I originally posted this project on Instructables for their Lazy Life contest (I won!) and wanted to also post the instructions here: however, there was a lot of amazingly creative and productive discussion in the comments over on Instructables, so be sure to check out the notes from other makers who tackled this blanket and found some other fillers/ideas. See the Instructable -->
Targeted advertising has me pegged--I was recently scrolling through facebook when an ad for a "relaxing gravity blanket," claiming to be "like Advil PM for your whole body," grabbed my attention. The blanket, weighing in at 15, 20, or 25 pounds, promises more restful sleep, to ease stress and anxiety, and help your mind and body relax...all by laying under the heavy blanket.
Weighted blankets have long been used therapeutically for people with sensory sensitivity or restless leg syndrome, as well as to increase focus (particularly in classroom settings). Newer studies are finding that these heavy blankets increase serotonin and melatonin levels while also lowering cortisol levels. Your mood improves, and because the weight minimizes movement during sleep, it helps your body stay in a deeper sleep for longer.
I have several family members who struggle with sleep and/or anxiety, so weighted blankets sounded like an amazing solution. I was sold--but yikes! This blanket carries a price tag of nearly $300. I set out to make my own with a budget of $50, using plastic pellets for the weight.
Camping is one of my all-time favorite pastimes. Growing up in Colorado, this meant long family drives to national parks with a pop-up camper in tow or treks into the mountains for weekend backpacking adventures, with surrounding views of the Rocky Mountains.
In Florida, most camping I've found is far from those picturesque peaks --overcrowded campgrounds full of satellite-tv-equipped trailers are peppered along alligator-ridden rivers--but the Sunshine State also has a beautiful network of spoil islands. These small, vacant refuges are accessible only by boat and are free for the nightly mischief of camping.
One of my first times to the islands, my friend Rani and I canoed out with a boat full of firewood, beer, vegetables wrapped in foil for fire cooking, and the other trappings of camp life. While I was setting up the tent, Rani quickly hung up two super-cool Eno camping hammocks she had bought for the occasion.
When I was in middle school, everyone "joked" about making out with pillows for practice. I'm assuming that I was not the only one for whom the jokes had some truth. Let's just all admit that we all practice made-out with our pillows and we looked really silly doing it. Those poor pillows.
There seems to have been little innovation in the make-out practice pillow department despite the rise in popularity of decorative "Let's Make Out" pillows and cuddle pillows so it is time that I step in and offer a new solution to the middle-schoolers or lonely hearts of the world: a pillow with a mouth. You are welcome. You are so welcome.
Welcome to another year of life on our delicate little planet. While I love Christmas very much, I'm glad it's over--crafting gifts for giving and for selling is super fun, but I'm excited to get back to painting for awhile. Making journals and jewelry does not so much satisfy my artistic needs.
One of the gifts I made for Christmas this year was for an incredible couple, Adam and Annie. Adam is a graphics and web designer who makes awesome stuff out of leather, and Annie crafts all sorts of fun and delicious things. They both love being in the mountains and hiking in the woods, and they are a super creative couple.
I made Annie and Adam a travel illustration kit with drawing pencils, charcoal, an eraser, watercolors, brushes, India ink, a pencil sharpener, an empty jar for water, a travel-sized towel, a watercolor paper pad, and a sketch pad. If you are a 'resolution' person and one of your resolutions is to draw more, this is a great project to make for yourself. Maybe it will be your motivation to get out there and make something beautiful.
About a month ago, I found this sickly wooden box in the trash at some house that was being demolished near our neighborhood. A hideous decoupaged rose adorned the top of the box and the bottom was falling off, but I am a total sucker for well-worn vessels of any kind. The container made its way home with me, and inside the lid was a faded, silver-leafed cameo with the penciled-in date of 1923 (which I thought was pretty cool). I scraped the rose off the top, gave the whole box a once-over with sandpaper, and refinished the exterior with some wood oil.
The "Crafty Christmas" handmade gifts sale is running full-blast at Felicitous right now, and it is going great! I spent so much time the last few months crafting like crazy to prepare for it, and things are selling quickly.
Along with the annual favorites (T-shirt Journals and Geeky Earrings), I also made these super simple "Lucky Penny" charm bracelets--I used pennies from 1980-2005 since Felicitous is mainly a college hangout for the University of South Florida.
I was not confident that these would be a hit, but to my surprise they are one of the most popular items from the sale so far.
Making a Lucky Penny Charm Bracelet is super simple, and it makes the perfect Christmas gift or stocking stuffer for almost anyone you know who wears bracelets: give your mom a bracelet with a penny for each of her children's birth years, your lovey a penny from the year you met/wed, or just give anyone a bracelet with the year they were born. The hardest part is sorting through your change jar/couch cushions/car to find the right penny.
Because this is such a simple project, I dressed up the how-to presentation a bit by making a little instructional video. I hope it makes this quick project more fun for you.
November is just around the corner, and I have been madly creating jewelry and thingies and gifts for the 3rd annual handmade sale at Felicitous. A big seller from past years has been my mismatched trinket earrings--I make them from whatever random bits, charms, and dongles I have collected over throughout the year that didn't make it into another project. Pieces from thrifted board games are my favorites, and there are always a handful of Monopoly-piece and Clue-weapon earrings hanging off my laboratory bulletin board ready to be gifted.
Well, apparently everyone in my neighborhood decided Clue is boring, because the thrift store was chock full of the old mystery game. I grabbed a few for $2 each, thinking I would make some earrings out of the weapons like always. When I got home and opened one of the boxes, the game pieces were super detailed characters and the board was in perfect shape. Our Clue game growing up just had colored pawn pieces, and I was totally mesmerized by these miniature people. I couldn't toss them out, so instead I upcycled the game and made coasters out of the game board and wine glass charms from the characters.
This Clue Drink Set for Six makes a fun hostess gift for a murder mystery party, adds flair to board game night, and pairs perfectly with a viewing party for the movie "Clue," which is hilarious. Best of all, it is easy to make yourself and, with some creative adjustments, could be replicated with pretty much any board game.
I wanted a comfy place for people to sit if they were visiting my studio, but the space is so small that the piece of furniture needed to be an odd size and visually lightweight. Figuring out this little conundrum was not on my radar at all--the studio still needed a lot of work, so furnishing the new space seemed far off. BUT THEN I found these gross chairs.
The chairs came from the following craigslist posting: "FREE on the curb: furniture. 1950s stuff." No pictures and no specifics were included, but as a lover of mid-century I hopped in the Adventure Mobile (our mini-van) and drove two neighborhoods over.
When I arrived, the owner of the house was outside piling pieces to the already gargantuan haul of freebies on the side of the road. She ran a local antiques store that was closing, so the stockpile of inventory from her garage had to go. While the Eames lounges and Tulip chairs were destined for the store's final sidewalk sale, furniture that needed refinishing was getting tossed (into my van).
These chairs seemed like a great foundation for creating a seat to meet the needs for my studio. The scrap wood pile was plentiful that day. My other projects had reached a bit of a pause. It was sunny outside. Work began.
Here are instructions to make a couch, sofa, settee, bench, loveseat, or whatever you want to call it using two old chairs. Does this piece of furniture have a real name?
The tutorial is specific to the chairs I had--with a bit of tweaking, this DIY can be applied to pretty much any two chairs (even if they don't match).
It has been a suuuuper long month for me. The problem is that I am not very patient. Dave and I are buying a house (hopefully we will be closing on Thursday), and as soon as we decided what house we wanted I was ready to move in--we were already packed up, and what's a girl to do without her art supplies?
Like I said...it's been a long month. All I've done is pack, clean, and dream about the wonderful place our first home will be. I didn't feel like I had anything to blog about, because I didn't feel like I was doing anything interesting.
But alas! Now that I look back on the last month, there are some exciting things that I did (other than fall in love with a cute house)!
Our Savior ONE Graphics
Our Savior is a church with two very individual locations, three different types of worship, and four separate services every weekend. In order to cultivate a sense of unity within this unique congregation, the church joined all four services into one big worship celebration at the Palladium Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. We wanted to create a service-specific branding consistent with the church's existing logo that also signified what this service was all about--joining together as one body, as one church, despite differences in worship styles, age, and traditions.
While the service required an array of printed and digital designs, my favorite is a massive, 6'x9' banner to hang at the theater. It was awesome to see something I had made on my little 13-inch computer screen take up such a grand space at the Palladium.
Return to Instructables
I finally got the chance to post my Recycled T-Shirt Journal DIY on Instructables, and within minutes it was featured. About an hour after that, I got this email:
Which felt like this:
I used to be a fairly active Instructables poster, but after the gift-crafting marathon of Christmas 2011 my creative brain slipped into a paint riot and didn't create many things that merited instructions. I did make a ridiculous number of paintings during that time, which is wonderful, but it did mean my Instrucables account was left neglected. It feels good to be welcomed back with a declaration of popularity.
New Felicitous Mugs and Mailers
The ever-inventive Rani wanted to get some new mugs made up for Felicitous. The shop's logo was too busy for this particular application, so we decided to go with the simplified box-Felicitous we used for the store's t-shirts. After reading over the printing specs, I realized we could print on both sides of the mug! Yay! My initial idea was "BEST. PLACE. EVER.," but this catchphrase was quickly swept aside as being too cocky. Too cocky?! But it's true! I fought and fought, but in the end Rani was right: we didn't want to alienate other local businesses (that we love) with our fervent declaration of self-superiority. We settled on "BEST. MUG. EVER."
