Monday, October 16, 2017

DIY Cardboard Halloween Lantern

Since Halloween is coming soon, I thought I'd make a little cardboard lantern to decorate the table. This is a fairly easy craft that kids can definitely help with, but I recommend that an adult do the cutting and gluing.

You can make all four sides the same or different. I recommend not choosing really complicated "creatures", but the choice is yours. Bats, witch hats, pumpkins, cats, skulls, owls, the letters "B O O"... There are tons of possibilities.

- cardboard
- tissue paper (I used yellow, but you can use orange, green, purple, or whatever color you prefer)
- black acrylic paint, brush
- scissors, exacto knife
- glue gun, glue sticks
- white glue (optional)
- black ribbon

1. Cut a piece of cardboard that is 21" long by 5" wide. This will make a lantern that is a 5" cube with a 1" overlap to glue it together. Mark and score at 5", 10", 15", and 20".

2. Mark a 3" by 3" square inside each of your sides.

3. Draw your creatures inside these squares, leaving part of the creature attached to the sides of the square so that when you cut it out, it won't just fall out.

Carefully cut around the designs.

4. Measure and mark four triangles that are 3" high and 5" wide at the bottom.

5. Cut out the four triangles.

6. Paint the "outside" and edges of all the cardboard pieces black. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly.

7. Cut a piece of ribbon and tie a knot in it. I used a 6" long piece to make a short loop.

8. Cut four squares of tissue paper slightly smaller than 5" by 5". Use white and/or hot glue to attach the tissue paper squares to the "inside" of each of the lantern sides.

9. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

10. Glue the 1" flap to the inside of the far side to form the cube.

11. Glue the ribbon loop to the inside of the top corner of one of the triangles.

12. Attach the four triangles to the top edges of the cube. Glue one, then the opposite, then the other two. Glue between the triangles and fill in along all the edges.

13. Paint along the glue seams with black paint.

14. You can add a bottom to the lantern if you want (5" by 5" square). I wanted to put a battery-operated light inside mine, so I didn't put a bottom on.

15. Add a light inside and enjoy your spooky lantern. DONE!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Halloween Decoration: Cardboard Witch Hat

I always enjoy decorating for Halloween and this is a quick and easy project. It's perfect for a table centerpiece, something to hang in a tree, or even as a hat for a scarecrow. 

You can decorate the hat as much or as little as you wish, and it would be a fun project for a group of older kids at a Halloween party. You can easily add more ribbon, fake cobwebs, fake spiders, fake bats, miniature foam pumpkins, fake leaves, or other fall or Halloween decorations. You could also paint the hat a different color.

This hat could also be made to wear by simply cutting out the center of the base/brim. I recommend doing this carefully with an exacto knife after you've assembled it, since that would make it easier to avoid gaps between the cone and the brim, but it's up to you.

- large flat pieces of cardboard (the base/brim could be made of black foam board also)
- exacto knife/scissors
- glue gun, glue sticks
- black paint (I used acrylic with a foam brush but you could use spray paint)
- ribbon, twine, or other thick string to cover the seam between the cone and base/brim
- pencil, ruler

1. Draw a large half-circle onto cardboard. I did mine about 10" in diameter by pinning one end of my ruler to the cardboard and pivoting it on the pin while drawing my line with a pencil. You can also trace a really large circular object, like a laundry basket or pizza pan.

2. Cut out the half-circle.

3. Score and crease one side to help it bend nicely into a cone shape. I overlapped about 4" of cardboard, but you can trim some off to have a smaller overlap area.

Once you're happy with the shape, glue gun it in place. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

4. Cut out a large circle from cardboard. Mine was about 17" in diameter.

5. Glue gun the cone in the center of the large circle. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

6. Paint the entire hat black (or whatever color you prefer). Allow the paint to dry thoroughly.

7. Glue gun a piece of ribbon or similar material to the cone around the seam between the cone and the base/brim. DONE!

I haven't decided if I want to add anything more to my hat or leave it as is. I like the simplicity of it, but if something catches my eye, it might get a few more fun details added.

Monday, October 2, 2017

DIY Costume: Carmen Sandiego

I may be dating myself, but I used to love watching "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" on TV when I was a kid. Carmen was such a great character: the world's greatest detective who got bored with solving crimes and decided to become the world's greatest thief. Carmen and her henchmen would steal monuments, rare treasures, and other historical items from around the world, leaving clues behind to taunt the detectives chasing them.

Carmen resurfaced in several other TV shows, video games and books, changing her appearance slightly each time, but sticking to a few trademark items:
1. Red, wide-brimmed hat
2. Red jacket
3. Yellow scarf

I love dressing up for Halloween, whether I'm taking my kids trick'o'treating, handing out candy, or attending a party or event. Since I've always been a fan of Carmen Sandiego, and my hair is currently long like hers, I decided that this year I would dress as the famous thief. A trip to the second-hand store and a little online shopping gave me everything I needed for my costume.

1. Red, wide-brimmed hat
I ordered mine online for under $10. I found some at local thrift stores that I could have used if I had been pressed for time, but they weren't perfect. I considered using red spray paint to re-paint one that I found, but decided against it.

2. Red jacket
I found mine at a second-hand store for a few dollars. There are also many different styles available online.

3. Yellow scarf
I ordered mine online for about a dollar. I did see one at a second-hand store and several at dollar stores, but only after I had ordered online.

4. Accessories
Carmen sometimes carries a briefcase, but I decided on this great world map purse that I found online.

Carmen often steals famous monuments, so I added some key chains from around the world.

I couldn't resist this globe necklace. Isn't it the perfect accessory for a woman who literally wants the world?

I'm looking forward to wearing my costume and I hope you get creative and come up with your own Carmen Sandiego costume.

"Trick or treat detectives. This time, the trick is on you."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Hockey Puck Display Shelf

I love hockey and have a lot of hockey memorabilia in my collection. Pucks are some of my favorite souvenirs and when I was rearranging my "fan cave" this summer I decided to come up with a better way to display my pucks.

We had already painted the walls to mimic hockey arena boards: light grey at the top, a blue stripe across the middle (at 1m/39" up from the floor), white below the stripe, and yellow trim around the bottom. I decided that making a narrow shelf to mount on the blue stripe would be a great place to display the pucks.

This project requires some power tool usage, so I enlisted some help. For those familiar with power tools, this isn't a complicated project.

- wooden 2X4 or 2X2 cut to the length you want your shelf to be
- screws (2 1/2" or 3")
- latex paint or wood stain, paint brush
- wood filler or drywall putty, putty knife
- pencil
- sand paper

- table saw
- drill, drill bits, screwdriver bits
- level
- tape measure
- stud finder

1. Decide where you want to put your shelf (or shelves). I chose to put mine at 1m (39") up from the floor, but you might want yours up closer to the ceiling or above your TV or wherever. Measure the length of your space and decide how long you want your shelf. I wanted mine to go from the corner of the room across to my shelving unit. Cut your piece of wood this length.

2. My shelf has a groove that is 1/4" deep and a hair more than 1" wide. All hockey pucks are 1" thick and I wanted to make sure they didn't easily tip off the shelf if someone bumped it or the wall. My total shelf is 1 1/2" high (the same height as a 2X4) and just over 1 1/4" deep. You can adjust your groove to be deeper if you want more "lip" at the front, but keep in mind that this will hide more of the puck. Cut the groove down the length of the board.

3. Use a stud finder to find and mark your studs on the wall. My uncle showed me a trick for this: apply a strip of painters tape across the wall above and/or below where you want to put your shelf and make your marks on the tape. Once the shelf is mounted, remove the tape.

4. Get someone to help you hold the shelf in position on the wall. Balance the level on it to keep the shelf level. Use a drill bit that is the same size as the narrowest part of your screws (so that the threads would still "bite") and carefully drill through your shelf into the wall at the center of each stud.

5. Move the shelf and drill the holes in the wall deeper into the studs. Sand any rough spots that are sticking out.

6. Use a bigger drill bit and re-drill the holes through the shelf so the screws won't "bite".

7. Use an even bigger bit to drill just the very outside edge of the holes so the screw heads will "sink" in to the wood. Sand away any rough spots that are sticking out.

8. Paint or stain the shelf. Apply additional coats if necessary. Allow to dry completely.

9. Starting in the middle of the shelf, carefully screw the screws through the shelf and into the pre-drilled holes in the wall. Don't tighten any screws completely until you have all the screws in place. Tighten all the screws.

10. Fill the screw holes and paint over them. Apply additional coats if necessary. DONE!

Enjoy your beautiful handiwork as you display your puck collection.

Monday, September 18, 2017

DIY Cardboard Cupcake Stand

Cupcakes are a fun treat to serve at parties and events and a nice stand is a great way to present them. A stand also lets you maximize table or counter space while still offering a lot of cupcakes.

This stand is made out of cardboard and can be completely disassembled for flat storage. You can build it whatever size you need and decorate it to match any decor.

- cardboard
- exacto knife
- scissors
- white glue
- contact paper or similar
- electrical tape or other decorative tape
- pencil, ruler

1. Start by deciding what size you want to make your stand. I didn't want mine to be to large, so for my base I cut 4 pieces of cardboard 9" high by 10" wide. White glue two pieces together and the other two pieces together and let the glue dry.

In order to easily attach the three circular platforms for the cupcakes to sit on, I angled the sides of my base and cut notches out. At the top, the base is 2" wide. The platforms will sit at 1" from the top, centered (4.5" from top/bottom), and 1.5" from the bottom.

2. Once you have your base planned out, cut out the outside edge.

Mark the center of the base both ways. On one piece, mark a space from the center to the top that is about .25" wide (the thickness of your doubled cardboard). On the other piece, mark the same space from the center to the bottom.


3. Cut out these spaces. Assemble the base to ensure the cuts are wide enough and it fits together nicely. Adjust if necessary.


4. Determine the size of your platforms. I did circles but you can use squares if you want. My circles were approximately 13", 10.5" and 8" in diameter. (I traced around some plates and a large frying pan lid to make them.) Cut two of each size.

Glue the two pieces of each size together and let the glue dry. 

Mark the center of each circle. Mark an X in the center so that you can cut out the space for the platform to slide over the base and sit at the correct level. The smallest circle is the top one and the largest circle is the bottom one. Measure carefully and make sure your lines are at right-angles to each other.

5. Once you have your Xs marked, cut them out.


6. Test to make sure that your circular platforms fit onto the base and sit where they should. Adjust if necessary.

7. Now for the decorating!

I wrapped the edges of all my pieces with electrical tape first.

8. Then I covered the sides with contact paper. I did one side at a time and used my exacto knife to trim away the excess paper.


9. Cover all your pieces and trim away all the excess paper, including in your spaces for assembly.


10. Once all the pieces are covered, assemble them. Adjust any areas that are too tight by carefully trimming with the exacto knife.

DONE! Enjoy filling your stand with cupcakes!