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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wedding Printables

Running late {as usual}, I was out of time and needed to start my trek towards Las Vegas.  I really didn't want to leave for the wedding without finishing the vintage signs I had imagined in my mind so I scratched the whole hand-painted idea and just made some printables.  I emailed them over to Office Max to be printed, ran over and picked them up on my way home from Costco, and threw the following wedding signs together as we headed out the door.  Do you ever get the feeling I do my best work when totally out of time?  No, I don't thrive on emergency situations!  Only completely :0)

Here are a couple sneak peeks at the cutest reception I have ever seen in my whole life.  I am choosing to only show you the signs I made :0)  You will just have to wait for the rest.


In case you might want to use these printables yourself, here they are.

For the Cake Table

For the Candy Bar

For the Gift Table

For the Sign-In Table

And the rest are for wherever you might have need for a little more decoration.




You can download these files HERE with Dropbox.  Happy Wedding Bells :0)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ToolBox Tuesday: The Scroll Saw

 The Scroll Saw was my very first, very own Power tool.  I totally love the Scroll Saw!!!  It is the most useful, versatile saw a crafter can own.  I have used my scroll saw to cut wood from 1/8"-2" thick, foam, Styrofoam, cardboard, dowels, pipe, and even some crazy mediums like resin and plastic.  I have cut very intricate, scrolly things, and your run-of-the-mill straight cuts.  I had someone ask me a few weeks ago about getting a "Jig Saw" that sits on a stand.  As far as I know, that is actually a scroll saw.  I think they used to call them jig saws because people used them to make those wooden jig saw puzzles, but a Jig saw and a Scroll Saw are two very different things.  



Here is a Jig Saw-useful for cutting a huge piece of wood, maybe a sheet of plywood or something you can't fit on a saw table.  I have owned a couple in my early days, and will never, EVER own one again.  Not worth the money and they give your shoulder a jiggle it will never forget.


Here is a Scroll Saw- a blade in the middle of an attached table.  The table can be tilted by measurable degrees too, by the way, making angled cuts as well as straight cuts.  

The first scroll saw I ever used was my Father-in-law's RBI. 


 RBI's are well over $1000.  The blades are held in by little chucks.  I found the chucks extremely frustrating. If you screw them together too tight, you break the blades...too loose, your blade wiggles out.  I could never get it just right.

When looking for a saw to purchase, my husband and I disagreed on the blade orientation.   He wanted a scroll saw that used straight blades.  After fighting with that dumb RBI and it's lame blade chucks, I couldn't understand why anyone would pass up a pinned blade machine if they had the chance at stress-free blade changes. 

Here are what straight blades look like- flat on the ends.

Here are what pinned blades look like-with tiny metal dowels in both ends to keep the blade in place.

***Personal Opinion Time***
If you are at all machinery challenged, and not spending $500+ on a machine, you may want to consider a pinned machine to avoid hours of frustration :0)  These machines have a well the pin sits in.  You place the blade where it goes, tighten it, then you are ready to cut.

 Since the saw was MY Mother's Day gift {and my husband had the nerve to ASK me what I wanted} I won!  I never regretted the decision to go with pinned blades.  They were so easy to install and I had absolutely no worry about how tight I tighten the blades.  If we are getting technical, I think the pinned blades are a sckooch more expensive....but you still get a dozen for less than 10 bucks.

The first saw I owned was nothing other than a handy dandy Craftsman 14" Scroll saw purchased for $109 in 2002.  I used it constantly for nearly 10 years and have nothing bad to say about it.   When the clippie money started to roll in, the first tool I purchased was the Dewalt 20" Scroll Saw for two reasons....One, I was afraid my current saw would not survive another Super Saturday workload, and two, I wanted a larger table.  Not often, but often enough to be annoying, the 14" just wasn't big enough for my projects. 

What on EARTH does the number of inches mean???
It is simply the measured inches between the blade and the back of the machine, or in other words, the number of inches you can saw a straight line before you hit the back of the machine with your wood and can't cut any more.    

