Wood Sphere Magnets

Wood Sphere Magnet Tutorial by the3RsblogI was traveling this summer and had a chance to visit a number of museum gift shops, which are some of my favorite shops when traveling because the items you find are often quirky, and artsy, and usually not super touristy but still unique enough to feel like you wouldn’t see them in your everyday life.  And in one of these shops I spotted some awesome completely amazing magnets that were made out of wooden spheres.  I fell in love, and purchased a set of 6 because they weren’t cheap enough to purchase more, but as soon as I got home all I wanted was to populate my life and all of my magnetic boards with these adorable magnets, and so I decided to try making my own.

Materials: 1″ Wood ball dowel caps, 5/16″ Wood dowel, Xacto blade, Rare Earth Magnets, Super glue, E6000, T Pins, Small Cupcake PanWood Sphere Magnet Tutorial by the3Rsblog

Step 1: Fill the hole.  I chose to purchase wooden spheres with holes pre-drilled, meaning I didn’t get to choose the depth of the hole and it was way too deep for my magnets.  So I purchased a wood dowel and used it to fill the hole.  Insert the dowel into the hole and make a pencil mark at the edge of the sphere, this will measure the depth of the hole.  Then use your magnet to mark off the depth you need to leave free to glue your magnet so the top edge of the magnet is flush with the outside of the wood sphere.  Use the Xacto blade to cut your dowel down to length.  Don’t worry if it isn’t precise – we aren’t factories here, we are people – it probably isn’t going to be precise, just own it and move on. This diagram shows what the finished piece will look like if we cut it down the middle, with the wood sphere, the filler dowel and the magnet on top.Wood Sphere Magnet Tutorial by the3Rsblog

Step 2: Glue the dowel in place.  Use a drop of super glue at the bottom of the hole in your sphere to secure the dowel in place.  Don’t purchase a dowel that is too large, it is better to have the dowel slide in easily than to worry about getting it precise.  No one will see what the dowel looks like once you are finished.

Step 3: Glue the magnet in place.  This was by far the hardest step, for a few reasons.  Dealing with magnets, and especially the super strong rare earth magnets, can be a pain.  They are small and difficult to handle with just your fingers, but being, well, magnets, they stick to every tool I have.  If anyone out there knows of pliers made of plastic that I could use to hold these magnets and get them into place, please let me know!  I chose to use E6000 so that I could get a nice strong hold on my magnets, with their shiny surface they often peel off any glue I’ve tried before, especially hot glue.  So, I used E6000 which is very strong but unfortunately takes 24 hours to cure, which means I needed a way to make sure the magnet stayed where I wanted it, which was flush to the outer edge of the sphere so it would make contact with any future magnetic surfaces.  However, rarely was my dowel the precise correct height to get the magnet into the perfect place, so I used T pins to ‘hang’ the magnet in place while the glue cured.  Basically the magnet stuck to the T pin, and the T pin sat exactly flush with the surface of the sphere, so it meant that the magnet would cure into the glue at exactly the correct height.  Why bother with the dowel at all if I was going to hang the magnets off the T pins like this anyway?  Because E6000 shrinks when it cures, and its one thing to fill in the fractional space between the dowel and the magnet with glue, its another to fill in half an inch of air with glue.

Wood Sphere Magnet Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 4: Let the glue cure.  Ok, I amend my previous statement, thinking back I actually think leaving the glue to cure may have been the hardest step.  Because, while the magnets and glue were difficult to deal with, there was also the fact that the spheres were round. (Shocking, I know.)  And therefore trying to set them aside to cure with the magnets face up was nearly impossible.  They kept rolling away!  So to solve this I pulled out a small brownie pan that I’ve used for other non-food crafting, and used the little cups to prop the spheres up while the glue cured.  This also had the benefit of keeping the magnets away from each other, since they are so strong they had a tendency to jump to each other if they got at all in the vicinity.  Have I mentioned before how much I hate working with magnets?

Wood Sphere Magnet Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 5: Enjoy!  I love how rustic yet modern and polished these look.  And natural wood is very popular these days.  If I was going to do this project for a children’s room I might choose to paint them bright glossy colors so they looked more like plastic, they might even look like gum balls! But for my purposes I am over the moon with the unfinished wood.  The wood is very smooth to the touch so you don’t need to paint or varnish or seal them if you don’t want to.  You also get to see all the beautiful wood grain.Wood Sphere Magnet Tutorial by the3Rsblog

What do your favorite magnets look like?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Ciao, Allison

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Mason Jar Gifts

Now that Fall is here (while according to the calendar it is still Summer, since I work in a school it most definitely feels like Fall) I thought it might be time to look forward to gift giving season.  I have to say, I love gift giving.  Whether it is during the holidays or for someone’s birthday, I love the hunt of figuring out exactly what is the perfect gift for each person in my life and searching for it, or even assembling a group of different items to make one larger gift.  And that is exactly what this post is about. Mason Jar Gifts by the 3 R's blog

Last year one of my cousins suggested giving Mason Jar Gifts which had been so popular on Pinterest.  And if you couldn’t already have guessed, this was right up my alley!  For anyone who hasn’t seen these around the internet, the idea is to assemble a gift into a mason jar, usually bringing together small items that can all fit some theme, as well as physically fit inside the jar!  That is the tricky part, because let me tell you finding items small enough to fit through the mouth of a standard jar is hard.  I added the additional detail of attaching small plastic animals to the lids and spray painting them gold, for some added flair.  This post isn’t going to be a traditional tutorial, because let’s face it I’ve posted a lot about painting small plastic animals recently, this is going to be more about giving you ideas of how you could create your own mason jar gifts.

First, the items inside don’t necessarily have to be extravagant, it’s about the concept.  I avoided the whole “cookie recipe in a jar” idea, though I did receive one of those in my gift exchange!  But I have twin cousins who are in college so I thought some sort of comfort food gift would work, so I made them a “Winter College Survival Kit in a Jar”.  First I found those adorable mason jars with handles, and I knitted them mason jar cozies.  I’ve just realized I didn’t take any photos sadly, oops!  But I did find that this small scale project was the perfect chance to practice new cable knit and braid stitches which turned out to be easier than I might have expected.  Remember my whole “it’s hard to find items small enough” from the last paragraph, yea that was especially true with this gift, so much so that I ended up giving them two mason jars!  They got the mugs with the cozies, stuffed with tea and hot chocolate packets, and I bought chalkboard mason jar lids which I decorated with a chalk pen that I then tied to the outside.  I also included a bunch of glow bracelets that I found at Michaels in the dollar section.  Then in the jar with the animal lids I included a cute pair of socks, various forms of lip balm and lip gloss, and I tied a larger beauty product I got at Sephora to the outside.  Some things just wouldn’t fit in either jar.Mason Jar Gifts by the 3 R's blog

But the jar I was really the most pleased about was the one for my other cousin Scout. She had just graduated from college and had expressed interest in journalism, so I decided I wanted to make the jar a sort of “New Journalist/Recent College Grad in NYC Kit in a Jar.”  Who says you have to name the theme anyway, right?  For Scout I got the idea to decorate a few small moleskins to make them more personal.  I used a pencil eraser and gold stamp ink to create polkadots on one cover, and then I used a gold paint pen to paint her name in script on the other.  I found the fun font online and then printed it out and transferred it with pencil to the cover to copy.  I would not have been able to freehand that.  The hardest part was finding a jar that would fit the moleskins, even though they were super small.  Finally I found one, I think it was possibly one of the largest mason jars you can find!Mason Jar Gifts by the 3 R's blog

For the other items I tried to find a few things that were special and popped, like the gorgeous turquoise Kate Spade business card holder with the letter S on it.  Other things are just fun and fill the jar, like the assortment of pens.  Not everything has to be expensive, I found some really cute little sticky note tabs at staples that were totally on theme and also cheap.  It’s about the items all together, not each one individually.Mason Jar Gifts by the 3 R's blog

The one thing I struggled with was the animal for the top of her jar.  Scout used to say she wanted to be a marine biologist, so when I saw the dolphin I thought it would be perfect.  And visually, it totally is.  However, I didn’t think about how it was larger than the lid, so you couldn’t get the ring part of the lid off over the top flat piece, once the dolphin was attached.  Ideally, I would simply have glued the lid together, glued the dolphin on and then spray painted.  But this is when I learned that super glue is not like hot glue, in pretty much all ways, and I totally botched my first attempt at gluing the lid together because I added way too much glue and it wouldn’t dry.  So I had to do it again, and then at that point I’d already spray painted it once so I didn’t want to spray the dolphin again so I figured, no big deal I’ll just glue it on after, right?  Wrong!  The dolphin would not stick.  So, do whatever you need to do to make your jar work, but make sure you glue your animals on BEFORE you paint, not after.  It still looked awesome though!  Even if the dolphin fell off 30 seconds after I gave her the gift.  Mason Jar Gifts by the 3 R's blog

So, the next time you need to give a gift think about using a mason jar because not only are they cute, they are also then functional, and if my gifts haven’t given you any ideas I know you can find a million different sites for more inspiration on Pinterest!  Most importantly this holiday season try not to get stressed about finding gifts, try to think of it more like a treasure hunt with the treasure being a gift that the recipient enjoys unwrapping as much as you enjoyed assembling it.

Ciao, Allison

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Dinosaur Candle Holder

It’s another Monday filled with Dinosaurs!


After making my ring holder I was left with leftover dinosaurs and decided to make another cute Pinterest project I’d seen, plastic animal birthday candle holders!  In this case I used my dinosaurs and I painted them gold, but you can use any plastic animals you like and paint them any color you want.  I think for a kid’s birthday multi-colors would be really fun.

I didn’t photograph the steps for this tutorial, but it is really very simple.

Materials: Plastic animals, paint, candle holders, drill with small drillbit

Step 1: Select your animals.  Preferably you want an animal with a larger midsection that you can drill a hole into for your candle holder.  As you’ll see, with one dinosaur who had a large comb piece on his back, I put the candle holder in his tail.  But it is something to think about when selecting your animals.

Dinosaur Candle Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

Step 2: Drill your holes.  I was using small plastic candle holders that we had at work (I’m going to now bring in my dinosaurs for us to use instead, since I work in the Science Department at a school I’m sure they’ll be a big hit!)  I’m sure you can find these candle holders somewhere, perhaps online, I didn’t have any luck at my local supermarkets.  But once you have your candle holders, use the spike they have on them, for inserting into the birthday confection, to decide what drill bit to use.  Mine were very small so I used the 5/64 drill bit.  Holding your animal firm on a surface that won’t get gouged by your drill, drill down carefully into a fat meaty part of your animal.  I basically eyeballed how far to drill down, just make sure not to drill all the way through.

Step 3: Insert your candle holders.  I didn’t use any glue because my candle holders were very snug in the holes I drilled, but you could also put a drop of super glue into the hole before inserting the candle holder spike.  Make sure that the spike can go almost all the way down into the animal, for better stability.

Dinosaur Candle Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

Step 4: Paint.  I used gold acrylic paint I had lying around from another project and just brushed it on.  Don’t worry if the paint doesn’t stick that well with your first coat, the second coat will cover very nicely.  Depending on the color of the animal and the color of your paint you may need more than two coats.  I found my green dinosaurs especially hard to cover fully with the gold.  You can also opt to spray paint, but I found that didn’t work all that well with my ring holder so I was trying a different technique and was very happy with how it worked.

Step 5: Enjoy!  Sorry I don’t have any baked goods to model these on, I’ll try to remember to snap a photo when we have something fun at school for someone’s birthday.

I’ll be taking a brief break next week for Labor Day weekend, so stay tuned for my next tutorial in two weeks, and have a lovely holiday weekend if you are in the USA.  And good luck heading back to school for all the students and teachers out there!

Ciao, Allison

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Dinosaur Ring Holder

Quick question, who doesn’t love little plastic animals?  If you raised your hand you might want to leave now, because this project is all about the amazingness of some small plastic dinosaurs!  (And don’t worry, you can easily substitute your own favorite animal or plastic figurine, the tutorial works either way.)  If you have spent any time in the last few years on Pinterest or checking out craft blogs you’ve probably seen many, MANY, projects made using little plastic animals, and that’s because they are the cutest things around!  I think it has to do with reliving your childhood, but it could just be because they are fun.  For this project I chose dinosaurs.

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

I had originally wanted to make a ring holder out of a giraffe, but my local Michaels didn’t have any sets of animals with giraffes, and the more I thought about it the more I realized that while giraffes are perfect for holding rings, they don’t exactly live with a lot of other long necked animals…  And then I spotted the dinosaurs and knew I just had to choose them instead.  I love dinosaurs.  Not in the way little boys do, when they know everything about them and all their names and such, but I still love them.  I trace it all back to this amazing children’s book I had as a kid about a little boy who imagined dinosaurs everywhere in his life.  Thanks to some internet research I think the book was called “Patrick’s Dinosaurs” by Carol and Donald Carrick.  Add on the fact that I’m a science teacher and basically I just think dinosaurs are cool.  And, they happen to have nice long necks and small heads, perfect for holding rings!

Materials: Wood block, Small plastic animals, Super glue, Spray paint

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blogStep 1: Choose your animals.  My box of dinosaurs came with 14 dinosaurs, with some of them being duplicates.  I knew I wanted all my featured dinosaurs to be unique, so I could weed out the duplicates, but then I basically chose ones that looked fun and also would easily hold my rings.  Well, except for the Triceratops, I chose him simply because I’ve always liked Triceratops. Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blogStep 2: Arrange your animals.  This really goes hand in hand with Step 1, because I laid them out as I chose them, to see how many dinosaurs I could fit.  Some of them had long tails for balance so that took up more space, and I decided I didn’t want to squish as many as possible, I wanted them to have some room to breath, so I ended up with 6 on my piece of wood.  (Which is a piece of basswood, 10 inches long and 1 3/4 inches square.)  I also tested them out to make sure my rings would actually fit as I imagined.

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blogDinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

Step 3: Glue your animals.  For this project I decided super glue was best, because you wouldn’t see it like you might see hot glue.  I think you could also use something like E6000 or an epoxy resin, but I didn’t feel it was necessary.  The super glue makes a pretty solid bond, especially given the porous nature of the wood, and I didn’t need these animals to hold anything all that heavy.  Plus I love how fast super glue is!  Two key points though. First, glue before you paint, that way the paint can seal the connection between the animal and the wood.  If you try to paint them first, then you’ll end up with the paint-plastic being the bond that has to hold, not the glue-plastic, and trust me the paint-plastic bond is not that strong.  Second, as I have recently learned from my friend Erin, the key to super glue is ‘less is more.’  Use it very sparingly.  I basically smeared one drop on each foot of my animals so there was a thin layer coating the surface that would touch the wood.  Also make note if any other part of the animal touches the wood, like the tail, and secure that appendage as well.  Once you have added glue to all the points of contact between the animal and the wood, gently hold it in place for a few seconds.  I found the connection seemed pretty secure, even before I added the paint.

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

Step 4: Paint!  I decided that given the odd shape of the animals and the plastic, spray paint was really best.  I chose white, because I was going for a porcelain look once it was finished, and luckily I already had a can of gloss white on hand.  And yes, in theory the spray paint worked just fine.  However I really wish I’d taken the time to prime the whole piece, especially the wood.  I found the wood soaked up the paint really easily and so I had to do a million coats.  (Like 8-10 maybe over a week.)  And despite all that there are still bits of green showing through on some of my dinosaurs.  So, if I were to do this again, I’d get primer, or even just a nice thick acrylic paint and a paint brush and I’d give the whole thing a good coat or two before turning to my spray paint.  I do like how the spray paint built up and dulled some of the detail of the plastic figures, because then they took on more of the porcelain look I was going for.  Because I live in NYC, spray painting is not all that easy to do, but I discovered that for small projects like this I can place the item to be painted into a cardboard box, and then carry it out to my building’s back alley and paint straight into my box.  The fumes blow away on the wind but none of the actual paint gets on anything else because it has all been captured by the box.  One key to spray paint is patience.  You want to do thin coats, holding the can at least 6-12 inches away from your object.  Go slowly.  If you decided to just hand paint everything you could have the ability to paint the animals different colors.  In that case you might want to wait and glue the animals down after you paint them, just make sure there is no paint on any of the connection points between the animal and the wood.

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

Step 5: Decorate and enjoy!  I found that my dinosaurs were perfect for holding my rings, and I could even leave small earring studs that matched my rings sitting on the wood at the dinos feet.

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

I haven’t tried out all of my dinos yet, because the paint on the plastic parts still wasn’t quite dry when I did my final photo shoot, but so far I’m pleased with how it is working and I’m hoping this will make wearing jewelry on a daily basis easier and more fun!  You could also do this on a smaller scale with just one or two figurines if you didn’t want such a large built up piece sitting on your counter all the time.  One larger dinosaur to hold your wedding ring at night could be very nice.

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m betting that I could also hang some simple dangly earrings from my dinos short little arms or tails, and I could even drape a small bracelet around one of the dinos on the end, so this could really become a multi-purpose jewelry holder instead of being just for rings.  Either way I’m pleased with the result, even if the painting process didn’t go as smoothly as I originally thought it would.

Dinosaur Ring Holder Tutorial by the 3 R's blog

If you could make your own jewelry holder, which animals would you choose?

Ciao, Allison

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Scarf Organizer

I’m really excited about this newest project, because not only does it help me organize a part of my life that has been desperately unorganized (my scarves!) but it utilizes something that I’ve had lying around as a left over from other projects, and I love when I can find a new use for something like this.DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3Rsblog You have probably seen something similar out there on Pinterest or other blogs, the ones I’ve usually seen involve plastic shower curtain rings and a hanger.  Sound familiar?  Well I have been wanting to make one for a little while, but most of my scarves are thick and bulky scarves for NYC winters and I wasn’t sure that the shower curtain rings would be large enough.  If I was organizing belts or neckties, or even thin decorative scarves it wouldn’t be a problem, but I felt like I needed to make my organizer out of larger rings, and here is where the really genius part comes in, the part I’m proudest of.  I realized that I could use all of the mason jar lids that I had lying around that I had no use for!  I’ve made a lot of mason jar projects, and while every now and then the project utilizes the lid (my sewing kit comes to mind) usually they just use the glass part of the jar (like my hanging planters.)  Of course if you don’t happen to have a similar stash of mason jar lids, you can apply my tutorial to just about any sort of plastic or metal ring that you have lying around.

Materials: Mason jar lids, hot glue gun, ribbon, scissorsDIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 1: Planning.  I was able to put my hands on 7 mason jar lids, so I decided to do a large hexagon shape.  If I had found more I might have done more of a pyramid, but you use what you have, right?DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 2: Begin gluing.  The one thing that makes the mason jar lids harder than, for instance, plastic shower curtain rings, is their slightly odd shape.  This meant I couldn’t just tape them together like most scarf organizer tutorials suggest, so I turned to my trusty hot glue gun.  The key was leaving the two lids lying flat on my table surface and squeezing glue into the space in between.  I knew I wanted the outer most part to just touch, but that left a large gab on the other side so I filled that in with the hot glue, which becomes essentially a spacer.  Don’t worry about how the glue looks, you’ll be covering the whole piece in ribbon anyway. DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 3: Keep gluing.  I found it was easiest to attach the rings into sets of two first.DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 4: Assemble all your pieces.  After gluing the first six rings into sets of two, I carefully connected them to each other, and to the seventh ring, to make my hexagon shape.DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 5: Attach your ribbon.  I decided to buy black ribbon as main color, and then some green ribbon for an accent color.  I decided to cover the whole shape in the black first, and then add the green on the outer edge.  I used approximately 12 yards of black ribbon to cover the whole piece, and this is with 3.5 inch mason jar lids.  You’ll need more or less, depending on the size of your lids and how many you have.  To start wrapping your ribbon you’ll want to start where two of your lids attach to each other, and glue the end of your ribbon to the inside edge of the lid.  I knew I wanted the flat top piece of the lid to be the front of my finished piece, so I kept that in mind when wrapping the ribbon.DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 6: Wrap your first intersection.  After attaching your ribbon you want to carefully wrap it around your first lid intersection.  I used a small drop of hot glue to attach the ribbon on the underside, after looping around the intersection once.  This makes sure it is very secure, and helps to secure the connection between the two lids.  DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 7: Continue wrapping the lid.  I chose to loop my ribbon around each intersection at least twice.  This was so I could be sure of the secure connection, but also because I found it was the best way to make sure all of the metal of the lid was covered with ribbon.  After wrapping the intersection I simply continued on and started wrapping my ribbon around the lid, moving around the curve towards the next intersection.  I found that I could use a small drop of glue to secure the ribbon every few loops, it certainly wasn’t necessary to glue it each time I wrapped it around the lid.  However, because of the funny shape of the lid I did find it necessary to pull my ribbon very tightly so that there were no weird bubbles or bulges.  I wanted it to look tightly fitted to the lid at all points.  DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 8: Continue wrapping.  I originally thought I’d use one piece of ribbon to continuously wrap the whole shape, but I suddenly found myself in one of those horrible math problems where you have a certain number of islands and bridges and you can only cross each one once… Do you know the kind I’m talking about?  Well anyway, there may have been a way to only wrap each section once and cover the whole shape, but I didn’t really care to figure it out.  So I went around two lids, and formed a figure 8 shape, and then cut the ribbon and began on the next two lids.  Eventually I covered the whole shade except the center ring, and so I used one last piece of ribbon to cover the last center ring.  Really it doesn’t matter, with the one sided shape of the lid you can easily hid ribbon ends on the inside edge of the lid and they are hidden from the front. DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 9: Finish your base color.  As I said earlier, I decided to wrap the whole shape in black and then add my light green to the outside edge.  You could also decide to do each ring in a different color and not add any embellishments, that’s up to you.  DIY Scarf Organizer Tutorial by the3RsblogStep 10: Add embellishments.  For my design I decided to add a stripe of green around the outer edge after I finished wrapping the whole piece in black.  I used a little bit of hot glue to attach the end of the green ribbon into one of the valleys where two lids met on the outside, and then I slowly wrapped it adding a bit of hot glue every inch or two.  The most important part to attach was each valley, so I put hot glue on either side of the valley part and then used my scissors to press the ribbon as far down into the valley as I could. the3Rsblog_ScarfOrganizer_Finished_3Step 11: Add scarves and enjoy! the3Rsblog_ScarfOrganizer_Finished_AI’m pretty happy with my organizer, and now I can’t wait to hang it up in my closet.  I decided not to attach it to a hanger because I’m going to hang it from a hook on my closet door.  But, you could easily use the same technique to attach the mason jar lids to a hanger and wrap the whole piece, including the hanger, so that once your are finished you can hang your scarves from the hanging rod along with your other clothes.  Theoretically, depending on your stash of lids, you could also combine two different sized mason jar lids for different types of scarves.  Just make sure to lay it all out before you start gluing any of the lids together! the3Rsblog_ScarfOrganizer_Finished_5Good luck, and stay tuned next Monday for another organizer, this time aimed at a slightly smaller accessory in your wardrobe!  Ciao, Allison

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Handcut Rubber Stamp

Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblogAnother Monday and another tutorial, as promised!  Today I’ll be showing you how to handout your very own rubber stamp, in any design you want.  I chose to make a stamp with an origami elephant, I saw someone use a similar design to decorate some plates and I thought it would make a really cute stamp, plus the straight lines are pretty easy to cut.

I taught myself how to make linoleum block prints back in college, and had a lot of fun using my custom blocks to make both art prints and fun sets of custom stationary, but the problem with the linoleum block is that you need to ink it with special printing ink and a roller.  It’s not that hard to do, it’s just an annoying extra step, plus you have lots of extra bulky supplies.  Then one time I decided to try buying this piece of pink rubber along with the more traditional linoleum blocks, and discovered that while you can use the rubber to make prints with the same printing ink as the linoleum, you can also use them with a regular ink pad like any typical rubber stamp.  I was hooked, no more linoleum for me!

Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblog

Supplies: Rubber, Linoleum/Rubber Cutter, Ink Pad. Optional: paper design, pencil, xacto blade, hard surface for mounting your stamp, glue.  You can purchase the set of cutting tools at a craft store or online, mine is a simple set sold by Speedball which came with the handle and a set of different blades, they actually store in the handle of the cutter for easy clean-up.  The same set sells for about $12.00 on Amazon.com.

Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblog

Step 1: Draw your design.  I drew a design on the computer and printed it out for tracing onto my rubber.  Remember, whatever design you cut will stamp out backwards, which is particularly important if you have any text in your design.  You can either freehand your design onto your rubber service with a pencil, which is usually what I did with the linoleum, but for this design I wanted it to be precise so I rubbed pencil on the back of my design, and then using a pointy pen tip I traced the outline of my design onto my rubber.

Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblog

Step 2: Start carving.  The cutting tool set will have a range of cutting tools, from skinny/pointy ones to large/curved ones, and each one cuts out a different width strip of rubber.  I find it is usually easiest to start with one of the smaller tools, just not the very smallest.  Start with outlining the design, because those will be the lines you have to be most careful with.  When carving you’ll want to use the tool to gently cut out the rubber.  You’ll have to play around with how much pressure you need to make your cuts, but start with less pressure and work up to it, so you don’t accidentally gouge out your design where you don’t want it.  Always cut away from yourself, I hold the tool with my index finger on top, and hold it relatively flat to the rubber service, versus holding it at a more steep angle pointing the tool vertically down towards the rubber.

Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblog

Step 3: Keep carving. You’ll want to get all the outlines finished first. Straight lines are the easiest, so you can see that with some of the lines I was carving I would continue the line until I reached the outer edge of the rubber. Eventually I knew I’d be carving out all the exterior sections so it didn’t matter if I cut into it as I carved the outline.

Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblog

Step 4: Carve out the exterior area.  Obviously every stamp design will be different, but I usually find that the “solid” areas of my design (the part that will be stamping with the ink) do not go to the edges of my square of rubber, so I usually work on the design in the center first and then carve away all of the left over area around the exterior.

Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblog

At this point there are a few steps you could take next.  You could first just ink your stamp and use it.  But, I find with a larger shape such as this one (my piece is approximately 3 x 3.5 inches) that it is a bit floppy so I like to mount it onto a solid surface.  For this stamp I used a small piece of bamboo plywood that I happened to have, from the same sample set that I used to make my hanging planters!  I decided to cut away as much of the exterior as possible before I attached it because that way I wouldn’t have to worry about the outside edges causing any extra stamp marks.  As you can see from one of my first tests, that was an issue. Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblogObviously if I had thought it all through before I started I could have just used an xacto blade to cut away the outer most edge of the piece, since I ended up cutting it away in the end anyway, but I think this tutorial shows you perhaps more clearly what you might do for a different design where you did need to carve away large sections.  Plus it didn’t really take that much time to carve it out, so there was no harm in having done the extra work. Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblogIf you chose to mount your stamp, make sure you use a really strong glue that is relatively flat.  For instance, Gorilla Glue or E6000 are both very strong, but Gorilla Glue actually expands while it dries and E6000 is relatively gloupy.  (Yes, that is a technical crafting term.)  Hot glue, despite being my favorite type of glue, would also be an utter failure because it would probably peel right off the rubber.  I found the glue that worked best was a 5 Minute Epoxy, the kind where you mix two liquids together and they undergo a chemical reaction.  I happened to have the 5 Minute variety in my supplies but any Epoxy would do.  Just make sure you follow the instructions carefully and let the glue cure for the maximum time mentioned.  You might want to put something heavy on top of the stamp as well because you want to make sure the stamp is completely flat as the Epoxy hardens or it won’t stamp properly.Handcut Rubber Stamp Tutorial by the3R'sblogI even remembered to use my stamp to stamp an image on the plywood before gluing it down so I can always remember what the design is.  I’ve usually forgotten this step in the past but I think it is a nice way to make your homemade stamps appear a bit more professional.  I also remembered to line up my elephant with the bottom and left edges of the plywood so when I’m stamping it I can have at least something of an idea of where the stamped image is going to be when I’m done.

You can use these techniques for bit and small stamps, and make whatever your heart desires! I’ve made stamps the size of a dime featuring an owl, and I’ve made a large 4 x 6 inch stamp that is very complex and features the logo for my business which we now use to stamp boxes.  (You might have seen it in the photos of our new DIY Light Kit which I posted about a while back.)  You can even buy foam pads to make your own custom ink pad in any color or range of colors your heart desires.  The craft world is your oyster, go out there and cover it in beautiful custom stamps!  And let me know what you choose to carve, I always love to see your interpretations of my tutorials.

Ciao, Allison

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Paper Covered Clipboards

August Greetings! I’m sorry for my long absence, life has been very busy, but I’ve lined up a series of posts for the next few Mondays so check back over the next few weeks for some fun new projects.  For today we have a relatively simple project that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, lovely paper covered clipboards for organization around the house.

Paper Covered Clipboard Tutorial by the3Rsblog.wordpress.com

I’ve been spending my summer organizing my apartment and trying to bring the clutter down to a more manageable level, as well as setting up organizational systems so when I go back to teaching in the fall I can maintain order more easily.  Enter my new clipboards! I purchased these three clipboards to hang up on a small stretch of wall between my front door and my kitchen, with the purpose of organizing mail. I’m hoping that as new mail comes in the front door, instead of piling up I can store it on my new clipboards and have a place to easily corral business papers for filing, invites for parties or events, and cards that might be keepsakes or that I need to respond to.  I’ve tried to write up step by step instructions as clearly as possible, along with some process photos that I shot as I went.

Step 1: Buy materials.  You’ll need clipboards, I purchased small ones which are 6×9 inches and the cheap brown composite material, decorative paper which I purchased at Michaels, and glue, I used Elmer’s Gel.  You’ll also need scissors or an x-acto blade and I used a paint brush to apply the glue, plus a soft rag to smooth down the paper.

Paper Covered Clipboard Tutorial by the3Rsblog.wordpress.com

The lovely thing about this project is that you can very easily change it to suit your specific needs, such as using larger full size clipboards and any decorative paper you want.  Personally I wanted some fun color and pattern, which is why I went to Michaels because they have the most amazing selection of decorative craft paper, and what is especially awesome is you can purchase it in single sheets.  As you can see I purchased way more than the three sheets I ended up using, and part of the reason was that I wasn’t sure exactly which color scheme I was going to go with, and I wasn’t sure which colors would match my hallway which is painted in a baby blue color.  For instance I really loved the pale turquoise paper with the cherry blossoms and I found two nice simpler papers to match, but the color just didn’t match my hallway.  I also could have done all three clipboards in yellow and gray patterns, but I fell in love with that fish pattern and really wanted to use it for at least one clipboard, but unfortunately couldn’t find any other blues that would match.  But I think the yellow fish connect enough to the yellow papers for it to be ok.  You could also use old wrapping paper, or recycled paper like books or maps.Paper Covered Clipboard Tutorial by the3Rsblog.wordpress.comStep 2: Cut your paper.  There are some parts of your paper you will want to cut before you glue, and some that you’ll cut after.  I cut my paper into a 6 inch strip so it was the proper width, but I didn’t cut it down to the 9 inches so I had more flexibility as I glued.  After cutting the strip I needed to cut out the piece that would fit around the clip.  Unfortunately I didn’t manage to purchase clipboards with a nice square piece at the top, so after measure the larger rectangle I had to freehand draw in the small curved piece that would fit around the back of the clip.  I recommend testing your cut out piece before adding glue, to make sure you got the shape right.  But that is all I cut, I left the 6 inch piece long and I didn’t cut the curved corners of the clipboard, so that I had a bit of wiggle room as I glued.Paper Covered Clipboard Tutorial by the3Rsblog.wordpress.com

Step 3: Glue your paper.  First, you’ll want to secure your clip in the open position.  I used a small zip tie to hold the clip open, but you could probably use a piece of string or a metal twist tie.  Then I added my glue, I used Elmer’s Gel but you could probably also use regular Elmer’s or any other craft glue.  I just thought the gel might not be as wet and would help keep the paper from wrinkling.  I used a small disposable paint brush and slowly brushed glue over the whole clipboard.  I tried pouring on a larger glob on the first one, but found it was difficult to spread and resulted in some initial buckling of the paper, so after that I just brushed it on as smoothly as I could.  When it is time to attach your paper, make sure you carefully fit the top notch around the clip part before you let the rest of the paper stick to the glue, because once it starts sticking down it will all get much more difficult.  Though, the beauty of craft glue is you can usually pull your paper up at least once if you need to.  You’ll want to smooth out the paper as best you can as it first begins to dry, I found a soft cloth was good because otherwise I left little gouge marks in the paper.  Work your way from the center to the edges, smoothing as you go.

Step 4: Trim the paper.  As I said, I cut the proper width of the paper, but left it long, so after I had glued the paper down I went back and carefully used my x-acto blade to cut around the curved corners and cut off the length on the bottom.  You could possibly make due with scissors, but some sort of cutting blade is much easier because you can get right up to the edge of the clipboard.

Paper Covered Clipboard Tutorial by the3Rsblog.wordpress.com

I specifically wanted to glue the paper on with glue only on the underside, in other words I didn’t want to varnish or decoupage the paper onto the clipboard and have a shiny surface.  First, I like the look and feel of just the paper, but second I’ve often had issues with projects like this and the mod podge staying slightly sticky even when it’s dry so I didn’t want to risk it.  I’m assuming that I will be careful when I use them and won’t destroy them, but if you wanted these for use around children you might find it was better to varnish the full piece to prolong their life. Paper Covered Clipboard Tutorial by the3Rsblog.wordpress.comAnother decision I made was to leave the cardboard brown edge, but you could also choose to paint the edge either a neutral like white, or a color to match your decorative paper.  It would depend on your final use of the clipboards.  For now, I can’t wait to get my new clipboards hung and to start using them for sorting mail!  I hope they help keep my life at least a bit more organized going forward, at the very least they will make it a bit more cheerful with these fun patterns and colors.Paper Covered Clipboard Tutorial by the3Rsblog.wordpress.com

Stay tuned on the next few Mondays for some other fun new projects, including some other organizational projects I’ve undertaken.  And I hope everyone has a lovely August!

Ciao, Allison

P.S. Do you remember the Cityscape Drawing project I did a few months ago after becoming inspired by The Postman’s Knock?  See the card I have clipped onto the clipboard with the fish?  That is a custom drawing I did of my mom and step-father’s house which I then had printed up as blank cards to give them as a wedding gift.  So you never know when a project might take on a whole new life!  Do you have any projects like that?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

P.P.S. I realized after finishing my tutorial that it sounded a bit like I was being sponsored by Michaels, so I just wanted to say that I wasn’t, I just really like their stores.  And so does Basel, he’s been going since he was a tiny puppy and he always finds at least one person to pet him because let’s be honest, the Michaels shopper crowd and the ‘I love dogs’ crowd does intersect quite a bit.  Plus, the small shopping carts are the perfect size for Basel to ride around in and then he’s right at waist height, perfect for maximum love from strangers!  Doesn’t he look cute?  In the photo on the right he’s trying to get the attention of the shoppers who are directly ahead of us in the check-out line… Basel Visits Michaels

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