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Craft Inspiration Roundup

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I've been in a craft funk lately. I have several projects started, of course - what crafter *doesn't* have half a dozen stalled-out projects stashed in the closet? - but nothing that's really stirring the ol' creative juices.

In times like these I turn to you guys for inspiration, so here are some of my favorites of what you've been sending in lately:

Erin B. found this Pottery Barn-inspired candle mod over at Can't Stop Making Things:

The trick is printing your design on tissue paper, which then gets saturated with the wax and looks like a part of the candle. Get the full tutorial (plus the sheet music .pdfs) at the link.

Katelyn found a fun wand tutorial that's perfect for Harry Potter party favors:

Believe it or not, they're made from rolled paper, paint, and hot glue!

You know this one caught my eye:

A chalkboard cake play set! This would be a fun gift for junior bakers, or a perfect re-usable centerpiece. Just draw on new decorations to fit each occasion!

Heather V. spotted the tutorial over on Craft: All you need are nested hatboxes and some chalkboard paint. Hit the link for step-by-step pictures.

I tried some simple quilling once years ago, and remember it being surprisingly easy with almost instant gratification. The fact that it looks like it took you a million years to do is the two-ton cherry on top.

So when Stephanie sent over a link to this gorgeous quilled monogram, I started hearing the siren call of swirly paper strips again:

The contrast of the delicate swirls with a nice bold font outline is just gorgeous, don't you think?

Here's another example by Michelle of A Can of Crafty Curiosities:

(You should also check out Michelle's quilled Koi fish. Sooo cool.)

Head over to Craftastical for the full monogram tutorial.

And finally, here's something I've been wanting to try for ages: Perler beads!

From what I can tell, you assemble the beads on a grid and then apply heat to fuse/melt them together. Because of the grid they're perfect for 8-bit designs, which is why there are so many fabulous Mario and old-school video game designs out there. I found this one on Craftster; it's a set of coasters that fit inside the question mark box.

Decoy's Dork Decor sells a bunch of different designs, plus a sweet Nintendo controller box to hold the Mario coasters:

Most of the small perler bead sprites you see are pretty simple, but there are also some massive, jaw-dropping pieces out there:

By ShampooTeacher (several more gorgeous works at the link.)

This makes me want to pixelate some of my favorite movie scenes and make them out of beads. Like the elevator scene in Ghostbusters. Or the Dread Pirate Roberts looking down his sword at Humperdink. Or the Back to the Future poster. :D As much as I love jigsaw puzzles, I think I'd enjoy the tedium of putting them all together.

Plus, I bet you could use cross stitch patterns for these. I know there are programs out there you can buy to convert photos into cross stitch patterns, so really, you could make almost anything. Your only limitation would be finding the right color beads to match. (Speaking of which, anyone know of a good cross stitch conversion program for Macs?)

Oh, and earlier today I emptied out my first burnt-out lightbulb, despite John's assurances that I would "slice my face off." I'd like to use it as a mini cloche to display a tiny paper flower or other origami shape, like a crane, attached to a small wire. You know, something sort of along these lines:

By Jochem van Wette, via SuperPunch

(And isn't that beautiful?)

Anyway, do you guys have any other suggestions? It'd have to be super tiny to fit through the opening. (And I'm not interested in making a terrarium or bud vase, since those are pretty overdone.) I'd make a wooden base so it stays upright. Of course, I still have to make this steampunk heart lightbulb, too. Hm.... (Is it wrong when you start hoping your lightbulbs burn out?)

Posted by Jen at 5:36 PM Labels:


  1. I bet your faithful readers would totally send you burnt-out light bulbs. Fun crafty things, thanks for the inspiration. You rock!

  2. I have these mini perler beads that are great for making Mario star earrings, for example, as they're small enough to not be too cumbersome. I've also made a MechaKoopa that I've glued on top of my laptop, and on my dorm door I have a Nyan Cat and a QR code that reads "I Believe In Sherlock". :)

  3. Thank you for posting this...my eyes are still bleeding from the CW post. I should not have scrolled down the page. I will never be the same.
    Love the quilling! Is it really that easy? I once emptied out and bleached off the paint of some glass Christmas bulbs, but I couldn't think of anything other than potpouri to fill them with. Now I have new ideas for my Christmas tree with those bulbs.:-)

  4. I have seen some beautiful dragons done in quilling in the art shows at cons.

  5. I remember Perler beads from when I was a kid. They were worse then Lego for getting underfoot all over the house, but thankfully not as painful. :) The cats also liked to snack on them, and since sometimes they didn't fuse together very well, sometimes there were a lot of ruined craft projects. I haven't thought about those things in 20 years. :)

  6. Is that lightbulb real, or digital art? It's listed under his "digital art" gallery, so I'm confused.

  7. Amy in TennesseeMarch 6, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    What about turning the burnt out light bulbs into Christmas ornament for your Steam Punk Christmas tree?

  8. I used to use those little beads all the time when I was a child. They are really simple and in the UK at least really cheap. You are dead on in how you use them. The sets normally come with backing boards in various shapes and sizes, I think you could even get clear ones to put over your designs. Then you just put greaseproof style paper over the top and then iron it with a normal domestic iron. Once they've cooled they just come right off the backing board so you can reuse it. The main drawbacks are though that one side is all melted and especially if they are large they can snap quite easily.

    Good fun though, I may have to try some of those pictures myself...

  9. In regards to the Perler Beads and finding the right colours this website lets you buys lots of individual colours:

  10. Check out http://www.microrevolt.org/knitPro/ to create crafty (cross stitch/knitting) patterns from images

  11. I second the hot air balloons. Here is a different link than the one Cady gave.

    These are wire-wrapped, but I've seen ones that were simply painted.

  12. My kids at my daycare love the perler beads, or as we call them fuse beads.

  13. I used to do the perler bead designs all the time! I loved them, and they were super easy. Then again, the most comlex I got was a purple bird and my cat...Anyways, they're very fun and not hard at all. You ought to give it a try sometime!

  14. A kite with a very long tail would look neat inside a light bulb, like an homage to Ben Franklin.

  15. I'm going to be so sad when incandescent bulbs finish getting phased out. I love to make crafts with them. I usually do oil lamps myself. I've made oil lamps out of an old wine bottle and some washers/bolts/whatever is laying around with a hole before too. They're awesome for outside.

  16. I've never tried to empty out a lightbulb so I don't know the size of the opening you have but could your quilled paper fit through there? Then you could make a Seussian light bulb looking thing. Or, thinking of paper fitting through, cut out a paper gear, fold it into a flat shape that would fit and pop it through for a steampunkish bulb.

    Again, don't know the opening size so these might be completely impractical ideas. *shrug*

    As for the perler beads (I was just discovering them last week, we never had them as a kid) could you mold them around something and fuse them into a three dimensional shape? I guess it would depend on how much heat it requires to meld them. Hm.

    I have no idea why but plush origami cranes and the like just popped into my head? I don't think I've ever seen a plush origami shape. Interesting.

  17. I used to have perler beads as a kid! They're fun and pretty easy to use..unless you knock into your mostly-completed picture and bump them all out of place. Or knock over the box that has a thousand of them. I speak from experience there..xD

    I've actually been thinking about getting back into them. My favorite 8-bit design inspiration is Tetris. I drew up a little heart made from Tetriminoes that would work well in beads..or, if I'm feeling ambitious, as the central design of a granny square afghan.

  18. Perler beads, wow! I haven't played with those in AGES. And now that you mention it, a pixelated Inigo Montoya looking down the blade would be AWESOME.

    I so want to do that now.

    With my Perler Bead expertise it would probably end up on PerlerBeadWrecks.com.

  19. I'm not sure if it works on macs, but I use KG Stitch LE which you can download href="YOUR TEXT">here. This is the best (free) cross stitching pattern maker I've found so far. You can choose the number of colors used (all in DMC numbers), the size/number of stitches, and can edit the pattern if you want to fix something.

  20. My kid bought one of those wands and then I had to make a half dozen so she and her friends could play Wizard School. They really are simple to make. We used construction paper, so they didn't even need to be painted. And painted the hot glue instead. Also used a big plastic jewel on the end. Good idea to fill them with hot glue to stiffen, though. Otherwise they just buckle as soon as they're sat on.

  21. There are internet programs out there that will convert photos into cross-stitch patters like this one. I've used that particular site and it turns out really well as long as the photo isn't too detailed.

  22. It's like you've been in my house and poked through closets, drawers, storage trunks and bags hidden about when you described the "half a dozen stalled-out projects stashed in the closet? - but nothing that's really stirring the ol' creative juices."

    So now in addition to the Finding Nemo baby shower, custom knit old-school knit Bruins sweater, baby clothes, scrapbooking, cake show entering and side-job-baking I'm doing, I think I need to start one of just about all of these projects. In all that spare time I have.

    LOVE IT ALL though!!! Keep the inspiration coming! :)

  23. I've made those wands! My five year old wanted a harry potter party and I was happy to oblige, as I love HP! They're very easy to make!

  24. I made a set of Mario Coasters for an old boyfriend of mine, we spent one entire weekend working on them. It was a blast! I use the link below to create cross-stich patterns from photos.


  25. How do you empty a light bulb? Although perhaps after my Xmas bauble/hot air balloon debacle you had better not tell me...I really would end up slicing my face off.

  26. oh my gosh! Thank you for the light bulb inspiration!!!!! I have been looking for a unique way to display tiny needle felted sculptures and this is PERFECT!!!!
    If you haven't played with needle felting it is very satisfying, instantly gratifying and the possibilities are endless! I have made little framed pendants, hair clip flowers,3d sculptures, toys, mobiles even a brides bouquet! Besides who doesn't love a craft that the answer to any problem is 'just keep stabbing it!'

  27. Jen,

    If we lived in the same state I would offer to come over (or meet on neutral territory like a coffee place) and teach you some neato origami designs for your lightbulb. I used to run the Origami Club at my university back in the day and the top lesson requests were for the Kawasaki Rose variants. I can make ones now that are just under an inch wide and 3-4 inches long with the stem. I think. I've never measured the small ones.

    Sadly, I live on the west coast and rarely make trips to your neck of the woods. Oh well.

    Craft on!

    - Gen

  28. I just spent 2 months working on a perler video game Christmas tree for my sister as her Christmas present, and I loved it! I have some pics herehttp://msmalonesartroom.blogspot.com/2011/12/look-at-what-i-have-been-doing-for-last.html

    I definitely think you should try making some. They were very relaxing!

  29. @ Caroline, there are several tutorials out there for hollowing out old bulbs. Here's one over on Instructables. Just be careful; wear safety glasses!

  30. You could put a very tiny copy of the complete works of Shakespeare in the lightbulb. But first you would have to learn how to write that small . . .

  31. Hey, Jen,

    I have a Mac, too, and the program you're looking for is called simply "Stitches". You just find the photo you want to cross-stitch and hit the button, and boom! pattern. The only downside is that really detailed photos result in really, REALLY detailed patterns, so you have to simplify a bit.

  32. Thanks Jen - that looks simple enough (hollow laughter....)I will have to pluck up courage to do this, as me and sharp objects are not a good combination. But it is such a cool thing to do maybe I'll do it sooner rather than later!

  33. Sorry Jen this is the only way I can get a hold of you and you probably know it anyway, BUT I was trying to get on cakewrecks this morning and Chome kept saying it couldn't go to local host. Hope everything is okay!

  34. Ummm... trying to get on Cake Wrecks this morning and it redirects me to "Oops!Google Chrome could not find null"

    Is there a problem with your site? Were you aware of an issue?

  35. So after looking at your post I googled 8 bit Mario and perler beads. I found a blog where a woman made a huge crocheted mario blanket for her husband using a tunisian stitch. gegecrochets.blogspot.com Holy cow! So of course I made my own little one up mushroom last night just to try out the technique. Now my mind is whirling with possiblities.

  36. "From what I can tell" As in, you never saw these before?! And you call yourself a crafty person. (Just teasing) They are fun.

  37. Thanks for the heads up on the CW error, guys; our domain redirect went down for about 2 hrs. Ah, the joys of working online! ;)

  38. I have no idea if this is feasible, but the lightbulb made me think of Jareth's crystals - it would be amazing if you could manage to fit a tiny Sarah in there...

  39. Hi Jen,
    Here's a link to some Gorgeous Steampunk Bugs made by a jeweler: http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10/view/19440/robotic-steampunk-insects-by-lindsey-bessanon.html

    I hope you like them as much as I did!

  40. I love the little tree in the light bulb! I found a link HERE on how to hollow out the light bulb. I feel a project coming on....LOL

  41. So pretty! I have a wide format printer at my shop that I was going to use to print out some wall decals for my bedroom makeover but you've inspired me to paint it instead and I'm loving the cherry blossom design


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