Saturday 27 April 2013

They're back: Owls!!!

Well, as the clay magnets two posts ago were so well received, I thought of sharing a similar post. You probably know by now I am a big owl fan, so I couldn't resist the cuteness of this picture!

Photo credit: Design and Nonsense
This tutorial reminded me of one of the first ideas I ever shared here, almost a year ago, on Creative ways to decorate pebbles. And, not surprisingly, Emily, from Design and Nonsense, was inspired by the same picture that inspired me back in August 2012! The magic of Pinterest bringing us all together!

Well, besides a thin point marker and white acrylic paint, the third material you'll need and to me the new take this tutorial brings worth highlighting is to use self-adhesive magnetic tape. Amazing solution!

Emily still uses PVA glue, but not to stick the magnets, only as a sealant. She says you could try varnish, I would add my two cents and say that probably even the good old Mod Podge would work brilliantly to give it a nice finish. Owlsome!

Saturday 20 April 2013

A-do-ra-ble way to up-cycle old mason jars

I had to share this. It's a-do-ra-ble. Simple, but brilliant! So M&P... Use the metal rings to secure the jars on scraps of wood or old pallets.

Not sure where the original came from, please let me know if you do!

Friday 19 April 2013

Playing with clay

The simplicity of this tutorial and how adorable it looks made it irresistible to me, I had to write a post about it. Well, I love fridge magnets. When I was a teenager I had a giant metal frame on my bedroom wall, covered in photos and with tons of pretty magnets I collected throughout the years. But how wonderful would it be to make your own little precious magnets?

Photo Credit: Casa & Trend

♩♬   " Why does it always rain on me? Is it because I lied when I was 17? "   ♪♫

This idea is by Italian website Casa & Trend and besides teaching you how to do the actual magnets, it also offers a tutorial on how to make a "directly-painted-on-the-wall-magnetic-board". The pictures on the website speak for themselves, but if you're having trouble understanding it, I suggest Google Translate :)

It's this simple. for the magnets you will need the following:

- Clay (I like to use air dry clay, just because it's simple to use, less messy and as the name says, doesn't require "baking")
- Little magnets to attach to the back
- Acrylic paint and a small brush to decorate
- Glue
Moulds (this one is optional, the original tutorial suggest we use cookie cutters, but a shape like the ones above can be easily achieved by flattening a smooth round ball and maybe using a craft precision knife to assist you)  

The only tips I have to offer are:

1) Make sure the clay has fully dried before you paint it. Depending on the size of your work, it might take a couple of days. Make sure you allow all sides to dry - in other words, turn your shapes regularly, giving every surface space to breath. 

2) Remember: Once dried, your shape reduces its size. Most air dry clay brands suggest that this reduction is about 7%. 

3) For larger shapes, use stronger or larger magnets. It sounds obvious, but it's the kind of reminder always worth giving. 

Photo Credit: Casa & Trend

Monday 8 April 2013

Photoshop tricks: Another Instagram inspired post

I was updating my professional website - the one where I showcase my film and journalism work - when I came across some Instagram photos and I thought about how I had "phases" with its filters. As soon as I got into it I was an "Early Bird person", then something about Nashville caught my attention... For a while now I've been more into Amaro, but every so often, when I want to go for the bold effect, I pull out a Kelvin from up my sleeve...

I am sorry, if you're not into Instagram at all this will all sound like gobbledygook. But anyway... This post is an homage to my "Nashville phase" - and I don't mean the TV series. Let's get down to the tutorial:

I have a super old version of Photoshop, but I am sure you can get the gist of it. The idea, again, is to make the most of using layers and blending effects because that's pretty much how the filters on Instagram work. You don't need to know much about photography to understand it either. When you compare your pictures before and after Instagram you just need to get an idea of the "temperature" of your filter. You can find a big breakdown of what it means on Wikipedia, but I think the image below translates it better than all the words they use to explained it.

In simple and plain English, you need to think of how blueish or yellowish or any-other-colour-ish the Instagram filter made your picture. Look at my example below:

On the left you have an Instagram photo that I will use as inspiration, on the right a similar picture (also taken with my iPhone) that I will use for the purpose of this tutorial. I start by creating a new layer that I will colour with some "orange" than change the opacity (check the next two images).

I kept the blending mode as "normal" but changed the opacity to 25%. You might notice that for some images that will be enough, but I thought, maybe because of the label, that my inspiration photo had a tint of pink, so there I went, creating another layer and now painting it pink. (I choose the tones very randomly, the whole process is a bit of guess work, trying here and there, until you achieve your chosen look). 

Because I didn't want my "pink" layer to overpower the previous one, I chose under the blending mode  the "soft light" option and changed that to 25%. You can tell the colours are a lot similar now, but I am precious and I wanted that kind of brightness, almost like there was a white light crossing my image... Can you tell that by looking at the inspiration photo or am I too picky?

So on top of my three layers I added a fourth one, a white layer! I kept its blend mode normal and changed its opacity to 18%, than I went down to the option gradient overlay and played around with it for a bit. 

For me my composition had a line, so after changing the style to Reflected, ticking the box to "revert" the brightness/darkness and reducing the scale to a minimum of 10% (to allow me to see it better), I adjusted my angle to meet that "line" of my composition. If you want, you can even skip this stage, your photo might not need it, but this can add that little bit that makes all the difference depending on your frame. Check the other options like Radial and Angle and see what they offer you. I tend to keep the reverse window checked at all times though. 

Well, in the end I thought that 100% was the scale that I needed and you can see the result below. 

You could say the effect was achieved. Sometimes I like to select my original layer, go to image > adjustments > Brightness/Contrast  and play around with it a bit. Below I will explain a cheeky way of making a quick border that might come handy - again, I will use the Nashville filter as an inspiration. 

