Category Archives: Free Tutorials

Washi Tape – Flowers, Butterflies, Hearts, and Spires!

Beaded washi tape vase with washi tape floral embellishments.
I made it through another round of the One Crafty Contest! Another big thank you to everyone who voted! You can read about my participation in the contest here and see my round 1 paint project here. We had to feature washi tape in this round.  I had never used it before, but can now understand why people get so obsessed with it!  The above picture was my entry.  I’m now in the top ten! I’m excited, but nervous.  It’s getting more serious each round, and I’m up against some amazing talent.  Our next project has to feature glitter.  Make sure to check back to see what I make!

Beaded washi tape vase with washi tape floral embellishments.
Here is the description I sent in with my entry:
“I really wanted to do something different for this round besides just sticking my tape on something and calling it a day. I decided on a craft where I could use the washi tape in several different ways. I hand stitched pearl beads to each layer of the tape that covers the vase. Then I staggered the layers to create a cascading effect. Using two different colors of tape, I folded little accordion style spires. I also hand stitched AB beads to tape and stitched little washi ruffles out of it. I made tiny, two-toned, six-petaled washi flowers. They have stems made out of jewelry wire that are wrapped in green washi tape. The spires, ruffles, and flowers are all staggered throughout the floral arrangement. This project required a lot of stitching, a lot of little folds, a lot of patience, and a lot of time spent in front of the TV! I think it would make a fun addition to any spring decor.”

Washi tape floral embellishments. Tutorials with lots of pictures.
I didn’t take any in-progress pictures for this project (oops!).  I was too busy trying to get it to look just right.  So instead, I made some more of the embellishments, took pictures, and have the tutorials for you! I’ve already received a few requests for a tutorial on the flower.  So we’ll start with that.

This is a really simple folding technique that I found by Kara at scrapbook.steals.com. She gives credit for her post to fancypantsdesigns.com.  While they used paper to make flowers, I used the folding technique to make washi tape flowers, but I also realized I could use this technique to make butterflies and hearts!

The Supplies
1. 3 colors of washi tape (2 the same width for the petals and 1 for the stem)
2. ruler
3. scissors
4. choice of clear drying glue (I suggest high temp hot glue or mini glue dots)
5. jewelry, craft, or floral wire – 20 to 24 gauge
6. wire cutters
7. nylon jaw flat nose jewelry pliers (optional)

I made my flowers 2 toned.  One color of washi tape is on the front and the other is on the back.  I love how most washi tape has some sort of see-through pattern.  If you want yours 2 toned too, choose colors and patterns that will look good together.  For my contest entry, I did light pink and dark blue, to get lavender flowers.  For this tutorial, I am using red and yellow.

The Directions
Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
First you will need to cut and measure one of your flower colors.  I found I liked the way my petals looked by cutting a piece that is 1 3/4 inches using standard sized washi tape (15mm wide).  Just stick the end of your tape at 1 3/4 inches on the ruler and let it hang off the edge to cut it.  Line up the cut tape, with the sticky sides together, on the second color for your flower.  This might take a few tries to get it straight, especially if you don’t have obvious patterns or your ends aren’t cut straight.  No worries though!  The tape will easily come apart to try again! Cut the second color where the edge of the first color ends.  You can pinch the tape with your finger and thumb and swipe with your thumbnail to smooth out any wrinkles or creases. Repeat until you have 3 of these little strips. Or 3 x the number of flowers you’re making.  Stack the 3 strips on top of each other to do any necessary trimming to make sure they are all the same length.  Make one more smaller strip that’s about the size of a square for each flower.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Fold a strip in half so that the short ends meet.  At this point don’t worry about what color is on top or bottom.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Then fold it in half length wise.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Turn it so that the short side with the fold is on the left, and the long side with the fold is on the bottom.  Starting at the bottom right, cut a small curve going up to the top.  This will be the rounded part of your petals.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Unfold the entire thing.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Now fold it in half length wise with the color that you want as the FRONT of the flower on the INSIDE of the fold.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Grab one of the 2 flaps and fold it back up to meet the edge of the last fold you created.  Turn it over and do the same thing.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
It should look a little like an accordion.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Now fold the whole thing in half.  You should see a crease line as a guide from the first folds you made.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Make petals out of the other 2 strips using the same steps. Cut a small circle out of the 4th strip you made. This will be the base of the flower.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Add a very small amount of glue (I suggest hot glue or mini glue dots) right inside the last fold you created to keep the 2 petals next to each other.  Do not glue the entire length of the petals.  You want them to flare out some from each other. Hold each set of petals by the middle fold with the front color facing up, and run a finger underneath each petal to shape it by pushing up on the center fold.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Glue (I suggest hot glue) and arrange the 3 completed petal pieces on the circle.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
The length of the stem is up to you.  It works best if you can get your wire really straight.  If you have a nylon jaw flat nose pliers, straighten out the wire using the pliers while it’s still on the spool. If you cut it first, you’ll have a hard time holding onto it.  Once it’s straight, cut the wire.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Unravel some of your stem colored washi tape and place the wire close to the edge of the tape.  Leave just enough space to fold the edge of the tape over the wire.  Cut the washi tape from the roll.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Fold over the small edge of tape you created and crease it against the wire.  Now just roll the wire and tape until you can’t anymore.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Glue it to the back of your flower (again, I suggest hot glue).

