Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Natural Wood Tiny Houses

It all started with an organization project for my husband. (Yes, he asked me!) I was slicing off 3/4" of an old 4 x4 to help create tiered drill bit storage and I noticed the beautiful wood grain. I knew then and there that I was saving this 2 foot section of lumber. It had the makings of some tiny houses!

This project is based on inspirations I have seen on Pinterest. In fact, I so love tiny houses I have a board dedicated just to them. And I am not alone. There are scores of pinners out there that collect tiny house inspirations.

Below is my original pin which inspired my houses. These are simple house candle sticks available from Ladies and Gentlemen here. But it was the incredible wood grain that made me pin them.

Below is another pin fom my collection from Basic Label Sweden here. I loved the simplicity of form.

So I combined the two ideas - simple form and beautiful wood grain into a series of tiny houses.

 Simple and easy to do if you have access to a basic woodshop. Here are a few photos of the process.

I started by slicing some slabs off the end of the 4 x4. They were from 3/4" - 2" thick. I didn't measue but made them random thicknesses.

Using a ruler and pencil I drew precise house shapes onto them, went back to the band saw and cut them out.

I then sanded all sides smooth on a belt sander. It was important to sand with the grain to emphasize the wood grain lines.

The end result is a collection of simple houses with stunning wood grain to be displayed in any number of nooks and crannies in our home.

If you are interested in tiny houses check out and follow my Pinterst Board titled Little Houses here. It is chock full of many tiny houses in a huge variety of materials and complexity.

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©2013 AshbeeDesign, Marji Roy

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Egg Tree for Little Ones

I love my beautiful Easter eggs that I have been crafting for years out of hand-blown eggs but now I have little grandchildren. Hand-blown eggs and little ones are not a good combination.  Last week I went to Pennsylvania for four days to visit and help my son-in-law and daughter (now 7+ months pregnant) with adjusting a bedroom for one little boy to now work for an expected little sister as well. I came prepared to make an Easter egg tree with my grandson who is a couple of months shy of four. I did not use hand-blown eggs! I created a tree that I expect little hands will love, and one that will probably topple over more than once in the next week.

I apologize for the iphone photos. Sometimes that is the best option.

The tree is made from a dead Mountain Laurel branch I brought with me. We secured it in a recycled plastic Planters peanuts jar filled with sand. I wrapped that container in colored duct tape covering the top so the sand can't spill if this tree topples. I crafted paper grass to cover the duct tape.

Onto the tree we added many of my paper bunnies, some of my new paper bird houses and plastic eggs that Taylor and I decorated together.  That really means that I decorated as Taylor played "Santa Claus" with the other plastic eggs. He did have fun directing as we added things to the tree.

His favorite egg is a little chicky made from a plastic egg and googly eyes. Most nearly 4 year olds love googly eyes!

I used paper ornaments made on the Silhouette to add some variety. This bird house is a hint on a future project to be shared.

The eggs are all plastic eggs decorated with brightly colored duct tape shapes - quick and easy and non-breakable! I hot glued spring green leaves randomly on many of the branches.  And, as could be expected I ran out of time. I just spent too much time building pillow forts! 

It was a wonderful 4 days and I know it brought good childhood memories to my daughter. We made lots of Easter Egg trees over the years. Making memories, so important!

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paper Craft Bird's Nest• DIY Tutorial

Earlier in the week I posted my "Welcome Spring" wall art promising a tutorial.

Things don't always go exactly as planned. My computer died!!!!!!

I have just returned from a trek to the Apple Genius Bar and learned that the solid state hard drive I installed has failed. Good news is that I do back up. Bad news is that I am sharing my husband's computer until a replacement hard drive arrives. (I love Amazon Prime. It will be here tomorrow). And it will be a chore because I have been needing to upgrade to Mountain Lion for a long time. So I will be doing a clean install of everything, not just the transferring forward. For years and through many computers I have just transferred all applications settings and data to the new computer. It is so easy. But about 3 computers back my email program was corrupted and that corruption has just travelled forward with me. Time to clean it all up. Talk about a major spring cleaning! In the meantime I am extremely grateful to my husband but I am sharing so my time is limited. And I am missing some of my programs - like Photoshop! I won't be watermarking my photos today for sure.

Back to the tutorial:

I made my bird's nest shadow box using my Silhouette cutting machine but the cuts are so easy that this project can be completed by those of you without the cutting machine. As promised, I made the same project again, without the Silhouette, and photographed the process to share.  I hope you try and make one and send me the photos when you do! (Hopefully they will be better than this batch of mine. It has been one of those technology nightmare kind of days!)

