paper suitcases from t-shirt boxes

June 27, 2012 § 24 Comments

Hours and hours flew by as I made our wedding favor boxes: paper luggage.

At first I thought: it’s just a t-shirt box and I only need to repeat the process a dozen times, it’ll be a cinch.   I didn’t consider the hours alone on painting each side of the t-shirt box into our wedding colors.  Nor the time to contemplate and execute the paper details like the corners, straps, handles, and Velcro enclosures.

What was most important is these need to be compact.  These suitcases will be traveling from Toronto to New York to Las Vegas afterall and, well, they have to fit in our big suitcase before they are given away to our guests and vendors the morning of the wedding.  So I made sure to maintain the ability to fold and unfold these in the same way they came when they were t-shirt boxes, but also have the ability to attach and detach items that easily convert them into luggage.

We’ve called them our “Keep Cool” kits, as they will contain relief from the Vegas and Grand Canyon heat.

Tutorial to follow after the wedding!  Keep posted!

paper clip christmas cards

December 15, 2011 § 24 Comments

So I thought (we all thought) my paper clip Christmas crafts were done with.  But I realized I hadn’t crafted a single Christmas card for the blog this season.  Gasp!  Is Christmas ten days away?  

Given my recent posts, paper clips were right here within reach and this was just too easy.  I happen to have a huge tub of colored paper clips with perfect shades for Christmas shapes.

These cards can be easily crafted by little hands.  Just dab the paper clips on some glue and design away.

silver christmas tree from paper clips

December 6, 2011 § 6 Comments

Push pins.  Rubber bands.  And now for my final installment of Christmas décor out of office supplies.  A $4 box of 1,000 paper clips made up this avant-garde tree.

I was most looking forward to creating this out of all four trees I made, assuming all four would be equally simple.  I was wrong about this one.  The concept is simple, but, admittedly, fussy to achieve.

First you have to create a garland of paper clips by stringing them through a thin, light gauge wire.  I calculated about 2,000 consecutive seconds (33 minutes, at 2 seconds per paper clip) to finish this first and important step.  However, I was also intent on having each paper clip face the exact same way and discovered it was best to string the paper clip through the end that has a smaller loop.  The smaller loop acts as a lock to prevent the paper clip from shifting as much as it would had it been strung through the larger loop.   And I didn’t account for several spills.  Oh, also, 1,000 paper clips weren’t quite sufficient.  Luckily, I had some extras stashed from when I designed my paper clip necklace last December.   I used about 1,100 paper clips all in all, and the garland took much longer than the time allocated.

Then attaching the garland to a 6″ Styrofoam cone is presumably simple, too.  But not.  I inserted one end (at least 1-1/2″) of the wire into the side of the cone and started wrapping the garland around the cone (it really is important to use thin wire and not string, as the purpose of the wire is to be stuck into the cone).  This was when I ran into the problem of paper clips bunching together.  After several ineffective attempts, I managed to keep the paper clips aligned and flat on the table as I slowly wrapped the garland upwards.   I made sure I formed the wire along the cone to minimize the garland from sliding down (the weight of 1,100 paper clips will slide down).  Again, another important reason to use wire: so that the shape can be maintained.  When that is done, then the rest is simple.  I just secured the wire (at least 1-1/2″) into the top of the cone.

Despite it all, I’m glad I did this and the other trees!  If you’re just tuning in now, over the past three posts I made crystal Christmas trees from push pins, a shag Christmas tree from rubber bands, and rubber-band wrapped trees.  Enjoy!

shag christmas tree from rubber bands

December 5, 2011 § 4 Comments

Now, now.  We all know the 70’s have made a feverish comeback.  Middle-parted long hair, wide jeans and trousers, and elevator wedges are rapidly ousting teased poufs, skinny pants, and flats.  Now onto 70’s shag for some home décor!

As you know, I’ve spent the majority of my weekend making holiday décor out office supplies.

So, I reached for a huge bag of rubber bands at Staples (a pound for less than $4) to hail the big comeback of the 70’s with a quick-n-easy shag Christmas tree.  No, not that kind of quick-n-easy shag.  Umm.  Indeed, a very quirky craft compared to yesterday’s classy crystal Christmas trees from clear push pins.  But who doesn’t love quirky?

One pound of rubber bands is more than enough to make two 9″ shag trees.

1. Cut one rubber band open.  Thread through rubber bands.

2. When you have enough rubber bands threaded through, tie in a knot to close.

3. Take your ring of rubber bands and place around the bottom of Styrofoam cone.

4. Cut all rubber bands open.

5. Continue steps 1-4 until you have your tree covered.

Now that I’ve stared at this craft for too long, I think I might add paper wings to the sides and a small Styrofoam ball (with closed eyes and a smile) on top of the tree and I’ve got a very unique Christmas angel!  I shall try it out…

Another variation of rubber band Christmas trees to follow.

recycled packaging for cupcakes, cookies, and macarons

September 25, 2011 § 66 Comments

It’s bake sale season!  And soon enough, our kitchens will be converted to cookie factories come December.  So here is an almost-free approach to creatively packaging all of your yummy treats!

This is a fantastic way to repurpose all of those plastic water bottles, as well as to use up scraps of cardboard.  And it’s an opportunity to consume your collection of washi tape or pretty ribbon that have been patiently waiting at the bottom of your craft drawers for the day they are given purpose.

I picked up my 3-pack of washi tape at Daiso for $1.50 back in August when I was in California.  A combined 48 yards!  What.  A.  Steal.  Hundreds of these little packages can be made with a $1.50 inventory of washi tape.  What’s sad is that our households may actually go through that many plastic bottles in a year.  At least this project grants the plastic bottles another calling in their lifetime before they hit the landfill.

For use of two water bottles (ideal for a row of homemade cookies and macarons):

1. Cut off the bottom of two plastic bottles to preferred length.  Fill with treats.

2. Attach the plastic bottles together with tape.

For use of one water bottle (ideal for one mini cupcake, but also great for a smaller serving of cookies and macarons):

1. Cut the bottom of one plastic bottle to preferred height.  Trace on cardboard.  Cut cardboard circle.

2. Place cupcake on cardboard circle.  Cover with bottom of plastic bottle.  Make sure the plastic bottle sits on top of the cardboard circle.  Affix tape around the plastic bottle and cardboard circle.

If you do not have washi tape, you may use double-sided tape covered with decorative ribbon.

Make sure to bake your cookies, macarons, and mini cupcake to fit the diameter of the water bottles.  I haven’t endeavored in baking macarons, so I splurged on half a dozen for the sake of this post.  Really.  Sweets for blogging’s sake!

cupcake liner necklace

September 24, 2011 § 3 Comments

What can you do with a few cupcake liners and a couple feet of brass chain from the hardware store?  Why, make a necklace, of course!

This super easy, inexpensive, and surprising D-I-Y fashion craft is one I wanted to post over the summer before I got sidetracked by summer.  But it’s not too late!  So long as it’s not a rainy fall day, there is still lots of sunshine to be flaunting this fun, feminine, flirty necklace!

Yes!  It is what I wore in my D-I-Y engagement photos in August.  I wore it then with two flowers and wish now, in hindsight, that I wore three.

You will need cupcake liners (waxed is best), brass chain in your preferred length (they are typically around 45 cents per foot; for this project I used exactly 4 feet and paid $1.80), scissors, and ribbon.

1. Trim off about 1/8″ of one cupcake liner.

2. For each cupcake liner, trim off an additional 1/8″ than the previous size.  You will have cupcake liners that descend in size.  I suggest 5 for large flowers; smaller flowers can be made with 3 or 4 cupcake liners.

3. Stack all cupcake liners and align so that they are centered.  Fold the stack in half, with all cupcake liners facing out.  Cut two very small slits, about 1/2″ apart, ensuring the slits are just wide enough to carefully slide the chain through.  Large cuts will cause the flowers to loosely slide along the chain.

4. Carefully slide the chain through one slit of each cupcake liner, starting from largest to smallest.  It is best to keep the cupcake liners 1/2″ to 1″ apart at this stage.

5. Slide the chain through the second slit of each cupcake liner, similar to sewing a two-holed button.  Gather the cupcake liners to form a stack.

6. Fold the stack in half.

7. Pinch and fold towards the center.

8. Unfold to reveal a flower.

9. Layer as many flowers and chains as you please.

10. Thread a ribbon through the ends of the chain.

11. Tie a bow to close the chain(s).

Flaunt it.  Feel fun, feminine, and flirty!

 

juice bottle glitter vases

July 25, 2011 § 27 Comments

Here’s another beautiful way to recycle your plastic bottles into decorative vases.  Ridged rectangular juice bottles are so simplistic, they make quite some modern vases.  Add a dusting of glitter and you have yourself a stunning set to add to your table or mantle.

To make your own recyclable glitter vases, you will need plastic juice bottles (I prefer ridged rectangular ones, like Ocean Spray), glue, paint, glitter, foam brush, paint brush, and X-Acto knife.

