Monday, June 26, 2017

Triangular Storage Boxes (for awkward and unusual spaces)

We have a wooden corner unit in our basement that has these triangular shelves on both sides. They're great for displaying things but I wanted to add some closed storage to the lower shelves, so I had to design some custom boxes.

Once you figure out the angle, which isn't difficult, it's actually pretty easy to make the boxes. I covered mine with wrapping paper but you can decorate yours however you choose.

- cardboard box approximately the same size as the shelf
- flat cardboard pieces
- paper
- exacto knife, scissors
- ruler, pencil
- glue gun, glue sticks

1. Place a regular piece of paper on the shelf with one edge tight against the side. Bend the opposite side up so that you can press the paper tightly into the corner. Fold the paper firmly so that the folded edge is tight against the side of the shelf. This will be your template for creating the box.

2. Cut the top flaps off a cardboard box (and cut shorter than your shelf space, if necessary). Place it upside down on your work surface. Put your template UPSIDE DOWN on the bottom of the box with the 90 degree angle against one corner. Trace your angle, using a ruler to make the line longer if necessary. Cut this line and down the sides of the box at both ends of the line.

NOTE: If you have other shelves that are exactly opposite the one you start with, you should be able to use the same template, just place it right side up on the bottom of the box instead.

3. Measure the angled edge of the box at the inside of the bottom of the box. This length will be the length of the side piece of cardboard, plus an inch or so for flaps on both ends (for gluing). Measure the inside height of the box. This will be the width of the side piece, plus an inch or so for a flap along the bottom (for gluing).

4. Inside the bottom of the box, trim the inside flap(s) back from the angled edge to make space for the gluing flap on the side piece. Glue down the inside flaps. Check the side piece for fit, adjust if necessary, and glue in place. I glued the bottom edge first, then one side, then the other.

If you don't want to make a lid, skip to decorating and using the box.

5. Place the box upside down on another piece of cardboard and trace around it. Use a ruler to draw lines about 1/8" outside of the traced line (for folding). Draw more lines an inch from these lines (or more if you want a deeper lid). Cut on these lines. Cut some of the ends to make small flaps (for gluing). Fold on the fold lines.

6. Check to make sure the lid will fit. Glue the small flaps to the insides of the lid edges to form the lid. I also taped the corners that I felt needed a bit of extra reinforcement.

DONE. Decorate/cover the box however you like, fill it up, and stick it on the shelf.

(No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you - we painted the corner unit before I finished the boxes.)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Friendship Bracelet (Last Minute Teacher Gift)

It's the last week of school here and if you or your kids wanted to make something for their teachers, here's a quick and easy project that you can whip up "last minute". These bracelets are fun to make and your effort is sure to be appreciated. 

I quizzed one of my cousins who's a teacher about the best teacher gifts and her reply was simple: something personalized. I chose to use the school colors for the weaving and made it extra personal with letter beads spelling the teacher's last name. You can use whatever colors you prefer, and you could do initials, first name, or the year instead. You can also skip the beads if you're short on time.

Already finished school? Already got/made the perfect teacher gift? These bracelets are fun to make all summer to kill time by the campfire, beside the pool, or when the kids are bored. You'll be all ready to hand these out to friends and teachers at the start of the next school year.

- 7 strands of embroidery floss (or similar string) that are 2' long
- a circle of cardboard approximately 3" in diameter
- scissors
- beads

1. Visit this great tutorial for how to start and weave your bracelet: It's where I learned how to do it and I couldn't explain it better.

2. When you're about 3" from the ends of your threads, pull the bracelet off the cardboard circle.

3. Slide the beads onto the bracelet and tie a knot at the end of the weave. Trim the extra thread tails off so they match the end you started with.

4. Tie one end of the bracelet into a knot around the other end.

Pull the knot tight.

5. Repeat for the other end.

These knots will slide on the weave, allowing the bracelet size to be adjustable. DONE.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cardboard Spear and No-Sew Guard Costume

We were recently invited to a Mad Hatter themed tea party and I thought it would be fun if my son dressed up as a playing card guard to go with the theme. It was a quick and easy costume to create and the techniques can easily be adapted to suit other knight and guard costumes.


- large shirt
- duct tape
- scissors
- exacto knife and cutting surface
- pencil

1. Cut the sleeves off the shirt (unless you don't want to damage the shirt, then just skip to step 2).

2. Stick duct tape onto the cutting surface. Overlap strips to create larger pieces, if necessary. Draw a design on the duct tape. Cut out your design. Carefully peel the pieces off the cutting surface and stick them onto the shirt. DONE. (The duct tape should be easy to remove once you're done using the costume.)


- cardboard tube
- cardboard pieces
- duct tape
- scissors, exacto knife
- pencil

1. Decide on the design you want for the spear tip. I went with a simple diamond shape. Draw it onto a piece of paper or cardboard. Add a section approximately 3" long and as wide as the interior diameter of the cardboard tube (this is called the "tang"). Cut out this pattern piece and trace it onto more pieces of cardboard, then cut them out. I did six pieces. The tang might need to be narrower on your outside pieces of your pile in order to fit inside the tube.

2. Pile up the pieces and check to make sure that they fit into the tube. Make any necessary adjustments.

Glue the pieces together in a pile. Allow to dry.

3. Cover the tip and part way down the tang in duct tape. Slide into the tube to ensure that it still fits. Adjust if necessary.

4. Cover the cardboard tube in duct tape. Glue the tang inside one end of the tube.

DONE! Didn't I say "quick and easy"?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cardboard Mountie Hat - Canada Day

I wanted to make a special hat to wear on Canada Day but I couldn't come up with any ideas, so I hopped on Pinterest and searched "Canada hat" for inspiration. Unsurprisingly, the two most common results were toques (knit caps) and Mountie hats (RCMP Biltmore campaign hats). Since you rarely need a toque here on Canada Day, I decided to try my hand at creating a Mountie hat out of cardboard.

