Eco-Friendly Christmas Crafts – Sustainable Projects for the Holidays

Our planet suffers the most during the holiday season, because more waste is produced and disposed of at this period than any other time of the year. Eco lifestyle blog Use Less Stuff published statistics about holiday waste—it was found that the extra waste generated over the holidays amount to 25 million tons of garbage. Also, every year there are 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold in the US, enough to fill a football field ten stories high. It was also discovered that reusing two feet of holiday ribbon when wrapping gifts significantly reduces 38,000 miles of ribbon.

This holiday season the best gift we can give to our environment is to come up with solutions and initiatives to reduce if not completely eradicate trash. We must follow green initiatives set by different organizations, such as British retailer Marks & Spencer‘s Christmas card recycling program. Under this movement, Woodland Trust will be able to plant over 60,000 trees if people in the UK recycle one Christmas card at M&S. We can come up with eco-friendly craft projects so in our own little way, we can contribute to the improvement of our planet’s status.

denim Christmas stocking
photo courtesy of ChaosToArt

Here are some ideas for eco-friendly Christmas crafts:

  • use old puzzle pieces to create Christmas tree ornaments or even a tree skirt
  • what else can you use to make Christmas tree ornaments? Soda can cut-outs, old gift tags, soda can tops, wine corks, cookie cutters, bottle caps, painted plastic spoons, decorated jar lids and even cds or old motherboards.
  • make a wreath out of buttons
  • denim Christmas stocking

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A New TLC Show Called ‘Craft Wars’

There’s nothing like a bit of friendly competition to spark your creative heartbeat, and with the new TLC show called ‘Craft Wars,’ you’ll see an assortment of crafters participate in challenges to see who will come out on top. The first episode debuted on June 26 at 9 p.m. Each episode sees three new, regular ol’ crafting enthusiasts go against one another in two rounds, which could involve a wide range of genres and materials, such as glitter, wood, pipe cleaners and large-scale projects.

Participants in the challenges will utilize the supplies and materials found in what is called “Michaels Craft Closet” – provided by the largest arts and crafts retailer in North America. A panel of expert judges will then critique the creations of the crafters. A preview of the show promises larger-than-life crafting projects that go beyond the typical crafts often done on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Prepare for an intense, emotional battle between contestants as they attempt to please the judges.

The host and executive producer of ‘Craft Wars’ is Tori Spelling, who first gained fame by starring in the popular TV series, “90120”. She is a craft enthusiast who will juggle her talents as an actress, author and designer during the series. Spelling will serve as a guide for the audience, as well as mentor contestants on the show.

Craft Wars‘ judges include:

  • Stephen Brown – As the entrepreneur and founder of the multi-million dollar giftware company, Glitterville Studio, Brown is also an author and creator of one-of-a-kind designs. His goods are sold all over the world in high-end retail shops.
  • Erica Domesek – The founder and CEO of the DIY company, P.S.-I made this, who also penned a book of the same name. She’s a DIY design and lifestyle expert, who has created innovative designs that have graced the pages of leading fashion and lifestyle magazines.
  • Jo Pearson – For the past 25 years, Pearson has served as a creative expert for Michaels and is an inspiration to the crafting community – writing and hosting numerous craft-related projects.

On Twitter, please use the tag #craftwars to join the conversation. And don’t forget to follow @Craftsyble!

Material and Tool List for Making Glass Etchings

If you’re looking for a relatively easy craft to add to your repertoire, glass etchings not only look sophisticated and elegant, but are also not as time-consuming or complicated to create as you probably think. Actually, creating designs on glass are just as easy as applying a cream or liquid, and then rinsing away. Before you incorporate this unique product into your small business lineup, consider the materials and tools needed to complete a project.

You can etch nearly any glass surface, but the easiest surfaces to work with are flat or have simple curves. It’s less complicated to apply stencils to these types of surfaces. You may also etch colored glass when it is a true color and not coated. In no time, you can create similar products to the Riedel® Personalized Stemless Wine Glass Set.

