DIY String Board Art

photo (23)Our church has this beautiful piece of artwork that I have been admiring for weeks. It’s a huge mural of a tree, probably 10 feet long by 6 feet high. The entire piece is made with strings zig-zagging across a wooden background. The negative space, the shape of the tree, is the only open part on the giant mural.  It’s gorgeous and I want it. So I decided to make it. Well, sort of…

I would love to make a huge statement piece similar to the tree art some day, but for my first go I thought I would start with something a bit simpler (read: smaller). Since the boys are sharing a new room, I decided to make some monogrammed initials to put on display. The project was quite simple and only required three materials that we already had at home. Read on for the how-to:

DIY String Board Art

What You Need:
-Piece of wood (we used scraps from another project that are about 4″ x 6″)
-Hammer and small finishing nails (each of my art boards used about 60-75 nails)
-Thread, string, embroidery floss, or yarn (I used standard sewing thread, but thicker embroidery floss would have looked a bit nicer)
-Pencil and scissors

What You Do:
1. Use a pencil to draw a silhouette of the shape you want to create. I made a letter on each board, but you could just as easily do any other shape (number, tree, bird, flower, sailboat, train, etc.). My letters were drawn freehand, but if you want to be more precise you can use a stencil from an image and trace it onto your board.

2. Hammer nails along the borders of the board and your shape outline. The closer together you place the nails, the more detailed your artwork will be. Jon, my ever-industrious husband, offered to help me with the wood-and-nails portion of this project. My clumsy thumbs thank him.

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3. Erase your pencil marks from around the nails as best you can.

4. Tie your string around one of the nails with a few strong knots, leaving the string attached to the spool. Trim the “tail” of the string so it won’t get in your way when you begin wrapping the board.

5. Start by tracing the border of the board with your string. Go from nail to nail around the edge of the board. At each nail, wrap the string one or two times around the nail to help anchor it to the board, then go on to the next nail and do the same thing. After you outline the border of the board, criss-cross the string across the board and do the same thing to outline the shape.

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6. Now is the fun part! Start criss-crossing the string across the board, wrapping the string around each nail that you come to. Go crazy here, but be careful not to cross the string into your shape outline. Criss-cross and wrap to your little heart’s content–the more criss-crosses you do, the more defined your shape outline will become. My little boards took me about 20 minutes each to adequately cover in string cobwebs (now I’m glad I didn’t opt for a board the size of my big screen!).IMG_0634

7. Ta-da! A new piece of art, completed from start to finish in about half an hour.IMG_0636

This was a simple, mindless project for me to work on while The Boy watched Toy Story for the 50-gazillionth time, but I could see so many other potential applications. Rainy day art project: if you have older kids, they would enjoy helping with this project from start to finish. Seasonal decorations: how about pumpkins, leaves, stars, hearts, or Christmas trees? New baby gift: every baby needs some cute decorations for their nursery.  Whatever you decide to create, I’m sure it will turn out beautifully.

Happy crafting!

DIY iDad Father’s Day/Birthday Card For A Tech-Savvy Dad

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My kids are incredibly lucky. They have an amazing daddy who loves them with all of his heart. He does so much for all of us, and I want to make sure that he knows how much we appreciate him.

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With Father’s Day coming up, I decided to make him an extra-special one-of-a-kind card that is suited just to him. Jon is, shall we say, a “techy” guy. He is an electrical engineer, so all things technology-oriented are right up his alley. He loves gadgets–and he loves no other gadgets more than his iDevices. This week I counted up the Apple devices currently in use in our house and we have 13 of them. THIRTEEN! Yes, the man loves his iThings. Nothing seemed more appropriate, then, than an Apple-inspired Father’s Day card.

