Monday, May 22, 2017

Alcohol Ink Stamped Mirror

In January I bought a mirrored candle plate from Dollar Tree because I hadn't used alcohol ink on a mirror yet. I used bright colors and canned air and it didn't quite turn out the way I had hoped. I wiped the plate off several times with rubbing alcohol and restarted. After several months with color splotches, I cleaned it off again (some surfaces don't clean off easily after months--the less porous the better) and it came completely clean. After the initial rinse with rubbing alcohol and then with water, I wet down a paper towel with some rubbing alcohol for any spots that were stubborn and left it on the mirror to soak for a couple minutes and it wiped right off.

This time I had the idea that I wanted to create a sort of galaxy pattern. I would cut stars out of painters tape and sprinkle them across the plate. Then after stamping and a little spattering of rubbing alcohol, it would look like outer space. First I tried cutting the stars with a scissors...they looked more misshapen with every attempt. Then I had the brilliant idea of using a paper punch. It mangled the tape by itself, so I stuck it on some parchment paper--scratch that--it didn't stick at all (which shouldn't have been as surprising as it was since that's the whole point of parchment paper). Next, I tried wax paper (as seen above), which sort of worked. They would come out a bit ragged, but they punched through some of the time. Then I tried tinfoil. It punched out perfectly, but I couldn't get the darn tape stars off of the aluminum foil.

So I went back to the wax paper. I discovered that it cut much more cleanly if I did a blind punch (bottom down, punch lever up), so that's what I ended up doing to punch the rest of my little stars.

I laid out a little pattern of stars on my plate and rubbed the edges of the tape down as best as I could.

Next, I grabbed my alcohol ink applicator and some ink that I thought would create a night sky effect: pitch black, indigo, purple twilight, and silver.

I dripped all of the colors of ink except the silver onto the felt and stamped it onto the mirror. Immediately the tape stars peeled up. One came off entirely. The rest I was able to flatten out a bit. But I wasn't hopeful that they would create any kind of resist, but I carried on. After the first pass of color, it was really loose and watercolor-y. That wasn't the look I was going for, so I kept stamping.

After stamping a few times with the existing colors, it became more stippled, and I added the silver to the mix. I was really liking how the mirror reflected the ink (which is hard to see in the photos).

After I was fairly happy with the color mix, I dug out an eye dropper and dripped a bit of rubbing alcohol on the mirror. I used the technique where I emptied the eye dropper so there was just residual alcohol in the tube, then squeezed the end to blow any remaining alcohol onto the ink in tiny droplets. This method is really effective on white surfaces but was barely visible on the mirror. I stamped and dripped alcohol until I was happy with the way it looked.

I really liked the way the ink looked on the mirror at this point, but I knew the tape stars would require a miracle to work. I waited a minute for the ink to dry a bit and then peeled the tape stars off the mirror.

As you can see, or rather not see, the tape stars were barely visible. Too much ink bled underneath the tape, and they just looked like blurry mirror blobs. So I re-inked my felt to fill the weird blobs in a bit.

To fill in the voids, I had to mostly cover the mirror with ink, which means I lost almost all of the reflective quality, but I still think the blue/silver/black speckled look turned out really beautiful. I was pretty frustrated with this one while I was doing it since I wasted a good hour on the tape stars and figuring out what would work, and then it totally missed the mark, but I just kept going, and it still turned out pretty nice.

Remember if you're happy with your design and it's going to be handled or around any alcohol based liquids (including hairspray and perfume) be sure to seal your alcohol ink masterpieces with some mod podge or clear acrylic spray. Alcohol ink stays put pretty well on glass if you are just keeping it as a decorative piece on a shelf, but sealing it keeps the ink from smudging, smearing, or flaking off.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Alcohol Ink Dyed Silk Flowers Refresh

3 years ago I made a wreath with some cheap silk daisies (I think I bought them at Dollar Tree eons ago). After a summer out on the door, I noticed that the wreath was starting to fade a bit in the sun. I even posted an update to watch the changes. It lasted 2 more summers before it became so faded that the purple had turned almost all back to white, so it was a time for a refresh before I hung it on the door for this summer.

The green and the blue seemed to fade the least, but the wreath was definitely in need of an update all around.

