Sunday, 24 February 2013

Scrabble & Penny Spheres

These are just a couple of simple little projects that I wanted to try. Not many supplies required and very inexpensive.

I think the finished products turned out pretty good and are still fun and a little quirky, kind of like me!
The first one I did was the Scrabble Tile Sphere and while it was only a little bit difficult, 
it was also a lot more time consuming than I thought it would be. Easy doesn't always mean fast.

I started with a  5" glass ball that I picked up from my local HomeSense store. 
I glued the scrabble tiles on with E-600 industrial strength glue (very smelly but very strong).
Use in a well ventilated area.

I placed the letters spelling out names of my family and words like love, laugh, travel etc. To fill in the spaces between the words I used some wooden Sudoku tiles that I found at my local thrift store. These were perfect because they are almost the same size as the scrabble tiles and the numbers are red on one side. So by placing the numbers in-between the words with the red side up you could still easily read the words.

Now, here is where the problems started. 
1) I had to wait for the glue to dry after each word because the tiles would slide out of place while waiting for the glue to set. 
2) Some of the gaps between the tiles were larger than I liked. Too much of the glass underneath was showing through. Perhaps a larger sphere wouldn't have this problem. 
Too late now! So what to do? 
I could have tried grout or something similar to fill the gaps but I wasn't sure how that would affect the tiles seeing as they are wood. I didn't want to chance it. So I ended up cutting out the gap shapes from 1/8" plywood (not an easy thing to do with such tiny shapes)and glued them in after the tiles had dried. The plywood was a bit lighter color than the tiles but you have to call it a day at some point.    

I liked the end result so I wanted to do another one but something different. That lead to .....

The Penny Sphere
Here in Canada we have just eliminated the penny from our currency. I had been saving them and now I have a few dollars worth. I wanted to somehow make something creative with this part of our history. This sphere project was the perfect canvas. And it had to be easier than the tiles! It was in fact much easier and faster to make as well. 
The sphere I used was approx. 5" in diameter and it took 148 pennies to cover it.
If you ever plan on making one I would just suggest that you do it in concentric circles.
 Start with a single penny, then glue a circle of pennies around it. Making sure the pennies are touching the ones on each side of it and also the original penny (I used 6 pennies for this). Let it dry and do the next row (mine had 12).  By letting the glue dry after each row, the new row (or circle) can rest against the previous one and not slide around while you wait for it to dry. My rows worked out like this 1 - 6 -12 - 16 - 19 - 21 - 21 - 19 - 16 - 11 - 5 - 1. As you can see one side had to be spaced a little farther apart. Because this glue doesn't set up right away you have the time to adjust the spacing if necessary. 
I alternated between three rows of shiny pennies and three rows of dull pennies. This worked out nice and even and added a bit of interest. I was able to end it with a special centennial penny on the bottom.
Depending on the size of the spheres, you could use dimes, quarters, etc. 
Hmm..... I wonder if I can find anymore that need decorating.....

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Custom Vintage Sign

Custom Vintage Sign
 A few weeks ago, my husband, Doug and I went to see our friends' new house that they purchased as a renovation project.  Even though our friend Daryl was busy with contractors, we still managed to get a tour of the property and house. The location is great and the house definitely has good bones. But honestly the thing I am most excited about are some of the treasures we uncovered during the demolition that Daryl allowed me to take home. Apparently he didn't share my excitement in the treasures and seemed quite happy to relinquish them to me. Go figure?!

Some of the treasures included:

A Rudder from a small boat (found in the back garden?)  

Some old glass bottles.

And today's topic of discussion; a cabinet door panel.

I had to quickly grab this one before it was tossed into the dumpster.

Because it was long and narrow, it reminded me of an old sign. So that's what I would make it (or at least attempt to make).

I taped off and painted with Miss Mustard Seeds- Milk Paint- Flow Blue, Tricycle (Red) and Typewriter (Black). I dry brushed some Ironstone (White) onto the blue to give it a distressed look.
Then I went to my local Michael 's store where I bought two styles and sizes of cut-out wooden letters. I wanted to customize the sign to say something that would fit in with my eclectic decorating style.

