I’m alive! And I DIY!

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Welp, it’s been a while. Last fall I moved to the Land of the Burning Sun, a.k.a Phoenix, AZ, and have been settling in. For the first few days when my beloved and I had only the bare minimal of our worldy possessions in our living space, it was a very a very Zen-like experience.

Then the movers came and reminded us of all the stuff we had thought we needed in order to live.

I did miss my crafting supplies, though.

Now, what’s nice about my life in AZ is that I’m getting a real paycheck and life is a lot less expensive than before, so I have more money for nice things! On the downside, the job has been so crazy! The place I work is made of entropy. Sometimes fun entropy, but entropy nonetheless.

I have still found time on the weekend for crafts, including creating the current DIY and new pieces of aspirational bling that will one day end up in my Etsy shop. But this whole “let’s get this published on the web” aspect I have been putting off. Until now!

Today is Crafting Day at a friend’s house, and while I could be working on my cosplay costume (I actually have money and time to spend on cosplay costumes!!!!) this post has been waiting to happen. So without further ado, I present easy DIY clip-on earrings: minimalist earrings with minimal effort.

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0. Supplies: 

  • E6000
  • A pair of earring backs with flat surfaces. In this case, the flat surface is pretty narrow, but the beads are narrow, too, so it works out. I always use screw-backs for clip-ons because otherwise during wear there could be hours of pain.
  • Two rectangular (or cylindrical) beads. FYI, I got these jade ones from Fire Mountain Gems.
  • Optional: scrap wire, for when your tube of E6000 is clogged from disuse.

Steps:

  1. Prepare to apply glue to the front face of the earring base.
  2. Apply glue in a narrow strip.
  3. Apply the bead. Repeat for the other earring.

Once the glue dries, super-fashion-trend-time begins! Behold!

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Use the (Magnetic) Force: Upcycling Button Pins

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Remember those “I Am Loved” pins that were all the rage back in…the late 90s? (Is my age showing?) Or how about the craft accomplishment pins from the recently deceased Whimseybox?

Ever thought about doing something with them?

Well, yes, surely. PIN THEM! No, not like on Pinterest, but in the real physical world, through soft, possibly perforated materials like your favorite trivia night t-shirt or the canvas bags you keep forgetting to bring on your shopping trips.

If you’re not into that, there are other options. This is just one of them, and while I don’t know if I can claim it to be the easiest DIY in the world, it’s definitely up there.

Here’s what you need:

button pin magnets

  • Small button pins — ones that have open access to the “pin” part
  • Magnets – these are 3/4″ in diameter and came in a box of 100 for relatively cheap on Amazon
  • E6000 or your favorite industrial adhesive
  • Pliers

(1+2) Use the pliers to remove the pins. In most cases, you just have to push some part that is flush with the rim towards the center.
(3) Apply your favorite adhesives. A nice dollop would be good for concave surfaces, such as for this button.
(4) Stick the magnet in the back. BUT BEFORE YOU DO, if you’re picky about orientation (e.g., you want your future magnets to be stackable or stick back-to-back), then check before you start sticking things down. Also, the magnet might put up a fight and try to stick to other parts of the button as you bring it close. SHOW IT WHO’S BOSS!

If you have oriented the magnets correctly, you can get a series of them stacked, as shown in the upper right-hand corner.

In my experience, I have found that it is actually possible to pull apart objects stuck together with E6000 (and personally I think it has a strange texture when dried — more on this possibly in the future), so if you mess up, it may not be all lost. Unless you used a really strong magnet, like the Grade 5 ones I have (2800 G or 0.28 T).

The remaining question is, what to do about all these pins?

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Maybe stick them to actual buttons to cut down on sewing?

Maybe later.

Now, go stick these magnets everywhere.

Save the paper!

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I am really bad at throwing things away. This came in handy in the lab, when we realize 3 years down the line that the useless images or data we got from when we didn’t know what we were doing actually have worth.

This trait is not so handy when you are living in an apartment, but I know that one day everything can be repurposed!

I can’t count how many times I’ve felt time pressure and received odd looks when opening gifts. To this, I adapt an affirmation most recently uttered by Miley Cyrus: it’s my present and I can do what I want.

I have also had to part with many beautiful issues of Vogue in the past.  Now I have a very elegant solution/excuse to get around that, too.

