Upcycling – Turn any Object into a Lamp with a Simple Lamp Kit

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Are you having a hard time finding a lamp that matches your decor? Got an odd piece that you love, but aren’t sure what to do with it and don’t want to get rid of it? How about making it into a lamp? You don’t have to be an electrician or even be handy to build a unique lamp. You can make a lamp out of pretty much anything you would like and they make great conversation pieces!

Things you need:
Lamp Kit
Any object you want to make into a lamp
Lamp Shade
Safety Goggles (optional)

Things to do:
1. First, when you are choosing an object to become your lamp, try to look for an object that already has an opening at the bottom for the wires. If you already have an object in mind and it doesn’t have an open bottom, no worries, you can just drill a small hole using a drill and appropriate drill bit (big enough to create a hole for your wires). If you do not want to drill a hole for the wire or cannot drill it, you can still make the lamp and have the wire run on the outside of it from the socket to the plug. You will also need to choose a matching base (if it doesn’t already have one) so that your object can sit flat with the cord coming out of the bottom. If you are drilling your own hole into the object you can simply just drill a hole on the “backside” of your object instead of the bottom so that you don’t have to worry about finding a base. Be sure when choosing your object that it is strong enough to hold a lampshade and can hold the lamp rod straight. It would also help if you chose your lamp object so that it will fit your lamp rod. No fear again, if you cant find the exact sized object as your lamp rod, you will just have to saw it down to size before you are able to use it.

2. Push your lamp rod into your lamp object and through the bottom of the base so that the rod sticks out a bit. Slide on a washer and screw on a nut so that your rod is held into place. Next, thread your cord through the bottom of the lamp base and up through the top of the lamp. To make threading the cord a bit easier, tape the two wire ends together with a small piece of tape so that the cord will slide easier through the rod. Make sure the end of the plug is coming out of the bottom and that it is not rubbing against the lamp rods sharp edge. Screw on your locknut on top of the lamp rod and make sure the cord is sticking out at least 3″ from the top.

3. You may also need a base for the top of your object depending on if the harp bottom doesn’t fit on the top. If you need need a top base, attach this now and slide the harp bottom onto the lamp rod with the open end facing up. Do the same thing for the socket cap. Make sure that both the harp bottom and socket cap are securely tightened.

4. Pull the two ends of the cord about 2″ apart from each other. Tie the two ends of the cord in a underwriters knot*, this will prevent the wire from slipping back through the lamp rod. Next, you will want to determine which wire is the hot wire and which is the neutral wire. The neutral wire is generally ribbed on the insulation. Securely wrap the neutral wire around the silver screw on the bulb socket and the hot wire around the gold screw. Tighten the screws and make sure that the wires are tightly attached underneath them.

5. Place the socket shell over the bulb socket and tuck the cords inside so that they wont be visible. Squeeze the ends of the harp and slide them into the slots of the harp bottom. Once the harp is on you can screw in a light bulb and add your lampshade. Voila! You now have a one of a kind lamp!

Project Notes:
*An underwriters knot is pretty simple. Just make a “y” shape, then curl the wires down and back towards each other. Then the pull the ends through the created loops.
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Keep in mind that wiring electrical circuits carries some risk. If the wiring is not correct, you can be shocked, electrocuted or the device can cause a fire. If you are not too sure what you’re doing or are a bit apprehensive about doing this project then just simply get the object prepared all the way up to the wiring part and have someone else that is more skilled in electrical wiring actually wire up the lamp.

Before you do ANY wiring make sure that you the lamp is unplugged and that you have checked your wiring a couple of times.

It is also important to ensure light bulb is not too close to any surface including any wiring and decorative aspects of the lamp. Always leave spacing from the light bulb and other materials which can cause burning and damaging.

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Craft Project: Clothespins Picket Fence

clothespins_picket_fenceWho needs plain old flower pots when there are lots of ways you can dress them up!? Flower pots are perfect for planting flower indoor as well as outdoor plants. They are fairly inexpensive but they can sometimes be very bland in appearance. Decorating pots is an quick and economical way to add flare to your home decor. Here is a fast and easy project to create a picket fence made of clothespins to dress up those pots! Learn to make your own with the help of Martha Stewart’s simple how-to.

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DIY Spring Wreath with Butterflies

Things you need:
1 – 12″ Styrofoam Wreath
Scissors
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
Approx. 20 – Butterflies (try different colors and sizes for a fun look!)
Yarn, Ribbon, or String of your choice

Things to do:
1. Start by wrapping your foam wreath with whatever medium you chose, whether it be yarn, ribbon, or string of some sort. Wrap your styrofoam wreath with small sections of the ribbon at a time, tying each section tightly on the back of your wreath. Repeat this process until your entire styrofoam wreath is covered. Make sure that there is no styrofoam showing.
2. Now time to play with your butterflies! Hot glue on your butterflies around the entire wreath (there is no wrong or right way of doing this). You can try playing with different colors and sizes of butterflies to make your more original and interesting. Let glue cool. Then your ready to hang your wreath! Pretty simple huh?!

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Fun with Mod Podge: Pretty Decorated Clothespins for all Occassions!

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Seriously who needs decorative clothespins right?! Well… you don’t reeaalllyy need them but you may just start going crazy for clothespins after this DIY! These decorative clothespins are super quick, easy to make and you can customize them any way you like. You can use these decorative clothespins for just about anything! You can use the clothespins to hang Christmas cards along your mantle during the holiday season, or hang your favorite photos along a twine roping. These lovely little clothespins can even be used at baby showers, bridal showers, and weddings! Photo credits (pic above): Paper Butterflies

Things you need:
Clothespins
Scrapbook Paper (This could be scraps of paper – just be sure that it is large enough for two sides of a clothespin)
Mod Podge
Small Sponge Brush
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
Scissors
Ribbon (Optional – color and style of your choice of course) or Twine
Magnet Sheet (Optional)
Pencil
Sandpaper (Optional)
Ink Pad (Optional)
ButtonsRusty Tin CutoutsFlower HeadsFoam CutoutsRhinestones for fun embellishments

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Photo credits: Blue Cricket Design

Things to do:
1. This is the best part… choose your paper! This project is all about personal style and preference. You can customize your clothespins any way you wish by simply picking out different patterns of paper. Scrapbooking paper works very well for this clothespin project, especially for those sheets you have been holding back on using because you haven’t found that perfect project yet. You can even use those leftover scraps of paper that you have been saving because you hate to see all that beautiful paper go to waste. Of course this depends on the size of your scraps and the size of your clothespins. You just need enough to cover both sides of your clothespins.
2. Next, lay your choice of paper down on a flat surface and place the clothespins on it. Carefully trace your clothespins with a pencil and do this several times. You will need two strips of paper per clothespin. So trace away! Once you have enough strips traced, cut them out. Do this carefully so all the sides are nice and even and that you don’t have jagged edges.
3. Pour a little of your mod podge onto a paper plate or something like that for easy dipping access. While holding your clothespin by the metal spring, paint on a light coat of your mod podge on each side of the clothespin. Place your strips on paper on each side of the clothespin carefully. Set aside and let dry. Repeat this process until you have covered all the clothespins you wish for your project.
4. If there are edges of the paper that seem to hang off the clothespins, no worries! Once your clothespins have completely dried, lightly sand the edges of your clothespins to sand away that unwanted paper. Sand the edges more to round the corners to add more of a distressed look to your clothespins. You could also apply a small amount of ink around the sanded edges for more of a vintage worn look. Allow to dry.
5. Once your clothespins have been sanded, add another light layers of mod podge over the paper. Set the clothespins on their sides and let dry. Repeat this process until all clothespins have been covered with a second coat of mod podge.
6. Now its time to get wild! You can leave the clothespins as they are with just the decorated paper. You could add a small ribbon to match the paper for a little extra umpf in your clothespins. You could also try mixing and matching buttons of any size or shape. Then gluing them to your clothespins for some fun flare. You could also use rhinestones, small flowers, foam cutouts or even rusty tin cutouts!

