Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fun for the Kiddies: A Box of Lights

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I saw this original pin a while back and literally made the split second decision to try it out this past weekend. We had (finally) purchased a second convertible car seat that would fit in my Mazda and it got me thinking: hmm...fun with empty boxes? And then I remembered this awesome Pinterest find...

The stay at home mom blog
Above is as link to the original idea

My Experiences
First let me say that this is a 10 minute project; super fast and easy peasy. Unless you're me of course and just happen to be having one of those days where nothing is easy...

I was making this for my gorgeous little 1.5 year old, Violet who is full of personality, willful as they come and so very smart.
There she is in her box of lights :)

She LOVES things that are sparkly, shiny and light up (sounds like mommy;) so when I saw this project I knew it was perfect for her. I was trying to be discreet while making it because if she noticed the lights they would be lost to me, with or without the box. Thus, I chose to put the box on the kitchen table and leave the lights unplugged while working- and THAT my friends, was my first mistake.
Now, I'm no decorating novice- I've strung my fair share of twinklies, I would never make the crucial mistake of decorating first, plugging later. There is nothing worse than spending hours stringing lights only to find out that they are dead, so I'm thinking, I just took them off the tree less than 3 months ago, why wouldn't they work?
Right?

Not so much...
So I poked holes in the box, pushed all the lights through and had a Clark Griswold moment when it didn't light. I was now back to square one with another set (the only colored set I had left.)
I checked them (good to go) and had to push them through yet again (really this only takes 5 minutes tops, but I was a bit exasperated at this point.) Unfortunately it took a little extra time since the bulbs on the second set were bigger so I also had to make the holes larger. I had the lights unplugged at this point, still trying to avoid catching Violet's attention while my hubby entertained her and finally they were all strung (again.) Yay!
I found an open space near an outlet, called Violet over and, bursting with excitement, I plugged it in...
and only half of the set lit up.
SO- that's how I left it. You can actually see in the pics that the lights towards the opening of box are out, BUT she loves it. Still, the moral of the story? Keep the lights lit as you work them through the holes!

So here's the breakdown:
Before you do anything, you'll need the right size box and really it depends on the age and height of your child, so it's up to you. To give you a reference, Violet is 18mos. old, about 33in. tall, and the box I used was a standard size car seat box. If she sat up straight the lights could poke her head, but she can still sit comfortably inside.

Holes:
If you are using standard size (I think they're generally considered "mini" lights,) a Phillips head screwdriver works really well and pierces through the box easily creating the right size holes. The first time I put the lights in, I just poked holes in rows about 2 inches apart and inserted the lights as I went making sure to start with the plug end towards the back of the box. If you have bigger size bulbs (like I had to use the second time around) a pen works great to widen the holes.

Insert lights:
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, don't forget to leave the lights plugged in as you're doing this :)
All you have to do is push the bulb part through the hole and leave the green end hanging out and you're done! The original pin used rounded bulbs, so if the pointy bulbs (the standard ones do have a rounded end, but they're still pointy-ish) are a concern, there are other options, but sometimes you gotta use what you have- I didn't find the good, old fashion colored lights to be a problem.

Here's a close up of the top of the box. I know that standard light sets are made to be safe for decorating and I would be surprised if they could actually get hot enough to ignite the cardboard, but still use caution and don't leave the lights plugged in for too long- just to be safe.
Hours of fun in just a few minutes! Well, more like 5 minutes of fun, twice a day if your kiddo is anything like mine ;)

Hope you get a chance to try it out and don't forget to share your pics if you do :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

DIY #1: Silhouette on wooden palette

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It's only fair that I start to share my first Pinterest attempt with the original post that inspired it so here it is:

My version is a bit different as I decided that a deer was a bit too "lodgy" for the shabby chic feel I'm moving towards in my dining room (which is where this will eventually hang.)

Steps:
   Unfortunately this can't be done without the wood and it really will work best with a beat up old thing. I stumbled upon this piece washed up on the beach on the Outer Banks about 4 years ago and it has been sitting in my studio just waiting for amazingness. When I found that pin I felt like it was meant to be...

Ignore the bird poop...I did.

So I assume if you aren't lucky enough to have one of these lying around, a small palette could work as well.

First things First...
   I started by deciding how I wanted to treat each plank and collected the essentials:
Sandpaper, light teal latex paint and some white acrylic (I use Golden acrylic and the latex was eggshell Behr paint I had laying around from past projects,) a sponge brush, a utility brush , some wood stain in your desired shade and a towel and you're good to go for round 1.


Don't forget your smock! :)

Step 1:
   It's best to start with sanding the whole palette. It's important to pay special attention to any splintered areas since you'll be handling it quite a bit and don't want to worry about slivers ::ouch!::
   A sanding block is ideal (sold at all hardware stores) but any medium to heavy weight sandpaper will do the trick (I used a thin piece I had and it worked fine.) You'll see in the next picture that I jumped the gun a bit and didn't sand the whole things before I started painting...woops! I was a bit too eager. Not a big deal though, because the distressed look I was going for involves lots of sanding all around...


Step 2: Pick a plank and have at it...
   I started with my colored plank. This could really be any color, but there is something about this robins egg, tiffany-esque teal that I love- Start by painting the plank with a hard bristled utility brush (the one I used is shown in the pic of me above.) I mentioned already that I used Behr latex house paint in eggshell and it worked great for me.
   Paint one light coat on the top and sides of the plank. I decided to leave the back unpainted, purely because it will be hung on a wall and not seen anyway. Let this dry while you move on to another plank.

I kept a really light touch in the areas of the wood that I found most interesting. This made it easier to sand through these areas later and let some of the wood show again.

Step 3: Staining
   For the second plank I made sure the wood was really smooth. I was going for a more polished feel to contrast the roughess of the others. I used a spongebrush this time to apply a coating of wood stain, working quickly to help keep the stain even then used a rag to wipe it away. I chose to stain 2 planks so I finished both of them at the same time, following the same steps.

Step 4: Neeeeext...
   For the "white washed" section I used basic acrylic paint and dry brushed some white on. Dry brushing is basically applying the paint sparsley and rubbing it into the wood with the bristles. I kept an extra utility brush on hand as well to help texturize and rub the paint in a bit- this was especially good if I put too much paint down as it helped take away a bit of the excess.

Step5: Sand again
   Now it's time to go back to the beginning and get ready to put some elbow grease into it. Distressing wood creates really beautiful contrast and lets the beauty of the wood grain shine through while keeping those fun, rich pops of color. This step can be done to your taste- The more you sand and the harder the pressure, the more distressed the wood will appear. Don't be afraid to let some areas stay fully painted while some are very worn looking. This is the fun part and you can always add more paint if you sand too much away- sand over all the planks and see what you get!


A close-up of the finished palette...

Now time to add the silhouette!
   Unfortunately I didn't document this part as well as I wish I did now, but I will be specific, and really- there's not much to explain. Now is the point where you decide what you want to paint on your pretty palette. I went for a bird silhouette, but was seriously contemplating the deer like the original inspiration or even a simple owl design. Once you decide on a theme it's always helpful to use Google images for a visual reference (or if you can dream it up and free hand it, go you!) I googled "bird on branch" and found the basic shape I was looking for.
   The easiest way to transfer your image is to make a stencil. A big piece of poster board works great for this- sketch your design, cut it out and then arrange it on your palette in the position of your choice. Use a regular #2 pencil to trace your silhouette and then you're ready to paint!
Above you can see some of my pencil lines and the progression. I used the same Golden white acrylic to paint the bird and standard artist paint brushes os various sizes.

Ta-da! Well, almost...
   Paint as many coats as desired. You can do multiple for an opaque silhouette or paint it lightly and sand it to keep with the distressed feel. Below you'll see the (almost) finish product as it sits in my dining room as we speak Unfortunately, I have a penchant for unfinished projects. I only have a few more branches to fill in on the bottom and when I resume my grand plan to redecorate my dining room you can bet this baby will have a nice focal point to occupy. I'll be sure to post pictures!
I hope you have the opportunity to try your hand at this project- it really was a lot of fun and on a scale of 1-5, 1 being easiest and 5 the hardest I'd give it a medium 3 for difficulty. It's a good 5 hour project, but well worth it. Please feel free to share this, pin this or tell me about your own version of this project email me.

Happy crafting and pinning!
Meg

My first blog post!

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So what is this whole Pinterest thing?
My Pinterest Board/Profile as visible on the IPhone app.

Hello! I am so excited about finally starting the blog I've been planning for months now. I find myself with a ton of creative energy these days and I think I owe a lot of that to Pinterest.com. If you haven't heard about it yet, it's a virtual pin board that allows you to visually bookmark pictures of things you love, cool ideas, recipes, crafts, how to's etc. These "pins" are organized into boards under a specific topic and serve as links to the web page the content was originally found on. You can always browse the category pages as well and "re-pin" things other people post. Think of this like a news feed.  It seems confusing, but it really is very simple.

Still lost?

Example: I love to find new craft ideas online so I use Google to see what I can find. I stumble across a site with a bunch of cool ideas that I might want to do, so I hit my "pin it" button (a bookmark installed on your browser) which opens a window with the images used on the site. I pick an image to attach to one of my "pins" and post it on one of my Pinterest boards to save it for a rainy day. Now, when I have a chance to do some crafting, I can open my pin board to pick my first project and follow the link to the page I found it on to follow the steps or read more about it.

Here's a link to my Pinterest profile if you're interested, and of course, let me know if you want an invite of your own to join the party. ;) The Patchwork Paisley on Pinterest  (update: You no longer need an invite to be a part of the Pinterest community!)

It is so rare that I find a thorough link attached to some of the DIY pins that clearly explains the "how tos" of the projects or documents some of the inevitable questions that always seem to pop up. From here on in my postings will contain mostly of my own attempts at some of the creative, funky projects I find on Pinterest. I plan to try everything from sewing, to jewelry making, kids crafts, interior decorating and beyond. I will document my steps throughout the process for you in case you would like to try it as well, and will also Pin my own examples so that other happy Pinners might use my own experiences to inform theirs!  If I mess it up, I will take a picture of it and post it so that you don't repeat my mistake, and if it works for me you'll see the end result and can ask me any questions you might have along your own venture. Have some suggestions that you might want me to try? I'm open to them, but I gotta warn you my "to try" list is already pretty long and growing... [Pinning as we speak ;) ]

Im excited! Ready, set, go...

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