Faux Snowballs: Soap Flocking Style

Faux snowball made from ivory soap

I had many comments about using an Ivory Snow Flocking Recipe to cover Styrofoam trees and make various scenes.  It made me think it might be very easy to make faux snowballs using the same technique.  This Christmas craft turned out even better than I expected.  Which, for crafting is amazing…  You should see all the fails I have behind the scenes.

Anyway, on to the faux snowball tutorial: How to make perfect faux snowballs

Supplies

Faux Snowball Ingredients

Step 1 When it Grates it Snows

Make the ivory soap snow.  The only thing that differed from my original recipe was that I found some actual powdered laundry starch (Yippy for the 1950’s supplies hidden at the grocery).  I made a double strength batch to use instead of spray starch.  It worked even better and gave a nice hard surface when dry.

Step 2 Moosh Is Now A Technical Term

Reach down into the faux snow while it is still nice and warm and make sure to get some of the chunky bits out of the bottom of the bowl.  Roll the styrofoam ball in your hands leaving finger prints and an uneven surface.  Basically pretend you are packing up a snowball. Except it is gonna be a lot mooshier and smell a lot like soap.

Cover all your snowballs setting them aside to dry.

Mooshing faux snow on the styrofoam balls

Invest in some hand lotion cause this soap is going to dry your hands out.

Step 3  The Herpes of Crafts: Glitter Time

After covering your dozen snowballs pour some clear glitter in your hand.  Pick up the first snowball and moosh the glitter on the surface.  Kinda like you would if you were baking and covered your hands with flour.  Except it is glitter, and it will be all over you forever.  FOREVER.

The soap-snow will have cooled slightly and started setting up at this point.  It will give you a chance to round out the snowball and remove and sharp peaks that don’t really look anything like snow.

Set them aside to fully dry overnight after completing the same process on all the snowballs.

The next morning they should be perfectly hard and dry.  Ready to use in any of your Christmas decor.

Faux snowball made from ivory soap

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*These are affiliate links.  I only get money from these links if you decide to buy.  I was not compensated to mention this product and spent my own money purchasing, testing, and using similar items in developing these tutorials.

See other great DIY, Decor, and Crafts at these link parties: Twigg Studios, Dream A Little Bigger, Craft-O-Maniac

Dyeing Bottle Brush Trees Really Works

Red and white dyed bottle brush trees for Christmas

I have to admit I was as surprised that dyeing bottle brush trees worked just as well as bleaching them.  The process goes hand in hand so if you have green Christmas trees you want to dye lighter or different colors check out how to bleach them first.  If you already have light colored trees to dye then read this handy how to.  You can make any color but I chose red to go with my Christmas decor.

DIY how to tutorial on dyeing bottle brush trees

 

Supplies

Step 1

Prepare the dye bath.  This step always seems easy BUT invariably I end up getting dye on my skin, or making a bad color, or boiling the water instead of warming it…  I didn’t bother with salt or basically directions.  I’m a rebel like that.  Just mixed some dye and warm water.

Preparing a dye bath for bottle brush trees

 

Step 2 Dying to Dye Them

Put trees in dye.  Swish LIGHTLY (see notes for why it needs to be lightly).  I let mine sit about 30 minutes. I hope this is pretty self explanatory

Dip dyeing bottle brush trees

 

Step 3 Rinse and Repeat.  Well just rinse and set them to dry

I am hoping I don’t really need to write text for this step.  It says it all in the title. Detail pictures of red and white dyed bottle brush trees

 

Notes

Here is what happens when you use a freshly bleached (wet) tree and then over swish.  The ‘needles’ got over saturated.  It basically looks like my cat hacked it up.  You can still redeem this tree when dry.  But that requires lots of combing and re-wetting stubborn areas to dry in a nice way.  Honestly, don’t do this.

Also got your dye very hot?  Then yeah if you have cheap plastic bases you may end up warping them a bit.

Dyeing bottle brush tree fail

Other than that you have some great bottle brush trees in any color you need for Christmas and other holidays.

Red and white dyed bottle brush trees for Christmas

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*These are affiliate links.  I only get money from these links if you decide to buy.  I was not compensated to mention this product and spent my own money purchasing, testing, and using similar items in developing these tutorials.

