Thursday Giveaway - Win A Snap Ray Guidelight + review

I first spotted The Snap Ray Guidelight on Pinterest and thought it sounded like a cool idea. The pinned ink brought me to this kickstarter campaign. Looks like a lot of other people were impressed as well. The creators asked for $12,000 to fund their start-up. By the time their crowdfunding campaign ended over 9,000 people donated more than $480,000. 

What is the Snap Ray Guide light? Basically, it is a special light sensitive outlet cover with LED's set into one edge. These light turns on as darkness falls. They are easy to install and take their energy from you electrical system. Curious? Click on the above video for details.

Yesterday my set of Snap Ray outlet covers arrived. I have to say they are super easy to install. With a few turns of the screwdriver you simply replace your existing standard outlet cover with a special Snap Rays one. It is really that easy. 

Now that I've installed a few, here are my thoughts. Like I said, very easy to install. However the light sensor is hyper sensitive. It worked great in open spaces like my dining room but is a little too sensitive in shady spots, like the wall between my kitchen counter and overhead cabinet. The plastic outlet cover is more flexible that I expected and would not sit flush on some of my walls (they have a stucco-ish texture and are not especially straight & level). Overall it is a pretty cool product though, and one I recommend for open spaces. 

You can see the gap in my photo above. I shot it at twilight with my phone and no flash. The outlet is just under the windowsill. It leaves a deeper gap than my old, basic Home Depot outlet cover. (I live in FLA and keep picturing bugs squeezing in, and chances are I'll probably return to my old cover.) But I think this is the fault of my wall, not the Snap Ray product.

Since I have more Snap Ray covers than I can use, I'm giving away an unopened one to an Artsnark reader in need of a little extra illumination. The prize cover will look identical to the one in my above photo. Please note: this outlet cover will not fit all styles of outlets. You have until 1 am (EST) on July 10 to enter this random drawing. This drawing is open worldwide and it is possible to enter more than once. Simple follow the instructions below. Good Luck!

By the way, this review and giveaway are in no way sponsored by Snap Power. I just think it is a pretty cool product and want to share the love.


Tutorial Tuesdays - Transfer Tile easy artsy DIY

Are you like me, pinning the heck out of that to do list - just waiting for the day you win the lotto or find "just a few extra minutes" in your hectic day to do something new for you

I've decided to add a new DIY's feature: Tutorial Tuesdays. On especially busy weeks, other folks' tutorials will be highlighted. Other weeks I will put some of those famous "foolproof" Pinterest lessons to the test. And once a month I'll create an original tutorial to share with you; it will probably be an eclectic mix of misc. experiments, projects created over the last few years for the C&T Publishing design team... and who knows what else.

Today I am sharing this Tile & Tape tutorial I made back in 2009 for the Melange Transfer Challenge. This one is super easy! People have told me that "they don't have a creative bone in their body" and have been happily surprised with their final creation:

There are many ways to transfer an existing image from one place to another. Anything goes in this challenge - use printers, glass, fabric, paper, magazines, whatever. Here is the original Melange Challenge post listing the (non) rules.

I decided to try something easy & went with a packing tape transfer. I used the contact paper transfer listed in Claudine Hellmuth's book Collage Discovery Workshop as a guide. I recommend this book, by the way - I have yet to try most of the techniques. But it is very easy to follow with great pictures and clear directions.

So here's what happened. Please note, I used the products I had on hand. Similar products by other brands should do the trick too.

I started with an original image that was laser printed onto basic copy paper over 2 years ago. (Yeah, I have some pack-rat issues). I popped the image a bit with colored pencils.

I taped over the image with clear packing tape & burnished with a bone folder.

More rubbing to make sure there are no air bubbles.

Soaked in water for several minutes.

Immediately, the piece curled up & kept sticking out of the water. I added more water & poked it a few times until it stayed submerged.

After 5-10 minutes I started gently rubbing off the wet paper. The ink stayed on the tape.

Still rubbing. Took a while to remove the last furry bits of paper that were only visible once dry. I just kept wetting & rubbing.

Here is the tape sticky side up. I was surprised it was still sticky after all the soaking.

Claudine Hellmuth adheres her transparent transfer to an altered playing card. I decided while my tranfer dried to use a white marble tile. Stamped the tile with this cool architectural stamp from Judikins. Pigment inks were used so that the line would soften a bit when sprayed with Krylon before the ink was completely dry (Figured this out while working on my last box)

Then I went in with a touch of color pencils & sprayed the tile with a Krylon Clear glossy finish.

After trimming the tape's edges, I glued it down with Liquitex gloss medium & varnish. I scraped across the tape's surface with the edge of my glue brush to remove air bubbles. An old credit card would work well too.

The contrasting finish was awkward (tape was too shiny), so I went over the whole piece with the gloss medium which I dry brushed again before it set. The faint texture of the brush strokes seems to bring it all together. You only see the strokes at certain angles. Viewed from the front, it has a uniform glossy finish. Now all is needs is some hanging hardware glued to the back.

Overall, this was a quick and easy process. A lot of fun too. If you give it a try, I'd love to see what you make. I have to stress that you must start with a laser print or photocopy. Not an inkjet print, as the water will make the ink run.

The other projects inspired by this Image Transfer Techniques Challenge can be found in the comment section of this Melange post . It is worth checking out. Not only are there some cool, easy to follow tutorials, but many of the participants have since become regular contributors to mainstream craft magazines. I will warn you thought that some of the links are dead after 5 years. Some blogs are gone. Others are now published authors and in-demand workshop teachers who have moved their sites.

On the aside, I know there must be blog hops based on this Tut- Tuesday idea (and hope to find them soon). If you have any favorites, please share! 


Illustration Friday - Summer

Sharing this mixed media reworking of an older drawing for the sunny IllustrationFriday.com prompt, Summer.

Click the link above to visit the I.F. site & enjoy what everyone is sharing. Please feel free to post your summer-inspired creations; the challenge is open all week. If you do play along, pop by and let me know so that I can check it out.


The 13 Clocks, by James Thurber, read by Neil Gaiman

So very pleased to have caught this animated intro to James Thurber's The 13 Clocks on twitter today. It is tactfully twisted, wonderfully fun and I love listening to Neil Gaiman read just about anything. 

I did not know that the Wall Street Journal has author led book clubs and signed up for this one today. There is a new book each month, with weekly questions and discussions. Click Here to read the June 12th article, Neil Gaiman on a Skewed Stylish Fairytale, for more info about Mr. Gaiman's pick and the WSJ book club.

I am also enjoying Hayley Campbell's The Art of Neil Gaiman. Picked up a virgin copy at my local library; recommend for fellow fans.


Buried Treasure 2014 - DIY Monograming Glassware

Wow! Is it already time for my favorite blog-hop, Seth Apter's Buried Treasure share-a-thon? Seth's blog, The Altered Page, is one of my favorite online art stops. There is always something interesting to see: Artist Q &As, works-in-progress or other fun features. Buried Treasure is an annual blog hop where creative folks share some of their favorite past posts. And it is all in one place... so super convenient for you! Click here for links to some great reads. Feel free to add your own and play along!

Past years I have shared some interesting interviews with artists and makers. Since I've decided to start posting at least one DIY project a month, here is my Etching Champagne Flutes tutorial from earlier this year. This technique will work on any kind of glassware. The pieces you customize with this simple project will make it easier for your BBQ and beach party guests to keep track of their drinks:

DIY Monogrammed Champagne Flutes 

- an easy glass etching tutorial

Happy New Year!

Wow - I am already behind on blogging! There is so much going on, but I wanted to make sure to wish everyone a fantastic 2014! 

