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.

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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Tray Cool

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Happy Independence Day to those of you in the good ol’ You Ess of Eh.  On this auspicious day I thought I’d share with you something I did while hiding from the heat on Canada Day.

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I buy a lot of things from thrift stores with a specific project in mind; however, lacking the time or a certain ingredient, these projects sometimes fall to the wayside.  Case in point: that mirror I used for Cait’s Victorian Toilet Paper mirror was supposed to go into something else.  I bought this serving tray with the idea of putting cork on the bottom and painting it with gold leaf stencils (back when that sort of thing was trendy).

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I didn’t do it and so the tray has been sitting with my crafty crap for years.  But the Pie and I were talking about how awesome those Coffee Stirrer Wall Art doo-dads turned out and, having several coffee stirrers leftover still, I put two and two together and came up with this.

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I wiped down the tray and gave it a quick once-over with black craft paint.

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While it was drying I grabbed several handfuls of coffee stirrers and started painting them, too.  I wanted to work with a palette of various greens, mixed together a bit.

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Then, with a bottle of Tacky glue and my trusty poultry shears, I started cutting the stirrers and gluing them to the surface of the tray.

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This takes a while.  This takes a good long while.

I left it to completely dry overnight and then the next day gave it two coats of spray sealant in a satin finish (which will make the tray, if not washable, at least wipe-able). You’ll note I actually did the spraying outside, in a well-ventilated area, and not in my tightly sealed kitchen like I used to. There are benefits to having a backyard …

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And that, as they say, is that.

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I originally planned to give this to someone for Christmas, but the Pie seems to want to keep it, so I guess it will be his …

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Art with Glue and Shoe Polish

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I have been wanting to try this for YEARS, ever since I saw it on Make It … a Wonderful Life.  I don’t exactly know why it is that I haven’t made any yet — but now is my chance.  With the new place we have an excess of blank wall space and the Pie and I were both raised to believe that a) if you can see the colour of your walls you don’t have enough art on them; and b) there is no such thing as “enough” art.

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In our lower bathroom we have kind of an avian theme going on, so I thought I’d continue it while trying out this nifty craft.  Make It … designed it to be a craft for school kids to learn different techniques, but I’ve taken out a few steps for us silly adults who have trouble following instructions.

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Start with a piece of cardboard the size and shape you want your finished piece to be.  Draw a simple design onto the cardboard with a pencil or marker, and by simple I mean really simple.  Big lines and grand shapes only.  You can get fancy and detailed later.  Now trace those lines with Tacky Glue.

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I actually prefer the brand name glue for this, as it’s the only white glue I can find that dries in the same thick lines in which  you lay it down.

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Anyway, once you’ve got all the lines traced, and filled in everything you want to, set that somewhere to dry completely, probably overnight.

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When it’s all ready to go, grab a piece of aluminum foil just slightly larger than the piece of cardboard and cover one side (shiny or dull, it’s your choice) with a glue stick (you have to use a glue stick or it will show through the foil).

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Be generous with the glue stick, and go over the foil a couple times with it.  On my first one I didn’t use enough and had trouble sticking it down.

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Press the foil, glue side down, over your design.  It’s best to start from the centre and work your way out.  Press the foil against the glue lines.  You can rub them in gently with a paper towel wrapped over your finger and use a cotton swab to gently press the foil close against the glue lines so everything is tight.

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You may get rips, just because the foil is too tight.  But don’t fret — they’ll be camouflaged later.

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Now, if you like, you can take a dull pencil and start drawing in patterns in the blank spaces between the glue lines.

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When you’ve decorated to your liking, take some black shoe polish and give the whole thing a once-over, getting the polish into all those little lines you made.

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Make It … recommends the sponge-applicator shoe polish for ease of use, so that’s what I did.

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Leave it for a moment and then gently buff it off with paper towel.

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It leaves a lovely silvery patina and makes the whole thing look really cool.

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I stuck these to the boring bathroom cabinet to jazz things up a bit.

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