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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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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