Start by adding another layer to the top of your composition. I coloured mine black because I am using Nashville as an example, but if you like Polaroid style, go white, or maybe a shade of grey? 

On toolbar I selected the "rounded rectangle tool" and drew it over my black layer, leaving the area outside the shape to be the border I am looking for. Then on my layers window I selected the path tab and clicked on the little arrow on the right to see my options. I clicked on "make selection" and the border of my shape became that flickering dashed line, similar to a marquee tool. I then selected my black layers again on the layers tab (not the shape) and cmd + x (cut) to remove the black on the inside of the shape. 

That's it, you're done. As you can see from the image above, I only adjusted the brightness and contrast of my original layer (the photo layer). Also, after using the rectangle tool shape you can delete that layer, it served its purpose of helping you to select the area and now there is no use for it. 

I hope this is not too techie that puts you off and remember not to feel that you need to match the percentages and tones of this tutorial, it's all about finding what your photo needs. Be creative and play around with the possibilities! 

Thursday 4 April 2013

Ikea like stool and table make-over

It's weird how the more we do, the more it seems we would like to be doing. Or is that just with me? When I haven't got any work on, I can hardly feel like getting off the bed - particularly when we have snow and is already April! However, whenever my diary is full on, I somehow manage to find time to add more things to it, including this post =)

I was so excited this morning when I was packing the items of the giveaway to send to Laura, the lucky winner, and as I was placing everything on my side table I realised I haven't yet shared with you that make-over! So here it goes...

I really like the way they look now, but they weren't always like that...

This table and stool on the picture above weren't always like that. They looked more like cheap Ikea furniture that they don't even bother to put on the website! I tried to find the respective links, but no luck... The stool, I cheekly admit, Mr. Hunter found outside our flat... I guess the neighbour who threw it away couldn't see the potential I saw.

When we did the first part of our living room make-over (read about it here) these birch veneer colour bits of furniture looked even more out of place than they had done before, so I thought - why not trying to paint them? But we all know what a nightmare it can be to work on "fake wood surfaces". I did my homework before attempting anything.

After a visiting my local B&Q and asking for some advice, I got myself the following kit:

- Dulux Difficult Surface Primer (but any primer that can be applied to melamine - the stuff that Ikea furniture is usually made of - works)
- Dulux Wood Sheen Ebony colour
- Crown Quick Dry Satin on Pure Brilliant White (mid shine finish)
- Plasti-Kote Spray Satin Black
- Lots of poly sheets (as I didn't want any paint on my living room floor - I wish I had a garage to work from)
- A small tray and a very good brush (the secret to a good finish, sometimes even more than the paint you choose. Living and learning)
- Sandpaper in three different roughness (light, medium and hard)

I started with the table. I already had some masking tape at home that I used to cover all the details I didn't want to paint, like the screws. Only to later realise that I would be better off taking (or at least loosening) them out. Because the table looked like "real" untreated wood, I used the light sandpaper to distress the surface a bit, enough to be able to apply the satin paint on the legs straight away. I didn't want to waste the primer on it as it was a bit pricy and, if the stools worked fine, I had bigger plans for it.

I applied the first coat and left it to dry for about 6 hours (I am too anxious to leave it overnight). Second coat on, I moved to doing the top, that I wanted in black. The wood sheen is meant to work as a paint and a varnish - two months now since I've done it, I think I will apply a clear varnish, just to make it easier to clean. It might be just me, but since I painted I seem to notice dust on it much more than before and cloths tend to stick to the wood.

After one coat of black wood sheen it looked like a second coat wasn't needed at all, but I decided to do it just in case, for peace of mind. The wood sheen dried much quicker than the white paint, so I didn't have to wait as long to apply the second coat.

I still don't know if the best way to spray paint something like those legs is with them lying flat or standing...

I wasn't expecting the stools (have I mention they were a pair?) to take as long as the table. They ended up taking twice as much time though. I started by separating the top from the legs and then I used the black spray paint. I still don't know what is the best way to use it, if indoors or outdoors. I explain: Indoors the smell is almost unbearable and you need to protect the surroundings really well from the "paint dust" - it goes everywhere, I mean EVE-RY-WHERE!!!

Outdoors, the slightest wind will drive you crazy. It just makes it impossible to hit your target, because you need to keep the bottle at an arm's distance from the surface to be painted. I did one set of legs outside and one inside, it worked in the end, but after a lot of trial and error.

The other problem I found with the spray paint is that it runs... Or at least on a tricky surface like the one I had. To cover every corner of the legs, some areas ended up receiving more paint than they needed and I had to be careful not to let those runny bits clog and dry that way.

I thought the seats would be easy after that, but I was wrong. Even with the hard sandpaper it's difficult to distress the melamine and you need to be extra careful not to overdo the edges. Once you've sanded and wiped your surface, it's time to apply the primer. I am happy with the one I got, it adhered to the wood really well. However, it takes time to dry, so I had to leave it overnight. Then I applied two coats of the satin white paint. I wasn't counting on balancing the seats as you leave them to dry being a problem, but it's definitely something you need to put some thought on before painting the surfaces, definitely not after.

I guess that's pretty much it... I am sorry for not having all the answers and clever solutions for this "how to", but I will have a go again at some furniture make-over and I hope to learn more through other experiences. And I am definitely sharing them here when it happens =)

Tuesday 2 April 2013

And the winner is...

The winner of last month's crafty kit giveaway is Laura Strack! Congratulations Laura and thanks for being part of the M&P community =)

The next giveaway will be when we reach... 200 Likes on Facebook! So spread the word among your friends, get them to join our community, and you can be the lucky winner next time.

PS: This is a quick post to announce the winner. I am pretty busy this week, but later on I will write about some projects I've been saving to share with you.