A Quick Patch

Quick Patch 22
This cute corgi is here to lure you into reading this non-pretty post.

We’ve covered the patching of small holes on Ali Does It before, but this one’s a bit of a doozy. When we moved in to the Tower we discovered that the previous tenants had built a shelf in the garage that attached to the wall. It was huge, and it stuck out so far that our teeny tiny car would not fit inside the garage. So we had to take it out. The previous tenants had built this shelf, however, with more enthusiasm than carpentry knowledge, and the 4″ decking screws they had used everywhere were all stripped and nearly impossible to remove. Finally we had to yank the shelf out of the wall and twist it to be able to saw through the last one, and that’s why we have this giant big hole.  It was the only way.

Quick Patch 2

Now keep in mind that this hole is about the size of my outstretched hand, and that’s about as big as I would go when fixing using this technique. Anything larger and you’re probably better off replacing the drywall instead so you don’t weaken the structure.

Quick Patch 1

Not to fret, though, because we can fix it easily.

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First you need to clean it up. Get rid of all the little bits and pieces that are sticking out and smooth everything down. Use a knife.

Quick Patch 4

Add a bit of crumpled newspaper as back fill (this is really only necessary on big holes). Pack it in there nice and firm so it doesn’t want to come back out again. It’s going to give you something to push against when you’re laying on the spackle.

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Quick Patch 6

Then you use this nifty adhesive mesh tape to cover over the hole and give yourself a surface to work with.

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Mine wasn’t very adhesive as it’s pretty old so I had to use strips that were a little longer so I had more traction.

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Quick Patch 9

Then you grab your trusty spackle and a putty knife.

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I love that this stuff is pink when wet and dries white. I love it.

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Now when you’re patching a big hole like this you want to start from the edges so the tape is well and truly stuck down.

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Don’t worry about getting it perfect on the first go-round – if you press too much on the mesh you’ll just push all your spackle through the holes and that’s not very good. Let that dry for a while.

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All ready for round two. It’s so pretty.

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Lightly sand off all the little protuberances. I like a sanding block for this because it’s easier to hold but you can use sandpaper.

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Now more spackle. Don’t be as generous as last time.

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Try to get the layers on as thinly as possible but still covering up the imperfections. If this were my living room wall I would be more careful but as it’s the garage I’m not too concerned if it’s perfect or not.

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These little lines can be easily sanded off when it’s dry.

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Now you just need to wait!

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I’m not going to leave you with a picture of dried plaster to end this boringly-photographed post, so you get a picture of a happy Gren instead.

Quick Patch 21

Three-Dimensional Name Plate

3D Name Plate 26

I was perusing Not Martha a while back and she was talking about a company called graypants, which specializes in products made from recycled cardboard.  While that is totally cool and I am behind that all the way (someday I will make/buy these gorgeous scraplights), what struck me about this in particular was graypants’ company sign.  It was the company name, carved out of several sheets of stacked cardboard.  My first thought was that is so nifty.  My second thought was I can do that.

3D Name Plate 11

So I did.  With my nieces’ names.  I get these sheets of cardboard stuffed into some of my book orders at work as packing material, so they were a good (and lightweight and small, thereby mailable) surface to work on.

3D Name Plate 6

First I picked fonts to work with.  They had to be easy enough to cut out of cardboard, but also with enough difference in them to sort of semi-express my nieces’ very different personalities.  Hard to do in a font.

3D Name Plate 1

I printed the names, in their respective fonts, out and from that created a stencil on card stock for each. This was easily done by flipping the name over and tracing it in pencil on the back.

3D Name Plate 2

And then flipping it onto the card stock and tracing it again on the front.

3D Name Plate 3

Which left a faint pencil outline for me to cut.

3D Name Plate 4

3D Name Plate 5

Then I got to work.  Tracing the outline of the name twice onto each cardboard sheet, I carefully cut it out with an Xacto knife and some very small scissors.

