One Lamp, Two Lamp, Old Lamp, New Lamp!

My final quarantine project was one I’d been meaning to get done since we moved into the house over a year ago. When we moved in together we bought a matching set of IKEA lamps: two table lamps and a larger floor lamp with crumpled paper shades. They were literally the WORST shades as the things that held the shades up so they looked crumpled fell out and were lost so you just had this wrinkly, torn, dusty, discoloured piece of paper sitting here and we really started to hate them. But they were cheap and they worked so we moved them across the country and back.

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BUT NO MORE.

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My plan was to use the wire frame of the shades to create a new surface for a slightly more durable fabric shade. So I carefully measured the dimensions of the existing lamps.

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Then I took enormous pleasure in ripping the paper off.

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I soaked the wires in warm soapy water for a bit to get the excess glue and paper off.

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Then I measured and cut the fabric Cait and I had bought from Joann like forever ago.

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I don’t own any fabric markers so I use washable Crayolas instead. I measured an inch of overlap from the edges to wrap around the frames.

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Then I used pins to fix everything into place.

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One side done.

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Both sides done.

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I left the side seams open for now just because it was easier to manipulate them with it open.

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The best way to get this permanently affixed was to set it up so it hung properly, and the best way to do THAT was to put it back on the lamp.

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Now I pinned the side seams.

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Then I used Mod Podge for fabric and just glued all my flaps closed.

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It didn’t take long. I made sure to take the pins out while the glue was still wet.

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Once it was dry I sprayed the whole thing with Stiffen Stuff, which is sort of a spray starch for making things like bows and ornaments rigid. Another option would have been to wash the fabric with liquid starch and iron them flat before pinning. It might have had a more uniform look to the finished product but it would have been more difficult to manipulate.

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I let the starch dry in the sun.

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The finished product, off.

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And on.

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I did the big one too. I’m quite pleased!

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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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Best of Friends.

Okay, so the thing I made for the Pie’s birthday, remember that? Well if it wasn’t quite your style, maybe this one, using the same technique, will be more to your liking.

Cait’s dog, Ruby, is very sweet, but, being a dachshund, she doesn’t really get along with most other dogs.  When Cait became  mom to an anxious golden retriever named Cooper, we all held our breath to see what would happen.  It turns out we needn’t have worried.  Ruby enjoys having a big brother to boss around and take care of, and Cooper’s anxiety is so much less with a constant companion. I took this super cute photo of the two of them at a cottage last summer (for the microsecond they actually sat still).  They are the best of friends.

Cottage Life

Now, Cait’s birthday is only four days after the Pie’s, so, working on the success of the Pie’s gel transfer painting, I decided to do something along the same lines.  I messed this up before I got it right, so I’ll show you what I did.

First, I had to alter the photo to make it fit on the 16″ x 20″ canvas, and change the colours a bit in the photo to make sure both dogs stood out.  It’s hard when you have a dog with a black face and another  with an almost white face to make sure they both show up.  So I put a vintage filter on the photo, put a light vignette at the edges, and boosted the contrast a little.  These things tend to work better with high-contrast pictures.  Then I flipped it horizontally so it would come out facing the right way.

*RoobyCooper - FINAL

I had the picture printed out at Staples, and because it was so big it came out on their high gloss poster paper. My first mistake.

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I couldn’t find my sponge brush, so I just used a regular plastic bristle paint brush to smear on the gloss gel medium.  My second mistake.

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Then I used my squeegee to smooth the photo face-down onto the gel medium-ed canvas.  The centre of the canvas was pretty flexible, so I should have put something underneath to support it as I pushed around on top.  My third mistake.

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You’re supposed to leave it to dry overnight, but after an hour I could see that the thing wasn’t working.  The poster paper was too thick to conform to the huge grooves in the gel medium left by my paintbrush, and there were giant streaks everywhere.  Because there was no support in the centre of the picture when I pushed down with the squeegee, there were whole spaces where the medium hadn’t adhered at all to the photo.

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Part of Ruby’s face was completely missing.

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No worries.  I can fix this.  I scraped off the parts of the gel medium that were still wet and left the thing to dry completely.  Then I covered the thing completely in a few coats of antique white craft paint.

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It left a bit of a texture, but nothing that couldn’t be smoothed over with a new batch of medium and some careful application.

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To get the picture printed on thinner paper (the regular 25lb stuff that comes out of photocopiers), I had to split the photo in half, so each part measured 10″ x 16″ and would fit nicely on a tabloid (11″ x 17″) piece of paper. You need a photocopier or laser printer for this job, as the ink in an inkjet goes through too many layers of the paper and will not work.

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Here I am trimming the white edges off the paper.  My paper cutter is really nice, but it isn’t big enough to do the long edge of the 17″ sheet.  I managed, but it was dicey.

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This time I put some books under the centre of the canvas to hold it up.

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I used a sponge brush AND the squeegee to get the medium evenly across the whole thing.

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I did my best to line up the photos as closely as I could, though it wasn’t perfect.  I was very careful with the squeegee when pressing it down not to press too hard in any one area.  I examined it minutely for bubbles and pushed out any that I found.  Then I left it the hell alone overnight.

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The next day I had roofers come to fix our leak so I hid out in the kitchen while chaos reigned.

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I used my handy spray bottle full of water to wet the paper.

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Then I began to rub off the wet layers of paper.  I used just my fingers, because I didn’t want to rub too hard on the dogs’ faces and accidentally remove the colour.

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I ended up wetting it and rubbing it at least three times before I was happy with how much white paper I took off.

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It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s supposed to be, so it looks good with the vintage cast of the photo.

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Even the dividing line turned out mostly okay.

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Because there is a big chunk of empty deck space in the centre of the photo, I wanted to put in Ruby and Cooper’s initials, to make it extra cute.

I freehanded the letters onto some card stock.

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I then painted the card stock.  With glitter craft paint.  Just to be ridiculous.

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When those were dry I glued them to the canvas with Mod Podge and left that overnight.

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I then painted it with two coats of gloss polyurethane to seal it.

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And added picture hanging hardware, same way I did for the Pie’s present. So shiny …

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And there it is!

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Shoe Face Lift

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I bought these flats at a strange and yet totally awesome shoe store called Urban Shoe in Gander, Newfoundland, on a completely bizarre road trip with my parents in October of 2008.  I then proceeded to wear them to death for the next five years.  While the shoes themselves are still structurally sound, and will likely survive the next nuclear apocalypse because they’re quite well made, the leather is scuffed and scruffy, and I have since had to replace them with another pair of go-to leather flats I can wear to work.  But I’ve been loath to throw them out, so they’ve languished in my closet.

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Then I found this glitter paint at Dollarama and I figured, hey, why not?  It’s not like I have anything to lose, right?  I also had some glitter glue left over from Cait’s and my failed experiment with bouncy balls.

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I put a bit of painter’s tape over the heel and got to work with a paintbrush.

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I knew that paint would get all over the place, but I figured most of it would come off again after a while.  The heel was just a larger part where I wanted to limit the paint’s access.

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I dabbed the sparkle glue on the bow, for variety.

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This is four coats of glitter paint in.  I think I’m happy with it.

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I used Mod Podge gloss finish as a shiny top coat and sealer.  I’m not sure how long they’ll hold up to regular wear (I pretty much only wear them in the office and maybe two and from the car), but I like the facelift, even if it’s only temporary.

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They did crack a bit along some pre-existing creases on the side but it’s not that noticeable.

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Yarn Eggs

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These puppies are all over the internet, so I can’t give you any one particular website that gave me the inspiration to try this little Easter craft.  Despite it being warm(ish), we just got another 20cm of snow this week (in one night) and I have had it with winter in the worst way.  So I’m doing Easter things.

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Today we’re making yarn eggs.   What you need for this is a work surface that you can easily clean off (this is a messy project), some brightly coloured yarn, a balloon, and some glue.  In this set of photographs I’m using a 5″ balloon for a medium-sized egg.  You can use a full-sized 10″-12″ balloon but you’ll use more yarn and glue and then you’ll have to find a place for your giant egg.  Water balloons, which are typically around 3″-4″, are probably best for this, though you will have to squish them around to make them a bit more egg-shaped.  I’m also using a papier mâché paste with a flour:water ratio of 2:3 as my glue.

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Start by inflating your balloon.  Tie it off and then loosely wrap it in the yarn of your choice, just to get an idea of how much you are going to need.

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When you have it wrapped to your satisfaction, you can cut the yarn.  I ended up with between 6 and 7 metres of yarn for a 5″ balloon (before you object too loudly, remember that I’m Canadian and we jump back and forth between metric and Imperial measurements with impunity — it’s a cultural thing).

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Loosely wind up your yarn so it won’t get too tangled as you pull on it and dunk it gently into your glue mixture.

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Keep hold of the end so you can find it again.

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Run the gluey yarn through your fingers to squeeze off the excess and start wrapping it snugly around your balloon.  Some people have sprayed the balloon with cooking spray to prevent sticking, but I didn’t find that this was a problem for me. Make sure to leave the tied off neck of the balloon hanging out so you have something to hold on to.

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When you are at the end of your yarn, tuck the edge in so it won’t unravel as it dries.

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It’s best to hang up the balloon overnight so it will be able to dry completely on all sides.

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While I was making breakfast the next day, the balloon decided to contract and it took me a good five minutes to figure out that the crackling sound in my kitchen was the balloon separating from the pasty yarn.

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Then you simply pinch the balloon near the neck and cut a snip in it to deflate the balloon quickly without popping it.

