RSS Feed

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Comic Book Superhero Coaster Tutorial

DIY Comic Book Coaster SetIt’s not quite Thursday but it’s time for a flash-back.

A project I did a loooong time ago for Mod Podge Rocks has been getting some attention and I wanted to do a little updating.

As you know my Etsy shop is all about coasters.  I also love comic book graphics but can’t make comic book coasters (pesky copyright law) and I thought it would be fun to share a way to make a set of that’s easy and doesn’t break the bank.

In the electrical/lighting section of Home Depot, I came across these metal blanks that are made to cover up unused outlets ($1.40 each).DIY Comic Coasters Cheltenham RoadYou can, of course,  buy round chip-board blanks for coasters and they are fine but a bit too light weight maybe.   A lot of people use ceramic tiles which are great (and could certainly be used here) but seem a bit large and heavy to me.  So I liked these outlet covers – sturdy, thin, moderately heavy and inexpensive!

For this project I usedSupplies for DIY Superhero Coaster Set

  1. The blanks – they come with a rubber gasket that will come in handy
  2. Outdoor Mod Podge (update! Mod Podge now comes in a dishwasher safe version which would be great!)
  3. Foam Brush
  4. Copies of comic book pages made with a laser printer
  5. Glue (not pictured – I used E6000)
  6. Spray paint (optional)
  7. 220 grit Sand paper

Step 1 Painting.

I wanted a white coaster so after lightly sanding the blank with some 220 Grit sandpaper (just to rough up the surface and give the paint something to stick to) I just popped them on top of some plastic cups and used Heirloom White spray paint.Geek Gifts Comic Book Coaster Tutorial Cheltenham RoadStep 2 Images

For my images I used cut-outs from a book about comics (I found it on a remainder table) but you can scan any comic books that you like and just print them (or have them printed out) on a laser printer/copier.  Do not destroy actual comic books!  It makes the nerds very angry.

Sometimes I find it hard to visualize what a section will look like when it’s cut out so I used my Fiskars Circle guide to get a sense of where on the page I wanted to cut. You could do the same by just cutting an appropriate sized hole in a piece of paper.Comic Book Coaster Set Cheltenham Road Tutorial

There are two screw holes in the blank and your paper will need to cover them. I chose to leave a little edge showing but it would also work to cover the entire surface with paper. If you go that route cut a circle a little larger than the blank and after applying it and allowing it to dry cut away the excess paper with a craft knife

STEP 3 MOD PODGING

After checking to make sure that my images were the right size and would cover the screw holes it was time to Mod Podge.

I like to dampen my images before attaching them as it reduces the bubbles and wrinkles that plagued me in my early Mod Podge attempts.

I fill a container with water and drop the image in to soak while I spread the Mod Podge on the outlet covers.

Super Hero Comic Book Coaster DIY Tutorial Cheltenham RoadWhen I pull the image out of the bath I run my fingers along either side of it to remove any excess water. After that I lay it on the surface and gently smooth it out pushing out any air that gets trapped or any excess Mod Podge (having a paper towel handy is helpful) and allow it to dry.

STEP 4 TOP COAT

After about 20 minutes I top coated the coasters with a layer of Mod Podge and allowed it to dry. I like to use a fairly thick coat as it minimized the brush marks – but, be warned, that method is a little messy.DIY Coasters with Vintage Comic Books a Cheltenham Road Tutorial

After that top coat had dried I  gave it a light sanding and applied another coat of Mod Podge.

STEP 5: GLUE ON THE BACK

I glued the foam rubber gaskets that come with the blanks onto the back using E-6000 glue. The gaskets are just a tiny, tiny bit bigger than the blanks so if you don’t like that look just use cork, some felt or some self-adhesive furniture pads.

And that’s all there is to it.

Vintage Comic Book Graphic Coasters Cheltenham Road Tutorial Just make sure you give the coasters plenty of time to cure before using them – several days to a week is best especially if you live in a humid climate.

If you use the diswasher safe Mod Podge they will be even sturdier – just don’t, you know, put them in the dishwasher.Superhero Coasters a DIY Tutorial Cheltenham RoadIf you wanted a truly hard surface on the coaster that would be more heat resistant you could use  Envirotex Lite – you can find it at Michaels.  It’s easy to work with just be sure to follow the package directions precisely.

