Wednesday, May 28, 2014

DIY Ceramic Tile Coasters - The Process

In conjunction with my post on the Supplies Needed for making your own ceramic tile coasters, this will be on the process of making them.

Before I start, I would like to state that this is just my way of making these ceramic tile coasters. There are several tutorials available, and many directions in which you could follow. I've learned this method works best for me. When you start, you will find little things vary for you too.

     Step 1 - Choosing Your Paper
        *I tend to buy WAY TO MANY scrapbook papers when I go to the craft store. I have to limit myself to only go down the scrapbook aisles when I know there is a sale - perhaps that is my issue. Ha! Because of my overstock of paper, I tend to buy my tiles by the box.
        *First thing I do after opening the box is pull out four (4) tiles and set them aside as my back-up tiles (in case there are any that are chipped, or have blemishes or stains that I can't hide with the paper). I then pull out the number of sheets of scrapbook paper needed to make the remaining sets.    
        +The Math: Lowe's boxes come with 100 tiles minus the 4 you set aside is 96 tiles left divided by four (the number in a coaster set) means you will need 24 sheets of scrapbook paper; Home Depot boxes come with 80 tiles minus the 4 you set aside is 76 tiles left divided by four means you will need 19 sheets of scrapbook paper.
Of course, if you are only doing a few, your numbers will definitely vary. The above numbers will just reflect the maximum per box of ceramic tiles.

     Step 2 - Pre-Cutting the Squares
        *Because my paper cutter is so small, I have to cut my squares a funny way so my tracing is also a little funny. If you have a larger paper cutter - lucky! - it will be much easier for you.

 *Starting with your paper backside facing up, I place my pre-cut 3.75" x 3.75" square (made out of heavy duty cardstock) down to roughly trace my edges. 

*I do this around the whole sheet to make a grid-like image. Hard to explain my placement - thank goodness for pictures! To the right here you'll see I have a block of 6 squares on the top, and a space between the 3 on the bottom. I do this to aid in the cutting process.

     Step 3 - Cutting the Squares

        *First, I take my scissors and cut through the center of the space separating the group of 6 and group of 3. Cutting through the center instead of along side one of the straight lines allows for easier and straighter cuts when I use my paper cutter.      

*I then take one of the 
pieces and line up my hand drawn lines with the line of the cutting wire.

Even if your line isn't completely straight - it's okay! It helps it you start by placing the already straight side (either the top, bottom or sides of the paper) against the lip on the paper cutter. You may be able to see the lip on the picture to the left. It's just to the left of the orange piece.

*Yay! You have officially made your first cut with the paper cutter! (Unless you have a bigger paper cutter than I do). Now just trim it up and finish your cutting. It will only take a few minutes per sheet.

Step 4 - Using Mod Podge to Glue Down Your Squares
        *Before you can start using the mod podge, you will need to get your coasters out and ready. I usually pull 4-8 tiles out of the box at a time. As I pull them out, I dust them off just using my hand. You can also use a dry paper towel or washcloth if you'd like. IF you don't dust them off, then you will seal in the dust when you brush over your first coat of Mod Podge and then it will stick to the brush and you will spread it onto each tile after.
        *Now, unscrew your container of Mod Podge and whip out your foam brush. Dip it (just a bit!) into the container of Mod Podge and brush it onto your ceramic tile. You do not need a lot of Mod Podge on your brush.
        *You won't have much time to place your square onto the tile before it begins to dry so keep them close!
        *After I place and center the paper onto the tile, I use my index finger to outline the edges of the square and do a little zip zag motion across the center of the paper. 
It's important at this step to move the paper around to center it if it's needed. As soon as you take the credit card to it, it will be stuck down in place.
        *AND THEN pull out my credit card to smooth out the paper, working from the center outward. This will push out excess Mod Podge to the edge so you will need to have your brush handy to brush this away (OTHERWISE you will have blobs of dried Mod Podge afterwards). 
It's important to smooth out your paper before allowing it to dry so you don't end up with any bubbles in your paper or loose edges.
        *Set aside this tile to dry and start on your next one.

