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In honor of National Lipstick Day (yes July 29th… another weird made-up holiday), I have found a way to put to use those amazing swivel-ey wands of beauty. Hooray!

I’ve got a LOT of old lipstick tubes sitting around. They’re mostly one brand — I’m a creature of habit when it comes to makeup. Mine are Estee Lauder, and they’re very prettily designed, and made of metal. I hate throwing them out, and over the years have collected quite a vast number of them.

Here’s a great upcycle of your old lipstick containers. They’re, obviously, the perfect size for popping in your purse, they’re great for travel, and that twisty-action is pretty cool for storing other items. Examples: Sewing Kit, First Aid Kit, Pill Dispenser, Toothpick Holder, Match Container, Bobby Pin Holder… go crazy!

You’ll need:

Old Lipstick Tube

Chopstick or small dowel

Q-Tips

Alcohol

Paper towels

Toothpicks

 

For Sewing Kit:

small piece of felt

safety pins

thread

needles

straight pins

For First Aid Kit:

Band Aids

Alcohol wipes

Pain Reliever

For Other Container Uses:

Whatever you want to carry in your lipstick tube, e.g. toothpicks, bobby pins, breath mints, pain pills.

Cleaning Out Lipstick Tubes

This is, by far, the most time consuming part of the process. To start, I highly recommend REALLY using all the lipstick in the tube. Most lipsticks twist all the way out and are flush with the outer sleeve of the tube whilst still having at least 1/4″ of product still in the tube… sometimes a LOT more! To get the most out of your initial purchase, get a lip brush, and apply the lipstick with a brush. My lipsticks last a few months more than if I didn’t use this method.

If you use the lip brush method before getting to the upcycle, you save yourself a lot of work.

Once you have a pretty much empty tube, clean out ALL the leftover lipstick. I start with a chopstick,

then a paper towel soaked in alcohol,

then q-tips,

then toothpick,

and finish with more alcohol-soaked paper towels.

See how much lipstick comes out? Really spend the time cleaning.

 

Make a Travel Sewing Kit

Cut a small strip of felt, about 2″ x 4″

Roll the felt into a tube and test-fit in the lipstick tube. Trim if necessary.

Attach your sewing kit items:

Safety pins, straight pins, needles and thread

Roll the felt into a narrow tube, and slide into the cleaned out lipstick tube.

You’re done!

Make a First Aid Kit

Create a roll of kit items, using the band aids or alcohol pad as the outer layer.

Roll up the items and slide into your lipstick tube. Instant emergency first aid kit!

Fill Tube with Other Important Stuff

Simply fill the cleaned out tube with other important but falls-to-the-bottom-of-the-purse/pocket/suitcase stuff.

Place Toothpicks, Bobby Pins, Matches, Pain Pills, Breath Mints inside the fully lowered lipstick tube.

Enjoy this new container of organization.

Enjoy!

I first made one of these when I was a kid, and forgot about them until a few years back. I love that I’m not throwing away a groovy, mechanized container, and the organization that these pretty little tubes provide is fantastic.

Anyone out there who are looking for something more “manly” or unisex to carry… you can also use Chapstick or other lip balm tubes the same way.

What other uses might you find for leftover tubes? Let me know in the comments.

A quick revisit of several of my blogs that are great for St. Patrick’s day.

PatricksDayCollage

For my Toffee Pretzel Shamrocks, see here.

You can find the Rainbow Cookies here.

How to make a Celtic Knot bracelet here.

My Lucky Penny necklace blog is here, and my book, A Penny Saved can be found here.

Have a lovely St. Patrick’s Day!

Candied Bacon

This is truly one of my favorite recipes. I serve this bacon at cocktail parties, brunches, even sometimes at dinners. It’s decadent, easy and irresistible.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Candied Bacon

1 package thick-cut bacon

Fresh ground pepper

Light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°.   Cut the bacon in half, and place on a rack over a foil-covered pan.  Lightly season with pepper.  Sprinkle each strip with a thin layer of brown sugar.

Place in oven and bake 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of bacon.  Remove when crispy.

Serve immediately, or set aside to cool.  Can be made one day in advance, and reheated before serving.  Best when served warm or at room temperature.

~

Fabio Vivianni Loves my Candied Bacon!

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Here’s a quick, but super-handsome method to wrap a bottle for a man.

Caution: Don’t use one of HIS shirts for this one, or your gift may be received in a less-than-welcome fashion.

You’ll need:

One long-sleeved dress shirt (makes two bottle-wraps!)

Spray starch

Rubber band

1-1/2” wide ribbon

Scissors

Iron the shirt sleeves and cuffs, use a little bit of spray starch to really make the finished product look perfect.

Place shirt on table, lay bottle on sleeve, with the top of the bottle about 1” below the edge of the cuff.  Measure about 4” below the bottle’s bottom, and cut sleeve off.

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Turn the sleeve inside out, secure the bottom with a rubber band.  Place bottle inside the sleeve to verify you have the right length.

Slide rubber band close to the bottom of the bottle, as shown.

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Once you’re satisfied with the height of the sleeve, remove bottle and cut away excess fabric. Turn sleeve right-side out, and insert bottle.

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Note: If you’re giving a bottle of wine or champagne, the punt at the bottom (that’s the dent in the base) will accommodate the gathered fabric. If you’re giving a flat-bottomed bottle, you’ll have to sew the fabric, to minimize the ‘bump’ on the underside.

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Add tie-ribbon to bottle, using the four-in-hand knot. It’s pretty easy, find out how to tie it here:

http://www.wikihow.com/Tie-a-TieShirt Bottle Wrap

Adjust tie and “collar,” trim ribbon-tie if necessary, and present your gift. Works beautifully for a wine bottle, but equally good with a nice bottle of scotch, fancy flavored vinegar, even aftershave!

GREAT TIP: Reserve remaining shirt fabric, cut into squares, and make into sachets for him. Fill with lavender (great for repelling insects, not too girly-smelling). Other unisex scents include peppermint, citrus and cinnamon.

DIY Screen Printing NEW Technique

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I am thrilled to share my latest obsession: screen-printing. It’s fun, easy, and sooooo creative! I’m familiar with fabric paints, but never knew that bold, graphic, repeatable designs were something I could do at home with items I already had in my craft closet. Helloooooo gift giving!

Screen Printing Collection

There are other tutorials available, but I think I’ve improved upon the home-printing possibilities.

Some techniques recommend using pantyhose for screen fabric. I found they stretched too much and the spaces between fibers in the fabric were too large, creating messy-looking images.

Some folks found success using white glue on their screens. For me, decoupage medium is sturdier, more reliable, and holds up to repeated screenings and cleanings.

As for creating the mask, most suggest tracing the image onto fabric, then hand-paint decoupage medium outside the lines. For me, this method was imprecise and very time consuming. What I’ve come up with is faster, easier and creates a better, sharper design. This allows me time to make lots of screens and many prints!

Click here to link to the segment on Home and Family site.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Embroidery hoops

Sheer woven fabric – organza, voile

Decoupage medium – Mod Podge, etc.

Clip art images – silhouettes, bold shapes, etc.

Full-sheet stickers – available at office supply stores

Scissors, large punches or Sizzix/Cricut cutter

Screen printing ink made for Fabric

Expired gift card or credit card

Foam brushes

Small paint brushes

Paper plates

Heavy paper or cardboard

Items to print on – onesies, t-shirts, dish towels, aprons, totes

Pull organza fabric over the smaller of your embroidery hoops, and secure with the larger.  Once in place, adjust and pull until fabric is taut. Make sure there are no wrinkles or gaps in the fabric.

Choose your print design.  Simple outlines, bold shapes with minimal detail work best.  Here are some silhouette designs (from my Cameo blog).

Print designs on the sticker paper and cut out with scissors, or use a Sizzix/Cricut, etc. to cut out shapes. (My fleur de lis is from my Sizzix.) If you’re using letters or something that has a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ direction, make sure that designs are printed in mirror-image as they’re being apply to the underside of the hoop.

On the ‘flush’ or ‘drum’ side of the fabric, apply your sticker.  Turn over the hoop and fabric, and burnish the underside of the sticker with a credit card to make sure the sticker is … stuck.

Burnish Fleur Sticker

Turn over the hoop and with a foam brush, apply decoupage sealer to the fabric on flush side of the hoop. At this point you can use one of two methods:

-Apply a thick coat of decoupage sealer. This is an easy method, but drying will take several hours – and in some cases overnight.  My latest batch took nearly 8 hours to dry, so plan accordingly.

-Alternatively, you can apply two thinner coats of decoupage medium, letting the first coat dry at least 30 minutes before adding the second.  This method will dry faster, but requires more attention.

Screen with Podge

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When painting on the sealer, make sure it coats the edges of the sticker completely. If not, your image will have bumpy edges. Carefully turn over the hoop and check the underside to make sure there are no holes or voids in the fabric where you don’t want them.

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Lay the hoops flat to dry.  Do not prop the hoops vertically … the decoupage glue will run!  (I learned that the hard way.)

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When the decoupage medium is dry, carefully remove the sticker.  You may have to pick a bit at the stubborn edges. Once most of the sticker is removed, run the screen under water to help rub away and remove the extra bits.

Screen Printing,  Peeling Sticker

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What you’ve created is called a “mortise mask.” That’s a big fancy word for a cover that leaves your ‘subject’ area exposed, and the area around, masked.

After the sticker is removed, you can begin printing!

Place a piece of cardboard under the item you’re printing (or inside, if a t-shirt), to keep the ink from bleeding through.  Place the hoop flush-side-down on top of shirt.

Put Paper In between layers

I used the tag to help me position the screen.

Hold the screen in place with one hand. With a foam brush, dab ink into the voids in the mask.

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Using the credit card, scrape off the excess.

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Screen Printing After Swipe 4

Carefully lift the screen off, and look at your beautiful work! If there are any spots that got missed by the screen, use a small paint brush to fill in.

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P1050730 Fleur Finish wout Tag

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Follow manufacturers instructions for heat setting your image – usually you just have to pop the t-shirt in the dryer for a bit, or iron for 3 to 5 minutes.

Once used, you can get many images from one hoop-screen.

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TIPS:

For the screens, you’ll need fabric. You can get new pieces from the fabric store, but here’s a great tip: Use old sheer curtain panels! They’re pretty easy to find at thrift stores, and a terrific way to upcycle.

I sometimes test my screen on a piece of scrap paper to make sure there aren’t any undesirable holes in the mask. If you do find some, cover with tape, and begin printing. If you want to reuse your screen, reapply another coat of decoupage medium to the unwanted voids in the screen.  Let dry completely before printing.

P1050733 Fleur Fix Screen with Tape

Screens can be washed and re-used if rinsed quickly and carefully.  Don’t let them sit more than 5 minutes with ink on them, or you’ll be too late.  Also, take care not to wash away the decoupage glue. Rinse, rub lightly with fingers to remove ink, and let dry.

P1050775 Rinse green Fork Screen

Tips on silhouette clip art:

You can find them all over!

I found this dinosaur one here:

http://www.arthursclipart.org/dinosaurs/dinosaurs/page_05.htm

Folks sell beautiful ones on etsy – just search for silhouette clip art.

www.etsy.com

Search online for silhouette ‘vectors’ and you’ll find zillions.

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Enjoy your art!  And remember, it’s supposed to look hand-made.  Little rough edges add to your piece’s personality!

Three Chair Bench

Earth day is coming up so I was inspired to do a little upcycling with a project that has been brewing in my brain.  The end result is beautiful, the process easy, and it can prevent a bunch of ‘junk’ from landing in the landfill.  And if you are creative, you can spend almost no money!  It’s a bench made from three chairs.  It requires only basic tools and simple skills, and here’s what you’ll need to make it.

Three ugly chairs become one beautiful bench!

You’ll need:

3 chairs

Bench base material – planks or solid wood

Tools – drill, saw, sander, file

Primer

Paint

Hardware

The Three Chair Bench can be done in lots of variations, and often the chairs you have and the place you want to use your bench will dictate the design.

Gal with a jigsaw

A mention about power tools… this project can absolutely be done without them — a hand saw to cut the bench seat, a coping saw for notches, sandpaper and a screwdriver are all that are needed.  But, if you haven’t before, give power tools a try!   In making this bench, I used a chop saw, a jigsaw, a sander, and drill.  I know that power tools can intimidate some, and if you don’t have easy access to them, the prospect can make you want to stop before you begin.  My advice:  Don’t let them intimidate you!

“If you want to control someone, all you have to do is to make them feel afraid.”
Paulo Coelho

A healthy respect, yes, but fear not the tools.  They are, by definition, there to assist you.  So use them, and remind them that they work for you.

First, the chairs

It’s easy to find cast-off chairs – look in your attic, you might find some gems.   Ask neighbors if they have old college-era furniture they have squirreled in the back of the storage unit, or you can check out garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores.  Your chairs can be all the same style, all different, or a combination of the two.  I had two inexpensive, pine Ikea dining chairs and a weird metal upholstered chair.  They happened to all be rather angular, so fit together nicely.