Rani also wanted to send out a mailer to people who lived around the shop. She wanted the postcard to be really eye-catching and colorful while showcasing Felicitous's eclectic interior and drool-worthy consumables. Since it's summertime we put the focus on our iced drinks, and I am proud to say that these mailers are consistently bringing new customers to the store.
Lastly (but DEFINITELY not leastly), I went out to Duxbury, MA to see my recent-college-grad lil' bro-bro and for my little sissy's graduation from High School and found two really awesome things:
1. This photo my Alenni-Sister took of Dave and I for her Darkroom Photography class:
2. A treasure bag of kaleidoscopes at a thrift shop.
Nothing like ending a post with a low-res cellphone vid, amirite?
Hopefully I will have lovely pictures of our new home to show you next week. EEEK EXCITEMENT.
Wednesdays are 50%-off-all-clothing-day at The Salvation Army by our house, and since Dave and I choose to spend as little as possible so that we can be all artsy and musiciany, our entire wardrobes are from the thrift store.
There is one big problem: Dave hates shopping but always needs new awesome t-shirts to replace old worn-out t-shirts (after all, it is his signature style). Without Dave to try on the shirts, I end up just buying anything that looks cool (or ironic) (or hilarious) (or nerdy) no matter the shirt size--hey, at fifty cents each, why not?
Every time I go, this shopping adventure results in about four new shirts for Dave and two new shirts for Emily's Pile o' Craftin Cloth. Soon the pile became enormous.
At the time my craftin' shirt collection reached its most-gargantuan state (Late October), Felicitous Coffee & Tea was preparing to sell loads of handmade gifts for Christmas time. I wanted to reuse the shirts in a way that was massively sellable for the holidays, but that was also easy to reproduce in quantity. I came up with making fabric-covered, single-signature sketch journals. They sold very well (and still do) at the coffee shop, and Dave and I gave out quite a few for Christmas ourselves.
A lot of people have asked about creating journals from their own beloved shirts, and it is SO EASY and SO CHEAP to make these journals! They make stellar gifts. You need very few supplies, and while I use some special crafty tools you could easily use elmer's glue and scissors in a pinch.
Tools and Materials
- rotary cutter
- foam brush (or regular-type brush)
- cutting mat
- heavy book
- four bitty nails
- an incredible t-shirt (I guess it could be a lame boring shirt, but hey, that's on YOU)
- two sheets of cardstock, preferably in a color complementary to your shirt
- 20-30 sheets white printer paper
- Mod Podge
- thread. I use waxed linen thread, but any sort of thread or embroidery floss will do.
- scrap wood
- sharpie (optional for prep-step)
- 8.5" x 11" transparency (optional for prep-step)
Optional Prep-Step: Make a Template
Note: If you are going to be making more than a few t-shirt journals, or you care deeply about the exact placement of the shirt's graphic elements on the cover of your journal, I would recommend doing this step. If you are making one journal or have a more lackadaisical spirit about where the designs wind up, you can skip this and use a regular sheet of paper instead of the template.
Lay a sheet of 8.5" x 11" transparency onto a white sheet of paper. Using a ruler and a sharpie, draw a line down the center of the transparency (on the 11" side). Run the sharpie along each edge of the transparency so that two equal rectangles are easily visible when you lay the transparency on a surface.
Cut up your shirt
Lay your shirt out on a cutting mat. Use your transparency template to pick the best possible cover for your journal, keeping in mind that the rectangle on the left will be the back cover, and the rectangle on the right will be the front cover.
Depending on the size of the graphic, you may be able to make two journals from one shirt. If you do this, a sparrow will sing a song outside of your window to thank you for reusing your t-shirt twice as effectively as everyone else.
Use a straight-edge and a rotary cutter to cut the shirt about 1/4" away from the transparency.
Make your Outside Cover
Pour some Mod Podge onto a plate and slather a good, thick-ish layer onto one side of a full sheet of cardstock. Make sure to cover the entire surface and may extra attention to cover the edges!
Lay your t-shirt piece face-down. If it is super wrinkly you may want to iron it, but I never take the time to do that and it turns out just fine. Carefully position your cardstock Podge-side down on the shirt so that there is about a 1/4" border of t-shirt sticking out on all sides of the cardstock. Put a heavy book on top of the cardstock and leave until the Mod Podge dries.
Once the cover is dry, use scissors to nip in the corners of the t-shirt. You want to cut them at an obtuse angle right at the corners of the cardstock. This is so the sides will form a clean overlap when you fold the shirt down over the cardstock.
