Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Toothpaste box turned into a pen box

Some pens and markers for scrapping and papercrafting really should be stored flat. Markers or pens with two tips, one on each end, are the main example--storing them flat allows the ink to stay evenly distributed so that both ends keep some ink. Others, such as Sakura glaze pens, should be stored flat because storing them upright can allow air to enter the pen (through the thicker ink, maybe?) and cause it not to write as well.

I am a weird person. (Knowing me only a little bit would seem to make this sentence coming out of my mouth absolutely redundant, but stay with me for a second...) I am notoriously unorganized about pretty much everything, but my craft space is almost always meticulously kept. Virtually everything has a place and when used, an item goes back into its place. I can't stand to have my pens mixed, for instance. I like for all pens of a certain type to be separate from pens of another type so that when I'm reaching for them, I can find them. Throwing the pens and markers that need to be stored flat into a drawer in a big jumble is just not an option for me. I also hate the idea of buying some super expensive organizing tool in a scrapbook store.

Enter this toothpaste box, which I saw last night as I was replacing an empty tube of toothpaste in our master bathroom. I thought... "I wonder if that's long enough to store my glaze pens?..." It was.

1. Cut the flaps off of one end of the box. Sand the box, especially the corners, then age the box with some kind of dye ink.

2. Make a lid for the box. Measure the end piece (in this case, it was 1.25"x1.5") and add 1/2" to each end. Cut a piece of cardstock to match the measurement. Score at the two 1/2" marks to create a lid type shape. Round the corners. Cut each 1/2" section at a slight angle, starting from the middle rectangle piece and going into each rounded corner. You should end up with a roughly rectangular shape with tapering ends. This allows the lid to fit better into the box.

3. For added stability, cut a second piece of cardstock to fit on the underside of the lid. Cut it either 1/8" smaller than the inner rectangle (for 1/16" borders) or 1/4" smaller (for 1/8" angles).

4. Measure the box and cut pieces to fit the sides and bottom. Glue one of the flaps of the lid to the outside of the box, then glue all of the sides in place, gluing one side over the adhered flap of the lid.

5. Decorate as desired. Label as necessary.

Here's my finished box:

I like it a lot! Even I have a hard time believing that it started life as a humble toothpaste box. I made the entire thing using BasicGrey paper and accessories from the Periphery collection. I used Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Vintage Photo and Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive as my glue.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Totally Cute Upcycle

So, in my obsession with being GreenX2 (economic AND ecological), I come up with some pretty weird ideas. I think I've topped myself with this one, though:

Basically, I upcycled the lid of one of my spice jars. I use these empty jars to hold various scrapping supplies after I've destroyed their packages for various projects. I was figuring out all kinds of fun things to do with the jars besides using them to hold stuff (inking the bottoms, for instance, and stamping fun dashed circles), and when staring at one of the lids, I saw a face. Thus, my cutesy skull girl was born.

1. See the face? Sand the top of it. Don't worry, it's not made yet, so it won't hurt.

2. Push the sanded top into a VersaMark embossing pad and sprinkle with white embossing powder. Emboss. Repeat to emboss with 2 layers of white powder.

3. Decide how you will decorate the lid. Place brads or stitch as desired. Cut a circle of cardstock to glue to the inside of the lid so that you can't see through any space that might be left in the holes.

4. Cut a circle to fit the front of the lid. (This required at 1.5" circle.) Cut across the circle at a good point to form bangs. Ink the edges with black ink and doodle hair lines. Adhere to the front of the circle, covering the pour spout.

5. Decorate as you see fit--I added buns, using the bones to attach them to the front of the lid and foam adhesive underneath to hold them up.

I added a little bit of thin foam adhesive to the underside of the lid and also used some glue around the edge when I stuck it to my card. The little outfit is a drawing I colored with markers.

