How-To Tuesday: Cardboard Mailbox

26 Aug

Y O U ‘ V  E   G O T   M A I L  ! ! !

Finished-with-letterLast year, a pal confided that she thought texting and email was unattractive and tiresome. She also expressed concern that her seven-year-old daughter might never know the true beauty of the handwritten word if she didn’t start teaching her now. She decided shortly thereafter to unplug (as realistically as she could) and declared that she would help restore the dying art of carefully crafted handwritten letters.

I’ve since received several letters in the mail from her. She handwrites that she’s still going strong, using her cellphone strictly in its traditional form and has greatly reduced the frequency of emailing with her clients. And in recent letters, I’ve noticed her daughter has become a more prominent participant in the process–her notes and doodles accessorizing every envelope.

Which got me to thinking about other means of making letter-writing appealing to kids. The “mailbox” came to mind and how great it would be for kids to have their own physical personal mailbox. Just a small mailbox, I mumbled to myself. For little notes. For sharing… Teachers could use it in their classrooms. My niece and nephew could use it with their neighborhood friends. They could leave each other surprises.

TheCardboardBoxBookSo this week’s how-to post is a mini version of the mailbox from The Cardboard Box Book by Sarah Powell and Roger Priddy with illustrations by Barbi Sidobox. The Cardboard Box Book is family friendly, eco-conscious, and uses the cardboard box as the foundation for learning and creating. It shows kids that by using easy-to-find art and craft materials, the ideas, templates, and stickers included in the book, PLUS a ton of imagination, simple cardboard boxes can be transformed into a robot costume, a princess castle, a circus, and, of course, a mailbox!

I didn’t actually use a cardboard box or the stickers in the book to make my version of the mailbox. Mine measures about seven inches long and three inches high and I used instead the leftover cardboard packing material I had laying around–two pieces, sturdy, and used the terrifically illustrated and simple instructions from the book as a guide.

To make my version, I also used masking tape, scissors, white paint, stickers, glue, and designed/pseudo washi tape to decorate and personalize. Here’s how I did it:RoofInstructions

First, I CUT one of the cardboard pieces into a 12″ x 3.5″ strip. Next, I DREW the base as shown. cardboard-formThen, I CUT away the base, front and back, and door, SCORED and FOLDED the two center lines. Because of the size of my mailbox and thickness of the cardboard I used, I skipped the reinforcing brackets that you’ll notice in the instructions. Completely unnecessary. Cardboard-scoredNext, for the roof, I WRAPPED a long piece of cardboard around the mailbox base. I first used masking tape to stick the cardboard to one side of the base and then ROLLED the cardboard around the mailbox.Tape

I TAPED the connecting parts and cut the remaining excess cardboard. FormedMy last steps involved slapping on a coat of latex house paint. While waiting for the paint to dry, I CUT out the flag, “latch” to keep the door closed, and the letters M A I L from the cardboard scraps. For the last steps, I glued the cardboard letters on and used the designed tape as borders and accents.

Ta Da! Our How-To Tuesday Takeaway?  Try to find balance between the realm of the inbox and the mailbox. mailboxinbox

You’ll find the original big version of this mailbox and a slew of other fabulous cardboard box projects in The Cardboard Box Book, on the shelves and at your favorite online retailer:

TheCardboardBoxBook

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Freebie Friday: Stencil It!

22 Aug

For this Freebie Friday we decided to mix it up a bit. Instead of a pattern or project download, we’ve given you some FREE TIPS on using paint and a stencil brush from Stencil It so you can get started on your next design project immediately!

stencil 1   stencil 2    stencil 3

stencil it

There are lots of ways to customize your home: paint, new furniture, fancy home decor items from those fancy catalogs you never seem to ask for…but by far, one of the most expressive—and least expensive—is stenciling. Did you know stencils have been used for centuries to decorate interiors? It has come a long way these past few centuries! Helen Morris, founder of The Stencil Library, has kept stenciling a popular craft by developing numerous designs, styles, and techniques. (She’s even stenciled on glass, mirror, concrete, and even plaster.) Stencil It shows 101 ways to stencil in your home. From lamp shades to walls and even furniture, you’ll learn how to achieve new decorative schemes by using various configurations and color combinations to create a range of dramatically different looks. Stencil It comes with 15 specially-designed stencils to help you turn your entire home into a blank canvas.

Ready to start? Buy your book now!

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Goodreads Giveaway: 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters by Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza

3 Aug

On Friday, SMP Craft showcased our newest star: Melvin the Musical Monster and offered him as a free pattern download.

MelvintheMusicalMonster

We discovered Melvin in 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters: A Guide to Holistic Knitting, Yarn, and Life by Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza. He was hanging out with gorgeous scarves, beautiful sweaters, a purse, socks, elegant shawls… and urged us to check out his colorful world.

And so we did.

10 Secrets includes a bevy of exciting patterns aimed at knitters from beginners to experienced, and encourages us to relax and have fun, to see that knitting can be as much about process as about the finished product.

It didn’t take much time to convince us that every knitter needs to relax and have more fun and so we’ve decided to spread the good word with a Goodreads Giveaway of 10 Secrets. But, as we all know, all things, even good ones, eventually come to an end. This giveaway ends August 7, so if you don’t want to miss out on the chance to win a free copy of 10 Secrets, enter now!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters by Vicki Stiefel

10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters

by Vicki Stiefel

Giveaway ends August 07, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Patience not one of your virtues? Don’t fret. Purchase it this instant.

