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I did it!!! My vision is a reality!!!!

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I did it!!!  My vision is a reality!!!!

So, maybe I’m overreacting a bit but I’m completely ecstatic about what transpired for me today…allow me to explain.

I explained in my last entry that my hubby had given me a scroll saw this past Christmas.  After much frustration (the people that scroll saw the signs at county fairs make it look incredibly easy!), I finally produced a completely jacked-up snow flake Christmas ornament.

my pathetic first attempt at scroll sawing anything

my pathetic first attempt at scroll sawing anything

Yea, it’s horrible…I know it.  It frustrates me that I didn’t do better at scroll sawing on the first attempt (normally, I can pick things up with little effort…not this time) but, I had to start somewhere.  I’m going to have to practice in order to take this further but it’s so worth it after what I was able to accomplish today!

After I took this picture, I put clear packaging tape on the back side (the worst side, actually…) and burnished it down so the resin wouldn’t leak out when I poured it.  Then I placed it on a paper plate with the tape on the bottom leaving the top open.  Then I mixed the clear resin and tinted it with oil pigment and poured it into the openings.

the resin is still wet and incredibly stinky!!!

the resin is still wet and incredibly stinky!!!

So I mixed, and I poured…and I stunk up the house with noxious fumes.  In this picture you can barely see the tape peaking out of the parameter of the ornament but that’s the only thing keeping the resin from pouring our all over the place.   In very simple terms, I’m trying to create a sun catcher (even though my end product is going to be much more elaborate) because I want to be able to back light the resin to make a stained glass effect. Well…it worked!!!!!!!!!

the ornament holding onto the resin without a tape backing!!

the ornament holding onto the resin without a tape backing!!

I put a fairly high ratio of hardener into the resin in order to get a really solid cure so after about 2 hours (it takes about 24 to completely cure) I carefully removed the tape backing to see if the inlay would fall out and it didn’t.  Sometimes the resin shrinks when it cures but so far so good.

I also wanted to be sure that I could maintain an element of transparency  (necessary in order to be able to have the desired effect in the final project…this was only an experiment) and the transparency remained!  I kept two of the sections open as a comparison to the filled sections to see if there would be a notable difference (I was only going to leave one section open but I ran out of the opaque blue and didn’t want to mix any more…the fumes are intense) and there was an obvious difference.

a different lighting, I'm very happy that the colors stayed vibrant after curing

a different lighting, I’m very happy that the colors stayed vibrant after curing

In closing, I’m blissfully happy about the results!  There are still a few bugs to work out (most notably my complete lack of skill in using a scroll saw at this time…) but I think I’m getting closer to being able to create a “stained glass effect” inlay in wood.

More projects to follow….

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Resin Inaly in Wooden Box

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my resin inlay experiementAfter much consideration and thought, I had found myself in a rut.  I enjoy crocheting and knitting but it’s not that fun to do when it’s hot as hell outside and oppressively muggy inside.  I enjoy creating the wooden boxes, that I’ve blogged about previously, but that project had also run it’s course.  Woodburning and painting was fun but “been there, done that”, I needed to find another direction to take my crafting…I was in a rut.

While surfing around the net one night, I stumbled upon the art of working with resin casting on You Tube.  The techniques documents were primarily for jewelry (pendents and bracelets mostly) and while it’s completely charming to imbed candy into clear resin and wear it around your neck for eternity…it really wasn’t my thing.  Then I found a video of a man that would put colored resin inlays into the neck of guitars; while interesting…I don’t play much anymore so that didn’t help either.

But I had a moment of enlightenment; is it possible to inlay colored resin into wood, or better yet…a wooden box?

So my quest for knowledge began.  I looked up everything I could on the internet about resin, casting resin, molding resin and coloring resin.  Again, it was mostly geared towards making jewelry (other than my wedding rings, I rarely wear it) so I began looking for resin inlay techniques for wood.  Amazingly enough, all I found was a single Acrobat document that was produced in 2009 for a woodworking magazine.  I was pretty much on my own for this one.

