A Little Ear Cuff Tutorial

Ear Cuff DIY

This ear cuff, like the first one I posted about (read that post here) is very basic, and requires only a few tools and supplies to make. Ear cuffs can be fitted to anywhere on the outside of the ear, without a piercing. I use 20 gauge jewelry wire, wire cutters, round nose, and flat nose pliers, plus a pen to form the wire into the cuff shape.

I know this is simplistic to the point of not being interesting. However, this cuff is the jumping off point for my next jewelry post about how to make a wire bow cuff, and that will be awesome.

A Mini-Recycling Project: a Lone Earring Into a Ring

DIY Pearl Ring

About 3 years ago I bought a pair of faux pearl earrings, I think from Forever 21. I only wore them a few times and then let them languish on my jewelry tray for a couple of years. A few weeks ago I rediscovered the pair, but only wore them 3 times before one fell into the furry clutches of:

So I found myself with a single pearl earring. I usually save that sort of thing for later projects, but in this case I already had the supplies on hand to turn it into a ring. This is a really really easy mini-project, scroll through the pictures below to see how I made my sad lone earring into a lovely new ring.

My ring blanks are from Joann, and so is the shell button I used on the second ring. The little pearl in the second ring is real, and came from another lone earring, it already had a flat side so no sanding was necessary. One tip I didn’t take a picture of: If it’s hard to hold onto the pearl while filing it down, wrap one end in masking tape to give yourself something to hold onto. I love my new ring, I’ve been wearing it all the time.

Mini Messenger Bag Redo with DIY Doily Stamp

Doily Purse Button

I posted a picture of this little leather purse a couple of posts ago. Thrifted of course, I love how it looks like a mini messenger bag. On a very related note, check out this DIY doily bag from Sincerely Kinsey (click the image to go to its origin post): I love her doily bag, however I was worried that the doily would wear off over time. If you look at the bottom right of her bag in the photo above it already looks like it’s barely on there. So I got the bright idea of painting on the image of a doily instead. Here are the results:


To be honest, I don’t know if I’m in love with this. I think maybe it’s bad color combos or… something. However it was pretty simple to do, so I thought I would do a quick tutorial for anyone else wanting to paint leather or make a DIY doily stamp. I apologize in advance for the lack luster image quality on the rest of the pictures. My husband went out-of-town for the weekend with work and I forgot people need to sleep. All these pictures were taken around 1 in the morning, under the ugly glow of a soft white lightbulb.

***This project is kinda product heavy. At the bottom of the post there is a list of the products I used and why, so you can tailor your supply list correctly.

*** To begin you need a leather purse and a doily that you can cut up (I got my doily at a thrift store for less than a dollar, I know Joann sells suitable ones but they are $5 at the one near me). I washed my doily, and then used spray starch and an iron to get it stiff.  Next decide how much doily you want on the bag, and where you want it placed. I pushed a couple layers of tissue paper into the front pocket, because this is a used bag and was a little flattened. As you can see in the picture above I marked the rough position with a pen, and then cut it out. I had to trim off more at the bottom, since the finished “stamp” will be flat it would be hard to wrap it around curves without smearing the paint. Here is my trimmed doily, being fitted for its cardboard backing. As you can see it’s backwards, it’s very important to flip the doily so the finished imprint is the right way. An easy way to make sure you have it the right way is to lay the doily on the bag the correct way and place the cardboard covering it. Pull up both the doily and cardboard as one layer and it will be on the cardboard the correct way! You want the cardboard to be only a little bigger than the doily, so it’s easy to position the paint covered stamp correctly. I used spray adhesive to attach the two layers. I love spray adhesive, it’s a pleasure to use. Once the glue has set or in my case once I got impatient to try it out, it’s time to test the stamp.

I used Images Artist Acrylic in Pantone 14-4522 “Bachelor Button.” I bought mine at Hobby Lobby, they were on clearance for $2.15 each, and I couldn’t resist their awesome containers. These acrylics are called heavy-body and they mean it, this stuff is ridiculously thick and it dries very quickly. So I mixed a bit of acrylic extender (see the product info at the bottom of the post for more information) into the paint to thin it and keep it wet for longer. If you use craft acrylic, I think you could skip this. I also mixed into the paint acrylic textile medium, since the leather is going to move and stretch. I really liked the textile medium, it made the dried paint elastic and waterproof. I mixed all of this according to the directions on the packaging and made enough in my kidney-shaped paint mixture dish to do a bunch of test imprints without having to make more. To test out the stamp, apply the paint mixture to the doily with a paintbrush. Some tips for applying the paint:

  • Load up, the doily will absorb a lot of the paint at first
  • Don’t worry about keeping it off the cardboard, a little here and there won’t matter
  • Make sure you are committed to the paint color since you can’t wash off the stamp, for that same reason make sure you have enough time to test the stamp and then stamp the bag
  • As you test the stamp adjust the paint/extender/textile medium/color combo until you have several test stamps that are perfect.

