Wednesday, December 18, 2013

G.I. Joe Doesn't Do Pink

Today I tackled a little project that has been on my To-Do List for a while: the G.I. Joe car. If you are expecting an episode of "Pimp My Ride," prepare to be disappointed. If you hate pink (like I do), prepare to be satisfied.

We found this pink Barbie car at Goodwill a year or so ago for $1. In case you haven't priced Barbie Cars lately, that's like finding a $300 beater at the local used car lot with good tires and all working parts. Jackpot. The Joes were tired of hitching rides with Barbie anyhow, so despite the awful color, this car was too good to pass up.

Well, the Joes have been saving their pennies in hopes of a new paint job. The stars must have aligned today or something because that's just what we did. Maaco I am not, and winter isn't really the season for painting cars, but I would venture to say we have improved upon the car. Check it out:

Whoa, that's bright! I find "Barbie Pink" to be an offensive color, and I know
the Joes agree with me. Heck, I think even Barbie agrees with me. So we chose
a nice tan interior color and sleek black for the outside. A Phillips screwdriver
is all we needed to take off the dashboard and windshield and expose the
undercarriage, which needed some anti-rust (read: anti-pink) paint.

See how handy I am with tools?

Voila! I call this work of art "Barbie car, deconstructed."

I painted the underside of the car with black and the top
piece with the tan interior color. I figured an all-over coat
of the tan wouldn't hurt anything - just another layer to
help banish the pink.

I discovered that I do not currently have masking tape.
Bummer, because I needed to do some masking. Instead
I used Contact paper to cover the tan interior and an
Xacto knife to cut the edges precisely around the
folded convertible top. I forgot to take a picture of the
masking job, so imagine perfection and you'll just about
have it ;)

Two-tone brown and black. I always use spray paint
outside because of fumes, and I always find bits of plant
matter and insects in my paint. It always annoys me. Also,
I put on a clear sealer which made the black paint run a bit.
It wasn't completely dry. I'm impatient when paint is drying,
and it takes twice as long in cold weather. I'm sure you
can do this better!

The paint may be a little uneven, but the color is a million times better.
Mr. Joe, in his racing coveralls, is adjusting his mirrors in preparation for
a test drive.
My recommendations for improving this project: 
  • Sand off the raised "Barbie" lettering on the side first.
  • Clean your car and let it dry.
  • Paint on a warm, dry day or in a well-ventilated, climate controlled space.
  • Wait for paint to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat. 
  • Apply paint in multiple, thin coats.
I didn't do all of these things, as you can see. But Joe knows that he gets what he pays for, and I'm definitely the discount paint shop. We are still waiting for paint to dry, but are optimistic that by tomorrow nothing will be tacky (except for the other two pink Barbie cars we own - burn!). 

Can you do a better job? Please post pics of your awesome project on my FACEBOOK PAGE!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stuffed Owl - Mark I.

Buying fabric is a luxury that I can rarely afford. I'm sure you can relate - after the bills are paid, groceries are purchased, and cars are gassed up for the next week of work your wallet is coughing up cobwebs and crying for sustenance. Because of this, I tailor my projects to the materials I have on hand. I do have some cute fabric prints, in small quantities. I have tried a few quilting projects, but  have ended up with some disappointing results. Apparently you need to plan ahead, cut precisely, and have a little patience. Who knew? Anyhow, with Christmas coming up, I got the idea that I would make my kids some homemade presents from Mama. Project #1: stuffed owl.

I made my own pattern from a brown paper bag. Body, wings, belly,
eyes, beak. I stuck with simple shapes and added extra space for
seam allowance.

I dug through my stash and found some fabric options that look pretty
good together. Then I took this beautiful, out of focus photo of it.

I decided to use different prints for the front and back. I pinned the
pattern to the two pieces of cloth with right sides facing.

I used two different prints for the wings too, and folded them over
so that there are four layers of fabric pinned to my pattern piece.

Once everything was pinned, I cut out each piece.

I sewed the wings first.

I turned the wings right side out and pinned them to the inside of
the owl body pieces. This way, when I turn it right side out the wings
will be on the outside.

After sewing and leaving a hold in the bottom for the stuffing,
I stuffed the body until it couldn't hold any more and hand-stitched
the closure.

I chose a purple thread that would look okay if visible and stitched
the belly piece on, turning the edges under as I sewed.

Finished belly.


Next I stitched on the beak.

Initially I chose two brown buttons for the eyes. I wasn't satisfied
with the way this turned out. The beak looked a little wonky and the
eyes were kinda blah. I didn't know how to fix it, so I set it aside for
a couple days.

When I went back to this project the first thing I did was remove the
brown eyes and beak. I scooted the brown beak up a little so it no longer
overlapped the belly fabric. I cut some pink felt to size and sewed that
on. Bright blue buttons stand out much better than the brown ones.

I thought this turned out okay for a first try. Maybe not good enough to try to sell on eBay or Etsy, but perhaps it will make the cut for a plaything for my own kids. I plan to make a bunny for my other daughter. I'm thinking I will use silver thread instead of purple and adapt the pattern from the owl pattern. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Archaeologist Party Attaché Cases

For each birthday party I throw I like to put together some sort of gift bag for the kids. For the cowboy party we did "loot" bags, treasure map bags for the pirate party, for the circus party we used popcorn bags... you get the idea. For this party I wanted to give the kids some research materials on ancient Egypt and archaeologist tools like a notebook, magnifying glass, brush, etc. I decided that these items would all fit nicely in a "leather" case - kind of like Indiana Jones' messenger bag, but not so complex.

Materials: manila folders, masking tape, clear tape, brown paper,
scissors, craft Velcro, and hot glue (not pictured).

The brown paper I used came in a big wrapping-paper roll ($1 at
the Dollar Tree). I rolled out enough to fit the width of my folder plus
about 2 extra inches on each side. I positioned the folder a few inches
away from the nearest edge.

First fold: bottom. Fold about two inches of wrapping paper over the
bottom edge of the file folder and secure with masking tape. Make
sure you have your folder centered in the brown paper.

Second fold: Sides. Fold both sides of your paper over and secure
with masking tape.

Secure the bottom corners with clear tape.

Top fold: This section will serve as the flap on your attache case, so
make sure you leave several inches (about 4) of doubled over paper
above the top edge of the folder. Secure with masking tape.

Use clear tape to seal the sides of the "flap" together.

Fold the manila file folder along the crease. One side (the back/flap
side) should be about 4 inches longer than the other side (the front).
Use clear tape along the sides of the folder forming an "envelope."

I decided that the attache case needed a clasp. A quick rummage through
my crafting supplies revealed this yellow craft Velcro. This particular
type of Velcro has a very low profile, which means it's not super
sticky -- which is good because otherwise opening/closing the case
would tear the paper.

I cut the Velcro to size and secured to the case with hot glue. Be careful
not to burn yourself!

Ta-da! Simple, academic, elegant. Everything an archaeologist could
want. Hopefully...

Several of the finished cases. I got the tiny composition books 3/$1 at
guess where... that's right. Dollar Tree. I printed out some labels that read
"Field Notes - Giza, Egypt" and affixed them to all the notebooks before
putting them in the cases. I am still finishing up the archaeology notes that
will be included but they do have a key to decoding hieroglyphics inside.
Wish me luck on getting everything else finished! (I need it!)

I'm thinking about putting each kid's name on a bag, but I haven't gotten that far yet. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mama Made a Mummy

As you may have heard, I am planning an archaeologist birthday party for my kid who is turning 7 in about a week. At this particular event we will be simulating an Indiana Jones archaeological adventure in Giza, Egypt. One of the components of this adventure is an excavation of a forgotten tomb. I have procrastinated for way too long on some of the party props, including this project.

One reason I have become such a crafty cardboard lover is that I am also one who not only pinches pennies but tries to stretch them out until they become paper thin and turn green. That's right, I'm budget-minded (Read: cheap). So when the cheapest skeleton I could find to make my mummy out of was $30 at Oriental Trading (that's what I get for needing Halloween stuff out of season), I decided I would have to resort to Plan B. Three guesses, and the first two don't count. That's right, I decided to make a mummy out of cardboard.

These were my main supplies: some plastic hangers from the kids' closet, toilet paper rolls,
a plastic skull from last Halloween. I also had corrugated cardboard, cutting implements,
and hot glue on hand.

I used side-cutters to remove the bottom part of three of the hangers and glued all four
together to make the ribs. I attached some paper towel rolls to the bottom of the hanger
using the clips to make the femurs.

Toilet paper bandages. I sewed the headdress and beard piece on my sewing machine
and attached with hot glue.

I sketched out the remaining bones on a sheet of corrugated cardboard with a sharpie.
Arm bones (including shoulder blades), leg bones, pelvis, hands, and feet. As you can tell,
I worked hard to make sure these were anatomically correct. (Smirk.)

I often recommend using a serrated steak knife to cut cardboard, but because of all the curves,
Mama broke out the big guns. This is my handy-dandy Xacto knife kit the hubs got me a few years
 ago. I used the second blade from the left.

I had an audience asking questions and commentating the entire time I worked. Lord, please
grant me patience.

After all pieces were cut out, I assembled them with the hot glue, which BTW is my fave
glue for working with cardboard.

Toilet paper wrappings kinda conceal the artistry (double smirk), but there's a good chance
the archaeologists will decide to unwrap the mummy when they perform their examination.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Picture This: A Barbie Doll Fireplace Upcycle

I picked up this little picture frame at a thrift store yesterday for $3. I immediately
 had an idea of how to use it: Barbie doll fireplace.

The molding around the top makes the perfect mantle and the little frames
that slide out make doors that open up to the fire inside.

I cut some scrapbook paper to size to line the "doors". 

A Google search for "fireplace" came up with a great image for
the interior of the fireplace.

My kid found the printer to be fascinating...

Cut to size, insert in frame... and voila!

Barbie couldn't wait to relax beside the fire! And the great thing about this
fireplace: it can be moved from room to room and dollhouse to dollhouse.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hidden Treasure -- Buried Beneath Some Treasure.

As our young archaeologists prepare for their adventure in Egypt (AKA my son's 7th Birthday Archaeologist Party), they will be disappointed to hear that they will not be excavating an ancient find, but a ship that was found in the desert from approximately 100 years ago. They will be a little less disappointed when they find this:

A fancy, jeweled box! You may recognize this as a wooden cigar box. I used some sandpaper
to remove the text on the box, leaving just a whisper of the gold filigree that surrounded
the insignia. I glued on some pearls and small beads along with a seahorse bead along the
existing lines, filling in the spaces with nail polish for an "enameled" look. Since Dr. Jones'
students are likely treasure hunters at heart, this is a pretty exciting find...

Especially after they open it and see inside! This treasure box is filled with approximately
$5 worth of plastic coins and jewels from Dollar Tree. I imagine it's worth millions.

I'm considering having an Indiana Jones-esque villain come and steal all the gold and jewels.
He will bring a loot bag and instruct the students to empty it into his bag.

But he won't have noticed this...

The box has a false bottom! This is where the real treasure will hide - a clue to finding the
Eye of Horus! I made the false bottom with a piece of non-corrugated cardboard, a bit of
ribbon, and a pin meant to replace a button in a pinch, cut the cardboard to size and pinned
all the pieces together. There is space to conceal a map to a forgotten tomb... And our young
archaeologists will find it!