His & Hers Key Hooks

His & Hers Key Hooks

I love making useful things out of other things.  Especially when you can personalize it so you know that no one else has anything quite like it. This monogrammed key hook is a gift for a friend of mine.

The wood I found in the garage.  I needed to saw off the crooked end to make it straighter.  Little did I know that I am incapable of sawing things in a straight line.  So it’s just as crooked, but in the other direction.  But now it’s QUAINTLY crooked.  On PURPOSE.

His & Hers Key Hooks

The vintage-style brass initials, as well as the little crow with verdigris, I got from Dime Store Emporium’s Etsy shop.  What a neat place!

His & Hers Key Hooks

This aluminum plate I found on the street.  Conveniently it had been pre-weathered and pre-antiqued by the tires of passing cars.

His & Hers Key Hooks

These hooks I got at Wal-Mart.  Not everything can have such glorious beginnings.

His & Hers Key Hooks

Now you want to lay everything out beforehand, just to prove that you have a plan.  Having a plan is good when you don’t have any spare parts leftover if you should happen to mess it up.

His & Hers Key Hooks

After I’d cut the wood and sanded it baby-bottom smooth, I added hanging hardware, right off the bat.  I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t damage or disturb any of the front stuff, which was why I did it first.

His & Hers Key Hooks

Then I wanted to stain it.  I had the option of three colours of Distress Stain, and one of India ink.

His & Hers Key Hooks

I thought I’d try the stains out first on another piece of wood, to see how they looked.  This was a good idea.  See?  I’m planning ahead again, not just winging it, which seems to lead to trouble sometimes.

His & Hers Key Hooks

I ended up going with the blue stain, and just doing the face of the wood.  Let that dry.

His & Hers Key Hooks

Then I used black acrylic paint around the edges.  Let that dry.

His & Hers Key Hooks

Then I screwed on the hooks. I had to use my world’s oldest drill to get the holes started for me, though.

His & Hers Key Hooks

But the screws went on and looked really good.

His & Hers Key Hooks

Then it was a simple matter to whip out the glue gun and hot glue the metal pieces into place.

His & Hers Key Hooks

And it turned out better than I thought it would, which is always a bonus.

His & Hers Key Hooks

Crayon Rainbows, on Canvas

Crayon Art

YARRRRRRR!  We be makin’ ARRRRRRRRT t’day, matey!  It’s also International Talk Like a Pirate Day for the Pastafarian religion, and I *may* have recently watched the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies in a row.  Also, I live in Newfoundland, where people tend to talk like pirates on a daily basis.  It’s also the anniversary of the night the Pie and I went on our first date.  Eight years have gone by since that night, and so much has changed in our lives.  Crazy.  Tonight we are going to make ourselves a nice dinner and cozy up with our favourite orange, black and white wedding present, the inimitable Grenadier St. James.

Gren in Motion

In the meantime, however, why don’t you sit down and make yourself some pretty?

I saw a picture on Flickr of my cousin and his son making this particular project, and I thought it was so cool that I should try it on my own.  Then I discovered that this stuff is ALLLLL over the internet, especially Etsy, these days.  I’m no trendsetter, obviously.  Even so, I’m going to add to the plethora of posts about it, so that you can see it, Ali-style.

Crayon Art

Now, I’m being a real keener and starting my DIY Christmas gifts really, really early this year.  So I’ve pretty much taken over the dining room as my craft central, especially as now there is a large bed in my former office work space.

Crayon Art

For this project you will need some crayons (go with Crayola, it seems they melt the best), some glue (I used hot glue), a blank canvas (I used two small 5″ x 7″ ones, stacked, but you can use cardboard or wood or whatever you have on hand), and a hairdryer or other focused heat source.  I hear tell of people using paint strippers for this, but you really don’t need anything that hot.  Oh, and you’ll need newspaper or a drop cloth or something to protect the surrounding area from flying hot wax.