I started with the most faded flower. I tore up some small pieces of parchment paper to protect the wreath itself and applied my alcohol ink along the edge of the felt applicator. My flowers were dyed with ink from the Summit View and Dockside Picnic sets by Ranger.

The flowers soak up quite a bit of ink as you stamp it on, so I was only able to cover about 1/3 of the flower with the ink from my first application. You can use a little rubbing alcohol or blending solution to help the ink go further on the flowers, but if you use too much, it gets a little blotchy in color. I tried to use just a couple drips of rubbing alcohol on my felt for the whole flower. I applied the ink to the edge so that I could get the ink up along the center of the flower. After a few repeated applications and stamping, I covered the whole flower.

When I was all done, I checked the edges of the petals (and on this flower, the second layer of petals) to make sure I had covered the whole flower and then moved on to the next one. I tore new pieces of parchment to catch the ink for each color so that the ink wouldn't mix. You may also need to wipe the edge of your applicator off with a paper towel or napkin soaked in rubbing alcohol to keep the colors from mixing.

I repeated the application of ink on all of the flowers until the wreath was completely refreshed. Now it's all bright and should last another few years on my front door. I expect that silk flowers dyed with alcohol ink that aren't in the steady sun would probably last a bit longer. Let me know what your experiences have been in the comments!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Deck Refresh Part 2

So, a couple weeks ago we started our deck refresh project. Then after it dried for a rained for like 5 days straight. So we couldn't do the recommended second coat of the DeckOver we used to paint our deck (click the link above to read all about our first coat). Well this week it was nice again, and I just finished submitting grades at school, so we figured it would be a good time to get another coat on.
Deck after one coat of DeckOver
On Saturday we cleared the deck off, swept and hosed it down. Then we went to Home Depot to get more paint and brushes.

Note about the quantity of paint to buy: We used way more of the DeckOver than we expected. Our deck isn't that big and we figured we'd be able to use one gallon to cover the whole deck--but we were way wrong. We barely got a single coat on the deck with the two gallons we bought. So back we went. The DeckOver is the consistency of pudding and fills in cracks and gouges, so if your deck is in kinda rough shape (as are most decks when you opt for paint instead of sealing or staining) you'll end up using more than you expect.

We let the deck dry overnight and started painting on Sunday. The second coat went on more easily than the first. It took about an hour less time to paint and we had enough to give a really good coat to the steps--which we barely got covered in the first coat because we were running out of paint.

We were worried we'd run out again, so we didn't fill all of the cracks in the floorboards, but the boards that we did put extra paint on, looked so much better. We ended up having a bit of paint leftover, and if it doesn't rain too much this week, we'll try to use it up on the floorboards to finish it off.

Overall we're pretty satisfied with the project even though it ended up costing more than we expected it to (since we had to buy twice as much paint). It looks much better and even feels sturdier with all the paint holding things together. A few of the places where we didn't get a good thick first coat on were peeling a bit after just a couple weeks, so I am worried that it won't last long. Hopefully, the recommended second coat will help keep the paint from peeling.

Sadly I couldn't get great photos of the nearly finished project as we went to a movie while it was drying and was too dark to take pictures when I got home. Then this morning it was raining and overcast. Hopefully, you can see the improvements.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Perler Bead Fail

I'm not sure how I managed to make it to 36 without ever having used Perler beads, but here I am. I saw some cute projects using the melting plastic beads while I was browsing Pinterest and craft blogs, so I figured it might be fun to give them a try. I found a kit that included a mix of different colored beads, peg boards, ironing paper, and instructions for creating mandala patterns. I figured that would be a little more grown up than some of the other options and bit the bullet. The kit costs $6-8 and contained everything I needed to give these beads a whirl. After reading some tutorials online, I sprung for the tweezers (I have big hands and figured I'd be swearing if I didn't).

The first thing I found out is that the bucket looks bigger in photos online than it appears in real life. The bucket is about 6 inches by 5 inches. They do manage to cram a lot of stuff into the little bucket though. It even comes with 3 peg boards (one is shrink wrapped to the lid). The next thing I found out was that the "patterns" for the designs are just pictures with no colors or numbers for reference.

