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Here are some craft recipes that may save you a little money -- and add to your "craft satisfaction."

Do not eat them.

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For us, part of the satisfaction of making something comes from REALLY making it. From scratch. We believe that crafting and scrapbooking has to be much more than assembling things made by someone else. That is why these home-made craft recipes are so much fun. When you start to make your own supplies and materials -- it emboldens your pioneering spirit. Or, your inner miser. Your choice.

Crackle Medium for Paint

You know what a crackle paint finish looks like; old paint that has weathered the years under the sun, with an alligator-skin texture showing the old paint color in the cracks through the newer paint. You can imitate it in a few hours. The process has three steps: paint the undercoat color; brush on the clear crackle medium and let it dry; and brush on the contrasting top coat color. As it dries, it will crack.

The cracking is caused by the crackle medium absorbing moisture from the top coat of paint, swelling and stretching, and tearing the paint apart.

You can buy crackle medium or entire kits at a craft store. Trust us; this is the easiest and most predictable way of getting the effect. If you are a brave soul, you can make your own crackle medium.

The recipe for crackle medium is simple:
  • Hide glue (popular brands are Gorilla or Titebond). This glue is used in furniture construction and is derived from "collagen", which is a protein constituent of skin, bone and connective tissue, usually from cows. It can be purchased in liquid form, or as a dry powder that must be mixed with water and heated. A fluid ounce will cover two square feet.
  • Water (optional).
This process only works with acrylic or latex (water-based) paints. Matte finish paints are better, but gloss will work. Choose two contrasting colors. Paint your project with the base color and let it dry.

Crackle paint, step 1When your base coat of paint is dry, brush on a coat of hide glue with a wide foam or bristle brush (you may dilute the glue slightly with water, which will make the cracks smaller). Let it dry thoroughly - like a full day.

Crackle paint, step 2Quickly brush on the topcoat of paint, using a wide brush and cover as much area as possible with one coat, avoiding overlapping strokes. The paint will begin to separate immediately, forming the cracks. A light coat of paint will form thin cracks, and a heavy coat will form larger cracks.

Crackle paint, step 3Once it has dried, you can antique the finish with light sanding and rubbing in a dark acrylic or oil paint wash, to accentuate the aged appearance. It is wise to protect the finish with matte varnish.

Craquelure Varnish Finish

This technique results in an aged varnish finish, veined with fine cracks like old porcelain or a Stradivarius. Very simply, it is a slow-drying varnish topcoated with a fast-drying varnish. When the undercoating finally dries, it shrinks, cracking the top varnish. You can get the effect with:
  • Oil-based varnish (not the fast-drying kind)
  • Boiled linseed oil (a few drops for a half-cup of varnish)
  • Fast-drying water-based varnish
  • Dark oil glaze, like artist oil paint
Add the boiled linseed oil to the oil-based varnish (to retard drying). Coat the surface evenly and thinly with the oil-based varnish. When the first coat starts to get tacky, apply a generous coat of the quick-drying water-based varnish. Let it dry for two hours. The cracks may not be visible. To accentuate the cracks, rub a dark oil glaze over the entire surface and wipe clean with a lint-free cloth. Let it dry for three days. Coat with an oil-based varnish. (Try this technique on the Antique Blocks!)

Blender Pen Refill (waterbased)

Don't buy new blender pens - refill them with this simple recipe.
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons glycerin (available at pharmacy or craft stores)
  • 5 tablespoons distilled water
  • 1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol

Mix the ingredients in a jar. Gently pull your pen tips out of the pen and soak them in the solution for an hour. Replace one tip, use an eyedropper to fill the pen with solution, and replace the other tip.

Lick-and-Stick Envelope Glue

This gets passed around like a favorite cookie recipe. It is a must if you are making notecards as gifts.
  • 6 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 4 1-oz. packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon flavoring (peppermint extract is traditional)

Boil vinegar in a small pan. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add flavoring. Store in a tight jar in the refrigerator. If the glue solidifies in the jar, open the jar and melt it again with a few seconds in the microwave, or in a pan of hot water. To use, brush a thin layer on the envelope flap and let dry. Lick and stick!

Tea Stain for Paper or Natural Fabric

When a piece of paper or fabric isn't quite aged enough, you can speed up the clock with a nice cup of tea. You'll get a warm brown patina with some darker age spots.
  • Two tea bags
  • One quart of water
Boil the water, remove from heat and steep the tea bags for 15 minutes. Pour the tea into a flat pan (large enough to lay the paper in). Submerge the paper. For a light stain, let it soak for an hour. For deeper shades, double the amount of tea bags and the soaking time. For darker stained spots, move the tea bags around on the paper at 10 minute intervals. When you have steeped enough, remove your paper and press it between layers of paper towels under some books. If the paper curls when dry, press it flat again under a weight or with a warm iron. By the way; scented tea, like cinnamon or herbal, will scent the paper or fabric. Or try brewed coffee for a deeper brown color.

Too much trouble? Take a shortcut by making a cup of strong, black tea, then blotting the tea bag around on the paper until you get the effect you want. (Try aging some sheet music for our Wedding Scrapbook page)

Verdigris (Blue/Green) Patina on Copper

A patina can be defined as a thin layer of colored oxidation which occurs on some metals over time, such as the blue/green or gray rust on copper or bronze. The romantic name is verdigris: Think of crusty old copper roofs or a weathered bronze statue. When making crafts using natural copper, adding a green patina can create the old-world appearance of a vintage artifact.

Here are five techniques to add patina to natural copper - and one outrageous shortcut. But before you start: Clean the copper to remove any grease or coating. Be very careful with chemicals or ammonia: wear chemical gloves and work in a ventilated area. The solutions can be applied to the copper by spray, brush or sponge. The patina usually appears after the copper has dried completely. It may take several applications and results can vary wildly.

Okay, ready? The first four recipes are for the purists who must do everything from scratch.

  1. Apply a mild solution of 20% salammoniac (found at metal supply stores) dissolved in 80% distilled water.
  2. Apply a solution of 50% Dormant Spray (Lime-Sulfur Fungicide found at garden supply stores) and 50% distilled water.
  3. Apply a solution of salt (10%), ammonium chloride (10%), liquid ammonia cleaner (20%), and wine vinegar (60%). Ammonium chloride can be purchased from chemical suppliers.
  4. Put the copper in a plastic or glass air-tight container. Cover the copper with a light layer of salt and put an open container of ammonia with it. Seal the container overnight.
  5. Purchase a copper patina solution at your craft store and follow the directions. This always works.
  6. And one outrageous shortcut:

  7. Sponge or brush on an imitation patina using diluted (with water or glazing medium) turquoise, blue, green and gray craft paints. Use your best antiquing techniques of glazing, dabbing and wiping. It is much faster and much more controllable than chemical mixtures.
Verdigris patinas can be delicate, so protect your final, dry copper surface with a clear finish like polyurethane or lacquer. Have fun making instant antiques, like the Vintage Suncatcher.

(More to come)

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