3D Name Plate 7

3D Name Plate 8

This is definitely the most time-consuming part of the whole thing, and is tricky if you’re working with large or dull scissors.  I regretted my choice of that G early in the game, but kept going because it looked good.

3D Name Plate 9

I made each name ten layers thick, and glued the layers of each letter together with Mod Podge, which I think is my new favourite substance.

3D Name Plate 10

3D Name Plate 14

Then I took some acrylic craft paint and coloured in the sides of the thing, just for visual interest.

3D Name Plate 18

And then I painted the surface of the letters in a slightly different colour, mostly to hide my accidents when I failed to colour inside the lines.

3D Name Plate 20

Then I glued all the letters to each other, in the way that they best fit in terms of a glue-to-surface ratio. I used hot glue to stick the letters to each other, just for security.

3D Name Plate 21

I left off hanging materials, because I’m not sure what the girls will want to do with them and so I wanted to give them some leeway.

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But I think they turned out rather well. The girls can put them on their bedroom door, their wall, or their desk — whatever they want!

3D Name Plate 25

Travel Document Holder from Old Maps

Travel Document Holder

My brother Krystopf travels frequently for his job.  Most of the time it’s to Brussels, where he has fully exhausted the entertainment value of the city and now dreads going.  He’s also a bit of a disorganized traveler, and there are few countries on this planet that don’t have a little piece of something that he has left behind.  Actually, both my brothers are pretty good at this, so maybe Ando will get one of these some time in the future …

Travel Document Holder

This is a travel document holder that I designed myself.  It’s made out of a mining resources map of Newfoundland I inherited from the Geography department at MUN, and dates from 1969, so it’s quite old in terms of relevance.  I actually inherited three of them, plus a few more resource maps, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more map-related projects in the future.

Travel Document Holder

My first step in this project was to “antique” the map, using a technique I learned from the good folks at Design*Sponge.  So you lay out your map (or whatever it is that you are antiquing), on a workable surface.  My map was too big for the table, so I laid it out on some dog towels on the floor.

Travel Document Holder 5

Brew up a cup of dark coffee and let that cool.  You will also need a cup of plain water and a handful of coarse salt.  I used the stuff you put in your grinder.  And a paintbrush.

Travel Document Holder 2

When the coffee has cooled sufficiently, dip in your paintbrush and paint a swath of coffee onto your map.  Follow that with a dip into the fresh water, just to dilute it a bit.  Paint at random, and allow some puddling.

Travel Document Holder 6

Now, while that area is still wet, sprinkle a few grains of salt into the wet areas.  The salt will help to dry up the puddles.

Travel Document Holder 7

Continue this way, randomly swiping your paintbrush wherever you like, sprinkling salt as you go, until you’ve got something you like.  Leave that to dry overnight.

Travel Document Holder 9

Now brush off all the particles of salt.  You may find that it’s crystallized in the darker spots, and you can brush that away as well if you use a stiff brush.  Or you can keep it that way, it’s up to you. I think the little perfect squares of salt look kind of neat, but they won’t adhere well to my contact paper so I gotta get rid of them.

Travel Document Holder 11

Travel Document Holder 13

Now we’re going to measure out our pieces.  A pencil and a ruler might help, obviously.  I have a plan as to how this is going to happen.  When I make plans for stuff I usually construct a mockup on scrap paper, writing in all the measurements and such, and notes as to where I’m putting what.

Travel Document Holder 14

On the inside we have a passport pocket, a notepad, and a wee pouch for small things that folds over itself to keep everything in place.

Travel Document Holder 15

On the other side of that pocket are a series of slots for odds and ends.

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So now we’re ready for cutting. I used my rotary cutter and cutting mat for this but you can use scissors or whatever works for you. Cut two pieces out of the map that are 18″ x 9 1/2″ (or whatever works for you).  These are the inside and outside of the document holder, and will be folded in half.  Remember that one end folds over itself and fastens with velcro. That fold-over flap is 3″, making the folder 7 1/2″ wide by 9 1/2″ tall, the perfect size to slip into a laptop or even a netbook or tablet sleeve.