One more thing ***VERY IMPoRTANT***when picking a machine-Please make sure it has a heavy cast iron table.  You want a sturdy table to keep vibrations low and to properly support your project as you cut.

Now to see the beast in action!




So here is my sweat saw.  I love it.  This Dewalt was the highest ranked scroll saw under $1000 when I was looking for a new machine.  I purchased it for $450 on Amazon and had it delivered, for free, straight to my door. You can see a few of the important parts, the heavy cast iron table, the arm for attaching the blade, the tension lever, the on/off switch, speed control, and the robotic-looking blower arm.  I should probably mention that you need a sturdy table to set your machine on.  We have never had fancy cabinets in an official, set-up garage.  The first saw just bounced around willy-nilly while I cut.  This saw was to be treated like the princess it is, so I actually PURCHASED, yep, spent even more money, to buy the three-legged stand made to fit beneath it.  Again, clippy money splurge, but so glad I did it and don't have to worry about the saw bouncing off the table anymore :0)  Ah, the reflections of a make-shift life.


All saws do not load the blades the same way.  You can actually check your instruction manual for details on your specific machine, but this machine is SUPER easy to load with new blades.  Like the Band saw, I really recommend Olsen brand blades.  I have bought other brands and have been less than pleased.  Olson has always worked.  I will drive miles out of my way just to buy their blades...even though they are sold on Amazon :0)  {I usually need them right that very minute and can't wait two days for the shipment to arrive}

Anyway, see that little wing-like knob pointed to by the red arrow???  There is one above the table, and one below.  To install a new blade, loosen both, remove any old blade pieces, then put the new blade in place.  It's top should just be visible at the top of that slit in the front of the arm, and the bottom should be inside the slit at the bottom.  Tighten the knobs enough that the blade is secured in place.
***make sure that the tension is totally off when installing a new blade.  You can do that with this machine, by pulling the tension knob lever all the way to Zero.  Once the blade is in place, secured snuggly with both wing nuts tightened, slowly move the tension lever to apply tension.  

Here is the secret for a good cut-a blade that is tight, but not too tight.  You can tell if the blade is tight enough by strumming it like a guitar.  You kind of need some musical background for this, but when you strum the blade, when it is too loose, it will have a flat sound {like when an instrument is flat}.  When it is too tight it will sound sharp.  You want the blade to be just a tiny bit sharp.  This may not make any sense to you now, but try it.  It really works :0)  You will find that spot where the blade is neither sharp nor flat, then tighten it just slightly.  

Now is probably the time to tell you about blade safety.  That would naturally be the time to tell you about getting stitches in my thumb that one summer in Minnesota when I was using my friend's saw.  Take what you want out of this.  In all my years of cutting, I have accidentally hit the saw blade a couple dozen times with my fingers.  If you are only lightly brushing the blade, you will most likely not get a scratch.  This is because the scroll saw does not have a totally tight blade.  It has a little give on most machines. If you are pushing the wood with all your might because you have used the blade past it's natural life, and then you don't watch and notice that your thumb is headed directly for the blade...you are going to need someone to drive you to the ER.  It usually only takes once to learn :0)

Make sure your fingers are nowhere near your cut lines and be aware of where they really are on your project.  Make sure to keep your blade sharp.  When it starts to resist your gentle prodding of the wood, or starts to jump off the line you are trying to follow, it is time to change the blade.  Quite often the scroll saw blades snap in half before you realize they are dull, but not always.  If a blade snaps, it is ok.  Stay calm.  You are not actually going to get hurt, but there is a lot of extra noise.  First, shut off the machine, release the blade tension, then remove all the old blade pieces from your machine.  Install a new blade, re-do the tension on the new blade, then turn the machine back on and continue with your cutting.  If you were in the middle of a cut line when the blade snapped, simply enter the cut line in the same place you entered before, retrace your steps, and start cutting when you reach the break spot again.  

I am sure I am jumping the gun again.  Let's get back to the pictures.   
So, when I am starting a project, I usually cut a pattern out of cardstock, but you can use transfer paper {also known as carbon paper} and trace your design onto the wood or whatever you are using.  When you are ready to cut your pieces, 1-turn the tension knob until the blade is making the right sound when you pluck it.  2-make sure the table is clean and ready for your project.  3- with your fingers and the wood away from the blade, turn the saw on.  You can turn the variable speed adjuster.  I am a horribly impatient person and usually leave it on the fastest speed it has.  Occasionally when I am cutting thin pieces of wood I can tell the blade is cutting too fast for me to follow the lines very well.  When that happens I turn the speed down a couple notches until I am back in control.  4- adjust the blower nozzle to blow right on where the blade cuts so it can blow off the sawdust, leaving your sight free and clear.  Now you are ready to cut. 


The fabulous thing about Scroll Saws is that you can cut just about anything.  With the bandsaw I showed you how you have to chip away the wood for curves and such.  Not so with the Scroll Saw!  You can cut inside corners, outside corners, and even truly inside pieces.

I chose a rather challenging piece to show you.  The scrolling letters in my Hippety Hop sign are a little tricky to get around.  With letters there are several inside pieces that need to come out.  I will show you two different ways to get those pieces out.  The first, I like to call the Lazy Way :0)


If you look at the red line and arrows on the bigger picture above you will see what direction I cut.  I came down from the top, scrolled around the shapes, along the bottom edge, back up and over so I ended back where I started.  When you get a solid chunk cut out like this square-like piece, you can turn the machine off and lift the scrap out of the way.  I like to do that just to make a little wiggle room, but you can just leave it in there if you want.  This is my main point with this technique, see that small line out of the square, that part where the red line runs up along where the first cuts were made?  I don't cut forward on a spot like this.  You are likely to cut away more material, resulting in a huge gap.  I stop the machine, take the scrap out, then back the blade back out that first incision.  Once I get the blade out far enough to get back on the outside line of the H, I turn the wood and keep cutting.


My sign looks something like this.  See all those inside pieces of the p's, y's, and o's?  The following is the method I like to use for those cuts.

I pre-drill a small hole in each spot that is large enough to fit the blade through.  Remember, if you are using pinned blades that your hole needs to be a little larger to fit the pin.


My project looks like this at this point.

Now, 1-release the tension, 2-loosen the top portion of the blade {you might have to loosen the whole blade if your machine requires is, but this one is ok with just one end loosed}.  3-slip the blade into a hole from underneath.  Try not to bend the blade while doing this process.  Once the blade is through the hole, re-attach and tighten the tension on the blade like in photo number 4.  5-Cut.  Before you know it, your inside hole will be cut out completely like in picture number 6.


This inside-hole business is a real pain, but my project wouldn't be nearly as cute without all those pieces cut out.


A little paint, sanding and embellishments...


And I have a super cute Springtime decoration :0)

You can get a decent $100-$150 scroll saw from Home Depot, Lowes, Craftsman, etc. My general observation is that you do not want the MOST cheep tool, but the low end on scroll saws worked fabulously for me.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if you notice some valuable tid-bit of information that I forgot to include in this post.   My email is vanessa.cam5@gmail.com or you can leave a comment and I will respond as quickly as I can.

Happy Sawing!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wedding Pics

Well, I made myself a nuisance again and got the wedding photographer to let me follow her around last weekend while she took pictures of the bride and groom.  How darling are these pictures!?!  

I take no credit for the posing, for I just followed around practicing my metering and aperture adjusting, but I did manage to sneak in a shot or two of my own.


The bride is the oldest daughter of my cousin.  The bride is actually a twin, their poor mama :0)
Sadly, her twin brother was not able to make the wedding as he is serving a mission for their church, but I am certain he will have no shortage of pictures to flip through when he gets back home!







OK, I saved the next three pictures for last because they are my personal favorites.  The bride loves vintage things so I used a vintage 70s action and some textures I have for Photoshop Elements to doctor up these images.



This was my shot.  I grabbed the bride while the photographer was shooting the groom and got a pic of her GORGEOUS lashes!  Love, LoVe, LOVE!!!!

As much as I like all the others, this is my absolute fave.  It sure helps to have such gorgeous people to take pictures of ;0)  Thanks to all involved who let me play around with my camera and such to see what I could come up with.  To the bride and groom, may you enjoy the company of each other for your whole lives and throughout eternity!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Big Caker Weekend

I had a BIG caking weekend, with three cakes/Cupcake towers to make for St. Patrick's Day.  
Here is a quick look at my work.  I tried this ribbon frosting and loved it so much, I ended up using it on all three cakes.  Super cute and thanks to the delicious whipped frosting, Super Yummy!

This cake was for a baby shower.  The sweet mommy is having a baby girl in a little while, and she wanted pink and purple flowers with butterflies.  


I made all the chocolate cupcakes, filled with fudge, with purple frosting and a variety of colored flowers.

I made this batch of butterflies quite quickly actually.  They are completely edible, made from Rice paper you can purchase from the cake supply store for about $.25 each or less.  The sheets are quite similar to regular paper, but made out of rice.  They come 8.5x11 inches.

Since I am a cheater, I used my sizzix to cut out 4 or 8 at a time.

Once cut, I used a food-grade paint brush to brush the luster dust onto the wings.  I brushed a thin layer of thinned-down Caro syrup over the dust.  The cool thing about the corn syrup is that if you only brush it on one side, it causes the wings to curl up, looking like the butterfly is actually 3D.  Love it! 

I did three other flavors of cupcakes, French Vanilla with lemon filling, Carrot with caramel cheesecake filling, and Strawberry with strawberry cheesecake filling.  Yum.

This cake was the topper of the cake tower.  I already had the stand all boxed up and way more work to do, so you will just have to imagine how it would have looked all together.


This cake was for a 4yr old's birthday party on St. Patrick's Day.  She wanted a Hello Kitty cake with shamrocks and rainbows.  This is what I came up with.   

I saw the idea on Pinterest to make rainbows using this candy....
I found it at Walgreens.  It worked like a charm!  There are 12 pieces and you cut each piece in half, so if you don't eat any during the process, you will get 2 dozen rainbows out of one package...about $1.25.

I just frosted them as usual, then added two fat stars in white for the clouds about where I wanted my rainbow to end up.  Then, I just shoved the candy strips in place.  They stayed there and we were both happy :0) 

For the tower topper, I filled chocolate cake with fudge, then frosted with the whipped cream icing.  I made the Hello Kitty, rainbow, and shamrock sign out of wood, then modge podged the printables to the wood.  After a top coat of food-safe sealer, I placed them into the cake.  I like using the wood cutouts so the kids can keep them as a memoir of their party.  


These are the Hello Kitty cupcakes.  I used this Hello Kitty vegetable cutter:
to cut out the Hello Kitties.  It is fabulous!


My final cake was this darling pink cake.  I really should have made the cake strawberry to add to the pink-ie ness of it, but just made all three chocolate to keep things simple.  This cake was for a friend's 40th birthday party. 

I ended up with several pink flowers left over from a previous cake so I added them to the top of the cake.  It worked fabulously, since these cakes are a little tough to finish off the top in a cute way.

I am really loven' the ruffle sides.  I will be using that style a LOT more often.  It was so easy.  You just have to watch that your ruffles go straight up and not end up like a slant.  This technique does require a ton of frosting too.

Whew!  Glad my crazy caking weekend is done.  Now to get ready for the wedding in Las Vegas.  My cousin's daughter is getting married and they are doing the whole reception in Shabby Chic.  Love it!  I am dragging my kids up there to help get things ready.  Wish us all luck!!!