Kingdom Hearts: Shrink Plastic Pumpkinhead Halloween Keyblade

27 October 2019

I have the *worst* luck with blind bags.

This’ a nice quality Kingdom Hearts keyring if you like Donald Duck (I don’t, really). In an attempt to make this look more like, well, something other than a mummified duck I decided to try putting some other stuff on the keyring with it.

Enter the shrink plastic. There’s some very clear images of these keyblades in the assets for the KH games and it’s not too hard to redraw them onto a piece of paper with a ruler, some careful measuring and a lot of maths. (except Oathkeeper. Oathkeeper’s a pain to draw, but that’s a story for another day). I tested a piece of shrink plastic with a ruler first so I know the stuff I’ve got shrinks by a scale of roughly 2.66.

The keyblade was drawn on clear shrink plastic (not the frosted stuff) with a black sharpie, and the silver/white bits done in Posca paint markers.

After shrinking I used clear embossing powder over the top to seal the pen; I’d read online that some varnishes make sharpie run and really struggled to figure out what would work. I tried two types of embossing powder. Both worked, but the Papermania one was easier to use as the crystals are finer so it’s easier to get a thin layer without them bouncing off all over the place. I don’t have a heat gun so I stuck it back in the oven until the powder melted. The thinner the layer is the more likely it’ll melt before the shrink plastic starts to curl back up again.

I wasn’t so lucky; it did curl up and I had some fun trying to flatten it back out again. It’s not perfectly flat, but it’s close enough.

Finally I made the pumpkin keychain out of Fimo polymer clay, with some black acrylic paint and gloss varnish.

Painting Wine Glasses

31 August 2019

When I first moved in I bought some super-cheap plain wine glasses in the local Wilko. I take good care of my stuff and don’t have people over often (ever?) so 10 years later they’ve all survived. It’d be nice to have come pretty ones but I can’t justify throwing out something that’s perfectly good that I don’t use very often, so I decided to decorate them myself (and hey, if it all goes wrong they were only cheap).

I bought a bottle of Pebeo Vitrea 160 in 07 Amaranthine purple. But this stuff needs to go in the oven to cure it so I’ve been putting this project off for years, and now I’ve finally gotten around to it I’ve decided I wanted the colour to match some other stuff in my kitchen instead. I picked off a nice blue on the colour chart in Artycat and… well

One of these things is not like the other…

The one on the right is ’64 – Shimmer Turquoise’ I think, and it’s a terrible dingy green-grey colour on glass but great on other stuff that isn’t see through. I also think it’s been discontinued, so maybe that’s why. I didn’t have the reciept so one manufacturer labelling fault and a second purchase later, I got the correct Turquoise colour.

Testing the colours on a pasta sauce jar out the recycling bin I kinda liked them both, so I decided to go with it.

The brush stroke pattern on the top blue one was an accident; it is possible to use this paint without getting any streaks at all, but after I did this I thought it looked kinda cool so I decided to re-do the others to match. And then spent the next hour trying to re-create the mistake I’d made, without quite as much success but it’s close enough.

Definitely the weirdest thing that’s ever been in my oven

They’re supposed to be dishwasher safe but I probably won’t chance it. Though after seeing the mess other people’s dishwashers make of glassware I normally handwash them anyway.

Sharpie Colour Chart – Shrink Plastic

31 August 2019

After successfully using a black Sharpie on some Crystal Clear Shrinkles shrink plastic I picked up a few more to try adding some colour.

Sharpie don’t label their pens (helpful!), so the colour names are a guess based off what one website said was in this pack. I guess the names don’t really matter as long as I can tell them apart, so I’ve made up some numbers and written them on.

Before shrinking…

… and after.

Shell Shadow Boxes

5 August 2019

I have this habit of picking up a few seashells evey time I go to the beach. I say I won’t, but then I inevitably end up spotting one or two. I’m very good at only picking up one or two but, well, I’ve been to the beach a lot so…

I got the idea to put them in box frames from Pinterest somewhere. These are some 15cm deep frames I got in Hobbycraft.

I think the idea is you’re supposed to stand them up on their side so all the shells fall to the bottom but, well, I only pick up shells I think look cool so I want to see them all! The frames are lying flat on the bottom shelf of a clear glass coffee table. Dad reckons I should just make a coffee table with the shells under the top. Would probably need a load more years to collect enough shells for that one, so perhaps not.

Some of my shells are too big to fit, still haven’t figured out where to put those ones.

