Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Personalized Tumblers and Mod Podge Coasters

Well hello!  So I am posting a day late, I realize.  The Memorial Day weekend booked up all my time with various activities and kept me from crafting.  However, I came back ready to finally make a simple project I've been meaning to get to the past few weeks.  While out on one of my shopping expeditions a few weeks ago I came across some cheap little wooden coasters at JoAnne's, $1 for a pack of six.  I decided to make some personalized coasters and cups for a friend as part of their bridal shower gift.  These paper coasters are also great for wedding favors, inexpensive teacher gifts, etc.  As you'll see, they are easy to personalize and easier to make!  Also, if you have the glue and waterproofing material already, you can make a set for less than $1. Bonus.  Love that.

Here's what you'll need:
*Set of coasters to refinish, or small square tiles (can get them at Home Depot for as cheap as .16cents a piece.  If you do this option, also buy some felt to glue onto the bottom to keep them from scratching wooden surfaces.)
* Paper of your choice.  You can also use printed napkins (try making holiday coasters this way!), pictures, or maps of places you've been.  Whatever you want to do to personalize them.
* Mod Podge (or similar sealer)
* Waterproofing/finishing agent such as a Polyeurethane Spray, found at your local hardware, paint, or craft store.  This is an important step, so don't skip this piece.

So, here's how we do it.  :)

First, select and measure your paper, then cut.  You can use all the same, or vary it with a matching color scheme, etc.  The friend I made these for is a fan of butterflies, so I picked a few papers I had that had butterflies on them and the went from there.  I'm actually really excited to make myself a set of coasters using some old maps I have from places I traveled to in England and Europe.  (Picked up some more coasters to refinish at the thrift store yesterday for a total of 15cents. :)  Making these tomorrow.)

Next, put on a base coat of mod podge and then immediately place down your paper on top of it, starting from one edge and then smoothing it out and pressing as you go, being careful to press out any air bubbles.  Remember how as a kid you liked to chase bubbles?  Well, give-in to your inner child and chase those bubbles right on out of there by pressing them out until the surface is completely smooth.  If your paper is thick/textured paper like mine, you can maybe lightly use your Silhouette Scraper to help press them out.  

After about 10 minutes, apply a coat of Mod-Podge to the top your paper.  Repeat 1-2 more times after each coat dries.  This seals in your paper.  I did each coat in alternating brush stroaks (right to left, one coat, up and down, next coat) to create a nice texture.  

In the meantime, while waiting for my first coat to dry, I created a monogram using Silhouette Studio with the letter of my friend's soon-to-be new last name.  I had it cut, measuring it so it would fit perfectly on one of the coasters.

Create a personalize Monogram  for your coasters, or for your cups!
Hint: After using my hook to pull out all the extra pieces, I actually kept the monogram on my mat so that I could easily move it and place it over each coaster to see which one I liked it on best.

Keep your design on the mat so you can move it around easily to decide which coaster you want to adhere it to.

After you decide where you want it, put your monogram or personalized design on top of your first coat of Mod Podge right after you apply the Mod-Podge, on top of the paper. After that first coat dries, apply your second Mod Podge coat over the design as you do all the rest.

While waiting for my second coat to dry, I resized my monogram and cut it using vinyl to use as a stencil so that I could have it etched into the glass using Armor Etch.  Personalize monogram tumblers?  Voila!  :)  For a description of how to use Armor Etch/ glass etching cream, click here or here to read previous posts on it.

Use your personalized monogram to personalize some glass tumblers as well!  Matching coasters and tumblers--a perfect set.

Then, all I had to do was package up the coasters with a cute little paper ribbon I made using my printer and my Silhouette and get them off to my friend!

Oh, and of course, then we had to pour a lovely, refreshing, tall glass of water to ward off the coming summer heat. :)  Here's to you, Brandi-loo!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Silhouette Free Shape of the Week

Today I happened to be looking at the Silhouette online store and saw their adorable new "Free Shape of the Week."  They have a free shape every week, though I often forget to login and download it.  This week was different, however, and I am glad I accidentally stumbled across it!  I really liked their this week's shape and so decided to make something using it to share with you!  I also just wanted to let you know about their weekly gift in case you did not already know about it, and alert you to the chance at getting this shape for free. :) Click the link above to take you to this week's free shape, called "Try a little kindness phrase."  Funny thing...I changed the phrase for my project...but that's besides the point.  With this shape, I really liked the floral design and it's very cottage style feel.

