AIM DIY: Spookily Free and Easy Ghosts

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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.

When I was a kid my mom came up with all sorts of awesome crafts for us to do, and being a typical goth-in-the-making I loved the halloween crafts most of all. One year we made cheesecloth ghosts with balloons and glue and it’s a project that has haunted me to this day.

I decided that I really wanted some ghost friends, but lacking balloons and cheesecloth I decided to make some up, Alison style. (IE: Free, Quick, and Fun.)

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SUPPLIES

  • At least a couple of feet of sheer or thin fabric – old sheets or window sheers work great!
  • All-purpose flour
  • Bottles: Soda, water, or wine. Glass or plastic.
  • Wire or wire coat hangers
  • Plastic bags
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • A bucket or bin to mix your flour paste in

Step 1: The Form

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To begin will make a simple armature out of wire (or out of a wire hanger). Cut a piece about 24″ long, and twist it together to form one big loop.

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Slip the loop over the neck of your bottle, and twist the arms slightly so that they sit securely on the bottle and point slightly upwards. Using a scrap piece of fabric or paper, form a ball shaped head over the neck of the bottle and secure it with a rubber band.

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To make the armature (form of the ghost) easier to remove, cover it with a plastic grocery bag, and secure it with a rubber band.

Measure the height of your ghost form from the base, across the head, and to the base on the back side. Cut a square of fabric this size to cover your form. (This is a great time to tear your fabric instead of cutting, if you want. Frayed edges are a bonus!)

Step 2: Stiffening and Forming the Fabric

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Although flour may not last forever when used as a paste, it works perfectly for a ghost that will only haunt your house for a year or two. Combine 4 parts water with 1 part all-purpose flour in a large container and mix well with your fingers. Soak your ghost fabric, and wring it gently.

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Spread the fabric over the ghost form, with a corner of the fabric pointing forwards.

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Using your creativity (and maybe a clip or two) shape the cloth as creepily as you want! (I loved adding a fold along the “hair line” so that it looked like my ghost was in a cloak.)

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If you’d like, remove some of the excess fabric from the “arms” of your ghost. (Make sure to leave fabric puddled at the front and back; this will ensure that your ghost will sit up when it’s all dry.)

Leave your new little friend to dry overnight, with a fan blowing if you can. When it’s completely dry, gently pull the bottle form out of the stiff fabric. (If it’s not firm enough to stand, you can mix up some more of the flour and water and paint it onto your fabric while it’s still on the form. You may want to use a higher ratio of flour to water.)

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Boo!

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If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can paint right on your ghosts with watercolor or acrylic paints. I have some scary plans for one of mine.

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Use What You’ve Got!

If you don’t have scraps of fabric lying around, this project is also fun with thin paper, tissue paper, or even paper towels. Just make one adjustment: instead of soaking the paper in your paste, lay the paper across your form and paint the paste on with your fingers or a craft paint brush. Saturate the paper slowly and let it fall again the form. You can add multiple layers of paper for more texture (like the tissue paper ghost above) and even cut out a mouth and eyes!

Stick an LED “candle” in it, and things get even creepier!

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Scary Ghost Sound!

What’s frightening you this season?

AIM DIY: Build a Box and Lid

IMG_1006_buildaboxFrom 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 love putting my creative instincts to good use in a 3d world, and that means I get a kick out of building boxes. There’s something magical about turning a little chipboard or cardboard and a little tape into a functional container, and it seems like I have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

The basics of building a box with a lid (which I call a hatbox) are very basic indeed. I drew up a little sample sheet with the very simplest version. Use cardboard or chipboard, scissors or a craft knife, and your favorite tape.


My challenge today was building a gift box for a set of wine glasses. (Recognize the etching process?)

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I measured the length, depth, and height of the set, and got my favorite materials out.IMG_0916_buildabox

SUPPLIES

  • Chipboard Pieces
  • Gummed Paper Tape – I like working with this kind of tape when I’m using chipboard or cardboard. It starts out un-tacky, and when you wet it with a sponge it is like you poured a whole bunch of glue on it. It can be kind of messy, but you can shift it around until it dries, making it very forgiving.
  • Craft Knife
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

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First I cut the 5 pieces for the bottom of the box, and pieces of tape for each seam.

