Categories
Blog Tutorial

Handmade Gift DIY – Wood Plaque Photo Transfer

IMG_1489

 
 

My mom knows that she is probably going to get some kind of handmade gift from her artist daughter for just about every occasion and she is fine with it. But i won’t give gifts that aren’t useful and/or memorable. Believe me, there are a lot of weird and random craft ideas out there that I would never give as a gift. This project passes the “great gift” test with flying colors.

 

It’s a very easy project, unfortunately, you will most likely have to make a trip to the craft store before you start. Unless you are an artist, it is doubtful you have gel medium on hand, and nobody I’ve ever met keeps a supply of blank wooden plaques hanging around. But if you are anything like me, you are at the craft store at least once a week (who am I kidding, I am there almost daily). No need to use your good art supplies on this one. The regular brand of gel medium available at the craft store is great for this.

red scorpio mothers day craft

red scorpio mothers day craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also you will need a laser print or photo copy of the photo you are transferring. Ink jet prints will not work. When you print your image, do not forget to reverse it so that when it’s transferred onto the plaque it’s the right way. This is especially important if your image includes lettering, or is a photo of your childhood home which you are giving to your mother as a gift.

red scorpio mothers day craft

 

 

 

 

Trim the image to fit the plaque. Paint both the printed image and the plaque with a nice, even coating of gel medium. Carefully lay the image face down on the plaque, making sure there are no bubbles, and smooth it down. Try not to press the paper over the edge of the plaque, and wipe up any gel medium that oozes over the edge. That stuff dries as hard as plastic and is a real pain to get off without marring the edges of your image. Let it dry completely.

red scorpio mothers day craftred scorpio mothers day craft

 

Once it’s dry, soak the paper well with water and let it set for a minute, then rub the paper off with your fingers, rinsing occasionally. PRO TIP: don’t let the paper go down the drain. Just like magic, the image will be transferred onto the wood. After it dries, you will notice that there is still some paper left and you’ll have to wet it and rub it some more. You’ll probably have to do this a few times before all of the paper is gone. Tiny bits of the image will get rubbed off too, but it just adds to the hand-made coolness of the project.

 

red scorpio mothers day craftred scorpio mothers day craft

red scorpio mothers day craft

 

 

 

 

 

I finished this one with a couple of eye screws and some wire i had on hand, and it looks gorgeous. Mom is going to love it!

 

red scorpio mothers day craft

Categories
Blog Tutorial

“Leaves of Gratitude” Centerpiece – Craft Tutorial

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US, and it’s my favorite Holiday. It combines many of the things I love: eating comfort foods, being thankful, and taking naps on the couch. Also, I am in love with leftovers, and Thanksgiving pretty much rules at that. Remember Ross’ sandwich? You know you are winning at leftovers when the best show ever writes a whole episode about it. 

 

[Tweet “Thanksgiving is pretty much unscathed by commercialism, although that is a losing battle.”]

Cheesy handmade decorations are still acceptable, encouraged even, and sometimes, very cool. That is the case with this easy and family friendly centerpiece craft, “Leaves of Gratitude”.

 

I wanted to make something that wasn’t complicated, because this time of the year is bananas for makers, but that would look really nice on the Thanksgiving table, and I wanted it to be interactive, but all the messy stuff could be done beforehand.

 

To make this craft, you need colorful paper, white glue, and bamboo skewers. First, I downloaded a free leaf template from the internet. It is, of course, possible to draw your own leaf, but I needed 26 identical leaves, and that’s just too hard to draw. At least, for me it is. I made a sheet of leaf outlines in Keynote. You could also use Powerpoint or Illustrator or something similar to do this step. If you don’t have a program like that, or don’t know how to do such a thing, you are going to have to trace your leaves by hand. Sorry!

 

printed leaves

 

 

Cut out your leaves. This is the hardest part, really. Unless you have to trace them by hand, then that is the hardest part. Still, it’s not rocket science. Because you are going to glue two leaves back to back, take a minute to match them up for the best fit.

 

matched leaves

 

Apply a little bit of glue at each point, and a lot of glue in the middle where you’re going to stick the skewer.