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
That’s it! You can bend the wire to arrange the flowers.  Make a whole bunch in different colors and sizes to create a bouquet.

Washi tape flowers, butterflies, and hearts. Free tutorials with lots of pictures!
Use the same folding technique and stems to create butterflies and hearts!

~~~

The spires I used in my contest entry are really easy to make.  I have to give credit to my parents (not sure if it was Mom or Dad) for teaching me how to do this.  When I was a kid, my parents would take my brothers and me to Pizza Hut to get our free personal pizzas from the Book It school reading program.  Do they still do this? Anyone know what I’m talking about?  I’m sure they no longer use the big pin on buttons they used when I was in grade school!  If you have no clue what I’m talking about, THAT IS OK! The point is, while we were waiting for our pizza and sipping on our sodas, we would take the empty straw wrappers and make these fun little spires to pass the time. Confession: I STILL do this anytime I have straw wrappers at a restaurant! Fun fact: Pizza Hut was where T took me on our first date as a couple, and I clearly remember doing this to calm my giddy nerves!

The Supplies
1.
1 -4 colors of washi tape all the same width (the tutorial uses 2 colors)
2. clear drying glue (I used Mod Podge)
3. a Q-tip or small paint brush for the glue
4. scissors

The Directions
Washi tape spire/chain.  Tutorial with pictures.
Fold the washi tape over on itself lengthwise to create a long strip.  I found it easier to keep it on the roll.  Do the same with the other color of washi tape.  The length of the strip will affect how long the spire will get.  Cut both strips to the same desired length.

Washi tape spire/chain.  Tutorial with pictures.
Glue the ends together to create a 90 degree angle.  To make it look more uniform, have your folded edges on the outside.  If you’re using one color, you only need one strip and can fold it in the middle to look like the red one in the picture.

Washi tape spire/chain.  Tutorial with pictures.
Once the glue is dry, take the strip that is on the bottom (the yellow one)  and fold it over the top strip (the blue one) creasing it where it meets the edge of the top strip.  The blue one is now on the bottom.  Fold it the same way over the yellow one.

Washi tape spire/chain.  Tutorial with pictures.
Continue folding this way until you reach the ends.  It’s best to hold onto the completed folds while you work and keep them squished together.

Washi tape spire/chain.  Tutorial with pictures.
If the end pieces are too small to complete a fold, just cut them off.  Glue the ends together.

Washi tape spire/chain.  Tutorial with pictures.
Let go of your folds and it will spring out into a fun spire!  You can also make larger, 4 colored spires by doubling 2 colors of tape for each strip. Think of all the fun ways you can use these!  Cards, scrapbooking, washi bracelets and earrings, and of course as floral decorations!  These can easily be made using strips of paper as well.

Hope you enjoyed these tutorials and have learned some new ways to use your washi tape!

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

Your opinions and thoughts mean a lot to me.  I would love for you to leave me a comment below.  Thanks for stopping by today!

