Another Christmas Gift I Made

I gave another cousin this bird tray thing:

I bought the wood on sale at the thrift shop, so it’s marked .99 but crossed out and has a .49 written in red next to it. I think it was a little tray of some sort, as it had some deep cuts in the surface that I mostly sanded smooth. I liked the dark frame affect on the Make It Happen plaque I made before Thanksgiving, so I colored the rim and put a couple of birds on it from a stencil. I used the narrow tip again on the woodburning iron; I guess this marks growth as an “artist” to do something other than the biggest, fattest crayon available.

I did even out the bottom before I gave it to her and added some hanging apparatus on the back.

I think I might have another of these trays about, or I might have already burned a ship onto it. At any rate, I find it best to scour garage sales and thrift stores for wood to use instead of going to the craft store and buying blanks of some sort. It’s generally less expensive and more unique. It does not, however, lend itself to an assembly line style of production that would make this sort of thing efficient for profitable craft show item. But I get the sense should I do a craft show, it will be all about getting as close to breaking even on materials and cost of the table as possible.

The Best Christmas Gift I Gave Out This Year

I have a cousin who listens to a lot of hard rock and heavy metal, so this year for Christmas, I gave her a framed hard rock album since I couldn’t find a different one at the thrift stores before Christmas.

I put it in a frame and put some text on a label, and

You know, I could make a bunch of these for craft fairs inexpensively. The album itself was a buck at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale. The frame was $7.49 at Hobby Lobby during its frequent half off frames sales. The label’s cost was negligible as I already had the label maker. So for roughly eight and a half bucks, I could make a bunch of these and try to sell them for, what, $20 or $25?

Assuming I could part with them, of course. It was hard to give this particular article away.

A More Manly Art

There’s something about autumn that makes me want to sit at my garage workbench and work on handicrafts. I think it’s the fact that, for two weeks, the temperature in the garage is between boiling and freezing. But after finishing the two coffee pots, I decided to take up a woodburning project.

On a recent trip to Hobby Lobby on one pretext or another, I picked up a stencil (it’s supposed to be a fabric painting stencil, I think) with an inspirational phrase “Make It Happen” on it.

So I put it on a block of wood.

The text uses a serif font, which means I had to use a fine tip for the serifs. I’m not a fan of the fine tips, as I’m not the most surgical hand in the OR. You can see I made a mistake on the K. Also, it looks as though it’s a little crooked and slightly off-center.

Still.

I don’t know why I’ve taken to woodburning as much as I have. I don’t work freehand; instead I get a stencil or trace something to then use my rudimentary woodburning tool on. So the work I do is pretty primitive, but it’s enjoyable and leaves one with an artifact. It’s like an adult coloring book where you use fire instead of a crayon.

Now that I’ve cleared it off of my work bench, I have room to do something else.

A Couple Carafes Of Note

I know, I know, you’re saying, “Hey, man, you’ve got a Handicrafts category here, and you haven’t posted anything in over a year! What’s the deal? Are you not doing craft stuff any more?” Well, gentle reader, I know you’re not coming here for the copious book reports. Indeed, you must be seeking the crazy craft projects. Rest assured, although I spent most of the spring and summer painting the fence around my yard and look forward to completing that project in 2017, I have spent a little time this autumn doing stuff at my workbench to fill up that handicraft blog category.

The first things I did were a couple of coffee carafes into flower pots.

Continue reading “A Couple Carafes Of Note”

The Corkboard iMac

A couple years back, when I made the laptop mirror, I also decommissioned an old iMac that I’d bought my wife for her birthday somewhere after the turn of the century. It was one of the new-fangled flat ones, not one of the neon colored ones. It sputtered out, and in lieu of spending a lot of money sending it off for repair (or having it done locally), I took the guts out of it and wanted to use it for something.

I’d initially thought of painting some plexi to put in the monitor bezel and then some flashing LED lights inside it. Perhaps a fire motif to make it look a bit like an electric fireplace but without the heat.

I guess I didn’t really like that idea, since I didn’t bother to go through with it in the couple of years I’ve had the iMac case empty even though I’ve bought plexi, LED lights, and paint.

So two weeks ago, I went to a church garage sale, and there’s a little corkboard for fifty cents. I picked it up because I knew I’d use it someday. Which turned out to be soon.

I cut the cork down a little, glued it into the iMac case, filled the rest of the case with foam from old packing materials, and glued the case shut (because originally it relied on internal bits of the computer and monitor housing to stay closed.

And voila! A desktop corkboard.

