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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Wood Coloring Test

This week's video is a bit different and was a lot of fun to make for you. It all started a while back when I made up the square planter kit. If you remember I had used a water based marker to stain the wood. After I had the video filmed and the pictures taken I had posted one of the photos on the Facebook page (link here if you haven't joined us yet) and asked what everyone thought I had used. There were a lot of really good guesses, none of them correct but good guesses. One thing I noticed was that a lot of you worded your guess with something like “I hope you used ___ because I have been wondering if it would work.” This gave me an idea, why not get some suggestions of things to try and do just that, try them. I asked on the Facebook page for suggestions and here are most of those. There were a few things I didn't have on hand and would not have gotten used so I skipped those and I added a couple of my own ideas that occurred to me as I was filming this.

I do apologize if this video seems to be a bit disconnected, I filmed the first part about 2 weeks before I had time to finish it up. Hopefully I managed to still give you an experiment that will help you out or at least satisfy your curiosity.

I want to say before we talk about the items I tested that I don't really recommend using some of these things on your minis. I just wanted to see what they would do and if you do decide to use them understand that these have not been tested for long term stability. They could do any number of bad things to the wood they are applied to especially the food based ones. Some of the non food ones would be fine and I will mention those as we go along.

The first thing I tested was a sampling of alcohol based markers. I love my markers for making cards and for my art journaling and they were one of the suggestions. I have three brands of these markers: my Spectrum Noir markers (which I love), Sharpie, and Bic Mark-it. I picked a brown in each brand so you could hopefully see how they work. As I expected these worked great and I am certain they would be fine long term. One big advantage of these markers is that they come in so many colors. Also if you are like me and you tend to do a lot of different craft/art things it is so nice to be able to use the same products in many different ways.

Test number 2 was nail polish. I happen to know this one works and works really well because I have used it many times. I usually do use the nail polish over a coat of light color acrylic paint since it tends to be pretty sheer on the wood. For this test I omitted the undercoat of paint. I had the two colors I used on my desk since I had recently purchased them so that was the reason I used the colors I did. Once again we are working with a product that I know will work long term. Nail polish has many of the same advantages that the markers do- I already have a bunch of it and it is nice to be able to use it for another purpose and it again comes in just about any color you can think of. There are even polishes that have specialty finishes (marble, crackle, glitter, etc) to give you even more options.

Next up was our first “food” item- food coloring. I decided to grab a both the standard liquid variety and some gel food color and I decided to use yellow for both types. I felt like the test would be more fair between the two if I used the same color. I have no idea how this will hold up long term but it did give a good color pay off. It is something most of us have in the kitchen so that is a plus. I am interested to see how this one looks later on.

In my opinion the ketchup and mustard were total washouts, they really didn't give much color at all. The mustard did work a bit better than the ketchup and I suspect that the bright yellow “hot dog” mustard would have been better. We had 4 different containers of mustard in the fridge and this was the one with the most color so that is why I used it. It will be interesting to see how these look in 6 months though.

Coffee and tea were next up on the test and I was actually surprised that they didn't do better. I use both of these to age and color fabric all the time and they do a really good job of that. For the wood the staining was minimal but still noticeable. I think they would be great for adding water spot marks to ceilings and walls in our mini buildings to simulate a leaking roof and age. I am not sure how kind time will be to the wood for these two but fabric seems to work well long term so I think it should be okay.

The only test that totally failed was the wrapping tissue, even though I soaked it and let it dry there is absolutely now color transfer. I know I have had this same tissue bleed onto my clothing when it gets wet so I was sure it would give some color.

Okay the idea of buying hair color at Dollar Tree to use on my hair terrifies me. LOL But it worked okay on the wood. I am really anxious to see how this one looks later because if it holds up I think it would be fun to play with. This is something that comes in several colors, mostly ones that would be kind of sort of natural looking on wood.

The lipstick and lip stain were both ones that I decided to test on a whim and I am glad I did. They both look really nice and I think there are possibilities for both products in future projects. I just want to see how they look in about 6 months before I commit to using them.

For the Kool-Aid I decided to use it both mixed with water and as the dry powder. I think it looks better mixed with water better but I can see it used dry too especially if you sprinkled it around just a bit and then spritzed it with water for bits of color. Maybe one a walkway or floor. Let's see how it looks in 6 months as far as keeping its color.

Fabric dye seems like a natural for coloring just about anything and it did work nicely. Once again I wanted to show the powder dissolved in water and as a dry powder that could be sprinkled around and spritzed with water. I think it worked really well both ways. The depth of the color of the dissolved dye is incredible! This also comes in a huge number of colors.

Soy sauce was one I had no idea if it would work or not. It is a very subtle color so I am not sure if it is worth it. If it holds up over time it might be good if you really need a light stain. I am just not sure how well it will hold up over time.

One thing that was suggested was grape juice but since no one around here would drink what was left I really didn't want to buy a bottle of it. Instead I decided to come as close as I could with some red wine, something I almost always have in the kitchen. The first thing I noticed when I walked back to the table at the end of the 10 minute soaking time was that this one wicked up the craft stick a lot. It also gives a really nice purple color to the wood. This is another one I am anxious to see how it holds up.

So that was our little very non-scientific test on alternative things to color wood with. What do you think? Would you like to see more videos like this in the future? It was fun to do.