I call this the “iDad” (kinda looks like an iPad…hehe!). This is not a totally original idea, but I thought it would make a cute Father’s Day (or birthday!) card. Here’s the how-to if you want to give it a try:

DIY iDad Father’s Day Card

Materials:
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  • 2 pieces each of black and white cardstock (Or you can do a cardstock hack like I did. I just printed off two black rectangles from my computer and glued them to old file folders. I glued plain white computer paper to the back side of the file folders and cut them out so that one side was black and the other side was white.)
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Xacto knife or box cutter (and a cutting mat or other cutting surface, NOT your nice dining room table!)
  • white crayon or colored pencil
  • standard white glue and/or spray adhesive glue
  • app icons (I printed mine from this site. I just did a Google search for app icons and looked under images–there were lots of pictures to choose from. I also printed off some small photos of Jon and the boys that I cut down to the same size as the app icons.)

Directions:

  • Glue your black and white cardstock back-to-back so one side is black and the other side is white. I used spray adhesive glue for this because it dries quickly, sticks better, and leaves no wrinkles, but standard glue would work just fine. After the glue has dried, cut each piece down to the same size (whatever size you want your card to be).
  • Cut out the app icons you want to use and arrange them on top of one piece of black cardstock. I used 12 app icons on my card. Once you have them set up how you like them, glue each app icon into place.
  • Use the white crayon to draw the home button under the app icons. If you want to, you can also put an apple on the other piece of black cardstock (I happened to have apple stickers lying around from one of our many Apple product purchases).
  • Using an xacto knife, cut down the sides and bottom of each app icon so you can lift them from the bottom like a tab (do NOT cut the top of the app icon).
  • After you have cut each app icon into a tab, glue the two pieces of cardstock together back-t0-back so the black side is showing on each side. Make sure you don’t put any glue on the back of the app icons! Put something heavy on top of the card and let it dry flat for a few hours.
  • After your card is dry, lift each app icon tab and write a little Father’s Day sentiment. Under my tabs I wrote things like “Happy Father’s Day” (for the notes app), “We love you!” (for the photo of Jon with our boys), “You’re off the charts!” (for a stock quote app), and “Father’s Day: June 16, 2013” (for the calendar app).

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  • Present your card to Dad and watch his little techy heart melt!
The "iDad" card next to a real iPad. Can you tell which is which? :)

The “iDad” card next to a real iPad. Can you tell which is which? 🙂

To all of you amazing father’s out there, thank you for all that you do! Enjoy your special day, dads!

A Clever Way To Give A Coffee Gift Card

photo (2)I was a classroom teacher for 5 years before I “retired” to begin my new career as a full-time Household Engineer (a.k.a. “Mom”). You may not be able to tell, but teachers look forward to the end of the school year even more than the students do. Much, much more. And it’s not because we teachers want to get rid of the kids, or even because we’re excited to go on fancy vacations (because, really, no teacher can afford to go on a fancy vacation even if she wants to). No, we get excited for the end of the year because we are exhausted. Teaching is a job that requires you to pour yourself out for your students each and every day– physically, mentally and emotionally. And, even though we love what we do, we need a break. A well-deserved break, I might add!

My kids aren’t in school yet, but we do go to a Bible study class every week. David has two loving teachers who spend countless hours every week preparing for his class, praying for him, and coming up with creative ways to teach a dozen energetic 2-year olds. Tomorrow is our last day of class for the year, so I wanted to get a little end-of-the-year gift for David’s teachers.

Now, here’s a little secret: teachers all want the same thing when it comes to gifts. Hint: it’s not something covered in apples, chalkboards or books. It’s not made out of crayons or tempera paint. It’s not purchased at Bath and Body Works or Yankee Candle. No, what every teacher really wants is:

A GIFT CARD!

I know, it seems kinda lame and impersonal–but it’s practical and something that she will actually use. Plus, she can use her gift card to pamper herself a bit–and for somebody who is used to taking care of everybody else first, that really is the best gift.

I decided to get David’s teachers some gift cards to Starbucks. Who doesn’t like Starbucks? And, since it is a gift, I wanted to package them creatively. I found several ideas on the internet for gift card presentation, but my favorite idea came from a website called Alphamom.com. She took a standard Starbucks cup and made a cover for the back of the cup where the barista usually checks off what type of drink you’re ordering. Instead of the usual boxes for decaf, extra shots, etc. she replaced it with the teacher’s qualities (kind, helpful, etc.) and checked them all off. Such a cute idea!

