Goodbye to Adventures-in-Making!

As of October 31, 2020 We are saying goodbye to the Adventures In Making website. Thank you to everyone who followed and supported us!
You can keep up-to-date with Alison’s work at So, There – Happily Handmade in Issaquah and Rachel’s work at Rachel Beyer – Artist, Designer, Author, Maker

Most of Alison’s projects are below, but if you are looking for a project that isn’t here, it was likely the work of the super talented Rachel Beyer. Some projects may still be available – contact her here.


We hope you all keep on making! The world needs your creativity now more than ever! 🖤

AIM RECIPE: Garden Mint Chocolate Truffles

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

PHOTOS

At his heart, Safety Husband is as crafty as anyone, so when he surprised me with truffle making lessons* for Valentine’s Day I wasn’t that surprised. Turns out truffles are the perfect combination of messy (for me), science (for him), and chocolate (for the both of us.)

Let’s break it down…

Kitchen Tools

In addition to the usual mixing bowls, platters, and spatulas, there are a few things that make chocolate a lot easier. I’ve listed the tools below, along with work-arounds if you’re missing them.

  • Microwave: You’ll need to melt your chocolate, without getting it too hot. We used a short zaps in the microwave to do so. If you don’t have one, you can use a well-monitored double boiler. Another option is to fill a large bowl up with hot water from the tap, and set a bowl on top of it: given enough time, the steam should bring the chocolate up to a nice liquid temperature.
  • Infared Thermometer: Just point this sucker at a surface and you get a quick sanitary temperature. Other kitchen thermometers will work in a pinch, just make sure to stir well before testing the temperature and leave the thermometer in until you get a true reading.
  • Chocolate Chipper: This guy is a huge help in breaking up the slab of chocolate into smaller pieces, but it’s not absolutely necessary. You could use a strong knife, ice pick, or many other kitchen tools to do the same thing (just not as easily.)
  • Kitchen Scale: There’s not really a work around on this one. You’ll need a scale that will tare (to ignore the weight of your bowl). We use both a digital scale and a simpler (non-digital) taring scale for various things when cooking.
  • Small Scoop: You will scoop small balls of chocolate and roll them with your hand. If you don’t care as much about the shape of the truffle, a spoon will work too.

Good Chocolate makes Good Chocolate

In the class, the teacher stressed that it’s best to use quality chocolate and fresh cream- and to try a bunch of different types to see what you like best. We’ve been using a Gourmet Bittersweet purchased from the Chocolate Man in Seattle, and used cocoa from them as well. I’m excited to try a million different kinds of chocolate- but I have learned the lesson that having truffles readily available stretches self control to its limits.

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Garden Mint Chocolate Truffles
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Alison – Adapted from the Chocolate Man in Seattle
Serves: 36 pieces
Use fresh mint and a touch of mint extract to build a well rounded and very minty truffle. (Not a fan of mint? Leave it out and you’ll have amazing basic truffles.)
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup Cream?
  • 8 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 1 oz. Fresh Chopped Mint
  • 1-4 drops of peppermint extract (to taste)
  • 1 cup Cocoa Powder
Instructions
  1. Measure out 8oz. of chunks of chocolate in a large microwavable bowl.
  2. Microwave in small zaps– 10-20 seconds at a time– stirring in between until most of the chocolate has begun to melt. The warmer portions should melt the remaining chunks while you stir. (It takes us approx. 60 seconds to melt the chocolate.) The chocolate should never get above 165˚; it should be more like 100˚
  3. Pour cream and mint into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, then remove it from heat. Allow cream to cool to approximately 105˚.
  4. Taste cream and add a 1-4 drops of peppermint extract to taste.
  5. Pour the cream and mint mixture over a strainer into your melted chocolate. Immediately begin to mix the cream and chocolate with quick strong strokes. Make sure to get all the cream and chocolate off the sides of the bowl into the main mixture.
  6. When the chocolate mixture is completely mixed, cover your bowl and set in a cool dry place to harden overnight.
  7. When the chocolate and cream mixture (ganache) has cooled, it’s time to roll the truffles.
  8. Fill a small bowl with cocoa.
  9. Scoop a ball of ganache, and drop it into your hand. Quickly roll the ball into a sphere, then drop it in the cocoa.
  10. Roll the ball through the cocoa powder to coat the sides, then gently place it on a platter.
  11. Repeat until you have turned all the ganache into truffles.
  12. Cover and refrigerate the truffles for up to 10 days.

Day 1: Making the Ganache

IMG_5771_minttrufflesMeasure out 8oz. of chunks of chocolate in a large microwavable bowl.
Microwave in small zaps– 10-20 seconds at a time– stirring in between until most of the chocolate has begun to melt.

IMG_5779_minttrufflesThe warmer portions should melt the remaining chunks while you stir. (It takes us approx. 60 seconds to melt the chocolate.) The chocolate should never get above 165˚; it should be more like 100˚

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Pour cream and mint into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, then remove it from heat. Allow cream to cool to approximately 105˚.
Taste cream and add a 1-4 drops of peppermint extract to taste.

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Pour the cream and mint mixture over a strainer into your melted chocolate.

IMG_5786_minttrufflesImmediately begin to mix the cream and chocolate with quick strong strokes. Make sure to get all the cream and chocolate off the sides of the bowl into the main mixture.

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When the chocolate mixture is completely mixed, cover your bowl and set in a cool dry place to harden overnight.

Day 2: Forming the Truffles

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When the chocolate and cream mixture (ganache) has cooled, it’s time to roll the truffles. Fill a small bowl with cocoa.

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It’s handy to have cool, dry hands when you’re working with the ganache; but no matter what you do, you will be covered in chocolate. Might I recommend an apron?

Scoop a ball of ganache, and drop it into your clean, dry hand. Quickly roll the ball into a sphere, then drop it in the cocoa.

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Roll the ball through the cocoa powder to lightly coat all sides, then gently place it on a platter.

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Repeat until you have turned all the ganache into truffles, or you get too full to finish and just start eating it with a spoon.

Storing and Gifting

Cover any remaining truffles and store in your refrigerator. They are usually best eaten in the first week.
If you’d like to share the love, you can get really creative with your presentation, or keep it simple by wrapping them in a small covering of parchment paper.

Ours didn’t last long enough. We really like chocolate.

*If you’re in the Seattle area, I highly recommend the “Introduction to Truffles” class at Chocolate Man. It was a great experience, and made us feel really confident about experimenting with different methods. You can tell Bill really loves chocolate, and science, and teaching. Chocolate Man also has a great selection of pre-made chocolate creations, chocolate supplies, and even tools to rent (CHOCOLATE. FOUNTAIN.)

AIM DIY: Quick Printable Catnip Kicking Bag

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

In typical cat fashion, my kitties seem to like toys that are not intended to be toys at all. You might think it’s a child-safe plug cover, but they think it’s the neatest thing since canned tuna. For a while they have been sharing a repurposed jack-o-lantern drawstring bag filled with catnip- and I decided it was time to give them something a little nicer. They do love the scale of the jack-o-lantern bag, which is long and wide unlike most catnip toys, so I decided to replicate the scale with a super-simple catnip kicking bag.

I wanted to customize the bags a bit, and I kept thinking about the lovely art Tara Bliven shared with us last month. I asked if she would write up a few feline words for us, and she did! You can use the free printable below to make this cat toy even cattier!

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Supplies for two Bags

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Download and print out the Cat Fabric according to the specifications on the package.

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Cut the fabric in half to make a sheet 10″ x 3.75″. Peel the backing paper off the fabric and stack it on top of the two pieces of thick fabric- with “right sides” facing out.

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Stitch, 1/2″ in, around three sides and leave the fourth open.

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Pour at least a teaspoon of dried catnip in the middle of your pocket…

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Close the last side of the bag, and trim around it with pinking shears to limit fraying (and add character.)

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Repeat with the second set of materials, and you’re done! A super cute sewing project that’s quick enough that you won’t mind when your kitties shed all over it. Now for the fun part…

(Warning, you are about to be bombarded with too many pictures of my kitties.)

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The dangers of catnip trips. Very unflattering photos.

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Success.

A couple of notes

  • The printable fabric is quite thin and I didn’t trust it to contain the catnip for very long, so I used it as an outside layer only. The catnip itself is contained within two layers of thicker fabric.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try this tutorial to make your own printable fabric!
  • If you are worried about your print running, try this vinegar bath solution to set your ink.
  • Tara is a wizard at decorative writing (and many other arts). Visit her website tarabliven.com  to find out how you can bring more of her awesomeness into your life.

AIM DIY: Add a Kitten Pocket with Polish Remover and Sharpies

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

I like to “joke” that I have a kitten biological clock. Every couple of years I start thinking about how much fun kittens are, and how cute, and how nice it would be to have the pitter patter of little feet.

Dangerous.

To nip this in the bud this year, I’ve signed up for some future fostering, and came up with this little kitten pocket to bridge the gap. It’s based on a picture of Wee Cooper (our last kitten) and I thought I would share it so you can all have a kitten pocket of your very own.

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Supplies

  • Cotton Tote that kneads needs a kitten. It’s important to use cotton or another natural material because acetone can eat through a lot of synthetic materials.
  • 100% Acetone finger nail polish remover.
  • Cotton pads, balls, or rags.
  • Bone folder or similar tool for burnishing
  • Masking Tape
  • Sharpie Markers – Black and Silver
  • This kitten template* printed with a laser printer or copier. Use the reversed image on the right for transferring.

Step One: Printing and Prepping Your Template

Use a Laser Printer or Copier to print the Kitten Template* on a normal sheet of paper. Black and white is fine. It’s important to use a printer or copier that has TONER instead of ink. The transfer process with move some of that toner onto the fabric. If you try it with ink you’ll end up with a mess!

If you don’t have access to a toner-based printer or copier, or this process doesn’t work for some other reason, never fear! You can use a light table to trace the kitten on your bag, or use transfer paper to apply the design. You can see examples of those processes here and here.

After you have printed your page, cut out the cat and pocket on the right, leaving a large border.

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Step Two: Layout Your Design

Decide where you want to put your kitten, and tape it firmly face down on your bag. Make sure everything is as straight and tight as you can make it.

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Step Three: Blot and Burnish

Saturate a cotton pad with acetone, and press it into the paper. You will start to see the design through the paper. Saturate a small portion of the design with acetone, then switch to burnishing with your bone folder. Rub the side of the bone folder on the paper to press it firmly down into the fabric. Repeat on small sections of the design, then go back over each portion one or two times, adding more acetone and pressure.

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If you can, peak to make sure that you have transferred the kitten. If not, you may want to repeat the process with more acetone and more pressure. If you see the design, move to the next step!

If you don’t see anything at all, there’s a chance your printer won’t work for this process. Don’t fear! You can use a light table to trace the kitten on your bag, or use transfer paper to apply the design. You can see examples of those processes here and here.

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Step Four: Fill it in

If you used a smooth material and have a good transfer you could skip this step altogether– it’s up to you. If you’d like, use a black Sharpie to darken in the design. You can use the left side of the template as a reference for portions you can’t see as well on the transfer.

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When you have the kitten filled in, use a silver Sharpie to add in the whiskers. It will show up on the black of the kitten and on the light bag as well!

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When you’re done let it dry for a couple of minutes, pile all your stuff in it, and take a kitten everywhere you go.

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Purrfect.

*Kitten template includes an original illustration by Alison Lang. We’re happy to share files for personal and educational purposes, but please don’t use it for anything else without our permission. Thanks!

AIM DIY: Recycled Rainbow Mobile

From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

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Rainbows are amazing. They’re awe inspiring in the sky, they are a great way to organize things*, and they are just plain magical.

This little recycled rainbow mobile tries to be a few of those things- and has the added bonus of being a nifty reason to doodle.

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SUPPLIES

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Use the thick material punch to cut circles out of every piece of plastic you can find. Don’t worry, the idea of using recycleables for art will make you look insane. Embrace it. (;

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Use your rainbow of markers to doodle decorations on each circle. It’s okay if you have an uneven amount of some color because you think orange is terrible, just have fun!

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Tie three strings to your top ring, and tie those three together to hang the ring parallel to the ground. Find a place to hang this ring while you work.

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Choose one of your most popular colors (purple for me), and poke a small hole near the top of each piece with a safety pin. Cut a piece of thread approximately 12″ long, and string it through one of the holes. Tie the ends of the thread together, and attach it to the hanging ring using a lark’s head knot. Repeat this for each circle of this color.

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Choose the next color in the rainbow (blue in my case) and poke each piece like you did before. This time add two inches to your thread for a length of 14″. Attach each of these pieces to your ring.

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Continue by adding 2 inches to the length of each new color until you have tied all of your pieces to the ring.

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When you have finished, hang it in a bright window and watch it sway and catch the light.

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See, sometimes trash-art is fun!

*I may or may not be one of those people who sorts books by color. My librarian mother may be driven insane by this fact.

AIM DIY: Watercolor & Wax Paper Jewelry

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

Sometimes I come up with a project that I enjoy so much that it’s hard to stop to write a post. This, my friends, is one of those.

It’s a simple combination of watercolor, melting wax, and punching shapes- but it’s oh so satisfying.

SUPPLIES

  • Thick paper for Watercolor
  • Watercolor paints and brushes
  • Pencil
  • Straight Edge
  • Paraffin Wax
  • Scraping Tool, like a vegetable peeler.
  • Iron, ironing board, towel or other surface to catch wiley bits of wax
  • Parchment Paper
  • Scissors
  • Large Thick Material Punches (optional but recommended) I used circle punches in 2″ diameter, 1.5″ diameter, and 1″ diameter
  • Small hole punch
  • Thin cord or ribbon
  • Jump Rings (optional)

Step One: Paint it

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Gather your paper, pencil, straight edge, paints and brushes.

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Draw several parallel lines with your pencil to create stripes of varying widths.

Begin filling in each stripe with a color in the order of the rainbow. (ROY G BIV –  Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet).

If you fill a small stripe, use a similar color next to it (Orange red and Red for instance.) It’s okay if your paint is a little irregular, or you have small white spaces.

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Now it’s time to paint the back of your pendant. Draw some non-parallel lines on a new piece of paper, and fill them in with some of the same colors you used on the other side. Leave a little white space as well. Set your paintings aside to dry.

Step Two: Wax it

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Now you will need your ironing setup, parchment paper, and wax. You might have a little wax escape during the ironing process, so it’s a good idea to have a scrap towel or cotton fabric to protect your ironing board. Remember to keep an eye on your ironing so you don’t singe anything!

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Sandwich one of your dry watercolor sheets inside a piece of parchment paper. Shred a pile of wax on top. (You can always add more wax, so this is a good time to play!)

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Turn your iron to it’s lowest setting, and gently melt the wax between the sheets of parchment paper. You will see the paper start to look wet. Continue working the liquid wax into the paper until it starts to be consistently translucent. You may want to add more wax.

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Flip your paper over, and add a pile of wax to the other side. This will be the “glue” that holds your two sides together.

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Lay the other piece of paper on top of that pile…

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shred some more wax on that, and iron again following the earlier instructions.

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Continue to add wax until the papers are translucent and consistently wet looking. When you’re happy with the look, put a little bit of weight on the stack, and let it cool for a couple of minutes.

IMG_6356_waxedpaperjewelryWhen it is still warm, but safe to touch, uncover the paper, and use your finger or a tool to smooth any puddles of wax. (Playing in wax is one of my favorite things!) Now let it cool completely (a few minutes.)

Step Three: Punch it

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I am loving these thick material punches from Fiskars. I have long abused normal paper punches, and they have a habit of breaking at the worst possible moment. These punches go through everything like butter.

IMG_6361_waxedpaperjewelryUse a punch (or scissors) to take shapes out of your waxed paper…

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until you have a nice little pile of shapes to work with. To turn solid shapes into pendants, punch small holes on one or two sides. You can run cord through these holes (or attach jump rings.)

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After you have everything cut out, polish the shapes by using your fingers to rub excess wax off the surface and edges.

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Feed thin ribbon, cord, or chain through the holes in your pendants. You can feed your cord through, wrap it several times, or tie a lark’s head knot. Anything goes! Leave enough room to slip the necklace over your head, and you’re set.

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Double sided rainbow pendants!

Now I want to wax all the paper. Someone stop me before I go too far!

AIM SHOW+TELL: Spray Paint a Briar Rug

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

There once was a girl named Alison who had an awkward entry space and no good options. She went searching for a rug to protect what was left of her ugly carpet. She went to store after store with no luck, instead bringing home a rug that was so bland it made her cry.

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No really. I could find NOTHING that I liked. Everything was either too small, too bold, to “contemporary”, or too “tempting for a cat to destroy.” I decided that bland was better than something that was REALLY not me. However, I got inspired buy the rugs Bazaar Velvet creates and I grabbed a can of spray paint.

This month’s theme was a great chance to embrace my inner subtly-secret-goth-girly-girl and decorate the rug with a few briars (á la Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose.)

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I used Con-Tact paper to make a mask for the rug. I cut a bunch of free-hand curved pieces, and laid them across each side of the rug in a random arrangement. When each piece was in a location I liked, I stepped on it to adhere it to the rug firmly ( are an awesome tool, too!) Once I had the stems all lined up, I began to decorate each with triangles of thorns.

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When I was happy with everything, I sprayed a thin layer of white all-purpose spray paint across the rug, paying special attention to the edges of the mask. Then I tortured myself by leaving the whole thing to dry a few hours before removing the mask and seeing what it was going to look at.

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After those couple of hours, I gently peeled the mask material off of the rug…

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and had the big reveal.

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After airing the rug out overnight, I put it in place in my entry space.

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No more bland rug!

Here’s a word of warning: This was so fun and transformative that I want to spray paint everything in the house now.

I’ve got my eye on you, dining rug… what do you think about circles?

AIM DIY: Patio Friendly Pile-Up Cushions filled with Styrofoam Peanuts

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From 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

The weather was nice for a few days in April, uncharacteristically, and began the countdown to the Pacific Northwest Summer. Ahhh; the handful of blissful weeks that makes you fall in love with the trees again, and wipes the memory of the last 8 gray months.

Safety Husband and I have been trying to be more mindful, and that extends to the way we interact with our home. We are who we are [not catalog people] and we want everything at our house to be conducive to the way we live. We have several outdoor areas that would make great external living spaces, but we haven’t done a great job of outfitting them for the task.

All this to explain why I decided I needed to make a giant pile of outdoor cushions that I could lay upon like the Princess and the Pea. I wanted them to be cheap, washable, refurbishable, and also work with our inside decor. Fabric and wood don’t do well outside over the Seattle winter, and I can’t store things in out non-existent storage space. So I put together a handful of pillow forms from scrap material, filled with recycled styrofoam peanuts; then covered them with painted canvas covers. In one afternoon I had 7 assorted cushions, and dreams of the perfect summer.

SUPPLIES

  • Fabric scissors and optional pinking shears
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Pillow Form Fabric: approximately 24″ (2/3 yard) of 45″-wide lightweight scrap fabric per pillow
  • Pillow Cover: approximately 24″ (2/3 yard) of 52″ to 60″-wide canvas-type material per pillow
  • Styrofoam Peanuts: about a grocery sack full per pillow. Make sure that you are using styrofoam peanuts instead of the cornstarch ones that melt under water. Imagine the mess!

DECORATING SUPPLIES

Step 1: Making the Pillow Forms

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Take your scrap pillow-form material and fold it so that the selvedged edges touch. Cut the other two sides with pinking shears so that you have an approximately 23″ square (45″x23″ unfolded.) Sew a 1/2″ seam along the two pinked edges, then do the same for about half of the remaining side.

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Fill the form about halfway full with peanuts, then sew the opening closed to seal your pillow form.

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Hire a professional to test the security of your stitching.

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Repeat until you have run out of material. (I made 7 pillows so that I could make a GIANT PILE.)

Step 2: Making the Pillow Covers

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There is dirt outside, so you want to make sure that your pillow cover can be easily removed and laundered; this also means you want to pre-wash your fabrics so there is no future shrinkage.

Cut your fabric to about 23″ wide. With the back side showing, fold the width of the fabric into a tube about 22″ wide. The overlapped pieces will make the flap for inserting and removing your pillow form.

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Stitch up the two open ends of your tube approximately 1/4″ in.

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Then turn the cover inside out using the open flaps. Make sure to press the corner all the way out with your finger or a pencil.

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Stitch around the outside edges of your pillow cover, about 3/8″ in- then you’re done!

Step 3: Decorating the Cushions to Match your Life.

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Decorating the pillows was definitely the biggest fun in this project (other than sitting in the sun on the cushions later.) If you’re a selfless person, you could share that fun with your family and friends, and let each person design a mask for their own pillow. Masking the pillow is as easy as using tape and scissors. Build shapes out of strips of tape, or cut shapes out of contact paper. (ABOVE: I used a compass to draw circles, then cut and arranged them on the front of my cover.) You could have the initials of everyone in your family, silhouettes of your pets and favorite animals… anything really.

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Once you’ve settled on a masked design, take it outside and spray it down with your fabric spray paint. (I used Tulip Color Shot Fabric Color which is washable and flexible.) Remember that spray paint doesn’t ever go on consistently, so embrace the irregularity and leave some patches lighter than others.

After you’ve got a nice coat of paint on, let your cover dry for an hour or so before pulling off the mask.

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Then let your covers air out for a few more hours.

When everything is dry (not sticky or smelly) you can put your pillow forms into your covers. Slip the form into the open flap, then push it down under the inner over-lapping flap. Press the corners of the form into the corners of the cover and shake and stomp it until everything looks nice.

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Then build the tower of pillow on which you will reign.

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Or, you know. Share with your friends.

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Wheeee! Pillows.

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AIM DIY: Paper Maché Birdy Penny Bank

IMG_4952_birdybankFrom 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

My friend Tara is a paper maché inspiration. A couple of years ago she made a couple of piggy banks that were so amazing I decided I needed to make a bank of my very own. A birdy bank.

I love that papier maché gives you the opportunity to make basically anything out of recycled materials. This is a great project for kids and adults alike- just be ready to take it in shifts over a couple of days so that the form has time to dry between each coat.
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Basic Supplies and Tools

  • A table cloth or paper cover and an apron. This is a wonderfully messy project!
  • A balloon
  • Newspaper
  • Flour and water (to make paste)
  • A piece of chipboard (like scrap from a cracker box)
  • This template for the feet, beak, wings and tailfeathers (which you will cut from chipboard.)
  • Masking Tape
  • Glue – Hot glue works great, but other thick glues work in a pinch
  • Scissors and craft knife

Finishing Supplies

  • Sand paper or sanding block
  • Acrylic paint
  • ‘ glue or similar
  • Brush

Step One: Starting the Paper Maché and Form

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Blow up one balloon about 5.5″ in diameter, and crumple up a piece of paper to make a head about 2.5″ in diameter. Tape the “head” to the balloon*, roughly the opposite side from the tied end.  (If you would prefer the inside of the birdy to be smooth, cover the balloon with a layer of paper maché before attaching the head.)

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To make your simple paper maché paste, mix one part flour with one part water. (You can change this ratio if you prefer a more watery or thicker paste. Practice makes perfect.) Stir the paste with your finger until it is smooth.

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Tear your newspaper into small strips and pieces and begin to coat your body form with a layer of newspaper. Dip each strip into the paste, and pull it through your fingers to remove excess paste and moisture.

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Overlap the pieces of newspaper on your form, and cover all but the tied end. It may be helpful to set the balloon on a cup or bowl to lift it off of your surface.

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When you have completely covered the form with one layer of newspaper, set it aside to dry. If you have a fan or space heater, set this little guy in front of that and it will dry faster. Make sure to let it dry almost completely before moving to the next layer of material, or you will have a soppy mess. At least wait a few hours.

Step Two: Adding more Detail

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Since your bird looks nothing like a bird yet, it’s time to add some appendages. Download and print this template and cut each of the pieces from a piece of chipboard.

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To build the birdy legs, cut into one side of the chipboard as shown, and roll the other end into a cylinder. Secure the roll with a couple of pieces of tape.

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Then tape across the foot to attach it to the leg. The flap left at the end of the leg will be glued to the base of your balloon form.

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Roll the beak to form a cone shape, and tape it in shape. Stuff a little piece of paper into the open end of the cone to make it easier to attach to your birdy head.

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Glue works best to secure the wings, legs, beak, and tail feathers to your form. Hold them in place until the glue is holding firmly. When everything is in place, begin to add another layer of papier maché,  covering all the new parts of your bird in addition to adding another layer to the main form you’ve already covered.

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As you add paper, make sure to leave the end of the balloon visible; this is where you’ll be breaking the balloon and pulling it out. Paper maché is very forgiving and it’s easy to cover up this hole.

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When you’ve covered the form with one or two layers of paper, let it dry again. You may find that you have to stop before you’ve completed covering the whole thing because life gets in the way of your messy fun, or your messy fun become a little too messy. No worries! Just make sure that your paper is as smooth as you can make it, and let the bird rest.

Step Three: Removing the Balloon and Making this Guy a Bank

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Yes. It looks silly. That’s okay, the best things are silly. When your form is completely dry, you’re ready to remove your balloon. Gently grip the balloon’s knot, and pierce the balloon to let the air out. As it shrinks, it should pull away from your paper. If it sticks in a spot, gently pull it out of the hole.

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No bank is complete without a place to put the money. Mark a line down the back of your bird, between the wings, about 1/4″ wide and 1.5″ long. Use a craft knife to carefully trim out the piece you’ve marked.

To finish the bottom of the bank, you have a couple of options. You can either add an access hole for money to be removed or go with the ol’ piñata method– keep the money inside until it’s time to smash! (Which is definitely satisfying.)

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If you’d like to make your bank reusable, find a small lid or something else that would work as a plug. Trace around the shape and cut any extra paper. It you’re having trouble keeping the cover in, trace it onto a scrap of chipboard and make a ring the perfect size, then glue that on top of your form and cover it with paper. The chipboard with provide a little extra stability. (Yes, I know this all looks kinda amusing. Giggles are allowed.)

Step Four: The last of the Papier Maché

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If your form is feeling pretty secure, it’s time to start adding the last layer of papier maché. The paint will not completely cover the paper (unless you want it to) so this is a great time to start having fun with your paper color and prints. Save gold and orange colored paper for the beak, cover the wings and head in dark colors, and use white newsprint for the breast. When you’re happy with the way it looks, let it all dry overnight!

Step Five: Sanding and Painting

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If you’re anything like me, your form will need a little sanding. USe sand paper or a sanding block to smooth off any edges of paper, clumps of paste, or rough edges- making sure not to sand below your papier mache layers.

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To make a transparent paint layer, mix equal parts glue and white acrylic paint with a little water.  (Add more glue for more transparency, or more paint to cover the paper more opaquely.)

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Gently apply a layer of paint and glue to the whole form and let it dry.

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When it dries you will still be able to see a lot of your newspaper pattern. If you like, add another layer of white paint, or start to add more colors to bring out details. To keep some of the transparency, you can water down your colored paints and streak them across your form.

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Let it all dry, and get ready to fill it with money!

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Using this balloon method you can make pretty much any animal you want! I’d love to see!

AIM DIY: Turn a Tea Towel into the Simplest Apron

IMG_4401_teatowelapronFrom 2014-2016 I chronicled my crafty endeavors on the site Adventures-in-Making. I’ve selected a few of those DIY’s, Recipes, and other posts to share on the site.

My cooking style is much like a cartoon: with ingredients flying everywhere, sauces spilling across every surface, and flour covering every inch of my clothing.

Aprons and abundant cleaning cloths are an absolute necessity. Since I like to cook my aprons need frequent washing, so I set out to make one to spare from a fun tea towel. (Before you ask, this lovely tea towel is from Seattle local Sunday Drive Designs.)

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SUPPLIES

  • One pre-washed and lightly ironed tea towel
  • About 3 yards of fabric ribbon
  • Corresponding thread
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • A sewing machine or hand needles

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This design breaks down very simply into a tie around your waist, and a loop around the back of your neck.

Start by holding the tea towel up in front of you, and marking with a straight pin where your natural waist is. (For me, it was about 1/3 of the way from the top of the tea towel, at about 9″.) Cut a length of about 2 yards from your ribbon, and pin it across your tea towel at the point you marked.

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Cut two more lengths of ribbon, on 12″ long and one 24″ long. One each piece, fold about 1″ underneath, and pin to one of the upper corners of the tea towel.

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Now to the sewing! I used a straight stitch on my machine to attach the ribbons to the tea towel (which I show below) but if you don’t have a machine, don’t fret! You can hand stitch these pieces on without too-much trouble, just give yourself a little time.

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If you’re using a machine, follow the waist tie with a straight stitch, about 1/4″ from the edges.

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Then tack the neck straps on each side. (I stitched an “X” shape across the tab for reinforcement.)

With all the ribbon ties attached, slip on the apron and tie the pieces.(The knot of the neck strap will be on one side, since one strip is longer than the other.) Check the length of all the pieces, and trim the ends off of any of the pieces that are way too long. Make sure not to trim any of the pieces too short! You might want to share the apron with someone who is a different size.

Once the pieces are trimmed, take off the apron to finish the edges of the ribbon.

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Fold about 3/4″ of the ribbon under, then fold again to hide the raw edge of the ribbon. Pin it flat, and repeat on all of the raw edges.

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Finish by stitching the fold down on each end. Bang! Done.

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Super simple (and cute) protection from dangerous food-shrapnel.
No more will people know everything about you by the stains on your clothing. You can hide those stains on an apron instead.

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Sneaky.