Sunday, July 28, 2013

More DIY Shrink Plastic: Cupcake Hair Clips

If you read my previous post, you know I've been experimenting with homemade Shrinky Dinks. This week, I made these hair clips for my adorable niece (I can't wait to see them in her super curly hair!). Like the last project, I used #6 plastic, sanded on both sides. Instead of coloring the plastic pieces with Sharpies, I used Prismacolor colored pencils to fill them in. Once the color was on, I outlined the design using a fine-tipped Pitt artist pen. 2 minutes in a 350 degree oven and they were done! I love the way the colors become darker and richer after shrinking (first picture below is pre-shrinking, second picture is post.)

I have learned a few lessons about sealing the pieces. I used Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2x Ultra Cover Matte Clear spray again, but I did three or four very light coats on each side, allowing the pieces to dry thoroughly between coats. Then I applied a much thinner coat of the Americana Triple Thick glaze. If I wanted a completely smooth surface, I would have applied a second coat of the glaze once the first had dried. Focusing on THIN coats of the sealing materials seems to keep the colors from bleeding. 

This has been such a fun undertaking for me. My husband told me this morning that he can't believe how obsessed I've become with "taking regular sized things and making them tiny." Hahaha. So true. Be creative and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Homemade Shrinky Dink Luggage Tag

It's my great shame to admit that, even though I was born in the 80s, I don't remember trying Shrinky Dinks as a kid. I know, I know . . .but better late than never, right?

I did a bit of online research on homemade polyshrink plastic. Since I wanted to buy lots of fun markers and colored pencils, I wanted to save some money on the shrink plastic. According to many of the sites I came across, #6 clear plastics could be used as homemade shrinky dinks! Recycled bakery containers, what what!?! Be sure to look for the little triangle on the plastic--there should be a 6 in it. Don't be fooled by the #1s!

#6 clear plastic
Fine sandpaper (I used 220 grit)
Sharpies (I haven't tried colored pencils yet, but I know many crafters use them for Shrinky Dinks)
Chalk Ink
Parchment Paper
Baking Sheet

Once I washed and dried my plastic, I cut a tag shape from the smooth lid of the bakery container. Through trial and error, I learned that the plastic shrinks A LOT. The tags I made shrank by 50% along each side. So keep that in mind when you're trying to figure out the initial size. I sanded each side with fine sandpaper (220 grit) to help the color adhere to the plastic. I used a black Sharpie to put my design on the tag--the address went on top, the other images went on the back side. I like the layered effect it made. Once the markings dried, I used chalk ink to create a parchment-esque background on the back surface of the tag.

While the chalk dried, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F. I put my tag, chalk side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put it in the heated oven for about 2-3 minutes. It's terrifying to watch! The tag curled up into a plastic mess, but eventually flattened back out.

I decided to seal my tag to prevent the color from rubbing off. This is by no means a perfect process, but I decided to spray clear coat on the tag first, then apply a thicker glaze. I used Rustoleum's acrylic clear coat in a matte finish. The key is to hold the can far away from the piece and spray in short bursts. Allow to dry, then repeat until the piece is well-coated. Allowing the sealants to pool on the surface could cause the ink to run. Once the clear coat was dry, I put on a triple thick crystal glaze. It dried into a transparent, hard coating. A halo formed around the images on the back of the tag (maybe from the chalk ink?) But otherwise I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, especially for a first project.

Hopefully I'll find some time in the next week to do more shrinking. I'm thinking zipper pulls and barettes! Be creative and enjoy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happiness is a Warm Jam (and a Biscuit!)

Earlier in the week, I posted a picture of the gorgeous strawberries we picked at Heinlein's Berries (just outside of Frankenmuth, MI). Well . . . here they are in jam form! After reading Laena McCarthy's beautiful book Jam On, I was inspired to try a less conventional, lower sugar jam using Pomona's Universal Pectin. Unlike traditional pectins, it is not activated by sugar--it is activated by calcium. So . . .you don't have to risk a full-blown sugar coma just to have a little jam. Unfortunately for me, lots of other people seem to have the same urge to try Pomona's. My order's two-day delivery turned into twelve. And fresh strawberries wait for no one. So, with  heavy heart, I broke down and bought Ball's version of pectin for making low sugar jam. I followed the instructions on Ball's website here. The jam looks great in the jars and the flavor is good. I haven't given up on trying Pomona's, though, so look out for an update in the next couple weeks.

Also, do yourself a favor and check out Jam On. The recipes are interesting and modern (Strawberry Balsamic Jam will be happening here). I'm excited to incorporate jam into more savory recipes. Have you made any jam this year? A tried and true favorite? Something exciting and new? Let me know--I'd love to hear about your preserving adventures. Be creative and enjoy!

PS: the biscuit is from my recipe here. I mixed 1 Tbsp of lemon juice with the milk this time to approximate buttermilk. Mmmm.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Homemade Sweet, Yeasted Crescent Rolls

In honor of my dad's birthday (the big 5-4!), I decided to post the recipe for his favorite sweet dinner rolls. The recipe is based on a handwritten recipe of my great grandmother's that I found tucked into a cookbook.

Sweet Crescent Rolls:
3 c. all purpose flour + at least additional 1/2 c. flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick) softened + additional 1/4 c. softened
1 egg
About 3/4 c. warm water

Mix 3 c. flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl (I never bother blooming my yeast, but you certainly could). Make a well in the center, pour in a 1/2 c. of the warm water, the egg, and the stick of butter. Beat the wet ingredients, adding more water as needed. I like to start with my dough on the sticky side, then knead in the additional 1/2 c. flour (give or take) as I work the dough.

The dough should be soft and smooth, not too stiff. I knead the dough by hand for about 8 minutes, but you could use a stand mixer using the dough hook for a few minutes instead. Allow the dough to rise in a buttered glass or plastic bowl for about an hour, covered with plastic wrap. Divide the dough into two equal-sized balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a flat disc, about 14 in in diameter (I eyeball this). Butter the top of each disc with 2 Tbsp. of softened butter. Cut into 8 wedges. Working one wedge at a time, start at the wide end and roll the wedge up. Press the point into the roll gently. I like to curve the roll into a crescent shape. Allow the rolls to rise for another hour and a half or so.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake rolls on parchment lined baking sheets until golden brown on the tops and bottoms. My dad likes his rolls a bit under baked, so I only left his in for about 6 minutes. I would leave my own in for 8 minutes or so.

I like to brush them with melted butter when they come out of the oven to keep them soft. I'm dying to make these with cinnamon sugar, or chocolate, rolled up inside the dough. Mmmm! Be creative and enjoy!