 

leaf and glue

 

Make a leaf sandwich.

 

leaf sandwich

 

When your family arrives on Thanksgiving day, ask them to take a leaf and write on it what they are grateful for, then display the leaves of gratitude on your table.

 

 

gratitude inscription

 

I used some glass pebbles to help the leaves stand up, but if you don’t happen to have them, they aren’t super necessary. I really wanted to use dried beans, because I thought that would look cool, but I didn’t have any.

 

 

leaf bouquet

 

I can’t wait to take this sentimental centerpiece to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner next week. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone writes on their leaves.

Have a wonderful week and a very happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

Categories
Blog Creativity

Need a Reason to Have Fun? I’ve Got One For You.

July 2015 was a crazy busy month for me. I was prepping for my second week-long trip to San Francisco this year to be in the studio audience for Megan Auman’s Make a Living Selling What You Make boot camp at CreativeLive. No problem. While is was at CreativeLive, I would also be filming a “student story” video, and I needed to create a mock studio that I could pack into a suitcase so they could film me working on my jewelry. Um, ok.

 

I also had committed to writing two guest blog posts, as well as a week-long series called “Halftime Tune-Up” for my own blog. Normally, I blog once a week. At the most. IRL it’s more like once a month, but evidently I’d lost my mind and promised my readers a new blog post every day for a week to help them get back on track for the second half of the year. WTF was I thinking?

 

On top of all of that, I had signed up to participate in an “artists’ envelope swap”, coordinated by Mark Montano, because he is my crafty hero. But all of this work stuff was taking up so much time.

 

[bctt tweet=”Chronic over-scheduling is a problem for me, and I know I am not alone.” username=”redscorpiomade”]

 

My ADD was kicking in big time. There was much to do, and it was taking every bit of my willpower to stay on task, because I really wanted to take a break and just play with some crafty stuff. The envelopes needed to be finished and mailed off to Mark so that they could be distributed to all the participating artists. I lamented to Greg that I wanted to decorate the envelopes, but with all of the important stuff that was going on, I could see no reason to do it. It would be just for fun. “Fun is a reason,” he told me.

 

[bctt tweet=”Fun is a reason.” username=”redscorpio.com”]

 

 

AES - 8

 

Of course it is. I know that. I myself have told other people pretty much the same thing. Why did I need to hear it from someone else? We all look to external sources for validation. We all give our friends and loved ones inspirational advice that we never take for ourselves. Why is that??  I have no clue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But let’s do this: let’s all try to take our own advice from now on. And let’s surround ourselves with positive people who will give us loving advice when we need it, just in case we won’t listen to ourselves. We’re pretty stubborn.

 

AES - 1

 

 

I took a break and decorated the envelopes. I finally got to use some matryoshka stamps I’d been dying to play with, and they turned out super cute! The project didn’t take that long, and when I was finished, I felt refreshed and ready to get back to work.

 

AES - 7

 

So go on and have some fun. It’s a perfectly legitimate reason.
 

Categories
Blog

Is “Crafter” a Dirty Word?

[Tweet “Crafter, maker, artist, artisan… what do you call yourself?”]
 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.

 

All things being equal, I would prefer to call myself a crafter, because I craft things. As in, I take raw materials and I make stuff with my two hands. But when my sister recently referred to me as a crafter on Facebook, I cringed. I don’t call myself a crafter, and many other crafters eschew that term. Why is that? I guess because when I think of “crafter” it’s more a gender neutral way of saying craftsman, but when most people hear “crafter” they tend to think of someone who uses hot glue and pompons. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.

 

 

I tried out “artisan” for a while, because that seems respectable and a little easier to say with confidence than “artist” which, having no formal art education, can kind of stick in my throat. It just seems to confuse people though. “Maker” is the term a lot of people use because it’s versatile and carries the same esteem as “artisan”, but it’s a little more 21st century. When people ask what I do, I tell them I’m a maker. It seems to be the most fitting description. Aside from crafter.

 

 

Categories
Blog

Handmade Gifts That Don’t Suck

·Handmade gifts don’t suck

 

Let’s just start with that. If you make something with your hands and put your heart & soul into it, it’s not going to suck even if it doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped. Handmade is beautiful.

But…

Just because something is handmade does not mean it automatically makes a great gift. I am going to go out on a limb here and say your Dad probably doesn’t want a yarn wrapped tin can pencil holder for his desk. Unless you are like seven, and then he would for sure love it. If you are older than 18, you need to up your game.

So, I wrote a book to help you out. You’re welcome!

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
Actual crafts you will learn about in this book!

 

The gifts in this book are easy enough that they can be made well by people with even limited crafting experience, they are quite nice to look at, & they are useable.

I will teach you some impressive skills such as glass cutting, soldering and image transfer, and show you how to use them to create awesome gifts.

Bonus: there are several crafts in here you can make for the fellas in your life, and they are notoriously hard to craft for. Believe me. I make jewelry as my regular job. Not super guy-friendly.

To celebrate the release, I’m having a super cool giveaway.

Not only can you win copies of the book, you can also score some of the awesome samples I created while writing the tutorials. Rad!

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
Actual prizes you can win in this giveaway!

 

 

Here’s how:

1) Tweet about it

[Tweet “‘Handmade Gifts That Don’t Suck’ – available now! Win cool swag here:”]

2) Share this page using the sharing buttons below.

3) Sign up for book release updates below

4) Like Red Scorpio on Facebook

5) If you already like RS on FB, then comment on a post

6) Let me know on my Facebook page what you’ve done to enter & I’ll double your entries

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
Actual “Table of Contents” from the book!

 

Winners will be chosen at random today, April 3rd, 2015 and all of the usual rules apply.

Good luck!

Update: The contest has ended. Thanks for all who entered! You can still buy this rad book though.

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.

 

Categories
Blog Tutorial

Terra Cotta Pot Makeover

Are you ready to spring forward? Not me. Setting the clock ahead an hour is not my favorite thing. But what choice do I have? I guess I’ll just embrace the change, and prepare for Spring with this easy as pie way to spruce up a flower-pot. Prepare to be amazed.

 

Spring is just around the corner, and I know it can’t get here fast enough for my East coast friends. When you are surrounded by a blanket of white, it’s nice to have a happy little houseplant or pot of herbs on a sunny windowsill to brighten your day. This simple faux finish tutorial will show you how to paint a plain pot to match your decor.

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
Super Simple Fancy Faux Finish

 

Pro Tip: If you are planning on potting a plant directly in the flower pot (and not using a plastic pot as a liner), prime it first with latex paint. This will seal the pot and prevent the terra cotta pot from absorbing moisture and damaging the painted finish. If you are making the “Family Tree Centerpiece” from my book, Handmade Gifts That Don’t Suck, there’s no need to prime the pot.

 

 

You will need:

♥ White glue

♥ Craft paint, thinned to the consistency of ranch dressing

♥ Pot, as described above

♥ Two paint brushes

 

Brush on a generous coat of regular old white school glue onto the pot. Then, immediately apply a coat of craft paint over the glue with a very soft brush. Don’t blend the paint with the glue, but just float it on top. Watch and wait as the magic happens right before your very eyes. Let it dry completely before putting a plant into it, but if you’re making the centerpiece from Handmade Gifts That Don’t Suck it should be good to go as soon as it’s dry to the touch.

Check out the video:

 

 

 

Categories
Blog

Handmade Valentine’s Day Card. Awwww!

I have been writing so much lately about goal setting, people are probably thinking “Uh, hey when are you going back to writing about handmade stuff?”

Right now.

 

What a great week. I have been crafting my little heart out over here in Redscorpioland, and how appropriate since it is going to be Valentine’s Day very soon.

 

Back when I was a kid, a long long time ago, we had the lamest Valentine’s Day cards available to us. Hearts and stuff, with the most eye-roll inducing puns. No superheroes, and no candy. Or even worse, conversation hearts. Did you know they are made of bone meal and earwig honey? Gross.

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
I’d rather starve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a big deal nowadays though. And a great time for kids are parents to get together and make some simple & cute handmade cards. My kids do not pass out Valentine’s to their classmates at community college, but I still make a handmade card for my sweetie almost every year.

 

This is the card I made for him this year. (He walked by my work table and saw me making it so the surprise is already blown. Hello, Dear.)

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
Happy Valentines Day!

 

I call this technique ‘faux linocut’ and it works great for making a special card for your sweetheart, or 30 cards for the whole class.

It’s super easy & kid friendly because it doesn’t require any cutting. The hardest part is remembering that everything you do to the stamp must be in reverse so it prints properly.  I should say that is the hardest step for me. It helps to pre-sketch or print your design in reverse and then copy or trace it onto the stamp. Then your brain doesn’t need to try to reverse the image, just copy what’s on your sketch. Yes, I had to do that.

 

Yes, I did have to write GnR backwards and copy it.
Yes, I did have to write GnR backwards and copy it.

 

All you need is “fun foam” or craft foam (preferably the self stick kind. That saves you the step of gluing the foam to the base and the time it takes for the glue to dry), and a rigid base. We happened to have some nice wood squares about 3″x3″ and one inch thick. Anything about that size that is smooth and rigid will do.

 

Just a wood block and some craft foam
Just a wood block and some craft foam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a pencil or a dried up ballpoint pen, draw your design into the foam. As you can see in the picture below, I have a dried up ballpoint dedicated to embossing. I take it very seriously. Wherever you draw, the foam will compress leaving a permanent groove. Be very careful drawing the design because once the foam is mashed down by the pencil, it will not bounce back. There’s no erasing with this project.

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
First Attempt

 

When you are happy with your design, use a wide brush to apply a light layer of craft paint to a paper plate, or plastic tray or something similar and tap your stamp in it til it’s evenly coated.

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
Tray of Paint

  

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
Juiced up stamp

 

Carefully stamp your custom design onto your card. Blammo.

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
Awwww

 

 

This is a perfect example of my favorite kind of craft; one that is so simple and yet you could get very creative and make it super complex and elaborate. And they are reusable, just wipe clean after stamping! 

 

Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my favorite way to make cards. Here’s an anniversary card I made using this technique.

 

Categories
Blog

Flashback Friday ~ If You Are Going to Craft, Do It Right

Finishing up some orders so they will get where they are going in time for Christmas. I still have a lot of nice jewelry in my shop if you are looking for a neat and different gift for the spicy lady in your life. Greg has some calendars which are pretty spectacular too. Or maybe you will make your own gifts this year. That is awesome. Whatever you do, please read this flashback from March first. You will be glad you did.

 

I do crafty stuff all the time, but often forget to photograph my projects and take notes so I can blog my creations. I am getting better, though. However, I would rather not blog than to post a craft idea that is untested or doomed to failure. I also will not post craft ideas that are lame or ugly. I read a variety of craft blogs and some of the crap that gets posted is embarrassing. A lot of it is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve seen some DIYs that are D-I-no thanks.

some cool earrings I made
some cool earrings I made

Not trying to be a hater, I just don’t think you’re doing anyone a favor by posting a crap craft idea just so you have something to post.

 

Case in point: A blogger who I recently began following posted some ideas for Valentines day and one idea was a photo coaster. I was intrigued so I clicked the link for instructions. Basically, buy a coaster size wooden plaque blank, paint the edges and then Mod Podge a photo onto the top. Now I am not criticizing this idea because it is too easy. Some of the best ideas are the simplest. I am criticizing the horrid technique.

 

WiR 1017145
I made this lovely necklace too

First off, the author doesn’t specify that you need to use a laser copy for this project. You simply cannot use ink jet prints to decoupage. The decoupage medium instantly causes the inks to run and bleed. You must use a laser print or photocopy.

Second, this blogger instructs you to seal the coaster with 2 coats of Mod Podge. Nope. You could seal it with fifty coats of Mod Podge and as soon as you set your wet glass on it would be ruined. Mod Podge is not a sealer or a finish, even though the label says it is. Trust me, I know from experience. Mod Podge glossy will stay tacky-ish almost indefinitely. Even if you never set a glass on these coasters, if you stacked them they would bond together after a very short time.

 

Sparkly ring
I make these for fun

This is not a Mod Podge hate fest, I myself use it almost daily, but any crafter who tells you to seal a project with Mod Podge is wrong, frankly. There, I said it. You must use some sort of finish over Mod Podge to properly finish it. Even the folks at Mod Podge will advise you to use sealer.

 

 

Mod Podge now comes in a dozen “flavors” now, so last time I was at the craft store I checked them out. I was curious whether Mod Podge’s Outdoor formula would work for a project I was creating. Upon reading the instructions I learned that it would need to cure for FOUR WEEKS before being placed outside. Does that seem reasonable? Not to me. Go buy a can of clear coat for a buck or two at Home Depot and properly seal your project so that it will last a lifetime. You owe it to your crafts and to the special people you make them for.

 

IMG_5322
I stenciled this shirt and blogged about it

 

Here are a few links for some handmade coasters on which you can actually set a drink:

 

 

Categories
Blog

Crafty Football League Blog Hop – Shrink Plastic Charms

This is my first year playing Fantasy Football and it has been pretty fun so far. I’ve been itching to try it, so when Diane of CraftyPod.com sent out an invitation to join the Crafty Football League I immediately jumped on board. And, evidently, each year they have a Crafty FFL Blog Hop. Bonus!

My crafty NFL project is shrink plastic charms. They are super easy and look really awesome. They are very versatile so you can turn them into Christmas ornaments, pendants, key fobs, earrings, magnets, probably a bunch more stuff. Best of all, if you have any #6 plastic take out containers, they are just about free.

 

Trace your image...
Trace your image…

More & more restaurants are switching to #1 and #2 plastic for take out boxes, and that is wonderful because #1 & #2 can be easily recycled, in fact those are the only 2 kinds my recycle bin accepts. If you do happen upon some #6, save it to make shrinkies. You will be helping the planet by not tossing more plastic into the trash and you get to enjoy a super fun and easy craft. Win-win. If you can’t get your hands on #6 plastic, shrink plastic is readily available at craft stores and in the craft department of Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

 

You will need:

  • #6 take out container or store-bought shrink plastic
  • Sharpies
  • Colored Pencils
  • Sandpaper or steel wool
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Craft heat gun or dedicated toaster oven
  • Fork
  • Flat bottom glass
  • Jump rings, wire, cording, or something of your choosing from which to hang your charm.

 

My team is the Raiders. Yes, I know. It was easy enough to get the Raider logo as well as the Charger Bolt (for my nephew) from the internet. Your original image should be no bigger than 4″ x 4″ and probably no smaller than 2″ x 2″.

 

Make sure your container is very clean. Cut out an appropriately sized piece, making sure there is nothing stamped on it (like a big ol’ #6) and wash it off. If you are using store-bought plastic you can skip this step.

CFFL 1014145
#6 Plastic

You should lightly sand it with fine grit sandpaper if you are using colored pencils or if you want a more opaque look but if you use Sharpies, sanding is not necessary. Tape the plastic to the image you’re tracing. This is a very important step, trust me. Start with the outline and the big obvious shapes, then add in the details. If you are using a Sharpie you will notice that it “marks” areas that you have already colored. Don’t worry about that, you will not be able to tell once you’ve shrunk it down.

 

Check to make sure you dont miss a spot
Check to make sure you dont miss a spot

If you make a mistake you can erase it with a Q-tip barely moistened with rubbing alcohol. Once you are satisfied with your design, trim the plastic down to a neat shape and punch your hole. Or holes, depending on how you want it to hang. A regular office-type hole punch is perfect. The holes will seem huge but shrink down to just the right size.

 

Now to color it in…

 

Place your plastic on a heat proof surface (mine is a metal cake pan covered with foil) and shrink it with your crafty heat gun. You could use a toaster oven, if you have a spare, but I wouldn’t shrink plastic in something I cook food in, and the heat gun works pretty well.

Please do this in a well ventilated area! It is very stinky and not good to breathe!

Before you shrink have a flat-bottomed glass handy (with no lettering on the bottom!) so you can press your piece flat if you need to, and try not to blast the plastic off the table with the forced air of the heat gun. I use a fork to hold it in place, and also I try to heat it from above but sometimes I forget. It is going to curl up so don’t freak out. It should straighten itself out, and if not, you can tweak it into submission while it’s still hot. And it will be very hot, so be careful.

 

 

Here is the result! Store bought shrink plastic may give a soother finish (although I wouldn’t know, I’ve never bought the stuff) but I like this imperfect “wabi-sabi” finish. If you’re feeling extra creative, colored pencils work great as well and are permanent once you shrink them.

You might also want to check out this super cool shrink plastic project

 

Yay!
Yay!

 

 

Go Raiders!!

 

Check out what my fellow Crafty Fantasy Footballers made –


Categories
Blog

My Favorite Handmade Gifts – Shrink Plastic Pendant

34 days until Christmas and I still have so many things to do. Pretty much everything. I should take my own advice and start busting out some cool handmade stuff to give to all of the people on my list. Maybe I will make a few of these shrink plastic pendants. They are super easy and look really awesome. Best of all, if you have any #6 plastic take out containers, they are just about free.

More & more restaurants are switching to #1 and #2 plastic for take out boxes, and that is wonderful because #1 & #2 can be easily recycled, in fact those are the only 2 kinds my recycle bin accepts. If you do happen upon some #6, save it to make shrinkies. You will be helping the planet by not tossing more plastic into the trash and you get to enjoy a super fun and easy craft. Win-win. If you can’t get your hands on #6 plastic, shrink plastic is readily available at craft stores and in the craft department of Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

awesome necklace

You will need:
#6 take out container or store-bought shrink plastic
Sharpies
Colored Pencils
Hole punch
Scissors
Craft heat gun
Jump rings, wire, cording, or something of your choosing from which to hang your pendant.

Make sure to do this craft in a well ventilated area!!

Let’s start with the design. I wanted to make a cool pendant for my Mom’s birthday gift, and I happened to have a fierce pic of my Mom and my dad Bob. First, I had to tweak it a little by making it black & white and adjusting the contrast. You can find out how to do this by Googling “picture to stencil”. Here is a great Instructable on the subject. Don’t get hung up on trying to get a super smooth edge. You will be tracing the pic and therefore can take a whole lot of liberties. Alternately you could find some cool clip art. Your original image should be no bigger than 5″x5″and probably no smaller than 3″x3″.

Make sure your container is very clean. Cut out an appropriately sized piece, making sure there is nothing stamped on it (like a big ol’ #6). You should lightly sand it with fine grit sandpaper if you are using colored pencils or if you want a more opaque look but if you use Sharpies sanding is not necessary. Tape the plastic to the image you’re tracing. This is a very important step, trust me. Start with the outline and the big obvious shapes, then add in the details. For a monochromatic piece like this one, make sure you leave blank spaces, in the hair for example, to give it texture. If you are using a Sharpie you will notice that it “marks” areas that you have already colored. Don’t worry about that, you will not be able to tell once you’ve shrunk it down.

these sunglasses look all googly now, but they won’t in a minute

If you make a mistake you can erase it with a Q-tip barely moistened with rubbing alcohol. Once you are satisfied with your design, trim the plastic down to a neat shape and punch your hole. Or holes, depending on how you want your pendant to hang. I made mine into a beaded necklace, so I punched a hole in each top corner. A regular office-type hole punch is perfect. The holes will seem huge but shrink down to just the right size. Place your plastic on a heat proof surface and shrink it with your crafty heat gun. You could use a toaster oven, if you have a spare, but I wouldn’t shrink plastic in something I cook food in, and the heat gun works great.   ***Before you shrink have a flat-bottomed glass handy (with no lettering on the bottom!)  so you can press your piece flat if you need to, and try not to blast the plastic off the table with the forced air of the heat gun. It is going to curl up so don’t freak out. It should straighten itself out, but if not, you can tweak it into submission while it’s still hot. And it will be very hot, so be careful.


Here is the result! Store bought shrink plastic may give a soother finish (although I wouldn’t know, I’ve never bought the stuff) but I like this imperfect “wabi-sabi” finish. If you’re feeling extra creative, colored pencils work great as well and are permanent once you shrink them. My Mom loved her necklace and I bet your Mom would too. I think I will now go make some shrink plastic ornaments for my tree.