Monday, July 24, 2017

Alcohol Ink and Plastic Wrap Flower Vase


This is now my third project using plastic wrap to apply alcohol ink to glass. My first attempt was a decorative wine bottle from the dollar store. Then, I applied it to some altar candles to try out a smoother surface. It creates a neat crinkled look, but it takes a bit of fiddling to get the surface completely covered and looking good. Hopefully, I've got the process pretty much down pat because when I saw this perfectly smooth cylinder vase, I totally wanted to plastic wrap it.


I grabbed my inks and a craft mat (or two) to get started. Then I tore off a piece of plastic wrap that was a bit bigger than my vase. I've tried a couple brands of plastic wrap and haven't noticed any difference in the result yet.


I chose ink colors that were close to each other on the color wheel so they wouldn't turn brown when they mixed together. I dripped 4 or 5 dots of each color onto an area roughly the size of my vase.


Then I set the vase down on the edge of the ink and rolled it onto the wrap until the plastic wrap was wound around the vase. I then set it aside for a few minutes to dry a bit so the color wouldn't all pull off of the vase when I removed the plastic.


After probably about 10 minutes, I removed the plastic. The colors were pretty light and didn't cover the whole vase.


I knew I wanted to get the vase more coverage, get the colors a bit darker, and try to get a bit more texture to appear, so I dripped some more of the same colors onto the same plastic wrap.


This time, I intentionally rolled it onto the vase wonky. I wanted it to be crooked and a bit crinkly. Then I unrolled it right away and reapplied the plastic in a different location to transfer as much of the ink onto the vase as possible before it dried up. I would usually apply about 3 times each time I added ink to the plastic as I worked my way around the vase trying to add color to places that were light or bare.


Once it was mostly covered, I then applied a dot or two of ink to the plastic to provide contrast to make the design a bit more interesting. With my color choices that usually ended up being pink or dark blue.


Once I was satisfied with the look of it, I set it aside to dry for a few minutes. If you plan to handle your vase a lot or store it near any alcohol based liquids (like hairspray, perfume, etc...) you'll want to seal your alcohol ink masterpieces. On glass, you'll want to use a glossy sealer like glossy mod podge or glossy acrylic spray. If you plan to use it only as decoration and don't plan to handle it much, it may not even need to be sealed, but when in doubt, seal it.

These projects with plastic wrap have been such a fun experiment in alcohol ink. I think they turn out looking really cool in person, but they are a bit difficult to photograph. I hope these projects have inspired you to try it out!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Alcohol Ink Foil Gift Bags


A while back I decorated some white gift bags with alcohol ink. They turned out pretty fun, so I was on the hunt for gift bags I could decorate. I'm still looking for silver, but sadly all I found were these metallic pink ones (it was probably around Valentine's day that I found them). I wasn't sure how these colors would work out, but I'm always up for alcohol ink experiments!


I laid out my craft mat and grabbed some dark colors (like pitch black and indigo) and my silver alcohol ink.


I spread some black on the hot pink bag and used a can of air to blow it around. It didn't soak into the bag quite as much as it did with the white, but it also didn't want to spread much.


Since the metallic pink was already pretty showy, I wanted to keep the ink fairly simple. I added some silver and used the can of air to spread it out a bit.


For the shiny coral colored bag, I went with indigo instead of black and then added silver to it.


They didn't work out quite as well as the white gift bags did, but they were successful enough to keep hunting for more gift bags to try the alcohol ink decorations on. It's always nice to end an experiment with a project worth using and sharing with fellow crafters. 

Have you tried alcohol inks on any unusual surfaces? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Alcohol Ink Mason Jar


I had a quart sized mason jar lying around and I figured, hey, I haven't inked a mason jar yet
(unless you count the slightly ill-fated attempt with food coloring and mod podge)...and that's good enough reason for me to give it a whirl.


I grabbed my craft mat, some alcohol inks, and a can of air to start off the project.


