Friday, January 27, 2012

Photo Friday

Taken last winter. Its slightly pretentious title? "A Bit of Hope"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Etched Glass Coasters

Now that I've tried my hand at glass etching a frame, it was time to try making my own tile coasters.

For the first part of the project, I got: 8 glass bathroom tiles (you can purchase these individually at Home Depot for about 75 cents each. The only drawback is that you're essentially stuck with glass tiles that have beige or green backing. No black backing, much to my chagrin.), flower stickers, etching cream, contact paper, a paintbrush, and an exacto knife.

I split the tiles into two groups: tiles that would be almost entirely etched and tiles that would be minimally etched. The first group -- the entirely etched group -- was the easiest to prepare. I simply placed the stickers on the tiles. Keep in mind that where the stickers are is where the glass will not be etched. And don't worry about placement: I found that I created the best pattern when I just didn't think about it. The ones in the picture with stickers all over the place are the ones that I did first, when I thought too much about it.

Bring the tiles into the bathroom, slap on some gloves, and slather them with etching cream. And remember: if you can see the glass, you run the risk of streaky and uneven etches.

On top of slathering up the sides, to make sure the edges were etched, I slid the tiles toward each other so that they were about half a centimeter away from either other. Everything looked like a big, Taco-Bell-fart-smelling cake. Delicious.

After about 10-15 minutes, I rinsed everything off, stickers included. It was sad, using such nice stickers for etching, but I loved the design of them. Casualty of war.

And now, the less fun group: aka the minimally-etched group. For these, I used the sheets the stickers were on as a kind of stencil, since I could see the outline of the flowers/vines.

I first taped squares of contact paper onto a cutting board. To get an idea as to where I should put the "stencils", I traced the tile with a pencil (although, looking back, pencil sucks on contact paper. Better use a pen or a thin Sharpie).

I cut around the shapes I wanted and taped them to the contact paper, then like with the glass frame, I meticulously and painstakingly cut out each shape. I almost caved and thought about using the few stickers left to make really, really etched tiles.

Like the frame, I suggest cutting the contact paper in half before placing it on the tile. Your trace is never going to be perfectly exact, so give yourself the opportunity to move things around.

Again, bring said tiles to the bathroom and lather, rinse, repeat with the etching cream. Thankfully, I needed a lot less etching cream with this batch.

I really like how these came out. However, I recognized that, even though the backs were smooth, I was petrified that the backs of the tiles would scape up the wood or glass of our tables. Hence part two:

For part two, I got: 2 sheets of adhesive felt (which I got here. I recommend buying a lot and saving some for later. The 9 x 12" sheets are relatively cheap; the shipping is not.), my rotary cutter, a box that was around 4" in width and at least 4" in length, a hot glue gun, contact paper, and clips.

I cut 4" x 4" squares in the felt with my rotary cutter for the backs of the tiles. I recommend cutting primarily from the corners, as you'll already have two straight edges.

For the coaster holder, I cut a box that once housed caffeine gum at the 4 1/4" mark using my exacto knife. I turned over the card stock, placed the box on the edge in the center, and folded each side.

This is what the cardstock looked like after folding and cutting. I first cut along the horizontal fold until it met with the vertical folds before cutting and rounding out the corners of the two large upper flaps.

I glued the bottom and back folds first, securing them with a clip as quickly as possible. I then glued the sides and clip, paying close attention to the portions that fold over the box.

Since the entire gluing process was nothing short of Me Against the Glue Gun, I left this overnight. Hot glue is usually completely cooled within minutes, but I wasn't taking any chances.

I'm extremely happy with the results. I'm also extremely happy with this picture. It was originally a flub: my index finger slipped and blocked a portion of the flash. But the reflections I captured on the wall are definitely no flub!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Making a Belly Chain, Part Two

Apparently, one belly chain isn't enough for me. This is what we call Spent-Too-Much-Time-in-Michael's-itis: when I find myself wandering down the jewelry aisle and finding a pendant that catches my eye, so I devise some type of craft to incorporate it. This belly chain is significantly simpler and quicker to make.

For this, I used: a 96" chain, a cute pendant, needle-nosed and bent-nose pliers, a wire cutter, and split rings. I'm only using split rings because I bought them before I knew what work it was to open them and now I'm trying to use them up. So if you want to get jump rings instead, I recommend it.

First, I measured how long I wanted my chain to me. To do this, I folded the chain in half and measured my waist with it (make sure not to measure your waste with it). Now, keep in mind that the pendant will hang on the ends, so measure how far down you want the chain to go. Use the wire cutters to clip accordingly.

I moved the chain around so that I only had to clip once. What was left was a chain that was perfect necklace length. I'm saving it for a necklace project that I have in mind.

Using my the two sets of pliers, pry the split ring open. I did this by holding the ring in place with the left-hand pliers and slowly pulling the top section towards me with the right-hand pliers. Thankfully, this pendant has a thin loop and I didn't need to open it much.

First, slide the pendant on the split ring. Then, take the two ends of the chain and slide it onto the loop as well. Close the loop with one of your pliers.

