DIY: Salt Water Etching

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers!

I found a tutorial that I wanted to share, especially since it will be brought to you by SCIENCE! Also by this tutorial from Upstarter Ramblings. But by SCIENCE! Check out how super cool this looks.

So, there are some things you’ll need. First, you will need whatever it is that is stainless steel that you will be etching – this tutorial uses a water bottle… which are pretty easy to find hanging around at your local home, school camping… many stores have them. You will also need a lead set with alligator clips, a stencil of the pattern to be etched, 1/2 C of water, 1/2 tsp salt, 9 Volt battery and cotton swabs.

Your first step is to find a design you want to put on your stainless steel thing. It will need to be a stencil that you can cut out on vinyl, a prepared stencil, or one that you make from masking tape it it is a simple design. As long as the stencil is sticky, you will be good as the parts that aren’t stuck to the surface  (the exposed parts) will be what gets etched.

Mix the water and salt together into a jar and stir. Add a bunch of cotton swabs to the jar. Next, hook  one wire from the positive terminal of the batter to the metal water bottle. You can attach it to the open lid with the clip.

Hook the other wire from the negative terminal of the battery to the wet end of one of the cotton swabs. The clip has to be on the wet part of the swab.

Place the swab on the bottle where you want your design to show – in the negative spaces of the stencil, and make sure to dab the entire area.

The tip of the swab will get discoloured as metal is transferred from the bottle to the swab so replace it often – hence the handful of cotton swabs needed.

Try to cover the area evenly and when you’re done, dry off the design and remove the stencil. Wash away any remaining liquid.

And there you have it. A super impressive, super complicated looking project that you can do yourself.

Happy Crafting!

~ Megan

 

 

 

 


Steep Yo’self – Herbal Bath Teas

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Good Monday, Hackers!

It’s coming on that time of year that so many of us love; and yet, it creates a large amount of stress. Many of us make a variety of gifts and goodies for our friends and loved ones, we prepare for hosting family, we decorate (that in and of itself can wipe a person out). So many things topple onto our plates in the month of December that it can be easy to forget to just stop and breathe. Tea has always been touted as a soul-soothing remedy but did you know that you don’t just have to drink it? You can bathe in it too!

One of the best things about this stress reliever is that you can either grow your own herbs for these bath teas or you can buy them from a store or local market. If you’re growing your own, you’ll want to dry them (Organic Authority has a lovely blog post with three methods found here.)

Items you will need along with your herbs are muslin drawstring bags or double layered cheesecloth (but if you want to repurpose those old stockings or save a little money, you can use nylons or support hose as well). All you need is something that water can move through but these three things work best.

You can mix and match, use whichever herb combinations you would like. Chamomile, rose petals, and lavender are all soothing ingredients while things like lemon, peppermint, and sage can be revitalizing & rejuvenating. When mixing your herbs in the bag, you’ll want to keep the portions as even as possible. Each bag should have up to 6 tablespoons of herbs so if you’re going for a rose petals and lavender blend, you want three tablespoons of each herb. Essentially, this is just like making yourself a cup of hot tea, just on a bigger scale. You can use more than 6 tablespoons for a stronger tea but it isn’t necessary. Sometimes less is more.

You can add things like oatmeal or milk powder but these things are not necessary. The herbs themselves are going to do the heavy lifting; additions to the bag can be used to contribute to softer skin and the like.

To use your bath teas, I know the knee-jerk reaction may be to run the water and toss the bag in to steep. This is not the best way to steep your tea bag in a bath. Instead, you will want to hang the bag from the faucet and simply run your bath. It doesn’t need to be boiling to “brew” the tea; you can run it at the normal bath temperatures and it will be just fine.

As per usual with my posts, these fun little DIY items not only benefit you, they also make wonderful gifts. So on top of getting some you time in this stressful holiday season, add a little something to your loved ones’ stockings as well. Spread the stress relief!

Happy steeping, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~


Winter Warmer Gifts

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Happy Sunday, all!

I know I promised a bit more on the host/hostess gift front but found myself under the weather last week so it shall happen today. This is all rather timely since one of the best cures I know for a nasty sore throat is the first item on the gift list: homemade syrups, specifically ginger syrup. Ginger is a fantastic natural throat and stomach soother. When turned into a syrup, it can be added to soda water for ginger ale or tea for those singers/cold sufferers or even into your morning bowl of oatmeal. This lovely tutorial from The Herbal Academy has a great recipe as well as more info on the health benefits of using ginger syrup.

Spicy and effective.

Bottling it up and giving as a gift with instructions seems like a great start to a homemade holiday season. Now what if you’d like to branch out from just ginger? Well then this syrup recipe tutorial from How Sweet Eats is just the thing.

