Gelatin Plastic

Gelatine Plastic 21This is the beginning stage of a pretty major undertaking I’m … undertaking. But it’s taking some time to get all my pieces in order so I thought I’d start with a bit of a teaser post for you. Did you know you can make plastic out of gelatin and water? I kid you not. And once you start playing around with all the different things you can do with it, it opens up the possibility for lots of super fun crafts, and it’s totally something you can do with kids. To start, you need some gelatin (I used powdered), some food colouring (optional, if you want your plastic tinted), something to cut your plastic with (I have a cookie cutter for big circles and a straw for little ones), and a smooth, relatively flexible, shallow plastic or silicone dish. Many people use the flexible lids to margarine containers and the like. Gelatine Plastic 1

For every little pouch of gelatin you use, you’ll need 3 tablespoons water.

Gelatine Plastic 3I used 4 pouches in my experiments so I needed 12 tablespoons water, or 3/4 cup water. I plopped that in a small saucepan with food colouring and turned it to low heat. Gelatine Plastic 4

Tip in your gelatin and stir it gently to dissolve all of it.

Gelatine Plastic 5Don’t feel the need to whisk it or start a stirring frenzy as this will cause your gelatin to foam and you won’t have a nice clear result. You’ll get a bit of foam at the edges but nothing serious. Gelatine Plastic 6

Once you have heated the gelatin water enough that all the gelatin is dissolved and the liquid is clear again, pour it into your little dishes (I used two 6″ x 8″ dishes) and smooth it out with a spatula so that all the surfaces are covered. Try to pop any bubbles you see, but a few are okay.

Gelatine Plastic 7Now leave that puppy alone for about 45 minutes. After that time you will have gelatin that is set but is still flexible. You can peel it out of your dish super easily, but do it slowly as it can tear. Gelatine Plastic 8

I used a cookie cutter to cut out large circles, and a shot glass to cut out smaller ones.

Gelatine Plastic 9Then I used a straw to cut out hanging holes from all my circles. Gelatine Plastic 10

The excess is weird and floopy.

Gelatine Plastic 14But cool to play with. It’s totally edible (but doesn’t taste that great) and you can chuck it in the compost. Gelatine Plastic 12

Then I set the circles to dry. I did a lot of trial and error with drying these things. There’s a school that wants you to set them on a paper towel, under another paper towel, sealed just under the lid of a tupperware container, but I didn’t have much luck with that, nor did a bunch of the people who have already done this project and posted it on the internet. In this picture you can see I set the circles on parchment paper to try, but of course paper wrinkles when wet.

Gelatine Plastic 11So I ended up with these wrinkled chip things when these were dry (which takes a couple days). Gelatine Plastic 17

I had also laid a second piece of parchment over top to help hold the drying circles down and prevent them from warping, but it only helped a little, and the paper’s surface got copied onto the circles, leaving a matte finish.

Gelatine Plastic 18I found when I left them on a smooth surface (in this case, plastic wrap taped to my counter) then they warped more but they were totally clear, and I preferred that. Gelatine Plastic 20

I also let some dry completely inside the dishes, and ended up with a big sheet of (still warped) plastic.

Gelatine Plastic 19You can cut this stuff easily with scissors. Gelatine Plastic 23

And it’s also compostable.

Gelatine Plastic 24

It’s going to take me a while to get all the little circles made that I need but I have a due date of September so stay tuned!

Team Project: Beeswax Art

Beeswax Painting

I still had a huge amount of old beeswax sitting around, leftover from way back when we made teacup candles.  Just blue, though.  Three shades of blue.

Beeswax Painting

I also had a 24″ x 24″ piece of hardboard that I bought back when I had a different sort of idea for the tree branch coat racks.

Beeswax Painting

Beeswax Painting

We can’t waste these things, right?  Well, here’s what the Pie and I came up with together, and I don’t think I would have been able to do this solo. This was our initial plan. A beeswax painting of an ocean scene, a fishing boat attached to a fishing net.

Beeswax Painting

Some hemp string will stand in for rope, and this onion bag will be our net.

Beeswax Painting

But first we had to prep our “canvas”. I took the board outside and sprayed it with Gesso.

Beeswax Painting

Then we needed to prep our supplies. We took the three colours of wax, ripped up the sheets, and jammed them into 3 large canning jars.