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Since I knew some of the tape would show on the final box, I made sure to cut an angle on any piece of tape that overlapped another piece- especially on corners.

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To place the tape correctly on the board, I first laid the board out perfectly on my mat. I left a board’s width between each piece to allow for them to fold.

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I used a wet rag moisten each piece where I needed it, then attached the tape pieces to my boards.

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I’ve outlined my tape pieces here. The first pieces I placed were the a’s, then I moved on to b, then c.

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I flipped the whole thing over, and started folding up and taping the sides (applying more water to keep the tape sticky and smoothing out any bubbles.)

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With the bottom portion of the box completed, I measured the outside of the completed box and added about 1/8 of an inch to allow the lid to close easily. I chose 5″ at the height of the lid, and built another box like the first, using those dimensions.

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I’m a big fan of a simple kraft colored box, but since this was a gift, I wanted to add a little pizazz. I printed a design on card stock, and cut it down to fit each side of the box lid. I used spray mount to adhere it to the box.

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Then added a little ribbon, a card…
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and a divider inside to kept the glasses from clanking.

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I’m super happy with the way this box turned out– a perfect fit for gifting and storing the glasses.

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I hope you can build off the simple instruction sheet to create the perfect home for your treasures, and of course some treasures for your home.

AIM DIY: Marble Paper with Oil Paints

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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.

Whenever Rachel and I get together there is always a lot of making. We hang out, paint, draw, and then we party (ie: DIY TIMES). In anticipation for this visit, we made lists of possible crafts, and “Paper Marbling” appeared on both lists. Done!

We’d seen several methods, but we had almost all the supplies to marble with oil paints so we decided to try that out first. Having the best oil paints can make creating these easier. But it was a long, fun day; full of “oooooh” and “aaaaahhh,” sunshine, and turpentine fumes. We wanted to share our method and tips with you, so that you can make your own marble marvel.

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Basic Supplies

  • Oil Paint Colors – cheap oil paints should work just fine, we used the M. Graham paints we had on hand.
  • Turpentine – Easily found at a hardware store.
  • Big plastic bin to float the paint in
  • Small containers to mix paint colors and turpentine
  • Cardstock (We loved the colored card stock best!)
  • Disposable bamboo skewers or spoons for stirring
  • Nitrile Gloves

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Step 1: Prep

Before we got started we made a comb by taping toothpicks into a small strip of card stock. The comb was handy for pulling through the colors, and encouraging more “swirly bits.”

We set up our marbling table outside, which I recommend highly. You want to use a table or cover that it’s okay to get paint on. This is a messy craft, to be sure. We set out a tarp for drying our finished papers, put on our gloves and starting mixing things up.

We filled two plastic bins with about an inch or water and set them aside. Then we put out several colors of oil paints in our mixing containers.

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It was a little trick to get the right mix of turpentine and paint, initially. We discovered that the ideal texture was somewhere around the thickness of whole milk.

marbledpaper_IMG_0740We added turpentine to the paint containers in small pours, and mixed it thoroughly with a bamboo skewer. If we needed to add more turpentine we did it as soon as we had the paint mixed to a consistent texture.

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Step 2: Pouring the Paint

Then we just poured the paints on top of the water! Simple. Sometimes we did little drops, sometimes we just chunked it all in.

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Our first batch of color was always full of the same color family, so that as the colors mixed in the water we didn’t end up with a bunch of brown paper. (Towards the end we got a little more daring, and had great results adding in complementary colors to the batches.)

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We got a lot of mileage out of our toothpick combs, pulling them through the paint to swirl the colors together.

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Step 3: Dipping the Papers

Once we were happy with a design, we laid the card stock quickly on top of the swirled colors, and removed it as delicately as we could. (Rachel had a great dunking method that involved bending the card stock down the middle– hamburger style– then rolling down from the middle to the outside edges before lifting from the water.)

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Tada! It was amazing how unpredictable the results were. What you saw on the water might not be at all what showed up on the paper. We loved the look we got towards the end, when there was less paint and it all seemed to be thinner.

