Fast Tip Friday: PlagiarEYEs Me

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The eyes have it, folks. Feel free to take this idea (rather poorly  executed on my part, after LongJohn was in bed) and run with it for your next greeting card.

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Step one: acquire googly eyes. These came from the dollar store.

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Step two: come up with a pun that can be properly appreciated by a one-year – old (or a fifty-one-year-old).

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Step three: apply both to card stock. I hope you have better drawing skills than I do.

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I have some bigger projects in the pipe for you – now that I’m getting a bit more sleep I can actually think up some stuff – but strangely, when you have a baby in the house these projects tend to take a bit longer than they should. So stay tuned!

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Mini Glitter Tree

Glitter Tree

I saw a giant silver version of this on Curbly last week and thought that in our house, where we haven’t taken any Christmas stuff out (because we’ll just have to pack it all up again immediately), it could brighten up the place a wee bit – at least until I give it to someone else.

Glitter Tree

The whole project takes about an hour from start to finish, and that includes harvesting the sticks, so if there are any members of your household you’d like out of your hair for a while – child or adult – give them this task and tell them to have at ‘er. A warning, though, that this is a GLITTER project, so you might have a mess on your hands afterwards. I managed to keep most of mine contained, but that depends on your manual dexterity and how you store your glitter. So BEWARE.

Glitter Tree

Go out and grab yourself some relatively straight sticks, and cut them in decreasing size to form an elongated triangle when laid out (you know, like a Christmas tree).

Glitter Tree

Then grab a paintbrush and some glue and paint the end of your stick with some glue. Not a whole lot – just enough to adhere to glitter, and we all know it doesn’t take much to get glitter to stick to something.

Glitter Tree

Then take your glitter (mine is in a wee jar) and either sprinkle it over the gluey stick or dip your stick into the glitter. I found it tidier to dip the stick in but you can do as you wish.

Glitter Tree

Do the same to all the other sticks. The original version had the tips painted silver with silver glitter but I decided to forego the paint altogether and pick as many colours of glitter as I owned.

Glitter Tree

Make sure to get both sides done and then let them sit for a while to dry – if you didn’t go overboard on the glue then it won’t take long.

Glitter Tree

While that’s going on seal your glitter carefully up where it came from. That stuff should be a controlled substance.

Glitter Tree

Now find yourself a decent length of wire. I have this stuff that I pulled out of an old downed telephone pole many years back. It’s copper wire with various colours of wrapping. I picked gray as a neutral.

Glitter Tree

The wire should, doubled, be probably twice the length of your little tree diagram from top to bottom.

Glitter Tree

Take the bottom stick and fold the wire in half around the centre of it. Twist the wire several times to hold it in place, and keep twisting to create about 0.5 to 1cm of space between the first stick and the second one.

Glitter Tree

Twist on the second stick in the same way, twisting again to leave some space.

Glitter Tree

Keep going with all your sticks, leaving spaces in between.

Glitter Tree

When you’re done, you should have a large amount of wire coming off the top of the tree. You can use this to create a loop for hanging or whatever you like. I left mine long so the people I was giving it to would have room to work with. Twist and turn your sticks to make the “tree” more three-dimensional, and hang it somewhere pretty!

Glitter Tree

Matchbox Gifts

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My mother is absolutely obsessed with match boxes and the things you can put in them, so I kind of had a lightbulb moment when trying to figure out a present for her birthday last week (normally I handle the cake but this year my dad insisted that he had it under control). If you have a mother with a similar fetish, maybe this will work out for you for a nice Mother’s Day present.

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For my mother’s wee giftie, it was just a silly little thing: I decided to give her MAGIC BEANS. But instead of magic beans it was actual bean seeds that she could plant shortly in the garden. And then we could eat the beans. I also gave her some rosemary seeds because I killed her rosemary tree while she was in Florida.

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I love these little tiny glass jars you can get at the dollar store.

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Don’t worry, I DID label all the little jars.

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I decided to make a matchbox from scratch so I could ensure it was the right size to fit my beans. In order to do that I downloaded a template from the internet. I cut it out and used scrapbook paper (it’s a decently stiff cardstock) for my boxes.

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I used a craft knife to get things exact, but it’s a pretty easy template to cut out.

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Then a little bit of strategic adhesion with craft glue.

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And the beans, they fit! They’re a little loose though.

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So I padded the bottoms of the boxes with a bit of felt.

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I broke this photo. It’s okay, though, because it wasn’t a very good one anyway.

 

Then tied up both boxes with pretty ribbon to give to my favourite mother!