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Now for the seat

Decide if your bench will be used outdoors or indoors.  If outdoors (as mine is intended), decking planks are a perfect choice.  Again, leftover materials were used, from the deck-building project lefovers of a friend.  Deck boards are made to be durable and resistant to weather.  I was lucky, in that my friend’s deck had been constructed from ipe – a Central- and South American- grown hardwood.  Ipe  (pronounced “ee-pay”), also called Brazilian Walnut, is the ‘rock-star’ of outdoor woods.  It’s resistant to rot, bugs and water.  It is very hard and very dense – 368% harder than teak and 40% heavier.  It is the wood used to create the famous Atlantic City and parts of the Coney Island Boardwalks!  Ipe will turn silver after several years of outdoor use, and because of its properties, doesn’t require any protective finishing.

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(If you want to know a little more about ipe, look here.)

You can also create your bench seat from a solid piece of wood – a slab of hardwood, plywood, butcher block counter-top material, etc.  If a solid piece of wood is used, create a template from cardboard to help visualize the finished size and shape.

Arrange chairs, paying particular attention to the spacing between them.  When mine were laid out, I didn’t like the jumble of legs in the center, so decided to remove the front legs from my middle chair.

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This particular chair’s construction required simply removing the back from the seat/front legs section.  Since I knew I was also going to remove the seats, this made the disassembly quite easy.  Depending on the design of your chair, you may cut off the front legs, remove the seat and legs from the back… or leave it all intact.  You choose!

Removing the chair back

Once satisfied with the chair arrangement, measure the overall length of your bench.

Measurement Screen Shot

Because my center chair wasn’t free-standing, I made a brace to mark its placement, to help keep the outside chairs at the proper distance.

chair brace

Next, decide the overhang measurements for the side and front of bench.  Cut bench seat to size.

Notching the back board

For a more finished look, notch the bench seat around the chair’s uprights.  Use template to transfer markings to wood, or use a square.

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Measuring notch

Measuring depth of notch

Transfering measurement to wood

Cut the notches using a jigsaw. Dry-fit the seat to make sure everything fits properly.  Make adjustments.  If necessary, file or sand the raw edges.  Sand other edges to soften any sharp sides.

jigsaw

Cutting cross mark

Filing notch

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Painting

For best results, sand, prime and paint.  I used 120-grit sandpaper then a second pass with 220-grit.  Next, I sprayed on a coat of primer.  Since my bench is intended for outdoors, I applied three coats of exterior paint.  Always follow manufacturer’s directions on the paint cans for drying times and when to apply additional coats.

Primer coated chairs

Assembly

Once paint is completely dry, arrange seat planks, making sure all boards are set properly.  From underneath, use a pencil to transfer chair placement onto deck boards.

Marks for chair placement

Chairs in place

Remove seat planks, and arrange upside down on workspace.  (I highlighted my pencil marks with tape, to make them more visible)  If the back board is notched, make sure that the plank hangs over the table edge far enough for chair upright to fit and not scrape workbench.

Place chairs onto the boards, aligning chair edges with pencil marks.  If using hardwood, drill pilot holes for seat screws, using existing chair holes as guides.  Be sure not to drill through the deck boards.  To prevent over-drilling, use tape to mark drill bit depth.

Securing screws

Attach boards to chairs with screws.  For an outdoor bench, use stainless steel hardware, it won’t rust or stain if the wood gets wet.

Because my center chair was only a back, I created this brace to keep it from pivoting on the bench seat.

Brace on center chair

Underside of bench

Turn over your creation and enjoy!

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Before

Three Chair Bench

Other tips:

If your bench is made for indoor use, consider making a cushion or pillows.

Hardware stores and lumber yards often will cut wood to size, sometimes for free!  Additionally, they also rent power tools.

Occasionally lumber yards have scrap piles… dig around to see if you can find some good deals!

Wooden palates can be another source of cheap/free wood.

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I’m really excited about this: Art Glass Clay.  Imagine.  Glass you can actually mold with your own two hands, and fire at home! That’s kind of like alchemy to me.  I needed to know more.

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by Paula Radke

I did an overview segment on Home and Family today, with clay and instruction we got from artist Paula Radke.  It was fun, and a good place to start, but frankly, one could spend a LOT of time learning about this clay.

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It’s a powder, that you mix with water, add some heat, and it becomes glass.  You can mold it, stamp it, sculpt it… it’s really pretty amazing stuff.

