Giving in to my Inner Scrounger

My Beta Babes and I went out to eat at Pasta House in St. Louis.

I tried to behave, really I did. We had a great lunch and fun talking with each other.

But I started lusting after the plastic butter tubs. And the margarine containers. I kept imagining ways I could use them.

Then I said to myself, “What will they think of me if I start collecting trash?”

I decided, “I don’t care. That’s who I am. That’s what I do. Either they like me for myself or not.”

So I asked the person next to me for her empty margarine containers. She kindly handed them over. Soon everyone was handing me empty plastic containers. I filled my purse with them. One of the husbands tried to give me the rest of the full tubs in front of his place. (Bless his heart. He was so sweet. I had to explain that the butter wasn’t the point.)

I carefully cleaned them in my hotel room, packed them in a box, and had them mailed to me with a bunch of other supplies.

Last night I began putting together a kitchen cabinet from a kit. As usual, I modified the kit a lot. The way they were constructing the sink was silly. It wouldn’t look good!

Then I remembered my margarine containers.

One of them worked perfectly.

I am so glad I gave in to my inner creative scrounger. Yes, I was a bit embarrassed by my greed for garbage. But if I hadn’t have asked, I wouldn’t have had the butter tubs for my project. I also wouldn’t have saved those tubs from the recycling bin.

And I wouldn’t have been true to myself. I would have pretended to be someone I’m not. I’m not too proud to ask for what I need.

How about you? What crafting supply do you find impossible to resist? When have you embarrassed yourself for the sake of a craft?

Love, Crafts, and the Fine Art of Dumpster Diving

Two days ago, I noticed a big red Dumpster behind our apartment complex. It looked to be empty.

That’s interesting, I thought.

Yesterday evening, my husband and I were walking Jax when I noticed the Dumpster had been filled to the brim. Looks to me like the apartment management evicted someone, sending their furniture packing as well. A red sofa extended above pieces of wood, paper, and articles you’d have to examine closely to identify.

That made me sad. Once upon a time, a bank threatened to evict my mother, my sisters, and me. I don’t think that any of us will ever forget that bleak period in our lives.

Then it made me wonder. Was there any good that could come out of this ugly situation? While I was pondering this, thinking deep thoughts, David and Jax kept walking. “Honey?” called my husband. “Come on. Leave it alone.”

He knows me too well.

Because by then, I’d decided to investigate. I climbed up on the ledge surrounding the big red trash container. I’m short so I couldn’t look deep inside, but I did see a piece of board sticking out. A big piece of wood.

Big enough to serve as a base for my dollhouse and the potting shed.

Big enough and sturdy enough that I wouldn’t have to go to Home Depot and buy a piece of plywood and pay for them to cut it to size.

Big and free.

Even freer after I tugged it out.

David, I must confess, was mortified. He started walking in the other direction with body language that clearly stated, “I don’t know that woman!”

I tugged and tugged. I had to reach in and move a couple of other boards around. Luckily for me, I’ve kept up with my tetanus shots, because that big piece of wood had nails sticking out. But once I began to extricate it (classy word for trash-picking, eh?), I was determined that it would be MINE.

David didn’t offer to help. Instead, he said, “Oh, honey…” in that tone of voice that means, “I love you, but right now, I would cheerfully pretend we aren’t married.”

So I dragged it home. I do mean drag, because it’s heavy. I put it in the spare bedroom. I waited until today when David’s at work. I hauled it out. Knocked down the nails. Pried off a half dozen small squares of excess wood that served as braces. Put it up on our kitchen island. And started making plans. BIG plans for my dollhouse.

The way I see it, I saved something from the landfill, I saved money, and I’m moving ahead with my crafts. Next time I walk past that Dumpster, I might just vault over the side and poke around a little more.

Have you ever been Dumpster Diving?

Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher (Part 3)

By Joanna Campbell Slan


Editor’s Note: In Parts 1 and 2, Kiki Lowenstein, owner of Time in a Bottle, has been teaching a two-session class called “The Double-Dip.” This week, her customers brought in one of their favorite dessert recipes, a photo of the dessert, and the recipe to use in an 8- by 8-inch cookbook album. There’s a bit of friction in the group because Iona Lippman and Lisa Ferguson both claim to make an outstanding red velvet cake

Miniature Basket Tutorial

This is a fun project that keeps another bit of plastic out of the landfill. Here are two finished versions of this project.