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Pull the deflated balloon out through the hole where the neck was.

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There you have it.   I’m not entirely happy with the way that the papier mâché paste has discoloured the yarn, but this method would probably work best on pale yellow yarn or off-white, to disguise the discolouration.

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For the next one (this was a test run after all), I decided to use Mod Podge “Stiffy” Fabric stiffener, mixed with a wee bit of Mod Podge Fabric Glue.

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This was a lot more slippery to work with, for some reason.  The papier mâché seemed to adhere better to the balloon when wet (though it might have also had something to do with me using a metallic balloon first, and then a regular opaque one next — I find that the metallic ones have a different feel to them).  The fabric stiffener slid all over the place, so I had to hold it with my fingers.  So glue was everywhere.

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The final three eggs I used straight Stiffy, no glue.  You can see that there’s a difference between the paste one, which is more rigid but has bits of goo all over it, and the Stiffy ones, which are slightly more flexible but also less gross looking.

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The finished eggs can be strung up as a garland, or displayed in a bowl, or used as place markers at the dinner table (if you made wee ones with water balloons).  You can also use rounder balloons to make actual spheres for non-Easter related decorating.  I’ve also seen them stuffed with LEDs as indoor/outdoor luminaries (though if you’re going to put them outdoors I would spray them with a waterproofing sealant first). I’ve even seen people use giant weather balloons to make huge pendant lampshades. It’s a very versatile and easy technique.

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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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Rustic Pencil Holder and Homemade Pencils

Rustic Pencil Holder

I saw this about a year ago, and I remember thinking at the time that it was such a simple yet elegantly nifty project I would have to make it sometime.  What better time than the present?

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I wrangled a log out of the mildewed pile in our dilapidated excuse for a shed and got to work.  You can of course use any form of windfall or anything you find lying around.  I’d love to try this with driftwood, if I still had my beach handy.  As it was a pretty long chunk of wood, I figured I’d make three pencil holders, just to spread the love amongst my Christmas gift recipients.

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I also thought I might make them slightly angled, so that all the pencils or pens could be viewed from one side, instead of them all being on the same level. So I sawed them accordingly, in varying thicknesses.  Actually, the Pie did most of this because I took too long.  But we didn’t really try too hard to get things level or straight — the crooked adds to the charm, and I swear we did this on purpose.

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And then the bark, which had been sitting and drying out over our kitchen heater for two months, just peeled right off so easily.

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I used a butter knife to get the thinner inner bark off.

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Now you drill your holes.  I used 3/8″ and 1/2″ drill bits, to accommodate skinny and fat pens and pencils. You know, like the fat ones you pick up from the bank or that you get in swag bags at conferences and stuff.

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You can space them out evenly or put them in randomly, whichever floats your boat.

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To make sure that all your holes are uniform in depth, use a bit of tape around your drill bit to mark how deep you want it to go.  When the line of the tape touches the wood, you’ve gone far enough.

Rustic Pencil Holder

In addition, if you are pursuing an angled approach, make sure that your drill is going in perpendicular to the surface upon which the wood is sitting, not perpendicular to the surface of the top of the disk.  Although I suppose you could do that, too, if you wanted your pencils to stick out at an angle.

Rustic Pencil Holder

Then I sanded, to smooth out the edges and to make the top nice and even.  You don’t want splinters in something you’re going to be touching all the time.

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I stained one of them as well, again for kicks.

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To go with the pencil holders, I thought I would include some pencils I made myself.

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I got the idea from here, but modified it so it was easier for me (because I found this actually quite difficult).  You need some 2mm pencil leads, the kind that go into architectural drafting pencils (also known as clutch pencils).  They tend to come in small plastic boxes of 10, and you can find them at art supply stores or on the internet.

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Then you need some thin paper.  I used a combination of newspaper flyers and origami paper for this, with the cheap newspaper on the inside and the nice origami pattern on the outside.  Cut the paper into squares that are the same length as the leads, which is usually about 5″.

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Take a paint brush and some glue and paint some onto the edge of one of the pieces of paper.

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Lay your lead onto the glued surface, just a little bit from the edge.  Fold that extra part over the lead and tuck it in.

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Now start rolling, carefully, putting even pressure on both ends of the lead.  You want the paper to be tight around the lead but you don’t want to put too much pressure on it that the lead breaks.  I definitely broke a few.  And go slowly, so you can make sure that the lead rolls straight in the paper.  Many of my pencils came out crooked and had to be trimmed later.

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When you reach the end of the paper, add some more glue and fasten the edge securely on your roll.  Repeat with more paper until you get to the thickness you like, with some nice patterned stuff on the outside.

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Put some glue on the outside, just to seal it all in.

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Allow your pencil to dry, then trim the pointy end of the pencil with a knife or a pencil sharpener, and you’re all set.

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Rustic Pencil Holder

Rustic Pencil Holder