Continue reading “The Corkboard iMac”

Book Report: Awesome Projects from Unexpected Places edited by Noah Weinstein (2013)

Book coverIn my mind, there’s a line between crafting and Making; I’ve capitalized the m to emphasize the Make movement which is a combination of crafting along with power tools and harder materials. Since many of the projects in this book involve power tools, electricity, and metal, it’s definitely toward the Maker side of the spectrum. You’re not going to do many of these projects at your kitchen table. Most of them require a workshop.

At any rate, the book includes a gamut of projects from embedding objects in an resin tablet top to making a bracelet out of paracords. There are some metal art works, such as a metal flower or metal vases. There are some furniture pieces, including a dining room table made from a recycled bowling alley or a coffee table made from a recycled car tire.

The projects in the book are not junk chic or recycling junk to make new items; some of the projects involve a decent outlay in supplies.

So this wasn’t much what I like to think I do sometimes, but I haven’t done anything of the sort lately. Hopefully checking these books out of the library–before football season even–will inspire me to do something, especially with the junk I’ve already accumulated in the garage.

The projects in this book come from Instructables.com, by the way, so you can head over there to see these and others of their stripe, but not in the handy browseable book format.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Modge Podge Rocks by Amy Anderson (2011)

Book coverThis book is the first book I’ve read this year, and it’s the end of January. My weeks and nights have been fairly busy through this part of the year, friends, and I’m suddenly afraid that I will never again hit the hundred-books-a-year pace I sometimes feebly use to rationalize my hundred-books-a-weekend book buying sprees.

And I got this book from the library, no less, something to flip through during football games. I wasn’t even that good about flipping through books during games this year, and there are no more games, alas. Where was I? Oh, yes, Modge Podge Rocks.

It’s basically a book about decoupage, which is gluing and shellacking paper or similar material to other material. Modge Podge is a popular compound for doing this. You brush some on the surface to which you want to adhere the decorations, press on the decorations, and layer more Modge Podge over the top. There’s not a lot to it, and you can have some interesting effects on stuff.

This book started out as a blog where the author did some decoupage and posted it, and later other people submitted things. And the author got a book deal. Strangely, one of the guest designers is Cathie Fillian, whose television program Creative Juice served as the inspiration for my forays into crafting.

So I’ve done some decoupaging before based on the inspiration from Creative Juice, I’ve gotten away from it and the whole crafting thing because my ideas have outpaced my skill level with these things, which leads to reluctance to start something new.

But I’ll try it again. After all, I have most of a jar of Modge Podge left, and I’d hate for it to go to waste. And by “to waste,” I mean “for twenty five cents at my estate sale.”

So this book has reminded me about this particular crafting style and could serve as a good introduction to those who aren’t familiar with the craft.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: The Little Book of Whittling by Chris Lubkemann (2005, 2013)

Book coverI live in the Ozark mountains now, and I do own a pair of overalls. So why shouldn’t I start whittling as well? That’s what I thought when I saw this book at the library a while back. So I picked it up.

It’s about whittling, which differs from woodcarving proper. That is, the projects and techniques within this book deal with using a pocket knife mostly to cut shapes out of thick branches. It’s not about chiseling statues out of a block of wood. So the projects are short and, unfortunately, small. That’s where the real trade-off in artistry lies. Of course, this course could be a means to get you interested in it and leading to experiments with chisels and whatnot later.

As most of the things are trimmed from branches the less than an inch in width, you get a lot of long and thin things to carve. Backscrathers, forks, spoons, knives, and canoes. Also, some small figures and heads for walking sticks (or walking sticks themselves).

So I’ll be in the market for a pocket knife with appropriate blades for whittling and a good whetstone to sharpen them. I might give it a try, but I’ve been socialized in a world where just sitting and cutting a branch to pass the time isn’t a good way to waste time (writing blog posts for sometimes tens of readers a day: good way to pass the time). I’ll have to get a mindset adjustment if I’m to try it seriously. Which means I probably won’t.

But it’s an interesting book to browse never the less. Also, in addition to the projects and whittling, the book contains sidebars with camping tips, recipes, and other bits that fill out the rest of time outdoors hiking and camping in between your whittling.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Great Wire Jewelry by Irene Frome Peterson (1998)

Book coverThis book describes how to make wire jewelry. As you might now, in my youth, I dabbled into beadcraft. But wire jewelry isn’t beads.

Instead, it uses a variety of stitches to weave the wire and then requires you to draw the finished knit through a series of smaller holes to tighten it into a rope.

It’s a particularly complex bit of engineering with a lot of points of failure, and it works with silver wire throughout. It looks to be a bit expensive to pick up and wrought with opportunities to fail just a little but just enough to render the whole thing ruined.

One does not simply dabble into the wire jewelry. Insert your own Internet meme here with Sean Bean.

So I don’t think I’ll pursue this particular craft. Nor even try it. But the end results look interesting.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Crafting with Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya / Translated by Amy Hirschman (2009)

Book coverYou might think that this book indicates I’ve gone off the rails for good. Oh, but no. This book cover cracked me up. Crafting…. with Cat Hair! I borrowed it from the library, and as we dwelt a little bit to let the kids play on the computers (which they don’t get to do at home), I kept percolating it to the top of my stack and laughing at it. I even got my beautiful wife to laugh at it with me a couple of times.

I mean. Crafting…. with Cat Hair! It’s from Japan (he said, as though that explains the crazy). It’s by a Japanese cat lady. And it was based on a blog she did that got some attention. Because of the crazy.

So, basically, the projects all involve felting the cat fur and using it to adorn something else, mostly other felt squares that you have to treat pretty delicately since cat hair isn’t the best felting material. Were I to felt a little image of a cat (cat iconography being a design of choice for these projects) onto the side of my fedora, for example, it wouldn’t last the first rain.

So it’s not something I’m going to try. So don’t think I’m spoiling Christmas tipping my hand that I looked through this book.

Mostly, I looked at the cover. And laughed. Crafting…. with Cat Hair!

Books mentioned in this review:

Mr. Fix-It, I Ain’t

My wife brought in a keyboard she suspected was defunct and asked me if I would look at it. I did.

The keys work better now.

Computer keys made into pins

As pins.

To do this, I popped them out of the keyboard housing, ground down the posts flush with the bottom of the key, and adhered some tie tacks and small pin findings to the back with some E6000.

One of the challenges with the project is the grinding; if you grind the key surface too thin, it makes a little dimple on the surface of the key.

Still, I have a number of them that turned out all right. My beautiful wife has taken to wearing a Shift key on occasion. I think the F1 Help key would be a wonderful fashion accessory for a technical writer.

The cost of each materials is about 35 cents each for the tie tack, a drop of glue, and the portion of a keyboard. Not too much. But I doubt all keys would be interesting to people.

Book Report: The Stained Glass Handbook edited by Viv Foster (2006)

Book coverThis book really is a handbook instead of a little crafting book. It starts out like a craft book, with a brief history of the art of working with glass, then moves into the tools used with making stained glass windows or painted glass art, and then it goes into a couple of projects with both stained glass and painted glass. Then it goes into a rich and detailed history of glass artistry from the medieval period all the way to the present, with the rises and fall of different techniques (and technologies), and it includes a couple of profiles of individual artists in their eras.

A fascinating introduction that gives you an idea of how to do it and a history of it. Academic and practical.

But not that tempting to me; I probably won’t do much in the way of stained glass in my lifetime (although painted glass apparently has proved to be something I tut-tutted when I read the books on it and then something I tried with mixed results).

On the other hand, I still maintain the lack of urge to do sand art. So it’s fifty-fifty at this point whether my home’s next transom will be a Noggle original. Okay, way less than that. But fifty-fifty that I would be crazy enough to try a transom.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Sand Art by Ellen Appel (1976)

Book coverThis book is pretty much what it says: a book about sand art.

This, like macrame, must have fluorished in an era where quaaludes were a good idea. Actually, sand art comes in a couple forms. One is sand painting; the other is pouring sand into containers and poking it into a shape with a stick until it forms various patterns or pictures. The other is sand painting, where you paint a portion of a picture with adhesive, pour on some sand, shake the excess off, wait for the adhesive to dry, and then repeat until you get what you want.

I was going to go full-bore deprecation here, and I swore that I’d never, ever do something this silly or twee. But as I went along with the book, I started to see some of the challenges in the art form and got to thinking, “Hmmmm…..” I probably said or thought the same thing about glass painting, now look at me.

Besides, that sand art terrarium (a whole set of projects in the book is that 1970s garden, the terrarium) would go well with the beaded curtains in my bedroom.

So it’s a serious book that give artistry and insight into a craft project that I’d seen in the 21st century as a means of keeping kids quiet for a half hour. So if you’re looking to try something new, you might give it a look. If nothing else because it’s an earnest book in a world that might only enjoy it ironically.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Modern Jewelry from Modular Parts by Martha Le Van (2007)

Book coverThis book is pretty much what it says. It uses a lot of hardware store equipment, including thin rods, pipes, washers, and stamped metal to create necklaces, rings, brooches, and ear rings. It’s very similar to Kilobyte Couture in that regard. However, the projects in this book are more targeted to serious designers and very artistic pursuits indeed. One of the project includes small balls made of gold, which in this day and age would make for a very pricey piece of jewelry.

