Thursday, October 8, 2009

Make Gazing Balls with Mosaic Art Supplies

A wide variety of mosaic art supplies and glass mosaic tiles can be used to create beautiful personalized outdoor ornaments and gazing balls. When flower blossoms have fallen and trees have lost leaves, sparkling gazing balls can keep a winter garden lively and fresh throughout the season. Mosaic art supplies, found in hobby shops and online, can be artfully used to create table tops, stepping stones, chair seats, wall decor as well as decorative gazing balls. Use glass mosaic tiles in original designs to bring light and color during any season to an indoor or outdoor decorative space. Follow the steps below to create a glass mosaic gazing ball.

Step 1.  If using a custom design for the gazing ball rather than an overall pattern, draw it out first on paper to scale.

Step 2.  Buy precut, tumbled glass mosaic tiles from a place that sells a wide variety of mosaic art supplies or make them yourself. To make your own mosaic tiles, place decorative glass or ceramic pieces in a paper bag and gently hit with a hammer to break into smaller pieces ranging from ½” -1” in size.

Step 3.  Place glass mosaic tiles onto the paper stencil to be sure they fit in a pleasing pattern. Choose a variety of colors and textures from the mosaic art supplies center where you can mix and match to find a look that is pleasing to the eye.

Step 4.  Mix putty per directions on the package in a disposable loaf pan with a plastic spoon for easy clean-up.

Step 5.  Fill holes of the bowling ball halfway with crumpled aluminum foil, then top with the putty mixture. Smooth putty across opening as much as possible and allow to dry for several days. Then sand smooth.

Step 6.  Transfer the pattern from the paper to the gazing ball with a sharpie marker or tracing paper. The glass mosaic tiles and grout will cover the pattern so it does not have to be perfect.

Step 7.  Apply a bit of glue to the back of mosaic tile pieces and attach to the ball in the area you have designated. Do a small section at a time. Leave a 1/8" space between the glass tiles for grout. Use the bamboo skewer stick or a mosaic tool as a guide in between tiles to be sure the grout lines are even.

Step 8.  Let the glass tiles set for half an hour and then move to decorate the next area repeating application process until the visible area of the gazing ball is covered with glass mosaic tiles. Allow to set for a minimum of 30 minutes and then turn the gazing ball over and complete the design on the other side. Use the stand to support the gazing ball as you are working.

Step 9.  Once all glass tiles have been applied, allow 36 hours to for glue to fully dry and set.

Step 10.  Mix grout with waterto the consistency of peanut butter in another disposable pan. Grout may be tinted from a wide range of colors available at the same store where mosaic art supplies are purchased.

Step 11.  Using the medium stiff brush apply grout to the surface of the entire gazing ball a section at a time. Make sure there are no air bubbles. Grout should cover every nick and cranny on the ball and if it gets on the glass mosaic tiles, it can be removed at the end of the process.

Step 12.  Let grout dry until it flakes off easily. Depending on the time of year and the weather it can take up to several days for the grout to dry completely. Keep the ball under a covered area if outdoors, while drying. Once grout is thoroughly dry, polish the gazing ball with the Scotch-Brite pad to remove grout from glass tiles to bring out their color and shine.

Step 13.  Allow ball to dry 24-36 hours before applying sealant. Purchase sealant from the mosaic art supplies center and apply as directed. Allow to dry thoroughly. If the gazing ball is placed outside, reapply sealant at least every six months.

Buy a sturdy stand for your mosaic gazing ball in either heavy metal or cement to display in the garden.

  • If using home made glass mosaic tiles, be very careful as edges are extremely sharp. Mosaic art supplies stores sell tumbled tiles whose edges are smoothed and safer to use.
Things You'll Need

  • Bowling ball
  • Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty
  • Mosaic art supplies and tools
  • Glass mosaic tiles
  • Weld Bond or E6000 glue
  • Grout plus color tint if desired
  • Medium Stuff Brush
  • Scotch-Brite scrubbin pad
This is such a fun project and makes a great gift idea. Have you ever made a gazing ball with mosaic tiles?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Learn to Buy and Use Home Blood Pressure Monitors

Checking blood pressure regularly with home blood pressure monitors is important for people who are on medication or alternative treatments who want to be proactive in helping to manage their health care. The American Heart Association recommends people with high blood pressure include using home blood pressure monitors in daily routines to be certain medications and other treatments are working, giving the patient the chance to alert health care practitioners to potential problems.

Using a home blood pressure monitor can help patients be aware of early diagnoses for other related diseases involving high blood pressure, motivates people to self-track their treatment and stay proactively involved in personal care, cuts health costs from frequent doctor visits, and gives a birds-eye-view if a person’s blood pressure differs in an environment other than a doctor’s office.

Speak with your health care practitioner or doctor to find out if using a home blood pressure monitor is the right choice for you. If so, here are some guidelines for purchasing and using one.
  • Investigate which kind of home blood pressure monitor is best for your situation. There are different types of home blood pressure monitors. The traditional cuff that wraps around the arm and blood pressure is measured by listening with a stethoscope is cumbersome and requires the participation of a second person for measuring. Wrist cuffs which are attached to a free standing meter are available and can be easily wrapped around the wrist by the individual. Buttons on the meter can be pushed to measure blood pressure. One hand operation is usually the norm. These are reasonably priced and convenient for people who can take their own blood pressure.
-Be sure wrist sizes are adequate. Check to see if the display is easily readable and a large enough for you to see.

-After buying a new home blood pressure monitor, take it to the doctor or practitioner’s office to compare the accuracy of its measurement to readings from his blood pressure cuff. Be sure the new machine is validated which means it can be relied on for accuracy and those results can be consistently repeated.

-Contact the Dabl Educational Trust and the British Hypertension Society for a list of tested home blood pressure monitors that have been shown to be accurate in repeated uses. These are excellent resources for meters if you don’t have one already.

-Shop around for prices. Many online stores offer lower prices than might be found in local pharmacies. There is a wide range to choose from.

-Avoid public blood pressure machines often found in many larger pharmacies. These machines may not be properly maintained and may measure blood pressure inaccurately and are not recommended.

-Proper use of a home blood pressure monitor is easy but may take a few practice sessions to master. Take the machine to the doctor or practitioner to be sure it is properly calibrated and for her to demonstrate the proper use and fit for accurate readings.

-Measure blood pressure two or three times daily, the first being in the morning before medication has been taken. Always take blood pressure in the left arm. Write down the readings in a log or journal. Many home blood pressure monitors also give readings for pulse rate. Add that to the journal entries.

-When taking a blood pressure reading sit calmly for a few minutes before starting. Make sure legs are uncrossed and feet are flat on the floor. Access to a table, chair arm or other support is important so the arm can be held comfortably at heart level when the blood pressure measurement is taken.

-Wrap the cuff around the portion of the arm where it is meant to be and on bare skin. The cuff should fit firmly when in place before starting the reading. Avoid talking or any movement while taking the reading. Take a second reading several minutes after the first to confirm the accuracy of the monitor.

-Contact the doctor if readings vary greatly from one another. Blood pressure measurements vary slightly throughout the day and readings can be slightly higher in the mornings. Ask what level a normal reading is for your condition and what level would trigger an immediate call to the doctor. Write these at the beginning of the log in case you forget.

Always have home blood pressure monitors checked by a practitioner for calibration when new. Continue to have the machine rechecked several times a year to ensure its accuracy.

When taking measurements with a home blood pressure monitor, call the doctor or healthcare practitioner if unusual readings occur regularly.
The information offered here is for educational purposes and is not meant to take the place of medical advice.

Do you own a blood pressure monitor? Questions or concerns about buying a home blood pressure monitor?