Hanukkah Menorah: Innovative Wicks for Oil Burning Candles!

My family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. In this post, I’m showing you how to make my newest and most innovative creation to date! I’m making wicks for oil burning candles that are re-usable, cheap, readily available and burn safely.

In my previous post, I showed you how to transform these shot glasses into festive oil burning candles. Here’s how they started out; notice the logo:

At the end of the post you’ll see how pretty they turned out in the final display!

Safety Precautions (Please Read Before Skipping to the Tutorial if you Didn’t See it in My Previous Post!)

In my last post, someone asked, “how do I know if my shotglasses are heat safe”?

The only way I know of telling if glass is tempered or safety glass is to view the glass through polarized lenses in bright light – preferably sunlight. Most people have polarized sunglasses so this is ideal.

If you try to view tempered glass in sunlight with a polarized pair of sunglasses, you will see lines stretching across its surface (and sometimes dark shady spots) – which is a good indicator that the glass is toughened. These are formed during the tempering process. Try this method first on a glass that you already know is heat safe: a Pyrex measuring cup or glass dish for instance that’s marked microwave safe. You should notice the wavy lines I’m taking about.

Note though that even glass that is heat tempered is not guaranteed against breaking or cracking. Two of the most common causes of glass breaking due to the heat from a candle flame is first, a wick that is not centered and allowed to get too close to the side, and second is a flame that gets too close to the bottom.

To combat these potential problems:

  1. Fill the shot glass with enough water before adding the oil. In a traditional wax candle, if the flame reaches the bottom of the container, too much heat may be concentrated at the base of the wick which could cause the glass to crack. Water in an oil burning candle will prevent that from happening because the flame never gets lower than the surface of the water. Along with the water, my DIY wicks (which I’ll post tomorrow) has a binder clip that surrounds 2 metal posts. This design acts as an additional safety precaution to keep the heat from reaching the bottom of the wick/glass – however the water level will snuff out the flame before that happens.
  2. Centre the wick in the glass! The binder clip will help you do this because it is oblong on the bottom which will help you place it better centred than if you use a store bought wick (which tends to be very small and circular).
  3. 3. Proper cautions should be taken when burning oil candles, as with any other style candle. Protect the surface the candle is sitting on by placing it on a heat-resistant holder (I used a metal topped plant stand – Satsumas, made by Ikea which is non combustible).
  4. Keep the candle away from anything flammable (I rolled up my roman shades for instance to keep them out of the way).
  5. These particular candle only burn for just over 1/2 an hour, however, never leave a burning candle unattended. I didn’t check to see whether the shot glasses I used were tempered, however I’ve never had a problem with all the safety precautions outlined above. With proper supervision, a glass oil burning candle will give you beautiful ambient light, so keep all of the above in mind 🙂

On to Making Oil Burning Wicks!

To light up the candles, I experimented with many different materials and came up with TWO sustainable wick designs; last year I showed you a k-cup version. This year’s version is much better: it uses nothing more than a binder clip, some 100% cotton string and the post portion from some garment snaps. If you can find silver binder clips for this project (vs. the traditional black), they blend in better with the shot glasses.

While I used my wicks to create a display for Hanukkah (otherwise known as the Festival of Lights), these will also work to create oil candles any time of year and for any occasion. Try it out for Christmas, New years or even Valentines Day (there’s nothing more romantic than the glow of candle light)!

Making the Wicks with Binder Clips!

Gather up:

  • 100% cotton string
  • Two snaps (you only need the posts)*
  • Small binder clip

* Note: the post should be large enough to feed the string through the hole.

Cut a piece of 100% cotton string. The size will depend on the container you use. I used a shot glass that was 2 1/2″ high so I cut my string to that length.

A silver binder clip is less noticeable in the glass but if all you have is black, go for it!

Soak the string in olive oil. If you are doing a bunch of them, pour the olive oil into a container and soak all the strings until thoroughly saturated. DON’T FORGET TO SOAK THE STRINGS FIRST BEFORE ASSEMBLY – THIS IS INTEGRAL TO KEEPING YOUR CANDLE LIT.

Tie a knot in one end of the string.

Insert the knotted string through the long part of the post portion of a metal snap so the knot cradles under the hole (see the picture below, paying attention to the direction).

Open a binder clip and insert the knotted end of the post, then close the clip again to tighten it against the post.

Thread another metal snap through the string – again the post part, but this time the other side up (like a hat sitting on top).

Remove both binder clip arms.

Fill a shot glass about 1/2 full with water.

Then add 1/2 a heaping teaspoon of olive oil into the water; it will rise to the top and float.

Grab by the string and place the wick into the liquid so it rests on the bottom of the shot glass. It will stand up because the clip has a square bottom. Remember that it’s important to centre the wick in the glass; you want to prevent the wick from hitting the side as described in the safety precautions.

Use a lighter to light the wick to test one out (don’t forget that the entire wick must have been soaked in olive oil first).

Here’s how the test run looks before I made over the all the shot glasses. You’ll notice that I fashioned a Star of David out of blue glass nuggets:

With a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil in the shot glass, the oil candle should stay lit for approximately half an hour.

Prepare all shot glasses at once (8 if making for Hanukkah) and transport them to where you will be lighting them (i.e. don’t light first and then transport!).

