Tag: handmade

Spoon & Fork Rings

Exactly how silverware rings first came to exist is a mystery. Although many people think that in Medieval Europe poor servants stole away pieces of their masters flatware to make into wedding rings. I’ve also read sailors did the same with silver from their ship. In any case, these rings have been made for centuries. In the 70’s utensil jewelry had a great resurgence, and continues to be popular today.

I found the idea to make rings out of flatware through Pinterest. This overview image of the process, from More Design Please, has been all over that site. Do you ever feel like everyone on Pinterest is pinning ideas, but not trying them? I’ve seen that same image on how to make one of these rings a thousand times, but never another person’s attempt. Anyway, the original tutorial on how to make these rings comes from the blog Through the Front Door, check out that post here. It takes a couple of practice tries to get a nice ring, so don’t use your grandmother’s heirloom silver on your first attempt.

For this project you will need:

Flatware which is either sterling silver or silver plated, stainless steel is not suitable, because it is too hard to bend. From what I have read sterling silver is the easiest to work with, but can be hard to find for cheap. I used silver plated pieces, some of which I found for 10 cents, and others for $1 at various thrift stores. When looking for pieces, remember that the thinner they are, the easier they will be to bend. This is why butter knifes, serving spoons, and the like aren’t used, they’re just too thick.

Metal saw or snips, my husband sawed through the first few spoons for me, but I later used heavy-duty snips to score a line where I wanted the cut, and was able to bend the spoon head so broke off at my line.

Sandpaper or metal file, to polish the cut end. If you accidentally score the silverware during bending, use sandpaper to smooth it out as well.

Butane torch, and butane. I bought the same one that was featured on Through the Front Door. It was $7 at Home Depot, and extra butane was $3. If you have a heavier duty torch, that will work too, just be careful not to melt the silverware!

Ring mandrel, which a metal tool used to shape rings. You can also use a dowel or socket that is close to your ring size as an aid in shaping your silverware.

Rubber mallet, to aid in the shaping of the ring. A regular hammer wrapped in several layers of leather scraps or a thick dishtowel, and secured with a rubber-band will also work.

Pliers, ones without ridges are better since they won’t leave indents on the silverware. I wrapped leather scraps around the ends of the ones I used.

Protective gloves, if you have them use welding gloves, if not, thick work gloves will protect your hands while heating the silverware.

Here are some of the pieces I used, all were silver plated:

I also had another fork in the same pattern as the one on the far right, and two other spoons… all of which are now a tangled mess:

The procedure I followed that worked well and resulted in a nice shaped ring:

1. Measure the finger you want to wear the ring on, use paper like Through the Front Door did, or string.

2. Use your finger measurement to mark on the utensil where the cut will be.

3. Either saw the top off the utensil or score the mark deeply with snips, then bend the top until it breaks off at the score line.

4. Sand down the raw edge:

5. Hold the tip of the utensil with pliers, and apply heat with the torch. Use gloves, as the pliers are likely to heat up as well. I applied heat for around 20 minutes, since in my past attempts the metal did not become pliable with lesser exposure. If you are using a heavy-duty torch, the time to heat it up will be considerably less.

6. Douse the metal in cool water. I ran cool water from my tap over the metal, still held in the pliers. Here is my spoon after heating and cooling, as you can see the finish has changed colors:

7. Once the metal is completely cool, hold both ends with a set of pliers, and shape. I used a wooden dowel slightly larger than my ring size, so I could adjust down when I had the proper shape. I made my ring overlapping, you can also make it spiral up the finger, as shown on Through the Front Door.

8. Sand down any roughness, or scratches, and polish.

It takes some time to perfect your technique. I tried to bend them without heat at first but they wouldn’t curve nicely, they stayed very angular. I also tried to bend the metal while it was hot. However, the utensils tended to break at their thinnest point. I think because the metal was cooling unevenly, creating stress points. Once you find a system that works for you, it only takes a few dollars and a few minutes to create a lovely piece of silver jewelry, good luck!!

Tips for Sewing with Leather

My leather handbag has been coming along, but slowly. For my first foray into sewing with leather, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well it’s gone. I have already deviated from my original design a bit. I find it so hard not to experiment and change patterns during construction, whether they’re my own or not!

So far I’ve got the straps finished:

I’m still figuring out my flap design, but all the pattern pieces are cut out. I’m hoping to finish it this week, fingers crossed. In the meantime, I hope you all have been searching for your own leather jackets to cut up! Leather isn’t nearly as scary as it seems.

For anyone wanting to try their hand at sewing leather, below are some tips I’ve gathered from the web, books and experience. (These tips also apply to pleather, and vinyl.)

  • Don’t use pins, the holes they make won’t close up. Instead use binder clips for seams ready for the machine, and double-sided tape or rubber cement for details that can’t be clipped together.
  • Use tailor’s chalk or a sharpie to mark pattern pieces on the wrong side of the leather.
  • Purchase special leather sewing machine needles, these are sharper than regular needles and will pierce the leather with each stitch.
  • To make it easier for your machine to move the leather, use a walking foot, or teflon foot. I have also read you can stick scotch tape to a regular foot, trim it and it won’t stick to the leather, but when I tried it I saw no difference.
  • Use 100% nylon, or 100% polyester or rayon upholstery thread. To test thread for adequate strength hold 12 inches taut between your hands and pull, if it doesn’t break it will probably work okay.
  • Don’t use tiny stitches, it’s possible to rip a seam if the holes are so close together they perforate the leather.
  • For the same reason as above, don’t back-stitch, knot the end threads instead.
  • It is very likely that the tension of your machine will have to be adjusted to sew leather, test everything out on scraps first! I had to lower my upper tension a bit, to get nice stitching.
  • Don’t use an iron on leather, pound open seams with a rubber mallet, and glue with rubber cement or pound open and top stitch on either side of the seam. You can use fusible interfacing, just remember to use a pressing cloth.
  • For hand sewing, use a hand sewing leather needle. I didn’t, and ended up breaking several. It’s also advisable to use a thimble, or the needle just might go backwards into your skin, instead of forwards through the leather. I also found it helpful to use a small pair of pliers to help pull the needle through.
  • One last tip, use sharp scissors to cut through leather. If you are cutting through seams to take apart a jacket like I did, don’t use your nice fabric scissors. After taking apart the jacket, my scissors could barely cut thread.

Good luck with your leather projects, hopefully next time I post on the subject I’ll have a finished bag!

Letterpress Tray Jewelry Organizer: Update

One of my most popular posts ever has been my letterpress tray jewelry organizer. The concept wasn’t mine, do an image search and there are pages of examples. It’s a beautiful way to display jewelry, and since I’ve used it now for about 6 months, I wanted to do a little update to tell people how it has worked out. I always wonder if people actually use their do it yourself projects, or if it turns out it only looked good in the pictures.

I moved my entire jewelry collection to the tray, and it’s great to be able to see all the pieces at once. On the downside though, it gets very dusty every couple of months, and to throughly clean it the jewelry has to be removed.

I have used this time to go though my jewelry, and remove any that I no longer wear, and separate pieces that need repair or cleaning. I also found that if I don’t wear the scarves often enough, they need to be rotated so creases don’t form around the hooks.

Other than that I’ve loved the transition to my letterpress tray. I would advise anyone who wanted to make/buy a similar one, this concept works best with a jewelry collection that is fairly stable. If you are constantly adding new pieces, it would be hard to get each new piece to fit and be accessible on one tray. Another thing to consider, if you don’t wear jewelry much the pieces will get just as dusty as their holder over time.

So in conclusion, the letterpress tray jewelry organizer isn’t just a cool idea that everyone online has jumped on and tried. It’s practical, and it’s beautiful.


Here it is looking very eclectic on my very plain bedroom wall:

Letterpress Tray Jewelry Organizer

Here it is! My finished redo of the letterpress tray I bought second hand a week or so ago. It was my second letterpress tray find in less than a month. I also bought this one, but I don’t know yet what I will do with it. Anyway it was a very easy transformation here are the before pictures:

To begin I washed the whole thing with a damp rag, it was very dusty and grimy. There were several broken pieces and rough spots. I broke out the damaged areas and sanded them smooth.

I also broke out several planks to make custom cubbies for specific pieces of jewelry. I wanted a variety of different storage options for my jewelry so I bought tiny eyes for earrings, small hooks for necklaces and thin bracelets and also large coat hooks for scarves/purses. The biggest problem I ran into when attaching the hardware was how thin the separator planks were. I couldn’t screw the eyes in all the way or they would poke through and I couldn’t uses the hooks anywhere but in the thick outer frame. After rummaging in my craft drawer I used leftover upholstery tacks in the thin planks for when I wanted necklaces and bracelets lower on the tray.

It’s difficult to decide where to put the eyes, tacks and hooks, when there are almost endless options. I wanted to make sure I had a good place for all the jewelry I already own plus extra room for the collection to grow. So I drew up a plan for the tray and installed 5 or so pieces of hardware at a time. Occasionally I would put the jewelry on it and see where I needed more hardware, and mark where to put in on the plan. When I had a space for all my jewelry I went through and added extra space for future acquisitions.

After I attached all the hardware I took a damp rag dipped in black acrylic paint and “inked” up the tray to give it a deeper weathered appearance and to darken the areas where I broke out planks. Then I took a paintbrush and blackened the corners of many of the cubbies to add deeper shadows to the tray. I love how it turned out, a beautiful mix of vintage wood, a piece of printing history, shiny hardware and pretty jewelry.

Here it is one more time:

UPDATE 2/28/2012: I’ve written an update post about using this letterpress tray organizer read it here.

Postcard Journal: June

Here is another of my postcard journals, check out the original post here.

This one is very simple compared to May’s. I took a vintage postcard with no writing on it and affixed it with spray adhesive ( amazing stuff) onto a piece of thin cardboard folded in half. I inserted folded filler pages and sewed a line up the middle. For sewing paper remember to use a heavy-duty/jean/upholstery needle, heavy-duty thread and test out the tension on scrap paper first. I also stamped the pages with a date stamp and black ink. Not much else to say, like I said a very simple little notebook.

Postcard Journal Tutorial

Clear Cover Postcard Journal Tutorial

Check out pictures of my completed notebook here.

Supplies: postcard, coordinating paper, filler paper*, clear contact paper, corner rounder, date stamp & ink, white glue, spray adhesive, sewing machine & coordinating thread, close-pins or binder clips, utility knife or scissors

*for my small postcard, 8 sheets of regular printer paper cut twice gave me 16 double wide pages and once fold 32 pages, the extra page is used for attaching the filler paper to the cover

Read more

Soda Can Topped Box

One day after polishing off a delicious can of Dr. Pepper I got to thinking about the shiny metal it’s made of. So like anyone with time on their hands would do I cut one open. It resulted in the lovely box you see before you.

The easiest way I found to cut a soda can open is to:

1. drink it, rinse it out

2. slice into the top where the cylindrical body joins with the curved top with an expo knife

3. insert scissors into the hole and cut the top off

4. cut down the side in a straight line to the bottom curved section

5. cut off the bottom

6. flatten out the metal rectangle

For the top of the box I decided to use small squares that I could arrange. The metal varies in color slightly with each can so I cut up several to make a pleasing collage. To stick them to the box top I use satin pins (used for sewing). I started in the middle of the box and using pliers and a small hammer stuck the metal square to the box with a pin at each corner. To finish the edges I cut strips of thick cardboard, painted black and pinned them to the box as well.

To hide the pins on the inside of the box top I bent each pin flat and glued a piece of cardboard over it. Lastly I covered the inside with a cool patterned piece of scrapbook paper.

I love the texture the metal top gives to this otherwise plain box. Right now we use it as a catch all for cards, keys and change. To make it more functional one day I will add some dividers, and change out the lining (I don’t like the paper pattern, but I had it on hand and I really wanted to finish the project that day :))

Paper Roll Wall Art

I saw this great idea on Design Sponge, but they were featuring it off a very cool little blog called Growing Up Creative. This is such a pretty, organic looking piece of wall art you would never guess all you need to make it sitting in your bathroom right now (or I hope so.)Simple save your toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper tubes until you have enough to begin. Cut them into equal sized pieces, arrange them however (I think these look best when glued together as to mimic a growing plant) and then glue them together.

For my version I used hot glue so I didn’t have to wait long for each section it to dry, and gave it a very light coat of black spray paint. I love how much texture this is gives to the wall, and will probably expand it once I decide where to tack it up permanently. I think it would look very cool as a large wall covering over a sofa or sideboard. Also with this project the possibility are endless just like they said on Growing Up Creative, you could staple one together with your kids a craft project or take it all the way to a permanent artistic fixture in your home like I did.