March 27, 2011 § 47 Comments
I have officially jumped on the bandwagon of cake pops. A bit tardy on the trend, but better late than never. For my first endeavor in cake pop creation, I thought to start with something simply and organically shaped — the carrot. Of course, carrot cake is among my favorites. Appropriately so, these carrot cake pops are both carrot in flavor and form.
I had ambitious plans to make my own carrot cake with honey walnut cream cheese frosting. However, considering I have never developed my own carrot cake recipe (yet) and although the recipes I’ve posted here have been my own making, I decided to skip that process by sticking to the tried, tested, and true method of making cake pops — cake mix and ready-made frosting, which is what I discovered online that most people use.
Cake pops are usually in the form of balls, like a lollipop, although they are evolving with more dimension. These carrots are my take on cake pops. If you haven’t seen cake pops before, head straight over to Bakerella, who, from what I gather, is the person to thank for inventing cake pops in general.
I did face one very, very silly conundrum — which side of the carrot to insert the stick. I wanted the cake pop to be held as you would hold the wider end of the carrot when being eaten (meaning the stick is at the top of the carrot). I already knew in advance I wanted paper grass in the photo. The stick being at the top of the carrot, I had the forethought of the carrots appearing to grow upside down and above ground. So with that thought, I was stuck. I chewed it over for a while. But I thought to stick with it. Oh, the little things that confound me.
You will need: carrot cake mix, cream cheese frosting, about three cups of orange candy melts, half a cup of green candy melts, and lollipop sticks. All this stuff is about $10 and yields 20 carrot cake pops.
1. Bake your cake according to package instructions. Let cool. Crumble baked cake into a bowl and mix with 2/3 of the frosting.
2. With clean hands, take about 1/6 cup of cake and form into a carrot shape. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour. NOTE: In hindsight, I realized that I could’ve achieved great details by using the edge of a butter knife to create short horizontal creases, giving more realism and texture to the surface of the carrots. The more organic, the better. I will try this butter knife technique next time.
3. Melt green candy melts. Dip about 1-1/2″ of the lollipop stick. Insert 1″ into the chilled carrot cakes. The candy melt will automatically pool around the lollipop stick.
4. Melt orange candy melts in a tall, narrow container (I used a 6″ mug). I did a cup at a time. Dip the carrot cakes. Tap off excess by holding the stick with one hand and flicking the tip of the stick with fingers of the other hand. Stick into a Styrofoam block and let dry.
Enjoy making these carrot cake pops for Easter!
March 11, 2011 § 4 Comments
March 2, 2011 § 30 Comments
Now, Kill Bill was never nominated for the Academy Awards (it did, however, get best actress and best supporting actor nominations for the Golden Globes). But it was the first movie that popped up in my head after reading the challenge description, perhaps for various reasons. First, I truly enjoyed the Kill Bill movies, lauded for their visually graphic, push-the-envelope, cheeky, not-take-itself-too-seriously approach. Second, I had already crafted a Kill Bill papier maché project many years ago, back in 2003 when Vol. 1 came out and my group of friends decided to dress up as Kill Bill characters for Halloween.
I was Gogo and I devoted a few hours into making a ball and chain weapon using a balloon, newspaper, glue, metallic paint, and a few feet of metal chain from the hardware store. I don’t ever know what happened to that craft and I only have these pictures to remember it. There I am in my cheap black wig, almost eight years ago, flailing my papier maché ball and chain.
Well, I didn’t want to remake the ball and chain from Vol. 1. I feel its duplication would rob me of the experience of creating something entirely new. And sometimes, I really don’t know what overcomes me to come up with some very random crafts. But after googling Kill Bill for this challenge, I wanted to make use of the graphic conveyed in the poster for Vol. 2, and the thought process transpired as follows: death list — grocery list — sword — push pins. Just like that, this one idea came within seconds, which does not happen nearly often enough in my culling of ideas.
The thought process of how-to came rather quickly, too. I had a paperclip right beside my keyboard, and I knew instantly that a miniature sword push pin could be constructed by the simple bending of a paper clip, some 1-1/2″ square paper scraps, glue, black electrical tape, and faux-metal Con-Tact paper (which I’ve recently used to make a faux metal bib necklace and faux metal flowers).
To create your own sword push pins:
1. Stretch a paperclip and bend in half, ensuring that the sides are straight, parallel, and 1/4″ apart. Apply glue on one 1-1/2″ square scrap of paper. Place the paperclip along the edge of the paper and roll, making sure the bend is covered and the two paperclip ends are exposed.
2. Cut a 1-1/2″ x 3/4″ piece of Con-Tact metallic paper.
3. Wrap the Con-Tact paper around the paper-covered paperclip.
4. Cut a 1″ strip of electrical tape. Fold 1/8″ from the edge, sticky sides facing away from each other. Snip 3 little triangles. Unfold and you’ll have 3 diamonds.
5. Affix electrical tape on the top end of the paper-covered paperclip. Again, snip 3 little triangles to appear on the back side.
6. Wrap electrical tape around and trim any excess. This makes the handle.
7. Cut a 1-1/2″ strip of electrical tape. Fold in half, sticky sides facing each other, to make a double-sided square of electrical tape.
8. Cut electrical tape square into a circle. Cut a 1/4″ slit along the center.
9. Slide the paper-covered paperclip through the slit until the circle reaches the bottom of the handle. Trim the circle and round the corners of the handle.
Now, tack onto your cork board to help you attack your lists of to-do’s!
January 30, 2011 § 54 Comments
I promise these are the easiest paper roses you’ll ever make!
The ornamental design of paper doilies is what makes these roses so naturally exquisite. Because the beauty is intrinsic in the material, these paper doily roses require little fuss to look beautiful.
1. Take an 8″ red paper doily and cut a straight line to the center.
2. Roll the doily, making sure the wrong side faces up.
3. Twist the end.
4. You may use floral tape to create a stem, but I used what I found at home — green painter’s tape.
5. Optional: you can cover the stem with ribbon for a more polished look.
There you have it — a paper rose in seconds! These paper doily roses are not only simple to make, they are also very inexpensive. I managed to pick up half a dozen red paper doilies for $1 at the dollar store.
A bouquet of these is certainly a stunning substitute for bows when wrapping gifts, but, with the help of some glue and magnets, I also fancy having a beautiful collection of paper roses on my fridge!
January 8, 2011 § 49 Comments
We can all use a little love to light the night!
Believe it or not, this dazzling heart wall lamp cost me $3 to make. Get out there for some bargain-basement clearance Christmas red lights if you must, because Valentine’s is around the corner and this light fixture project is a great one to accomplish with little investment (and also under little time). I picked up a string of LED lights at Walmart on Tuesday this week for $1.75, down 75% from $7. Come to think of it, even $7 is not too steep an investment, but I’m still very glad I bought it at the right time. You can use foam board, as I have (which I picked up for $1 at the dollar store). I think the material is sufficient for décor, considering this will go on the wall and rarely be handled. But if you want something sturdier, there are other pricier and more demanding options such as masonite and plywood.
You will need a string of 35 lights, a sheet of foam board (cut a 13″ circle and keep the remnants for the wall backing), electrical tape, a craft knife, a pencil, and a cutting mat.
1. Draw a heart on the center of the circle and draw squares along the heart’s perimeter at 7/8″ apart, making sure the size of each square can fit the mount of the bulb.
2. Cut out the squares.
3. Carefully remove the light bulb from the mount. You will not need this step if you have the older style of light bulbs.
4. Feed the mount through the back and feed the bulb through the front. Make sure the bulb is floating somewhat — these lights don’t emit much heat at all, but it’s always great to have a safe precaution.
5. Continue steps 3 and 4 for all bulbs. Tape down any loose, dangling wires.
6. Using 2″ wide strips of foam board, create a wall around the wires in order to hide them from sideview. In hindsight, the only thing I would’ve changed is the shape of the wall around the wires. I should’ve followed the shape of the heart. Though it’s more meticulous, it’s worth not having the corners peep through when viewed from the wrong angle.
Thought this project is a great one to herald my third favorite holiday, after Halloween and Christmas, of course. Lots more creative Valentine’s Day projects in store this month. Can’t wait!
January 4, 2011 § 40 Comments
Excited for what’s to come in 2011, I’ve moved the year forward on my printy-dater as you probably have on yours, too. I figured, why not commemorate our most special occasions this coming year with date-stamped gifts?
There will be lots of gift-giving in store this year, so wrap those gifts in these very custom, personal gift wrap stamped with the celebrant’s or occasion’s special date. I’ve made some samples to show you just how charming date-stamped gift wrap could be. Even on very modest kraft paper (I picked up a generous 12-ft roll for $1 at the dollar store), patterns like stripes, grid, blooms, and herringbone look very well put together.
I have to admit, the fussiest pattern is the herringbone, so you have to give yourself time when creating it. I lightly drew 3/4″ x 1/4″ guides with pencil just to be sure I kept my printy-dater aligned. The simpler patterns are the grid (I drew 1″ square guides), stripes (lines are 2″ apart), and the blooms (which I stamped on randomly). Just one tip: use the index finger of your opposite hand to press the foot of the printy-dater to keep it in place when stamping.
Of course, the fun part is you can make any pattern on any type of paper you choose. Enjoy all the wonderful days to come in 2011!
December 21, 2010 § 17 Comments
For those moments of “Eureka!”, pin up your bright ideas with these adorable push pins in the likeness of 1″ miniaturized light bulbs. I made them from materials I found in my crafting drawers, a couple of items from the hardware store, and a simple, bright idea.
I was motivated to make these in time for the New Year — isn’t it always our collective resolution to work harder and strive for better each coming year? I hope these little pins will push forth forces of creativity in 2011. I made and packaged this set for O.T., who is always brimming with bright ideas himself.
You will need:
a. If you don’t have a miniature light bulb (they’re hard to find now that everything is LED), you can use a marble and a 16×3/8″ socket set screw (it’s a screw that has a socket instead of a head).
c. Plaster, a sandwich bag, and a disposable spoon.
1. Glue together the marble and the socket set screw to create a light bulb shape.
2. Roll out the Play-Doh to about 1/2″ thick and cut into ten sections.
3. Press the light bulb shape and pull carefully to create a mold. Repeat on each section of Play-Doh. You will notice that pressing the light bulb causes distortion in the shape of the dough, which is why it is best for the dough to be cut in sections for individual molds. This prevents distorting the previously pressed shape.
4. Place three spoonfuls of plaster and one and a half spoonfuls of water into the sandwich bag. Mix together by kneading the bag. You may need to add a couple of drops of water to make sure the mixture is smooth and creamy and can be piped easily. Cut the tip of the bag.
5. Pipe the plaster into the molds, working quickly as the plaster dries quickly. Make sure to carefully tap each mold on the table several times to even out the plaster and to ensure there are no air bubbles. Do not overfill.
6. Press a thumbtack into each.
7. Pipe a small amount of plaster around the tack. Once more, carefully tap the mold on the table several times to even out the plaster and to ensure there are no air bubbles.
8. Let the plaster dry for an hour. Remove the plaster from the molds and wipe away any residue of Play-Doh using a paper towel. Make sure to get all the tiny spaces along the threads of the bulb.
9. Using an emery board or sand paper, carefully file away any uneven edges.
10. Paint the bulb using yellow acrylic paint. I prefer using the tip of my fingers to paint so there are no brush strokes left behind. Let dry. Paint the screw with silver paint or broad-tip silver marker. Let dry. Seal with Mod Podge for a glossy finish.
Of course, if you don’t have a cork board and prefer to use a magnet board or the fridge for notes, simply skip the part about the thumbtacks and, after the plaster has dried, glue on magnets instead.
December 14, 2010 § 35 Comments
There’s still time to make handmade holiday gifts!
These floral stamped bangles were inspired by an old, forgotten object in the kitchen: an outdated glass plate with rose embellishments. I have always marveled at the embossed pattern on the bottoms of glass plates and was stricken with the idea of using them as stamps on polymer clay. After a celebrated return in fashion, there’s no better time to wear floral accessories.
I admit, I had moments of contention with this project. After a shattered first attempt and a frenzied call to my good friend and polymer clay expert, Karen at Subtle Details, I learned the medium is too brittle to form into a bangle without applying it on some type of reinforcement. Given the purpose, the reinforcement has to be metal to withstand the clay’s baking process, as well as provide strength and durability to the final product. I mulled it over for some time before it occurred to me — cookie cutters — they’re metal, already round, and require no further shaping or cutting. What may be the shortcoming of the cookie cutter is its predetermined size. I was restricted to the thickness of the cookie cutter and wish for a much wider bangle to showcase more of the rose pattern I’ve come to love. And even with my bird bones, I could use a diameter that’s about 1/4″ wider (I used 2-1/2″).
To make this project you will need:
a. Oven-baked polymer clay in your choice of colors.
b. An embossed glass plate or any object embossed with a deep relief.
c. Cookie cutters, 3″ or 4″ in diameter.
d. I have not invested in any clay glazes and thought it was a great opportunity to use up some nail polishes, as they never seem to run out. Use a color that is a close match to the clay, but not lighter than. You can leave the clay as it is, but I felt it needed a glaze to finish it off. *Edit: Elaine commented below that not all polymer clays can be glazed with nail polish. Please try on a sample piece before applying on your project. Thanks for the tip, Elaine!*
1. Condition the clay and roll out about 1/8″ thick, making sure the strip is long enough to cover the whole perimeter of the cookie cutter. Stamp the pattern on the flattened clay.
2. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the clay with an extra 1/4″ on each side of the cookie cutter.
3. Roll the clay on the cookie cutter. Carefully trim and merge the seams.
4. Fold and flatten the edges onto the inner side of the cookie cutter. Bake according to clay’s package instructions. Let cool.
5. Glaze and let dry. Using super glue or heavy duty double-sided tape, adhere the ribbon along the inner side of the cookie cutter.
