Quick and Dirty Sewing Needle Case

Why do I keep doing sewing projects? I HATE sewing! I promise you that the boxfish floor cushion is coming soon. LongJohn has been remarkably uncooperative these past two weeks so I’ve had to pick and choose my grown-up activities carefully.

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In the meantime, here’s a sewing needle case I made out of stuff I already had and was already using. As a needle case. Like, I had a box I was keeping sewing needles in already. And now I’m just keeping MORE needles in it. But it’s, like, organized and stuff.

Because, you see, I have this to currently stash my sewing needles.

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And because I’m me, this happens to the needles that I put in there. And that causes all kinds of problems, like making the wheel stick and having needles randomly stab me. So that’s terrible.

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This is my Altoids tin that I’ve had since probably high school.

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It currently holds my weird sewing needles and a bunch of other sewing stuff like stitch rippers.

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Ideally I’d like it to hold all my weird needles, a stitch ripper, a needle threader, and a wee pair of scissors. If the measuring tape fits, then even better.

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This is a magnet from my dentist. It’ll work to hold the big needles in place.

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I want something to hold the little tools onto the lid, but something that will allow me to change up the tools as events warrant.

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Hello, velcro!

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A little hot glue later …

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The velcro tabs allow me the flexibility of sticking whatever it is I want to the inside of the lid. It may not look pretty, but it works.

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Traditional needle books are basically just felt books all sewn up – but that doesn’t prevent the needles from being stabby if you hold the book wrong. So that’s where the metal tin comes into play.

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I cut out eight felt “pages” for my book the size of a business card (2″ x 3″). In the end I used only six of the eight because otherwise the lid wouldn’t have closed on the box.

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Then I cut out wee tabs to sew across each page to hold the needles. You can put the needles straight through the page if you like but it increases the risk of stabbiness.

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Then I sewed them on. The page with the two tabs is for my weird needles. Nobody ever said I could sew in the straight line.

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Then I sewed the pages together like an accordion, to make the pages sit flatter inside the tin than they would have if I’d sewn all one side like a book.

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Then we stick in our needles, weird ones first:

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Then the big huge ones …

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… then I had the monumental task of SORTING all the little ones I had. Ugh. This is super not easy when you have severe carpal tunnel …

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In they go.

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The finished “book,” from one side,

Sewing Needle Case 27and from the other.

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Then I needed to snazz up the outside of the tin. Something not super-cutesy, and something visible. Because my other issue with those wee plastic cases is I’m constantly losing them when they slide behind or underneath something else.

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I had some fun with craft paint and crackle medium to come up with this effect. If you’ve never used crackle medium, give it a try. It’s fun.

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Here’s my uncooperative baby being a butt while I wait for this to dry.

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And the finished ensemble! I ended up putting the stitch ripper in the bottom where it fits perfectly. The measuring tape alas did not fit.

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The pages pull out to reveal the needles you want.

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And at the bottom are all the big huge ones.

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I’m trying to consolidate a lot of the crafty/sewy/knitty stuff that I have as I go through our basement (post on THAT to follow), so this is a good start. Convenient to use and definitely un-stabby.

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Modding the Mom Hat

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I hope you all enjoyed your Canada Day/Independence Day long weekend! And if you didn’t get to celebrate a national holiday this weekend then I hope at least it was sunny where you were. Speaking of sun, I bought this hat at IKEA last summer for 99 cents. It is great to wear to baseball games to protect my pasty white skin.

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Now I’ve discovered that it’s also a fantastic wearable parasol for LongJohn (so named because he’s a lanky albatross like his dad) when I’m wearing him out and about.

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The problem is that in a good breeze the parasol becomes a parasail and I lose the darned thing. It’s very hard to chase down a hat while wearing a baby. So I need to make some modifications to keep the thing on my head, and while I do that, I might as well have some fun with it, right? With that in mind, I dug out a huge pink grosgrain ribbon.

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I cut it to match the band around the hat. I set that aside for the moment.

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Then I took two more pieces and wove them into the inside of the band, for straps to tie coquettishly around my chin. I felt very much like a Jane Austen character, dressing a bonnet, while I was doing this.

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Tied off the ends to prevent fraying.

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And then decided I needed a feather in my cap.

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And because it was Pride Week in Toronto (Ottawa’s isn’t until August and it’s much more low key), I decided to put a rainbow of feathers in my cap.

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I wound them together with some wire.

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Used a bit of hot glue to ensure they stayed that way.

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Then wove the wire end into the hat to fix the feathers in place.

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And I managed to do all of this while still wearing LongJohn.

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Then I glued the first piece of ribbon around the band, leaving room for the hat to expand as it gets squashed on my head.

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And I took another piece of grosgrain, this one in black, and fashioned a rosette out of it.

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The rosette fit nicely on top of the feathers, hiding the wire machinations.

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Tada, my Mom Hat that I can wear with Pride!

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Floating Citronella Candles

Floating Citronella Candles 17Spending time outdoors in the summer is always an opportunity for a good time, but dealing with the bugs that also want to spend some quality time with you is less good. And you can get giant buckets of citronella candles and citronella torches and all that stuff, but they lack a bit of elegance. So for this upcoming shindig I’ve got going on, I thought I’d add a little something fancy to my bug repellent and float some citronella candles in glass containers filled with water and greenery. I had trouble finding floating citronella candles, however, so I decided to make my own, and here’s how I did it. Floating Citronella Candles 13

The most important thing you need is citronella essential oil. Now, a lot of people find the scent to be a little off-putting, so I decided to add in some clove oil as well to mellow it out. Cloves are also a very good bug repellent.

Floating Citronella Candles 4And you need some wax. I picked soy wax for this project, because it has a lower melting point and tends to throw scent a little better than paraffin or beeswax (which of course has its own scent). Floating Citronella Candles 6

You also need some wee containers. I have these miniature tart tins that I picked up from Value Village a million years ago. I have never used them for tarts but they’re handy for lots of other things.

Floating Citronella Candles 1If you don’t happen to have miniature tart tins, a set of silicone muffin cups (or a silicone tray of any sort with small depressions in it) will also work quite well. Floating Citronella Candles 7

You’ll also need some wicks, which you can purchase, or you can make your own, which is what I did.

Floating Citronella Candles 8Chuck your wax into the top of a double boiler and set that to melting over medium-low heat. Remember that if you use flaked wax, as I did here, that the melted volume will be about half what the solid volume is. Add minimum 3 drops citronella essential oil per cup of wax, and use half the amount of any additional scent. Once it’s all melted, let it cool for a little bit before pouring it. Floating Citronella Candles 5
While that was melting and cooling, I sat down with my wicks and some hot glue.

Floating Citronella Candles 2Because my wicks don’t have those nifty metal bases, I had to attach them to the bottom of the containers I was using. Don’t use too much glue – you actually want this stuff to come off. Floating Citronella Candles 9

I didn’t bother doing this for the silicone ones, but the metal dishes I rubbed with petroleum jelly to ensure that the candle would come out again when it was done.

Floating Citronella Candles 10Then I carefully filled each container. I actually used one of the empty silicone muffin cups as a scoop and it worked really well. Floating Citronella Candles 11

I used straws and pens to hold up the wicks that were determined to droop.

Floating Citronella Candles 12Then I forced myself not to touch them for like AN HOUR. We had Gren’s sister Bakhita staying with us for the weekend and neither dog would come near me because I stank of citronella. Floating Citronella Candles 14

Once they were solid and cool I carefully popped them out of their containers. For the metal ones I wiggled them loose on the sides first, then turned them upside down and gave them a whack with a small hammer, and then it was easy to pull them out by the wicks.

Floating Citronella Candles 15I’m storing them until the shindig but here you can see a sample of my “vision” for how I’m going to set them up. Floating Citronella Candles 16

Cheapo Chandelier

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When this little DIY popped up in my Feedly from Hammer and Heels, a light went on over my head (literally).  We suffer from boob lights in our house (they’re the cheapest lights contractors can buy in bulk), and because we rent I can’t change too many things. This is a great solution to temporarily dress up what’s otherwise a super stupid-looking lighting system.

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You need a coconut hanging basket-type thing. You don’t need the coconut part, just the wire basket. So any wire basket thing you like will do. I found these at Dollarama for $3 each.

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This basket doesn’t have the swoopy elegance of the Hammer and Heels version but I kind of like the industrial nature of it. Plus it was THREE BUCKS.

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And you need some beaded string or wire or something on a string that is pretty and light looks pretty going through it. I found this stuff for decorating wedding bouquets on Amazon for $30. It took a while to get here from China but it was cheap and that’s what counts in this case.

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So remove the coconut lining and the hanging mechanisms from the baskets (if they have them). Save the bits for something else. You never know when stuff like this will come in handy.

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I sprayed two of the baskets (I had four) silver with spray paint. Just one coat did a pretty decent job. Then I ran out of silver and painted the other two gold (and then I didn’t end up making the other two chandeliers … yet. I might just turn them back into hanging baskets, who knows?).

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Once those were dry I could begin. I used a dab of hot glue on the low setting (so it wouldn’t melt my string) to secure the ends onto the basket. Then I wrapped the string around all the little junctions, going all over the basket, making sure that most of the beads and stuff were on the underside of the basket so you could see them better.

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I worked with 10-foot lengths of string to make it easier to manipulate it around all the little twists and turns.

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I just went kind of random after I got a good base of string down, switching directions to fill various gaps as I saw fit. I ended up using 40 feet of string on each chandelier, and I think it was just enough and not too much.

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Now to put it up. This is how it will disguise the boob. But I don’t want anything that will be permanent or will damage the ceiling or fixture.

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Solution: paper clips!

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They’re just narrow enough to slide snugly between the ceiling and the fixture.

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And they clip easily onto my basket, which is not very heavy (do remember that if you’re using a heavy basket, do not attach it directly to the light fixture – anchor it more securely or bad things will happen).

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The first one I used like SEVEN paperclips to stick it up and I needn’t have bothered.

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This one I just used four and it’s totally fine. And you really don’t notice the paper clips unless you’re looking for them. If it bothers you that they look like paper clips, then just bend them into a different shape!

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To me it looks like a dew-covered spiderweb over a chain link fence and I like it a whole lot. The pictures don’t really do it justice, unfortunately.

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Estimated total cost of each chandelier: NINE DOLLARS (Basket: $3; 40ft Beaded String: $6; Spray Paint, Hot Glue, Paper Clips: on hand, and in minimal amounts).

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Nautical Knot Necklace

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I was trying to come up with some last-minute present ideas back in December when I came across this one on the internets. Everyone likes necklaces, right? And nautically-themed things? Yes. Yes, they do.

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So there’s some things you’re gonna need: a couple metres braided nylon cord (you can pick this up in craft and fabric stores; small pieces of felt in colours that match the cord; some tiny pliers; hot glue gun and glue; small split rings or jump rings; ribbon ends (or pinch crimps or whatever they’re called); and spring rings or lobster clasps.

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You might also need a little bit of tape if your cord comes unbraided when you cut it. The coiled stuff will come undone, whereas the braided stuff will probably stay put.

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Next, decide if you want your necklace to be four or six strands wide. The version I saw on tuts+ had six strands, but with the amount of cording I bought (6 metres each), I ended up having only enough to make two necklaces of four strands each. So cut your cord into four (or six) equal pieces, and make them a little longer than you would like your finished necklace to be. Divide your strands into two groups.

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To create the basic nautical knot, start by making a wee fishie out of one set of strands: create a loop where the strands cross over themselves, as shown below.

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Do the same thing with the other set of strands, in the opposite direction. Lay the second loop over the first loop such that the top loop part is over the crossed strands of the loop below, and the crossed part of the top loop is over the loop part of the strands below.

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Now things get a bit complicated to explain, but once you do it you’ll totally get it. The idea behind tying these knots is that the top strands will alternate going over and under the bottom strands. So in this picture you can see that all the top strands are currently above the lower strands, and that’s not going to work.

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Here’s where we pull out the loops and start alternating the over/under part. So to the right you see the part where the bottom loop strand crosses under itself. That means the next one, in the bottom centre, has to go under. You can see that the far left one goes over, and the one in the middle goes over. So the one that I haven’t done yet therefore will have to go under. Yeah so that’s not easy to talk about.

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Basically make sure that each time your strands cross over each other, that they alternate going under and over.

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Then you do the same with the other side. Under. Over. Under. Over …

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So when your cording looks like this, with all the appropriate unders and overs, then you’re ready to pull.

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Grab the ends of your cording and gently pull them away from each other and tighten your knot.

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Keep pulling, and then you have an honest-to-goodness nautical knot!

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You can tug on the individual cords to make the knot even.

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So that’s cool and all, but I figured once I had that basic knot down, I should go a little bit bigger, and better. So I doubled the number of loops!

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This takes a little bit more finesse.

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And certainly a longer time to weave all the under/overs.

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Then you can carefully pull it tight.

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And adjust the individual cords.

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AND THEN YOU HAVE THIS AMAZING THING.

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This is the version I did with the larger coiled cord.

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So then you arrange your necklace how you’d like it to look.

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This red one is going to be off-centre. Because asymmetry is cool.

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Trim the ends of the cording straight across but at a slight angle.

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Then cut a tiny square of felt and glue your cord ends to half of it.

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Fold it over and glue it down. Trim off excess felt.

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Then you take one of those ribbon end/pinch crimp things and use your pliers to crimp onto the piece of felt.

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Do it to the other one as well.

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Add a jump ring to each side.

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DO NOT EAT THESE THINGS. I like how in the warnings it’s only the Spanish version that uses exclamation points.

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Next you’ve got the spring rings to deal with. Lobster clasps are easier, but I couldn’t find any at the time.

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Add those suckers on.

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NECKLACE COMPLETE.

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And it didn’t take long!

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A Magic Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! I wish you all the best and the happiest of the holiday season.

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Everybody knows one. There’s at least one in every family. Sometimes there are several.

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I’m talking about Harry Potter fans. Yes, those people.

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I found this amazing tutorial on DeviantArt to make Harry Potter-inspired wands a couple years ago and I’ve been saving it for that special someone in my family.

Items you will most def need: chopsticks. I have six of the normal kind you get in fast food restaurants, and then a set of cooking chopsticks, because some wands are longer than others, after all.

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You will also need a hot glue gun and appropriate hot glue sticks. Kind of key. You’re going to use a lot of glue for these so be prepared!

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Optional are beads. Plastic, wooden, whatever. Doesn’t matter what colour. I also added some string. Because I like string.

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Then I sat myself down with one of her favourite television shows to inspire me and I got to work (I probably should have watched Harry Potter but I’m on season two on Netflix and things are really starting to get good!).

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From here what you do is pretty much up to you. I glued on some of the larger beads at the butt end of the wand as kind of a backstop.

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And one on the tip as sort of an extender.

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Then I added some texture and filler with glue.

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Twirly whirly.

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On this one I went with some string and some small beads.

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Here I let the glue and gravity do their thing. If you use the high setting on your glue gun the glue will stay liquid for longer.

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You can roll almost-cold glue between your hands to shape it but I tend to burn myself so I didn’t do that. I just let the glue cool unadulterated.

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Now you can paint! I used craft paint, in a few different shades of brown. I painted the tips of the wands a darker brown, almost black, because I figure if they’re shooting sparks all the time they might get a little singed, right? I also added bits of silver here and there.

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After the paint dried I coated each with a liberal layer of gloss Mod Podge and let that dry overnight. Any other form of sealant would work well – but you should definitely seal them with something because craft paint will just scratch right off hot glue.

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Pretty fancy, no?

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I’m not sure what she’s going to do with EIGHT MAGIC WANDS but that’s really not the point of this whole exercise, is it?

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The Keep

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Her Grace, my niece, does not read this blog, so I can tell you now that this is a present for her. It started when I found this wooden box at Value Village with hinged openings, and some delightfully tacky rhinestone clip-on earrings. Bear with me. This is how my mind works. You’ll see.

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HG is at that age where she is into all things shiny and all things miniature. Originally, I planned to create a miniature castle-doll house on the inside, with three levels, a grand staircase, and a chandelier. It quickly became apparent that this idea (WHILE TOTALLY AWESOME) was beyond my abilities and time allowances. Plus it just wasn’t glittery enough. There were few if any rhinestones involved. I managed to come home from my visit to NYC with a red rhinestone adhered to my sock, and HG wasn’t even there while we were in town. She seems to have magic powers where fake gemstones are involved. I also found a pretty little rhinestone necklace, but I didn’t yet know how that was going to fit in.

