Finally, a crafty answer to that age-old question: Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean or dirty? This project takes a recycled can lid and turns it into a dishwasher magnet with a reversible Clean/Dirty indicator.
- Can Lid: The juice lids from the frozen concentrate stuff work great since they already have nice smooth edges. Otherwise, I'd recommend buying the Handy Can Opener for about $8 at CVS (also available online). The nice thing about this brand is it removes the entire top of the can, leaving no jagged edges. Use it to open all your cans & soon you'll have stacks of lids to play with. I toss my lids in my dishwasher's silverware basket to clean them before I use them.
- Polymer Clay: I recommend a stronger clay, such as Premo, so nothing breaks if it happens to fall on the floor.
- Magnets: You'll need two magnets. The first should be the little-bitty super-strong type (for inside the reversible indicator). The second should be a standard strength magnet (for the back of the lid).
- Liquid Clay
- Tools: Pasta machine or brayer, clay extruder, cookie cutters, clay knife, letter stamps
- Super glue: I like Loctite Control Gel
Prepare clay. Condition your clay, then use your pasta machine or brayer to roll out very thin sheets. You'll want a background sheet as big as the lid and two smaller sheets for the reversible magnet. These three pieces need to be almost paper-thin -- I used the second-thinnest setting on my pasta machine. If your layers are too thick, your magnet won't be able to connect through the clay to the can lid.
You can also go ahead and roll out any other embellishments you want -- these can be any thickness you like.
Add background clay to lid. First, give the lid a thin coating of liquid clay to help the polymer clay stick as you work. If you have round cookie cutters in the appropriate sizes, use these to cut out your clay pieces. (If you don't have a cookie cutter, you can make a template with card stock or just eyeball it.) When applying the background piece, roll it down gradually to avoid trapping air bubbles. If you do notice any air bubbles, use a needle to "pop" them before you bake. For this project, air bubbles don't just look bad -- they can also prevent the magnet from getting good contact with the lid.
If you have a clay extruder, you can roll a snake to go around the inner edge of the can lid. This hides any uneven edges on the clay sheet and also frames the piece nicely.
Make & bake magnet pieces. Use a smaller cookie cutter or template to cut out two clay pieces of the same size. These will be the two sides of your reversible magnet. I used different colors for mine, but you can do whatever you like. Place these on your baking surface, since they'll be tricky to move after stamping. Use letter stamps (or any of these other lettering methods) to spell out the words "Clean" and "Dirty." I had the best results when I started with the middle letter and worked out from there -- it was much easier to center it that way. Leaving them separate, bake these two pieces. We want to make sure they stay nice and flat & don't get distorted when we assemble the magnet.
Embellish your lid. While those pieces are baking, decorate the rest of the lid. Try texturing, attaching 3-D clay pieces, or anything else you like. Just be sure to leave a spot big enough for your magnet.
Assemble magnet & bake. Once your clean/dirty clay pieces have baked and cooled, use super glue to sandwich a super-strong magnet in the middle. Double-check that the words are going the same direction on both sides, and that the circle's edges are lined up before you do the gluing.
Bake the magnet and can lid according to the clay manufacturer's instructions.
Finishing touches & final assembly. After everything has baked and cooled, you may wish to do antiquing, sanding, buffing, varnishing, etc. I antiqued my piece with black paint to highlight the lettering and texture. Once you're happy with the looks of the lid, add a regular-strength magnet to the back. Test before gluing: depending on your magnets' strength, you may need to avoid your "Clean/Dirty" magnet's spot to keep the two magnets from repelling each other.
Attach your new magnet to the dishwasher & set the indicator appropriately. Your family members now have one less thing to wonder about!
Of course, can lids aren't the only recycle-able you can cover with polymer clay. Check out this list of things to re-use and recycle with clay. And stick around for more Earth Day ideas!
Psst! Not a crafter? You can also buy these dishwasher magnets in my store.