When I first received the bucket of beads, I made a pattern on one of the small peg boards, but it never ended up getting ironed. I ran out of space on the table and it ended up getting cleared back into the bucket. So when I started it the second time, I went straight for the big peg board and created one of the larger designs. I learned pretty quickly that the most tedious part of the whole process was finding the beads that were the color you wanted. Fishing them out of the bucket and finding the colors that roughly corresponded with the pattern was tricky. I ended up fishing out all of the pinks and arranging the spare beads on the extra peg boards while I was placing them in the design.

I ended up having to adjust the pattern colors a bit based on the shades of pink that I was able to find, but other than that, it was pretty easy to follow the picture and adjust as necessary. I took a short break from tweezering beads after I finished the pink flower.

After the pattern started incorporating other colors, it was much easier to find them in the bucket. I was on pink overload until I switched to the green.

All told, I spent over an hour on the design. Not so tedious that I wouldn't do it again, but it certainly requires a little bit of patience. Next up was the very careful job of moving the board of tiny lightweight beads down to the laundry room to iron them in place.

The instructions say to set your iron to medium, place the ironing paper over the top of the beads, and iron for 10-20 seconds. It goes on to say that it would take longer with larger designs.

I figured I'd have to iron each section of the approximately 5-inch patterns for 20ish like a minute. NOPE! Not even remotely. I have no idea where they came up with the 10-20 seconds crap, but it's not even in the realm of reality. I ironed for a good 2 or 3 minutes before the beads began to look fused. I peeled the edge of the paper off to check and the beads immediately popped off. I swore and tried to get them back on the board and ironed some more. Another 2-3 minutes later and it finally looked like it was melting.

So I peeled the paper off. NOPE! DO NOT PEEL the paper off until you are ABSOLUTELY SURE the beads are fused. A bunch of beads stuck to the paper and the whole shebang pulled off of the peg board and some of the beads stuck there too. The design would not go back on the peg board, and I spent the next 15 minutes trying to get the beads back in the general vicinity that they were in before.

After I got them sort of in place, I realized I was missing one bead and that a pink one didn't appear to belong anywhere. I have no idea how it happened. But I got it back together, sort of, and ironed until they were stuck to each other. Then I flipped it over and ironed the back side. By that point I had turned the iron up and was leaving the iron in one place for longer, so the back side took considerably less time to iron.

In the end, it turned out ok until you look really close. A couple of the beads ended up turning onto their sides, and I never did find the one missing bead.

So what did I learn from all of this, start with the smallest project to get used to the fusing, and iron it until you are completely certain that it's fused before pulling the paper off--it will definitely take longer than 10-20 seconds. I'll definitely be revisiting this project in the future, but until then, I wanted you all to know what not to do. Happy Crafting!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Deck Refresh

I teach at a local community college, so it's crunch time grade wise....and we had a lightning in a bottle kind of weekend where it was sunny with no rain forecasted, low humidity, and with warm but not hot temperatures for both days of the weekend. So, we had to do yard work. After our mowing and trimming on Saturday, we decided to refresh our deck. Between the deck and grading....I didn't get much else done, so instead of a craft tutorial, you get to see our deck painting project.

Our deck was beyond beginning to get ragged. It hadn't been sealed since before we bought our house and there was a lot of mildew, cracking, and even some lichen on it. So we opted for a deck filler type product at our local Home Depot (because it was the closest hardware store). We bought Behr Wood Cleaner and followed the instructions (wear gloves, mix with an equal part water, wet deck, scrub or swab on solution, rinse off).  

We scrubbed it on as we knew there were some tough spots that needed cleaning. After a few hours of clearing off the deck, cleaning it up, hosing it down, and scrubbing it clean, we were pretty pleased with the way it turned out. It looked like a brand new deck. This stuff mostly worked as it claimed and my only complaint was that it smelled a little chemically...and burned a bit when you got splashed with it.

The wood cleaner requires you to wait 24 hours for the wood to dry before you can paint or stain. The next morning the deck still looked much cleaner, but not as golden brown as it did when it was wet.

When we finally decided on a color (not too dark because the deck gets lots of sun), we went back to our local Home Depot and picked up Behr DeckOver. After taping around the siding where the deck met the house, we started on the railings. This was by far the worst part of this task. It was incredibly tedious. We had a couple of small rollers that helped it along, but the DeckOver is like painting with pudding. It's incredibly thick and it soaks right into the raw wood and cracks, so you really have to slop it on.

