Category Archives for "Crafty"

Tips for Making Your Own Letterpress

Whether it’s a wedding in your future or a cottage business making customized invitations and cards on Etsy, having your own letterpress can allow you to make beautiful custom designs easily and quickly. Perhaps the most difficult part of letterpressing is making your own letterpress! Even this obstacle can be overcome with a few simple tips.

Make one or buy one?

Buying a letterpress can be extremely difficult, as no companies currently manufacture them for home use. For this reason, finding a machine to purchase can be a challenge, and the small supply of presses is generally too expensive for a hobbyist. The good news is that you can make a letterpress at home using materials found from your local hardware store.

Homemade letter presses generally have a bed and a frame to rest atop the bed (usually made of wood). The frame holds the block in place, and the block is what contains the letters or drawing that will be pressed onto the paper. Above the paper is a piece called a platen, and most homemade models make this section of wood as well. Finally, most homemade presses use some way of pressing the platen down onto the block, perhaps with a press screw or a car jack. This is often the most costly part of building your own letterpress.

Choose an existing design

There are several free designs found on the Internet that provide complete instructions for building a letterpress. Additionally, groups and organizations that promote letterpressing may offer free designs for their own members. Once you select a pattern for your letterpress, it’s best to stick to the instructions.

Analyze your needs

A larger letterpress allows you to design larger documents and stationery, but it also takes up more storage space and can make it difficult to correctly place smaller documents like business cards or RSVP cards. For most home hobbyists, having multiple letterpresses isn’t feasible, so it’s wise to choose the largest size you plan to make. The larger the letterpress, the more inconsistent the ink coverage will be, especially for beginners.

Get started!

Once you’ve chosen the design and planned your construction, visit your local hardware store with your list and get started on building your own letterpress! You may find it helpful to print the list from your instructions and seek assistance at the hardware store, especially if you’re not familiar with some of the tools or supplies listed.

Time to print!

When it’s time to use your new letterpress, it’s a good idea to keep baby wipes and old T-shirts on hand for the inevitable cleanup. It’s also a good idea to cover your work area with a tarp or old sheet, and to wear a smock or old clothing. Even veteran printers often get extremely messy, and printing ink is sticky.

For a first printing project, make sure to have plenty of extra paper or cardstock. Letterpressing is an art form that requires a high level of craftsmanship in order to get it just right, so make sure to have plenty of extra materials on hand for your first few projects.

Letterpressing can be messy, challenging, and incredibly rewarding! When your perfect event is designed to your exacting specifications, it only makes sense to design the invitations and stationery to fit the wedding or party.

Metal Scrapping for Beginners

Washers, dryers, computers, TVs, printers, VCRs, DVD players, air conditioners, refrigerators, and power tools all harbor a secret. Buried within them is metal. Even if it’s no longer working, you can find valuable treasure within and sell that treasure for cold, hard cash. This is the practice of metal scrapping, a fun and exciting hobby that allows grown-ups to go on a real live treasure hunt!

Safety first!

Because metal pieces can sometimes be sharp, it’s best to have a pair of cut-resistant gloves. You may find a dust mask, steel-toed boots, or a back brace to be useful. For beginners, it’s best to avoid refrigeration or air conditioning units, as they contain freon, a dangerous chemical requiring specialized disposal.

The scrapping workshop

It’s best to keep your work area clean and free of clutter. Small pieces of metal and plastic can easily become mixed in a cluttered workspace. Your workspace should have good ventilation, good lighting, and comfortable seating.

Plastic paint buckets provide excellent storage for scrap material, although e-scrap (scrap from computers) is usually smaller and may need smaller bins. You’ll usually want one bin for copper, one for aluminum, one for ferrous materials, and one bin for motherboards or other computer equipment. If you’re specializing in e-scrap, get a complete list from your local scrap yard or recycling service to determine how best to sort it.

Identifying metals

The most common metals encountered in scrapping include copper, aluminum, stainless steel, and iron. Aluminum and stainless steel look similar in appearance – usually silver or chrome in color – but stainless steel can be picked up with a magnet. Copper is generally a dark gold color, although some aluminum may be painted with a copper color. New iron may look like stainless steel, but older iron tends to be dark brown of black, and it’s also picked up with a magnet. Scrappers may also encounter brass and even gold in their scrapping adventures!

Breaking down appliances and electronics

Because there are so many different types of appliances and electronics, it’s impossible to concisely explain how to break down everything. Video tutorials can be found on YouTube and other websites that help to identify the most efficient way to break down most appliances and electronics.

To the scrapyard!

Once you have your scrap metal, you can plan your first trip to the local scrapyard. Make a phone call to a few scrapyards, ask a few questions, and choose the yard that seems to be the friendliest. When you get to the scrapyard, the employees will help you load your scrap onto the scale for weighing. They’ll give you a weight ticket and send you to the payment window, where the yard will pay you according to their policies. Always bring a small toolkit and your safety gear to the yard with you! Sometimes the employees will point out a simple thing that could earn you more money, and you may need to remove a piece on the spot to get the maximum value.

Metal scrappers serve a valuable purpose in modern society. By removing precious metals from what other people see as garbage, they’re helping to keep heavy metals out of landfills. When these metals are stored in landfills, they leach into the water supply and can build to toxic levels, so metal scrappers help to protect the environment and aquatic ecosystems. Metal scrapping can be a fun way to bring in some extra cash, turning one man’s trash into your very own treasure!

How to Learn Glassblowing

Artistic expression can take many forms. In addition to painting and sculpting, art may be in the form of clothing, blankets, or decorative household items. One of the most beautiful and practical uses of art is in the form of glassblowing, which can be mastered by almost anyone with the right instruction. And after seeing an art exhibit of Dale Chihuly stuff, I knew that this is one cool hobby that I wanted to learn. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far…

Finding a School

Glassblowing requires the use of specialized tools. In addition to the glass, furnaces that can reach more than 2400 degrees Fahrenheit are required. A bench with a marver is needed, along with a blowpipe and punty. For more elaborate designs, paddles, shears, blocks, and many other tools are necessary. Since few people outside of the professional art world have access to these tools, the best way to learn glassblowing is to find a school or class nearby that offers a class.

People in some areas, like Tacoma, Washington, have an advantage. They can often find freestanding glassblowing centers that offer regular classes, and the market for glassblowing prices is competitive enough to keep prices low. In most parts of the country, classes in glassblowing may be available at a local art museum, art college, or community college.

Preparing for your Class

In most cases, you’ll want to wear closed-toe shoes and have long hair pulled back and out of the way. Most schools require that students provide their own eye protection, and some require that students provide or purchase their own aprons and gloves, although that may be included in the price of the course. You’ll probably want to bring a notebook or sketchbook to draw designs, and to avoid clothing with long, flowing sleeves or flammable synthetic materials.

If you’re not sure whether glassblowing is really for you, ask your school if they have any one-day workshops on the topic. Some schools have shorter sessions where you can work with a glassblowing expert to build a single piece; this allows you to experience glassblowing before making a major investment of time and money.

A Short Primer

While your instructor will probably go over glassblowing, knowing a bit before beginning will help you to feel more comfortable in the glass studio. Modern glassblowing involves three furnaces: the crucible or furnace, filled with melted glass; the glory hole, used to reheat pieces while working on them; and the annealer, used to slowly cool the glass to prevent cracking. The tip of the blowpipe is preheated and then used to pick up a blob of molten glass, which is rolled on a marver to cool the outer skin of the glass. Then you blow air into the pipe to create a bubble. Over time, the piece can be expanded, and larger pieces require far more time and energy. Once the piece is finished, the molten glass is transferred to a punty to create the opening.

Glassblowing is an ancient art that has created some of the most beautiful and lasting pieces of art in the world. With modern tools and techniques, glassblowing is a fun way for even a hobbyist to create beautiful, unique sculptures and pieces.