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

Advertisements

Paper strip heart garland

After making a garland of 30’s for my husband’s birthday last year (mentioned here) and then a 3D paper star Christmas garland, I really wanted to make another garland which could stay up in our apartment all year round! I saw some beautiful paper strip heart garlands on Pinterest (such as from here) and decided that was exactly what I wanted to do myself. I’ve seen them made from books, comics or maps, but I used some plain and patterned paper that I already had.

paper strip heart garland

Aren’t they pretty?!

To make this, all you will need is some paper, a ruler and a pencil to mark your strip widths, scissors or a cutting knife to cut your paper into strips, and a stapler. You could use paper strips instead of sheets of paper to make this a very quick craft.

Firstly, I cut my paper into strips 1″ wide and then I had to choose the length. I had seen some hearts which used 4″, 6″ and 8″ length strips but I felt like that made the insides too small. So I made a trial heart with 5″, 6.5″ and 8″ length strips. I quite liked it but I wanted bigger hearts as they were going to hang from the ceiling.

This is the trial heart:

yellow paper heart

To make my heart bigger, I used 6″, 8″ and 10″ length strips instead. You need 2 strips of each length for one heart. I used plain coloured paper with some scrapbook patterned paper for the inside of the hearts. I thought that the plain paper might look a bit boring so I drew a pattern on the outside strips with a white pen. I cut my strips from A4 paper, and the cut-off from the 8″ strip was just the right length for a hanging piece! (it was something like 3″ in length)

paper strips for heart garland

Once your strips are ready, all you have to do is to line up the ends of the strips and staple them together, and then bring the free ends round to make the heart shape and line up those ends together and staple them together too. A word of warning: if your paper is only patterned on one side, check very carefully which way round the strips are before stapling. I had to take apart at least 2 hearts and re-do them because I got this wrong!

I also punched a small hole in the hanging piece to hang it on some ribbon. And there you are, a finished heart!

scrapbook paper heart

paper strip heart

Of course, I wanted a garland so I didn’t stop at one… (I made 10 in the end)

coloured paper hearts

pretty pastel hearts

And here is the garland all hung up :)

pastel colours paper strip garland

heart garland hanging

green blue yellow paper hearts

I’m really pleased with it, and it was so easy to make. If you already had paper strips ready to use and you didn’t decorate them by hand, you could whip up a long garland in half an hour! Let me know if you have a go at one yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

newsletter signup banner

 

Custom handmade jewellery designs

One of the nicest things about making jewellery is when I get asked to make something specific for someone! I love doing custom designs. And I’ve been lucky enough to have been asked to create two of them recently.

The first was a very open brief – a friend wanted something fairly simple in style, but it had to be purple! I decided to make a bracelet from some beautiful purple swirled glass beads that I have. I bought some lilac Swarovski crystal bicones to match and pulled the design together with some silver spacer beads. The overall look is quite a slim bracelet design, which I chose because it is pretty but not too flashy.

p1080127

p1080132

p1080133

The second was a little more specific. I was asked to create a two layer necklace using some beautiful flat teardrop shaped lapis lazuli beads that had already been picked out. I played with a few designs and decided that the lapis lazuli matched well with some blue goldstone beads that I already had. I wanted the beads to be fairly spaced out so that the necklace didn’t look too heavy so I linked the beads together with wire wrapped loops. This took me quite a long time! I’m not sure whether I’d make another necklace like it again due to the time it took, but I was really pleased with the result.

p1080122

p1080121

p1080119

Luckily, both people loved their new jewellery!

It’s so much fun to design something for someone specific. If you’d like me to design you (or someone you know) a piece of jewellery, just get in touch. The best way is to email me at littlekoojewellery@gmail.com. I’d love to hear your requirements and work with you to produce a beautiful piece of jewellery.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

newsletter signup banner

Easy home-made baby toys

There are so many baby toys in the shops, but as any mum will realise, babies are often more interested in the packaging or random kitchen implement that you’ve left lying around! You can channel this by making some of your own baby toys from things you might have lying around your house, or if not, easy and cheap to find in the shops (if I can find it in Hong Kong, then it can’t be that hard to come by!). There are so many ideas for making baby toys online – you can scour Pinterest or google to find them. I can’t remember where most of my ideas came from, but I’ve included references where I do know.

Here are some things that I’ve made for my own children. I hope you find inspiration to find some things to entertain your own babies with! (or you could make some for other babies that you know…)

Hanging toys

These were the first things that I made, and they comprised woolly pompoms and balls of tin foil.

