Canning Jar Bling

Sparkle and shine from canning jar rims.

Sparkle and shine from canning jar rims.

My canning jars needed an upgrade. They’re hand-me-downs from my mom, so after years of pickles and preserves, it was time for new rims. But what to do with the old rims?

Turn them into dress-up bling!

They have all the necessary ingredients for 5-year-old jewelry bliss: jangly noises when worn together, shiny metallics, and sparkly beads.

My helper got creative and wove wire in and out of the holes, string beads along the way.

My helper got creative with the bracelet at the upper left. She wove wire in and out of the holes, string beads along the way.

Here’s how my 5-year-old and I made old canning jar rims into fun new bangles.

Supplies

  • old canning jar rims
  • block of wood
  • safety goggles
  • hammer
  • center punch
  • pliers
  • metal file
  • non-toxic spray paint
  • latex gloves
  • newspaper
  • Postion the center punch on the inside of the rim.

    Position the center punch on the inside of the rim.

  • screwdriver (for removing spray paint cap)
  • beading or craft wire
  • round nose pliers
  • beads
  • messy workbench (optional)

1. Place the side of the rim on the block of wood. Position the center punch where you’d like the hole and hit with hammer until you punch through the rim. Punch hole from inside to outside of rim. If a smidgen of metal remains in the hole, pull it off with a pliers.

2. After you’ve made as many holes as you’d like, file each hole with a metal file to remove sharp edges.

Filing the burrs.

Filing the burrs.

3. Spread newspaper in well ventilated area, don latex gloves and spray paint inside and outside of each rim. We used gold and silver and gave each band two coats.

4. After the paint has dried, add beads. Cut a 2 inch piece of wire. Grab the end of the wire with a round nose pliers and roll the pliers make several loops in a row. Thread wire through hole in rim, so the loop is on the inside.

5. Thread bead(s) onto wire. Cut excess wire so you have 1/4 to 1/2 inch of wire above beads. Grab the end of the wire with a round nose pliers and roll the pliers back toward the wire to make a series of small loops.

Little spirals of wire hold the beads in place.

Little spirals of wire hold the beads in place.

6. Although you are finished, allow the bracelet to cure for 7 days to a month so that the paints are non-toxic to the skin. Rust-oleum said its spray paint is nontoxic within 7 days. Krylon suggested waiting 30 days for paint to cure fully to a non-toxic state. If you’re not sure, call the manufacturer.

Safety and other notes

  • Always wear eye protection when hammering, filing and spray painting.
  • Be sure the paint you use can be worn against the skin and that it does not contain lead.  If you’re unsure, call the manufacturer. I used Krylon silver crafter’s paint and Rust-oleum metallic paint.
  • Spray paint can be removed from your forehead with nail polish remover.

Catching Up

Spots of beads here and there add some zing to this fabric folder o' thank you cards.

A spot of beads here, a few stitches there.

These last few weeks I’ve been trying to catch up and finish projects I started long ago. Of course, before I did that I had to put together this birthday gift for Melody.

I was trying for a mosaic effect here. Whether I accomplished it or not, it's still looks neat.

I was trying for a mosaic effect here. Whether I accomplished it or not, it's still looks neat.

Couldn't help but highlight the bright, buttery of these flowers.

Couldn't help but highlight the bright, buttery tones of these flowers.

These bicolored teardrops were a great find at My Father's Beads. I couldn't pass them up, even though I had no idea what to do with them. Their time has come.

These bicolored teardrops were a great find at My Father's Beads. I couldn't pass them up, even though I had no idea what to do with them. Their time has come.

When we saw the gratitude wrap, Melody pointed out that it was the adult version of the art sketch books I make for kids. I like the idea of having a stash of cards that I can write on the go and not worry about mangling them in the depths of my purse.

I made my own pattern for this (as I do most of my projects) so that three quarter-yards of fabric will yield two card wraps. Cut two quarter-yards of fabric in half and you have the inside and outside for two books. The third quarter-yard allows for pockets and a little left over. (There’s fusible fleece sandwiched between the inside and outside, too.) Little measuring, less cutting, more time for embellishing.

Embellishing was the fun part. This Amy Butler Burgundy gothic rose print just cried out for some beads.

The final product outside...

The final product outside...

...and inside.

...and inside.

Inside, the pockets and liner are from Portabello Pixie’s Farmer’s Market line of fabrics. Maybe I’ll finish the second card wrap this week for another birthday.

I did actually finish some projects though…

Curtains for my 5-year-old’s room. I’ve had this fabric sitting in my studio for oh, about 2 years. Finally I got to stitching it up.

I envision some pink beads hanging from the green tiebacks. Yet more embellishing to do!

I envision some pink beads hanging from the green tiebacks. Yet more embellishing to do!

Cutting and sewing with really big pieces of fabric makes me nervous. What if I cut it wrong? What if it’s not the right length? What if it turns into a horrificially difficult project like my living room curtains? What if the bottoms don’t line up when I hang them? Plenty of worries to put off a project for 2 years.

Turns out, they were long enough to fit inside the windows (think tension rod), but not quite long enough to hang from a curtain rod. I added the green satin at the bottom, and love it. It makes the room glow in the morning sun.

I also whipped up an artist book for a recent birthday party. Four hours before the party I was adding the felt flower. Better late than never!

And I finally finished some gourds we’ve been working on (I’ll post a tutorial on those another day).

So I’m all done, right? Not a chance. I have at least 10 new projects in the works, or at least stewing in my head. Here’s a sneak peek at one…

What do you think this is going to be?

What do you think this is going to be?

Sugar On Snow

Sugar On Snow Opener

I just returned from the north, visiting my sister-in-law Kris and her family in New Hampshire.

As a fellow stay-at-home who is nursing babies and fledging business, we spent a lot of time talking about balancing family life and trying to be an adult with goals and accomplishments. The conclusion from the weekend can be summed up rather simply. Raising babies and raising a business are very similar: both are hard but rewarding, and with both you never seem to have the time to do everything you want to do.

It snowed about 10 inches while we were in New Hampshire. This is real snow, not the snow-sleet-rain stuff (affectionately referred to as a “wintry mix” by the Weather Channel) we so often get here in Pennsylvania. Nothing worse than having a “snow day” only to find no snow on the ground but an awful lot of slush or ice.

All this snow inspired a Little House on the Prairie moment as I decided to try my hand at making Sugar on Snow. This ultra-simple yumminess entails pouring boiling maple syrup over fresh snow so it hardens quickly into a taffy-like candy. If you like maple syrup as much as I do, you have to try this. The only thing better than this is slurping the syrup right out of the jug (please note: not something I’ve done, but something I’ve contemplated when clearing the table after pancakes).

I searched the Internet and found many Vermonters happy to share directions, not that you really need a recipe for this. Vermont Living provides specifics about the best temperature for optimum candy-making.

With only a meat thermometer reading to temps of 220°F at my disposal (above 230°F is the best boiling temp for the syrup), I winged it. Here are Sue’s direction for making Sugar On Snow.

Sugar on Snow Scoops 1. Pack some fresh snow into a bowl. Salad tongs make good snow scoopers

 

 

 

 

Sugar on Snow Good Boil
2. Bring the maple syrup to a rolling boil, to the point where you fear it’s going to boil over. Sugar on Snow Bad BoilI began with about 1 inch of syrup in the bottom of the pot and it boiled all the way up the sides. The picture to the left shows a good boil. The picture on the right shows the syrup that hasn’t reach a good boil yet. But never fear: if you don’t let it boil enough it just melts the snow instead of hardening and you end up with a maple syrup snow cone, which is darn good, too. You’ll know it’s not hot enough when it looks like some animal did its business in your snow.

 

Sugar on Snow Spoon

3. Without stirring, pour maple syrup over the snow directly from the pot. I scooped out the last dregs with a wooden spoon.

 

 

 

Sugar On Snow Closeup 4.Wait a few seconds for it to harden, then dig in. Yuuuuuummy!Sugar on Snow Yum Eat it right off the snow. Don’t serve it on a plate like I did here (right), because it melts onto the plate into a gooey mess if you don’t eat it fast enough.

I did try the Vermont tradition of eating a sour pickle after eating some maple taffy. Although this tastes much better than it sounds, it’s not something I need to do again.

There’s no reason we folks here in Pennsylvania can’t make sugar on snow. In fact, you can use shaved ice rather than snow. Pollution is an issue for me, however. I live in the city so the rock salt seems to get everywhere. It pains me to tell my kids not to eat the snow here, but alas, they eat the vast snowcones that are grandparents’ backyards.

