March 26, 2015

DIY Beaded Napkin Rings

There are so many things to love about this beaded napkin ring project: it's easy, conducive to messy crafting (it doesn't need to be perfect to look good), and potentially very thrifty (you can snag beads on clearance or cut apart old jewellery and scavenge the beads).  And it works as a cuff bracelet, according to Vanessa - who suggested that it could be a fun take home favor for a casual dinner party with girlfriends.

    Here's how to make them (if you haven't already watched my video tutorial):

    • A spool of 24 gauge wire (makes four, for six you'll need a spool and a half)
    • A spool of 16 gauge wire
    • Needle nosed pliers (2 pairs makes this easier)
    • Wire cutters
    • Beads
    • Bottle (empty, full - doesn't matter, it's to shape the cuff)
    To begin, cut about 14-16 inches of the 16 gauge wire and gently form a circle, wrapping the wire back on itself to secure the shape.

    Take the circle you've created and flatten in a bit, so you've got a really elongated oval.  Flatten the twisted ends a bit with your pliers, because you don't want them sticking up and poking your linens (or wrist).  This is where two pairs of pliers come in handy.

    Gently wrap the oval around a bottle to form a cuff shape.  You can re-shape it later, so it doesn't need to be perfect.  Make as many of these forms as you need and set aside.

    To start wrapping, anchor the 24 gauge wire by wrapping it around one side of the cuff shape a few times.  Flatten any pokey ends with the pliers.  Wrap the 24 gauge wire once around one side of the 16 gauge wire cuff, then bring it across to the other side, wrap around the other side - back and forth.  Because I was on a budget and happened to fall in love with the most expensive beads ever, I didn't wrap the beads all the way around.  The bottom and sides are wire with a few turquoise beads here and there, while the dyed shell beads are really lush and full on the top.  You can arrange the beads however you please and can start adding the beads anytime in this process. 

    Because I used beads with a hole drilled at one end of the long shape, I decided to "lift" the beads up a little and give them life so that the finished product has an organic feel - like some sort of sea anemone.  To achieve this look, in the midst of wrapping the wire back and forth across the cuff, I grabbed a bead, twisted the wire, and kept wrapping.  Every now and then I stopped to adjust the beads, twisting them a bit and nudging them into facing random directions.

    This was my first time doing wire work like this, and my wraps aren't perfect but because I wanted a napkin ring that felt relaxed and organic, I am going to vehemently argue that the imperfections add to the look ;)

    This was a great project to do while my brain was otherwise engaged - perfect for in front of the television.  Actually, I was dyeing the pair of jeans I mentioned while I made one of these.  I had to stay by the washing machine to keep setting the cycle back to ensure the jeans were agitated in the dye bath for a full half hour.  I set my supplies on the washer and whipped one of these up standing in the laundry room. (Multi-tasking for the win.)

    I had no idea how these were turn out - things are always perfect in my mind, but sometimes they flop in real life.  Happily, I think they look great, and the dyed shell beads I found (at Micheal's) really catch the light and shimmer quite nicely.  Mmmmm, aqua.

    Here's another look at the napkin rings paired with the dip dyed napkins I made.  I loved the beads because they tied together the blue napkins (the blue rug in my original plan) and the aqua lantern.  

    For more photos of my tablescape with Canadian Tire and CANVAS, and some awkward videos of me, check out the page for my "Backyard Oasis".  This was such a fun collaboration!  These small projects are so satisfying, so I find myself feeling especially crafty...

    March 24, 2015

    DIY Dip Dyed Napkins

    Yesterday I shared photos of the backyard oasis I created with Canadian Tire and CANVAS, plus the beautiful pictures from my Greek honeymoon that served as my inspiration.

    Today I'm sharing the tutorial for my DIY dip dyed napkins.  The Canadian Tire team put together a fabulous video, but there wasn't time to go into the excessive details and rambling anecdotes I favor.  If you want to check out the video you can find it by clicking here and scrolling down to the bottom. 

    If you follow my "DIY to Try" Pinterest board, you know that I've been pinning dip dyed projects for years.  I've dyed a few things, most notably my drab beige dress.  More recently, I took a pair of jeans with a great fit, but a not so flattering faded wash, and dyed them a nice inky blue-black.  I haven't really experimented that much with dyeing, though.  I knew that a watery, dip dyed project would be perfect for the party I envisioned, and such a fun excuse to try something new-to-me (although I was also tempted by shibori).

    I finally found a white linen napkin to use, but it was a challenge!  It seems that every white napkin for sale in my city is "stain resistant," which likely won't take the dye well.  In a pinch, you could whip up some really inexpensive ones using this tutorial.  I chose to drive around, wild-eyed, to every store in town.

    Because I was dyeing six napkins, I tried a shortcut that I don't recommend!  I created a dye bath in a huge plastic tub and then hung each napkin on a pant hanger.  I placed all of the hangers on a long rod and my Mom helped my dip them all at once.  I thought this would create an even look, but dye rubbed off some onto others and there was unfortunate splattering - I definitely recommend just doing one at a time!  It really doesn't take long to make one.  In hindsight, I don't know why this seemed so genius.

    Had I stuck to dyeing one at a time, this project might have won the title of The Easiest DIY Ever (now I know why it's been so popular!)

    • 2 Bottles of Rit Dye (I chose Royal Blue and Navy)
    • Large plastic tub
    • Hot, hot, hot water - I mixed a kettle of boiling water with super hot tap water
    • Stir stick
    • 1 cup of salt
    • Rubber gloves
    • White linen or cotton napkin

    I love these professional photos taken during my video tutorial.  Sadly, I don't really tackle DIY projects in brand new blouses.  Or jewellery.  Or clean hair.  I was so nervous about staining my blouse I asked someone to track down an apron for me and then I hiked it really high.

    • Wash the napkins and set aside (do not dry)
    • Cover your work surface with drop cloths and put on rubber gloves
    • Create the dye bath, following the manufacturer's instructions (using only the Royal Blue)
    • Add a cup of salt to the dye bath and stir
    • Dip in the still-wet napkin to the highest point you'd like the dye
    • Lift the napkin and dip again, to the same point
    • Keep the napkin moving in and out of the dye bath, until the first "level" is as dark as you'd like it
    • Keep dipping, but this time don't dip it so deep in the dye bath - dip, dip, dip
    • Dip each "level" for about 3-5 minutes - remember, it will fade after the first rinse & wash
    • Keep repeating this process, gradually raising the height of the napkin
    • When you have only the very bottom left to dye, add the Navy
    • Hold the bottom of the napkin in the darkened dye bath for 3-5 minutes
    • When the dyeing is done, rinse the napkins in cold water - running the water away from the white
    • Launder as usual, but beware the dye may tint the white a pale blue

    Best Tip I Can Offer:

    Continually moving the napkin up and down helps the gradient to be more subtle - and also keeps the Rit dye from being splotchy (it likes to be agitated during the dyeing process).  Continually moving the fabric creates a softer look than just holding the napkin in the dye bath at various heights, but if you'd prefer harder lines (like Anu's gorgeous dip dyed curtains, below), you can just dip and hold:

    Thursday I'll show you how I made these pretty, shimmering napkin rings!  For more photos of my tablescape, and awkward videos of me, check out the page for my "Backyard Oasis".

    March 23, 2015

    Canadian Tire + My Honeymoon in Greece

    Last year I partnered with Canadian Tire and created festive DIY projects to help launch the CANVAS line of holiday ornaments and décor.  It was such a fun challenge, so I was thrilled to be invited to collaborate again!

    In January I spent a whirlwind weekend with Jen, Christine, and Vanessa - and the awesome folks at Canadian Tire.  The four of us got an early look at the CANVAS line of patio furniture and outdoor accessories, showed off our DIY prowess, and were totally spoiled thanks to on-set hair and makeup provisions (hello, curls!)

    The CANVAS line is about expressing your personal style and making your home and outdoor spaces feel undeniably "you".  Jen, Vanessa, Christine and I were invited to give the CANVAS products our own spin.  We each devised a theme for a backyard party, chose pieces we liked from the new CANVAS line, and paired them with some easy DIY projects (small enough to fit in carry-on luggage!)  It was such a treat to spend a weekend in a studio that felt totally springy - especially in the middle of a blustery snowstorm - but it made it that much more difficult to return to winter.  I had to keep reminding myself, "it's still winter, this isn't real, you'll have to put your boots back on". 

    Here's a closer look at my table setting:

    Because Hubby and I are spending money on renovations this year and travel is likely out of the question, I wanted to create a backyard oasis.  I was really inspired by our 2008 honeymoon to Greece (specifically, Athens, Santorini, and Crete).  It was December, so we didn't have the typical beachy holiday, but Greece was no less beautiful.  Two of my degrees are in philosophy, and I took many Greek philosophy and mythology courses, so I was just excited to set foot in the places I'd read about - no bikini required.  Our trip was full of the nutty, can't-believe-we-didn't-end-up-on-the-news kind of adventures that make the best stories.  And our photo albums are packed with beautiful photos showcasing saturated colours and rich history.

    The CANVAS line has great pieces, like a blue and white outdoor rug, a turquoise solar lantern (swoon), and bright white melamine plates that made it easy to recreate the feeling of my honeymoon.  I also created dipped dyed napkins in rich cobalt hues and made napkin rings out of shimmering turquoise shell beads.  I was adamant about getting some sliced lemons or oranges to line clear glass flower vases because citrus fruit was everywhere in Greece:

    My CANVAS table setting transports me back to that holiday.  The mix of saturated blues and yellows, bright white plates, and rustic modern furniture make me want to reminisce. 

    You can have a better look at my styled table by visiting the Canadian Tire website, where you can also check out the backyard festivities dreamed up by Vanessa, Jen, and Christine.

    Tomorrow I'll share the tutorial for the dip dyed napkins (along with some useful Do's and Don't, learned the hard way as always) and then Thursday I'll share the tutorial for the beaded napkin ring.  For now, here's a painfully embarrassing video shot with a selfie stick.  My gift to you...(although maybe you owe me - for not showing you all 1268 photos from the trip).

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