   Step 5 - Second Coat of Mod Podge
        *After about 20 minutes, you can apply a top coat of Mod Podge to your tiles. With about a quarter of Mod Podge on the tip, you should be able to coat it nicely.
        *TIP 1: With your hand, lightly brush off the tile before applying your coat of Mod Podge to ensure you do not have any loose particles, dust, dirt, or hairs hanging out on top of the paper. OTHERWISE, you will seal them in when you apply your next coat of Mod Podge. I recommend dusting off the tiles in between EVERY coat, AND while coating keep an eye out for hairs, foam pieces from your brush and and other particles. While the coat is wet, you can gently wipe them away. Your foam brush will hold onto them so you may need to rinse off your brush from time to time.
        *TIP 2: Outline the edges of the paper first going horizontally across the top and bottom and vertically across the sides. Then, go back and brush the Mod Podge onto the whole tile. This will help to ensure your paper is down and stays down.

   Step 6 and 7 - Another Coat of Mod Podge
        *With 20 minutes in between each coat, you will need to apply additional coats of Mod Podge to your tiles. With approximately half an inch of Mod Podge on the tip, you should be able to coat two tiles. I like to swipe one side of my brush on one tile, then coat the other and come back to the first.

   Step 8 - Sealing Your Tiles

*I like to use the top of a plastic tote - it is easy to carry/move around, small enough to fit in many places including through the doorways and strong enough not to bend or fold on you.     

*You can also just move your tiles to another table/surface such as an outdoor patio table or the ground - somewhere well ventilated.
REMEMBER to place some scratch/scrap paper down to cover and protect your surface first!
        *Spray one light coat across your tiles and allow them to dry for about 20-30 minutes.

   Step 9 - Second Coat of Sealer
        *Now you're ready for a second coat of your sealer. Spray another light coat across your tiles and allow them to dry for about 20-30 minutes before moving.
        *Move them to a spot to completely dry for 24 hours before handling.
        *AFTER this last coat is completely dried, the coasters will be water resistant meaning you can take a damp cloth and wipe them down. They will NOT be water proof meaning they are not dishwasher safe and cannot be submerged in water.

   Step 10 - Adding Your Felt (or Cork) to the Underside of Your Coasters
        *The felt (or cork - your choice) is going to protect your surfaces. You may op to use a square piece or the small circles, one in each corner.
        *I have another square of cardstock cut 4" x 4" to use as a stencil to cut my felt.
        *After I cut my felt, I pull out my glue gun and make a line across the top line of the pattern on the underside of the tile. I then work my way up and down and across the pattern on the underside of the tile.
First, I add glue only to
the very first line of
the tile and stick down
my felt.
Then I add to 2 or 3
rows at a time.
In the center where
the blank square is on
the tile, I add an "X"
with my glue.

Finish up by adding glue to
the remaining few lines.
sure you're glue is on the
inner part of the line NOT
the outer part, OTHERWISE
you're glue will sneak out in
IF IT DOES, simply wait a
second for it to cool just
a tiny bit, and then scrap
it off. (I use my fingernail.)

Make sure you smooth
out/press down on the
felt as you go. The hot
glue dries quickly so stretch
your felt as you need and
press down to ensure
it's secured.

*Once I'm done, I go back and glue any pieces along the edge that I missed the first time around.
Check all corners.
Apply glue sparingly to avoid
blobs of glue escaping.

Check all edges around.
Also apply glue sparingly.

YAY! You are now the proud owner of a new set of coasters.

While it seems like it takes a while, it actually took much more time typing up/putting together this tutorial than it was to complete multiple sets of coasters. Keep in mind, most of the project time is spent waiting for the tiles to dry.

Have fun! Experiment with different paper types and patterns.
*My recommendation for using heavier paper such as vellum or cardstock is to apply an additional coating of Mod Podge before sealing.

These coasters make great housewarming gifts or quick seasonal things to add to your home decor. You can even place them on small plate holders to display.

DIY Ceramic Tile Coasters - Supplies Needed

It's been almost 4 months since I made my first ceramic tile coaster set. Find my original blog entry, here.
The original DIY I followed was courtesy of Lindsay from the Cottage Mama.
While it was a nice start, there are a few things I've picked up along the way making over 100 sets of coasters so far! This is my version of how to make your own ceramic tile coasters. I split it into two posts so it wouldn't be THAT long. Find below the supplies you need to make your own set of ceramic tile coasters. Here, you will find the link to the tutorial.

Supplies Needed:
     Ceramic Tile Coasters
        *You can find these at your local home improvement store. I originally got mine at Lowe's, but have since started shopping for them at Home Depot since it's closer to my house. Either location, they are both listed for $0.16 a piece. 
        *The only thing between the tiles from the two locations is the ever so slight color difference, and slight thickness difference. The underside of the tiles also have a different pattern on them. Due to these differences, you will not be able to use both of them together in the same set of coasters.
        *I also recommend purchasing at least 5 extra tiles in case there are any blemishes, chips or stains - which are common in the 3 tiles closest to the outsides of the boxes where the glue has been applied.
     Scrapbook Paper

*The easiest paper to work with is printed paper. This is available at your local arts and craft stores in the scrapbooking aisle. They sell for about $0.49 to $0.69 an individual sheet or $5.00 to $20.00 per book. Check in the ads for sales! Joann's frequently puts the scrapbook items on sale 30% off or 3-5 sheets for $1, and Hobby Lobby often puts their scrapbook items on sale 50% off.
        *You can use card stock or vellum, however, the thinner paper works better. The thicker papers will require 1-2 more coats of Mod Podge.
        *You can print anything onto regular computer paper and use that as well. This is a great option with the growing supply of digital papers and clip art available online. Check out my Easter Bunny Ceramic Tile Coasters for an example of this.
        *I DO NOT recommend napkins. Check out my Napkin Craft Fail entry. 
If you like the crackled look, go for it. I didn't think it looked very professional, not to mention, easily tears.
     Cutting Tool
        *I have a small paper cutter (Fiskars SureCut Paper Trimmer) that does the job, but so-so. I got it at Joann's on sale 40% off and that's why I made the purchase. I also bought it back when I started making wedding invitations for my cousin, before I thought about doing the coasters. It cuts great, however, it only has a maximum cut of 9" when most of the papers I buy are 12" x 12".
        *Feel free to use scissors or a larger cutting tool.
      Mod Podge
        *I use Mod Podge Matte Finish. I buy mine at Hobby Lobby primarily because I get 40% off coupons. It acts as a glue and sealer, and an easy clean up with just soap and water.
        *I regularly get Mod Podge ALL over my hands since I am very hands-on. It dries just like Elmer's Glue. When I was in elementary school (Go Pirates!), I used to put Elmer's Glue all over my hand, wait for it to dry and then carefully peel it off to have a glue hand. Mod Podge reminds me of these times.
        *I am not really that familiar with the different Mod Podge's that are available, but Amy runs a GREAT blog called Mod Podge Rocks and she answers any and EVERY question you may have about using Mod Podge. She also has MANY craft ideas and tutorials for you! I haven't had a chance to really play around with the site, but I did find the Formula Guide on there very useful.
     Foam Brushes
        *I purchased this package of 8 1" foam brushes back in February when I made my first go 'round with the ceramic tile coasters. I have since only thrown out one (1) brush. For $1.99, you can't go wrong!
Shiloh with his morning fix -
water in a coffee cup!
        *To make your brushes last longer, I recommend immediately cleaning them off after applying the Mod Podge to your last coaster. Since you will need to do several coats of the Mod Podge, you will need to rinse off your foam brush several times as well. I find that the hose on my kitchen sink and warm water work the best - make sure there aren't any dishes sitting around because even though the Mod Podge is non-toxic, you really don't want all that on your dishes - especially if you have a cat like mine that LOVES to drink out of the sink (and anything else he can get into)! When I'm done cleaning off my brush, I sit it in an old spaghetti can to dry.
        *I use Krylon Clear Crystal Acrylic Coating. It works great, dries quickly, and no stickness! I found mine at Joann's for about $8.00 - remember to bring your coupons! - but can't find it on the website to link to it.
     Hot Glue
        *You will need hot glue to adhere your felt (or cork) to the bottom of your coaster. You will need one mini glue stick per coaster plus one to two more to glue any loose pieces of felt. 
     Felt or Cork
        *You will need this for the bottom of your coasters to protect your table, desk or other surfaces. I buy black felt 4 sheets for $1 from Hobby Lobby or Walmart. Joann's also has them at a good price, but I find that the Hobby Lobby and Walmart sheets are a tad bit bigger. With one sheet from Hobby Lobby and Walmart I can cut 6 squares, whereas with the felt from Joann's I can only cut 4 squares. You could also buy the felt by the yard.
        *Cork sheets are available at your local home improvement store. You may also find pre-cut squares or small sheets in your local craft store near the doll making supplies.
        *I do not sand down anything, but you can use sand paper to sand the edges of your tiles.
        *Always handy!

I think I got the break down of aaalll the necessary materials for creating your own ceramic tile coasters. 

Let's get started with the tutorial!! Click here, to continue on.

[My] Tips on Becoming More Familiar with Yarn Types

I made a trip into Joann's a few weeks ago, not looking to make any purchases - solely to check out the yarn options (while I waited for the time to pass so I could go pick up Chad for lunch). 

While my shop, EyeLoveKnots, started out like (and kind of still looks like) an "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink" sort of deal, I've decided through my own crafting that I tend to favor crocheting baby blankets, hats and scarves, decoupaging the ceramic tiles into coasters and making my own basic jewelry (LOVE my jewelry!). This post is focusing on the yarn side so I'll share my tips on the other crafts at a later date, BUT I decided if I was going to focus more on the crocheting aspect, I'd need to get more familiar with my yarn options.

I basically walked around taking notes on yarn textures, color options and how many ounces per ball. I also compared similar yarn types. I noted which ones I thought would make nice baby blankets or hats and scarves and even checked out the cotton yarns for washcloths and coasters!

Two things I started before I made this trip I found to be helpful:

     1. I started bookmarking projects by season instead of just category.
        - Examples include: "Fall Hats" or "Fall Child Hats" RATHER than just "Hats"; "Spring Scarves" RATHER than just "Scarves"; "Summer Shirts/Tops" RATHER than just "Shirts/Tops".
        This did two things for me:
             A. Forced me to recognize yarn types to determine placement.
             B. Helped organize my bookmarks so now I can immediately find my projects, rather than dig through a bunch.

     2. I created a Yarn Review and Stash of my "Got-to-Make" Patterns Page here on my blog - *has been split into two pages, A-L and M-Z. On these page, I've listed the yarns that I've come across (not necessarily used yet) and included their fiber content, weight, care instructions and a space for my personal notes. Underneath, I've listed links to the patterns I'd like to try and my notes on each one including what season/occasion I think each would be good for, how to change for different seasons/occasions, available sizes, difficulty, etc.
        This also did two things for me:
             A. Helped me to better organize my bookmarks and rediscover project previously bookmarked and forgotten about.
             B. Become more familiar with yarn types and the kinds of projects associated with each.

Having started these two things first - I was able to 'put a face to a name' - match yarn to the name, details and patterns I had been working with.

I found this trip I made to be very beneficial to me. I felt very relaxed as it was a quiet day and I wasn't busy calculating prices and discounts in my head or trying to figure out how many balls of yarn I needed for this or that. It allowed me to feel the yarn types - see which ones help up to my softness standards and which felt/looked similar. AND it allowed me to see rough quantities kept on the floor and color options carried in the store.

Best of luck to you in your yarn choosing adventures. I'd love to hear your reviews, experiences, opinions, suggestions, input, etc on yarns. Please be kind and respectful in your comments.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Starlet Cape - Pattern Review

While I was updating my Vanna's Choice section of my Yarn Review page, I re-came across Lion Brand's Starlet Cape. I say 're' because I had previously bookmarked it - and then forgot about it!

My Aunt Patti is getting married in Las Vegas in a few months by an Elvis impersonator. I love the idea because as her and her fiance's second marriage, they just want to have a ton of fun. What is more fun and different than a Vegas wedding by Elvis?

When I re'came across this pattern, I thought, what better for a Vegas wedding than a Hollywood Marilyn Monroe like cape to go over my aunt's wedding dress? It's also fun enough for her to wear the remainder of her days there.

I went to Joann's today and found the Vanna's Choice yarn on sale plus my 50% off coupon for the Vanna's Glamour yarn. I got my Fun Fur yarn at Michaels on clearance 50% off!

*I found that the Vanna's Glamour yarn is rough. It has 4% metallic polyester - even such a small amount makes this yarn rough. It pairs well with the Vanna's Choice yarn, but I probably would not use alone.

Measures 8 inches in length by 32 inches across lower edge.

Took me between 4.5 and 5.5 minutes depending on the row, for a total of about an hour and a half to complete the cape and do the front finishings on the edge plus 35 minutes to do the top and bottom finishings.

I decided to do the ties a little differently. I cut four strands of A and B at 24" long, two strands of each per side. Then I pulled it through the top edge of each side so the strands were doubled, and made an overhand knot to secure. I then divided the strands in two, and twisted the two parts tightly together until near the bottom. Then I made another overhand knot to secure, and cut to make the loose strands even.

I opted not to attach a pom pom to the ends.

I immediately put the cape on and went to go show my mother. She just started laughing! I am so excited to give this to my aunt!

Pull it forward.
Let it lay loose.
 However you choose to wear it! It will keep your shoulders nice and warm!

This Starlet Cape is available for purchase in my Etsy shop! It would be perfect for Halloween, a Hollywood party or just for fun! There are so many color options! Feel free to find more color options in the following: Vanna's Choice; Vanna's Glamour; Fun Fur.