The lacing card activity idea has been in my back pocket since probably the start of the blog, thanks to Rebecca at Hugs Are Fun, who is totally a pro at the whole mom thing. She knew that lacing cards were a great toddler activity that can keep little hands busy. And busy is what I needed last weekend, when I was road tripping with a toddler (and her parents, thank goodness!)
I was not her only source of entertainment, but little Z is a busy 2 year old girl that would be trapped in her car seat for 3 + hours as we drove to pick blueberries in Michigan. The lacing cards were easy to whip up with some of my preexisting designs. Most commercially available ones seemed to trace around a known shape, so I chose to make a cloud outline and a square with her initial on it. Around the edge are 1/4 circular holes, the same size as a standard paper punch.
To shake things up, I also scaled up the rectangle cross stitch pendant, and made the holes big enough to accommodate a shoe lace. This way Z could stitch designs if desired, rather than just tracing.
I will admit, I may have played with them more than Z did, but they were a hit. Apparently lacing cards are a thing every toddler knows these days, so no instructions were needed. And Z’s mom really liked the multi-holed option, for even more creative play.
Along with mason jars, the humble clothes pin seems to be getting a makeover lately – literally. People are snazzing up these little guys up for a variety of home decor projects, most often wreathes and photo lines. Here are four different little projects we made up this week:
1. Pins for a matching game by Hugs are Fun. This one is a case of me butting into Rebecca’s project. Clothes pins have been simmering in the back of my brain for months now, and when she told me about the awesome sock matching game she was stitching up I knew I could help. My first thought was to put the name of the shapes the kids were matching on the clothes pin, but then Rebecca reminded me this was a pre-reading game. Whoops. So we engraved the 6 basic shapes on to the pins. We taped them so it would just be a quick splash of paint to finish it up! It looks great!
2. Decorated pins. These ones are a little more grown up, and would be awesome as part of a photo line or wall. I first painted the pins my favorite colors, then engraved my favorite designs on them. I think they are pretty much my favorite.
3. Personalized pins. Several of the posts I read on ideas for decorative clothes pins involved teachers and organizing. As a children’s librarian, my cousin Becky is always whipping up interactive for her kids – I thought these pins might appeal to her DIY nature and might help to keep things more organized. I wanted the name to stand out, so like with the Matching Game by Hugs are Fun, I taped, engraved, then painted. (Can you see my mistake?)
4. Valentine card holders. I’m pretty proud of this paint on paint technique – I painted the background, then taped it. We then engraved these heart arrows. I painted over the tape with white, and voila, white arrow on a blue background. I’ve painted first and then engraved, and taped and engraved before painting, but never the two together! I’m planning to put a couple magnets on the back of these, and then I can hang them on the fridge.
The uses and ways to personalize clothes pins are surprisingly endless. My suggestion would be to get good quality pins (mine were not – they kept becoming unaligned, which caused at least one of the designs to be a bit crooked) and to make a template! Templates are reusable, and key to making sure your laser hits where you want it to.
Merry Christmas Eve! Around Thanksgiving I was out shopping with my high school friend, and she kept migrating towards decorative items with the letter “K” for her holiday decorations – her new last name. And anything glittery. Put these things together, and I knew the perfect thing to make her and her husband Chris for Christmas – a glittery laser cut ornament!
I could have made a simple flat ornament, but I wanted it to have a little more depth. I made two flat pieces that slot together to create a ball shape. I personalized these by making the emphasizing their initial (K), and spelling out their names on the cross pieces.
The prototype is the unpainted one. It has a couple problems. First off, I didn’t choose a good font – too many burnt thin bits. Secondly, the logical arrangement of the names doesn’t really work in the round; it makes it a have a front and a back, and the names only read correctly from the front. I wanted them correct as the ornament rotates; so in the final version I flipped “Chris” do it would be correct as it turned.
The second important part of this venture was glitter! I went into thinking that I would just buy glitter spray and be done with it, but at $7.99 a can it was a bit too much (I wanted two colors and needed to base colors. I was not spending $30 for paint supplies!) So I got one spray to try out, and craft paint for the rest. I also painted the bamboo prior too cutting, so I wouldn’t have to worry about paint mucking up the small spaces.
Verdict on the paint: My underlayer (especially for the white ornament) was very brush-y and should have had two coats. A sprayed underlayer may have covered more smoothly. As for the glitter, the glitter blast spray went on beautifully, but was MUCH more subtle. To the point it was difficult to show in the photographs. The red was much more visible, but not as evenly applied. I think I still preferred the (cheaper) red though.
Lesson learned with glitter paint and the laser: glitter laughs in the face of transfer tape, at least low tack. As mentioned before, we use transfer tape to protect the surface while cutting from excessive burn, which was needed for an intricate job like this. But it would not stick. So the ornaments, the white one especially, look a little singed.
For the future: I like the concept design, but the cut out names were just too intricate and make the ornaments more fragile than I’d like. I think the cut out initial is awesome, but I think I’ll engrave the names next time. What do you think?
I hope you all have a good holiday and have enjoyed the second to the last post of 52 Lasers’ first year!
I’ve laser-engraved an axe handle before, as a test to determine whether I could process some of the longer pieces for Eagle Engraving. It was successful, and the first actual order came in for a laser engraved large axe handle. Since one step of the process wasn’t covered in the previous project, I’ll be going over it this week.
LaserDark is a spray paint meant to darken the engraved portions of wood that might otherwise not have enough contrast. Plain brown spray paint might work in some cases, but LaserDark dries more quickly to prevent the color from bleeding into the wood grain in the unengraved portions.
The engraving went well, using the same process and settings as described in the previous entry on axe handles. Just make sure that you use masking paper so that you can spray only the engraved area and tear away the paper after the spray dries. One thing I immediately realized is how dark these engravings turn out. Because I’m using a very low 25% speed to get a deep engraving, there’s a lot of burn causing a great deal of contrast even before we begin spraying. This doesn’t invalidate the spray’s usefulness in other situations, though, like lightly engraving oak or maple.
As instructed, I sprayed the colored coat first and gave it several minutes to dry. Afterward, the clear coat was applied in the same fashion and I gave it a half-hour to set. LaserDark dries quickly, so they only recommend waiting 15 minutes. It’s also suggested that you remove your masking paper within an hour so that it’s easier to remove.
Unfortunately, it seems like a little color did bleed beyond the area I’d engraved. It’s disappointing, considering I took extra care when applying the masking paper to make sure it was firmly and evenly applied.
According to the comments section on LaserDark’s website, a testimonial from one customer reads “It’s fast, simple, quick-drying and does not bleed or seep like regular wood stains.” This sole testimonial, though, was left by the owner of an awards company that operates at the same address as the company that produces LaserDark, so I’m not entirely sure it’s actually a testimonial and not just marketing.
Regardless, it’s possible I applied too much color spray; a “medium coat” is suggested. Also, a little bit of sanding did the job nicely, and this handle is going to be further buffed and polished at Eagle and will almost certainly turn out looking awesome.