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We did two different color stories, one was reds and golds and one was blues and greens. The reds tended to get a little “gory” at times, but looked beautiful on colored papers.

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Step 4: Drying and Future Projects with Marbly Goodness

We laid the paged out for a few hours, while we cleaned all the paint up. When we were ready to go inside we stacked the sheets and set them aside to dry. It took a good 5 days for the oil to be dry to the touch, but now they are, and I have all kinds of ideas about what to do with my collection.

Maybe I’ll revisit an old DIY, what do you think?

The possibilities are endless. I’m okay with that.

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Things We Learned

  • Working outside is key. The Turpentine is kinda smelly, and even with a light breeze we felt like we were standing in the fumes. Working outside also made cleanup a lot easier, with a big trash can and a hose available. Make sure to dispose of turpentine properly!
  • Initially we tried thinning the oil paint with walnut oil, but it did not allow the paint to spread out across the water. We had to drop everything and head to the store for turpentine to make the project come together. I have seen a couple of recommendations online for turpentine alternatives, but we didn’t try any (after the oil fiasco.)
  • If your paint drops to the bottom instead of floating, add a little more turpentine.
  • Sometimes less paint is better. I loved the last sheets we printed from each batch.
  • Opaque paint on black paper is tres cool.
  • Each sheet is cooler than the last, which means you won’t ever want to stop. Ever.

AIM DIY: Love Letter Books for Your Valentine

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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.

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, probably because I’m a big mush at heart. I like to think of it as the Thanksgiving for love– a chance to tell the people you love how special they are, and how much they mean to you.

This year I thought I’d turn all those ideas into a keepsake– a Love Letter Book that two people can pass back and forth until it is filled with compliments, thanks, and well wishes. It’s a perfect activity for kids or adults, and needs only a couple of basic supplies (and the free templates included below.)

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Supplies

• A few sheets of colored card stock or scrapbook paper for your covers.
• A printer, and some basic text weight paper for your inside pages
• A pair of scissors
• A ruler
• A pencil (preferably a mechanical one, you’ll see why.)
• The template pages below

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There are a couple of ways to transfer the template onto your card stock. You can print directly on the card stock (if your printer is up to that), cut out the template form and trace it onto the card stock, or (as I have done here) use transfer paper to transfer the lines to the paper you will use for your cover.

First I lined up the transfer paper under my template and over my card stock…

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Then traced the outside lines with my pencil.IMG_5768
You can see that I also made a mark where the dotted line was on my template.

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Using that mark, I used a the end of a mechanical pencil (lead retracted) to put a score line into my card stock. That will make for a better fold.

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If you aren’t familiar with scoring- it’s a basic process that pushes down the fibers of the paper, and encourages the paper to fold on that mark. Since I am folding diagonally across a sheet of card stock, the score line makes a big difference.

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After I have scored both sides of the cover, I use the smooth end of the pencil to burnish (flatten) the fold.

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I then used the Page Template to cut out a total of 12 hearts, folded them in half, and made two stacks of 6. These will be the inside pages of our two halves of my heart book.

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I took one stack and lined it up with the fold on one side of my cover.

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I made a tiny snip in the bottom fold of the cover and pages to secure my string.

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I cut two pieces of string/ribbon, 12″ each, and wrapped one around the cover and pages on each side, following the fold.

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Then I tied the string firmly in a knot at the top of each heart, binding the heart books together, and leaving me enough extra sting to tie the book closed.

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Once you close the pages and tie the book up you have a lovely two-part book to decorate and fill with love.

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You can write all the things you admire about your best friend, your sister, your daughter…

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and if you’re lucky you’ll read something just as special in the other half of the book.

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Because Valentine’s Day isn’t just for romantic love- it’s time to show your appreciation of all the people around you.

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But hey, if your Valentine is more of the romantic variety,  that’s okay too.

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AIM TODAY: Resolutions for a Creative 2015

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’m not usually one for New Years Resolutions, because I feel like the best resolutions are the ones you come up with throughout the year- the little pep-talks you have to encourage yourself to look at challenges as possibilities.

But if there’s a good time to put all those thoughts together into one big life plan, New Year may be it. So here’s a list of my goals.

