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Posts Tagged ‘Printer tricks’

Silhouettes to turn your windows into Halloween showcases

15 Oct

Bats and headless ladyBlack paper makes a striking impression on a backlit window at night. Here’s how I made the creepy silhouettes that are gracing the front windows of my house

Dark paper works best, such as black construction paper. Laminated paper will last for multiple years, and even newspaper will provide a funny effect for a night or two.

It isn’t hard to sketch out basic shapes on large paper, but feel free to search for easier ways. Searching for Halloween stencils yields many images that would work well on a window (I borrowed several from this article by Jeffrey Rudell on the Make: blog).

Printing a black stencil will use up expensive printer ink quickly, so don’t do it! It’s more efficient to cut a big, dark design out of big, dark paper. To save printer ink, I turned my dark silhouettes into simple outlines using the open-source graphics software GIMP (Edge Detection and Threshold are your friends).

To print on a large scale, you may want to use a program like PosteRazor to enlarge and print out your outline over multiple sheets of paper.

Once I had the outlines, I taped them to my roll of heavy paper and used a razor to slice both the stencil and paper at once. Pizza boxes make excellent backings for slicing paper with a razor blade or X-Acto knife.

Finally, tape the silhouettes onto the window and turn on the lights. The effect is dramatic from inside and outside the house.

Zombie silhouette in windowTools and head

 

Use name tags to label just about anything

22 Feb

Name tag labelsLong ago, I bought some name tags for a Halloween costume. Of course, I only needed one, so I had dozens of them lying around, begging for a new use. Since then, I have used name tags to label everything imaginable around the house. When I ran out, I actually bought more name tags rather than some other kind of label because I liked them so much. You might have already noticed them on the bottles of vanilla extract I made for the holidays.

Labels make any long-term storage project more effective. My brewing equipment lives in specific boxes, and I store the ingredients inside in airtight containers. Without labels, I would have a lot more trouble taking inventory and selecting ingredients.

The more you use them, the more they help you, too. Using a standard style of label such as a name tag makes it easy for the eye to identify the labels. Using labels consistently means no more forgotten, anonymous leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

To state the obvious: you don’t have to use name tags. Any adhesive label will do, making folders, bins, boxes, and other storage compartments easier to find when you need them. However, name tags can be preferable to blank labels because they add a bit of personality to a practical function. They also have some specific side benefits:

  • Canister with two labelsRemovable, most of the time.
  • Easy to see, easy to read
  • At only two per sheet, these printable labels give you sharp-looking results without making additional wasted labels
  • Same size as Altoids tins (great for storing nails, screws, washers, and other miscellaneous hardware)
  • Absurd humor from personifying everything (“Hello, my name is Vanilla Extract” usually gets a chuckle)
 

Creative Reuse: Breadcrumb can from empty coffee can

02 Jul

Can labelThink about how many containers you buy and then throw away every week: shopping bags, soda bottles, cereal boxes, all the way down to sugar packets. Since I hate to throw away useful things, I hang onto coffee tins and shoe boxes and film canisters hoping to find a use for them someday. Put a new label on an airtight container and it becomes a new object entirely. The containers accumulate quickly, so you have to get creative to keep them from piling up. I’ll share several examples with you over the next few weeks.

Here’s today’s reuse project: a Trader Joe’s coffee can turned into a container for homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs. Coffee and breadcrumbs are both frequently found in cardboard canisters, so it was an easy fit. All I needed to do was scrub out the coffee tin and relabel it. My “breadcrumbs” consist of the ground-up crumbs from various packages of cornflakes and potato chips blended with costlier gluten-free breadcrumbs. Do you remember what I said about throwing away useful things? I HATE THROWING AWAY USEFUL THINGS. Read the rest of this entry »