See more great DIY, Decor, & Crafts at these link parties: My Romantic Home, The Pin Junkie, Dream A Little Bigger

Holy Sh*t: Bottle Brush Trees Really Bleach

Before and after bleaching bottle brush trees

I have recently read a number of ‘How To Bleach Bottle Brush Tree’ tutorials.  All of them had a theme, grab some cheap bottle brush trees, throw some cap-fulls of bleach in water and glorious vintage looking trees shall emerge!!!

Kinda

Bottle brush trees are not cheap and It takes a crap ton more bleach than anyone says.  BUT the vintage glorious-es-ness that appears is amazing. Now see how to really bleach bottle brush trees.

Before and after bleaching bottle brush trees

 

Supplies

  • Bottle Brush Trees (Try Googling sisal trees too.  Honestly I got mine at Kmart (nope, they aren’t paying me).  I couldn’t beat 21 trees for $12.99 even online)
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Sink or Bowl to bleach them in

Step 1

Fill up a sink or bowl with warm/hot water.  The warmer water bleaches faster.  Faster, being relative.  This process is gonna take a couple hours.  Throw in the trees, if you have ones that are made of a material that will bleach then they are going to sink as the soak up water.  Throw in two cups, that’s right two CUPS of bleach.  Don’t pussy out here with a couple cap-fulls.  Let’s get this bleaching party started. Gently stir the trees around so they are evenly submerged.  Gently.  You don’t want a matted mess to deal with later.

First bleach bath for bottle brush trees

These dark trees really do turn cream. Trust me I was a freaking shocked as you when it worked.

Step 2

After letting the trees set for about 20 minutes the water will turn a lovely color of ick.  Drain all that out and repeat step 1.  Oh hell yeah I said 2 MORE cups of bleach.  We are bleaching trees here people.  Not coddling them.  Let this mixture set for 30 min to an hour.  Depending on the tree, they bleached fully white in that time frame.  Well except one… I had one dud tree that refused to bleach fully.  That puppy is red now, but that is another story…

Process of bleaching bottle brush trees

I am naming the color ‘ick’

Step 3

Rinse the trees out.  Lightly rub the trees to remove any stuck on fake snow if your trees had them on it. Lightly shake the trees upside down to remove extra water and fluff the fibers.  Set them aside to dry and marvel that an internet tutorial actually worked!

DIY bleached bottle brush trees

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See other great DIY, Crafts, and Decor at these link parties: Craftberry Bush, Twigg Studios, Dream A Little Bigger

Easy Advent Calendar Garland

Detail of the easy advent calendar garland

Although today is the first day of December it is not too late to make an easy Advent Calendar.  I whipped up this awesome collection of treats just using small boxes, ribbon, and wire.  As a child, the Advent Calendar I remember fondly was a simple felt Christmas tree.  Each day I got to remove an ‘ornament’ from the date and place it on the tree.  On the 24th the star went on top.  The boys are finally old enough that I wanted to institute some traditions of my own, starting with an Advent Calendar.Tutorial on creating an easy Advent Calendar Garland

Supplies

(Spoiler there isn’t a bunch of how to pictures, I am trusting you to use your brains on this one)

  • Small Boxes 12- 4″ x 4″ & 13- 3″ x 2″ (I have a Christmas Day Box if you realize that adds up to 25)
  • Various Ribbon
  • Wire (to hang boxes on)
  • Permanent Markers (colors to match ribbon)
  • Goodies to stuff in the boxes
Detail of Easy Advent Calendar Garland

Honestly, please tell me we don’t need the usual step by step photos on this one… Please…

Step 1: If You Saved Money & Bought Flat Boxes

If you have cash take the boxes that are pre-assembled.  If you didn’t, grab a beer and start folding.  Maybe catch up on Sherlock or Dexter.  Continue folding.  Stop to put on lotion because the paper has dried out your hands. Continue folding.  You get the idea….

Step 2: Divvy Up The Loot

I bought cheap little things like Hershey’s Kisses, marbles, couple little Hot Wheels, etc.  I made sure there was two of everything (since this is supposed to be fun and not a fight between siblings) and put some thought into days.  For example, I got two small craft kits and made sure to pick a weekend box so I could do the craft with the boyos and packed a special Christmas Morning box to finish it off.  Genius Moment!: I penciled the date in on the bottom of the boxes. Detail of the easy advent calendar garland

Step 3: If You Got To Skip Step 1

Ha ha ha.  If you skipped step one, then this is your payback.  Now tie tiny bows on all the boxes. Drink wine and catch up on the Daily Show.  Congratulate yourself on nominally watching some educational ‘news’ while crafting.

