DIY

How to Never Lose Another Lighter Again

The 2010 Batch

What is it about lighters? They seem to magically float in and out of various pockets, changing owners at random, liberating themselves to travel far from home. Everyone has a least one friend who pockets your lighters '“ you know the one you have to keep your eye on, lest you have to have the “isn’t that my red lighter?” conversation all over again. Then there’s some disagreement over how many times that bic-branded baby has switches hands in the course of an evening. Between lighters and pens, I’ve probably purchased enough plastic to put more than a few Bic-xecutives’s daughters in braces. You know what you never hear?: “Isn’t that my red cowboy Hello Kitty/blue panda/green luchador lighter?” I’m sure you can figure out why that is, non? It’s because those lighters don’t get lost. Plus, they’re easily identified by their proper owner.

I started getting footloose and fancy-free with branding my flick-your-bic’s a few years back. Initially they were the perfect group Xmas present: cheap, unique and useful. At the time, I had easy access to a label maker and so I pasted slogans on the back of each lighter. The first year said, if I remember correctly, “Santa is a Ho” and the second year '“ far more controversial '“ “Jesus Wants You to Go to the Mall”. Sadly, I didn’t have the foresight to liberate the label maker from my corporate job, so this past year I’ve ditched the slogans. But people tend to hold on to them for years without losing them, getting attached and even going so far as to keep them once they’re empty. I’ve even had them handed back to me when I had a lighter-stealing roomie: “Hey, I was hanging with your roommate and this ended up in my pocket. It’s obviously your green bike tires and vines/ purple girl power/orange ramen noodle lighter”.

So. First things first: find some things small enough to fit on the face of a lighter '“ stickers are an obvious choice but I also like to peruse magazines (Giant Robot and Juxtapose were great material for a while there), newspaper, comic books, children’s books, labels, foil, glitter, googly eyes, etc.

Attach image to tape

Now lay your image out on the face of the lighter first to see how you want it to lay. Does it look better facing left or right? Upside down? Does it need to be trimmed? Is it saying “pour some glitter on me?” or “Draw on me?” Decide. Then either gently lay the image on the lighter and gingerly and slowly wrap packing tape around it OR press your clipping onto the packing tape and then lay the tape over the lighter, positioning the clipping and tapping the tape down gently around it. This technique works much better for lightweight items like paper. If you chose something that protrudes like puffy stickers or googly eyes, it might work better to cut out the tape around them or forgo it altogether. Personally, it irks me to have bubbles in the tape but if you don’t care then go for it. I like using the tape myself because it a) allows you to incorporate non-sticky items like magazine clippings without dealing with a glue mess and b) it seals in your decal from the elements.

Attach tape and image to lighter. Ta-da! Lincoln Lighter!

If you’re committed to using glitter, you’ll be dealing with a problem child for sure '“ it demands attention and gets everywhere. The best way to deal with this is to set the lighter over a sheet of plain white paper and set newspaper underneath that. Grab a small paintbrush and dip the tip of the brush in glitter, then sprinkle over the packing tape or onto the lighter (if you opt to do this, then dab some rubber cement onto the lighter to hold the glitter). Then set the lighter on the newspaper, gather the white paper at the sides to make a funnel and sift the leftover glitter back on to the lighter. Seal with, yup, packing tape. Vacuum furiously.

Go nuts with it, and keep an eye out – ideal supplies can be found in some unexpected places. I can promise you’ll find yourself keeping better track of your lighter and since no one else can claim that your red sexy nurse lighter is theirs, it’s gonna stay in your pocket a lot longer.

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Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

A freelance writer, blogger and poet based in San Francisco, Amber has written for PC World, InfoWorld, and the 16th & Mission Review. She has performed at City Hall, Litquake, the Brainwash, 16th & Mission, BlueSix, and SFSU among other places. Amber is also consummate fan of swearing, organizational freak, yoga practitioner, music geek, caffeine addict, and tattoo enthusiast who enjoys platform shoes, making out, thumb wrestling and fighting the good fight. She owns a bicycle named Gretel, a motor scooter named Elroy and a cat named Simon. She can be found in various virtual locations all over your interwebs.