Crayon Art

For my first attempt at this, I thought I would go with a straight rainbow, before I got too fancy.  Plus I know someone who really loves rainbows, and this would make a nice little present.

Crayon Art

I started with the basic colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, and I laid them out on my canvas.

Crayon Art

Then I filled in the gaps with other colours in the spectrum.

Crayon Art

If Crayola has colours called things like this:

Crayon Art

Then why are they still naming colours like this?

Crayon Art

Then the question was, should I lay them out with their colour names facing up, or the Crayola logo facing up?  The Pie told me to go with the logo, because after everything is melted it will be easier to see than the smaller names.

Crayon Art

Then we glue.  I used hot glue on the crayon, and I only put it on the top half.  I wasn’t sure how it would deal with the melting wax, and I figured that most of the melting was going to go down on the lower half of the crayon.

Crayon Art

Then I used hockey tape to temporary secure my two canvases together.

Crayon Art

And I leaned it up against a shoebox (full of stuff, for weight) on top of my drop cloth and newspaper.

Crayon Art

Then I started in with the hairdryer, on its hottest and highest setting, focusing pretty closely on the bottom ends of the crayons.

Crayon Art

You can see how the wax tends to fly a bit.

Crayon Art

It took a while to get them started, but once they got going, they really got going.

Crayon Art

I liked how the wax crept around the sides of the canvas, and I wish I’d had a bigger one to work with.

Crayon Art

Let the wax cool and harden.

Crayon Art

Then you can hang it up, any which way you would like!

Crayon Art

Rack’ Em Up!

Rack 'Em Up!

This idea comes from Man-Made DIY, who, in turn, took inspiration from another designer. I love how the internet works.  I made a further spin-off of this when I made the jewelry stand for my niece.

This is a hat rack/coat rack/anything kind of rack made from fallen tree branches.  The wooden frame is made from old boards we scrounged out of our tipsy garage.  Don’t tell my landlord.

The branches came from fallen trees on that construction lot near our house.  You might remember that we cut down a bunch of saplings there in order to build our wattle fence (which I still haven’t finished, sorry).  These branches were ones that had already fallen due to hurricane-strength winds, or ones that were part of trees uprooted in the construction process.  So no trees were harmed in the making of this project.  Well, no trees were harmed by US, at least.

Rack 'Em Up!

We made two large racks, one for my dad and the other for Mrs. Nice.

First we cut up the planks we found in the garage, into 2 20″ lengths and 2 8″ lengths for each rack.

Rack 'Em Up!

With difficulty, we screwed them together.  The wood was pretty warped, so one one of the racks it came out a little crooked.

Rack 'Em Up!

Then we sprayed them black, because the wood wasn’t particularly interesting, visually.

Rack 'Em Up!

Then we cut lengths of branch to fit inside the rack frame.

Rack 'Em Up!

After sorting out what looked good where, we screwed those in as well.

Rack 'Em Up!

I later sprayed the top and bottom of the racks again to hide the screw marks.

Rack 'Em Up!

A finishing touch was a rusty bolt glued onto my dad’s.

Rack 'Em Up!

And some shells for Mrs. Nice.

Rack 'Em Up!

We left off hanging hardware because we weren’t sure where they were going to hang them.

Rack 'Em Up!

They look pretty good, all things considered.

Rack 'Em Up!

Functional, too.

Rack 'Em Up!

Packing Crate Jewelry Stand

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

This project was a spin-off of a spin-off of a spin-off (which I will be posting about later).  I figure at this point it counts as my own idea.  Especially since it turned out so well!

This is a Christmas present for my elder niece.  A little while ago, I gave her all my earrings, because I can’t wear them anymore.  So I figured I would build her something to store/display them, along with any other jewelry she has.

So for this project, I had everything I needed on hand, though I did purchase my very own hot glue gun for the event.  It was definitely much smaller, easier to hold, and less burn-y than the one my dad has.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

You will need several straight-ish sticks, with protruding smaller branches.  It being windy season here in St. John’s, these were easy to find.  I also had a swatch of vintage-style lace that my mother gave me when I was studying at home last year.

