Saturday, January 30, 2016

Testing a new thing

As someone who likes to learn new crafts all the time, I'm finding Pinterest to be wonderfully inspirational.

Among the things that have caught my attention are cups, bowls, teapots, etc. that have been decorated using markers.

Some use Sharpies, while others use "porcelain pens", something I've not been able to find.  It's something I'd like to try myself, but I wanted to test for a final product that is hand and dishwasher safe.

I don't think my Sharpies will cut it.  I know they've come out with lots of new types aimed at crafters, but I've got just regular ones.  I don't think they'll hold up.

What I did find was something called a Painters marker, from Elmer's.  The label says it's an opaque paint marker that's permanent, streak free, fast drying and easy to use.  It's supposed to work on just about any surface, including wood, plastic, clay and glass.  I got one in black to test out.

I did briefly try it on a tiny appetizer serving bowl in light ecru colour.  After a few days, I put it in the dishwasher.

The "permanent" marker came off as if it wasn't there.


This time, I specifically picked up a larger white bowl to try again.  When my older daughter came by my craft room to chat, I showed it to her, asking for ideas of what to doodle.  She mentioned some, then offered to draw on it for me, since I was doing something else.  I happily said yes.  Because she's a better artist than I am.

This is what she doodled.

She drew spouts for me.

Adorable little sprouts.

All the way around.

I love how she got different stages of growth in there.

I also wish I had her ability to doodle such awesome little things so quickly.  She makes it look so easy.

And then I saw this guy smiling up at me and started to squee.

I love slugs.

She knows me so well.  LOL

Now I have a problem.

This bowl is meant to be a tester, so see if the marker will come off when washed.

Based on what happened with my appetizer bowl, I'm pretty sure the "permanent" marker isn't dishwasher proof, but I was going to test it anyhow.

But I just love her sprouts and the happy little slug.

So... I think maybe I'll just get myself another bowl like this and draw something that I won't mind getting washed off.

USB Charger cord cover

I just couldn't resist.

When I had a moment, I grabbed some glittery yarn and used it to cover my new phone's USB charger cord.

No, I did not work it with the charger actually attached.  I popped it on because the cord kept trying to unroll on me, and I needed the weight to hold it down! LOL

The yarn is some leftover Paton's Brilliant that I have some remnants of.  I used a 2.00mm hook and did single crochet in the same manner as the ear bud wires..  The round cable was MUCH easier to work around.

The whole thing took about 20 minutes from start to finish, even with minor interruptions from a cat that was determined to climb on and around everything as destructively as possible.  I had used my wood burning pen earlier and, as it was cooling down, the case was still out on my table.  Somehow he managed to not just step in it, but in such a was as to flip the plastic tray holding the different tips, causing it to flip out of the case completely and sent tips flying.  Thankfully, they went flying into the case, rather than all over the table or the floor.

As an aside, using a heated craft knife makes cutting Styrofoam insulation a lot less messy!

My older daughter came by as I was working on this and like it so much that, when she replaces her own phone, she'd like me to cover her new cables and cords, too.  *L*

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ear Bud Cord Cover: Step-by-step

I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people that got dragged kicking and screaming into getting a smart phone - and then once I got one, I used it all the time.

Just not really as a phone.  I dislike talking on the phone to begin with.  Talking on a smart phone is gross.  No matter how careful I am, my screen gets all ear juicy, and it sucks to get it clean again.

When it comes to phones, I much prefer the old style flip phones with a physical keypad.

I do love my technology, though, and found myself using my phone for oodles of other things.  As I had to upgrade over the years, I found myself appreciated the improved cameras and photo quality.

I just had to replace my Galaxy S4.  It had served me well, but started to get glitchy.  All sorts of things started failing on it.  I really would have preferred waiting, but when I asked my husband to start doing some research for me, I suddenly found myself with a new phone.

One of the deciding factors in choosing a phone was the camera.  (Another was the operating system; I'm a die hard Android fan.) It's got to the point where I don't really use our cameras anymore.  I just use my phone.  The Galaxy S6 camera has gotten rave reviews, and now that I have one, I can see why!