Apply Mod Podge on an egde of the cardstock and fold the t-shirt border down onto the cardstock. Repeat on all sides, overlapping the t-shirt at the corners. Don't worry about making things super beautiful--all the extra glue and raggedy lines will be covered up with crips, clean cardstock. Put the cover back underneath your heavy book until dry.
Once dry, fold the cover in half. Marvel at how cool your journal looks so far.
Cut your second piece of cardstock in half and trim about 1/8" off of each side (you can just cut 1/4" off of the top and one side for the same outcome). Use Mod Podge to glue the cardstock on the insides of the journal cover, leaving a gap in the fold of the journal.
Add the Pages
Make a stack of 20-30 sheets of plain printer paper. Fold the stack in half. Keep the sides straight! Put your stack on pages inside the journal cover. Make sure the top and bottom of the pages and cover are aligned.
Postion the journal so that the binding edge sits on some scrap wood. Open the journal to the middle page.
Pound in your four tiny nails along the center crease to make holes for your binding thread. Make sure to go all the way through the pages and the cover. Be careful to nail straight down through the center of the pages and the cover.
Pull out all the nails. Snip a foot of thread and tie a big fat knot in one end. Make sure the knot is large enough that it won't pull through your nail holes.
Your journal is now bound together! SUPER DUPER!
Yikes! The pages go page the journal cover, so we need to trim them down. Using a pencil, mark where the front cover overlaps the first page. Fold the cover back on itself so that the pages are all by their lonesome. Using your pencil mark as your guide, trim the pages using a straight edge and a rotary cutter.
Your journal is done! Go write down some secrets!
Don't Want to Make One?
I just put a bunch of these journals on Etsy, so if you hate being crafty (or really love this exact Donkey Kong journal) you can buy one at my new shop Emily Makes Stuff.
I originally posted this tutorial as an instructable. I was just making another one of these watches last night, so I figured I would post the DIY project here as well.
A friend of mine saw this "always exactly accurate" watch online for $50 and asked me "do you think we could make this out of an old watch?"
This classy upcycled watch will inspire you to seize the day and fight any procrastinating spirit. "When should I ask that cute girl out on a date?" NOW. "I really should study for my test, but..." DO IT NOW. "If only I could quit my boring job and follow my dream of starting a successful online travel program that shows viewers how to visit exotic locations on the cheap" (this is what my friend who wanted the watch actually did. You can see his show at www.TheHostelLife.com).
Stop procrastinating; NOW is the time!
Even if you are not interested in making your wrist say "NOW," this project will show you how to turn your old, broken watches into wearable wrist picture frames. Juist insert any image or saying into the gutted watch.
Tools and Materials
- precision flathead screwdriver
- exacto knife
- broken or thrifted watch. This very manly leather-banded style is easy to find and great for guys!
- black foamcore
- "NOW" design (or whatever other graphic you want to put inside the watch). I've uploaded a page of "NOW"s in different sizes for you to print off and find the best fit for your watch.
- rubber cement
Gut the Watch
Examine the back of your watch to see how to remove the backplate. Some have tiny screws, some you need to pry open. I have the pry open kind. After trying to get the back off for an hour, I realized that this watch was jammed shut far beyond my opening abilities. I took it to WalMart's jewelry section and the employee there opened it up for no charge, which is really great because I hate spending money at WalMart.
Once you get the back off, carefully pull out the watch pins on the side and lift the whole time mechanism out of the watch body. Set aside for later disassembling.
My watch had a plastic band on the inside marking the 12, 3, 6, and 9 spots. I grabbed it with pliers, bent it back and forth a bit to loosen it up, and yanked it right out.
Now you have a beautiful, wearable picture frame ready to be filled!
Cut Foamcore to Fit
Cut a piece of foamcore down to snugly fit inside the back of the watch. Don't worry about cutting perfect rounded corners- just cut a rectangle and notch off the corners until the foamcore fits right in.
Glue on Your Design and Wear Your Watch!
Print out your design. If you are using my "NOW" sheet, put the paper on a table, move the glass watch frame on top of each "NOW" until you find the size you like. Cut out the best sized "NOW", leaving a generous amount of black space around it.
Brush rubber cement on one side of the foamcore and center the "NOW" on it. The easiest way to center the word on the foamcore is to hold the paper and foam up to a light, move the paper around until the word is in the right spot, and let the glue dry.
After drying, turn the paper and foamcore upside-down and cut the excess paper off with an exacto knife.
Fit the foamcore into the glass watch frame and put the backplate on. You may have to trim a bit of the height off the foamcore to get the backplate to lock back into place.
Wear your watch and get motivated!
Now that you have your watch gutted and the backplate loosened, it is easy to make interchangeable images on foamcore for the inside. You could change out the word or picture daily to match your mood or style and use your new, upcycled watch as a custom wearable picture frame!
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