Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10 Ways To Make Over Your Stickers

I am a sucker for many things. One is makeover shows- I just love seeing how happy everyone is when they look prettier... and another is stickers.
Ahhh, stickers... fond memories as a child, collecting them and swapping them with friends. Before you judge, I actually do not have any of those stickers left from twenty-odd years ago. What I have are a million stickers, bought early in my papercrafting journey. Most of them were just cheap and there was little selection, so I got suckered in to buying ugly stickers :). So, here's a list of 10 ways to make over the drawer full of stickers you know you have too
  1. Ink 'Em- this works really well to tone down and antique those shiny stickers, and adds a shabby chic look to matte ones. Lightly tap a brown inkpad over the top of the sticker, or use a piece of cosmetic sponge to apply a little ink over the top
  2. Paint 'Em- This adds a bit of country charm, and is nice on bright colors to mute them. Using a very dry paintbrush and the smallest amount of paint, brush on white or light-colored acrylic paint. Or, you can use acrylic paint and fill in parts of a matte sticker to alter colors for your needs.
  3. Bling 'Em- I love glitter... it hides almost anything by blinding you with its bling. Using Stickles or generic glitter glue painted on thinly with a paintbrush adds just a bit of bling. Painting the glitter glue on straight from the bottle will add a bit of dimension and glitz. Or, you can use white glue and glitter from a jar or bottle and add a lot of thick, chunky bling. This is cute on feminine, kids, or holiday stickers.
  4. Chipboard 'Em- apply sticker to a piece of chipboard (I use old cereal boxes) and cut out. You now have a 'dimensional chipboard element', which sounds way more impressive than a sticker. This is easiest with sharp scissors, and bigger stickers with little detail to the edge.
  5. Layer 'Em- if you have multiples of a sticker, apply one to a piece of cardstock and cut out a few areas you'd like to add dimension to. Using foam or pop-dots, layer the cut-out pieces.
  6. Sand 'Em- using a piece of fine sandpaper or an emery board, lightly sand the sticker. The white underneath will begin to show. This works well to tone down shiny stickers, and works well for masculine or vintage themes.
  7. Punch 'Em- sounds violent, huh? I mean, paper punch! Apply sticker to cardstock and use a punch to cut out just a small portion. A great reason to bust out the square, round or oval punches. This can also add uniformity to different-looking or various-sized stickers, since they will all be the same size and shape due to the punch.
  8. Collage 'Em- Take a piece of paper, and just add stickers in random order, over lapping as you go. Cut strips or use a paper punch to add a fun accent to a scrapbook page or card. This is a great way to use up odd stickers you only have one or two of.
  9. Use 'Em Together- if you stick a bear sticker to cardstock and cut him out, you can cut around his paw and tuck another sticker (say, a flower) underneath, so it looks like he is holding it in his paw. That theory goes for anything- layer a house underneath a car, and it looks like the car is driving past it. Layer a dolphin behind the waves and he looks like he's in the water.
  10. If All Else Fails...Donate 'Em- preschools, grade schools, Senior Centers, VA Hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses, scout troops, and many other organizations would be delighted to receive your castaways. Maybe the local Church has a cardmaking ministry, or the local Yeshiva has an afterschool program. Someone will use what you can't. Just use Google or the phone book to find a charity you're interested in and contact them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Seven Craft Supplies From The Kitchen

I have two grandmothers. One is Italian, and spends hours perfecting dishes like broccoli rabe and lasagna. The other one burns Minute Rice. Genetics are such that I inherited the culinary skills of the latter.
Other than making coffee, or mac and cheese, I avoid the kitchen. But as any hoarder will tell you, there is always something hiding in a drawer, waiting to be used. Here are seven common kitchen items you can easily re-purpose for crafting.
  1. Aluminum Foil- Line a baking sheet with foil to bake polymer clay on, ball it up and use it to add bulk to polymer clay, or use it under a messy project (Mod Podge doesn't seem to stick to foil.) Use a piece of thick (professional quality or heavy duty) foil and lay it on a mousepad. Using a stylus, draw designs onto the foil to create embossed designs. You can use a drawing and trace over the lines, if you'd rather not work freehand.
  2. Chopstick- one is the loneliest number ever if it's a lone chopstick. Great for stirring thicker liquids, like paint or Mod Podge, even in taller jars. Also can be used as a stamp to create dots out of paint. These are also sturdy clay tools, great for shaping with. Worst case scenario, coat it in glitter, add ribbons, and make a magic wand.
  3. Salt- other than the obvious salt dough (1 cup salt, 2 cups flour, and 1 cup lukewarm water), salt can add an interesting effect to watercolors. Liberally wet down a piece of paper, slosh on watercolors (the cheap kid's ones are fine), and sprinkle on salt. The salt will suck up some of the color. Let it dry totally, and then brush off with a stiff dry paintbrush.
  4. Tupperware/ Plastic Containers- storage!! Store homemade Mod Podge (1/2 white glue and 1/2 hot water, stirred well. On a side note, I tend to make mine a little thicker, maybe 65% glue. Do NOT try to make this thinner than 50/50 mix), doodads and trinkets, and just about anything. these are airtight, and translucent so you can see whats inside. Also great for rinsing off paintbrushes or storing a small craft for on-the-go.
  5. Cans- the kind with the pull-off lid work best for crafting because they contain the least sharp edges. Clean well and give a quick bleach and water soak, then let dry. You can cover the outside with fabric, felt, or pretty paper and make pencil holders. Weigh them down with rocks inside and use as a centerpiece base. Poke a hole in the bottom, sponge on white and green paint, and make outdoor flower planters. The tuna or cat-food sized cans are great for paper clips (use E6000 to affix a few magnets inside the lip to keep stray clips in check). Obviously, eat the food inside first (Chef Boyardee for dinner tonight?)
  6. Glass Bottles or Jars- (resealable lid)- soak off labels, clean, sterilize, then use to hold 'in a jar' gifts http://christmas.organizedhome.com/crafts/gifts-in-a-jar . Hey, if other people bake, its a cool gift. Or fill with candies or homemade bath salts and add a pretty bow, as a gift for other culinary-challenged people. (NON resealable lid) fill wider-mouthed jars with candies and add small scoops for a candy buffet or party centerpiece. Use as candle holders. Get really fancy, and fill with a few inches of colored water and use as floating candle holders.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why Keep Everything? Here's A Few Reasons...

