Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Recycling Keyboards

After finally replacing my broken keyboard today, I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. It seemed a shame to throw the whole thing out, so I found a few cool crafts to do with the parts:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Midnight Madness

For awhile I've wanted to keep a blog going not only about my endeavors with my own art/costuming business, but about crafting in general. The trouble was, I could never remember to take progress shots as I was working on a project, and what's a tutorial without pictures?

Finally, a night of over-tiredness put me on the 'path to enlightenment.' I had the urge to craft, but not to work on anything actually relevant to my current obligations. Instead I wanted to make something I've been wanting for a long time- a jewelry rack. What's more, I wanted to play with wire to make something curly and extravagant to dress up the extremely boring wall in the bedroom.  I have lots of it as I have a habit of grossly overestimating how much comes on a spool, so finding some was no problem. I thought of the Tree of Life I've used as a logo all these years, and realized that I could easily hang individual necklaces from the curled branches of the tree. You don't have to do a tree, though-- anything that uses some curls to hold the jewelry in place will work.

"How did you do it?" you may ask. Well, it was quite easy, even in the middle of the night after having been up for almost 20 hours.

Decorative Wire Jewelry Rack
Paper- the larger the sheets, the better
Tape- masking, painter's, or designer's would be best
Wire cutters
Pliers (rounded recommended)
Wrapped floral wire of desired thickness and color- I got mine from the dollar store
22-24 gauge wire of desired color
Small, thin nails (between 1/2" and 1.5" long recommended- carpet tacks/shoe nails will work well)

Find a location.

This shouldn't be too hard-- chances are you want your jewelry rack wherever the rest of your accessories or other wardrobe items are.

For me, it was giant empty space above my makeshift dresser.

Draw a blueprint.

Tape the paper to the wall, and make sure you cover a bit more than the area you intend to draw on. If you're going to wrap your design around a mirror or other object, I'd suggest you keep those things up so that it's easier for you to envision how you want the design to look in the end. If you're using multiple sheets like me, tape all of these pieces together as well so it can be removed as one giant sheet. Draw out your design in pencil on the paper. Make sure to take a step back and make sure you're pleased with how it will look in the end. Take it down gently once you're done, and lay it on a table or the floor (somewhere with a hard, flat surface big enough for you to work)

Make the base structure of the design

Find the longest continuous line on the design that the other "branches" will connect to. Curl the edges (You may find this easy to do by hand with the pliers, or may want to start by wrapping the first curl around a dowel.

Tape down the "trunk" over the blueprint you've drawn, following the lines as closely as possible. 

Tip: Cats will find this project very intriguing. They may decide they want to help...or walk off with your supplies.

Lay down the basework for the rest of the design.
Notice how the middle two branches are made of one continuous wire.
Don't worry about attaching anything just yet- it's easier to get everything down first in case you find one part doesn't look quite as right as you'd planned. I had to relay a few pieces myself. When doing this, try to use as few individual pieces as possible as it will be more stable (and look cleaner).

Attach the pieces together.

This is where those tiny pliers will come in handy the most- begin attaching the branches to each other and to the trunk using the smaller gauge wire. This will be visible, so keep in mind neatness and make sure no sharp edges are exposed. Start from the outside and work your way in; I also found it easiest to remove the tape as I went as well.

Make sure to wrap the edges extra tightly so the ends don't fray.

Once you've attached all the little pieces you can connect them to the trunk. Wrap each individual branch around the trunk as much as you can while you wrap the thin wire around these.

Reinforce the joints.
This joint is loose and will need an extra wrapping around both
 the branch and the trunk, then a wrapping tightly in between.
Think of it as lashing sticks together.
Wrap another layer of thin wire (in the opposite direction that you wrapped the first time) around any connections, and pay special attention to the joints.

Remove the tree from the blueprint.

Now that it's un-taped, double check its sturdiness-- try holding it by the top to see if the branches droop too much. A little drooping is normal and you'll fix this when you hang it, but there shouldn't be anything looking like it's going to snap off.

Hang it up!

Place your new jewelry rack on the wall where you want it (you might want to tape it or have someone help you for this step). Place a nail between the wrapped wires of the strongest part of your design, and hammer it into the wall as far as it will go. Do this for all of the extensions of the design (in my case each branch). Where you can't squeeze a nail between, place the nail under the part you want to attach and angle it a little to sort of hook it onto the wall. Test your jewelry rack for stability and put in extra reinforcements of nails wherever you  see fit. (Note: If your design is thin enough, a staple gun may work quite nicely as well.)

The finished product- now to hang the jewelry!
Congratulations, you now have a beautiful, functional art piece!