This post is participating in Today’s Creative Blog:
December 13, 2010 § 4 Comments
1. Cut your gift wrap with an additional 1-1/2″ on each side of the box. Make sure the you can fold the gift wrap twice around your box.
2. Using double-sided tape, fold and adhere the bottom third of your gift wrap. Insert the box.
3. Fold a triangle on the top third.
4. Using circle punches and hole punches, punch two large circles and two small circles with a hole punched in the middle. Adhere the smaller circle on the large circle.
5. Using mounting tape, adhere a 12″ length of ribbon onto the back of only one of the circles.
6. Adhere the circles as shown and spool ribbon to close.
December 12, 2010 § 3 Comments
1. Take a full width of gift wrap and cut to approximately 18″ long. Find the center and make creases about 2″ apart to center the pattern.
2. To the left of the centered pattern, fold under and over to create 1/2″ pleats.
3. Repeat to the right of the pattern.
4. Turn over. Using double-sided tape, adhere a thin sheet of cardboard or chip board along the center to create a base. You can make the base as wide as you want. Place double-sided along both edges of the base as well as both edges of the wrap on one side.
5. Fold, adhere, and shape into a flat-bottomed fan.
6. Tape ribbon along the inside edges for use as handles.
7. Your pleated gift bag is ready to fill!
December 11, 2010 § 2 Comments
December 10, 2010 § 5 Comments
1. Wrap your gift without using any tape, making sure to center your pattern on the top of the box.
2. Unwrap and turn over. Using a pencil, stencil the mirror image of the letter in the center of the area that is designated as the top of your box.
3. Using a craft knife, carefully cut out the letter.
4. Adhere mounting tape along the edge of the letter. I used two layers of mounting tape to give a more recessed illusion.
5. Carefully align and adhere the top of the box to the designated area.
6. Wrap the gift completely.
Tip: You will be left with a letter cut out of gift wrap. Use this letter to monogram the card envelope or to make a greeting card. A great match to the boxed gift.
December 10, 2010 § 1 Comment
If you’re looking to wrap your holiday presents in unique and, importantly, achievable ways, look no further. I’ve been compiling a few of my gift wrapping ideas — none of which require the dexterity of an origami aficionado, as some other ideas out there may oblige.
Starting today and over the next few days, I will post the full photos and tutorials on each of the above:
Enjoy your holiday shopping and gift wrapping this weekend!
*Edit: I hope you’ve all had a great weekend of gift wrapping. To sum up the past four days, I’ve provided the link to each individual post directly from here. Just click one of the gift wrap ideas listed above to go directly to that tutorial.*
This post is participating in:
December 7, 2010 § 10 Comments
I’ve had a pewter-gray jumpsuit stashed away in my closet, in want of a statement accessory. My parents’ early Christmas party this weekend was the ideal occasion to don the outfit and motivation to make my own crafty diva-on-a-dime jewelry. I decided on making a statement necklace out of less than $2 worth of paper clips from the dollar store and some leather string I’ve had stored in my craft drawer for years. Quite timely, my old leather string is a very current, trendy shade of burgundy (wines are making quite a reappearance in the fashion scene, as is every trend from the nineties).
So there I am, striking a no-nonsense pose in front of my parents’ beautifully adorned tree, boldly wearing my homemade necklace, which no one seemed to guess was fashioned out of paperclips until I pointed it out.
You will need 280 paperclips and 3 strings or chains of your choice material, each being 2″ shorter than the next. If you are not using chains with clasps and opting for strings, as I have, make sure they are cut 1″ longer than the preferred final length.
1. Thread 50 paperclips through your string. Throughout the project, make sure to thread through the end of the paperclip that has the smaller hole. This prevents the paperclips from being misaligned.
2. Arrange your strings into tiers. Use the shortest as a top string, then a middle string, and the longest being a bottom string. Thread 30 paperclips through both the upper and middle strings. The 50 paperclips threaded in step 1 will be the bottom-most tier.
3. On the left side, alternate threading paperclips through the top and middle strings, one at a time, until each tier has 10 paperclips. Repeat on the right side.
4. On the left side, thread 20 paperclips through both the middle and bottom strings. Repeat on the right side.
5. On the left side, thread 20 paperclips through both the top and middle strings. Repeat on the right side.
6. On the left side, thread 10 paperclips through both the middle and bottom strings. Repeat on the right side.
7. On the left side, thread 10 paperclips through the top and middle strings. Repeat on the right side.
8. Tie the strings together in a knot.
Of course, there are endless patterns to create using as many tiers as preferred. There is a wide variety of strings and chains to use, as well as different lengths. I think I’m ready to start a daring paperclip jewelry collection just for fun!