Thursday, August 31, 2017

Glow Stick Mickey Ears

When I was researching fun Mickey Mouse Ears for my upcoming Disney World Trip, I came across the cutest idea!  DIY Glow in the Dark Mickey Ears made out of glow stick bracelets.  Wouldn't these be perfect for New Year's Eve?

As far as materials go, I think that I beat the pricing from the original blog post.   $1 for glow sticks (8), $0.25 for a headband (four pack from the dollar store) and "free" electrical tape and hot glue we already had in the house.  I think that the best part is that these ears can be used over and over, as long as they stay together and you have extra glow sticks.  

For the first set of ears, I cut the the bottom two bracelet connectors at angles as suggested in the tutorial.  However, I wasn't sure if this cut was really that important.

I hot glued the tubes to the headbands and then wrapped them with electrical tape.  At first, I wasn't sure if the tape was just aesthetic or if it served a stability purpose.  In the end, I decided that it helped keep the tubes in place against the tension of adding the bracelets so it is worth doing this step.

For my second iteration, I skipped cutting the tube before gluing it on.  The ears were still super cute when I added the glow stick, but I think that I made the tubes a little too close together.

Ears #2

Third time's the charm!  I moved the bottom tubes a little lower on the third headband and was super happy with my ear placement. Having the ears this low on the headband meant that the headband got pulled out a little bit.  This was a bonus for adults with larger heads as it made the headband more comfortable.  I followed this wider placement for all of the other ears I constructed.

Comparing Headband #2 to Headband #3
This project was so fast and easy!  It took very little time to make and should pack super easily for our Disney World vacation.

The ears don't look half bad in the light, either.  

I made enough for the whole family!  At this point everyone in my family has a daytime AND a nighttime set of ears for our trip.  I'm still catching up on all of the ear posts and I know that I still have some more that I want to make.  Some of them might end up being left behind as I run out of space packing, but I know that I'll have space for these glow stick ears!  

Monday, August 28, 2017

End of Year Teacher Thank You Craft from the Whole Class

At the beginning of the last school year, I signed up to help with the end of year thank you craft for the teachers at my son's preschool.  I love doing crafts, surely I could come up with something fun to do with almost no budget.  We wanted to do something that would allow participation from the kids but also could be useful for the teachers.  The previous year, we made the teachers custom tote bags.  We ironed on a class photo with a sentence from each student "I love XX because..."  The teachers loved the bags, but I knew that I would need to come up with a new idea for this year.

I polled my friends who are elementary and preschool teachers, and they all had similar responses.  They all said that they appreciated cards and thank you notes more than any other gift.  They didn't need more mugs or picture frames to clutter their homes, but cards and pictures from students were things that they held onto.

The sample folder I made to share with other parents.  
Lucky's preschool has 5 classes with over 22 teachers, specialists, administrators and staff.  We wanted a project that would be simple to execute, inexpensive (so most of the money we collect can go to gift cards for the teachers), useful (not clutter),  and something the kids can participate in.  Simple, right?

When I came across a Thank You Flower Card, I knew that I found a winning idea.  We would let all of the kids decorate petals for their teachers, and then assemble them together onto simple file folders.  I always need more folders and personalized ones would be super fun and potentially useful.  Decorating the petals didn't take very long, and I quickly whipped up a sample to share with the parents.  I knew that if I needed to, I would be able to decorate all of them myself.


For the first petals, I folded a piece of construction paper in half and free cut a petal like shape.  This length was a bit too long for the file folder, so I trimmed down the edges to make the petals a bit shorter.   I used my hole punch to make a hole in the edge of the petals and secured them to the folder just about where the pocket ended.  

I planned to send home 5 petals with each student.  Most classrooms had 3-4 teachers and there were multiple specialists. The teachers helped distribute the petals in the kids backpacks.  Since I knew that some might get lost on the way home, we sent a petal template in an email to the parents.  This way, parents could create their own petals out of whatever they wanted.  

Since I already did the hard work of figuring out the petal size, here is a printable template of the flower petals.  This is the exact template that I emailed the parents of the preschool.  

When I was preparing to distribute the petals, I realized that I needed to make enough to send 5 petals to about 60 students.  I didn't want to count the petals as I was counting.  I weighed 25 petals and then used that to calculate the total weight of petals I would need for this project.  It worked great!  I stuffed the petals plus a simple instruction sheet into envelopes to go home with the kids.  

End of Year Teacher Appreciation Craft Instructions (This is what we sent home with the envelopes.  A longer explanation was sent to the parents via email.)  

  • Please decorate one side of one petal for each of your child’s teachers. (Draw a picture, write a note, etc). Please note that we will punch a hole near the pointy end when we assemble the flowers. The finished petals should be flat so please don’t use bumpy stickers or glue. Make sure to sign your child’s name on the petal! 
  • Please also write the teacher’s name on the back if their name isn’t part of the decoration. 
  • Return the petals to Rebecca Brown (Lucas’s Mom - Dubim) by MONDAY JUNE 5. 
  • Extra decorated petals are welcome for non-classroom teachers and staff.

While I waited for the petal submissions, I started decorating the folders for teachers.  I added their names to the top and "Thank you for helping our children grow!" on the inside pocket.  

Lucky had a blast decorating petals.  He even started making petals for teachers in other classrooms!  I was nervous that we wouldn't have enough petals submissions, but the students and parents delivered.  I was able to make flowers of at least 10 petals for each of the teachers and staff we wanted to thank.  (Some of the specialists that see every student had a lot of submissions.)

Finally, we finished off these cards by adding Amazon gift cards and handwritten thank you notes from the parents into each folder.   We presented these cards to the teachers at the end of year portfolio breakfast and they were so excited!

I'm so glad that this project worked well... and now I'm already thinking about next year.  What kind of projects have you done to thank teachers?

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  None of the product selections were solicited.  I selected all of the products in this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Star Wars Boba Fett Mickey Ears

After I finished making my first two sets of Mickey ears I knew that I wanted to make them for the whole family.  Keith requested some Boba Fett ears, and although I didn't know what I wanted for the second ear I knew that this was something I could accomplish.  I found a pair of fun foam Boba Fett ears and wanted to try to recreate something similar out of felt.

Using the tabbed ear template I created, I cut out out four pieces of thick felt, two green and two black.  I let Keith select which headband was more comfortable for him to wear and he picked the plastic one with holes in it.  (I got the headbands at the dollar store; $0.33 for a headband is the right price!)

Materials for the Boba Fett Mickey Ears Headband

  • Craft felt, the thicker/stiffer felt for the ear bases and the thinner, cheaper felt for the embellishments
  • Silver puffy fabric paint
  • Gutternmann Invisible Thread 
  • Black thread for the bobbin
  • A sewing machine 
  • Hot glue gone
  • Blank headband

To create the embellishments, I folded pieces of felt in half and cut along the fold.  I made the initial pieces larger than the ear template because it would be harder for me to get the curves right than it would be for me to trim the final shape after the sewing was done.  

I trimmed the first black and burgundy layers and then added the black cross on top.  This is a lot of layers of felt to sew through, but I crossed my fingers that my machine could handle it.

It was difficult at times to get 4 layers of felt through the machine, but it worked much better than I expected.  I didn't stitch any of the edges that were along the perimeter of the ear yet, I wanted to wait until I attached the back of the ear so that I would only need to sew these areas once.

I switched from a white to a black bobbin to attach the front of the ear to the back of the ear.

Once the ear was complete I trimmed the edges to make the whole thing round.  

I left the bottom edge of the design loose so I could trim this after adding the ear to the headband. I wanted this to be as flush as possible and I didn't know if it would need to be trimmed on a curve or not.

I considered sewing the antenna onto the helmet, but I knew that I would struggle to get another layer of felt through the machine.  It made more sense to use hot glue to attach this to the ear... after I finished up a few more embellishment details.  

I added some final touches to Boba Fett's helmet ear with some silver puffy paint.  

The first Boba Fett ear looked fantastic, but I wasn't sure what to do on the other ear.  Some pinterest options had a symbol that I was not familiar with.  Keith wasn't a fan of this, and asked for the Boba Fett Mandalorian instead.  This gave me an excuse to try out a new technique, freezer paper stenciling.  With the help of the craft knife I already purchased for these projects, I could cut the shape out of freezer paper and use that as a stencil.

I carefully cut the shape out of the freezer paper (dull side up).  I ironed it onto a plain mickey ear using a "press cloth" under the ear and over the ear so I wouldn't risk damaging my iron. (I had sewn the front and back of the ear together before the stenciling because I learned the hard way that my presser foot an get stuck on puffy paint.)  I turned off the steam setting on my iron.  I tried to iron on the "synthetic" setting but that didn't get stuck all the way, so I increased the temperature to "silk".

I was impressed that this actually was stuck to the ear!  Using a makeup sponge, I dabbed the puffy fabric paint onto the stencil.  I tried to be careful, and ended up doing a total of three coats.  I was impatient when I was waiting for it to dry, so I decided to help things along with a hair dryer.

I had many fears thorough the stenciling.  What if the freezer paper cuts weren't good and it moved?  What if the fabric paint was stuck together and I couldn't remove it from the ear?  Thankfully, the mickey ear below the stencil just had one simple seam around the edge, so it wouldn't be super hard for me to start over... but I really hoped that this worked.

Finally the design was dry and I could remove the stencil...

It was hard to remove the stencil. Maybe it is because I used dimensional fabric paint.  Maybe I should do this when the project is wet next time.  At least the edge looks clean.  there will be no reusing this stencil!  With the help of the pin, I was able to get the small sections off of the ear.  Tip: Start at the pointy edge and pull out.

Eventually I was able to remove all of the stencil pieces and WOW.  THIS.  IS.  AMAZING!  It looks like I bought a stencil.  How have I never tried freezer paper stenciling before?!?!

Don't these ears look fantastic?  It took a little of waffling, but I decided to put the antenna on the outside of the head.

I stuffed the ears and then hot glued them onto the headband.  I'm surprised that the guys like these open work headbands more than the solid ones, but I'll have to pick up some more of these from the dollar store.

I attached the antenna with hot glue as well.  I think I messed up the placement a little bit but it is still super recognizable.  Wahoo!

The last thing I had to do was trim the bottom of the helmet.  I was able to cut this straight across, but I'm glad that I wanted until the gluing was complete.

What do you think?  Isn't this the perfect headband to visit the Star Wars characters at Disney World?

Next time I do a freezer paper stencil I will cut off more of the excess freezer paper so I can see the placement of my design a bit better.  However I am thrilled with how this technique turned out, and I am excited to do more freezer paper stenciling in the future.

Stay tuned for more Mickey Mouse ears!  I was having so much fun that I just couldn't stop making new sets.  I have a feeling I'm going to end up with a suitcase full of accessories for my trip.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  None of the product selections were solicited.  I selected all of the products in this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Perler Critical Role

As part of my "melted bead extravaganza", I decided to make some 8-bit Critical Role coasters for my brother for his birthday (Happy Birthday, Dasbif!) I used Perler beads for the body and faces but then the Pyssla beads for the black borders (including between the head/body and arms/body.)  I started running low on sand/peach colored beads for the skin tones I ended up picking up a neutrals tray after all.  

The original artist, Marjolijn Makes, made the Critical Role characters out of mini perler beads so they could be used as little charms.   Using the standard sized beads these Critical Role characters are perfect as coasters.  I hope my brother loves them!

I still can't decide which side I like better, the melted size or the intact side.  Should I melt both sides?  I'm not sure.  We'll see what J says.  Happy Birthday!  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Adventures with Perler and Pyssla Beads

Did you do perler beads when you were a kid?  I did, but I wasn't that creative. I guess at 8-10 years old I wasn't used to thinking of objects as pixellated, and so while I made a lot of designs I didn't make many recognizable pictures.

Enter the modern era.  If I had access to Pinterest when I was growing up I have a feeling that I would have made many more melted bead projects.

While I was on an Ikea trip, I asked Lucky (3.75 yo) if he would like to try the bead projects with me.  When we started out, he was initially a little frustrated but soon got really into filling in his heart board.  It was so much fun!  I was able to make two slightly more complicated designs in the time it took Lucky to fill in his heart, but it was such a calm and focused project for us to do together.  I can't wait to do more!

Thankfully, Lucky only dumped the beads off of my board once.  I was near the beginning of my watermelon, not near the end.  If I had been near the end I might have given up and just made string bracelets out of these beads.

I put my iron on the wool setting to melt the beads.  It took a little longer than I expected, but before I knew it I had some fun coasters.  Lucky was so proud of his heart!  This excitement tempted me to buy more beads with more colors, but I thought it would be worth waiting to see if we keep doing these projects together.

Very quickly I became frustrated by the limitations of my Pyssla beads.  So many things I wanted to make needed gray, and there were no gray beads in this primary color set.  I went to the store and picked up a Perler Woodland Creatures Bucket to add some more colors.  I strongly considered the Perler Neutral Color Bead Tray, but the woodland bucket had many of the neutrals I needed and I wanted to see how much we are doing this craft before investing in something like that.  

While I waited for Lucky to go to bed so I could play with my new perler beads, we made some more Pyssla projects.  Lucky did a turtle all by himself!  He hasn't done any full projects since then (he gets distracted after half a board and then dumps it), but he really enjoys watching me do it.  

In this Littler Mermaid coaster, I used Perler beads for the mermaid and the Pyssla beads for the background and border. I think since the Perler beads are a fraction taller they melted first.  This means that mixing the beads within a design might not work well, but mixing them in greater areas can give cool results.  I think that this makes the mermaid "pop" more.  

I found that the Perler beads are much thicker and slightly taller than the Pyssla beads.  When I'm using perler beads, I like the melted side better.  When I'm using Pyssla beads I like the unmelted side.  I think the melting might be more uniform with the Perler.  Certainly the beads are much more regular when you compare them to each other.  

Keith has had a lot of fun with Perler projects, too.  He has created a Moogle and then designed a 3D pumpkin.  I wish I took pictures of the pumpkin before he assembled it!  This 3D pumpkin doesn't have any glue to hold it together.  He was able to design the sides so they interlocked.  I think it helped that the plastic was still a little warm when he assembled it but it is a super sturdy cube now.  

Here are all of the projects we (Lucky and myself) did in our first week of melty bead crafting.  We had so much fun!  

Which side of the projects do you like better?  The unmelted side (above) or the melted side (below)?

I now want to make myself a huge series of pixellated character coasters.  I have been inspired by a lot of different artists, but Madam Fandom has some of the most amazing characters.  I am so impressed by the designs people have come up with!