I have to admit to being eager to use up some more of my spices to get more of these. Some of my spice shakers have lids that look like stars which will be scary cute when stitched!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zipper Pulls, Purse Charms, and Greeting Card Kits

I promised some more images of the non-jewelry beaded items I've been making. Here are a few of the ones I've done recently:

The cell phone charm is the one with the black loop, and it features the "Colors of Faith" design. This charm is looped through a spot on a cell phone. If yours doesn't have one, you can still use these handy findings to create zipper pulls by looping them through the ends of zippers.

The chain and cross charm piece is meant to be a purse charm. Basically, there's a length of about 5" of chain with a dangly cluster charm attached. The chain is meant to go around a purse strap. This little creation already has a designated future home--on the purse of one of my good friends at church who pretty much never wears ANY jewelry, but still appreciates shiny, pretty things.

The little skull piece is another style of zipper pull which you hook with the lobster claw clasp onto the end of a zipper. Make sure that if you're using one like this, you're not actually pulling on the charm itself, but still using the actual zipper piece to open the zipper.

The funnest part about this little skull design, I have to say, is the fact that it's not a real charm. I feel embarrassed admitting it, almost, but it's actually a leftover from a set of press on nails I got a while back. I had to have them because I adore cutesy skulls and just couldn't bear to throw the extras away. Basically, I just used a drill with a 1/16" bit to drill a hole near the top of the nail, which I then slipped a jump ring through so that I could use it as a charm. I've made pairs of earrings like this, too. I'm almost out of my little nails, though. :( I have to try and find some more and use the entire set as charms this time around. ^_~

AND my funnest thing from today--the BasicGrey greeting card kit I put together! I LOVE this! I got the Marrakech card kit for my birthday (because I love everything BasicGrey, but I love NOTHING more than I love anything Marrakech from BasicGrey) and opened it up when I got it to see that it had all of these pieces designated for certain cards, with little included instructions for making them all. Well, at first I must admit to being somewhat of a little art snob. Me make something from a kit? *sniff, sniff*

I intended to save all of the pieces and make my own designs later, but today I thought, "What the heck?" Teaching paper crafts at TWO stores and freaking out over producing samples and such (which I still haven't finished yet) might do that to you. And all of us need a kick in the pants now and then to release us from our inner snobs. (We all have one somewhere, and if you're utterly convinced that you don't--there it is!)

My favorite online papercrafting store right now is www.live2scrapbook.com. It's a Tuscon based company, so all of you people located in the Phoenix area are thrilled, I'm sure, to know that you get really fast shipping. I love their selection of BasicGrey items, and I HIGHLY recommend these card kits to anyone looking for something different, or to anyone looking for a present for people you know who love to make cards. You learn a lot of great ideas, too, because you're actually putting the designs together instead of just seeing them in some magazine, you know? And once you know how they're constructed, you can duplicate the techniques in your own work.

Here is the Nook and Pantry card kit (one of their newest collections) $11.25:

AND the Indian Summer card kit $11.25:

AND (I can't believe it!) the Wassail collection Christmas card kit for only $10.99!:

Each of these kits makes 8 cards. It includes all of the supplies AND envelopes. I have almost an entire sheet of rubons left from my Marrakech kit that just weren't used in the cards. I would assume that they include this in case you don't want to put a particular message on one card so that you could change it if you would like, or add extra embellishment as you see fit.

I'm probably getting the Wassail one next. I just drool over how beautiful they all are. I mean, I know some people out there probably don't see it. LoL. But BasicGrey is my love and my adoration amongst all scrapbooking supplies. I encourage you, if you're so inclined, to check out the kits. They'll give you great ideas for your own creations and a fun, mindless afternoon of completely no-pressure crafting.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Clay Guild Beads

These are the beads I made today at the Arizona Polymer Clay Guild meeting. I'm thinking about submitting the instructions for making them to Polymer Cafe magazine.

The image above shows both sides of the smaller beads (which are almost identical). Below is the side of the larger bead.

