DIY: Mosaic Tray

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers!

I have a tutorial for you today from Sand and Sisal to make a sea glass mosaic serving tray. You can find the original post here.  What I love about this tutorial is that it’s a basic tutorial that doesn’t have to be applied to only sea glass. You can use tiles, flat stones, flat glass tiles, or broken plates. This process can be applied to anything you’d like to turn into a mosaic, which is possibly why I love being able to write about a process like this.

For this you do need some specific supplies, but they are things that you might have lying around, or they’re easy to find at any hardware store. You’ll need a wood serving tray (you can buy one new or you can check second hand and vintage stores to see what’s around), spray paint, enough sea glass or tile to cover the area of your tray, some ready to use tile adhesive, premixed grout, a toothed trowel, a pallet knife, a rubber tile float, and a sponge.

Your first step – if your tray has been finished, is to sand the tray with 100 grit sand paper to remove any shiny lacquer.

Your next step is to give the try a couple coats of the (wood suitable) spray paint in the colour of your choice.

With a toothed trowel, apply a thin coat of adhesive to a small part of the tray base and comb the teeth through the adhesive. If you’re using a large trowel, you can use a pallet knife to spread the adhesive into the small corners and edges, and then comb it afterwards.

For the best result, try to work in small sections. It’s important that the adhesive is applied in a thin layer. you don’t want it oozing over the tiles. Start pressing your sea glass (or other tiles) into the adhesive. The tile should sit about half way in the adhesive.  Follow the package directions for the adhesive to set up.

After you’ve placed all your tiles, you can pull out the grout. Put some grout on the float (the rubber scraper thing) and start pressing  and smearing it into the sea  glass so that it gets into all the crevasses and into the edges. Don’t worry about smearing it on top of the glass – it will be smoothed and wiped off the top later.

Once your tray is covered, scrape any excess grout off the top with your float.

Your last step is to clean up that mess! Use a wet sponge to clean up the edges of your tray and to remove the layer of grout from the top of the sea glass or tile. When it looks mostly clean, let it dry. When it’s dry, the glass will look a little dusty, and this is when you can take a clean, damp sponge and buff the glaze off the glass to let it shine.

Et, voila! Your tray is done and ready to be used, or gifted to some lucky friend.

Happy crafting!

~Megan

 


Wrist Exercises Take 2

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A few months ago I posted some great videos for stretching your wrist muscles and just generally helping them keep the more common wrist injuries at bay. Well today I’m back with some more, and they’re from an unlikely inspiration.

From Splatoon 2 enthusiast and Tumblr user comes a great reference guide to help the average person take care of their wrists before strenuous use. While they were inspired by long play session of Splatoon 2 for the Switch, these are really wonderful stretches that anyone can do. If you’re seeing a medical professional for an existing condition however, be sure to clear it with them first. Per the artist themselves:

I drew a quick chart about good wrist and finger exercise before playing Splatoon (or engaging in any other intense activity such as but not limited to gaming in general, programming, drawing, computer work etc.)
As with all stretching exercise, these should only be done in moderate speed. You only want to loosen up, not break your hands!!

Great advice, and I’d even recommend doing it at a very slow pace at first to help you get the feel of what the stretch should feel like and not hurt yourself. When done properly everyday, these stretches can definitely help the longevity of your very useful wrists. 🙂


DIY: Vintage Light Fixture Revamp

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Hi there Thursday Crafthackers!

I found a DIY that looks much more complicated than it is, and it is a great way to bring vintage into your home  – or your apartment. The best part is, is that it uses the base of light fixtures that I see in almost every apartment that I’ve been in, and they’re in my apartment right now.

You can find the original tutorial here on A Beautiful Mess, and you really can do any colour you prefer, given that you can use spray paint to either match the pieces to each other or do do it in another colour entirely. You do need some supplies and tools, though. You’ll need a sunburst mirror frame, like this one. You can use any mirror frame as long as it’s easy to remove the mirror so you can use the base. You’ll need a ceiling flush mount light small enough to sit inside your mirror frame, like this one. You will also need gold (or your choice of colour) spray paint, painter’s tape as well as screws and a drill.

