Monday, February 5, 2018

Adventures in vinyl cutting- Oracal 651!

Because I refuse to ever utter the words "I'm bored," I've come up with yet another hobby!  In my quest to find ways to get more use out of the Pazzle Creative Cutter Pro, I've taken up vinyl cutting.
It started off innocently enough- we signed up to do a craft sale before Christmas, and I decided to make some Christmas themed wine glasses.  I ended up with these:

From there, I stretched myself a little bit and started experimenting with some other vinyl designs and I even layered some vinyl:

I started down a rabbit hole of vinyl--- and I discovered HTV (heat transfer vinyl) and fell in love!  That's a post for a different day....

Problem: I had absolutely no idea what the heck I was doing.  So, I thought maybe I'll share some of my tips and tricks to help a fellow crafting "wannabe". 

For cutting, I use either a Cricut Expression (with the cartridges) or a Pazzle Creative Cutter Pro.  I love the Pro for designing my own creations, but it's ALL THE WAY down the driveway at my mom's house, and sometimes I am just so lazy I don't want to walk.  The Dalek in the picture above (for those of you that don't do Dr Who, it's the blue thing) I actually cut by hand with an exacto knife.  Not recommend, unless you're a fan of hand cramping.

The permanent vinyl I used for all of the above projects is Oracal 651 vinyl, found here.  It's available in SO MANY colors.  There is also a more removable type of Oracal vinyl, but I haven't found a reason I'd want to use that.  Probably for walls, but I have textured walls at my house and things don't stick very well to those.
KEEP IN MIND- if you are making glasses, they need to STAY OUT OF THE DISHWASHER!  From experience (not my experience), you will end up with a plain glass when the dishwasher cycle is finished.  Not cool.

Using this vinyl is pretty straight forward.  I set my Cricut to 6, stuck the vinyl down on the medium (green) mat, and let her go!  To cut the vinyl on the Pazzle, I set the pressure at 100 and a couple of times I had to hit copy to give it another pass with the blade.
The first time I did it, I plucked out the image and stuck it on the glass.  Dumb move.  Don't do that.

Cut around your image (but be careful not to cut through your image accidentally- yes, I've also done that when I sampled some wine out of a glass I had created....) leaving a border.  Remove the other stuff you don't want off the mat.  You'll be left with a chunk of vinyl on the mat.  Weed the design.  This just means that you pull the unwanted parts off the backing.  This includes the insides of letters.  I have to get a lamp to do this in the future, because it's very hard to see all the little parts.  Throw that stuff in the garbage.  You should be left with the backing and your letters or image.  Then, take the transfer tape (found here) and rub it over your design.  Rub hard!
Peel up the transfer tape, and your image should be stuck to it.  Then, stick it to your project.  It's really that easy!!!

I got braver after doing several wine glasses and cut some with some pretty curly fonts.  Those stunk and were very stressful.  I would start out with block letters or easy to cut fonts and work your way up to the curly fonts.  This one was especially bad, as those Js, Gs, and Ks were an absolute pain in the butt:

Yes- this was a special order!
These were much easier:

Next up:
HEAT TRANSFER VINYL- Oh my gosh!!!  The possibilities are endless!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A weekend to work!

This hardly ever happens!  It's springtime, the weather is beautiful, and I have an entire weekend to work!  My only commitments for the entire weekend are picking my daughter up on Sunday and a community band function on Saturday morning.  This is a total rarity.  So, I got dirty and busy.... and now (it's Saturday night) I have pushed my poor body as far as it will go.  I fear I have collapsed in a pile.  So, I thought I'd blog a little until I gain my second wind!
I cleared out my front flower bed on Friday (I had a vacation day because I was SUPPOSED to go to Chicago to a hockey tournament this weekend, but that fell through) and got it ready for some new plants.

Then, I realized my poor snap peas needed to be liberated from their weedy neighbors.  While I was over in that garden, I saw that my raised strawberry bed was looking a little crowded, too.  My issue weeds there are nettles (and I react ALOT to nettle stings) and morning glories.  The morning glories are a nightmare, and they twist around and choke ANYTHING they can get a hold of.  I did my best....

I started repotting some of the plants in my greenhouse, and realized that I had better start hardening some of those plants off.  If I want them to be ready for new homes, I'd better get going!  Yesterday (Friday) was our official average last frost date (or pretty close to it... and I count conservatively after losing all my plants one year!) so I'm not too far behind.  The thing I'm not happy about is the plants are still so small.  I think I need to bump the dates on all the seed packages up about 3 weeks, because while they will all be perfect for planting in my garden, they are so puny I feel bad selling them.  Though, I know that they will grow big fast as soon as they get in the warm soil in their "forever home".

Monday, March 21, 2016

Vermicomposting 101

Vermicomposting 101

A little about me

I started worm composting about 6 years ago while working at an elementary school as a teaching assistant, mainly to show the students how decomposition works.  It was a fun experience, and the students had a blast learning about worms.  I purchased my first worm bin to get started rather than making one.

Where I got my worms

I bought my first batch of worms from a bait shop, and they ended up being quite expensive when purchased in such small quantities.  My first batch of worms lasted four years- but I forgot to bring them inside one cold fall and they were no match for the Wisconsin winter.  My current batch of worms were purchased at a Garden Expo from Growing Power two years ago.  They are currently thriving!

Some of my favorite links about vermicomposting:

Worm bin basics

Worm bin pests

This website describes various pests that you might see in your worm bin:
This website talks about little white worms that might appear:
Here is a website discussing mites: 

Make your own worm bin

My adventures in worm composting 

2016 LGGG Vermicomposting Presentation

Friday, January 1, 2016

Throwback to last spring....

I started a post last spring about some of my trials, but didn't have a chance to finish it.  And, there it sat, dormant in the drafts folder, until I discovered it today.  I love looking back on the pictures from last spring when we're in the midst of a gloomy and dreary stretch of winter.  No holidays to look forward to and no life around us.  It's the best time to look back and make a plan.  
Last spring I was scrambling to finish up the greenhouse and get things organized.  This spring I am excited to have a new tiller and a place to work right away when it starts to thaw.  And, I became a Master Gardener Volunteer over the course of last year, so I'm excited to have a lot of new knowledge!

Cukes- two different types!

A peony and daffodils announce the arrival of spring!

 Caladium~ I planted them, but had no idea how these things were going to grow.  I was surprised to see these crazy spikes emerge from the soil.  These ended up being a win!  They were big and beautiful.  I should start them a little earlier next year.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The World Comes Alive

After a long, dormant winter, it's so nice to see green again.  I really believe that those of us in the northern climates appreciate the cycling of seasons more than anyone.  When it's twenty below zero outside, all you can think about is warmth.  So, when that first 50 degree day hits.... we become fools.  We're outside in t-shirts and shorts. Let's just say that we appreciate the warmth.

The zinnia were very easy to start and grew quickly.  The impatiens were not as easy to start from seed.  They are one of my favorite flowers, so I'd really like to try starting them another way next year.  I'll have to research a little better for next year.

I also decided to take advantage of the greenhouse and I planted two hanging baskets so they will have time to fill out and look great.  I also plan on trying to start more of these kinds of plants from seed next year.  For this year, I'm just getting an idea of how warm the greenhouse gets and what I can get away with keeping in it.  It took me two weeks just organizing and figuring out how the shelves fit best.  I'm a slow learner!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Here Comes the Sun!

Things in Wisconsin have been heating up, but we know that spring always has a little more cold and blustery weather in store for us.  It sure didn't stop me from enjoying the last week or two of glorious temperatures.  The container of mustard, spinach and bok choy also enjoyed the warm temperatures, and I was rewarded by them growing much larger in just a short amount of time.


I also got some work done outside, though fighting through the nettles is getting quite old and summer has hardly even started!  I get terrible reactions to nettles, so I avoid contact whenever possible.  The issue is when the nettle roots are under the soil, and I don't even see them until it's too late and I have a welt on my hand that starts blistering within a couple of hours.  I'm not sure if I mentioned that I HATE nettles.  This raised bed had a TON of nettles in it, and I worked for an hour to get it cleared enough to plant some carrots that I had left over from last year.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Let's get it started....

I worked on getting things organized over the last few weeks, and it's looking great in the greenhouse.  I'm still working on my layout.... I'll set things up one way and then decide I want to try something else completely different.  So, I'm still working on my organizational skills.


 The one constant is the temperature difference.  I don't have any kind of heater in the greenhouse yet (that will come next year) but it's been warm enough for the seeds to get started and for the seedlings to keep from freezing.

Other than a few things coming up in my self watering planter that has spinach, bok choy, and mustard in it things are pretty quiet.  Hopefully they will emerge in the next couple of weeks!