Frosty Striped Vases and Pom Pom Flowers

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Neon seems to be the big thing these days.  While I’m not the hugest fan of neon colours (having grown up in the 80s and 90s when it was overused and used badly), I do like what designers are doing with it as an accessory colour.  I like the pop of these striped vases here, and the ombre finish of these ones here.  So I thought I would try out the effect of the rubber bands and the ombre, but with a different colour more suited to the taste and decor of the person to whom I am giving the things.

Striped Vases 1

I cut a bunch of glass bottles I had lying around down to size and ground down the sharp edges (for my tutorial on cutting glass see here). You can of course use any glass you have lying around, vases, tumblers, stuff you pick up from the thrift store.

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Before I really got into it, I thought I might do a test, first, on a piece of glass I wasn’t intending to use.  I have learned from many, many, MANY mistakes to always test a new effect first.  And you know what?  I hated it.  From a distance, I guess it was okay, but up close you could see all the places where the paint had bled under the rubber bands and/or peeled off as the elastic was peeled off.  I checked around the internet and it seems that others have had this problem as well, so I gave it up for lost.

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I am, however, still a fan of the IDEA of the rubber bands, at least, and I’ve become quite proficient at frosting glass.  I still have a jar of Velvet Etch left over from last Christmas’s present run, and while I don’t like it as much as Armor Etch, it’ll do perfectly for this project where I just want a light touch.

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So.  Take your glass.  Take a bunch of rubber bands, of different widths, and slap them on your vases, however which way you would like.  Mine are rather haphazard, which will go well with the fact that this etching cream likes to leave huge swaths of unfrosted glass behind.

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Then, wearing goggles, gloves, and a ventilator, slather on that etching cream (for my tutorial on etching glass see here).

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Leave the stuff on for the appropriate time, and then carefully rinse it off, making sure that your rinse water is mixed with some form of base (like baking soda) to neutralize the acid before it eats your sink.  Exercise caution when pulling off the rubber bands, as they tend to spit bits of acid at you if you snap them off too quickly.  Slow and steady wins the race here.

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Now you can stop there, and just enjoy your vases as they are.  Or you could add a touch of whimsy so your receiver can put them to use right away: add flowers.  Fresh flowers are pretty expensive in these parts, and in the winter months it’s unlikely that they’re going to be locally sourced, so most of the people I know hem and haw over the idea of wasting money on a fresh bunch of flowers that will last only a few days and has come from who knows where.  Silk flowers are all right, but I find they get dusty really quickly.  But if you take flowers to the abstract, and make them from paper or fabric, I think they have a bit more pizazz.

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These ones I made from pom-poms.  Now, there’s a bunch of ways to make pom-poms floating around the internet.  The most popular method for trendy crafters seems to be the practice of wrapping the yarn around your fingers a million times and then simply tying that bundle together in the middle.  While that is certainly the quickest way, I find you end up having to cut off a large amount of excess yarn in order to make your pom-pom anything close to spherical.  The pom-pom method I used when making my touque-tastic tea cozy may take a while, but it’s worth it in the end.  What comes out of it is almost perfect from the get-go, and you can be happy with just a little bit of trimming.

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I modified the method a bit, in that I cut a slit in my paper double-donut and then folded back the edges of the slit.  This way you can run your winding yarn through the slit rather than having to feed it through an increasingly smaller hole.  Of course, you can’t keep winding around and around on this one; once you reach the edge of the slit you have to turn around and go back in the other direction but the results are more or less the same.

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These pom-poms I made from various tail ends of wool I had lying around.  Some I made really tight, some loose, and I wasn’t too careful about trimming them too precisely, because I wanted them to look natural (or as natural as flowers made from pom-poms can be). That one in the front left looks kind of like a wool celosia (brain flower).  Or we’ve just made a visit to Whoville and Dr. Seuss sent us home with a bouquet.

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Then you just need to find yourself some twigs that are to your liking.  If you feel around in your pom-pom you can usually feel the loop of yarn holding everything together.  If you give your stick a careful shove and get it inside this loop, the tension should hold it there.  If you’re worried about it falling, add a dab of hot glue.  The bonus of not gluing, however, is once you tire of the arrangement you can pull the pom-poms off and use them for something else.

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Then you arrange your “flowers” any way you like.  Like all in one big vase:

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Or in three small ones.  Whatever floats your boat.

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Have a Drink on Me

Happy New Year!

I’m still catching up on some DIY gift posts here, so I’d like to show you some drinking glasses I made for some special people for Christmas this year.  If you’d like to know more about how to cut glass bottles, or how to etch glass, click on those links back there.

