Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tiny British Phone Booth

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 Since we are often making things that reference our love of British culture (Sherlock Holmes pillows, a Ms. Marple room box, etc.) we decided that it was time to make a little phone booth. The phone booth is small enough so that it can rest on a desk top or be included in a railway scene or used for whatever you want! I used blank Shrinky Dink paper but you could also make a phone booth out of cardboard, fimo, or fabric. The directions that follow are to make it out of shrinkable plastic. One drawback of this is that you will not wind up with perfection. My phone booth is a little crooked and the edges do not line up perfectly. However the translucence of the plastic does make for a nice effect.
  • shrinkable paper. I used two sheets size 5 x 8 inches and had some scraps left over for future projects
  • thin black Sharpie
  • colored pencils
  • scissors
  • printout of a phone booth image, taken from directly in front, sized at 3 x the size you want the final phone booth to be  
  1. Work on the scratchy side of the Shrinky Dink paper. Trace 3 identical phone booth sides around the outside and where the windows will be and cut them out around the outside carefully.
  2. Use colored pencils to fill in color and accents like the gold crown at the top
  3. Write the word "telephone" backwards and trace that using the Sharpie. Fill in around it in white
  4. Leave the windows blank
  5. Trace the back. This fourth side will be solid red
  6. Trim the booths so the top edge does not curl out like it does in real life, or it will be hard to glue them together, Make a straight line on three of them. 
  7. Bake in the oven at 350' for 1-3 minutes. This is where you can run into problems. You want the pieces to curl up while they are shrinking then relax back to being perfectly flat. You may want to use a toaster oven for better control and bake one or two pieces at a time. Flatten them with a spatula once they have relaxed back down and are still pliable.
  8. After the pieces cool you can assemble them. Mine did not line up perfectly so I made a tiny box out of card stock and glued the pieces onto this.  
  9. Enjoy! Now you can make one in blue, write "Police Box" on it, and make the Dr. Who fan in your life very, very happy.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

British Royal Guard Jumping Jack

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 They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
"Do you think the King knows all about me?"
"Sure to, dear, but it's time for tea,"
                                                                    Says Alice.

Did you ever run across the A.A. Milne poetry collection  When we Were Very Young? If you like Winnie the Pooh you will find his favorite boy featured in many of the poems.  Anyway that was just one stanza but it is a nice poem, and brings me to today's project: my Brtish Royal Guard Jumping Jack!

I think little kids are always really intrigued by the Royal Guard and their impressive outfits. At least I always was. Plus, I am a pretty huge Anglophile so I have always wanted to make a little soldier for our house. (See the bottom of this post for our many projects inspired by our love of English culture.)
I have some really incredible German craft books that my mom bought in the Sixties in Europe. This one is called "Tiere, Puppen, Hampelmanner" and is by Ilse Strobl-Wohlschlager. It contains some really fantastic jumping jacks that inspired me to make my own. Unbelievably, I did an internet search and this book is available at Amazon! In English! For like $5! So I did not know this when I started and I could not actually read the instructions, but I think I came up with a working jumping jack using her photos for inspiration.
First I cut out the body parts from card stock. There are lots of templates for jumping jacks floating around the internet to inspire you. The German book had a very stylized doll, with a pinched waist and pointy feet, which I totally copied.
You will note that I punched small holes at the shoulders, top and bottom of thigh piece and top of arm and foot pieces. These holes will hold the brads. So, check out how large your brads are and make sure your hole is the right size. The big brass fasteners you get at office supply stores don't work very well with this as they stick out all over the place. I used smaller brads from a craft store.
 I then punched an even tinier second hole at the top of the two arm pieces and the top of the legs. This second hole will be for the string. It should not be too close to the edge as it could tear if people get too rowdy with the jumping jack.

I glued tissue paper onto my body parts. The leg and feet pieces are black and the body is red. I also cut out a hat piece and covered it with black tissue paper. The chin strap is white paper colored black, cut to frame the face. I used Mod Podge to apply the tssue and put a few coats on top to make it a little sturdier.

I drew the face using a black Sharpie. (Pencil first.) After I colored the face I glued on the hair and chin strap. I also used black marker on the cuffs and collar and added a white tissue belt and gold accents using a paint pen.
 I attached the arms and legs loosely with brads so the limbs can dangle freely. Then I took a needle and some embroidery floss and rigged up the back. I tied a straight string between the arm holes. This needs to be tight but not tight enough that it causes the arms to pull up. Don't worry about the ends of the string until later. Tie a straight string between the top of the legs. Then Tie a string from he middle of the top string to the bottom string and have it hang down. I added a bead to the bottom. I don't really care what the back of this guy looks like so I trimmed the edges of the string and taped them down. You could probably do this neater if you are so inclined. My kids LOVE the jumping jack. I am going to make some more blank body part pieces and let them design their own. My daughter wants to make a princess and my son probably has some incredibly complicated design of his own.
Other projects inspired by our love of England:
What is in Dr. Watson's Desk?

Ms. Marple's Desk

Sherlock Holmes Stenciled Pillow

The Parlor from Longbourn House

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Easter Shadow Box

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I bought my daughter the Melissa and Doug Pasture Pals toy many years ago. I still find the horses floating around the house on occasion but she never spent too much time playing with this toy. I have been looking at the box, which is wooden and has 12 compartments, thinking it would make a great shadow box. I finally decided to make a shadow box for Easter. The idea is that this is the place the bunnies live and work on the eggs. I used a combination of dollhouse accessories and hand made items to make up the house.  I have to say that every child who has walked into my house in the past week has been absolutely thrilled by this box and immediately demand that they be allowed to make their own diorama. 
I will go room by room and tell you what I included in my little workshop.

Here is what the box looked like originally. We painted the wood green and attached shingles across the top. I used dollhouse shingles and glued them on in layers. It is a little tricky at the corners because when you cut the shingles with scissors they splinter but I thought a rustic look was OK for the bunny house. 
I used strips of balsa wood to cover the edges of the walls. I just snipped them to the right length and glued them on with craft glue. The green paint shows underneath sometimes but I think it looks good.

I picked 4 different decorative papers that I think go well together and wallpapered the rooms with squares of paper.
Some rooms are carpeted with felt. The workshops have newsprint on the floor, and the first floor has burlap.
Top left corner room:
Dining room
This has a table I made out of a thimble and square of cardboard. The seats are two tiny wooden blocks from the Dollar Store. I purchased the cake at a dollhouse store.
Top row, second from left:
Reading room.
I made a simple bench using a Popsicle stick and wooden blocks and glued some little books on top of it.

Top row, second from right:
Game room
  I made a simple table using spools and plywood. I set up a card house using cards from a dollhouse store, glued on with tweezers to arrange the cards. I thought it was funny to imagine the bunnies making card houses in their spare time.

Top row, right corner:
I made a simple bunk bed out of craft sticks and painted it.
The key to cutting craft sticks without good tools is to score it a lot with an x-acto knife, then hold it in pliers when you snap it, The pliers seem to keep it from splintering. I made some pretty nice clean cuts for this project using this technique.

Middle Row, far left room
Egg storage room
 I made a crate by stacking and gluing balsa wood strips and used actual Easter candy to represent the unpainted eggs. It would have been better to make some out of polymer clay but the eggs I made looked really bad and the small jelly beans and chocolate eggs look good. You can just replace them each year. I tacked mine down using craft dots which hold stuff in place enough to keep everything from falling out, but are easily removable.
Middle row, second from left
Egg decorating room
This room was the most fun. I had some tiny glass apothecary jars which I filled with glitter. I made a table using a glass slide glued onto thimbles. If you are wondering where I find all these tiny thimbles, the Dollar Stores usually have bags of them in their sewing kit area. They are colorful and inexpensive and useful.
I made the paintbrushes by snipping a pointy toothpick in half and painting most of it brown. The tip is black and there is a band of silver around it.
The colored pencils are also made from pointy toothpicks, I painted them various colors and tried to emulate the zigzag created by a pencil sharpener. I put a glass bead on the table to show that they have a work-in-progress.
Middle row, second from right
Egg drying room
I made a shelf using yet another craft stick and arranged some foil-wrapped eggs and some colorful egg-shaped beads to show their work is drying and nearly ready to be packed up in baskets.
Middle row, far right side
I made baskets by wrapping soda pop lids with felt and trim and put some Easter grass and eggs inside.
Bottom row, far left side
Croquet set. I bought this. I think of the ground floor as their play and outdoors area.
Bottom row, second from left
Dollhouse chair
Bottom row, second from right
Teeter totter. I made this with a craft stick and some strips of plywood and have it balanced on a chocolate egg.
Bottom row, far right side
Gardening room
I have here some garden tools hung on the wall and a basket of fruit and veggies from the bunny's garden. 
I would say the ground floor could stand some improvement, upon writing up this post. But overall it is a pretty cute Easter decoration and best of all can be packed up for next year without taking up a ton of space.
If you want to make some cute clay bunnies to go in the house, here is a tutorial from last week.