DIY Gelato Blending Tools!

Howdy friends! Today I will show you how to make the best blending tool for your gelatos, gel sticks, water-soluble oil pastels and inkpads. All you need are clothespins, white craft foam, cotton balls and rubber bands. Let’s whip up a batch of these useful tools!

Fun huh? I use these all the time and I hope you like them too. Happy crafting!

DIY Enamel Dot Success! & Paper Feathers Without a Die!

I have lots of crafty goodness for you tonight! After my ill-advised and potentially dangerous attempt of making enamel dots from Perler beads last weekend I came up with something better and far less toxic:

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A reader, Viki B., mentioned using embossing powder in a comment on that post and I thought Ah-ha! I can dome scrapbook paper and coat it in UTEE! Best of all you can use up scraps leftover from a  project to make embellishments that match perfectly! Watch the video to see how easy it is!

I love making these “on demand” and as needed, not to mention no toxic fumes or potentially burning down the house. That’s what is known in the craftng world as a “win-win-win!”

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I also was admiring some of the feather dies out there but I hate to buy something that is trendy because when the trend is over you are stuck with a die you may never use again. I’ll show you how to hand cut feathers. It’s quick and easy and no two will be the same, it’s like having an infinite amount of dies for zero bucks! Here is the video tutorial:

What do you think of approaching the project backwards? First make the envelope (I used a Kreate-a-lope from Green Sneakers) then make the embellishments. Hardly any waste so it is perfect for the paper we have been hoarding and so cute and useful! They would make great gift sets too I think!

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I wanted to share my first embossing powder attempt. I first thought I could stamp dots on my card and emboss them with colored powder but the result was kinda flat so I added more powder but I lost the definition. I punched out those attempts and adhered them to the above card. I was not happy with that so then I tried punching patterned paper, doming it and coating with UTEE. much better. See we rarely get it perfect on our first try, keep at it, you will get it! 3rd time’s a charm right? I hope you give this a try, thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

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This craft is ill advised…

Have you ever seen that blog that shows Pinterest fails? It’s funny if it isn’t you. I think I might submit this doozy of a craft fail because if it not good for a craft it is good for a laugh. First let me show you what I was trying to make:


The few that turned out well…

A facebook friend had posted a tutorial on on Thefrugalcrafter Community, she said she saw it and thought of me and I thought it was a really neat idea. DIY enamel dots made by melting perler beads. Hey, it was on Pinterest so it has to be easy…right? Now the above photo are the few that turned out well, here are the rest:


“Let’s make enamel dots by melting Perler beads” they said, “It will be fun” they said…

When you stop laughing I will continue. Are you quite done yet? OK. So apparently there has been a huge amount of people melting Perler beads and pony beads in their oven and making fake enamel dots that look just like the ones they charge big bucks for at the craft store. Personally I don’t even like enamel dots so that makes this whole project even more ridiculous. I guess I thought I’d like them better if they were free (I already had more Perler beads in my home than I care to mention) so I grabbed a tub of beads, parchment paper and my craft toaster oven and I was off to the races. I followed the recipe to the letter: Place the beads hole side up on the parchment paper and bake at 275 for 30 minutes, what could possibly go wrong? Let me tell you. The parchment paper burnt, the fumes were horrible and the beads turned into mangled doughnuts and not the lovely dots I was seeing from all of these other crafters. OK, new plan! I remembered that I had a heavy duty silicone mold that I used for clay and the back side was flat so I placed the beads on that and tried again figuring that the parchment paper was my trouble. The beads were not melting so I decided to leave them in there until they melted. 35 minutes later, nothing, 60 minutes later some had melted but still a lot of doughnuts, 75 minutes later the dots had discolored and were dull, not shiny, and some still had not melted. huh.


The big beads were pony beads that were ironed with parchment paper on top then blasted with the heat gun and the ones on the blue mat were ironed then baked for a few minutes. The cluster on the bottom were the 75 minute batch and the flatter ones in the middle were ironed with parchment paper on tops then I removed the paper and hovered the iron on top. That was the best technique I tried.

OK, new plan, when you iron Perler beads they only take seconds to melt so why not get them started with the iron them put them in the oven. Nope. OK, Iron them then prop the iron over them so it will make the tops glossy and domed (this actually worked the best, I used steel rods I had for glass bead making to hold the iron a millimeter over the dots.) I was working on my silicone Silpat mat, I’m not incompletely crazy after all.  Then I thought “I know, I’ll iron them and then blast them with my heat gun to make them glossy!”  The regular stamping heat gun did not do the trick so I grabbed my new $8 Harbor Freight heat gun on the low setting, no dice, so I switched it to high and it melted the tops of the dots but look what it did to my table…


This is was under my heatproof silicone mat that I had down for protection. I was totally freaked out because my table was hot! I was worried that it might burst into flames, I actually have checked it many times just to make sure it completely cooled off, I put water on the table and it made steam!  How come other crafters made successful dots and I did not? I think it was the toaster oven, maybe the heat was too direct or intense because everyone else used a full size home oven. I do not like that idea, the fumes were bad and I think it is unwise to do this craft in your oven especially when in the directions for using Perler beads properly it says not to even sort the beads in a container used for food unless you are going to be sure to wash it properly. I think today’s experiment was probably equivalent to chain smoking 2 packs of cigarettes…I have no scientific data or experience with smoking to say for certain but it can’t be good! I am officially done with this craft, as I said I was never in love with enamel dots in the first place, I just love a good experiment, plus a few years ago I came up with a way to make dew drops with a glue gun and you can see the photo below and if you like it you can watch the tutorial here. Be warned, that tutorial is 5 years old, I wasn’t always this smooth and professional:)

Best of all hot glue is meant to be melted! I think if I was so inclined I could paint he hot glue dots too but I really do not feel that inclined. I hope you enjoyed my epic craft fail, we all have them and it is only a failure if we don’t learn from out experiences. I have to say that $5 for a pack of  60 seems like a real bargain to me now :D That is if I even liked them in the first place…I clearly need my head examined, and probably my lungs after today. If you can’t be a good example at lease you can be a horrible warning right? Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Parchment craft…well, sort of…

Hello friends. I often admire fussy, tedious, time consuming crafts but I know that I would not enjoy them. I really wanted to get the look of parchment craft (an elaborate embossing and paper piercing technique on vellum also known as pergamano) so I improvised a quick fix:

I later learned that if you emboss 2 sheets of cheap vellum at once it won’t crack.  Also if you have the same Spectrum Noir markers that I do and find that some have dried out (before you even used them) you can make them juicy again with this quick tip:

That trick will work with any alcohol based marker. Many people asked if it will work with rubbing alcohol and the answer is maybe, I have not tried it so if you do leave a comment and let me know! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Thefrugalcrafter on Facebook and a Fun Technique!

Well, there I took the plunge and make a facebook page for frugalcrafter fans…you can check out The Frugalcrafter Community here. I have been getting a lot of comments lately by readers who want to share their paintings, cards and crafts that were inspired by my tutorials and i love seeing them, problem is not everyone has (or wants) a blog but a great majority are on Facebook so I hope it is a place you can all enjoy. Feel free to share crafty tips, photos of crafty projects, ask craft questions and socialize with other frugalistas (that’s what Kathy thinks we should call ourselves) ;) Many YouTube viewers have told me how isolating it can be when you don’t know anyone who crafts, well, let this be a cozy place to craft and chat no matter what side of the globe you are on! So feel free to go “like” the page and introduce yourself, don’t be shy, we a re small in number now but who knows, we could be dozens by tomorrow:)


I also wanted to share a bit of messy crafty sciency fun with you. All you need is cornstarch, white glue and food coloring, rubbing alcohol (or liquid watercolors) and some cardboard (open up boxes from your recycle bin, lots of the prepackaged food boxes have nice white chipboard on the inside!) The kids will get a kick out of the way the ink flows and if you make this on some nice paper, matboard or canvas you might have the perfect background for your next piece of art!

I let one of my girls run wild with supplies and she created piles of art and even more impressive she cleaned up afterwards! Well, that’s it for me tonight, one side of my neck is still sore, thank you for the notes of concern but I’m sure I’ll be fine in a couple of days and thank you Sue Cole for the tip on making the alcohol/water ice pack, I am doing that tonight!) Thanks so much for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Tutorial: Using Chalk Pastels to Stamp!

Howdy folks! My crafty mojo made an appearance today while I was playing with my chalk pastels.

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It got me to thinking, chalk ink is expensive but you can get  set of student grade chalk (aka soft) pastels at the craft store for cheap (48 for $10) so I used said cheap pastels to stamp with, have a look:

Extra bonus, this is a technique that I would use the expensive inktense blocks with and the pastels work just as well and they are more in the price range of average crafters. What’s more most of us have some type of pastel or decorator chalk in our stash from 10 years ago when it was all the rage (yes, if you can pop those suckers out of the palette they came in you can use them!)

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I love that you can stamp on dark-colored cardstock with these too! Is there no end to the fun we can have with these inexpensive goodies? Now, I got a lot of questions on YouTube about whether the stamped image needs to be sealed. Well, before I took the photos I rubbed may hand over the images, no smudging at all. Another reason I would not seal them is that it might darken the color or make them disappear on dark cardstock, also sometimes fixatives will make paper brittle over time (especially if you are a cheap skate like me and use Aqua-Net as a sealer LOL!)

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So there you have it! Another use for an old product you probably already have, if not you can obtain them cheaply. I spied many sets that looked pretty good for under $10 at my local ACmoore. Look for rich, vivid colors and you can’t go wrong. In case you are wondering if you should spend big bucks on artist grade pastels ask yourself this: Are you going to paint a picture with them? Do you have children who will share them with you? Do you have proper ventilation? I love artist grade pastels and I paint with them. The colors will last longer because they contain pigments, some of which are toxic such as cobalt, cadmium, and other baddies and you shouldn’t breathe the dust. You don’t have to worry so much about student grade products because they are non-toxic, I don’t recommended breathing the dust on purpose or anything but they are a lot safer and the results will still be lovely. Chances are if you are using them in a scrapbook, journal or card they will not be hanging in direct sunlight for an extended period of time either, the cheap stuff is fine for this, BTW all of the chalk in the scrapbook “archival” aisle is the cheap stuff with a bigger price tag. You’re welcome.  I hope this project unleashed some creativity in you today, feel free to share what you have created by leaving a link in the comments, I’d love to see! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

DIY Stencil Paste & a Valentine!

Good evening friends! I just got back from the kids’ school where we went to the family Valentine dance. It was packed with children dressed to the nines, it was k-4th grade so it was really fun, the kids danced and did not worry about “looking cool” they just had fun! Here is a fun little Valentine I  made this week with my DIY stencil paste:

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Stencil paste can be pricey! But I found a cheap alternative that can be colored any color you like using ordinary acrylic pant, have a look. Please note, it is really fun spreading out the paste and playing with it, but 2 or 3 swipes across the stencil should really do the trick. (Do as i say, not as I do LOL!)

I got this 6 oz tube of latex caulking for 99 cents at Mardens but I checked at Lowes online and they have a 10.1 oz tube for $1.50 (you need a caulking gun to dispense it though) or a 5.5 squeeze tube for $2.78, that is a still a bargain when a 4.5 oz can of stencil paste is $9 and you can make it any color you want. Score! This is a case where cheaper is better, unless you want black or clear stay away from the silicone caulking which is pricier. Clear would be cool for glittering and black would be nice to leave black or maybe dust some pearl-ex on but if you want the most versatile, quick drying and economical stuff get the cheapest white latex (might be called acrylic) paintable caulking you can find and start creating some bodacious 3D stencil artwork! I hope you enjoyed today’s frugal find and til next time happy crafting!

3 Cheers for Cheery Lynn & a Tip to “Die” for!

Happy Friday folks! A couple weeks ago I showed you how to cut an intricate die, a beautiful doily die from Cheery Lynn. I had struggled with that die but finally found a method that worked in my “antique” but hard used machine. Well, the president of Cheery Lynn Designs saw my valiant attempt and sent me a platform for my big shot. Apparently they don’t make the platform I was using anymore (it’s rather vintage you know) but I could not see how a new platform would be better than my old platform shimmed with cereal boxes and roof flashing…OK, maybe I can see how. He also through in 3 die sets and a real steel metal shim to play with. Well, do you want to see how they work? Well, have a gander at today’s video:

I didn’t think having a new platform would make a difference but really it is like having a whole new machine. If you Big shot/Big Kick is newer than mine it probably would have come with the tabbed platform, if not you might want to consider it if you like to use wafer thin dies. If not a cereal box and roof flashing does the trick LOL! The metal shim really helped the die cut, I think since my machine is 8 years old the rollers might have loosened up a bit making the dies not so tight. My aluminum flashing worked well too but if you have a magnetic platform you would want the steel one to keep your dies in place. BTW, now that I have the new tabbed platform and I don’t need the old one I am going to see if I can figure out how to turn it into a magnetic one, my husbands countersink drill bits and rare earth magnets are going to come in really handy this weekend! All of the dies from Cheery Lynn Designs cut like butter and the flourish die got an extra workout as my friend Kathy used it to cut a bunch for birthday invites.  I have some cards in progress with the steampunk high heel die he sent too, I’ll share them later. I am really glad I gave thin dies another chance, you just need the right tool for the job. Thank you Mike for sending me some fun new dies and accessories to play with, you can check out the offerings of Cheery Lynn Designs on their website.

Now for a $$$ saving tip! If you have old, bowed die cut pads I’ll show you how to clean and flatten them, no special tools required!

I hope I inspired you to straiten up those die cutting plates and go make a card! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Flip it, Flip it good!

Howdy friends! Have you ever heard of a flip-flop, swing, flip it or swivel card? The idea has been around in the stamping community for ages and I have examples here (with a tutorial to make it with a paper trimmer) and here (to make it with a plastic template) but I got really excited when I saw dies to make them with fancy shaped windows. When I saw that the dies cost $30 a pop I decided that I would try to do it with the thin dies I already have. It is easy really, all you have to do is make a jig for your die-cutter and I will show you how in today’s video:

Can you imaging paying $30 for 1 die that will cut one shape in one size for a very specific kind of card? No way! I can get a set of nesting dies for less than that and 2-3 sets if they are on sale and they can be used for other things too! Now I can make a swing card in any shape and size I have a thin die for, cool huh? In the defense of the $30 Flip-It dies they are thick Movers & Shapers dies and if you were making a ton of cards the same shape and size (think wedding invites or owning a stationary business) it would be a good buy because you could cut several sheets of cardstock at once. But, for the occasional cardmaker or hobbyist I think making your thin dies work a little overtime is just fine. Oh no, I am drinking the thin die Kool-aid…I’ve crossed over to the darkside…will this insanity ever end? LOL! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Faux Metal Mania! {got cardboard?}

Howdy friends! I spent most of today with sticks and twine and vinyl preparing for a cub scout project this weekend, the boys are earning their craftsman weblo pin and we are making badge and belt loop display boards to commemorate their years of cub scouting before they cross over to boy scouts. My friend Kathy J had the idea so to give the den leader a hand we decided to prepare the craft. I wish I snapped a photo of the prototype since this is a blog after all with photo capability LOL! Oh well, I’ll get a pic this weekend I guess:)  The other day I was playing in my studio with cardboard and hot glue and came up with two ways to make faux metal, first up pewter/silver:

And now grungy gold.

Try these techniques with the metallic paints you have in your stash, remember to use warm colors and browns in your warm metals like gold, bronze, copper or brass and blacks and greys in your silvers and cool metals. Have fun with it! Oh hot glue, is there anything you can not do? thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!


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