Beeswax Painting

Then we plopped them in our canner.

Beeswax Painting

Of course, being full of wax sheets, they floated and tipped over and some of them got some water inside them (which will actually be important later on). So we had to wedge them in place with other jars filled with water and a round wire rack on top.

Beeswax Painting

We brought the water to a simmer and slowly the wax began to melt. As it opened up more space in the jars, we tore up more wax and dropped it in.

Beeswax Painting

Beeswax Painting

And while we were working on that, we also laid out our work area with lots of newspaper.  And I mean several overlapping layers.

Beeswax Painting

Finally we were ready to pour some wax. We wrapped dish towels around the jars to protect our hands.

Beeswax Painting

The initial pour was a little nerve-wracking because we didn’t know what we were doing.

Beeswax Painting

The second one was a bit better, and we started trying to move the wax around a bit before it hardened.

Beeswax Painting

Eventually we ended up with a solid layer covering all the white stuff.

Beeswax Painting

We didn’t end up liking the texture we’d put into the wax with our hands, but we did discover two interesting side effects. We discovered that when we poured the wax at the same time we got these cool marble patterns.

Beeswax Painting

And remember that water that got into the wax? Well it showed up again when we were at the bottom of the jars, and resulted in these neat bubbles.

Beeswax Painting

We decided to do a second layer of wax, now that we kind of had an idea about how this was supposed to go. While we waited for it to melt, I laid out where I thought our fishing net and line would go. It was easy to warm up the wax with a hairdryer and then simply press the net into place.

Beeswax Painting

The original plan was to make the fishing boat out of origami and then just press it into the warm wax, but we changed our minds and decided on an aluminum boat — because many of them are made out of aluminum in reality. Fortunately we had a few tin cans in the recycling and a nice pair of tin snips.

Beeswax Painting

We elevated one side of the canvas so that the wax would flow in the same direction. Gren helped.

Beeswax Painting

Then we poured, using lighter wax up where the sky would be and darker wax in the deeper part of the ocean. We poured some over the net as well to make it look partially submerged.

Beeswax Painting

A close-up of the marbling and bubbles in the boat’s “wake.” Those bubbles are full of water, not air, so we needed to pop them and dry out the water.

Beeswax Painting

While the wax was still warm, we cut it away from the stuff that spilled over the edges of the canvas using a sharp knife and a hairdryer to keep the wax pliable.

Beeswax Painting

Then I heated up a section of the wax and pressed in our little aluminum boat.

Beeswax Painting

The finished piece.

Beeswax Painting

We will be spraying it with a sealant to protect it from scratches (there is already a corgi foot print at the top of it) and then we will mail it home in time for Christmas!

Beeswax Painting

Private Screening

As you may have seen from previous posts (like when our toilet exploded), life here at Elizabeth is more often than not fraught with peril.  And now, with two small boys and a wee dog running around, the grown-ups here have to be extra vigilant.

And of course, being boys, they like to get themselves into trouble.  One of their favourite things to do is attempt to climb under the back porch, which is full of rubble and sharp bits of re-bar and all sorts of nasty things.   Once they’re under there, it’s a job getting them back out.

As a solution, I am going to staple a plastic screen around the whole thing.  Subtle and yet effective.  I found a roll of plastic chicken wire at Canadian Tire for $11.

If I have any left, I’m going to go around the railings as well.  Both Gren and IP have a disturbing tendency to hang off the edge.  I hope the screen will act as a deterrent.  And I found some extra in the shed the other day.  BONUS.

So here I go.  I only used two tools here: a staple gun (with staples, of course), and a sharp knife for cutting through the screen.  You could even use scissors on this stuff.

Our staple gun isn’t particularly powerful, and my hands are quite small, so I had to grip the gun near the top and therefore didn’t get as much stapling *oomph* as I wanted.  There are certain drawbacks to being a woman with tiny hands.

Basically I just tried to get the screen as tight as possible and then stapled the crap out of it, leaving no space for small fingers (or noses) to get in.

Even under the steps, where I folded the screen in half to fit.

Now, this is only plastic chicken wire, which isn’t very strong.  It’s more of a mental deterrent than a real physical barrier. In an attempt to make it stronger than it was, I kept it all as one long piece for as much as I could, and, of course, stapled the crap out of it.

I did the top as well, hiding the raw edges on the outside where il Principe couldn’t see them.  Of course the first thing he did when he came out was stick his fingers through the holes and try to push his brother’s stroller through one of the panels.  The screen works better in deterring Gren from wreaking havoc.

I did run out, and there is a hole about two feet wide next to the steps, but we can just put a large potted plant there.

We might end up ripping it out (the top stuff at least) and using real metal chicken wire, just because when il Principe is determined about something, he’s really determined.

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!

 

Makeshift Carving Board

This is another marvelous Martha Stewart invention.

I do not own a carving pan or board for meat.  I just don’t.

Instead, I place a cutting board (wooden or plastic) inside a rimmed baking sheet when I carve.

Not only do the juices not get absolutely everywhere but they’re nicely contained should you need them later.

So … ap.

My sister-in-law, back before she was my sister-in-law, gave me a wee soap-making kit for Christmas a few years ago.  Love ya Teedz.

I’ve always wanted to learn to make soap from scratch.  I even have a book on it. It’s a pretty complicated process, and I’m not sure where I would get the raw materials here in St. John’s.  Maybe it will be a project for the future.

This wee kit is a good start, of course.  You make it in the microwave!  I really don’t use my microwave enough.  Mostly for heating tea and magic bags.

The kit is from Life of the Party and it contains a block of white unscented soap, a mold with three spaces for pouring, some decorative hand-made paper, a bundle of raffia twine, two tiny pots of metallic colour powder (one pink, one green), a small bottle of scent (half-empty – I think some of it transpirated over time, though the scent is just as overpowering as it as before), and two rubber stamps.  And a sheet of instructions.

Being rather uber-scent-sensitive, I quickly discovered an allergy to the perfume in the bottle (upper lip numb and swollen, that’s a new one).  I think if I make soap again I’ll use natural extracts.  This scent makes my brain feel a little itchy so I think I’ll be using it sparingly – and probably giving away the results.  Better make them good in that case.

This is how we do it.

Each bar of soap uses about four cubes from the big-ass block.  I hacked these off with the aid of one of my stupid sharp knives and some adult supervision (because, let’s face it, I really can’t be left alone).  Actually, it was much easier than I had thought.  The soap has a soft and oily quality that is slightly disturbing to touch but which makes it relatively easy to cut. I had three spaces to fill (but only two stamps, hmm).  I decided to do the bars two at a time, then.

Eight cubes went into a microwave-safe measuring cup (I love Pyrex for so, so many reasons).

Microwave the soap on high for 40 seconds, then stir.  Nuke for a further 10 seconds.  Stir again. Repeat 10-second intervals until the soap is all melted.  It looks like coconut milk when it’s done but smells like soap.

The instructions want me to caution you that melted soap is hot.  No kidding.  It does, however, cool quickly, and will cake on your measuring cup and whatever you use to stir it.

Add fragrance, drop by drop, until the desired level of potency is reached.  Due to my allergy I decided to forgo the perfume and use lemon extract instead.

Add the colour powder in a similar fashion until you get what you want.  I had a hard time mixing in the powder, and in the end much of it ended up clumped in the bottom of the measuring cup.

Put a drop of soap into the centre of your “mold cavity” (that sounds gross) and use it to stick down your embossing stamp.

Fill the rest of the mold with melted soap.  I noticed that a lot of my soap still went under the stamp, despite my sticking.

Allow the soap to harden and remove from the mold by applying steady and even pressure to the back of the mold.  This took a lot more swearing and bending of plastic than I had anticipated.

To remove the stamp from the bar, simply peel it away like a sticker.  Ha.  On both of them I had to cut them out with a knife before peeling them away. 

Also, I noticed that some of the colour from the stamp was left on the soap itself.  The soap still felt oily and left a residue on my fingers.

Plus it was weirdly bendy.

In addition, there was scary stringy soap stuck on my measuring cup and spatula. 

Fortunately, due to the oily nature of the stuff it was pretty easy to scrape off in huge peels.

I decided not to use the rest of the soap, and chucked the lot, keeping the stamps, raffia, and handmade paper for a future DIY.

This was an epic fail (though does not in any way reflect on the giver of the gift).  On the plus side my garbage smells nice.