Instead of using a latch or toggle, fasten the chain to your waist (not your waste) by feeding the pendant through the loop.

Like I said: much, much simpler.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Etched Glass Frame

Ask any teacher who works with young kids what contact paper means to them, and you'll probably get the same answer: it is the crack pipe to our very masochistic addiction. From protecting posters from grabby hands to fake-laminating construction paper projects, we easily go through a kilometer's worth of it in a year. I was eager to do a project outside of school that involved contact paper. And that's where glass etching came in.

I used to do glass etching back when I used to go to camp. We'd design random glass bottles with whatever stencils the older kids had lying around. After camp, I kind of forgot about glass etching. But I stumbled across glass etching again and decided I needed to do glass etching again, starting first with making a spiral-etched frame.

Now, to backtrack, one aesthetic I had in my wedding was, long, flawy, ivy-like spirals. I know that's not exactly the most original aesthetic theme for a wedding, but I loved it simply because it came about organically. I just naturally picked things that had this is ivy-on-the-brick quality about them. After the wedding, I went nutty and purchased a ton of frames with spiral-painted borders (much to my husband's chagrin).

I decided that, for the sake of practicing my glass etching, I should make an etched glass frame with spirals.

Obviously, I was only doing it for the practice.

For this I got: etching cream, contact paper, scissors, a glass frame, an exacto knife, scotch tape, a paintbrush, and said spirals (I decided to just print out some spirals, after finding no stencils to my liking). Whatever can't be purchased at a crafts store can easily be bought either at a home improvement store or online.

I first taped down the contact paper onto a cutting board. I made sure the piece I cut out was larger than the frame itself. Since my design was so close to the edge, I wanted to be able to protect the sides of the frame with the contact paper.

I outlined the frame on the contact paper in pencil so I could have a general idea of where things would go. I also kept the frame close by, as this particular frame had bolts at each corner, and I wasn't interested in having metal-etching as part of my design.

I cut out the paper spirals I wanted and taped them to the contact paper. Then, slowly (very, very slow) and methodically (very, very, methodically), I traced around each spiral with the exacto knife.

Cutting with an exacto knife isn't exactly the easiest, let alone cutting paper outlines of spirals that are only taped on with an exacto knife. By spiral 2, I was silently (and then not-so-silently) cursing myself, wondering why I couldn't have had a few basic squares as my main aesthetic.

After the spirals have been cut around, I removed the "stencil" and the tape around it. Using the exacto knife as a kind of scalpel, I then removed the contact paper spirals.

As I've learned, it's okay with you can only remove the plastic adhesive. The paper underneath it stuck like mad and, after spiral 2, I realized that there really was no need to cut out the paper as well, as the paper is removed from the plastic adhesive after I am done, anyway. It was easier to see what had been cut out and which hadn't when I removed the paper as well.

Speaking of making things easier, I sliced the contact paper diagonally and placed the sheets down accordingly. Place contact paper is a bit of a science, so trial and error is going to be your best bet. Just take it slow and focus primarily on the cut-out portions. I'm grateful that applied the contact paper in two portions: my measurements were completely off and I would've have some lopsided spirals otherwise.

This is where I moved my operation to the bathroom, and added a long-sleeved shirt and gloves to my attire. Etching cream is NOT something you want on your skin, or on any furniture of value. Just in case, I also placed a piece of cardboard on the frame as well.

Aside from the wall-to-wall tiles and ceramic, I also used the bathroom for one big reason: its ventilation system. Etching cream smells like Taco Bell farts. It is equal parts sulfuric and plastic and it's not a smell you want emanating throughout your home.

Using a regular paintbrush, I generously covered the stenciled areas with etching cream. Now, when I say "covered", I mean "lathered". The general rule of etching cream is, if you can see the glass through the cream, you run the risk of splotchy etching. You know you are done with it looks like someone spread silly putty all over your craft.

And now, you wait. For some etching cream, the wait time is 5 minutes. For others, it's as quick as 30 seconds. I actually flubbed completely and let it go as long as 10, but I thankfully didn't come into my bathroom to find disintegrated glass. From what I read up on later, leaving it on for long periods of time doesn't do any harm and might actually make the spirals more pronounced.

Afterwards, I put my gloves back on and rinsed all of the cream off. I removed all the contact paper and rinsed everything a second time. Then, I simply walked away. Why? Because, when wet, you can't really see the etching. And if you're neurotic like me, you'll panic and wonder what you did wrong. So I went off, enjoyed a couple pages of my book, and came back when I was sure it was dry.

The frame I purchased (which I got off of Amazon) is meant for a 5 x 7 photo. I decided that, since the spirals are better seen when there isn't a photo in the way, I would choose a 4 x 6 picture instead. I choose a picture of myself right before the garter toss. It might seem narcissistic, but it was leftover from the pictures I ordered after the wedding and I'm pretty sure my husband would downright faint if I had ordered even MORE prints -- even if it was for the sake of practicing my glass etching.