And I found these segments of wood in the dilapidated shed in my backyard.  I’m pretty sure, due to their thickness and the fact that one of the pieces has part of “St. John’s” written on it, that it’s from some packing crate from some time ago.  I scrubbed off the cobwebs and left them to dry overnight.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Then I sanded off all the rough bits.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

You will also need some nails or screws to keep your wood together.  I have this jar of copper clouting nails that belonged to my great-grandfather (you can tell, because he labelled it).  I like the colour of the bright nail heads, plus the thinness and the tapering of these particular nails means they won’t split the wood grain as much as a regular nail.  But they’re pretty much just large carpet tacks, so I have to keep in mind that they’re not that strong.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

So first I hammered together the basic frame of the crate.  Now, I don’t have a vise, or any clamps.  So I’m using my knee.  Clever, I know.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

I like the studded effect of many nails.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Cut the lace to the size of the frame.  The lace is how my niece will hang up her earrings, and will provide a nice background for the rest of the stuff.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Using hot glue, fasten the fabric to the frame on all sides.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Trim off the excess.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Add another line of glue and fold down the raw edge.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

So here’s the front.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

And the back.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Now I’m going to add a few more pieces of packing crate to the back, you know, to make it look a bit more like a packing crate.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Now to add the sticks.  Trim them to fit the inside of the frame and fix them in place with hot glue.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Keep going until you’re satisfied with how it looks. Here it is, in the setting sun.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

And the back.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

And with some of my jewelry on it.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

A brooch stuck in the lace.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Even a wee branch for rings.

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

I hope she likes it!

Packing Case Jewelry Stand

Button Magnets

Martha Stewart has a clever method of dealing with almost everything.  In this particular case, it’s the leftover buttons you have lying around after they’ve fallen off shirts or come as spares with clothing you can’t even remember.  It’s easy to make fridge magnets out of them.  Well, easy if you’re not me, of course.

I picked up a selection of rare earth magnets from Lee Valley for a reasonable price — ninety magnets, to be precise.  I like to go whole hog into things like this.  Rare earth magnets are super strong, so be careful not to get them near your electronics or credit cards. 

If you like the shape of some of your buttons but not the colour, you can always paint them with model paint.  I of course managed to get myself coated in model paint when I did this, but I’m sure you have more advanced motor skills than I do.

The process is pretty simple. 

You take your magnets.  You take your buttons.  You take a glue gun.  You apply burning hot glue to either the magnet or the button (be careful here because of course the magnet will try to stick to your glue gun and unhappy situations can arise from that).  You try not to swear too loudly when you miss and accidentally apply burning hot glue to your finger.  Or when you accidentally adhere either the magnet or the button to your person.  Or the table.  Or the floor.  These things happen.

Once the glue is cooled you can click those babies right onto your fridge or wherever else you want to put them.  I found that some buttons didn’t like the glue and fell off, so I just used different buttons.  You may find the same thing.

Knit This

Do you have knitters in your family?  I do.  I am one.  Though not a very good one.

In any case, knitting needles are a remarkably easy thing to make (according to Martha Stewart) and they make a great little gift.

You can get doweling of several different thicknesses at any hardware or craft store. 

Saw the dowel to the desired length (my dowels were all 36″, so I cut most of my needles to 12″ lengths, though I did make a set of four 9″ double-ended needles).  Use a pencil sharpener to create a point.

Sand the dowels down to create a smooth surface that won’t catch on the yarn.  Make sure as well to dull the points a bit.  It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.  You can rub the needles with a bit of warm beeswax, just to protect them and let the wool slide a bit easier.

Then all you have to do is use a glue gun to put colourful buttons at the ends. 

And there you have it.  Tie them with some pretty ribbon and give them all away!

Or keep some.  Your choice.