SUPPLIES:

Empty and clean plastic coffee creamer container
Quilling strip (or strip of paper cut 3/8 inch wide)
Duct tape (optional)
Masking tape (cut into half inch pieces)
Scissors
Punch (optional)
Paper to match or contrast with your quilling strip
Beads (optional)

METHOD:

1. Cut the rim off the creamer container.

2. Carefully cut the container into spokes. (Tip: Follow the indentations.) (Note: You could use a permanent marker and color the base of your basket–the creamer container–at this point.)

3. Tape down the quilling strip.

4. Begin to weave it over and under. (Tip: If you have an even number of spokes, skip two at the start of each round. That gives you a nice alternating woven pattern.)

5. Use bits of masking tape to hold down each new quilling strip row. Otherwise the qulling strip will side up, up and away!

6. When you are as high as you want to go, tape down the end of the quilling strip.

7. Stick a piece of duct tape to a cutting mat or a glass surface. Cut it into a thinner strip. (Tip: Use a craft knife and a cork-backed ruler for this.)

8. Peel off the duct tape and wrap it around your basket. Alternatively, glue a quilling strip around the top of the  basket.

9. Decorate your basket with punched shapes and beads.

Ta-dah! Aren’t you smart? (I know YOU are!)

What You Can Do With a Ruined Tee Shirt

I have no idea how my red top wound up in the wash with all my white and cream clothes. None. Worse luck, I added a cup of bleach to the mix and let the whole mess sit for a couple of hours.

Not surprisingly, this cream top picked up a hint of red (much diluted) here and there.

Rit Dye Remover is expensive, and the top was not. However, I’d been wanting to try Zentangle on fabric, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Supplies:

One piece of cardstock
A fabric pen in black

Method:

1. I didn’t need to iron my top, because I’d hung it up to dry, but your fabric should be smooth.
2. Slip the card between the fabric layers so the ink doesn’t soak through.
3. Choose a steady, flat surface so you don’t have any wobble.

4. Start drawing.

5. Stand back and admire. Notice that I chose a very simple pattern. Less is more in my book. But this still needed something.

6. Let sit 24 hours.

7. Wear and collect compliments. (You’re such a thrifty Craft-anista!)

Note: I used fabric markers that I bought online. I’ve been told that you can also use Sharpies. I suggest that after you let the fabric sit for 24 hours, you iron it on the WRONG side to help heat set the ink. Then wash it inside out in cold water.

Okay, anyone willing to try this? Tell me what you’re going to rescue by adding a tangle!

How to Make Miniature Mosiacs–Or How to Have Your Egg and Eat It, Too

There are tons of ways to make miniature tiles, usually involving Fimo or paper coated with a thick glossy agent, but I think I’ve stumbled on a method that’s easier and more fun…as long as you’re okay with tiles in random shapes. Best of all, it’s a way to recycle and upcycle common items.

Behold! (Ha, ha.) A protein snack that recycles into a table with mosaic inlays or a birdbath.

SUPPLIES for the MOSAICS:
A hard-boiled egg. (an old one is best, if it float when it’s raw, that’s wonderful because that means the inner shell membrane has pulled away from the shell)

In the upper right, you can see some of the various eggshell pieces that I colored. Don’t despair if you miss a piece or two! A white “tile” here and there will look cool. In the lower left is a finished mosaic table top. By putting big pieces of shell on the glue and then breaking the big pieces and moving them around, you save yourself a lot of aggravation trying to glue down smaller pieces.

Waxed paper.
Acrylic paints(and brush) or markers.

METHOD:
1. Roll your hard-boiled egg on a surface and gently peel away the shell. Set on the waxed paper.
2. Let the shell dry. Check that the membrane is dry.
3. Color the shell with the marker or paints. A variety of shades will work best.
4. Let dry.

Supplies for the birdbath. You can also see the weird little plastic stand that’s supposed to be some sort of a kid’s party favor. (Beats me!) Oh, and you can save the lid. Use the foil side as a mirror somewhere else.)

Blogger won’t let me edit the caption above, but you’ll use the same base as shown there for the mosaic table.