Instead of the phrase that comes with the shape, I decided to come up with something that was a little more personal to me.  I happen to be part of a world-wide women's organization whose motto is based on a verse from the Bible that states "Charity Never Faileth."  I thought that would be perfect for the inside of my image, and would maybe make this a nice personal gift for a friend.  So, to add your own phrase (monogram, family name, etc.), just use the "ungroup" function once.  Doing it just once separates the phrase from the floral designs, but does not ungroup all the small individual pieces of said floral designs with this image--so you only do it once.  Then delete the current phrase (or keep it, if that's what you want!  It's cute, after all!).  Type your phrase in where you'd like it, then regroup it all so you can move the image around to where you'd like it cut.

After that, cut your image out using some vinyl--stencil vinyl if you have some--and use the vinyl as a stencil.  Be careful as you pull out the letters and actual cut image (to be discarded).  Small pieces of the flowers and the inner portions of the letters tend to want to pull up as well, and you'll need them to stay put in order to make your image work as a stencil correctly.   There are lots of small pieces in this design, so I used my hook to help hold them down and put them back in place when things came loose that I did not want to.

Next, using transfer tape or paper, cover the vinyl that you want to use as a stencil and then use your scraper to rub out any bubbles.  Remove the backing and then place your image where you'd like it on your board.  Choose a contrasting paint color, and paint over the stencil.

Once the paint is dry, pull up your vinyl stencil!  Use your hook to pull up the small "in-between" pieces of the flowers and letters, being careful not to scratch your board.  Quick aside--if you are at all like me when I first started out, I didn't see the need for the hook.  This is because I was just cutting large paper shapes and just used my hands!  However, a project like this REALLY needs that handy dandy little hook.  Trust me, if you don't already have one of these--get one now.  They are SO helpful for SO many things.  Okay, back to making cute boards.

Use your hook to pull up the tiny vinyl pieces of your stencil.
Once you have pulled up all the vinyl pieces--you're done!  Yay for simple projects. I tied a piece of twine around mine to add a little something more to it, but whatever you decide to do, I hope you love your finished product!  Here's to more crafting!  :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Simple Sketch Pen Birthday Banner

Birthdays "r" for having fun and celebrating!
Every week, my lovely roommate Elisha comments on the cute things I've made and makes me feel loved.  She's a great woman. Recently, she had a birthday.  The time leading up to it was a really hectic one for me with school and work and life decisions (gulp!) and I regretfully found myself a bit, how shall we say...stressed?  :) I still wanted to do a small thing for her to let her know she was loved and appreciated early on her special day, so on an impulse I decided to make her a fun/cute birthday banner while she was out, which would also serve as some decoration for later when friends came over to help celebrate.  As soon as she left for a morning work-out class, I quickly gathered together some bright and spunky print papers (fitting for Elisha--and birthday's!) and got to work.

First, using my Silhouette Cameo, I cut out the banner pieces using a banner I had in my library.  If you don't yet have a banner, might I suggest this set of 6 banners that is currently quite popular on the Silhouette online store.  There are also a plethora of other options.  I just like that this comes with six for the price of one.

I was able to get a few border/backing pieces out of each 12x12 inch piece of paper that I had, with some to spare.   I used four different papers, 3 patterned print papers and one bold solid color, for my design.  Just ungroup the image once you have selected it in Silhouette Studio and then rotate and position the banner pieces to get as many on one page as needed or as you can with the sizing you'd like.  Or, if you are going to change the sizing much and want to be sure they are uniform, delete all of the separate pieces but one, and once you get that last piece the size you want, duplicate it and use it as your pattern.

Note:  Another fun idea would also be to use different print fabrics and your fabric blade to make a more lasting banner.  Use your Silhouette to cut out the banner backings, as well as letters with whatever message you want to convey.  I didn't have any fabric on hand for this quick surprise, however, so print paper it was!

Next, in order to get the smaller, inside white banner pieces to match perfectly with the outside backing, just a bit smaller, I just resized one of mine down to the size I wanted and then copied and pasted it into a new file on Silhouette Studio.  There, I duplicated that inner piece to fit as many as I could on one page.  I then quickly picked two fonts for my lettering, and positioned my letters appropriately in each of the inner banner pieces.  I was careful to rotate my letters so that they were not going to be written upside down, but did forget to flip a few of them, so had to send those letters through on another sheet once I realized my mistake. :)  The easiest way to do this is to right click on your word or letter and then click on Flip Horizontally and Flip Vertically, as needed. I then sent my Silhouette Sketch pens to work!  To use the sketch pen, simply unclasp your cutting blade, and insert your sketch pen.  I'm incidentally excited to get working more with some sketch images in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. :)

Be sure to rotate and flip letters as needed/as appropriate for your design. (In this example, I forgot to flip horizontally.) 

In order to just sketch the letters, and not the actual banner pieces that I'd be cutting, I just deleted the banner pieces once I had all of the letters positioned.  After they went through, I loaded the same piece of paper, clicked the "undo" button until I had all of the white inner pieces back, and then deleted my letters.  I reinserted the blade, and sent my design through to my Silhouette again.  That is one way to draw something that you want cut out around after.

Finally came the glue, some tape to adhere the pieces to some string, and a few balloons!  I also added some pinwheels for good measure (they're just fun and festive for spring).  :)  By the time Elisha got back from her work-out, I had this extra little festive banner waiting to wish her a happy day.  Now on to when life gets less crazy and I can finally get around to making her birthday present!  (Does life ever calm down?  Maybe I should just get to making her that gift. :) ) Here's to fun crafting!  And good friends. :)  Love you, 'Lish!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tags, Bags, Boxes and ... well, More.

So you may have noticed me referencing this particular Cricut cartridge (Tags, Bags, Boxes and More 2) before.  Well, I've used it so much lately that I decided it was due its very own post.  Sorta. :)  You'll see.

Well first off, last week I had some good friends flying in for a sort of "pre-wedding" celebration with friends back east (where they met and went to school) before they headed back west to get married.  Because I figured they wouldn't have much room for gifts, I opted to get them a small, and easily packable gift card.  But dare I give these friends their giftcard in a boring old envelope?  Not so!  Not these friends!  And certainly not when I have all these awesome crafting machines at my beckon call.  So instead they got a boring giftcard in a simple and cute little :)

First, I decided on a cute two-sided print paper because the box design I chose would end up showing some of both sides of the paper.

Hint: Be sure to look in the assembly instructions booklet at how to assemble your box before you cut it so you that can see which way you'll be folding and glueing the paper, thus letting you decide which side of the paper you'll want to put face-down on the cutting mat.  (Instructions booklet comes with your cartridge, and is available online.  See bottom of this link under "Cartridge Resources, digital handbook.")This will differ for each box, so don't just assume it is always the same way. For this particular box, the side I wanted most shown needed to be placed face-down for cutting.

While this was cutting, I also had my Silhouette Studio going, using my Silhouette sketch pens to create a little paper label for my box.  This can also be done with your Cricut and Cricut Color Inks pens, but I had a specific shape in mind to use, which I knew I had in my Silhouette library.  Use whichever you have.  (Or get some from our website using the hyperlinks above.)

Getting your image written and cut out is fairly easy, though it may sound a bit tricky or complicated on your first read-through.  For Silhouette Studio: First, I created the image and sizing I wanted for the label to be cut, based on the space I had measured from my box (already cut out using my Cricut), as well as for the written/drawn portion.  I created all of this using the gird-spacing and my Silhouette Studio software.  (I often use this to design my images, finding the font I like or that fits best, etc.)  For this label, the outside line was to be cut out, using the blade, and the inner portions I wanted drawn using the gel pen.  


To do this, I first deleted the "label" portion (the outside line I wanted it to cut) and then sent what was left to my Silhouette, using my sketch gel pen to do the writing.  (Click on "Sketch Pen" when you send it through, in the "change settings" section.)  After I had the written portion done, I just hit "undo" in Silhouette studio, bringing back the outline of the label I wanted cut, and then deleted the written portion (which the Silhouette had just previously drawn using the sketch pen).  I reloaded my mat--without having removed or changed the paper--and then sent the label through the machine to be cut.  Out came my little cut out label, with my written design drawn on the inside of it.  This may sound more complicated than it really is.   I believe if you play around with it some, you'll find a method that works well for you.  Cricut gives you some pretty specific instructions in their newer booklets for how to use their sketch pens on cards, etc.  Again, for Cricut, the placement is something you'll have to play around with more since you aren't quite positive where exactly it will start drawing your image on your sheet of paper.  Just play with it some.  More on this a bit further down.

