DIY

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Etsy Finds: Nails

Published January 11, 2013 by kurolace

Hiya! I’ve been away for a while because I’ve had a rough week. A week ago I started having some weird feeling in my chest on the left side, and actually ended up going to the ER on Friday night / Saturday morning. They did an EKG and blood test, which all came up normal, and told me I was probably having anxiety or something… But then less than 24 hours later I had chills and a fever, and ended up in bed for like 3 days. I’ve gotten a little better, but still am getting a sensation of weight/pressure in my chest. I spoke with a nurse on the phone for a while yesterday, and she relayed all my symptoms to my doctor, who said it seems like I have a viral infection or something. It’s a week until I can actually go to the doctors office… so I am supposed to just rest and not go outside much until then.

I missed some work at the beginning of the week since I was still really weak, so now I have to work extra to make it up… So while dragging myself through the extra hours of work I decided to go on Etsy and enjoy some browsing. I had a few search terms of course…. but I finally decided to do this post on the search term “nails.”

You’ll find that a lot of people sell nail stuff on Etsy these days. A few years ago, there wasn’t nearly as many people seeing acrylic sets or other nail items… I haven’t included any nail polish (which plenty of people are selling), but some other interesting nail items. 🙂

Holds about 144 bottles of polish!

Holds about 144 bottles of polish!

To start out with, I found some organizers. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have bottles of polish all over the place, lol. Especially around my computer, since that’s were I often paint my nails (while working, lol). But recently I’ve been thinking it would be nice to get a rack to store my polishes in. The nicest one I found on Etsy is the “Hanging wrought iron nail polish rack” from daisypam2011. I love the scroll work and elegant design. Its a bit out of my price range though, at $275. There are larger ones available as well.

This one holds about 27 OPI bottles.

This one holds about 27 OPI bottles.

Quite a bit more affordable is the “Petite ‘Nice Rack’ Floating Polish Rack” from BeautyPopShop. Its available in black or white and costs 25.  The petite rack is probably just about big enough for my current polish collection, but the shop also carries larger ones with different numbers of tiers. There are also some colorful racks available.

If you don’t have many nail polishes, perhaps you’d like to try your hand at Frankenfrankenkit Polishes? Making Franken Polish is particularly good for people who like glittery polishes… since that is the easiest way to Franken a polish. (Mixing colors is a bit more tricky). I found this great “Franken Nail Polish Kit” from SillyLilyPolish. It would make a great gift for someone else, or for yourself! Its $35 and includes lots of different glitter, tools, and 15 mini polish bottles with clear “glitter suspension” polish  to make/store your creations in.

2mm Rhinestones are perfect for nails.

2mm Rhinestones are perfect for nails.

If you’re interested in doing 3d nail art, you’ll want to stock up on supplies like these 2mm Glitter Flatback Rhinestones from colorfuldaysdiy. There are 12 colors in a wheel-style case…2400 pieces for under $7! I like to add rhinestones to my nails, either to enhance a sticker or decal design, or just on their own. Just make sure you coat the whole nail with clear polish afterwards in you want the rhinestone to stay on a long time.

Ice cream, chocolate, and cake, oh my!

Ice cream, chocolate, and cake, oh my!

Polymer Clay slices are a popular design element on Etsy. You can find a huge range of them, pre-sliced, or sometimes in cane (un-sliced form). I prefer getting them pre-sliced and in the wheel storage boxes. I have some fruit ones, but there are a lot of other designs available. Check out these cute Food & Cake Slices from zacoo. There are ice cream cones, cupcakes, roll-cakes, and more. 120 pieces for $1.50. I would recommend using acrylic nail glue (which I never use to apply fake nails – but more on that another time) to attach these (over dried nail polish – use a clear coat if you have bare nails). The slices don’t like to bend to fit your nail, so they need that extra strength to keep them on.

Lots of other designs in the same store!

Lots of other designs in the same store!

Of course, if you are too lazy to do your own nail art, you can buy pre-designed acrylic nails. I have several sets of these from my favorite Etsy nail tech, nevertoomuchglitter. Her nails are top notch quality and she can do custom sets if you want them. The only issue for me is that the “active length” nails are too short to cover my natural nails, but the “medium length” are too long (particularly in the thumbs). But I think that “active length” is usually appropriate for most people. Check out the Alice in Wonderland Silhouette nails that she has hand painted. The set of 22 nails costs $10.