I made some pompoms before the twins were born and blogged about how to do so here, and I hung these from their activity centre for them to bat at (note: these come apart pretty easily so keep them out of grabbing distance – mine are now almost completely demolished!).

The tin foil balls were the ones that caught their eye the most though, they took quite a bashing! I just scrunched up a large piece of foil into a ball and wrapped some string around it to hang it with. The foil balls did fall out of the string sometimes so you might want to try other ways of attaching the string – perhaps you could glue it inside somehow?

20140206_075659

You can see the pompoms and foil in the middle of this photo, although they’re a little blurred. I forget how small the twins were once upon a time!

Discovery bottles

These are so easy to make and my twins still play with them at 15 months. All you need to do is find some plastic bottles and put interesting things inside them. Here are some of the things that I have put inside our discovery bottles:

  • Beads of different sizes and colours (note: my twins didn’t like this when they were really little because it’s actually very noisy when shaken, but they love it now!)
  • Pipe cleaners, some curled into twirls
  • Little pompoms (bought from a stationary store)
  • Coloured rice

Discovery bottles baby toys

The easiest way that I found to make the coloured rice was to squirt a small amount of hand sanitiser into an old margarine tube, mix with a fairly generous amount of food colouring, and add enough rice so that it was all covered and there was no hand sanitiser left at the bottom. You really don’t need much hand sanitiser for this at all.

I got the idea for the discovery bottles here and they have lots of ideas for other things to put in the bottles too! I can’t find the website I used before for the rice colouring, but this one does the same thing.

Glitter bottle

These are everywhere online, they are sometimes called calm bottles or time out bottles. I ended up looking at a few different websites before I made mine so I can’t give a reference, but they’re really easy to make. A little side note: many people make them with mason jars or other glass jars but obviously that wouldn’t work for babies, so I just used a plastic bottle with relatively smooth sides so you can see the glitter easily.

To make mine, I filled the bottle most of the way up with fairly hot tap water. (Note: I tried using hot boiled water from the kettle but it melted the bottle! Do not try this!) Then I squeezed in two small tubes of glitter glue and poured in some additional loose glitter. I also added some CLEAR glue (again, I know by trial and error that white glue does not miraculously go clear in warm water and you end up with a foggy mess!) which slows the movement of the glitter in the bottle – the more glue you add, the slower the glitter settles. And finally, I added some food colouring.

The reason the water needs to be hot(ish) is to break up the glitter glue. I found that it clumped a bit to start with but after a couple of hours there were no more clumps even though my water wasn’t that hot to start with. If you’re not using glitter glue, you can just use clear glue and loose glitter, and you then don’t need to use hot water, it can be cold.

Here is my green glitter beauty!

Green glitter bottle

And here it is when the glitter has settled…

Glitter settled glitter bottle

I made mine in a fairly large 750ml bottle, which makes it quite heavy for the twins to lift and carry (although they still do) – I’d recommend using a smaller bottle, less than 500ml if possible, if you’re giving this to babies to play with.

Buttons

These were a big hit! I just bought large buttons (as big as I could find) in different colours from a button shop in Sham Shui Po (THE place to buy all things haberdashery in Hong Kong). The twins loved to play with them, bang them together and against anything else, drop them so they made a spinning noise on the floor (like a coin does), or watch while I spun them. It was fun trying to make as many spin at the same time as possible! Sadly, these had to go away when the twins got bigger because their mouths grew enough that they could fit the whole button in their mouths and would walk around like that! I hope they’ll come out again soon when they stop putting everything in their mouths.

Big buttons as toys

I got the idea for the buttons from one of the Babycentre emails, which features activities to do with your babies every week.

Ribbons

This was a bit of free thinking on my part, but partly based on some props used at a music class I go to with the twins. I had some hair bands lying around and bought some cheap brightly coloured ribbon (again, in Sham Shui Po) and just tied long lengths of ribbon to the hair bands. I tied simple knots in the ends of the ribbons to help stop fraying, but I’ve since bought a lighter which I now use to seal the ends of ribbons. I assumed that I would put the hair bands on their wrists, but they just like waving them around in their hands instead!

Ribbon pom poms

I also tied long lengths of doubled-up ribbons into a plait. I just did it for a fun thing to do, but Isobel quite likes playing with it.

Ribbon plait

Something else that I’ve seen at the same music class is that they sellotaped long lengths of ribbon to the end of a chopstick to make a streamer. I fancy doing this myself!

