Project: Losing My Mancard

Still trying to get the body regulated after yesterday’s race so figured it was a good time to ummm how should I put it … put myself up for public shaming.  At least some major chastising from my male friends thanks to a little project I completed last weekend.  I was going to hold off on this until I could get it buried in a high output blog month but Linda has already announced the end product to the world thanks to Facebook and who knows when there will ever be a high output blog month – this is in light of the very apparent issue of it being near the end of the month and light on the entries so far this month.  Using the band-aid principle, best to just get this over with and feel the heat (which technically brings us full circle since that is exactly what I did yesterday).

So, not a new revelation that I will often try to make something for Linda on special occasions.  Not so much that I’m creative or really gifted at it as much as Linda rarely provides me any ideas on what to get her on these occasions.  She’ll point to her Amazon Wish List as a source only to find out there isn’t really anything there that costs more than $2.50.  She should really rename that to the I Wish Brian Total Frustration List.  Knowing this is always an issue I swallowed my pride and looked to better resources for ideas.  I had read about Pinterest and was aware that was predominantly a female hangout.  If you want to take pictures of exotic animals you go to the zoo so it seemed logical if you want craft ideas for women.. go to the zoo.. I mean where the crafty women are.  I won’t go into the long drawn out story of getting into that site and sifting through way to much content to finally find the craft sources.  What I did easily find is a storm of references to a craft idea related to Nail Polish Flowers.  There were hundreds of links that eventually all ended up at a non-English site called guang.taobao.com (link here).   Clearly there was nothing on this site I could actually interpret and it essentially just had a set of pictures somewhat outlining how to do it.  Intrigued, I “pinned” it for future reference not expecting to have to use it less than a week later.  Sure enough the calendar gods tricked me into thinking there was plenty of time before our anniversary (funny how that is becoming a general theme across all aspects of my life).  When realization set in it was too late to pry out any suggestions from Linda so went with the standard mega-flowers option and set to work on something more creative as icing on the cake.  Still being fresh in memory, the recent pin came to mind and plans were set in motion.

The project seemed relatively simple – raid you wife’s vanity for nail polish, run to Menards for some wire, grab a  few basic tools and 10 minutes later have a cool gift she will forever cherish.   This early assessment turned out to be a completely WRONG.  I did find some nail polish without Linda finding out (that would have been a difficult discussion) and even found some thin gauge wire at Menards – silver as well as green figuring it would work well for the stem.  Grabbed some pliers,  a drumstick, a piece of wax paper and went to work.

Note, the three to the far right were the items I procured from Linda’s vanity, the three on the left were future purchases as a result of wanting to try out some additional ideas to put my stamp on the idea.  Linda found it quite amusing helping me pick out some options at the local drugstore.

Hit the jump to read about how to make them and some shots of the finished product

Okay, clearly the starting point of all of this is to build the flower frame.  Two things became immediately apparent.  First off, four petals are a LOT easier than five petaled flowers.  Secondly, the gauge of the wire has a huge impact on how compact the flower is and the overall appearance.  I started with the larger silver gauge since that is what the pictures had.  After about 2 hours I finally had to give up and went searching in the garage for something thinner assuming my green wire purchase was the same gauge as the one I gave up on.  Luck would have it I found some thinner wire (had to make wire hangers for ornaments one Christmas since the entire city was sold out of the pre-made ones).  This worked much better and allowed me to get a pretty decent flower in less than 30 minutes.  Here is a hint, cut a long piece of wire and create the first loop in the center.  Then create two loops with the wire on the left and two loops with the wire on the right.  Once the 5 loops are created twist the remaining wires together tightly to keep all the loops together.  Here is a close up of the loops.  The drumstick allowed me to vary the width – note, this shot was taken while creating additional flowers the following day after I found out the green wire was actually about the same gauge as the ornament wire so immediately switched to that.

Key points – make sure the loops are no bigger than the width of the nail polish brush and make sure the loop is tightly closed.  If there is a gap or you failed to close the petal tightly it will fail every time … and I mean EVERY time.  The night before the anniversary (did I mention this project was started the day before our anniversary?!?) I spent countless hours in the early morning hours trying to figure out how to get this to work – trial after trial ended in utter failure.  Frustrated at not getting anywhere I even found this video (link here) which pretty much claimed it couldn’t be done without adding additional glue steps – this was NOT what I wanted to see at this point in the process.  It takes a lot before I’ll throw in the towel and there was at least 3 hours before Linda was going to wake up so back to the grindstone. Being  focused on getting the task done meant there were no step by step shots taken that night, but did manage to snap a few during the second session of builds (the ones we went back to the store for).  As you can see there was mixed results – most of the actual nights failures looked like the one on the far right – just an empty hole.

Experiment after experiment failed – changed loop sizes, changed polish options, different application methods and way too many cuss words to the point of almost giving up.  I refused to believe this was a hoax and felt obligated to disprove the video – seemed a tad hubris to simply claim it couldn’t be done simply because “you” couldn’t do it (as in the video).  Knowing some of the physics/properties  involved I spent more time on the applications – clearly every time the brush came off the wire or there was a gap in the loop the polish would fall through.  Oh almost forgot WARNING: you will go through a tremendous amount of polish so be prepared to have to replace your wife’s stock of polish by the end of the project (thus the second reason for the trip to the drugstore).  There was also a definite difference in the properties of the various polishes tried.  Some didn’t work at all being too thin, some didn’t work at all for being too thick, some didn’t work at all because the brush was too short and some didn’t work because the brush was too stiff.  Over time I was able to get closer and closer until all the various elements came together (thank god because I was running out of polish and patience fast… not to mention the clock was working against me and my eyes and brain was feeling the effects of smelling nail polish – you might want to do this in an open area and not cooped up in your den).

You get the luxury of seeing just the final process that ended up being successful.  By the time this point came the den was a disaster zone.  Good thing Linda didn’t wake up early and come looking for me – it would have been hard to explain what I was doing without actually giving away the gift idea before it was done.

In an effort to spare you the frustration, here is the process that worked the best.  You will still have to try some various polish options to see what works best on your end, but for the record a product from Ultra appeared to have the right combination of thickness and brush length.  Start by making just a frame with two loops until you get the technique down.  Make sure the brush has a good coating of polish and lay it across the inner side of the loop.  The brush needs to be completely level on the loop frame and none of the bristles inside.

Slowly and steadily begin to pull the brush outward making sure the brush stays level on the wire.   This is very important or the paint will drop through almost immediately.  If this happens simply brush off the polish from the frame and start over (don’t bother trying to reuse the wasted polish, when it starts to dry even a little it loses the required properties.  As you continue to slide it outward you will witness the polish stretching across the frame – keep it slow and steady and you should make it to the other end of the loop with the paint intact.  This will take some practice so don’t get frustrated as attempt after attempt ends in a glop of polish on the wax paper and not on the petal.  If this doesn’t seem to be working very that there isn’t a gap in the wire where it comes together and even try going from the outside in to see if that works better.

Once at the end let it sit for a half a second before sliding it off again making sure the brush flows evenly off the sides of the frame.  Depending on the quality of the polish properties you should end up with something like this.

I did notice that some polish ended up with the color separating out.  This is not an issue as long as there is a still a solid film across the loop (must be some kind of clear base in the polish).  The film will be slightly translucent in parts but again, that is okay as long as the petal is completely filled.  If you are careful you can slowly spin the flower frame and distribute the color across more evenly or once dried you can come back with a second coat to clean that up.  This ended up being the end product for the flower I gave Linda – a tremendous amount of effort to finally get one that looked halfway decent.  You will notice I added a little leaf to put my stamp on it.  All that was left was to let it dry, create a cute box (yes, another Pinterest pin I had found) and sneak it downstairs before Linda noticed – add to that a desperate need at this point to get some sleep.

Linda ended up really liking the flower (a big relief but again, the real flowers were the backup).  She liked it so much I ended up giving her all the less than perfect flowers (once the trick was mastered I had made about 5 more in hopes of picking the best one) to make a small bouquet.    Wanting to try it again to make sure I wouldn’t forget how to do it and to see if it was easier when not dead tired, I embarked on a more elaborate flower the following day (again, the reason for the trip to the drugstore).  This one had multiple flowers..

and even made more elaborate leafs.

In case you are wondering, they are not as fragile as they look once they dry completely .  I have taken some flak for this from my friends to the point of almost having to relinquish my Mancard, but some things you do just because you don’t want someone to forget why they picked you … unfortunately that may be at the cost of having your male friends forced to up their games when their significant others find out about it on Facebook.

Hope you enjoyed and to the owner of the video… just because you can’t doesn’t mean it can’t.. now time to go learn Chinese and figure out how that original site recommended it to be done.

2 thoughts on “Project: Losing My Mancard”

  1. Hmm, I’m glad my wife doesn’t know about these projects of yours. These are fantastic! I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

    Making these certainly doesn’t invalidate your mancard, but browsing Pinterest just might, and if you pinned something you must have an account on it. But as I mentioned in my comment on your previous post, at least you didn’t design a mathematics-themed Valentine’s Day card to give to your wife ( http://myreckonings.com/wordpress/2013/01/16/mathematics-themed-valentines-day-card/ ) She really liked it, but man-wise it’s pretty marginal.

    Ron

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  2. thanks .. and now quite beneficial to know that dropping an anonymous email to Eilish with links to all my projects could be considered a good form of retaliation say if a certain person may choose to take my wife’s side on an issue.. very good to know.

    So I can keep my mancard!?! that is relief – I thought about adding a picture of about 30 manly tools to the first shot to try and sway the opinions. As mentioned the bad news is the VDay card does cost you your mancard. You can simply mail it to me or I can send up a courier to bring it down hehehehe

    Glad you liked – can’t wait for you to try it!!

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