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Tutorial: Heart Chicken Wire Memo Board

Today, I’m excited to be sharing the first of two tutorials for projects that I made that were on display at the Creativation show last month in the Buttons Galore booth. This heart chicken wire memo board was so fun to make, and I so enjoyed sharing it with so many people at the show!

[Disclaimer: My company, Nally Studios, is the social media & blog manager for Buttons Galore. I am also part of blogger programs for Cricut and Plaid, who provided some product used in this article. Some links in this article are affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking.]

How to Make A Heart Chicken Wire Memo Board

Chicken wire is so hot for home decor, but using it doesn’t mean you have to create a design that is “farmhouse” looking. This bright, colorful heart chicken wire memo board will fit right in when it is hung up in my teenage daughter’s bright pink bedroom, and will be a great place to hang cards and pictures.

Supplies Needed:

  • 1/4″ x 2′ x 2′ Birch Plywood Sheet
  • Cricut Explore Machine (Amazon.com, Scrapbook.com, Cricut.com)
  • Skil Jigsaw
  • Plaid FolkArt “Vintage Victorian” Home Decor Chalk Paint (Amazon.com)
  • 2 – Buttons Galore “Bubblegum” Button Bonanza (Amazon.com)
  • 28 Lilac Lane “Hello, Cupcake” embellishment kit (Scrapbook.com)
  • white glue
  • Low Temperature Hot Glue Gun
  • M-D Hobby & Craft Chicken Wire (Amazon.com)
  • 2″ masking tape
  • Duck Tape
  • Wire cutters
  • scrap cardstock (for making template)
  • sandpaper
  • drill

This chicken wire memo board project is entirely made from scratch, cut from a sheet of plywood. The great thing about doing it that way is that it can be made to exactly the size that will work for the space that you have! (My heart is about 17″ high.)

To start this project, I needed a template to work from. If you have a steady hand, you could hand draw your cutting outlines on the plywood, but I prefer working with a template. To create my template, I used the basic shape tool in my Cricut Design Space Software to draw two hearts and merged them. Then, since my template was larger than the cut area on my Cricut, I used the rectangle tool to slice my heart into sections. Then I cut out all of the pieces and taped them back together to make my template!

heart template

After I made my template, I used it to trace an outline on my sheet of plywood. Then I cut out the heart outline with my jigsaw. To cut out the inside of the heart, I drilled a hole first with my largest drill bit. That gave me a place to insert my jigsaw blade as a starting point, and then I worked my way along the inside of the outline.

The 1/4″ plywood is surprisingly easy to cut and a heart is just gentle curves and straight lines – don’t be intimidated! (Don’t forget your safety glasses!)

Once the shape was cut out, I cleaned up the edges and the surface with sandpaper. Then I painted it with a beautiful shade of pink called “Vintage Victorian” from the Plaid FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Paint line.

buttons on heart memo board

After the paint was dry, I started on the button collage. It’s time consuming to do a collage like this, kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle that you don’t have a picture for, but I find it kind of zen and relaxing. Having the background be painted is a little cheat – it gives room for error and allows the project to still look right if an area of buttons doesn’t quite fit together correctly. Working in short sections and then letting the glue dry before going further is best to minimize the risk of inadvertently shifting buttons out of position while you work.

Let the front dry completely before starting to work on attaching the chicken wire, to make sure everything is secure!

chicken wire

The chicken wire is a bit stabby to work with but if you are careful it’s possible to get it applied without too much trouble. The most important thing in this step to getting a nice finished piece is making sure that the chicken wire is pulled nice and flat and tight.

I started by cutting a piece of chicken wire that was just a bit larger than my heart. Then I worked in small sections attaching it to the back with hot glue, and pressing masking tape down over the hot glue immediately. (Thanks to Teryn at Vintage Romance Style for the no staple technique!)

Once I did one area, I went across to the opposite side and pulled the wire tight and did that area. Then I picked another spot and went opposite it. I worked my way around the whole heart by going back and forth.

applying chicken wire to frame

After all the glue was dry and cool, then I clipped off as much as I could of the wire pieces that were hanging out, leaving one loop of wire at the top of each curve of the heart to attach a hanger to.

I could have stopped there on my chicken wire memo board, and just attached a hanger, but my perfectionist side wasn’t happy with the messy looking back and wanted to make it look a bit prettier. So I got out a roll of Duck Tape I had on hand (conveniently in pink that matched my project). Laid down in short sections on the back of the heart, it both covered the masking tape & hot glue mess and sealed in stray ends of wire that could poke.

applying duct tape

For the final touch, I cut a piece of ribbon from the 28 Lilac Lane kit to use as a hanger and looped it around the wire I had left exposed. A drop of hot glue adhered the ribbon loops in place.