14 Comments

Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Free Tutorials, One Crafty Contest, Washi Tape

Junk Mail Paper – Part One

I love it when you can take something completely useless that you would otherwise throw away and make it into something functional and beautiful!  One of those useless items is junk mail!  Usually it’s covered in print, so it doesn’t make good scrap paper, especially if it has personal information on it.  Then it’s straight to the shredder or rip it up before tossing it.  You COULD give it to your little ones and let them have fun scrunching it and tearing it up, but that’s about all it’s good for, right?  Well….. I’m going to show you a few awesome things you can do with your unwanted mail.  This also includes any used scrap paper, old bills to be shredded, leftover homework, tissue paper that no longer looks pretty, toilet paper (unused!), paper towels (unused!), and almost any type of paper that you would otherwise throw away.  I’m going to do this as a series of posts, so this doesn’t get super long!

First off, we’re going to recycle that paper into new paper!  Already recycle your unwanted paper? Awesome!  Unfortunately, we don’t have recycling pick up services in our area, and recycling ANYTHING means hoarding big piles, lugging it to the recycle bins at the dump, and waiting in line since everyone seems to do it on the weekends! So, to be honest, we don’t recycle as much as we used to since living here.

Junk Mail Paper - Part 1 of a series.  Paper making and other ways to recycle junk mail!
Have you ever seen that pretty homemade paper that looks like linen?  Or has colorful thread or dried flowers in it? Or maybe you received a wedding invitation on plantable paper with seeds in it?  Most of the time what you’re looking at is homemade paper.  And what is homemade paper?  It’s just the process of recycling old paper!  And that’s what I’m going to show you how to do.

Don’t get overwhelmed by this.  It is very easy.  Once you have all of your tools and supplies assembled, it’s really easy to pull them out each time you want to make paper.

First of all, you will need a mold and deckle.  Huh? What’s that?  For your benefit, I’ve included a glossary of terms at the very end of this post. Go check it out.  I’ll still be here! You can purchase a mold and deckle kit at most craft stores.  However, I’m going to show you how to make one for a fraction of the cost.  If you would rather buy one,  skip down 3 pictures, and start reading where it says, The Supplies.

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The Supplies
1.
two empty wooden frames – one bigger than the other (check your thrift stores and yard sales!) I recommend small frames for beginners and then working up to a full size sheet of paper.
2.
window screen
3.
hammer and short nails or a staple gun
4.
scissors

The Directions
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Place the window screen on top of the larger frame.  Nail it down or staple it while pulling the screen tight in all directions.
You can see in my picture that this frame once had a screen on it.  It got a lot of use and wasn’t as tight as I wanted, so I put a new screen on.

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Using a scissors, cut the window screen around the frame.  You now have a mold!  Easy right?  Put the mold and deckle (smaller frame) off to the side while we get our paper making supplies together.

The Supplies
1.
paper to be recycled
2.
a plastic tub that is wider and longer than your mold and deckle and preferably has a lid
3.
large spoon
4.
a blender
5.
heavy towels (like bath towels)
6.
several thick sponges
7.
several pieces of white felt
8.
water
9.
heavy books or equivalent (optional)
10.
a paper shredder (optional)
11.
an iron and ironing board (optional)
12. wire kitchen sieve (optional)
13. Ziploc bags or similar (optional)

The Directions
I recommend doing this outside. You can do it inside. Just pick a place that has water friendly surfaces.

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If you have a paper shredder, awesome! If not, you can tear your paper into small pieces.  I would try to stay away from really thick paper especially if it has shiny print.  Remove the plastic from envelope windows. Magazines and newspaper are ok!  The mix of paper you use will determine what your new paper will be like.  You can mix different kinds to get different thicknesses and textures.  What I’m going to show you is the SIMPLEST form of paper making.  There are so many fun ways you can do this and things you can add to your vat or mold.  Let’s keep it simple for now.

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Fill your tub with warm to hot water.  A lot of people skip this step and go straight to the blender.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  Your blender won’t have to work so hard and you’ll get smoother pulp.  Add your shredded paper. This is an awesome kid activity!  M did a lot of this himself.  Obviously, children should not use a paper shredder, and young children should not use a blender.