SUPPLIES FOR THE MOSAIC TABLE:
1. Small plastic base. (I used some sort of weird kid’s party favor that came in a bag of six or so from the Dollar Store. I have NO idea what a kid is supposed to do with one of these! If you can’t find these, you could stack beads or use a wooden turning or a spool from thread or even make something out of Fimo.)
2. Emery board.
3. Round disk. (You can use chipboard, foam, or wood.)
4. Tacky glue.
5. Acrylic paint. (White)
6. Glue spreader. (I like coffee stirrers from Starbucks.)
7. Gold nail polish.
8. Clear nail polish.
9. X-acto Knife
10. Gold trim if desired.

METHOD:

1. Chip off that weird half circle loop on the side of your plastic stand. (Save it. It makes a great handle when painted. I used cuticle clippers to cut mine off.)
2. Sand the stand smooth.
3. Paint the one flat surface of the round disk white.
4. Paint the stand, the other flat surface of your disk and the edge of the disk with gold nail polish. (You will probably need to put on two coats, especially on the plastic. Thin coats work best.) You can add gold trim to the outside edge/rim, if desired. (For example, a thin gold braid or cord.)
5. When all parts are dry, smear thin layer of tacky glue on a quarter of the white side of the disk.
6. With tweezers, pick up some of the eggshells. Push them color side up into the glue.
7. With your X-acto knife, press down. This will break apart the shells. Move the pieces far enough apart that you can add pieces of a different color.
8. Repeat with a different color until surface is covered.
9. Let dry.
10. Paint with a thin layer of clear nail polish. Be careful! If you use too much, the colors might run. You are aiming to put down a coating so this won’t happen.
11. Add a thicker layer.
12. Glue the mosaic top to the plastic stand.
13. Admire.

VARIATION FOR BIRDBATH:

ADDITIONAL SUPPLY: Metal jelly or honey tub. (Mine came from a lunch at Cracker Barrel.)

1. Prepare the mosaic tiles as per above.
2. Paint the tub and the stand as per above.
3. Add eggshells as per above, but with this difference–when you get to a curve or an edge, you can put glue on the flat side and glue on the edge, then add a piece of eggshell that OVERLAPS the flat side and smoosh into the edge or curve.
4. Assemble.
5. Admire greatly.

VARIATION FOR SCRAPBOOKERS OR CARDMAKERS:

1. Prepare the mosiacs (colored eggshells) as above.
2. Glue them to chipboard letters or glue them around a mat on a photo.
3. Or glue them to a long strip of paper and use as a decorative border.

This is my FIRST miniatures tutorial. I know it’s a little skimpy on the photos, but otherwise, how did I do?

How to Create a Literary Vase

A beautiful fall vase!

I was in St. Louis last week, visiting the Carondolet Branch Library for their Author Breakfast event. On the tables were lovely vases, created by Sarah Zolezzi. As a gift for us authors, we were allowed to take one home. But I walked off and forgot mine! ARGH! At least I took this photo.

Sarah asked library volunteers to bring in their old vases. Here’s what I imagine she did next:

* Wash, clean, and dry the vases thoroughly.
* Rip the pages from old, unloved books.
* Cut the pages into strips of various sizes. (You could also tear them.)
* Dip the pages in a bath of tea or coffee. (Just pour old, leftover tea or coffee into a shallow container and dip the pages in.)
* Allow the pages to dry. (This gives them a uniform “old” coloration.)
* Use Mod Podge to adhere them to the vase.

Isn’t this clever? I love it!

How to Make Paper Beads, Part II

Now that you have a plethora of long, skinny triangles, it’s time to make your beads. For the next step, you’ll need:

1.  A lot of wooden toothpicks or skewers. They have to be ROUND, not squarish. These will be used as spindles. You’ll wrap your paper beads around the toothpicks to shape them.

2. A block of Styrofoam. As you finish your beads, you will stick the toothpicks into the Styrofoam so that they can rest and cure.

3. Glue. I like Aileen’s Tacky Glue. Whatever you choose should dry clear, dry fast, and grip quickly. I’ve tried glue sticks, but they are too mess. I like to use a coffee stirrer or a toothpick to dip into my glue and use as an applicator.