Cover_10-Secrets-of-LaidBac

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Freebie Friday: Melvin the Musical Monster

1 Aug

The moment I laid eyes on Melvin the Musical Monster, I knew he had me. MAKE ME! he pleaded. OKAY! I agreed. Which is why this Friday’s Free Pattern is Melvin the Musical Monster. Knitter Level: Recliner, a.k.a., Beginner.

Melivn_image1

I found Melvin in 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters by Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza. He was designed by Rebecca Danger.  I was reading each of these three women’s blogs (click on their names so you can, too!). When Vicki’s not busily knitting, she’s a mystery novelist with a slew of published works on murder and mayhem under her belt. Lisa founded Lisa Souza Knitwear and offers hand-dyed fibers to others through her website, lisaknit.com. And Rebecca has been writing patterns for her original toy designs (like Melvin!) since 2009.

I particularly love the tip you get with this Melvin pattern, which appeals to my crafting sensibility–enjoy the process as much as the product–and reflects the humorous tone of this book: “Any mistakes while knitting your Melvin will just give him more character!”

10 Secrets is peppered with these insightful witty gems alongside 27 patterns–complete with instructions and charts on how to make not only Melvin, but elegant shawls, chic sweaters, and colorful scarves, all beautifully photographed in full-color. In addition, it contains a wealth of other valuable and fun information including designer profiles, websites and other resources, information on fibers, spinning, and crochet, and much more.

Linda Cortright, publisher and editor of Wild Fibers magazine is spot on when she writes, “This is a book that will make every knitter feel more like a Zen master the next time they drop a stitch.”

Want more? Buy 10 Secrets at your favorite retailer.

Cover_10-Secrets-of-LaidBac

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I’m already imagining Melvin charming the pants off of everyone—big and little alike—hanging out at their homes, chillin’ on the sofa, lounging on the bed, sitting in the crib, bobbing up and down in a backpack headed to school for Show and Tell. He’s the kind of monster that brings color and fun into any environment.
BringMelvinHome
So let’s do this! Let’s all bring Melvin to life and give him a happy home—be it yours or a loved one’s.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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How-To Tuesday: Ready to Fly Penguin Karakuri (Mechanical Paper Model)

22 Jul

 

I’ve discovered a new craft obsession! Karakuri, which refers to “mechanism” in Japan. It’s also the name of the book from which this new love sprang–Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models that Move by Keisuke Sake.

Penguin Video

Karakuri-by-Keisuke-Saka

 

Initially, while flipping through the book, I was in awe. Especially at the sections featuring photographic examples of karakuri designed by Japanese high school students. Then awe quickly turned into intimidation. The diagrams. Extensive instructions. Explanations about paper crafting, definitions of various “mechanisms” that I would learn to make out of paper–cranks, levers, cams, gears, linkages…

I’m not one to shy away from mechanics  (my stepfather, now retired, was a hydraulics engineer who often brought out his ohmmeter whenever I came to him with a broken something or another). But was I up for this particular karakuri challenge? I was leaning toward “not right now, maybe later” and was ready to shelve the book when I discovered the full-color pull-out pages with all of the parts I’d need for constructing the four models pictured on the book cover. There’s a Tea Serving Robot (oooh!), a Peek-a-Boo-Playing Teddy Bear (so cute!), a Train that goes around a track and through a tunnel (you’ve got to be kidding me?!), and… a Penguin perched on an iceberg trying to fly?! How could I not attempt to make a penguin?!

And so…

completedAfter three hours of careful snipping, scoring, folding, gluing, fitting, and numerous inhaling exercises… I’m happy to report: SUCCESS! This little penguin is ready to fly!

When turning the nob, the wings and body lift up and down, creating the illusion that the penguin has just started initial rotation before take off. Really quite brilliant.

There were a total of 15 steps to follow.bookinstructions I used scissors, a box cutter (I couldn’t find my exacto knife, which would’ve made cutting the circles and smaller parts easier), glue stick, cutting board, and metal ruler. I also highly recommend finding something like a bamboo skewer (if you don’t have a thin glue paint brush) which I used to apply glue to the smaller tabs, of which there were many. tools

I won’t detail each step. The book does a much better job than I ever will. But I do have a few things I discovered that I wish I’d known before starting the penguin project. Since you’ll be building the cam-axle mechanism and the base first and building the penguin head and body at the end, start by cutting pages three and four, build these parts, then move on to cutting and building pages one and two. Use the bamboo skewer (or fine paintbrush) to add glue to smaller tabs and parts. Wait for the glue to completely dry before attempting to put the separate pieces together. Finally, pay careful attention to the stars on each piece–they’re tricky visually but it’s critical they’re lined up the way the instructions show.

pg3-4pg1-2cutouts

firstcutsbodyhead

Ta da! Click the image below and watch the 10 second video of how Penguin moves.

completed

Okay, so I’ve been bitten by the karakuri bug and I can’t stop. Next on the agenda… the teddy bear! Join me. The book’s available at your favorite retailer.

Karakuri-by-Keisuke-Saka

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