I’ve split my handmade Christmas gifts into a few posts (all with equally dodgy photos taken too late at night before my mad wrapping session).
This post involves various paints and tiny brushes, and ended up all being gifts for boys.
My (not-so-little) brother has been desperate for a Game of Thrones hoodie with the House Stark sigil on for ages, but they’re pretty expensive, so I decided to stencil the direwolf logo onto a RTW hoodie (I did debate sewing the hoodie as well, but in the end took the easy route). Basically, I then took the super long route and printed out a black and white line drawing found on a google images search, then converted it into a stencil, but I could’ve just used this free stencil. And then realised I couldn’t stencil it because my spray glue was at my sisters, so I drew round the stencil holes with silver metallic gel pen and then hand painted it with black Dylon fabric paint. I could’ve done a second coat in places to completely even out the amount of paint, but I think the slight variation kind of goes with the image and the edges are very defined, so I’m really happy with how it came out (and might have to make myself one to wear round the house!).
My oldest nephew is massively into Minecraft and after a fruitless search to find a RTW Minecraft hoodie (sold out in every store I went to due to my last minute shopping) and a frantic search for a plain green hoodie (who knew they were so rare), this came about. I drew the design onto the back using a ruler and gel pen, then hand painted it with the same black Dylon fabric paint, as it seemed quicker than faffing with cutting out a template or even using masking tape along the edges of the squares. It’s a bit giant on him (there was only one size of hoodie left) but at least it’ll fit him for more than a couple of months.
These are super cheap Primark pumps that I painted with regular acrylic paints. They’re pretty simple to make, although there’s a few steps due to using dark coloured pumps, with drying time in between. For all except the Minecraft pumps:
- Design, copy or trace your logo onto thick paper or card.
- Cut out around the outside to create a template.
- Use a metallic gel pen to stencil the outline onto your shoe.
- Use white acrylic to paint inside this line to create a base (I did 3 or 4 layers, waiting for each to dry before the next).
- Cut out the subsequent layer of your design (eg: for Batman, I cut out the bat logo, for Spiderman I cut out an eye, and for Superman I cut out the S).
- Transfer this outline to the white base layer using a pencil.
- Paint the rest of your design from lightest to darkest colour.
For the Minecraft pumps, work out how big your grid squares can be to fit in the Creeper face (mine were 1cm x 1cm) and use a metallic gel pen and ruler to draw the grid onto the shoe. Mark which squares are black, then fill in the other squares with various shades of green before painting the black squares.
I did end up outlining the Superman logo in black (which was super annoying to do) and I really wish I hadn’t used such dark green right next to the Creeper face. But the kids liked them!
Yesterday was my oldest nephew’s 8th birthday, they were here in Cornwall on holiday and my sister had mentioned how he’d like a pinata, so to avoid packing for my very imminent house move I decided to DIY one. Lots of tutorials use paper mache, but that seemed like too much mess, so I went with cardboard and tape. Lots of tape.
You will need:
- cardboard – I used 2 cereal boxes
- sticky tape – I used brown packing tape for the construction and regular tape to attach the tissue paper
- string, yarn or ribbon – length depends on where you’re hanging it, but a finished length of 2-3m-ish. Mine was 6 x 3m lengths of yarn.
- sweets/chocolate – preferably things that can’t get crushed. I didn’t think about that and the chocolate bars and chewy bars were a bit squashed/broken, whereas the jelly sweets were fine.
What to do:
- Cut the narrow sides of the cereal boxes off the front and back pieces of the box.
- Overlap these narrow strips and tape together to make one long strip. This will become the sides of the pinata.
- Using a front piece of a box, draw the shape for the front/back of your pinata. Cut out 4 pieces.
- Using the packing tape, stick 2 of the front/back pieces together and repeat for the remaining 2 pieces.
- Using the packing tape, stick the long cardboard strip to one of the front/back pieces. Leave a gap so you can fill the pinata later.
- Repeat to add the other front/back piece to the pinata, again leaving a gap.
- Fill your pinata with the sweets/chocolate.
- Tape the gap shut.
- Make your hanging string: double/treble/quadruple or more your yarn/string, and tie a knot at each end to keep the strands together.
- Find the centre of your yarn/string, and tape this to the bottom of your pinata. Add more tape on either side. I stopped taping at the widest part of the top.
- Cut your tissue paper into5cm strips and cut fronds into each strip.
- Tape a rectangle of tissue paper to the bottom of the pinata.
- Add the frond strips around the pinata using regular sticky tape from the bottom up, overlapping by 3-4cm. I put tiny bits of tape at each corner and in the middle of the front & back pieces.
- Cut the fronds shorter just above where the string is.
- Hang, bash and eat!
I was a bit worried that my pinata would explode after a couple of hits, but it lasted for over 15 minutes of kid-hitting before the grown-ups gave it a couple of whacks to help the splitting. We did use a foam-type bat though, so using a wooden one would speed things up.