One thing I realized, however, if that the photo didn't completely cover the rectangular mount for the frame's stand. To solve this, I got out my: scrapbooking trimmer, some white card stock, a pair of decorative edge scissors, an scrapbooking tape. Everything is on a yoga mat since I had moved my operation to my crafts/yoga room, and my crafts desk is so cluttered that the only clean place to put things was on the floor where my mat was.

I removed the two pieces of the frame by unscrewing the four corners. I'll also take a moment to show off the spirals. And my cluttered desk.

I measured and cut a 6 1/2" by 7 1/2" piece of card stock. I then glued the photo in the center (so I would know exactly how things would look as I was cutting) and trimmed right by the edge. Since the frame has no specific "photo holder", I used the scrapbooking tape to tape the photo to the back portion of the frame as well -- as it would NOT stay in place when I screwed the bolts back.

I'm really happy with how this came out. It's nothing I'd exactly try to sell, but, for someone who hasn't even picked up an exacto knife in 8+ years, this isn't half bad.

The frame with the rest of that bookshelves' frames. The picture behind the etched frame was a wedding present from a former student. Her mom purchased a frame from my registry and her daughter drew/wrote her name, my name, and my husband's name, and accompanied it with a picture. One of the most heartwarming wedding presents ever. I miss that girl a ton!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Recycling Old Clothes, Part 1 (Technically 2): Kitty Superhero Cape

I’ve reached that age where my parents want my childhood bedroom back. Although I can’t take everything until I own a home, I have been bringing a few things back with each visit: some old books here, a out-of-tune guitar there. After Christmas, I came home with a garbage bag filled with old clothing. And by old, I mean old -- middle school old. Junior high old (and yes, I did go to both a middle school and junior high).

I got to thinking about what I wanted to do with these clothes. Since I had such a history with them, I didn’t want to just donate them or throw them out (because, as we’ve already established, I’m a pack rat).

Thankfully, I got a sewing machine for Christmas. I quickly decided that I could both practice my sewing skills (which are about 10 years out of practice) and find a use for my old clothing by creating something new with my old clothing.

Thanks to this website, my first sewing project was making a tote bag out of an old tank top:

I posted it on Twitter, to which my sister-in-law replied, “Epic cape for Salem?”

I have two cats, Salem & Milo, one of whom you've already met. Now, suddenly, a tote made out of a tank top seemed pathetic compared to a superhero cape for my cats, which inspired my next sewing project:

A superhero cape for my cats.

Sadly, I don’t wear much red to begin with, and I squandered my one red shirt on the tote. After some thought, I decided – hey, I’m making a cape for my cats, I might as well go big or go home.

The result?

Pink flowered shorts as my cape material.

Salem already sensed a disturbance in the force and decided he need to hang out by my sewing machine.

I started by cutting off the elastic and setting it to the side. You never know when you might need an elastic.

You’ll be amazed how hard it is to find a cape pattern online, especially one meant for cats. I managed to find this site and based my design off of their pattern.

Since I’m still starting out, I don’t have many of the sewing essentials, like fabric markers or sheers. So, crayola marker and paper scissors will have to do.

Milo decided to join in on the madness soon after.

I free-handed one half of the cape on the front side of the shorts and pinned the fabric, keeping it from shifting all over the place while cutting.

I realized after a few snips that I needed to cut at least an inch around the border so I would have some sort of a hem. Eh, live and learn.

After cutting came the pining of the outer hem. As can be imagined, the side without the marker was the hardest to pin, as I had to eyeball the hem the entire way.

I learned the hard way how important it is to iron your hem before sewing it. Before the cape, I tried making straps for a bag, only to end up with a curved and sloppy mess. Again, live and learn (and iron your hems).

Already Milo is getting nervous.

I sewed the outer hem into place. I was actually excited with how straight my stitches were. I couldn’t control the path of my stitch for the life of me at first, and I was worried the same would happen here. Aside from my backstitch going a little crooked, I’m very happy with how this came out.

After the outer hem was in place, I pinned, ironed, and stitched the inner hem.

After all this pinning and ironing and hemming, I got a little antsy, and just folded over the top edge and sewed it in place for the top hem. I then pinned the two halves together and sewed them in place.

I decided against sewing the top portion together and opted for Velcro instead. Most animals go a little nutty when you try to slip something over their head. They tend to be a bit calmer, however, if something is placed on their back and around their neck instead.

Sticky-back Velcro is honestly my crack. I use it by the metric ton as a teacher. I also love it because the Velcro stays in place when you sew it on.

I must stress, though: the adhesive is great if you’re putting Velcro on a wall, but it will come off within the first use on fabric. The Velcro must be sewed on.

I also cannot stress the focus on the Velcro’s placement enough. To avoid placing the Velcro on the wrong side, I placed the cape face down on the carpet and folded over the right strap.

The finished result:

(I realized quite quickly that one side was completed faded. That's what I get for sitting around all day.)

The cats were not exactly thrilled about the cape, but they certainly did not act negatively like I expected. It helped that I gave them plenty of treats before, during, and after.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

09 10 11 12
Blogging tips