I chose mostly blue-green inks to cover the majority of the jar. I have quite a few shades of teal and aqua so I knew I could get some variation without having the colors mix and turn brown. I started out by just squeezing a fair bit of ink into the jar and then blowing the canned air on it to get it to spread and dry more quickly.


I kept adding different shades of green and blue and spraying them with the canned air until the jar was mostly covered. Then I flipped it over to make sure that the ink wasn't settling at the bottom and left it for a few minutes.


I opted for my accent color to be a purple-y shade of pink. The magenta would be bright enough to be a contrast, but would hopefully be purple enough that it wouldn't turn brown when mixed with the green ink. I lucked out and picked correctly. The pink stayed pink in some areas and turned more purple in others as it mixed with the green ink. I dripped the magenta into the jar in a few places and sprayed the air on it to get it to spread.


After I was satisfied with the coverage, I flipped it over again for a few minutes to make sure the ink wasn't pooling at the bottom and it was done. It turned out really pretty and looks great sitting on my window sill in the kitchen with the light shining through it.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pencil Shavings Fire Starters


We spent last week camping in a cabin at Pine Lake State Park. It was a delightful getaway. Our weather was all over the place and we had a fair bit of rain, but we still managed to get in a great deal of hiking and several fires. When it was raining or hot, we read books and played board games. It was so nice not to have tv and the internet to suck up our time for a change (and the cell service was terrible too :)).


Before we went camping, I made some fire starters. This year's experimental fire starter was shavings from my electric pencil sharpener. They were exclusively colored pencil shavings. I put them in paper cups and covered them in a ton of melted wax. We tried them out on our first fire of the trip.


I was concerned that the cups wouldn't light very well or stay lit. They lit fairly easily, but the edges sort of fizzled before they got to the wax. We ended up putting a cotton round fire starter on top of the wax and lit it and the whole thing burned fabulously after that.


And once it got burning, it burned for AGES....like 30 minutes. So the materials in the fire starter are definitely good for fire starters, I just need to refine the delivery system a bit so that they light easily and stay lit. Since I know that cardboard egg cartons work well for this, I may try the shavings in an egg carton next year (I'd do it this summer, but I'm all out of shavings--time to get coloring:)).

Monday, June 19, 2017

More Homemade Campfire Starters


It's that time of the year again--time for me to make more DIY fire starters for the camping season. I set out everything I needed to make my old standbys: cotton round fire starters and egg carton lint fire starters. But this year I also am trying a new variety that's a total experiment--colored pencil shavings.


I used a foil pie plate on my burner (set to low) to melt down some old candles. I also bought a couple of pillar candles from the dollar store. Just pop the wick off of the bottom and put it in the pan to melt. Tea lights work really well too, just pop them out of the metal holders and take the wicks out. You could use higher quality wax or wax for making candles from the craft store, but the whole point of this for me is to make something very cheaply, and goodness knows I always seem to have old candles to get rid of.


I had some leftover cotton rounds in my candle stash, so I whipped up a few of these. I just used a set of tongs to dip the round quickly into the wax and then set them on parchment to cool. The best parts about the cotton rounds are that they are fast to make, don't take too much wax, and store easily in a small resealable bag. On the downside, they don't burn too terribly long, and if you dip them in too much wax, they can be hard to light.


My favorite DIY fire starters are made from dryer lint shoved into a cardboard egg carton and covered in wax. These work about as well as the store bought fire starters and cost about a dollar in wax to make (or free if you have some grungy old candles to melt). After shoving the lint in the egg carton, I just melted down one of those dollar store pillar candles and poured it over the top of the lint. You know you have enough wax with these if most of the lint is wetted down on top and you have some wax starting to seep through the bottoms of most of the egg compartments on the bottom. After I poured the pillar candle over the top, I added a bit of the leftover wax from the other meltings to wet down the top edges a bit more and then let it cool on the parchment.