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Photo credits: Your Home Based Mom

Project Tips:
You should be careful on the pattern you choose for your clothespins. Remember a large pattern may not look as good if you are using it on a small surface like your clothespins.

These lovely little clothespins would make a perfect gift for that person in your life with tons of photos laying around. You can display your photos onto a “clothesline” using a piece of ribbon and clipping the photos onto the line with your clothespins!

You could also add a small magnet strip onto the back of your clothespins and use them for displaying precious art work, shopping list, grade cards, and photos onto the fridge. Simply add the small magnet strip to the back using a dab of hot glue. Be sure that you get those nasty little hot glue tails for a more professional and nicer look.

You can use the same clothesline concept for displaying cards along your mantle during those holiday seasons. Using different themed paper, you could create a clothesline for just about anything. You could choose a color theme for a baby shower and hang baby related items such as little onesies with your clothespins. Once again, change the paper to create a completely different clothesline for Thanksgiving, creating a “Thankful Line”. You could hang pictures, words, or items that you are thankful. This would be a wonderful family project!

Decorative clothespins can be used for weddings as well. As with the baby shower, you can use the same idea for a bridal shower, hanging bridal shower items such as recipes with the clothespins. Decorative clothespins can also be used for a unique placecard holder, adding a special handmade touch. The clothespin placecard holders can be set among the table settings or they can hang from a line. You could also try a new spin on the guestbook idea by creating a wishing line! Set a stack of decorative paper or cards on a table. Have your guest write a special message and sign their name. They can then hang their wish on the line using the clothespins! This would also be a perfect idea for baby and bridal showers.

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Make your own Dream Catchers

dream_catcherNative Americans believe that the night is filled with bad and good dreams. The dream catcher should be hung over the bed swaying freely in the air. The dream catcher is supposed to catch the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams can pass through the dream catcher, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so softly that many times the sleeper does not know that they are dreaming. The bad dreams don’t know the way and get tangled in the dream catcher and disappear with the morning light.

Things you need:
1 – Gold Metal Craft Ring (any size you prefer)
Suede Lace (color of your choice)
1 – Clothespin
Artificial Sinew
Beads and Feathers

Things to do:
1. Start by wrapping your gold craft ring (you can actually use anything for the ring of your dream catcher, you can even use grapevine) with the suede lace. Make sure that you leave a little extra at the top and wrap tightly as you go making sure that you do not twist the lace. Once you have wrapped the ring a couple times you can use your clothespin to hold the lace in place so that you don’t have to keep holding it yourself. As you get to the end make sure that you are wrapping tightly, if you don’t then once you tie the ends off the lace will become loose and unravel quickly.
2. Take the clothespins off of your dream catcher and make sure that you haven’t missed any space with the suede lace. Cut your lace off the same length of the piece that you left earlier and tie a double knot tightly. You can then knot the ends of your lace to create a loop so that you can later hang your dream catcher.
3. Cut 9 feet of sinew (3 yards or three arms length apart). You can leave the sinew the way it is or if it is too thick for your liking, find where the sinew naturally separates and pull it apart. To help control your sinew mess, fold a piece of paper and wrap the sinew around it so that it doesn’t get all tangled up as you’re working.
4. Start at the top of your dream catcher and tie the sinew in a double knot in the center, near your hanger. Bring the knot towards the towards the bottom of your dream catcher and cut off any excess. There is no wrong way of doing your sinew when creating a dream catcher, for bigger stitches, start your sinew really wide and for smaller stitches just start your sinew close in. Wrap your sinew around (try to slide it in between the suede lacing because it will hold tighter and you can’t tell it’s in there) the ring and pull your paper through the loop your created. Pull it tightly. It is usually easier to keep the sinew on the paper when you’re doing bigger stitches but you may have to take the sinew off the paper for smaller stitches because it will get in the way and be hard to manage. Continue until you have made it all the way around once. Now go inside the first strand in the middle, pull the sinew through and go back through your strand just like you did the first time. Make sure it’s in the middle and pull it tight. Then continue this all the way around. As you are stitching your dream catcher feel free to place beads in the sinew and continue stitching. Once you reach the end, just thread the sinew and knot off. Cut off any excess.
5. Now it’s time for the fun part!! Play around with different types of feathers and beads to personalize your own dream catcher. You can also add smaller dream catchers onto a larger dream catcher for a more dramatic effect. Once you have embellished your dream catcher you are finished!

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Needle Felted Birdies with Wool Roving

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How cute are these things?! Learn how to make your own needle felted birdies with the help of Martha Stewart’s how-to

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DIY Doll House Dolls

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My daughter spends a lot of time playing with her dollhouse dolls. Every afternoon I hear her chattering away up in her room with them, taking them through life as only a four year old can see it. But because her dolls are so often played with, they also often disappear down the backs of shelves and between the edges of beds. So I’ve become adept at creating quick and sweet replacement dolls for her playtime.

Things you need:
Unfinished wooden doll bodies and feet (wood egg halves)
White or beige plastic wrapped electrical wire (available at hardware stores by the foot)
Cloth scraps
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Fabric scraps (felt is great for this)
Yarn scraps
Scissors
Craft Glue
Multi-tool (or needle nose pliers and wire cutters)
Markers

Things to do:
1. Dab a few drops of glue into the arm and leg holes on the doll body. Cut 4 three-inch lengths of wire and insert into each hole.
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2. Once the glue is dry, trim the arms to 1-1/4 inch and use the tip of the needle nose pliers to curl in the ends to create hands”
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3. Trim the legs evenly to the length you want (longer for adult dolls, shorter for children) and insert into feel with a few drops of glue.
4. Make dolls hair by wrapping yarn around your fingers about twenty times. You’ll want to use two fingers for boy hair and four for girls. Cut the end of the yarn and tie a length of yarn through the loops and around loosely. Cut the opposite ends of the loops. Lay the bundle flat and apply a bead of glue under the tied yarn to help keep everything in place. Once this is dry, apply to the dolls head with more glue along the part line (this can be moved over for a side part of in the center for a middle part) and trim hair to length)
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5. Cut simple clothing shapes, creating hems where needed with glue and attaching the clothing to the doll bodies with glue as well.
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6. Draw a simple face with permanent markers.

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Dyeing Wool Roving with Kool-Aid

dyeing_wool_rovingWool roving is wool that has been washed, combed, and carded into a thick strand to be spun or felted. Wool roving can easily be dyed into any color for any project you have in mind. One way of dyeing wool roving is using Kool-Aid. I know this sounds kind of weird but it is perfect for the budget crafter, easy and a fun way of dyeing the roving into bright colors. Plus, it makes the kitchen smell wonderful and it works without any mordants. Once you have dyed your wool roving, you are ready to felt away!

Things you need:
Kool-Aid Packets (unsweetened; colors of your choice)
Large Pan
Wool Roving

Things to do:
1. First, a quart (one quart per packet of Kool-Aid) of water to the point of an almost rolling boil. You do not want your pot of water to be completely boiling because this may actually irritate the wool and begin to felt it. Once you have a low boiling pot, simply pour in the Kool-Aid packet with the color of your choice. The colors are basically what the name says, but feel free to experiment! Stir the pot until the Kool-Aid has completely dissolved.
2. Unwrap your wool roving so that it is one long strand. Turn your stove off and place the wool roving strand into the pot slowly. Let your wool roving sit in the pot for 45 minutes to an hour. Dyeing your wool roving is a natural process and this means that your wool roving will probably not dye evenly. To increase the odds of a more even dye, simply make sure that the wool roving is always submerged completely in the dye. You can use kitchen utensils such as spatulas or something similar to hold the wool roving down as it sits in the pot. If you are going for a more “tie-dyed” look then just let the roving sit in the pot and don’t worry about holding it down in the dye.
3. After the wool roving is done sitting in the dye, pour the pot’s contents into a colander (you can also just out pour the water out and just hold back the wool roving as it is being poured). Remember to be careful because the pot of water may still be hot and can still burn you. Rinse the wool roving off with water and wring out the excess until no water drips. Wrap your wool roving into a towel to dry it off even further. Do this carefully so that you will not irritate the wool and begin the felting process. Let your dyed wool roving completely dry before you begin use. This may take up to several days.

Project Notes:
Since Kool-Aid is a food product and contains no harsh chemicals like other dyeing products, it is safe to use your normal everyday pots and utensils. Just make sure that you wash them before you prepare any food.

You can reduce the color intensity by reducing the amount of Kool-Aid you pour into your water or by letting the wool sit in the dye for a shorter period of time.

This method obviously stains and dyes things, so be sure that you wear clothes you don’t care about and some gloves.

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How to Decoupage: General Tips

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Learning how to decoupage is pretty simple and opens a wide range of crafting possibilities. Decoupaging is the art of using pretty paper cutouts and glue on an object’s surface, creating a delightful inlay. You can pretty much decoupage anything your heart desires, even if the surface is made of wood, metal, stone, glass, or ceramic. Once you have a bit of beginning knowledge and “know how” to prepare, the sky is the limit!

Things to do:
You can use any artwork you wish; such as postcards, newspaper, wrapping paper, books, photos, scrapbooking paper, etc (I’m sure you’re getting the idea by now). Before you go and cut any loved photos or special scrapbook paper that you have been too afraid to use – be sure that you have a copy or an extra sheet. If you are using photos, try scanning the photo and printing out a nice copy to use for your decoupaging. Also, if you are printing out photographs or images from your computer, using an ink jet printer, be sure to let the ink dry before you start applying the Mod Podge. I would recommend testing a sheet of paper with the glue before you actually start decoupaging. The moisture from the glue may smear your images and ruin the paper. If you are concerned about bleeding, try spraying three coats of Krylon Crystal Clear Spray on the images before decoupaging. If you are a person who desires more detailed lines in your images simply trace the images with a fine point marker or pen.

Now for the meticulous step in decoupaging. It’s time to cut out your images! This may take some time and requires some attention to detail but it will be all worth it in the end when your product is finished (I promise). You will want to use a sharp pair of scissors or a craft knife. When using a craft knife be sure to point your knife blade slightly to the outside edge of your image. This will create a downward beveled edge and will also prevent the edges or back color from showing on your final product. Take your time and try not to leave any neighboring images or backgrounds. You could also consider tearing the edges of your images to create that added element to your final product instead of straight cut edges.

If you are decoupaging glass, be sure to clean the surface with alcohol and let dry. If you are using wood as your medium for decoupaging, gently sand the surface with a fine grit sandpaper (400-grit would work well) and then dust off any remaining grit from the surface using a clean cotton cloth. Usually you will be decoupaging your images to the top surface of your project but with the case of glass items, you will usually want to decoupage your images to the non-used side of the surface. So for example, if you are wanting to decoupage a glass plate, you would lay your plate face-down and glue your image face-down onto the plate’s backside. This way the glue does not distort the smoothness of the glass surface, and it will also prevent your image from being in contact with food (aka you won’t be eating paper later on).

If your image is frail and very thin you may want to coat it with some Mod Podge and let it dry before using it. Now its time for the fun part! Organize and layout your images the way you want and what you have envisioned for your final product. You can even overlap your images to create a hodge podge type of look. When applying the glue to the surface of your project and image, use an appropriate sized sponge sponge and dip your brush in a small bowl of water then into the glue each time. Be sure that you have enough glue of proper consistency to finish each image. Carefully apply a light coat of Mod Podge to the surface of your project. Then apply another light coat onto the underside of your image (if you are decoupaging the top of a surface). Then gently place the image on the surface starting at one end and pressing down as you go to get prevent any air bubbles. After the image is on the surface of your project, carefully smooth the surface of the image with a sponge brush. Be sure to do this slowly and carefully to prevent any tearing or ripping of the image. You can use your fingers to smooth out any bubbles that may have gotten by. You can wipe any glue that may have flowed out during the process with a damp cloth or paper towel, press as you go to secure the edges of your image. Once you have all your images on the surface of your project set aside, and let dry thoroughly. For glass items, you may want to thin out your Mod Podge before applying it to the surface. Glass has a non-porous surface and if the glue is too thick it will have place to go, causing the glue to lump up as you try to smooth the surface.

Finally, it is time to seal up your artwork with layers of Mod Podge. The number of layers depends on the look and type of you project you have in mind. Just remember the more layers you apply of Mod Podge, the more your images will fade into the surface and the more they will look like they were painted on. Allow sufficient drying time between each coat. Just stop when you have accomplished the desired look!

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Ribbons and Bows: How to make easy ribbon roses

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A rose is always special, but a handmade rose is so much more! Here is another “how to” for ribbon roses, but this style is so incredibly easy and quick to make. You will soon find yourself making any excuse to make these. Ribbon roses are beautiful embellishments and can be used on practically anything. Ribbon roses can be seen a lot in weddings. They make perfect embellishments for favors, place settings, and wedding bouquets. Ribbon roses can also be used for embellishing hats, creating head pieces, corsages, and boutonnieres. These could also be used for gift wrapping and even kissing balls. These ribbon roses are easy, look great and will work with any width of ribbon.

Things to do:
easy_ribbon_rose21. Cut your length of ribbon. If you are using a narrow ribbon, you will want a shorter length than you would want for a thicker width. Fold your choice of ribbon in half and then make an upside down “L” shape.

easy_ribbon_rose32. Now take the length of ribbon that is pointing down and bring it up to the edge of the ribbon length that is pointing left. Your ribbon length should now be pointing up.
3. Next, take the ribbon length that is pointing left and fold it over to the edge of the ribbon length pointing up. Your ribbon length should now be pointing to the right.
4. Keep alternating the ribbon ends and folding the ribbon on top of itself. Keep repeating this process until you have reached the end of the ribbon. As you are folding the ribbon over itself be sure to keep it pinched, it can become springy when you are getting close to the end.
easy_ribbon_rose45. Keep the loose ends of your ribbon pinched in one hand and release the rest. It should have a long accordion shape to it. While holding both ends of the ribbon, carefully start pulling on one of end of the ribbon. Be sure to not let go of the pinched section as you are pulling the one end. It should gather up at the end and look like a beautiful rose. Don’t panic when one end of the ribbon is way longer than the other. This can be easily be fixed with a few snips. I would recommend stitching the center a few times just so that it will keep its shape. You can also consider sewing in a bead or charm in the center for unique, fun look. Remember when you trim the ends of your ribbon to apply a few dabs of fray-check or clear finger nail polish. You can also use a lighter to seal the ends. Just be sure to not burn the edges.

Project Notes:
Use a more narrow ribbon to create a smaller, more delicate ribbon rose. The narrow ribbon will also take a little more time to fold.

If you wish to just create a small bud and not a full blown rose, just fold the ribbon less and then pull.

Instead of sewing the ribbon together, you can also just fold the ends in a knot, or use a little bit of floral wire to secure it at the bottom.

Photo Credits: Broadway Paper

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