Friday, April 29, 2016

"Mad Cat" Bench for Children

Illustration of "Mad-Cat" bench along with diagram on a grid.
       A novel settee like this is something every youngster will prize, and it is very easily made. The drawing above shows one end piece drawn to scale. This you can enlarge to any size you wish by simply ruling off a piece of paper in squares to sizes proportionately larger than those shown and drawing in the lines. The design should then be traced onto a piece of 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch close-grained wood with the grain running vertically, and cut out with the jig-saw. The dotted lines on the drawing are not for cutting. They indicate the positions for back and seat.
       The back should be the same thickness as the ends but can be of open-grained, cheaper wood, about 14 inches wide and 24 inches long depending on the overall length desired. The seat measures 9 inches wide with length same as back, of 7/8 inch or 1 inch stock. After these are sawed to size the back and seat are nailed together and secured in place on the ends with the cat's tail acting as the back brace. The feet being cut cross-grain should be reinforced with small cleats on the inside. The strip across the bottom is essential as it provides additional strength. All nails or screws should be countersunk and filled with putty or other filler before painting.
       Any combination of colors can be used in lacquering or enameling the bench to harmonize with surroundings. The seat can easily be padded with cotton or curled hair and covered with bright colored cretonne. Cat's whiskers are painted on in white as finishing touch.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Craft a Pea Pod from Cotton Batting

       If you have never sculpted a tiny cotton batting ornament before, this project is perfect for beginners. I included a project similar to this one last year, an ear of corn, but this one is even easier!

Left, the unpainted pea pod ornament. Right,
The finished version of this vegetable made
from cotton batting.
Supply List:
  • cotton balls
  • white school glue
  • tacky white glue
  • newsprint
  • masking tape
  • wire for hanging
  • green and white acrylic paints
  • tiny paint brush
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Crush the newsprint into a small narrow pea pod shape, approximately two inches long.
  2. Wrap this newsprint form in masking tape.
  3. Insert a wire for hanging at the wider end of your pod. Tape and glue in this wire firmly.
  4. Unravel a couple of cotton balls and take a very tiny piece between your finger tips with a small bit of glue and roll this wad into a tiny ball. (unravel pictured below)
  5. Repeat this process until you have made four or five pea sized balls.
  6. Use the tacky white glue to begin sticking one, two, three peas side by side from the top to the bottom of your pea pod shape. Press these peas together as you go. Take your time and let these dry as you go. It helps to work near a warm light or heater. 
  7. Now wrap a layer of cotton batting around the sides and back of your pea pod. Layer glue on top of this addition before painting it. The front of your peas should not have any additional batting wrap on them. (see picture of unfinished peas in pod above.)
  8. Let your finished pea pod dry overnight.
  9. Paint the pea pod using multiple shades of greens. Use a very tiny brush to get down inside the cracks with paint.
  10. Let the cotton batting ornament dry and then seal it with a acrylic gel (Matt finish) to keep your ornament looking clean over time. 
  11. Store your cotton batting ornaments between white tissues inside a tin box with a tight sealing lid. These boxes are the types used to store butter cookies and sometimes candies.
Unravel ordinary cotton balls to craft this pea pod ornament.

"On Our Way Rejoicing!"

"On Our Way Rejoicing" CD by The Concordia
College Christmas Choir.
        This classical music CD is one of my favorites to play during the Christmas holidays. I know that the choir also has a newer versions that I have yet to hear so I've posted a link to their website below for you to visit and check them out. 
       The college maintains five choirs, three bands, two orchestras, three jazz ensembles, two percussion ensembles, and two hand bell choirs. Historically, music education began with the college's 1891 formation, when piano and organ lessons were taught by one instructor. The college has since expanded to hold a music department of 45 faculty, which offers five Bachelor of Music degrees and two Bachelor of Arts degrees.
       The Concordia Choir is an 78-member mixed choir that travels internationally and has performed at major performance venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. The choir was founded in 1919 by the college's voice instructor and began touring in 1923 under the direction of Herman Monson. The choir grew to national prominence in the following decades when Paul J. Christiansen, son of conductor F. Melius Christiansen, became the director. Christianson remained in the position for 49 years until composer René Clausen took over in 1986, who remains there today. Under Clausen, The Concordia Choir has released numerous recordings and has performed with the King's Singers.
       The college has put on an annual Christmas concert since 1927, which remains a tradition of the local community. From its inception, it has featured the music department's choirs and orchestra. In 1940, Christianson began working with painter Cyrus M. Running to incorporate murals with the concert to reflect the music's themes. Running completed the designs until 1978, when their development was taken over by David J. Hetland, whose murals have traditionally extended 56-by-20 feet. After Hetland's 2006 death, mural designs were taken over by artist Paul Johnson. The concert is currently performed four times annually on Concordia's campus and twice annually at Orchestra Hall. Over 450 students perform for an audience of twenty thousand, and the concert is broadcast on radio and television. The 2009 concert, Journey to Bethlehem, was recorded by Twin Cities Public Television and won a regional Emmy. It was broadcast nationally by members of the Public Broadcasting Service.
Time lapse shots with music of the choir.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Tree Trimmed In Silver Tinsel

Left, In 2015, my husband has set up the white pine near to the front window of our cozy little family room. I am relieved to report that these pictures were taken last week and the tree is still very fresh. Give your real trees plenty of cool water to drink white they are exhibited during the holidays. Right, the lights are strung and I have yet to cover the rug and plastic at the bottom.
This year my adult children requested that the tree be decorated in traditional silver; it is not my husband's preference but we will make the exception this time. For a few years I have accumulated silver tinsel garlands, picks, baubles and snowflakes on after Christmas sales for mere pennies. This is the only time to shop for such frivolities if you can bring yourself to do it. Most folks are "burned out" by this time; they are tired of the shopping and crowds. However, if your funds are limited such as mine, this is the most practical time to purchase items for your future Christmas trees.
Here is a photo of the tree top to bottom. This white pine is very delicate and only light weight trimmings may be used to hang from it's branches. My youngest loves the shimmery glow of lights reflecting off of silver on old-fashioned trees like these. This year she chose the theme and colors of our family tree. I rarely have decorated trees using this theme because my husband does not like them so very much. However, he did find this one nostalgic and pleasing. Our oldest family member who is 91 was delighted to see it. Grandpa Al said that it looks just like a Christmas tree from his childhood approx. 1910. The silver tinsel, cotton batting and Victorian scrap all were typical of that time period. Below I have included links to some of the ornaments included on my little Christmas blog. You can make your own versions for the tree this year or next.
Near to the top center of our family tree, hangs a lovely porcelain head angel trimmed in white feathers and silver tinsel.
Left, is a wrapped, cotton batting Christmas Bell that I designed after a vintage photograph. Right, is one of a set of 12 icicles hand spun from cotton batting last year.
Left, This Victorian wire ribbon rosette is so light weight that I hung it easily from the very tip of this white pine branch. Right, barely seen is a vintage chenille stem Santa; his friend, a snowman, hangs from a lower branch.
Left, the Birch Yule Log ornament with a hollow opening for Christmas letters and or treats. Right, the DIY Sea Shell Star ornament made from cotton batting sheets and paper clay shells.
Upper Left, is a snowball garland made from cotton batting and glass bugle beads. These garlands were very common place on Christmas trees 100 years ago.  Right, is the cotton batting basket ornament that I crafted for this tree several night before.
Left, is a Victorian scrap angel made with a cup cake liner and a silver snowflake. Right, at the top of my tree hangs an angel trimmed with a golden tassel skirt.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cotton Batting Baskets

       Originally I intended to turn these little wire frame baskets into paper mache´ornaments. But because I decided to decorate my living Christmas tree with cotton batting ornaments this year, I chose to wrap them with cotton. 
       Our family tree this year is a white pine and as some of you may know, these branches can hold little weight and the foliage is generally quite sparse. The white pine needles are long, fine and soft. For all of these reasons, many people avoid cutting white pines and opt for a sturdy blue spruce instead.
        The positive aspect of selecting a white pine is, however, what is looks like when properly trimmed. These trees are often used to display very light weight, antique glass ornaments because it is much easier to view large collections through fewer branches from every angle and although I do not have an expensive glass collection, I do have many cotton batting reproductions that I like to show off with similar flair.
These wire shaped baskets were made with chenille stems intertwined 
together across the backside of a small bowl. The examples are not yet 
wrapped with cotton batting because I thought that I would craft them
into paper mache´ baskets.  If you wish to make your own using cotton,
 I recommend that you wrap them first with batting before shaping the
basket on the backside of a small bowl. 

Supply List:
  • ornamental picks with berries and strong wire stems
  • cotton balls
  • white glue
  • masking tape
  • chenille stems
  • quail eggs (hollow)
  • a small bowl to use as a form
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Twist masking tape around the chenille stems until the furry parts have all been covered and as you twist the tape, pull it slightly to help stiffen the wires a bit.
  2. At this point I recommend that you coat the masked wire with white glue and begin to wrap the wires with white cotton. This is a vert messy prospect but you will get the hang of it in time.
  3. You can also try rolling the wire between the palms of your hands in order to twist the cotton in a more uniform coating about the wire. It doesn't matter if your surfaces are imperfect at this point. 
  4. Take the longest cotton wrapped stem and twist it around the outer rim of a very small bowl. Tape the edges together. You should let these overlap a bit. When you are finished with this step, you should have a wire circle the same circumference as the lip of your bowl. 
  5. Leave this around the outer lip of the bowl. Now you will need to begin to weave additional wires around this wire "hoop" and across the back of the bowl. Cross these wires back and forth and tape them together with strips of masking tape wherever they come in contact with each other. See photo above. When you are finished, you should have some lovely, abstract wire baskets to fill.
  6. I decided to twist some decorative, artificial raspberries, leaves and stems around my baskets and to also give each one a handle as well. I took apart a few inexpensive picks to accomplish this. 
  7. When the baskets looked the way I wanted them to, I then lined each one with some soft fluffy cotton padding and a bit of glue. At this point you could line your wire baskets with tinsel instead to craft an alternative look. 
  8. I stuffed the inside of my cotton batting baskets with hollowed out quail's eggs. These baskets are so light weight that they can be hung from the branches of a white pine quite successfully!
Far left, the wire frames taken off the bowls are neatly shaped and ready to paint, mache´ or wrap with cotton balls. (unraveled cotton balls) Center, close up, side view of one basket. Right, I filled my small, light weight baskets with hollow quail's eggs and more soft cotton before hanging it on my Christmas tree.

