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Post Art!

Posted by on May 3, 2011 in art, mixed media, paint, tutorials + DIY | 9 comments

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I’ve been immersed in postcards recently, and I have a few to share, so let’s declare this Post Mail week from here on, shall we? I recently participated in Hanna’s postcard swap and it was great fun. These arty little postcards are a magnificent project — lots of room for creative juice, but accomplished in just a few manageable bytes of time. Just my style. So I thought I’d share some simple steps to making your own.

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Step One: Choose a substrate (a surface to paint). For these I used 9 x 12 sheets of Bristol, but you can use anything: watercolor paper, heavy cardstock, manila file folders, even cereal boxes from the recycling bin. Once you’ve got your surface, layer on the paint! My favorite way to paint is fast and messy with 3 – 5 related colors. You can use the cheapie craft paints here. Lay down one color without thoroughly covering, then move to the next — you can even start before the first layer is dry, just keep your brush moving and don’t worry about “getting it right.”

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While you’ve got the paint out, go ahead and do several substrates at once. Once you get started it doesn’t take long, and trust me, these little postcards are addicting and you’re going to need extras! Try some different colors, just moving fast from one to the next and let them pile up. Once you’ve got a nice little collection, leave them to dry.

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Step Two: Once the paint is dry, create even more texture by gluing some stuff down. Bits of text, scraps from other projects, tags — anything is game, but these are still backgrounds so save your special saved ephemera for later. My favorite glue is gel medium, but you can use Elmer’s or whatever you have on hand. Once the glue is dry, add more paint and maybe do some stamping overall for a cohesive look. If you don’t have stamps, look around… your house is full of good stampers: thread spools, pencil ends, bubble wrap, rubber bands on a pill bottle, the top of a glass or the tines of a fork — even the lid on your craft paint all make nice marks with paint and add to the textural interest of your background. Gorgeous!

Step Three: On to the finish! Cut your postcards to size. I cut mine to a standard 4.5 x 6 inches and got four cards from each 9 x 12 Bristol sheet, but I received some beautiful 6 x 9 postcards in the swap and I loved the big size, so I will probably try a bigger size next time. You can find tips on postcard sizing here.

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Once you have them cut it’s time to add some flair. Try doodles, magazine images, saved bits of paper, stamps, sewing, crayons, even metal tape.

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Here I glued down stripes of tissue paper. The leaves were cut from junk mail.

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This one simply uses weaved strips from two different colored painted backgrounds, sewn together for added interest.

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Papercut from a text page, a saved piece from junk mail, and paint stamped with the end of a marker.

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There are no limits here, so just let loose and play!

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recycled spring sun-catcher

Posted by on Mar 5, 2011 in art, kid stuff, remake + recycle, tutorials + DIY | 5 comments

recycled shrink plastic wind chime

Is this a sun-catcher? I want to say wind chime, but it doesn’t actually chime, so I suppose we’ll stick with sun-catcher. Colorful, though; we can call it that for sure!

I’m always on the lookout for number-six plastic that we can use for shrinking. The problem is, I am also generally on the lookout for reducing our plastic use in general, so we really don’t end up with a lot of shrink plastic in our craft arsenal. Enter plastic cups.

recycled shrink plastic windchime detail

I have a love-hate relationship with plastic cups. I really, really hate the idea of a big plastic tub being considered disposable, but when my sister shows up with her six kids and my brother with his five, and we add that to my nine (or twelve, depending on who’s home), well, a girl can become converted to cheap plastic cups real fast.

At my house, though, they are not really disposable. We keep them and wash them and reuse them and pretty much just put them into regular rotation until they crack or break. Or until one gets put in the bottom rack of the dishwasher and they melt like candle wax. Then we say, Oooooh! Aaaaah! It melts! Oh! Pretty! We could make something with that! I was thinking shrink plastic had to be clear and flat and …. and, well, that’s pretty much where this project started. Humble beginnings are best, eh?

Wanna make one?

recycled shrink plastic how-to

If you have ever used shrink plastic, you know it is pretty easy and quick. But I will share a few tips for this project:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Use small, sharp scissors for a happier experience. Do not use your favorite fabric scissors because that’s just wrong.
  • Use a glass pan. I don’t know why. I think I read that on a Shrinky-Dinks package when I was twelve. I always use a Pyrex pie plate.
  • The shrinking only takes 2 – 3 minutes for the rings; the smaller pieces are even faster at 30-45 seconds. Stay close.
  • The more variation in plastic (words, bumps, etc.) the more… interesting the piece will be.
  • You can bend a piece after it is melted as long as you do it very quickly, while the plastic is still very warm. I have never successfully done because it scares me, but I have flattened pieces with a metal spatula.
  • Using cups for shrink plastic is far less predictable than flat plastic. It twists and curls in strange ways. Be open to surprises!
  • Make sure you punch a hole (if you want one) before you shrink your plastic (it will be too hard after). I used a regular inexpensive hole punch and it made small holes prefect for string or small ribbon.
  • The big rings are made from the top lip of the cup. I cut the ring approximately 3/4-inch from the top.
  • For this project I used all of the cup except the words and the bottom – although I did shrink words and bottoms, so they may show up in another project at some point!
  • I used a regular stick off our walnut tree to hang the pieces from. You could also use a hanger or a dowel.
  • I made two hanging lines, one on each side, so that I didn’t have to worry about the weight of the chimes being perfectly balanced.
  • I made little hooks for the hanging strings out of wire. It wasn’t really necessary, so don’t go buy wire. Also, I used metallic thread, but could also use floss or fishing line or even thin ribbon.

recycled shrink plastic painted wood

There ya go! We hung ours in the walnut tree, and it makes me smile. It’s a cheery little bit of spring color – which, as you can see, Mother Nature has yet to grant us here in inkstitch-land.

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a simple remake

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in art, homestead, kid stuff, remake + recycle, tutorials + DIY | 9 comments

ugly frame re-made pretty

Sometimes simple projects are best. I found a nasty little frame at a yard sale. I think I paid a nickel for it — or maybe it was free, I can’t remember.

ugly frame to re-make

But it was, indeed, nasty. I don’t even know what that grease stuff is (don’t wanna know). My husband thought I was nuts. Why the heck would you want that? But the remake project was quick and easy, just a coat of paint and some pretty paper. It’s the perfect addition to a little baby gift – and the cost? five cents. Love that.

ugly frame re-made

I’m linking over at Tidy Mom and the CSI project and today… it’s all about frames and moldings this week.

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