Flash back to 1990. I am 11 years old. New Kids On The Block are my favorite band. I learn to make "friendship bracelets" out of embroidery thread. I learn one knotting technique- to make straight lines or stripes of color.
Flash forward to a few years ago, when I pulled out my box, still stuffed full of embroidery thread, and decided to play around with knotting. I teach myself the V, scalloped stripe, framed V, diamond, and X and O.
Its always fun to rediscover and improve on a craft, and friendship bracelets are easy to make during long subway rides.
Hoarding rules!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dye-ing For A New Look

So I got a great deal on some plain white ribbon, but the more I look at it, the more I am faced with the reality that I need very little plain white ribbon for my crafts...
Then I had my 'a-ha!' moment. I can dye it as I need to for the colors I want.
Here are a few tips to home-dying fabric ribbon
  1. Make sure the ribbon is pre-washed to remove any sizing chemicals it is packaged with. I use dishsoap and hot water, and just hand clean it in the sink.
  2. Unless you want to also risk dyeing your hands and work area, wear gloves and set down newspaper
  3. I prefer to dye things in disposable or craft-use-only tupperware, so I don't have to worry about staining
  4. Make sure your ribbon is totally submerged in the dye. Stir it around with the back of a paintbrush.
  5. The longer you leave something in the dye, the darker the color it becomes.
Now, a few methods for dyeing ribbon
  • Tea Staining- soak two plain teabags in a cup of boiling water until the water cools. Strain the bags, and microwave the water until it boils again, then drop in the ribbon. *You can use fancy tea flavors like berry or green tea for different effects.
  • Coffee Dyeing- stir a heaping spoon of instant coffee into a cup of boiling water. You can add ribbon right away.
  • Kool-Aid Dyeing- *use the envelopes, NOT the jar or canister! Add one envelope of Kool-Aid to a cup of boiling water and stir, You can add ribbon immediately. Kool-Aid comes in just about every color- red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple. Yellow Kool-Aid requires two packets, as it it a very pale color. Green can be mixed with yellow and blue.
I don't make anything that would need washing, so I don't worry about dye fading in the washer. If you are going to make wearable crafts, I suggest investing in actual dye.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Double Duty From The Dollar Store

I am always amazed by the endless rows of stuff that can be acquired cheaply, but if I can't find a use- or two or three- for it, then it's just a wasted dollar. I don't like wasting anything if I can help it...
Here's a few items at the local Dollar Store that I am proud to say I have invested in...
  • Toothpicks- paint art on your fingernails using nail polish, apply small amounts of glue, or hold down small items while they dry
  • MakeUp Spnges- AKA Cosmetic Sponges- cut into smaller pieces, these make ink daubers, and are a good to get ink from an inkpad into tiny corners of paper. They can also be cut into stamps, and mounted on a scrap of wood or an old block.
  • Toothbrushes- the best cleaning tool out there to remove dry ink from red rubber stamps. Load with paint and use for spatter effects by running your finger over the brush (do this in a box or your yard- it will get messy)
  • Eyeshadow Applicators- use as chalking tools, or ink daubers.
  • 4x6 Photo Albums- store brass stencils, die cuts or any other small paper bits, turn into a mini album for a last-minute gift
  • Dryer Sheets- (unused) sweep across paper before stamping and using embossing powder to avoid static and stray bits of powder. Then use them in the dryer. Used, they can be stamped on or have ink rubbed on for homemade designer 'mulberry' paper. Put a small ball in the middle, gather all sides and tie with a string and you've got a Halloween ghost to decorate with.
  • Glass Ware- can be decorated using etching powder (available at most craft stores). Can be drawn on with a Sharpie and baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to 'cure' (handwashing recommended). Can store craft goodies, bath items, and 'gifts in a jar'
  • White Glue (any brand will work)- add 50% glue and 50% hot water to a tight-sealing jar and shake well to make Mod Podge, or decoupage glue. Add a few drops of thin acrylic paint and stir well, to make glossy 3D effects. Also the best glue for glitter I've ever found.