Let's pop back in time to Dec. 31st:  My house was busy preparing for New Years Day, when we always host a big luncheon followed by board/card/party games. This year we thought it would be fun to send everyone home with monogrammed souvenir champagne flutes. 

This is a super-easy project that makes a great impression. I totally recommend giving it a try. While there are instructions in the kit & online, let me walk you through it. 

Supplies (most are in the top photo) include:

*Etching cream (in kit)
*Small brush (in kit)
*Gloves (in kit)
*Adhesive stencils (The kit has butterflies but I wanted letters, so I bought those separately. You can make your own stencils. I have before, but I must say that these ready made adhesive backed ones were such a time saver. They are also reusable,) 
*Tape (I used painter's tape)
*Rubbing Alcohol (I was out & used nail polish remover, which worked.)
*Soap & Water
*Paper towels or dish towel

First wash and dry the glasses. Then wipe the area to be etched with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils that could block the etching cream. 

Measure where you want the stencil to go. The adhesive stencils were easy to use. Simply peel them off the backing paper and stick to the glass. Rub the edges of the stencil a bit with your fingernail to make sure there are no bubbles. Apply tape to the edges to give your glass a little protection in case things get messy. Once the cream is applied it will eat away at the glass it is touching, so you want to make sure you control where it lands. 

We decided to monogram each guest's glass with their first initial. 

In a few cases 2 glasses had the same letter, so I etched a tiny leaf on the base to tell them apart during the party.

Give the etching cream bottle a good shaking, put on the gloves, and use the brush to apply the cream to the stencil. If you get cream in the wrong place, wipe it off right away with a paper towel. At first I was a little freaked out as it was runnier than I expected. In the past I'd used a white pasty goo (armour etch, maybe). A trip to Google & a test glass eased my concerns.

Leave the cream on for 15 minutes. I found that a little longer was not a problem. 

While waiting I ducked into the dining room to see what the guys were up to. They were making cappelletti pasta (meat filled "little hats") for the next day's soup course. It is traditionally a northern Italian Christmas dish. We usually don't have enough visitors then, so we serve it New Years Day.

Times up! Put your gloves back on and rinse off the etching cream. Some running water and a wet paper towel will do the trick. Then remove the tape and stencil & wash glass thoroughly with soap and water. 

Set aside to dry. In the meantime, toss the tape but rinse off the stencils and set aside. Once dry they will still be sticky on the backside can be reapplied to the clear backing for storage.

Here are some of the bases with leaves.

And the etched lettering.

We decided to make a game with the extra flutes and etched some extra letters. The next day we set the table with the glasses all jumbled in the center.  The guests were told to find "their glass" and pour themselves some bubbly. They asked about the leftover glasses & we mumbled something about cancellations. 

As expected, when my husband and I popped into the kitchen some fidgety folks started rearranging the glasses to form words. One person spelled & shouted out "Lucky You"!  (our plan all along) & we had a winner! She took home a copy of R&R Games' pirate game, Plunder

and a lovely clove scented candle from Tampa company 7th Avenue Apothecary .

A grand time was had by all, the game was a really fun way to start the year and the etching was so easy to do. I totally recommend giving it a try.



Etsy Craft Party 2014

Crafty folks photo courtesy of One Crafty Miss

Tampa's version of the 14th Annual Etsy Craft Party (Etsy.com's global-semi official birthday bash) was last Friday night at Built in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. Each year the venue changes (& the vendors often do too) but it is always a grand-night out with lots of crafty demos & maker-goodness!

photo courtesy of One Crafty Miss

I had other plans that night and have been enjoying the photos other Etsy shop owners and attendees have been posting around the web. I spotted One Crafty Miss on facebook & she generously agreed to share some photos. Click here to visit the full post - We Came. We Shopped. We Crafted. 

And here are a couple of fun photos I nicked off the Tampa bay Etsy Crew facebook page. You can find more here.