Translucent Polymer Clay Experiments

3 August 2019

A project I’m working on has a section made of clear stained glass. I can’t find any in the right size and shape so I’m experimenting with some alternative materials to find something suitable. This time; Translucent Polymer clay.

None of the samples were see-through when rolled to the width of a cocktail stick.

From left to right: Fimo Translucent white, Fimo Translucent Blue with some soft Pacific Blue mixed in, Fimo Translucent Blue and a stained glass mosaic tile

Rolled thinner, they show some partial translucency. The best was the blue translucent clay (lower left); when I tried mixing a different colour in to change the tone a bit it lost the translucency (upper left).

Lower left is a stained glass mosaic tile; this by far looks the best but it’s the wrong shape for this project, and it’s too thick. Sigh. (they also got lost in the post for 3 weeks so this was a suprise last-minute addition to a test of what it *should* look like).

The search continues…

Shrink Plastic Transparency Test

3 August 2019

A project I’m woking on needs a piece of see-through stained glass. I can’t find a bit in the right size and shape so I’m experimenting with using shrink plastic.

-1- The easiest way to find out how big something has to be drawn to come out at the right size after shrinking is to make a ruler as a size test, with lines drawn 1cm and 1 inch apart. I’m using Crystal Clear Shrinkles and mine comes out with a scale factor of 2.66.

-2 and 3- Sharpies: pretty easy to get even, comes out kinda dark but good transparency when held up to the light (see image below).

-4, 5, 7, 9, 10- Windsor and Newton Promarkers: according to the internet these should work but I found them to be not great at this. Perhaps the colours I picked were too light, butI found I just kept getting a puddle of the clear alcohol solvent building up on top of the plastic and very little of the colour. The best result I got was using 3 separate layers drawn in a different direction, letting it dry between each, but Sharpies work much better.

-8- Crayola: these work well, you have to use sandpaper / wet and dry paper to roughen the surface first (or use the pre frosted stuff). It’s not really see-through when you’re done so it’s not the look I’m going for in this project but nice to see how they’ll come out for other stuff.

FFVIII: Griever Keyring Rebuild

29 June 2019

About 15 years ago I picked up a Final Fantasy VIII Griever Keyring on a trip out in London.

Recently, it broke :(

They don’t make them anymore (and I don’t think this was an ‘official’ piece of merchandise anyway), but I’m the crafty type so I won’t let a silly thing like being out of print stop me from replacing something that’s been on my keys for years.

The rebuild is made from Fimo Soft polymer clay, with silver Mica powder and Fimo gloss varnish. I can’t take credit for the design because, well, it’s a copy.

I used what’s left of the original (far left) to draw a template, filling in the bits that’ve deformed over time. After redrawing it about 7 times I cut it out. I made a metal hook for the top, sandwiched it between two pieces of black clay and rolled the paper template on the top to leave an imprint I could then cut out.

I then grabbed my box of clay tools (a mish-mash of everyday household items, some cake decorating tools I got from Mum in a clearout , cocktail sticks, kebab skewers, old mascara tubes and a craft scalpel) and spent the Easter bank holiday weekend carving the shape out, using the original as a guideline.

My polymer clay’s a bit dried out; this was an unopened block of black Fimo Soft that I bought years ago for a project I’ve never gotten around to doing but thanks to global warming it gets quite hot in my flat in summer which this stuff is not designed to handle. It crumbles a little bit when you get to really fine details but was workable enough to not have to get the Quick-Mix out (though I did order some anyway for next time).

Why black? Because I saw a video by Ludmila Bakulina on Youtube (link) that showed it looks pretty good as a base for Mica Powder if you want a silver effect. I already had a pot of powder in my box so I dusted it on top before putting it in the oven.

I’ve been working away from home and only get to spend two days a week living in my own house so it was a few more months before I found the time to go and finish the rest of it. I work on a white ceramic tile so I can stick it straight in the oven without warping the piece, but that meant I couldn’t apply the power to the back before baking. The video mentions mixing mica powder into the varnish that you apply at the end and I can confirm this works, and it covered the black colour on the back completely.

Unfotunately some idiot decided to use it on the front as well, which buried the black colour that was supposed to be showing through in the carved sections and it took 10 mins of mucking about with a cocktail stick to get the varnish back out of there. Lessons were learned.

I like how it turned out :) . Only problem is, now I don’t want my keys to muck it up. Maybe I need to make two. I considered getting some silicone to make a mould from but never got around to it (and I suspect I could do a bit better if I rebuild it each time, having more practice and experience and all that).