Light brown cardboard is the perfect material to use, since it's already the correct color and is sturdy enough to hold the shape while being pliable enough to form. The crown is a bit tricky, but if I can do it, you can.

The shape of these hats is designed to block sunlight and repel rain, but I would recommend trying to waterproof the cardboard with clear acrylic spray before you wear it in a downpour. This can be done once the hat is assembled. You can also paint the hat any color that you prefer, especially if you want to wear it for part of a drill sergeant or state trooper costume.

- cardboard sheets
- white glue
- glue gun, glue sticks
- ruler, pencil
- exacto knife, scissors
- ribbon
- items to decorate the completed hat (fake leaves, stickers, patches, etc.) - optional

1. Cut a strip of cardboard 6" wide by 25" long.

NOTE: This size will fit most adults and teenagers, but it sits a bit high on your head. To make it a different size, adjust the measurements while keeping the same proportions.

Also, if I make another hat, I plan to do it 7" wide instead of 6" and make the lines in step 2.A at 1" and 3" instead. This will make the hat an inch taller

2. Measure and mark the following lines/points:
A. horizontal lines 1" and 2" from the bottom edge
B. vertical lines every inch across the bottom edge up to the 1" horizontal line
C. vertical lines 3" down from the top edge at: 1", 6", 7", 12", 13", 18", 19", 24"
D. 45 degree angled lines down from the bottom points of the 3" lines (C) to the horizontal line 2" up from the bottom edge at: 2", 5", 8", 11", 14", 17", 20", 23"
E. angled lines from the top point of C to the bottom point of D
F. mark the point on E that is 1 3/8" from the bottom of the line, then draw a line that is 3" long from that point angled up to the top edge.
(You can erase the excess part of E or just ignore it when you're cutting).

3. Cut lines B, C, D, E, and F. Fold both A lines.

4. Bend the strip into a ring with the ends overlapping 1". Cut off one of the 1" squares that are overlapped.

5. Glue the overlapping areas together. I prefer white glue for this, held in place with binder clips while drying. Allow to dry thoroughly.

6. Use a glue gun to glue D to E and C to F. Glue two, glue the two opposite, then glue in between. The centers of the "diamond" sections should be pushed in slightly and the narrow sections should bow out slightly.

7. Flip the entire piece upside down on a small piece of cardboard and trace the small opening at the top. Cut out slightly bigger, check the fit, adjust if necessary, and glue gun in place.

8. Cut two 14" or 16" diameter circles from cardboard. (I did 16" but if I make another one I think I'll use 14".)

9. Place the top of the hat centered on one of the circles and mark the 8 corners where the 1" squares leave a triangular gap. Make small reference marks on the crown and brim so you can get it lined up correctly after you cut it. (I forgot to do this and trust me, you'll be happy you did it.)

Move the top of the hat. Draw lines between the 8 points to form an octagon.

Cut out the octagon.

10. Slide the circle with the octagon cut out over the top of the hat and check that it fits down flat over the sides and covers the 1" squares. Adjust if necessary.

11. Remove the brim and place it on the other circle. Trace the octagon onto the other circle and make a reference mark on the other circle. Cut out the octagon slightly smaller than the first one. I also rounded the corners a bit.

12. Glue gun the first circle in place to the top of the 1" squares. Glue the second circle to the bottom of the 1" squares and the bottom of the first circle.

13. Now it's time to decorate the hat. If you want to waterproof it or paint it, do that now.

Mountie hats have a medium brown hat band with a buckle, but I chose to glue gun on a red ribbon instead.

14. Add any other decorations that you like. I glued on some fake red maple leaves.


I think this would be a fun table center for a party too. What else do you think it would be good for?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Canada Day Wreath

There are so many talented people out there making amazing wreaths for all seasons and occasions and I was inspired to try my own. Since Canada will be 150 years old on July 1st, I decided to design a patriotic wreath for our house. The basic techniques can be used to make wreaths for other holidays, birthdays, or even to show support for your favorite sports team.

- foam core board (or cardboard)
- scissors, exacto knife
- acrylic paint, brushes
- pencil
- ribbon, fake leaves/flowers, other decorations, if desired

1. Draw a circle on the foam board whatever size you want the wreath to be. I traced around a dinner plate to make a fairly small wreath.

Draw a second smaller circle in the center of the first, leaving a few inches of space between the two circles.

2. Draw or trace a maple leaf in the smaller circle, making sure that several parts of the leaf extend past the line into the ring between the two circles.

NOTE: If you want to make the wreath more than a single layer thick, you can glue the layers together before or after cutting.

3. Cut out around the outside of the large circle.

Cut out the pieces between the small circle and the maple leaf.

4. Paint the maple leaf red. I did one coat of regular acrylic paint and one coat of pearl red.

5. Paint the ring between the circles white. I did one coat of regular acrylic paint and one coat of pearl white.

NOTE: The paint will probably warp the foam board. Painting the back side will help warp it back, or you can squish the wreath beneath something heavy to flatten it again.

6. Add whatever additional decorations that you like, such as ribbon wrapped around the ring or hanging down from the bottom, letter stickers spelling out "CANADA", or red and white glitter.

7. Decide how you want to hang the wreath and attach the necessary loop or piece to the back near the top.

8. Proudly hang your beautiful wreath on the door or wall. DONE!

I was thinking that a larger red ring around/behind this would look great if I decided to make it larger. What else do you think would be fun to try with this wreath?