Friday, December 19, 2014

Retro Felt Ornaments

 What? One week until Christmas? How did that happen? I've been so busy making cute ornaments, that I kind of ignored some bigger handmade projects. I'd better get right on that knit infinity scarf before the holidays pass me by.

But back to cute handmade ornaments...
I love a little retro style now and then. When I think retro Christmas, I think fancy cocktails. Esquivel playing in the background. Ladies dressed like Jackie O. And these ornaments!

I put my own spin on these classic shapes by using felt. 
 Start out by cutting half-inch-wide strips of felt with a rotary cutter and cutting mat or fabric scissors. 

You'll need two 5-inch-long strips, two 4-inch-long strips and one 3-inch-long strip. 
 Now start layering the strips so that the tips are all flush at one end. I did this tutorial using 3 different colors to make it easier to follow. 

Place a 5-inch strip on the bottom and then a 4-inch strip on top of it. Next comes the 3-ich strip, then the other 4-inch and finally the other 5-inch strip. 

 Here's a side view of the layered strips, below. 
 Now hold the flush end with one hand and pinch the opposite end of the longest strips together. Push those two long strips towards the 4-inch strips and then keep pushing until you've got all ends of the felt strips flush. 
Mine are stitched together at the top and bottom, but you can easily hot glue the layers together. You could also use a drop of fabric glue in between the layers and hold them together with clothespins while they dry for a kid-friendly project. 

The last step is to attach a bit of twine or string to the top so you can hang them from the tree. 
Happy retro holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY Mercury Glass Glaze

Have you noticed a lot of mercury glass out there lately? I've been coming across either the real stuff or faux weathered versions of it in the shops and in some of these holiday catalogs that are piling up on my coffee table. Real or fake, it's all very sparkly and perfect for the holidays. And, even better, it's great inspiration for a DIY project! 

These West Elm hurricanes were the look I was going for here.
I've been wanting to try out a mercury glass DIY paint job for a while. The problem is that it involves spray paint. I have a very low tolerance for spray paint fumes. On top of that, it's 20 degrees here and the paint directions tell you not to use it in temperatures under 50 degrees. So finding a well-ventalated painting space in winter is not easy. But I really wanted to try this, so I ran out to the garage and sprayed very quickly. The garage isn't much warmer than outdoors (especially with the door wide open), but it worked as a five minute painting studio. 
When I found those plates last week, I also grabbed this 50 cent vase at the thrift store. 
Before starting, wash and dry the glass completely. I'm using this vase as a votive candle holder. Don't try this on anything that will come in contact with food or plants. 
 For the aged mercury glass look, I used Krylon Looking Glass paint and a spray bottle filled with straight vinegar. I've seen different advice on this combination. Some directions will tell you that you only need to spray water on the glass before applying the spray paint. I went with vinegar because I thought it might react with the paint and give it more of a cool aged look. I didn't notice any kind of reaction happening at all, so I think water would work just as well. 

You'll want to do the spraying on the inside of the vessel. The first time I sprayed the paint over a thin layer of vinegar, it just slid right off. So after drying the glass completely, I sprayed a very fine mist of vinegar and then the spray paint. I wiped up the excess liquid at the bottom of the vase and also lightly dabbed the wet paint with a paper towel. Then I repeated the process 4 more times. I didn't go crazy with the vinegar, so my weathered look is more subtle than it could have been. 

After the paint dried, I mixed up about 10 drops of blue food coloring with around 2 tablespoons of glazing medium (more or less depending on the size of what you are glazing). Click here to see more about using this kind of glaze. 
The glaze can be poured directly over the outside of the vase. Hold the vase horizontally and pour on the mixture. Tilt the vase right side up and let the mixture coat the glass. Set the vase on wax paper until it dries. Move the vase around a couple of times so the mixture doesn't pool at the base of the glass. 
 I love the way this turned out. If anything, I would have covered more of the outside with the blue glaze, but I may have a second chance. I'd like to try this out on a few glass jars. I think it would make a pretty little cluster of candle holders for a holiday table. 

Hope you liked that. See you next time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to Make Paper Straw Star Ornaments

Doesn't it seem like behind every great craft project is a glue gun? 

I love glue guns. I really do. But they're hot. Really hot. I have a couple of scars to prove it. Even the low temperature glue guns are still pretty hot and honestly, they don't always work. So I was very excited to come up with a fun glueless project that I can do with my kids. 
All you need to make these straw ornaments is some string or baker's twine and a few straws (you can make two ornaments with 5 straws). Or use 5 full length straws to make an inexpensive tree topper. I'm using paper straws here, but plastic will work too. 
Start out by cutting 3 straws in half. 
You only need 5 straw parts, so save that other piece for another star. 
Cut a piece of twine that's 7 times the length of one of those straw pieces. 

Run the twine through all 5 pieces of straw. 

Now knot the twine to connect all the pieces. You'll want to tie it pretty tight. 
Now here comes the magic. 
Fold the straws so that they form a star shape. This is done in 2 steps as seen in the next couple of images. 

Now take that last point that you moved (the point on the far left) and push it under the piece that it was resting on. See the image below to see the final star shape. 
The straw star will hold its shape though you may want to play around with it to get it looking nice and star-shaped. 
How fun is that? 

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