Friday, November 6, 2009

Monsters In My Closet

Holiday inspiration often hits me a day or two before the actual holiday, which is why I'm posting my monsters in November. I saw these cute monster wash cloths at Target and for some reason had this idea to cut shapes out of the wash cloths, sew said shapes together and stuff full of rice as a gift. (Filling with rice lets you to microwave the monster to use as a small heating pad.) It was a good, quick project.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mother's Day

The beginning of May is just around the corner. It's time to start thinking of Mother's Day gifts and cards, especially for those of us who have to mail packages. So that no one has an excuse not send their mothers a quick "hello," I have two different cards for you that are free to download and print. (Just click on the picture.)

Try this simple pop-up card if you want more of a challenge. When assembling, look at the photograph, score all your lines, cut where indicated, and when placing the inner part of the card inside the outer cover of the card, make sure to keep the edges of the card aligned. This will help you nestle the pieces properly.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Going Fishing

My daughter and I enjoy watching Discovery Channel's series, "Deadliest Catch." I started recording and watching the show shortly after my son was born. I thought it a fitting coincidence that crab fishermen, like new mothers, don't get sleep for weeks at a time. Combine that with an inherent love for all bodies of water and their respective inhabitants, and I was "hooked."

My daughter and I began playing our own game of "Deadliest Catch" where we pretended to crab fish using square wooden blocks for pots, and small kick boards for our crab boats. Our crab totals were arbitrary numbers we pulled from the air but as we played I realized this game had great potential for practicing basic math skills like sorting, counting, adding, subtracting, averaging, and others, depending on how you played it. What I needed were crab pots that could catch crab, some crab of various sizes, and a boat. This project is the result.

THE CRABS: The crabs in the photo are made from printable shrink-plastic sheets found at your local craft store. They are designed to be punched out with the oval EK Success Paper Shaper Punch to reduce cutting time. If you don't want to invest in the shrinkable plastic, printing the crab on cardstock will also work. Either way you should print off several sheets of crab. You may have to print more if you want your kids to work with larger numbers. Also worth noting is that there are two kinds of crab. King crab have the little crowns above them, and the Opilio crab are the brownish ones without the crown. To be a purist, you should fish for one or the other, not both because they are fished in separate seasons.

THE POTS: Print off as many pots as you see fit, according to the math level you wish to cater to. Notice that the pot is basically 1/2 of a paper box. Keep this in mind when folding and assembling the pot. As always, score all of your lines prior to folding them. For best results, try to place your score lines in the middle of the brown lines, or "metal" frame of the pot.

THE BOAT: The crab boat's design is based on my favorite crab boat and crew, "Time Bandit." To assemble the boat, begin with the Boat Bottom Front. Score and cut as shown, then glue or runner tape* tabs to create the curved hull. Score and cut out the boat bottom, fold up the sides and then align the Boat Bottom Front and glue to the Boat Bottom. When done correctly, the bottom of the boat will be one solid piece of paper. From that point, adhere the deck on one side. Align the Front Light Base and the Crane Base and adhere to the bottom of the boat. Then finish adhering the other side of the deck. Assembling the deck in that order just lets you get a good seal on the crane base and light base. Next glue the two pieces of the wheelhouse together and begin assembling it making sure the bottom of the wheelhouse stays open. You want to place the Back Lights Base up through the roof of the wheelhouse and then close up the bottom of the wheelhouse and then press down the Back Lights Base to adhere it to the inside. For the black outer shell, adhere the front part first, making sure the center of the hull and the center of the shell align. Next, glue the sides and then finally the back. For a more finished look, color all black pieces with black permanent marker on the thin sides and back of the paper. It looks as good as if you printed it on black cardstock to begin with.

How We Play:
We take our boat--it can be the paper one I've designed or whatever you want to use-- and drop our pots into the ocean (place them on the floor). Next we toss the crabs into the air, over the pots, to simulate a soak (note that the heavier plastic pieces work best for this reason. Paper pieces don't toss as well.). Then we haul in our catch, keeping track of the crab that are "keepers", or large male crab. Females, juveniles, cod fish, starfish, octopus, and squid, all get thrown back into the sea. After taking your keeper crab to port you can set out again to try and catch some more. The person who hauls the most wins. Or the person who meets their quota without going over wins. If none of this makes sense to you, I highly recommend watching Deadliest Catch so it does. I just don't feel qualified enough to explain crab fishing.

