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Category Archives: General Crafts

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!

 

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!

Drawing or Writing on Ceramic

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Just a quick post today. I made the coffee mugs above to give to my brother Jim and sister-in-law Lisa who had moved from Massachusetts to Tennessee. I got the idea from Pinterest (of course). The directions said to use a Sharpie, then bake it in the oven to make it permanent. I made them the day before they were scheduled to go back to Chattanooga and was so disappointed to find out that the process didn’t work. When I wet my thumb and ran it over a corner of the writing, the ink ran and washed off. I was NOT happy.

I did a little research and found out that I needed to get paint pens made specifically for writing on glass. These ones by DecoArt work really really well.

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I got mine at Michael’s but I’m pretty certain that you’ll find them at all major craft stores. The pens have actual paint in them, so you need to shake them up first, then push down the tip until the paint flows into it. Then you’re ready to write or draw with it.

To create the shapes I went here and printed out the two states I was looking for. Then, using a water solvable felt tip pen I drew the shapes by eyeballing them. I would “erase” as I went along by licking my thumb and wiping off the ink. Once I had it like I wanted, I painted over my lines with the DecoArt pen. Anyone uncomfortable with my “eyeballing” technique could print or copy the shapes to desired size then cut them out, tape them on, and trace the shape onto your mug.

Following the instructions on the pen package, I put the completed mugs onto a cookie sheet and put them into a cold oven. I turned the oven on, setting it to 375 degrees. Once the oven was preheated (it hit 375 degrees), I set the timer to 40 minutes. When the timer went off, I turned the oven off and opened the oven door a few inches. When the mugs reached room temperature, they were done! I packaged them up and shipped them out to Jim and Lisa the next day.

Today, I made two of these mugs, one for me and one for my girlfriend Wendy. I am famous among my family members for being incapable of any clear thinking until I’ve finished my first cup of coffee in the morning. Wendy is almost, but not quite as bad.

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Now that I’ve gotten the hang of the pens, I’m really looking forward to using them on different projects in the future. I’m thinking about using them for some sort of teacher gift at Christmastime.

Everybody enjoy your Labor Day!