Saturday, December 22, 2012

DIY Ornaments 2: Scrabble & Polish

 As promised the last time we discussed ornaments, here's the second batch for you to try at home. This set includes some more of those clear glass balls we used last time and some Scrabble tiles you might have lying around somewhere.
Things you'll need:
  • Clear glass or plastic ornamental balls
  • Nail polish
  • Polish remover & Q-tip (or better yet, cellophane tape or hole protectors)
  • Jewelry wire (24-gauge)
  • Scrabble tiles
  • Beads

Nail Polish Baubles

A couple of options present themselves with this medium: You can freehand elaborate, time-consuming pieces of art, as shown here:

Yeah, sorry, no.

...Or you can approach from a more entry-level position. We approached initially from "Does nail polish stick to glass?" (The answer is yes.) Then we moved to more elaborate treatments, like using translucent polish, then crackle medium, and then graduated up to using remover on a Q-tip to leave clear spots in the polish. Exhibits A, B, and C:

An issue with using the acetone in this fashion is that it actually just pushes the polish to the edges of the dots, leaving a rim of sorts. If you like that, cool. If not, you can use the same techniques as you would on your nails and use tape and other masks to block off portions of the ball. You did know you could use those gummed hole protectors as masks for painting your nails, right?

Feel free to combine some of the new ideas with older ones, leaving space in your Christmas ball to see the ribbon inside, or glue rhinestones to them again. We won't tell on you if you go back to the same well of ideas. Heck, we use the same jokes in every post, nobody has complained yet.

Scrabble Family

It's about time our love of games made an appearance here. Don't worry kids, this isn't a free-range Scrabble board, it was purchased for crafts, and we plan to use every part of the buffalo. A couple super-secret projects will get posted after the holidays to show some other ways to utilize the tiles (and the board!).

For this one, you'll want to get acquainted with one of my favorite craft tools, the pin vise. It's basically a tiny mandrel that holds tiny drill bits (my largest might be 1mm) with a free-spinning base so you can cup the base in your palm and spin the bit with your fingers, very accurately removing small amounts of material as you go. If you do any modeling work (and you should, you're handsome), it's a must-have.

I use a large-ish bit for these and drill down from the top and up from the bottom so that my teeny little hole meets in the middle. I'd say this takes practice, but I did maybe a dozen before it got weird and I blew out the front or back of a tile. Be precise about your initial position (mine are centered, so 9mm from the edge and 2.25mm back from the front) and check from the front and side to make sure your bit is vertical. Using a power drill or Dremel on something this small would be a great way to go the hospital for Christmas, so use a clamp or vise to hold your work for power tools.

Once drilled, I threaded mine on jewelry wire (.020 or 24-gauge) and did that little curlicue you see in the picture above with the help of some round-nose pliers I have. Looping it around a bead works fine, too. Alternate tiles with colorful beads and finish it with a wrapped eye. Add a hook for ornaments, and bam, Scrabble dangler.

Kittie's first Christmas.

Scrabble Tray Hanger
Another option for Scrabble tiles is to use the whole tray from the game. These days, the trays are made from a softer wood than the tiles, so you can cut them up with stuff you have at home. I spelled out a word, marked the length of the tray needed, and used a miter box with an Xacto razor saw to slice off the remainder of the letter tray.

I then measured a quarter of an inch in from either end and drilled two small holes with my pin vise, this time using a bit just fractionally larger than my wire.

Wrap your wire around a convenient object (in this case, one of my favorite pens) and stretch it out until it's the right width for your ornament. A dot of glue over each hole, push your wire down and into place, and you have your hanger. The wire is small enough to be easily bent out of the way to glue on the pieces (double check your spelling!) and then "fluffed" when you're done to make it pretty and even. Add another hook from your collection, and toss it on the tree. This one is striking, and involves way less drilling than the previous style.


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