Here are some of my test stamps on regular copy paper:

 

So back to the bag. To prep the bag for paint, I washed the area with a bit of water to remove some of the oil and then used fine grit sandpaper to rough up the surface:

Apply paint covered stamp to purse and…………….. Not perfect I know, so I went in with a small paintbrush and cleaned up some of the lines. Here is the bag after: Like I already mentioned, I wasn’t as thrilled with this as I expected to be. So I went back in with a small paint brush and added some highlights with a dark blue craft acrylic and then a mossy green one. Here is the before and after of my mini messenger bag redo:

  

I am so uninspired by this, I don’t think it looks bad… just not great. I will probably scrub all of this stuff off and try something else. If anyone tries something like this or knows a better idea, I would love to see pictures!

Product Breakdown:

  • Leather bag, this would also work on fabric bags or faux leather but go easy on the sandpaper since it could easily pull the “leather” coating off its fabric backing
  • Doily, must be the crocheted or knitted kind not punch cut fabric or paper. You could also do this with crocheted lace.
  • Scrap cardboard, for the “stamp” backing.
  • Fine grit sandpaper, I used some 150 I had on hand and used a soft touch.
  • Spray starch and an iron, to make the doily stiff and completely flat. I think you could get away with just the iron, or you could make your own cornstarch based starch with this recipe.
  • Spray adhesive, I love love love spray adhesive but any glue would work just make sure to throughly adhere the doily to the backing or it might pull apart in use.
  • Acrylic paint, like I said above mine was artist quality and so needed to be thinned. You could also use regular or craft acrylic, or fabric paint or leather paint for that matter.
  • Extender, I used Anitas Extender it was $1.47 at Hobby Lobby. If you are having trouble with the paint dying too quickly on the stamp before you can use it, this stuff will help.
  • Textile Medium, I used Delta brand also from Hobby Lobby it was $4.99 for a big bottle. It kept my paint from cracking when dried and it also did a really good job of making my paint job waterproof.
  • And the usual suspects, pens, paintbrushes, paper, and scissors.

Just Another…

Skirt 6

Here are the before shots of one of my recent thrift store find, a long floral skirt:

 

I liked the pattern:

and the price, but it looks way too much like a middle-aged woman’s church skirt. So I decided to make a new hem for it. I knew I wanted it to be at least knee-length so I chopped off about 10 inches and started from there.

After trying on, pinning, and adjusting and trying on and pinning and adjusting some more I landed on a length of 23 inches, or just above my knee. So I trimmed the extra fabric to just an inch:

I ironed the hem, and then tried the skirt on one more time before sewing (no one likes to rip out stitches!). I used some light blue thread I had on hand, and it matches really well. It’s actually the spool of thread that my Mom bought to hem my prom gown, I haven’t had occasion to use it again until now. Just goes to show you that it’s a mistake to throw out craft products.

I had to remove a button at the bottom to sew the new hem. The buttonhole is still there, but not very noticeably.

 I love this skirt, I’ve already worn it several times. It’s super light and airy, but it’s tight enough the wind can’t give passersby a show (always something to worry about when the winds kicks up.) Here is a lame after shot, you can see in the background how messy the room got as I worked, in the before’s it pretty clean!

I enjoy sewing new garments, but nothing beats the minimal effort you can put into switch up an almost perfect used find. If you don’t sew or don’t sew well, little projects like these are a great way to polish your skills without having to use a pattern or other scary sewing implements!

A New Skirt and Bag, Lovely Fabric, and More Jars

Hounds 4

I found this lovely fabric at a thrift store a week or so ago. It’s amazingly soft, luscious wool in a classic houndstooth pattern. It was only $2.99, and I really want to turn it into a scarf, a pencil skirt, a blazer, and a sweater dress… unfortunately I will only have enough for one of those things. It’s marked 100% Italian virgin wool. Virgin wool, is just wool that has never been used before. Most wool products nowadays are “virgin” but back during WWII much of the wool being produced was earmarked for the war effort. So manufactures turned to unraveling old wool products and turning them into something new. Now wool production is inexpensive, so it’s rare to see something marked “virgin wool” since it’s all virgin wool. (Source) It does sound impressive though.

Moving on, I also bought this skirt:

Yes, I know at first glance it’s pretty lame. I loved the pattern though, and I have some alterations in mind. I think shorter it will be lovely, and less middle-aged woman’s church skirt. I like the idea of a button up skirt, very cute… maybe I should switch out the buttons? It was only 2 bucks, so I could really tear it up to use as rags and still come out on top.

I didn’t buy these jars at a thrift store, a family member gave them to me.I, like the rest of internet (at least the women anyway) are pretty obsessed with these babies. I’ve written about them before, here.

The one on the right is made by the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, which is the same company that produced the depression glass I have. Check out my post about depression glass here. I have done anything with these jars yet, I feel the same way about them as I do about a perfectly white sheet of drawing paper. I could create something with them, but on the other hand I could just sit and stare at their great potential. Here are some other people’s aqua canning jar projects (click the image to go to its origin site):

 

I would love to find some that still had the zinc lids. I don’t think that is likely at thrift stores, but I can’t spend $10 bucks a jar on Etsy or eBay.