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Match boxes (even custom-made ones) are a great creative way to package up smaller gifts of jewelry or what-have-you. Keep that in mind the next time you’re doing some complex wrapping and you don’t have a perfect box to hand.

Glitter *may* be involved.

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I saw this little bit of neat a while back and I’ve always wanted to recreate it for someone special. But of course by recreate I mean do it in a completely different way. Nevertheless.

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What you need for this, however you decide to do it, is an artist’s canvas, some paint, some electric or battery-powered lights (LEDs are safer), a knife for cutting, a brush for painting, and some glue for, well, gluing. In this particular project, there was also glitter involved.

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First, check and make sure your lights are working. Yes? Good.

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Now, paint your canvas however you like. I was going to do mine a nice metallic, but then I thought better of it and went with a soft matte gray instead. Because I didn’t want to distract from the glitter.

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As for your design, well, that’s up to you. The original idea was just sort of abstract, like fireworks. But you could do constellations (like someone’s Zodiac sign), or something more Lite-Brite-y. Or a marquee. Whatever you want. For mine, I decided on a dandelion, where each seed of my favourite flower (and I’m not ashamed to admit that I love that plucky weed) corresponded to a light.

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Here’s a quick sketch I did once I figured out my idea, just for proof of concept.

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I lightly marked out the design on the painted canvas with a pencil. I had to make sure that the design was big enough to accommodate the size of the lights I had purchased.

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Then I discovered that the ugly deflectors on my Dollarama lights weren’t glued on and I could pull them off, meaning I was just left with the pretty little diode!

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Then I cut out holes big enough for the lights to poke through.

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I basically just needed to poke a hole with the Xacto and twist it a bit. While I was doing this the Pie started trying to make me mess up, which I did, on the very last hole. Then he started giggling and saying he shouldn’t tease me when I have a knife in my hand. How well he knows me by now.

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Then I poked through the lights. Make sure to test them and see how they look! Of course my camera plus low light equals blurry photo, but you get the idea.

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Then, if you want, you can secure them in place with a bit of hot glue around the back, but I’ll do that later. I don’t want the lights to get all glittered up.

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Now, for the front, I had to fill in the rest of my design. With glitter. I used regular school glue to fill in the parts of the dandelion seeds and stalk.

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Then dusted them with appropriately-coloured glitter.

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Then let it dry.

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You can dust away loose glitter with a soft fluffy brush and some compressed air. I did most of this outside.

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And sealed up my glitter again. Yes, I have a jar full of jars of glitter. That stuff is dangerous.

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The seeds took forever because I did the little actual seed part first.

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By the time I was done with all the white fluffy bits I was so done with glitter in general.

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Here it is after I went at it with compressed air for a bit. It seems to work best on the superfine metallic powder.

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It looks pretty good just on its own.

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Then I added back in the lights and secured each with a drop of hot glue. This is where I discovered that if you don’t use glue sticks for a while they yellow. Fortunately you can’t see this on the front.

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I also secured all the loose wires and the battery casings. It doesn’t look pretty but you can’t see it so who cares?

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I like it. I like that it looks neat during the day, with the contrast in gray and glitter, and then when you turn it on at night the light sparkles off everything but the background (except for the few stray bits of glitter embedded in the canvas). I also like how the seeds kind of look like dragonflies. NEAT!

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Bulletin Board Beautification

I think I’ve had this bulletin board for twenty-five years, and someone else had it before me.  It’s held up pretty well, I think, but its age is starting to show.

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There are certainly a large number of holes in it.

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It’s not even made of cork: it’s like burlap and some sponge-y/fibre-y stuff.

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And there are weird scraps of whatnot on the frame.

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But why buy a new one when I can make this one new again?

I had this pretty fabric stuffed in my crafty closet.  It’s actually a stretch cotton, which will help me to get it very tightly attached to the bulletin board.

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I cut it to vaguely fit the size of the board.

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Then I pulled out these metal staples with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.  So I’m left with the frame and the board.

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I stretched the fabric across the board and used a staple gun to fasten the fabric into place.  You could probably use a hot glue gun as well.

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Then I quickly sanded down the frame with fine sandpaper and removed the hanging hardware temporarily. I painted it with this cute metallic teal craft paint.

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I reattached the hanging hardware to the top of the frame, and then fit the board back into place with glue.  It’s a tighter squeeze with the fabric covering it.

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Tada!  I’m glad I didn’t have to replace something that was still functional, and that I could add a personal touch to my office organization!

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It’s hard for me to be artistic in arranging a bulletin board to appeal to the tastes of the internet, and really there’s only so much you can do with license plate renewals, energy cost charts, and a pair of scissors.  Though I did dress it up with a super cute pic of me and Cait that I found while I was looking for something else.  So that’s something.