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So I’m going to stray one step from simple, but it’s still easy.  One of the easy ways to color your paper is to add a little bit of shredded, colored tissue paper.  This batch will produce lime green paper.  I have a lot of junk mail envelopes with the blue security print in this batch.  Basic color mixing: blue + yellow (tissue paper) = green. If you use white printer paper with a lot of black print on it, your paper will usually result in an off white color (linen).  Just like most things that are wet, your pulp will be a lot darker in color than what your finished dry paper will be. Use a large spoon to push all of the paper under the water.  You can definitely use your hands if your water isn’t too hot.  M loved this!  The paper will stick all over you though.  Let the paper shreds soak in the hot water until they are soft.  This only takes minutes for regular printer paper. Thicker paper will take longer.

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This batch will come out gray and will be featured in other parts of this paper making series.

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Scoop your softened paper into the blender.  M’s open mouth expression.. “Ohhh, cool!”

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Add some of the hot water.  There are no specifics to this.  You just need enough liquid to help puree the paper. You don’t need to add anything else.  The bonding materials in the original paper are enough to bond new sheets of paper. Blend it up. Yay for outdoor outlets! For beginners, I suggest blending it as smooth as you can.  Add more hot water as needed and stir it once in a while (while it’s off). If you’re worried about dulling your blades, use a separate blender just for paper making (again, check your thrift stores and yard sales). Keep the leftover water in the tub.

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I’m not going to lie to you.  The pulp is going to look pretty disgusting. Especially if you’re not using fun, bright colors. This is the gray batch again and will be in the pictures from here on out.

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Pour the pulp back into the tub.  Don’t worry if you have a few leftover shreds of unblended paper in there.  It will just add character to your new paper.  Just pour a little at a time.  You’re going to have to experiment with how much you need when you make your first piece of paper.  I always add more warm water at this point too.  It helps to have several inches of the water/pulp mixture in the tub.  You’re going to be sticking your hands in this, so warm verses cool water is a personal choice. Put a thick towel folded in half next to your tub.  Have your felt and sponges ready.

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Get your mold and deckle.  Put the deckle on the center of the screen on the mold.  Hold it by its sides so you’re pinching the 2 frames together. Try not to touch the screen.

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This next part might be hard to understand.  So if you have questions, please ask in the comments below.  While holding your mold and deckle, submerge your hands into the vat.  Gently swirl and stir the pulp to try to evenly distribute and suspend the fibers in the water.  Don’t create large waves. Now lift your hands out, and with the water moving, scoop the mold and deckle down to the bottom of the tub. In other words, start with the mold and deckle at a 90 degree angle with the deckle facing away from you.  Insert it into the water starting at the side of the tub closest to you, and using a scooping motion, move it to the bottom of the tub so it is flat again.  The goal is to get underneath as many of the fibers as you can.  Then gently stir the water again, moving your hands towards you and away from you.  Take the slightest pause in the middle of the tub and immediately, but gently, pull your mold and deckle straight up out of the water while keeping it level.  Whew! Did you get all of that?  Again, if you have questions, please ask!

It’s actually really easy!  That whole process only takes 5 – 10 seconds. If you can get your pulp evenly distributed, and pull straight up, you’ll have an even sheet of paper on your mold.  This is where you’ll need to decide if you should add or take away pulp to get the desired thickness of your paper.  The more paper you make from one vat, the more pulp you’ll need to add.

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Let the excess water drip off of the mold while you hold it over the tub.  You can tip it slightly to let water run off the corner.  While keeping it straight, lift the deckle straight up and off of the mold.  Put a piece of felt on top of your newly formed sheet of paper. If you’re making small paper, put it close to the edge so you can fold the felt on top of it in a later step. You can also turn your mold upside down and put it on felt that way.  The paper won’t fall off and will stick to the mold.  Put it on the towel.  The felt should be in between the towel and mold so the back of the mold is facing up.  Take your sponges and start sponging up excess water.  Squeeze them out periodically into your tub.  Switch to dry sponges and let the damp ones dry to speed up the process.

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Next is to couch the paper.  For beginners, the easiest way is to keep sponging and replacing the towel if needed until the mold pulls away leaving the paper on the felt.  If you have little patience like me, you can sponge it to a point where you can peel the paper off the mold.  This is a little bit risky.  The wet paper will easily tear and it might fall wrinkled onto your felt.

