Just went to The Bead Warehouse in Silver Spring - normally they're wholesale only, but they sometimes have days where normal mortals can shop there. I liked it a LOT - prices range from decent to extremely good.
Good things: bags of interesting glass beads (cheap in quantity), semi-precious stones, millefiori, fiberoptic and magnetic hematite beads, findings in large quantities. Miscellaneous interesting things like a small bin of vintage trade beads, and some vintage Czech, and trace quantities of dichroic and shell. There were some things which, to judge from the price, must've been real live freshwater pearls. Didn't see any lampwork. You have to be willing to sort of paw through bins to find stuff.
To get there, if you don't have a car, you take the bus from Silver Spring metro out to a grungy industrial neighborhood, where the store is hidden in an industrial building next to a sign that says "Marvin Schwab" rather than "The Bead Warehouse." Marvin was there - nice guy. I'd recommend going earlier in the day, because otherwise, if the bus is 40 minutes late, you'll get stuck waiting in the cold and dark (although in my case this worked out fine; I met some lovely folks and we all bonded by bilingually agreeing that the bus lateness sucked).
For Halloween I painted my arms with Totally Tattoo temporary ink - worked pretty good when applied with a small brush. Decorating your own arms is not going to be very precise, but this worked well enough given that the Halloween party had dim light, and that the juxtaposition of me with body art is blindingly hilarious to anyone who knows me (I don't have what it takes to commit to the real thing!).
As you can see in this variegated tattoo, the overlapping scallop pattern worked best (the cross hatching, not so much). Also good: patterns with glob-y shapes, so accidental globs can be incorporated.
(me pretending that I have muscles to go with my pretend tattoos)
The fine print: I prepped the area with rubbing alcohol, as instructed, and the images lasted through the shower 2-3 days; after that, they started to look kinda ostrich-skin and worn. Removing them with rubbing alcohol was a pain in the butt, especially after they had sat for a couple days.
I got the ink from Dharma Trading, which also suggested buying a stencil tool and cutting your own stencils. Being a sucker for crafting tools, I did try that, but didn't get all that great results yet. First off, that tool gets HOT - sliced through the vinyl like a knife through butter, but I was worried that if I used it long it would ignite the paper image I put under the vinyl for tracing purposes. (I first peeled the vinyl off the backing, then put it on wax paper so I could see the image I wanted to trace underneath). When I put the stencil on my arm, it worked fine once, but afterwards gave completely blobby & smeared images. So I just went with the paintbrush for Halloween, which gives you more connected-line possibilities anyway.
P.S. With a fine-tipped little squeeze bottle, the brown ink could probably be an ok ersatz henna - not nearly as long-lasting as real mendhi, but faster-drying.
I used my electric tjanting needle to apply wax to some cruets as a resist before using glass etching cream. The wax produced nice crisp lines regardless of surface curvature:
Some of its sister cruets had finer lines in the design, but I gave those away before I had even heard of Craftster.
One plus of this method was that it went rather quickly. One minus was that erasing mistaken lines without starting over was not that much of an option.
When I ran the whole thing under cold water to get off the cream, some of the wax flaked off nicely at the same time (had to put a screen in the drain to avoid clogs). The rest of the wax had to be scraped off with a plastic knife, if memory serves - this was all a few years ago.
Dharma Trading (where I got my tjanting needle) sold me a rheostat at the same time - so you can regulate the wax heat and keep it from bursting into flames. So I guess this is another craft process that requires careful watching, but you already knew that by the time I said "glass etching cream."
My friend Tim (a carpenter/artist/activist) designed this AMAZING wedding invitation for himself. The two front flaps meet in a wavy line, each one is unique, yet they are remarkably simple to make!
You can't tell from this photo, but the two front flaps meet exactly when they are fully closed. (It'd be even slightly more awesome if I'd remembered to trim the top and bottom off before taking the picture).
The execution is pretty easy (the trick is a sharp x-acto knife and a reuseable piece of shirt cardboard), although I'd never have thought of it! So I went right home and made this tute to spread elegant tryptich-style invites far and wide.
'Tis the gif to be simple, 'tis the gif to be free...
step 1: fold
step 2: glue
step 3: stick it together
step 4: one pass with the x-acto produces wavy grandeur!
You could simplify the design if you didn't want the pocket in the back for the rehearsal dinner info.
Best when made with treefree paper like Tim and his bride picked out!
This took care of most of my Christmas giftmaking needs in one evening, whoo hoo! (Obviously, I'm not real punctual with the posting...)
The glass-front CLIPS frames from Ikea are pretty cheap (3 bucks for 4 in the 5" x 7" size, which is what I used) and simple to dress up with decorative paper (on the underside of the glass) and/or opalescent glass mosaic tiles (on top).
Here are a couple close-ups - the paper isn't really cut in uneven lines, that's just my bad camera work.
Since the back (not pictured) is cardboard hooked on with little metal clips, you need to be careful not to glue glass tiles on the four little places where the clips hook. (It kinda sucks that the back is cardboard - I think larger sizes or non-Ikea brands might have something more solid).
I tried making one with translucent rice paper and it looked odd when the photo went in; opaque paper is probably best.
As I didn't want to work outdoors in the snow, I tried a glue called "incredibly crafty" that was non-toxic and safe to use without special ventilation. I was happy with the result - attached glass to glass firmly. Took a few days, maybe more, to dry completely clear, but made a firm bond within hours. Obviously, for gluing on paper you need to be careful to use a real thin layer so it doesn't get all ripply.
Ok, so these are nowhere near as cool as most of the things on this board, but they are fast to make in quantity, and fun to give! Your friends who are parents will be glad when you give their progeny gifts that are small, quiet, machine washable, and impossible to choke on.
Basically, I cut out a rectangle of polarfleece, embroidered a little face on it with doubled embroidery floss, and added a smaller layer of polarfleece at the top to make the "hair" thicker. Then I sewed it into tubes (I layered a little fancy ribbon onto the ones in this picture), and cut the top into a fringe.
At first I made the green one, and was going to call it celery. Then I made the other colors too, and decided to call them Martians... or maybe Martian celery. Really, finger puppets require no explanation.
It's an 8" long googly eye, made from free stuff, that really googles!
Behold it google left and right:
All you need is a two-liter soda bottle (for the "cornea"), a lid from a glass spaghetti sauce or jam jar (for the "pupil"), some white cardboard (for the "sclera"), scotch tape, and a decent pair of scissors.
Slap a couple of these babies on a child's toy chest...or one of them giant street-theater puppets. Basically, almost any surface could be improved by a giant googly eye.
This particular one was on a yard-long paper mache Chinese-New-Year-style dragon head (except it was a lot more kitschy and homemade-looking than the ones you see in parades. Also, it looked like a mouse head, but that is another story).
1) Cut the "cornea" from a 2 liter soda bottle as follows:
2) Put it on top of a piece of white cardboard and trace around it, then cut on the line in order to make a "sclera" that matches the cornea:
3) Insert a jar lid between cornea and sclera.
4) Tape cornea to sclera. You're done!
Caution: Make sure the cornea dome is not so tall that the jam jar can flip over inside the eye and show the less pretty side.
Also, make sure the cornea dome is not so flat at the edge that the pupil gets stuck under it - this is why there was a second cut to the cornea in step 1, so it is more an oval-with-the-bottom-cut-off than a pure ovoid shape.
I just went out to Community Forklift http://www.communityforklift.com/ and they had a large selection of used doors and windows (and toilets if you want to craft with those somehow), plus outside there are some random pieces of marble and old roof slates, and right now a bunch of old used rubber puzzle-piece-style playground surface pieces.
They also had a lot of used cabinets which could probably be laid on their backs and used as chest/side tables, although most of them would need decoratin'.
I found some cool beatup fencepost finials to use as coffee table legs, but I think I got the last ones of those.