1. Using an X-Acto knife, cut off the top half of the plastic juice bottle.

2. Paint the outside of the juice bottle.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all juice bottles you are using.  I painted each a different shade of purple.

4. Turn the bottle upside down.  Apply glue to the flat bottom (currently the top) of the bottle, on the outside.

5. Spread glue using a foam brush.

6. Pour glitter over the glue.

7. Tap off glitter onto a large sheet of paper.

8. Repeat steps 4 to 7, applying glue and glitter to short segments of the bottle.  It’s best to apply glue and glitter in segments to prevent glue from drying before glitter is applied.

9. Continue apply glue and glitter until the entire surface is covered.

10. Repeat steps 4 to 9 for all juice bottles you are using.  I used a different shade of glitter for each bottle.  Let dry upside down.

I smiled from ear to ear throughout the making of this craft yesterday, as it came into being with the help of serendipity.  I knew I was going to make glitter vases out of my collection of juice bottles, but hadn’t a single idea what color it should be nor what flowers to display.  I figured, I’d have the idea sorted out by the time I finished instructing a dinosaur workshop (my wonderful weekend job and the origin of many creative musings).

Along my drive, I randomly caught sight of purple lavender-like weeds on the side of the road.  It was decided my vases would be gradations of purple.  I made a mental note of the exact location of the weeds so I can later return for some pickings.  After teaching the class, I decided to stop into a Dollarama I hadn’t ever visited (no, I haven’t visited all of their stores in the Greater Toronto Area; well, at least not yet).  There, I found a trove of beautiful, fine glitter in cute jars and in an assortment of colors, none I had seen at other Dollaramas before.  I also found artificial lavender stems available in exactly three shades of purple, as I envisioned.  The weeds and the artificial lavender stems are so uncannily alike, it’s just so amusing how things turn out sometimes.  Everything I imagined appeared before my eyes.  I love those days.

bean and soda pop bottle vase

July 24, 2011 § 9 Comments

Well, we all know I love me a good bean project and I love me a good recycling project, so I designed this vase out of beans and a 2-liter plastic soda pop bottle.  The result is a little surprising coming from a handful of beans and a plastic bottle, isn’t it?  It’s so simple and a striking way to display the flowers growing in our backyards this summer.  And we have one less piece of plastic being thrown into the recycling bin (well, for now, anyway).

I decided to clip a few of the daylilies copiously consuming my backyard.  Daylilies are not conventional cut flowers.  I thought daylilies needed their beauty sleep at night, but truth be told (after some reading) , a daylily flower has only a single day’s worth of life.  On a good note, the other buds have their turn at life the next morning.  Even so, whether or not the new buds will sprout in my vase tomorrow, I had to clip them.  They’re just so pretty and so vividly orange, which makes for such a great contrast to my very pale taupe vase.  I had conveniently invested in a couple of cans of spray paint on clearance for $1 at Michaels at the beginning of the year.  It’s amazing to pick up an irresistible bargain for later use and actually use it for a project so perfectly suited.  Most times, I’m sure some of you can relate, a lot of our “Oh, what an amazing deal, I’ll buy two or three or a dozen” bargain hoards seldom find a use.

You will need:

a. 2-liter plastic soda pop bottle

b. Beans, shape and size of your choice.  I chose navy beans only because I still have some left over from previous projects: bean-by-number Turkish tiles, bean-by-number Venetian mask, and gold bean banges.

c. An X-acto knife, a ruler, a marker, hot glue gun with glue sticks, and a can of spray paint.

1. Cut off the spout of the bottle using an X-Acto knife.  You may cut the opening to your preferred diameter.

2. Using a ruler and a marker, draw vertical lines along the length of the bottle.  Use the bottom grooves of the pop bottle as points to start your lines.  I alternated full-height lines with random-height lines.

3. Using a hot glue gun, affix beans one at a time, applying glue in 1-1/2″ lengths.  The longer your line of glue, the quicker you will have to work before the glue quickly dries.  Continue until you have all of your lines covered with beans.

4. Spray paint and let dry.

This is the lovely time of year when we have the luxury of clipping flowers from our backyards.  I think it’s wonderful to be able to display our backyard flowers in our very own handcrafted vases.  Even better when the vases cost so little to make.  But it’s the best when making them means that some of our garbage could be repurposed into surprisingly beautiful creations.