Travel Document Holder 18

This is the two pieces folded together. You may need to trim the inside piece a bit to get the edges to match up, simply due to the bulk of the mapping paper.

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Here is the piece I cut out for the inside pocket. It is 8 1/2″ tall and 16″ wide. Then I folded it in half with the map facing outwards and folded in the open edges by one inch, and then over itself again by another inch. That double fold will ensure that the contents of the pocket won’t slide out.

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So the folded pocket is 8 1/2″ tall and 6″ wide, a good fit for the inside of the folder.

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On the inside left cover we are going to have a space to store a passport, as well as a stash of scrap note paper for writing things down.

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I cut the scrap paper to be all the same size and a proportional fit for the folder, 3″ x 5″.  A passport is 3 1/2″ x 5″, so the lengths matched.

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Originally, I was going to construct all these slots and pockets by cutting slits in the structure of the folder cover and inserting paper pockets inside. But then I changed my mind. I decided it would cut down on bulk, streamline and strengthen the design, and make things easier to see if I used the contact paper itself to make the pockets I needed. Then the clear nature of the plastic would mean you could see your stuff, as well as the details of the map underneath it. It makes things a little trickier to put together but I think the end result is less bulky and complicated.

Now for the contact paper.  This is the stuff they use to cover shelves and things.  You can pick it up at any hardware store.  Because I don’t have a car and Newfoundlanders don’t like their contact paper to be clear, I had to get mine online.  But it’s a common thing.

First we do the inside cover.  Cut a piece of contact paper the exact size of the inside cover (18″ x 9 1/2″).  Before you take off the adhesive backing, we’re going to plan out where all our slots go and how we’re going to put them together.  Please note here that I totally planned out my design backwards, and in the end had to change the way that the document folder opened.  So make sure you remember that the design you put on your contact paper will be reversed when you stick it down onto the map.

Travel Document Holder

For the inside left cover, with the note pages and the passport, …

Travel Document Holder

For the inside right cover, with the slots for receipts and such, we’re going to do more or less the same thing, except these slots are going to overlap, so sticking things gets a little complicated …

Travel Document Holder

So then I cut slashes in the contact paper where I wanted documents to stick through.

Travel Document Holder

Then I carefully cut through just the backing paper to peel away areas I wanted exposed.

Travel Document Holder

Then I cut another piece of contact paper to fit on that exposed piece.

Travel Document Holder

And stuck it down.

Travel Document Holder

Now that’s going to form the basis of your pocket. But we need another piece of contact paper on the inside, to go against the map. So I cut out a bit more of the contact backing sheet, then cut a larger piece of contact paper and placed it, sticky side up, on top of that, so when I laid it all out it would adhere to the map.

Travel Document Holder

The slots were a bit trickier, because I had to go through the same process as for the above pockets, but I also had to remember that they overlapped, which meant I had to start with the bottom one first.

Travel Document Holder

It took a while. You can’t really see all the individual layers here, but just know that it’s four separate pockets.

Travel Document Holder

Then I oh-so-carefully stuck it down on the inside cover. You can see it here, with pieces of paper in the little slots, to show you how it goes. And yes, it’s totally backwards.

Travel Document Holder

Onward.  Let’s put together the inside pouch.

Cut the contact paper to be  8 3/4″ wide and  18″ long.  The extra 1/8″ on the width will leave the contact paper adhering to itself.  The extra 1″ on either side will fold over the top edges of the pouch, protecting them.

Travel Document Holder

Carefully adhere the contact paper to the pouch, making sure the edges line up and fold down the ends over the opening to protect the paper inside.

Travel Document Holder

I used red embroidery floss, which I waxed, to sew up the outside edges of the pouch.  I liked the colour contrast with the blue of the water.

Travel Document Holder

I cut some squares out of adhesive velcro and stuck them to the second fold of the pouch so it would stay closed.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder

Then I sewed the pouch onto the inside of the cover.  You could leave this until last, but I didn’t want my stitches to show on the outside.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder

That means that our next step is to stick the two cover pieces together. You don’t really need glue, or a lot of it, just something to stick them together so they’re not sliding all over the place while you’re applying contact paper to the whole thing.  I used a few pieces of double-sided tape, to avoid wrinkles.  The thing is wrinkly enough.

Travel Document Holder

Cut the outside contact sheet larger on all sides by 1/2″ (so, 19″ x 10 1/2″). Lay the cover piece in the centre of the contact sheet. Mitre and trim the corners as you fold it over to protect the edges.  My original plan was to border the edges with bias binding and sew it all around but I changed my mind.  I like the clear fold-over of the contact paper better. Then you just have to stick on some more velcro pieces to keep the folder closed and you’re all set.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder

Jelly Bean Row

Jelly Bean Row

I love Quality Street chocolates. They remind me of everything good. And I love the colourful wrappers they come in. I’ve wanted to make something out of them for years. This year at Christmas I made sure to save all the wrappers so I’d have lots to work with.

Jelly Bean Row

Quality Street also appeals to my environmentalist side. You can re-use the tins for anything you like. You can recycle the foil wrappers that go under the clear ones, and recently, the company started making the clear wrappers out of vegetable products, so you can actually COMPOST them. How cool is that?

Jelly Bean Row

So what am I making with these?  I’m glad you asked.  St. John’s is famous for its colourfully-painted and artfully crooked row houses.  They’re often likened to a line of jelly beans, stacked on their ends — Jelly Bean Row.

Jelly Bean Row

If you watch any of those ever-popular tourism Newfoundland and Labrador commercials, you’ll see a few of them (though in real life they’re not quite so quaint — or clean).

Jelly Bean Row

So I thought I would make a few out of Quality Street wrappers, something to send people to paste in their windows, or to hang on their Christmas trees as ornaments, something that will catch the light and give them a taste of St. John’s at home.

Jelly Bean Row

Jelly Bean Row

The house construction is pretty simple.  I used black construction paper, folded in half, as a frame.  Then I cut out the frame using a craft knife and inserted and glued down the wrappers in the appropriate spaces.  Then I cut out windows and doors from the black paper as well, making sure to glue them to both sides so the ornament is reversible.

Jelly Bean Row

The problem with this particular material is that the wrappers always want to go back to their wrinkled state, and the construction paper doesn’t do a lot to prevent it.

Jelly Bean Row

A heavier-grade card would probably work better in keeping the stuff rigid, but at the same time, it would be harder to manipulate.  I wanted to make several of these hanging ornaments and create a sort of mobile for Doodle for her birthday, but the physics of it continued to defeat me — the ornaments were simply too light to be able to balance everything properly.  And I had it all planned so the houses went up on a slant, too!

Jelly Bean Row

Alas. In any case, they are pretty enough placed in a window or on your tree.

Jelly Bean Row

Painting Glass and Ceramics

Adding a personal design to glass and ceramics is very easy and something fun you can do with creative kids. You can pick up plain glass and ceramic housewares secondhand, and I find some good stuff in the clearance section of places such as Home Sense and Winners.

I used the Vitrea 160 and Porcelain 150 pens that I picked up from Michaels.

To make your designs, you can freehand with the pens, or use masking tape to contain your ink.You can also use transparent adhesive masking (from Lee Valley) to create a stencil as well.Peel the mask away carefully.  This is easiest to do when the design is still wet.Once the design has dried you can use a razor blade or craft knife to carefully scrape away any ink that has bled through the masking.If you’re not happy with your design, you can always use a scrubby sponge to scrape it off and begin again.  Leave your final design to cure for 24 hours, then bake your glass or ceramics in the oven according to the instructions on the ink.That’s all there is to it.  Have fun!