Let’s be honest here, that last one is too pretty NOT to make.

Between vanilla bean, blackberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and almond flavoring syrups I’d be well set with my morning drink additions because coffee isn’t the only thing you could add it to. Again, add some pretty packaging and you have a set of syrups tailored to your host’s tastes. What about something geared toward the baker or even a way to make that last tutorial even more from scratch by making your own vanilla extract? I’ve always wanted to do this and Akshayapaatram has not just a recipe for vanilla but citrus ones as well.

There also seems to be ideas for making your own version of lemon or raspberry liqueur as well.

Using some of that vanilla extract to make the vanilla syrup? Brilliant. Add a little carrier, some instructions for refreshing the liquor base every once in a while and another great gift ready to go. Finally, how about something to add our syrups to? As I am lactose intolerant, I often have to search out non-dairy cocoa mixes around this time. Lo and behold, they make soy milk powder! Who knew? Therefore, this year we can turn that into a delicious gift by making hot chocolate mixes in different variations from this tutorial by My Darling Vegan.

Definitely find out if your giftee has any kind of soy sensitivity, too, of course.

If your host/hostess has no known allergies, feel free to use regular powdered milk instead. You could definitely package up some of the cocoa with some of the flavored syrups for a grand tasty gift basket. Next week, lets take a look at some cooked and baked gift ideas.

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


Handmade & Homemade Gifts

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It’s Monday, my fellow hackers! Hope you all had a restful and restorative weekend. I know I did!

It’s getting round that time of year and gifts are on everyone’s minds; both giving and receiving. Trying to find great gifts for the people you love can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. If you want to add in a little something extra to those gifts (and give something that can be natural and healthy), here are three easy recipes you can whip up in no time.

All these recipes utilize essential oils so please remember when choosing your brand of essential oils, purity and therapeutic value are of high concern. If you’d like to learn more about what to look for when purchasing your essential oils, The Herbal Academy has a wonderful blog post here that covers this.

First up is a little recipe I use around my own home a lot lately. It’s colder and thusly, the windows don’t get opened anymore. No fresh air flow tends to make the home a little…stagnant. Instead of spending tons of money a year on fabric deodorizers, you can simply make a fabric and air spray to make your home smell however you’d like. This one is SUPER simple and cheap (the most expensive thing will be the essential oils you choose as some cost more than others). It is also a great little stocking stuffer.

Homemade Fabric Refreshing Spray

Ingredients & Supplies:

*2 oz distilled water

*5-10 drops of your choice of essential oil (you can use multiple oils for a combination scent!)

*2 oz dark glass fine mist spray bottle

Directions: Simply fill the spray bottle almost to the top with your distilled water, add your essential oils, replace cap and give a shake. Ready to go! (You should shake the bottle before each use since the oil and water will separate.)

Next recipe is essential (ha..hahaha, see what I did there?) for those of us who have cold and dry winters we have to weather through (man, I am on a ROLL today). Dry skin can be downright painful but there is a way to combat it and that is with body butters. This recipe is quick and simple to make.

Handmade Body Butter

Ingredients & Supplies:

*3/4 cup shea butter

*1/4 cup coconut oil

*1 tsp vitamin E

*10-15 drops of essential oil (again, your choice and you can mix multiple oils together for custom scents)

*2 tbsp melted beeswax

*8 oz amber or dark glass jar

Directions: Combine the shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E in a mixing bowl and mix in a standing mixer or with an electric hand mixer. Scrape all the sides of the bowl and then whip again until the mixture doubles in volume (think whipping eggs to meringue). Add your essential oils and whip for about 10 more seconds. Put the mixture into jar (or jars, if needed) and voila! (This body butter, if stored in a dark place that doesn’t get too warm (below 76 degrees) will last for anywhere from 12-24 months!)

Last up is a slightly more difficult one (I promise, not much, though). This is also a great gift idea for winter months as the colder weather can really chap you lips. So what better to gift to people than a tube of lip balm? (You can certainly purchase the ready to use tubes for this one but this can also be put in to small, sealable tins as well).

DIY Moisturizing Lip Balm

Ingredients & Supplies:

*7 grams avocado oil

*5 grams shea butter

*5 grams beeswax

3 grams coconut oil

1 gram vitamin E

2 drops vanilla extract (or an extract that compliments whichever essential oil you choose)

3 drops essential oil (again, combinations are cool)

Directions: In a double boiler, combine avocado oil, shea butter, beeswax, coconut oil, vitamin E, and extract. Stir until completely melted. Remove this from heat and stir in your essential oils. Then you can simply pour into your lip balm tubes or tins and let cool. Make sure to cool completely before using!

Whatever the season, whatever the reason, each of these recipes is simple and cost-efficient. But most of all, they are natural and beneficial. And they make great gifts for yourself too.


