Monday, December 28, 2015

Mystery Box Mobile

I tried to write this post once before, but the photos crashed the system. I finished this project on time for once. This post is just crazy late.

When we had the summer's mystery box, I wanted to do something unusual. I don't know how I finally decided on a mobile, but I'm glad I did.

Most everything needed for the mobile was in the box. I had to provide the wire and some straight pins. The wire was from the local dollar store.

The blue and green beaded things were from back in May when I put together my bouquet for my wedding. Each color came in a little bundle. They didn't end up working the bouquet, but they work fairly well here.

I used some standard tape to hold the candle in place. And the red dots on the felt are the heads of some straight pins.

The pompoms are attached with flat head straight pins. They're poking right into the Styrofoam circle, which is covered with the felt.

And the wire is completely unglamorous, as you can tell.

It's not outrageously practical or pretty, but I'm quite proud to have come up with the idea and managed to execute it.

We don't actually have space for to live in my house, so I'll be taking it apart now that I've written about it. It's the only AA craft I haven't kept in one piece.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mystery Box Challenge 4 - Holiday Time!

It's time for the final Mystery Box of the year! 

This time, all four of us Artists will have exactly the same items to work with ... all the same colors, rather than the usual hearts, spectrums, plants, and dots ... and rather than the usual purple, blue, green, and red.

Well ... still plenty of green and red.

The challenge this time is to create a bit of holiday cheer using as many of the Mystery Box items as you can. No one item needs to be the base, so if you aren't inspired by items in the box, find a different base and use the box items to decorate that base. As usual, you can add items from your stash and buy any extra items needed without spending more than $10.

In our home, we celebrate Christmas. But the decoration can be for any of the winter holidays. Here are the box contents:

Glitter tulle (Oh, you'll hate me for this one. The glitter gets everywhere!)

Batting. A cellophane cookie bag with Santas and trees.

Two lengths of strung sequins, one in red and the other in green

A selection of chenille stems (pipe cleaners)

Four sets of google eyes (in two sizes)

A selection of pompoms

An empty peanut can, an empty spool from a roll of Duck Tape (from one of our previous challenges). And a plastic triangle that was once used to protect the corner of a picture frame during shipping.

Quite the eclectic collection, eh? The challenge should be completed by the time your winter holiday rolls around.

Ready? Set. Go!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sixties Inspired Starburst Mirror

I find it humorous that I'm the one who puts items together for these Mystery Boxes, but it takes me weeks (or months in this case) to figure out what I'm going to create. For the longest time I was sure I'd make some kind of floral centerpiece, adhering the candle to the center of the mirror and inserting silk flowers and greenery into the styrofoam. But the muses just didn't see it that way!

I finally came up with this idea to make a 60's inspired starburst mirror. They were all the rage when I was a kid. I remember my parents having a starburst clock. But even that idea got bogged down when I figured I needed some styrofoam balls to poke onto the end of the sun's rays. Silly me. I finally got inspired when looking over the supplies on a rare visit with Julie. 

So I began by choosing which Mystery Box 3 items I'd use. I chose the styrofoam circle, the mirror, the felt, the scrapbook paper, the ribbon, the pom poms, the sequins and the butterflies.

Then I picked a few more items form my stash. Some may look familiar from previous mystery boxes! I chose two shades of purple yarn (that dark one really is purple, though it looks blue in this photo), some wooden skewers, purple markers, an additional six pom poms, and the string of beads from the last mystery box.

I began by cutting the wooden skewers to length. I used the diameter of the styrofoam circle plus about two inches. That made for a pretty nice proportion. I used my garden shears to cut the skewers. They were so much more efficient than scissors or just snapping them to length. It gave them a nice clean cut at the end rather than getting splintered, which is what happened with the other methods.

Next, I took some time to color the wooden skewers with purple marker. I knew I was going to cover the skewers with yarn, but I wasn't sure how well the yarn would cover, so I wanted the skewers to be purple in case there were any gaps in the yarn. This took a while and was a fairly messy job. My fingers were nicely colored when I was done.

I dabbed a bit of glue about an inch or two from the pointy end of the skewer. I carefully wound the two shades of yarn around and around. I started the yarn in the glue, then covered up the end as I wound the yarn. When I got to the cut end of the skewer, I added more glue, wound the yarn ends a few extra times, and added yet more glue to secure the end. I set the skewers aside to dry thoroughly.

Next, I turned to the styrofoam. I used it to trace a circle on the scrapbook paper. The paper wasn't actually wide enough for the entire circle, so I spliced two piece of the paper together with the white glue. Then I glued the paper to the styrofoam with hot glue.

I decided to cover the edges of the styrofoam with felt. So I measured out a one inch strip, marking the felt with tailor's chalk. Again, my felt scrap was not quite big enough to make a strip that fit the entire perimeter of the styrofoam, so I pieced the felt together, too. I attached it to the styrofoam with hot glue.

I followed that with gluing the ribbon over the felt. This step was a test of patience. The white glue I tried first did not adhere well to the felt at all. Plus, it made a mess as it leaked through the holes of this particular ribbon. So I moved on to hot glue. I learned that I needed to use just enough to hold the ribbon in place. Too much and it seeped through the ribbon, leaving globs of glue showing. Once the side was covered, I glued the mirror into place with hot glue.

I decided to have twelve rays to my sunburst, so lay out the pieces to see how far they needed to be spaced. In this photo you can see the extra wrap of yarn at the blunt end of the skewer. It was a bit of a test to poke the pointy end of wooden skewers through the ribbon and felt. It took a bit of fiddling to get them even. Even so, they are not on a perfect level, but they look OK.

Instead of buying styrofoam balls for the ends of the rays, I used the pom poms. I attached them with hot glue, A bonus was that this blob of glue captured any stray ends of that last yarn wrap.

I'd cut the felt a little bit tall so that the mirror would sung down into it, covering the edge of the mirror along with the side of the styrofoam. I used hot glue to attach the string of bead to the mirror's bevel. It added a nice sparkly touch.

The next bit involved attaching the butterflies to one of the rays. These floral butterflies, made of feathers with a plastic body, have floral wire attached to the underside. So I simply wrapped the wire around the skewer to hold the butterflies in place.

For the last bit of decoration, I used silver ball-tipped dressmaker pins to attach sequins to the sides, one sequins between each ray. This covered up a bit of the glue mess from attaching the ribbon. It also adds a bit of sparkle.

I used more of the string of beads to make a hanger. I wrapped the beads around the flat end of a u-shaped floral pin and poked both ends of the pins into the side of the styrofoam behind one of the rays.

Here's the finished product! It's kitschy and fun. I need to find a permanent corner of my home to hang it. For the time being, it's in the front hallway, hung right at face height. I admit to checking myself in the mirror before leaving the house.

The only thing missing is my customary heart!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Treat for My Cat

Having helped mom pick out the items for our second Mystery Box challenge, I had an idea of what I wanted to do from the start. I played with a couple ideas before settling on this one: a small planter, which I seeded with catnip for my kitty.

I actually finished making this in June, but because of the plants, I've had to wait a few months to post it.

I bought a medium-sized planter tray drainage plate at the store to use as my base. I needed something fairly large, but didn't want a full-sized pot for this.

First, I cut the felt to size and hot-glued it to the edge of my pot, then added the ribbon on top. I glued the mirror to the styrofoam circle, and hot-glued it to the center of the pot. 

My pack of sequins had two shades of blue. After I decorated the pot, I sewed the sequins to some extra pieces of felt in flower shapes, then cut them out to use as decorations.

The candle is just sitting on top, and the flowers are attached with tape, so they're all easy to remove if needed.

I dropped in some dirt and seeds in, and put the butterflies in as guardians.

Then I waited.

It actually turned out to be quite the little adventure, growing catnip in such a shallow pan. My first attempt didn't go so well. They started to sprout, but when the temperatures hit over 100 F, the planter dried out too fast because it's so shallow, and all my seedlings died of dehydration.

My second batch went much better, after I remembered to water it every day. They were looking just about right to call it good when I forgot to water over a weekend, and half the plants died again. Sigh. 

Eventually, I decided to just call it good enough, and took pictures of my final product.

Some of the little plants are actually full-grown, I believe. I've tried showing it to my cat, but she's not quite sure what to make of it.

I've dropped a few leaves for her, but she doesn't seem interested in them, either. Oh well.

I'm still proud of myself that I was able to grow the catnip, despite the challenges of excessive heat and shallow soil. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mystery Box Challenge 3

Our mom actually sent this box out sometime around Easter, but we've all been so busy this summer (wedding, college graduation, road trip), that we haven't had time to post the challenge.

So, our Spring/Summer Mystery Box included 10 items. 

1. Felt
2. Decorative Paper
3. Candles
4. Butterflies
5. Styrofoam circle
6. Mirror
7. Lace
8. Ribbon
9. Pom-poms
10. Sequins

(All pictures courtesy of Margaret)

We weren't given a "must use" list this time, so it's completely up to each of us to decide which items to use.

Let's get crafting!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mystery Box 2 Challenge: Guest Toiletry Basket

As you've seen from previous posts, at the beginning of the year, I sent a box full of these mystery items to each of my daughters. I made one for myself as well.

It contained this note:

This challenge was difficult and I obviously missed my own deadline by a long shot! I had several ideas on how to use my items ... including turning the basket into a wig for my weekly photo challenge! But I finally decided to break my rule about "no more than $5.00" in order to get the project done. (Sorry girls!)

I started by using the glitter paper to line the bottom of the basket. Then I cut the string of party beads and hot glued them to the edge of the basket. It took a bit more than one strand. After that, I laid down a line of the glitter glue just under the inside edge of the basket as an accent.

I used the gold ribbon to tie a hand towel and washcloth together.

I used the glitter pipe cleaner to tie the toothbrush and toothpaste together.

I used half the white bias tape to tie the razor and shaving cream together.

Finally, I arranged all the toiletries in the basket, along with a bar of soap, some mouthwash, some shampoo, and some lotion.

I actually made two toiletry baskets - one for the guest room upstairs and another for the massage/meditation room downstairs. I had a spare basket from a gift Julie gave me for Christmas. I had enough glitter paper and beads and glitter glue for the basket edge. I added more gold ribbon from my stash. The only items I didn't use were a few beads, the purple paint, and the tissue paper. Don't be surprised if they show up in an upcoming challenge.