Finally, I just glued on a bird image I also had in my Silhouette library, tied a bow through the holes, and used some white chalking ink around the edges for a bit more of a finished look.  Oh, and I added a little "reinforcing" tape on the side of the box to keep it shut since I had cut my Cricut box image just a bit too small for the giftcard I had purchased. It was literally bursting at the seams with all that generosity inside. ;)  (I had my Cricut dial set at 6 inches, and probably should have gone with 6 1/2.)  I still found it worthy of gifting, and I believe the recipients would agree with me.  When giving a giftcard at a wedding or birthday, something like this serves as a nice way to differentiate your gift from all the other envelopes. An extra little "touch" of love.  


My next little project for Tags, Bags, Boxes and More 2 was to make a box for holding a small gift for a family that I nanny for, whose mother had just had a new baby boy.  I wanted to give their daughter, the child I mostly nannied, a small gift to open up along with her mother so that she didn't feel like she was lost amidst all the joy over the new baby.  (Incidentally, I gave her a jumpdrive with all the silly videos we'd recorded on my phone together over the past year since she loves to watch videos of herself. :) )

I used Tags, Bags, Boxes and More 2 to cut out the "onesie" box.  I then used my Silhouette again to write out the words since it's easier for me to do this with placement.  

Use sketch pens to write on small scraps of paper to use as part of your designs

Now, one of the things that I love about Silhouette is that I can use any old scrap of paper, as long as I know it's big enough, place it wherever I want on my cutting mat, and as long as my image is in that same spot on the mat in Silhouette Studio, I know it will cut it.  Thus, I can keep and use small scraps of paper that are still very useful.  I had that very small scrap of yellow paper that I wanted to use, so I positioned it on my mat, made sure my font would fit inside of it using Silhouette Studio and checking it on the grid, and then had it draw away.  Nice, huh?  I love that.

One of the nice things about your Cricut cartridges, however, is that the images and ideas are already created for you.  I wouldn't have thought to look for a "onesie box" in the Silhouette Online Store, but this great Cricut Cartridge gave me the idea to use it.  They come grouped, generally in themes (whether subject themed or design themed), and with clear ideas for each cartridge.  I like that too.  Luckily, I have and can use both. Trade-offs! :)

Hint: To store scrap pieces for further use, try using sheet protectors and an old binder.  I put similar colored scraps inside one sheet protector, with separate sheet protectors for print papers vs. solids.

Now, because I wanted to use this stork image from my "Cricut Sampler" cartridge (also found on the cartridge "Best Images of 2006"), I decided it was time to play around more with how I could use odd shaped scrap paper in my Cricut. I wanted to trick my Cricut into letting me use them.  Sometimes you'll have a piece of paper plenty big for what you are going to have it cut, but because the cartridge is programed to cut it a certain way, you have to get a little creative.  Like so:

After cutting out the base of my stork image, I tried placing a scrap white piece of paper in the same postion on the mat where the Cricut had just cut out my foundation/base layer.  (To make this image you use layers, with the base layer cutting out the whole image, and the subsequent layers just cutting out portions of the image.)  Because the next overlay was the same size, and in relatively the same postion (it appeared, in the book), I tried placing my scrap paper right where the base layer had been cut and setting my paper size as if it were the same size as the other paper.  So, even though my white layer paper wasn't really 6 inches by 3 inches, I told my Cricut it was.  This allowed me to use a triangular piece of scrap paper that I knew the image would fit on, but that otherwise would have been hard to guesstimate where the Cricut would try and start cutting it and if it would think it large enough.  I hope that for you Cricut users out there, this is making sense.  Maybe I'll stop typing and let the pictures do the talking:

I did this for each subsequent layer, and then finally glued it all together.  I think the finished product turned out cute.  What do you think?

I think...I want to say hooray for Tags, Bags, Boxes and More (2) for making my life a little easier, and these gifts a little more cute.  Hooray for you. :)  I hope they liked them too.

Note:  I see that Cricut now has a new design program that you can use to help with paper placement and such, making my trickery not necessary, it would seem.  I haven't tried it yet though, so anyone have feedback on how that's working for you?  I'd love to hear!  Thanks!