For easy glass etchings, you will need:

Etching Cream and Liquid

The easiest way to etch glass without sandblasting a surface is to use liquids and creams that contain ammonium bifluoride. This process transforms the surface of glass to create a permanent frosty, matte surface that takes about 15 minutes to complete. Use a plastic, T-shaped squeegee to smooth out the adhesive stencils, apply etching cream, and replace excess product into the bottle. To protect your eyes and skin from the chemicals in etching cream, you should also get a pair of rubber gloves and protective eyeglasses.

Resists

To protect the portion of unetched glass, you will need a resist, which covers the surface. The most common type of resist is a stencil that has been cut into different shapes. Other options include self-adhesive vinyl, resist gel, and found objects. You can also purchase some stencils with an adhesive backing, or you can use spray adhesive to attach.

Resist Gel

Resist gel eliminates the inconvenience that sometimes comes when working with stencils or other complicated resists. The gel is applied using an applicator bottle, or a brush for larger spaces. Simply apply the resist gel, allow it to dry, and then apply the etching cream or liquid over the gel. Rinse off thoroughly, and then wipe off the gel.

Applicator Bottle or Paintbrush

An applicator bottle is needed to hold the etching cream or resist gel. Choose a bottle that offers a variety of tips, which will allow you to create lines with different widths. Some people prefer to work with a paintbrush, especially when creating freehand designs.

Craft Knife or Scissors

If you are creating stencils of your own, then a pair of scissors or craft knife will come in handy. Planning on rounded shapes? Choose a swivel blade.

What is Decoupage?

Judy Valencerina decoupaged train case

Artisans on Etsy use many different ways to decorate materials for their unique creations. Decoupage is just one of those techniques that use simple supplies to transform a piece into something spectacular. Objects are enhanced by gluing pieces of decorative paper onto the surface, which is then coated with a protective finish. The technique can be used to embellish almost anything – from jewelry cases to furniture.

An inexpensive and popular method to decoupage is to use your average Elmer’s white glue, but crafters looking to sell their goods on Etsy may want a formulated decoupage medium that will produce better results. Before embarking on a decoupage adventure, try mapping out a game plan. What kind of artwork do you want to create? Will you use a pattern or create a random design? Other factors to consider include using cut or torn paper, text versus no text, paper size, and the use of specialty papers. You can also enhance the final project with paint, glitter, embossing, and other finishing touches. Before working on a decoupage project, it is important to make sure you have enough materials, images, and paper to cover your piece.

The supplies you will need to decoupage include:

  • Decoupage medium or white craft glue (slightly diluted with water using a 4:1 ratio.
  • Sealer or other finish
  • Paint brush (or foam brush for larger surfaces) to accommodate the size of your cut-outs.
  • Cotton swab to work with small pieces
  • Scissors and/or craft knife
  • Soft, damp rag

After gathering your supplies, you need to prepare the surface. Make sure it is fully clean. Waxy or glossy surfaces require a light sanding job for better adherence of the decoupage medium. Clean glass and porcelain objects with white vinegar.

Use scissors or tear apart your images – making sure to cut at a 45-degree angle toward the back of the paper. This will reduce the amount of white edges that show. A craft knife will help you make more precise cuts. After cutting your paper, arrange the images by first placing them on your surface.

Brush decoupage medium (or diluted glue) on the object – where you want the first piece of paper to go. Brush a bit of the medium on the back of the image. Position the image and press it lightly with your fingers to smooth out. This will remove any wrinkles or bubbles. Press again with a damp rag – don’t wipe – instead, use a rolling motion. Repeat this process until you have covered the entire piece. After inspecting for any bubbles or wrinkles, leave the piece in an undisturbed space where it can dry (for one to two hours).

After completely drying, a final coat of decoupage medium is applied over everything. Let the piece dry, and add another coat of medium to achieve the smoothness you desire. Some crafters will also use a finish (like varnish) – depending on their material. The end result should display a “glassy” finish that conceals edges of paper and any textures.

An example of decoupage techniques on Etsy appears in Judy Valencerina upcycled train cases – an artist we profiled in January of 2011.