I have a note on my chalkboard to check this craft sticks in 6 months to see what happens to them. I will write a blog post then with photos from this blog as well as new photos.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Building a Mini Building- the Foundation

This week I decided to cover the foundation on the back of the small add on room. I made this decision only because I was tired of seeing where I had written the name of the wood piece on that spot.

I thought about many ways of covering this little space (it only measures 9” wide by 1 ¾” high) and settled on using good old egg carton. I know we have done this before but I really like how it turns out and it is just so versatile. This time I am attempting to make it look like big concrete slabs instead of stone.

I decided to take a few moments of your time and show you some of the projects I have that I have used the egg cartons on so you can see just a few of the many possibilities. These egg cartons really are versatile.

I was really excited when my local grocery store changed the style of the carton on the dozen egg carton. Now the top is completely solid instead of having the openings to see the eggs. Not as good for the eggs but much better to craft with. The only drawback is that the nutritional information is printed inside the lid. I tried to see if I could get the printing to come off but had no luck so I painted the area. I didn't have my camera in the room at the time and couldn't get to it so I didn't get it filmed or photographed. The process I used was pretty simple I took some containers of craft paint ( all of these are Ceramcoat) in Black, Rain Grey, Storm Grey, Bridgeport Grey, Brown Velvet, and Eucalyptus. I then just squeezed out random squirts of the paints on the inside of the egg carton lid. I used a couple of wet wipes to spread the paint around mixing it some but leaving all the colors showing in places too. I allowed this to dry completely and then cut a strip of the painted portion to fit the space. I then cut the strip into pieces that were 1 ½” wide by the height of the area (1 ¾”)

I used just some regular tacky glue to adhere the pieces where they need to go. I tried to mix up the pieces so it didn't look like they had been cut from the same strip. I did end up having to add a bit more glue in a couple of places. Not a big deal, just pull the egg carton edge back a bit and add some glue then press it in place. You should wait for this to dry before you move on.

The next step was to seal the egg carton material. For this I used some matte finish Mod Podge. Any matte sealer would work for this step. We need to seal the surface to protect from our next step.

I needed to add grout since a couple of my stones weren't completely lined up against each other. I don't even remember what I used last time and have no desire to go look. You can really use just about anything depending on the final look you are after. Since I had such a small area, those little cracks are really tiny and there are just a few. I decided to use Latex Caulking as my grout this time. This is a product I always have on hand since I use a lot of it in my mini foods. It is also a really versatile product. (just a hint even though it comes in colors there is no need to buy anything other than white, it takes paint marvelously) In this case I wanted my grout to blend in with the stones so I mixed in a bit of grey craft paint (one of the ones I had used earlier) just mix it in really well. This might make the caulking take longer to dry and it thins it a bit depending on how much paint you use. For this application it didn't matter. When I need to keep the texture I usually use tube acrylic paint to color the caulking. Really you could probably use just about anything that is water based to color it as long as you don't add too much.

The only secret to adding grout (no matter what you use for your grout) is to be sure to wipe any excess off the surface of the stones.

I really like how this step of our building turned out. What do you think we should do next?? Be sure suggest what steps you would like to see.

If you haven't found us on Facebook be sure to hop over there and hit the “Like” button. I always post the links to the videos and blogs over there. Also we have some fun conversations over there some days too.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Building a Mini Building- The Floor

This week I decided to show you a fun technique for the floor in the little add on room. I actually had something else planned up until I was about halfway through the process of wallpapering this room. I suddenly remembered this little technique that I had seen on a craft segment on TV about 22 or 23 years ago. I had always planned to try it but never got around to it. When I saw this on TV the person showing it had used it to cover some boxes to make decorative storage boxes. As I was putting the wallpaper it occurred to me that this would probably look really cool on the floor in this room.

The first thing I did was grab a piece of the scrap wood from the kit and try out a sample. It looked good so I now had a new idea for the floor. I could hardly wait until the wallpaper video was filmed to start doing this. (little fun tidbit- in some of the pictures from last week of the wallpaper you might have noticed that I have a piece of paper covering the floor- that's because I had already started this project before I had time to take the pictures for that video)

The supplies could not be easier or really much cheaper. I used some masking tape- be sure to get the tan kind- not the blue or green painter's tape. I think the really cheap stuff probably works better here because we are going to be building up a lot of layers and we don't want much thickness.

I found that running a strip all the way around the room was the best way to start. That way I had the floor covered all the way to the wall all the way around. Then just start tearing off random pieces of tape and fill in the floor. I did run some longer pieces in the middle of the floor on the first layer then used small ones to break up the look of the floor.

After all the tape was in place and I was happy with the look I used some tube acrylic paints to add some color. Just glob some on the floor and spread it around with paper towel. Then I used baby wipes to wipe up the excess paint. Learn from my mistake and don't use near as much paint as I started out using. I do recommend wearing a latex glove for this step other wise you are going to get a lot of paint on your hands.

After the paint dried coat with a sealer, I used Mod Podge Matte for my floor. I did find that I needed to use some coarse sand paper to knock off some little pointy bits where the tape corners lifted. Then I finished with a good heavy final (third) coat of the Mod Podge.

I really love this finish for the floor. I am not sure what to call it. But I love it. I think if you did the same thing on an outdoor patio and used different shades of gray paint it would look like a stone patio.

I think next time I do this I am going to do my paint in layers by applying one color at a time and letting that dry before I follow with a second color. I think that would give more depth to the color.