I’m sure you’ve started to notice, I’m developing a collection of unique vases from my pile of recyclables.  You’ve seen the collection start with the peek-through vases earlier this year, and the basket weave vases in the spring.  Since it’s summer, I really want to add more to my assortment of recyclable vases.  There will be more recyclable vase projects to come!

basket weave vases

April 21, 2011 § 45 Comments

Tomorrow is Earth Day!  In order to celebrate and honor our planet, I’ve salvaged some cartons and jars from being thrown into the landfill and woven the cartons into this pair of bright vases.

I made them in theme of the beautiful colors of our globe: the warp and weft are in cool blue and vivid green hues, and the vases are topped off with beautiful white clouds of hydrangeas.  Just the kind of décor my kitchen table needs this spring!

For each vase, you will need two milk or juice cartons of the same size and a jar, some paint and a hot glue gun.

1. Cut the cartons to preferred height, making sure that they are taller than the jar for containing the water for your bouquet.  Paint the cartons.  If you want your vases to be a single color, you may skip this step for now and paint after the cartons are woven.

2. For each vase: cut one carton into 1/2″ strips vertically, making sure not to cut out the bottom, and cut the second carton into 1/2″ strips horizontally.

3. Start weaving by sliding the horizontal strips into alternating vertical strips.

4. Continue weaving until you reach the top and glue the top pieces together so the basket weave does not come undone.

5. Fill your jar with water and place inside the woven carton and arrange your favorite spring blooms.

Happy Earth Day!

crystal crowns

April 10, 2011 § 101 Comments

Okay, perhaps not exactly crystal.  More like plastic soda pop bottles and glitter  glue — that’s really all these glistening crowns are made of.

Make them in celebration of this month’s highly anticipated royal wedding or for your little princesses in waiting.  Though I wish I could say this is a craft for your princessholic kindergarteners to make, I can’t.  It is a project which requires the manual acuity of a seasoned glitter gluer — eight to eleven year olds would enjoy and be able to handle the accuracy of creating these crowns.

You can design your own crowns or use the templates I specifically designed for tracing — download the crystal crown templates here.

You will need:

a. A 2-liter plastic soda pop bottle.

b. Glitter glue.

c. A sharp pair of scissors and a little bit of tape.

1. Cut a 3″ high cylindrical piece of the plastic soda pop bottle.  Using two or three pieces of folded tape, affix your template behind the plastic, along the inside part of the bottle.  Using a marker, trace the outer lines of the template only.  Do not trace the details of the design.

2. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut just inside of the lines you traced, making sure the lines are not left behind, as well as making sure to cut all around the circumference of the bottle.  You are left with the shape of a crown that is ready to be designed.

3. Again, using two or three pieces of folded tape, affix your template behind the plastic.  Using glitter glue, trace the design details.

4. Remove the template.  Let glitter glue dry for approximately two hours.

Place on the hair with bobby pins and feel like royalty!

easter egg carton chicks

March 19, 2011 § 170 Comments

Here’s a fun and simple Easter craft that you can do with the little ones.  Repurpose those egg cartons to make these cute candy-filled chicks.

You will need scissors, glue, and the following:

a. Egg carton

b. Yellow paint and black marker

c. Yellow and orange card stock

To make each chick:

1. Cut two egg carton cups.  Glue a 1/2″ x 1-3/4″ piece of paper to each half, acting as a hinge.

2. Paint throughout.

3. Take small pieces of card stock, two yellow and two orange, each measuring approximately 1″ x 1/2″.  Fold a 1/4″ flap from the edge.  From the fold, cut into triangles.

4. Affix one yellow triangle on each side of the inner bottom egg carton cup.  Affix one orange triangle on the front of the inner top and another on the inner bottom egg carton cup.

5. Cut orange card stock into feet and adhere to the bottom cup.  Take a black marker and draw small eyes.

Fill with candy treats, give away, and watch your loved ones chirp with delight.

whale wine cork board

March 3, 2011 § 6 Comments

The cork tile I used for yesterday’s Kill Bill sword push pins comes in a pack of two.  While I have them out, I thought I may as well craft something else using the second tile.  Since crafting my wine cork pens a month ago,  I’ve had wine corks on my mind.  And today, all I could think about is cork.  So I whipped up this super quick and easy cork board project.

Whales are quite a craze these days.  I think the whale may have even replaced the owl in popularity.  Hard not to love, there’s a certain calm congeniality about the whale.   I intended for my wine cork whale to be both functional and decorative, but even so, I found it grim to tack anything on him, although taking tacks is really his purpose.