Though the DeckOver wasn't easy to work with, it definitely filled a lot of the cracks. We ended up having barely enough with two gallons of paint to finish one coat of the deck. The product suggests that you can achieve 2 coats on a 75 square foot deck with one gallon. The railings make it very hard to calculate square footage though. So buy more than you think need if you need to paint railings.

Because it's so thick, there are definitely places on the deck that could use a second coat, but this is all we could get done today. We'll probably pick up more DeckOver and give it another coat or at least touch ups before we call it good, but we're pretty pleased with the improvement.

I hope you had a beautiful and productive weekend where you are too!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tissue Paper "Stained Glass" Jar

At one of my recent Dollar Tree runs, I got a package of tissue paper squares in their craft section. The package contained multiple bright colors of squares that were a little over an inch in size. 

I had already done a faux stained glass project using pieces of tissue paper glued onto glass candle holders with mod podge. I knew it would be easy to recreate that project with a new twist. So I grabbed my mod podge, a foam brush, and a cleaned pickle jar.

I painted a stripe of glue onto the bottom of my repurposed jar and started applying my squares of tissue paper. I made sure to overlap them a bit so that there was no glass showing between.

I continued randomly alternating colors and tapping the tissue paper onto the glue. Don't worry if it's not perfectly smooth or if a few edges are not completely glued down, you can add glue as you go. The more you fuss with your tissue paper, the more likely it is to tear, so just tap it on and move on.

As I started in on the second row of tissue paper, I decided to make some of them crooked to create a more random appearance. I continued to glue edges down as I went along and tried to cover all of the glass.

When I was done with my rows of tissue paper squares, I examined the jar to look for any gaps or tears in the paper. Anywhere I saw glass, I applied a square. This added to the random appearance I was going for. When I was done gluing on tissue paper and satisfied it was completely covered, I let it sit long enough to clean up my bits of paper, etc....

I let it sit for about 10 minutes before I painted on my layer of mod podge to seal the paper. The paper is less fragile if it's allowed to set up a bit. You can let it dry all the way if you have the patience (or another project to work on). Then carefully apply a thick (but not sloppy) layer of mod podge to seal it. I try to go over it once after I've applied the glue to check for any thick white sections that might not dry clear and to smooth all the glue going roughly the same direction. If the layer is consistent, it will pretty much disappear when it dries.

The tissue paper will also smooth out as it dries. I left my jar for a day before I took my pictures and you can see that some of the tissue paper also turned a bit translucent. I spray painted the original jar lid to hide the cartoon pickle on the top, so the jar could be used for storage or, since it's so pretty when light is shining through it, probably a luminary.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Alcohol Ink Easter Egg Candle Holders

With Easter just around the corner, I knew I wanted to make something festive. So I fell back on one of my favorite media to work with: Alcohol Inks. I decided to decorate a couple of the square candle holders from Dollar Tree with alcohol ink Easter eggs.

I rolled out my craft mat and grabbed my alcohol inks. I also grabbed a roll of wide painter's tape to create a stencil on my candle holders. I ended up making my stencils freehand and it was a bit of a pain. If I were doing this project again, I'd probably draw out or print out an Easter egg the size that I wanted and then trace that onto a sheet of tape (made my layering the pieces on the craft mat).

After I got my egg shapes masked off, I was worried they would just look like colored blobs, so I made some little tape zig zags to put in the middle of my eggs.

I dripped pink, orange, and yellow alcohol ink onto the felt on my applicator and stamped it onto the top half of my egg.

Then I used a clean square of felt with blue, teal, and yellow dripped onto the felt to stamp the bottom half of the egg. I did end up having to be careful along the zig zag tape, but otherwise getting the ink on the candle holders was super quick and easy.

I let the ink dry for 5-10 minutes before I removed the tape so that I wouldn't smear anything. Then I soaked a cotton swap in rubbing alcohol and cleaned up any ink that bled under the tape. I've found that cheaper cotton swabs (not the q-tip brand ones) actually work better. These are ones from the dollar store with a plastic stick that doesn't soak up the alcohol and the cotton is tightly wound and makes for a more precise tool.

These didn't turn out quite as vibrant as I'd hoped. They look better close up than with candles in them sitting on a table, but I always enjoy working with alcohol ink and trying new patterns and techniques.