 I decided on D&R's (for Doug and Rose) Emporium(for all of the odds and ends we have collected throughout our travels). I used the store bought letters for the word "Emporium" and decided to make the "D&R's" part myself. So I came up with a pattern and cut it on my scroll saw from a 1" pine board I had lying around.
I then tried something I had seen on Pintrest on the cut-out. You supposedly take white glue and make a pattern with the glue and when it dries it keeps its 3-d effect and you can then paint over it. Well I tried it and it was a major fail! The glue flattened out so much so that it was maybe 1/16" thick. Really imperceptible. Originally when I had put it on, it was quite thick, approximately 1/4" thick. Oh well I didn't want to cut and sand another one so I went with it anyway.
I used regular gold acrylic paint on the smaller letters, the edges and sides of the larger letters and also the inner edge of the panel. I used Miss Mustard Seeds Antiquing wax in some random areas but not all over. This helped to give it that aged look. After that was rubbed in I used clear wax on the rest of it, to seal and protect it.
 There was a lot of sanding, sealing, painting and finally antiquing and waxing involved in this project but it wasn't difficult to make, just time consuming.
I am pretty happy with the results, although I may change the blue on the "D&R's" to red.
We'll see, maybe it will grow on me.

Tips on using Milk Paint

If there is still someone out there that doesn't know what milk paint is. I will attempt to give you a description. Milk Paint has been around for hundreds of years. Used mostly during the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain and the States. It is a paint made from  "casein" which is derived from cows milk, natural colored pigments, water and a bit of lime. So it is all-natural and safe for the environment. Since it has a very limited shelf life as a liquid you can now buy it in powder form that you mix with water. The benefit of milk paint is also the negative. It will randomly chip, peel and flake. Giving those painted items a distressed, antique look. I say it is also a negative because you cannot control when, where, or if it is going to chip or flake. Well, maybe..........
Milk Paint Tips 
I use Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint because it is relatively inexpensive and readily available. I had read about it on-line, tried it and liked the results.  

Plus, they also have complimentary products to go with the paint such as Hemp Oil, Clear Wax and Antiquing wax.

I am a bit of a control freak so you wouldn't think that I would like milk paint at all. But I actually love it. Especially now that I have come up with these two tricks:

1) Sometimes Milk Paint doesn't chip or peel like you want it to. Fear not, I have discovered a method of helping achieve that :
- Place masking tape over the freshly dried paint in random areas where you would like it to peel and then after about 10-15 minutes, rip it off (like a band-aid!). The paint may now come off in some spots.... It also may not come off at all. Sorry. No guarantees, milk paint is rather temperamental after all . But I have used this method repeatedly with mostly great results.
-If the paint still doesn't peel off, you may have to leave the tape on longer, or even burnish (rub) the tape down. But only try this if the first way doesn't work. Keep in mind the tape may take all of the paint off exactly where you have laid the tape. In the same straight line as the tape. So try and keep this fairly random and don't use totally straight pieces of tape. Tear it up and then apply. Or wrap a piece of tape around your hand (sticky side out as if you were going to take lint off your pants) and dab it here and there.
- If it doesn't work at first, don't give up, keep trying. Once I had to leave the tape on overnight before it worked. Just don't let the paint dry for too long before you apply the tape.
2).  What if you want the paint to come off in some areas but not everywhere? 
-Since you know that if you don't want the milk paint to peel off at all, you just have to add the bonding agent to your paint mixture. Like for instance say you want the paint to peel on the panels of the cabinet doors but not on the trim.
Now I know this one seems obvious but you would be surprised how many people that I talked to never thought of trying this.
Then..........Wait for it.............make two batches of the same paint color!
One with the bonding agent for the places you don't want it to peel and one batch without the bonding agent for the places you would like it to peel.
-Again there is no guarantee that it will peel just because you want it to. But try the tape method above if it is not co-operating.

Good luck and have fun with it.
And don't forget to seal your project with wax, oil or an appropriate varnish to protect it after all of that hard work.
There are a few small examples on this blog using the milk paint with very different results. Check them out!