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Animal Magnetism

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By now I’m sure you’re familiar with my odd addiction to rare earth magnets.  I just love how STRONG they are.  These I made up for Rusty’s babymama and I think that both she and baby-to-come will enjoy them.

I had a handful of small plastic animal figurines I’d picked up in a bag from a thrift store.  I sprayed half of them silver and half of them gold with spray paint.

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Then I laid them out and used GOOP to affix the rare earth magnets to the animals.

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I lined a small box with scrap book paper …

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And then used tiny pieces of tape to stick the dried magnets to it.

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The dinosaurs are my favourite.

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Though I do love how the magnet is stuck to this gorilla’s butt.  It makes me giggle.

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Safari Bookends

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These are all over the internet, but I think they’re totally badass anyway.  They’re quite cute, if you make them right, but it was late and we were tired so we made them a little wrong.  But I like ’em even so.

We start with some plastic animals I got at Target, and which I sprayed copper because I thought we were going to do this differently than we did.

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Then you take your animals, clamp them solidly to a surface, and saw those kitties in half.  This ain’t no magic trick.

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Use a file to smooth out the rough edges.

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Then you measure your podiums.  We made our bookends out of this nice solid, heavy piece of wood, so it would actually hold books up and stuff when stuck together in an L shape.  Remember: measure twice, cut once.

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The Pie is afraid of table saws, so he stood at the other end of the garage while I risked life and limb to get these pieces of wood cut.

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But the only thing I cut was the wood, which is a bonus. We used a fine sandpaper to smooth off the rough corners.

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Here we are checking to see if we measured correctly.  Turns out that we didn’t, and the tiger ones were a total failure.  No matter: let’s press on.

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Here’s what they will sort of look like when they’re done.

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Using a drill press to start off the screw holes.  I’m wearing mittens because it was like -29°C outside and my garage isn’t heated.

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Screwing in the screws.  Because the wood was so thick we used decking screws, which are super long.

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Spraying.  I decided I wanted gold animals, not copper, so they got another coat of spray paint.

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Ready to glue.  I used GOOP, an all-purpose adhesive that dries clear and is super strong.

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You lay the glue on and give it 2 minutes to cure before attaching it to the other surface.

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I left these overnight to dry.

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The next day I cut little felt squares for the bottoms so they didn’t scratch any surfaces.

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And here it is completed.  Please ignore the fact that the one side is taller than the other. And that they’re currently not holding up any books.  Late.  Tired.  Cold.

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Alphabet Trays

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The only problem I have about hand crafting all my Christmas gifts and then putting them on the blog is that my whole darned family reads it. So it’s kind of hard to keep things under wraps. I try my best, but in this particular case it’s pretty obvious who these are for (because they’re monogrammed, geez).

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Anyway, I picked up some air dry clay at DeSerres and thought I’d have a little fun with it.  These little trays are easy to make and a nice little element of home-made personalization for any home.  They’re great gifts for teachers, too, and your kids can make them all by themselves.  They can be hung on the wall or, depending on the size, used as actual trays for non-food items.

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Start by working the clay with your hands and rolling it out to be about 1/4″ thick.  With a knife, cut the base of your initial out.  I freehanded this, but measuring with rulers and such would probably help.

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Then work on cutting out your sides, making sure they fit the dimensions of your little tray.

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You may need to use little snakes of clay, etc., to get the sides to stick on properly.

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Use a spoon or a clay smoothing tool to flatten out any cracks at the seams.

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Then leave your clay dishes to dry for a while.  These took about three days to dry completely.

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There was a little bit of shrinkage at the seams on parts of mine so I just reinforced them with some white glue.

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Then I painted them with regular craft paint, and I went with a lighter colour on the inside with the outside edges being a darker version.

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The bottoms I painted black with a giant red heart in the middle, because Mags and the Flying Dutchman are such lovebirds.  These are also coated with a spray sealant for longevity. I think it’s pretty cute.

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So Long Sucker! Creepy Hallowe’en Sucker Stand

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I actually made this project LAST year, but because I never get my holiday stuff organized in time to publish it any time before the holiday it’s for, I decided to set this up so I would look timely and well-prepared this year.

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Anyway, last year, back when the Pie and I were still in St. John’s (weird that we’re not there anymore), Fussellette organized a mixer for the geographical society at MUN and she decided on having a candy bar for everyone to snack on while they got jiggy (do people even say that in the far-off future of 2013?  Better question: do people even say that NOW?).  I volunteered to make a stand for the suckers Fussellette insisted on having, along with our FORTY POUNDS of other candy that we bought.

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You might like to make something like this for your own Hallowe’en party.

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At first I thought I would just do something plain, like a store display, but maybe with some sparkly skulls we’d picked up from Dollarama.  But then, I was looking at a shoe box and I was struck dumb with inspiration (not true: I immediately texted Fussellette about my genius and then told the Pie all about it, despite him not wanting to know).  So here’s what I came up with.

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I’m going to make a grave yard — well, part of one.  It will have a freshly covered grave with headstone and some nice grass all about, and little holes for holding all the suckers.  That will be the top of the box.  Then the extra suckers (there were 100 in the bag) can be stored inside the box itself.

So first, on the shoe box I drew where I wanted the grave to go.

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Then I used a punch to make some evenly spaced holes where the suckers would eventually fit.

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In order to make it so the suckers didn’t just slide all the way through the holes until they were stopped by their candy tops, I had to construct a little hanging platform on the underside of the box lid that would prevent their sliding around and also not interfere with the opening and closing of the box itself.  I just taped a few pieces of spare cardboard in strategic places and there we go.

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Now I got to do the fun stuff.

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I had a package of Model Magic lying around that I didn’t yet have a project connected to, so I figured its lightweight nature would be perfect to make a gravestone.  A bit of shaping (not too much, as I wanted the stone to look old and cracked) and some choice words (stamped in with the same punch I used for the holes) and I set that aside for the requisite 72 hours to dry.  I’m going to paint it later.

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To ensure that the surface of my gravesite didn’t end up accidentally filling in the holes I punched, I marked their places with wooden skewers.

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Then I went outside.  This moss I hauled up from the path next door and the dirt is from my garden. This explains why I can’t grow anything.  I keep taking all the dirt.

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Spread some Mod Podge.  Attach some moss (I snipped off only the tops of the moss, and replanted it when I was done).  Repeat.

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For the grave dirt, I mixed my garden dirt with some Mod Podge to make mud of sorts, and spooned it onto the area.  I added a few rocks for visual interest, and then sprinkled some un-glued dirt on top to get the colour right.  Then I left THAT for 48 hours to dry.  You can still see the box through some of the moss but honestly, I don’t think anyone else would look this closely at a candy dispenser.  Mostly they are probably just thinking “Free candy!  Gimme!”

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Once you’ve got all the stuff glued and set, you can take away the skewers.

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While it was drying I tacked on some black construction paper with tape as a sort of border to the whole thing, and to cover the shoe box-ness of the shoe box.  Then I used craft paint to freehand a picket fence all around (you can see it in the finished shots).

Then, much later, I painted the headstone, filling in the text with black craft paint and adding a bit of texture here and there.

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Hot glue that sucker (ha) onto the dried Mod Podge mud and we’re good to go.

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Insert suckers. You can store extras underneath, inside the box.

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EAT SUCKERS. MWAHAHAHAHAHA.

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Pre-Spring Paper Tree

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It may be spring where you are.  Here in St. John’s, however, we don’t put away our snow shovels until after the Victoria Day long weekend at the end of May.  It’s kind of the rule.

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So in the absence of spring, I’ve decided to make my own.

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Interfering a bit with my marine mobile while it’s at it.

This branch fell victim to yet another of our vicious wind storms last night and managed to scare the crap out of the dog by moving along the sidewalk just as he was about to sniff it this morning.  In retribution we captured it and will torture it into submission.

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In actual fact one of the major branches on it was broken.  This branch was walking wounded.

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So I fixed that up with some floral tape.

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For this project you will need some paper.  It can be scrap booking paper, origami, magazine paper, whatever you want.  I picked a spring-themed magazine because I thought I could get the best colours from it.  I should have really cut out the paper in the shapes of leaves, but I’m super lazy so I used my 2″ circle punch instead.

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Some floral wire, a pair of scissors, a paint brush, and some glue would also be handy.

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So you start by cutting out your shapes. Whatever they’re gonna be. Us lazy people like our circles. It’s “modern”. Deal with it.

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Then you put some glue on one side of a shape. Then you take a leaf-stem length of floral wire, bend it a bit so it won’t just slide right out again, and slap it on there, with another shape on top. BAM.

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And then you do that a bunch more times. Until you run out of shapes. Or until you get bored and don’t want to make any more shapes.

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Then you take your branch and anchor it in a sturdy vase.

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And then you start winding the shapes onto the branches, following the line of the branch, bending them a little bit for depth. It ain’t that hard.

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And you keep going.

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Make sure to spread them out as you add them so that when you run out of shapes and don’t want to make any more you don’t end up with bare branches.

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And then you put it somewhere and admire your handiwork!

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Here it is on my mantle.

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