3D JOY Display

I am a member of the Silhouette Flickr group and I keep seeing these cute 3D word displays from Needles n Knowledge.  First she did one with the word "Spooky" and then "Thankful."  Her latest is "Joy."  Jodi is very nice and answered several questions I had about her "Thankful" display but I ended up deciding that it was just too long of a word and I felt overwhelmed looking at the cuts.

When I saw her "Joy" display I decided to give that one a try.  Only 3 letters, can't be that bad, right?

All I can say is, Jodi has the patience of a saint.

3D letters are probably my least fun thing to ever assemble.  Especially curved ones like the J and the O.  The Y wasn't too awful.  It's also very time consuming to glue together zig zag edges and wait til they are sturdy enough to glue more zig zag edges, not to mention trying to put pressure on a hollow 3D letter when you are gluing it together...eek!

All 3 letters are from the Sil store (I just searched 3D letters).  I made the J as large as it would fit on a 12x12" page, turning it diagonally to get it even bigger.  The Y was resized to be about 1/2 the J and the box under the Y was meant to be the other half of the J, size-wise, but it came up a little short so I used corrugated cardboard to quickly make a sweater box (maybe?) so it looks like a stack of presents and balances out the J.  The O was sized to match the top half of the Y.

After those were cut, I used the Silhouette Knife Tool to slice all the tabs and stuff off of the letters so I just had a flat J and Y (I don't need the O for this part).  I used the line tool to fill in any missing lines, pattern filled them with the argyle (J) and holly/berry pattern (Y) and used the Print & Cut feature.  I then glued these to the front of the J and the Y.

For the O, I downloaded  a wreath in the Silhouette Store and cut every layer out of print and cut in different shades of green with one layer being a pattern that had berries.  The bow was color filled in red and print & cut at the same time.  I like to stick as much on a sheet as I can when I do print & cut!  I also downloaded a 3D Star, color filled it yellow, and,  you guessed it, print & cut!

The bow and the tree pieces were cut out of green paper (different papers) and the box was cut at the same time I cut the Y, since they both fit on a 12x12 paper.  In fact, the box is from the "BOO" display I made in October!  I just erased the B and voila, plain box.  The base of the tree I filled with a wood pattern and again utilized the print & cut feature.

So...everything is cut.  I already mentioned what a pain in the butt it is to put together these letters.  Here's some in-process photos.  Yes, I gave up and started trying to discretely use tape.

The most noticeable pieces of tape were going to be on the end of the J where the tree rests.  The tree just wouldn't hide it that well. 

I cut a square of that same red paper and used spray glue because at that point I was hating my glue stick.

Not perfect, but this is the angle that looks the worst.

Now I had to figure out how to get the letters stuck together.  Glue was an obvious choice, except you can't put pressure on hollow paper letters.  Both sides of the O had to stick to the J and the Y and it just didn't seem like it would work.

I came up with an idea, and it works very nicely, but it looks completely awful from the back.

Yep.  Paperclips.  Also, I see the glue on the tree isn't dry yet, which reminds me, I totally found that liquid white school glue works VERY nicely when you can't put pressure on something, but it doesn't dry all that fast which can be a problem.

So, about 3.5 hours later, 2 pieces of green paper, 2 pieces of red paper, 1 piece of printable card stock, and some corrugated green cardboard later, we have....

Is it perfect?  No.  Is it real?  100%.  I'm not paid by Silhouette, endorsed by Needles n Knowledge, on any design teams, or anything like that.  I'm just a mom who really, really likes Print & Cut because I never have card stock on hand.  

I may tweak some things, including more branches on the wreath, making the corrugated card board look nicer, and some other minor changes, but on the other hand, I'm kind of done with this sucker now.  

I recommend finding wooden or even the paper mache type letters at craft stores, assuming they have sizing that you like, and decorating those with Silhouette designs.  They will be sturdier and therefore last longer (hopefully) and you won't have to worry about assembling them.