Ceramic Painting

14 May 2019

We did this thing after work where we all went to a ceramic painting place, Flying Saucers in Bristol town centre, and spent the evening, well, painting ceramics.

You pick a piece off the shelf, the price varies depending on what item you pick (from about £8 for a coaster to £30 for something huge like an enormous teapot; this spoon rest was £14). Then you get a chunk of time, about 2 hours I think, to turn it into something else.

The paints get darker when the piece is glazed and fired, so they’ve attatched a little sample tile to each paint bottle to give you some idea what colour it’s going to come out depending on how many coats you put on of the same colour. I didn’t go in with a plan (some of our group were super well prepared) so I wasn’t entirely thrilled with how it looked at the end of the painting time but when I got it back several weeks later it actually turned out pretty cool.

The speckled effect I did with a toothbrush in the last 10 mins when I realised I’d forgotten to paint the back didn’t turn out too badly either.

I didn’t get to see anyone elses though which was a shame; it takes them about a week to fire it but I left Bristol just before they were ready for collection and spent the next month trying to convince one of my coworkers to remember to bring it back to London with them the next time they were down. It was nice to do something a bit different with work colleages though; usually after work stuff involves either a pub or board games and while I like both it’s nice to do something creative with other people for a change.

D.I.Y. Keyforge Tokens

3 February 2019

Someone at work is absolutely obsessed with this card game they found called Keyforge. The decks are somewhat randomised; you play with whatever cards you get in the box and each deck has a silly randomly generated name. It’s pretty fun. They decided to order a boxload and start a tournament at work (it’s cheaper than 10 weeks of taking people to the pub).

Thing is, the decks don’t come with half the stuff you need to actually play the game. The manufacturer sells a giant starter box set for about £40 which is the only way to get the tokens required but seems a bit excessive when we’ve already got the decks. (the box comes with 4 decks in it but only 2 of them are randomised so for the purposes of the tournament we’d a) only be able to use two of them, and b) need about 6 boxes :S).

As always the internet has an answer for this; you can download some printable tokens but if your printer’s like mine it has a habit of drying out ink cartridges when they’re not used very often. I printed the chain trackers but for the rest I figured it’s be quicker to make some out of random stuff I had around the house.

I picked up some thick card in The Works (technically these were some heart-shaped things for £1), stuck coloured cardstock to them with double-sided flooring tape. wrote on it with white gel pen and covered with sticky-back book covering (about £1 from Wilko) before cutting them out. It took all weekend but I like this kinda thing so it was pretty fun.

Fitting an Ikea STÖTTA Wardrobe Light Without Screws

16 September 2018

Wardrobe light installed without screws

Because the room light’s in the wrong place to see my clothes and I’m not sticking screws through my landlord’s wardrobe.

I’ve been looking for a suitable light for a while; closest I found was on Ikea’s website, where they’re marked as out of stock but they had these in the shop anyway. The product code and the design of the battery pack has changed so maybe that’s why.

Ikea’s STÖTTA lights are battery powered (2 x AA’s for those of us who love standards), come in 3 sizes and even have a sensor to turn them on automatically when the door opens. Bonus! The light has to be fitted close to the front of the shelf for that to work.

This’ totally an improv job using whatever I had around the house.

  • Strong-ish wire- coat hanger wire will do the job, or anything that’s been work-hardened enough to not bend under the weight of the light. If it’s too soft try hitting it with a chasing hammer at the end perhaps?
  • Craft foam – literally anything will do, it’s just to protect the shelf from getting scratched by the wire. Note these lights will only be on for a minute or so at a time, so this not designed to handle the light getting hot (however this should definitely be considered is using a simiilar bracket for another purpose before choosing to use foam).

Bracket pattern:
Wardrobe light removeable shelf bracket - design spec diagram

The brackets will slot on the shelf above, adjust measurements to match the shelf as required.

Wardrobe light brackets

Hold the foam in place and slide onto the shelf. Could consider covering the top with foam as well to prevent catching on items on the shelf above (I’m going to have to remove the brackets to get the suitcases out anyway so I skipped this part).

Wardrobe light bracket fitted to shelf - view from top

(in above photo excuse the presence of Iteration 1: tie ribbon straps around the shelf. The lights slide backwards, taking the sensor too far away from the door for it to work.)

Wardrobe light bracket fitted to shelf - view from bottom

I had to curve the wire at the bottom to fit the shape of the light to get it to fit flush against the shelf above. The foam will prevent the light getting scratched so that give you a bit of give to work with.

The finished product:
Wardrobe light installed without screws