Archive for the ‘papercraft’ Category

Project #54 – Pop-Up Cutout Scene

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I usually work with bright colors whenever possible, but sometimes it’s a nice change to stick with one neutral tone for a project. I suppose I might save this pop-up scene for when someone I really like moves and throws a housewarming party. I could even slip in a gift card under the lawn.

All of the pieces, like this house, have some extra cardstock at the bottom to help them standing up. Also, instead of using a straight crease at the point where the house meets its its horizontal half, I made a slightly convex fold. This helps the figure to stand up when the box is opened and saves me the trouble of attaching everything to the lid of the tin. They all stand up on their own.

I like having graph paper to help me plan illustrations, so I used graph index cards to help me sketch out each cutout. I sketched out each tree before cutting them out with my craft knife. I’m a little tree obsessed lately, so I’ve been looking for excuses to add them to a project. These trees are a little bare, but that’s how they look in early spring when the tulips arrive. Right? I can’t remember.

I’m left handed, so I cut out the branches left to right and remove the excess cardstock piece by piece.

The entire scene folds neatly into a Harrogate toffee tin. The toffee itself wasn’t very good, all sugar and no butter. I have a hard time forgiving sub par toffee, but the nifty packaging kind of makes up for it.

Each of the pieces was slotted into a card cut to fit the bottom of the tin. This keeps the scene looking neat and spare. Plus, using the slots meant that I could put together the whole piece without glue. That means that I’ll be able to switch out the figures if I think of something better.

The details:

The scene from the back

A view from the side

The trees in the front yard

A closer look at the windows

A doggie!

Project #53 – Spiral Bound Lotería Notebook

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Spiral binding is one of the most useful services possible ev-AH from a copy shop, and most people don’t know about it. The whole process takes about 5 minutes and $2-$3 if you catch the copy shop during a slow period.

Clark even took in one of his guitar books and had it rebound so that it would stay open without a music stand. He’s a big Bonnie Pink fan.

Given a choice, I use only spiral bound notebooks because that they lay flat. Books with sewn or glued binding are jerks that will close and lose your place the second they are left alone. Plus, I can remove pages without damaging the binding, though I only do so with much reluctance and frowning. I usually give people the stink eye if they ask for a piece of scrap paper from my precious spiral research notebook. I started keeping a few blank post-it notes on the last few pages so that I could keep my remaining paper mooching friends; they are otherwise good people.

I designed this notebook specifically for drawing with markers, so instead of regular paper I used 6″ by 9″ index cards to prevent multi-page ink bleeds.

The game boards used in Lotería are fun to look at, and are made of some pretty sturdy cardstock, making them ideal for covers. They’re just slightly larger than the index cards, so they’re perfect without any cutting.

Project #45 – Tostones and a Lotería Card

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

I spent most of my free time cleaning today (not that I got very far), so I made two quick things rather than doing something more elaborate with my Sunday.

We also spent part of the day visiting friends for a make-up baby shower. I’m not a fan of store-bought greeting cards (My mom, however, will spend hours in the card aisle finding just the right one), so I put together a quick card for the occasion. I have a stack of cardstock cut to an appropriate greeting card size, so I just grab a sheet of that whenever I need a thank you card, a birthday card or a just-’cause card.

On Saturday, Clark and I had a Valentine’s Day lunch in the Strip District and I picked up a stack of Lotería cards from one of the few Latin food shops in Pittsburgh. The card on the front was chosen because Papa-to-be is in a band.

I also picked up a plantain from the same shop. Plantains are a real wonder food. Ripe yellow ones can be baked into sweet maduors and green ones can be sliced thinly into chips (mariquitas) or sliced thickly into tostones.

Tostones are basically squished green plantains. It doesn’t sound like a good idea on paper, but they are a marvelous, savory, crispy side dish eaten frequently in Cuban cuisine. First you take a hard, green plantain and peel it (which is a pain in the ass when they aren’t ripened). Be careful of the peel because it will leave a black residue on your fingers. However, a good orange peeler will save you some trouble. Slice the plantain into 1 inch cylinders.

Cover the bottom of a pan with olive oil and apply medium-high heat. Drop in the plantain pieces carefully after the oil is hot. Move them with a spatula after a few seconds to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Flip after about 30 seconds. The cooked side should be bright yellow. I also like to roll the plantain pieces around to get the sides cooked.

Let the lightly cooked plantain pieces cool on a paper towel. When they are cool enough to handle place one at a time them between two plates and squish until they’re about half an inch thick. Drop each squished plantain back into the oil (adding more if the bottom of the pan is no longer covered). Let them cook until each side is lightly browned around the edges. Serve immediately.

Project #43 – Gift Box

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I bought a book at Kinokuniya in New York that has hundreds of 3-D packaging forms, covering lots of shapes and purposes. I think it’s one of the best book investments I’ve ever made. I put together one of the forms as packaging for the boxer shorts that I’m going to give my husband for Valentines Day.

I’ll be using some green cardstock that I screen printed with a decorative pattern. After resizing the patterns from the CD included with the book, I printed it on the back of the cardstock.