All the photos in this step-by-step were taken on my new phone.  I used the default settings, mostly because I haven't taken the time to go through the phone's settings yet.  I did accidentally discover something called "selective focus", which lets you decide where you want to focus on your photo *after* you've taken it!  Pretty cool.

When I started this, there was still some daylight coming through my window, but my primary light source was a "daylight" LED.

The only post processing I did was to resize the photos to 30% (the default is huge!  With my old phone, as well as my cameras, I usually adjusted to 50%), cropping, and for 2 of them, rotating 90 degrees.  That's it.  I tend to be minimal in post processing to begin with, adjusting for light, but little else.  For these, I didn't even do that.

I'm quite pleased.

Now, with a new phone comes new ear buds with microphone, and a new charger with USB cable.

Did I mention I don't like how my screen gets when using the phone?

So what I'm wanting to get into the habit of is using the ear buds it came with, so my phone won't go anywhere near my ear.

I've got a number of them laying about from not only my own old phones, but the phones of other family members, too.  I find they all tend to get tangled up on things.  I noticed I'm not alone in that being a problem, as I've seen images on Pinterest of cords covered in crochet.

I decided to give it a try.

I didn't want to add too much bulk to the cord, so I went through my stash of crochet thread.  I also had a couple of cones of what looks like wool in a very fine gauge.  My mother had given me a bunch of cones, since she doesn't really crochet anymore.

Other possible options included embroidery floss, pearle cotton or any of my fine or superfine weight yarns.

I ruled out wool right away.  Even if I'm not sure if it's wool, I don't want to take a chance.  I am mildly allergic to wool, so it's not something I want touching my face and neck.

I admit I was really tempted by the metallic stuff, but again, this is going to be touching face and neck, so I didn't want anything scratchy.

I also considered going with white, since the cord is white and it would be more subtle that way, but then I figured it would start looking dingy much faster, and it's not like it can be through in the wash or anything.

I finally settled on the paler green of what I think is cotton.  There's a label inside, but I can't read it without taking it out, and it's stuck there pretty good.  It's another one from my mother.  I have no idea how old it is.

Time to break out the steel hooks!  I went with a 1.50mm hook for this, as I wanted it quite snug, and I was going to work only in single crochet.

I started with the section with the microphone and volume control, and began working near the ear bud itself.  I figured I wanted to get the shortest bits done first.

I joined the thread as close to the ear bud as I could.  The cord has a rubbery feel to it and is slightly elastic, as well as being flat, rather than round, like my other ear buds.  The texture means the stitches can't easily slide down the cord.  So it was important to work the stitches close together, and push them together often.

I don't usually work in thread, so this took some getting used to!

I also made sure to work over the tail end of the threat at the same time as working around the cord itself.  After working about an inch or so of single crochet, I pulled the tail snug to make the start look nice and neat, then trimmed it.

After that, it was just single crochet around the cord until I reached the controller.

I worked the stitches as snug to the controller as I could, then after snipping the thread with a tail long enough to sew in, I locked it with 1 chain stitch.

I then used a size 22 tapestry needle to sew the end under the stitches.

Tapestry needles have rounded tips, similar to crewel or yarn needles, so there was little concern that the needle would stab into the wire. Still, it's something to watch out for.

I pulled the needle out after about an inch or so and didn't bother trying to go any further.  After pulling it snug to tidy up the last stitch, I snipped the thread as close as possible to the stitches.

Here is the finished section.

I repeated the process on the other side of the controller, finishing off at the join.

The process was repeated again for the other side.

When I was ready to sew in the tail end, I passed the strand through the last stitch of the previous side first, then hid the tail end under the stitches just worked.  This made it look like it was all in one piece.

Then the process was repeated for the rest of the cord, up to the jack.

The whole thing was quick to work up, even though I'm not used to working in thread and the cord itself kept wanting to twist on me, making it a bit of a pain.  With the pauses to fuss with my desktop (yeah, I need a new one of those, too) and to have supper, I'd estimate the actual stitching time took maybe 2 hours.

Now... the charger cord is something else entirely.  It's a thicker cord, and is not going to be touching sensitive skin at any time.

I foresee glittery yarn in my future.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Jewelry Frame Step-by-step: Part 3

Part One
Part Two

In part two, I talked about the problem I was left with in regards to spray painting the frame.  I admit, after about a week, I was sorely tempted to go with something else.

What I was able to do was set up an area indoors in the spare bedroom.  Which wasn't supposed to be a spare bedroom, but we inherited a spare bed, so now we do.  It meant taking down the photography set up I'd made in one corner, using a pair of small folding tables from Costco.

So I put one of those folded tables on the bed for a hard, flat surface.  I had some thin plastic left over from when I did some tie dying on the dining table last summer.  It was enough to cover the entire bed, though I would have like to have found a way to run it up the wall a bit.

I then took some cardboard (in this case, the back of an old desktop calendar pad) to put on top of the plastic drop cloth.

We already had the face mask from working with sprays before, plus I had the window open as far as it would go.  We also opened some other windows a bit for a cross breeze.  Then we had to turn down the furnace, because it kept turning on.

Things got pretty chilly for a while.

I also put some risers under the frame so it wasn't lying flat on the surface (in this case, some decorate glass beads that I happened to have nearby; anything evenly sized would do).  This was because I wanted to spray the sides, but didn't want it sticking to the cardboard as it dried.

Then it was just a quick spray.

This is after one coat.

My daughter made sure to warn me not to spray too close or too much, or the wood would absorb too much moisture and start to swell.

This photo doesn't capture the colour of the spray very well at all, though.  So...

Here is the first coat again, this time with flash.

That is some very metallic paint!!

After that, I closed the room up so the cats couldn't get in then let it sit for a while before I put on a second coat.

This is the frame after a second coat, and after it had sit for a few hours.

And yes, that's a cat's tail.  She made taking photos rather challenging.

Here's the back of the frame, where you can see the spacing of the glass beads I'd used as risers.  Good thing I don't need them for anything else, because they did get spray paint on them.

And a view of the edge.

The only real challenge was to spray the edges evenly, without also spraying my wall accidentally.

Here we have the frame after it was left overnight - and again, it takes the flash to really show off that metallic paint!!

Now it's time to put in the hooks.

At this point, I was really happy to have those pilot holes.

If I hadn't had a drill, I would have used a hammer and small nail, which would have really sucked.

To save your fingers when the hook is almost completely screwed in, a pair of pliers to do the the last few twists is very handy.  Just be careful not to damage the surface of the hooks, or scuff the surface of the frame.

Here it is!  The finished frame, with all 12 hooks in place.

Here's a closer view to show you how the painted screen looks, as well as the inside of the frame.

The finished frame, mounted on the wall.

Though I had intended to use the pre-drilled hanging holes in the frame, I decided to instead made use of the gap behind the screen and set up a pair of hangers, hidden in each inner corner.  This way, the weight of anything I hang won't off-balance the frame and cause it to tip.

It works very well!

The frame itself is quite small, so I will be making a larger one, eventually, but for now, I finally have some of my jewelry easily accessible, and also out of the cats' reach.

Including the one I found under the mini-fridge we keep my husband's meds in.  I had been wondering what happened to that one...

There you have it!

If you decide to make a frame using these instructions, please do feel free to send me photos, or post them on the Get Crafting! Facebook page.

Happy Crafting!

Jewelry Frame Step-by-step: Part 2

Well, this took rather longer than expected.  Not because of any difficulty with the project.  Nope.  It was due to my choice to spray paint the frame and the weather.

More on that below!

In Part 1, we left off with the two frames and screen clamped together while the wood glue dried.  That worked out quite well.

The next step was decided by the cup hooks.

Normally, I would just screw the things in as is, but with so many of them, I was concerned that this might start splitting the wood.  So I decided to drill pilot holes.

Which is exactly what the instructions on the package say to do.

Which lead me to hunting for a 3/64" drill bit.

I never found one.

What I ended up doing was going with a smaller size, picking up a package of 2 1/16" (1.59mm) titanium drill bits.  It only came in packages of 2 and only came in titanium, so there wasn't much choice.

Thankfully, they were also not very expensive.

However, when I got them home, I discovered I had another problem.

The small cordless screwdriver/drill I usually use is more screwdriver than drill.  It was not designed to hold anything smaller than the interchangeable tips it came with.  No adapter or anything.

I have another drill, though.  A much heavier duty corded drill.

Problem was, it hasn't been used since before we transferred to our current until, a year and a half ago.  I had no idea where it was, and no one else remembered seeing it, either.  It should have been an easy find, as I'd put it back into its original packaging.

After several hours of going through the storage closet and various boxes, I found it lying on a shelf in the laundry room.


It's now permanently in my craft room.

And yes, it did indeed have the capability of holding the tiny, tiny drill bit.

On to the next step!

At first, I was thinking of only one row of cup hooks.  Making sure to be working on what would be the bottom of the frame (determined by where the hanging hole was for landscape orientation), I found the middle of the bottom section and marked a line.  Then I found the center of that for the first pilot hole, working outwards from the middle, for a total of 5 marks.

After drilling the 5 pilot holes, I decided to do a second row.  After marking another line across, I marked for the new pilot holes in between the previous one, for another 4 hooks.

If the lines in the photos look a bit crooked, you're right.  They are.  That's because the frames are not accurately squared or even.

I'm okay with that, but it did make it rather more difficult to measure out the guidelines and evenly space the pilot holes.

 Once the pilot holes were drilled, I used my courser grit sanding sponge on the front and edges. This served to "erase" the pencil marks as well.

At this point, I also sanded the inside edges of the frame, just to round it out and smooth out any little jagged bits.

I could have gone on to using my finer grit sandpaper for an extra smooth surface, but I actually wanted a slightly courser texture.  If I had intended to finish the frame by, say, working a mosaic or gluing textural items to it, I would probably have only sanded it enough to remove the penciled in guide lines.  On the other hand, if I were planning to wood burn it or paint it, I would have gone on to sanding it with a super fine grit.

Since I had a dozen hooks and 9 pilot holes, I decided to add three more across the top to hang things like rings or bracelets.

 Here's a closer look of the wood immediately after drilling, showing how even just a little bit of sanding is a good thing.

Here, you can see how the wood dust from sanding has partially filled the pilot holes, to the point that they can hardly be seen.

If I were not spray painting the frame, it would not have mattered.  However, with the dust in there, the spray paint would basically seal the holes, and then I'd have to go poking about, trying to find them again.

Which brings me to something I highly recommend having handy among your crafting tools.

An ordinary bamboo skewer.

It's remarkable how often I find myself using a bamboo skewer as a tool.  It's just really, really handy.

In this instance, the pointed end is perfect for clearing wood dust out of the pilot holes.

Once this part was done, I could have added the hooks and decorated around them, or started painting, wood burning or whatever.

However, I chose to spray paint.

One of my daughters does quite a lot of spray painting, so we've got the paint and drop clothes and everything to set up out on the balcony and paint away.

It is, however, January.

In Edmonton.

While we've had a very mild winter so far, we hit a cold snap, going from rain to days of blowing snow to clear but frigid.  Not the sort of conditions spray paint works well in.

In the end, I had to get creative.

Which will be the subject of part 3.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Jewelry Frame Step-by-step: Part 1

So... I am not much of a jewelry person.  I mean, I like jewelry.  I own jewelry.  I just forget to wear it!

Which means I don't really have any way to keep jewelry.  It wasn't an issue for many years, because I just didn't have much of it.  Over the years, however, I've slowly accumulated more, and instead of being nicely put together in a jewelry box, which just ends up a jumbled mess, they're getting scattered between the bedroom and various bathrooms on different floors.

Not good.

I want to be able to have my jewelry together in one place and organized.  I don't want a jewelry box.  I want to be able to just see at a glance what I've got and access it.

Pinterest to the rescue!

I saw a number of jewelry frames that keep various types of jewelry organized and hung on a wall.

I like that idea.

I'll just have to make sure the cats can't get at the dangling necklaces. LOL

What I have started today may be somewhat small for my needs, but if it works out, I will expand on the idea to better suit what I want displayed.

To start, here are the materials for this project.