If you want to try making your own acrylic nails, you can buy the blanks on etsy.

Try your hand at nail art.

Try your hand at nail art.

The blank nails that are on a “spine” are easier to handle while painting than individual blank nails. Here is a Make Your Own Fake Nails kit from SweetenedWithLove. It includes 4 sets of nails with optional base coat painting, nail glue, and some two-sided nail stickers for temporary wear. $7

BTW…The nail stickers are what I would recommend for applying acrylic nails, because they don’t damage your nail – however, they do start to come off after only a day or two (depends on how often your hands get wet). The other option for temporary application is Ducato repeating nail glue, which you can buy from nevertoomuchglitter, as well as some other etsy sellers. Using these temporary adhesives means you can use the nails again and again.

Okay, thats all! Hope you enjoyed!

 

 

Christmas Gift for Dad – Embroidered Hankerchiefs

Published December 23, 2012 by kurolace

Here’s the gift I’m giving my dad this Christmas. He does actually use handkerchiefs, and asked for some new ones. I found some blank cotton ones at Sears in the men’s department. 6 in a box, Docker’s Brand. There were some fancier ones there too, with Monograms on them. Well since I have an embroidery machine, I figured, why not monogram them myself?

Of course, this was a learning experience and they didn’t come out perfectly. But none were ruined either! The main issue was centering the design… I couldn’t find my hooping aide / template thingy, so I sort of eyeballed it…. wrong, most of the time, lol. The other issue was that there is a decorative “ribbon” stripes on the handkerchief, and the pile was apparently different than for the rest of the hanky, so there were some stitch issues there too…

I don't particularly like 3 letter monograms, so I just used my dad's first initial.

I don’t particularly like 3 letter monograms, so I just used my dad’s first initial.

Next time I’ll try to plan ahead and either make some from scratch (which is kind of a pain, IMO), or buy the embroidery blanks type (special items meant to be embroidered). Then maybe it’ll go a little bit better!

New Embroidery Machine

Published June 28, 2012 by kurolace

This cat arrived packed perfectly – complete with Styrofoam bumpers. 😛

Hello 🙂 …

I’m afraid I’ve been absent for a while, haven’t I? Worry not, sweetlings, I still exist! Its just that the summer heat has hit in full here… and I am busy wilting most of the day 😛

Its been a bit over a week since my 25th birthday… which was back on the 15th. I feel so old saying that… What ever happened to 20? or 17 for that matter? …. Well, besides thinking depressing thoughts about how my life isn’t nearly what I hoped it would be by 25… I did have a nice day. We didn’t make much of a big deal out of it. My mom baked a delicious pineapple-upside-down cake, and we went out to a Japanese restaurant for sushi. Seeing as I don’t really have many friends here in my hometown, I didn’t do anything besides hang out with my family.  This year I completely failed to think of gifts that people could give me, so I ended up with all monetary gifts, which was just fine by me. After a lot of consideration, I finally decided to buy an embroidery machine.

Actually its a sewing-embroidery combo machine. The Brother SE-400. It only can do small (4x4in) embroidery, but that’s fine. The larger machines are significantly more expensive (like $2,000 plus), so I figured I’d start small and see if I even like machine embroidery enough to someday invest in a larger machine. So far I haven’t had much luck with using the machine… I am completely new to machine embroidery, so I’ve run into my fair share of newbie-errors. Also, accumulating all the necessary accessories has taken some time and an additional few hundred (the machine was $300).

I’ve already indulged in buying some cool goth-y embroidery patterns … so once I finally successfully complete one, I’ll post a few pics!

I’ve also been working on some sewing projects lately, including a tiered skirt and a flannel children’s blanket (shaped like a flower). I went on a bit of a fabric buying splurge and now my room is stuffed with bags of supplies again XD … If only I could have a little studio or craft room!

“Foolish Human, this is MY sewing project”

 

Other exciting news: I’ve finally decided to open an Etsy store! It will have the same name as my blog…. and I ordered some business cards yesterday! 🙂 In the next few days I need to get my act together and photograph some of my items.