Mosaic Shell Baubles

       When I was a young girl, I often visited my grandmother who lived next door to a very unusual house. The home owner loved to decorate his front lawn with crushed bits of glass, shell, and porcelain pressed into cement forms. That's right, he had no grass. 
        Being a very young person, I thought this was quite the fantastic display. However, I am certain that his neighbors did not appreciate his taste so much. His creation was dismantled after the house exchanged hands but I still remember it fondly and I thought of him while crafting these ornaments for my white Christmas tree.
These paper baubles are fashioned from egg cartons.

Supply List:
  • paper egg carton
  • shell pieces for mosaic crafts
  • tiny shells
  • porcelain figures of sea creatures
  • tacky white glue
  • white school glue
  • wire for hanging
  • aqua blue glitter (fine)
  • masking tape
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Cut apart the small units of your paper egg carton and glue/tape these together in order to shape your paper bauble forms. I crushed newsprint into small "spikes" and taped these shapes to my egg carton pieces in order to replicate vintage bauble forms from the late 1800s. 
  2. This process takes time, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be crushing and taping enough ornament shapes to open your own factory! Don't forget to crush and tape around wooden toothpicks in order to craft features that would ordinarily bend or bust off over time if not reinforced by stiff materials inside your bauble. 
  3. Tape in a wire hook for hanging and reinforce it with a bit of glue as well.
  4. Now you are ready to glue shells and shell mosaic pieces onto the bauble surface. Use a very tacky white glue for this procedure. If your ornaments are three dimensional like mine, this will take much time and patience because it takes time for the glue to dry properly. I know that many of you are thinking, "wouldn't hot glue be a better alternative?" Well, it wouldn't for many reasons. The most obvious reason being that you would definitely get burned many more times than you expect. Secondly, it is my opinion that hot glued work looks sloppy and it is not really permanent. I could continue to rant but that is enough for now.
  5. Next, I pooled white glue inside the crevices of my shapes and sprinkled aqua colored glitter. This may take a couple of days to dry. Don't bother trying to smooth out this surface. In nature, it would not likely be so smooth. My intent here was to suggest a shallow pool or puddle of water where one might see a small sea creature, such as a tide pool.
  6. I then purchased a couple of miniature sea creatures from a local hobby shop to swim about these mosaic shell baubles. I chose a tiny fish and an octopus that have the same shiny surface as the shell pieces.
I glued the shell mosaic pieces directly onto the masked surfaces with tacky glue.
Details of the finished mosaic baubles. The tiny octopus and clown fish are made from porcelain.
More Ocean or Beach Themed Christmas Decorations:
 M/S of waves crashing in over rocks, Bovey Tracey, Devon.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Last Christmas I Acquired A White Christmas Tree

      Now many folks debate over politics, religion, sporting events, evening meals etc.... But in my home the debates surround the Christmas decor. 
       I had it in my mind to decorate a white Christmas tree and put the progress online. So now I am off to wander a bit today to see what I can find. My younger daughter has told me that she does not want me to decorate this tree in red, white and blue. She told me this because she knows that I would try to do that very thing, given the fact that my two favorite colors are red and blue. 
       Wish me luck, I'm thinking perhaps a pale aqua and copper color scheme instead? I'll be back to show you my progress . . .

Here are some of the items that I purchased. Pale blue snowflakes,
white snowflakes, two different copper colored glitters, copper foil spray
 paint and aqua blue and copper colored sea glass (acrylic).
       As I consider designing the ornaments for my tree, there are several practices that I usually conform to. The selection of a color scheme is the most obvious of these practices. Keep in mind that color schemes should be obvious from an easy distance. Although, it is not important that every ornament shares the exact same color. In fact, it is better for there to be slight variations in a color palette in order to lend a greater sophistication to a Christmas trees' appearance overall. For my white tree this year, I will be sticking with two color selections: copper and teal. I will also be over emphasizing the white of the tree as well.
       A large group of similar ornaments should also be evenly distributed throughout the tree from top to bottom. As you can see in the photo above, I have acquired these ornaments already: snowflakes in white and pale blue. Snowflakes are a motif that I prefer to ordinary glass baubles because of the textures and visual complications these add to my trees. These are also affordably priced in the states and seldom break. I will also accumulate and alter a generous selection of pine cones to wire to my white tree from my neighborhood. Not only are these inexpensive to decorate with but large numbers of similar ornaments, like pine cones, will give my tree a formal regulated appearance.
       The lighting of my tree needs to be consistent as well. For this tree I will most likely select white lights. But what is more important to me, is that the length of wiring attaching the lights should be white. In order for the wiring on any tree to be less evident, it must be the same color as the tree itself.
Left. Baubles that I purchased on clearance after Christmas. The red versions will be put on the green tree only I think. Center. A few more art supplies for this year's white tree. Right. The tree topper that I began to work on last year. It is partly finished but I will show how to paint it on a future post. I will look really nice on the white Christmas tree I think.
       Selecting metallic baubles for each of my Christmas trees is also a matter of routine. I usually hang these close the the interior of my trees, just behind the electric lights. These metallic finishes will help reflect the artificial lights and lend more sparkle to my tree overall. Because my color palette is copper and teal for the white tree this year, I will use metallic glass baubles already in my collection with similar color variations.
       The crowning glory of the tree should be consistent with the overall appearance of the tree but for many folks, a tree topper is a neglected item. Perhaps this is because tree toppers generally cost more and there are fewer choices to be had in the Christmas market places of America. Most Americans will top off their tree with an angel, star, or Santa. I will be making my own tree topper in order to save money and I already know in advance that this particular topper will be a star of some sort.
       When designing my tree ornaments, I try to remember my husband's eccentricities. He is not fond of tinsel. I, however, am of the mind that every Christmas tree should have some sparkle! For this reason, I have had to come up with more complicated designs in order to achieve an overall "glittery" affect without using obvious ropes or prefabricated icicles on our family trees. Sometimes I feel like the cook in that child's classic book, "Stone Soup." After every member of my family takes what they don't like off of my Christmas trees, there is very little left! One daughter doesn't like this color, the other doesn't like too many ornaments and the husband wants only trees to look like his mother's versions, wow. And you thought picking out the perfect tree was a contentious process among your family members?  That event is only the beginning of negotiations at our home.

