Distress inks! Such colors! Such possibilities! Such damage to my crafting funds! We all like to save money, so I’m here today to help you do that. Using this method you can get 32 do it yourself blending foams for the cost of 10 of the prepackaged ink blending foams. And you won’t need a coupon to save money! I don’t know about you but I’d much rather spend my money on the ink and to make the tools myself.
We all know the blending tool and the equally expensive foam refills. Wonderful tools, I’m sure. I’ve never used the official tools from Ranger. Prior to making my own blending tools, I was using circular makeup sponges. They did the job and at the same time showed me that for my style, round edges were not compatible. If you have no idea what tools I’m referring to…here you go.
The main reason I’ve never purchased a blending tool is that I knew I would want more than one. I couldn’t imagine having just one blending tool and being forced to swap out the foam pad when I’m using so many colors at one time. After showing Grandpa what I needed we set out to figure out how to make our own ink blending tool and blending foam refills.
I’m all about repurposing. Once we determined we didn’t have anything at home to make the handles from, we hit up the thrift stores. I had seen one idea using chess pieces for handles. Of course, several people made them using knobs and other assorted wooden items in the place of the handle, but that was too easy. I needed something that works with my industrial chic theme that I’m building for the studio. When Grandpa came across these and we knew we had a winner. I liked the way they fit in my hand and they already look pretty cool.
Now if you don’t know what these are you probably don’t live in the country. These are porcelain electric fence wire insulators. There were a few that were chipped and I opted not to use those. We ended up with six that were in good condition. In my humble opinion, the rust just adds more fun to them. Grandpa had wanted me to clean them completely but if I could have left the rusty wire on them I would have. However, I try to avoid situations where I’ll give myself tetanus. Meh.
So, here’s what you’ll need to construct the ink blending tool. Of course, if porcelain electric fence wire insulators aren’t your thing you can change that out for a handle that’s more to your liking.
Supplies for Blending Tool
- Porcelain electric fence wire insulators
- Hardwood block cut 2″ x 1 1/4″
- 2″ wood screw
- Rubber gasket (optional)
- 2″ Velcro (hook strip)
- Staples (optional)
In the center of your wood block, pre-drill a pilot hole for the screw. You will want to make sure that the screw is long enough to firmly attach the insulator (or whatever you choose to use as a handle) to the hardwood block. Also by pre-drilling the pilot hole, you’ll have an easier time hand tightening the screw. These screws were saved from an entertainment center that I disassembled. Seriously people, you should see my assorted screw collection!
Assembly is pretty easy.. We didn’t need the rubber gasket due to the shape of the heads on the screws we used but you may find that you need one in order to get a good fit. You will want to make sure to get the screw snug but don’t over-tighten. Grandpa would also like me to advise you to not use a drill during assembly. Tightening by hand is the way to go here, folks!
Once the blending tool is assembled we moved inside for gluing. In our case, the adhesive required that it first be applied to each side and allowed to become tacky. A layer of adhesive was applied to the backing of the hook side of velcro tape and wood block base. If you have the adhesive backed velcro you can skip applying adhesive to the velcro tape. You will be using a smaller portion of the hook side of the tape as these are used only on the blending tool. Set that aside because we have plans for that in an upcoming tutorial.
Apply the velcro to the blending tool. Make sure you have a good seal. I ran a brayer over the surface a few times. Depending on the adhesive you use, you may want to add a couple of staples in the velcro. I had noticed that many times people mentioned that the original tool had issues with the velcro staying attached. The staples will be buried in the hooks and there shouldn’t be any issue with them interfering with the functionality of the hook tape.
Ta da! Six new blending tools ready to go! I can’t wait to get out my ink and see how these work out. I’m very excited about not having to deal with the round edges I was getting from the makeup sponges I was using before. Moving on….
When it came time for the foam pad refills I hit a snag. As I mentioned earlier, initially I tried using makeup sponges. The texture was fantastic, the price was right, the shape was wrong. When I tried cutting them down I found that the size was too small no matter how tricky I got. Some shopping showed us that we weren’t going to find them in the right size for a price I wanted to pay. Back to the drawing board.
I had considered craft foam but it was too thin. Or so I thought. Grandpa, in all of his brilliance, took me to the craft foam section at the fabric store where I discovered 6mm craft foam sheets. You can pick these up at your local craft or fabric store for around $2 a sheet. They are perfect thickness! I think you’ll be very happy with the results when you try this one for yourself.
Supplies for Foam Pad Refills
- 6mm craft foam sheet
- 1 1/3 yard of 2″ Velcro (loop strip)
- 45 mm rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Quilting ruler
Cut the loop strip into 1/3 yard pieces. If you have the adhesive backed velcro you can skip applying adhesive to the velcro tape. Once it was tacky I laid down the three strips of loop tape onto the craft foam. If I were better at math I would have gotten 1 1/3 yards of velcro as each sheet could accommodate four strips of the velcro. Ah well, live and learn.
You will want to be sure that you firmly attach your velcro. I ran a brayer over mine several times. Once the adhesive has set, cut the craft foam into 2″ strips. From there, cut each strip into 1 1/4″ foam pads.
And there you have it! The only money spent on this project was for the porcelain electric fence wire insulators, the craft foam, and velcro. Everything else was something I had on hand. The hardwood was some poplar that was leftover from building my studio desk as was the adhesive. The screws are from an entertainment center that I have been slowly repurposing. Actual money spent on this project was right around $10 and for that, I got 6 blending tools and 24 (bad math on my part, you will get 32) foam pad refills. Even with a 40% off coupon I couldn’t have done that well buying these tools new.
I hope that this has been helpful to you. Happy crafting!
Until next time…