Also, I am looking for recommendations on glue if you make lots of 3D crafts like this!  I have Scotch Crafter's Glue Stick and some 3M Spray Glue, but maybe some of my assembly problems are bad glue choices?  What do you think?


DIY Christmas Balls

There's probably a better name for these, but since I giggle every time I say Chicken Balls, Christmas Balls IS the better name over here.

Trust me, the "After" pic is worth it.

You start with chicken wire and moosh it into some approximation of a ball.  Then zip tie or otherwise secure where it overlaps so it won't ever unroll on you.

Get some Christmas lights and weave them in and out of the ball however you want.  If you have lots of time and/or somewhat masochistic, try making patterns!

Hang the finished product from a tree.  Hope it's not super noticeable in the daytime because it looks like this.

Electrical options obviously depend on you.

They are actually surprisingly light.  All of mine, including the one pictured, are easily 3 times the size of a basketball, if not more.

Once it's dark, it's almost magical to drive through.

My driveway


Tree Trick

Yesterday I was putting up a 12 foot tree.  I myself am exactly 5 feet tall and I wasn't thrilled with the idea of going up and down a ladder 181827272 times.

Looking at the hooks, I came up with an idea that would cut down the ladder climbing by a bit...

On the other hand, I probably could have used the exercise!

Happy start of the holiday season decorating!!!


Closet trick

I keep seeing a Pin on Pinterest lately about putting pool noodles in your boots to keep them upright.

Well, and I feel bad saying this, but, a pool noodle would stretch my boots out, so not going to happen.

However, something I nearly recycled did the trick just as well- and with the holidays coming up we'll have LOT of these...

Wrapping paper tubes!  And I bet paper towel tubes will work for my shorter boots & crocheted Uggs.  


Print And Cut on Printable Vinyl

This weekend we are hosting a Purple Heart fundraiser.  The purpose of the fund raiser is to donate to troops who are trying to make it home for the holidays and can't afford to do it on their own.

Everyone goes on and on about "lazy" military wives and how we stay at home because our husbands get paid well.  I'm here to tell you, almost every E4 and under who has a family is on WIC.  I am thankful that I never was, but my husband and his ex and children were.  Different branches promote at different rates, but the Air Force is on the slower end, and an Airman can still be an E4 at 27-ish years old, nearly 10 years into their career.  Not every Airman is that rank at that age, but it's common.  And most wives stay at home because moving every 3 years looks bad on a resume.  I myself have been told by a company that they don't hire military spouses for that reason (in writing.  Which got forwarded to the labor commissioner.  Le Sigh).

I'm sorry for the little vent, but our military, especially the guys with less than 15 years in, make peanuts for an incredibly responsible job.  I know Airmen who haven't seen their moms in 2+ years.  Not deployment; just travel costs are high and pay is low.  We are so incredibly fortunate to not live paycheck to paycheck and we see our family as much as we can.

So you can tell this fundraiser is very near and dear to me.

We had these handled mason jars donated and will be doing purple drinks to match the Purple Heart and the cups are to keep when you buy a drink (with drink money going to the fundraiser).  I used printable vinyl, which is my new favorite material to work with because it's 100% waterproof when the ink dries AND stands up to our business' industrial strength dish washer without coming off.  I traced a purple heart logo which was actually tricky.  I had to erase a lot to just get the outline.  I should have clicked "Cut Edge" in the settings, but as usual, I over complicated it!

We have 24 of these and I hope we sell them all!  :)


DIY Harvest Banner with the Silhouette Cameo (Pic heavy!!!)

I have seen lots of fall decor around lately.  I've even seen files to buy all or parts of a banner both in the Silhouette Online Store & for sale around the net by various file makers.

The thing is, I like being creative.  I wish I could freehand draw in Silhouette Studio; that would make it perfect.  I *almost* bought a set of files on the Sil Store for a banner, but each letter in "Harvest" was a different 99c download, and I couldn't find the file for the H!  So, DIY it was!  I managed to make this ALL with shapes I already owned.

I started with this shape.  I used it to make a tiny print & cut banner that I made to go with a scarecrow in a plant.

I deleted the rope shape and all of the triangles except for the middle one.

I wanted it to be a large banner so I stretched this as large as would fit on the 12x12" mat.

I then created an Internal Offset and increased the offset distance until I liked how it looked.

Next I added two small circles (I made one and duplicated it so they'd be the same, actually) to string my banner up.  Twine in mind at this point.

Now- remove your inner pieces, and group the holes & outer triangle.  Save it, as you'll need to cut it for each letter.  I'll need 7 for Harvest.  Set it aside; you don't need it any more.

Take your inner (the Internal offset) piece, type your first letter, find your font, resize, and stick an image you like on the bottom (if you want).  I had a group of leaves, a pumpkin card, a gourd-type sketch, a turkey, and I took the hat from the Scarecrow shape which I stretched taller and added 2 squares for a buckle- instant pilgrim hat!

I just kept duplicating the Internal Offset triangle and resizing shapes that I thought would look good, and when done, I lined them all up and zoomed out so I could get a look at it.  I didn't duplicate the outer triangle 6x because I just used my imagination.

It's kind of hard to see from that pic but I was just getting a general idea of how it would look in case I needed to tweak it.

I then went to Michael's, since I have a library of vinyl but no cardstock, and just kind of visualized it with the current fall decor on the mantle.  This orange background flag is GORGEOUS.  I wish I could photograph it or describe it accurately.  It's a deep orange, but iridescent, almost like a good expensive fabric that shimmers and takes on a life of it's own when you move.  Anyway, total for 14 sheets of paper was $8.86.

Cut, glue, string, & reveal!

My house has toys on the floor.  I have a toddler.  Also, I love the food network. 

I used brown string that I got at Michael's in a 3-pack of brown shades for about $2.  I strung it so that the string was behind the triangles from hole to hole rather than in front.  Oh, and the length?  I taped it to one end of the mantle, strung the flags on, and hoped like heck that the flags weren't going to be too long.  I then pulled it up, taped the other end, and slid the letters back and forth until I liked the spacing.

I have to say, I really like how it came out!

I used 3M Spray Adhesive.  I actually really dislike working with glue.  I find spray adhesive the easiest to use, although I have to keep washing my hands, but it does give it a nice and fast even coat.  It's not completely tacky for the first minute or so, making it re-position-able (at first).  Little pieces, like the turkey face, hat buckle, or inner letter pieces I used a glue stick.

I had a "handy helper" (Oh, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, how you've implanted into our brains after nearly 3 years) for most of this too!


Silhouette Cameo Nail Stencil Review

I was bored and kind of crafty-burned-out today after working so hard to get ready for last weekend's craft fair.  Awhile back I had seen nail designs in the Silhouette Store but I hadn't looked at them very closely.  I decided to give those a try today.

I bought the "Side Dots" design from the Silhouette Store and looked at the blog of the creator  as the store instructs for a how-to.  When I saw these awhile back I thought these WERE the decorations but you actually cut the stencil.

Ok, down to business.

First I decided to flip half of the designs so that on my right and left hands the designs would be opposite; not all to the right.

Then I hit Cut and waited approx. 11 minutes.  It felt like forever!  Lots of tiny pieces.

While I was waiting I took a pic of my polishes & a before pic of my base polish.

The design finally finished cutting and I was already dreading the weeding, but guess what?  If you start at the top and pull it nearly back on itself, most if not all of the dots weed themselves.

Next, you find the ones that match your nail size, press them on, and paint over with your desired color.  All designs probably have this issue so I'm going to point out you almost have to dab, not brush, or the bristles just skip over the holes.

I tried two things now.

1) The blog says to wait until your nails dry to peel this off
2) I've always heard that when stenciling, peel BEFORE it's 100% dry or you risk the design peeling with the stencil.

So I tried both.

