Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tutorial: Glass Etching Jars

I love glass etching. It's really rewarding to turn an old item into something new. I also love that it doesn't make a recyclable item any less recyclable. Some upcycling craft projects take an item that was once recyclable and make it into something that will eventually go into the trash, even if it gets used and enjoyed for some time before then.

This tutorial focuses on taking old jars (I'm using jars that once held peanutbutter and coconut oil) and giving them new purpose with some fun art. You can use this same technique on practically any glass. I have found that some tempered glass doesn't etch well, but otherwise I haven't had any problems. Some ideas for things you can etch: wine bottles, storage jars, drinking glasses, glass ornaments and glass pane in a frame. When you're looking at your options, keep in mind that you'll need to lay a stencil on your item. Anything spherical will be much more difficult than something completely flat. A drinking glass with vertically straight sides is easier to use than a glass that curves, with a bulbous part. Also etching cream works best for small spaces. It won't cover a large area evenly.

I often use glass jars to take some iced tea or iced coffee with me, especially during the summer. I almost always have a pitcher of one or the other in my fridge and I'll fill a jar before heading out to run errands or visit a friend or go for a walk. I thought it'd be cute to etch some designs on to my most used jars for the purpose.

Printable Stencils
Glass Jar
Etching Cream
Cheap Paintbrush (one you don't mind sticking in acid)
Extra Fine Tip Permanent Marker
Clear Contact Paper
Craft Knife
Cutting Mat
Masking Tape
Disposable Gloves (optional)

Step 1

Print out the stencils I've provided.

Cut out a piece of clear contact paper that is small enough to fit on your jar and large enough to cover one of the images on the printable. My pieces are x inches.

Tape one piece of contact paper (clear side up, backing side down) over the printable so that the stencil image is centered on it. Using the permanent marker to trace the image. If you can't see it very well, try taping both pieces up to a window and using it like a light box. I like to mark the parts that are black on the printable so that I don't get confused later. This is especially helpful for most complicated stencils. Just put a few scribbles of ink on the inside of spaces that are black on the printable.

Step 2

Lay the contact paper with the traced image onto your cutting mat. I find it easiest to tape the contact paper to the cutting mat and then move the cutting mat around to get different angles.

Using the craft knife, very carefully cut out everything that shows up black on the printable image. Try very hard to only cut through the clear contact paper, leaving the backing intact. With a sharp craft knife, it takes very, very little pressure. It's ok if you cut all the way through, but it's easier to lay the piece down if you don't.

Remove from the backing all of the pieces that show up black on the printable. You can throw them away.

Tip: Remember that everything that's white on the printable is going to be a part of the stencil, so keep the outline of white spaces intact. It's ok to cut into black spaces.

Step 3

Unpeel one short side of the contact paper, fold the backing back away from it.

Stick that piece onto the jar. Figure out where you'll want the etching to go and make sure that it's all lined up correctly.

Holding onto the strip of contact paper stuck to the jar, so it's doesn't move, slowly unpeel the backing from the rest of the contact paper. Press down the stencil as you unpeel so that it lays down evenly. If you get to a spot that isn't connected to the rest, help it unpeel and lay down or wait until all of the outline is down and then place it by hand in the right spot.

Once all of the contact paper is on the jar, smooth it out. You can lift up bits and move it a little if you need to. Rub out air pockets. Run your fingers over all the edges of the stencil so that you'll get a clean outline with the etching cream.

If your stencil tore even a little, or you cut into the corners a little, take small pieces of tape and carefully tape over any cuts and tears.

Cover any glass around the stencil with masking tape so that you don't get any etching cream on it. The etching cream will like drip down, so I usually masking beneath stencils, but not above.

Step 4

If you're using disposable gloves, put them on now. If not, be careful not to get the etching cream on your skin. If you do wash it off immediately. I have gotten some on me and washed it off with no adverse effects. But it is an acid. So be careful.

Using a cheap paintbrush (I like one with a little stiffness to the bristles) coat the exposed glass inside the stencil with etching cream. Use a thick coat. I like to stipple against corners and the outline of the stencil to create a nice solid line, just doing whatever I can to make sure the etching cream gets into even difficult to reach places.

Step 5

Wait 10 - 20 minutes. The instructions on my container of etching cream says 10 minutes, but I find that the longer I wait the better etch I get.

Step 6

Wash off the etching cream. I usually let water run over it until the cream stops running off, then peel off the stencil and then wash the jar with soap and water.

After you dry the jar, you should have a beautifully etched image.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Light Up Crafts

I may or may not have a stockpile of string lights and other battery operated light options sitting in my stash waiting for the perfect project. (Spoiler: I do.)

I think summer nights are the best time to have fun illuminations. Whether it's just for me or I have guests. So here are some of the projects I'm eying trying to decide which one to jump on first.

Light Up Marquee Star Sign from Burlap & DenimI love DIY marquee signs. I usually see arrows or letters, so this Light Up Star Tutorial from Burlap & Denim is great.

DIY Lighted Paper Pennant Garland from Once WedOnce Wed has a great tutorial for a lighted Paper Pennant Garland. While they use it for wedding decor, I just want to hang it in my living room.

Paper Lanterns from The House That Lars BuiltI think these beautiful paper lanterns from The House That Lars Built would be great attached to fairy lights. Although they are certainly lovely as they are.

DIY Neon Cactus Light from Shrimp Salad CircusI saved the best for last here. This Neon Cactus Light from Shrimp Salad Circus is amazing. I have some purple neon electroluminescent wire that is just begging to be turned into something. I think I have finally found its calling.

All photos in this post belong to their respective, linked sites.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Modern Macrame Tutorials

When macrame brought only images of strange looking owls and plant hangers in oranges and browns, I thought I didn't like macrame, that there was nothing new that could be done with it. The recent resurgence of macrame has certainly surprised me. But the attractive bright colors or minimalist white wall-hangings and the lack of owls make it much more palatable. It turns out that I actually like the fact that so much of macrame is useful and with an updated aesthetic, beautiful too.

Interested in (re)learning macrame? Here are some lovely tutorials to get you started.

Macrame Yarn Garland DIY from A Beautiful MessA Beautiful Mess has several macrame tutorials, but I like this bright colored garland the best. It looks not too complicated and adds some serious fun.

Macrame Wall Hanging Tutorial from Miss Amy PhippsI have a secret minimalist that lives in my heart and wants to have light, airy, simple, but truly complex art on my walls, like this wall hanging (tutorial from Miss Amy Phipps).

Macrame Lawn Chair Tutorial from Duece Cities Hen HouseThese macrame lawn chairs from Duece Cities Hen House are my favorite type of DIY. It gives new life to an old object with color, cheer, and beauty. If I had some old run down metal lawn chairs, I'm pretty sure I would be running out to buy the prettiest paracord right this second.

Macrame Balloons from You Are My FaveWhile you could make a macrame plant hanger, you could also hang all number of other things, like balloons. This tutorial for Macrame balloons from You Are My Fave is certainly whimsical, but exactly the kind of party decoration that accidentally becomes a year round decoration.

All of the photos in this post belong to their respective and linked sites.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pinwheel Decorations

Pinwheels | Red Circle Crafts

I finally changed the decoration on my front door. It's been the same wreath since last fall and it was time for something bright and summery.

Pinwheels are easy to make and fun to look at. I attached these in disarray just using masking tape. Hopefully they'll stay up!

Pinwheels | Red Circle Crafts

You can make a pinwheel out of any paper you have, or print out this printable I made and follow the instructions on the print out.


Square Paper (or printable)
Metal Brad
Craft Knife
Cutting Mat
Hole Punch

Pinwheels | Red Circle Crafts


Cut down your paper to a square.
Cut along the diagonals, leave a few inches in the center uncut (less if you have a very small pinwheel, more if you have a bigger one).
Hole punch every other corner.
Cut a small X at the very center of the paper.
Bend the hole punched corners in to the center.Put the brad through all four punched holes and the X in the center.
Secure the brad in the back.

Pinwheels | Red Circle Crafts

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Summer

Summer Crafts | Red Circle Crafts

Someone I admire recently told me that they feel more patriotic than ever since the Supreme Court passed Marriage Equality. And I definitely agree with that. Though I'm still not inclined to cover everything in the US flag like I see all the craft blogs doing this time of year.

Fourth of July is really about the kick off of summer for me. I LOVE summer. Not only is my birthday this month, but J's birthday is next month. We'll hopefully get a few trips out to the coast and a friend has promised to show me some excellent swimming holes not too far away.

I know we're all tired of this heat here in Portland, but there's been a lot of negativity about summer lately. So to combat that, my favorite things about the summer are (in no particular order):

All the fruit and berries
Swimming (or playing in water really)
Hiking and other outdoor activities
Bonfires (or you know fire pits)
Ridiculous cocktails (in a pineapple or buddah glass all the better)
Seeing other people's tattoos

Plus lots of other things, really. Loving summer is not just for kids on summer vacation. But even I'm wilting in this Portland heatwave. Can we go back to a mix of sunshine and rain showers now?

Here are some summer crafting ideas to help you woo your inner summer child. (We all loved summer break as kids, right?)

City Gym Shorts | Purl BeeI recently made myself a pair of these super easy city gym shorts. The pattern and tutorial are over at Purl Bee. Mine are here.

Farmer's Market Bag | PoppytalkI love this bag from Oh Joy! on Poppytalk. I've been meaning to make myself some smaller vegetable bags to segregate my vegetables from the Farmer's Market.

Homemade Horchata | Say YesHorchata (recipe from Say Yes) is one of my favorite summer drinks. We especially love to eat Mexican food in the summer. But it's nice to have something other than water to drink on hot days at home.

DIY Fruit Coasters | Design is YayThese fruit inspired coasters from Design is Yay are all things kitschy and good in my book. Bright colors, fruity design, and can hold a cold drink, what more can you ask for from summer crafting?

I hope you get a nice long weekend to ring in the summer over this 4th of July.

All the photos in this post belong to their respective and linked sites, except the bubbles, which belong to me.