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She’s also at that age where she’s starting to want to keep some things to herself. I’m not talking about drug smuggling or anything (though she would make an adorable mule), but I remember having the desire at that age (9-13 or so) to have a space to put things where nobody else could see them. Even if it was just a pretty rock I’d found.

So I wanted to build HG something, like a little fortress or keep (because she does love the miniature stuff) where she could, well, KEEP stuff.  But it was also important that it reflected HG’s glittery style. There’s a reason her mother calls her Sparkle.

I took the ugly wooden knobs off and cleaned out the box.

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I grabbed myself some battery-powered LED Christmas lights from Dollarama. A classy keep needs a chandelier, after all.

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I decided to make two chandeliers, because it was easier to drill the right-sized holes if they were a bit smaller.

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I used a power drill to make the holes. Here is the basic idea.

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I also picked up some beaded glass bracelets from Dollarama that would make great chandelier crystals. But that will come a bit later.

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First I needed to make up the top of my Keep so it would look all fortress-y and also camouflage the battery box for the lights. I used Model Magic because it’s lightweight and it sticks to itself.

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So I cut out little squares like stone blocks (the texture of Model Magic makes it kind of look like stone, which I like). I had to make it so you could still access the battery pack to turn the lights on and off.

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Then I set them to dry elsewhere. I’m going to paint them when they’re dry and then glue them in place.

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Figuring out the placement of my glorious rhinestone earrings as new door knobs, and the hasp (Wal-Mart) and mini padlock (Dollarama).

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The earring part of these babies popped off easily, but I was concerned about the stones rattling around in their settings, so I pried them out, filled the setting with hot glue, and then stuck the rhinestones back in.

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Then with some craft paint in hand I started in on the keep itself. The inside is silver, with black borders.

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The outside I tried to make kind of stone-y. I’m not the best at this sort of thing but you get the idea.

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While that was drying I dismantled my beaded bracelets.

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I cut some floral wire and formed it into a spiral for the chandelier. I stuck the biggest bead at the bottom and folded the wire back so it didn’t fall off.

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Then I just continued with the rest of the beads.

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Tested them with the lights.

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Still waiting for all the paint to dry, so I made a quick little beaded keychain for the keys to go on, with HG’s initials.

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I’m not sure how durable it will be but it will do for the initial giving-over of the key.

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Finally the paint on the box was dry, so I installed the lights and chandeliers loosely. I haven’t glued them yet as they will need some adjustment in terms of how high they are inside the box and how much clearance I need on top for the Model Magic stones. I also lined the sides with adhesive rhinestones (Dollarama) to add to the glitz and glitter.

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The rhinestones kept falling off, so I slathered them with a gloss Mod Podge to hold them on. You can’t expect amazing adhesion from Dollarama rhinestones after all.

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Now the time has come to attach the exterior hardware. I also blinged out the hardware.

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The screws that came with the hasp are going to be way too long, so I will have to camouflage them on the inside.

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When in doubt, add gemstones!

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I found these cute little mirrored clips in the clearance bin at Michael’s forever ago and I thought they would be good for secret stuff organization.

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So I used hot glue to stick them to the inside of the box.

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I hot-glued on the rhinestones.

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I used hot glue to keep the lights and battery pack in place, though I was careful not to accidentally glue the battery pack shut so they could be replaced.

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I did some adjusting and then carefully placed the Model Magic parapets on top. It’s best to use white glue with Model Magic so I used hot glue to get it to stick. I’m not good at following instructions.

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Then I painted it to look like the “stones” below. I also hot glued some felt to the bottom of the main section of the box so that the “doors” could swing open freely and so that the box wouldn’t scratch any delicate surfaces.

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All finished. I hung the rhinestone necklace inside if she wants to wear it, and added some perfume samples that came with a present from the Pie a while ago. Just to start off the secret-stuff collection a little.

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I hope she likes it!

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