Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blocks on the Brain

I have to post about the blocks I made for several people as Christmas gifts. I know it's late but I couldn't get some of the pictures til now. Some reading this may already know most of what I'm going to say about the blocks because I'm copying some of this directly from a few posts I made on our group - but I'd like to post all the details here for posterity!

I used blocks I got from Michael's because they were pre-drilled and I could use a 40% off coupon on them! I heard over Christmas that Lowe's (a hardware store) carries these blocks at a reduced price as Christmas nears, and they have them in colors! I went there and they did know what I was talking about but - they were gone. I looked at the regular blocks they carry on the shelf (some are special order) while one of the sales-guys was still there and said I didn't think I'd bother trying to drill it to add lights, as some on our group have done! (They were much cheaper undrilled, but a lot of times they're tempered glass, which is much touchier and more difficult to drill.)

I have talked about it on the groups (I belong to several and I'm not sure which!) and mentioned spade-type bits I bought @ Harbor Freight (an incredibly cheap place to buy tool-type stuff...I got my rolling cart with expanding telescoping handle for my Expression there for about $15) and he said not to use the plain spade type glass drill bit to drill the building supply type of block...they'll take 30 mins a block IF they work w/o BREAKING your block....He said to use one that has a sort of sandpaper texture to the surface. Carbide? I believe...said they cut through in just a few mins...I couldn't find a picture of what he showed me online but it looked kind of like a cone with metallic sandpaper on the sides.

A good method (if you decide to drill your own) is to make a dam - a ring around the spot you want to drill - out of plumbers putty and fill it with water before you drill. When the water leaks in, you've broken through the block! Someone on my group had the idea of using a Dremel to polish the cut edges...I can never think of good uses for it!

I like the pre-drilled blocks, though. Much simpler, safer, too! The ones at Ms have a large hole and a few adapters included that you can change according to use - as a bank, instead of a light, for instance. But for my purposes, I use the large hole adapter and that's all. I put a ribbon around the edge of the block and flowers in the large hole adapter.

Some on the group mentioned trying to etch the glass blocks. Glass blocks don't etch well because they're usually tempered, especially the ones from the hardware stores. 60 seconds that I've heard is recommended is not long enough to etch tougher glass like the tempered kind, btw! I usually keep the stuff on at least half an hour...on anything I etch, unless it's very delicate. Make sure you put it on quite thickly when you're applying it. Etching cream is reusable, btw, so scrape any that's left over back into the jar, using an old credit card, for instance. That stuff is expensive!

I use the system of taping clear plastic sheets on each side and then slipping my designs behind it, adhered to vellum. It makes the blocks much more versatile. The vellum allows the light to peek through while it covers the lighting string and the vinyl is opaque enough to stand out like a silhouette. (I LOVE vinyl although it can be finicky. FAR easier to cut than paper, in my opinion, and looks so professional. Keeping debris from under it is my biggest problem. And HAIR.) But this method (clear plastic/vellum) makes the blocks ready to display for any season, not just Christmas! It also gives you an inexpensive gift to give year-round - I'll probably make more inserts for the ones I've given out recently over the year. BTW....I love using COLORED lights in them, too, not just the plain white, as you'll see below!
First, here is a shot of some of the inserts I made for them.

I admit it, I'm a cheapskate! I like to try to use the vinyl that was intended AND its negative, if possible! You can see it on the "Birthday Blessings" insert above. Since I designed the blocks to be two sided, they can put one sheet on each side on their special day. I did it with the Adore Him inserts, too. Below you can see some of the inserts on my own block that I just found re-stocked @ Michael's! I just love the colored lights!

This is the negative of the one above! It took patience to get them apart in one piece!

You have seen the Merry Christmoose in a previous post, but you didn't see it lit up!

This is the one I sent my aunt and uncle. My aunt's name is Joy, hence the insert and the metal doodad with the floral arrangement. You can see some of the other inserts tucked in behind that one, since the vellum is see-through. I got the wreath from someone on my group and combined it with the Joy from someone else. I loved how it turned out!

I made them this parrot I got from Mamaw's Legacy since they have a beautiful bird named Leo. Then they have something to show in the block year round!

Now I have to get busy designing a few special requests...But I have another blog post already lined up pertaining to Valentine's Day...check back soon! Now, stop looking and go cut something! :)


Anonymous said...

Karma...These all look AWESOME....and I love how you've displayed them!!!!!

cantrell6 said...

I love these blocks and the idea of being able to change them for the seasons. I do have a question. I have been looking for a moose and I love the one on your block. Could you please tell me where you got the svg for the moose.


Karma said...

Hi, Whitney...I thought I linked it but I only mentioned in a previous post so here's the actual link! It was created by Mary, at Mamaw's Legacy and you can download the file from this page: The moose is actually a layered file if you wish it to be, btw. There are many wonderful files there and you should browse her site thoroughly!