I began gathering the supplies that I would need to start my experiment; luckily I already had most of them (paints and colorants) but purchased the actual resin and mixing cups from a craft store.  The syringes were a bit tricky (thank God I don’t look like an intravenous junky) but I found a pharmacist that sold me 16 syringes for 10 cents a piece because they were expiring their useful date for medical use and they were going to be pitched anyway.
useful things for casting and coloring resin

I had a little wooden box, that I’d purchased for a dollar,  that had a lid that was about 1/2 inch think and perfect for my inlay experiment.   I got into my vast supply of clip art books and found a simple dog paw pattern that fit nicely on the lid.  After transferring the clip art onto the lid, I used a Dremel to cut a recess of about 1/4 inch into the lid (I didn’t want to cut through the top because the resin would run out).  After the cutting was finished, I made sure that the lines were clean so after the excess resin was sanded off, a clean inlay would remain.

After blowing off the sanding dust, I proceeded to mix the resin (you have to combine it with a catalyst in order for it to harden) and it stunk to high hell.  I didn’t want to just cast clear resin so I had some silver/grey powdered mica that I mixed in.  After I combined the mixture to my satisfaction, I used a syringe to fill the recessed areas on the lid of the box.  I actually overfilled the cut out area because there’s a slight shrinkage upon the resin curing (I’d only read about it…no actual experience in how much shrinkage would take place) and the syringe made it a very clean and tidy process; I intended to sand the resin down to be flush with the lid anyway once it was cured.

After the filling and the curing (I put the box with the un-cured resin under a lamp that put out some heat) and waited for 24 hours.  The next day, I hand sanded the box until the resin was flush and smooth.  The one disappointment I had was that the resin was quite dull and blended with the matte finish of the box, I was hoping for a glossy finish.  Easily solved!  I dug into my collection of paints and finishes and found a bottle of Triple Gloss Acrylic that I painted on to create the shine.

Overall, I’m encouraged and actively working on my next project…of course I will blog about it.  Keep an eye open on my blog; more good things will be posted soon!!!!
Thanks for reading!!!

My crafting ways take a back seat to life way too often

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but still needs a button...

It just dawned on me, as I sit at the computer drinking my morning coffee and trying to wake up, the things I enjoy seemed to have taken a back seat to factors of my life that are necessary.

I make lists in order to make it through my life somewhat organized.  The lists contain bullet statements to remind me of what I need to do once my “stage one” activities take place.

What are the stages that rule my life??

  • STAGE ONE: work and sleep; the things that I have to do in order to exist with some level of comfort in this life but leave very little wiggle room for extra activities or accomplishments.  No list required in this stage.
  • STAGE TWO: necessary things that can be put off for a little while but not for long.  These items include house cleaning, grocery store visit and going to the dump.  Depending on how hectic work is, this can also be an elective category for a list.  Sometimes if I create a list for this category, there are spaces in time created for an element of creativity but normally STAGE THREE items find their way in.
  • STAGE THREE: necessary things that can be put off for a while but not forever.  These things include cleaning fish tanks in the house (we’ve got three), giving dogs hair cuts (again we have three and accomplishing this in a timely manner cuts down on hours of having to chase dog fur balls around the house with a vacuum), weeding the garden and general household organization.  This category also requires a list because I never know when I have an extra window of time available to take care of these things and I have a horrible memory so a list is handy.
  • STAGE FOUR: this category contains the things I actually enjoy doing but sadly find their way to the bottom.  Crafting, creating, going to craft stores, putting in a good movie and just finishing a project that was started months ago…writing a blog entry (I’m breaking protocol today because a dog fur ball just went scooting across the hallway floor…)  These items don’t have a list because there’s only about 5% of my time that I can give to them and I only address what will make me happiest at that particular moment.