Anyway, these are all made completely by hand using various techniques (which I can't share, of course, in case I do decide to submit instructions to a magazine), and it's really fun and I hope I can get published. ^_~

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wine Glass/Mug Charms

The first beading-not-jewelry project I'll be showing is for the wine glass/mug charms. I'm going to be referring to much of this jewelry terminology under the assumption that you know what you're doing as far as jewelry construction goes. If terms such as "simple loop" and "wrapped loop" mystify you, or if you are unsure how to properly open and close jump rings (or if you weren't aware of the fact that there IS a "proper" way to do that!), go to http://jewelrymaking.about.com or www.firemountaingems.com to get some basic jewelry instructionals. Actually, I learned virtually ALL of my basics from http://jewelrymaking.about.com almost 9 years ago when I first started making jewelry. Tammy's got a soft place in my heart because of it. ^_~

Here's what you'll need to make charmies like mine:

-Silver plated chain of any kind with holes big enough to add bead charms (I'm using chain that lies flat which I picked up at JoAnn or Michael's)
-Jump rings, preferably 18 gauge, about 5-5.5 mm O.D. (outer diameter) (I get mine from www.firemountaingems.com... these are silver plated)
-2.5mm silver plated beads
-Silver plated headpins
-Various beads (at least enough different ones to make all of the charms different since the point of these is to be able to tell drinks apart--they CAN'T be the same!)
-Basic Jewelry Tools (flat nose, round nose, needle nose pliers, wire cutters)

On the charms below, I made sure that each of the large, bottom beads were different from one another, then I filled in the rest as I desired to do so.

-Cut a length of chain. I made mine 3 links long. Attach a jump ring to the top of the chain. Attach a large bead to the bottom link with a wrapped loop, slipping a silver plated bead to the bottom of the headpin if your bead hole seems to large for the end of the headpin. (I do this quite often, even if I'm just a bit worried.) This keeps the bead on, but also gives the look of the expensive ball end headpins without the expense!

-In the image above, you can see the middle green charm is the one I'm working on. I circled the other charms I made around so that you could see how I arranged beads for different charms. Basically, I put the largest bead on the bottom and arrange the extra beads in pleasing combinations (I hope!) from biggest to smallest up towards the top. I also arranged the top layer of beads relative to the inner layer of beads, meaning the smaller bead of the top row went on top of the smaller bead on the middle row and vice versa. This gives a nice drape to the cluster. Taking the time to play with and arrange your beads before you start attaching them really saves you creative frustration later.

-Attach the two lower beads to the middle link of the chain with wrapped loops as shown.

-Attach the final two beads to the top link of the chain with wrapped loops as shown.

Making the Wine Glass Charm Rings

I hunted all over (at two stores, and called a third, which is usually about the extent of my "all over" when I'm hunting, since I have to carry my 3 year old along with me) and couldn't find ANY premade wine glass charm rings. The closest I found was at Michael's with premade earring hoops, but they were sold in packages of 60 with varying sizes and I didn't want that because some were too big, and some were too small and only a few were just right.

I didn't check Fire Mountain Gems, which probably has them (because they have EVERYTHING!) mainly because I was in the mood to make them TODAY and didn't want to wait to get something shipped.

So, I just sort of came up with how to make these on my own. I'm sure that I'm not the first person to do this (VERY sure, in fact... Tammy might even have a better tutorial somewhere over at http://jewelrymaking.about.com), but here goes. I also tried to use stuff you'd probably have around your house. So any jewelry snobs who want to criticize my technique and say I should have used a ring mandrel because it's the PROPER tool (*sniff, sniff*)--to you, I say, "BLAH!" I DO have a ring mandrel, but decided to use a highlighter, because the average jewelry hobbyist doesn't have a steel ring mandrel sitting around.

You'll need...

-20 gauge wire (I used silver colored craft wire)
-Thick thingie to wrap the wire around (either a big highlighter or one of those big dry erase markers or permanent markers will work pretty much perfectly)
-Basic jewelry tools (flat nose, round nose, needle nose pliers, wire cutters)

-Cut as many 3" lengths of wire as you need. I recommend doing your very first ring with a 6" length of wire. Complete it according to the steps I'm laying out, then measure what you have left over. Subtract that length from the original 6" and you have the measurement you need to make a complete ring. Always add at least 1/4" to that for variations, and to give you room to complete final steps.

