Y2K Chocolate Bug

It's the end of 2015 and I was doing some de-cluttering. I looked more closely at this progression board in a shadow box frame and realized I really needed to say good-bye.

It was made for the year 2000 New Year's Eve, when there was widespread concern that computers and other gadgets would not be able to discern 1900 when the numbers were truncated to 00s. It seems laughable now, but it was quite a topic of discussion back then. Some friends and I got together to create this Y2K chocolate bug to celebrate the new year, planning to offer it to hotels, restaurants, or other firms. It wasn't a stellar financial adventure, but I learned quite a bit about the process of making a custom chocolate product.

First I sculpted different types of bug heads out of Fimo clay.

Then different types of bodies were tested. Not all bodies are the same. Look closely at the bottom right bug, the final, and you'll see the legs and eyes are made in a way that didn't have areas that might catch in a process called vacuum forming. Any under hanging areas would prevent the model from getting released. The purple and green bits of clay were added to patch up nooks and crannies or additions to the first version.

What's vacuum forming? It's a process where a sheet of plastic is heated and draped over a model, taking its shape, so that you can make more models.

I put the final Fimo model on a hole punched board where a vacuum sucked through the holes from below, holding the model in place. A sheet of plastic is heated from above and draped over the model, with all the remaining air sucked out. After cooling, the model can be popped out of the plastic sheet. Above is a mold taken from my final, and the details are held pretty well. Can you envision if the body had areas that tucked under? The model would then be trapped.

After vacuum forming, I mixed 2-part resin and poured it into the mold to make about a dozen or so models. These were then affixed to a board to create a whole vacuum formed sheet of bugs, for chocolate filling.

And here's the final product - of course it didn't have all these white pimples 15 years ago, hence the reason for me to toss this board. I've heard it's simply oxidization of the chocolate, but sometimes it's just time to say good-bye.

Here's the packaging for the Y2K Byte the Bug – quite the process and memories! This is the best part of a blog - keep the memories without the clutter.

Another big memory for me in 2015 is of course, becoming a Craftsy instructor. I really didn't think it was possible to reach out to that star, and yet it somehow found its way to shine on me. It was such a daunting adventure, and I'm proud I managed to overcome my anxieties and self-doubts to pursue it.

I really have you to thank for commenting on my posts and giving me feedback. Reading your comments helps me feel like I'm not just whispering in the wind, alone in my room. I love hearing how my efforts here inspire others to get caught up in the fun of playing with paper and how it gets appreciated in your lives.

My wish for 2016 is for you and I to both keep pushing past safe boundaries for a Happy, Crafty New Year!


2 Minute Christmas Tree Place Cards

Whoever coined the phrase "All is Calm" for this time of year must have been retired. With all the busy things to get done, I still wish my table could look a bit more "Martha Stewart-ish". Who has time to bake goodies, shop, wrap, cook, AND put out a hand-made place card?

So I came up with this 2 minute place card that was made from the left over card stock from another project, in the shape of a Christmas Tree.


  • 2 strips of green card stock, 11" long x .5" wide
  • silver card stock
  • star hole punch
  • white ink pad
  • white pen
  • toothpick
  • slotted quilling tool

  1. Overlap the two green strips and glue together to make a strip that is about 21.5" long.
  2. Run the white ink pad along one edge (this will be the top of the tree).
  3. Write your guest's name on one end.
  4. Insert the opposite end into your slotted quilling tool, and start coiling.
  5. Quillers know to "push" the coil off the tool, but in this case, please "pull" it off the tool and deliberately make a tornado.
  6. Punch 2 silver stars and glue them back to back, sandwiching the toothpick in between.
  7. Glue the toothpick to the innermost coil of the tree and snip off the excess.
  8. Your table is ready to set!

Hope you enjoy making this quick hand made decoration. There's plenty more to learn to make with Crafty's online classes. Share the excitement of learning something new with the ones you love. Craftsy classes up to 50% off until Dec 26, 2015!

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 5 Joining Curves

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

When I quill any letter in the alphabet of a sans serif font, I start in the corner to hide my seams — all except for the letter O. What to do when there is no corner?

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

In the photo above you'll see how I've "rubbed" the letter O into shape, and left the seams on the side (it's being shown sideways). Why the side and not on the top or bottom?

The tension of the O is greater there because of the rubbing needed to make the tighter curves. I will not need to rub as much along the sides, so it'll make it easier to join and shape.

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

After "kissing" my glue with the end, a gentle nudge from above makes the two ends meet. I've taped down my plastic piece to keep it from moving.

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

I like using my reverse tweezers here rather than my fine tip tweezers because of the flat nose. See how they grip the two ends and ensure they are aligned? My tweezers go where my fingers can't. Since they are reverse tweezers, I set it upside down on my table and allow it to dry hanging in the air while I tackle something else.