Working with Sea Glass

With alluring shades of green and blue, sea glass creations makes an attractive addition to crafters that sell jewelry on Etsy. Sea glass is formed when it comes in contact with waves, water, and sand, which smooth out the shards (and often creates a frosted appearance). This type of glass is found on beaches, along oceans, in rivers, and collecting at the bottom of large lakes. Many crafters collect the glass to incorporate into their projects, especially when making jewelry.

Sea Glass Colors

When working with sea glass, you are limited by the colors you can use, which are determined by the original source of the glass. The majority of sea glass comes from bottles with the most common shades being Kelly green, brown, blue, and purple (clear). Sometimes, sea glass comes from broken jars, plates, windows, ceramics, and even car windshields. However, the older the pieces of glass, the more interesting and rarer the colors are. For example, old medicine and spirit bottles offer shades of jade and amber. Lime green originates from soda bottles made during the 1960s. As a crafter, working with sea glass can become a fun and rewarding adventure.

Cleaning Your Sea Glass

Before working with sea glass, you need to remove the sometimes unpleasant scent of the sea and any dirt and grime from the outdoors. To get rid of the smell, fill a large bucket with warm, soapy water. Gently submerge the found sea glass into the bucket, taking care not to break any pieces. Allow the sea glass to soak for a bit. The soap and water will help release the scent of the ocean and loosen any sand stuck to the glass. Thoroughly rinse each piece. Small shards can by placed in an old colander to speed up the process.

Arrange your collection in a safe place (away from children and pets). Spread each piece out and let the air dry them off.

A soft bristled brush will gently remove any dirt and grime left behind without damaging the surface of the glass. Scrub along each piece. Rinse the glass once more to remove any dirt that you have loosened. Before storing your glass, use a soft cloth or towel to wipe dry each piece.

Maintain Your Sea Glass

Before using your sea glass to make products for your small business or Etsy shop, don’t forget to dust off any unused glass. You will also need to clean sea glass trinkets on occasion with jewelry cleaner when you have used metal materials.

Ideas for Sea Glass Creations

  • Sea glass picture frame
  • Sea glass earrings
  • Sea glass necklaces and pendants
  • Sea glass-decorated candle holders

 

5 Steps To Make Exquisite-Looking Jewelry Using Ordinary Beads

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Precious Moments® Figurines, Collectibles, and Gifts for all Occasions! Get FREE shipping on orders $50+ with code: FREESHIP10Creating your own jewelry can be both a difficult and rewarding task. With so many options on today’s market, it is important to discover what works best for you in creating original pieces of jewelry. Making something appealing is one of the most obvious goals for your home-made jewelry, and choosing the right material is crucial in reaching that goal. To make exquisite-looking jewelry, consider trying out beads and beaded jewelry. In as little as five steps, you can turn ordinary beads into stunning home-made jewelry creations.

STEP ONE
Choose your material. Glass beads and polished stones can be purchased at any craft store are a simple way to get started. The expense of polished, pre-holed glass and stone beads is higher than other craft materials, but the aesthetics are hard to beat. If, however, you are looking for a cost-effective way to create beaded jewelry, consider clay you mold yourself, or even potato based products. After you choose your beads take time in picking out the material with which to string them. Brass and copper wire can be found for relatively cheap, but silver is always a classy look.

STEP TWO
Sketch out a design. Once you have your materials it is important to know where you will go from there. As any junior or master jewelry maker will tell you, sketching out a detailed, step-by-step design is vital in producing an attractive and functional product. Be sure to label which beads are slipped on first, how far you wish the beads to be placed, and what color combinations you think work best. Draw out the steps of the design, and the final product as well.

STEP THREE
Gather your tools. People who make jewelry will tell you that, without the proper tools on hand, a simple job can become quite difficult. Find a pair of wire snips, some tweezers, and needle nosed pliers for starters. If any other tool you find handy, keep it with you in a tool box. Making sure all of your equipment is in one place will cut down on both time and frustration.

STEP FOUR
String your beads. To make exquisite-looking jewelry, color coordinate and choose very subtle accents for your creation. Too much clutter can me too much color, so try and pair down your design. Once you start stringing and pushing the beads into place, look back at your design to see if you are achieving your original goal. If you are not, slow down or start over. It is much harder to redo things once more steps have been completed. Be safe, do the job right the first time.

