Beeswax Luminaries

Last November I took a class on making beeswax luminaries. It was my first time smelling beeswax, and now I can’t get enough of it!

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We were told to bring dried flowers, so I pressed a few the week before. The leaves were provided by the instructor. After the wax on the water balloon has cooled from the third dipping, the leaves and flowers are stuck on by dipping them into wax and quickly adhering them to the luminary. I believe you can also use colored tissue paper to achieve interesting effects. Unfortunately, I had some difficulty getting the flowers and leaves to stick, so they ended up getting coated with thicker layers of wax, making the original colors less visible. They still look cool when glowing, and that’s what matters more.

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We did have issues with the wax not staying warm enough in the crock pots of water, so the instructor had to take the pots of wax back to the stove in the kitchen. That explains the lumpiness and cracks on some of them. However, if you’re dissatisfied with what you’ve made, you can simply melt the wax and use it again.

Lastly, the bottom of the luminaries should be filled with sand before placing the candle in so that it won’t melt the wax. However, using a tea light candle holder serves the same purpose.

If you’re interested in making your own, here is a pretty good tutorial. There are some beautiful honeypot luminaries, and they float!

Suggestions for portable crafts?

I’m looking for some crafts to do while I have to be somewhere but would rather be doing something else. Perhaps it’s time that I learn how to knit, since I’ve seen ladies knit at sporting events or while riding the bus.

I’ve come up with the following criteria for what makes a craft portable:

  1. Doesn’t have many components.
  2. Can be easily started and put away. (Minimal set up and clean up required)
  3. Won’t get messed up if hurriedly thrown into a bag.
  4. Can be done in limited space (such as on my lap).

The crafts that I do the most are nowhere close to being portable. Take beading for example. Even if I kept the beads in a small container with compartments, one accidental tip means all those beads will be scattered. A 5+ foot long thread in a crowded environment could easily get tangled and caught on things. Plus, the beading needle is sharp and will need to be put away carefully.

Wire working is also not portable, given the small components involved and the many tools.

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Not portable at all. (The white line is seven feet of thread.)

These were the crafts that I could think of that seemed portable:

  1. Knitting and crochet. You have your needles or hook and yarn, and you’re set. I don’t know how easy it is to start from where you left off, but I’ve seen other people knit in public.
  2. Lanyards. Once they’re started, they’re very portable. I used to make all sorts of lanyards while in high school, but I’m not so interested in them now.
  3. Kumihimo. I’ve never done it before, but it looks portable, even when it’s done with beads. (Watch a demonstration here.) All you need is the disc, strings, and bobbins.
  4. Origami (some). It needs to be the kind that is done in one piece, as opposed to assembled from multiple pieces. Also, it needs to not get crushed easily. Paper stars sound like a good option.
  5. Some wire weaving might be portable if it was a small project that was already started and all I had to do was weave. There is a risk of it getting disfigured during transit.

Have you done any of the crafts that I mentioned above and can comment on their portability? Can you think of other crafts that meet my criteria for portability?

Felt chocolate cake

Over the weekend, I made this “chocolate cake” out of felt. It came as a kit sold by Daiso, that I received as a gift from my sister. It’s not the kind of thing I would have bought for myself, since I don’t sew much now, aside from mending. Although I had sewn doll clothes by hand when I was 10 or 11 years old, this was the first time I have sewn and stuffed something.

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Measures about 2.75″ tall and 2.25″ wide.

The kit comes with felt, embroidery floss, cardboard, stuffing, patterns and instructions in both Japanese and English. The additional items that it says you will need are scissors, craft glue, dressmaker shears, a sewing needle, and a fabric marking pencil.

I do not have a fabric marker or dressmaker shears, but I was able to get by without them. I looked online for alternatives to a fabric pencil, and found that soap works. We have plenty of soap slivers, and it showed up on the darker colored pieces of felt. The only problem was with the white felt that was to be cut in a flower-like shape, which would have been difficult to approximate. It had occurred to me to pin the pattern to the felt and cut, but I was concerned that it would slip during the process. Then I read that some people use a sharp graphite pencil to mark fabric, so I tried that, and it showed up enough for me to trace the pattern. If I am to do more sewing projects in the future, then I’ll invest in a proper fabric marking pencil and dressmaker shears.

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I wish I had taken photos during the process, but I didn’t plan on posting about this online at first, since it’s not my design. I decided to share it after all because it’s so cute!

My least favorite part was the gluing. I first tried a clear liquid glue, but that didn’t work too well, because the felt kept soaking it up. Unless I applied a generous amount of glue and put the pieces together immediately, it wouldn’t adhere, and parts of it were still separate. I had a small one-time-use tube of a white glue that came as part of two beaded suede bag kits that a friend gave me in high school. I had used one tube for both bags several years ago, but it had already dried out by now. I decided to try the other tube with this project. The white glue didn’t get absorbed by the felt as quickly, so it was able to do a better job of bonding. I wish I knew what kind of glue it was so I can buy more. It smells sour and has a bit of a stink.

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Since I was having difficulty gluing, I ended up sewing the “cream” even though the instructions said to glue (or sew) it. It ended up looking more like one of those little cacti flowers, kind of like the red ones in this photo. At least now I will know how to make one if I ever have red or pink felt and want to make a little felt cactus. 😀

I ended up using a hot glue gun to glue the toppings to the top of the cake, since it bonds faster. I hadn’t used a glue gun in years, and that brought back memories of how the glue would be stiff and lumpy and leave strings. Well, that was because I wasn’t using it correctly. I still have a lot to learn, but I am more prepared now, if I were to do a similar project in the future.

Even though I ran into some difficulties along the way, I think I might buy the fruit tart kit the next time I go to Daiso.

Fused glass for Valentine’s Day

About two weeks ago I attended a fused glass class. It was my very first time working with glass, but the process was pretty easy. Unfortunately, I got cut by a tiny speck of glass (and bled), but I had the idea to use adhesive tape to remove the glass pieces. You don’t want to attempt to wipe the glass flecks off because that will only push them in deeper.

The instructor had gotten glass hearts since Valentine’s Day was coming up, so I decided I might as well use them in my projects. We were going to make a 5 inch plate, a pair of earrings, and two pendants. Since I was in need of a Valentine’s Day gift for my boyfriend, I decided to make the plate for him, and used his favorite colors.  After all, it would be the only item from that day that he could use, since he doesn’t wear jewelry.

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The white squares have an iridescent finish, but it’s not visible in the photo. I originally intended them to be 2 inches by 2 inches, but I miscalculated so they were 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches. The heart in the bottom right was made by painting a heart shape with glue and sprinkling frit on it.

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Instead of making earrings, I made another pendant. It wasn’t until afterward that I figured out how I could have made dangly earrings, even if the bail would not fit in the loop on the clips that I have.

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I have no idea why the backside turned out that way. It’s a textured, metallic green that spilled over around the edges. Perhaps that piece of black glass actually was dichroic on the other side, and I didn’t notice it. Now I’m thinking I should have just layered the back with red, but it’s too late.

 I wish I had taken photos of my work before it went into the kiln, since it looked a bit different then. I did not expect the two small hearts surrounded by white to go completely flat, since in the examples where they were used on stud earrings, they were more domed (because the area was smaller. When the glass melts, it likes to do so in as round a shape as possible.) I would very much like to attend another fused glass workshop, and then I will carry out my original idea for a plate, using blues and aquas. I also have more ideas involving triangles.

Beaded bookmark

A couple of weeks ago I took a jewelry making class held by a Meetup group. Although I have worked with wire before, I learned the proper technique for many things.

The plan was to bring beads to make a complete necklace, but since it was a four hour long class, we were all exhausted by the end so we simply assembled what we had worked on into a bookmark. The instructor did an example with two of the brown beads and one leaf, and that is what the rest of the class did, but I decided to use all three of my brown beads and both leaves.

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I decided to give it to my boyfriend for Christmas because he regularly reads books. I wanted to give him something nice and special since he has been so kind, supportive, and generous to me. Given how I don’t have much money or time to go shopping, I was agonizing over what to get him, so I was happy I could give him something that I made and he could use.