This year's experiment is pencil shavings--or more specifically colored pencil shavings--in paper cups. If you follow the blog, you may know that I have gotten pretty into adult coloring over the last couple of years. This means that I go through lots of colored pencils. After throwing some of the shavings outs, it dawned on me that they are pretty much sawdust and wax--both of which are components to the store bought fire starters. So I've been collecting my shavings and waiting.


I decided on the paper cups because I had some laying around and because they were easier to store the shavings in than an egg carton. If these work well, I may try making them in an egg carton (since they are free, portable, burn well, etc...). So I pressed down the shavings a bit and poured melted wax over the top. I was pleased to see that the wax didn't seem to sit on top or make the shavings float--so I kept melting more wax and pouring it into the cups.


Then when the wax started to appear on the surface of the pencil shavings, I knew I had enough. I let the cups cool on the parchment with the other fire starters.


After they cooled, I snipped the tops of the cups about an inch apart and fanned them out like a flower. Hopefully, this will help make the starters easier to light and spread their chances of catching nearby kindling and branches on fire. I have no idea how they'll work, but since each one is basically a sawdust candle, I can't imagine that they'll be a bust. Stay tuned to the blog to find out if this year's experimental fire starter makes it into my regular DIY rotation. Happy camping!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sticker-Backed Alcohol Ink Glass Gem Magnets


Decorating glass gems with alcohol ink is one of my most popular projects on the blog. I've been fine-tuning my process and trying out a bunch of different variations. One of the biggest issues with using alcohol ink on glass gems is that you can't really see the colored ink, it gets a bit lost as you look through the gem at the colors. One way around this problem (or to at least diminish it) is to back the glass gem. I've tried paint, aluminum foil, and aluminum tape. All have worked, but the easiest was the aluminum tape. I punched circles out and placed them on the back of the gems like stickers....so it donned on me as I was looking at some basic office supplies--3/4 inch color coding stickers--that the white back of stickers would be a great way to bring out the color in my glass gems. 


I started by laying out a craft mat and my alcohol inks, and I cut up a bunch of squares of felt for my applicator as I knew I'd want to change colors several times. I grabbed some regular glass gems/flat marbles  (like the kind sold in the floral section at craft stores--they are about 3/4 of an inch in diameter). I would have liked to use the larger gems as they make better jewelry, but the standard stickers were too small. I started out with some green/blue ink. As you can see on the applicator, there's only a very small amount of ink--just two drops. The more ink you use on these glass gems, the wetter the felt is and the longer you have to stamp/let it dry before you get the ink to start separating a bit and making patterns.


After the gems were colored in a base coat of the green/blue, I started adding colors to the gems. I'd drip one or two drops of color onto the clean side of the applicator and stamp until I'd get colors that I'd like. I ended up layering several colors to get it the way that I liked it. Some blue, some light green, some yellow, some purple, some pink--you get the idea. I just kept putting color on until I liked it.


When I was satisfied with the colors, I let them dry for a few minutes before applying my stickers. I used the blue and green stickers since they corresponded better to the colors on the gem.


The stickers fit some of the gems perfectly, but others that were more oval in shape had some overhang. I just stuck the sticker onto the gem and then carefully trimmed the excess with a scissors.


I was pretty pleased with how bright they looked after the white sticky backs of the stickers created a contrast against the inked colors.


To keep the stickers from peeling up at the edges and to seal the paper so that it wouldn't come off if it got wet, I went ahead and painted on a coat of mod podge with a foam brush.


Then I used some E6000 to carefully glue on some tiny neodymium magnets (Note: this kind of magnet is very strong, and these small ones can be deadly if swallowed. Do not let kids play with them.). Be careful when you're gluing them onto the backs of the gems not to let them get too close to each other (the ones on the top right were too close and pulled their magnets out of the glue and had to be re-glued).  Though the neo magnets can be a bit of a pain, they make fantastic fridge magnets. They hold papers up so much better than the standard craft magnets.


In the end, I was really happy with how the colors turned out when backed by the stickers. If you pick your largest gems out of the stash, the stickers should fit the backs pretty well too. I'd definitely do this again. Now I just have to find some stickers the right size for my larger gems.