42 pages of the book are given over to tools and to techniques, which includes a lot of metalworking material, including a brief primer on soldering. It’s been a while since I’ve watched an episode of That’s Clever which often featured metal working, but it was a review for me because of that. Not that I’ve ever soldered anything, although I do own two soldering irons. Just in case, you know. Back to my point: This ain’t beading, Grandma. This is Jewelry Design. And Fabrication.

The rest of the book is given to some projects, and in addition to the projects, the book presents photos of other pieces throughout the text, so you can really get a maximum of ideas from the book. But the style of jewelry is too industrial for my taste. So I probably won’t try anything out from within the book. Because I wouldn’t want to ruin the collectibility and resale value of my soldering irons.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Plexi Class by Tonia Davenport (2007)

Book coverTo keep with the recent theme of crafting books on the blog here and to have something to page through for a couple minutes while my children button mashed on the educational computers at the library, I picked up this book. It contains a number of ideas, projects, techniques, and whatnot for working with plexiglass and Lucite.

More than half of the book deals with making different kinds of jewelry and jewelry elements, using techniques like embossing and decoupage to add some texture to create beads, pendants, and the like. The other projects in the book include a tote bag, keepsake box, and whatnot.

Because it’s such a radical departure from the mainline books I’ve read which deal with more straightforward crafting with beads, woodburning, or whatnot, I think I got more out of the book than I do out of those. The material looks to be pretty easy to work with, and it’s not something I might have thought on my own to try manipulating. Whether I actually get to manipulating it on my own or not is another story. But it’s something cool to think about.

As far as material, here’s my thought: Given my recent work with glass and similar projects in mind for the future, it’s far cheaper to acquire glass and plexiglass from yard sales than the hardware or craft store. Simply buy up cheap frames and artwork with the glass or plexi, remove the glass or plexi, and then you can either donate the glassless art and frame to another garage sale. The glass or plexi is your viggorish.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Painting on Glass and Ceramic by Karen Embry (2008)

Book coverThis book is the second of the two books on glass and ceramic painting that I borrowed from the library. It, too, talks about the techniques of painting on glass and includes a section on painting on clay that you’re going to fire in a kiln. Only the first part is relevant to me, if any is at all. The designs, projects, and templates within are a little too cutesy for me, with little frogs and lots of words in script that doesn’t match the kind of things I have in mind. So I guess this is worth a read if you’re into those sorts of things, but I’m not sure if the techniques alone make it worth buying. But if you want to, notice the handy links throughout the post here.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Painting Glass by Moira Neal and Lynda Howarth (1997)

Book coverI know what you’re thinking: the same thing that I thought. “Gee, Noggle hasn’t decided to try any sort of strange new crafting hobby, one where he reads a book on something after getting a notion and then spends a pile of money on it before shelving it when he can’t make time for it in a reasonable fashion.”

Friends, this book is the one you’ve been waiting for.

It’s an old British book (did he call something from 1997 old? Yes, he did. Remember how much simpler things were then?) that has a number of projects for painting on glass. The designs within are traditional, and it’s a book that you read the basics for the techniques and tools and then flip through for design ideas. What do they call that again? Oh, yes, a craft book.

As I said, traditional designs, the silver on blue projects are a winning combination, but the more I read up and look through the design ideas, the more I sense this isn’t a thing I’ll like to do to express myself.

That said, coming soon to Craigslist, hundreds of dollars in misbeboughten supplies.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: The Absolute Beginners Guide to Stitching Beaded Jewelry by Lesley Weiss (2010)

Book coverI paid almost full price (40% of with coupon, so “almost full price” means “more than a dollar”) for this book at the Hobby Lobby because I wanted to make sure I had something to read one warm January day when I was to take my children to the park. However, I didn’t end up reading it at the park–I can’t remember if we didn’t make it to the park or if I didn’t want the Springfield-area mommies to beat me up for being a beading sissy.

So I browsed it while watching football instead.

It’s a collection of stitched bead jewelry projects that shows one how to make the stitches and whatnot. I haven’t done any beading in a year or so, preferring to mix up my cheapskate self-made crafting Christmas giving this year. But when beading, I do like to do stitches which is more complicated and creative than simply stringing some beads and a pendant together. Although I have other reference books that show me the stitches, I’m glad to have picked up this one to freshen and inspire me and to give me some other ideas on how to use different bead sizes in my patterns.

Whether I put those patterns to use any time in the near term, though, is another question entirely.

Books mentioned in this review: