it was about 18 inches) of cording to make my bracelets (I have a large wrist--7.5 inches tight, 8 inches for a loose bracelet). 

After I knew how long to make them and about how far apart to space the knots, the rest took minutes to make. These should be a lot of fun to wear and easy to stack with each other and other bracelets. Maybe I should try more projects from magazines. :)