DIY

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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.

 

 

 

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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

How To: Put Together a Crafting Kit

Published February 4, 2012 by kurolace

When it comes to craft supplies, there are a few basic, general items which you’ll use over and over – even as your crafting interests evolve and change. In today’s entry, I’ll list a few things that you might consider gathering together if you’re new to the world of crafts, or if you want to make a present for someone just getting started in crafts.

Image

Just some of the items you might like to include...

 

Here’s a list of some of the things you might want to include in your kit:

  • Scissors: One of the quintessential of crafting. You should (and probably already do) have more than one pair. Smaller, school-supply type scissors are usually good enough for paper cutting, getting into packages, trimming stay ends, etc… but having a nice pair of big utility scissors is handy too.
  • Measuring Tools: “Measure twice, cut once” holds true for crafts other than just sewing. Make sure you have at least 1 ruler on hand, but it can be nice to have a few extra so that you have multiple options. If you really can only afford one ruler, make it a metal / aluminum one – or one with a metal edge. That way you can use it as a straight edge when cutting with an Xacto blade. Also consider including a measuring tape, which is useful when you need to measure something that isn’t flat.
  • Glues: You should have at least one, good, multipurpose glue. A multipurpose glue is one that can adhere to a variety of materials / surfaces. Other specialty glues can be useful too, of course. Also, a basic glue stick is perfect for paper projects because wont wrinkle lightweight paper as badly as a liquid-glue will. Hot glue guns can be really useful, both for gluing and decorative purposes (using colored hot glue). One other alternative to glue is clear nail polish, which you can use for a varnish if you can’t justify buying an entire bottle of mod podge or spray varnish.
  • Sewing Kit: Having a few rolls of thread and some needles can come in handy whenever you want to use a few stitches to help secure something, or repair something. Sewing needles can also be useful as a tool to clear out a glue tip or to texture clay. You can buy sewing needles and thread separately, or you can just buy yourself a travel sewing kit.
  • Toothpicks: There are so many uses for these… like needles you can use them to help clear out the tip of a glue, but there are tons of other things you can do with them. I like to keep a box on hand because you never know when having that disposable, tiny tip can be really helpful.
  • Container / Box: Of course you’ll want to have something to store your supplies in. Depending on how much you have, you might need a big box or a little one. Or you might want to separate some of the items in to two groups for storage. You can get as fancy or as basic as you want: go the cheap way by using a large shoebox, or go ahead and get yourself a fancy-shmancy plastic art supply tote. Make-up train cases and Tupperware work well too.
  • Additional / Other Items: Razor blades, acrylic paints (the mini type), a compass, different types of tape, permanent markers and pens, colored pencils, cotton balls, Q-tips, or anything else you find useful on a regular basis.

(Keep in mind that if you’re putting together a crafting kit for a child, there are obviously some things that you might want to leave out.. such as Xacto blades and superglue.)

As you collect crafting supplies, you’ll find products that you like and don’t like, products that you use more than others, etc., so you’ll want to go through your crafting kit from time to time to update it. You’re also likely to develop more than one crafting supply box. For instance, I have a small one for clay & clay tools, one for jewelry tools, one for sketching, etc…

Thanks for reading and I hope this article may have given you some ideas for your own crafting life. 🙂