Monday, December 28

Cup and ball catcher toy DIY

Cup and ball catcher toys are ubiquitous. When we were little kids, a wooden cup and ball catcher that my dad bought for my sister and me was a favourite. The toy with its bright green and red paint, and a wooden ball on a string was a great entertainer in summers.

Known by different names, the toy is traditional and prevalent in different cultures of the world. It is called boliche in Spain and balero in most of Latin America. In France it is known by the name bilboquet. If you get a chance, hop into the nearest handicraft store and ask for it, or check online for the various ethnic versions of this toy.

A great option would be to make it yourself at home. You need disposable paper or plastic glasses to begin with. The toy makes for a good pastime with kids. It is easy to teach children how to make with a little adult supervision.

If you need to host a kids' party at home, nothing like this toy that the kids can play with and take home. It is a great crafting project and will not burn your pocket.

Here we go, with the materials we need for the simple DIY toy. This tutorial has two versions.

What you need and can keep handy:

-- a large red plastic cup used for serving, washed and dried thoroughly
-- a white paper cup
-- a white twine roll or jute twine roll
-- tapestry needle
-- a pair of scissors
-- a craft knife
-- ping pong balls or styrofoam/thermocol balls (I used a styrofoam pumpkin)
-- large beads, buttons and large hole sequins
-- a cylindrical bottle or thick toilet paper roll or tube
-- craft glue and super glue - keep them handy
-- Optional are embellishing items - in this case, some decorative violet tape and Washi tapes
-- you may keep some sanding paper if needed

For the Red Plastic Cup Ball Catcher,

Use your crafting knife to poke a hole on its bottom.

I made use of the recycle symbol that came embossed with the cup. Using its shape to guide, I carved out a triangle hole along its inner edges.

String a large button using the white twine, and the tapestry needle through this hole. The button must fit in the cup's base inside.

Here, in this picture above, the button is inside the cup, while I have made a knot with the twine outside of the cup. You will now need to string another large bead on the outer bottom of the cup.

Note that the size of the twine should be large enough to toss the ball a little in the air. A way to do it would be to measure the string upto your elbow twice. And adjust the length accordingly. Please note, that the twine's cut end disintegrates through the inserting and stringing, so you will need to cut to level it.

Use the tapestry needle to string through the thermocol ball or round object, or the pingpong ball, and knot it. Your cup and ball catcher toy is ready.

With the white cup that is smaller in size, I used an old medicine bottle to make the handle. Another option is to use the base of a tissue roll, or an incense sticks tube. Anything that you can hold easy will work. Look around your home.

Use a pen or the tapestry needle to poke a hole in the center of the paper cup's bottom. Use a narrow pen refill or bamboo chopstick to widen this hole.

String a bead into the inside of the cup. And after measuring the twine according to your need and comfort, cut it.

Use the string and work with the tapestry needle to fasten a large button on the outside of this base, in such a way that it firmly holds against the cup. You can leave the larger part of the string.

Pour crafting glue under the button, over it, and enough to cover this base.

Embellish the medicine tube or any other tube you have and glue it on to the base. Some glue may spill out, do not fret. Let this dry for an hour or two. You can use a table fan or cool setting on the hair dryer if you want a quicker result. If you live in a windy place, make use of it and place it at the window.

Once it is dry, string the other end of the twine to a large bead or ping pong ball.

Your cup and ball catcher toy is ready. A cool way to prevent trashing of disposable cups. And an even less expensive way to keep kids engaged.

Go ahead. Look around the trash around home, and use the objects to invent your own version of cup and ball toys. Play away.

Pictures Courtesy: Radhika M B

For permission to re-use, write to:

Saturday, December 12

Paper clip bookmarks with wooden beads: how to make

Often we wrack our brains when we must leave a book in the middle of reading it, and such frantic for a piece of cardboard or any flat thing the hand can feel.

True the world has moved ahead with technology trophies called e-books. We still need those good old books and bookmarks that go with them. Those ubiquitous paper clips are a great way to reach that page without spending a fortune on store bought bookmarks.