I borrowed this idea and just made my own version on my computer so I could personalize it for David’s teachers. This is a quick and easy project (each cup took about 2 minutes to make) and costs nothing more than the gift card itself.  I know that his teachers will love them! The instructions are below if you’d like to make your own Starbucks card holder:

How To Make Your Own Personalized Starbucks Gift Card Holder

Supplies:
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  • Starbucks gift card
  • “short” paper coffee cup (the size they use for a kid’s hot chocolate)
  • printable cup cover from Alphamom or make your own (I just used a standard word processing program on my computer. The boxes I created say “Loves Jesus”, “Teaches God’s Word”, “Instructs me”, “Helps me have fun!”, and “Cares for me”)
  • scissors
  • glue
  • Sharpie marker
  • tissue paper or shredded paper for filler in the cup

Instructions:

  1. Create and/or print off your cup cover. Cut it out and glue it onto the cup.
  2. Use the Sharpie marker to check off all of the “teacher quality” boxes on the back  of the cup and write your teacher’s name on the front of the cup.
  3. Fill the cup with tissue paper and tuck the gift card on top

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That’s it, easy-peasy! They turned out super cute and it’s such a clever way to present the gift card. I will also be including a card that David is coloring with the message “Thanks A Latte” on the front. Thank you to all of you amazing teachers out there!

Easter Lily Handprint Craft

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I enjoy making gifts for the important people in my kids’ lives. Just a little something to show that we’re thinking of them and that we are grateful for all that they do for us. Easter seemed like a worthy occasion, so David and I went to work.

I used to make these Easter lilies with my first graders every Spring after we read the book The Parable of the Lily. It’s a wonderful story about how something ordinary and unexpected (like a flower bulb) can turn into something beautiful (like a lily). The story parallels the Easter story and has a great message about grace and forgiveness.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find my copy of the book this week, but I thought it would still be a fun little project for us to do together while baby brother was napping. David is still pretty young to do a project like this, so I ended up doing most of it. He helped out wherever he could, though–his favorite parts seemed to be helping to trace his hand and trying out the hole punch. Here’s how we made the lilies if you want to give it a go!

What you need:

  • white paper (I just used computer printer paper)
  • green paper (I used green copy paper, but construction paper or scrapbooking paper would work just as well)
  • small piece of yellow paper (or color a bit of paper yellow with a crayon)
  • crayon or pencil
  • scissors
  • tape
  • glue
  • hole punch

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What you do:

Trace your child’s hand onto the white paper. If you want to make more than one lily, you can fold the paper in half (or, if your child has tiny hands like mine, you can even fold it into quarters) before you trace so you can cut out multiple handprints from one piece of paper.

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Use the scissors to cut out the handprint. Then, use a pencil to curl each finger down.Roll the handprint into a tube shape and secure with a piece of tape.

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Use the hole punch to cut out small circles of yellow paper. Glue the yellow dots into the inside of the white handprint flower.


Roll a tube out of a strip of green paper–this will be your flower stem (you can make it as long and as wide as you want). Secure your paper tube with a piece of tape. Cut out leaves from your green paper scraps and tape them onto the stem. Put a dollop of glue on the bottom of your flower (“runny” glue works better than a glue stick for this part) and set the flower on top of the stem. Let your flower dry completely.

If you want, you can finish off your flowers with a card.

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Here are a couple of ideas for the text of the card:

1.
This isn’t just a lily
as you can plainly see.

I made it with my hand,
which God made a part of me.

It comes with lots of love
especially to say,
I hope you have a very
special Easter Day!

2.
A piece of me I give to you,
I used my thumb and fingers too,
To make this lily just for you.
It doesn’t smell, it doesn’t grow,
I made it because He loves us so.
Remember that on Good Friday,
Jesus died to wash our sins away.
They buried Him and 3 days passed,
He arose on Easter Sunday at last.

 

Ta-da! A beautiful and simple craft that will brighten anybody’s Easter!