The reverse tweezers come in a Making Memories Tool Kit I bought years ago, and had thought I'd use more of the items in it. I sometimes use the hammer and hole punchers, but basically I've never stored my tweezers back in the kit because I'm always using it.  I do enjoy the metal awl, but broke that a few weeks back (quilling is vigorous work!). That's why I ended up using the needle from the kit, and did enjoy the results on the Mi-Tientes paper, but my hand got tired more quickly – obviously I need to visit Michaels again.

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

OK, here's the beauty shot of the join.

Ah, but I'll fess up here — I used Photoshop to clean it up for a pretty picture! What's that? You want to see the "before" shot?

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

OK, here it is without any touch ups. I glued my first, clean letter O down before I got some good photos. So these photos are of a second letter O, and my tools were not cleaned of glue - so don't forget to wipe them clean!

Remember, try not to feel discouraged when you're trying something new and it didn't turn out the way you imagined. Just the act of DOING is the learning that you are putting into your skill set, but you don't see that as readily. If you feel intimidated to start quilling, look at this photo and know that I'm always learning my lessons too!

The paper shown here is Canson Mi-Tientes, #507 Violet, 160 gsm, 1/4" wide.

If these tutorials are helping with your quilling, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. Can anyone guess the word I'm quilling?

 Craftsy Sale

If you've been tempted to try one of Craftsy's classes, this is a good week to add this to your stocking stuffer wish list. ALL their classes are on sale for up to 50% off from Monday (12/21/2015) to Saturday (12/26/2015).

My beloved glue bottle

My glue bottle died! {sniff, sniff} It was during the photographing of this Quilling 101 series that I accidentally tipped it over, and "snap"! Off with it's head!

Actually, this is the 2nd time it's had a life threatening situation. I accidentally bumped it off the table onto the cement floor, during my Craftsy class filming, and it broke just above the shoulder area. They were SUCH professionals! One person drove to Michael's and another used Crazy glue to re-attach it. Both returned in half an hour, with such earnest expressions on their faces, hoping their solutions would be acceptable – they were so sweet and understood what it meant to me!!! I do have a Quilled Creations Precision Tip Glue Applicator Bottle, 0.5-Ounce bottle as a back up, but to have my beloved bottle die a final death was heart wrenching.

It was bound to happen. I bought it at Michaels in the t-shirt paints aisles (haven't seen it since), and used this bottle for about 10 years. There were 3 nozzles (I found the 3rd one way after this photo was taken), 4 varying wires to unblock the nozzles, and a couple of squeeze bottles - I tossed the packaging long ago, so can't remember all the details now.

And then life went on. I managed to jam the opposite end of my x-acto blade in the residual nozzle plastic and scrape it all out slowly, so I could re-screw onto a new bottle. I felt most comfortable with the nozzle in the middle (not too small, not too large). It turns out the shoulders of the left bottle fit on top of the bottle sold by Quilled Creations, and voila! I have a new best friend.

Why did I choose this path? I kind of like the small size of the Quilled Creations bottle for transportation reasons, and the glue has to travel less to reach the nozzle. I didn't prefer the larger nozzle it came with, and although the cap is a nice idea, I find it in my way when applying glue.

In my first photo, I show a push pin in the nozzle. For some reason, it seems to keep the glue from drying out, and all other items I've shoved in there to prevent clogging seems to rust.

What fine tip glue bottles do you prefer? I was SO grateful to Inna for commenting about Aleene's glue in 2012 and I found out where to buy a replacement for my Kemper quilling tool when it broke, so I'm all ears!

* * * UPDATE * * *

Thanks to MizDenise and her sleuthing husband, she found the same nozzles I stumbled on a decade ago. It's called Small Bottles Tips by Loew Cornell. Thanks so much for sharing that with us MizDenise. I know so many will enjoy the same glue precision I have been having.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

The next letter I'm quilling is the capital letter E. Although I try to form my letter as accurately to the final setting as possible, there's no way I can simply glue the letter E without it being misshapen. Fighting the letter is like herding cats, so rather than do that, I'm going to glue it in stages.

First I lay down a bead of glue about the length of the long vertical piece of the letter E.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

After dipping in the glue, I will turn it over and check for missing spots – like the area near the right. So I will re-dip in glue until the entire length is coated (the glue shown on this letter is a bit heavy, but I left it like this so it shows up better in the photos for you).

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

I glued the left side down first because it seemed to give the most leeway in dealing with the rest of the letter.

Don't pick it up like I'm showing here! I'm exaggerating it so you can see how much flexibility there is in dealing with the unglued parts.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

Next, place glue on a scrap strip and slide it under the letter portion you'd like to glue. Using tweezers to pick up the unglued letter portions here is very handy. Dab the letter onto the glue and set the letter in place. Repeat this, gluing section, by section. You are in control every step of the way and have time to loosen your shoulders too!

