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.

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.