 

Book Review: Crafty Superstar

Published May 5, 2012 by kurolace

Scan of the cover.

Author: Grace Dobush, 2009

Publisher: North Lights Books (Cincinnati)

ISBN-13: 987-1-60061-320-3

This book was an unexpected discovery I made one day while browsing the arts & crafts section at my local used/new book store.  I was actually looking for stitching patterns or crochet books, when I saw this book laying out in the book shelf’s “display” section. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about setting up an Etsy shop, or maybe doing some consignment arrangement, in order to sell a few of the many crafts that I’ve made. It was a used copy, and marked down 50% of its “new” price, so I went ahead and bought it.

While I haven’t read straight through it, cover-to-cover, I have browsed it extensively. Its a very useful and practical guide to setting up a small craft business. I particularly found the parts about branding, copyrighting, and pricing to be useful (although, for copyrighting, the book basically says “get a lawyer”, lol). The book is peppered with various “case-study” type examples collected from successful artisans. Additionally, there are multiple appendices filled with lots of useful links and information at the end of the book.

Here’s a brief summary of each chapter:

Chapter 1: Do you DIY?

This chapter discusses the handmade / indie trend’s history and popularity, as well as suggesting that you do some serious thinking regarding your expectations and motivations for getting into selling.

Chapter 2: Biz Basics

This chapter is focused on all of the small and big things that you need to take into consideration when naming, organizing, and running a small business. Topics include pricing, boosting production, organizing a workspace, and keeping track of income/expenses and legal issues like taxes and copyright.

Chapter 3: Selling Out

This chapter includes information about different ways to sell your products. For instance: online sites like Etsy vs craft shows vs consignment shops. It also talks about building a website and customer service, and even bartering your crafts for services and goods!

Chapter 4: Indie Craft Shows

This entire chapter is devoted to the notion of selling at craft shows, which, despite the rise of the digital era, is still probably one of the most popular and most utilized methods of selling crafts. The chapter talks about things like applying for shows, prepping products, creating displays, networking while at the show, and hosting your own show.

Chapter 5: Get Noticed

This chapter is all about marketing your business and building up a customer base. There are some suggestions about getting coverage in magazine and blogs.

Chapter 6: Finding Balance

This final chapter is about balancing your day job, family, and craft job, as well as maintaining your inventory. It has a few recommendations regarding either reducing your crafting business, or increasing it to a full time gig.

There’s also a brief Epilogue, and then the following appendixes:

  • Appendix A: Forms and Templates
  • Appendix B: Craft Communities
  • Appendix C: Awesome Craft Blogs
  • Appendix D: Craft-Friendly Publications
  • Appendix E: Small Business Resources
  • Appendix F: Reading List
  • Appendix G: Online Consignment Shops
  • Appendix H: Samples
  • Appendix I: Major North American Indie Craft Shows

In A Nutshell: I am happy with is book and it was totally worth the $18 original price (I paid $9 – so, double yay!). Sure, you can find similar information and suggestions online, probably for free – but I appreciate having it all together in one place. Its sorta like having check list to work on item-by-item. If you are considering selling your crafts and want to do something more than just a one-time craft show, then I think this book and a worthwhile investment. 🙂

Henna Adventures…. or: How-to Dye Your Hair Naturally

Published April 26, 2012 by kurolace

Hello Again!

Yesterday I dyed my hair with henna for the second time. The first time was over 9 months ago. Back then I used a henna/cassia mix because I wasn’t sure how red I wanted the results. This time I used a henna/indigo mix because I wanted to darken my hair a bit. I sort of messed up and didn’t take a before picture… sorry :P… my hair was sort of a warm, slightly red, light brown, but with ashy-brown roots.