Feature: 42 Nerdtastic Place

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Happy Monday, Hackers!

Today I want to tell you about a wonderful place you should all visit: 42 Nerdtastic Place.

Last month, I was working at a convention out in Schaumburg, IL for the television show, Gotham. It was a small show, it only had a few vendors but there was a new booth that I hadn’t seen before. I was intrigued. A friend of mine and I went over to check it out on Friday night during pre-registration and the young woman I spoke to was an absolute delight. She told me all about her products and that they are all handmade. I told her about my quest to become truly cruelty-free in my product usage and asked about that. She said that not only are her products cruelty-free, they are 100% vegan. What caught my eye was the comprehensive selection of lip balms she had out (and it wasn’t even all that she offers). I had found out that the balm/chapstick I had been using most of my adult life wasn’t something I was comfortable using anymore (short version: the company itself is cruelty-free but the parent company is not). So I had been looking for a balm to replace it and was finding it difficult. You don’t want to spend money on something like that only to discover you hate it and you have this whole tube of it you won’t use. So a lot of the online options I was finding, I was hesitant to purchase. But here, I had testers.

Long story slightly less long, I fell in LOVE with these balms. It was like smoothing silk onto my lips and the scents were unique but still heavenly-scented. The best part was that they are GEEKY. This woman taylors her recipes and products to a myriad of fandoms.

I walked away from that convention with four new lip balms (two of which were Gotham-themed).

Now, I want to share this fabulous person and her equally fabulous products with you all!

Amanda Mayer launched 42 Nerdtastic Place on Etsy in 2014, starting out with fandom-themed jewelry and coasters. But Amanda’s crafty mind didn’t just stop there. She branched out, wanting to provide a plethora of items for shoppers. She started making other items, like scented candles and melting waxes, lip balms, room sprays, etc in addition to original items like necklaces, bracelets, and bag clips. Her site’s About page states that they “wanted the feel to be of a place you would go to when shopping for your Hogwarts school list or a place you might go to cozy up to fellow enthusiasts.” Amanda and her crack team have accomplished this goal resoundingly!

42 Nerdtastic Place sells both online and maintains a presence at local fan conventions so you have different ways to purchase products. They are also always expanding. The Gotham blends, for example, were created specifically for the Gotham convention (though Amanda had been asked by shoppers in the past). And it doesn’t just stop with television and movie fandoms. There are products that feature animation (both American and Japanese), fantasy creatures, literature, even musicals (I personally need to try the Forgotten Spot in the Caribbean – Hamilton body spray).

42 Nerdtastic Place offers the following items: Bag clips, bracelets, necklaces, Hogwarts House combs, air fresheners, candles, hair care & grooming products (like Asgards’s Finest Beard Oil…You too can have the beard of a god!), lip balms and lip sheers, perfumes, and wax melts. They also have some lovely gift sets and they offer samples (not something you come across for online stores much, in my limited experience).

Amanda has also generously provided all our Craft Hacker readers a discount code for 15% off any regular priced items. Simply input code CRAFTHACKER15 to receive 15% off any of their regular priced items!

Hope you all enjoy as much as I do, Hackers! Be beautiful to each other.


For the Host with the Most

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Happy Sunday, all!

Since the holidays are coming up and most of us are forced to interact with people we don’t see often, I thought an opportunity to bring the host/hostess a little handmade gift would be very appropriate. Some of these take longer than others to make and some make multiples at a time so if you have plenty of parties/get-togethers or just want to get a head start on some stocking stuffers or secret Santa gifts this may be the time to start! First up, for those that already have crochet implements, this crochet rope trivet is super sturdy, cute, and serviceable:

For those hot tea pots or even candles (especially if you include those in the gift, too).

It appears to be simple crochet but may take a little bit of muscle to get it through the loops. Next up is an idea for making their table a little prettier, some quick and easy sewn reversible napkin holders:

There’s also instructions on the site for a matching bias tape table runner.

If you have a little more time on your hands and are comfortable with the corner to corner method of crochet, then this Thanksgiving themed pillow set CAL that just released it’s last part of the pattern is for you:

So super cute and perfect for the season!

If you’d rather not assume their decorating style or give them something they are more likely to use, how about one of these neat little tea trees:

This is also a chance to get creative in finding tea bags in several colors.

Or even trying your hand at making these dip mix filled ornaments:

Whichever you choose or if you want to brainstorm on your own to suit your particular host/hostess, we all just want them to feel appreciated. Next week we’ll continue with some ideas for cooking/baking based host/hostess gifts that I’ve really wanted to try out!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Galaxy Teas

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers.

I have a small business to introduce you to. If you love tea, and I know many of you will, then this is an interesting business for you! I work a couple conventions with this gentleman, and he is the first person I have met who can make you your own custom tea blend. May I introduce the very steampunk Galaxy Teas.

Galaxy Teas sells loose leaf tea off the rack at conventions – with super cool names and flavours – and does offer to make a custom flavour for you if you’re looking for a special blend.

Whether you’re looking for a unique flavour blend for a gift for a friend, or whether you’re looking for favours for a wedding or a shower, these teas are beautifully packaged in metallic, colourful little packages with awesome labels for the awesome tea names. We have flavours like Robyn Hood’s Black Forrest and Emma Frost Vanilla Chai.  There might seem to be limited flavours available online, but don’t let that deter you. Send a message to Galaxy teas, as they have many more available that you can buy at conventions or request via email.

You can keep up to date on the shows that Galaxy Teas will be at by following on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Crafting!

~ Megan


Fall & Halloween-Themed Knits

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Happy Eve of All Hallow’s Eve, Hackers!

With this being my favorite season and tomorrow being my favorite holiday of the year, I decided to focus on some cute, themed knitting patterns for today’s post. (I am focusing my post on knit patterns since we have some other, more experienced posters to focus on crochet patterns.)

I may not have human children of my own (and my cat, Helo, isn’t thrilled about wearing things I knit for him) but I just love some of the adorable ideas that people come up with for babies and toddlers. For example, this pattern for a little fox hat and baby mitts is not only one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, it also is a fairly easy pattern. Both beginners and experts would have little to no difficulty following this pattern and this would be a fantastic shower gift for a baby due in the fall. You will need to have knowledge of your basic knit and purl stitches but you shouldn’t need to go in to the detail of increasing/decreasing stitches. The pattern is currently marked down in price but even at it’s regular price, it is pretty affordable.

This next pattern does have at least a little crocheting, however, you can adapt it with a knitted strand instead. This too-cute pumpkin hat for babies is simple and wouldn’t require a ton of your time. And with a little change here and there, you can make it for toddlers or even adults as well.

One of the things I am most obsessed with in the fall is that it’s the perfect time of year to wear shrugs and ponchos. And for those of you who are big-time Outlander fans, this pattern from Ravelry for a Claire-inspired shrug will give you that Sassenach look with little effort and time. Find the free pattern here. (This may be the next thing on my “to knit” list since I think it’s simple and elegant and because my office building is usually set to sub-arctic temperatures.) Depending on the type of yarn you choose and the pattern, shrugs and ponchos can be worn year-round as well.

Because the fall weather can be crisp, I wanted to share one more pattern to help keep you warm from head to toe: leg warmers. While this may bring some of you flashbacks to the days of Flashdance, these simple items are a great way to keep toasty in the brisk weather, whether going out on a blustery day or just bumming around you home with a mug of tea or cocoa. A lovely pattern for chunky yarn leg warmers can be found here.

The best part of fall is the crisp, clean weather, in my opinion. Knitting and crocheting provide stylish ways to keep warm and it’s a great skill to have and hone. And as usual with my posts, these items all make for great gift ideas too!

Keep warm, Hackers! And stay stylin’.

~Scribe Sarah~

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DIY Tie Die Dog Leash.

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Hi there Thursday Crafthackers!

Love this little tutorial from StudioDIY, partly because it’s super easy, but also because it involves some minimal materials to make a great gift for you and your pooch or for another dog lover. I also love that it uses tie dye paint, which is meant to have things dipped in it, and is also meant to blend with the other colours, so makes something like this super easy.

Your first step is to get some tie dye paint – you should be able to find some at any craft store but it can also be ordered. Mix the dye with water in the bottles according to the package directions. The dyes are super bright when made this way, and if you want a bit of a softer colour, you can squeeze some into glass bowls and mix with additional water (1:3 ratio). It just depends how bright you’d like your piece.  You’ll also need to buy a white cotton leash from any pet store.

 

Next, choose which colours you’d like to use, and how long your leash is. If your leash is 6 feet long, you could choose 6 colours, one for each foot. But you can do whatever combination you’d like. Just organize everything beforehand so you don’t have to be fiddling with dye in the middle of your project.

Lay down some protective plastic, make sure you’re wearing some gloves so you don’t dye your hands, and then start dying the handle end of the leash first. Dip it into your first colour and let it sit for about one minute. Remove and continue with the next colour.

The colours will (and should) blend together, so don’t worry if there’s some bleeding or overlap. If you have an extra pair of hands, this will make everything easier, so you might want to phone a friend to come by. When you’re done, let the colour sit in the leash for 8 or more hours before you give it a thorough wash in the sink.

And that’s a super easy way to make gifts for your animal loving friends, to to have a fantastic dog leash for yourself.

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.