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

When I reached the end and had to glue the corner, I pushed the left strip aside using my tweezers.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

Dab glue along the end and bring the two corners together.

Note: apply less glue than I've shown here so you're not transferring a soggy blob. When I'm taking photos in my light tent, my back is tired from hunching over shot after shot, so I have less patience with my techniques than I show here.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

Finally I slide a straight edge against the corner to ensure the seams are lined up.

The paper shown here is Canson Mi-Tientes, #507 Violet, 160 gsm, 1/4" wide.

Quilling the Letter B is easy with my free template!

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

I hope these tips help you quill your own letters. Please let me know how your progress is going in the comment section!

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 3 Joining Corners

When joining corners in quilling, I usually end up snipping off the excess. However, when joining corners in letters, there is less leeway because it can offset other areas, causing the disruption to be noticeable in other parts of the letter. Here is a tip for the times when trimming the excess is not an option.

I use two pieces of plastic dividers (from my storage bins) and tape them together as shown, offsetting them to get a perfect 90° corner. Place the letter with the unjoined corner facing the plastic corner and practice the movement needed to bring the two ends together — don't kiss the glue yet!

When I say "movement", I simply mean that I often test what I plan to do before I commit to it. Testing how a join will happen allows me to if notice something is wrong (maybe I didn't trim at a 90˚ angle), and then I have a chance to fix it before I have to undo the work. It gives me a sense of confirmation without worrying about the glue drying.

After "kissing" (as shown in Part 1) my glue with the horizontal strip, I am placing the vertical strip (on left) up against the corner and then pinning it with my horizontal end. I then hold this in place for about half a minute until the glue has time to set and dry.

OK, I will admit that sometimes I'll take a peek ahead of time and ensure the join is to my satisfaction, and then hurriedly putting it back in place. I even run my tweezers gently along the join to press it more firmly together. If there is any glue seeping out from the join, now is the time to remove it with a tissue before it dries.

Here is my finished letter B. If this series helps you make quilled letters, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

My newsletter subscribers will receive a PDF pattern to make this letter B! To receive the download link, simply subscribe and confirm. A thank you email will be sent to you automatically after confirmation, where you'll find the download link (if you have any difficulty, please email me at paperzeninfo (at) gmail.com.

In my next post, I'll be showing how to quill the letter E.

For those of you who enjoy my digital die cutting, here is a project in progress – party favor for treats in the shape of Santa's hat, and elf hat, and a Christmas tree. I'm so distracted decorating it!

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 2 Tracing Letters

how to quill quilling letters typography monogram

Hmmm, in my enthusiasm to embark on this project, I now realize I posted the cart before the horse. In other words, I really should have started with this post first, the letters themselves. Ah well, I'm living in the moment right now.

For this project, I chose to use Source Sans Pro, Bold, at 150 pt, but you can choose any font you wish. My letters end up being just a tad taller than 1-1/4 inch high, but I was mainly restricted by the width of the sheet because my word ended up being 11.5" wide and it needs to look balanced on a legal sheet which is 14" wide, the largest I can put through my laser printer.

After printing your word/letter out, use a scoring tool and trace heavily onto card stock, leaving a debossed impression. Since I have a digital die cutter, I chose to use the scoring tool that came with my package. Before having my die cutter, I would use a dried up pen – both are completely fine. When my quilling inevitably strays from the line, it's much harder to notice than a light pencil tracing.

how to quill quilling letters typography monogram

I reference the laser print for a template as I form each letter. The straight areas are the easiest, of course. Using the back of a craft knife, score a marking that matches the length required (I'm forming the top, inner part of the B here). Notice the score line here?

how to quill quilling letters typography monogram

Fold along that score line, ensuring the fold is perpendicular and straight. If the fold is not made carefully here, you will encounter problems gluing later. Try to imagine this is your straight glue surface in contact with your surface – anything that is angled, will be angled when you are gluing.

how to quill quilling letters typography monogram

Notice how the U shape has certain parts that are straight? In a case like this, I will not simply soften the entire strip because I want to keep the straight parts straight. I only want to curve a certain section. So using the handle of a crochet hook, I place the strip against my index finger.

how to quill quilling letters typography monogram

Apply pressure against your finger, and you'll see the strip start to curl. Rub the crochet hook from left to right, massaging the strip into the curve desired.

how to quill quilling letters typography monogram

Eventually with enough pressure, I've made the curve I want.

how to quill quilling letters typography monogram

Place the strip on top of the print. I will repeatedly pick the piece up and place it on the template, comparing, back and forth, until I have the right shape. Then I will finally snip off the excess and glue it together.

how to quill quilling letters typography monogram

The paper shown here is Canson Mi-Tientes, #507 Violet, 160 gsm, 1/4" wide.

I hope this tutorial encourages you to make letters of your own. Please leave a comment below to let me know what you are working on. 

In the next part of this series, I will be showing how to glue the corners with an easy tip.