January 2014 archive

Framed Fused Glass Piece

framed piece of fused glassI’ve always had a fascination with glass and the amazing way it can be melted and molded and blown and fused into amazing shapes and useful items. When my girls were quite young, I took a class on how to create glass beads and had an absolute blast doing this for a while. The main problem was lack of time (gee, full time job, twins, chores, wonder why time was an issue?), but I also found that it seemed like a craft that really needs a safe, secure location to do, and we didn’t have space either. Three years ago, I saw an ad for a class on glass fusing, and I snapped at the chance to take it. It was a very fun and informative class and an amazing glass art studio. Since it was a beginning class, we only got to make a few pieces, but I did come out of it with some nice glass coasters, a vase, and a couple of little practice pieces. I’d had my favorite little fused thingamabob just hanging out in a box for quite some time, and it struck me that I could frame it. If I can mount and frame spray-painted plastic animal heads, why not a pretty piece of glass? As you see from the photo, the fused piece is white and pink, so I took a piece of heavy white card stock, painted it with some left-over Benjamin Moore latex Coral Essence (2007-40) eggshell paint and then glued the glass to the card stock with a bit of Weld Bond. I found a nice white square frame with a mat, and put the glass into it… I left the glass front inside the frame behind the card stock and glass, to lend support and fill the space properly. And now it’s hanging on my office wall and I love it!

A Screwy Experience

I’d been on the hunt for a super cheap table of a certain size, to go in my daughter’s room to get her Cage Full of Rats off the floor.

Imagine my happy surprise when driving down the road recently, I noticed a table top with a big “FREE” sign on it sitting on the sidewalk, along with its four detached legs.

I stopped, measured, and yes! It was exactly, and I mean exactly, the width, height, and length needed to fit the available space and to support the Cage Full of Rats. It had the added advantages of being sturdy, and also really, really ugly, so I wouldn’t mind having rats living on top of it. Plus, free!

With a cheerful sense of undeserved accomplishment, I put the table top and legs into the car and drove off.

I reasoned that even though no screws were included with the table, that it could certainly not be that difficult to find four replacement screws to attach the legs. (I’ll pause here while more experienced free furniture scavengers laugh.)

Because, as it turned out, it took trips to three hardware stores before I finally found the solution. The problem seemed to be that I needed screws of a slightly larger girth than the original ones, so that they would bite into fresh wood as I attached the legs. But, and this is the crucial part, they needed to be 2.5 inches long, and, apparently, of all the hundreds of available screws, the vast little baskets of screws filling vast walls, none came in that crucial slightly larger girth, with the proper length. All screws of larger circumference were too long.

I was a bit puzzled by what to do next. Luckily, a fellow at the last hardware store suggested shoving a few toothpicks into the hole in the leg, breaking them off, and then using screws of the original (and happily available) size. He said the toothpicks would make it so that the screw had something to bite into and would work a treat to re-attach the legs.

And he was correct! The table is re-assembled. You really can learn something new every day. Also, isn’t it amazing how some stuff that seems as if it would be simple to accomplish can take so much time?

Cheap Frames

I’ve been enjoying picking up inexpensive picture frames at a local thrift store. There are so many and very few are more than a dollar, and a lot of them even come with mats inside.

I am trying to fill up the infinite wall of beige in my family room/office space with cheerful and cheap artwork. I know that there will probably be people out there who find an large swath of empty beige wall inspiring, but I’m afraid I’m not among them. And I’d lived with it for a very long time… so, I figured after ten years of blank beige, time to decorate.

I decided to have just white frames and to go for a more random and crowded display of things. Right now I’m not worrying about anything but finding colorful and/or meaningful things to hang in the frames. Not necessarily great artwork, although I wouldn’t rule it out, but just stuff I like.

I found a frame I liked at a thrift store, but it was black. I decided optimistically that it would be no problem to spray paint it white.

black photo frame

I hit my first hitch when I realized after getting it home that the glass cannot be removed from the frame, making the use of spray paint perhaps problematic. I am quite lazy and impatient about craft projects at the best of times, and I didn’t want to take the time to screen off the glass. In hindsight, that might have been faster and easier, but oh  well.