STEP FIVE
Practice, practice, practice. Exquisite-looking jewelry is not often going to be made upon the first try. Becoming a master craftsman takes time and effort. After your first piece is complete, begin sketching the next piece. Be creative in your designs. One of the largest advantages of making your own jewelry is the fact that no one will have the same piece as you. Always be sure to lack back on your previous pieces to see where you need to improve, and where you already have. So get out your tools, string some beads, and make something beautiful.

About our Guest Contributor: Sarah is the relationship manager of Nanostyle. NanoStyle is the first and only to imprint 24kt gold on Cubic Zirconia jewelry. The company is famous for creating elegant love pendants and Christian pendants.

September is National Sewing Month

It was 1982 when President Ronald Reagan set a proclamation in motion that made September the month to celebrate and recognize the importance of home sewing throughout the Nation. What better time to explore a new craft or challenge your talents than by celebrating National Sewing Month? From indulging in free sewing projects on the Sewing & Craft Alliance (SCA) website to joining the American Sewing Guild, there are plenty of ways to sharpen your skills or discover a newfound love for sewing.

Ideas for Celebrating National Sewing Month

Pay a visit to your local craft store. To celebrate National Sewing Month, craft stores often hold special discounts, events, and classes. Encourage your tween to take a sewing class with you. Learn new techniques at a free demonstration or tutorial. For example, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores has many fun activities and offers planned for the month of September, such as free class supplies for anyone that signs up for Sewing 101 at participating stores.

Gift crafts to family and friends. Alert loved ones that a month-long celebration regarding your craft is in full swing by making gifts. Create a pair of booties or a blanket for your expecting relative. Handmade dresses and skirts are perfect for best friends. Get ready for the wintertime with customized scarves. Perhaps a fashionable purse or handbag will put a smile on someone’s face.

Enter a sewing contest. To commemorate National Sewing Month, a handful of online and offline contests are held. Submit one of your creations for a chance to win prizes and recognition.

Spring for a new sewing machine. Advancements in technology have incorporated computerization into the latest sewing machines. If it’s time for an upgrade, why don’t you treat yourself to a new machine to celebrate National Sewing Month? You may consider a heavy-duty model, such as the Brother SE400 Computerized Embroidery and Sewing Machine, which comes with 70 built-in embroidery designs, 5 monogramming fonts, 67 built-in sewing stitches, and 120 frame pattern combinations.

Explore social media opportunities. Connecting with others is a good way to enhance your love and talent for sewing. Social media provides an ideal outlet for keeping in touch with other crafters. Consider ‘liking’ the National Sewing Month Facebook page. Locate other like-minded sewing enthusiasts on Twitter to share ideas, browse creative projects, and learn new techniques.

Ideas for Making Beaded Home Décor

From dangling earrings to elaborate necklaces, one of the most popular products that beaders produce is jewelry. However, take a look around Etsy and you will find a range of beaded items that could become your next business venture. If you are a crafter that works with beads, you may want to consider creating home décor projects that put your talents to good use.

Below are a few ideas for expanding your small business by making beaded home goods to sell on Etsy, online, and at craft shows:

Beaded Lamp Shades and Curtains

From the fringe of a shade to the lamp pull, beads can be used to decorate lighting sources with the help of crystal beads, color-coordinated pieces, and other decorative bead accents. If you know how to sew curtains and valances, try attaching beads to elevate their appearance. For curtains, beads are a great way to catch the light and create charming room settings.

Beaded Pillows

Do you know how easy it is to turn a basic decorative pillow into an eye-catching must-have? When adding beads to a pillow, you’ll only need a few common sewing items, such as a pair of scissors, needle, thread, straight pins, ruler, and glass beads. Try experimenting with different colors, sizes, and shapes, such as tube, round, square, oval, faceted and smooth beads.

Beaded Napkin Rings

When dressing up the table, beaded napkin rings add just the right amount of color and class to place settings. For this type of beading project, you will use memory wire, which will return to the coiled shape of a beaded napkin ring. To create, all you need is round-nose pliers (to make a loop at one end of the wire to prevent the beads from sliding away), wire cutters, medium-sized beads, and 24-inch length of steel memory wire in 2-inch coils.

