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My Etsy Shop is OPEN!

Exciting stuff is going on that I wanted to share with you. I recently had the opportunity to design and make a window shade for a teacher friend of mine.  At my son’s school, each teacher needs to have the ability to cover the window in their door very quickly in case of a “Lockdown” drill.  Most teachers do this by using a rolled up piece of construction paper, some tape and a clothespin or paper clip. Not the most attractive or reliable thing as you can imagine.

I thought that I could make a pretty, durable, and much more effective curtain so I came up with this…

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Now I ask you, isn’t that pretty?  I designed it to hang on two Command Hooks – the kind that you can remove without damaging the door.  To install it, you just unroll the shade, and hook the loops onto the Command Hook.  Then roll it up and wrap the straps around from the back and hook those onto the same Command Hooks again.  See it here closer up…

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In a drill, or God forbid and actual emergency, all she has to do is to unhook the straps and the curtain will unroll and cover her door.  Easy-peesy and an added layer of protection from the bad guys.

So after talking with my teacher friend and a few more teachers who gave me some encouragement, I decided to make up some samples and open an Etsy Shop where I could offer these to any teacher who might like one.  I made a whole bunch of different designs, and will be adding more as time goes on, but you will find the first dozen or so for sale in my shop right now.  Please spread the word to all your teacher friends and direct them to my shop at:

GoldenThimbleDesigns.etsy.com

Here’s a preview of some of my designs, but I can do custom designs upon request.  In case you were wondering, my kids attend school in North Carolina, hence the NC university designs.

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Please visit my new shop and let me know what you think of it!  Please recommend me to a teacher today.

Thanks all!

 

Giant Yahtzee!

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So last summer, we made a giant Jenga set for the kids, their friends, the middle school PTA, our family and anyone who drops by. Needless to say, it’s gotten a lot of use. I never got around to blogging about the process, but here’s a picture of my niece Isabelle contemplating a move near the end of a particularly tricky round.

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I found a bunch of tutorials on Pinterest and had my husband cut the pieces from a few two by fours, then my father and I sanded them down.  I stamped a starfish on each end of the boards and that did it.  But like I said, check out Pinterest for better, more detailed instructions.

So, on to this Summer and our Giant Yahtzee, or “Yardzee” as it’s known.  I started off with a 4 x 4 pressure treated deck post from Lowe’s Home Improvement.  This is the one I got…

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When you are choosing your post, be sure to pick one that looks good, meaning it doesn’t have many, or any knots, isn’t cracked, is uniformly colored, etc.

I cut mine into squares with a mitre saw.  The post was actually 3-1/4 inches square, so I measured out 3-1/4″ sections and cut out 5 of them.  I actually cut a 6th block so that I would have something to practice on when I went to drill into my blocks.  Here is what the blocks looked like fresh from the saw…

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Next up, I sanded them.  I used a power sander with a rough (maybe 60 grade) sandpaper.  What you want to do is to make the sharp edges rounded wherever two sides meet and at the corners where three sides meet.  Here is what it should look like when you are done.  Note that all flat surfaces should be sanded smooth.

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Smooth like buttah.  Now, on to the dots.

To help make my dice look uniform, I made myself a stencil using a piece of cardboard and a hole puncher.  I cut a piece of cardboard the same size as a face of my dice, then I measured out a four by four grid.  I then punched holes at the junctures like so…

imageNow, I lay down the stencil onto the die and drew where I wanted the holes to be drilled.

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I wanted my dice to be like a real die, only bigger so I used a small one to show me how to arrange the dots on the big ones.  For instance, when you turn the side with the six up once, there should be the side with the four. It probably makes no difference, but since it took only a small effort to get them “right”, my anal retentive self said “go for it”.

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Once I got all 5 dice marked, I used my Dad’s drill press to make the “holes” or “spots”.  I used a 1/2 inch spade bit and set the drill press to stop when the hole was about 1/8″ deep.  Then I just lined up to each of my marks and drilled a hole.

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Pretty cool, huh?  Next, you will need to sand out each of the holes, and for this, I used my Dremmel with a small, rough sanding bit.  After sanding out the hole, you will want to take a piece of sandpaper to the outside edges of each hole to sand off any extra rough edges.

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The last thing I did before painting them is to wipe them down with a damp paper towel and run over the insides of the holes with a wet Qtip to grab any last bits of sawdust.

To paint the dots, I used a small craft paintbrush, and one of those sample sizes of latex paint from Lowe’s.  One generous coat of paint did the trick.  Here’s Trevor showing us the final product.

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With the dice complete, I needed a few more accessories to play the game.  I took one of the score card from our game and used whiteout to change the heading a bit.  Additionally I used the old cut and paste method (like real cutting with scissors and pasting with glue) to change the name of the game.

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So I then took my new score card to Staples and had them enlarge and laminate it so it could be used over and over with a dry erase marker.  Additionally, I picked up a covered utility pail to use as both a rolling cup and for game storage.

The boys and I had our inaugural game this morning on our screen porch.

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And I won!  It was lots of fun and, surprisingly, a little bit of a workout with all those throws and squats.  Here’s hoping that our Yardzee game gets as much use as our Giant Jenga game does!

 

Ask not…

 

My latest chalkboard design on display in my home. I’m trying to rouse the troops over here.image  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Doc Brown Mind Reading Helmet from Back to the Future

imageBut first, a note:  I set out to make a Doc Brown Mind Reading Helmet that was doable to the novice costume crafter.  I also wanted it to be light enough for a 12 year old to wear without breaking his neck.  To that end, you won’t find any sheet metal or welding required in this tutorial.  The ones that use those materials are AWESOME looking and will probably last well into the future (<—- see what I just did there?).  I like to think that what mine lacks in authenticity and ruggedness, it more than makes up for in cost, weight and ease of construction.  So, on to the tutorial…


As a woman who spent her formative years (high school and college) in the 80s, I could not have been more proud than this year, when my kids went out for Halloween dressed as Marty McFly and Doc Brown.

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Even more so because my eldest son Michael wanted me to make him be Doc Brown circa 1955 when he first meets Marty and is wearing the rediculous brain wave reading helmet.  It’s the moment when we start to truly understand what a nut, er, I mean visionary Doctor Emmet Brown really is.

First, let’s take a look at what we are dealing with here.

imageThe way I saw it, there’s a black helmet with chin strap, covered with some lighted cylendar shaped things (let’s call them electrodes), that are interconnected with metal bars.  I knew that I had a plain black bike helmet somewhere in the garage, and had Michael try it on – it fit, yay!

Ok, so now that I had my base, I wanted to get to work on the electrodes.  You will need 11 of them.  Here is what I sketched out.

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When the drawing was done, I showed it to my kids and said “See – you WILL need to use math in real life.”  My electrodes are about 5″ overall in length.  I think if I were to do it all over again, I might make them each an inch longer, but that’s your call.

The electrodes consist of 6 different materials:

1/2″ pvc pipe

1/2″ x 2″ flexible pipe insulation (this is shown on the drawing as the shaded area)

Shiny silver cardstock

Red Duck Tape

Wire Stars (I’ll show you how to make those in a bit)

A 4″ yellow glow stick

For right now, we will just concentrate on the first four items.  Cut your PVC into (11) 4-1/2″ lengths.  I used a hack saw for mine.

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Cut your pipe insulation.  The kind I bought was squishy and self-adhesive.

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I cut it with a scissors which worked great.  You will need (11) pieces cut to 3/4″ and (11) pieces cut to 1-3/4″.

Here is the (totally awesome) card stock I found at Hobby Lobby.  To me it’s a total fake-out for sheet metal.

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I love it!  Cut this into strips, (6) 12″ x 2″ strips and (6) 12″ x 3/4″ strips.  Cut each strip in half so you have (12) 6″ long of each width.  Now for each electrode gather the following:

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One piece of PVC, one piece of each size of pipe insulation, one piece of each size of cardstock, your red Duck Tape and fire up the hot glue gun.

First, take the smaller piece and adhere it so that it lines up with one end of the PVC pipe (this will be the bottom of your electrode). Right next to the insulation piece, wrap the pipe with a short length of 2″ wide Duck Tape.

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Next, line up the remaining (bigger) piece of insulation with the other end of the pipe and adhere it into place.  I you find that the red tape doesn’t completely cover the white pipe, color in any white space with a red Sharpie.

Ok, now wrap the smaller piece of insulation with the thinner strip of cardstock, cut it to fit and hot glue the ends together.

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Do the same thing with the bigger insulation/taller piece of cardstock, but with this one, you will line up the cardstock even with the bottom (the end that touches the red tape) of the insulation so that it sticks out 1/4″ at the top of the electrode.

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Repeat until you have 11 of these.

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I made 12 because I’m an over-achiever and forgot to stop at 11 because I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

OK now, time to attach those bad boys to your helmet.  So here is how to place them on the helmet.

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There’s five running right down the middle, front to back with one centered in the middle top of your helmet. then there’s two that run horizontally on either side of the center post.  Finally, the last four run around the outer sides of the helmet.

I used Gorilla Glue to attach myelectrodes and it worked like a dream.  The only issues I had were that my bike helmet isn’t perfectly flat and actually has some major holes built into the design of it.  I plugged up some of the holes with leftover bits of insulation so that the glue would have something to “grab onto” when it hit one of the holes.

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I laid out my positions with little yellow stickies.

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Then adhered them with the Gorilla glue following the manufacturer’s instructions.  HINT:  I also ran a bead of hot glue around the outer edge of each electrode since I had no way to clamp them into place while the Gorilla Glue dried.  This temporarily held them in place, but would never have lasted if I had only used the hot glue.  The best part about the Gorilla Glue is that it expands as it dries so it channels up into the PVC pipe, giving you a really good bond.  I let that dry for a few days since I was doing this early (True Confessions: it was August?) and I wanted to make sure it was really good to go.

If your Gorilla Glue is the white kind like mine and it has seeped out from under the electrode, also like mine, go back and color over the exposed glue with a black sharpie.

imageimageNow you should have something that is beginning to look pretty awesome, like so…

imageYeah baby!

So, now is when you should put in the strips that connect the electrodes right on the helmet.  For this I used a metallic Duck Tape that is 3/4″ wide.  In the category of “Don’t Do What I Did”, I will suggest that you put these on NOW, not after you have all of the criss-crossing bars in place.  It made a rather simple step into a much more painful one.

imageHere the red lines show you where I put the tape.

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I did contemplate putting this tape in place first, even before the electrodes but was concerned that the glue would be affixed to the tape, not to the helmet which would make them more likely to fall off.  It would however have given a much cleaner look.  In the end I erred on the side of stability.

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OK, now ready for those metal bars.  As I said earlier, I wanted to keep the helmet as lightweight as I could to keep my kid from breaking his neck during trick or treating time.  Also, I didn’t want to hear the inevitable whine “This thing is too heavy…can you hold it for me?”.

Anyway, to that end, the material that I used for the cross bars is good old Lowe’s paint stirrers.  Cheap (free!), lightweight, sturdy, easy to cut and as a bonus, a perfect width for my project.

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You will need about 20-25 of them, so if your local store is unwilling to just hand you that many, you may need to make a few trips until you’ve got all you need, or find someone who is happy to help a parent trying to make a costume dream (mine) come true.

Paint your stirrers metallic silver.  I chose craft paint, but it may have been easier to just spray paint them all.  Do whichever you prefer.

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Once these have dried, you can start cutting them to fit in between your electrodes.  I attached mine to the top 2″ section of the electrode, pretty much centered top to bottom.  These bars should go where I’ve drawn them here in green.

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It looks a little confusing and believe me when I say it’s even more so in 3 dimensions.  My advice is that you put the ones in that go around the edge, then the ones that go up and over the top front to back, then add in the mess in the middle.  Now for our second lesson in the category of “Don’t Do What I Did”.  When I put in the bars that go around the edge, I attached them with the bars laying horizontally, not vertically, which is 100% incorrect.  By the time I realized my error, it was too late to un-do them, so I just left them that way, then put all of the other ones in correctly like so.

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I cut the paint stirrers using what I believe are metal snippers (?) that I found in the ‘ole tool kit.

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I just held each bar up to where it was going to go and eyeballed a general size of the thing then cut it with a little extra “just in case”.  I continued snipping off little bits until it was pretty close, then took out my Dremmel with a sanding bit and sanded it down until it was a nice fit at both ends.image

I glued them each in place with hot glue.  Before the glue dries, clean up any extra using an extra piece of paint stirrer.  After you’ve got them all in it should look something like this…

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Now we’re getting somewhere!  Ok, now to add the wires.  I bought a spool of 16 gauge red wire at Lowe’s.

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The 25 feet was plenty.  I cut off lengths of it to fit along the same lines as the connecting bars.  I started off having them be nice and straight fitting exactly, but found that I prefered them when they looked a little wackier when they were twisted and a bit too long.  Just bend them a bit then attach them at each end with more hot glue.

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That’s what I’m talking about.  Ok, now to make those “stars” that I mentioned earlier.  If you look at the end of each electrode in Doc’s helmet, there’s a little black star shaped guard at the top.  I think the fictional Doc would have installed them to keep from touching what was surely a very hot 1955 era lightbulb.  I made mine with crafters wire using this super cool wire bending tool.

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The kit comes with a perferated metal stand and various sized pegs.  You stick the pegs into the holes in whatever shape you need for your design then wrap your wire around the pegs.  I did mine like this.

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The kit only came with two of the bigger sized posts, so I started them in the 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions then moved them to the 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions when I got there.  If you don’t want to invest the $20 in this kit (I did since I knew that I would use it again in the future), you can make your own by hammering nails into a spare board.  You want the stars to be about 2-1/4″ across and the middle needs to have at least 1/2″ space for your glow stick to pass in and out of.

Once you’ve bent it to shape, clip the ends to just meet each other then – you guessed it – a little hot glue will hold it together.

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You need 11 of these suckers.  Center each at the end of an electrode and hot glue them in place.  The star will be slightly wider than the end of the electrode.

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I chose at this point to give the helmet a long wire “tail” coming off the back of his helmet with a large suction cup at the end.  This was at the request of the costume wearer as he really wanted to smack it onto his little brother’s head.  If he hadn’t asked for it, I would not have added it, but do what you choose.  I basically took all of my remaining red wire, grouped it together in a bundle and attached one end to the back of the helmet with floral wire, and put a big suction cup on the other end.

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And there’s the money shot.

Next, I glued his wig into the helmet, but this is not really necessarily.  To do so I cut the crown (top of the head) part out of the wig then glued it around the inside edge.  Be careful of your chin straps when you’re doing this, as you don’t want to get them caught up in any way.

After contemplating many different lighting options (Battery operated Christmas string lights, mini faux-votive candles), I decided that glow sticks were probably my easiest, most “authentic” looking option.  I bought mine on Ebay for 60 cents apiece.  I needed 11 for Halloween night, so I got 25 – enough for two separate events plus a few spares.  The ones that fit the best are sold as 4″ but the glowing part is only 3″ long which fits perfectly into the PVC pipe.  I got yellow ones (which for some reason photographed as green) but looked yellow in real life.

imageYou’ll want to use a pair of scissors to cut off the little plastic hanger part at the end.
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Once it’s like this, it should fit really well into the center of each electrode.  I stuck mine in fat side first.  It was a little loose so I wrapped the fat end in a layer of masking tape which allowed me to maneuver it so that about 1/2″ of each glow stick stuck out the top.image

And there you have it.  He looked quite cool out there on Halloween night.  In the dark all you could see were these spots of light bobbing along in the distance.  With his best accessory, his younger brother dressed as Marty McFly at his side, they were a big hit.

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I love these guys!  No one told me that having kids gave you such great costume-creating opportunities!  They make all the hard work so worth it in the end.

Happy Halloween from us!  Can’t wait until next year!

Shadow Box Cork Storage DIY

imageI, like many of my contemporaries, enjoy drinking wine.  A direct product of this is that I’ve got a little cork collection going, and wanted something pretty to keep them in. I had seen some of these shadow box displays on Etsy that were a little too pricey for me so I decided to take a crack at one on my own.

First, I went shopping for a plain shadow box.  I found one on sale for 50% off at Hobby Lobby and jumped on it. My plan was to take it home, take it apart and drill a hole in the top with one of my husband’s gigantic drill bits so that when I had a cork to add to it, I could just drop it into the top of the box. When I got the box home however, I found that the construction of the box would not allow me to do that.  Without going into too much detail, I decided that it was too risky to try doing this.  I was afraid I would ruin the box.  I decided to fill the box with what I had and after I have a few corks saved up, I’ll take the back off the box and add them. Not optimal, but if I wanted it perfect, I would need to pay for it on Etsy.

Next, I started looking for the saying I wanted on the glass and found this online

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It is a design that is available for purchase on the Silhouette site.  I bought the design, only to find out that Silhouette is a fancy die cutting machine, much like a Cricut, which I don’t own.  I decided to cut the design out by hand and will show you how.  It’s meticulous and time consuming, but reaps nice results.

First, flip the design around so that it is reversed left to right.  I did this with photoshop.

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Next, print it out and enlarge it to the size you need. It doesn’t all have to be on one sheet, just so long as you have all parts of the reversed design printed out. Here’s what the top half of mine looked like after I started cutting it up.

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I used adhesive vinyl, the kind that comes in a 12″ roll.  I used small pieces of this at a time since I was cutting out words, or sometimes letters, one at a time. Cut out a letter from your printout.  You don’t want or need to cut it out perfectly but should instead leave a small border around it. Carefully tape the letter with the printed (backwards) side facing you to the back of the piece of vinyl. With a small pair of scissors, cut out the letter as exactly as you can.

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When it is cut out, the right side of the vinyl will have the correct forward facing design on it. I did this for the entire design. Any words whose letters were connected I cut out as one piece, such as the word “the” at the beginning. I used an exacto knife for any tough to reach spots.  I suggest binge-watching TV on Netflix while you do this.  I think I watched season 5 of “The Walking Dead” which made the task much more enjoyable. The other option would be to get a friend with either a Cricut or Silhouette machine to cut something out for you. Bring her a bottle of wine as a thank you.

Once it’s cut out, carefully center and stick it to your (cleaned) glass. Remove the back, fill it with your corks, and hang it up.

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Ours hangs over our bar cabinet, appropriately.

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Love it!  I plan to enjoy filling it up over the course of time.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Next post will be a Halloween related DIY!  My favorite season is finally here!!!

House Number Pumpkin Topiary


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I belong to a very small group (there’s only four of us but until recently there were just 2 of us) of gals who each month have a “Crafter’s Smackdown”. It originally started with my BFF Wendy and I when I was living in Massachusetts. Each month, one of us would pick a crafting medium (like for instance a roll of duct tape).  We would each separately construct something from the chosen medium and not share the results until completed. The only rule was that while you could add whatever additional supplies you wanted (glue, paint, wood, etc.), the given medium (ie. the duct tape) needed to be the primary focus of the completed project.  It became a way to flex our creative muscles each month. Every single month I expect that we will come up with the same idea, and every single month I am wrong.  A few examples are as follows:

The coffee filter challenge:

Wendy made a garland of pom-poms and fairy lights while I made a rosette wreath that I tutorialized here.

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The popsicle stick/river rock Smackdown:

Wendy made a set of coasters, I made an hombre painting or tray (my rocks are on the back).

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For the Cork Smackdown, my college roomie and old friend Lori joined the group:

Lori made a beautiful trivet that looks like a Pansy, Wendy made the awesome shutter-turned-memo-board, and I made a tray for serving wine. To myself.

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For this month’s Crafter’s Smackdown, Lori got to choose and she chose gourds.  I already had my eye on these pumkin topiaries on Pinterest so I decided to take action on one of them.  I’ve seen several variations, and did a mixture of a few of those.

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I did not take pictures as I went along, but here’s the gist of it.  I should mention here that if you have less than or more than 3 digits in your house number, you should adjust accordingly.  I got 3 (a small, a medium and a large) “Funkins”.  These are the fake pumpkins that they sell at craft stores the greatest benefit of which is that they last forever.  I wanted to be able to reuse this for years to come so I got myself some Funkins.  Anyway, they are hollow, lightweight, realistic looking and EXPENSIVE, so I got mine at Hobby Lobby when they were 40% off.  Cut a 1″ hole in the top and bottom of the medium and large size pumpkins, and in the bottom only of the small one (the one that will go on the top).  Find the flattest side of the pumpkin and draw, paint, or stencil your house numbers on them.  I did mine with a Sharpie because I find that easiest, but if you look at the pumpkins very closely, well, I know it would look better had I used paint instead.  I just couldn’t be bothered.  Ok, now you are ready to assemble your topiary (Already?! I know, right?).

Take your urn, I got mine at Lowe’s and it was $12 and made of plastic.  Lowe’s also had a “real” one that was $70.  Unless you break the bank and buy the real one, you’ll want to weigh it down with something.  You can fill it partway with stones or bricks or sand.  I took a 10″ terra cotta pot, turned it upside down and stuck it into the urn.  The pot had a 1″ drainage hole in the bottom of it, which came in handy for the next step.  You will need a 3/4″ wood dowel that measures the same height as the depth of the urn plus the height of your 3 pumpkins combined.  I bought a 4 foot dowel and cut it down to about 3-1/2 inches.  Stick the dowel into the center of your urn.  For mine, I threaded it through the drainage hole in the terra cotta pot which helped secure it really well.  Now thread your three pumpkins onto the dowel with the largest at the bottom and the smallest (the one that still has a stem on top) at the top.  Garnish with fake or real leaves, moss or other fall foliage.  I used fake leaves at the bottom then a raffia-type product in between the other two.  I made a nice bow for the top and that’s about it.  My gourd Smackdown is complete and it only took me a few hours.

imageSo pretty!  I promise to post pictures once the other 3 ladies have completed their projects too.

I have a whole slew of projects I’m working on now for Halloween, so sit tight and I’ll have them up here before long.  Thanks!

Beverage Holders for the Yard

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At the beginning of the summer, we bought a new house that has a fabulous back yard made for entertaining.  I decided that some backyard beverage holders would come in handy when we had friends over to play Bags (or as some call it “Cornhole”).

I figured that the body of the holder could be made from a tin can but wanted it big enough to hold a can plus a coozie, or alternately to hold a Keg (Solo) cup. I thought I might use a Progresso Soup can, but was shopping at Target and found these in the $1 – $3 – $5 section. They were $3 each.

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I liked that it was sturdy and a little bigger than a Progresso can, and we can put the covers on them when they aren’t in use.

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I made a decorative cover for them using fabric and Modge Podge.  I first made a pattern with plain paper. I measured the height and circumference of the can and cut out a pattern that was  the height x the circumference plus 1/2″.

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Use your pattern to cut out a fabric piece for each of the cans you’re covering.

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GO TARHEELS!

OK, so now you want to cover the outside of the can with Modge Podge. I used the kind made for outdoor use figuring that these might occasionally see some rain.

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Once it’s covered in Modge Podge, wrap your fabric around the can overlapping the ends, and smooth out any air bubbles.  Now you will cover it with another layer of Modge Podge on the outside of the fabric.

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Let it dry completely (it dries clear) according to the instructions. This might take a while if you are in a humid environment. Once it’s completely dry, add a second coat. I think I did a total of three coats, allowing time to dry in between.

Once it was good and dry, I set out to add the post to it.  I had purchased yard long 1/4″ threaded poles for the task. First off, you need to pierce the bottom of the can. To do this, first locate the center of the can bottom and mark it with a pen.

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Now, using a hammer, pierce the bottom center with a big nail.

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Okie doke. Now place your can on the floor, bottom up, put one end of your threaded pole onto the hole and gently tap the other end with a hammer until you have penetrated the can.

Temporarily remove the pole from the can.  Your completed project will sit on the threaded pole in the following order:

Hex Nut

Washer

Can Botton

Washer

Hex Nut

So, starting at the bottom, thread on a hex nut, followed by a washer leaving about 1/4″ – 1/2″ of pole showing at the top.  Apply Gorilla glue around the washer like so…

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Now, put your can on the post and add a ring on gorilla glue inside the can bottom right around the post.

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Try to do it a tad more neatly than I did.  Now add your washer and the final nut.  Screw the nut so that it matches evenly with the top of the post. Now adjust the bottom nut, the one underneath on the outside of the can, so that all five layers – nut, washer, can, washer, nut – are squeezed together tight. This will make your can sit nice and stable on top of the post with no wobbling.

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Double check that the post ends right at the top of the nut and not before or after it.  Too high and your can will wobble around the bottom of the holder, too low and you risk having your creation lose the nut and come apart.

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Let the Gorilla glue dry per the manufacturer’s instructions.

The cup holders are pretty much ready for use now except…well except that I wasn’t completely happy with them. I didn’t like having that raised nut in the bottom when I put my beer bottle in it.  To correct for this problem, I lined the bottom with two pieces of thick (6mm) fun foam. Using the can as a template, I cut out two circles of fun foam.  Each looked like this.

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Now, in only ONE of the circles, cut out a hole in the center.

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It doesn’t have to be pretty because it won’t show.   Now hot glue that puppy to the bottom inside of the can.

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Now take the uncored circle and hot glue it right on to the first one.

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There you have it!  A nice level, comfy cushion upon which your beverage can rest. All that is left to do is to plant them in the yard and crack open a beverage.

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Check them out!  They keep your beverage handy and up off the grass where they might get knocked over or licked by the dog.

Now get out there and make your own set before the summer is over!

Rosette Wreath from Coffee Filters and Sheet Music

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Helloooooo friends. I know, I know, long time no blog.  I have no excuse, so please just accept my apologies. Today I’m giving a quick tutorial on the above wreath I made using coffee filters and sheet music.

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The coffee filters I used are the cheap, round, ruffle type.  For the wreath (it’s on a 14″ form) I made about 115 rosettes of which about 70 were constructed from the coffee filters.

So first off, you want to use a dry (no steam), hot iron and flatten out your coffee filters. Do these in batches since the humidity in the air will try to return them to their natural ruffle state.  I think I did about a dozen at a time.

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Now using a pencil I drew a spiral on one starting at the outside edge heading towards the middle.

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The trick here is to try to make your spiral sections about the same width like so

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Ok, now I don’t show this in the picture, but stack about 6 coffee filters neatly together then cut along the line – so that you’re cutting out 6 at a time. If you have sharper scissors than I, stack more at a time to cut more at a time.

Each should now look like this…

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Now, heat up your glue gun and start rolling.  Starting at the outside edge of the circle, roll the end in tightly.

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Keep rolling all the way to the center until it looks like this.

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The rosettes will be wound very tightly, but I like them a little looser (like I like my men😉) so I held the rosette in my palm then made like a “cage” with my hands and shook the rosette around for a few seconds. This allows it to unwind just a bit, leaving you with something that is less bud-like, and more rosette-Ish.

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Looking good! Now turn out the little coin of paper that once was the center of the coffee filter and now is at the very bottom of your flower.

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 This is where you’re going to put a liberal amount of hot glue.  Once you’ve done that, let the rest of the rosette rest on the glue and take a few seconds before the glue dries to make any adjustments you think are necessary.  Remember they are supposed to mimic their natural counterparts so you don’t want complete uniformity.

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You have just mastered the paper rosette.

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For the sheet music rosettes, I had bought a book of sheet music at my local thrift store awhile back, knowing that I would find a good craft project for it some day.  The day finally came!  I ripped out about 45 pages and, with about six sheets stacked together at a time, traced and cut out a circle.

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Now just repeat the above steps for all of these circles to make your sheet music rosettes.

Once you are done rolling, rolling, rolling those flowers, it’s time to assemble your wreath. I forgot to photograph along the way, but it’s super easy.

Get yourself a 14 – 16 inch styrofoam wreath form. The one I got (cheap cheap at Walmart) was green, so I wrapped it in wide white satin ribbon.  This is so that the form wouldn’t peek through in between the rosettes. I used hot glue to attach the ribbon to the form. Next, start adhering your rosettes, using a good sized blob of hot glue for each.  Put the glue on the bottom of a rose, pick a spot on the wreath and hold it in place for a few seconds.  Grab your next flower, glue it, then place it right next to the first one.  Continue this way, working your way around the wreath. Be sure to scatter the sheet music ones amidst the white ones. I made 6 white roses for every 4 music ones just as an FYI.

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And there you have it. A big, beautiful, gorgeous wreath that maybe cost $10. If anyone has a book loving friend who’s getting married, you could offer to make her a wedding bouquet out of book pages. Gorgeous, creative, incredibly inexpensive and she can keep it forever.  Or you can dye the coffee filters any color, or use colored paper even and make a pretty wreath for any occasion.  The possibilities are endless.

Best of luck with your own wreath!

DIY Wood Pallet Sign

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It’s our first Thanksgiving in North Carolina and we are so pleased to be expecting family in town from Massachusetts and Tennessee. I have have been in full-on preparation mode, including my attempts to make the house look more festive. Today, I made this sign to hang in our entryway.  We think it’ll give our guests some idea of what is expected of them during their stay 🙂

I had never done a sign like this before but was so happy with the completed project that I decided to blog a brief tutorial on it.

First thing, after you’ve decided on your wording, you need to design it and print it out on a computer, laptop tablet, etc.  I’m most comfortable with Excel, so that’s what I used, but whatever you choose, just be sure that it has a font (or two) that you like, and that you can print out really large letters.  Here is what mine looked like on my computer.

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Print it out and compare it to the wood that you’re planning to use. Adjust font size and reprint as necessary. Once you’ve got your final design in hand, cut out the words leaving 1/8″ blank paper around each word like so.

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Now you will flip each word over to the back of the paper and write all over the back of the words with a charcoal pencil. I used one that I got at Hobby Lobby in a package of 6 for $5.00. Here is what it looked like.

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As you can see, it’s a “soft” charcoal, which I recommend.  Here is what your paper should look like when you’re done writing on the back.

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Now, carefully lay out your words, right side up, on your board and once you have them all in place, tape them down at the edges to keep them from shifting around. I forgot to take a picture of this so hopefully, I’m clear.

Carefully, using a ball point pen, trace around each letter’s edge.  By doing this, you are transferring the loose charcoal from the back of your paper to the wood.  Sort of like an old fashioned carbon copy (so that’s what “cc” means).

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Once you’ve finished a word, you can carefully  untape it and remove it from your board. Look what you did!

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How cool is that?  Think of what you are capable of!  You can transfer your favorite team logo, silhouette, saying, image?  The possibilities are endless!

Once I was done transferring the whole saying, I painted the letters on with a paint pen.  I also got these at Hobby Lobby.  Mine came in a 2-pack and looks like this.

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It was too easy.  Much more so than using paint and a brush I think, especially since painting is not my strong suit in the Great Big World of Crafts.

I didn’t bother sealing my sign with polyurethane since it is strictly for indoor decorative use, but if I were planning on using it outside, I would’ve given it a couple of coats of clear varnish.

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Stay tuned for more projects using this method.  Good luck with your own, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

DYI Posable Skeleton Hands – Made with wire, tin foil and masking tape

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I made these scary hands as part of my son’s Halloween costume this year. My initial intent was to just stuff some gloves with polyfil as I had done in years past, but I saw something similar to these on Pinterest and decided to give them a go.

First, gather up your supplies: wire (I used 4 wire clothes hangers), tin foil, masking tape, a piece of paper and a pencil, a Sharpie, scissors, pliers and wire cutters.

Lay your hand on the paper and trace around it.  Then, mark off where your knuckles are.  If you think your hands are kind of small, borrow the hand of a larger person.

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Now, cut and bend your wire to follow the lines of your finger and hand bones.  Use the picture and your own hand as your guide. I found that holding the wire with the pliers and using my hands to bend it worked best.

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Transfer the knuckle marks to your wires with a sharpie.

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Now, using your tape and starting with the palm, tape the four fingers together, leaving spaces between the fingers as you go.  You should have masking tape “webbing” between each wire when you’re done, and should still be able to line it up to your picture.

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Use some scissors to shape the upper edge so that it stays just below the knuckle lines.  Now do the same for the thumb and wrist.

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Fun!  Now you can start posing your fingers, using those joint markers as guides. It helps to pose your own hand the way you want the fake hand to be, and refer to it as you go. It should be noted that when I started posing the hand, I realized that I had limited my thumb’s mobility by making the gap between it and the index finger too tight. To fix this, I cut down the webbing, moved the thumb, then re-taped the thumb webbing.

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Much better.  So now we start adding the knuckles and fingers. You want to add a little flesh to your wires, or bulk up the bones, and to do this, you will wrap them in tin foil. Starting with the fingers first, take a small ball of foil to make the first knuckle.  Hold the ball in place then take a 1″ wide strip of foil and wrap it around the knuckle to hold it in place, then continue wrapping the strip of foil up the finger to the next joint.  When your strip of foil runs out, grab another and keep going.  Make another knuckle-ball (keeping in mind that the joints get a bit smaller as you go out the length of each finger), hold it in place and wrap it up in your foil strip.

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Keep doing this until you reach the end of the finger.

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Now, wrap your finger in masking tape using small strips of tape. Start at the base of the finger, being sure to secure the first knuckle to the hand with your first strip.  You may find it easier to work with thinner strips of tape for the fingers than you did for the hand.  If so, just rip the masking tape into more manageable size pieces. Feel free to pinch and mold the fingers as you go.   Continue until you have finished all the fingers and the thumb.

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Now, you can start fleshing out the palm.  Keep in mind that most of the “meat” in your hand runs around, but not into, the center of the palm, shape some tin foil to fit under the four fingers and down the pinky side of the palm.  Make a separate piece for the base of the thumb, again using your own hand as a guide.

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Cover the the first piece with masking tape.

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And now cover the thumb side piece.

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Add a little flesh to the center of the palm, and that will finish off the palm side of your hand.

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Creepy!  For the back of the hand, you need only add a little foil below the knuckles, as our bones really do show through back there.

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Cover it with tape and the back is done.

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Now for the hard part…repeat the whole thing for your second hand, making sure to reverse it so that you don’t end up with two lefts or two rights.  I took my original drawing, traced it through to the back of the paper and went from there.

Here are my finished hands, front and back.

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They are very posable, but use care when manipulating them as you don’t want to crush the layer of tin foil too much.  I left the hands just like this, but some of you may want to paint them or coat them in a layer of liquid latex. If you plan to use them in your outdoor decor, you should at least coat them with a waterproof finish. My son used them for his costume, and the whole thing was a big hit in the neighborhood.

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Super creepy fun!  Let me know if you’ve got questions and good luck with your own creepy hands.