Left- 1, right- 2

Pretty awful.  The grey polish is from yesterday so I know it was 100% dry.  Damp or dry didn't make a difference for the stencil.  The vinyl left goo behind.  The blog has a comment about wiping that off with alcohol and a swab, but since that's also how you remove nail polish altogether, I didn't give it a try (though this is coming off anyway).

This black vinyl is Oracal 641.  I also have some Oracal 341 which is meant for short-term so I thought perhaps it would work better.

I recut the stencils for my right hand in 341 and repeated the process.  

Again, it peeled off pieces of the perfectly dry grey nail and left residue behind.



Making Vanilla Extract, Day 59

As you saw here, I am making a bunch of homemade vanilla extract as add-on holiday gifts (since I'm giving a lot of bakeware, particularly Pampered Chef stoneware- it's good to have a mother-in-law who is a rep!) and as you saw here, it starts to acquire the vanilla goodness very quickly!

Well, today is Day 59 (ish) of this project.  I started late on September 13th and today is November 12th, and 30 Days Has September and all that, anyway, I didn't want to count off days one by one on a calender soooooo here we are.

A few weeks ago I ordered bottles & shrink bands.  I thought 4oz was a nice size, not dinky like the teeeeny $11 supermarket bottle, but not a giant bottle of basically Vodka, either.  I bought amber bottles as sunlight + extracts = no no according to my research.  I also bought a set of shrink bands, which I had to order in packs of 250, so if any of you out there in blogland want some I'll throw a 45c stamp on an envelope and send them your way.  Just let me know!


The shrink wraps are made to fit certain bottles, not one size fits all, but you can find the info here on the ones that I bought.  You stick them around your lid and zap them with your hair dryer to seal your bottle up. Nifty.  And cheap.  Like I said, I have 250!

At this point, all I needed was labels.  Originally, I was looking for printable sticker paper, and I wanted an uncut sheet of it, not broken up into shipping labels or whatever.  This wasn't easy to find and when I did it was $34.99 for 10 sheets at Staples!  No thank you!

On an unrelated note, I've been ordering vinyl like a nutcase for crafting and have been playing with printable vinyl as well.  At $1.96/sheet, it's about 1/3 cheaper for 10 sheets than the sticker paper would have been, I have lots of other projects to use it for, and I don't have to buy 10 sheets if I don't want to.  Plus, when the ink dries, this vinyl is 100% waterproof.  Win.

Using the Silhouette Studio Print & Cut feature, I brought up a shape that I thought would be pretty and stretched it so it was more oval shapes.  The background pattern is Autumn Paper Damask.  The text is just brown.  The heart shapes are WingDings from a MTF font called "Heart Doodle." "Vanilla Extract" is typed in MTF Mikayla.   "Homemade" and "Made by Gina" are typed in Lemon Chicken.

Once I liked the label, I kept duplicating it til I had all I needed.  I then resized it based on a quick glace at a wooden ruler on the bottles.  I swear, creativity is half inspiration, half perspiration, half keeping your fingers crossed that you aren't wasting $2 in paper because you can't be arsed to take calibrated measurements with curved tools and markings.  Print, Cameo Cut, & adhere vinyl to bottle...perfection!

The only thing missing now is shrink bands.  I'm not ready to seal it up just yet.  I've been keeping an eye on the color and I'm also considering putting fresh beans in the bottles with a note about topping off with vodka before I give them away.

I swear I can smell fresh-baked chocolate cookies when I look at these.

Notes- I decanted from the stainless steel thermos into these bottles a few weeks ago.  The thermos had 4 beans, one bean/4oz or 1/2 cup.  These are 4oz bottles and each have 1 bean inside now.  Industry standard is 0.8 beans/cup so you can reasonably assume that store vanilla has less than half of a bean in 4oz.  Sounds kinda bland.


Silhouette Card Making

I rarely give cards when I give gifts.  They always seem like a waste of trees to me.  I have been slowly getting into card making with my Cameo and just wanted to share some!