As always, we recommend safety first, so since we’re getting into working with light fixtures, you can do this project together with an electrician or a friend with experience, or you can use this guide to help guide your experience. Please make sure that your power is off whenever you’re working on a light fixture. We don’t want any mishaps.

So, depending on what method you choose, you may need to remove the existing light fixture. Since this tutorial uses a light that is a few inches smaller than the mirror frame, paint was added to the ceiling area that would be showing in between the fixture and the mirror. All you need to do is place each fixture where it will go, trace around them and tape off the area that you’re not painting. If you’re worried about using spray paint and the fact that it is airborne and can go anywhere, you can use a liquid paint and brush. Remove the tape when dry (see above).

Using the same paint, paint the base of the light fixture. Just make sure to tape off the back so that there’s no electrical parts that get painted. Add your light bulb and globe shade.

On the mirror frame, you can bend back any tabs that hold the mirror in place and remove the mirror and any backing material from the middle. Just give this frame a coat of the same paint that you used for the rest of the project so that it looks like one unit and there’s no odd colour difference. You can just use 4 screws and wedge them between the spokes of the frame to hold it in place.

When your light fixture is secure, you’re done! It looks fabulous in the gold, but if you’re going for a different kind of retro vibe, you could use a beautiful teal spray paint, or copper. Whatever colour suits your mood and decor!

Happy crafting!

~Megan


DIY Fall Floral Arrangements

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Happy Monday, Hackers!

My favorite season is now upon us and most people seem to be super-duper excited about Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I, however, most look forward to two very important things related to fall: Fall decorations and Halloween (my favorite holiday so be forewarned…my October posts will ALL be Halloween-related).

I usually put up fall decorations right around Labor Day and most of these I procure at Dollar Tree because they are cheap and easy and well, we all love cheap and easy. But there is one thing that I do every single year not only because they add lots of those beautiful fall colors to my apartment but they are also really cheap and easy and FUN to make. Floral Arrangements!

Using fake leaves and flowers are a wonderful way to dress up your space without having to maintain a plant. It’s also beneficial for those of us who have furry friends and family (since many real plants can be toxic to our beastly brethren). You can customize these easy arrangements to your specific decorative vision. Unlike real bouquets and plants, you can create something that you know you’re going to love.

All the supplies I gathered for the small piece I made for this post were obtained at my local Dollar Tree. They always have a pretty broad and diverse selection of flowers and leaves to choose from and it’s an inexpensive place to find the foam forms and floral moss you’ll need to stick the pieces into and dress up your arrangement. Other stores that you can find great and usually inexpensive supplies at are Michaels and Joann Fabrics. But also check out your local craft stores, especially those independently-owned ones. Support local businesses!

 

For this piece, I wanted something small for the little table by my recliner so I chose this lovely white ceramic bowl with a festive fall leaf design around the rim. I then placed my foam form into the center of the bowl. You’ll want to find a form that is just slightly smaller than the dish or basket you are placing your arrangement in. It should almost fill the space, leaving room for you to dress with moss around the edge and over the top. There are also large forms that can be cut down and shaped to whatever you need.

 

I like to choose a center focal point for my arrangement. This gives me an idea of what colors I’ll want to use, the different levels I’ll want to achieve and where the rest of the flowers and leaves will be placed. While you don’t necessarily want your arrangement to be perfectly symmetrical, you do want to have a sort of uniformity to the piece. Using a focal point helps to accomplish this.

Then, I put my floral moss around the edges and over the top of the form to hide it. Once you have that finished, let your creativity flow. Play around with what flowers, berries, or leaves you want where. Use different lengths to the stems when you cut them (you can use a regular scissors to cut them but it is a little tough to get through the wire stems so I recommend having a wire cutter handy). Poke the stems into the form to place the flowers; don’t be afraid to angle the stems, bend them to place the flowers exactly where you want.

 

Move the pieces around as you go, play with the arrangement until each item is exactly where you want it.

Once your arrangement is complete, all you need to do is set it out in whichever room you want to display it. Don’t forget you can also redo them anytime you like. Just take the flowers out and rearrange them or add new ones whenever you feel like a change. You can make small arrangements, like the one I made here, or you can make them as large as you like. I made this slightly larger one last fall and still love it. It will definitely be a part of my fall decorating tradition for years to come.

The best part of this fun and simple DIY is that it is not season or holiday specific. You can use any color or type of fake flowers, add touches like holly for Christmastime or eggs for Easter. You can make them with school colors for graduation parties or as gifts. The possibilities are endless.


DIY Crushed Glass Coasters

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers!

 

I have a super easy but really beautiful tutorial for you. If you were looking to make these as a gift, or decorate your own coffee table, they’re pretty simple and super impressive. The original tutorial can be found here.

You will need some supplies. You’ll need some cork coasters. I would recommend trying to find ones that have a small lip, like these from IKEA.  You will also need a decorative filler (you can explore a local craft store or even the garden/aquarium sections of a dollar store to find something you like).  The filler doesn’t have to be crushed glass, it can be anything you find that you like. Small stones, wee crystals, beads of varying sizes… really whatever you like.

You’ll need whatever colour spray paint you’d like your coasters to be, and some  Mod Podge Dimensional Magic Glue. This type of glue is recommended for the effect that it gives. Most crafting stores will carry this brand of glue or you can ask your helpful salesperson what they would recommend.

Your first step is to spray paint your coasters and let them dry. Next, take your decorative filler and fill your coasters. You just want to use a thin layer, you don’t want to actually fill your coasters. Use your dimensional magic and fill in the coasters. You’ll want to make sure that all of your filler is submerged in the glue so nothing is sticking out. One container of the glue in the size linked above will fill 4 coasters, FYI.

Let them dry for 24 hours, and you have an impressive gift, or addition to your room.

 

Happy crafting!

~Megan


Using glazes, seals and top coats on polymer clay

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Its Wednesday, and I’m back in my studio. This weekend I had the privelege of being a vendor at DragonCon. We had an amazing time, and it was so much fun to see everyone. I can’t wait for next year. Meanwhile, I am low on stock, and need to start working for my next show.

One question I am frequently asked is whether I seal my pieces, and what I would recommend for others to use. Polymer clay itself doesn’t need to be sealed. On its own, it’s durable and the color doesn’t change over time. If you have inclusions or a finish, then a seal or glaze would be recommended. The article I’m linking to does an excellent job explaining the different types, depending on your project. I recommend bookmarking it so you can experiment with them.

https://thebluebottletree.com/understanding-polymer-clay-glaze-sealer-varnish/

Once you’ve read the article, you can decide what finish works for you, or even if you need one.


Halloween Glass Lanterns

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Is it Halloween yet? No, wait, I need some prep time for it still. Gotta work on my awesome costume. 😀 Still, I love Halloween and I love decorations for it even more! You have such a wide range of options from cute to scary and realistic to mind bending. Truly the most welcoming of all holidays. 🙂 Well today I’m gonna share a great DIY that you can easily do at home to make lovely glass lanterns for your future Halloween festivities.

The folks at Adventure in a Box have a great method to make some really lovely lantern jars that you can design for just about any event, but their Halloween ones are what caught my eye. You can find the full process with pictures on their site here, so I’ll just give the quick run down of supplies you’ll need along with the recommended methods.

Materials

– Jars of different sizes and shapes

– A can of high quality spray paint in your choice of color

– Battery Powered Tealight

– Paper/Paint/Vinyl depending on method

 

Now for that last item you have to decide how you want to make you designs before you get it. The easiest way (for me) would be to draw/print out the design you want, cut it out and glue/attach it to the inside. If you’d prefer to free hand it though, then painting the outside of the jar is gonna be your best bet. This method can be prone to scratching however, so make sure to apply clear sealant layers of spray paint after you finish. If you can’t paint and want something more lasting on the outside (and have access to a vinyl cutter) you can simply print out a design in vinyl and attach it like a sticker. 🙂

The last step is of course placing the candle inside and I would highly recommend a fake one. Real tealights can get very hot, heat the glass (dangerous), and heat the design. Making some methods like vinyl run the risk of losing their adhesiveness. For simple and lovely decor you can make in an afternoon though these little lanterns just can’t be beat.


Labor Day Celebration: Relax yo’self

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Hello my beautiful Monday Hackers! And a happy Labor Day to you all!

In honor of the holiday, I wanted to spend a little time on relaxation and rest. It is important to maintain a balance in our lives, which is part of the reason our country celebrates this holiday. As such, I wanted to give a few ideas for things you can do to help rest and restore yourselves from the stresses of every day life.

One of my absolute favorite ways to relax is to take a long, hot bath. Adding bath salts and fragrances add a lovely level to your relaxation time. In a post a few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for making your own bath salt. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s inexpensive and you can find that recipe here. Some great relaxing scents you can use for this (or for a spray that can be misted over your bed before you go to sleep) are lavender, rose, ylang ylang, bergamot, chamomile, and frankincense.

In addition to the salts in your bath, having a good book with you can be a super addition to your rest time. Sometimes, taking a journey into a fictional world while inhaling calming scents is just what a human needs to fully decompress.

Another way to pamper yourself is to mix up a homemade facial mask. Many of these can be made with items you have in your kitchen, some are a little more detailed. But sometimes, unclogging your pores can really help unclog your mind. This may be construed by some to be a rather ‘feminine’ thing to do but I feel this is a great thing for any gender. Clean skin makes anyone feel better about things. Below is a quick and easy hydrating mask for dry skin.

Cocoa Dream Hydration Mask:

Mash up one quarter of an avocado and add one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of cocoa powder. Apply the mixture to a clean face and let sit for about 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat face dry. (I like to follow things like this with my favorite toner, Pacifica’s Coconut Micellar Water Cleansing Tonic, which can be bought at Target, Ulta, and Sephora or online at Amazon. Pacifica’s products are also all cruelty free and 100% vegan!)

Another fabulous homemade mask ingredient is bananas. Bananas are great for skin as they are high in antioxidants and moisture. This mask is super easy and great way to get glowing skin.

Organic Banana Face Mask:

Mash up half a banana and add one tablespoon orange juice (fresh squeezed is best!) and one tablespoon of honey. Apply to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

One of my favorite ways to relax and de-stress is by doing a little yoga. Even the most novice yoga practitioner can accomplish these basic poses for relaxation. As with any physical exercise, make sure that you are trained on how to do these poses correctly by a licensed yoga instructor. Doing yoga poses incorrectly can actually damage your body. This webpage has five easy to achieve and fully relaxing yoga poses. Other poses that I enjoy and that help relax and relieve tension are locust pose and supine leg twist. For anyone who is a yoga practitioner who wants to have yoga on the go, I highly recommend the apps FitStarYoga and Asana Rebel. They are easy to use and show videos on the poses as well so it’s great for people who are not yet proficient.

I’d like to end my post on the most efficient way to de-stress, relax, and recharge. It’s quick, it’s easy and you can literally do it anywhere. Deep Breathing. Some people call this meditation and it is. However, all you really need to do is take in oxygen in order for your body to naturally relax and find serenity. Sit somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. If you can’t find a somewhat quiet spot, put in earbuds and start whatever relaxing music you like (I personally go straight for Chopin’s Nocturnes). Close your eyes and take one slow, deep breath in, then slowly let it out through your mouth. Repeat this for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, however long you feel you need to fully let go of your stress and find peace. Don’t think about anything; no mental lists of what you still have to do for the day, what you’re going to have/make for dinner, if you need to stop at the store on the way home for toilet paper. All those things will be there waiting for you when you’re done breathing. Just focus on the slow intake of oxygen and the release of breath out. Imagine all the bad thoughts and feelings you have exiting your body with the exhale. Even just 5 minutes of this can make all the difference in your mental state and how you approach or deal with your day.

Our weekend is long and for that, we are all grateful. Who doesn’t love a day off work? But remember the real reason for it and that is to take care of and treat yo’self. Happy Labor Day, kids!


DIY: Lap Desks

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers!

I have a great no-sew DIY for a great lap desk that can be used to have a solid, hard surface for laptops, homework, reading, colouring, or whatever you’d like to use it for. The original tutorial can be found here at A Beautiful Mess.

You will need some supplies: A wooden lap desk top (You can buy one like this, or if you’re super crafty with wood and wood tools, you could make one), a foam square – fabric stores will often carry this, and craft stores might as well. You’ll need some fabric (1/3 – 1/2 a yard, depending on the size of your lap desk top), and trim. As for tools, you’ll need a few. Scissors, fabric glue, staple gun and staples (make sure they’re shorter than the lap desk top), wood stain and brushes (optional).

Your first step is to place the lap desk on the foam and trace the pattern. When you cut the foam though, cut it a little smaller than the top. You can use the scissors to cut the foam, and if your edges aren’t perfect, don’t panic. You’ll hide them. 🙂

If you’re choosing to stain the desk, now is the time. You can stain the tops and the sides of the lap desks. Let them fully dry.

Next, place the foam over the bottom side of the lap desk top (you might want to glue part of it down in the centre so that it stays put) and lay your fabric over top of the foam.  Try to make the edges look clean and pull the fabric tight as you staple the fabric to the desk top, stapling the fabric just underneath the foam to hold it in place – don’t fear stapling some of the foam down as well – this will just attach it more firmly. If any of your staple ends poke through the top of the desk, remove them and try again. No one wants to be bitten by rogue staples when trying to do work. It’s very distracting.

Trim any excess fabric and if you so choose to make a nice clean line at the seam where the fabric was stapled in place, glue some trim at the seam, and wait for it to dry.

And you’re done! Customizable lap desks that are great not just for laptop users, but for kids that like to colour and draw.

Happy back to school!

~ Megan


Hand-Knitted Ear Warmer/Headband

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The days and nights are getting chillier. Fall is just around the corner. And beyond that…winter is coming… (Sorry, had to make *some* mention of the Game of Thrones finale).

For the knitters out in our little crafting world, I wanted to pass along this very simple pattern that I came across on the interwebs. I have adapted this a bit to custom to varying head sizes. This pattern works best with chunky soft yarn. I prefer the Lions Brand Hometown USA. Whichever yarn you use, make sure that it has a little give because you will want the headband to stretch.

You’ll want to have US size 10 needles and a pair of scissors and a yarn needle handy as well. You will need two different color yarns; one will be what you knit the band out of and the other will be your accent color to finish the warmer. If you want to dress up your headband, you can also have a plastic or fabric flower handy or some felt shapes cut out to be stitched to the band. This is also a slightly more difficult pattern in that it uses the seed (or moss) stitch. This requires knowledge of the knit stitch and the purl stitch.

First thing to do is the make sure you’re spotted. I like to have a knitting buddy for this.

Just make sure your buddy doesn’t try to play with the yarn. *wink*

Cast on 10 stitches. On row 1, start with one knit stitch, then purl. Repeat this to the end of the row.

Row 2: *p1, k1; rep from * to end of row.

All odd numbered rows will start with a knit stitch; all even numbered rows will start with a purl stitch. I highly recommend using a stitch counter to track your progress. You can lose track of which stitch you need to start on very easily if you’re not paying attention. Your seed stitch should look like this.

Continue this pattern for 70 rows. You’ll want to keep your tension loose so that the headband will still have some stretch and give. If the tension is too tight, the headband will not fit. Once you get to row 70, bind off your work.

Then stitch the ends together to make a knitted circle. Then take the ends and tie around the ends to bunch the band in one spot.

 

Once that’s tied off, you will take your accent color and pull it through the center of the band. I usually have about 3 feet of yarn on each side, then wrap it around in a chunk. Once you have it fully bunched up and covered in your accent color, you will tie off the ends and snip it close. Then tuck the knot into the threads to hide it. Flip your band inside out and you are finished! You can decorate the band with anything you choose; buttons, flowers, whatever ideas you can think of.

This pattern can also be adjusted for head size by either increasing or decreasing the number of rows stitched. It can be completed in a couple hours and make great gifts!

(Note: you also may want to make sure your buddy doesn’t fall asleep on the job. LOL).

~Scribe Sarah~

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