making | baking | creating

DIY Beauty | Sugar Scrub Soap

Making your own soap is e.a.sy.  I had no idea and then in one of my many unsupervised visits to HobbyCraft, there I was, buying soap base, scents and a soap bar mould.

| WHAT YOU NEED |
Soap Base / Soap Mould / Soap Scent / Cucumber & Mint Scrub / Microwavable jug


| HOW YOU MAKE IT |

The process is really simple and you can fully customise your soap from start to finish.  Start with your soap base - there are a whole range to choose from.  To give myself a few future options, I opted for a transparent base.  Cut the base into squares of around 3cm [I found 3 of these filled one of my moulds, but the mould should let you know the water it can contain to help guide.
Transfer into a microwaveable jug and heat in 20 second bursts until melted:
Mix thoroughly and add any scent [or colouring] before filling your mould.  I filled mine half way, before adding my 'scent' - I wanted this soap to have the same fresh scent and properties as the scrub DIY I posted a few weeks ago, so used this to fill my moulds.  The transparent base would show the scrub floating [in theory!]:
Leave to sink and spread out, before topping the mould up with the remainder of your soap base to cover.

Leave the soap to set [this takes only around 15 minutes - quicker if you pop in the fridge] before removing easily from the moulds [make sure silicon is used]:
...and your soap is ready to be used.  I think this is the start of a new obsession.

DIY Home Decor | Decorative Letters

These decorative letters can be used for all sorts of jobs - paper weights, bookends, mantle or shelf fillers and table top decor - they can be used on their own, or together to form words and how you decorate them is endless.

| WHAT YOU NEED |
Plaster / Cup & Spoon / Gold Leaf / Letter Cutters [or mould here] / Glue / Brush

| HOW YOU MAKE THEM |

This DIY was a spontaneous make, so I used what I had - metal cookie cutters - which in turn gave the finished letters a unique finish, however; an easier option would be letter moulds - but here's how I made mine.

To protect my surfaces and provide a base to my cutters, I placed my cookie cutters on top of a perspex sheet:
Mixing my plaster to a ration of 2 heaped spoonfuls of plaster and 1 spoonful of water to create a slightly thicker, denser base than other plaster DIYs [photo holders / mini wire grid / pyramid ring holders] - make sure the plaster is pourable and smooth, before filling the cutters:
There was a little spread, as the perspex sheet and cutters had a small gap, but as the plaster dries quickly, it wasn't anything to worry about:
To remove the air bubbles, I held the cutters and bashed a jar on top to shake the plaster and force the air bubbles out.  Normally, the much simpler way, with a mould, it to gently tap the mould - but as I feared more spread of the plaster, I opted for this method.  If you wanted to turn your letter into a hanging, add a straw to the plaster and wriggle it a little as the plaster dries [to ensure you can remove it easily]:
Once dried, remove the plaster from the moulds.
This is where it became a little interesting.  Any shape with a centre [A, O, P, R, D, B, Q] became very difficult to remove without in turn making the cutter misshapen.  I only attempted an A, and even with subsequent attempts including vaseline and cling film, could not find a way round this :(
Smooth the edges of your plaster with a fine sandpaper.
As the cookie cutters didn't have a level to pour the plaster to, there's a bit of texture added to the finished look - different levels, some bubbles, dips and grooves - I like it as a contrast to the usual uniform finish I strive for.
For the decoration, I kept it simple with a little gold leaf.  Using a fairly dry brush of glue, I made a few brush strokes on to the plaster and then added my gold leaf sheet:
I removed the sheet and then, with a separate brush, gently brushed away the excess leaf to reveal a subtle gold leaf finish:
Your letters are now ready to be used and displayed:
What do you think? Did I get away with the cutters?

DIY Home Decor | Free-Hand Brush Stroke Art

Always.

| WHAT YOU NEED |
Stretched Canvas / Paint brush / Paint / Pencil

| HOW I MADE IT |

Deciding on what I wanted in my head was easy.  Translating it in to something I could make was a little harder.  I started by simplifying - the shape and the font.  Having something brush-stroke in style also meant that I didn't need to worry about perfect lines either, which helps!

I practiced a few fonts before deciding on the style I wanted and then traced this on to the canvas lightly with pencil.
I also practiced the outline style of the eiffel tower that I wanted to paint to at least give myself an idea of the stroke styles I needed.  But really, this is free hand, so there's only one way to go [for it].

With gold paint and a brush around 4cm wide, I used my practice for reference and made two long strokes from the middle top towards each bottom corner.  Using the side of the brush at the top for a thinner line and then pushing the brush down to create a thicker line towards the bottom.
I also made sure the brush was fairly dry, so that if it all went horribly wrong, I had an option to add more to either the thickness or density of colour.

Next, I added a curve at the bottom, horizontal strokes at each third point and some additional strokes to fill in the shape:
Once happy with the background, I used a thin brush, loaded with grey paint to trace over the text.
This was a lot less 'free' and I did find it a little harder - but for my first attempt, I am fairly happy with the result.  I gave myself the best chance by taking my time, using a light hand and adding more paint as I went between each letter.
Once finished and dried, I removed my pencil lines with a rubber.

...and just to prove that you can change your mind or make alterations later on, I wasn't completely happy with the Eiffel Tower shape - so I took some damp paper towel to the canvas to rub away the top and thinned this out:
The paint was much easier to remove than you may think and it means you don't need to worry about making irreparable mistakes!

Once completely happy with the overall look, I added a little more depth and interest, highlighting some areas with more paint:
I love the gold paint finish as it looks slightly different as the light changes:
It's a simple piece of DIY art that can add a little colour, break colour up, or even tie in some of your favourite pieces:
Would you be tempted by a brush stroke DIY of your own? Or do you have any tips for me if I attempt another?
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