September 19, 2012
The boys and I worked on this DIY marble ramp as an easy after-school-project. It may not be the prettiest project we’ve come up with, but the boys (mostly my almost 7-year-old) were engrossed and I didn’t hear “I’m bored, mom!” once today. To make your own, all you need are cardboard tubes from paper towel or toilet paper rolls, a hole punch, pegboard, metal brads (the kind that holds papers together), a paper cup, and acrylic paints. And of course, marbles!
We painted the rolls earlier this week so they’d be nice and dry before assembly. The layer of paint helps stiffen the cardboard a bit, making it sturdier. After splitting some of the tubes down the middle (you may want to keep a few intact to make ‘tunnels’), we hole punched along the edge, spacing the holes so they align with the pegboard. Kai figured out that punching as he was assembling was easiest for him. Thread metal brads through the tubes and pegboard to attach. Our board leaned up against the wall so the boys could reach around the back to fold out the brads.
You may need to squeeze the tubes to make them nice and concave, especially if they keep getting flattened by a baby. Madness. Catch the marble in a paper cup attached at the very bottom of the ramp.
The neat thing about using metal brads is that you can disassemble the ramp to come up with new configurations. Also makes it easy to fix any mistakes and extreme angles that send your marble flying off course.
I can see us experimenting by adding obstacles, trap doors, and bells that the marbles can bump into. My kids love Japanese Rube Goldberg Machines so our simple ramp is a great segue to more sophisticated designs!
August 23, 2012
Yes, it’s only August, and I’m already peddling Christmas. But!…
Paint company DecoArt had contacted me to test drive their expanded paint line for glass. I was sent enamels, 3D, and frosted and glitter paints, but my favorite were the glass stains. Inspired by Scandinavian glassware, I experimented with a dip-dye technique to achieve an ombre effect with bulb ornaments. I know it’s riduculously early to be thinking about the holidays, but I envision these ombre ornaments on an all-white tree or hanging from a tree branch suspended from the ceiling. Would be a labor of love and cursings, but this tree mobile by Not Martha would be an awesome, beautiful application too. Or maybe attach to a string of lights for a wedding?
To make the ornaments, you will need: DecoArt transparent Glass Stain, clear glass ornaments, string, a small round bowl to dip the ornament in, and a paper grocery bag to catch any drips.
Step 1: Clean/dust outside of ornament with a damp cloth.
Step 2: Empty out entire bottle of glass stain into your dish.
Step 3: Tie end of a ~12 inch long string to top of the ornament. Knot a loop on the other end to hang the ornament while the paint dries.
Step 4: Wrap string around your hand and fingers so that it isn’t in the way, and submerge ornament about halfway. Pull out, letting paint drip off, then submerge again about 1/3 of the way. Pull ornament out, then submerge in smaller increments.
Step 5: Hang ornament over a paper grocery bag to drip-dry. I hung my ornaments off my cabinet knobs in the kitchen. The stain will pool to the bottom of the ornament, creating a little bubble. While the paint is wet, gently wipe this off with your fingertip. I left the ornaments to dry, but returned every 10 minutes to wipe off more paint. If the paint hardens, this is a little trickier to do. Just smooth it against the ornament gently.
Step 6: Cover any leftover paint with plastic wrap (use this paint for step 7).
Step 7: When the first layer of stain is completely dried. I dipped just the lower 1/4 my ornament back in to deepen the color. Let dry.
Some notes: While I set some lofty goals and aspired to handblown glassware, it takes some practice to get an even, graduated coat. I recommend practicing on empty glass food jars to get the technique down. I also found the blue paint to be somewhat more viscous and saturated than the black and pink paints, which required some extra dipping. You may also want to keep a toothpick handy for popping, in case air bubbles appear in the paint (had this issue with the black color).
August 7, 2012
Shrink film is such a fun medium to work with. My boys created Sonic the Hedgehog and Ninjago characters while I made this geometric pendant. I shared a printable along with instructions for this necklace at Dotcoms for Moms.
August 3, 2012
As with a LOT of toys, the novelty of our first cardboard house eventually wore off on the kids. I didn’t want to send it to the recycling bin, but there was no ideal place in our compact house to store it. Inspired by some soda packaging, I found that making three extra cuts allowed the house to fold down flat for storage. For complete instructions along with a printable PDF, click over to my guest post at SheKnows. Details for Mara’s hand-painted blocks are from an older post here.
July 22, 2012
Crafting has been extra light as I’ve been working on not-as-exciting corporate design projects, but sometime in the next week or so, I’ll be sharing an even cooler version of the kids’ little cardboard house. (And the way I styled the house with lights above — definitely a big-kid thing, not for the baby as much as she’d love it and try to eat it.) I spotted Andrea’s houses on Pinterest and love the little neighborhood going on.
Speaking of cardboard, as we worked on cleaning out the garage this weekend, my affinity for boxes and corrugated was made even more obvious. It’s already looking like round two at Ikea will be needed to contain all my shiz. You know it’s problematic when your crafting stuff spans three rooms and two floors, but in a small way that makes me feel proud and legit.
(Ikea demands stamina. Not for the faint of heart.)