I suppose I’m a bit of a craft butterfly, flicking from one type of project to the next depending on what I’ve not been able to pass by without buying, what random things I’ve been given/upcycled or what I’ve seen on Pinterest/blogs. This project is no exception being a combination of the above. My Nan had bought a load of random, colourful plates from car boot sales years ago to make a mosaic for her garden but never got round to it. I thought it would be fun for us to do some crafting together, and when I saw this project at the end of last year after a google search, I really wanted to try it. I originally made a ‘G’ back at Christmas for my niece’s bedroom door, along with a mosaic-ed jewellery box, and then an ‘N & M’ for my sister and her boyfriend back in the spring (plus a sequined ‘&’). At the same time I started a ‘B’ for myself, but it sat half finished until this week when I decided that with my imminent house move, I should get all my half-done projects completed.
To make your own mosaic letter, you will need:
- Cardboard letter (mine were £0.99 at Trago Mills)
- Plate to smash up (check out charity shops, car boot sales or ask your family/friends)
- Old towel to cover plate while smashing it up
- Hammer (I used a cross-peen hammer for accuracy – that’s the one with a wedge shaped hammer head)
- Safety glasses (optional but advisable)
- PVA glue (or other glue that doesn’t set too fast)
- Glue spreader (I used a piece of cardboard!)
- Tile grout (available at DIY stores, my small bag was £1.19 and still has some left after 5 letters)
- Disposable container to mix grout (yoghurt pot etc)
- Old spoon to mix grout
- Paper towels
- White paint (I used some gloss paint as I like the shine, but emulsion, acrylic or poster paint could also work).
- Paint brush
And this is what to do:
- Decide if there are any motifs you want to keep whole on your plate. Mine had a flying bird so I made sure that I was more careful when breaking around that area.
- Wrap your plate in the towel and (wearing your safety specs) break your plate with the hammer so the pieces are around 1cm or smaller. I tried to get a range of shapes and sizes and sorted them by size to make arranging the mosaic easier.
- Select pieces with right angles for any corners, and decide where you want any specific motifs to go.
- Cover part of your letter in PVA glue (I did about 1/4 at a time).
- Starting with your corner/specific motif, place your mosaic pieces into the glue. As the glue takes a while to dry, I found I didn’t need to plan where each piece would go (and I can never transfer the pieces into exactly the same place anyway).
- Once the whole letter has been covered, allow the glue to dry fully.
- Mix your grout according to the directions on the packet in the disposable container with the old spoon. Mine was 3 parts powder to 1 part water, and I ended up using 4 tbsp of powder and 4 tsp of water).
- I found it easiest to use my finger to squish the grout into the grooves but I did get some little cuts from the sharp edges, so maybe a flexible spatula would be better. Make sure you grout the edges of the letter too, but don’t worry too much about getting grout onto the cardboard. Use your finger to straighten the edges of the grout and remove any excess grout from the crockery pieces.
- Once the grout has completely dried, use the sandpaper to remove any excess grout from the cardboard and remove any bumpy bits around the edge.
- Scrap off any excess grout from the crockery pieces (I used a bobby pin hair clip, but on previous versions I just used my fingernail as there wasn’t as much to remove) and then a dampened paper towel to clean any dust off.
- Paint the cardboard white, leaving to dry between coats.
- Admire your handiwork!
I really love my letter and think it’s a great cheap project as I only had to buy the cardboard letters and grout, so approximately £1.20 per letter, but I’ve seen strong PVA in the DIY section of pound shops, as well as different paints, so even if you had to buy these it wouldn’t be too expensive.
After I finished my parent’s wedding anniversary chopping board, I had a bit of a pyrography bug, and made something similar for my sister and brother-in-law.
This time I used a what was labelled as a frame, size 11.5cm x 8mm thick, with a curly screw hook (that’s it’s technical name!) and twine loop, but I can’t find anything similar on google or ebay, which would probably suggest I’m using the wrong search terms. It was in the section with the other wooden items for decoupage and crafting in Trago Mills, and was a bargainous price, no joke. I originally was going to edit my original graphic with new names and date, but then decided it would be just as easy to start again, this time making it the right size from the start. It was definitely much quicker this time around.
Due to the lip on the frame, I cut a circle of graphite paper to fit inside the ring, and traced on the design as before.This wood was much easier to burn, although that also presented problems with having to avoid burn spots if I held the pen too long in one place. Despite making an effort to avoid the lip, I managed to get too close once and the heat from the pen barrel made a burn mark. I tried to sandpaper it off, but although it made it less obvious, it was still visible. My white acrylic paint had run out so I grabbed some oil paint, and then wondered why it still hadn’t dried days later. Duh. So, the oil paint got wiped off, leaving a slightly paler edge, and that burn is still visible, grrr.
I’m happy the result and as a bonus, it’s light enough to be held up by some tape (classy!) so they don’t have to bother with nails in their rental until their house hunt is successful.