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Here is a fully couched paper.  See the wrinkles?  Oh well.  It’s also normal for some to stay behind on the edges of your mold.  This is especially true if your deckle wasn’t flush with your mold.  In this case, my nails were too long and prevented the deckle from completely touching the screen. Once you get the hang of it, you can really produce a lot of paper fast.

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All that’s left is the drying process!  You can let it dry naturally or do a few things to speed it up.  I like to fold my felt over the paper.  I can usually fit two pieces of paper per piece of felt.  If your paper is bigger, just place another sheet of felt over it.  With an iron on low – and I stress LOW! – you can  iron over the felt to dry more of the water. Craft felt sheets are synthetic and will toast if your iron is too hot.  Ask me how I know!

From here you can leave it in the felt to dry.  You can also stack the felt and put heavy books on top to help them dry flat.  Let me tell you, your paper will take days or even weeks to dry this way! So another option is to open up the felt, tip it over, and let them peel off onto a water safe surface to dry.  I like to use my ironing board, because once they are dry, I iron them flat (iron on low!).  This is similar to ironing sewing patterns if you’re a sewer.

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(This picture shows wet verses dry)
You could really speed up the drying process by using the iron directly on the wet paper.  This takes practice and skill.  At all costs you want to avoid actually ironing the paper, but instead press it with the iron (again on low!).  Trust me, your paper will crumble and stick to your iron if you at all rub the iron on it while it’s wet. Always leave a corner peeking out of the iron so you have something to grab onto to pull it off.  Your paper won’t evenly dry this way and you may end up with some scorch marks.  But it’s a good method for the brave and impatient!

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Experiment with different colors and textures.  Veer away from the simple and add embellishments to your paper!  You’ll have a nice pile of paper like this with natural deckle edges! Some of these have some yellow thread in them.

Now, don’t throw away your vat of pulp!! First of all, you can save it and make more paper with it in the future or mix it in with other vats.  Second of all, I’m going to show you some awesome things you can do with that pulp in other installments of this series. I’m also going to show you what you can do with your new paper.

To save your pulp, you can just cover it up, but only do this for the short-term.  Otherwise, pour the contents of your tub into a wire sieve.   Do this outside and NOT over your drain please.  The sieve will collect the pulp the same way the screen on the mold does.  You can use your fist to squeeze a lot of the water out.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Store your wet pulp in an airtight Ziploc bag or something similar.  So far, I’ve had batches of mine keep this way for 3 years and counting.  I just use what I need when I want it.

If you’re not already following me or subscribed by email, make sure you are so you are notified of other installments of this series!  You can find the email subscription link on the top right side of this page. And one more reminder: if you have questions about this project, PLEASE ask, and I will do my best to answer them.  Now start recycling your junk mail and I’ll meet you back here for Part 2!

Glossary of Terms
Mold and Deckle
– A 2 part frame used to make the paper.  The bottom part is the mold.  It is larger and has a screen on it.  The upper part is the deckle.  It determines the shape and size of the paper.
Pulp
– A mix of plant fibers and water.
Vat
– The container that holds the pulp from which the paper is produced.
Couch
– (pronounced “cooch”) The process of transferring a newly formed sheet of paper from the mold to felt.
Deckle Edge
– The natural, untrimmed edge formed on the paper by the deckle.

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

Your opinions and thoughts mean a lot to me.  I would love for you to leave me a comment below.  Thanks for stopping by today!

20 Comments

Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Free Tutorials, Kids' Crafts, Paper, Upcycled

Mail Center – Upcycled Formula Tubs

mail14
Here’s a project I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting to do.
It involves spray painting, so I’ve really just been waiting on the warm weather.
Just when I think it’s getting warm enough to spray paint.. NOPE!.. we’re hit with a blizzard.. in the middle of April!
Well, we’ve had 2 days in a row that have been in the 80’s, and no snow in the forecast.  So I figured it was finally time to conquer this upcycling project!

mail13
Here’s the plan:  to turn formula tubs into a mail center.  Are you excited? Here’s the how to..