I used a craft knife to cut out the box and a bone folder to crease along the folds. Ordinary Elmer’s glue is what holds the box together.

I glued in a cut-up sandwich bag to form the transparent window. After everything dried I wedged Clark’s boxer shorts into place.

Project #37- A Picture File

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

I learned the practice of keeping a picture file from my High School Art teacher, Mr. Putnam. There wasn’t internet available for students to look up reference images, so instead he kept his classroom stocked with big piles of National Geographic Magazines. Students who wanted to draw a tiger or an airplane or a tree would flip through issues until they found just the right image. The best part was that we were allowed to rip out whatever pages we wanted and keep them in our own personal picture file folder.

By my senior year of high school I was really interested in collages and spent lots of extra time pouring through the magazine stack in search of interesting subjects and textures. Eventually, I’d amassed a substantial portfolio that I kept with me at all times. Each of my friends got an impromptu mini-collage when I signed their yearbooks.

My picture file today is a much smaller affair, but I still like cutting things out and gluing them into letters, cards and my research notebook.

I still like using National Geographic magazines for my picture file needs. The paper is thick and sturdy; the subject matter is broad; and fresh copies can be purchased at almost any yard sale for 10 cents a piece.

Project #36 – Washi Masking Tape Sticker

Friday, February 6th, 2009

I accepted an invitation to spend tonight carousing with my girlfriends, so I came home and paced from room to room for about 20 minutes looking for something that I could make quickly before going out for the rest of the evening. Eventually, I just started grabbing random things and piling them on the dining room table hoping that something would click. I’m only 1/10th of the way through the year, so it’s trouble if it’s February and I’m already stumped. Plus, Clark had a few friends over a the time for chili, so I had an audience to watch me mumble to myself while I picked through craft supplies.

Luckily, something clicked and I got the idea to use some of my washi-paper masking tape and a stencil to make a custom sticker. Total time from start to finish was about 10 minutes, which left plenty of time to toddle down to the bar for $2 Margarita night.

I used a stencil that I’ve had on hand for at least two years now, and that stencil was based on a sketch that is now going on 5 years. The initial idea for the female profile sketch came from looking at the Girl Scout symbol. “Be Prepared.” Good advice.

First, I layered enough pieces of tape to cover my stencil on a plastic cutting board.. I used a cutting board to because it’s be an easy surface to peel the sticker off of and no one would really notice a few extra cuts.

Next, I traced around my stencil in pencil and then lightly erased the pencil line to make is less conspicuous.

Craft knives are one of the tools that I always keep handy. I used my sharpest one to cut along the lines.

I carefully peeled away the excess pieces of tape, leaving my sticker on the board. I carefully peeled it up, occasionally slipping my craft knife under the tape to loosen stubborn pieces. Lastly, I put my sticker on one of my new Muji notebooks.

Project #14 – Eraser Stamps

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

My co-worker has a son who hates mustard so much that it has become a curse word in her house. If something goes really badly, he says “Mustard!”, like it’s his own private curse word. If I were to have a word like that, it would probably be ‘squirrel!’. They’re always stealing my garlic plants and digging up my delicate early spring plantings looking for nuts they forgot about. They’ve destroyed all of my melon seedlings one-by-one, and all my rare cucumber seedlings. I check on them everyday and at least half a dozen times every spring I’ll see them mangled with a little hole and a peanut shell sitting at the scene of the crime. My neighbor, however, loves squirrels and is the source of the peanut menace. My owl statue and occasional squirts from the hose don’t deter them in the least.

I’m going to make my own squirrel stamp today and use it at work as an indicator of shenanigans. I’ll use it to mark old scripts and other print-outs that would wreak havoc if taken as the latest version. And if I still make the same mistakes I’ll yell ‘Squirrel!’ and not the f-word, which I have become more and more accustomed to using. I can also use it to mark old things in the fridge. Yes, this two week old pasta salad is squirrel, indeed.

I have a little bag of Mujirushi erasers that has lost its utility now that I rarely use pencils. One of these will become my stamp body. I’ll also be using a carver that would be typically used on lino or wood blocks.

First, I took a regular pen and drew a picture of my squirrel on the eraser.

Next, I carved out all of the spots without marker. I like to leave a little bit behind, however, to add texture to the finished image. The top of the eraser is only 1.5 cm on each side, so I went slow and used small strokes.

I did a few test stamps and carved off extra bits to get a clearer image. Finally, after a few rounds I had the image I wanted.

Project #11 – Index Card Notebook

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

I love notebooks of all kinds and I’ve got dozens squirreled away, just in case. They’re like toilet paper: no matter how much you buy it will all eventually get used. I have a notebook to go with almost all of my major life events. I had a real estate notebook for house hunting, and a wedding notebook full of guest lists and cost estimates for when I got married. I’m not sure what today’s notebook will be for yet, but it’s a good size for carrying around.

  • Ingredients:
  • 6″ by 9″ blank index cards
  • binder clips
  • thread
  • needle
  • something sharp for poking
  • 2 inch wide tape
  • pretty tape (optional)

I like the weight and standard sizes of index cards. I’ve tried to size my own paper, but without the right equipment I never get it right. Though if index cards aren’t right for your project, Kinko’s will size your paper for about a dollar a cut.

