Easy DIY pencil eraser stamped birthday card

I find Pinterest very inspiring, do you? A while ago I came across this pin which shows you how to stamp a silhouetted heart shape onto a tote bag using a pencil eraser, and I thought to myself “that would make a lovely card”. But the card was going to be for my husband’s birthday, so a heart wouldn’t necessarily have been the most appropriate (we’re not that soppy!), so I wanted to choose something else for the silhouette shape. I could have done a large monogram-style letter (like I did with this card) or number (like I did with this card), but instead I decided that I wanted to write ‘Happy Birthday!” And this is how it came out:

easy stamped birthday card

The hardest part was actually figuring out how to make the removable letters that I was going to stamp over. I needed something that would stick to the card without being too thick (my first thought was to stick paper letters down with blu tak but that would have lifted the letters away from the card too much). From my wanderings through blogland, I remembered that one blogger (Minted Strawberry, who I have featured in the past here) used vinyl to create a silhouette that she spray painted over to decorate the front of a notebook (see here for details) and then peeled the vinyl off to reveal the design. Another blogger (The Postman’s Knock – fantastic resource for calligraphy and art!) hand-lettered a silhouette using art masking fluid in the place of ink, painted watercolour over the top and then peeled off the (now dry) fluid to reveal the letters (see here for details).

But I didn’t have vinyl or art masking fluid. So instead I came up with my own solution – post-it notes! It’s the most well-known temporary glue there is. So if you have some post-it notes lying around, and you’d like to try this card for yourself, then read on to find out how to make it!

For this tutorial, you will need:

  • Card blank (mine is DL size)
  • Post-it notes
  • Pen/pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors or a craft knife
  • Paint – you will need one strong colour, plus white (I used poster paints but I’m sure most opaque paints would work)
  • Felt
  • Paint-proof surface, such as a lid

1. Decide what shape or letters you want to have silhouetted on your card. I wanted to write HAPPY BIRTHDAY!, which worked quite well since the letters were quite small (mine were 2cm high) and therefore not much wider than the strip of adhesive on the post-it note. Larger shapes or letters might not work as well since a larger part of them won’t be stuck down with the adhesive.

2. Draw your shapes or letters on the post-it note(s). For some reason, I forgot to take a photo of this stage, so here is a mock-up of what it looked like. As you can tell, I needed two post-it notes!

cutting letters out of post-its3. Carefully cut out your shapes or letters. You could use scissors or a craft knife for this, whichever you find easiest. I didn’t bother to cut out the holes in my letters, partly through laziness and partly because I liked the effect!

4. Arrange your shapes or letters on the card. I found the easiest way to do this without marking the card too much was to make a mark at opposite edges of the card where I wanted the bottoms of my letters to be, and then place a ruler between the two marks. Then I could position the letters so that the bottom of each letter touched the ruler and voila! the letters were all nice and level. Also, I started with the middle letter and worked outwards either way so that my sentiment was aligned centrally (but obviously you can align yours however you like).

using post-it notes for temporary masking letters

5. Squeeze a fairly small blob of the coloured paint onto an appropriate surface (I used a margarine-tub lid) and then press your felt onto the blob. In order to make sure the felt is well soaked in the paint you can either use the end of your pencil eraser to repeatedly press the felt into the paint until it is soaked through, or turn the felt over so that both sides are covered in paint.  If you do the second option, then you will need to do some test stamps on a spare piece of paper with your pencil eraser to make sure there’s not too much paint on the eraser, or else you will not stamp cleanly. I discussed using felt to make a paint stamp pad in this post, if you’re looking for more information on this.

6. The next step is the fun part – stamping! Start stamping in the centre of your card. You want your spots to be closer together in the middle and spread out more away from the middle. Don’t go too far out though! You can see how far I went with my spots in this picture:

pencil eraser stamped card

7. Now on a different part of your lid, squeeze the same-size blob of your first colour as you did before, but now add some white and mix them together to make a slightly paler shade of your first colour. Stamp a little of this colour in the centre of your card, but more outwards, and again get further apart the further you get out. The aim is to avoid having rings of each shade, but mingle them so that there is a gradual colour change from dark in the middle to pale near the edge of the card. It also looks quite nice if the spots get more spaced out the further they are from the centre. Repeat this with increasingly paler shades of your first colour by adding more white paint each time and continue stamping until you have almost covered the card, or until you are happy with the effect. I had 4 shades of blue in my card.

