Hack-a-Bauble

Introduction: Hack-a-Bauble

About: I like to tinker. I'm a co-founder and active participant of my local hackerspace: Hack42 in Arnhem, the Netherlands. You can also find me on BookCrossing.com under the name Moem.

So you want to have a Christmas tree, and decorate it with baubles. But you don't like any of the ones you see in the store. Or maybe you have a nice stack but they're plain and boring. Or maybe you want to personalize them for a special occasion. Well, that's totally possible!

I'm going to show you how to decorate your own glass baubles by using heat embossing. Heat embossing is a technique in which you draw, write or stamp with sticky ink, then sprinkle embossing powder into the ink so that it sticks, and then you use a heat tool to melt the powder. The powder is a plastic that melts into a solid, glossy layer that's slightly raised. You'll get a sweet metallic effect (if your powder is metallic, of course) and some powders are iridiscent or glittery!

Heat embossing is usually done on paper or cardboard to make cards and such things. But we're going to do it on glass. And it's going to be awesome.

Danger zone:

  • Embossing heat tools get VERY hot. Be careful not to burn yourself, or the house.
  • Glass baubles are made from extremely thin glass and if they shatter, the shards are super sharp and can go everywhere.

Supplies

  • Baubles. Simple is best. But they have to be glass!
  • Egg cup
  • Marker in a color that you'll be able to see on the baubles
  • Embossing pen or marker (with sticky ink)
  • Embossing powder (metallic or glittery is nice)
  • Embossing heat tool
  • Sheet of paper
  • Soft paint brush for removing extra powder

Step 1: Let's Get Started

Start by taking the marker and drawing or writing on your bauble of choice. Make it funny, snarky, or sweet... whatever you want. Try to make some nice lettering if that's what you are going for. Personally I like snarky slogans made to look all sweet and cheerful, and I often add some stars for extra effect. Maximum contrast between the contents and the appearance. But of course they're your baubles, so make them the way you want them, and have fun!

The egg cup is a nice help here: put your bauble in it so it doesn't roll off the table.

Step 2: Make It Stick

Now trace your lines with the sticky ink marker. You can't really see the sticky ink, as it does not have a colour; that is what the other marker was for.

To demonstrate, I've done both a dark and a light coloured bauble here. The silver one is, of course, hard to take good photographs of because it's basically a mirror.

Step 3: Add Some Sparkle!

Now cover your working area with the sheet of paper, to catch the excess embossing powder. You'll want to put all powder that doesn't stick to the ink back in the container. The paper makes that much easier.

Sprinkle the powder over all the areas that you have just written or drawn on. Tap the bauble lightly to make the powder fall off of the rest of the surface. If all goes well, it will stick only to the ink.

If too much powder remains on the non-sticky areas, you may need to blow it off. In that case you're probably going to lose some of it. Them's the breaks.

Once you see your image or text clearly outlined in the powder, and not too much sticking elsewhere, it's time to put the heat on! Switch your heat tool on and blow on the powder until you see it melt. It'll stick really well to the glass now. It will also look fabulous!

Step 4: Time to Deck the Halls

That's all! Now decorate your own awesome christmas tree with your awesome customized baubles, or give them to friends and family. Whatever you do, have a very special Christmas with your one-of-a-kind ornaments!

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