    I am unstoppable.

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This is an assortment of some of the magic that can happen when you hoard paper. A good assortment of washi tape helps as well. Here are some close-ups.

(Also, check out the nice chessboard: a product of My Beloved’s woodworking skills.)

The last project was perhaps the most involved, as it required extra alignment and coverage considerations.

For example, flap coverage and curved edges:

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And since I was doing this while the box was flattened, I forgot to account for the extra coverage needed to accommodate folds. In some cases, when the paper was pulled too much, this awful thing happened:

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While the tear is not overly visible, it breaks my heart to know it’s there.

To avoid more heartache this time around, I’m doing things the right way. The supplies I need are the following:

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  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Manual paper cutting blade (I’m sure there is a more technical name for this…)
  • Cutting mat
  • Modge Podge (MP)
  • Sponge brush
  • Paper or papers of interest – in this case, the pink thing sitting up there
  • Washi tape – for all the mistakes that are bound to be made
  • A sacrifice

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Here we go:

1. Planning the attack. I had just a proper amount of scrap wrapping paper at hand to cover the entire box. I usually leave alone the flaps and faces that face or often get tucked inside (marked ‘[Blank]’) and just wreak havoc everywhere else. (Note that this side is the interior of the box, and any havoc or non-havoc assignments apply to the exterior.)

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2. Going slow. I split the job into a top and bottom half instead of covering the entire thing in one go, even though I could have, given the shape of the paper. I cut the paper in two, conveniently along one of its original folds (you know, from back when it was actual wrapping paper), and lined up its straight edges with those of the box so I would have one less edge to trim to shape.

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3. The missing detail. This was what I failed to do the first time: go one panel at a time. This time, I covered just a single panel with MP to stick the paper to…

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Before I bent part of the box up to pre-fold the next piece (i.e., before applying more MP, just to make sure it would fall in place once I was ready).

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4. Close shave. Once I was done adhering on the top half, I laid the box flat again to start trimming the excess paper. See how on one side the paper and edge are aligned? That was so that I wouldn’t have to trim that side, but I’m going to have to anyway because the paper overshot and it bugs me.

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5. Finishing touches. I repeated this on the other half and now have a new box! Well, almost. This is where washi tape comes in.

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My principle: Anywhere the paper can peel off or gets tucked in and out frequently during use, APPLY WASHI TAPE. When in doubt, APPLY WASHI TAPE. In fact, don’t think, just APPLY WASHI TAPE.

(Well, I did exercise some moderation and applied tape only to straight edges.)

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Just a few more strips for decoration purposes (and because there was a scratch on the front), and ta da!

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Given its humble beginnings and relatively simple makeover, I’d say it looks pretty sweet. Too bad I’m not keeping it. I’m going to give it to my BFFFFF, and maybe she’ll put her own collection of washi tape in it. Although, knowing her, she doesn’t need a box; she needs a trunk.

 

 

Etsy or bust – the journey begins

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Once upon a time I did have an Etsy store, but it didn’t take off. I am kind of glad it didn’t.

It was around my second year in grad school and I was trying to galvanize on my jewelry-making skills. I was happy to a have a few techniques at hand and some bouts of inspiration. I made a few creations that I thought were neat and sort of quirky and could have selling potential. But after a couple months with a small inventory on Etsy, frustration with photography, and very little response, I decided I really couldn’t justify the monthly listing fee, no matter how small. I also had much bigger things on my plate, i.e., my thesis.

Looking back, I realized one of the big problems was that while I started developing a signature style, I wasn’t really designing for anyone, much less myself. In fact, not for myself at all. Would I wear these things? Probably not. In the last few weeks, I took out some of the pieces I created all those years ago and just thought “I could do better than that!”

In any case, even if an order ever did get placed, I would have been ill prepared, because I didn’t have an idea on how to package any of these things! And figuring out the shipping? Ugh, the shipping…

So now we are starting anew.

I sometimes tell my friends that the reason why we get a PhD is because we do become Doctors of Philosophy. Aside from our love of wisdom, we spend a lot of time asking ourselves a lot of soul-searching questions:

Why am I here, in front of the electron microscope at 1 AM? Who the heck thought of this nearly impossible experiment? Why don’t I have a real job like a normal human being?