Supplies needed:

  • 3 12 x 12 sheets of card stock - Color your choice. I made 1 from speckled white and one from cream because of the color of my nesting material.
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • x-acto knife with sharp blade
  • Glue Dots
  • Crumpled paper packing material - the kind that comes in gift baskets
  • 3 Tiny Blue Eggs ( I used Cadbury mini-eggs)
  • Glue Gun and glue sticks
  • Optional - self-healing mat
  • Optional - Fold scoring Board 

The Process:

  • Cut the 12 x 12 card stock into 3 Squares. Be precise. They need to be 12 x 12", 11 1/2 x 11 1/2" and 11 x 11".

Pattern on 12 x 12 square:

  • Using a ruler and sharp pencil measure in 1" and 1 1/2" from all sides of the 12 x 12 square. Measure in two places, make marks and draw straight lines. The outside line at the 1" mark should be dotted because this will be a fold line.  The inside line at the 1 1/2" mark should be solid because this will be a cut line.

Pattern on the 11 1/2 x 11 1/2" square:
  • Measure in two places on all sides 3/4" and 1 1/4".  Draw these lines again with the outside line being dotted and the inside line being solid.
Pattern on the 11 x 11" square:
  • Measure in two places on all sides 1/2" and 1".  Draw these lines again with the outside line being dotted and the inside line being solid.

  • The 12 x 12" square is the outside frame. Put that aside.
  • The 11 1/2" x 11 1/2" square will be the front tree.
  • On the back side, draw a simple tree notch for the nest location.
  • Below is the sample for this tutorial. It is a little too complicated and would have been better if there was only 1 notch like my original design shown at the beginning of this post. You'll see I had trouble positioning the nest at the end, so keep it simple!

Hints on the design:
  • It does not need to match mine. There are an infinite number of tree compositions.
  • Don't have the notch in the center.
  • Have the notch in the lower third and off center.
  • Tree branches get thinner as they grow. Don't have them get thicker near the top.

  • On the 11 x 11 square, draw the inner layer of tree branches.
  • These are smaller and more complex.
  • The base of this should be located behind the base of your tree in the other frame.
  • All branches should intersect with the frame.

  • Cut out the first frame. This is the 12 x 12 square and you cut out the entire center.
  • Use a sharp exact blade and a ruler.

  • Now cut out all the interior parts that are NOT tree branches from the 11 1/2" square and the 11" square. This is the step that the cutting machine would do but you can do just as well by hand.
  • Leave all the branches attached to the frame.

  • On each of the three frames you need to cut in one cut in each corner just to the first fold line. I have marked them in hot pink. You don't need to mark them, just cut them with scissors.

  • On all three frames fold the sides of the shadow boxes on the dotted lines. I used a Martha Stewart Scoring Board to score on the line and then fold. It is a wonderful tool to add in precise folding.

  • Fold in the tab in each corner.
  • Apply a glue dot and glue the corners square.

  • This will create your 3 shadow boxes.

  • The 3 boxes get stacked together to form the completed composition.
  • Start with the smallest which is the back tree.
  • Put the middle size which is the tree notch on top of it.
  • Put the largest size which is the plain frame on the top.

  • Nest them together.

  • Apply some glue dots between them from the back side to hold them together.
  • Now make the nest.
  • Take a small handful of crumpled gift basket paper. You can try to make some shredded paper and use that instead.
  • Place it in your hand and form it into a small nest.

  • Use a glue gun to add a little hot glue in the center and work some of the shreds into the hot glue. Be careful so as to not burn yourself. Using any pointed metal object ( a screwdriver?) poke the edges into the hot glue.

  • I added several globs off glue in different places to hold the nest material together, always trying to keep a nest shape.
  • Trim off any strays that don't want to stay put.
  • Postion the nest in the notch of your tree. Use hot glue to keep it in place.
  • Here you can start to see I had trouble with this front tree design. The notch is too small to hold a bird's nest. As noted at the beginning, I should have had just one notch on the front tree but I wanted to experiment with a different composition.

Put some hot glue on the eggs and press them into the nest. They help it hold the shape.

  • This is my finished second composition. You can see the first one was better but that had more to do with the layout of the branches and nothing to do with the Silhouette.

Give it a try and send photos if you do!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring Crafts - Bird Nest Shadow Box

I have been captivated by paper crafts of late. It all started with getting a Silhouette cutting machine for my birthday last fall. That single tool has really sparked a new creative streak and I am enjoying it. New ideas just keep coming. This new design is one that doesn't require the cutting machine, although it is what inspired me and I did use one. The cuts are so simple that an x-acto blade might even be easier than setting up the computer files.

Yesterday I created this new shadow box to welcome in spring.

It is a contemporary piece of easy DIY wall art made from card stock and perfect for the season. I worked from a similar concept used my Birch Tree Shadow Box but instead worked with only one box made in three layers. The layers include the back branches, the front branches, and a front frame. 

To that structure I added a tiny bird's nest crafted out of crinkled paper saved from a gift basket. It spans all three layers and adds a three-dimensional element. I purchased a bag of mini Cadbury eggs and saved some robin's egg blue ones. (Those little eggs are incredibly delicious and I have eaten far too many of them since that purchase!) The tiny blue eggs make the design. What welcomes spring more than a nest of blue eggs?