Beaded Ceiling Fan Chains

People are constantly looking for ways to enhance the look of their rooms. When it comes to ceiling fans, there isn’t that much leeway for improvement. The color, shape and material are pretty much set in stone unless you purchase a different model. However, you can still take matters into your own hands by transforming the ball-chain fan pull into an eye-catching centerpiece with personality. To make a beaded ceiling fan chain, typical tools and equipment include 20-gauge wire, wire cutters, needle-nose pliers, assorted beads, and a ball-chain connector – found at hardware and jewelry stores.

Other beaded home décor ideas include:

  • Customized beaded hardware for dresser drawers and kitchen cabinets
  • Beaded swizzle sticks made with stainless steel wire
  • Silverware accented with beaded designs
  • Beaded features on the stems of glassware
  • Using stainless steel wire and beads for designer bookmarks
  • Beaded bottle toppers
  • Wire craft garden decorations

 

 

 

 

Choosing the Right Craft Glue/Adhesive

Depending on the types of crafts you create, you’re going to need some sort of adhesive. Craft glue plays a significant role – from attaching the wing of a balsam airplane to fusing doll parts together. However, it’s important to choose the appropriate selection to achieve the best results. You don’t want to sell crafts that can’t stand the test of time. As you purchase products for your craft business, consider the following craft glues and their uses:

White Glue

One of the most commonly used types of crafting glue is the good ol’ white glue you probably used as an elementary school student. Elmer’s glue is a popular choice for paper crafters. White glues are all-purpose, come in varying thickness, are typically water soluble, and in some cases, are flexible. They also dry clear, which doesn’t take away from the look of your creations. Not only does white glue work well with paper, but also wood, fabrics and ceramics. Do not use with metal or anything that will come in contact with water.

Hot Glue

Hot glue decreases drying time and bonds quickly. Used on porous and non-porous surfaces, hot glue also comes in handy when bonding uneven surfaces together. The easiest way to use this type of adhesive is with a glue gun, but you can also heat glue sticks in a pot. Some hot glue sticks are available in different colors. Some even have imbedded pieces of glitter to enhance your projects. Keep in mind that hot glue does not hold up under stress, which means…don’t use it to build a chair or table.

Super Glue

Also known as ‘crazy glue,’ cyanoacrylate glues or ‘super glues’ have the power to quickly bond surfaces with a simple drop. They dry clear, are strong, and help speed up the completion time for projects. In order to get the best results, you must use materials that fit tightly together. Not an ideal option for paper crafts (it’s simply too strong and unnecessary), choose this glue for heavy-duty projects. Keep in mind that some plastics tend not to work well with this type of glue.

Spray Adhesives

Crafters who work with papers and fabrics will find spray adhesive convenient. This type of adhesive covers large, flat surfaces. Do not overspray or you can damage some papers. Also, use in a well-ventilated room.

Industrial Strength Glues

When you need a strong adhesive for bonding metals, ceramics, rubber, plastics, glass and fiberglass, consider industrial strength glue. Since the glues are made with harmful chemicals, you must use in a room with a lot of ventilation. Industrial strength glues include two-part epoxies, jewelry glues, china glues, silicone glues, contact adhesives, and multipurpose cements.

Wood Glues

For the crafter that works with wood, there are options specifically made for this type of project: AR (aliphatic resin) adhesives and polyurethane glues. For interior use, choose the common yellow wood glue known as an AR adhesive. Use polyurethane glues for interior and exterior projects.

Craft Glue Tips

Once you settle on the appropriate craft glue for a specific project, always get acquainted with the label. For example, stronger glues may need an open window to protect your lungs for harmful fumes. Also, become familiar with the drying time of the adhesive. When possible, test out the bonding effectiveness on the material of your choice before using on a final project. Before using the glue, make sure all surfaces are clean and dry. Use an even coat of adhesive, and remove excess material as soon as possible. Keep containers closed tightly so the glue does not dry out.