Friday, 9 October 2015

DIY: Fun Science grow your own crystal monsters

Using capillary action a cardboard cut out sitting in a saturated solution of dissolved crystals can create some amazing creatures! 
You can buy kits to do this, but why not make your own?

[CAUTION: do take care when doing this, supervise children, do not eat this stuff, and as with all things you will find other ways to do this, better ways to do this, and cheaper ways to do this.. this is just how I do it]

I have photographed my monster as he grew ... I have used commercial head and leg cardboard cutouts available from the Colorific Mutant Monster kits, as I didn't have time to make my own. You can make your own easily, just use lightweight card so it doesn't weigh the end product down!

What you need

Sodium Chloride (as table salt)
Food colouring
Thick blotting paper 
Laundry Blue (its that stuff you get in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket to make whites....white)
Ammonia (again in the cleaning aisle)
Small dish or tray
Warm water


Cut your shape/s from the blotting paper. I  replicated the design from the Monster kit as I loved that kit so much I wanted to make it again! I secured the blotting paper body and monster features with staples. The original kit has slots in it to secure the monster body and features, my replica was not as clever!

Dip the blotting paper into food colouring, I used yellow (as the original kit was yellow, and again I wanted to replicate this as I liked how it looked) but you can use a rainbow effect.. whatever works for you!

Mix 2 tablespoons of warm water with 2 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons laundry blue, and 2 tablespoons of ammonia.
(Ammonia is used to speed the evaporation process, you can leave this out it won't alter the finished product, it will just take longer to work)

Mix well: the salt needs to dissolve to create a saturated solution

Carefully pour the solution into the tray or dish and place your cardboard monster on top.
Assembled and ready for the crystal solution
As the solution is drawn up the cardboard and the water and ammonia evaporate, you are left with crystals coloured by the food coluring growing on the cardboard!!

after one hour
After five hours

It can take a few hours for you to start seeing any of the crystals and around 12 - 24 hours for it to get to its full crystal capacity!!
If the crystals break off, just put them back into the tray and add some warm water, the capillary effect will cause these to again be drawn up and new crystals will form.
After 24 hours (thankyou to my colleague Jo for this photo of my monster that she has named 'Popcorn Man'
Cardboard contains cellulose and it is the capillary action of this that draws the solution up. The crystals form as the liquid evaporates.

Sodium Chloride makes quite compact crystals, if you use Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts) you will get elongated crystals. Epsom salts are great for making faux snowflake crystals!

I would love to see what you do with this!

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Happy new (financial) year: what are your goals?

We are half way through the year! I am reflecting on my goals, and some are not being met, this means I need to re-assess which are worth keeping and how to work on them.

In January of 2015 I publicly shared my macro-goals:


  • Write
  • Organise
  • Create
  • Positive
  • Improve
The goals were not broken down into the elements of each, as I prefer to give myself an easy to remember list of the major items I am striving for, and work on the micro elements as I go.

Where am I at with these goals?

Write: I am blogging but not as much as I would like too, I have a lot on with fulltime work, fulltime study, volunteer work, hobby business, and the BAU of homelife! I am pleased however that I am still finding time to blog, and to journal and even if this is not as much as I would like to do, I have not given up!

Organise: This is still difficult for me, I have a clutter habit so my study is always a mess, but in terms of oranising my time I am much better I use a diary and a notepad as my scheduling system and these work well for me. I need to work on the de-clutter aspect of organising however so this needs some development!

Create: I have a new sewing machine and I have been making all sorts of things, I also have been making things from crochet. I have not been painting or drawing however I need to make time for that. I have been playing my flute and guitar to make music and that is a good thing!

Positive: There are always challenges to face in life, health, family, work, study, there is always an element of life that can make even the most cheerful person become negative. The year has had challenges with my parents' ill health, but I am constantly reminding myself to look for the positive and block the negative! This in itself is a challenge.

Improve: This year I have completed a Diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition, still working n a Diploma of German, and have just started a Degree in Dementia Care. These things help to improve my mind. As mentioned before I need to improve my organisation skills in regards to physical organising, and also I need to keep improving n keeping a positive outlook.

How are you all going with your goals this year?

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

DIY: colour change your Midori TN notepad cover

Anyone that knows me understands that I adore all shades of purple. I also love stationery, and really enjoy using Midori TN where I have my brain dump and interchangeable notepads that complement my purple Malden Filofax diary.

I use a limited edition blue Midori TN, as it seems closer to purple than either black or brown, but I really want a purple one. Yes I know there are plenty of faux Midori TN out there, but I do really like the genuine original construction!

So last week, on payday (when there is still money in my account before bills), I bought a brown Midori TN, I chose brown as it was cheaper than either the blue or black, and frankly this is an experiment, so I want to go as economical as possible.


1. I bought / gathered my supplies:

  • Midori TN, least expensive I could find
  • Vinegar to clean the Midori TN prior to painting
  • Angelus Leather paint/dye in Violet
  • Angelus Leather paint/dye finisher to waterproof and ensure flexibility of the paint/dye
  • disposable gloves
  • disposable plastic drip protector to stop me painting the kitchen table purple too (although that does give me inspiration..)
  • Original Nivea creme which i use on all my leather and faux leather products to keep them flexible and in good condition, i have been using this for years.. for me and all my leather and faux leather products and all of us find it beneficial as a moisturiser!
 2. Opened up my brand new brown Midori TN, removed the closing elastic, but left the rest of the hardware in place. hmm that is a nice chocolate brown kind of makes me sad to colour it purple..but hey that is why I bought it afterall.. so purple here we come!

1. readying my supplies

2. Opened up the Midori TN

3. Using vinegar and a soft cloth I wiped over the Midori TN (front of it only) to remove any grease or dust that may be on it, and left it for a few minutes to dry.

4. I opened the Angelus purple paint, realised the brush on the cap was far too tiny to be practical, so grabbed a paint brush and painted a thin coat vertically on the leather. I left the paint to dry for 20 minutes, and applied a second thin coat horizontally, after another 20 minutes i applied another thin coat vertically. 

3. I used vinegar to clean the leather

4. brush in the cap is too tiny!

4. three thin coats applied in 20 minute intervals!
4. it's like watching paint dry...

5. The Angelus paint dries to a semi gloss, but I want to make sure I have locked in that colour and made my Midori TN cover's new colour flexible and waterproof. So this is where the Angelus leather paint finisher no. 600 comes in! I applied a thin coat to the cover, allowed to dry for 20 minutes, then applied a second thin coat ...oooh shiny! The paint finisher provides a gloss finish that is flexible and waterproof, and a small amount goes a loooong way!

5. Angelus finisher No. 600 to make this paint job flexible and waterproof and glossy!!
5. The finisher goes on opaque and dries clear

6. After the paint finisher has completely dried, I rubbed in some original Nivea creme to the surface (keeping clear of the suede inside of the cover). I have used this method for years to keep leather and faux leather supple and it has not failed me once.  I am sure you all have your own ways to keep leather and faux leather flexible and strong, and restore old leather/faux leather, so in this step use whatever works for you! (Dubbin is another good one I have used before)

6. This is the original formula thick Nivea creme, not any of the fancy Nivea versions with super sonic promising youth ingredients. This is the original and still the best  ;)
6. treating my Midori TN to some TLC. (that paint looks a wee bit streaky but after the notepad has had some use i won't even notice given how scratched i get them!)

7. Time to get the Midori TN with its new coat of paint fitted out! I am using an elastic that was a spare from my blue Midori TN as the dark blue looks better on the purple than brown does, and a charm from one of the Tim Holz ranges. I will use this Midori TN as a scrapbook, smash book, happy type journal, so the charm I am using has stamped on it 'Capture life's moments', I thought that would be apt!  I have a couple of spare Midori refills I will fill the notepad with, I often sew up my own, but I have some spare of the genuine ones, so I will use them.  I undid the blue elastic, threaded the charm through, re-knotted it and slid it through the hole in the back of the Midori TN. I placed the refills in, and some page markers a friend sent me (thank you Lisa of The GDC!) and I am very happy with the result!

7. accessorise!
7. I love this! very happy with how it turned out.

Please comment below this post and let me know if you have done this before to your Midori TN and what you used! Also welcome any other comments from fellow stationery lovers!

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