Tip 1: Make sure that almost all the edges of the letters are covered in spots so that they will be clearly defined when the letters are removed

Tip 2: I found it easier to pretend that the letters weren’t there when stamping my pattern so that the pattern was more natural and even. This sort-of contradicts Tip 1 above, but you can always add in a few extra spots at the end if you think there are any edges that have been missed!

post-it note stamped card

8. Now you are ready to remove the letters (another fun part!). I peeled off the letters while the paint was still wet to avoid the risk of pulling dried paint away from the card. I don’t know if that would have happened, but it worked fine doing it this way (as long as you don’t accidentally stick your finger in the paint!). This was the result:

silhouette letters stamped card

DIY pencil eraser stamped card

 

Yay! I was so pleased with it. And my husband liked it too, which is a bonus ;)

I liked it so much that I used the same technique (in green) to make a card for my new baby niece. Doesn’t she have a beautiful name?!

green shades pencil eraser stamped card tutorial

Do you like the ombre stamped spots effect as much as I do? Do let me know if you have a go yourself, I’d love to see it!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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The Little Koo blog turns 3!

Wow, I have been blogging for three years now, can you believe it? This little blog started off with the intention of promoting the Little Koo Etsy shop (don’t forget about the closing down sale btw, only 5 more days!) but I enjoyed writing about Hong Kong so much that it ended up being mostly about the things I see and do here, with a bit of craft stuff thrown in.

So, in celebration, I thought I’d recap some of my most popular posts over the last few years. Maybe you haven’t seen them yet, or maybe you’ve just forgotten! On the topic of Hong Kong, here are some of the most-seen posts over the last few years:

Nan Lian gardens

Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery

 

Shau Kei Wan typhoon shelter

Hong Pak – a walk with a nice surprise at the end

 

Shroff sign

English usage in Hong Kong

 

Wide view from Jardines Lookout

An uphill climb to Jardine’s Lookout

 

Chek Keng 3

Maclehose trail stage 2: hills, beaches and lots of rain!

 

Shek O beach and headland

Life’s a beach in Shek O

 

I hope you’re enjoying my Candid Hong Kong series too, where I post random photos I’ve taken around Hong Kong to show a snapshot of life here.

Outside of Hong Kong, I’ve also blogged about some of our travels around Asia. My posts about our holiday in Malaysia where we stopped off at the Cameron Highlands, Georgetown (Penang) and Langkawi have also been pretty popular.

On the craft side, my post about buying craft supplies in Hong Kong has been by far and away the most popular post I’ve ever written. I’ve tried to make it a really useful resource, and I’m constantly updating and adding to it. However, I do love to make things myself with the supplies I find, and these have been some of my most popular ‘makes’:

Fabric covered shell handbag

Covering a box clutch purse – a no sew handbag!

 

Handmade wire button heart

How to make a wire button heart

 

Moravian star mobile

Making a froebel star mobile

 

Hand decorated jars

Hand decorated jam jar luminaries

 

Woolly pompoms galore

Two ways of making woolly pompoms

 

Ok, so that’s it for my round up. What’s your favourite post? Have you ever tried any of the crafts I’ve featured on this blog? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

DIY crystal stud earrings

As I mentioned in my recent post on DIY button stud earrings, I am looking to increase my collection of stud earrings since the twins like to pull on dangly earrings. So when I saw these beautiful DIY crystal earrings on Thanks I Made It, I really wanted to try this for myself!

My only concern was, where do I get the crystals from? You can get them from Amazon UK if you search for “sew on crystals” (but make sure you buy the ones mounted in metal clasps, not the flat back ones), but that was no use to me in Hong Kong. But then I was wandering down Yu Chau Street in Sham Shui Po (THE best place to get craft and jewellery supplies in Hong Kong!) and came across a whole shop-load of them! I was in heaven trying to choose which ones to buy!

So, being totally predictable, I fell for some round mint green crystals and paired them with some marquise (leaf) shaped clear crystals. I got out my trusty E6000 glue and just stuck them together and stuck the earring back on (I didn’t bother with the wax paper like she did in the tutorial above, but it might be a good idea if you’re worried about everything sticking together).

DIY crystal stud earrings

It was so simple and quick and I love the results! I’m definitely going to make more of these!

Handmade mint green crystal stud earrings

What do you think? Will you have a go yourself? Do let me know if you do!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Easy activities for toddlers that you can do at home

A while ago I posted about some easy home-made baby toys that I made for the twins when they were little. Things have moved on a bit since then (the twins are now 22 months old), and they require much more than a pompom or two to keep them occupied! Once again, Pinterest has been my friend and a great source of inspiration and I’ve tried a few things out that I’ve found on there. So I thought I’d share with you some easy activities that the twins enjoy doing.