You can easily whip up your own whale wine cork board, too, with a square foot cork tile, a bunch of wine corks (I used 44), and a hot glue gun.  Simply arrange the wine corks in the shape of a whale (or any shape, for that matter) and affix with hot glue, and you’ve got yourself a fun cork board in under fifteen minutes.

cardboard cuff bangles

February 22, 2011 § 11 Comments

Cardboard is one of my favorite things ever invented.  Anything made of cardboard has guaranteed character.  And what’s fun about cardboard is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, even with a little spray of metallic copper.  Like this pair of cardboard cuff bangles.

Wide cuff bangles are all over the runways, and I thought to whip up a quick and fun little project with what little time I’ve had recently.  The unusual angle of the photo combined with my bird-bone arm makes the bangles seem remarkably oversize.  But I promise they’re actually reasonably wearable in person, if you’re a cardboard enthusiast like me.

You will need a mailing tube, X-Acto knife, cardboard, scissors, white glue, and spray paint.

 

1.   Cut the mailing tube in any length desired (I cut 1-1/2″ and 2″).

2.  Cut cardboard along the grain the same size as your section of mailing tube.  Cut cardboard in 1/4″ strips against the grain.

3.  Apply glue on mailing tube in small sections and affix the strips of cardboard.

4.  Spray paint in desired color.  Rose gold is very trendy these days and Krylon’s metallic copper gives a comparable hue.

dim sum steamer lantern: circus carousel

February 2, 2011 § 13 Comments

Yay for snow days!    So how many of us here have been stranded at home because of the storm?   Toronto was delivered a foot of snow today, and I was blessed with an entire day off, allowing me the opportunity to finish the circus carousel version of my dim sum steamer lantern.

Of course, you can opt for your colors of choice.  I wanted to make the most of the gold that I already used on the previous Chinese New Year dim sum lantern, which I have since taken apart to make this version.  The carousel turned out almost as well as I hoped, with a slight oversight — I didn’t do a color test of the horses and only realized after the sticks were glued that they didn’t print as intended.  If you have a photo editing program, you can alter the colors as needed.  I’ve already designed the horses in a template for you to download here.

You will need:

a. 7″ bamboo dim sum steamer.

b. 12 wooden stir sticks.

c. Battery-operated tea lights.

d. 2 sheets of white vellum and sheets of colored cardstock.

e. Acrylic paint and a paint brush.

f. Hot glue gun and white glue.

1. Paint the steamer.

2. Paint the stir sticks.

3. Print two copies of the template on vellum.  With white glue, affix the stir sticks at 1-1/2″ intervals across both copies, connected.

4. Place the vellum in the tray, with the stir sticks facing out.  Using a hot glue gun, affix each stir stick to the inner wall of the tray.  When you reach the end, trim off any excess tissue paper and affix the seams together using white glue.

5. Cut cardstock into diamonds and circles and glue in a pattern around the tray.

6. Cut a 10″ circle and fold into 16 segments.  Cut out 5 segments.  Using a second color of cardstock, cut additional segments to use as an alternating color.

7. Fold the circle into a cone and glue to the top of the lid.

8. Punch cardstock into 1″ circles and affix in alternating colors to the inner wall of the lid.

Place the tea lights, cover with lid, and no one will ever guess your carousel lantern is made of a bamboo dimsum steamer!

valentine tic tac toe

February 2, 2011 § 7 Comments

This week on Iron Craft: Challenge #5 “Be Mine”. The challenge is to create a Valentine craft.  After harvesting keyboard keys to create framed Valentine messages, I thought the X’s and O’s couldn’t be more perfect for a pocket-size Valentine tic tac toe game.

You will need to make customized keyboard keys (you can find the previous tutorial here).

You will need the above pieces of cardstock to make the box.  The final box measures 3″ x 3″ x 3/4″.  The pink sleeve is 3″ x 8″, with score lines at 3″, 3-3/4″, 6-3/4″, 7.5″ (there’s a 1/2″ allowance for double-sided tape).  The black pull-out box is shy of 4.5″ square, with score lines at 3/4″ from all edges.  The red tic-tac-toe board is shy of 3″ square, and each white square is 7/8″.  You may decorate however you like.  I used a simple 1″ red strip with white hearts with x’s and o’s.

1. Fold the black pull-out box.

2. Turn the box upside down.  Affix the red tic-tac-toe board.

3. Affix the white squares to make a grid.

4. Decorate the front of the sleeve.

5. Add embellisments.

6. Fold the sleeve and affix with double-sided tape.

 

Don’t forget to check out Iron Craft for many creative Valentine crafts made by so many talented crafters!

x o x o

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