Monday, December 30, 2013

Quick and Free DIY Luminaries!

For a few weeks, I have been saving paper towel and toilet paper rolls with dreams of making traditional Christmas crackers filled with little treats and paper hats. Alas, Christmas has come and gone with no crackers. But I wanted to put all of those cardboard tubes to use, so last night I punched up these little luminaries.

It's so easy that I don't really consider this a tutorial--I feel that it would be insulting to you, my crafty reader. So I've distilled this project into one easy equation:

Cardboard Tube + Hole Punch + White Craft Paper + Double-sided Tape + Battery-operated LED votive = Glowing, Flickering Mantle Magic!

Because I just have a standard little hole punch, I did have to get crafty to reach all areas of the tubes. I ended up folding them in half vertically and punching through two layers of cardboard along the sides. I'd be an irresponsible blogger if I didn't remind you to use battery operated candles only; flames in paper tubes would be bad news. Be creative and enjoy!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ho Ho Homemade Holidays: DIY Christmas Round Up

Last year, my mom's family made an agreement that for Christmas 2013, we would all exchange homemade gifts. I'm a last-minute Christmas DIYer. Always have been, probably always will be. So it was especially fun for me to hear the rest of the family talk about the last-minute Christmas craft scramble!

Even though hand making gifts can be incredibly stressful, and I always end up asking myself whether it's worth it, seeing how much time and effort everyone put into their creative gifts made this Christmas so special. It's easy to feel burdened and overwhelmed at the holidays, but exchanging homemade gifts really reminded me that generosity comes in many forms. When someone makes you a gift, they are also giving you the time they invested in it. It's a non-refundable, non-exchangeable gift that we should all appreciate more. Everybody came up with such creative projects, I'd like to share them with you:

I gave cheese board making a try. I learned about this fantastic program in Michigan called Urbanwood. Basically, local sawmills are allowed to collect dead urban trees, rather than forcing cities to bear the expense of removing the trees and sending them to the wood chipper. The mills process the wood into usable planks or rounds and sell them at local Habitat for Humanity ReStores. I purchased three slabs of walnut at the Flint, Michigan ReStore. They were so naturally beautiful that I really only had to clean up the edges, drill and router holes, sand the surfaces, and apply mineral oil. I absolutely love the results (and I'll probably need to make another batch, because I am noticeably lacking a cheese board now)!

For my camping-enthused relatives, I made a canvas firewood sling loosely inspired by this one and a bag of paraffin wax fire starters. I also threw in a jar of matches with sandpaper glued to the lid for striking.

My mom made these awesome necklaces out of washers, scrapbook paper, and resin. Seriously! Metal washers! She also made several super cool birdbaths out of thrift store lamps and glass ceiling light domes. But--womp womp--I forgot to take pictures of the baths :(

My Uncle Jim made me this gorgeous ring out of shed deer antler! He cut a thin round from the base of the antler (I think) and used his Dremel to drill a hole in it. It's like wearing a piece of art!

My Aunt Amy made me a beautiful cuff bracelet out of scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, and a metal base. I absolutely love the colors. This project could easily be tailored for anyone on your gift list. My aunt is also an extraordinarily talented photographer. She took a picture of the hubs and me and very neatly cut around our outlines. Then she inserted us into a picture frame with an photo of bursting fireworks as a backdrop. She included photos of sunsets, rainbows, a weathered barn, a Christmas light display. We can change the background to match our moods--it's like having a new set of vacation photos without leaving the house.

Even Cousin Max got in on the fun by making all of us beaded keychains--I love my turtle!

And, last but certainly not least, my most ardent and loyal reader, Debbie, gave me a small pyramid crafted from beautifully marbled paper from Primrose Paper Arts. I can't wait to display it on my desk.
I couldn't be more happy that we decided to craft as a family . . . and I know we're all planning for next year. Be creative and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Page Christmas Tree

I had an afternoon lull at work, so you know what that means--another book page craft! We are in poinsettia overload at the branch, so I thought something a little less . . .living . . .would be a good addition to our holiday decor. This was a ridiculously simple, if somewhat time-consuming, project.

Cardstock, poster board, or a styrofoam cone
Pages from an unreadable book (mine was heavily damaged and ready to be tossed), cut into strips of varying widths (wide for bottom, narrow for top)
Holiday spirit

I started with two 11x17 sheets of cardstock taped together. I curved them into a cone, taped along the seam, and trimmed the bottom so the cone was flat when vertical.

I affixed to book pages around the bottom of the cone, just to cover any gaps in the first row of loops. Next I took strips of old book pages and formed them into loops. To form the loop, hold the strip flat, one end in each hand. Then curve the two ends together, placing one on top of the other. You can control how loose or tight the loop is by rotating the ends. When you have the loop how you prefer, simply staple the ends together.

Working around the tree, I taped loops to the cone, starting with larger loops at the bottom and finishing with narrower loops at the top. I filled in once I completed the rows. A little glitter and an origami star on top and Voila! Super inexpensive DIY Christmas decor! I originally saw this idea using loops of burlap; it made a cute, rustic tree. I'm thinking that any ribbon would be perfect. Maybe double-sided wrapping paper? Be creative and enjoy!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ikea Hack: DIY Sunburst Kolja Mirror for less than $20

In my previous post, I revealed my made-over dining room. Although I'm still accessorizing, I didn't want to leave the walls blank. DIY wall decor was an absolute necessity. I love the look of sunburst mirrors. Retro but chic. Delicate but substantial. I especially love large sunburst mirrors, but I'm not so crazy about the large price tags that often accompany them. There are tons of DIY sunburst mirrors out there to look at, so I knew before I started this project that there were a few key characteristics that really appealed to me: a large mirror as a base, slender spokes that are close together and of varying lengths. This mirror from Apartment Therapy was especially inspiring to me.

I started with the Kolja round mirror from IKEA. At $14.99 for a 22 in. mirror, I couldn't ask for a much cheaper base! Let me say right now, it is difficult to wield a large mirror with no frame. If you don't have a giant husband with a condor-like wingspan, you might want to reconsider the scale here. I only had to purchase 2 packs of wooden barbeque skewers from the dollar store to complete this project--I had the other supplies on hand. .

Here are the supplies I used:
1 mirror
1 tube liquid nails (I didn't use anywhere near a full tube)
1 glue gun/sticks
2 packages wooden skewers (I got mine at the dollar store)
Nippers/tough scissors
Scrap wood
Paint or stain (optional)

First I counted and cut my skewers to the appropriate lengths. The measurements that follow resulted in a mirror that is 41" in diameter. It is perfect for filling up a large wall, but I want to reiterate that it is difficult to carry!

16  10.5-inch skewers
32  9-inch skewers
32  7.5-inch skewers
32  6-inch skewers
32  4.5-inch skewers
16  3-inch skewers

The bottom 1 inch of each skewer was used to adhere it to the back of the mirror, so the visible portion of each spoke is 1 inch shorter than the measurements above. Once all of the skewers were cut, I used liquid nails to affix a relatively large piece of scrap plywood to the back of the mirror. Liquid Nails makes an adhesive intended for mirrors, but the reviews on it are mixed. The manufacturer indicates that the adhesive alone isn't enough to support a mirror. Regular Liquid Nails, on the other hand, can de-silver the back of the mirror. I opted for regular Liquid Nails, figuring I'd rather take my chances with de-silvering than a total collapse. It has been on my wall for a few months with no adverse effects. This piece of plywood had two purposes: it gave me a way of hanging the mirror (I affixed the metal hanger to the wood) and it raised the mirror off of the wall so that it wasn't resting on the delicate skewers.

I measured the circle and divided it into sixteen even sections (yay math!). I ran a bead of Liquid Nails around the rim of the mirror. I placed the skewers with a one inch allowance on the back side. The adhesive does not harden immediately, so there is time to straighten the skewers. Once they were in place, I ran another bead on top of the skewers and used strips of wax paper to press down on the adhesive. Once the glue was dry, I trimmed up the excess paper. I used hot glue to reinforce any sticks that were still wiggly when the adhesive had dried. This is IMPORTANT: I weighted the plywood piece and allowed the Liquid Nails to dry for several days before I attempted to move it.

My aforementioned giant husband carried to mirror outside for me. I taped a sheet of plastic over the mirror's surface for protection, then spray-painted the spokes. In hindsight, I probably would have done this before gluing the skewers down. I painted my sunburst silver, but I also love the look of stained wood.

If you are a fan of sunburst mirrors, but don't want to spend hundreds of dollars to achieve the look, I hope you'll give this a try. Be creative and enjoy!

Dining Room Makeover for Less than $200!

One weekend at a time, my mom and I are determined to redo this old house! I eagerly (and perhaps a bit too ambitiously) volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner this year. I was feeling confident after the kitchen project, and knew that we could knock the dining room out, too.

I've been seeing board and batten tutorials online lately--I was excited to give it a try. Because the plaster under the wallpaper is in pretty bad shape (the bulges and cracks are a dead give away), and we aren't in a position to completely gut that room, I decided to paint over the wallpaper. One gallon of Killz was enough for two coats; it easily covered the very dated, floral paper.

For the top half of the walls, I painted a soft, bluish grey color that I had purchased for another room last year. Sherwin Williams Cashmere base is, bar none, the best paint I've ever used. It covered beautifully in one coat. I left the bottom half of the walls white in preparation for the budget board and batten. I'll write up a separate post about this project, but let me just say that it was incredibly satisfying!

I scoured Craigslist until I found a light fixture to replace the 80s ceiling fan. $40! Score! We removed the buzzing, bulky florescent light ballast from above the window seat and replaced it with thin strips of LEDs. A section of cove molding hid the strips and wires from view.

One of the most dramatic changes to the room was in the flooring. We ripped up the yellowed, plush carpet to reveal the beautiful, original maple floor. My hard-working dad sanded the floor down to its natural state. More pics to come in a later post of the floor.

I still have some accessorizing to do in this room, especially cushions for the window seat and some sort of window coverings. For the walls, floor, and lighting, here's the price break-down:

1 gallon Killz: $16
1 gallon White Paint: $25
1/2 gallon Grey Paint: Left over from another project. Free!
Light fixture: $40 on Craigslist
Ikea Dioder LED lights: $29.99
1 12 ft. length cove molding: $6
1 sheet MDF: $25
1 tube Liquid Nails: $4
Floor Sander Rental: $35
Wood Stain: $7

$188 for a total room makeover?!? I consider it a total win! Every time we tackle a project like this, I gain a little confidence to try something bigger, bolder, or more advanced next time. I hope you're inspired to do the same. Be creative and enjoy!