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by Paula Radke

Here’s the lowdown:

The powder is 99% smoothly ground glass, mixed with a small amount of organic binder, that’s what makes it behave like clay.

It comes in 24 colors, in 2-ounce jars, and they cost between $12 and $18 each.

You can make 4-5 large pieces or 6-8 smaller pieces from one jar.

The clay shrinks about 20% during firing.

You can make beads, pendants, ornaments, earrings, buttons, even drawer pulls!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

Art Glass Clay

Molds/stamps/sculpting tools

Water

Mixing Bowls

Knife or palette

Files, sand paper

Olive Oil

Parchment paper

Kiln.  We’ll talk more about that later.

First:

Mix powder with water.  The ratio is roughly 2 parts powder to 1 part water.  Start with a little less than 1 part and add as you go.  You can always add more water.

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Mix in a glass bowl with a knife or offset spatula.

When it begins to hold together, pick it up and knead/roll with your hands.

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At this stage, the clay will keep indefinitely in an airtight container.

Molding your clay.  You can use polymer clay molds, molds made specifically for glass clay, I’ve even used candy molds.  Silicone molds work best.

Next, prepare molds.

Brush with a little bit (not much!) of vegetable oil as a release agent.

Press clay into mold, make sure it’s well pressed, and no air pockets are hiding.

Turn mold over, and pop the clay out onto a piece of parchment paper.  This will make it easier to transport the finished clay pieces while they are drying.  If you want to add holes, do so while clay is still wet.

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Set aside to dry.  Medium sized pieces take about an hour to dry at room temperature.   You can also dry in a 200-degree oven.  Turn over to make sure it’s dry through.

**Make sure your piece is completely dry before firing – any water in the clay could cause it to super heat, and crack or explode.  And that’s a pain in the glass.

Once dry, sand or file away any bits, rough edges, sharp points, etc.  Use emery boards/jewelry files, sand paper, etc.  Be careful, this is when your piece is at its most fragile.  While sanding, work over a piece of paper.  The filings can go right back into the jar and be rehydrated later!

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Firing:  If you have a kiln, lucky you.  Perhaps a friend does, or there’s a studio nearby that will let you fire in their kiln.

In my experience, the clay fires best in a standard kiln.  But if you don’t have access to one, you can get a microwave kiln.  This is a fiber-ceramic 2-part vessel that has a special liner that allows it to get super hot.  Remember, the glass has to get over 1000 degrees!

Microwave kilns can be found online or in specialty glass stores. The one that is recommended is made by Paragon, and can be found here.   It’s not cheap, but considering all you can do with it (you can also fire precious metal clay in it too!), it’s worth the investment.

If you have a tiny one like mine, you really can only fire small pieces – a quarter or smaller.  My kiln only cost $70, but if you have a larger one, you can fire larger pieces.  Kilns can range up to $300.

Microwave kilns vary by manufacturer, be sure to read and follow the instructions for your specific kiln.  While there are differences on how to use and/or set-up microwave kilns (some require kiln paper, others a kiln wash, etc.), the actual firing method stays the same.

Perfecting firing techniques takes time and practice, but anyone can do it.  Be patient, and you will be rewarded.

Microwave firing:  Begin by setting the kiln in the microwave oven and heat for 1 minute.  Using a heat-safe mitt, lift the lid of the kiln to view it… only do this for a few seconds.  Put the lid back in place, then microwave for another minute.  This allows your glass piece to “breathe” and absorb the heat more evenly plus you can monitor its progress.

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Next, microwave for 30 seconds.  First the piece will turn black – that’s the binder burning off.  In the next intervals of firing, the piece will return to the dried color, then eventually begin to get glossy, and may even glow red-hot.

Continue in 30, 20 or 10 second intervals, until your piece looks sufficiently shiny.

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These are my first attempts. Not perfect, but pretty darned cool! (I used a candy mold to make the ‘gems.’)

(For more detailed instructions on firing clay go here.)

Depending on the size of the glass piece, it will take approx. 5 minutes to fully fire in the microwave.

When you are finished, let the glass cool down for a minimum of 30 minutes.  And, at the risk of stating the obvious, DON’T TOUCH IT WHEN IT’S HOT.   

Once fired, the piece is 100% glass.

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Until you get the hang of firing, I recommend using pieces you haven’t spent a lot of time making. Also, using molds creates beautiful detail with minimal effort but start with only one color at first.  That way if you have a failure, it won’t be devastating.

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I’m a big fan of this clay.  Be safe, be creative, I hope you enjoy it!

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