Plenty of methods exist to put those little stationery preciouses to use. I tried the really quick method that took barely a few minutes.

It was more of an experiment with materials really.  On my last trip to India I had picked up some wooden beads in the shape of butterflies. Such lovelies...but I could not bring myself to make earrings with them much. When I set out to make bookmarks with paper clips this time, I simply gathered different materials from my stash of craft materials to see what would work.

So here they are, things I gathered.

-- 3-D stickers
-- big button
-- Super Glue
-- a pair of scissors
-- big sized paper clips

Here, I have added a bit of super glue to the wooden butterfly bead and let the paper clip rest on the large button to set it thoroughly.

It takes a while to dry.

I tried it with a set of 3-D baby stickers too. But have not been happy with the result. It is because gluing the already sticky surface behind a 3-D sticker to the smooth surface of the paper clip was tricky.

There is a tendency for the surfaces to slip off.

The wooden surface on the contrary works well because of its unevenness.  Let the glued clips dry for an hour or two.

Your bookmarks, or fancied up clips are ready for use.

I have used them here to hold together, my stock of cut postal envelopes which I will use for crafts soon.

Optionally you may add a lace flower or paper to the rear of these butterfly clips. Enjoy using them, or make about 10 of them, tuck them into an old jewelry box and gift them to a friend.

Pictures courtesy: Radhika M B

For permissions to reuse, write to:

Friday, December 4

Soda can pull tab earrings

Forgive me for another post on earrings. It feels like I am a fan of making those quickies. When raw material comes in the form of everyday items of use, why not?

It's a hard fact that aerated drinks are not healthy. What do you do when you buy them up for a party? An ethical way to discard them is by rinsing them, drying them, and carting them to recyclers. If your apartment community or neighbourhood has a recycling programme, nothing like it.

Soda cans can also be used to make classy decor if you have the right training. The easiest thing of course, is to make earrings from their pull-tabs. Just make sure you pull them out before the drink can goes into your recycle bin.

Things you need to make these earrings

-- a sheet of mini 3-D stickers that can fit into the pull tabs for embellishing
  or buttons

-- jump rings

-- jewellery/jewelry pliers

-- earring fish hooks

-- a mini-hammer or a pestle from your kitchen

-- some craft glue or super glue

-- the main item is of course soda can pull tabs

Firstly, use your pestle or hammer to gently flatten the poky edges on the rear of those pull-tabs.

And embellish the hollows with available stickers. Make sure they fit into the hollows rather than jut out. I used 3-D button stickers from my stash. You can use buttons. They are a perfect size too.

Add some craft glue to the rear of these tabs where the stickers got fixed.

Let them dry.

Fix jump-rings on the end of the pull-tabs.

Fix earrings fish hooks.

Your soda can pull-tab earrings are ready.

Funky are they not? Try your own embellishments and experiment. Parts such as these are available in plenty around us. Run your head and unleash your creativity.

Photo courtesy: Radhika MB

For permissions to use, write to:

Saturday, November 28

Earrings with a face cream tube: how to make

Every time a cosmetics tube goes into trash, it adds that much to landfills. Not a lot of us would give thought to it, but even tubes containing face creams, scrubs or face packs can be repurposed.

It is all about figuring out what material such tubes are made of. I picked up one of my old tubes that ran out of cream, and used its empty container to experiment with making earrings. The result is somewhat rugged. But it has given me loads of ideas for future projects.

Things you will need to make these earrings:

-- used and old cream tube...wash it thoroughly
-- keep handy lots of sequins and beads for the experiment
-- a pair of scissors
-- 3-D outliners of the colours of your choice
-- some beads and buttons (optional)
-- jump rings and fish hooks
-- jewellery/jewerly pliers
-- multi-purpose craft glue
-- small hole punch

Firstly, wash the tube thoroughly. This takes time.

Cut the flattened edge of the tube off. You are now left with a hollow piece.

Cut its surface in such a way that you get two flat pieces. These pieces have a bend, which you could use to your advantage.