Although I used a Silhouette it isn't necessary and I will put together a tutorial over the next few days explaining how to make a similar design without the cutting machine so you can try it as well. For now, here are a few more photos. 

Update!! The tutorial is completed. Link through to here to see the easy step-by-step guide on making a Shadow Box like this one.

6/11/2013 Another Update! The Silhouette cutting files for this project are now available online at the Silhouette Online Store here and a tutorial for using the file is here.

Happy Spring everyone!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Old Jeans Recycled into Ampersand Pillow #4

I continue working through the pile of recycled jeans I had collected. I am impressed with how much usable fabric there is in a pair of jeans and also how soft it is once all the seams and rivets are removed. It makes very comfy pillows and I have just finished #4 using the fourth technique. This time I made a design with machine appliqué. Here is my collection so far.

It includes the graphic ampersand in machine appliqué, the pieced frayed-edge design, a bleached zig-zag and the original pieced chevron pillow. This collection is for the sofa in my living room which is eclectic in style but probably best described as contemporary country. The denim used for these contemporary designed pillows is a perfect addition.

My goal is five or six pillows, all different in technique but crafted from the same stack of old jeans. Four are done and I have no shortage of ideas. I am running out of old pillows to recover though.

Machine appliqué was the easiest design so far. And, just like the other three designs, I will include a tutorial. Links to the other three design tutorials are at the end. I love the ampersand as a design element and even have a Pinterest board for just ampersands. This design would be as effective with just about any number or letter as well.

Tutorial for Machine Appliqué Denim Pillow

Supplies needed:
  • Computer & printer
  • Sewing Machine
  • Recycled Jeans, 2 pair in contrasting denim shades
  • Thread
  • Iron-on fabric adhesive

  • Create your pattern. I created mine using iDraw but any program that allows for large fonts and the ability to rotate them will work.
  • Choose the character you would like to use and look through a variety of different fonts for that character in a style you like. You need to avoid anything with thin lines for this project. I made a list showing the ampersand and the title of the font. In the end I selected the Lucinda Bright Ampersand.

  • I measured my pillow form and decided my design needed to be 13" square.
  • In iDraw I drew a 13" square and made a very large Ampersand (500pt).
  • I rotated it within the square to make the design more dynamic. Notice I also made it larger than the square.

  • I printed it on plain paper. It took up four sheets....

  • which I then taped together to make my pattern.

  • I also selected two pairs of jeans that were contrasting denim colors. I decided to place a light ampersand on a darker background although I debated the opposite as well. Either would work.
  • I cut the legs off the jeans and removed all seams and hems creating flat scraps to sew together for my pieced fabric. It took two leg backs for each color.

  • I stitched the legs together making a square of dark denim and a square of light denim.
  • I used Heat n Bond iron-on adhesive to hold my two layers of fabric in place. It is very easy to use and helps a lot.

  • Following the directions on the package, I adhered the adhesive to the back side of the lighter denim square. I just used a iron on medium high heat and held it for 2 seconds in each area. It stiffened up the fabric and made it much easier for cutting.

  • I pinned the paper pattern to the right side of the lighter fabric and carefully cut it out.

  •  I cut out the inner spaces as well.

  • I removed the pins and the paper backing on the adhesive.

  • I then positioned the ampersand adhesive side down on the front of the dark denim square.
  • I pinned it in place and again ironed it. The directions said to iron for 6 seconds but with the heavy jean fabric I found it took twice that amount of time.

  • Using my sewing machine, I first did a sample on a little square to establish the correct settings. I used a wide zig-zag stitch and short stitch length combined to create a satin stitch. My sewing machine is a very basic model and fancier machines will have a setting for this. It helped to practice on a scrap because if the stitch was too small, it created a puckered edge which I didn't want.

  • Sew all edges of the design using this tight, wide stitch being careful to make nice square corners.

  • Once done, cut your fabric to exactly the size needed for your pillow cover plus 1 1/4" to allow for seams.
  • Cut a backing fabric as well. My backing is split and hemmed in the middle to allow for a velco closure but you can make any type of pillow closing you want. I like to be able to remove my covers to wash them.
  • Pin the two layers together with fronts facing.
  • Stitch the front to the back leaving a space to insert your pillow form.

  • Clip all corners and then turn the pillow right side out.
  • Insert the pillow.
  • Close using the techique you decide to use.
  • You have another denim pillow!

As mentioned earlier, I now have four! Here are links to the other 3 tutorials.

Be sure to check our my Denim Themes page as well. It is filled with hundreds of ideas for using denim in décor.

And here is a link to my Pinterest Board on Denim and Indigo. It continues to grow.

Do you have any links to interesting things you have done with denim?

©2013 AshbeeDesign, Marji Roy


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