I hope you found this useful and if you do make some coasters please make sure let me know

 

 

UWUG Project 4 Knife Holder and a Learning Curve

Vintage Sign Knife Holder tutorialMy parents are Life-Long-Learners. In their 90s they are taking classes at the local college – history, literature etc. Always learning. Very admirable.

I, on the other hand, am not a learning fan.  Or, more specifically, not a fan of the learning curve.

I want to know exactly how to do everything right out of the box. I don’t want to look at the map I want to know where I am!  I want to come up with an idea for a project and execute it flawlessly.

Weirdly, it juuuust doesn’t seem to work that way (I get lost a lot too).

For UWUG Project #4 I thought it would be cool to make a knife holder that was a vintag-y sign.

Simple!  Totes know how to do that!

And then the dreaded learning curve kicked in.

OK, supplies: Another piece of that old  dresser (another of the drawer sides like I’d used for the scrap wood trays) painted and distressed.Trash To Treasure Dresser Project Cheltenham Road Some magnets I had lying around for…..no apparent reason (where do these things come from? Who buys them and why do they keep leaving them at my house?) and a few strips of scrap wood.Magnets for DIY Knife Holder Cheltenham RoadI laid out my knife collection on the board and drew around them just to get a rough placement.How to make a vintage sign and knife holder Cheltenham Roadthen came up with a simple graphic – just textVintage Sign Knife Holder Tutorial Cheltenham Road

I printed it out in reverse and, using the Lenk tool, transferred it to my painted wood base.

I used scrap wood strips to make a little red frame around the sign just to give it some pop. Just strips of wood painted red and glued around the edges – butt joints again – nothing fancy.

I marked where I wanted my magnets to goHow to make a vintage sign and knife holder Cheltenham Road drilled shallow holes with a forstner bit Scrap Wood Sign and Knife Holderand glued them in place using trusty E6000.

Done!

Nope!

It turns out that the wood surface is a bit uneven so my carefully drilled holes weren’t all the same depth. That wasn’t a problem for the knifes that only had one magnet to hold them in place but for the bigger knives I’d used two magnets which were now at different levels and….no worky.

So I drilled them out and did it again.  All nice and level.

Done!

Nope!

All the knives gave a solid, reassuring click when placed on the magnets and then, when I tilted the sign up like you would on a wall, all the knives just gently slid down and crashed to the floor (no I did not stab myself in the foot…..I came close to stabbing myself in the foot which is VERY DIFFERENT!….Nicki…..)

Awesome.

Why hello drawing board. I have returned!  Did you miss me?

I had some more magnets (still no clue why) – smaller, more intense. More holes were drilled. Small magnets were glued.knife holder tutorial Cheltenham Road

Done!

Nope!

These magnets were so magnetty that when I put the big knife on it it defeated the glue and yanked the magnet out of the wood.

More glue and more drying time solved the problem.

Done!

For reals!

I had learned. I had curved. And next time will be super easy.Vintage Sign Knife Holder Cheltenham RoadNo, the knife on the end didn’t fall off.  I had created a tableau – cause I’m artsy like that.  I picked flowers!  I baked banana bread!   But then realized I couldn’t quite get the tableau in the picture.

Better.

Make a vintage sign and use it as a knife holder  Cheltenham Road tutorialOK.  Learning Curve Summary.  Notes for next time.

  • Small, super strong magnets are better.
  • Two magnets per knife
  • Drill all magnet holes to the same depth
  • I sealed it with wax which is great…..just do it perhaps, I don’t know,  before you glue the magnets in place (I got ahead of myself)
  • Give E6000 lots of drying time
  • wear shoes.  just in case.

YTTSMain5hosts

The Third Wine’s the Charm

Book Club Wine Charm Set Cheltenham RoadSo I thought, “wine charms! piece of cake! Easy! I’ll whip these bad boys out just as soon I finish this pie and fall off this log!”

******************************2 weeks later ***************************

“Stupid wine charms! Whose dumb idea was this?!………….. Taking forever…………”

*****************************4 weeks later ******************************

1 sets down! 10 more to go!!!!!!!!

I have to confess I often start off this way. The idea seems so straight-forward. So within my grasp. What could go wrong?!

And then reality hits.

You’ve gotta actually design the things because although Jane Eyre is in the public domain the actual book covers are…..not so much.Jane Eyre Wine Charm Book Club Wine Charm Collection by Cheltenham Road on Etsy

Then you have to figure out how. exactly to create them.Book Club Wine Charm Set by Cheltenham Road

Then you’ve got to round up (affordable!) resources so you can (hopefully) make them again and again.

(and I did thanks to my awesome sister and her husband who can make pretty much anything and run a little company called  PRPromotions)

And then, just when you think “done!” you are reminded that you’re a one-man-show and the packaging isn’t going to design itself!Wine Charms made from Classic Books by Cheltenham Road on EtsyBut then, happy and feeling like you’ve figured it all out you move on to design idea number two  and are confronted with the cold truth:  You don’t remember your High School French as well as you’d hoped.French Language Wine Charm SetAnd you can’t think of what to put on the “F” which will be for the designated driver:Designated Driver Wine Charm French ABCsAnd then you buy an new camera and become……focus challenged. Not that you can’t focus on what you’re doing but rather you can’t focus the camera on what you’ve done!what the

And you took 5 bazillion pictures that way…….

And then you think “clearly it’s time for a drink…….wait!, where’s my glass?……………Dammit!!!!!!!.  Oh the irony!”

PS: the Book Club set is up and ready on Etsy.

PPS: so much for my protestations of how my blog posts should always be helpful or educational….unless you count this as a cautionary tale I guess.

The Use What You’ve Got Project….and a plunge

As I mentioned before Feb/March are kinda slow months for me.  Etsy is quiet and the stores have done a post-Xmas restock but aren’t putting in big orders.

So, I have vowed to use the down time wisely – or at least productively.

On a very practical front I’ve started a Use What You’ve Got project.  The goal is to use up all the random bits of stuff I have lying around (like this embarrassing scrap wood pile)The Scrap Wood Pile Project - Cheltenham Roadwithout incurring extra expense. Projects must be made using only what is here already.  And there seems to be a lot that’s here already.

So far it has been a blast.  My brain is in over-drive with project ideas – so much over-drive that I keep shorting out – too overwhelmed by all the things I COULD do to know which one I SHOULD do – you know what I mean?

So I started with something simple, something in my wheelhouse – lettersHand cut wood letters

Letters are the perfect scrap project for me. Easy to cut, use a lot of wood and, as a bonus, painting them lets me use up the inexplicably huge store of random paint I have gathered.Vintage Style Wood Letters Cheltenham Road

So I made those and then –

I took a plunge!

Hopefully the beginning of a lot of plunge taking. Many things about Cheltenham Road need to move forward and first up – the quality of my photographs.

I struggle a lot with the photography side. Trust me, you’ve never seen someone go from zero to cranky as fast as I do the minute I pull out my camera. And I’ve been spending and insane amount of time Photoshopping my mediocre pictures to make them presentable.

So the first step on the make it better chart was to buy a better camera.  I breathed deeply, got over my sticker shock and I am now the proud owner of a Nikon D7100.nikon d7100It’s intimidating. There is a ton to learn.

But, in truth, my pictures came out better just pointing it at something and knowing nothing.

For instance here is the same shot of some letters with my old camera and my new one.Camera Test ComparisonI’ve done nothing to the set up or the lighting – just swapped them on the tripod.  Both cameras were on “auto.”

It’s not a great picture or anything but imagine what I can do  if when I read the manual!

And then I started playing around with shots of some new coasters and I think they came out looking a bit more polished too. Union Station Vintage Subway Art Graphic Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Retro Style Los Angeles Subway Art Coaster Set by Cheltenham RoadSo cool! Steep learning curve but cool! And I’ve got about 10 scrap wood projects going.  And a blog upgrade underway and….and….AND!

More to come!