The debate over real or artificial continues. Which is best?
 Go with both! I get one real one for the sake of tradition
 and then put up several artificial ones. These I have 
kept for many, many years.

The ornaments that I am in the process of crafting for this tree:
Links to Decorating White Christmas Trees:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Redwork Pet Patterns

      Here is a fanciful collection of antique-looking pet patterns for those of you who love to embroider old-fashioned redwork. You can enlarge the pictures, if you need to, by printing them out and rescanning them in your photo copier.

dog and cat seated, side by side
kitten and puppy in a basket together
cat fishing for trouble

Mandy Shaw loves her redwork and inspired by this antique quilt she shares with us how
 to design your own and then transfer the designs ready for stitching; this is just a taster
video; the watch the full film you should go to

More free redwork patterns from my Prickly Pins Blog:

Turn a Novel Mexican Table Set

      The Mexican couple shown right, and the "jumbo" cactus just below, provide novel containers for salt, pepper and sugar. The cactus is turned by following the method described for the powder box. It should be finished smoothly on the inside. The handles are notched around the edge and hollowed out in the center to resemble flower blossoms. The one at the top can be turned with the lid and later carved, while those glued to the sides are turned separately. Holes bored lengthwise through the salt and pepper shakers are tapered at the bottom to fit the corks, after which a number of small holes are drilled through the top to meet the center opening.
Use three shades of green paint for this cactus sugar bowl: dark green, a lighter shade of green and then a very
pale green for the star shaped, prickly needles.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cut This Novel, Dutch Boy Pipe Holder!

Click to enlarge pattern.
      This holder will provide a novel decoration to dad's smoking set. The figure is scroll sawed from 1/4-in. plywood and the base is of 21/2 inch solid stock. Tenons extending down from the feet fit snugly in holes in the base to support the figure, which is sanded and painted in appropriate colors. Note that a small oval depression is made near the end of the base to take the pipe bowl so that it will not tip.

Charring Enlarges Pipe Stem

      A rubber pipe stem that does not fit tightly can often be made to fit by charring it with a match to increase the diameter of the portion that fits into the bowl. Hold the stem in the match flame until small bubbles appear in the rubber, then stick it into water to harden. 

Craft a Crossword Puzzle Fan

Croosword-puzzle fan.
Crossword-Puzzle Fan Pulls Lettered Strips to Find Words

      Here's a clever gadget that will help anyone in solving crossword puzzles as it is based on the fact that it is easier for most people to see combinations of letters than it is to imagine them. Twenty-six strips of tough paper, each lettered from A to Z, are slipped next to each other in a holder which has a slotted face through which any selected arrangement of letters can be seen. The width of the strips should be such that they can be slid back and forth individually in the holder.

Make a Ladies' Crocheted Hood

This pattern first published in 1916.

Columbia Heather Yarn
3 balls No. 301
Columbia Worsted Knitting Yarn
1 hank Bottle Green
1 Bone Crochet Hook No.3
1 large Button
Instructions No. 1

   Starting at the top, with brown yarn make a chain of 71 stitches.
   Row 1 - Work 1 Sg. C. in first stitch, * 1 D. C. in next stitch, 1 Sg. C. in next stitch, repeat from * to end of row, chain 1, turn.
   Row 2 - * 1 Sg. C.  on top of D. C. of preceding row and 1 D. C. on top of Sg. C. of preceding row, taking up the whole stitch, repeat from * to end of row, chain 1, turn.
    Repeat row 2 until you have 6 rows brown.
   Row 7 - With green yarn work 1 Sg. C. in each stitch, taking up the whole stitch, chain 1, turn.
   Row 8 - With green yarn work 1 Sg. C. in each stitch, taking up the back loop to form a rib. Repeat these 8 rows until you have 6 brown stripes and 5 green stripes. * With green yarn take up 35 stitches, repeat pattern, decreasing 1 stitch at each end every 4th row until there are 6 brown stripes and 6 green stripes, there should be 9 stitches left, finish end with a loop of 8 chain, work 10 Sg. C. on loop, now repeat from * on the other side of hood, sew hood together at the top and with brown yarn work a row of Sg. C. all around, with green yarn finish with picot edge.
   Form 2 pleats at the top where hood is sewed and finish with button, the ends of the cap are crossed at the back and held with the loops over the button.