-Make a simple loop at the end of your wires, as shown above.

-Here's the big highlighter I used to make these. For ease of typing, I'm going to call this the "mandrel" from now on. Wrap your looped wire all the way around the mandrel. Lay the loop itself flat against the mandrel, then pull the wire tail all the way around, curling it all the way to the end. Do it as tightly as you can, but don't hurt yourself. Let go of the ring. It will spring back a bit, but that's okay.

-Grip the tail of the ring with your pliers as shown above. Let the edge of your pliers rest against the end of the loop. Don't be stretching the ring open. If your tail is all short like this one, grip it with another pair of pliers and bend it straight up so that you don't hurt your fingers.

-When you do this, your ring should look like the above picture. Clip the tail close, but not TOO close, to the ring. Leave about 1/8" of wire bent above the ring, like the picture below. Allowing the bend to be at the end of the loop rather than perfectly centered lets the ring stay closed when you close it because the tension of the wire keeps it pulling against the loop, which keeps it closed.

Here is one completed set of Wine Glass/Mug Charms... Some lucky relative is getting these for Christmas. (Sorry if I just spoiled it for anyone...)

If you're feeling lazy/don't like as fancy of a look, make your charmies like the ones below, using a single large bead instead of clusters. Just attach the wrapped loop component with a jump ring to the rings.

Here are a couple of pictures of these babies in use. Man, I want to keep them now and use them for my party on the 24th!

And one last note on using these: Don't open the loops wide to slide them onto something. Just allow them to open, then gently press against the object you're slipping them onto (the thinnest part of the wine glass/SIDE of the mug handle) and allow the opening to just slide open and then closed again, then latch them. Oh, really one more thing... This works out best (ESPECIALLY on the mugs) if you're doing it when the cups are empty. I just figured it out for the photos. I'm so glad I didn't do this at a party or something and spill hot chocolate or tea everywhere. I'd say have them on the glasses/mugs already when your guests arrive to save time.

Alright, that's it... I'm on to more Christmas presents. I've made two sets of charms and one purse charm so far. But I'll post on that tomorrow or the next day. After all of this typing and photo editing, I'm ready to not be on the computer for a while. ^_~

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beading for people who don't wear jewelry...

Well, first of all, I'm happy to be posting my very first post on my NEW blog which will cover the entire spectrum of my crafts. Because I do so much more than just one thing, I figured I'd have a big melting pot to showcase all of my work and ideas.

Please, if you enjoy my blog, make sure to start following it. And make absolutely sure to leave some comments. I'd love to hear from people who are helped by what I post!

My first posted topic for this blog (all the posts previous to this one were imported from my old blog which was all about scrapbooking and paper crafting) is about jewelrymaking. All in all, it's a very fun craft to get into. But it can get frustrating when Christmas and birthdays roll around and you realize that you have several people on your list who just don't wear jewelry. What to do!?

I've begun brainstorming for just this situation--I've come up with a list of things to make for people who are not jewelry friendly. I'm going to make these projects, too, and I'll post them later with pictures.

-Purse charms
-Napkin rings
-Wine glass/mug charms
-Cell phone charms (which are great, but I discover, much to my chagrin, that virtually NO cellphones are still made with a little place to hook these little lanyard type charms to, which brings me to my next idea...)
-Zipper pulls

That's what I have so far... The mug charm was a stroke of brilliance, I thought, because I was going to make a set of wine glass charms for some relatives who like wine, but then it occurred to me that the little charmies would work just as well hooked to the handle of a mug or tea cup, and they'd serve the same function at parties where coffee and tea are the main offerings, rather than wine (which, I must admit, are the kinds of parties I throw/attend most often... I'm not really in any kind of sophisticated circles).

So... what do you all think? (All 2 of you who'll read this... lol...) Do you have any other ideas for non-jewelry beaded items?