Thursday, September 30, 2010

my creative space - how to make a boxy piano

A while ago I had a bit of fun making some "upcycled" furniture for our (not yet finished) cardboard dollhouse. Estelle was kind enough to suggest I should do a tutorial, so here it is...

How to make a boxy piano...

1. Find 3 boxes which, when stacked together, look a bit like a piano.

2. Don't worry if they're not the right length, just measure, cut and fold to make a smaller box (if they're nearly the right size, don't bother - just pad out the short one with some paper or cardboard).

3. BEFORE you stick them together, gently fill the boxes with tissue paper or newspaper - just enough to help keep their shape but not so much that they bulge (check by stacking them up again)... sorry I forgot to photograph this step!

4. Put a bit of glue between the boxes, then start taping them up - I like to use this gummy brown tape that I've had since I dabbled in watercolour painting many moons ago, but any tape would do.

5. Tape them up until they're nice and stable - I probably went a little overboard...

6. For my first piano (see here), I just used the brown tape all over for a fast and easy finish. This time, I covered the piano in little bits of brown tissue paper that I'd dipped in diluted PVA glue.

7. Leave it to dry (and don't be too careful about covering the bit where the keys will go - that's about to get covered up)

8. Measure the space for your piano keys to go - subtract a few mm from each side, then draw your piano keys. After discovering first time around that lead pencil can smudge when covered in Mod Podge or glue, I used a non watercolour black pencil this time.

9. Stick on the keys with Mod Podge or PVA, remembering to seal the top of the keys too, and you're done!

After finishing this piano, I wondered whether one family of dolls really needed two pianos - Audrey and Beris disagreed, and quickly set themselves up for a piano duet....

the only problem is, Audrey is a "by the book" classical piano player, and Beris is a "play what you feel" avant garde type, so it ended up as more of a piano duel...

For more creative spaces, visit Kirsty's.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

because i am a good wife...

Because I am a good wife, I made this scarf for our girl - who wore it for five minutes before deciding Little Ted liked it better (I think he does, actually).

Because I am a good wife, I spent this afternoon doing everything in my power to keep a noisy 3 year old from being a noisy 3 year old (and was grateful for a sunny day with lots of opportunities for chalk art and nature study).

I listened to the game on the radio, and popped my head in for a smile during the good bits, and stayed well away during the bad bits...

and, because I am a good wife, I will be doing it all again next week....

give me strength!

reverse finds

My contribution to today's reverse finds is more promise and plan than finished product ... I'm going to take part in Softies for Mirabel.

Have you heard of Softies for Mirabel? Pop over to Pip's to find out more...

To make it a reverse find, I'm going to try and make as many softies as I can (though given my track record, more than one will be an achievement...), using only fabrics from my stash. The only thing I will buy is more "cloud fluff" (toy stuffing).

I've started some fabric sorting and tidying - and collecting the scraps into a container for reuse in child art and child role playing (for regular games of "fabric store").

Join in and add your link below - the concept "reverse find" is entirely open to your own interpretation... My previous reverse finds are here, here and here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

flea market finds

As I mentioned yesterday, I had high hopes of getting through this year's hard waste collections without bringing anything home. Even though I love the idea of "saving" lovely things from landfill, I am trying hard to be practical in our little place, and focus on decluttering for a while...

Well, I almost managed...

then I saw this little table, good as new and a bit bigger than our current one. I'll now be able to set up one table for paint / mud pies / assorted messy fun, and another for eating, with a lot less time spent cleaning up. I also found a trike, not quite good as new, and probably unlikely to last until next year's hard waste, but good for now... and, since it stays outside, it's not really cluttering up our house, is it??

Then today, in a suburb far from home, I inadvertantly stumbled upon another hard waste collection, and found this doctor's bag 3 steps from our car as we walked to a cafe. I can't use the "outside" excuse, but it's a bag, so it's storage, right? Clutching a whole handful of straws right now...

For more lovely finds pop over to Sophies.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

reverse finds

My reverse finds effort this week is a little lazy... all I had to do was carry (or in one case get my husband to carry) some old things to the nature strip. Yep, it was hard waste week!

My contribution was pretty small - a TV that finally gave up a few months ago after being coaxed through existence for nearly a year, needing a half-hour warm up before actually showing anything on its screen; a few big plastic containers that stopped being able to hold water after Melbourne's march hailstorms; and a few old pots (that disappeared within minutes of landing on the nature strip, hooray!).

I even nearly managed to get through hard waste week without adding anything to our place...nearly (I'll show you tomorrow!).

Please add your link below if you'd like to play along - come on, it'll be fun, you can find whatever way suits you to do it (op shop / charity / pass on stuff to friends / have a stall / sell online / whatever), and we can cheer you on!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

flea market finds - treasures from the trip home

I posted a while ago about our recent family holiday, involving a big dose of en-route op-shopping... and showed you what I found on the way there... now I've finally remembered to show you what we found on the way home!

Our main op-shop destinations were Leongatha and Korumburra - we stopped in both towns on the way there and back, so as not to miss out on any shops that might be open only on certain days.

We visited about 5 op-shops in total, plus a book fair selling cancelled library books - there was at least one other shop I didn't set foot in, amazingly (I was already testing the patience of my fellow travellers...) - and had a great time enjoying generous pricing, friendly people and lovely finds...

though I wish I'd had more time to really have a rummage... next time I might make my family stay in an op-shop town, instead of a beach side village!!

