Ten Things I've Learned about Glue and Making Miniatures

  1. The glue gun is not my friend. When it comes to miniatures, the glue is too thick and too lumpy. It can make a real mess.
  2. A glue stick is perfect for gluing down fabric. I would have never guessed this!
  3. You can use superglue on wood. Who knew? I always thought it was for gluing plastic and metal. Okay, it can soak in quickly, so you might have to put on more than you’d expect, but it works pretty well.
  4. By adding a little water to superglue, it will “grab” right away. I use a small syringe, fill it with water, and squirt a drop on one of the two surfaces. The superglue goes on the other surface.
  5. But water turns superglue white. So you need to be careful about how and where you use it.
  6. Tacky glue doesn’t dry rigid. White glue or wood glue does. 
  7. You can mix tacky glue and white glue for a hold that’s fast and more secure.
  8. Wood glue is actually stronger than wood when it dries.
  9. You can’t stain over glue, so you should stain your pieces first, and then glue them together.
  10. If you superglue your fingers together, don’t panic and rip them apart. You’ll tear off a patch of skin. 
Yup, that’s my list. As every crafter knows, you have to own a lot of different glues to get the job done. I hope this list will help you make the right decision, one you can stick with!

Giving in to my Inner Scrounger

My Beta Babes and I went out to eat at Pasta House in St. Louis.

I tried to behave, really I did. We had a great lunch and fun talking with each other.

But I started lusting after the plastic butter tubs. And the margarine containers. I kept imagining ways I could use them.

Then I said to myself, “What will they think of me if I start collecting trash?”

I decided, “I don’t care. That’s who I am. That’s what I do. Either they like me for myself or not.”

So I asked the person next to me for her empty margarine containers. She kindly handed them over. Soon everyone was handing me empty plastic containers. I filled my purse with them. One of the husbands tried to give me the rest of the full tubs in front of his place. (Bless his heart. He was so sweet. I had to explain that the butter wasn’t the point.)

I carefully cleaned them in my hotel room, packed them in a box, and had them mailed to me with a bunch of other supplies.

Last night I began putting together a kitchen cabinet from a kit. As usual, I modified the kit a lot. The way they were constructing the sink was silly. It wouldn’t look good!

Then I remembered my margarine containers.

One of them worked perfectly.

I am so glad I gave in to my inner creative scrounger. Yes, I was a bit embarrassed by my greed for garbage. But if I hadn’t have asked, I wouldn’t have had the butter tubs for my project. I also wouldn’t have saved those tubs from the recycling bin.

And I wouldn’t have been true to myself. I would have pretended to be someone I’m not. I’m not too proud to ask for what I need.

How about you? What crafting supply do you find impossible to resist? When have you embarrassed yourself for the sake of a craft?

Love, Crafts, and the Fine Art of Dumpster Diving

Two days ago, I noticed a big red Dumpster behind our apartment complex. It looked to be empty.

That’s interesting, I thought.

Yesterday evening, my husband and I were walking Jax when I noticed the Dumpster had been filled to the brim. Looks to me like the apartment management evicted someone, sending their furniture packing as well. A red sofa extended above pieces of wood, paper, and articles you’d have to examine closely to identify.

That made me sad. Once upon a time, a bank threatened to evict my mother, my sisters, and me. I don’t think that any of us will ever forget that bleak period in our lives.

Then it made me wonder. Was there any good that could come out of this ugly situation? While I was pondering this, thinking deep thoughts, David and Jax kept walking. “Honey?” called my husband. “Come on. Leave it alone.”

He knows me too well.

Because by then, I’d decided to investigate. I climbed up on the ledge surrounding the big red trash container. I’m short so I couldn’t look deep inside, but I did see a piece of board sticking out. A big piece of wood.

Big enough to serve as a base for my dollhouse and the potting shed.

Big enough and sturdy enough that I wouldn’t have to go to Home Depot and buy a piece of plywood and pay for them to cut it to size.

Big and free.

Even freer after I tugged it out.

David, I must confess, was mortified. He started walking in the other direction with body language that clearly stated, “I don’t know that woman!”

I tugged and tugged. I had to reach in and move a couple of other boards around. Luckily for me, I’ve kept up with my tetanus shots, because that big piece of wood had nails sticking out. But once I began to extricate it (classy word for trash-picking, eh?), I was determined that it would be MINE.

David didn’t offer to help. Instead, he said, “Oh, honey…” in that tone of voice that means, “I love you, but right now, I would cheerfully pretend we aren’t married.”

So I dragged it home. I do mean drag, because it’s heavy. I put it in the spare bedroom. I waited until today when David’s at work. I hauled it out. Knocked down the nails. Pried off a half dozen small squares of excess wood that served as braces. Put it up on our kitchen island. And started making plans. BIG plans for my dollhouse.

The way I see it, I saved something from the landfill, I saved money, and I’m moving ahead with my crafts. Next time I walk past that Dumpster, I might just vault over the side and poke around a little more.

Have you ever been Dumpster Diving?

Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher (Part 3)

By Joanna Campbell Slan


Editor’s Note: In Parts 1 and 2, Kiki Lowenstein, owner of Time in a Bottle, has been teaching a two-session class called “The Double-Dip.” This week, her customers brought in one of their favorite dessert recipes, a photo of the dessert, and the recipe to use in an 8- by 8-inch cookbook album. There’s a bit of friction in the group because Iona Lippman and Lisa Ferguson both claim to make an outstanding red velvet cake

Kit Bashing — A Dollhouse Furniture Bargain

“Kit bashing” is a term miniaturists use, and one that every crafter should get to know. You “bash a kit” when you take creative liberties with a project, putting your own spin on it.

I love kit bashing.

Curiously, I’ve noticed a big difference between miniaturists and scrapbookers. When I took scrapbook classes, a lot of the participants wanted their finished products to look EXACTLY like the teacher’s sample. But miniaturists want to do their own “thang.” In fact, in the Fred Cobbs’ class I recently took, not one single person copied Fred’s model! We all made minor adjustments.

For me, the best part of kit bashing is that you have most of the raw materials at hand. So often when you start a project, you discover you don’t have enough wood or paper or some item that’s absolutely necessary. When you kit bash, you have the basics–and that’s your point of departure.

You can “bash” as little or as much as you like.

Recently I bought the Greenleaf Dollhouse Furniture kit.

 http://www.hayneedle.com/product/6roomfurniturekitset1inchscale.cfm

A lot of dollhouse furniture for the price!

It’s advertised as being 47 pieces of furniture, all in one-inch to a foot scale. Although if you read the reviews, the scale is a bit…iffy. I did read the reviews, so I pretty much knew what I was getting into, although the people at Greenleaf could be more helpful by providing clearer photos and measurements for each piece.

Many of the pieces have no back, just a front. None have hinges and as far as I can tell, none of the doors open. Some of the design is pretty weird. A big much-ish. But that was fine by me. I didn’t want to have to build everything from scratch. I could start with their project and make it mine!

The space between the front and back legs on the side is totally empty on their version. Notice there are no hinges for the door.

What did I bash?

1. I sawed the top off of the curio cabinet. I also added side panels to the open spaces along the bottom legs to make it more realistic. Then I added a paper clay gargoyle head. I also left off the front doors (for now at least) and some of the trim.

Here’s my version (although it needs a coat of polyester shine! Right now the paint is too flat.):

2. The sink in the bathroom was far too big for my bathroom. But the hamper was about the right size–except it had no back and the doors didn’t open. So I turned it around 360 degrees. The front is now the back. I added a shelf inside and a door on the front. (Again, I need hinges! My kingdom for hinges!)

And here’s my version:

The door isn’t really crooked, but when I left it open so you could glimpse the shelf inside, it skews the photo. To make the kick-plate I traced the back onto a second piece of wood and cut it out. The door was trial, error, and sanding. This size works perfectly in my bathroom. I’m now waiting on the sink (white air dry clay molded over a measuring spoon) to dry so I can add the wash basin on the top. I wanted it to be one of those trendy sinks that sits on TOP of the cabinet rather than being sunk into the wood.

These might actually be the only two pieces I use, although I am definitely using the mirrors and frames. Given the cost of dollhouse furniture, I think the kit is a bargain. I paid about $44 with shipping for 47 pieces. That’s less than a buck a piece. If I just use the curio, two mirrors, and the sink, that’s only $11 per piece. See? I’m definitely getting my money’s worth!

How about you? Have you ever kit-bashed? Were you pleased with the results? Would you do it again?

How to Make a Hummingbird Feeder — Miniature Tutorial (1:12 scale)

I love using things that would normally hit the trash can. This project reminds me to look at familiar objects with fresh insight. For years I’ve tossed away the lids to the McDonald’s beverages. I was amazed when I looked carefully and noticed the raised icons. I can’t wait to see what I can do next with the other emblems!

SUPPLIES:

Red nail polish or acrylic paint
Yellow nail polish or acrylic paint
Red paper
Length of green floral wire (six inches)
Scissors
A needle or something to poke a small hole with
Circle punch (preferably the same diameter as the straw
Tacky Quick Drying glue
Clear drinking straw
The plastic lid from McDonald’s cold beverage
Either–cardstock or air-dry clay

METHOD:

1. Locate the icon on the beverage that looks like a flower. Press air-dry class (such as DAS) into the icon and let dry. (Alternative: Cut out the flower. Glue it to cardstock. Cut out around it again.)

In the eleven o’clock position on the lid, you can see the flower icon.

 

2. When the icon is dry, paint it bright red. Add yellow dots to the flowers. (Tip: Use the end of a toothpick to make the dots perfect.)

3. Cut a length of the straw, about 1 inch long or so.

4. Cut a thin strip of red paper, about 3/8″ wide and an inch long. Glue it around the top of your length of plastic straw. Let dry.

5. Put out a circle from the red paper with your circle punch. (Alternative: Trace the end of a straw on red paper. Cut out the traced circle.)

6. Put a tiny hole in the middle of the red circle. Enlarge it until the green floral wire will fit inside. Bend the floral wire into an upside down letter “L”. Poke the shortest end into the hole in the red circle. Glue it to the red circle. You now have the cap of the lid and the wire stand.

7. Attach the red circle (cap of the lid and wire stand) to the top of the straw so that it meets the red strip of paper. Glue together. Coat with red nail polish.

8. Glue the flower to the bottom.

Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher: Part 2

By
Joanna Campbell Slan
Editor’s Note: In Part 1, Kiki
Lowenstein, owner of Time in a Bottle, has been teaching a two-session class
called “The Double-Dip.” This week, her customers will be bringing one of their
favorite dessert recipes, a photo of the dessert, and the recipe to use in an
8- by 8-inch cookbook album. There’s a bit of friction in the group because
Iona Lippman and Lisa Ferguson both claim to make an outstanding red velvet
cake. Furthermore, two of Kiki’s customers have also challenged her come up
with inexpensive scrapbook embellishments. Can Kiki keep everybody happy?

What You Can Do With a Ruined Tee Shirt

I have no idea how my red top wound up in the wash with all my white and cream clothes. None. Worse luck, I added a cup of bleach to the mix and let the whole mess sit for a couple of hours.

Not surprisingly, this cream top picked up a hint of red (much diluted) here and there.

Rit Dye Remover is expensive, and the top was not. However, I’d been wanting to try Zentangle on fabric, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Supplies:

One piece of cardstock
A fabric pen in black

Method:

1. I didn’t need to iron my top, because I’d hung it up to dry, but your fabric should be smooth.
2. Slip the card between the fabric layers so the ink doesn’t soak through.
3. Choose a steady, flat surface so you don’t have any wobble.

4. Start drawing.

5. Stand back and admire. Notice that I chose a very simple pattern. Less is more in my book. But this still needed something.

6. Let sit 24 hours.

7. Wear and collect compliments. (You’re such a thrifty Craft-anista!)

Note: I used fabric markers that I bought online. I’ve been told that you can also use Sharpies. I suggest that after you let the fabric sit for 24 hours, you iron it on the WRONG side to help heat set the ink. Then wash it inside out in cold water.

Okay, anyone willing to try this? Tell me what you’re going to rescue by adding a tangle!

How to Create a Literary Vase

A beautiful fall vase!

I was in St. Louis last week, visiting the Carondolet Branch Library for their Author Breakfast event. On the tables were lovely vases, created by Sarah Zolezzi. As a gift for us authors, we were allowed to take one home. But I walked off and forgot mine! ARGH! At least I took this photo.

Sarah asked library volunteers to bring in their old vases. Here’s what I imagine she did next:

* Wash, clean, and dry the vases thoroughly.
* Rip the pages from old, unloved books.
* Cut the pages into strips of various sizes. (You could also tear them.)
* Dip the pages in a bath of tea or coffee. (Just pour old, leftover tea or coffee into a shallow container and dip the pages in.)
* Allow the pages to dry. (This gives them a uniform “old” coloration.)
* Use Mod Podge to adhere them to the vase.

Isn’t this clever? I love it!