IIf there is residual cream, wipe it off with a wet tissue or wash it and dry it again. You will also notice that some tubes have vinyl sticker packaging, You may remove this with hot and soapy water. The process may be messy. Load yourself with some patience.

After this, you could cut it to shapes of your choice. And embellish with sequins.

Use a small hole punch to make a hole on one end of the pieces each.

Fix jump rings to these holes. Here I have tried my hand with the 3-D outliner. You will notice it is still not dry.

Allow the pieces to dry and fix the fish hooks. And your pair of repurposed cream tube earrings is ready for use.


Try them on a day you want to do something new. The pair I made is not so perfect, but is bound to draw compliments. Run your head on other ideas with cream tubes too. Crafting is all about trying new experiments using existing objects. And not fretting about imperfect pieces.

Picture Courtesy: Radhika M B

For permissions to use, write to:

Saturday, November 21

Owl nest fridge magnet with plastic bottle cap: a nest on my fridge

Owls are my favourite birds. Contrary to what I heard growing up, owls are wise, and that I say in the affirmative.

On an earlier visit to the crafts store, I chanced upon owl buttons. They found  their way into my cart with no reason to be bought at all. Today I put them to good use. I built a little nest for them in a plastic bottle cap. And made them sit on my fridge door.

Plastic bottle caps that we mindlessly throw away can come handy in a million ways. For the little owl nest, it was a large red plastic cap that made a perfect bowl for the nest.

The materials you need for the project are available easily, except for the owl buttons. You can opt for small owl stickers, stick them up a card board and cut through the shape to give them the 3-D effect, or simply buy 3-D stickers.

Here goes the list:

Things you need to make owl nest fridge magnet 

-- Owl buttons
-- a self adhesive magnet
-- plastic bottle cap
-- a pair of scissors
-- jute or burlap twine - one thick and one thin
-- cloth leaves that you get from craft stores for flower making projects
-- a tweezer to nudge the twine into the cap properly
-- straw or stirrer to use tacky glue
-- tacky glue

Jute rolled into disc for bird nest plastic bottle cap magnet

Roll the thicker twine into a disc that's enough in size to fit into the bottle cap. And glue this into the bottle cap. Use enough glue.
Tacky glue on plastic bottle cap recycle magnet project

Tacky glue with jute twine in plastic bottle cap

Now pick up those owl buttons or 3-D stickers and glue them on the disc, a little above half of the cap.

How to make a bird nest magnet for your fridge

buttons craft + DIY owl nest magnet for refridgerator

The flowers project leaves usually come with a wire attached. You can cut this wire and add randomly into the glued area, and fix the leaf on the bottle cap edge. The leaf can also go in before the owl buttons do, so you can nestle them on it. 

repurpose bottle cap to make it yourself fridge magnet

Add more pieces of the jute or burlap twine - thick here, thin can also pull out strands from the pieces to stick randomly and give a mish mash effect. Images of owl nests I came across have mostly been with twigs. Here I have mounted the glued owls on a large twine roll.
Burlap kids craft project +DIY owl nest fridge magnets

Let the piece dry out a little. And add the self-adhesive magnet. If the adhesive does not stick well, glue it with tacky glue.

Back to nature craft + Green craft + recycle repurpose reuse

Here they are, the owls, drying out in the bottle cap nest.

Green craft + plastic and jute with owl buttons fridge magnet

They acquire a different glow, almost Christmas tree like, when an LED bulb shines on them. If you want to quick dry them, try using a hair dryer in `cool air' setting. After an hour of drying, the piece is ready to sit on my fridge.

Owl nest fridge magnet easy crafts

This little DIY piece makes for an excellent gift that you can stash into an old earrings box and give away. You can earn those `recycled' stars with ease among peers. Get your kid to do this for a school crafts project. Or simply enjoy its beauty on your fridge.

If you do not have owl buttons or stickers, use tiny pebbles that look like eggs, or oval beads of plain colours. Enjoy the company of your new friends.

Pictures courtesy: Radhika M B
For permissions to re-use, write to:

Copyrights: Radhika M B