Saturday, April 30, 2011

Painting on Glass

Last month, at my office, we had a Pi Day celebration.  You know, pi, the endless irrational number?  Apparently geeky types celebrate Pi Day every year, but even though I had not heard of it before, I found myself in charge of organizing our office Pi Day festivities.  Oh, in case you're wondering, Pi Day is March 14.  Get it?  The first numbers of pi are 3.14, so Pi Day is 3/14 or March 14.  Ok, back to business.

We had three different contests as part of our celebration, and my boss generously provided a gift certificate to a local restaurant as a prize for the winner of each contest.  That was great, but I also wanted the winners to have a little something to actually commemorate the fact that it was Pi Day.  So, the idea of awarding "pi plates" was born.  I know, I know, super clever play on words, right?  Well, I wanted something that could easily be "marked" with the pi symbol, so glass came to mind, and then the "pi plate" idea was hatched from there.

Because the finished plates came out so well, I decided to feature the idea here on my blog.  Obviously, the idea and technique are adaptable to just about any flat or curved glass item, and you can paint any letter, graphic image or artwork that you want to.  A pie plate or casserole dish with flowers or hearts painted on the bottom would make a cute wedding shower gift, or you could paint the bride's new initials.  If you have ever taken a "generic" casserole dish to a big pot-luck get-together, you know that it isn't always easy to be sure that you get your dish back afterward.  Well, a dish with your initials on it, or with some unique graphic image on it, is sure to be returned!

For the "pi plates," all I did was find an image of the pi symbol online that I liked.  I copied it to my computer and then sized it using a photo-editing tool.  I had to experiment a bit to find the size that would work for the glass dishes that I was using, because I wanted the image to be very prominent and large.  Now, here is an important tip -- you want to print the image in reverse.  My printing program just had a box that I checked for reverse printing, but your program might access this feature in a different way.  If you're doing a simple graphic image, you might not care which way it faces, but if you're doing letters or numbers, like my pi symbol, it's important that it reads correctly when the item is finished.

Once I had my image printed out in reverse, I simply cut around it and then taped the sheet, printed side DOWN, onto the INSIDE of the pie plate.  I then flipped the pie plate over, so that I was actually painting on the BOTTOM OUTSIDE part of the dish, following my template, which was attached to the INSIDE.  If your dish is going to be used for food, you'll want to paint on the outside, as I did, because you don't want food coming into direct contact with the painted image.

I used a gloss enamel paint that I found at Michael's in the craft paint section.  I simply looked for one that indicated that it could be used on glass.  Different paints have different methods of curing, so be sure to check the directions.  I found one or two that could simply be air-cured, but you had to let the item sit for something like 2 weeks or a month for it to fully cure.  Since I was painting my pie plates over the weekend for an event on Wednesday, I didn't have that kind of time to wait.  Be aware, though, that even the heat-cured paint that I chose required an initial air cure of a couple of days.  So this isn't a project you can start on Saturday morning for a Saturday evening party.

For the actual painting, I just used a good quality flat brush that I had laying around the house.  We paints lots of Pinewood Derby cars in my house, so I had plenty of paintbrushes to choose from!  I painted the first coat and then let it dry for a bit.  In retrospect, it would have been easier for me to do the tight corners on my pi symbol if I'd also had a tiny round brush, but frankly, these particular items didn't warrant that kind of attention and I just did the best I could with the brush I had.  If I was making a super special shower gift, I'd probably spring for a couple of new brushes to meet my exact needs.

After painting the first coat, I removed my template from inside the dish.  The photo above shows what the image looked like after one coat of paint.  Since I now had the image painted, it was easy enough to just go over it with additional coats.  I put three coats on my pie dishes, allowing each coat to dry for half an hour or so before I put another coat on.  Here is one of the plates after all of the coats of paint have been applied:

It's nice and dark and looks pretty good.  Of course, you'll want to look at your image from the INSIDE to make sure it's going to look okay as a finished piece.  When in doubt, add an extra coat of paint!  The paint goes really far and you want your image to stand out and look great.  After letting the pie dishes air cure for the recommended two days, I cured the paint in the oven.  The complete instructions were on the back of the paint bottle, and the items didn't even have to be left in the oven that long.  So the heat curing was easily done in an evening.

And that's it!  Once the pie dishes had been heat cured, the paint was on there to stay, and the dishes can now be used for food preparation and cooking just like any other glass vessel.  I recommend washing painted items by hand, as I don't know if the dishwasher would affect the image over time.  Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of one of my finished "pi plates" shown from the inside, as the recipient saw it.  For some reason, I completely forgot about taking a final photo!  But, here are my three "pi plates" after heat curing, and ready to be awarded to the contest winners:

This was a super fun project, and it was soooooo easy to do!  If you are artistic, you could freehand a design, and of course, you can use whatever colors your heart desires.  Now that I know how easy painting on glass is, I am planning on making some other items as gifts.  I have a wedding shower coming up in a few weeks, and while I'll get the bride something from her registry, I'm also going to put her new initials and some spring flowers on a 9x13 casserole dish, as a little "extra" gift.  The possibilities are endless!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mouse Love

My family has made a number of trips to Disney World, and we're going again this summer.  Consequently, it sometimes seems like I'm always working on Disney pages and, frustratingly, it often seems to me like they all look the same.  I REALLY struggle with Disney pages, and I think I've identified why.  For one thing, I like to use Disney-themed embellishments, but at the moment, there isn't much out there that I am crazy about.  Also, Disney pages almost always scream out for the use of colorful patterned papers and backgrounds, to go along with the colorful clothes that everyone is usually wearing, and to reflect the joyful feeling of being at Disney.  It can be challenging to make non-subtle pages.  And finally, no matter how many times we go, I take a lot of pictures.  Even if I am ruthless about tossing similar shots and bad angles, I still generally end up with a lot of photos from each day or each event that I'd like to scrapbook.  So, for me, Disney pages can be hard.  Are they hard for you, too?
I suppose I should make a disclaimer -- I'm not sharing any easy answers in this post, because I don't have any easy answers.  I just keep plugging away!

One thing I've done is that I organize my pictures into layouts differently for each trip.  If I really go over the things we did and the places that we went, themes will often suggest themselves.  For our very first Disney trip, I created a whole special scrapbook, and I had one or more layouts for each day.  The book moved chronologically along for the length of our vacation.  That worked fine, but for subsequent trips, making layouts by day didn't work for one reason or another.  Plus, it was boring!  It's not like we remembered things about that trip by what day they happened.  So, I've tried to be more creative in that respect.  One year when we went to Disney World near Christmas, I organized my layouts into special things that we saw and did, and then I had a layout showcasing all of the fantastic Christmas trees around Disney World, another one showcasing the special Christmas "storytellers" that are featured at Epcot.  I guess the point is just to try to think out of the box a little bit, instead of always organizing your Disney pictures the same way for each trip.

So, I do really like the layout above, which I completed at a crop a couple of weeks ago.  I had some unusually good photos of my kids and hubby with Mickey and Minnie when we went to Chef Mickey's for dinner, so I decided to make a few of those shots into their own layout.  I am not a fan of Disney-themed patterned papers, because for me (a clean-lines, simple scrapper), the patterns are usually just too large and overwhelming, or they're too specific to a certain character.  I like small, repetitive prints that I can use on multiple layouts for multiple purposes.  Since the companies that have Disney licenses to make patterned papers haven't made very many of those kinds of papers yet, I find myself sticking to more readily available fare.  Here, I chose an old KI Memories pattern, because the red plaid was bright and cheerful and went perfectly with the colors in the photos.  You'll notice that the embellishments on this page are super simple.  I own two Mickey-head punches, both of which I adore.  They are each cute on their own, but I also LOVE them when they are combined, which is what I did here.  I punched the plain Mickey head from scraps of the plaid paper, and then punched swirly Mickey heads from blue cardstock, and simply laid those over the plain punches.  I stamped my title (something I should do more of, as I love how it came out), and also used an Ali Edwards stamp along the side for a bit of detail.

Since I'm currently working on Disney pages, my plan is to post a few more completed layouts that I like for one reason or another, or that have something special about them.  So if you are a Disney lover like I am, stay tuned!