The Supplies
1.
clean, dry formula tubs
2.
spray paint that adheres to plastic
3.
scrapbook paper or fabric
4. scissors and ruler or paper cutter
5. lettering – stencils, cutouts, stickers, stamps, vinyl – you choose
6. glue – I used Mod Podge
7. soda can tabs
8. hot glue

The Directions
Start with clean, dry formula tubs.  If you can’t get your hands on some formula tubs, I’m sure there are other items that would work.  For instance, the french fried onion tubs are similar, but just a little smaller.
(Let me just say, I’m all for breastfeeding!  But my health and the medications I take made that a challenge for me, so that’s why I have these tubs)

Carefully pop the covers off.  If you do this too fast, the little plastic rods will snap and go flying.  The covers are fairly easy to take off.
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Spray paint the tubs.  Mine only took one coat, but it was a paint and primer in one.

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You may want to paint the insides to give them a more uniform look.

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Next, take your scrapbook paper or fabric and cut it into strips.  My paper was 12 x 12.  It wasn’t long enough to wrap all the way around the tub, but enough to cover the sides that would be showing.
I cut my paper at 3.5 inch intervals.  So my strip size was 12 x 3.5.  You can of course make wider or narrower strips depending on how much of the paint you want to show or how big your letters are.
My paper cutter has been on the winning side of hide-and-seek since we moved to this house almost 2 years ago.  I was pregnant at the time, so family helped pack us up, which resulted in not knowing what went in what box!  There’s a lot of hiding items yet to be found.  So I had to cut my strips in the more time consuming way.
I could only get 3 strips out of one paper.  So for the fourth strip, I started up 1 inch from the bottom of a second piece of paper before cutting my 3.5 inch strip. That way none of the 4 strips would be identical.
Does that make sense?  In other words, if I hadn’t done that, my first and fourth strip would be identical because they would be cut from the same edge of each piece of paper.

—–
I forgot to take pictures of this next part.
Glue your strips to the tub.  Put glue on the center of your strip and position it on the front center of your tub.  I found it easier to not have glue on the whole strip while I was trying to get it in the right position.  Once you’re happy with where it is, glue down the rest of the paper.

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Then I got my lettering ready.  It took me awhile to decide how I wanted to do the letters.  At first, I wanted to stencil them on with a creamy white paint that matched my scrapbook paper.  But when I tried it out on a scrap piece, it didn’t come away with clean edges.
So I decided to go vinyl!  This was actually perfect, since vinyl is repositional, you don’t have to worry about crooked, unevenly spaced letters.
Unfortunately, I’m not blessed to own a Cricut or Silhouette, so I used the same method I used to make the monogram for L’s nursery.  You can read about it HERE.
I traced letters on to the back of my vinyl, making sure to trace unsymmetrical ones backwards. (ignore the extra markings in the picture, they are leftovers from a different project) Then I carefully cut out each letter.
Now add your letters!  Mine say:  OPEN, PAY, AWAY, ITEMS.  Short words worked best for me, but yours can say what ever you want.  Other examples: IN, OUT, PENS, KEYS, SUPPLIES, STAMPS, COUPONS, RECEIPTS.

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We’re not only going to upcycle the tubs, but upcycle some soda can tabs! They will be used to hang the tubs to the wall.
There are different ways of doing this.  The most common way is putting a screw through the little hole on the bottom of the tab to attach it to your item.  Well… 1. I can never get the tabs off with those little circles in tact. And 2. I didn’t want an unsightly hole going through the container.  I opted for hot glue.
I bent each tab slightly while holding it over the edge of my kitchen counter. Then, I marked the same spot on the back of each container as a guide, and glued them on.  I added an extra layer of hot glue on the top to really bury the tab in glue.

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Now hang them up, be proud of your work, and enjoy the organization!

We were in desperate need of a mail sorting system.  We usually have random piles sitting around the house…
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Like this one on the kitchen counter…

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and all this opened mail that’s invaded the wine rack.  There’s usually a pile or two on the dining room table, too….

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But this is just so much better!  And now you have a sneak peak into our kitchen makeover!

Thanks for stopping by today! If you have any questions about this project, please put them in the comment section.

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

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Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Free Tutorials, Kitchen, Kitchen Makeover on a Budget, Upcycled

Pasta Play!

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When I was making my Knife Garden the other day, I couldn’t resist coloring some pasta for my boys, M and L.  Look at how vibrant and fun they are!  The directions for dying the pasta are almost the same as the spaghetti for the Knife Garden, but these take a lot less time.

The Supplies
1. pasta – pick fun shapes and ones that can be strung!
2. rubbing alcohol or vinegar
3. liquid food coloring
4. Ziploc type bags
5. cookie sheet
6. aluminum foil
7. paper towels

The Directions
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Put your pasta into Ziploc type bags.  Use one bag for each color you want to make.  If you’re using more than one type of pasta, you could do one color per type, or have a mix of them all per bag.
Next, add rubbing alcohol or vinegar to the bag.  It doesn’t have to completely cover the pasta, but should at least cover half of it.  I used rubbing alcohol, because it was what I had on hand.  Vinegar would be a safer option for younger kids who still explore items by putting them in their mouths.
Add food coloring to each bag.  Make sure to add it to the rubbing alcohol and NOT directly on the pasta. Use about 10 drops per snack/sandwich size bag. Use more if it’s a very light color, like yellow.
At this point, you might want to double your bags to prevent leaks.  Mine stood up really nice on the counter, so I decided it wasn’t worth wasting the extra bags. Now gently shake your bags until the color is evenly mixed in the rubbing alcohol and each piece of pasta has been saturated.  Let them sit for 5-10 minutes.  Give them another shake.  Repeat this until you achieve the desired color.  Mine only took about 30 minutes.

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Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil to protect it from the food coloring. Then lay down a couple layers of paper towels on top of the aluminum foil (all of my cookie sheets were occupied at the time with piles of spaghetti, so I improvised and used a muffin tin). Take your pasta out of the bags (you can use gloves).  Let excess coloring solution drip into the bag before placing them on the paper towels. It’s best if you can lay them out flat in a single layer. They will dry faster and won’t clump together. Let them dry completely.

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I found this pack of 4 food safe containers for less than $2.  I LOVE the bright lids.  I divided the pasta between two containers, put scooping utensils and stringing shoelaces in another, and left the fourth empty to dump the pasta into!

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I taped the middle of two shoelaces to the inside bottom of one container.  This solved the problem of tying a knot at the end.  It also makes it easier to string the pasta on when the shoelaces are anchored.  AND I won’t find stray shoelaces in some random corner of the house – it’s easy clean up!

Now the FUN part!  Let the kids play, and watch their brains go to work!  Just think about all the learning opportunities here:  color sorting, shape sorting, patterns, fine motors skills… and to them it’s just playing!

My boys loved this!
Get ready for a picture parade!

M staying up past bedtime to try out the new activity!
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L enjoying it the next day – he only tried to eat them twice 🙂 but I stopped him in time.
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This is an awesome sit-down activity that will keep the kids focused for a long time!
Don’t those vibrant colors make you want to sit down and play too? 😉

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

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Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Free Tutorials, Kids' Crafts

DIY Knife Garden – A Universal Knife Holder

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Have you seen those bamboo universal knife holders, where you just plop in a knife? It’s a pretty cool idea.  I’ve seen a lot of projects on Pinterest that try to replicate them, but they all use bamboo skewers or broom bristles. I wanted to make my own, but didn’t like the idea of either of those.  The skewers seemed to0 stiff, and something about using broom bristles to hold my knives just didn’t sit right with me.  Neither option gives you a lot of color choices.

So I instantly had an idea:  SPAGHETTI NOODLES!
They are thinner than bamboo skewers and don’t require a saw, and they don’t have that ick factor that the broom bristles do.  Spaghetti is a little bendable -PERFECT!- and you can make it any color you want.  I was dying to put this idea together.  I must say I’m pretty happy with the results!! 🙂

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The Supplies
1.  sturdy container
2.  spaghetti noodles
3. several gallon size or larger Ziploc type bags
4. rubbing alcohol or vinegar
5. liquid food coloring
6. cookie sheets or hard floor
7. aluminum foil or an old water proof tablecloth
8. paper towels
9. kitchen scissors
10. knives!

Tips
1.