1 day after using a 2/3 henna, 1/3 indigo mix (picture taken with scanner - so that's why there's a weird light :p)

In high school I had a few crazy colors in my hair, and then started using boxed grocery-store hair dye… but in college I eventually developed a sensitive scalp and had to find a new way to dye my hair. I actually let my hair grow out for about 1 year, then last summer I decided to try henna…. (it wasn’t the first time I had tried henna.. but the really-first time was such a messy disaster without any results what so ever – That was the bought-at-co-op type henna that is all twiggy and leafy when you open it up)

After searching the web I found a great site about dying your hair with henna, called: Henna for Hair. That site links to one where they sell the pure henna, cassia, and indigo that you might want to dye your hair with. Its much higher quality henna than what you might buy even at the whole foods store. Its also extremely well powdered and certified by an independent pharmacy to be safe. The pricing isn’t too bad – its more expensive than the grocery store boxed dyes, of course… but it isn’t as expensive as a trip to Aveda. I bought about 200g of henna, and 100g indigo, for $36, and it turned out to be twice the amount I needed.

 

Steps for dying your hair:

1) (Optional) Do a test swatch by harvesting hair from your brush and preparing a small amount henna to dye it in. (I’ll admit, I always skip this step – but if you area really picky about what color your hair turns, then you should go ahead and do this) Try different strengths of solution and different lengths of time until you get what you want. Henna for Hair sells small sample amounts that you can use to find your ideal color.

2) Buy enough henna to cover your hair  – if you haven’t already. The Henna for Hair website claims you need about 100g per 3inches of hair, but in my case that wasn’t true. I have really fine hair, so although its long, it just doesn’t need a full 500g of dye (the amount that I bought the first time ). Even 300g was too much. BUT I think you’re best getting the full recommended amount the first time, so that you don’t run out. – Luckily henna can be frozen and stays good for a few months that way (so you can save left overs – just don’t forget about it!). Unfortunately I don’t think indigo can be saved.

3) Mix up your henna the night before, using something acidic like lemon juice. Let the henna develop for 12 hours.

4) The next day, section your hair carefully and wind the sections up into mini buns all over your head. The more sections, the better – it’ll be easier and faster to apply the henna. MAKE SURE to use plastic accessories / pins, because metal can react with henna and ruin it.

5) Clear the area where you’re going to work. If you want to, you can put down plastic or wear a garbage bag if you are worried about getting stuff on you or the floor. Definitely wear latex / rubber gloves – or else by the time you finish dying your hair, your hands will be dyed too.

6) If you are using any indigo… now is the time to mix it up with some water, then add it in with the henna and stir well. Don’t let it sit around, or it will loose its potency.

7) Apply henna to head. The instructions that came with my order said to “pack it on like a child making mud pies” lol… I used a salon highlighting brush to apply my mixture… you can easily buy one on amazon. It took me forever to apply the mixture… about 1.5 hours. But I am slow and have a hard time with the back of my head … plus my hair is long. The easiest (and fastest) way to dye your hair, of course, is to get someone else to apply the mixture to your hair – like your mom, sibling, girl/boyfriend or friend.

8) After you’ve gotten all of your hair covered in dye, wear a shower cap. You’ll need to leave the dye in for a long time…. at least 2 hours. You can blow dry your hair a little bit to speed up the process.

9) Rinse all of the dye out. Shampoo and condition if you want to. Henna darkens a little bit over the next 2 days.

Above the instructions, you may have noticed I mentioned both Cassia and Indigo. Cassia is sometimes called “blonde henna”… but its a different plant. Its a very lightly colored dye and wont show up much (or at all) if you have darker hair. But it makes a good “spacer” and a conditioner. That’s why I used it to dilute the henna for my attempt 9 months ago. Indigo is a plant which can dye your hair black. It only takes about 2-3 hours to become useless, so that’s why you don’t mix it up ahead of time like you would the henna or cassia.

Natural hair dyes can’t get you blue, green, or purple hair…but you can achieve dark auburn, red, or black hair… which are all good Goth hair colors in my book. 🙂 By mixing different amounts of henna, cassia, and indigo, as well as a adding a few herbs, you can really tweak your hair color to exactly what you want. For instance…. mixing henna and cassia together, and using it on light hair, can result in strawberry blonde hair. Pure henna will usually result in red or auburn hair. Henna mixed with indigo can result in auburn, dark auburn, or brown hair. And indigo, applied after rinsing out henna, can create a beautiful midnight / jet black.