I tied a simple bow on each one.  This was on purpose (not just laziness/ beer) as the boys could each grab one side of the bow and untie it together. Take a moment to bask in the present-opening, brotherly-love scene I played out in my head. In actuality it played out exactly as I pictured which was damn good!

The key to uniformity of the garland is to pick coordinating ribbon.  I did a mix of bakers twine and satin ribbon in red and white.

Step 4: Marker Your Territory

If you have lovely handwriting, then I am envious and you can just go write in your numbers.  I cut out a 0-9 stencil using my Silhouette and created my numbers using red and gold permanent markers

Step 5: Ho Ho Hanging

String a selection of presents on the wire and hang.  I simply strung the wire under the bows.  I left some of the packages off and used extra ribbon to tie them in place staying nominally in day order.

More Details of the Advent Calendar Garland

Finale

We just pull off the correct box in the morning.  Then let the boys finish untying it and watch them get super excited about tiny trinkets.  Later I just tie the empty box back in place, which, is a hell of a lot easier than trying to move an elf around each night.  Bonus: Tie a special colored ribbon around that box of the day!

Advent Calendar Garland as part of a larger Christmas mantel

This is not my final Christmas Mantel. Though I will have a tutorial for the bleached/dyed bottle brush trees this week.

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How To Make Alcohol Ink: Walnut Style

Recipe for permanent walnut alcohol ink

My How To Make Alcohol Ink tutorial is popular. However, many of you wanted to learn how to make a permanent alcohol ink.  Honestly, I am not a scrapbooker so it took some research into various alcohol inks to find a good formula.  While this recipe for walnut colored permanent alcohol ink is not quite as concentrated as commercial alcohol ink it gives a nice finish and is another option to age paper.

Now when I say permanent alcohol ink I want to clarify.  This walnut alcohol ink can stain a dark brown.  It stuck to wood, paper, fabric, soft plastic, paperclay, and skin.  Oh skin…  My hands were dyed brown for 5 days…  It did not dye hard plastic, metal, or glass as well.

On to the walnut alcohol ink recipe:

Recipe for permanent walnut alcohol ink

Supplies

Walnut Hulls (surprisingly the wet green hulls made a darker brown.  Dried black walnut hulls still made a nice brown)

Rubbing Alcohol (90% concentration works better)

Filters (plain coffee filter and funnel worked fine)

Glass Jars

Rubber Gloves (why, why, why must I always forget gloves?)

Black walnut hulls are supplies for creating the base of walnut alcohol ink

 Step 1: Pretend You Are A Squirrel

Gather up black walnuts.  In Western North Carolina walnuts are everywhere.  The Fall is a particularly good time to find the hulls but you can find dried bits of hull under the trees all year around.  Once you have gathered the walnuts tear the hulls into small bits.  You can see that I separated the green hulls from the drier brown ones.  The green make a darker shade of brown in less time, but dry hull can achieve a very nice color as well.

Walnut hulls torn into bits to make alcohol ink

Now would be a good time to remember gloves if you don’t want a walnut fake tan

Step 2: Shake What Your Mama Gave You

Cover the hulls in alcohol, cap the jars and give them a good shake.  Let the mixture sit and shake some more. Basically rinse and repeat.  I let mine sit for about an hour for the test strips shown in the top photo.  However, letting the ink sit longer gets a darker more concentrated color.

First few minutes of alcohol leaching color from walnut hulls

I swear the green makes the darker ink in the long run. Though this picture doesn’t appear that way.

Step 3: Try Not To Strain About Filtering

Like the filter set up?  I found an old funnel, stuck in a coffee filter, and poured in my mix.  Once it was clean of all the particles the ink was ready to paint, dip, and/or spray.

Filtering completed permanent alcohol ink

If you want bright colors check out my Original Guide to Alcohol Ink or Permanent Bright Colored Alcohol Ink.
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See other great DIY and Decor at these link parties: Craftberry Bush, The Pin Junkie, My Romantic Home