25 July 2010

Christmas In July

I have been walking around with an idea for Christmas ornaments since last November, but had not been able to find the time or the supplies before this week. There is a lot of Christmas in July currently going around on the web, so now that I have everything I need, including a whole day to myself, I thought I would join in on the fun.

I purchased twenty three inch long colonial chandelier crystals a few months ago.

I love the shape of them, and my idea was to decoupage vintage Christmas images behind them. Since they are quite narrow, it wasn't as easy as I had anticipated to find the right size image. Until I stumbled onto an ArtChix collage sheet at Bello Modo. Twenty long and narrow vintage images, absolutely perfect for my project.

Making the ornaments is fun and easy. Begin by cutting out the images to fit the crystals, using scissors or a paper cutter.

Apply some Perfects Pearls with a small paintbrush for a nice shimmer. It can be used wet or dry, I just dry brushed it on.

Decoupage the image to the back of the crystal, using Mod Podge or any clear drying glue. Once it has dried for about an hour, add some silver leaf to the back of the image. I used liquid silver leaf that I found at Hobby Lobby, which turned out very nice. But to be honest, I think silver paint would have been equally beautiful and much cheaper.

Apply a clear coat sealer to protect the silver leaf once that is dry. If you accidentally get some clear coat on the glass surface, don't worry, a little acetone will take it right off.

Add some string or ribbon, and you're done. Beautiful handmade ornaments that make a lovely and inexpensive Christmas gift when the time comes. I have put them all away for the next five months. Never before have I been this organized, and I am quite proud of myself.

05 June 2010

Lessons In Glass Etching

I have taken on several glass etching projects lately and learned a few valuable lessons along the way. Thought I'd share them with you here.

1. Not all glass is the same. Some glass is of a much better quality and therefore harder to etch. I use Armor Etch and it is usually sufficient to leave the etching cream on for no more than five minutes. Recently I tried to etch a glass cookie jar and it took about 45 minutes to get a proper result.

2. Do not remove your stencil until you are satisfied with the results. I learned this the hard way with the above mentioned cookie jar. After waiting five minutes,  I rinsed off my etching cream and peeled off the contact paper. My image was visible, but just barely. It looked like I had used a razor blade to scratch the image into the glass. Since I tore my stencil when I removed it, I had to make a new one. Believe me when I tell you, it is nearly impossible to fit another stencil over an existing image, especially when you cut your stencils by hand.

3. The larger the image etched into the glass, the better the result. Small images do show up but not as well.

4. And last, but certainly not least... Etching cream can be reused! There is no need to wash it all down the drain. Simply use your application brush or a small silicon spatula to wipe off the excess cream and return it to the pot from which it came. Much friendlier on your wallet, not to mention the environment. Take care not to accidentally wipe it onto the uncovered glass, though. This stuff etches faster than you think.
    There you have it. As you can imagine, some tense crafting moments preceeded these little pearls of wisdom. But if I can save you the same frustration, it was well worth it.

    28 March 2010

    Sunny Side Framed

    I have looked everywhere in blog land but can't find the exact post that inspired me to make this year's Easter decor. Therefore I cannot credit the crafter that designed the Easter eggs I shamelessly copied. But thank you for the inspiration, whoever you are!

    The Graphics Fairy is one of my favorite blogs. I keep coming back to it and every single time I find another image I would love to use in one of the many projects that live in my head. For my Easter eggs, I selected three very different but equally lovely graphics.

    I copied the images into a word document where I turned them into ovals. Every picture was printed out four times. After cutting out the egg shapes, I folded them all in half and mod podged one half of one egg to one half of another egg with the same image. I repeated this step for all quarters of all images. As soon as my half eggs were dry, I glued the two halves together, making one whole.

    Once my eggs were completely dry, I sealed them with two coats of Mod Podge. One coat was applied in horizontal brush strokes and one in vertical brush strokes, leaving a nice vintage looking surface texture. Word to the wise: if you use an ink jet printer like I did, the colors tend to bleed. You'll want to apply a fairly thick coat quickly to minimize the bleeding.

    After letting my eggs dry overnight, I wanted to add some glitter to the sides. For two reasons: 1) my toddler and I like sparkles, and 2) to cover up the edges that showed my cutting mistakes (it did not occur to me at the time to cut off any uneven bits after the glue had dried). I experimented with real glitter but after finding little purple sparkles EVERYWHERE, I decided glitter glue was the way to go.

    All that was left to do was punch a hole in each egg, string it onto some silver ribbon, and attach it to one of the three lovely wooden frames I scored at the local thrift store for $1.50. I used tape, because I want to be able to change out my decorations on a regular basis.

    I am linking this up to:

    27 March 2010

    Etching For Spring

    My husband offered me a beer the other day, when I came home from work. I gratefully accepted. He pulled the cutest little 7 oz. bottle out of the fridge and even before finishing it, I knew I had to do something crafty with it. I had been wanting to try my hand at glass etching for some time and these bottles would make the perfect project.

    I decided I was going to spell the word S P R I N G, one letter on each bottle. However, since my home was lacking my Dutch heritage, I opted for L E N T E instead. Lente is Dutch for spring.

    I started by printing out L E N T E on some card stock. Someone recommended beginners use the least amount of swirls and curves for making stencils. That seemed like good advice. I used a basic font, Ariel - all caps - size 175, to fit my little bottles. Frugal as I am, I printed only the outline of the letter to save on ink, since all I was after was the shape.

    I cut out the letters and traced them onto the paper side of the contact paper I was using as a stencil. I had a bright moment and remembered to trace them as a mirror image. Next I carved out the letters. Not being able to find my exacto knife, I used my husband's stanley knife instead. Worked okay but an exacto knife would have been better.

    After cutting out the letters, I peeled off the back of the contact paper and placed the sticky part on my bottles. Make sure there are no bubbles under your stencil and that the outline of the letter sticks securely to the glass. Then lather on the Armour Etch about 1/4 inch thick with a small paint brush. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Rinse it off thoroughly under cold water and peel off your stencil. And voila! Letters etched in glass for all eternity.

    Now all we need is daffodils. Until then, fake Dollar Tree daisies will do.

    I am linking this project to Cheri's Creative Mondays at Its So Very Cheri and the Glass Bottle Categorically Crafting Show at Some Day Crafts.