First, I lined up my index cards and cliped them with my binder clips to keep them in order. The cards are held together by a line of stitches, so I marked off where each perforation would be, placing them about 1 centimeter apart along a straight line.

Next, I used an old sewing machine needle, tapping it with a little hammer to make a hole in advance of adding the stitching. My notebook is about 12 cards thick, so the sewing needle wouldn’t be able to go through on its own. I laid two lines of stitching, doubling back for extra hold.

After that, I covered my stitches with a piece of brightly colored tape and then added two more decorative pieces of washi tape that I picked up from Loft in Nagoya. Lastly, I cut the overhanging tape to make it even with the edges of the notebook.

Project #8 – Decoupaged Tin

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Today’s project was a little out of my routine. Usually, I make a skirt every Thursday while Clark and a friend go out for pizza and beer. Today was another late work day, so I had to do something that would take 20 minutes instead of two hours. I really like my skirts with pockets, so it’s better to wait until the pressure is off to cut corners in order to get to some sleep, because, well, pockets are the first thing to go in a time crunch. I hope I can return to my usual “Make-a-Skirt Thursday” next week, but today’s project was fun.

I have a little collection of Japanese washi paper purchased from a shop in Asakusa just a stone’s throw from the Kaminarimon Gate*. The Tobu line connecting to Tochigi prefecture used to terminate in Asakusa (it now goes all the way to Shinjuku), so I was a frequent visitor while Clark lived in Imaichi city.

I’ve decoupaged a lot of things with my little bundle of paper, and because I only take little bits each time I still have at least a quarter of each sheet left. Today’s project will only take a little bit more to cover the top cover of an Altoid-sized tin.


  • Tin
  • Mod Podge Glue (I’m partial to the glossy kind)
  • Pretty Paper cut into bits
  • Sponge Brush or paint brush
  • X-acto Knife (Optional)

First, remove the lid from the bottom of the tin. This will keep the bottom half from getting gummy from the glue. I like to put thin pieces of paper around the edges of the tin first and then fill in the top. Just load your sponge brush or paint brush up with glue and cover an area and then place your piece of paper. I usually sponge on top of whatever I’ve just laid down, especially around the edges because this both seals the paper and makes it more flexible for bending and creasing into place.

After I’ve covered my tin top, I’ll go back and sponge on a few coats over the top of my paper to keep it in place, smooth down the differences in the layers, and add some gloss. This tin has two coats, but I might add a third before I go to bed.

I really like how colors stand out and with a few glossy coats of Mod Podge. I even used the same stuff to seal a wooden game board when time constrains ruled out lacquer. It even adds moderate water-proofing to paper projects. So, yay for Mod Podge; I use it by the bucket-full.

*As an aside, I kind of hate saying Kaminarimon Gate, because of the redundancy of saying ‘mon’ and ‘gate’, which mean the same thing. It’s like the “3-cheese queso” at Qdoba. I wish we could say ‘Kaminari Gate’ in English, but probably no one would know what I was talking about. It kills me little inside.

Programs for Everyone!

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

I know that our programs were yet another element in our ‘unnecessarily complicated’ DIY wedding tapestry, but I can’t help but love them. The covers probably didn’t need to be screen printed, but I just couldn’t help myself. I’d fallen in love with the color combination and the intensity never would have come through with regular screen printing. Plus, the paper had a slight sheen to it so the ink stayed on top and created a 3-D effect. I’m really thankful that I had the sense (for once!) to keep it to one color because thick layers of ink take forever to dry.

The image on the cover is from series of pictures I took of Mr. Lollipop and myself jumping in front of our green screen. The quote on the cover is from first Thessalonians, chapter 5: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” It’s my favorite even if it makes it sound like we’ve both, um, dated a lot of people.

The outside cover was made of a piece of green 8.5″ by 11″ paper folded in half. Inside we stapled a piece of tabloid sized paper (11″ by 17″) that we folded into quarters. That means that we had 8 quarters to work with, front and back. When guests first opened the front cover they were greeted with another jumping picture of Mr. Lollipop and myself along with a short biography of us as a couple.

Next, that portion flipped open to reveal a series of silhouettes of the wedding party memners as well as short, humorous biographies of each person. I’ve been to too many weddings where I’m wasn’t sure who the heck was up on the altar next to the bride and groom (Sibling? Childhood friend? Jail buddy?), so I thought it would be a nice courtesy to fill in all of our guests.

When the program is fully opened the inside reveals a full script of the wedding ceremony as well as a few notes and directions for guests. Most of my family is Catholic and his is fairly non-religious, so we thought it would be a good idea to let them know where to say ‘we will’ and ‘also with you’ in our Episcopal ceremony. Plus, I screwed up the directions to the reception in our invitations (oops!), so it was a good place to put revised ones.

Finally, we were able to put some of our thank yous in the last empty quarter on the other side of the program.

The bottom four pictures are courtesy of Purvis Photography.