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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Crowns With A Twist

I was playing around with wire today and had to try a princess crown!  These crowns were made using 16 gauge aluminum wire.

I made the crowns using this template I made with a scrap of wood and some head-less nails.  Not all of the nails were headless, I just used my wire cutters to pop off the heads on the rouge nails.  Obviously, the nails were just whatever I dug up from the bottom of my nail drawer...
Yes, I have a nail drawer and it is not full of polish :0}

Here is a close up of how I wrapped the wire.  I started my end piece of wire on the bottom nail at the far right.  The free end is on the top of the nail.  I held that loose end on the nail, wrapped the wire under the bottom nail on the far left, then across the bottom and up the far right nail.  From here, I wrapped the wire a little differently on the top row of nails vs. the row of nails that runs through the middle. 

BTW, I am sure this all sounds like a jumble of words, but if you look in the picture you can make out how the crown was formed.  I wrapped the wire up the left side of the top nails, around the nail, and crossing over the wire that was just taken up.  When running the wire around the middle nails, I went down the right side of the nail, up the left and did NOT cross the wire.  Again, see the loops above.  The crown was finished off by taking the wire straight down and cutting it just below the bottom of the crown.

I took the wire off the nail former, then used my pliers to make the loops tight.  As you can see above, I pinched closed, then turned slightly each tip of the crown.   

Sorry for the WAY BLURRY pic.  It is kinda tricky doing this and taking a picture at the same time ;0}
Once the tips were formed, I went back through the valley points of the crown and tightened the "U" looking valleys into "V" looking valleys.

Much better, right?  Now I need to go buy myself a soldering iron and attach those ends...but that will be another day.

When I set about embellishing the crown, I thought it looked like it needed a middle band below the valleys.  I added two more nails to the side so I could wrap around those as well.

I wanted to give you an idea of how I take the wire off the form.  It IS going to get a little screwy.  I just start at one side, loosening each loop until the whole thing is off.

This is what it looked like when I took it off the form.

Here it is again after pinching the tips and valleys.  Still not looking much like a crown.

Better, but it kinda makes me thing either of a Jester, or the Statue of Liberty.  Hmmmm...I ended up twisting the valleys 2 or 3 times to make them shorter.  By doing that it made more space between the valley and that top band.  

Looks much better!  And how about a little bling?  A crown HAS TO have BLING!

I added a little lace here and there.  With a little hot glue and some fun little embellishments the crowns really turned out fabulous.


I also made a flower form.  There ended up a lot of wire in the middle, but it still turned out cute.  I plan to try another flower a little more like the crown with more nails in the center, but it will have to wait for another day.

Same flower, different center.

Still working out the kinks with the "LOVE" for the wedding favors, but they turned out pretty well to!

If the kids are bored, send them outside with a hammer, nails, and a roll of wire.  I am sure they will amaze you with all that they can create!




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ToolBox Tuesday- Dremel 4000


I have been working on a couple HUGE projects lately.  These little chunks of tree are at the top of my list.  I have been so knotted up about getting them done, I made a little rule that I cannot do anything else until I have emptied a bucket of prepped nuggets each morning.  I have some 400 to finish and I just started the actual carving process Monday.

I am using my Dremel to do the carving.  I am working on birch wood, hence, all the peelys all over the place.  Aren't the heart peelys cute!?!  The first time I looked down and saw them I was so excited.  I wanted to pick them all up and keep them...for I don't know what.  They are just so cute!

I have had this Dremel for over a year and this is the first time I have used it.  I love it, BTW.
Obviously I am not an expert, but I can tell you a couple things I have learned about carving out shapes with a Dremel.  I am going to list them here because I could not find the info anywhere online.
I guess that makes this post NOT a Toolbox Tuesday, but a ...
It is Tuesday, right?  

I can never keep track.

Dremel 4000 Series Corded Rotary Tool Kit
Here are the basics.  I purchased THIS kit from Home Depot for $99.
It came with all sorts of fun attachments.

For carving or engraving, only one was really useful.  
107
I believe it is this one, Dremel's Engraving Cutter number 107
I am sure all the others have their uses, but for this project, I really recommend the 107.

Here is mine looking all used.