Make This Nostalgic Circus Elephant Seat

Illustration of the completed elephant seat.
       Your small child will take pride in possessing this gaily colored chair, and anyone can make it with a scroll saw and a screwdriver. All parts are cut from 1/2 -in. plywood and assembled with flat-head screws. These should be countersunk carefully and puttied over. The chair looks nice with the elephants finished in light gray and the blankets painted on with a darker gray and bordered with brilliant orange.  
Enlarge elephant blueprint to scale.

Personalize a Handcrafted Tie Rack for Dad

      Using enlargements of favorite photos, you can make these tie racks for yourself, and they will be appreciated as gifts by your friends. A photo of the head and shoulders is glued to 1/4-in. plywood and then cut out with a jig saw. When finished, the photo should be about 7 in. high. If desired, silhouettes can be substituted for photos. In this case, the outline of a photo is traced directly on the wood, which is then sawed to shape and painted black. The rack for the ties is a block of 3/4-inch hardwood cut as shown and screwed to the plywood back near the lower edge. L-hooks to hold the ties are then driven into the edge of the hardwood piece.

Build This Sailboat Lamp for A Child's Room

Process of putting the pieces together shown in
 the above illustration.

      "LIGHT UP" with this novel sailboat lamp means "Port your helm," with the rudder arm and rudder, which controls the toggle switch to turn the light on and off. The light itself is enclosed within a parchment shade, which is shaped around wire frames at top and bottom to resemble a ship's sail. Most of the construction concerns the hull of the boat. As shown in Left, the bottom part of the boat is a separate piece, while the upper part and the cabin are cut from a single thickness of 2-in. stock. By band sawing the deck line carefully, the cabin will fit into place perfectly. Shaping of the hull sides is accomplished by simply tilting the band-saw table to an angle of 83 degrees. A few strokes with a plane will round off the forward sections. After shaping the outside of the hull, the pieces can be taken apart and the necessary cutouts made for the cockpit switch and wires, as shown. It is advisable to make a full-size plan of second picture below, erecting the station lines on 2-in. centers, before commencing the actual construction.
      The sail is made from parchment paper, which may be purchased flat or cut from a discarded shade. It is laced around wire loops at the top and the bottom, and then can be laced to the 1/2-in. dowel which serves as a mast. The jib sail is merely a
triangular piece of parchment, cut to the size shown, and suspended on a string running from the mast to the bow of the boat. The boom and the gaff are made easily, and add to the sailboat motif while helping to hold the shade securely in place.
      The last illustration shows the switch detail. This is made by slotting the arm of a small toggle switch so that the brass rudder can be soldered in place. The rudder arm, which is made of 1/8-inch brass, is soldered to the rudder, the whole unit serving as the light switch. The light socket is carried on a 1/8 inch by 3-inch pipe nipple, which is held to the base of the hull by means of two locknuts. The pipe is cut near the lower end to allow the wires to be connected with the switch.

Plywood template, draw to scale before starting your projects.
       Additional finishing touches can be added if desired, such as port holes, a small anchor, mooring line, etc. As shown in the heading photo, the hull is done in white pine with a colorful lacquer finish. A varnish finish on hardwood would make up nicely also. The lead in the lower part of the hull makes the lamp "stay put," but could be omitted if desired. The bottom should be covered with felt to prevent the wood from marring polished surfaces.
Wiring and Switch Detail.

Craft a Prairie Schooner Mail Box

      Can lids for wheels, and four cut-outs of horses hitched to one end give this rural mailbox the novel appearance of a prairie schooner. The box is mounted on two wood blocks, which are supported by a 1 by 6-in. board nailed to the top of a post, the wheels being pivoted on nails driven into the bottom of the box. Horses, tongue and doubletrees are 1/4-inch wood, while the harness is strips of leather. The assembly is painted in appropriate color's.

6 Different Decorative Doorbell Plates to Craft

Click to see a much larger image.
      If you have a flush- type doorbell push button which guests find hard to locate, especially in the dark, an ornamental cutout placed around it will overcome the trouble and add a novel touch to the doorway. Several designs of cutouts for this purpose are shown here as suggestions, or you can make one to suit your own fancy. You can use just one piece of metal, or you can obtain contrast by mounting the cut-out on a plate of different metal, as for instance aluminum or brass over copper or iron painted black. Simple silhouettes in hammered iron, painted black, are very effective against , light-colored surfaces. The work can be done with a hand coping saw or on a power scroll saw. All edges and corners of the plate are carefully rounded with a file before starting on the paint job, or in the case of brass or copper, you polish the metal first and then apply a coat of clear lacquer. 