Check Her Library Adventures for more finds!

PS: I'm trying a bit of Spring-inspired decluttering with a weekly "reverse finds" post on Saturdays - would you like to join me?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

reverse finds

It's reverse finds day today! See my first post over here if you're wondering what I'm talking about...

One of things I had hoped to gain from reverse finds (as well as a less-cluttered home...) was a wider knowledge of ways to move things out of our house, beyond the trusty op-shop (though of course, the op-shop will always be a favourite, the inevitable problem is my tendency to walk out with more than I walk in with...). One of my wishes was to find places I could donate things to directly.

Fortuitously, I recently discovered that an old uni friend of mine works with a local organisation that actually seeks out donations in kind - The St Kilda Gatehouse.

This is who they are (in their words):

"St Kilda Gatehouse is a not for profit organisation which works alongside those who are marginalised and have life controlling addictions, particularly street sex workers. It provides a strong sense of community and belonging in a safe, non-stigmatised environment. For many who come from a background of abuse and poverty it is a source of dignity and hope – where they can find the support and care needed as they attempt to build a life off the streets and beyond drug addiction."

They provide support in many creative ways, from a weekly barbecue, to an annual "sleep-in", to a netball team, to counselling, support groups and crisis care.

They have a list over here of the stuff they often need - from clothes to furniture to paper bags...

I had a look around our place, and found some good clothes that have stayed good over a long time... because they don't actually fit!

I also noticed a huge box under the bed... cutlery given to us at our wedding nearly 5 years ago. I decided it was time to start using it, and packed up the old, basic, but still perfectly good cutlery to give away. A quick email to St Kilda Gatehouse confirmed this would be useful to them, so I packed it up and dropped it all in.

Would you like to join in too? I know Susan has already - hooray! Pop in a link below so we can all cheer each other on...

By the way, I'd originally planned to do a reverse finds post once a month (and this link will be open for a month) - is this a good frequency, or should we try weekly? Let me know in the comments...

Edited to add: I've decided to try for a weekly reverse find throughout Spring (every Saturday) - anyone can join in, any week that suits them!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

a giveaway announcement (and an apology)

We've just conducted our first giveaway draw today, and there was excitement all round.

We took the old fashioned bits of paper in a cardboard box (because I always have lots of boxes around...) path, and while my trusty assistant was initially unwilling, it turned out to be a highlight of the day... the only problem was when she realised that none of the bits of paper had HER name on it.

We held a family draw later on... I came last.

Anyway, enough waffling on... the winner is....

Becclebee, of the lovely marjoryjane blog (check out the lovely baby blanket she made over here...).

The only thing is, I haven't finished the prizes.

My excuse is that my daughter is sick. The real reason is that I once again left things to the last minute, so when she got sick my plans fell by the wayside. Sorry, Becclebee - I'll send you a message and try and get them to you as fast as I can.

I promise next time I host a giveaway I will be organised. Promise.

my creative space - not quite the after photos

A while ago (quite a while ago...) I got started on a cardboard box dollhouse, thinking it would be a quick job to finish. The evidence suggests I was wrong...

In fact, the doll house looks a bit too much like our house - lots of boxes piled up everywhere, holes in the walls, and lots of mess...

Luckily, the little wooden dolls who've been waiting to move in are pretty adaptable, and have started getting on with life in their unrenovated abode (with the help of an enthusiastic 3 year old).

They've already had their first dinner party (banana and broccoli pasta, anyone?) and tested out their new chairs (can you tell they come from take away pizzas?).

Not long after, the dolls showed their creative side, and decided to move into their art and music room, despite having wallpapered only one wall (but what a lovely wall it is!).

One day, there might be a proper after photo... but don't expect it too soon!

For lovely creative inspiration, visit Kirsty

(and I'll be drawing and announcing my tiny giveaway winner later tonight...)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

the case for evolution (or why patterns are worth the money)

My first project when I returned to sewing nearly 2 years ago was a toy dinosaur for our girl - after drawing so many for her, it seemed a natural progression. Being the kind of person who prefers to do things herself rather than spend money, I decided I could make up the pattern on my own... and so began a long journey of learning (with moments of satisfaction, frustration and despair along the way).

Here is Dino (soon after being made)....Amazingly, Dino was made first go from the first pattern I made (with some help studying similar patterns for a felt horse online...), and I was incredibly proud of this fact, in spite of some major lump / pucker / dodgy stitching issues...

Most importantly, though, Dino was and is loved, and is still together 20 months later.
Here is Dino now (in all his stained, floppy and splay legged glory)...

Buoyed by my early "success", I decided that I could make more dinosaurs, but decided to take the pattern in a new direction, to make a more "recognisable" dinosaur (a stegosaurus of sorts), and to "fix" the early problems I'd found. I discovered this was easier said than done.

I discovered long skinny necks and tails are almost impossible to stuff well,
that big, close together spikes lead to floppiness and hard-to-stitch bodies ,

that giant ric-rac make a good and fast spike replacement (if only it came in more colours)

and that it takes me at least 4 goes, nearly 2 years, and many many hours to get a dinosaur I'm really happy with.
After all this, I take my hat off to the amazing people who produce patterns - not only have they gone through the process of working out how they can make something, they have worked out how to show other people how they can make it too.... definitely worth every cent.

Creative space time is calling - see you there!

PS: I still have a little giveaway open over here...