Keep Moving Forward

Sometimes it is so much easier to stand still and let the world settle around me. It’s easier to watch TV than try out new tools, which is a blessing and a curse. Of course, we all need some time to relax and watch television, but we need to find a balance between watching our favorite shows and being creative. Currently, adults don’t actually watch that much television on average when compared to other age groups, according to infinitydish.com (to see the cable tv statistics click here). However, I can sometimes spend a few hours watching my favorite shows, so I need to find that balance. It’s easier to be disappointed with the things you’ve already done than be excited about the things you’re going to do next. But if you stagnate and let life become a series of routines then you will stop seeing the possibilities to grow and explore.

So I’m going to let go of 2014. I’ll remember the good, and sweep away the bad. It’s a new year after all.

Do It Quick and Cheap First

Sometimes the ideas come at me in droves, and it’s tempting to go out and buy every tool or supply I could possibly need. But then I’ve invested money and time in a project that might or might not work out. So I’m going to try to do things on a small scale first. Low pressure and low investment to judge how much enjoyment I’ll get out of a project before I take a bigger leap.

Find New Ways to Save Money at Home

New Year is a great time to reflect on your outgoings and to try to find areas where you can cut costs. For example, a friend of ours recently switched home insurance providers and was able to make a big saving. After comparing a few different insurers and policies online, she decided to get home insurance through simply insurance. Comparison websites are a great place to start when it comes to finding the insurance you need at the best possible price. Home insurance is essential if you want to look after your property, so I must take a look too to see if we can get a more affordable home insurance deal.

Look for Challenges

To keep the ideas from drying up, I’m going to seek out challenges and chances to let my brain run. I’ll keep looking at my trash as a source of art supplies, and seek outside inspiration. (If you’re looking for some help on the inspiration front- join our DIY Craft Challenge.) Rather than buying something, I’ll try to make it first.

Cork Robots. Definitely weird.
Cork Robots. Definitely weird.

Try something weird

I’m going to try to do more projects outside of my normal wheelhouse. I’ll use materials I’m less comfortable with, make things that are more whimsical than practical, and just generally try new things.

Cut Back the Pressure

The pressure to make something (especially to make something “good”) can get so overwhelming that I get the maker’s version of writer’s block. So this year I’m going to practice what I preach and give myself a break whenever I feel like I need it.

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Have More Craft Couseling Sessions

Also known as a PARTY. I’m going to try to have more craft parties with my friends, and do all sorts of things I might not do otherwise. I love being surrounded by other people with the drive to make stuff. (Our craft parties take all different forms, but my favorite have always been the ones where everyone brings something to work on, and shares with the group. Like nail polishin’.)

Don’t be a Craft Hoarder

I love to collect tools and supplies– and that can be a problem when my collections get overwhelming. So this year, I’m going to use minimalism as an inspiration to make more (and make faster.) If I don’t use something in a reasonable amount of time, I’m going to get rid of it. That way I’ve either done something, or I have space to put the next thing I DO make. (Sound familiar?)

Look at Everything

I get overwhelmed by what’s going on in my life. (If I say “I’m just so busy” one more time…) Sometimes that means I start living a more internal life, and stop noticing the beautiful things around me. It’s easier, but it’s not sustainable. This year I want to do more looking. Looking at the weird plants in my yard, looking at the work of artists and crafters– just generally seeing more.

Pay it Forward

Finally, I want to keep building a creative community that embraces our need to make, build, problem solve, prettify… you get the drift. I want to help everyone see the creativity in their lives, and chase away the little voice that says “you can’t do it”. (Because you can. I know it.)

I’m sure I’ll have a million other little rules for myself this year, but I think this is a good start.
What are your plans for 2015?

AIM DIY: Number Etched Drinking Jars

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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 used to have a set of numbered glasses that I loved. Each was marked (1-6) with a decal. When people would visit, I would give each their own number, so they wouldn’t mix up glasses. It was lovely.

Unfortunately it’s a partial set now, because they were delicate, and I am clumsy.

It’s been my goal to replace them for some time. So that was my first project when I got the Dremel etching underway.