Craft a Mexican Powder Box

       Concealing a supply of face powder in his rotund body and a lipstick in his sombrero, the colorful gentleman shown in the picture will prove a favorite on any dressing table. The lid and box are turned separately on the faceplate, turning out the inside of each and rabbeting the edges to fit together snugly. Then the two pieces are placed together and mounted between lathe centers to shape the outside.
      The lipstick forming the crown of the hat should fit loosely in a hole at the top so that it may be removed easily. Allow it to project about 1/2 inch above the top. The base is notched at the front and back to simulate feet. The inside should be sanded smoothly and shellacked. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Craft a Toy Animal Box With Moving Facial Features

Click to see a larger illustration.
      Wagged from side to side by a pendulum, the head of this toy has interchangeable eyes, mouth, nose and ears, which can be used in various combinations to produce unusual facial expressions. Variations of these facial parts are shown in the squared detail. All parts have dowels attached for anchoring them in place, and they all fit in holes in the face except the ears, which slip into staples on the back of the head. The base for the head is a box with the front side painted to resemble the bars of a cage. As shown in the lower; left-hand detail, the head is attached off center to a dowel, which turns in a hole through the side of the box. Washers are used as spacers between the head, box and pendulum, which is fastened rigidly to the end of the dowel inside the box. The box of the original was painted yellow, bars black and face white with black features.

More Small Wooden Box Crafts:

Turn a Swedish Top, It Sings While It Spins!

This unique Christmas gift for a small child is designed for those of you who have experience using a lathe.
      Patterned from an original made in Sweden more than a century ago, this unusual, wooden top, which is turned on a lathe, produces a pleasing hum as it spins swiftly over the floor. The hollow, ball part of the top is turned from two maple blocks on a faceplate, each half first being glued to a scrap, pine block, after which the latter is attached to the faceplate. Then the center of each half of the ball is turned concave and the edges rabbeted to fit together snugly. Stock for the spinner is glued at the base of one block and the two halves are glued and clamped together between the lathe centers. The outside diameter is turned to the dimensions given above, checking the work frequently with a cardboard template to obtain a perfect sphere. The square opening made in one side of the ball is filed to shape after first drilling a starting hole. Variation in sounds can be obtained by varying the size of the opening, this being accomplished by providing snug-fitting inserts of various sizes which can be pressed into the opening.
      The handle, in which the top is held to spin it, is turned from a 2 3/8-in. square piece and is planed or sanded flat on two sides to measure 1 in. thick. A hole to take the spinner is bored through the center of the flat portion and an opening is made through the side through which a string is pulled to spin the top. To do this, the string is wound around the spinner, as shown in the upper photo, after which the end of the string is passed through the hole in the side of the handle. Holding the top upright as shown in the lower photo, give the string a quick pull and with a slight upward motion, throw the top clear of the handle to alight on the floor.

More Toy You Can Make With a Lathe:

Craft a Corner Whatnot Shelf in a Maple-Leaf Design

      Just the thing to dress up a corner in your living room, this whatnot shelf has duplicate plywood sides that can be cut together. However, one must be 1/4 in. wider than the other at the back edge. After sanding thoroughly, the sides are assembled with glue and small brads, and the shelves are spaced as indicated on the squared drawing. Finishing the original shelf to carry out the maple effect consisted of applying maple oil stain, followed by a coat of white shellac. When the shellac was dry, the surface was sanded, dusted clean and given a coat of clear varnish.

This project is perfect for those of you who know how to use a scroll saw. Click directly on the image to see a larger blue print here.
Similar Scroll Saw Projects:

How to Craft a Memo Cabinet for The Kitchen

Click to see finer details. Above you can see the tree dimensional blueprint showing how to put the memo cabinet together.
       This tiny kitchen cabinet with a mirror set in its front, encloses a small blackboard and has pockets for note and cook books as well as chalk and pencils. Front and back are made of 1/4-in. plywood. Two coats of blackboard slating paint are applied to the back to provide a writing surface for chalk. The front has a window which is rabbeted to take the mirror from the inside. For a novel effect, round the front corners and score the wood with a wire brush. Then finish in ivory or white and rub some burnt umber or other pigment into the scored scratches, wiping the whole surface clean. Jigsaw the letters and paint the sides, then brad them in place and paint the top surfaces. Nail and glue wooden strips to the back of the lid to form the pockets, sides and bottoms. Mortise narrow brass strips into the side pieces to hold articles in the pockets. The hinges must be mortised to their full depth when folded, with the pins standing well out so that the front can swing out more than at right angles. Two holes at the top of the blackboard fit over screwhooks in the wall to hold the memo.

Similar Projects:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Over 100 Nostalgic Toy Ideas You Can Craft for Christmas!

      Santa's job will be easier when you turn toymaker and lend a helping hand to relieve the burden on his North Pole workshop. Among this collection of exciting toys, there’s at least one that will surely make Christmas extra merry for some youngster.  Construction of these, as well as the others, is apparent from the drawings, which include patterns for the parts that require jigsawing. Enlarging the patterns full size is easy. First, count the number of squares given and rule on paper an equal number of 1-in. squares unless otherwise stated on the graph itself.
      Next, number the rows of squares 1, 2, 3, etc., across the top and down one side of both the magazine pattern and the ruled paper. Now, begin enlarging the pattern by drawing that portion of the outline which is in square No. 1 in the magazine in the corresponding square on your ruled paper. Then advance to the next square, and so on, until the complete pattern is enlarged. With practice, you’ll find it easy to enlarge any pattern by the square method.
      With the exception of the table-and-chair set, which should be made of plywood, common 3/4-in. white pine is ideal material for most of the wooden toys.

A Child's Table and Chair Set
      A child's table and chair set. Photo of finished project plus graph depicting the measurements of each part for the assembly of chairs and a table. Exceptionally sturdy but not especially fancy, this plywood table-and-chair set will appeal to the dad or big brother who works with little more than a handsaw, drill, screwdriver and paintbrush.