Lastly in my recent thrifting, this little, kinda beat up purse:

I have big plans for this $3 mini messenger bag. I will undoubtably be posting all about it in a few days, until then check out these other leather bag redo’s (click on the image to go to its origin site):

Goose Creek Campground

Goose Creek

My family, loves to go camping, and one of their favorite spots is Goose Creek. It’s about two hours southwest of Denver, and is situated in the middle of the Hayman burn site. The Hayman wildfire occurred back in 2002, and is the largest fire in Colorado history. It burned more than 130,000 acres, and destroyed over 600 structures (Source). It’s amazing how slowly the forest grows back. Even now, over 10 years later, the area is still quite barren. Although, still beautiful in its own way. We stayed for 3 nights, in the Goose Creek Campground which is right on top of the creek so you can hear the water throughout the site.

 

I took my silly puppy, her name is Daisy and she is almost 6 months old. She had the time of her life, and loved jumping into the creek, even though the water is freezing. Even when the sun is shining, the water is cold enough to numb bare feet. My Basset Hound had to stay home, due to the fact that he is far more enthusiastic about couches than rough terrain.

 

We also drove over to Cheesman Reservoir during a slow afternoon. The reservoir has been closed for many years now, due to repairs being performed on the dam as well as clean up after the Hayman fire. The reservoir supplies a lot of the drinking water for Denver.

 

I had a wonderful time, it’s so nice to unplug from the matrix and relax. I took about a hundred pictures, but here are some highlights.

 

Below is a picture of a patch of wild raspberries, they grow all over the area. The berries taste amazing, much juicer than the ones from the store.

It rained the first night we were there, but the rest of the days were beautiful. I had such a good time, thanks Mom, Dad, Bailey and Jack!!

Gelatin Print Tutorial, and Giveaway Results!

Gelatin Prints Finished

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway contest, and congratulations to Terri at Time to Be Inspired (check out her blog!), the winner of the prints! I really enjoyed making them, and all the other gelatin prints I have been making lately. It’s super easy to do, and would be a great activity to do with kids. Here are some of my finished prints:

 

Here is what you’ll need to make your own:

  • Unflavored gelatin (I used 2 boxes or 8 packets of Knox brand)
  • A dish, pan or cookie sheet to form the gelatin plate in (I used the bottom of a broiler pan)
  • Printing ink (I used Speedball Block Printing Ink in Black from Hobby Lobby)
  • A brayer to spread the ink on the plate (like this one)
  • Something you want to make prints of: leaves, feathers, stencils, etc.
  • Paper, heavier paper like card-stock works well, but you can get cool effects with others like, old dictionary pages, sheet music, handmade paper etc.

To make the gelatin plate, boil 2 cups of water. While it’s boiling, dissolve the packets of gelatin into 2 cups of cool water. Combine the two cups of boiled water with the dissolved gelatin mixture. Pour the mix into your plate form, skim the top for bubbles so the surface is perfectly level. Place in the fridge, the plate should be plenty hard in a few hours, but I like to keep it in the fridge overnight. Here is my ready to use plate:

 

I didn’t have anything specific I was trying to make the first time I tried this so I had tons of stuff I wanted to try to make prints of, and tons of different types of paper. Here is my collection of stuff to try out:

To begin making prints, pour out some ink onto a paper plate or palette or whatever you got. Spread some onto the brayer and apply to the gelatin plate.

 

For each run, you will be making two prints. So once the plate is covered evenly in ink, arrange whatever you want to print on the plate. For this run I placed three lace appliqué pieces that were left over from my wedding dress on the plate:

Place a piece of paper over the plate and rub the ink on the paper, be careful not to shift the paper around to much. As you can see in the picture below I was using scrap paper.

Here is that piece of paper pulled up, this is called the negative image.

To get a positive image, pull up the material on the plate carefully. On the right is a picture of the ink that was left on the plate when the lace appliqué was removed.

 

Using another piece of paper to pick up the leftover ink, this time a sheet of recycled card-stock, I got this image:

Here is a close up:

After a couple of hours of using the gelatin plate it might get a bit mushy, just stick it back in the fridge to firm up again. Over time you might nick the plate or imprint shapes on it, this can result in interestingly altered prints. If you want to change ink colors or otherwise want to clean the plate just wipe it off with clean water, dry it throughly before starting to print again.

Most of my finished prints ended up drying curled up:

To get them to lay flat, I covered a few at a time with a piece of scrap muslin, and ran my iron over them without steam. Then when they were still warm and flexible I bent them back into shape by hand and then stacked them under heavy books.

I find it hard to compose fully formed artwork with the gelatin plate, I like to create different images with the gelatin block and then cut and cobble together pieces into finished pieces of art. Here are shots of me cutting up the lace prints and rearranging them for the giveaway:

              

On your first attempt it’s best not to try to make anything specific, just play around with objects, paper, inks, negative and positive image and so on. Once your have tons of dried prints, and a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t write down different combinations or layouts you want to try for next time.

For more tips and ideas on gelatin printing check out Printmaking Without a Press’s page on Gelatin Printing Tips she also lots of cool ideas elsewhere on her site. Good luck with your own print making, and congrats again to Terri on winning Zounds’ first of hopefully many giveaways.