Tutorial: Resin Coin Display

Finshed display

Finished foreign currency display

A colleague was retiring from my group at work and he left some foreign currency in his office when he left.  A few colleagues and I thought it would be a great retirement present to preserve and present this money to him as a reminder of all the business trips he went on during his career.  Being the DIYer I am, I volunteered to make a display for him for the upcoming retirement party.

Supplies:

  • Wood for frame (I used a scrap piece of 1×8 for the back of the frame and purchased a strip of trim that was 1.25″ tall with a decorative detail)
  • Finishing nails
  • Wood Glue
  • Clamps
  • Hand saw or table saw
  • Gel stain and polyurethane (or your desired finishing technique, e.g. spray paint)
  • Resin epoxy kit (I used Parks Super Glaze (1 qt) from Home Depot)
  • Disposable plastic buckets (1 qt or larger), wood stir sticks
  • Coins and paper money or other items you want to preserve
  • Picture hanger with small nails (I used a sawtooth style hanger from the hardware store)

Instructions:
1.  Plan Frame.  Depending on the amount of currency, or other display items, you want to show, plan the size of the frame you want.  I used scrap 1 x 8 for the base, which dictated by width at 7.25-inches wide.  To fit the coins and bills I had to display, I made the base approximately 18-inches tall.  I cut pieces of decorative trim to frame the base, cutting the corners at 45-degrees to miter the corners for a tighter fit.

2.  Build Frame.  Assemble your frame according to your plan.  Be as precise as possible when fitting the frame around the base.  When you pour in your epoxy, you’ll want as tight of a seal as possible.  I used wood glue and a few finishing nails on each of the four pieces of trim along with clamps to hold it all in place while the wood glue dried.  I filled in any gaps with wood filler and used gel stain to stain my frame a mahogany color.  I applied two coats of polyurethane, focusing on the side trim pieces since the main front piece will be covered with coins and resin.

Building my frame

Building my frame

3.  Resin your coins.  When your frame is ready, arrange your coins and paper bills as desired.  I played with my layout for awhile to make sure the paper money was lying flat and the best side of each coin was showing.  Read the resin directions thoroughly if this your first time using this product!  Have all your supplies ready to use and arranged for easy access.  Have extra rags or paper towels handy to keep the area as clean as possible.  Mix the resin according to the instructions and pour over your display pieces.  Tap the frame and use a hot blow dryer to remove as many bubbles as possible.

Supplies for resin

Supplies gathered and ready for the resin step

4.  Finish display.  When your resin has dried completely, add a sawtooth picture hanger to the back.

Lessons Learned:
This was my first time working with the resin and I learned a few ways I would improve my process the next time.

1. The key to this resin is to use as thin a layer as possible.  I used most of my 1-qt of resin and filled up my display more than was necessary.  This led to a very heavy display and wrinkles in the surface of my resin as it dried.  Next time, I would make sure my coins and paper were as flat as possible and just put enough resin to cover everything.  you’re tempted to use all you resin since it is pretty expensive and one-time use.  if you can estimate how much you need more accurately, you can get a better result.

2.  Make your frame as square as possible using as light of wood as possible.  I used a 1″ x 8″ as the base of my frame and had some gaps in the trim when I assembled it.  This lead to a heavier item and more work in trying to seal the gaps with wood fill before the resin step.  The resin with dry quickly, but I got some leakage in the very beginning.

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Easy Sewn Paper Party Bunting (Garland)

King of the Jungle Bunting for the baby shower

King of the Jungle bunting for a jungle themed baby shower

Who isn’t looking for an inexpensive but modern way to decorate for a baby shower, bridal shower, birthday party, or any celebration? I recently helped a friend decorate for our friend’s baby shower. Instead of store-bought decorations I suggested making bunting. The shower theme was jungle animals so we decided on one string of bunting that said “King of the Jungle” and a few other strings of colorful flags.

Now, there is some debate as to what this bunting is really called. I think bunting is the UK term but garland, flags, or any other moniker means the same thing to me: cute, customizable, and personal decorations for your get-together. I did these out of paper but you could easily make the same type of bunting out of fabric stay stitched around the triangles for the flags.

In this project I used one of my favorite techniques, sewing on paper.  This isn’t as scary as it sounds and I have a few helpful hints on this technique at the end of the post.

