Clapboard Coffee Stirrer Wall Art

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I saw this little tutorial over at Make and Do Girl and thought I would give it a try.  You can buy fancy versions of this on Etsy for hundreds of dollars, but I thought I could probably produce nearly the same thing for a lot cheaper. And of course, as is usually the case, I was right.

All you need for this is a frame, some paint, a paint brush, a sturdy pair of scissors (despite the wire snips in this picture, I found a set of poultry shears did the trick quite well), glue of some kind (I ended up using Elmer’s School Glue), and a bunch of wee sticks, like coffee stirrers.

Stir Stick Art

While I’m sure, if you are a regular inhabitant of Starbucks or Bridgehead or one of those places, you may amass a large collection of stir sticks over time, I preferred to get mine all at once and bought several packages at Michael’s, which is also where I bought the frame.  You can also use popsicle sticks for this, but then you have to compensate for the rounded edges.

Stir Stick Art

The first thing I did was paint my frames black, using some acrylic paint.  At first I only did the edges of the frame, but I noticed that the frame showed through the gaps in the stir sticks when I glued them down so I ended up painting the whole frame, even the part that is relatively hidden behind sticks.

Stir Stick Art

Then you need to pick a colour palette.  I had a set of Crayola watercolours that I was going to use, because I wanted the wood to show through the paint.  You can of course use any paint you want.  I made two pieces, so for the first palette I picked a series of greens and yellows, and then the second I went with oranges, reds, and then purples and grays.  Obviously if your frames are small, you should probably go with a smaller number of colours.  My frames were pretty long so I went with 7 or 8 different colours.

Stir Stick Art

Now you gotta paint them there sticks.  I laid mine out along the frame just to get an idea of how many I needed (in the end I had a handful of painted ones leftover so this turned out to be a good idea).

Stir Stick Art

Then you paint.  This took me quite a while as I had to do each stick individually and paint it twice (due to the character of my paint). If you use acrylic or something thicker you could just paint them in a batch, or dip them en masse in ink or a dye … whatever works for you. This is all you.

Stir Stick Art

Then you start laying them out.  I measured the sticks to fit in the frame and cut them accordingly.

Stir Stick Art

Then I cut those pieces up so that I could fit them together like patchwork.

Stir Stick Art

Then you start gluing.  And gluing.  And gluing …

Stir Stick Art

Despite these sticks all coming in a package together, they weren’t by any stretch of the imagination the same.  Some had slight curves, or were cut on an angle, and that made putting them together a little bit more of a challenge.  Because there were gaps between sticks at some points, I chose to apply glue individually to each stick rather than just put a blanket of it down on the frame.  It took longer, but I think it was a neater job in the end.

Stir Stick Art

When I got to the end, my final sticks were a little too wide to fit in the frame, so I just took a piece of sandpaper and filed them down a bit until they fit snugly.

Stir Stick Art

My orange and purple job turned out a little slanty, because some of the sticks I used were really angled, but I kind of like how it messes with your eye that way.

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And these frames came with hanging hardware on both the short and the long sides, so you can hang them either vertically or horizontally.

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I made these originally as gifts, but they look so good on my mantle that I’m thinking of keeping them. They would make a good frame for my giant squid, once I figure out where to hang him …

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Etching Glass

This project was probably one of the most enjoyable that we did this past Christmas.  Hazardous, yes, because you are dealing with a caustic liquid and its attendant dangers, but fun nonetheless.  This is NOT a project you can do with children.  You need to work in a well-ventilated area and you need to wear rubber or latex gloves as well as safety goggles while you are doing it.For etching glass I used Armour Etch, a glass etching cream that I picked up from Lee Valley.  You can get it at Michael’s as well, if you are prepared to pay about three times the price for it.  It’s good stuff.  Keep in mind it does not work on plastic and most Pyrex.

First, however, you need to create your stencils.  I printed out some images from the internet and then traced them onto clear vinyl masking (also from Lee Valley).The tracing and cutting out is really the hard part in all of this.Next, carefully peel the backing form the mask and apply it firmly to your clean and dry glass.  Make sure there are no bubbles or gaps.You can also use masking tape to outline certain areas.Next, very (very) carefully paint on the etching cream in a thick layer in the area you wish to be etched.  If you accidentally get cream anywhere else than you intended, it will leave a permanent mark.The instructions say to leave the cream on for 5 to 10 minutes, but I found it worked better if I left it on for 20.  In some cases you may also find that a second application is in order.When your time is up, rinse the glass object thoroughly in warm water.  I found the cream came off best if I brushed it with the paint brush.  As a side note, do not rinse off the etching cream in an enamel sink — only rinse in a metal or plastic sink or you will find yourself without an enamel sink …Peel off your masking and throw it away.  You may have to rinse the glass again if there was any cream caught in the crevices of the stencil.  Dry the glass thoroughly and you’re all done.  This is a jar for my brother-in-law Rusty to keep his keys and phone in so he doesn’t lose them.  If you don’t recognize it, that’s the Rebel Alliance insignia from Star Wars.I also used the cream on a vase for my sister-in-law Meg:Some cups and saucers for the Mtree Duo:An AT-AT jar for my brother Ando (in keeping with the Star Wars theme):And a coffee jar for the ever-caffeinated Cait, among other things:This was so much fun the Pie and I agreed we would try to think of new glass objects to give people for Christmas next year.  You can pick up glass items from pretty much anywhere for relatively little: IKEA (where I got the jars), Winners/Home Sense (where Rusty’s and Meg’s vases came from), and let’s not forget second-hand shops (Mtree duo’s cups and saucers came from there).  Get creative!

 

Painting Glass and Ceramics

Adding a personal design to glass and ceramics is very easy and something fun you can do with creative kids. You can pick up plain glass and ceramic housewares secondhand, and I find some good stuff in the clearance section of places such as Home Sense and Winners.

I used the Vitrea 160 and Porcelain 150 pens that I picked up from Michaels.

To make your designs, you can freehand with the pens, or use masking tape to contain your ink.You can also use transparent adhesive masking (from Lee Valley) to create a stencil as well.Peel the mask away carefully.  This is easiest to do when the design is still wet.Once the design has dried you can use a razor blade or craft knife to carefully scrape away any ink that has bled through the masking.If you’re not happy with your design, you can always use a scrubby sponge to scrape it off and begin again.  Leave your final design to cure for 24 hours, then bake your glass or ceramics in the oven according to the instructions on the ink.That’s all there is to it.  Have fun!

Teacup Candles

This is a cute waste-not idea from Martha Stewart, but it’s been done by many others as well.  Teacups are ideal for this particular trick as they are already designed to withstand high temperatures, but you can use canning jars and other heat-safe containers as well.For my DIY Christmas I spent a lot of time scrounging second-hand stores for things I could use, and one day my mother happened upon a large quantity of beeswax sheets just there for the picking.

And yes, I picked.  I also picked up some old teacups and had some that were missing their saucers donated by my parents.

I had to buy some wicking from Michaels, and I found these handy wicks that were pre-waxed and already had the sustainer attached to the bottom.All I had to do was stand them upright in the cup and I was set.  Easy-peasy.

So you take your old candles, or your beeswax, or whatever, and you chuck it in a double boiler.  I used the equivalent of two sheets of beeswax for each cup.  Just tear ’em up and let them melt!Be patient.  It takes a little while.Make sure it’s completely melted before removing from heat.Now, very carefully, pour the hot wax into the cup. Leave that to sit a while. See that little blip of wax on the side of the cup?  Fuhgeddabowdit.  You can just chip it off once it’s set.If you return your waxy bowl to the still-hot pot you can wipe out the excess wax with a paper towel.This will mean you can experiment with other colours of wax as well.Once your candles are set and cooled you can trim the wicks to an appropriate length and give ’em all away!