I spent a lot of time with a rotary tool (the most popular brand name of these is a Dremmel), grinding down the edges so they were safe for human mouths.  There was a lot of sparkly dust everywhere after that.

Drinking Glasses

These ones were for Cait, who has a lovely dachshund named Ruby.  The glass I used came from vinho verde (the pale blue) and riesling (the dark blue).  Out of curiosity (and as a rather lengthy aside), I asked my cousin Lindz, who studied as a sommelier, why certain wines come in different coloured bottles.  I figured she’d know the answer — of course she did.  It’s all about the UV exposure.  Wines that are to be consumed in a short amount of time require no UV protection, hence the whites you pick up at the wine store coming in clear or blue bottles.  Reds need more time to sit around, and so come in the darker green or brown bottles.  Blue bottles, according to Lindz, are not as commonly manufactured, and so are more expensive, but easier to recycle.  I hope to have a bit more on the amazing machinations of Lindz and her very clever team when I’m in Vancouver this summer, but until then you can check out their most recent television appearance here.  If you are on the lower mainland, I recommend checking Re-Up out!

Drinking Glasses

The dog stencils I got off the internet and stretched a bit to fit the glass diameter.  I used a cutout for one and then produced a “negative” using the bit I cut out and by frosting the rest of the glass.

Drinking Glasses

These ones are for Rusty, who is living the life in a bachelor pad with another dude and an enormous television set.  I figure these glasses, which I made out of some fancy Italian water bottles, will hold beer and also a Rusty-sized serving of milk or juice.

Drinking Glasses

I figured he would like to know how much he’s drinking. I like the slightly blue tint of these glasses, though the thinness of the bottle meant that I did crack two attempts by overheating it. That’s why there are only three — I cracked two bottles and then the grocery store stopped stocking that brand of water, so I couldn’t get any more.

Drinking Glasses

And these ones are for Kristopf, who moved in with his fiancée, Atlas, this year.  I figure the glasses are grown-up enough that both male and female members of this household will approve.  They are made out of Perrier bottles, many of which I broke while learning how to cut on a curve.  I think the little sprout pattern is well-suited to the green glass.

Drinking Glasses

Frosty Lights

Frosty Lights

We never decorate this early for Christmas.  We’re more of the put-it-up-a-week-before-Christmas-and-take-it-down-New-Year’s-Day kind of people.  In fact, because the Pie and I always travel home to Ottawa for the holidays, we don’t decorate at our house in St. John’s at all.

But there is snow on the forecast tomorrow, and we decided we wanted to enjoy a little bit of the holiday spirit while we were still home.  Just a little bit, of course.

I was practicing my glass cutting technique and I had three jars with no tops.  What was I to do with them?

Frosty Lights

I like lights.  Why not make little hurricane lamps out of them, but without the prospective fire hazard of sticking a candle inside?  Yes.

I also remembered an idea that Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff had, and worked from there.  If you don’t read her blog, you should.  She’s hilarious.  I discovered her site when she stole one of my photographs in the middle of the night.  Sneaky lady.

So here’s the plan.  I have these jars, and I have these LEDs that I can stuff in the jars.  You get the picture?  Good, because we’re not done yet.

Frosty Lights

I wanted these jars to look frosted, like someone had frozen three jar-shaped ice cubes and left them melting on my mantle.  So it’s time to haul out the etching cream.

You can get a full how-to on etching glass from a previous post here, but I’m going to remind you again to observe all the safety rules and wear the proper equipment: goggles, mask, and gloves.

Frosty Lights

And because my sink is ceramic, I needed a plastic bucket full of baking soda in which to rinse my glass, to neutralize the acid.

Frosty Lights

I used a different cream this time than I had before, because when I needed it Lee Valley had temporarily stopped selling it.  So this stuff looked like peanut butter with salt crystals in it, and it smelled much stronger than the other stuff I was using.  But it had the same results.  I didn’t want an even coating of frost, so I only applied a thin layer of cream and I only did one application.  I was hoping that some spots would remain un-etched, and that my brush strokes would show through.  And I was right!  That doesn’t happen very often.

Frosty Lights

So here are the jars after frosting and rinsing.  You can see that they look really like someone has just steamed them up on the inside.

Frosty Lights

Stuff some lights in them, however, and they go from steamy to frosty.

Frosty Lights

Up close, you can see my brush strokes in evidence.

Frosty Lights

Lined up on the mantle, with other things seasonal, it’s quite cozy.

Frosty Lights