More Table and Chair Sets For Children:
Children's Toy Chest Plans:
Swinging Arm Dolls

      Here is how to make these adorable swinging-arm dolls. With old wooden packing boxes laid out in 1/2″ squares as material, mark the patterns according to the squared charts shown above. Before cutting out the figures, bore a hole through the shoulders and up one leg, as shown by dotted lines in diagrams at the right.
      The sailor’s hat is made of thin wood cut in circular shape and nailed to the head. Bore a hole through the under side of each arm about %” deep and a 1″ hole lengthwise to take the wire which passes through the shoulders.
      Straight grained shingles or thin wood will do for paddles. Fasten them by driving a small brad or wire pin through the joint. Set the paddles at an angle (about 45 degrees) allowing easy turning by the wind.
      When assembly is made, be sure to leave a small space between the arms and the body to permit swelling of the wood.
A Lighthouse Stool

       The "beacon of the lighthouse stool, which is enclosed in an inverted glass jar, consists of a 1.5 volt flashlight bulb. This is inserted in a socket and wired to a push-button switch and dry cell. Removal of the screws at the base of the lighthouse permits renewal of the dry cell. Three 1/4 inch carriage bolts attach the padded top of the stool, lengths of tubing being slipped over the bolts to support the top slightly above the glass jar. The pattern for the sheet-metal base of the lighthouse is given at the right. The metal is lapped at the seam and fastened together with sheet-metal screws.
        Any boy can build one of these mirror-scopes at a small expense, and for his efforts see, when looking through the peephole, three miniature objects increase to a multitude.
      Here is the way it is done. Construct a wooden box about two feet long and five or six inches square. Against the inside of the front fasten a mirror as illustrated in the drawings above and drill a small peephole about two inches from the bottom. Also scratch a similarly sized peephole in the silvering on the back. Then cut a hole six or eight inches long in the top of the box and fit into it a piece of ground glass to admit light.
      The rear is built up of two pieces of wood as illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Attach a second mirror to the inside of the end, then hinge the latter as shown. Paint the inside of the box white and you are ready to install the figures.
      Many miniature images can be purchased at the five and ten store. Arrange not over four figures in a nice grouping. Close the end and it will seem as if hundreds of images inhabited the box when you look through the peephole. Images of ships, men, animals, etc., are recommended.

Toys Similar to a Mirror-Scope:
Wood Choppers

      The stock required is 1/4" thick. Two bodies, two arms with axes, and two bars are needed for this toy. The upper bar has a place 5/8" from its center which is widened to resemble a tree stump an inch high. The pairs of parts are held together while holes are being bored thru them. The shoulders of the men and arms should have small holes to make a fixed joint while the men's legs and the bars should have holes closely fitting 1" nails. Both bars are located on the side of the men on which the arms are fastened. Color the coats, hats and sleeves blue, boots and axes black, arms, fingers, faces pink, and trousers red, bars green, and stump brown.

Bucking Goats
      From 1/4" stock, saw out two bodies, as shown in the full-size drawing, and two bars shown in the dimensioned drawing. Place the two bodies together and bore holes in the hind legs, as shown, for 1" nails. Do likewise with the two bars. Color the goats white, with large brown spots on their backs, necks and legs. Color the horns and hoofs black, and the bars gray or brown. Fasten with movable joints, one bar on each side of the goats, having them cross as indicated in the assembled drawing.

Similar Hand-Held Toys:
A Bucking Bronco Rocker

      This bucking bronco rocker requires plate casters for the footrest and a socket-type caster for the rear leg. The two sections of the toy are pivoted together with a carriage bolt and a small pillow-block bearing. A coil spring between the legs give the "cowboy" a bucking ride that bounces him up and down in the saddle.
Bucking bronco instructions and pattern.
A Walking Turtle Pull Toy 

      When pulled, on a string, the wooden turtle illustrated below moves its legs and draws its head in and out in a lifelike manner.
      Turn the shell from a band-sawed pine blank. Hold it in a chuck for recessing, and then fit the recess to another chuck for shaping the outside. Groove the segment zones and divide them radially.
Bend the crankshaft from baling wire, the bearing from a strip of sheet iron. The connecting rods are strips of sheet iron, pushed onto the cranks before the wheels are added. The latter are keyed by bending the shaft ends back on themselves and forcing them into small holes in the wheels, where a drop of celluloid cement holds them. Screw the bearing inside the recess, slit the ends to the bearing holes, and force in the crankshaft.
      Shape the head and neck semicircular on top. The neck slides in a groove in the shell, being held with a metal plate. The connecting rod enters a slot, where a nail holds it. The tail is a strip of inner-tube rubber.