When you pick out a container, it MUST be taller than your longest knife blade measuring from INSIDE the bottom of the container to the top edge.  This way you won’t break the tip of your knife or cut the bottom of your container when you plop in in there. It can be any shape – round, oval, square, or rectangle, but should be the same shape and diameter from top to bottom.  It should not be graduated or curve in or out.  Make sure it is wide enough to hold all of your knives. This is a great way to recycle – can you say oatmeal container?? 🙂
2. I suggest getting regular spaghetti.  Thin and angel hair might break easily during the dying process.
3. To make this project SUPER easy, don’t dye the spaghetti!! There, I just saved you a ton of time!  But come on.. you know you want to dye it!  So many pretty color options to match your kitchen!! 🙂
4.  Works best if you can work by a window on a slightly breezy day.

Ready??  Let’s make a Knife Garden!!

Directions
Start with a clean container.  Make sure it is THOROUGHLY dry.  Start filling it up with spaghetti.  Stop when it’s full, and gently dump it out.  Add a couple good handfuls more to your pile.  This is in case you break any or don’t get them flat enough to dry.  It’s great to have extra, and not have to start at the beginning!

EVENLY divide your spaghetti into Ziploc type bags.  Don’t overcrowd, just do whatever fits comfortably.
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Pour enough rubbing alcohol (or vinegar) into each bag to cover the spaghetti. Try to put the same amount into each one. If you use vinegar, pull your spaghetti out at the first sign of it going soft.  Add your food coloring.  Put the same amount in each bag and use a lot! I used about 40 drops per bag.  Squirt it into the rubbing alcohol, not directly on the spaghetti. Remember, you can combine colors here!  If you’re using lighter colors, you will need a lot of food coloring.  Darker colors like blue and red probably only need 10 drops per bag.  You can always add more later if you want it darker.  You could also do a different color per bag, and make a multicolored garden!

Now seal your bag and put it inside another bag.  We don’t want any leaks! Slowly shake and turn the bag to mix in the coloring and saturate the spaghetti. Put it down flat for 30 mins, shake it around again, and put it down on its other side for 30 mins.  Keep doing this until the spaghetti is the color you want. You’ll be surprised how vibrant the color will get each time you check on it. You should be done in 1-3 hours.  Don’t let it sit too long – your coloring solution will start to look murky and your spaghetti might stick together as they dry.

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Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil and top them with paper towels.  Or put down a large waterproof tablecloth on the floor and put paper towels on top of that.  You could also put a layer of aluminum foil in between the tablecloth and paper towels.  We are trying to spare our drying surfacing of food coloring.

You could use gloves for this next part if you want.  Take your spaghetti out of the bags and lay it FLAT on your drying surface.  Make sure you let as much excess coloring solution as you can drip into the bag before you move it to the paper towels.  Don’t layer your spaghetti more than a few layers.
Now let it dry!  You can help this along by opening a window and letting in a cool breeze.  Also ‘stir’ your spaghetti every once in awhile.  Just rake them with your fingers to help roll them around.

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Once your spaghetti is COMPLETELY dry, start putting it in your container.  I used a square glass vase and found it easiest to lay it on its side to fill it.  That way all the spaghetti went in nice and straight.

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Flip up your container.  Shake it around or do whatever you have to do to get it all to fit right.  You want it mostly packed, with a little bit of wiggle room.  Put your knives in to find the right density of spaghetti.  Fill or take out what you need.

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Now it’s time to do some landscaping on our Knife Garden!  Use a kitchen scissors or a very sharp scissors to trim the top.  I found it easiest to tip it on its side over the kitchen sink, because those trimmings will fly everywhere! If it’s on its side, the trimmings won’t go down into the container either! Make it as even or uneven as you want, but make sure the spaghetti doesn’t stick out much more than an inch from the top.   If the spaghetti goes much higher than the container, your knives might fall out since the handles make them top-heavy.

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Plop your knives in, and admire your new garden!

(make sure your knives are completely dry each time you stick them in)

I love how compact this is. Those angled knife blocks take up a lot of room, especially if you have teeny kitchen like me!

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Here are some other examples of how you could dye your spaghetti.  I really like the ones on the left. Maybe I’ll make a garden for my craft desk to hold some of my jewelry tools.  You don’t just have to limit it to knives!

I would love to see your Knife Gardens! Post a link in the comments!

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

16 Comments

Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Free Tutorials, Kitchen, Kitchen Makeover on a Budget