This, like many of our other skills, can be applied easily to other areas outside our specialized fields:

When would anyone wear something that looks like this? How much packaging do I need to make sure things don’t break? Why don’t I have a real job like a normal human being?

One of the major hurdles I had to overcome was being able to take pride in my own designs. I was proud of being self-taught and creating very original, self-thought-up designs, but after some time I didn’t care for what I made and wanted better ideas. I heard a quote once along the lines of “People are people through other people”, which I have taken to heart, because my own style solidified not by remaining a hermit but rather by opening up and seeing what everyone else was up to. Boy, was I dumb, but I managed to beat my pride down and open up.

At the beginning, I was wondering how creative of a DIY-er I was if I was just copying stuff that others presented in their tutorials and whatnot. In the end, just like with my research, by doing the things that people before me had done, I slowly built up to the new things I could all my own (you may know this as “fake it till you make it”).

So, with that out of the way, here are some of my new creations!

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They’re still works-in-progress, mainly because I was running low on chains and findings to complete everything, but here’s a close-up of some of the pieces.

First and foremost, Blumen! (German for “Flowers”, pronounced like it’s spelled.) A pain in the bum to make, but a very pretty pain in the bum, indeed.

Remember my recent obsession with using nail polish for pretty shiny things? It’s taking over!!!

I think Blumen will be a signature piece, meaning I’ll have plenty of opportunities to figure out how to make them more efficiently O_o

Additionally, I was able to give a home to leftover supplies.

Delta. Leftover sequin tubes have their revenge!

Delta. Leftover sequin tubes have their revenge!

Tiger Eye.

Tiger Eye.

It. Is. Happening.

Ancient artifacts

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Some time after I recovered from being sick, I went back home to the heart of it all and occupied myself with a couple new things: this was the first time I discovered the other things I could do with nail polish; this was also shortly after getting my first glue gun and wondering how I survived without it.

This is the post where I strut my re-invention finesse.

This is also the post where I learn that the before pictures in a before-and-after set are valuable.

You? You can go on my wall.

You? You can go on my wall.

Imagine if you will, a purple picture board with nothing but satin pink ribbons and accompanying rosettes dotting the junctions (not a single one to be found here).  It was a gift from a friend in high school and something that had not seen the light of day for more than minutes at a time, because even back then it was not my style.  I contemplated a couple other solutions, including more drastic one such as creating a large wall of parallel ribbons in the background or just taking all the pink things off altogether.  Fortunately, I cut my grief and even utilized some of crafting leftovers to create this much lovelier thing.  Thin ribbons from dresses and shirts have found a new existence!  Broken bling pieces and a NYC transit token can be proudly displayed! Finally, a place for all those things I did not know where else to put…and pictures.

The second item in question has been sitting around out in the open and tarnished as a result.  I regret not going at it earlier with a brush laden with baking soda to remind it of what a shiny thing it used to be, but it’s okay: one day, it will be completely submerged in adorable flowers.  In the meantime, this was how far I got before running out of wire:

This might actually be upgrading its princess status.

On a pedestal, like the princess it is.

Those flowers? Wire and nail polish. I first stumbled across this technique via a pin to this video.  It has changed my life.  Basically, for each of the loops (petals or leaves), you place your nail polish-laden brush flat against it and pull across like you’re making a bubble.  Just as well, you could also just dump the polish out and dip the loop in that way (more wasteful though).

A few tips on this technique:

  1. You know how when you’re painting your nails, you want little excess on the brush so that you don’t end up making a very thick coating that will take forever to dry?  Don’t do that here.  Short of dripping everywhere, bring the liquid on!  You’ll save yourself a lot of grief because the bubble will repeated burst unless there’s enough polish to sustain the entire journey across the gap.
  2. Make sure the metal rim stays visible on the front, make sure you decide which sides are the front and back before you start painting so you paint only on the back side.
  3. After every petal, spin the whole structure around slowly to make sure gravity doesn’t push all your colors down to one side.
  4. For a lot of nail polishes, the finished product may still be translucent when you hold it up against a direct light.  This can be a nice effect, but if it’s not your thing or just ended up looking sad, just apply another coat.

This won’t be the last you see of these flowers!  More solvent-induced madness to come!