So, here’s my quandary…life seems to have taken over my creative side.  I’ve tried to make STAGES 1-3 as efficient as possible but I seem to get really tired when I’m done with what needs to be done.  Sort of makes me sad sometimes but I guess that’s better than feeling guilty.  The sad thing is that I have an incredible husband that’s very helpful around the house but there are always lists to be made and crossed off every day.

In a bigger picture, I dream of having my own little shop on Etsy where I can sell my crafts.  Actually I have a shop built but there’s nothing in it.  If for some reason I do ever load any items on Etsy, I don’t think I’d have time to take care of it and keep it updated at this point in time.  God forbid I actually sell anything!  How in the world would I make it to the post office to mail it out?  So, almost in a defeated manner, I’m a forum lurker on Etsy…continuing to dream about a day where I can just create things for hours one end…

Am I the only one?

Pyrography and painted trinket box

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Busy busy busy….

So this past Christmas, my Hubby gave me the most amazing present I think I’ve ever gotten; a work bench in my craft room!!  Craftsman to be exact!  It’s got the awesome magnifier light and the comfy swivel seat that has the footrest bar along the bottom.  The best part is that there are bunch of drawers along the side that I absolutely love!!

Anyway, this is another box that looked absolutely beautiful without the color added to it.  I was pleasantly surprised when I was finished and it seemed to work out.  I wanted the color to stand out with bold colors and then the outside “leaves” to be more subdued.  I think it worked out pretty well.

Again, thanks for looking!!!

Pyrography and painted flower trinket box

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Well, I’m back…

I know I haven’t posted in a while.  Between work and sort of being on a knitting kick lately, I finally sat down and did a few more jewelry boxes with the wood burning and paint.

I actually did this one a few months ago.  After I finished wood burning the image onto the box, I was almost tempted not to paint it.  However, I found that there is an amazing assortment of metallic paints that are readily available at my local craft store (yep, Michaels) and once I really started looking at the shelves and shelves of different paint, there is quite the variety available.

After randomly selecting the colors, as they felt right, I painted.

The only thing I’m disappointed with is that I’m having a really hard time getting the picture quality I like.  It’s very hard to see the metallic effects from this one.  I’ll actually try again when I seal it and see if it helps.

Thanks for looking!!!

Handmade Crochet Baby Blanket

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Well, here’s the latest creation!  This is a prime example of the baby blankets that I’ve been making for the members of my Squadron at work.  Unlike like the blanket that I previously put on my blog, this one is a double crochet stitch in a Granny Square style; a timeless pattern that is absolutely warm and versatile.  I think I like this style the best because you can do anything with it.

If you make little squares of different colors and sew them together, you have a Granny Square blanket.  If you make rows over and over, like the one pictured to the right, you can make it any size you want (this one is 3 foot squared).  Or, you can keep going and going on adding rows…I’ve made 3 king sized afghans, to fit king sized beds, in this exact style.  The color combinations are as limited as the yarns that you can find!

As for colors…I have something to say about them too.

I’m kind of on a mission to try and redefine what a baby blanket should look like.  If you compare the blankets that I’ve made, and blogged about, they aren’t made in historically “baby” colors.  I have a reason for this.
When I grew up, I guess it’s safe to say that I wasn’t “type-cast” into anything.  The only time that I was forced to wear dresses or dress the roll of “little girl” was when I was in church or the flower girl in a wedding or something like that even though I was a pure Tom Boy to the core.  I think because of that, I was able to develop my own individuality over time.  Don’t get me wrong,  there are occasions where nothing is better than a nicely tailored skirt and elegant heals and I’m happily wearing them.  Believe it or not, and this may surprise people that know me, there are times where I like to wear pink!

But babies really don’t have a choice in the matter.  I’ve known many women, especially being in the military, that were drowned in pink growing up and refuse to wear it to this day.  So, that is why I like to make baby things that are beautifully neutral.

I also feel sorry for the fathers that really step up to be good, involved fathers and they are trying really hard to ignore the fact that they are carrying a Pepto Bismol pink diaper bag but overjoyed to have their little girl in tow.