Supplies Needed

Dremel Micro rotary tool, or similar.
• A Dremel Diamond Wheel Point Bit.
** UPDATED 12/14 – I’ve since started using two different diamond bits with more success. 7105 Diamond Ball Point and 7103 5/64-Inch Diamond Wheel Point
• Printed Number Templates (described below)
• Scissors
• Tape
• Unlabeled Glass Jars – mason or other. I have used salsa jars for my glasses.
• Optional – Sharpie to trace template onto glass.

Safety First

Refer to your tool manual. I have listed my safety gear below, but it might not be adequate for your setup. Take all the precautions you can, and be ready to pay attention to what you’re doing.
• A respirator or dust mask.
• Safety goggles or Safety Glasses.

Tool Tips

• Practice a little bit with the tool to get an understanding of how it works on glass.
• Higher speeds seem to work best on glass.
• Build a jig to hold your glass in place while you work on it. I used a piece of plywood with scrap “rails” attached to it. My jig is painted black so I can easily see my project.
• Rubberized gloves may make it easier for you to hold onto your jar.
• Remember not to etch too deeply into the glass. Don’t hold the bit in one place for too long. Your goal is to make a pattern that is just barely felt when you run your finger across it.

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Measure your glass and decide how large you would like your number to be. (I decided that a 2.5 inch number would be perfect. That’s roughly 180 pt.) Choose your size, and type numbers in your favorite font. Make sure to leave some extra space to cut the templates apart.

Cut the numbers into strips that will fit easily within your glass. You want the paper to be pressed as closely to the glass as possible.

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Use a little tape to hold the paper template in place.

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Now it’s time to etch! First take a good look at your number and make sure it’s straight and located where you want. You will notice that the thickness of the glass will affect the way you see your template from different angles, and it may be difficult to trace the number perfectly. If you like, you can trace the number on the glass with a Sharpie to make sure you have the shape just right. (The Sharpie mark will come off easily after you are done etching.)

Your first etching step (shown above) is to make a light outline of your number, using the pointed end of the bit and a very soft touch.  Try to keep as straight-on to your template as possible– and cut yourself some slack. These are going to be awesome even if you have a stray line or two.

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Once you have outlined the whole number lightly, remove the template and retrace the number to thicken up your outline. Hold the bit close to parallel with the surface of the glass to get a thicker, more consistent, line.

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If you are happy with the shape of your outline, move on to outline the other numbers you would like to do in the same way.

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Voila! You have numbered glasses! But don’t stop there…

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Using the pointed end of the bit, add small designs and lines to the inside of your number. These little additions will look fun, camouflage any mistakes you made with the outline, and make the numbers pop-out on the glass. (This was my favorite part of the whole project. Any opportunity to doodle.)

IMG_2986I’m excited to show off my new glasses, and love that I turned something that should have been recycled into something I can use for years.

Other symbols to try

• Initial Letters for the people who visit often, or to give as gifts.
• Card Suits for game night (Which drink is trump?)
• Astrological Symbols
• Different Speech Bubbles
• Animal Silhouettes
• Punctuation marks (which I love)

What would you make?

AIM DIY: Seed Sling-Shot + Free Template

DIY: Seed Sling-Shot + Free Template
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.

Now, a typical person might throw away the scrappy evidence of a long week of paper making… but no one said I’m typical. My most recent batch of paper contains wildflower seeds, so I decided the scraps would make lovely confetti (and grow, too!)

Using this video tutorial, I made an origami pop-up box perfect for storing a small stash of confetti or flower seeds.

DIY: Seed Sling-Shot + Free Template
I used paper that already had colored pattern on one side, and as an added “bonus”, I printed a corny poem and a thank you message in the box.  So all the people who get one will know to “pull the flaps, fling, and make it bloomy.” I closed each box with a piece of ribbon.

I’m sure you can come up with something less silly- so I’m giving you a pdf template* you can add your own wording to. Click the image below, and go to town!

The template is 8.5×11 inches, and you can resize if you need to. Make sure to use light-weight paper, and fold the printing into the box while you’re working.

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*After you save the file to your desktop, you should be able to open and edit the file in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Reader, it’s available for free here.