4. Sealer. Some people use clear nail polish. I prefer Diamond Glaze. I like to apply it with a brush.

Next, I’m going to show you my super-secret, super-duper, extra-special technique tip for making beads. You won’t read this anywhere else.

 
1. Put the large end of the triangle in your mouth and get it moist. Not wet! This will cause your paper to lightly grip the toothpick.
 
 
2. Wrap the triangle around the toothpick. Remember: The big end starts on the toothpick. Try to keep your triangle centered as you wrap it. If it gets off centered nudge it with your fingernail.
 
 
 
3. Dab a bit of glue to the tippy end of the triangle and smoosh it down to glue it to the bulk of the triangle that is now rolled onto your toothpick. You should have a slightly ovoid shape, bigger in the middle and tapered on each end.
 

 
 
4. Stab your toothpick into your Styrofoam block. Admire your garden of beads. Paint the beads with the Diamond Glaze and let them dry. You might want to do two thin coats.
 
 
Now we let them dry!
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How to Turn One Plastic Baggy into Three Baggies

Sometimes I don’t want to waste an entire plastic baggy on a small amount of stuff. But I still want to separate out my small crafting items. I’ve learned a simple way to divide one baggy into multiples.

Time it takes:

Shoot, how do I know? (Okay…)
About five minutes or less.

Supplies:


* “ziplock” (press to seal) baggies
* tape (I prefer clear packing tape, but you can also use duct tape or masking tape. The width should be 2 or 3 inches.)
* personal paper trimmer and/or scissors

Method:

1. Start by flattening out your baggy. I slipped a piece of newspaper into my baggy to make it easier for you to follow what I’m doing. That said, it’s MUCH easier to cut your baggy if you insert a piece of newspaper or waste paper as I’ve done here, because it gives the limp baggy some shape.

2. Now use your Fiskars personal paper trimmer–you do own one, don’t you?–and position the bag to cut it. TIP: You will snuggle the top of the bag, with the “zipper,” up against the guiding edge of the trimmer. TIP: Start your cut from the “zipper” down, NOT from the thin edge of the baggy up. If you start from the “zipper” down, the rest of the bag won’t bunch up. NOTE: You could also use scissors. If you do, be careful!

Note that the green “zipper” is flush against the top edge of the trimmer. 



3. Cut the baggy into two or more smaller baggies. Remember–Take the blade up to the top of the baggy, by the “zipper” and cut down to the thinnest part of the baggy.

4. You’ll now have two or three smaller baggies--but their sides aren’t sealed! Hey, we can fix that…
Cut pieces of tape as long or longer than your baggy (measuring from the “zipper” to the bottom). Set these aside. You’ll need one piece of tape for each open side. So, for three baggies, you’d need four pieces of tape. I used masking tape here so you could see what I was doing.


5. Attach the tape to an open side of a baggy–BUT position the tape so that it’s half on the open and half off the open side. See below…

Notice that the tape is half on and half off the open side of the baggy. In other words, if the tape is 3 inches wide, 1 1/2 inches of the tape is stuck to the baggy and 1 1/2 inches is unattached to anything!

6. Flip your small baggy over. Fold the extra overhanging portion of the tape over to seal the other side of the baggy.

7. Press the two sides of the tape together to make sure you get a good seal. If the tape overhangs your new baggy, trim it–but be careful not to cut into the plastic baggy.

The tape is folded over to seal the open edge of the small, new baggy.

8. If you chose to cut the baggy into three smaller baggies, you now have two more baggies to seal up. One (the baggy cut from the middle) will be open on both the right and left sides. Tape both those sides closed.

Here are your three baggies–the one cut from the left, the middle one with two formerly open sides, and the right one (which is flipped over in this photo).

9. And here’s the big question…what will you put in your baggies?
On the left, I have plastic “leather” and a seashell, in the middle are bells, and on the right are charms. These baggies were “sealed” with clear packing tape. At the top of the picture, you can see the baggies I made and “sealed” with masking tape. I prefer the clear tape because the entire bag is then see-through.
So tell me, what’s in your baggy?
Sally and I want to know!
How cute is this? Two emery boards in the package, but we LOVE the graphics most of all
We’ll send these darling emery boards to the person with the coolest answer! 
You have until Sunday September 1 at midnight to answer…and we’ll post the winner on Monday!