1. Edible paint

My twins still put things in their mouths, especially if it looks like it might be edible so I’ve been making this edible paint recipe from The Imagination Tree whenever we do painting. The paint itself is quite thick so it lends itself well to finger painting but when it dries it does crack a bit and tends to make the paper shrivel and warp a bit (instead of staying flat). Having said that, it’s quite easy and quick to prepare and I think it’s quite nice that it doesn’t have chemicals (bar the food colouring) in! My only tip is that sometimes it doesn’t thicken for whatever reason so I find that gently heating it makes it thicken up to the right consistency (which is apparently custard-like). Also, they will keep for a short while in the fridge, but I wouldn’t leave them too long (and they dry up a little so you need to add a bit of water to bring them back to the right consistency).

toddler activities - edible paint

The twins aren’t overly into painting and drawing yet, but they will have a good go whenever I get these paints out – even if the enthusiasm often doesn’t last very long!

toddler activities - finger painting

2. Beads

This is currently one of the twins’ favourite activities and it comes out pretty much every day. Basically, I bought a number of large holed plastic beads from a bead shop in Sham Shui Po (Hong Kong’s craft district) and some shoelaces from a nearby market stall and gave them to the twins! They love playing with the beads – and not just threading them on the shoelaces (which they still need help with). For a start, they find it much easier to put the beads on chopsticks, so they can stack them up and let them fall off again! The beads also get rolled around, put in pots and generally investigated and played with.

toddler activities - threading beads on shoelaces

3. Foam shapes on the window

I got this idea, again, from The Imagination Tree. It’s so simple – cut shapes out of sheets of foam, make your window wet with a cloth (or they use a sponge in the link above) and let your toddlers stick the shapes on the window. It’s taken quite a while for the twins to get the idea that you stick the shapes on the window and don’t just pull off what mummy put there, but they are finally getting it.

toddler activities - foam shapes on window

The window needs to be pretty wet (and in the heat of a Hong Kong summer it dries pretty quickly so we have to keep re-wetting it!) but the twins also like to make the window wet again so that’s another plus point for this activity.

toddler activities - wetting the window

4. Cotton wool balls

Another simple (and low mess) activity is to get a bag of cotton wool balls out. Add in some pots to put them in and out of and some scoops or spoons to help transfer the balls around and you’ve got a great activity. This one doesn’t keep my twins entertained for too long at a time but they do like it!

toddler activities - cotton wool balls

I found this idea here.

5. Pipe cleaners and a colander

Sticking pipe cleaners into the holes of a colander is surprisingly entertaining when you’re almost 2. When I first tried this activity with the twins a few months ago, they found it quite frustrating as it was just that little bit too difficult for them to get the pipe cleaners in the holes but now their fine motor control has improved to the point where this is a great activity for them.

toddler activities - pipe cleaners in colander

And you don’t have to limit it to the colander either! Pipe cleaners make great bracelets, hats, necklaces and glasses!

toddler activities - playing with pipe cleaners

This idea came from here.

6. Songs with musical instruments

This is my backup if the twins are starting to get a bit antsy! I just pull out everything we have that could pass as a musical instrument (shakers, bells, tambourines, clappers etc) and we each pick one and sing nursery rhymes. Usually the twins change instruments about every 10 seconds, but that’s part of the fun! The twins are only just learning to talk so it’s really just me doing the singing, although Isobel does like to join in a bit, which is incredibly cute :)

toddler activities - playing musical instruments

So those are just a few ideas of activities that you can do with a toddler. There are lots and lots more that I have pinned to my Activities for Toddlers board on Pinterest so check it out if you’re looking for more inspiration!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

 

DIY button stud earrings

Since having the twins, my dangly earrings have been relegated to the jewellery box (the twins do like to pull on them!) and I have mostly been wearing studs. I’ve got a few pairs of stud earrings, but it’s always nice to have more to choose from, so I thought I’d expand my collection by making some button stud earrings.

DIY button earrings

I’m not sure where I got the idea of glueing buttons to earring posts to make earrings from, but it’s not exactly ground-breaking! You literally just glue the two pieces together. This is one of the quickest crafts I think I have ever done.

I had fun picking buttons from one of the button shops in Sham Shui Po (the main craft district in Hong Kong) – I chose buttons that were quite small since I wasn’t looking to make statement earrings, just pretty studs. I purchased my silver plated ear posts from International Craft, where I buy a lot of my jewellery supplies. I forgot to buy butterfly backs when I bought the ear posts (doh!) so I’m using some clear plastic stoppers that I already had.

button stud earring tutorial

To make the earrings, I started by cutting off the shanks on the shank buttons (some of the ones I picked had them, some didn’t) using old jewellery cutters. Then, I sanded down the remains of the shanks to get the back of the button as flat as possible.

