A post-Christmas post about some DIY I engaged in for gifts this year. I procrastinate a lot, and I'd more than likely be capable of making some really sweet stuff if I put more time and effort into it, but luckily these were all really simple (and cute) things to make that turned out well, and were appreciated by the recipients!
Something I'd wanted to try for a long time, but never got around to, were these teacup candles. I got the idea from a picture I saw on Tumblr ages ago, and I actually saw some in Ikea recently. Candle making is really easy, and after I picked up two cute mugs from Winners I decided to make them as gifts for my sister and a friend. Any mug or teacup will do, the ones I got are rather large but were only $5 each.
All you need is teacups or mugs, candle wicks (from any craft store), wax, and if desired something to make it scented. Essential oils are what I used, my mom has a bunch and I chose green tea and (I think) a lily scented oil. To start, I measured and cut the wicks to the size I wanted, and tied one end of the wick around a pencil. I took the end of the wick not tied to the pencil, and poked it through a small piece of cardboard. I taped it on the other side to secure it, and then taped the piece of cardboard to the bottom of the teacup. Then, I balanced the pencil on the teacup so that the wick was standing straight in the empty cup so I was able to pour the wax around it and it would settle in the upright spot. I used an old pot to melt the wax in because it's not easy to get out afterwards. You can melt it directly on the stove, but the best way to do it, and how I did it, was to have a larger pot with water in it, boil the water, and then put the smaller pot with wax in it, in the boiling water to melt it. It's a method that's used for melting chocolate and other stuff, I think it just makes a more even melt or something. Anyways, once the wax was melted I poured it into the teacup and added a few drops of the oils. I mixed it quickly and then let the candle sit and dry overnight.
The next morning I checked on them, and they were completely hardened. They didn't end up completely flat and smooth on the surface, and maybe it was the wax I used but it wasn't as smooth looking as a store bought candle would look. But they still worked out quite well and smelled nice. The only other issue I had was taking the pencil off, because the wax had hardened on it a bit and it was impossible to undo the knot once the pencil was off, so I left it knotted which is fine because it was going to be burnt once used anyways.
It's an inexpensive and easy way to make a cute present for someone and I'd like to make more, experimenting with coloured wax and other scents.
You can see in this picture how the wax sort of settled in a kind of dip rather than flat across. I'm not sure how to avoid this but I didn't think it really mattered because once they're used it would melt anyways.
One of my brothers big interests is zines, and I decided to make him a mini-zine for Xmas. I'm a huge fan of the Nancy comics by Ernie Bushmiller, and there is a great Tumblr called www.nancyishappy.tumblr.com that posts the black and white strips. They had posted a few Christmas ones, so I compiled them and did a simple layout in Photoshop. I printed the pages off, stapled it together and added some Christmas stickers. Very simple but I was still pleased with it.
When I was in Toronto a few weeks ago at a craft fair, I noticed the girl who was spinning records had a little bowl with some pins in it, and the bowl was actually made out of vinyl. I'd never seen it before but it looked really cool, and after I told my friend about the idea we decided to try to make some for Xmas presents. After searching online to see how to make these record-bowls, we found out just how easy it is to do.
All you need to do this, is records (obviously it's frowned upon to ruin perfectly good records by melting them so we used some crappy ones from Value Village that weren't going to be played much anyways). You also need a bowl that is oven friendly, we used a glass one.
So the tutorial we followed said to turn the bowl upside down, on a pan, and place the record on top so that it would melt down into the shape of a half circle. We set the oven to 200 and didn't time it, just kept an eye on it because it didn't take long at all to soften. For the first one we let it melt down but when we took it out of the oven it was still hot and really maleable and with oven mitts on we could kind of mold it a bit more into the shape of a bowl before it hardened up again. For the other ones we tried doing it the opposite way, by placing the bowl upright, the record on top, and once it was a little softened and we could see the sides sort of drooping over the bowl (again, with oven mitts on) we pushed down in the center of the record and it basically took the shape of the bowl and actually had a nicer finish.
They all ended up looking pretty much the same, and I think it's nearly impossible to make a mistake while doing this because like I said it was really easy. I gave one to my dad for Xmas and kept one for myself.
We tried to think of other ideas for things we could make with them, other than just bowls. Someone online had said you can make jewellery out of melted vinyl, but we cut some of it into strips and played around with it to see about making a bracelet or something and it wasn't as cool as you'd think it would be. I prefer just the simple bowls.
However, this past weekend when I was shopping in Toronto, I noticed that Urban Outfitters had used this idea in their merchandising for the store. They'd been made into lights, which I thought was a fantastic idea and something I'd really like to try. I especially love the coloured bulbs, so hopefully I can try to make some of these in the future, perhaps to sell.