Don’t forget to soak the wicks in oil first before you light them and only use a metal snap and binder clip to make these (i.e. no plastic!).

For a menorah, you’ll need one more shot glass for the lead candle. It’s easier to have a real candle for this purpose so you can easily light the other oil burning candles. I put blue aquarium gravel in the base to hold the candle straight up.

I cut the lid from a K-cup and poked a bigger hole through the middle of the foil to accommodate the candle.

Then I inserted the candle through the hole (1/4 sticking through the bottom and the rest on top). Just make sure you have the foil side, and not the advertising, facing up. This serves two purposes: it keeps melted candle wax from burning your hand (a pet peeve of mine). The foil ‘shield’ of the K-cup collar catches any of the hot wax drippings as you light the other candles! It also allows the candle to sit on top of the shot glass without chance of it tipping over (remember to push the bottom of the candle firmly into the aquarium gravel). As an added bonus, the candle light will bounce off the foil and give additional ambient light. One more precaution; if your K-cup lid is made of a paper/plastic combination instead of foil, I don’t think I would trust it with hot wax (even if it is meant to come in contact with hot water). Either don’t use a collar (you can still secure the candle deeper into the gravel – or even sand – without it), or remove the paper from the rim of the K-cup and then hot glue your own piece of foil around the rim.

To clean these reusable wicks, take apart the posts from the binder clips. Toss them into a mesh bag as shown below and pop them into the dishwasher where you would normally load your cutlery.

When they come out, they’ll be clean, degreased and ready to use again with fresh pieces of cotton.

Here’s how they look lit up on the last day of Hanukkah:

Look how beautifully they glow; you’ll appreciate it even more if you watch this video below:

This is an upcycle that you can use over and over in conjunction with the shot glasses (but of course, you’ll need to replace the cotton string for the wick each time you do).

Now that you’ve seen how to make the wicks, if you missed it, head on over to the tutorial that shows you how I upcycled the shot glasses for this project.

If you’re interested in seeing the K-cup version of the wicks, see my previous holiday post (you’ll find it starts about half way down the page).

Of all my sustainable innovations, the oil burning wick is high on my list of favourites. Check out these other recent innovations on Birdz of a Feather (the first one is a Christmas gift idea):

BYOB Upcycled Gift Bag:

 

This one could be adapted for Christmas too; you could hang one on the tree for each family member!

Plastic Clamshell Shrink Art:

CO2 Detector Wall Safe:

 

If you enjoyed learning how to make your own sustainable wicks, please pin and share! You can follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather (link in the footer) or on Bloglovin’ (button below).

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Shot Glass Oil Burning Candles

Some of you may remember this oil burning candle project from last December. I’m bringing it back again because I posted it too late last year. With Hanukkah just a month away and Christmas around the corner, there’s plenty of time to try these – whether you make them for Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years or even Valentines day!

One big improvement over last year: I’ve come up with brand new and innovative reusable wicks for these oil burning candles. I can’t wait to show you how easy they are in my next post!

Below is an entire box of shot glasses my husband found in the garbage. I interecepted them just before he donated them because shot glasses are perfect to upcycle for this project! Although they had advertising on them, I found a beautiful way to make them look festive for the season!

Hanukkah 001_bof.jpg

I used 9 glasses in total for my holiday display. If you’re going to do this project, and you don’t already have some shot glasses on hand, pick some up from your local thrift store. Don’t forget that it doesn’t matter what they look like, because we are going to fix that!

Decorating the Shot Glasses

To add sparkle, I incorporated a metallic design onto the glass – and hid the advertising in the process! You’ll need to gather:

  • Shot glasses (9 if making this for Hanukkah)
  • Clear double-sided tape
  • Rub-on silver and gold foil
  • Painters tape
  • A pencil
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter
  • Candles (for the lead candle)
  • Aquarium gravel (I used blue)
  • Recycled K-cup
  • The glossy paper backing from a sheet of labels or self laminating cards
  • A towel or curved piece of wood (as shown below) to help keep the shot glasses steady as you work.

Add alternating squares of silver and gold. Place a piece of 1/2″ painters tape over the glossy side of the lable backing and mark 1/2″ increments on the tape with a pencil. The green tape is only there to help see the marks clearly since the glossy side is too slick to mark without it (and the reverse side is too busy to see them).

hanukkah-108_bof

Cut the strip of tape into 1/2″ squares with the paper cutter.

Hanukkah 111_bof.jpg

Peel off the green tape and you’ll end up with the white squares shown below. Use the scissors or the paper cutter to cut some strips of silver and gold foil slightly wider than 1/2″:

Hanukkah 113_bof.jpg

To prevent the glass from rolling as I worked, I used a curved piece of wood I already had, but you could also nestle it into a towel to keep it steady.

Measure a piece of  the double-sided tape to the length of the graphic you want to cover; 2″ was perfect for my shot glasses so I could create four 1/2″ squares with the foil. Apply the double sided tape right over the graphic on the glass. If your piece is too long, trim it back to 2″ using an X-acto knife.

You can see right through the tape, but not for long!

Hanukkah 119_bof.jpg

Take the square pieces cut earlier and apply two of them to the clear tape – glossy side down – leaving a 1/2″ space in between (you can use one of the squares as a spacer as shown below). The squares will stick temporarily to the tape and act as a mask where you don’t want the foil.

Hanukkah 130_bof.jpg

Apply the silver foil (dull side down) to the first exposed square and rub it well to adhere it to the tape. Carefully peel it back to expose the foil that’s stuck to the double-sided tape. Move on to the next exposed square with the same colour of foil and adhere it in the same way. If there are any spots that were missed, you can rub a fresh piece of foil onto those areas to fill in, but it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Hanukkah 103_bof2.jpg

1st square receives silver coloured foil

Once the first two squares are done, remove the white squares that are still covering the tape. Apply the gold foil to those remaining squares. You’ll end up with alternating silver and gold metallic squares.

Hanukkah 132_bof.jpg

Gold being applied to 2nd square

Alternating squares of silver and gold are complete!

Hanukkah 106_bof.jpg

If you have a straight glass, you could do this foil treatment all the way around if you wish. My shot glasses are angled so I couldn’t apply the tape in a straight line around the entire glass without wrinkling it.

A big advantage with this method (especially if you opt for cheap double-sided tape from the dollar store) is that the metallic feature can easily be removed to restore the glass just by removing the tape. You could switch up the design every year if you get bored of the look. Try using a decorative washi tape, for instance, instead!

Below you can see a side-by-side comparison of the before and after. With candle light glowing from within, they are going to look phenomenal!

Festival of Lights 027_bof.jpg

Here’s how my final display looked last holiday season right before I spray painted the letters that spell out Hanukkah. The glow of the oil burning candles really takes it to a whole different level at nightfall, so be sure to check out my next post for the full reveal celebrating the Festival of Lights!

In the end, I came up with a better way to make the lead candle. I didn’t use the oil burning method; I used a regular Hanukkah candle and made a collar for it out of the K-cup lid which I sunk into some aquarium gravel in the shot glass. It will all make sense when you see the next post on how to light them up, I promise!

Here’s a before shot to compare without the gold/silver makeover. The metallic finish on the shot glasses really does snazz them up!

Blue glass nuggets form a Star of David around the lead candle. The centre shot glass is also raised by an emply glass wax candle holder.

Since the top of our Ikea Satsumas plant stand is metal, I used fridge magnets for the letters spelling out ‘Hanukkah’; they look much more elegant once they’re sprayed in silver but you can keep them colourful for the kids. It’s the finishing touch to tie it all together!

Silver spray-painted letters are the finishing touch!

Of course, you could spell out any festive word (s) for any occasion: Comfort and Joy, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year etc. Like I mentioned earlier, these oil burning candles would be stunning for Valentines Day too; you could arrange your shot glasses into a heart shape on a large tray and put them on a table!

After the glasses are decorated, you’ll fill them half way with water, add a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and then a floating wick. I show you how to do that and make my innovative reusable DIY wicks in Part 2, so be sure to check that out to complete this project!

If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share!

In the meantime, if you are looking for other seasonal ideas, like a hostess gift – or even for someone who love to wine and dine – look no further! Make this seasonal BYOB gift bag:

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BYOB Upcycled Gift Bag: Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

You may have heard the joke about the secret to enjoying good wine: open the bottle to allow it to breathe; if it isn’t breathing, give it mouth to mouth!

We always seem to have more reusable shopping bags than we know what to do with so today I’m showing you how to upcycle one into a  Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) bag. With the holidays right around the corner, it’s handy to have a bag to carry some spirits to get into the spirit!

Whether you make this for yourself, for your host or as a holiday gift to celebrate the season or New Years, you can customize it with any graphic or holiday message you desire. All you need is a home printer!

For the holiday season, I’ve done a version with a graphic that would be ideal to use for gift giving 🙂 In keeping with the ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’ theme, I sewed the graphic onto the front of the bag leaving an opening at the top. The opening makes a pocket that holds a dining gift card to a local restaurant:

Of course, for our BYOB bag, I couldn’t resist using my own Birdz of a Feather logo (as shown below and in the uncut version of the video):

IMG_6391_bof.jpg

Watch the Video!

The video gives you a  snapshot of all the steps to complete your own BYOB bag. Keep in mind as you watch the video that I’ve used my own logo to demonstrate how it’s done (and subscribe to my YouTube channel while you’re at it)!

I used two bags for this project: one reusable grocery bag and a reusable plastic bag from which I salvaged the cord handle.

You Will Need

  • Reusable shopping bag
  • Cord from a second shopping bag
  • Iron
  • Pressing cloth
  • Chalk pencil
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Cotton scrap (to print graphic)
  • Freezer paper
  • Printer
  • Sewing machine
  • Cord lock
  • Grommet (wide enough for cord)
  • Bodkin
  • Ruler
  • Bottle of wine and gift card

Step 1: Take Apart Your Upcycled Bags and Harvest the Pieces

To start, use a stitch ripper to undo the trim and side seams from the reusable grocery bag.

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Untie the knot in the cord handle on the plastic bag. We’ll only need one of them, so set one aside for another project – or use both if you’re making two bags!

BYOB Bag 16_BOF.jpg

Step 2: Smooth Out the Fabric

Take the fabric pieces to an ironing board and set the iron on the lowest setting (any higher and you run the risk of melting whatever the bag is made of). Place an ironing press cloth over the fabric and run the iron over it to smooth out any creases in the fabric.

BYOB Bag 18_BOF.jpg

Step 3: Incorporate a Decorative Element!

Although I chose to use my Birdz of a Feather logo to adorn our bag, you could choose the ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’ image shown below – or any other graphic/text combo to embellish yours and make it unique! See this post for more info on printing with a home computer (look under the heading ‘Printing your Images to Canvas’.

Step 4: Binding the Raw Edge

As seen in the video, I cut one of my logos from the printed fabric, leaving 1/4″ all around. Then I used the seam binding trim I saved earlier from the shopping bag and pinned it around the edge. I took it to the sewing machine and stitched it on, cutting off any excess.

Here’s how the holiday version looks:

Step 5: Cut the Main Body

Cut the BYOB bag from the main body piece taken apart earlier. I used the full width of the bag – handle and all. The handle is going to be an integral part of the bag, so be sure to keep it on and incorporate it as a shoulder strap.

BYOB Bag 43_BOF

BYOB Bag 45_BOF

Step 6: Making the Bottom of the Bag

For the bottom of the bag, use the side pieces from the grocery bag. The cardboard from my Duck tape was perfectly sized to use as a pattern for the bottom of my bag. Double up the fabric, one on top of the other, and then trace a circle using a chalk pencil.

BYOB Bag 28_BOF

Pin the pieces together and cut out the circle.

Stitch directly onto the chalk line, then trim the seam allowance leaving 1/4″.

BYOB Bag 30_BOF

Step 7: Add Your Decorative Element

I placed my design onto the front of the bag, pinned and then stitched around it.

Be sure to leave an opening in the top if you want to create a pocket to hold a gift card! I didn’t do that for the version I made with my own logo, but I wish I had!

Fold the sides of the bag together, right side out. Stitch a 1/4″ seam down the side.

Using another piece of the trim that was saved earlier, fold it around the raw edges of the sides of the bag and stitch it down using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Cut away the excess length of trim.

BYOB Bag 50_BOF.jpg

Step 8: Stitch Bottom of Bag

Pin the circle onto the bottom of the bag, wrong sides together, and stitch around the perimeter using 1/4″ seam allowance.

BYOB Bag 52_BOF

Use another piece of trim and stitch it on the same way as you did the side seam. Cut away the excess length.

BYOB Bag 53_BOF.jpg

Step 9: Make a Casing/Hole for Grommet

Now you’ll need a casing for the top of the bag to add a drawstring closure. I used the scrap of fabric I previously cut the bottom from for the casing.

Cut a strip that’s 2″ wide; don’t worry about the length as any excess will be cut away at the sewing machine.

BYOB Bag 57_BOF.jpg

At one end of the strip you just cut, there may already be a fold; if not, create one to accommodate the grommet. This double fabric is ideal for stabilizing the grommet.

Step 10: Add a Grommet

Use pointy scissors to make a starter hole. Don’t be tempted to actually cut a hole or it will weaken the grommet; the goal is to stretch the fabric.

TIP: as shown in the video, insert a pencil into the starter hole to stretch it wide enough to fit over the post of the grommet.

BYOB Bag 68_BOF

Place the other side of the grommet over the post, then use a grommet plier to squeeze the two pieces of metal together.

BYOB Bag 69_BOF.jpg

Fold the ends under along the length (pin or press it):

BYOB Bag 70_BOF

Step 11: Stitch Casing Around Opening of Bag

Take the casing to the sewing machine and stitch it around the top opening of the bag on both edges to make a casing for the cord.

BYOB Bag 39_BOF

Step 12: Thread Cord Into Casing

Thread one end of the cord saved from the plastic shopping bag through the eye of a bodkin.

Insert it into the grommet and thread it all the way around the casing and back out the other side.

Step 13: Add the Cord Lock Onto the Cord

Squeeze the plastic cord lock to open it, thread the two ends of the cord through and release the lock. Tie each end of the cord into a knot (if the ends are frayed, you can trim them or carefully pass a lighter over them to fuse and seal the edges together).

Step 14: Enjoy!

Now, all that’s left is to slip your favourite bottle of wine into the bag, cinch up the cord and away you go. The original bag handle still serves as a shoulder strap to carry it!

Here’s a few closeups of the back:

Step 16: A Useful and Sustainable Upcycle: Make One As a Gift!

With more more reusable bags than we need, this was the perfect way to transform them. The two bags combined together made them into something even more useful than they were originally. I had just enough left over from both bags to make another one; so I made the other one as a holiday gift!

As a finishing touch, why not add a restaurant gift card in the front pocket?

If you can sew a straight line, I hope you’ll give my BYOB bag a try!! You’ll be all set for gift giving this holiday season!

If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share 🙂

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Plastic Clamshell Shrink Art

There’s something so special about the act of putting our name on something to make it our own, so why not make that lettering spectacular? Did you know that you can make shrink art from a recycled clamshell bearing the number 6? When I first found out about it, I had to try it for myself.

Step 1: You Will Need…

  • Permanent black marker
  • Recycled plastic clamshell box; as large as you find *
  • Graphic software such as photoshop
  • Screen capture program such as SnagIt
  • Word processing software such as microsoft word
  • Toaster oven (mine was second hand)
  • Non-stick silicone baking mat or parchment paper
  • Tin foil (only if you don’t have a toaster oven tray)
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife

The plastic wasn’t the only thing I recycled for this project. I saved an old toaster oven from going to the landfill; it was a spare one that my Mom was going to toss. It still worked fine but wasn’t needed so it was perfect for this project. It was missing the baking tray but I got around that by using some tin foil instead.