In addition to satisfying a sweet tooth, I also got to satisfy a long-standing Little House on the Prairie fantasy. Laura Ingalls Wilder details the sugar on snow party in Little House in the Big Woods book. As a young girl with long braids, I too, wanted to be Laura Ingalls, or more specifically, Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls on the TV show. I wished for the bonnet and petticoats and lace-up boots. I wanted to tumble down a hill of wildflowers like Carrie in the TV show introduction. So finally my wish has come true to live like Laura and experience a little colonial life. And I didn’t even have to put up with Nellie to do it.

Iris or Inkblot?

Iris Inkblot

Is it a smushed iris or Rorschach Inkblot test?

This smushed iris turned into a Rorschach test as my 4-year-old told me that it looked like a bug. Yet another Valentine’s day craft I did with the kids to create sachets for the cousins. This craft is great because it’s so simple:

arrange flowers on muslin and tape with masking tape

Placing the Flowers Tape the flowers

flip over and smash with hammer

Smash flowers Peel back

The flower pigments bleed through the muslin in neat patterns. I then outlined the flower pigments with a permanent marker.

Any craft that involves smashing rather than precision is fun for adults and kids alike!

The flower pounding idea comes from an HGTV quilting show I saw a few years ago. These directions explain how to prepare the fabric for dying, which I honestly didn’t do, so I’ll be interested to see if the flowers fade much.

After we made the flower prints, I cut and sewed them into heart-shape pillows before filling them with fresh-smelling herbs like parsley, rosemary, lavender and peppermint.

Herb station

The local health food store has a wall o’ herbs and spices in jars so you can smell them before you buy them, and then purchase a pinch or a pound. I could spend all day opening the jars and smelling the herbs. We went through a lot of mustard seed. It doesn’t have much of a scent by my little person loved the way it looked I guess, so she wanted lots. I set her up with jars and bowls and spoons and she made a huge mess mixing herbs.

Valentine Sachets

After we stuffed them with the herbs, I sewed them up and hot glued some ribbons to them. I made one for my nephew…not really a boy gift but I was at a loss. My friend Melody suggested I rename it a “stinky pillow” so boys would like it.

Finding easy-to-make crafts for boys is hard. Most books target girls and suggest you use boy-ish fabrics or colors to transform it, but they really aren’t intended for boys. Anyone know of good books out there where there is more than one craft to make for the male set?

Make It Like a 4-year-old!

Valentines 2008

Can you tell which valentines I made? My 4-year-old and I have been busy making valentines to give out at preschool. We actually create the valentines instead of buying the Dora or Transformers valentines at the store.

At this point my 4-year-old doesn’t even know you can buy pre-made valentines at the store. I’ve kept this little secret from her for two reasons: 1) Valentine-making is a great art project for the kids, something to keep them busy while I work on jewelry; and 2) I love to make valentines. Funny, since I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. My husband and I don’t do dinner, flowers or candy. We don’t even give each other cards.

But I could sit all day with scissors and red paper and make hearts.

With 20 kids in the class, that’s a lot of valentines for one little person to make. I do my part to pitch in, but I want the valentines to look like she made them. So I get to create like a 4-year-old.

Besides being just plain old fun, creating like a 4-year-old is actually a good creativity booster. No need to be perfect. Hearts can have missing parts or be lopsided. If the whole thing falls apart, put more glue on it. Now more. Now even more glue. It’s very freeing to use supplies in excess and not care if the end results with match the preconcieved notion in your head. So give it a try. In case it’s been a while since you were 4, here are some tips:

1. Put all the stickers in one spot

2. When painting, use the brightest colors you can possibly find.

3. One color is good, but 5 colors are awesome. Mix all the colors together, then paint. Who says you can’t have brown valentines?

4. Use entirely too much of everything: too much glitter, glue that covers the whole paper and seeps onto the table cloth.

5. Use enough paint to cover 10 valentines on a single heart. Let the paint run down your arm and drip on your pants. Now that’s real painting.

5. After you finish each valentine, say, “Isn’t this the most beautiful valentine you’ve ever seeeeen?”

One last tip: wear a smock and cover the table with a vinyl tablecloth. If you really get into it, things can get messy.

And, in case you were wondering, I made the valentines on the right.