2 unfinished wood craft frames - these comes with pegs, which will not be needed for this project.

1/2 inch cup hooks - This is the smallest size of these hooks.  I wasn't sure how many I would use, so I bought two 6 packs.  Extra can always be used in future projects!

Wood Glue - There are a lot of different types of adhesives available now.  I considered a multi-surface glue, but in the end, decided to go with a basic wood glue.

Mesh - I checked out quite a few different types of screening and meshes.  In the end, I chose an aluminum window screen, which is a finer mesh than I originally envisioned.  Fiberglass was also an option for this type of screen, but it didn't appeal to me as much.  For this, choose a mesh that suits your needs.  You could even thread crochet a mesh, if you wanted to.

Other tools you'll need are pliers, scissors and clamps - I used large binder clips - and possibly a ruler and pencil.

You will also need whatever you want for your choice of decorating the frame.  As long as there is room to screw in the cup hooks, you can decorate with whatever materials you want.  In my case, I plan to simply spray paint the whole thing in gold (my daughter happens to already have gold spray paint), because the hooks are gold, and keep it simple.  Woodburning or using wood paint markers were also ideas I'd considered.  The possibilities are wide ranging.

 The first order of business was to remove the clips from the backs of the frames, that are there to hold any photographs or art that would normally be framed.  They pull out quite easily, with a bit of side-to-side wiggling.

Next, decide which of the frames will be your front.  Of the frames I have, one had these rougher edges.  The layers of wood were also not all the same, so one corner had this odd little stepped bit.  Theoretically, I could have sanded the rough bits out, but since the other one didn't have anything like this, the one you see in the photo got relegated to the back.

The frames are also not going to be identical in size and shape.  As you can see here, the lengths are slightly off.  I want to be aware of this to compensate for it when I glue the two frames together.

 While lining them up, check out the inner frames, too.  Because the back of one will be glued to the front of the other, there will be this "ledge" all around the inside.

If I wanted to, I could have instead chosen to glue the backs together.  This would eliminate the "ledge" between the layers and the inner frame would be sort of boxed in.  I chose not to do it that way for two reasons.  One, that bit of "ledge" will provide a touch of extra support for the mess and two, I won't have to add any sort of hanger to the back, as it already has holes drilled for the pegs.  I can use those to hang, if I want.

Now it's time to get the mesh ready.

The mesh comes in long rolls, and I'd already cut a section before taking the photos, being sure to cut much larger than the opening inside the frame.  In this photo, you can see the selvage edge of the mesh

We still want the mesh to be a fair bit bigger than the frame opening.  Use it as a guide, and fold under the cut edges of the mesh.  If using aluminum mesh like what I've got here, please be careful not to stick yourself.  Also, when cutting, watch out for little bits of aluminum traveling about and throw them away immediately.  These are NOT something you want to find by accident while working on your next project!

Now we are working on the back side of the frame that will be the FRONT of your jewelry hanger.  Carefully lay out the mesh as smoothly as possible, then use a stapler to tack it down.  This wood is soft enough that an ordinary office stapler will do the job.

This is where the mesh will be gently pulled taut, but care must also be taken not to distort the mesh by pulling too hard.  It doesn't need to be too tight.  It just needs to be tight enough to be smooth.

This is also the point where you can cut off excess mesh that is too thick at the folds, such as in the corners.  Press the staples as flush with the wood as you can as well (I just used my pliers to do that, but if you have a small crafter's hammer, that would work, too.

Gluing time!

Apply glue according to the instructions, over both the open wood and the mesh portions.  You won't need to spread the glue about.  The pressure of clamping it will force the glue into the mesh, as well as spreading it at least somewhat.  We don't need it to be covered right from edge to edge.  It's more important to get that mesh secured.

 Next, press the second frame onto the glued back of the first frame, adjusting it to compensate for any differences in size and shape, as determined earlier.  Once you are sure of the positioning, clamp the frames together.

This photo shows the front of the jewelry frame.

And here's a view of the back.

The instructions on my glue said to leave it clamped for 10 minutes.

 I've just left it while doing this post, so now I'm going to go and remove the clamps.

Stay tuned for part 2!