Supplies needed:
5 to 10 sheets of 12″ x 12″ or 8.5″ x 11″ scrapbook paper (this project is great to get rid of paper scraps!)
Double fold binding tape – 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch finished width
2″ tall alphabet or number stickers, if desired (a Silhouette or Cricut works even better)
Clover Wonderclips (Optional) – really helpful for keeping the flags in place without creating puncture marks
Sewing machine and accessories – needles, scissors, matching thread

Instructions:
1. Cut out Triangles. I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out larger triangles for my “King of the Jungle” bunting and smaller triangles for the colorful buntings I had planned. I choose the size biased on wanting to get at least 4 flags out of a 12″ x 12″ sheet of scrapbook paper. My large triangles were about 5″ tall and 4″ wide at the top. For the smaller triangles, I made them about 3″ tall and 2″ wide at the top. You’ll have to play with the sizes for your particular party theme, phrase, and decorating requirements.

2. (Optional) Cut out letters or numbers. I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out my phrase “King of the Jungle” in solid navy in letters about 2″ tall.  You could also use store-bought stickers to add your phrase of choice.

3. (Optional) Attach letters or numbers to flags. I attached my letters using double-sided tape, centering each letter 1″ down from top edge of triangle.

4. Sew flags into binding tape. Lay out your flags along the 3 or 4 yards of binding tape. You’ll want to leave at least 12″ on each end to allow for hanging. Trim binding if needed for a shorter string of bunting. Starting at one end of binding tape, stitch along tape about 75% toward the open end, keeping in mind that there will not be flags for the first 12″. When you reach 12″, place the first flag inside the binding tape, making sure the tape is on both sides of the paper triangle and continue stitching. Make sure the triangle is all the way inside the binding and that your stitching is grabbing the flag by at least 1/8 inch (more for wider bindings). Continue stitching across the top of all of the triangle using the spacing you like.

Assembly of the bunting

Sewing in my triangles. Clips work great for keeping things in place without the holes left my pins in paper.

5. Pay attention to spacing.  Make sure to leave spaces between words. On the “King” bunting, I made sure to reduce the spacing between the letters of a single word and increase the space between words so the phrase was readable rather than one long word.  Once you sew on all the triangles in a single seam, your ready to party!

Colorful flags to match the baby shower theme

Colorful flags to match the baby shower theme

Recommendations for customization:
– Try making a phrase like “Happy Birthday”, “Congratulations”, or “Happy Anniversary” that you can reuse for various gatherings
– Buy a few sheets of glitter or sparkle paper to add pizzazz to your bunting
– Try making oversized bunting with large triangles and more than one package of bias tape for a bold decoration

Sewing on paper:
If you have never sewed on paper, let me assure you it is very easy and the results looks amazingly professional. There are two important things to keep in mind when sewing paper:
1. It will dull your needle very quickly. You’ll want a thinner needle – a 10 or 12. I have a dedicated sewing machine needle just for paper. If you don’t already, you’ll have one after your first paper project since you will not want to use that needle for fabric again.
2. Use larger stitch sizes. I find a 3.0 or 3.5 works very well. Remember, we are tying to do the opposite of paper piecing where small stitches are used to make sure the paper is perforated and easy to remove. We want ours staying put, so use a larger stitch length ensures you don’t create easy to tear perforations.

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Cheery Berry Wreath

Cheery Berry Wreath

Cheery Berry Wreath welcoming visitors

Now that I own a home, I feel motivated to decorate for the holidays. I don’t quite have the passion or time for elaborate house bedazzling with lights and sound. I thought I’d start with a winter wreath. I wanted something that wasn’t too Christmas-y so I could keep it up longer – a cheery winter berry wreath was the ticket.  I got some simple materials from my local arts and crafts store and whipped up this wreath in under 30 minutes.

Supplies:
Wire wreath frame – I used an 18″ one from Michael’s
Fir garland or other green garland to cover frame
Floral wire
Scissors/shears
Berries!

[I bought 50 springs of berries from Michaels at an after Christmas sale. Each spring had about 10 to 12 berries on it. Depending in your wreath size and the density you want, you may need more or fewer springs.]

Instructions:
1. Prep your sprigs. For my sprigs, I removed the leaf on each one to leave only berries.  Depending on the look you want and the sprigs you buy, you could leave all or some of the leaves for a different look.

2. Cover frame with greenery.  I used a fir garland to cover the wire frame and provide a background for the berries.  I placed the garland twice around the wreath on the front, securing it with floral wire.

2. Attach your sprigs. My sprigs all had floral wire in the base that allowed me to simply wrap the end around the wire of the wreath frame. I spaced them out evenly around the wreath, attaching them on the two concentric wire rings on the frame that made up the front of the frame. I wasn’t worried about position of the sprig yet, that would be taken care on in the next step. The key is evenly spacing the sprigs.

Attach berry springs evenly around the wreath

Attach berry springs evenly around the wreath

3. Wrap your wreath in floral wire. This was the most important step, in my opinion. I wanted a smooth, uniform circle of berries so I decided to wrap the wreath in floral wire. I attached the end of the wire on my spool of floral wire and started wrapping the wire around the wreath, working my way around the wreath. I wrapped the wire about every 1 – 2 inches. The key for the look I wanted to achieve was to make sure the sprigs were all laying in the same direction. As I wrapped, I gathered them up and tucked the wire in between berries to hide it and secure the sprigs to the wreath. I went all the way around the wreath overlapping a bit with where I started.

Wrapping of wreath in progress

Wrapping of wreath in progress. Wrapping with floral wire ensures all the berries lie down in the direction you want.

This project was fairly straightforward and easy to assemble.  I love that the wreath works for fall and winter since it is too Christmas-specific.

Completed Cheery Berry Wreath - ready for your front door

Completed Cheery Berry Wreath – ready for your front door

For your project, you could easily add sprigs of other leaves, flowers, or other bling to jazz up your wreath.

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Simple Yarn-Wrapped Letters

Yarn Letter Tutorial

HoustonDIY’s Yarn-Wrapped Letter Tutorial

Pinterest is full of great examples of yarn wrapped wreaths and letters. These are simple, quick, customizable, and beautiful additions to your entry, kitchen, office, bedroom, kids room, or any part your home. I thought I would try my hand at this technique. I’m definitely not inventing anything new, but want to show you that this really is quick and easy as everyone says.

I had bought my initials in lowercase letters from the Paper Source years ago. I’ve been waiting to find something fun to do with them and the recent inspiration from Pinterest directed me.

Supplies Needed:
Letters, cardboard or chipboard (available at Joann’s, Michaels, Paper Source)
Yarn, any weight or texture
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Acrylic paint (optional)

1. (Optional) Paint the letters. I painted my letters with acrylic paint first so I could choose a fun color that was going show through any gaps in the yarn rather than the brown paper color. I painted 2 coats of white and then 2 coats for my turquoise.

2. Make a Plan. Plan how to wrap each letter. Depending on the letters you have and their style – especially whether the font is serif or sans-serif – you will need to think about how your wrapping should go to cover everything. Think about the layers of yarn and make sure to cover the ends first before a final wrap of everything.

Yarn Letters in Progress

Yarn letters in progress – wrap the ends to ensure everything is covered

3. Get wrapping! This can be a bit tedious but wrap away until you’ve covered each letter. Try to be as smooth and orderly as you can to get an even finish. Use hot glue to secure the ends. I used hot glue to secure any areas that were shifting around my serif font edges.

Recommendations:
– try using variegated yarn or multiple colors of yarn either wrapped together of in layers to create a unique look
– Embellish your letters with felt flowers, buttons, or ribbon to personalize your project

Yarn Letter Finished

Completed yarn letters – easy and quick!

– Stephanie, Houston DIY

Handy Paint Chips – Decorating Tip

When decorating a new place or redecorating your humble abode, sometimes deciding on paint colors is the hardest part.  Once you’ve finally made the leap and committed to wall colors, the last thing you want is your furniture, curtains, rugs, accessories, and everything else not to match.

I got frustrated with not knowing how to match the blue-gray in my guest room.  Although I have the original paint chips from Sherwin Williams, I think having the other 4 colors on the strip is distracting and there is never a large enough swatch to make real comparisons.  I decided to take my decorating game to the next level by making my own swatches.

I created swatches by painting tongue depressors with all my paint colors (and a few paint samples I had bought during my quest for the perfect wall colors).  First, I wrote the name and color number on each stick with ball point pen.  Then, I painted each side and let them dry.  I also stained a tongue depressor with a gray stain that I recently used on a project (post to come…).  Once they were all dry, my amazing swatch collection is ready.

Paint chips freshly painted with all the wall colors of my house

Paint chips freshly painted with all the wall colors of my house

The revelation in this project was using the perfect container – a plastic container that the packets for 2-qt crystal light comes in!  It is the perfect size for these sticks and there is room for fabric swatches or other inspiration items that I may need while shopping.

Paint Chips in Bottle

The paint chips in the convenient bottle, ready for a decorating adventure!

Happy decorating!

-HoustonDIY