Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rubber Stamps on Shrink Film Tutorial

I've been playing with rubber stamps on shrink film lately and as I promised, I'm sharing my findings with you.  As always, I'm not going to tell you what to do (believe me, I'm no expert!) but I'll show you what I did, what I used, and what works for me.  Take this information and use it as a platform to launch your own experiments with different techniques for your rubber stamp projects.
Get your supplies ready!  What you'll need: 
shrink film 
rubber stamps
StazOn ink
fine grit sand paper (if adding color)
permanent marker (optional)
colored pencils or permanent marker (optional)
Mod Podge Dimensional Magic (optional, but recommended)
hole punch (optional)
heat source (oven or embossing tool)

I've used the clear Shrink Film by Grafix in the past, but I've been wanting to try white for a while now.  I was very excited the other day to receive my first shipment.  I'm having so much fun with it that I'm sure I'll be placing another order again soon.

I started by stamping some images onto a bit of film I had left over from Friday's projects.  The black ink is the StazOn, which I highly recommend for this project.  I was curious to see if it would be possible to use pigment inks; if it would dry on the film, and if it would become permanent on the surface without smudging or smearing.  I'll have to get back to you on that as it doesn't dry quickly and has been set aside to give it some time to completely dry.  If I discover that he pigment inks don't work well on shrink film, I'll be adding additional colors to my StazOn shopping list!

NOTE: This ink is VERY WET and smudges easily if too much pressure is applied.  See the last button?  The first sewing machine is an example of not applying enough pressure.  It's okay to make mistakes.  It's how we learn!   
If you're planning to add color with pencil, it is recommended to rough up the surface of the film with fine grit sand paper.  When using colored pencils, know that a little goes a long way.  Colors get deeper and more vibrant when the film shrinks.
(Yes, I borrowed my childrens' art supplies. They were so busy with Minecraft, they didn't even notice!)
I used my From Oregon, With Love stamp and inked the outline only, then colored the design with colored pencil.  It looks REALLY rough!  I liked how my tide pool postage stamp style design turned out the other day so I cut this image the same way using a pair of decorative edged scissors.

When you're finished stamping and coloring, use a pair of scissors to cut out your images.  If you're wanting to punch a hole in your piece, I recommend using a standard sized hole punch or larger.
When all of the pieces are stamped, drawn, colored, and cut, it's time to shrink the film.  I used an embossing gun, but you may also use an oven or toaster oven (refer to package directions for heating instructions.)  

Look at how much much smaller these get!
It's up to you if you want to seal your finished pieces or not.  Sealing them with any clear acrylic sealer would work just fine.  I like the extra glossy finish of Mod Podge Dimensional Magic.  It really makes the artwork *POP*.
I use E-6000 to attach findings to my pieces.  I squeeze a bit out onto a piece of scrap paper and apply it with a bamboo skewer or toothpick.
I had forgotten that I had this box of treasures.  Check out this loot!  I imagine I just might be making some earrings, hair clips, and brooches for the bazaar I'll be vending at in November.  Are you inspired yet?
And here they are!  A few of my finished pieces.  The drawing of the tide pool was inspired by a coloring page for the boys' starfish dissection prep work.  It was made by drawing on roughed-up film with black Sharpie marker and colored with pencil.  I knew that the buttons would be earrings and thought the sewing machine would be a small brooch... until I found those hair clips!  Guess what I'm wearing in my hair tomorrow?
(The sewing machine, button, and state of Oregon hand carved rubber stamps can be found in my Etsy shop.  You may notice that the sewing machine is "backwards" according to the listing on Etsy.  This is because I used my master stamp to create my shrink film design.  I mention this just in case anybody might have noticed and would have thought to ask.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Felted Coaster Pattern

Here's the brief story about how this very exciting Shaun the Sheep coaster came to be.  I'm going to share with you how I made my coaster (hey, cool - free pattern!)  But you'll have to use your imagination to decorate your finished felted piece.

For a few years I've used this felted heart on my desk as a coaster.  It works well enough I suppose, but lately I've been wanting to replace it with a round or square shaped coaster of some sort.
In the beginning, I didn't know exactly what I wanted, so I began with a crocheted circle.   It's simple really.

To make this coaster you'll need:

100% wool yarn for felting (I used Paton's wool)
Crochet hook US size I9/5.5MM
Yarn needle

Begin with a magic loop.

Round 1:  Ch 1.  10 hdc into the magic loop.  Join.  (10)
Round 2:  Ch 1.  2 hdc into each st around.  Join.  (20) 
Round 3:  Ch 1.  *2 hdc into the next st, 1 hdc into the next st*.  Repeat around.  Join.  (30)
Round 4:  Ch 1.  *2 hdc into the next st, 1 hdc into the next 2 sts*.  Repeat around.  Join.  (40)
Round 5:  Ch 1.  *2 hdc into the next st, 1 hdc into the next 3 sts*.  Repeat around.  Join.  (50)
Round 6:  Ch 1. *2 hdc into the next st, 1 hdc into the next 4 sts*.  Repeat around.  Join and fasten.   Weave in ends.  (60)


I'm not telling you what to do, but I'm sharing with you what works for me.  There are different types of felting methods and the easiest is to toss your item into the wash along with jeans or towels, something heavy that will help with agitation.  Click this link for tips and techniques for machine felting from  Since I wasn't doing a load of laundry, I simply added a bit of detergent to a large bowl and filled it with HOT water.  (Make the water as hot as you are able to handle working in it.)  It would have been easier to felt if I had another item or two in the bowl to use for agitation, but I didn't so I did my best to rub the coaster against itself (sounds kinky!) until the fibers began to join and felt.  Agitate, rub, fold over (don't twist!), squeeze, rinse in COLD water, repeat - until the piece is solid.

When I was finished, I tossed it into the dryer with some towels.  Fancy, huh?  It dried pretty quickly and then I was left with a solid gray felted circle.  Success!

 Except... that it was missing something.
Not knowing what I wanted, I turned to the monkeys for some ideas.  Children are often FILLED with ideas and inspiration.  One monkey suggested a heart.  The other suggested an elephant.  Neither of those suggestions appealed to me, and I was on my own.  Think, think, think.

I tinkered with a couple of thoughts, but I really didn't want to put a whole lot of time into this piece.  I DO have other things to do, after all.  I evaluated the colors I had to work with and decided I had a sky and grass in the box.  I started to see something happen.  I asked Monkey #1 what he was beginning to see.  He said, "A farm!"

That was it.  We love Shaun the Sheep and I felt confident that it wouldn't be too difficult to add him to my piece.  And so it was done.  What a lovely thing, that mischievous sheep, by my side at the desk.
If needle felting isn't your "thing", or you're not quite ready to embark on that journey, there are other ways to add designs to your coasters.  You could cut shapes or patterns out of felt and sew it on; you could use thread to embroider a design; while crocheting your coaster, you could alternate colors on every stripe to make "rings"; or simply leave your coasters plain.  Those are nice, too!

I hope this inspires you to make coasters for yourself.  At least one very special piece of art to hold your morning cup of coffee or tea.  They would also make great holiday and housewarming gifts.  Please share your pictures with me on Facebook.  I'd love to see what you come up with!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hand Stamped Bookmark Tutorial

My goodness it's been a while since I've been around these parts!  I'm kept very busy between homeschooling the monkeys, cooking, baking, and carving.  Most of you know because you have a peek into my life on Facebook or Instagram, or both.  I appreciate that you are following along on my handmade journey.  I feel that I'm in good company.

We've talked a bit about rubber stamps and which ink pads to use, but today I'm going to share with you how it is that I have been making my bookmarks.  Just because I make mine this way, doesn't mean that this is how you have to make yours.  Know that there is no right or wrong way of doing this.  We will each have our own techniques, making our finished items unique.  This is the exciting part of HANDMADE!

Here are my supplies.  You should gather:
rubber stamps
cleaning wipes
corner rounder (optional)
hole punch
yarn or thread (optional)

I like to leave my paper whole (uncut) and cover the entire surface with stamped images.  When making the granny square pattern, I like to start from the bottom and work my way up because I can easily see the underside of the rubber stamp above the previous stamped square.

I kept repeating the pattern until the entire paper was covered.

We should keep our rubber stamps cleaned after use.  Using cleaning wipes (Huggies baby wipes, for example) makes easy work of that.

When one side of the cardstock has been completely covered, I turned it over and covered the other side.

I thought these embossed flowers would be cute paired with my United States and "Hello" stamps.

I stamped the backside of the floral paper in a random pattern.

Here we have them!  These papers are ready to be cut.

Although my two papers are a different length, I still cut them at 2 inches wide.  You may do what makes you happy!

They can be left with squared corners are they are seen here...

...or as I prefer, the corners can be rounded with a corner punch.

Don't forget to add a hole at the top!  (I think this punch makes a 1/4" hole.)

My yarn was cut approximately 12" long.  I folded a piece in half, threaded the fold through the hole and secured it with a larks head knot.

I hope you found this tutorial to be helpful.  Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Instagram for frequent updates, products, and tips!  Happy crafting!