I grabbed some Behr Creamy White latex paint and primer in one in semi-gloss finish. I scuffed up the frame with some sandpaper. Then I painted a nice thin coat. After it dried, I painted another thin coat. And another one… and a few more. Repeat on a crazy loop. I lost track of how many coats were needed to cover the black.  Too many.

I did end up with a white frame, which I used for an old photo booth strip of  my family and it looks fine hanging on the wall from a distance… up close, the brush strokes are pretty evident and not my favorite thing. Still, it works on the wall.

white photo frame

I think spray painting frames may be something I try in the near future. The wall so far is shown in the photo below. The bunny picture on the left was from a great Esty shop called Zou Zou’s Basement. In the center is the new frame and photo strip. On the right a pastel painting of a frog I did a while back and never got around to framing (remember, my criteria was colorful — not artistic greatness).  The wall is still mostly empty, but I consider this a promising beginning!


Plastic Animal Taxidermy

Two things coincided recently to make me take up the time-honored practice of plastic animal taxidermy:  1) A friend gave me a plastic cow hindquarters magnet, and, 2) I saw a really amusing photo of some kelly green plastic animal heads mounted in a frame.

I found these things to be both “funny” and “cheerful.” My family found them to be both “creepy” and “weird.”

As it turns out, I am not alone in enjoying fine plastic animals crafts (thank goodness):


photo of can of spray paint

I had some metallic spray paint on hand, so I went out and bought a package of cheap tiny plastic animals, and a couple of frames. One of the frames was from a secondhand store, only a buck, and with a quick pass with a Magic Eraser became clean and bright white. I made two projects, one as a gift for a friend and one for hanging in my entry-way.

The hardest part of the project, as some of the links above mention, is cutting the animals in half. Be very careful and keep your hands and fingers out of the way. I couldn’t find our coping saw, which I had thought might work to do the job, so I ended up using a sharp butcher knife, and was just slow and careful. I cut the animals on a hard wooden surface, scoring the animal bodies first so that the knife would have a place to start, and then used a small pillow to cover the knife and animal when I had to really press down. I kept one hand firmly on the handle and the other hand on the pillow, focusing on keeping the blade straight and upright, while gently rocking it back and forth while pressing down. Again, I kept my fingers out of the way of the blade.

After I was done I read a comment on one of the linked posts above, which  that suggested putting the animals in hot water to try to soften the plastic a bit before cutting. I don’t know if that works, because I was already finished when I read that advice, but it sounds like it might help.

Once I had the animals all ready to go, I donned a respirator and safety goggles and took the animals outside where I spray painted them. I kept the spray paint can moving and just did several quick, light passes, until the plastic fauna were covered completely. There weren’t any drips, and the key to that was several quick, light mists of paint. I kept turning the board that the animals rested upon in order to be able to get them covered from various angles.

spray painted plastic animals

I was slightly disappointed with the end result in terms of color… they look metallic, but not a shiny gold, more of a dull brass. It is fine, of course, just not exactly what I had envisioned.

I left them to dry for 24 hours or so, until they didn’t feel at all sticky to the touch.

I took some heavy white card stock and cut it to fit the two frames. I put in the mats, with the card stock directly behind, and put the glass fronts behind the card stock. It filled up the frames perfectly and provided a hard base for the card stock to rest against when I glued the animals to it (thanks to the Miniature Mounted Menagerie post for this tip.)

I used Weld Bond to glue the animals to the card stock, since I had some on hand and it said it worked with plastic, paper, and other materials. I let it dry for 24 hours and was done!

I made the smaller frame with the head and tail of the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) as the friend’s gift. And used a bunch of the rest of the heads for the frame to hang in my home. I am still pondering whether to make magnets of the hind ends, or to make another framed piece. And where to hang it if I do?  The bathroom?

spray painted plastic animals in a frame

plastic spray painted toy in a frame

plastic spray painted toys in a frame