My parents celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary this week, and although we don’t normally do presents for anniversaries, I thought it’d be a good excuse to bring out my pyrography pen, plus it seems to be a lot easier to think of gifts rather than something to burn for myself.
So, after a bit of googling for inspiration, I attempted to create a design in GIMP (too much brain power required), Paint (too simplistic) and Inkscape (first time I’d used it so too much effort to figure it out), before finally using OpenOffice Draw. I didn’t think about sizing until I’d virtually finished, so ended up having to export as a PDF from Draw, convert to a jpeg in GIMP then copy, paste and resize back in Draw.I printed out my design, then used a sheet of this graphite paper I’d found the day before at Trago Mills for £1.25 to transfer it onto the chopping board, which was way easier and produced a better transfer than my previous DIY graphite paper. I also used a ruler on any straight lines to hopefully prevent wobbliness.The pyrography took longer than I thought, as everything but the crosshatching had to be outlined then filled in, but I’m pretty impressed with the results! I ended up not burning the two horizontal lines as I liked it without and thought I might be pushing my luck to get two perfectly straight, long lines! I totally didn’t pay attention to the grain of the wood until I’d finished, which is now super annoying.
Anyway, congratulations Mum & Dad, 32 years and 7 children is a rarity these days! May there be many more happy years to come (and no doubt more grandchildren!).
So, picture this. It’s 20.58 on 16th June (yeah, at some point soon my posts won’t be quite so behind) and I’m staring at this screen on NowTV, willing the Game of Thrones season finale to start already:Sidenote: I’m quite surprised that my firefox window is not filled with completely random, slightly embarrassing tabs, ditto with my last google seach.And look, I have a spreadsheet open, I do important things on this netbook, don’t you know.
Obviously sitting still for 2 whole minutes is not an option, so I decided to put some of the many, many, many shells I collected before the storms messed up the beach to use. But not the pretty yellow ones, this was to be a trial version with the less pretty grey/brown/whites. Although google now tells me that yellow periwinkles are actually quite common.
Ages ago, I’d seen shell spheres (it’s not on my pinterest though, so I don’t remember where exactly, and I do have a bit of a sphere obsession so maybe I thought of it myself, although it’s definitely been done before) so pulled out the glue gun, a polystyrene ball and some old pins that are too blunt to use for sewing now. I thought I’d use the pins to add more of an anchor than just the hot glue, but in the end it was a bit too fiddly to get the positioning right, so I only used pins on the largest of the shells. It’s pretty self explanatory to do, although I suggest making sure you leave a few of the smallest shells for the end to make filling in the last little space easier. My sphere feels pretty substantial actually and it’s been bashed around a bit by my 3 year old nephew without any damage. I do like it, but I’m not sure if my yellow shells will be joining the sphere party. We shall see.
And what happened to GoT? Well, NowTV’s live TV streaming was shockingly out of sync (now there’s a shocker), so I had to watch it on series catch up the next day. First world problems.
These days it seems quite common for wedding gift lists to be cash/vouchers but when two of my closest friends said their gift list was with their honeymoon travel agent, I knew I wanted to do something else for them as well. I’ve got nothing against the whole cash/vouchers thing at all, but it just happens that at the moment I have the time and inclination to mess around with crafty stuff, whereas for past weddings I’ve been working 80 hour weeks and tbh, remembering to buy the voucher was stretching enough!
The pinterest stalking for suitable gifts began nearly a year ago, and I eventually came up with a plan to design a monogram type graphic and get it engraved onto a wooden chopping board. However, last November-ish, before I could properly investigate engraving companies, I randomly found a pyrography tool in Lidl for about £8 (got to love the random stuff they have in their weekly specials, my sewing machine and serger are also from there!) and figured I might as well try to do it myself first.
A few weeks before the wedding, as I finally sat down to design the monogram, I remembered the personalised illustration on their wedding invitation (that they had painted by this seller on Etsy) and thought that it could look pretty cool instead. I figured I had enough time to redo it or go with the monogram design if it didn’t work out, but it actually turned out better than I hoped! I took a photo of the illustration and then spent a while getting frustrated at GIMP because it’s been ages since I used it and I’d forgotten everything I ever knew about it. Anyway, the end result was a black and white simplified version (basically minus a lot of the hearts, dots and stars) that I thought could look a bit blurred once burned onto the wood.
I printed this out and unsurprisingly failed at transferring the image by heat as I don’t have the right type of printer for that to work, so resorted to the old school scribbling all over the reverse side and then tracing the image onto the wood.
The actual pyrography went pretty quickly once the large letters were complete and I used the same fine nib (is it even called a nib?) for the whole thing. Typically, the perfectionist in me finds all the little bits I messed up to be glaringly obvious (and really annoying!), i.e. don’t look at the way too fat plane, but the bride and groom were impressed so I’m happy with that.