*I have tried many different glues and tapes. Here are my findings based on my experience.
I understand that nothing holds like white glue. I, however, don't like to use it because it's messy. Rubber cement doesn't hold too well over time, plus it yellows. As far as runner tape goes, I only like a few. Fiskars, Scrapbook Adhesives EZ Runner Tape (my FAVORITE), and Scotch by 3M are the only things I spend my money on. The cheaper brands just don't hold. Just be sure you get a 40% off coupon from your craft store before buying one (they ALL have them, either in the mail, through email, or newspaper ads). It's my understanding that products sold at craft stores are marked up double, so for heaven's sake, don't pay more than what it's worth.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Easter Greetings

This is the Easter Card I created and sent out last year. If there is anyone you wish to send Easter greetings to, here is a card to do it.

Gnome Sweet Gnome

It's my friend's birthday today. When she and her friends go out they get a picture of Mr. "Ibin Everywhere" (a garden gnome) hanging out with them. It got me thinking that if I had Mr. Ibin, he would be called "Ibin Nowhere" since I rarely, if ever, go out. It also got me thinking of ways I could make Mr. Ibin out of paper. This is my first attempt at creating this kind of paper toy and I was pleasantly surprised. I think I will play around with him some more and see what I can come up with.

Click here to download:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My New Paper Toy

Not too long ago I purchased a Craft Robo vinyl cutter. I like it ok but had some difficulties with it in the beginning. First of all, to get my product registered (which gives you the Adobe Illustrator plug-in application as well as a bunch of paper craft files) you must access the Craft Robo website directly from the Graphtec America, Inc. website. If you google "Craft Robo" you get a different website (I think it's a UK site) and your registration password won't work. So if you have problems with your registration working, make sure you're at the right site. In case someone is thinking about purchasing one or is having some difficulties with their Craft Robo, I have a couple of tips about designing templates and cutting cardstock. First off, when designing a template to be cut out of cardstock, make sure you break your cutting line to leave some of the paper in tact so part of the cut image doesn't get jammed in the machine while the rest of the image is being cut. For example, I used it to cut large paper dolls. It would cut fine from the head to the feet but as it rounded the legs and shifted to finish cutting up the other side, the trianglular space between the legs would get caught causing the paper to jam.
The next thing you have to look for is paper fibers getting caught in the blade. You'll know this because the tight corners of your image will bunch a bit. Just pull out the blade and make sure it's cleared of any paper fiber.
The type of cardstock you use is also a factor. There are some nice hot-pressed cardstocks out there that work beautifully and some really cheap ones (selling for the same price no less) that aren't so nicely pressed and ultimately gum up your blade. A brand to stay away from..."The Paper Company" Meadow Colors. Their primary colors seem to work ok, I don't know if it's the dye of the purples and some blues that make it a poorer quality, but it's misery to work with. Finally, the cutting area of the Craft Robo was much smaller than I thought. I knew the cutting area was smaller for print media, I just hoped I could maximize the 8.5x11 paper up to 1/2" all the way around for non-printed media. What I found out was that you really have to leave plenty of margin at the top and the bottom because the cutter runs the full length of the paper before it cuts. If you don't allow for the rollers to hang on to that paper with plenty of margin, the paper slightly shifts and your cutting lines are off. So that's something to watch out for.
I designed a card and table center piece for a function recently and got to mass produce these items for around 110+ people. The card shape was a basic circle so I designed it to fit a Coluzzle template. I have found that cutting circles with a Coluzzle is a lot easier than with other cutting devices. It was a pain to mass produce but with printing, Coluzzling the circles, cutting (with an xacto knife 4-5 at a time) and folding vellum envelopes, the project took me a little over 4 hours. A new record for me.
The table centerpieces were joined paper dolls. I wanted different colors on each paper doll so I had to design them to interlock. I used the Craft Robo to cut all 120+ of them. Note that for the function, balloons were flown from the center of the circle of dolls instead of the candle.

If you would like a template of my paper doll design, follow the link:

If You Build It They Will Come

I read in a magazine once that the season for Love Bugs begins in January and continues on through Valentine's Day. The article then went on to say that if you build a house for the love bugs they may spend the night there. If it's cozy enough, they'll nestle in for a bit and you can leave notes for them to respond to. It sounded fun so my daughter and I set out to create a home. My goal was to construct a basic paper house my daughter could decorate. Here is the template should you wish to create one.
After my daughter finished her house I decided to try one.

If you would like to download and print this house click here:

First Post

This is an experiment. I don't know if I have the attention span or dedication required to maintain a blog. Mainly because I have small children and so much of my life is dedicated to them. So, we'll see how this goes.