About Me

I'm just a veterinary student sharing my craft projects! It's nice to push studying aside and do something creative once in a while!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Great Pinecone Wreath

So Many Pinecones!!!
I've wanted to make a pinecone wreath for literally the last three years but I kept getting deterred because I didn't want to buy the pinecones. Finally over Columbus day I went hiking with my parents and dog and found a patch of red pine trees! They give off the cute little squat pinecones... jackpot!! 

What You're Going to Need:
- A twig wreath
- Pinecones!
- White acrylic craft paint
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Newspaper
- Cardinals or something else red

Step #1 - Collect Pinecones  
Just go out in the woods and pick them up! You can probably use any pinecone but I love the little squat red pine ones. I've seen some posts on pinterest where it says to bake your haul to get bugs (especially ticks) out but I didn't really care about the bugs so I just used them as they were. 
I also collected some of the longer white pine cones to experiment.

Step #2 - "Frost" Your Pinecones
For this I started out putting a strip of white paint on a paper plate and rolling the pinecones through it. Eventually I figured out it was just easier to "finger paint" them by dipping my finger in the white paint and sticking it on the ends. There are many ways to do it, you'll just have to find what's easiest for you! 

I tried a couple with glitter, too, but ended up liking the white paint on them the most!

It's a little pinecone forest! The longer white pine ones really didn't come out the way I was hoping so I abandoned them. I might go back later and try dipping them to see if I can salvage them for ornaments!

Step #3 - Glue 'Em on Your Twig Wreath!
You may think there's a rhyme or reason to my gluing - there's not. I'm a big fan of "winging" it.. so I just glued and glued until they looked good. My twig wreath was a little lopsided to begin with but I just ignored it and added a few more pinecones to one side to even it out. 
The lopsided wreath prior to evening it out

Step #4 - Embellish 
Originally I got these little glitter pointsettia things from Michaels for $0.99 (pictured below). I had three on and thought that I needed more so back so Michaels I went. Then I found these little fake cardinals, and thought hey, I'll add those too. After arranging and rearranging, I couldn't get the flowers and cardinals to go in a way that I liked to I decided to abandon the flowers and just stick with the cardinals; though I'm sure it would have looked nice with just the flowers as well!

 The original glitter pointsettias. 

The ugly little cardinals I found at Michael's! But you can't tell how ugly they are from far away ;)

The Finished Project!!!

This did take me quite a long time - painting the pinecones took the longest but it was still a very fun project to do! I put a couple of those felt stick-on furniture protectors on the back to lessen scratching on my storm door. 

Hope you liked this project!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sharpie Mugs that ACTUALLY Work!!

These things are literally ALL over pinterest right now, and I thought it's time to give them a shot!! I looked at what seemed like hundreds of tutorials and blogs and this is what worked for me!

Sharpie Mugs!

First, the tips I have collected from some blogs/videos and my own experience:

  1. Use an oil-based sharpie!! I saw a ton of blogs recommend these and I wanted to do it right the first time!
  2. Use a cheaper mug - cheaper mugs are supposed to have thinner glaze so it's easier to get your marker to stick - I used better homes and gardens mugs from the Wal-Mart (they were like $2.34 a piece) which had pretty thick glaze but it worked nonetheless
  3. You need to bake them hotter than you think - most blogs say 350 degrees for 30 mins. Well I tried that and the results were disastrous. After baking them at 425 degrees for an additional 30 mins things looked much better.
  4. FORGET the acrylic glaze - I tried three different products and ALL of them made the paint bleed. 
UPDATE: After almost a year, it seems that these still hold up fairly well with hand washing. The drawings inside of the mug have totally worn away, but the outside is doing alright! I'm not sure how often my girlfriends use them, though. 

What you'll need:
- Oil-based sharpies
- White (or any color) mugs
- Paper towels
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Access to an oven

Here are what the sharpies look like: I found them at Michael's in a pack of 5 for less than $20 - I'd say they were worth it. 

Step #1: The Design
I made these mugs for my veterinary school girlfriends. We're entering finals in 2 weeks and let's be real, life just kinda sucks right now. We all love the profession but we've had 78 exams too many at this point. But come March, we'll be in clinics and life will be good again!! So I thought I would try to make the mugs a little uplifting or just truthful. 

Step #2: Writing your Message
Some blogs show that they traced their designs on with charcoal.. I didn't have charcoal so I tried pencils and pens but nothing would write on the glaze. So I just did everything freehand. Have your rubbing alcohol and a paper towel close by - if you screw up you can quickly wipe off your mess with an alcohol-laden paper towel. 

In addition to the messages, I also added hearts on the inside, names on the handles, and a date on the back!

Step #3: Baking - Method One
Here's where things go haywire. I had decided from reading several blogs that I would bake at 350 degrees for 30 mins, let the mugs cool and use a clear glaze. Well.. here we go.

I put my mugs on a layer of tinfoil in the oven cool. Then closed the oven, allowed it to reach 350 degrees and then started my timer for 30 mins. You want the mugs to heat and cool with the oven - if you stick them straight into a hot oven they could crack. I let them cool with the oven door open for about an hr. 

Here's what things looked like after 30 mins:

not too different. 

I let them dry overnight. I used my test mug to see if I could scrape marker off and I could, so then I went to use my clear glaze......

I have three of them. Well, I had two of them and convinced myself I wasn't using the right kind and went out and got another. *grumble grumble*

All three of them caused my marker to do this:

So I would not recommend ANY clear glaze..

Step #3: Baking - Method TWO
Then while wallowing in my disappointment, I found a video about them on youtube (here) that said to bake them hotter! So I did! This time I put them in at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Success! The red turned a little darker, but I can't scrape any of the marker off, so I am now quite pleased. And this method completely avoids the need for clear glaze!

I hope this tutorial was somewhat helpful to some of you!