This same technique can be applied to any shape or size chicken wire memo board….just draw or create a template for the design that you want! What shape do you want to make?

how to make a chicken wire memo board

How to Make a DIY Charm for Your Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Reported by Maria del Pinto

Easy DIY Planner Charms for Midori Traveler's Notebook

Here is an easy DIY charm tutorial! I’ll show you how to make charms yourself and how to change out charms for your Midori Traveler’s Notebook and other traveler’s notebooks. This easy how-to project just requires a few supplies and tools to make a personalized planner charm. These can also be used for your planners, if you substitute the twisted ring for a lobster clasp.

DIY How To Make Personalized Charm for Midori Travelers Notebook

I love to change out my charms on my traveler’s notebooks, so I thought I would share a short tutorial on how to make one for yourself. You don’t need a lot of supplies for this project, but you will need some basic jewelry making tools.

For those who are unfamiliar with what a Travelers Notebook is, here is a brief explanation. When most people say “traveler’s notebooks” they are referring to ones like the Midori Traveler’s Notebooks, which were created for the user to have on hand for drawing, sketching, water coloring, taking notes, making lists, and so much more.

The fun thing about a traveler’s notebook (or fauxdori) is that you can personalize it to meet your own needs. You can also decorate the traveler’s notebook to suit your own taste. I have a great love of stickers, so the pages in my traveler’s notebooks inserts tend to get really decorated with them. I also like having specific charms to reflect my personality, thus this tutorial was created with that in mind. I used a 20mm twisted ring instead of lobster claw because one of my charms is rather heavy and I wanted to secure it to my traveler’s notebook.

DIY Planner Charms Tutorial

Tools Needed:

2 – Pliers (preferably long nose but I use whichever ones I can find)

Supplies Needed:

3 – Charms (or more if you like)

3 – Jump Rings (8mm)

1 – Twisted Ring (20mm)

Step 1:

If your charms come with a jump ring that is smaller than 8mm, use the pliers to remove the jump ring and replace it with an 8mm jump ring. You can do this by grabbing the jump ring with jewelry pliers on each slide of the split in the jump ring.

Step 1 - DIY Planner Charms Tutorial

Then gently using the pliers to twist one of the sides toward you to open the jump rings. You only need to open it wide enough to add your charm and to attach it to the 20 mm ring.

Step 1 - DIY Planner Charms Tutorial
Step 1 – DIY Planner Charms Tutorial

Step 2:

Attach each charm to the twisted ring and then using the pliers gently close the jump ring by twisting it back.

Step 2 Thread all the Charms onto the 20mm Twisted Ring
Step 2 Thread all the Charms onto the 20mm Twisted Ring

Step 3:

To finish, attach the charms to the traveler’s notebook. I did this by undoing the knot in the elastic so I could remove it from my Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

Step Three - Undo Knot and Remove Elastic
Step Three – Undo Knot and Remove Elastic

Once you have removed the elastic, gently thread the charms onto the elastic. Then take the ends of the piece of elastic, and push them back through the hole and tie a new knot (make sure it is snug enough to keep your notebook closed but not so tight it will leave an indention on your leather).

Easy DIY Planner Charms for Midori Traveler's Notebook
Step 3 Thread the elastic through the ring.

This is a pretty simple process and an easy way to personalize your Midori Traveler’s Notebook. These also make fun gifts for your planner friends (use the lobster claw instead of the twisted ring for planners) and other traveler’s notebook users you may want to send some happy mail fun to.

We would love to know what type of items you use to personalize your travelers notebooks and planners. Leave a comment below to share your favorites!

7 Things I’ve Learned From Starting Soap Making

[Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links that support the continued operation of Craft Critique with a commission if readers make a purchase after clicking on them. Thanks for supporting this site!]

I’ve wanted to try making soap for quite awhile. About a week ago, I finally took the plunge and tried it! After making a couple of batches, I’ve learned a few lessons (some the hard way) and some tips about making melt and pour soap.

First Soap Batch

Watch a Video

Like with so many crafts, YouTube is your friend when it comes to learning to make soap.  Melt and pour soap, while not having the complications of handling chemicals that comes with cold processed soap, can still be tricky as you try to manage temperature and its quick setting properties. Before I ever tried to make a single bar of soap, I took what amounted to an immersion class in melt and pour soap making on YouTube by binge watching some of the best soap channels available. My favorites are Soap Queen, the channel run by popular online store Brambleberry, and Ariane Arsenault, a Canadian soap maker with an online store and a small shop on a tourist island off the Atlantic coast of Quebec. Watching a good number of episodes binge style was a great way to pick up a little tips that helped me deal with problems that came up during my first batches (or avoid them altogether).

Start at Michaels

Virtually all of my first batches of supplies have been purchased at Michaels. Unless you are lucky enough to have a soap making specialty store in your neighborhood, Michaels is a great place to start for supplies for making your first batches of melt and pour soap. They are well known in the soaping community for having an affordable selection of good melt and pour soaping basics: soap base, fragrance, colors, and molds. Michaels offers soap base in a good variety of options to experiment with, like Glycerin, Shea Butter, Goats Milk, Honey Glycerin, and Olive Oil. The different bases come in 2 pound packs, a great amount for playing with, but a few come in 5 pound packs. And for mega soapers there’s even a 10 pound bucket of glycerin. I’ve not seen the soaping items on sale regularly that I can recall, but with a coupon the items are very affordable.

Once I’ve exhausted the options at Michaels, I plan to make an order soon from Brambleberry to get some wider options of molds, soaps, and additives to try out.

Soap Making Equipment

Good Equipment Makes A Difference

It can seem premature to go out and invest in special equipment when trying a new craft. But having the right equipment – especially a few key items – can make all the difference in your melt and pour soap making success.

Pyrex containers are a must for heating melt and pour soap (although I do see other soap makers doing it in other types of containers). A bowl will work but I recommend getting something like this 8 cup measuring cup that I use, because it has a pour spout that reduces the risk of messes (and burns) when pouring hot soap. This Pyrex measuring cup has quickly become my work horse while soaping. It’s safe, holds heat well, and is easy to clean.

Since most soaping recipes are done by weight, you’ll also need a good kitchen scale with a tare function that can do weight in both grams and ounces.

If you want to create in any quantity, or experiment with techniques like swirls or embeds, you’ll want a loaf mold. A small loaf mold is a good way to start so that your experiments don’t lead to too much ruined soap or frustration. I have been using this loaf mold with a silicone liner from Amazon. It is the perfect size, just slightly larger than a typical guest or travel soap, and the liner is easy to remove and unmold.

Silicone Lined Loaf Soap Mold

And last but not least, is a decent infrared thermometer like the one I got from Amazon. Temperature is important when doing melt and pour soap, and even more important when doing certain layering and other decorative techniques. It can mean the difference between success and a major oops. Infrared thermometers are instant, which is especially good since often you need to know the temperature fast when working with quick setting melt and pour. Also, since the infrared thermometer can register a temperature without touching the soap, there’s much less clean-up to worry about (and one less dirty tool dripping soap around your work space).

Raid the Pantry

A lot of the things that will make soap making successful and fun you’ll find in your own pantry. Some of the easiest (and most wonderful) soap additives to work with are probably already hiding in your kitchen cupboards: oatmeal, honey, coffee, and olive oil. Any of those can be added to a simple soap base to create a soap that is stepped up a notch.

Oatmeal Soap

It’s not just ingredients you’ll find in your cupboards, but tools and supplies as well. You may have already raided the kitchen for your measuring cups or Pyrex bowls but there’s plenty more useful items in those cupboards. Cling wrap (shrunk with a heat gun) is a great way to wrap soap. Disposable food storage containers like ones made by Ziplock are great for storing ingredients and finished soap. Spatulas are great for stirring soap to help it melt (or stay melted) and to mix in colors or fragrance.  A dough scraper can be hijacked to serve as a soap cutter, and of course you’ll need a cutting board to use it on.

Soap Making Mistakes Melt Away

The great thing about using melt and pour soap base is that there really are no mistakes – or at least ones that are permanent. Most “mistakes” can be either remelted and poured again, or chopped up into embeds to use for another pour.(The rare exception to this would be burning the soap or something like that.) So you can melt and pour away with little fear of catastrophe! My first melt and pour mistake – a failed swirl technique that blended into a solid color – was partially chopped up and became embeds for my first try at an embedding technique.

Get Some Alcohol

Alcohol works wonders for soap…rubbing alcohol, that is. Get some 90% rubbing alcohol (I found mine at Walmart) and put it in a small spritz bottle. Sprayed liberally on top of just-poured soap, or between layers, it will help to pop air bubbles and adhere layers together. Watch any of the video channels I linked above and you’ll see the soapers using the alcohol, but it really has to be seen with your own eyes to understand the miracles it works at finishing off your soap’s surface beautifully.

Rainbow Soap

Freeze It To Free It

Many sources recommend spraying your molds (especially the plastic ones) with something like Pam to grease them so that the soap will come out easily when it is done. However, if you forget (like I did), I’m here to tell you what I discovered. The first time that I made my soap in my decorative plastic molds, I tried to remove it from the molds and it was stuck. Hard. No way that soap was going anywhere. A few frantic internet searches later I learned that I could probably freeze it free. A couple of minutes in the freezer and the soap is supposed to shrink enough to come easily out of the mold. It worked beautifully! However, don’t leave the soap in too long (like I did on a later use of the same method) or your soap will end up sweating and damp. Two minutes or a bit more in the freezer may be all your soap needs to chill its way out of the mold.

There’s something of a learning curve but with proper preparation beforehand I was able to make very respectable soap my first try. It is very satisfying seeing the results of my work laid out en masse on the table after being cut. It feels so productive!

Have you tried soap making? What advice do you have for a new soap maker? What do you wish you knew when you started out?