Lather, Rinse REPEAT. Staying Focused

The Zen version of me knows that:Life is a JourneyBut Actual-Me is hopelessly focused on:are we there So I’m not really a process-person.  I want to jump right to the finish- the finished product, the end of the book, I want to make the purchase not do the research.  You get the idea.

But my I want it NOW attitude (an approach which lead to the ill-advised Oompa Loompa acquisition of ’72) has not been serving me very well of late. There are lots of steps involved in running this business and I’ve been having trouble really keeping myself disciplined, on task and getting stuff done.

So I’ve adopted some strategies.

It’s so easy to let time slip away when part of your job is to look at other blog posts or scan Pinterest (or answer emails etc). I sit down fully intending to just to a couple of quick things and then BAM two hours have passed and I’m behind for the day.

So I’ve become very friendly with an old (and dusty) egg timer.egg timerI’ll confess I feel a bit like one of Pavlov’s dogs but this simple tool has had an wonderful effect.  If I set the timer for an hour. I’m going to work for a solid hour – no breaks, no wandering away -“just focus but only for an hour I tell myself.” It is AMAZING what I can accomplish in that hour and how energizing it is to “race against the clock.” Not “race” as in madly scurrying around stressing out but “race” as in move efficiently.

My second trick is podcasts.

My business is challenging and quite creative but there is A LOT of tedium – repetitive tasks that always seem daunting and certainly aren’t a lot of fun.

Coaster Back CuttingCutting Coaster BacksSealing Coasterstop coating coastersPainting Blockspainting tea light holdersBecause I have to actually look at what I’m doing having the TV on wont work. Listening to newscasts got a bit grim and music can only take me so far.

Podcasts to the Rescue!!!!

Free! Fascinating! Covering every aspect of life!

My current go-to’s are:

Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s like hanging out with a group of smart, funny and perceptive friends who are all totally into the things that you are totally into. Books, movies, TV, music.

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (on itunes) – Always funny and (somewhat) educational.

This American Life Radio Archive – Fascinating stories

Crash Course: Really intense, short lessons in history, science and all kinds of stuff.  The teachers are waaaay over-caffeinated (and funny). They are excellent and often so over-packed with fast flying information that I have to listen to them twice.

School of Greatness – Lewis Howes is sort of a motivational speaker and his podcast has interviews with folks from all walks of life talking about success and their philosophies.  It can be very inspiring.

I find myself actually looking forward to the tedious tasks because I get to listen to the podcasts.

Do you have favorite podcasts? Tips for keeping yourself on task? If so please share them.

On a different note:

I’ve said before how very, very much I appreciate all your comments. I truly do.

I don’t’ often call out comments but I felt compelled to bring this one to the attention of a certain subset of my readers.

The lovely and incredibly insightful Tracey commented recently writing:

Wish……. that I was one of your sisters. You’re fun!

So you see it is as I have been saying for years to a certain subset of my readers: People are lining up to have me as their brother!

Please note that nowhere does the lovely and insightful Tracey use (nor seem to be contemplating using) phrases such as: “Obnoxious twerp,” “you were adopted” or “the mistake from the 60s”

I just wanted to point that out….to a certain subset of my readers.

OK, my timer just went off. It’s time for coasters and podcasts!

 

 

 

 

Busy January

I have successfully taken down my Christmas decorations!

Well, except for that one thing. Do you have that? You pack everything neatly away and THEN discover that one ornament or whatever that you somehow missed. And now it’s a total pain to get all the boxes back out so it just sits there mocking you……all year.that one dang ornament

No? You don’t have that? It’s just me?

Awesome.

So, I’ve moved on from Christmas but I’m always surprised by how busy January is for me.

I tend to think of post-Christmas as a time when nobody would want to acquire anything else.

But apparently that too is just me. I’ve been working on a bunch of custom HOME signs and a family is decorating their new nursery with vintage NY theme (I think I’m gonna like this kid!):Custom Child's Name Sign by Cheltenham Road

On another front, this is what happens to my dining room table when a store decides they need A LOT of subway signs.Custom Subway Art Signs Cheltenham Road

And I’ve been trying to come up with some new designs.

Some are just variations on a theme like these restyled vintage subway graphic tea light holders:Retro Subway Art Style New York and LA Candle Holders by Cheltenham Road

Vintage Subay Graphic Candle Blocks by Cheltenham RoadAnd some are re-designs of current products.