More Old-Fashioned Pull Toy Patterns:
An Organ Grinder Toy

Front side, and open rear view of the animated organ-grinder toy.
 The sand motor is "wound" by turning the house sidewise through a
complete revolution as shown at the far left.
      An everlasting sand motor provides the power to drive the mechanical organ grinder illustrated. To “wind up” the mechanism, it is necessary merely to give the box a complete turn in the direction indicated in the drawings. This brings the sand back into the hopper ready to run down and turn the small paddle wheel. Other adaptations will suggest themselves, such as a woman pumping water or a hobo sawing wood.
      For the box, plywood is used, the joints being well fitted to prevent leakage of sand. The six-bladed paddle wheel is scroll-sawed from a block of white pine. The axle is a piece of bicycle spoke turning in glass-bead bearings, which are recessed into the wood as shown. Short lengths of brass tubing will serve just as well as the beads.
      The hole in the sand hopper should not be over 1/8″ in diameter for beach sand. Incidentally, beach sand is the best because the grains are smooth and pour more readily. Sand from a creek bed is also satisfactory. To facilitate adjustment, the back panel with the window is fastened with No. 3 screws.
      The organ grinder is scroll-sawed from material and painted in bright colors. The girl is painted on cardboard, together with the window frame, and glued to the box, as is the hand organ.—L. R. Browne.

A Sand or Water Mill

      This is an interesting beach toy as either fine sand or water may be used to operate it. It is very simple to construct and is made as follows: The base is constructed of 1/2 " pine, 7 1/2" wide and 7 1/2 " long; and the four blocks which are glued and bradded to the corners, are 1/2 "x1"x1". The two uprights are 3/4"x7/8"x8 1/4", and the two cross supports at the tops measure 3/4"x7/8"x2 1/2".
  • Two holes are bored in the base for the screws that  hold the uprights in place. These holes are 2y 4 " from  the end and 2^" from the sides.    
  • Holes are bored in the little top braces )A" from the  two ends and one just in the middle, or iy 4 " from the  ends. These are for the screws that hold the braces to  the uprights and to the top piece. All holes are bored  with a drill suitable to take iy 4 " No. 8 flat-head screws,  and all are countersunk on the side where the screw  enters.   
  • The top piece is made J/4"x5*4"x5*/>" with the two  front corners slightly rounded, as shown.     
  • A hole is bored of a size to receive the funnel used,  \y 2 " from the front edge and 2^" from the sides.   
  • A hole is drilled in each upright piece, 3 l / 2 " from the  lower end, of a size that will insure a driving fit to the  wire used, in this case being a piece of No. 12 copper-  dipped, 4^4" long.   
  • A piece of J4" dowel is cut off %" long and a similar  hole is bored about two-thirds of the way through, as  shown.    
  • Four holes are bored, as indicated on the drawing, for  the quills, which are later glued in place. Feathers from  the poultry yard will furnish these.    
  • Sand all pieces with No. 1 sandpaper and first assemble the top, the two uprights and the two cross supports.  Paint these two coats of red paint.    
  • Attach the cross blocks to the base with glue and  •U" brads and paint two coats of yellow. Paint the tun-  nel two coats of bright green.    
  • While these are drying construct the paddle wheel.  The piece through which the wire axle runs is ^4"x34"x  2J4". The four blades are y 4 "x2y 4 "x2y 4 ".    
  • After these are sanded and a hole is bored through the  center piece, nail the blades to the center piece, in the  position shown in the side view. Use y 4 " brads and glue  for fastening the blades. Paint two coats of yellow.   
  •  When the parts so far assembled are thoroughly dry,  finish the assembly, using \y 4 " No. 8 flat-head screws  and glue.   The toy is now ready to operate.
 More Water and Sand Toy Ideas:
A Step-Up Stool

       Little ones may need a bit of help in the washroom reaching the sink so why not build a little helper? This little step-up stool features a curly tail and a pink pig snout. Don't forget to tack on a non-skid rubber mat to prevent slippery falls!

  More Bath Related Toys:
A Toy Freighter

      A colorful Toy Freighter for quantity production boats are among the most fascinating toys for young children. If they can play with a boat in the bathtub or in a wading box or pool, so much the better, but they also get much enjoyment in playing with one on the floor if it is of a flat-bottomed type.
      The little freighter illustrated is adapted for either purpose, and the design is especially well suited to quantity production because of its simple construction and the small amount of materials required. The capacious cargo hold will carry a large shipment of dummy boxes and barrels made from scraps of wood.
      White pine, redwood, or any fairly lightweight wood may be used. The hull is built up as shown and fastened with casein glue to a waterproof plywood bottom. The plywood should be of the outdoor type. Avoid using nails or brads unless galvanized, because ordinary nails will eventually cause rusty streaks.
      Deck planking can be simulated by scoring the wood with a hard lead pencil and then varnishing the surface. Take care to round off the tip of the mast as well as that of the dowel behind the deck house. If the toy is intended for a very small child, the mast should be eliminated so that there would be no danger of his falling upon it.
      Use the brightest reds and greens in painting, because the appeal of this freighter lies principally in its coloring. Stenciled windows and doors add to its appearance, but are not absolutely necessary. The cargo hold is painted gray.

Craft Little Toy Cars, Boats and Trains:
Playing Make Believe at The Car Wash:
Road Rugs and Mats For Little Toy Cars:
Creative Playthings for Marbles:
Craft Your Own Math Toys:
Dress-Ups Aren't Just For Halloween, These Also Make Great Gifts For Christmas:
Tools and Workbenches for The Youngest Carpenters:
Homemade Toys for Little Campers:
Build Child Sized Markets:
Build Your Child a Durable Kitchen Play Set:
Make Your Own Play Food:
Instructions for this project from Cathie Filian and Steve Piacenza. This kitchen is a recycled child's dresser.