Saturday, July 30, 2016

Colored Pencil Series coming

I'm a neglectful blog owner. Despite that there is very little to this blog as of yet, I have a whole bunch of stuff planned to post, its simply a matter of photography and writing. I have many hobbies but singular focus so when I pick one up, the others tend to be ignored. Already this year I've cycled through drawing, nail polish making, chandelier building, Mod Podge glass coloring, back to nail polish and blogging, on to glittering dragonflies, wind spinners and starburst mirror crafting... At this very moment my hobby is adult coloring books which is what got me started buying colored pencils again.

I am an abstract artist so I find those sort of designs in books boring and that is what the majority of them are- abstract, paisley, florals (after all, why color what I can draw myself?) but then I found a cat themed adult coloring book, Mystical Cats, at my local Kroger's. I've acquired a few more books since then (all done by Creative Haven) and a crap load of new colored pencils which brings me around to the point of this entry. As I get them written, I'll be posting a little opinion/review of color pencil brands along with color charts where applicable. Some of the brands I am pleased with, others not so much and I'd wish I hadn't bought them, but for the fact my son was pleased with his new "gifts". I hope you'll join me for this series and find it both informative and money saving!

-MK

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cut Glass Rainbow Plate

I love wandering around the Dollar Tree but until recently the glass and dinnerware section wasn't very interesting- after all, I already have several sets of dishes and drinking glasses that we don't use and have no decorative purpose. With the exception of some colored wine glasses I kept coming back to, nothing was appealing to me until I saw a stack of cut glass plates that reminded me of an old Anchor Hocking pattern, the Star of David (click here for examples). I resisted the urge to buy several but did grab a single one and started thinking about what I could do with it.

Available at the DollarTree, link here.

To me, the grooves in the plate were begging for some color so I first tried my trusty Sharpies but I ran into the same problem I've had before- on slick surfaces like glass (or the cover of a Five Star notebook), one stroke of a Sharpie might remove the previous one if they overlap and that wouldn't work here since I wanted the color concentrated and even. I then considered and rejected the idea of metallic acrylic paint in favor of something with more sparkle- nail polish.

Because one of my other hobbies is/was making nail polish, I had a massive collection of "paint" to choose from, in an array of colors and finishes. If it's your project, of course you can use any type you want and it will still look fabulous but I chose a set of polishes I'd created for my nail polish jewelry because I knew they looked good under glass. Brightly colored, they have plenty of sparkle but are also a touch metallic so it was fairly easy to build up the color. Plus if for some reason I used it up, I had the ingredients here to mix up more.

I like certain colors but I'm hard pressed to choose only a few so for this, I went rainbow. In between coats and still drying, the plate is shown with the polishes used.

The rest of the project I'm going to go through step by step in the order I did them, usually alternating between the outer edge and the center star, but feel free to paint them in whatever order is easiest for you.

The first (and easiest) part was filling in the middle of the grooves along the outer edge of the plate (saving the center star for last which requires more attention to detail). With the plate laying flat, and starting at the "top of the hill", I used the brush to drop polish (an average of 5 per color), into the individual groove and tilted the plate so the polish would gravitate "down hill". Because it will dry thicker in those places, you won't have to go back over it as many times. I didn't let it go all the way to end of the channel because I would fill in the sides and points later.


By the time I worked my way around the plate it was dry enough to start filling in the center using the same method of drop-and-tilt. The channels are much smaller here so I only needed about 3 drops each, careful to keep away from the sides, point and center as much as possible. 

 

After that, lighting and angle became a lot more important. The plate is clear glass and that made it difficult to see exactly where I was going to be putting the brush. My Ottlite had to be angled so the light fell just right and the plate angled as well. The photo below shows how the plate sat as I worked on it (the blue is Dollar Tree shelf liner; the rubbery texture kept it from sliding around on me).
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I returned to the outer edge to start filling in the sides of each groove. With the brush. I got as close as I dared to the point (the indentation here is so shallow, the edge starts to disappear) and painted it in, working from point to center (right to left), one full rotation. Working from left to right to fill in the opposite side(s) required another light adjustment to be able to see the free edge and I repeated the process. Then I went through the entire thing again to add a second coat. Repeat as necessary for full coverage.

When I was done it looked something like this:

In the above photo, I used a red dry erase marker to help define the edges of the points before I filled them in and "erased" it when the plate was dry.

The rest of this plate I completed using a dotting tool, example below in case you don't know what that is (but if you do any nail art, you probably already have one).

If you're good with a fine tip paint brush, you might be able to paint in the points but I felt I'd have more control if I used a dotting tool- paint brush bristles move around but the tool is only going where I put it, theoretically. A steady hand is also helpful.

I have no pictures to illustrate my point here but to fill in the rest of the grooves, I would drop a couple drops of polish near the part I was I filling in and use the dotting tool to push/pull it where I wanted it to go, drawing it as close to the edges as I could. And then repeated the process, when necessary, to achieve full coverage.

I did not address the circle I filled in, in the middle of the plate but that part was simple- I dropped the polish in and let it flow into the color before it. The black band is Sharpie marker, added for a bit of contrast. The dots were added free hand.

After all that, it was a matter of letting it completely dry- I left it alone for close to a week before flipping it over and taking the first set of photographs. I won't flood you with photos but I'll show some of the best ones.

Indoors, under Ottlite

Partial sunlight

Indirect sunlight against white background

Propped up in full sunlight.

Propped up in full sunlight.

If you like mine and decide to make one for yourself, get creative and have fun with it! You don't have to use nail polish, try acrylic paint, glass paint or perhaps even alcohol inks. If you can color things with it, it will probably work.

Since completing this plate I've bought a second one to paint, I'm thinking peacock colors this time... 

Until next time, my dear readers. Now go forth and make something pretty. -MK

Sunday, September 13, 2015

At Home with the Dollar Tree

This particular post has been copied over from my nail polish blog, Polish & Pigments but since it is where I've taken the name for this blog and it uses plenty of Dollar Tree items, I decided it was a good kick-starter. Originally posted June 11, 2014 after we'd moved in to our new home, some of the content will be updated to make it more current. (This will also help me to adjust text size for posting and the blog in general.)

I was excited enough about finally having a house that I had the majority of the boxes unpacked and put away within a day of moving in and few key decor items distributed around the house. It's still rather plain, including the walls so my mother has told me, but also pleasant because having lived in a crowded, cluttered apartment for 8 years where I had to maximize all floor and wall space, I find myself extremely reluctant to display decorative items or put nail holes in the newer paint. Most have been relegated to my basement "studio" but more about that later. Moving in sent a a lot of decorating ideas flying through my head and thought I'd share some here, things I've done with supplies I owned already and a few more purchased from the Dollar Tree. Bear in mind I am not a professional decorator or Martha Stewart but I know what I like and what works for me.

I love my kitchen with it's oak colored cabinets, carved wood trim, granite counter tops and stone-look (I say "stone look" because I have no idea what it is) back splashes accented with diamonds of the same granite but the knobs were plain old black and I wanted to add something to it all. Years ago, I caught a segment of a decorating show and I remember the host saying that you can change the look of your kitchen just by changing the hardware on your cabinets and I thought that was a fine idea. Rather than going out and buying different hardware, I utilized things I already owned, in this case nail polish, glitter and pigments. A year and a half later, I'm still flirting with the thought of new hardware but buying 30 knobs isn't in my arts and crafts budget.

The granite in the counters is black with silvery white flecks with hints of red so that's what I decided to play off of. I made a very simple mixture of a now-discontinued .008" Sterling Silver glitter I bought from Coastal Scents several years ago, TKB Trading's Siren Red pigment and clear polish (no doubt purchased from the Dollar Tree), testing it a few times on one of the knobs until I figured out less glitter and more pigment looked better. Since I was using the nail polish for this purpose, I didn't see the point in putting suspension base in it. It took me about an hour to paint them all and the end result I thought was nicely understated and went well with the counters.

My basement is finished (meaning completely painted, tiled floor and entirely functional) and I have turned that space into my "studio"/decor-display area. While it's nice having a place to stash all of my craft supplies (I had no idea I had that much stuff until I saw it lined up against the wall), I still don't have a table or desk to work at so I starting thinking about what I could improvise with and minimize further spending. What I came up with was an idea utilizing the polish drawers I own already as the "legs" (shown below) that just take up a lot of space. Add a hollow core interior door for the table top (paint and decorate at will), $20 at Home Depot, and I'd have myself a functional space to sit and work at. I don't actually have the door yet or a chair so I can't show you pictures but I'm sure you can use your imagination to visualize. I can see it being a fairly spacious if I arranged things right.

The drawers are Sterilite brand, once labelled as "shoebox drawers", now called "Narrow Modular Drawers". The link I provided here is from Walmart but I'd gotten mine from Dollar General, another store I used to love. I like these for storage because they are stack-able and sturdy, even when crammed full of nail polish bottles but I will warn you that if they are stacked too high the tower will lean.

In my former apartment, jewelry was stored in different places around the house because the drawers of my free standing jewelry box were filled with other junk while my earring collection was deferred to the half bath where it occupied two walls (earrings falling off into the litter box was a definite hazard). Here in my house, I was able to create a central location for all my jewelry in the corner of my bedroom.

The jewelry box has doors on either side that open up so its offset in the corner and I decided to anchor the mirror ($1.00 from Dollar Tree) that way to match.  I tried velcro on the edges of the frame first but it didn't make enough contact with the walls to hold so I used a hot glue gun to glue pieces of ribbon to the sides and pinned it there with tacks, holes but minimal and small. The cherry blossom wall stickers I also got from the Dollar Tree, colored with paint markers (they were silver) and added as the first accent around the mirror. The other flowers on the ends of the branches I cut from a wallpaper sample, if I decide to include them when I take pictures. Up close it somehow irritates me but from a little farther away its a nice effect.
FYI, if you like wall decals, not just the cherry blossom design, the Dollar Tree sell them in a variety of designs including those you'd use for a child's room.

To keep the earrings organized and all together, I had to make new hangers and find a way to put them on the wall without making holes. My design works best for hook earrings since it doesn't come away from the wall but if your frame was sturdy enough, I believe it could be adjusted to hold post earrings as well. Alternately, a picture frame or two could be used with the shelf liner if your earring collection doesn't require as much space as mine.

The original version was made using the rubbery shelf liner (Dollar Tree, $1.00 per roll) sandwiched between a rough cardboard frame with good ol' Elmers Glue and was then nailed to the wall all the way around for support, not pretty but functional. For the second version, I used two pieces of foam board from Dollar Tree, measured out a symmetrical frame with my ruler and cut out the center of each one with an X-acto knife. The shelf liner was then sandwiched between the two pieces of foam board and bonded with a combination of Elmers Glue and hot glue at key points. To hang them without making any holes, I used velcro strips (purchased from Walmart, maybe the only thing in the store made in the U.S.A.) all around the frames and stuck them on the wall that way.

Side note and very important: If you use velcro, pay attention to the strength of adhesive used on it; I believe mine was "Industrial Strength" and it wasn't lying. I used it for another project, wanted to remove it from the wall afterwards and it took part of my Drywall with it, leaving ugly patches where the paint and paper layer came away. My advice if you use it anyway? Don't intend to ever move whatever is velcro'ed!


I may never own a real crystal chandelier but I enjoyed looking at them when we were at Home Depot recently and while Hubby shot me down on buying one (I'm still enjoying giving him a hard time about it) and I left without the chandelier, I also left with a few ideas to make one, or at least the effect of one. Fortunately for me, my bedroom came with a brass and glass light fixture in the ceiling that is also partially magnetic so I used magnets, metal Christmas ornament hooks and several cheap "Grad" necklaces from, you guessed it, the Dollar Tree, to create one.

Later on, this design was modified slightly- the magnets were eliminated and added were small dots of velcro I had sewed jumprings onto and placed at the same intervals as the magnets, allowing this to not be yanked down by a stretching limb (Hubby showed me that flaw in the original design).

Along with the grad necklaces, I've also picked up quite a few green and blues, also Dollar Tree merchandise. I've found uses for them as well- the blue and green grace my kitchen light fixture.

The kitchen "chandelier" is the second one I made, this time with a combination of velcro around the base of the fixture and aluminum jumprings instead of magnets. Along with the Dollar Store necklaces, there are also some plastic green Christmas ornaments for added color. It's not sparkly like a traditional chandelier but its interesting and also pulled some more blues and greens into the room... though I've never been quite satisfied with it, in part because I don't like the light fixture itself- it's merely functional, not pretty.

Those same blue necklaces helped decorate my formerly silver and white lamp in the living room, along with some rhinestones and blue and clear beads that came off Christmas ornaments I bought from Dollar Tree a couple years ago. I used Aleene's Tacky Glue (one of the varieties available) but I don't think it was strong enough to hold the beaded trim on the lampshade since it has disconnected in places- eventually I may just replace it altogether with something else. The blue finial on top was created by gluing a large faceted bead onto a flat back post for making stud earrings and then glued to the lamp itself.

My final contribution for the day and to this entry was the hoop I made to suspend some ornaments from, based on the same idea as a chime (I own many as examples, all lined up by the sliding doors). This way I could hang multiple things from the ceiling from a central hook and avoid having to make individual holes. I made this with craft wire from the Dollar Tree as the base- several strands twisted together- wrapped with electrical tape, wrapped again with cloth ribbon and sealed with Mod Podge for rigidness and two more strands of craft wire wound around in opposite directions for more support. Fishing line was used to suspend it from the hook and to hang the ornaments from it. I should have also said that the hoop is rather large so it was easier for me to make something than look for something to buy that was pre-made.

 That was fun for me, I hope you got some entertainment value out of it too. Thanks for reading!


-MK