Monday, November 24, 2014

Wood Block Christmas Countdown

I saw a cute idea on Cottage Paint's Instagram feed that I thought would be fun to make with the kids.  As I opened the door to our workshop to cut some blocks, I was happily surprised to find a set all ready for me!  Turns out, I had an extra set of blocks cut AND sanded from making wood block pumpkins a few weeks ago.  Guess this project was meant to be!
We started with some wood blocking, reclaimed wood, of course :)
Brent cut this star out with a jig saw - you have no idea how hard it was for us to draw a star.  I'm talking tricky enough that we had to google it.  Pathetic, huh?
 Emma helped me do all of the painting.
Here's our first coats of paint on the blocks.  We used base coats of regular latex paint and then brushed metallic acrylic paints over top of each one.
To do the wording - because free handing was not an option - trust me, I tried - I followed Her Tool Belt's instructions.  She used Photoshop to get her lettering but since I don't have that, good ol' Microsoft Word worked just fine for me!
 We covered each block of wood with a layer of painter's tape.
 And laid our wording on top.
Using an X-acto knife, I cut around each letter.  I thought this process was going to be pretty quick.  Spoiler, it took forever.  But I put on my headphones and listened to a few episodes of Serial - which is amazing if you haven't heard it - and the time passed rather quickly.
Then I put a few coats of acrylic paint in a contrasting color over the lettering.  Peel the tape off when dry.
 For the top block, where the number of days was going to go, I used this chalkboard paint.
 I taped off a section of the block for the chalkboard paint.
 2 coats later and once it had dried, you can pull the tape off.
 At first, I was planning to glue all of the blocks together but then decided not to.  It will be much easier to store after the holidays if it isn't such a large piece, plus, it's much easier for the kids the erase the top block and write the new number for the day if they can lay it down to do it.

 This was a fun project and the kids are having a blast changing the number each day!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Instagram + Printicular = Ornaments

I'm guessing we are like most families, in that we take a million photos of our kids, vacations and special activities throughout the year but then the photos simply live on our computer.  We usually only print a family photo here and there because there just isn't a place to display the informal, yet just as important, special event photos.

One of our kids' favorite pastimes is to get out their big books full of baby photos we made for them several years ago.  When they were little, it was still totally normal to print gobs of photos instead of creating digital photo albums.

But why not create some special ornaments for the tree commemorating some of their favorite memories from the past year?  If we make just a few per year, at some point our tree will be full of all the little moments that shaped their childhood.
The materials for each ornament add up to about $2.50 each and were very simple to make!  We found these metal lids in the venting department at the home improvement store.  They are called round tee caps and come in all different sizes, 2" - 8" diameter.  Here's a link for something similar from Home Depot, although not the exact same as ours, these would work just as well.  Sometimes when I purchase candles, they have lids on them similar to these caps - so those would also be a perfect substitute.
The 4" seemed like the best size for the photos I was going to use and they cost just over $2.00 each.
I found a glass pyrex dish in our cupboard that was ALMOST the same size as the cap, which would mean once my photos were traced and cut out, there would be a small metal border around each photo.
For my photos, I downloaded the Printicular app to my IPad.  Printicular easily uploads your Instagram photos to Walgreens and are ready to pick up in an hour.  Walgreens is only blocks from our house and it's where we always have our photos printed, so this was a no-brainer!  Prices are about $.39/each.
I positioned my glass bowl on top of the photo and traced around it.
Cut out the shape....
I practiced my positioning to make sure they were going to look good before the glue went down.
And if you can believe this or not...this was my FIRST time using Mod Podge - pretty crazy, right!?  I brushed a coat of Mod Podge on the metal and then a coat on the back of the photo and stuck them together.  When that was dry, I brushed another coat over the top of the photo to seal it all in.
I asked Brent to drill a hole through the top of the ornament so I could attach my twine to hang it on the tree.  To do that, he used a nail set to make an indentation first.
And then he selected a drill bit, this size looked like it was going to work the best.
Before I put twine through the hole so they could be hung on the tree, I labeled the back of each ornament so we could remember the dates and special reason we had chosen that particular photo.
We love having these small tokens on our tree!  If our refrigerator wasn't stainless, I would have also attached magnets to the back so we could put them on the fridge year round.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DIY Dollhouse Furniture

