Sunday, January 15, 2017

Upper Peninsula Inspired Glass Magnets

I'm the kind of person that goes to a craft sale and doesn't buy anything, because I think "I can make that!" but I never actually do.   My 2017 New Year's Resolution is to complete a craft each month.  I have never considered myself "crafty", although I guess I have some key skills needed to make crafts, such a sewing or cookie decorating.   I am good at copying other people's crafts.   I'm also the kind of gal that starts projects and never finishes them, and tend to be a perfectionist.    So for 2017, I am going to try to tap into my creative side and also work on my perseverance and try to complete a craft each month.  To help me,  I started a craft club on fb with some of the other Michigan Tech parents called Michigan Tech Inspired where we create an MTU or Upper Peninsula inspired craft each month to create.   My son is a sophomore at MTU and it is my alma mater, so this should be great fun!  Anyone is welcome to join....even if you don't have a connection with MTU and are interested in making crafts with an "Up North" theme.   Join us!

For our first craft this month, we made glass magnets.  It was a true test of my perseverance.    I found instructions several places online, and I talked to friends that made them with their 4H or Girl Scout troop so I thought this was going to be a snap.  If kids can do it, surely I can!  I headed out to Michaels on my lunch hour one day to buy supplies.   I found the glass gems in 1.5" size, and some strong disk magnets.  I saw that some people use thin magnets with adhesive on the back that can be cut with scissors, but these glass gems are heavy and I wanted them to stay put, so I went with beefier magnets.    Next stop, the adhesive aisle!  Being an engineer, I have a glue fetish.   I love to get the exact perfect fixative for every project.   Which glue to buy?   Online, people were raving about E6000 and Quick Grip, so I got some of that.   Also there is the crafter's favorite, Mod Podge.   I remember Mod Podge (or as I used to call it, "Modge Podge") from my own Girl Scout Holiday Bazaar crafting days myself.   We used Mod Podge to make Holly Hobbie plaques to sell.  So I got some of that, too.   I left the store with enough glue to make crafts for a lifetime!

To prep for my year long crafting extravaganza, I actually cleaned and organize the spare room I like to call the "craft room" (my husband calls it the "crap room") and set forth.  And that's when my inner  perfectionist reared it's ugly head.   The downside of being an engineer is that it makes you constantly look for how things can go wrong in any situation, and prevent them.   So, before I could unleash whatever artistic vision I might have deep down inside my soul, I needed to first determine which adhesive worked best.    I decided to use a vintage postcard image of the Keweenaw that I love as my prototype.  I used Microsoft Publisher to make my image, and spent more time than I should have trying to exactly match the blue of Lake Superior to fill the rest of the circle.   Did you know that there are apps you can get that will tell you the exact Pantone color of something?   I now know this, but I didn't need to learn this, because that kind of color matching doesn't need to happen when you are making an image this small that will be viewed under a blob of glass.   Just get it close enough!   Once I was able to move on, I printed a few copies on paper to test adhesives.    I had read online that Mod Podge tends to make ink jet print ink run because it is water based, so I was hoping the other adhesives wouldn't.    Then I started to wonder if E6000 and Quick Grip were actually the same thing, just sold under different brand names, so off I went to find the MSDS sheets on them to figure that out.   See this is why I never get crafts done!  (I'll cut to the chase: no they are not the same).   Then, I noticed that the ink printed on paper seeped through the back side, so I also tested printing on card stock and glossy photo paper.    I had read on the internet that putting the printed paper in the freezer would prevent it from running, which sounded like bullshit to me, but I tried it anyway:

No freezing required

The bottom line?   Mod Podge on card stock worked the best!  I was correct, the freezer idea didn't work....the other 2 adhesives resulted in clouding of the image with some crystal residue.   The Mod Podge didn't stick at all to the glossy photo paper.  Also, when I used some E6000 to stick the magnet on the back, it showed through on the other side.   Another downside to being an engineer is that we are very thrifty, so I decided to repurpose all my prototypes except the one that worked best by soaking them in hot water to remove the image.  Lesson learned: if you make a magnet you don't like, you can start over.   It even worked on the glue that is supposed to be waterproof.

So now it was time to get down to the art.   What images to pick?   The other crafters in my group were already well on their way making many Michigan Tech Husky related magnets and sending theme off in care packages to their students.   Since I knew I wanted to go with my vintage Keweenaw Land postcard image, I decided to stick with the vintage theme.  I found some great images of Houghton establishment logos to use, plus some mid century winter sport scenes.   My son is a hunter and a fisherman, so some old school hunting images would be great, too.  The lift bridge, the miner statue....the MTU logo of my 1980s was fun to find images.   Remembering that I don't need to match everything perfectly, I made a template of 1.5 inch circles in Microsoft publisher, and then used the shape fill with a picture option to make the images.   I found that rectangular images with a lot of space on the periphery tended to work best.  For those that didn't have that, I just filled with a color that looked close enough, and then placed the image on top of it.

I printed them out on business card weight card stuck I had in a cream color that further enhanced the vintage look, and cut them out with scissors.  I wet the back of the glass gem with Mod Podge (it was opaque white) and then pressed them down on the image, making sure to get all the air bubbles out.   I let them dry overnight, and then used the scissors to trim them.   I stuck the magnets on the back with Quick Grip, but I am sure E6000 would work just as well.    Voila!  I completed  a craft!!!  YAY!

Glass Magnets
I packed up a care package to send to my son, including these magnets and some snacks.  I'm looking forward to our February craft.  Meanwhile, I've got tons of requests for these magnets, so I put them up for sale in my Etsy store.   Check it out!


Kristen Kreiner said...

I love them! Asks for the experimental stage, now I'll know what to use if I try this! I have to finish my craft room first, though!

Jennifer Napier said...

Did you leave them in the freezer for overnight? I'm completely inexperienced with heavy duty crafting with modpodge because of the smearing fear. I was excited to see the freezer trick, but then saw your post. I'm planning on making my brother this amazing Harry Potter Monopoly that's floating around the interwebz. It's suggested to have the gameboard top (2 halves) and the box covers professionally printed. At $3.50 per poster (the absolute cheapest I could find) plus $14 shipping plus supplies... nope. I have plenty of sticker paper and a printer, so I plan on saving on that part... BUT... I'll need to modpodge to seal it. I don't know which (if any) of the techniques will work on larger print areas, and not just a quarter size. Any advice? Thanks so much!!!!

Cynthia said...

Yes, overnight....but it didn't work. What does work is spraying with clear acrylic spray paint. Dries in 15 minutes.