*Note: the plastic clamshell must have the number ‘6’ on it as shown in the next step.

Step 2: Look for the #6 Symbol / Safety First

Look for the #6 stamped on the clear container. #6 PS is polystyrene and has been found to leach styrene – a neurotoxin and possible carcinogen – so do this craft outdoors or in a well ventilated area (as an extra precaution, wear a mask).

Because of the fumes released, I’d be leery about using it for food, so the old toaster oven I used is dedicated specifically for this purpose. I’d suggest looking for one at a thrift shop if you feel the same way.

For this project, you’ll only be using the part of the clamshell that’s perfectly flat so it’s important to have a large container to start with since the plastic will shrink. My container originally had donuts in it so it was quite large. Cut away all the ridged material.

Step 3: Find a Font

I searched the net for free fonts and found one called Corben Bold, then saved it to my computer. I opened up Microsoft word, typed out the name and applied the font. I sized my name 125 points; but you can make it as big as the size of plastic you cut will allow.

Because I wanted one piece of plastic with no gaps between the letters, I highlighted the name, clicked on format/fonts/character spacing and then clicked ‘condensed’ for the spacing. I condensed the font by 20 points.

With the name complete, I captured it with a screen capture program called ‘SnagIt’ and saved it as a jpeg to my computer. If you are on a Mac, you won’t need a special program – you can just take a screen capture by pressing Command+Shift+4 and dragging the cursor around the name.

Step 4: Photoshop

I am using an old version of Photoshop (CS 5.5).

In Photoshop open up the name image. In image/image rotation, creat a mirror image of the name by flipping the canvas horizontally. The name will now be backwards. That’s because we’re going to trace the image onto the plastic and fill it in with marker; when the artwork is complete, the marker will be on the backside and the plastic will face up.

You can save your file and stop at this point then proceed with shrinking the name or you can add a photograph. I thought it would be fun to add a headshot of the person I was making this for since the capital ‘D’ lends itself nicely to adding the picture.

Step 5: Apply a Circle Crop to a Photo

Before I converted my photo to black and white, I applied a circle crop to the photo. To see how to do that, watch the YouTube video above. Instead of leaving the background transparent, as in the video, I filled it with black. I also used the pencil tool to trace a black line around the head (you’ll see why in the last paragraph below).

Step 6: Place a Headshot in Name File

To add a black and white headshot to your artwork, open up a new photoshop file and convert a colour photograph into black and white. The step-by-step details on how to do that are in this Austin Powers cardboard portrait post (see Working With Your Own Headshot Photograph).

Once your headshot is done, you’ll likely want to mirror image it as you did the name so that when you view the final artwork it will be correct. Save your work and close the headshot file, then go back to the name file and click file/place to add the headshot (second picture).

I  moved the headshot over to the ‘D’, resized it accordingly and positioned it within the ‘D’. Photoshop warned me to rasterize the image first before cleaning up the edges extending beyond the ‘D’, so I did that and used the eraser tool.

Once the edges are cleaned up, I selected black and used the brush tool to fill in the white circle around the headshot – extending outward from the black line

It’s easier to zoom in to do this last step. Erasing up to the line will leave a distinctive outline around the headshot so it doesn’t completely blend into the black background of the letter it’s placed in (in my case, the ‘D’).

Step 7: Final Artwork

You’re final artwork should look similar to mine below.

Step 8: Trace the Artwork Onto the Plastic

Tape the artwork onto the back of the plastic. Using the permanent black marker, trace around the name and image. Only fill in the black areas; the rest will remain clear.

Let the marker dry, then cut out the name with scissors. I used a tiny pair of pointed scissors to maneuver inside the letters but you can also try an X-acto knife to get into tight spot.

Step 9: Prepare Artwork for the Toaster Oven

Pre-heat the toaster oven to 350 degrees.

Work in a well ventilated area; it’s probably a good idea to do this outdoors or in the garage if you can because the plastic can be quite smelly (and as I mentioned earlier, possibly toxic if you don’t take precautions).

I didn’t have a tray so I layered a piece of foil, and then a silicone baking mat on top of that just to make it more ridgid (I’ve since bought a tray that I can use just for this purpose).

If you don’t have a baking mat, you could use a piece of parchment paper instead. You only need to use one or the other, not both on top of the foil.

Place your artwork onto the baking mat (or parchment paper) with the marker side facing up.

Lift the whole assembly and put it into the oven.

Step 10: Watch It Shrink

Do not step away because the plastic will shrink fast. Don’t be alarmed: when it will curls and contorts you may think it’s ruined, but give it a minute or so! Once it’s done shrinking, it will lay perfectly flat again. Note that if your pieces are overly large, when it curls it might not flatten properly; in that instance you can put a piece of parchment on top to weight it down to prevent that.

Turn the oven off.

Step 11: Let It Cool

Lift the foil out of the oven and put it on a flat heat proof surface to cool.

For a better picture, I’ve put the artwork onto a piece of parchment. You’ll notice that the ‘n’ went a little awry. While it’s still hot, I could have pushed it back into place with a wooden skewer, but I loved how it looked so I left it. Sometimes the best things come from accidents 🙂

Step 12: So What Now?

You may be wondering what you can do with your artwork.

It’s all about adding that personal touch so why not put your your beautiful lettering onto the envelope of a birthday card? This is an idea my brother-in-law has run with for almost 20 years, coming up with a different way to display a name on a card for each and every birthday occasion in our family. It’s such a creative and thoughtful gesture, don’t you think?

Or how about making a monogram and punching a hole into it, making it into a key chain or necklace? A monogram would also be a fun project to do with the kids (but please take the appropriate safety precautions mentioned earlier). Punch the hole before you put it in the oven, then each kid will have a unique necklace (or bracelet if you punch two holes) they can wear just by adding some cord or chain. As one reader pointed out though, you might not want kids wearing their full names so stick to the monogram!

If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share. There are many possibilities for recycled shrink plastic so have fun!

With Christmas coming up, these would look great on the tree! You could make and hang one for each member of the family!

Speaking of Christmas, the perfect hostess gift for the holidays is this BYOB Holiday Gift Bag: You can add a gift card right in the ‘Eat, Drink and be Merry’ front pocket and you’re golden!

We happen to celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. If you’re looking for an interesting Hanukkah menorah idea, check out this post:

My latest upcycled innovation is this CO2 Detector Wall Safe. It will help keep your valuables hidden in plain sight!

For more recycled/upcycled craft ideas, visit the Craft Rehab‘ section of Birdz of a Feather and browse around. Here are a few crafts you’ll find:

In addition to crafts, you’ll also find home and garden DIYS. Here are a few recent DIY projects:

Recipes are on the site too.

You can follow right here (link in the footer) or via Bloglovin’ (link below this post).

Oh My Goth (Part 2) - Make a Halloween Tombstone | Birdz of a Feather

Oh My Goth (Part 2) - Make a Halloween Tombstone | Birdz of a Feather
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

 

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Vintage Steno Chair Update

A few years ago, we were at an outdoor antique market looking at these funky metal lamps wondering if we could find space for them. As the story goes, they were originally from a psychiatric hospital. What we loved about them were the curvy lines and retro look.

Unfortunately we didn’t have space for them in our small house, so we turned to leave. But then we spied a vintage steno chair that was also metal and sported curvy lines! And I had the perfect place for it too: my future craft studio! With a place for it in mind, we bought it and stored it away for a few years until the basement was finished.

The chair had a beige vinyl floral-patterned seat and back. The metal looked like it had been re-painted a rich forest green. Although we don’t have natural light in our hallway, the vinyl was pretty drab (and busy) no matter what the lighting conditions!

When the basement was complete, although I finally had somewhere to use it, before I could put it into its rightful place in my studio, I had to update it first. As you can see, the vinyl itself was in excellent shape; no wear or tear which is pretty rare for a retro piecel! I thought about reupholstering it.  I’ve reupholstered a few chairs, which you can see here and here, so it wouldn’t be beyond my skillset, but it seemed a shame to rip apart something in such great condition.

I even thought about respraying the metal a different colour. However, for some reason, I really loved the green paint; it reminded me of a European sports car with its curvy lines, like this one I found on Pinterest:

With the green paint staying as-is, I decided to try something new with the vinyl upholstery: paint it!

The paint has to be a product that will stand up to the challenge. It needs to flex because with all the use the seat and back will get, a standard paint would just crack. I researched and found a local paint shop that carried specialty paint made for vinyl. We bought a product call SEM Color Coat in a colour called ‘super white’.

Hubs removed the seat and back and sprayed a few thin coats of the paint. Then we put it back together again.

Here’s a closeup look of the before and after of the vinyl:

Sometimes you don’t have to go whole-hog and every project: a small change can make a big difference. With the pattern neutralized, you can really notice those beautiful curvy lines now!

The off-white paint really compliments both the chair and my craft studio.

My desk area gets a lot of use; it’s where I plan my projects for Birdz of a Feather and film my YouTube videos for Craft Rehab so it’s great to have a chair that’s both stylish and functional! The chair is a great addition to the vintage feel I have going on in my craft studio (along with my upcycled VW desk, which you can see a peek of below).

If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share.

To see what else I’ve been up to in my craft studio, check out my Craft Rehab category for clickable thumbnails of each project. Here’s a few craft projects you may have missed:

Upcycle Kitchen Cabinets Into a One-of-a-Kind Desk! | Birdz of a Feather

Follow my blog here (link in footer) or on Bloglovin’ (click button below) to see upcoming DIY and craft projects – in and around the home.

Paint Chip Portrait | Birdz of a Feather

Paint Chip Portrait | Birdz of a Feather

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Decoupaged Medicine Cabinet

You may have seen the powder room makeover we posted last year. Today we’re focusing on one of the elements: the unique medicine cabinet. At Birdz of a Feather, we’re all about upcycling so when it came time to renovate our small powder room, we wanted to do it as sustainably as possible.

Since hubs was going to use the bathroom to get ready in the morning, he needed storage space for his toiletries. A cabinet door we found at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for only $2 was the starting point,  like the one shown below.

ReStore Cabinet Door

With a bit of creativity and some recycled materials (plywood, 1×4’s and free calendar pages) we built a box and turned it into a one-of-a-kind piece that added much needed storage. You can’t get more sustainable than that!

Step 1: You Will NeedCut List_Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Refer to the table above for the material cut list we used; however if you build your own you’ll likely need to adjust your cut list according to the size of the door you use. You will need:

  • 1 x 4’s(frame)
  • 1 x 2’s (face frame)
  • Plywood for backing (3/4″ thickness)
  • Plywood for shelves (3/8″ thickness)
  • Plastic edging (to fit edges of 3/8″ shelves)
  • Pin nailer + pin nails
  • Wood glue
  • Old calendar with interesting pictures
  • Craquelure crackle medium (2 part)
  • Tinted glaze
  • Paint brush (I used a foam brush for this project)
  • Decoupage medium such as Mod Podge
  • Clear water based varnish (we used low sheen for the interior wood but high gloss on the door)
  • Paint
  • Wood putty
  • Recycled Cabinet Door (ours was 29 3/4″ long by 13 1/2″ wide)
  • Knob
  • Hinges (2)
  • Narrow wood trim
  • Primer
  • Wood screws

Step 2: The Frame and Shelves

Cut your top, bottom and side pieces for the frame of the box to the dimensions on your own cut list (yours will vary according to the size of your door). Our cabinet door was 29 3/4″ long by 13 1/2″ wide so we built our box (the frame) 31″ long by 14″ wide (exterior dimensions) – some of which would be covered by the face frame (which was 32″ long x 15″ wide; also exterior dimension).

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Since we don’t have too many fancy tools, we simply glued and pin nailed our box together. However, if you have carpentry skills, you can dovetail the joints.

We spaced the two shelves 9″ apart, glued along the edges, clamped and then pin nailed them through the sides of the frame through the centre edge of the each shelf. You have to have a steady hand when the shelves are so thin!

Frame_Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Cap off the shelves with the plastic edging by slipping it over the ends.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a FeatherDecoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Step 3: Add the Backing and Face Frame

On the plywood backing, transfer the position of the shelves onto the wood with pencil so you’ll be able to pin nail through the centre. If you own a plunge router, you can create a recess around the frame and drop the backing in flush with the frame.

We glued along the edges of the box and shelves, then positioned the plywood backing in place. Then we pin nailed around the perimeter and along the lines marked for the shelves. Keep the nailer dead straight or the pins make poke through the front of your box! The inside of the box was clear coated with a few coats of low sheen water based varnish.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

The exterior dimension of our finished face frame was 32″ long by 15″wide to fit over our box (see picture below). We built it by butting the edges together and gluing and pinning as we did previously. Before we attached the face frame to the box, we primed it.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Once the backing was on, we attached the face frame (shown below). If you have a pocket jig, such as a Kreg, you can position the face frame, clamp it together and drill pocket holes – then fasten together with screws. Again, we didn’t have a pocket jig so simply glued and pin nailed through the top of the face frame. We puttied and sanded any indentations then touched up with spot primer.

On the cabinet door itself we filled all previous holes with wood filler (our handle and hinges were going to be placed in different positions). We primed the entire door and then painted the perimeter of the front and the back with grey paint (the same colour we used for our walls. We also applied the same grey paint to the face frame of the box and some narrow wood trim that I used in the next step. Once all the paint was dry we positioned and predrilled holes for the hinges and door knob.

 

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Step 4: Add Some Unique Flair

I could have left the cabinet door plain but I wanted to add a one-of-a-kind touch, so I cut up some old calendars and decoupaged four of the pictures onto the front of the door using a brush to apply the Mod Podge. I wasn’t too fussed about the cut edges because I covered them up in the last step with trim.

The calendar I used for this project was one I happened to get free when I purchased my Benjamin Moore paint for the bathroom! Ever since then, I’m always on the lookout at thrift stores for new or out-of-date calendars with interesting images that can be used for decoupage, like shown below.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

To further embellish the decoupage, I pressed some leftover venetian plaster I already had on hand through an assortment of nautical and nature-inspired stencils and let it dry thoroughly. I used some fine sandpaper to knock back any rough spots on the plaster.

I used a two step craquelure finish over the decoupage, tinting the second part so the original colour of the calendar would show through the cracks, as shown below. Follow the steps on the particular brand you purchase and apply both coats evenly allowing them to dry between coats.

Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of each step of the crackle process, but I’m sure I’ll do another project at some point which I’ll be sure to detail for you and I’ll link it back to here!

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Once dry, I put two coats of high gloss varnish over the decoupage/crackle finish.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

The final step is to glue on the previously painted pieces of wood trim to cover the edges of the four calendar scenes. I carefully clamped the trim pieces in place while they dried, taking care not to mar the decoupage.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Step 5: Install Hinges and Mount Door

Before installing the cabinet, it’s easier to mount the hinges onto the door and face frame first so you don’t have to work vertically.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Spread the hinges out evenly then measure and mark and door. Drill pilot holes and screw in place. Place the door evenly onto the face frame (it’s easier if you have someone to help!) then transfer the hinge holes with a pencil. Predrill the holes in the face frame and complete mounting the hinges by screwing in place.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Remove the door again for the next step so the cabinet box will be lighter to maneuver.

Step 6: Mount the Cabinet

To mount the cabinet, we used a stud finder to find the studs. We lined our markings up with a stud on the right side of the cabinet. We marked the dimensions of our hole on the drywall making sure our lines were level and plumb then cut a hole in our drywall. We added some additional framing for support along the left side and the bottom since the cabinet was narrower than the distance between our studs (which should be 16″ on centre).

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

We mounted our box – now a full fledged cabinet – into the drywall between the studs, flush with the drywall opening.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

One thing to note: our cabinet was mounted in an interior wall. If you are placing the cabinet on an exterior wall however, just make sure that you replace and seal up any insulation removed when you cut into the wall.

We drilled some pilot holes through the side frame and into the studs and used small head wood screws to fasten the box into the opening.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Step 7: Load Up Your New Medicine Cabinet

Reattach the door and it’s now ready for all your stuff to be placed on the shelves!

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Step 8: Final Reveal

In the picture below you can see the final outcome of the cabinet reflected in a vintage mirror we rescued from our own basement.

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Drill a hole to add a small door pull on the outside, then and a rubber bumper on the inside of the door and you’re done!

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

Decoupage Medicine Cabinet | Birdz of a Feather

By making a box to accommodate an old door, you too can add some personality into any bathroom space with a medicine cabinet.

If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share!

For more crafty ideas, check out my Craft Rehab category. You can subscribe to Birdz of a Feather either via Bloglovin or the link in the footer. Here’s a few craft projects  you may have missed:

Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab. Sustainable craft and upcycle projects

Soon, I’ll be merging my craft and diy blogs into one site so I won’t be posting for a while. In the meantime, go ahead and check all the oldies, but goodies, on Birdz of a Feather for home and garden DIY ideas.

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This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

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Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box

What do you get a Mom who has reached an 80th milestone? That’s a rhetorical question of course, but if you’re crafty and love to upcycle, like me, you make a little something at the very least!

Earlier in the summer, we were at a massive street sale –  held in the golden triangle in downtown Toronto – when I came across this bag of scrabble tiles:

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

I didn’t have a clue what I’d ever need them for – but I never do when the urge hits to buy something for the craft stash! Inspiration almost always hits later.  I often find that when I fail to purchase an item I spy it’s always a regret. Luckily I purchased the bag of tiles, because Mom’s birthday eventually provided the inspiration 🙂

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

In lieu of making a birthday card, I’m  embellishing the envelope instead and putting it into this shadowbox as a keepsake for Mom.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Gather your Items

For this quick and easy shadowbox project, you’ll need:

  • Shadow box
  • Word processing software such as Microsoft Word
  • Printer
  • Ruler
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scrabble letters
  • Envelope (purchased with the birthday card)
  • 2 weights (I used my vintage irons)

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

It’s fairly easy to design and print an envelope with a home printer and Microsoft Word; it just requires a bit of customization for the margins and page setup. (I still use the old Word 2003).

For the page setup, I measured the size of the envelope ( I included the height of the opened flap). In word (file/page setup) I clicked on the paper tab and typed in the measurements for the width and height. Envelopes have to be fed through the rear paper slot of your printer since they are a custom size, so don’t forget to change the paper source to ‘rear paper feed slot‘ while you’re at it.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Next, set the margins. The envelope flap I was 2.5″ high so I set my top margin to 2.5″ so nothing could print above that margin (represented by the dotted line shown below). I then set the rest of the margin settings to .12.

Once the settings are done, go ahead and type/format the message. Choose a size and style of font that looks good to you (I used Aardvark). I designed my envelope in black and white, but you could choose to do yours in colour if you prefer.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Insert the envelope into the rear feed slot: be mindful of which end goes in first and whether the paper needs to face up or down. For my Epson printer, the flap went in first and the paper was face up.

Click on print, then choose properties. Choose ‘envelope’ for paper type and select rear paper feed slot as the paper source (sometimes you have to change it here too).

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Here’s the printed envelope:

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Now for the finishing touch – the scrabble tiles; place a ruler over the envelope to act as a straight edge where you want to place them. I used antique irons as weights on either end to keep the ruler from shifting as I worked.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

I centred the word ‘eighty’ and spaced out each letter leaving 1/4″ gape between letters (I ended up with 3/4″ on either end).

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

I lifted each tile and placed a piece of clear double-sided tape on the back, then pressed it into place on the envelope.

Note that not all scrabble tiles are made alike; some of them have a nice varnished finish and others are still pretty rough. I would suggest using a stronger double-sided tape than the one I used if your tiles are raw wood (I couldn’t find my better roll of tape and Mom’s birthday is tomorrow)! I was able to make it work because I chose tiles that were varnished and the flimsier tape gripped perfectly to them.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Here’s the finished envelope.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

The shadow box I used has a magnetic catch so I just popped it in and fastened it to the background with the pins provided. Mom can just reach in and grab the envelope to open it up and read the card (leave the flap unsealed if you don’t want Mom to accidentally tear your hard work).

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Mom has always loved puzzles and word games, but we’ve never actually played a game of scrabble with her. Maybe once the season changes, we’ll settle in for a game or too 🙂

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Don’t forget to pin and share 🙂

By the way, this idea would work for any milestone birthday and could easily be adapted for anyone – like the ’50’ example below!

If you have parents that have reached a milestone birthday, I’d love to hear how you celebrated them. Let me know in the comments.

Other projects we’ve done for Mom include the renovation of her bathroom

Maximizing Bathroom Space | Birdz of a Feather

and this bathroom vanity makeover….

Bathroom Vanity Makeover | Birdz of a Feather

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