One of our greatest sources of website traffic come from Pinterest with people searching out the doll house we built for Emma.  Not only did Brent build the dollhouse, he also built the furniture.  I'm not sure if you've shopped around for Barbie furniture, but if you have, you know it's expensive.  And flimsy.  We wanted to build sturdy furniture that wouldn't tip over when Barbie sat/laid/looked at it.

In my original blog post of the dollhouse there weren't any great photos of the furniture, so I staged a little photo shoot with better close ups of each piece.  I don't have any documentation of the building process since Brent made them several years ago, but I'm hoping with the dimensions provided and the photos, one could replicate the pieces.  As a side note, Brent built most of this furniture out of birch or cherry.

Baby Cribs

 In magical Barbie world, everyone has twins, so Brent built these little matching cribs.  
Dimensions are 5 3/4" tall by 4" wide by 6" long.  Brent said he first made a chunky base out of 4 pieces of wood, mitered at the corners.  Each side rail of the crib was built seperately, like fence panels, and were then glued to the base and pinned to each other with a nail gun.
You can see the small pin holes where he nailed the slats into the frame.  With all of the nooks and crannies on the crib, spray paint was the fastest and easiest way to paint these babies (no pun intended).  The mattresses are simply a piece of foam wrapped in a piece of receiving blanket that I cut apart.

Dining Room Table & Chairs

Barbie isn't doing anything if she isn't entertaining - which meant we needed a table for six.
These chairs are sturdy enough to hold Barbie and her friends in an upright position IF they have the types of legs that bend at the knee.  But really, unless Barbie has had too much to drink, her booty is not tipping out of these chairs.
Chair dimensions are 6" tall by 2 1/4" wide and depth is 2 1/2".  The height of the seat is 2 1/2".  
Table dimensions are 4 3/4" tall by 5 3/4" wide by 8" long.  Brent made the top first and then tacked each of the four legs to it.  The skirting was added last.

Bedroom Dresser

The dresser dimensions are 6 1/2" tall by 7 3/4" wide by 2 1/4" deep.
He started this piece with a solid block of cherry.  The grooves that give the appearance of drawers were made with a table saw.  To create a space for the four legs, he cut a dado/rabbit out of the four corners of the block with the table saw.  He then glued the legs in and glued the top on.

Coffee Table

I'd actually take one of these tables in human size!
Dimensions for the coffee table are 2 3/4" tall by 3" wide by 8" long.


Dimensions for the couch are 5 1/2" tall by 13 1/2" wide by 5" deep.

Here again, to make the cushions, I covered some foam in scrap fabric.
The back of the couch is cut at approximately a 10 degree angle, which would mean the arm was also cut at 10 degrees.  The seat and the front of the couch are two pieces nailed and glued together.

If I was really good with a sewing machine or hand stitching, I would have made way too many throw pillows for the sofa and bed - just to make Ken mad.

Bunk Beds

Dimensions for the bunk beds are 10" tall by 6" wide by 14" long.  
 I flipped the bed upside down so you can see how the underside was constructed.

Queen Size Bed

Dimensions for the bed are 8 1/2" tall by 8 3/4" wide by 14 1/4" long.  To create the reveal you see around the bed, Brent built a base first and then constructed a second frame to sit on top.  He built the headboard separately, like a fence panel and attached it with nails and glue.

The mattress is a piece of foam wrapped in a scrap of receiving blanket.
 Here is a view of the bed without the mattress on it.
If you flip the bed over, here's what you see.
If you're attempting to build your own furniture for some Barbie dolls, hopefully these images will be useful.  We're always happy to answer questions if you get stuck and need some help!