 

 

 

Gemstones – Uses and Meanings

Published April 25, 2012 by kurolace

Oh, hi there….. 😛 Sorry for being absent for almost 2 months. I’ve been kinda busy. In March, one of my cats had to be put to sleep 😦 Well, it wasn’t a surprise… he was 17 years old, diabetic, and also had cancer. He suddenly stopped eating, and after 2 days of no food, he could no longer move around on his own – not even to go the bathroom. So, my parents took him to the vet and did what had to be done…. 😦 RIP Maximilian.

Also I had to sort out my taxes. This is the first year I filed taxes by myself. To make it complicated, I have to do self-employment taxes since I’m technically an independent consultant when it comes to my job. On top of that, one of my former employers (from my time at the university) sent my W-2 to the wrong address, so I had to request another be sent.

Enough excuses… lets get down to business.

Today I want to write a little about gemstones. Attributing meaning to rocks and minerals is an age old practice. The most common place we see this in the modern era is birthstones. Birthstones are commonly used in jewelry. If you make jewelry, designing birthstone-themed pieces can be a good starting point when you are lacking design ideas, or if you’re making a gift for a friend. One thing about birthstones that I find interesting are the wide variety stones you can choose from for each month. Yep – that’s right – there are actually a lot more birth stones assigned to each month than just one….. But the one that you are likely familiar with comes from the English traditions – which was “standardized” in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers.

What’s Your Birthstone?

Wikipedia has a great chart which lists the birthstones according the month of birth, and there’s also a poem from the middle ages about birthstones. However, its missing some of the Eastern and Ancient birthstones.

Here’s a list combining both ancient and modern birthstones (US standard / popular listed first):

January — Garnet … and: Onyx, Quartz, Beryl, Jet, and Obsidian

February — Amethyst … and: Blue Sapphire, Hyacinth (yellow zircon), Lapis, Aquamarine,

March —  Aquamarine & Bloodstone …and: Diamond, Turquoise, Jade, Jasper, Tourmaline,

April — Diamond … and: Ruby, Red Jasper, Rock Crystal, Carnelian, Coral

May — Emerald … and: Chrysoprase, Golden Topaz, Lapis, Azurite, Agate

June — Pearl, Alexandrite, & Moonstone … and: Cat’s Eye, Crystal, Agate, Aquamarine, Beryl,  Turquoise

July — Ruby …and: Cornelian, Moonstone, Pearl, Green Turquoise, Sapphire

August — Peridot … and: Amber, Sardonyx, Ruby, Jacinth, Topaz, Moonstone

September — Sapphire …and: Pink Jasper, Rhodochrosite, Azurite, Star Sapphire, Lapis Lazuli, Zircon

October — Opal… and: Fire Agate, Agate, Tourmaline, Coral

November — Topaz … and: Cat’s Eye, Citrine, Coral, Garnet, Ruby, Zircon

December — Turquoise … and: Amethyst, Bloodstone, Malachite, Ruby, Tanzanite, Topaz

 

Gemstone Powers – Uses and Meanings

Remember those power bead bracelets? Different colors of stones / beads were attributed specific benefits that they were supposed to grant the wearer. You could often buy them up near the cash register in bookstores or novelty stores… I’m sure you can still find them in some shops (although, it seems to me that the height of their popularity was back in about 1998-2000). The only problem with such bracelets was that there wasn’t always a consistent pattern in regards to which stone bracelet represented what.  Sometimes the meaning was based more on the color of the stone than anything else.

I have an entire book on the subject of gemstones’ beneficial properties and effects. Its called Stone Power, by Dorothee L. Mella…. published back in the 1980s. In it she lists some 48 stones with their uses and meanings. Needless to say, that some of it overlaps and some contradict…. I’m generally of the opinion that things mean / represent whatever you want them to represent. But here are just a few of the more popular associations:

Lapis Lazuli – A spiritual stone, it was associated with power, love, and Universal Truth (Ancient Egypt)

Opal – Commonly believed to open one’s mind to visions, used for prophecy and divination (Greece)… also considered a stone of romance and love

Pearls – Associated with femininity and beauty.

Peridot – Believed to contain the power of the sun, and the ability to cure liver disease, as well as jealous thoughts (Ancient Egypt)

Obsidian – A stone of protection, often found in ancient South American amulets and lucky charms.

Malachite – Thought to ward off negative energies (additionally thought to be able to warn owner of impending danger by breaking in half)

Moonstone – Associated with moon magic… but also used to promote love. Romans associated the stone with Diana.

Emerald – Represents security in love… also thought to strengthen memory and increase intelligence.

Garnet – A protective stone thought to help heal emotional issues and also clear the body of toxins. Increases positivity.

Coral – Thought to destroy negative energy. It was used by the Romans to protect children. Also used to by newlyweds to protect against sterility.

 

Well, that’s all for now, since this post has gotten rather long! Hopefully this has been of some use to someone out there :)… Of course, you can find lots of additional information by looking up specific stones, or by looking into specific traditions (Modern vs. Ancient, Western vs. Eastern). I’m sure there are newer books out there than the one I have (which, btw, was kind of a random handout from my grandmother, lol).

 

Hair Accessory Madness

Published February 22, 2012 by kurolace

Hiya! Lately I’ve been somewhat obsessed with making hair bows, bead barrettes, and other hair accessories. So today I thought I’d show off a few of my creations. 🙂

For the beaded things, I use a mixture of glass beads and swarovski beads… I actually have a ton of crystals in my beading collection, but haven’t had anything to use them for… so I figured barrettes were as good as anything… After I use them up I’ll have to decide whether or not I want to stick with using glass beads / pearls, or keep using some crystal beads / pearls.

I bought some display /packaging cards at Hobby Lobby, because I thought I should maybe use them to help me remember which barrettes are made with which materials. However, considering the cost of the cards, and the fact that they are actually too big for the baby barrettes that I made, I might try making my own in the future using paperboard or something like that.

Okay, so here is the gallery of creations…

How-To: Easiest Bracelet Ever

Published February 21, 2012 by kurolace

Whether you are new to making jewelry, or an old-timer who just wants to whip up something fast, these stretchy bracelets are the easiest beading project I know of.

A nice & short supply list

One thing that makes them easy is the fact that you don’t need any pliers or wire cutters or crimps, etc. You just need:

  • Some beads (I’m using black 6mm matte glass beads & flat diamond-shaped red glass beads)
  • Stretchy Beading Cord – This comes in different colors and diameters, so make sure you get the right diameter for the beads you are using.
  • Hypo-Cement
  • Scissors and a measuring tape or ruler

You should be able to find every thing you need at your local hobby / craft store, but if not, you can certainly find it online.

One of the most important things about making a stretchy bracelet is to make sure you make it the right length. It needs to be long enough to fit around your wrist comfortably, but short enough that it doesn’t fall off your hand. If you are making the bracelet for yourself, you can measure your own wrist to get an idea of how long to cut the cord. If you are making the bracelet as a gift, or to sell, then you can usually go by the guideline of about 7-7.5″ for most adults. (7.5″ is usually a bit too long for these stretchy bracelets though) Cut the cord to at least 8.5 inches just to be safe – this way you’ll have enough for when you make the finishing knot.

If you are using really big beads, you’ll need to make the bracelet longer. If you use really small beads, you’ll make the bracelet shorter. So as

I actually only cut the cord to 7.5", which was almost too short. I barely could tie the knot!

you string the beads,  keep checking the length of the bracelet by wrapping it around your wrist.

Once you’ve got it to the proper length, you’ll need to tie a knot. I use a basic square knot (right over left, left over right).

Now the awkward part… Before you pull the square knot tight, you need to put a dab of hypo-cement in the middle of the knot. Then pull the knot tight, and hold it for a few minutes as the glue sets. Try not to get any glue on the beads next to the knot.

Let the knot dry completely – say, about 10 minutes to be sure. Then try the bracelet on. Take it off, put it on, pull on the cord a little bit to make sure the glue & knot hold.

Finished!

If you used a small enough (diameter) cord, with beads that have larger holes, you might be able to stick the cord ends back through the beads. Otherwise, trim the cord down so that there is only about 2 mm on each side of the knot.

Voila! You’ve got yourself a bracelet. You can wear just one, or make a few to mix & match.

A few extra notes:

  • If you are planning to sell the bracelet or to give it as a gift, please take if for a “test drive” : Wear it for at least a few hours or a full day, to make sure the knot holds.
  • You can use a crimp bead & cover on the larger diameters of cord if you want. This way you cover the knot up.
  • Clean the tip of the hypo-cement off before trying to put glue on the knot. Having old, semi-dried globs at the end can make the knot look messy.
  • You can string a lot of bracelets and then knot and glue them all at once (This way you only have to uncap & use the hypo cement once). I use those clamp-paper clips (the ones with the black clamp) at each end of the bracelet in order to hold the beads on the cord.

Some of the many stretchy bracelets I've made.

How To: Straighten Ribbons

Published February 14, 2012 by kurolace

I use a lot of ribbons to make hair accessories and jewelry… and sometimes I buy those “grab bag” deals at my local craft store. Inevitably, some of the ribbons are crumpled up… to the point of being unusable. But ribbons are expensive… so I don’t want to throw those crinkled ribbons away. Fortunately, there is a very easy, and fast, way to straighten ribbons.

Hair straightener & wrinkled up ribbon

All you need is the crinkled ribbon and a hair straightener. I think a large curling iron would also work, because large, loose curls in a ribbon aren’t obvious in most projects.

The process is simple and probably obvious to most people, but here’s a quick step-by-step:

Plug in the straightener and turn dial to lowest setting. Remember most ribbons are made from synthetic materials, which can melt if you use too high of a setting.

Slowly and firmly start to straight iron the ribbon. Start ironing just above the wrinkled part, moving slowly along the length of the ribbon to the end. Repeat this over and over until you notice the ribbon looking much better.

Depending on the type of ribbon you are working with, some creases might still be visible. The red ribbon pictured has a more paper-y feel to it, and still has creases… but it’s now much more workable than when it was all wrinkled up.  Straightening works very well on satin ribbons, although I sadly don’t have any pictures to show you that.

Yes, still creased, but much better than before!

So, there you have it… No reason to buy a fancy “ribbon straightener”… (yes, they do make these).

Cute Craft Kit: Fuwa Fuwa Fun

Published February 10, 2012 by kurolace

Boxed kits and a package of refill clay.

About a year ago I discovered some cute clay modelling kits from Japan, called “Fuwa Fuwa.” (In Japanese “fuwa fuwa” means something like “very soft.”) They follow in the tradition of cute miniature foods… which can be used in “deco-ing.” The kits include some clay, molds, glue, and rhinestones & other embellishments. The clay in these kits is something like paper / foam clay, which is extremely lightweight and air dried. While the clay is still moist, it smells a tiny bit, but that goes away once it dries. Some of the kits come with a special “mousse” clay which is very soft and can actually be pipped just like frosting. If you use up all the clay that comes in the kit, you can also buy extra clay (the normal bricks or the mousse clay). It comes in a several different colors, including pastels colors, “chocolate” colors, white, and even some “sparkly” colors.

The kits have different themes like: chocolates, doughnuts, deli, ice cream, etc… The first kit I bought was for making miniature sweets to use as charms / cabs. It included the eyepins, charm loops, and even a ball chain necklace. It even included a bonus antique key plastic charm. Although the instructions are in Japanese, there are illustrations – not to mention that its pretty easy to figure out how to use the kits in general: put clay in mold, remove excess, carefully take out of mold, arrange pieces and glue together, allow to dry, and voila! – you have a cute mini doughnut, cookie, or whatever. The only annoying part was that the molds often leave seams – although you can work these out if you are willing to take the time to do it (in the picture below, you can see that I did NOT take the time to do this with all of the charms in the first batch I made, lol).

After having used up all the clay in my first kit, I thought it might be fun to get another couple of kits to make different things. I mistakenly assumed that all the kits made charm-sized items – which is not true at all. In fact, the last time I looked at etsy (which is where I bought my kits – in the “supplies” section), most of the fuwa fuwa kits make larger items. So please pay close attention when you’re choosing a kit.

I suppose that its fairly obvious that these kits are aimed at a younger audience, but I like them because they are so easy. Sitting and playing with the clay – pressing it into the mold, putting the pieces together – these are great stress relieving activities, in my opinion. Perfect for a day when I want to make something, but I’m feeling a little too tired to be super creative. I played with these a lot while I was studying for my comprehensive exams last spring! Also these kits might be a good starting point for someone who wants to get into making mini-foods – later you can graduate to making them without molds!

Fuwa Fuwa Charms