My vintage baseball coaster sets have been some of my better sellers on Etsy.

However, since initially designing them my knowledge of baseball history has grown and I’ve been meaning to revise them to reflect more great Hall of Fame players.

First up is my Chicago Cubs revision featuring the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance triple play (and Mordicai Brown cause, you know….four coasters in a set).Chicago Cubs Baseball Card Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road onEtsy

And then I got to work on my Detroit Tigers set to more prominently feature Ty Cobb and Hughie Jennings.Vintage Detroit Tigers Hal of Fame Baseball Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

This also allowed me to work on my improved Photoshop skills.

You see baseball cards are rectangular and my coasters are square so if you just resize the originals you end up with short, fat baseball players.   Now that isn’t, necessarily, historically inaccurate but still not quite what I’m looking for.  So, every element of the image must be taken apart, resized and then reassembled.

It’s slow going.

Only 10 more teams to left!  Four players to a set…..40 images…….yay!

And, finally, I honing in on a new product that you’ll first see as a Mod Podge Rocks tutorial but here is a little preview. Tutorial Preview Simple Subway Art DIY Mod Podge Wine Charms Cheltenham Road for Mod Podge Rocks

I thought wine charms would be a fun and versatile idea (clearly I’m a subway art kick – the dining room table must be effecting my brain).

I’m thinking these have a lot of potential partly because my mind is exploding with various ideas for graphics and themes. I keep having to stop what I’m doing to write them down or I know I’ll forget.

So, that’s me.  What is everyone else working on?

A Minor Set “Back”

So, I’m gearing up for the holidays (yes, I should have already geared but I don’t seem to be very good at pre-gearing).  I’m filled with ideas about what I want to do and I’m in full-factory mode churning out tons of coasters (one store ordered 500 and now speculates that they may have underestimated their need).

So all is good!

And then, foolishly, I got out of my car last Sunday.

And that was all it took for  the herniated disc in my lower spine to decide that, after years of dormancy, NOW was the perfect time to totally freak out.

What followed was an entire week of moving veeeery slowly and sleeping veeeery badly and being veeeery whiny.  It was fun!  You should have come over!

Thoughtful friends offered to share their Vicodin supplies which was sweet but made me really wonder why everyone but me seems to have so many drugs at hand.  However, I’d tried Vicodin years ago and it didn’t seem to have much of an effect.  Actually all it seemed to do was make me care a little less about the pain….. which was interesting if not particularly helpful.  So I muddled through with Naproxin.

So, since lifting things (like the garage door!)  was out of the picture I thought I’d catch up on trying some new designs and playing with my camera.

I’m just not a good photographer but I’m trying to improve.  I can’t decide if I need a new camera or a new me but I usually spend about an hour taking pictures and then three hours working in Photoshop to make them not suck.  I am only occasionally successful.

My pics on Etsy of my New York HOME sign left a lot to be desired – I’m kind of amazed (and grateful) that people took the leap and purchased it.New York HOME sign by Cheltenham Road on Etsy

I think these are a bit of an improvement.New York City HOME wood sign by Cheltenham RoadNYC HOME sign Wooden Sign by Cheltenham Road on Etsy`

I wanted to find some new, vintage nightclub graphics for Bar Keeper (the store that ordered 500 coasters).Vintage Los Angeles Hollywood Cocktail Lounge Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road on EtsyThere is just something about these old matchbook coversVintage Cocktail Lounge Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

I have no idea if some of these places were greatLos Angeles Vintage Cocktail Lounge Coasters by Cheltenham Road

Or just dive barsVintage Hollywood Coasters by Cheltenham Road

(OK The Hangover Room was probably a dive bar)

But somehow the covers make them all seem fun and exotic.Retro Los Angeles Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

But I now have to make a choice.  ballyhooI have five new images but only need four.  Which should I drop? (I’m honestly asking)

I’m happy to report that my back is much better today – so I’m” back” on track.  Which is great as being waylaid there really did get my mind racing with ideas.  Now lets see if I can turn them into reality!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,415 other followers

%d bloggers like this: