Showing posts with label engraving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label engraving. Show all posts

6 Stages of Crafting

While I was working on my chair re-upholstery project, I began thinking about the process I go through during every project that I work on. Big or small, it's always the same. If you are a crafter or love a crafter, my theory may help you understand and work through this crazy routine. Let me explain.

You may be familiar with the Five Stages of Problem Solving.

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Producing ideas
  3. Testing ideas
  4. Choosing an idea
  5. Planning for action

And you have probably heard of the Seven Stages of Grief.

  1. Shock and Denial
  2. Pain and Guilt
  3. Anger and Bargaining
  4. Depression, Reflection and Loneliness
  5. Upward Turn
  6. Reconstruction and Working Through
  7. Acceptance and Hope

My theory is that somewhere between these two philosophies lie the Six Stages of Crafting.

1. Inspiration and Enthusiasm

It occurs when you least expect it. You may see a picture in a magazine, an item in a store or maybe you run across an idea on the internet (like when you are still scrolling through Pinterest at 2 a.m.). All of a sudden, you have the spark that pushes you to create your next masterpiece and you can't wait to get started.

2. Organization and Procurement

You know what you want to make. Now you need to figure out exactly how you are going to do it. You skim through a tutorial, realize you don't have any of the necessary supplies, head to the store and buy everything you think you will need (and then some.)

3. Initiation

You have the tools and supplies and are about to begin. You get out the glue and scissors and start crafting...

Then life happens!

The kids need a ride to soccer practice. The dog has an appointment at the groomers. Eight loads of laundry, including soccer uniforms, are piled across the living room floor. Something is burning on the stove. Your husband is running late. By the way, you are out of milk, eggs, bread, peanut butter, cereal and bananas.

4. Frustration and Anxiety

The kids are at their friend's house. The dog has been fed. Your husband is watching the big game. Now, you finally have time to work on your project. You are just getting started when you realize one of the following things:

  • You forgot to get one critical material or tool
  • You did not buy enough (choose one or more) fabric, yarn, paint, glue, glitter...
  • Somehow, you measured once and cut twice instead of the other way around
  • The directions said "Easy," but unless you are Martha friggin' Stewart there's no way

At this point you may regress and repeat Stages 2, 3 and 4, or toss the project into a dark corner for days, weeks, months, years, even decades. Either way, these things take time.

5. Reflection and Determination

You are back on Pinterest (at 2 a.m.) where you are reminded of your project, lurking in the shadows, as you peruse the 237 pins on your "Projects to Try" board. You also notice your "My Finished Projects" board. Really, 0 pins?

That settles it. Who does that Martha Stewart think she is anyway?

You retrieve your project from its hiding place with a new sense of purpose and continue where you left off. This time things are going to be different.

6. Completion

After countless hours, trips to the craft store and anxiety attacks, it's done. Did it turn out like the Pinterest photo? Maybe not, but that's okay. You created it with your own two hands, passion and a little bit of luck. You breathe a sigh of relief.

You get distracted while you are pinning a picture onto "My Finished Projects" when you see another exciting creation on "Projects to Try."

And why do we subject ourselves to these 6 Stages of Crafting, over and over again?

Because crafting is relaxing and fun, of course!

Happy crafting.

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Farewell Loyal Friend - Part 2

My friend, Jennifer, lost her dog, Minnie, shortly after we lost Chili. As we were talking one day, she asked me about engraving on rocks. Her idea was to engrave Minnie's name on a rock for her yard as a little reminder of a great dog.

I've never engraved on anything except glass and metal, so I wasn't sure how well rock engraving would work. But, I am always up for a creative challenge. As soon as I returned home, I got out my Dremmel engraver and found a practice rock in the yard. The result was quite nice, so I shared the process with Jennifer. Here's how she engraved a simple keepsake in memory of her special friend.



We live in Arizona, so there is no shortage of rocks. When you are picking a rock to engrave on you want to make sure in is fairly smooth. The engraving also shows up better if your rock is darker. If you are new to engraving, it's also a good idea to pick a flat rock so it isn't wobbling while you work.

Lay a towel down on your work surface. It helps catch dust and rock fragments and provides a little cushion.

With a pencil, write the words you would like to engrave. You could also include a small picture or design. If you mess up, just erase the words and write them again.

Put on your safety glasses. You want to protect your peepers from any flying fragments.

With the engraver on setting 5, begin tracing your design. You should hold the rock steady with one hand and hold the engraver with the other. It's not as tricky as it sounds. It works best if your engraver is at a slight angle. Also, you will need to make sure you are pressing the engraver firmly into the rock.

 Brush off the dust and rinse your rock.

Rock engraving is just one way you can create a unique keepsake that shows the impression your loyal friend left on your life.

Final Note - As we were getting ready to work on this project in my studio, we looked at the shadow box from my previous post. Jennifer made a keen observation that if you didn't have a paw print, you could easily use an engraved rock instead. It's one more way to remember your faithful companion. With love.

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Glass Engraving

Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending.
-Author Unkown

Engraving is a simple and inexpensive way to personalize items. You could commemorate an event, like a wedding or birthday, or just make a fun home decor item with your favorite quote. Another idea is to engrave your New Year's resolutions onto a champagne bottle.

If you can use a pen, you can engrave. Seriously. For this project, we'll be engraving a quote on a wine bottle that can be hung on the wall.


  • Clean, dry wine bottle with a hole drilled on the back (How to Drill Through Glass)
  • Tape Measure
  • Quote printed on paper
  • Carbon paper
  • Scissors
  • Ball point pen
  • Tape
  • Safety glasses
  • Towel
  • Pen Engraver


First, a bit about engraving pens.  I bought my engraving pen at Michael's. It looked kind of chincy but after giving it a try I fell in love. It was inexpensive, it's cordless, it only takes two AAA batteries and it is very easy to handle. You could also try the General Tools 505 Cordless Precision Engraver with Diamond Tip Bit available on Amazon. It looks like a comparable item.

Let's get started. Begin by measuring the engraving area on your wine bottle. Remember, you don't want to engrave over the seams. On my bottle, the area I wanted to engrave on was about 4 x 6 1/2 inches.

You can use a word processing program to print a quote or other words that fit into that area. Pick a nice font and position your words the way you like. If you want, you can use same quote I did. "Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending."

Print your words and cut the paper the same size as your engraving area. Cut a piece of carbon paper the same width as the words you are using.

Prepare your work surface by covering it with a large towel. This will help keep things clean by catching the bits of glass dust produced when engraving.

Position the carbon paper and tape it to your bottle.

Position the words you will be engraving and tape them to your bottle.

Trace over your pattern with a ball point pen.

Remove the pattern and carbon paper.

Before you start engraving, put on your safety glasses. You don't want any glass dust getting into your eyes. Ouch!

As you engrave, you need to be careful not to wipe off your carbon pattern. I do this by starting my work at the bottom of the bottle and working right to left, bottom to top.

For thicker embellishments I start by engraving the outline and will go back later to fill them in.

Hold the engraving pen at a slight angle, push the button and begin. You don't need to press down on the engraver any harder than you would if you were writing with a pen. You can blow off the glass dust as you go if it starts to cover your pattern.

Here's how mine looked after a couple minutes.

Continue engraving your letters and outlining the embellishments.

Once you are done with this part you can go ahead and wipe the dust and what's left of your carbon pattern onto the towel.

This is a great time to take a break. Your hand is probably a little tired, and your engraving pen may be getting warm.

After your break, fill in the embellishments by using small strokes to color in the empty space. Filling in larger areas makes a lot of dust, so you will need to stop frequently and wipe the dust on the towel so you can see what sections still need to be filled.

Once the embellishments are filled, you may want to go back and engrave over your letters one more time. It adds a little more depth to your work and improves the contrast between the engraving and the glass color.

When your engraving is complete, wash all the dust and carbon off your bottle to leave it sparkling clean. Now, you are just a hammer and nail away from displaying your awesome work on the wall. Enjoy your personalized creation, or pass it on to a good friend as a gift!

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How to Drill Through Glass

Glass bottles are such a versatile medium. You can use them to decorate in so many ways both inside and out. I had a couple projects in mind where I would need to drill a hole into a bottle. Unfortunately, I kept having visions of the glass shattering everywhere and the mess and injuries that I would have to endure. So, I was a little hesitant.

But the creative bug bit me and I had to figure out how to do this. It's actually not as hard or scary as I expected, and with a little practice, I am getting pretty good at it.


  • Clean glass bottle
  • Electric drill
  • Diamond tip glass drill bit
  • Safety glasses
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Non-slip mat or a small towel
  • Packaging Tape
  •  Painters Tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Sand paper (optional)



Before you begin, remember to practice common sense safety guidelines. Always wear your safety glasses when drilling glass. It's also a good idea to wear a long sleeve shirt and pants.

Start by inserting your drill bit. I used a half inch bit, but diamond bits are available in different sizes. Just check and make sure the bit you are using is designed for drilling glass.

Set up by placing something soft like a towel or non-slip mat (like you might use in a kitchen drawer to keep utensils from sliding) on your work surface. It will help keep the bottle from rolling, absorb some of the pressure from drilling, and collect the small bits of glass dust and debris that are produced when drilling.

Next, position the bottle on the mat.

Stick a couple small strips of painters tape in the approximate location of where you would like the hole to be placed. Make sure you will not be drilling over the seam of the bottle. I've never tried drilling on the seam, but it seems more likely for the bottle to break or shatter if you drill there.

With a permanent marker, draw the location of your hole onto the painters tape.

Secure the bottle to your work surface with packaging tape. This keeps the bottle from rolling while you drill. I use a piece of tape along the neck of the bottle and a piece across the bottom portion of the bottle. You will be using both hands to work the drill, so you don't want the bottle rolling around.

Use the spray bottle to mist the area where you will be drilling.

It's time to drill the hole. Start slow.

With the drill at a slight angle and running at a slow speed begin drilling the lower part of the hole. gradually tip the drill so that the bit is perpendicular to the bottle. I think it works best to have the drill running before it touches the bottle.

Once the hole is started, stop the drill, lift it from the surface, and mist the surface with water again. It is important to keep the area where you are drilling wet.

Place the drill back into position and continue drilling. You can gradually increase the drill speed. Remember to use light pressure on the drill. You don't need to press it very hard onto the bottle. It's okay to stop and mist the bottle if you need to.

You will be able to tell when you are almost through the bottle by the sound of the bit on the glass. It will start to get more high pitched.

After you have completed drilling, you can remove the packaging tape and painters tape. Pour the round piece of glass out of the bottle. Carefully flush the bottle and the area around the hole with water until all the glass dust has been washed away. Use a thick rag to dry around the hole in case any glass bits remain.

If you need to, you can use a small piece of sandpaper to smooth the area around the hole.

You can hang a bottle (or three) on the wall to use as a wall vase.

But why stop there? Watch for my next post which will be about glass engraving. If you can use a pen, you can engrave glass. You will be surprised at how easy it is to produce a beautifully engraved glass bottle suitable for display on your wall.

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1 Picture = 1000 Words

So if a picture is equal to a thousand words, what do 273 pictures add up to? Maybe 1000 four-letter words.

I consider myself to be a crafts-person, even an artist, but one thing I am not is a photographer. I spent a good portion of the morning playing with my new glass etching tools. I was very satisfied with my results and hope to get a couple of my designs posted for sale on Etsy, soon. Of course to post an item, you really need to include a couple pictures.

Good lighting is key to a good picture. Natural lighting is better than fluorescent. Hold the camera steady. Say, "Cheese!"

Sadly, when you are taking a picture of a non-reflective design on a colored, opaque, rounded, reflective surface, things become more complicated.

Too much light makes too much of a reflection and you can't see the etching. Not enough light and there is no contrast between the glass and the design so you can't see the etching. A dark reflective surface blends in to a dark background. A dark reflective surface casts odd shadows on a light background. Shiny. Blurry. Dark. Ahhhh....

I tried pictures inside, outside, with low light, bright light, flash, no flash, light background, dark background, and every combination possible.

Finally, I got a couple decent shots. They hardly do the engraving justice, but at least you get the idea. This is the front and back of the same bottle.

Here's another.

I also engraved a clear bottle that has the saying, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us," from Ralph Waldo Emerson. I spent a lot less time photographing this one, but hopefully you get the idea.

If you are interested in a custom project with your own personalized engraved message or design, just e-mail me at

If any of you are willing to donate your empty wine bottles to the cause, I would greatly appreciate them. Then, every time you drink a glass of wine, you can be happy that your bottle will help save the planet by becoming a piece of upcycled art.


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Resolutions - Part 2

Sometimes great opportunities come when you least expect them. When I posted Resolutions - Part 1, I had a really simple project for a resolutions necklace that I planned to share in Part 2. It is made with some metal rings that have inspirational words engraved on them. The one I frequently wear says, "Passion, Strength, Integrity" which kind of goes along with the idea of being passionate and determined.

I purchased the metal rings years ago at Michael's and wanted to make sure they still carried them before I sent anyone on a wild goose chase. I scoured the beading section and couldn't find them anywhere. Hmm... Now what do I do for Part 2? I still liked the inspirational words idea, but there were no materials available to make what I was envisioning.

That's when my good fortune began. I stumbled across a mini-engraver and some metal blanks that I could engrave my own words on. I've never done any engraving before, but I am fairly competent at calligraphy and painting. How different could it be? So I bought the engraver and metal and headed home with a vision.

Since my project was not going as I originally planned, I decided to add a third piece to my resolution. I want to be passionate and determined, but sometimes when things don't happen the way you expect you need to be a little inventive so you can find a workable solution.

I started engraving on a piece of scrap metal. Kind of cool, but not great. Next, I tried engraving on the metal blanks. It was difficult and I wasn't pleased with the results. Then, I had an epiphany. The directions said the engraver could be used on things besides metal. What about engraving on glass? I'll have a beautiful champagne bottle in a few hours. Wouldn't that be a cool place to engrave my resolutions?

New Year's Day I slipped on my new shoes, grabbed my engraver and began my work. The result was even better than I could have expected. It will be displayed proudly in my home as a reminder of what I can be in 2012.

My next project... Maybe an engraving with the words, "Start running every day. Learn a new language. Buy fewer shoes." Then again, maybe not

Happy New Year!

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