It is important to first make a "stop cut."  A stop cut is basically making a cut to mark the lines, plus serves as a "stop" point for all your other cuts.  Think of it as the outlining your project.  For this basic carving, the 107 bit worked great.  I had a wide area for the outline.  There are several bits for smaller, thinner cutting as well, so use one of those if you lines are less pronounced.

Here is my first stop-cutted piece of birch.  I found the birch wood a little tricky to carve into with all of it's peely layers.  It was really fun to pull off the outer layers of the heart and expose the lighter under-layers, but in general, if you are new at this, don't start with birch.  These hunks of wood are to become wedding favors, so we wanted them white, but I would maybe consider spray painting regular bark white if white is the color you are looking for.  

The next tip is to use old wood.  Typically you need to let wood rest for about a year to dry out on it's own so that you can carve and not risk the wood cracking.  Now that I have told you that, my wood was NOT old.  All of the birch I have was from our freak ice storm we had a couple months ago in Sioux Falls, SD.  Eli and I went driving around, asking people for their discarded birch branches just for this project.  I used a band saw to cut the chunks, mainly because I wanted them more randomly cut.  However, the green wood kept catching on my band saw blade and eventually rendered it useless.  I had to finish the branches up on my miter saw, but I still had one get caught on the miter saw's teeth...{Don't tell my husband.  The branch is still there.  I will get around to telling him later ;0}

So, there is my first empty bucket.  Each bucket holds about 60-70 wedding favors.

Once they were all stop-cutted, I had to figure out how to clean all the wood out of the middle. 

These are all the bits I used trying to clean out the center scraps.

Starting from the left:
107-same as I used for the stop cutting.  Fail.  It left the wood terribly gouged and even a little hairy
next, 115- Eeeeeh, it worked, but not fabulously. 

These two were cut with the 115.  I actually like these ones best cause they look all carved and stuff, but the bride wanted a smooth look.  115-fail.


Back to the picture, third one, the big grinding stone # 8215-hmmm...

 I really didn't like it.  It was slow.  It did cut the wood smooth eventually, but to do 400 with it would take forever.

I will just say that the fourth and fifth were total fails and not even bother looking up the numbers.

The bit that actually worked the total best of all the ones tried above, 
428
Bit #428, the carbon steel brush.  
Here is what Dremel says about what bit 428 is good for:
  • Ideal for cleaning and removing rust and corrosion from items made of brass, copper or other soft ferrous metals-such as tools, door knobs, automobile parts and electrical contacts
  • You can also use wire brushes to create an artistic effect on coarse-grained wood
  • Its shape makes it well suited for cleaning flat surfaces
  • Perfect for getting into hard-to-reach places like slots

OK, well, add cleaning out hearts to the list.  I am sure it was not made for this purpose, but it works far better and faster than any other bit I tried.  I have looked all over online and found no advice about what tip to use to clean out wide areas of wood when carving.  I guess that means that MY SUGGESTION is to use this little wire bit that makes me think of Mary Poppins and that makes me start singing "Chim chim-in-ey, Chim chim-in-ey, Chim chim cher-ee" all the day and into the night.

And there we have it.  Smooth, fabulous hearts to remind the guests of our happy couple's undying love.

Man does my brother owe me big ;0)

Couple other random Dremel thoughts:
I am a woman.  I can totally rock this tool and YOU CAN TOO!
Dremel even sells smaller more womanly versions, but if you never thought of yourself as a "tool lady", try a Dremel.  They have cleaning and polishing bits, sanding and engraving bits.  You can totally whip one of those out and engrave your kid's name on their lunch box if you want to!

Are you a little arthritic?  I am too.  I get terrible hand cramps and have to have my hubbs massage my palms just about every night.  I totally worked the Dremel so that I could carve and not have to grip in that way that sets off my pain.  When I am rich and famous I will spring for this:
225-01
They call it the flex shaft.  You just hook that up to the machine, then you plug your bits into the end piece.  Then you have a lighter, pencil-like want to grasp instead of holding up the whole big Dremel.  We crafters need to take care of our hands!  By the time I finish carving out 400 of those hearts I might need tiny wheelchairs for my fingers.

One last thing I want to tell you, how easy it is to replace the bits!
Here is my Dremel all covered in today's layer of sawdust.  Did I mention that using a wire brush to whir out the tree bits is a little messy???  I need to!  Anyway, see the two blue buttons.  The long one is the on/off switch.  That cute little triangle button is the lock button.  