So, I’m completely on the unisex bandwagon when it comes to baby colors!!

UPDATE AS OF JANUARY 16TH, 2011

This baby blanket was donated to one of the MANY expecting families at the squadron that I belong to at the end of last year.  I hope their little one likes it!!

Latest project…a box

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First off….WOW!!!  The response to my lost blog entry was unbelievable!!  Who would have thought that eggs would be so interesting?  I’m still thinking that I need to start working on another one sometime soon but since I’m still working the night shift, it’s out of the question; way to noisy.

This is a “quiet” project that I’ve recently done.  My niece (my clone, actually…) has a birthday coming up this month and I thought she’d like it.  We have a little thing that we do since I live here on Cape Cod and she lives in Michigan…we actually write letters to each other!!  No, not emails or tweets or Facebook entries…write with a writing instrument and paper.  When I get a letter from her, I normally send her some homemade little jewelry thing, mostly necklaces.  So I figured that she needed a box to put them in.  I showed my sister (her Mom) these pics and she decided that she wanted it instead.  Ummm…no.  I’m making one for her too.  That will probably be the next entry.

Anyway, it was really easy to do and this is how I did it:

First off, I think I need to explain something.  I absolutely LOVE the Michael’s craft store!!  There are two of them sort of close to where I live (but they’re bringing one to Hyannis this summer so I’m very happy) and I go there whenever I can.  There are two places that I normally get my craft supplies; Ebay, if it’s for eggs and Michael’s if it’s for everything else.  This box falls into the “everything else” category.

1.  Go to Michael’s, in the unfinished wood section, and buy a box.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Some even have the hinges and closures already there (like this one).  The best part is that they are very inexpensive (I think I paid 3 dollars for this one) and the possibilities are endless with a little imagination.

2.  Find some clip art that you like and trace it onto tracing paper.  This came from a clip art book I have with a bunch of mandala’s in it.  If you don’t know what a mandala is, I highly suggest you Google it…the images will blow your mind!!  I don’t use the originals from the book because they’re so pretty,  I don’t want to ruin them and may want to use them again.

3.  Take some regular graphite paper and trace the image onto the box.

4.  This is where it starts to get fun, at least for me.  The darkened areas that create the outlines isn’t paint…it’s wood burned.  Otherwise known as “pyrography”.  Again, Google if you want to get a little more info on it.  The applications are endless with the multiple tips that you can get for the wood burning tool.  And yes; you can buy them at Michael’s.  I like using the wood burning technique because I think it adds a beautiful, rustic feel to the piece.

5.  Once the wood burning is finished, I had to decide how I was going to paint it.  But I didn’t use regular paint.  I don’t think you can tell from these pics but the inside of the flower petals are bronze leafing (real metal).  The same as gold or silver leaf.  But, this stuff is called “Rubb ‘n Buff”.  It’s real metal leaf but it’s suspended in sort of a wax and can be applied with a paint brush.  It comes in about 15 different finishes and adds a very nice touch.  The rest of the “paint” is actually pigment that…I bought at Michael’s.  I didn’t want an opaque finish because I didn’t want to overwhelm the wood burning.  I watered it down until is was very thin, brushed it on and wiped the excess off with a paper towel.  I’m not sure but regular craft paint should work the same way.

6.  On the bottom of the box I glued 4 wooden balls to the bottom to act as legs.  Yep…got them at Michael’s!  The balls have one flat side to them so they can be glued on easily.

7.  Once everything is dry, I sealed the whole thing with a matte finish sealant.  Hubby thought a shiny finish would look good too.  I may have to try that with the next one.

Anyway, there you go.  One beautiful jewelry/trinket box!!  Quick, inexpensive and most importantly for me…quiet to make! LOL!!

Thank you all that have been following my blog!!  I’m humbled by the encouragement and kind remarks that I’ve received!!