Saturday, July 30, 2011

String update.

I know you've been on the edge of your seat just waiting for an update on my string project.   I am happy to report that I tried the same technique from here with the thicker string as promised.

Guess what?  It was a no-go.  Bummer.

 Apparently the string was TOO thick and the dye didn't absorb all the way through.

Here's the string I decided to try it with:
I decided to just try a small bit of the "more luxurious" string at first to see if it would actually work
a thicker, more natural cotton fiber string...

Isn't it so pretty just wrapped around the ruler.  I may have to find something to "make over"with this string.

I should have known when I was making my lines and they weren't spreading like they did with the crochet cotton.  I had to make several passes to get a thick enough line.
Here's one pass v. three passes.

I actually had to sort of color these lines in-- not just drag the marker through the string like last time.

I still thought there might be hope though after I got all the lines on...

I kinda knew though that it wasn't going to be good when I moved the ruler and saw this:

That didn't happen with the other string.

So I elevated it and let it dry a bit before unraveling, only to find...

Front side good, back side not.  Boo.

Oh well-- at least I didn't waste too much time on a messed up pile of string.
  Lesson learned.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I like my string to be pretty.

Holy Moly-- it's been a whole week since my last post!  Sorry!  I was on my own last week (as the hubs was on the opposite coast visiting his twin brother) and apparently I had a few other things to do.  Poor little blog-- so neglected.  So... alone.

Well, guess what baby?  I'm back!  And I think I've got something good for ya' too. 

DIY Baker's Twine.  Yup- you heard me.  DIY Baker's Twine.  Are you dying?  I was when I came across the tutorial (which has forever vanished into oblivion-- I can't find it anywhere!)  

Baker's Twine:  so many incredible uses:

Card making--
image source:  Poppy Paperie

Homemade gifts--
can't find image source (not mine) - ugh!- gotta keep better records
image source:  The Twinery
Gift Packaging--
image source:  The Twinery
image source:  Whisker Graphics

It's so beautiful!!

image source: 'The Twinery'
I LOOOOVE the look of baker's twine, but I'm cheap (obviously).   The above "sampler pack" retails for $20.  If I had a business I would totally shell out some dough "the good stuff" (as I like to call it), to use for gift wrapping and packaging my items, but since I'm using it for much smaller projects, I will DIY it for the time being.

Sure you could use plain string, but it's all about the little details.  Mine isn't quite as luxurious as The Twinery twine, but mine also only cost me $.50 so... for now, this will do. 

Here's how I've used mine so far.  As seen here:
 and here (I used custom twine for the circle garland hanging from the ceiling):
I was waaay to excited about this when I came across this simple tutorial a few months back.  Unfortunately, I didn't write down where I found the tutorial and now... it's totally wiped from my brain.  Not a clue!  If it was you, I apologize and let me know and I'll totally hook you up with a link from this post!

Supplies needed:

Cotton String
Permanent Marker (in your choice of color)

I found this huge spool of crochet cotton at Goodwill for $.50 and I knew IMMEDIATELY what I'd do with it so I scooped it up.

It was in perfect condition-- no weird discolorations, no funky smells, and lots of it left... PERFECT for this project!
A few years back I received a huge package of multi-colored Sharpies as a part  of a Christmas present (how well does my husband know me and my obsession with stationary products?).  I'd been waiting for just the right project to break them out and luckily they hadn't dried out on me.

OK.  Let's get started.  Take your ruler and your string.

Actually, I added an extra step to mine.  Because I was using a ruler that I didn't want to mess up, I wrapped my ruler in a sheet of copy paper-- just to protect it from any bleeding Sharpie marker (and I was really glad I did).  If you have a ruler that you don't care about, you can certainly skip this step.  I think I may hit up the back to school sales for a cheap ruler that I can dedicate to baker's twine production- thus allowing me to skip this step for the future. 

Tightly wrap your string around your ruler.  And by tightly I mean close together, not necessarily taught (although I guess that's kinda important too)...
Once your string it wound the full length of the ruler (or as far as you want - depending on how much twine you want to make), tape the loose ends to the ruler so the string doesn't slip around.

Then you take your permanent marker and start making lines-- I made three lines on each side of the ruler with white space in between.  You'll have to work slowly and press down a bit to really get the string to absorb the marker, but you'll get the hang of it quickly.
And the beauty of it is, your lines don't have to be perfectly straight or even-- you'll never be able to tell once you unwind the string.

Once both sides are done, simply unwind and admire your pretty new baker's twine.

the green looks so much more vibrant in photos, but the light blue really turned out nice too- I swear.

This project is a little time consuming, but it's the perfect project to do while sitting around watching reality TV inspirational and educational television programs.

So with enough pre-planning, you can create your own baker's twine to match your next project! 

p.s.--  I just got some thicker (softer) cotton string to try it with-- I'll update you when I've completed it with that string and let you know how well it worked.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I have an addiction to post holiday sales.

Shortly following all the major holidays, leftover holiday merchandise goes on sale.  I'm sure this is not big news to any of you.  Most of the time it's kind of the dregs of the holiday stuff that nobody really wants or needs OR it's like 1 set of 10 cute beverage napkins that don't really cut it (you almost always need more than 10 - especially when you're talking beverage napkins).

After Easter this past year I checked out some of my favorite post-holiday-deals-shopping spots and found that it was mostly candy and plastic eggs that were left over.  God knows I don't need any candy in the house and I have PLENTY of plastic eggs (considering the ones from our attic in Syracuse haven't made it here yet so I had to buy all new eggs this year).  

However,  about a month after the sale (you know it is junk when it's still there a MONTH after the holiday), these cheesy easter baskets were still on the shelf, but marked down to $.10 each.  I knew I could do something with these (and secretly hoped I had a little girl that I could do something for because the hot pink color was great).

So... I took these (3 of them):
 and turned them into these (for the 4th of July):
(not so sure about the liners anymore...)

It was a pretty simple process-- take off the handles and spray paint the baskets.  
Some of the handles pulled out easily (remember they are REALLY cheesy)
Some required a little more work:
used a paring knife to loosen the weave to release the handle
But very quickly I had 3 square baskets without handles.  

Then came the spray painting.  (and yes-- I used the cheap stuff-- I think it's $1.97 a can at Walmart.  For anything better than $.10 Easter baskets I might have sprung for more expensive paint, but I figured I didn't have much to loose with these if it didn't come out great)
I knew the white one would take the most time/paint, but... holy cow-- it was kind of ridiculous.  I lost count as to how many coats I used.  Maybe 5?  Maybe more.  Could still probably use one more coat to get a crisp clean white, but spray painting is not so easy in an apartment complex without much private outside space.

First coat.  I was trying to do the right thing and do the "do multiple light coats instead of one heavy coat" technique.  As you will see-- that technique didn't last long.

Then the red (first coat):
And the blue covered VERY well with it's first coat. 
Second Coat.  See much of a difference.... Didn't think so.
For someone who doesn't like feet much, my feet seem to be in a lot of posts lately.  Gross.  Sorry.
Then I stopped taking pictures of each coat because I was getting frustrated and thinking it would take me a MONTH to get this one white, so here's how it ended up.

Remember, I had to do the backs too so... 5 coats on the front.  5 coats on the back. argh!
sorry tiny spot of white branches on the bush.  Oops.

You can see how REALLY it could use one more coat-- but I just couldn't do it.  I called it "close enough".  I have more paint so someday when I'm feeling especially motivated I might finish 'er off.
And since they weren't PERFECT, I decided I needed to do something more to distract the eye so I made little paper liners for them-- just using scrapbook paper and a star template. 
In the end I only really like the finished product look of the blue one (ack-- the white one gives me a headache), but the good news is that the paper liners are just set in the bottom of the basket so I can pull them out really easily and swap them for new ones if I prefer.  This also helps them to be more "universal" so I can do Christmas liners for the red and white ones at Christmas time, or a sports theme/logo one for the blue basket during football or basketball season.

So that's the little story of how I turned $.10 cheep Easter baskets (see what I did there. cheep -- Easter. funny?  no?  whatever) into baskets that I can get a lot of mileage out of.
Happy Belated Easter.  :)