Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bella (D.I.Y.)

Yay for internet! Praise the wifi fairies! So happy to be back online, and not just to catch up on The Big Bang Theory (omg, Sheldon and Amy!). And now, on this sunny and cold Sunday in Amsterdam, I have some time to catch you up on a few things. Completely out of chronological order, of course. Let’s start with Christmas.

Because we went to India in Nov/Dec last year, my Dutchman and I decided to have a very small Christmas. We had a €15 present limit for each other, with the instructions that the present had to be small and sweet. We don’t really have big celebrations here on the day either, as my mother-in-law’s birthday is on Christmas Day, and the Dutch generally celebrate Sinterklaas at the start of December rather than like we do in Oz on the 24th - 26th.

So, with this casual approach in mind, Christmas Eve found me cutting and glueing on the bed in our room while Sander wrapped his present in the lounge. I don’t think I’ve ever left making a present to the last minute like this before. Helpful tip - Mod Podge dries really well in a few hours, even in a cold climate!

I took some pictures along the way so that I could bring this DIY to you all; a cute, sweet, personalised bike bell. So very Dutch.

I decided to personalise a bike bell for Sander with Squishy’s face on it. He’s often said how he would love for us to be able to take her places with us, and when she goes to the vet she enjoys riding in her crate on the baggage mount of the bike. Plus, she’s so very good-looking that she works brilliantly just from a design perspective ;-)

Bike bell
Mod Podge
Design printed on photo paper
Paintbrush or foam brush
Glossy, clear spray paint (optional)

The bell I found to work with had a nice, flat surface area with a big sticker on it already. My first step was to measure that sticker and then make a canvas in photoshop of the same dimensions. I then layered in and resized a picture of Squish, desaturating it to get black and white and then deleting the background to get a nice, clean profile. Because Squish is black and white already, I added a slight drop shadow so that she stood out from the background. Printing on photo paper is an essential step for the process, as photo paper holds up really well with Mod Podge and has a nice shine to it.  if you’re not so tech-savvy to edit an image, you could always use a photo that you already have.

Next step was to peel off the original sticker and use it as a size guide for the Squishy image. Although I had sized the print in photoshop, it’s often difficult to predict exactly what size your printer will print. I cut out the rough circle and then used the sticker as a template, folding it in half to make a semi-circle and tracing around the back of my photo with a pen.

Remember that at this point I’m sitting on my bed doing this - not such a flat surface! Here I swiped another present from under the tree to serve as a little table ;-)

I used a craft glue suitable for both metal and paper to glue the image to the bell. Here I had to do a bit of thinking - which side of the bike does Sander put his bell? Which finger does he use to ring it? These questions were necessary to make sure that Squishy’s face was upright and facing him while he rode. I ended up positioning her image in the same orientation as the original sticker’s text.

Let’s just take a break here to survey the work area - see the Squishy tail sticking out from under the blanket? She was in the middle of the bed too, good thing it’s big enough for simultaneous catting and crafting!

The next step was to apply the Mod Podge. My bottle of Mod Podge is ancient - in fact, I think it moved here from Australia with me four years ago! - and as such it’s not as silky and nice as a new one. I also only had a coarse, cheap paintbrush to apply it. It’d be better here to use a softer brush or a sponge brush to avoid the lines and bubbles that I got below. Most of these leveled themselves out though, and I still got a good finish considering.

I had this lovely little box left over from hair accessory packaging which fit the bell in nicely and disguised it from Sander’s investigations under the tree. Lined with some cheap candy-cane paper the effect is quite nice, hey? I would have preferred printed tissue paper but cheap tissue paper is surprisingly hard to come by in Amsterdam. The bell dried in a few hours from the secluded spot of inside my nightstand, and was rock-hard on Christmas morning when it needed to be. I just had time to do one coat of Mod Podge, but I’d like to do another to make sure the design really stays put. 

I also have some leftover clear gloss spray paint that I intend to spray over the whole surface once I’ve found the nozzle that goes on the spray can... This will make it weather proof and hardy enough for Amsterdam cycling.

Squish doesn’t look so impressed with her bell likeness, but Sander loves it, and that’s what matters. This pic was taken on Christmas morning.

I’m a little-bit-very excited about this project, and particularly want to do it again for friends with kids. How cool would it be to have your kid’s face on their own bell on their bike?!

Hope you all had a great Christmas too. xoxo

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