This first one was done for my dad's birthday, using a Chomas Creations pen holder.  Want to win a marker holder??  GO HERE!  Closes in 10 hours :)

Print & cut card, also for my dad, using free files from Bird's Cards and brown twine

Xbox controller print & cut, also from Bird's Cards

Tetris Card- it was free somewhere on the internets, I think I found it on 4Shared but I cannot find it!  Also, each block was individual.  Shoot me.

Bird house- also from Bird's Cards

Pretty card, card shape also Bird's Cards (sense a theme?  Lots of great free files there!), sun shape I believe was cameo stock and cut in gold vinyl.

New baby card for my cousin.  Card is from the Silhouette Store and everything was colored with Print & Cut.


Craft Room Crisis!

***First- if you want to win a marker holder for your Silhouette Cameo completely FREE, go here!***

Today I'm doing a lot of brainstorming and wandering around stores taking pictures of containers.  This is because (since the military sent the hubby on a year+ long "vacation) my son and I are staying with my parents, and my mom was nice enough to let me turn her formal dining room into my craft room.  The thing is, the furniture is heirloom, so A) It needs to stay protected and B) It is not going anywhere!

I've been trying to work with it-basically using a tablecloth to protect the table is as far as I've gotten there- but stuff is starting to take over and my mom keeps hinting about all the storage stuff at Michael's.  What I wouldn't give for an IKEA right now!

Anything that hangs on the walls is out.  Anything permanent is out.  Replacing any furniture is out.  In addition, I have to rent a trailer to get all our stuff home, so easy of moving (and lightweight) is a high priority.

Let me show you what I'm working with so far:

A plus- the table is large!
A minus- that chandelier (and two sconces that you can't see yet) don't provide nearly enough light.

Only one corner has anything in it- see that chair with the porcelean dolls?  Since I have a toddler I may convince my mom to let me stick that safely in the closet, therefore opening up that last corner for space.

This end of the table holds the Cameo, the Cameo Kits (top chair) and the Cameo mat (side chair).  I kept losing track of the mat in the clutter, so on the chair it goes.  I also tossed a heat transfer shirt project there, since the material is in that blue box.

Over here we've got the space where my laptop goes (and where I sit) when crafting, my caddy of tools, and a new toy, a Sizzix Big Shot and related accessories.  I was given that as a gift just yesterday and I honestly thing considering the space and the size of the accessories it's going to need it's own card table or something.

That far chair holds stuff I still need to personalize or otherwise craft.

These last two chairs hold materials.  The far chair holds card stock.  The bottom chair holds vinyl of all types and sizes.  Matte, gloss, permanent, repositionable, printable, patterned, frosted, glitter....all in one big pile.

The china cabinet and this big empty corner are getting used to hold things for a craft fair this weekend (except for the few cards- those were little projects that I just have displayed).  The bags are also for the show.

Last corner.  My gifted Sizzix Big Shot came with a bunch of gifted felt and foam pieces.  I don't even have a bin for those yet.

So yeah...I'm going to be here for quite awhile longer and this setup isn't working.

I'd like- 
-a work area that isn't soft because it's covered with a table cloth
-a way to sort and organize my materials
-a separate work area for the Big Shot
-a place to store finished projects that isn't in danger of falling off the edge of a display cabinet or on the floor where my toddler tries to use the plates as stepping stones (or flat out steal the stuff he likes!)

It needs to be-
-non-hole-in-wall requiring (or hanging, period. My dad doesn't like even 3M tacky stuff on the walls)
-lightweight (for moving)
-non-built in (for moving)
-not garbage (because I hate wasting money)
-has the potential to work in any house I live in (since we're military)

I do not live near an IKEA where I'm confident I could whip this out in an afternoon.  I also don't live near a Joann's, Archiver's, Hobby Lobby, or Container Store.  I have Wal-Mart, a small Target, a small Michael's, and a TJ Maxx.

Suggestions welcome!  All I've got in my head is the Recollection storage at Michael's or the junky plastic 3-drawer stuff at Wal-Mart, with a plastic card table or two.