Grape Crate Pet Beds

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We currently live in an Italian neighbourhood and in the fall a good many of our neighbours squished their own grapes to make wine.  The result was that there were plenty of these nice wooden crates at the curb when they were done.  I knew I HAD to have them, to make SOMETHING, but I didn’t know what, exactly, I was going to do with them.  Then my brother-in-law got a cat.  Then my brother got a cat.  Then my sister-in-law mentioned that she was going to get a cat.  And cats like boxes.  And these boxes are cat-sized.  So there you go.

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First I had to clean them off and scrape off the labels and sand them a bit.

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The sides of the crates were made from particle board, so I didn’t sand too much, naturally.

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I did wonder how the porosity of the particle board would affect my ability to stain it.  I guess the only way to find out is to do it!

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I used a variety of stains for this, the dregs that were in the bottoms of cans from previous projects.  One was a gel stain, which I had never used before.

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You can see how dark it goes on.

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It almost covered up the ink on the sides of the crate, but came back through once I wiped off the excess.

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Here you can see the other two stains, which were more translucent.

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Wiping off the excess with a rag after painting it on.

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It came out darker depending on the roughness of the wood.

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And I forgot about the whole STAINING part of stain, and forgot to wear gloves.  Oops.

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Once they’d dried, I painted on a quick layer of varathane.

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Again, because I didn’t sand them too much, we weren’t looking at baby’s bottom smoothness here.

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The completed boxes.

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I bought three pillows, each 13″ x 20″, which nearly fit the inside of the boxes.

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Fortunately my mother has what amounts to a fabric store in her basement, so I had plenty of patterns to choose from for cushion covers.

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I made the cushion covers in the same fashion as I make all my other cushion covers: with the simple overlap in the back that eliminates the need for buttons or zippers, which are beyond my skill level.  I double-sewed all the seams because I wanted them to last through being removed for washing.  I got the whole thing done super quickly, too, because I was using my grandmother’s sewing machine, which has two settings: terrifyingly fast, and supersonic.  And I didn’t sew my thumb to anything, either, so I count that as a win.

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The cushions, stuffed inside the covers.

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And inside the box.  There’s a little gap on the sides, but once the pillows get squished down by the cats they’ll fill the whole space.

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I decided they were too tricky to wrap (and a waste of paper), so it’s more of a token wrapping job.

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DINOPOTS

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I’ve been seeing these all over the internet for the past year or so, but it took a while before I could actually acquire what I needed to do it (basically I had to move back to Ottawa and buy a car so I could go shopping …).

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Basically, you need some hollow plastic figurines.  I picked some of these up in a giant bag from Value Village, while I got another handful at Target.

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Then you take your knife and you cut a hole in the back of each one.

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Some will be softer than others, and cut easily.  This small triceratops and apatosaurus were a breeze.

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Others, like this pachycephalosaurus, will result in several horrible cuts to your thumb, after which your husband will make you wear gloves.  And don’t even get me started on that darned elephant.  I had to eventually cut it open using a drill press and then file off the rough edges to the hole.

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Once they’re cut, decide what kind of plants are going in them.  If they need drainage, then you’d better drill a hole in the bottom.  Then you can spray paint them.  Use a spray paint that is designed to bond to plastic.  I did not, and as a result, bad things happened to that little apatosaurus.

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Then you just put plants in them and you’re ready to go.

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I like the elephant the best, but I’m still fond of my actual DINOpots, too.  Makes a great hostess gift or a special something for your quirky office mate.

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Victorian-esque Hanging Mirror … from Toilet Paper Rolls

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Okay so I’m not really setting any trends these days when it comes to weird stuff I make that I find on the internet.  I must be getting old.  Or it might be that I seem to never be sitting in front of my computer anymore.  In any case, I made this thing, and you can see things like it all over the internet.  But this one is mine.  And I like it.  So the basic ingredients you need for this are toilet paper/paper towel rolls (how many?  MANY.), a mirror, and something to mount your mirror in.  In this case, I had a 10″ round mirror so I stuffed it in a 10″ embroidery hoop.   You’ll also need scissors and pencils and rulers and glue and paint and something to stick to the whole shebob so it hangs.  Sorry for the technical language.

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Geez, where to begin?  Okay, start with your paper rolls, which you have been assiduously collecting for a month or two.  Or three.

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Pull all the paper bits off them, of course. This is how many I had. I didn’t end up using them all, but I figured from the outset it would be useful to cut them all in case I needed them later.

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Then I measured the depth of my embroidery hoop, which was about 1/2″ inch.

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So then I cut all the paper rolls into 1/2″ segments, to match.

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Now, I discovered that the mirror didn’t fit in the embroidery hoop if the inner hoop was still in place …

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So I took it out and tightened the outer hoop and that was fine.

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I set the hoop (minus the mirror) on my work surface, and then started thinking about a plan. There are many different patterns you can make with those little paper cat’s eyes.

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But I figured the best way was to lay it out around the hoop and see what it looked like. This was one incarnation. I may do that one again sometime.

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Then it all started to come together. I had a design in mind similar to those overly ornate Victorian embellishments, so that’s kind of what came out.

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I figured I would freehand the rest. So then I started gluing, using a hot glue gun.

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But at the top, I had that screw to contend with.

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So with some poking of holes and cutting of slits and things I got it all worked out.

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Then you just kind of keep going.

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When I was satisfied with the number of pieces of paper I’d glued together, I tested out the size and weight. Remember that adding a glass mirror to your design will make it significantly heavier.

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Then I painted. I bought a craft spray paint that was supposedly designed specifically for wood and paper. It turned out to be a different colour than advertised, and it seemed to just get absorbed into the paper and wood, but that was fine. I finished it off with a spritz of glitter and some sealant and there it is.

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Back onto the work surface, face down.

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I set some erasers inside the hoop to hold the mirror at the height I wanted it.

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I bought this mirror from Value Village years ago and I think it was one of those display mirrors for crystal collections, so it already had this nice felt backing on it. I did two tracks of glue around the border and then extra-glued on a piece of hanging hardware.

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It’s cloudy today but you get the idea. I’m quite pleased with it.

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