To glue the buttons to the ear posts I used E6000 glue, as I’ve heard it’s pretty good. I’m not very good at glueing things together, so I wanted to give these earrings the best chance I could of actually staying together. So I sanded the back of the button and the pad of the ear post a little to make the surface more rough, and wiped both parts with nail varnish remover (I’ve heard it removes grease). I then just glued the two together and left them for a day or so, and there you have it, button earrings!

The buttons below had shanks so you can’t actually tell that they are buttons, they just look like normal earrings. Those of you who regularly read my blog will not be surprised to see some mint green earrings here – I just love the colour so much!

glue buttons to ear posts

These dark blue buttons look a bit iridescent in some lights (you can see it a bit in the top photo), but unfortunately most of the time they just look almost black. Still, these earrings will go well with lots of different colour outfits!

remove shank from buttons to make earrings

I think the navy blue and white earrings are my favourite. It’s more interesting when you can tell they are actually buttons! I don’t think I’ll wear the bright pink earrings – they’re a bit too bright! But I thought the buttons were quite fun. I think I’ll give them to someone who will appreciate them more!

cute button earring studs

What do you think? Why not make some earrings of your own? They’re so quick and easy!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Ten minute handmade birthday number card tutorial

These cards are so quick and easy to make, and I think they’re really fun! The inspiration came out of a moment of desperation since I’d forgotten to buy a card for a child’s birthday party (and it’s so hard to find nice cards in Hong Kong!) and we needed to leave soon for the party itself! It took me about 10 minutes to make the card (but I did draw my number freehand), so hopefully it should take you about the same amount of time.

hand drawn DIY number card

You could totally adapt the design with the recipient’s initial, or even a name or words like ‘Happy Birthday’. It’s so easy to do – I think it’ll take me longer to write this tutorial than it will take you to make the card!

For this tutorial you will need:

  • Card blank
  • Paper and printer (0ptional)
  • Pencil
  • Brightly coloured felt tip or marker pens (I used highlighters)
  • Pencil eraser

1. Find an image of the number that you want to use and copy it into Word, or you can use wordart to create the number that you want in Word (I did the latter). I’ve decided to do a ‘2’ as my twins have lots of friends who will be 2 in the next few months so this card may well come in useful!

2. Adjust the size of your number until it is almost as big as your card blank. For example, the card blank that I am using folds into an A6 size, so I made my number a little smaller than one-quarter the size of the A4 Word document (the lines you can see on the picture below are the ones I drew so I could see how big one quarter would be). Now print it out.

p1080409

3. Turn your paper over and use a pencil to scribble over the outline of the number. If you can’t see the number through the paper, you could try putting a white piece of paper underneath so it shows through better, or you could put it on a window (which will make it really easy to see the number, but you might get arm-ache!). Scribble quite hard so that there is a thick layer of graphite over the number outline.

(Note: my printed number did transfer a little onto what was underneath when I did this so make sure you’re not leaning on anything too important!)

p1080412

4. Now turn your paper back over so that the printed number is facing up and place it over your card blank. Line up the number so it is sitting in the middle of your card (unless you don’t want it to be in the middle, of course!). Now trace over the number with your pencil. Don’t press too hard because you don’t want to indent the card, but you do want to transfer the graphite on the back of the paper to your card so you can see a faint outline of the number on the card (I didn’t take a photo of this because the pencil line was too faint to be seen in a photo!). If it’s not working, you could try pressing slightly harder, or turn the paper back over and scribble harder on the back before trying to trace again.

N.B. An alternative method to steps 1-4 is to draw the number freehand on the card blank using pencil. This is a lot easier and quicker but does require you to be able to draw freehand block numbers, which I am not very good at!

5. Choose a few coloured pens – 3 or 4 is a good number. (I used highlighter pens so that my designs would be really bright – after all the card is for a 2 year old!) Starting in the middle of your number, draw a diagonal stripe, stopping at the edges of the number. Change pen colour and draw another parallel stripe next to it. Repeat, cycling through the colours. It doesn’t matter if your lines aren’t exactly parallel, or the same distance apart – it’s supposed to look hand-drawn!

p1080416

6. Continue until you’ve filled the whole number. Now erase the pencil outline and you are done!

p1080420

I liked the way this card came out so much that I did some more using different patterns. You could do swirls or shapes or patterns – the sky really is the limit with this! As long as your design is relatively dense, it should look great.

ten minute handmade monogram card

I like the one on the left the best – it looks like cake sprinkles!

So simple, eh?! Why don’t you have a go yourself? Do let me know if you do, I’d love to see how yours turn out!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Hand decorated jewellery boxes

I mentioned back in November last year that I had a new jewellery box design. Well, since I was making up a new batch of boxes recently, I thought I’d share how I do it! It’s very satisfying to turn a plain box into something nice and pretty :)

paint stamped and ribbon gift box

If you want to decorate a box to look like this, you will need:

  • Plain box
  • Pencil with an eraser on the end (to stamp round dots with)
  • Craft knife
  • Acrylic paint
  • Felt
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Lighter (optional)
  • Sewing needle and thread in a similar colour to your ribbon
  • Glue

I order my boxes from this Etsy shop. They come flat packed and you have to fold them up yourself, which isn’t hard. Plus, it’s actually easier to decorate them flat!

I’ve got a thing about polka dots at the moment, so the first step is to put dots all over the lid! I wanted to stamp white dots but I haven’t found a good opaque white ink pad, so instead I use acrylic paint.

First, you need to slice the end off the pencil eraser. I used a craft knife to do this but any sharp knife will work fine. If you don’t do this, the edges of your dots will be less well defined because there is a slight curved edge at the end of the eraser.

slice off the end of a pencil eraser to stamp round dots

Next, you want to stamp your dots. A great way to avoid getting too much paint on your eraser is to place a piece of felt over your paint and press on it until it has soaked up the paint. Then simply press your eraser onto the felt, like you would an inkpad, and stamp your dots onto your box! (I saw this tip on Pinterest, from this tutorial, so handy!)

stamping with paint using a felt pad

I found I needed to re-paint my eraser every 2-3 dots to get nice even dots each time.

stamping polka dots with acrylic paint

Keep going until you have covered the whole external surface of your lid (you might need to work which bits to paint if you’re decorating your lid while it’s flat).

stamped polka dots

When the paint has dried (which shouldn’t take long, since you will have a nice thin layer of paint on each dot), make up your box into its final 3D shape.

paint stamped polka dot gift box

Now it is time to make the bow. You will need 3 pieces of ribbon: one to attach to the box, one to make the loops of the bow, and one to wrap around the middle.

To find out how long your first piece of ribbon needs to be, place one end of your ribbon on one of the inside edges of the lid.

ribbon placement

Keep it in place with one finger and run the ribbon around the outside of the box and under the opposite inside edge.

ribbon round the centre of the lid

Mark where the end of the ribbon meets the inside edge, and cut the ribbon here. My lid measures 3.5″ square and 1 1/8″ high, and my ribbon length is 7 7/8″. It doesn’t matter too much if the length is not very accurate since it can be trimmed at the end if it is too long, and if it is a little bit short, it will be inside the box so it won’t be seen.

measuring the length of the ribbon

For the second piece of ribbon, make a ribbon loop so that there is a small overlap at the end.

making a ribbon box loop

Then pinch the middle together. This will show you how big the bow will be. I wanted my bow to cover most of the box, and I found that a 6¼” length of ribbon worked quite well for this.

pinch ribbon loop to make a bow

Your final piece of ribbon needs to be a little over 3 times the width of your ribbon. My ribbon is 10mm wide, and my final piece is 1¼” long.

Optional step: you can seal the ends of your ribbon pieces using a lighter. This stops the ribbon fraying, which I don’t think should be an issue, but it does cut out the possibility.

To make up your bow, you need to first find the centre of your longest piece of ribbon. You can either measure and make a mark, or just fold it and put your finger on it. Now loop your second piece of ribbon and pinch like you did before, and place the pinched part over the centre of your first piece of ribbon. Then wrap the shortest piece of ribbon round the place that you are pinching so that the ends are underneath. Sew a few tiny stitches on the same spot to secure the three pieces of ribbon together.

simple ribbon bow

Now you want to attach your bow to your box. To do this, make a line of glue running along the middle of the box where you want your ribbon to be (in the same place that you wrapped your first ribbon round to see how long it needed to be). I prefer to use tape glue (no mess, no drying time!) but you could use any glue for this, such as white glue.

Now stick your ribbon on. I usually start with the bow, to make sure it’s central and then smooth the ribbon down either side and under the edges of the lid. And there, you are done!

hand decorated jewellery box

Have I inspired you to have a go at decorating some boxes yourself? They would make great gift boxes for other things as well as jewellery boxes. And there are so many ways you to decorate, such as painting patterns, sticking on sequins or using washi tape! Do let me know if you have a go!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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