Mini Glitter Tree

Glitter Tree

I saw a giant silver version of this on Curbly last week and thought that in our house, where we haven’t taken any Christmas stuff out (because we’ll just have to pack it all up again immediately), it could brighten up the place a wee bit – at least until I give it to someone else.

Glitter Tree

The whole project takes about an hour from start to finish, and that includes harvesting the sticks, so if there are any members of your household you’d like out of your hair for a while – child or adult – give them this task and tell them to have at ‘er. A warning, though, that this is a GLITTER project, so you might have a mess on your hands afterwards. I managed to keep most of mine contained, but that depends on your manual dexterity and how you store your glitter. So BEWARE.

Glitter Tree

Go out and grab yourself some relatively straight sticks, and cut them in decreasing size to form an elongated triangle when laid out (you know, like a Christmas tree).

Glitter Tree

Then grab a paintbrush and some glue and paint the end of your stick with some glue. Not a whole lot – just enough to adhere to glitter, and we all know it doesn’t take much to get glitter to stick to something.

Glitter Tree

Then take your glitter (mine is in a wee jar) and either sprinkle it over the gluey stick or dip your stick into the glitter. I found it tidier to dip the stick in but you can do as you wish.

Glitter Tree

Do the same to all the other sticks. The original version had the tips painted silver with silver glitter but I decided to forego the paint altogether and pick as many colours of glitter as I owned.

Glitter Tree

Make sure to get both sides done and then let them sit for a while to dry – if you didn’t go overboard on the glue then it won’t take long.

Glitter Tree

While that’s going on seal your glitter carefully up where it came from. That stuff should be a controlled substance.

Glitter Tree

Now find yourself a decent length of wire. I have this stuff that I pulled out of an old downed telephone pole many years back. It’s copper wire with various colours of wrapping. I picked gray as a neutral.

Glitter Tree

The wire should, doubled, be probably twice the length of your little tree diagram from top to bottom.

Glitter Tree

Take the bottom stick and fold the wire in half around the centre of it. Twist the wire several times to hold it in place, and keep twisting to create about 0.5 to 1cm of space between the first stick and the second one.

Glitter Tree

Twist on the second stick in the same way, twisting again to leave some space.

Glitter Tree

Keep going with all your sticks, leaving spaces in between.

Glitter Tree

When you’re done, you should have a large amount of wire coming off the top of the tree. You can use this to create a loop for hanging or whatever you like. I left mine long so the people I was giving it to would have room to work with. Twist and turn your sticks to make the “tree” more three-dimensional, and hang it somewhere pretty!

Glitter Tree

Impressions Ornaments

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I saw this leaf imprint necklace at Happy Hour Projects and I thought it was neat. While I wasn’t that interested in the jewelry aspect of it, I thought that the technique would make for some great Christmas ornaments. What you need to do this is simply some oven-bake polymer clay (like Sculpey) and some leaves or other items to make impressions in the clay. Everything else, the silicone work surface, the craft paint, the bits and bobs, those are all up to you. A note on polymer clay – it is not food-safe. Whatever you use to cut or otherwise work the clay should not be used for food items.

Impressions Ornaments 1

So. Grab your clay. I used a plain white. Work some of it between your hands to soften it and then flatten it onto your work surface. I’d aim for a thickness between 1/8″ and 1/4″.

Impressions Ornaments 2

Impressions Ornaments 3

Then take a leaf or whatever else you’d like to impress, and place it on the clay. This leaf is about 2″ wide, to give you an idea of scale.

Impressions Ornaments 4

Press the leaf into the surface of the clay so that it leaves a full and detailed impression. You won’t get as much detail with the small leaves on polymer clay as you would on natural clay (like with the clay leaf bowls) simply because the substance is more resilient.

Impressions Ornaments 5

Carefully remove the leaf and then cut it out with a cookie cutter or knife. You can cut it off-centre or however you would like. I’m not grading you on these.

Impressions Ornaments 6

Use a skewer or some other pokey object to put a hole through for stringing.

Impressions Ornaments 7

We even got Grenadier in on the action, though he wasn’t happy about it. If you want him to step on something, suddenly his paw is a delicate flower and he can do no harm. If you don’t want him to step on something, he will immediately put his full 40lbs of weight behind it.

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So these impressions were not as deep as I would like.

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But they worked out well enough that I figured they’d do.