I’m sure there are many other toys you can make with ribbons, just let your imagination go wild!

Water play tray

I got this idea from this website. They used plastic milk bottle tops but I didn’t have any (for some reason the milk here comes in tetrapaks instead) so I used large jam jar lids instead. Also, I used a large oven tray on the floor rather than the high chair tray. My twins didn’t really get the idea of bashing the lids around the water so they float, but they did enjoy taking them out and trying to eat them. And also splashing the water all over the floor. This activity is best to do on a hard floor rather than carpet! As I said, my twins didn’t really get what was going on, but it did entertain them for 10-20 minutes so that gets a thumbs up in my book :)

Some other things that I’ve wanted to make but haven’t got round to yet…

Baby treasure baskets – basically find a basket or container and put things in that your baby will find interesting. Lots of ideas of what to put in on this website

Sensory bag for baby – looks like fun!

Rainbow spaghetti – colourful sensory play

Post the blocks – my twins are at an age now (15 months) where they just love to put things in things and take them out so I think they would love this. It probably isn’t very suitable for babies under 1 year as they won’t have the co-ordination, but you will know what your baby is and isn’t willing to try

Block painting – I’ve not tried much in the way of ‘art’ yet with my twins but this is something I’d love to try soon! I saw somewhere the idea of using plain yoghurt with food colouring in instead of paint if your baby likes to put everything in their mouths, which I think is a great idea!

Update: I have pinned many more things you can make or do with babies on my Activities for Babies Pinterest board – take a look if you’re looking for more inspiration!

Let me know if you have any other great ideas for easy to make baby toys. I’m sure the ideas must be endless!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

3D paper star Christmas garland

Our Christmas decorations this year are a fairly minimal affair. For a start, we don’t have a tree because the twins would just pull it over and try to eat it! (I’m very much looking forward to the time when they don’t put everything in their mouths) All decorations have to be out of their reach, so we hung some tinsel over the picture frames and we have some baubles hanging from the ceiling. And I decided that what we really needed was a pretty garland! After looking at some of my pins on Pinterest, I decided to go with a garland of 3D paper stars.

3D Christmas paper star garland - Little Koo

I used this tutorial for my stars (mine are a little less blingy than theirs!), and I made my stars from large sheets of fairly heavy plain red and green coloured paper. I wouldn’t say I have much to add to the tutorial, other than the fact that I scored all the folds before folding them because I found it difficult to accurately fold otherwise (although it might be easier with thinner paper).

Papercraft 3D stars - Little Koo

I made my stars as big as I could, which meant the template just fitted onto a sheet of A4 paper. When I was glueing the back pieces together, I thought that I would overlap the two sides as much as possible, but I found this made a very pointy star, and it actually looked better when the sides were about halfway across each other. I used tacky (PVA) glue to stick the back pieces together and held them in place with paper clips while they were drying. N.B. make sure your star is the right way out when you start glueing – I didn’t realise this with the first one I made and ended up with an inverted star!

3D Christmas paper stars - Little Koo

I stamped gold and silver motifs onto the stars before folding them, but you can’t really see it all that well. Oh well!

Stamped 3D stars - Little Koo

I think the 3D shape is quite effective for what is a very simple papercraft, especially when the light is not shining directly onto it so some of the sides are in shadow. What do you think?

Christmas garland - Little Koo

Let me know if you have made any of your own Christmas decorations, I’d love to see them!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

newsletter signup banner

 

Handmade Hong Kong Christmas Bazaar 14th December

Just to let you know that Little Koo will be at the Handmade Hong Kong Christmas Bazaar in Discovery Bay Main Plaza (by the ferry pier) on Sunday 14th December, 11am-6pm. It promises to be a great market, with over 150 stalls selling great unique handmade products. If you’re in Hong Kong, why not head over and get some Christmas shopping done?

Handmade Hong Kong Christmas Bazaar

If you do go, please come and say hi! My stall is right in the middle of the market this time!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

newsletter signup banner

New Little Koo jewellery box design!

This is just a quick post to let you know about my new jewellery box design! From now on, whenever you buy some Little Koo jewellery, it will come in a box that looks like this:

Little Koo jewellery box design

The boxes are decorated with handpainted polka dots and a pretty mint green ribbon bow. And inside I’ve made some fun inserts with mint green polka dots. I’m all about the dots at the moment!

What do you think? I hope you like them!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

newsletter signup banner