When you press it it stops the shaft from turning so you can unloosen the "collet nut" or that little black knobby thing the bit is held in with.

When you loosen the knobby thing, you can just pull that bit right out.  

Now that I have the wire brush out, I want to get my Dremel ready for tomorrow morning's bucket of wood.
You can see the pieces and the process of putting this guy back together again.  On the left is the
Dremel.  To the right of it is the collet, then the collet nut, the outer cap or housing cap, and then the bit that I am going to use tomorrow.

I put the collet into the Dremel first.  The collet in the picture above is not pushed in all the way, just so you can see the separate part, but you need to push the collet in all the way.  It is not hard.  It should just slide right into the shaft.

Next I put the collet nut over the collet and screw it on just a tad.  It should not be tight.  Once the collet nut is on, I insert the bit I plan to use. 

When inserting the bits, I push the selected bit in as far as it will go, then pull it back out just slightly, maybe 1/8-1/4 of an inch.  

When the bit is in, I use my fingers to tighten the collet nut the rest of the way.  It only needs to be tightened finger tight, meaning you can un-tighten it with your fingers still.  Don't over-tighten the collet nut.  

That feature really makes the Dremel nice for women.  We might need help getting a pickle jar open now and then, but the collet nut we can do!  There is a tiny little wrench included with your rotary tool if you tighten that collet nut too tight.

Remember to push that cut little triangle button to engage the shaft lock when tightening everything up.

Last, I place the cap back on and turn it snug, then the tool is ready to go!

My next bucket of tree chunks is calling my name.  Good thing my children have trained me to ignore the whining :0}  "Tomorrow," I yell.  I did my bucket for today.

Did you know you can use a Dremel to cut a Jack O'Lantern???  How about groom your pet's nails???  Check out this page on Dremel's website to see more projects you can use your Dremel Rotary Tool for!

***Disclaimer: There are tons more things to say and show you about the Dremel.  I am sure I left out other important safety tips so be sure to read through your instruction manual before using!!!  Failure to do so is your own fool fault :0)


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scout Camp Hygiene Roll-Up

My baby boy is off to Scout Camp tonight.  I don't quite know if I should cry cause I will miss him, or cheer because the computer will once again me mine!!!

Hardly a new concept, I made a hygiene roll-up for him to take to scout camp.  Knowing the typical boy scout, then knowing my son, I am doubly sure hygiene will not be top on his list this next week.  I made the roll-up in hopes he will actually use it, know where it is, and put everything back inside it's assigned pockets each day ALL WEEK :0)

Here is how I made it...
I took Eli down the towel isle at Target and let him pick the hand towel of his choice.  
Given his favorite color is green, this reversible stripe-ish number was the one he chose.

You really can't get more basic as far as sewing projects go.  I folded the towel into thirds the long way, folding bottom edge under first, then folding it one third of the way up.  

I stitched the two sides shut, sewed a line down the center of the pocket, and then sewed a line on each side of that center line making four equal sized pockets.

This is kinda a weird view, but I wanted to show you how the top of the pocket is actually folded over.  I am hoping it will help keep the shampoo and other items from falling out...kinda a second line of defense against typical boy-isms.

Of course I forgot to add the elastic the first time through, so I had to unpick, insert the elastic, and then re-stitch that side shut.  I made sure to go over the areas with the elastic a good couple times to be sure it wasn't going to pull loose.

In go all the hygiene supplies.  There is a pocket left for bodywash, or bug spray or whatever we happen to put in there. 

By using a hand towel, I was able to fit all the travel sized items inside the pockets completely.  Also, the top flap of towel is available for wiping his face or something.

The top flap folds down to keep everything nice and safe.

Once everything is in it's pocket, the elastic wraps around and keeps the wad of cleanliness nice and secure in a compact little roll.  Maybe when he misses his mommy {yeah right!  Like I will cross his mind} he can even snuggle this little token of love and smell that familiar ozone smell from my sewing machine. 

And that is it.  I guess I will soon hand my boy his Scout Camp Hygiene Roll-Up, sleeping bag, etc, and kiss him goodbye, leaving him in the hands of his Scout Master.  May the angels in heaven keep him safe.  Knowing my son, I think the angels of heaven will have a busy week ahead of them ;0}