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Place your finished items on a sheet of parchment and bake at 275°F for 15 minutes per 1/4″ of thickness of your clay. Let them cool completely before handling.

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Done.

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Now we paint. If you want. I used some craft paint  and a small paintbrush to swipe colour over the impression.

Impressions Ornaments 14

This one I used a dry paper towel to wipe it off, which left the colour on the majority of the ornament.

Impressions Ornaments 15

This one I just filled in the leaf part as close as I could.

Impressions Ornaments 17

Then I used a wet flannel cloth to wipe it gently off.

Impressions Ornaments 18

The Gren ones took a few applications of paint.

Impressions Ornaments 19

Then I strung them with some hemp line and some wee bells.

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These would make a great addition to your gift wrap arsenal, a cute personalized stocking stuffer, or you could give a few to a person just starting to collect their own Christmas ornaments.

Impressions Ornaments 28

Travel Document Holder from Old Maps

Travel Document Holder

My brother Krystopf travels frequently for his job.  Most of the time it’s to Brussels, where he has fully exhausted the entertainment value of the city and now dreads going.  He’s also a bit of a disorganized traveler, and there are few countries on this planet that don’t have a little piece of something that he has left behind.  Actually, both my brothers are pretty good at this, so maybe Ando will get one of these some time in the future …

Travel Document Holder

This is a travel document holder that I designed myself.  It’s made out of a mining resources map of Newfoundland I inherited from the Geography department at MUN, and dates from 1969, so it’s quite old in terms of relevance.  I actually inherited three of them, plus a few more resource maps, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more map-related projects in the future.

Travel Document Holder

My first step in this project was to “antique” the map, using a technique I learned from the good folks at Design*Sponge.  So you lay out your map (or whatever it is that you are antiquing), on a workable surface.  My map was too big for the table, so I laid it out on some dog towels on the floor.

Travel Document Holder 5

Brew up a cup of dark coffee and let that cool.  You will also need a cup of plain water and a handful of coarse salt.  I used the stuff you put in your grinder.  And a paintbrush.

Travel Document Holder 2

When the coffee has cooled sufficiently, dip in your paintbrush and paint a swath of coffee onto your map.  Follow that with a dip into the fresh water, just to dilute it a bit.  Paint at random, and allow some puddling.

Travel Document Holder 6

Now, while that area is still wet, sprinkle a few grains of salt into the wet areas.  The salt will help to dry up the puddles.

Travel Document Holder 7

Continue this way, randomly swiping your paintbrush wherever you like, sprinkling salt as you go, until you’ve got something you like.  Leave that to dry overnight.

Travel Document Holder 9

Now brush off all the particles of salt.  You may find that it’s crystallized in the darker spots, and you can brush that away as well if you use a stiff brush.  Or you can keep it that way, it’s up to you. I think the little perfect squares of salt look kind of neat, but they won’t adhere well to my contact paper so I gotta get rid of them.

Travel Document Holder 11

Travel Document Holder 13

Now we’re going to measure out our pieces.  A pencil and a ruler might help, obviously.  I have a plan as to how this is going to happen.  When I make plans for stuff I usually construct a mockup on scrap paper, writing in all the measurements and such, and notes as to where I’m putting what.

Travel Document Holder 14

On the inside we have a passport pocket, a notepad, and a wee pouch for small things that folds over itself to keep everything in place.

Travel Document Holder 15

On the other side of that pocket are a series of slots for odds and ends.

Travel Document Holder 16

So now we’re ready for cutting. I used my rotary cutter and cutting mat for this but you can use scissors or whatever works for you. Cut two pieces out of the map that are 18″ x 9 1/2″ (or whatever works for you).  These are the inside and outside of the document holder, and will be folded in half.  Remember that one end folds over itself and fastens with velcro. That fold-over flap is 3″, making the folder 7 1/2″ wide by 9 1/2″ tall, the perfect size to slip into a laptop or even a netbook or tablet sleeve.

Travel Document Holder 18

This is the two pieces folded together. You may need to trim the inside piece a bit to get the edges to match up, simply due to the bulk of the mapping paper.

Travel Document Holder 19

Here is the piece I cut out for the inside pocket. It is 8 1/2″ tall and 16″ wide. Then I folded it in half with the map facing outwards and folded in the open edges by one inch, and then over itself again by another inch. That double fold will ensure that the contents of the pocket won’t slide out.

Travel Document Holder 20

So the folded pocket is 8 1/2″ tall and 6″ wide, a good fit for the inside of the folder.

Travel Document Holder 21

On the inside left cover we are going to have a space to store a passport, as well as a stash of scrap note paper for writing things down.

Travel Document Holder 22

I cut the scrap paper to be all the same size and a proportional fit for the folder, 3″ x 5″.  A passport is 3 1/2″ x 5″, so the lengths matched.

Travel Document Holder 23

Originally, I was going to construct all these slots and pockets by cutting slits in the structure of the folder cover and inserting paper pockets inside. But then I changed my mind. I decided it would cut down on bulk, streamline and strengthen the design, and make things easier to see if I used the contact paper itself to make the pockets I needed. Then the clear nature of the plastic would mean you could see your stuff, as well as the details of the map underneath it. It makes things a little trickier to put together but I think the end result is less bulky and complicated.

Now for the contact paper.  This is the stuff they use to cover shelves and things.  You can pick it up at any hardware store.  Because I don’t have a car and Newfoundlanders don’t like their contact paper to be clear, I had to get mine online.  But it’s a common thing.

First we do the inside cover.  Cut a piece of contact paper the exact size of the inside cover (18″ x 9 1/2″).  Before you take off the adhesive backing, we’re going to plan out where all our slots go and how we’re going to put them together.  Please note here that I totally planned out my design backwards, and in the end had to change the way that the document folder opened.  So make sure you remember that the design you put on your contact paper will be reversed when you stick it down onto the map.

Travel Document Holder

For the inside left cover, with the note pages and the passport, …

Travel Document Holder

For the inside right cover, with the slots for receipts and such, we’re going to do more or less the same thing, except these slots are going to overlap, so sticking things gets a little complicated …

Travel Document Holder

So then I cut slashes in the contact paper where I wanted documents to stick through.

Travel Document Holder

Then I carefully cut through just the backing paper to peel away areas I wanted exposed.

Travel Document Holder

Then I cut another piece of contact paper to fit on that exposed piece.

Travel Document Holder

And stuck it down.

Travel Document Holder

Now that’s going to form the basis of your pocket. But we need another piece of contact paper on the inside, to go against the map. So I cut out a bit more of the contact backing sheet, then cut a larger piece of contact paper and placed it, sticky side up, on top of that, so when I laid it all out it would adhere to the map.

Travel Document Holder

The slots were a bit trickier, because I had to go through the same process as for the above pockets, but I also had to remember that they overlapped, which meant I had to start with the bottom one first.

Travel Document Holder

It took a while. You can’t really see all the individual layers here, but just know that it’s four separate pockets.

Travel Document Holder

Then I oh-so-carefully stuck it down on the inside cover. You can see it here, with pieces of paper in the little slots, to show you how it goes. And yes, it’s totally backwards.

Travel Document Holder

Onward.  Let’s put together the inside pouch.

Cut the contact paper to be  8 3/4″ wide and  18″ long.  The extra 1/8″ on the width will leave the contact paper adhering to itself.  The extra 1″ on either side will fold over the top edges of the pouch, protecting them.

Travel Document Holder

Carefully adhere the contact paper to the pouch, making sure the edges line up and fold down the ends over the opening to protect the paper inside.

Travel Document Holder

I used red embroidery floss, which I waxed, to sew up the outside edges of the pouch.  I liked the colour contrast with the blue of the water.

Travel Document Holder

I cut some squares out of adhesive velcro and stuck them to the second fold of the pouch so it would stay closed.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder

Then I sewed the pouch onto the inside of the cover.  You could leave this until last, but I didn’t want my stitches to show on the outside.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder

That means that our next step is to stick the two cover pieces together. You don’t really need glue, or a lot of it, just something to stick them together so they’re not sliding all over the place while you’re applying contact paper to the whole thing.  I used a few pieces of double-sided tape, to avoid wrinkles.  The thing is wrinkly enough.

Travel Document Holder

Cut the outside contact sheet larger on all sides by 1/2″ (so, 19″ x 10 1/2″). Lay the cover piece in the centre of the contact sheet. Mitre and trim the corners as you fold it over to protect the edges.  My original plan was to border the edges with bias binding and sew it all around but I changed my mind.  I like the clear fold-over of the contact paper better. Then you just have to stick on some more velcro pieces to keep the folder closed and you’re all set.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder