Sunday, January 31

DIY luggage tags from cardboard trash

Have you been at that conveyor belt queue at an airport and wondered often which of those giant polymer boxes happened to be yours? Or looked underneath the train berth and gotten confused between two identical looking suitcases?

Most of us have been there. Not a surprise that many of our elders come up with their own creative ways to mark their suitcases. Little pieces of satin ribbons, large labels with address screaming in large fonts on large pieces of paper glued on with duct tape.

Luggage accessories industry that includes luggage tags, has seen a phenomenal growth as a result. They come in all shapes, forms and the standard size of a credit card or more. If you have no mood to spend your precious bucks on a credit card, dig into your trash around home.

You will find it in plenty. Cardboard cartons of products you picked up at the super-market, packing corrugated cardboard, magazines...

Here is a tutorial for luggage tags with a personal touch. And with no adherence to the industry induced sizes for a proper luggage tag.

What you need to make these tags:

-- a pair of scissors
-- used cardboard that comes with products
-- corrugated cardboard that comes in boxes an packaging
-- glue - either tacky glue or glue stick
-- patterned paper
-- marker pens of a colour or two
-- thick thread and jute or burlap twine
-- sticker labels to embellish - optional
-- also optional is eyelets, if you know how to work with them

For the first step, I decided to do away with using a sandpaper on the cardboard. I used my nails to separate the last layer stuck on to the cardboard. It took some effort. And patience.

This is how it turned out after some pulling. I cut it to the desired size.

Time to use patterned paper on it. I tried the glue stick, and was not happy with it. So out came some tacky glue.

You will notice that with application of such glue, it tends to bend the cardboard.

So after you are done with the trimming of this tag, put the piece under a heavy book or two for about an hour. It helps even the piece out while drying it at the same time.

Round off the edges, punch a hole on its edge, and knot a thick thread in. You may knot this directly on to your suitcase, or keep it aside for future use. When you knot it before hand, make sure they are loose enough to pull out when you need them.

The corrugated cardboard luggage tag did not require much effort. Just cut the cardboard to a desired size, and round off the edges.

And punch a hole. After this, you may embellish using a sticker label. And write your names or initials, with a thick marker pen.

I used a mustard shade marker pen to outline the cardboard edges and along the sticker label. Knot a thread in.

Here is how its other side looked before the embellishing and threading.

Check out how it looks on a suitcase.

Now you can crane your neck out at the conveyor belt and simply notice the colour of your handmade luggage tag to identify it.

The tag definitely saves you the trouble of pulling the box out of the belt and having to put it back in if it is not yours.

Pictures courtesy: RADHIKA M B

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Saturday, January 23

Simple pendant with air dry clay:DIY

Terracotta jewellery/jewelry is a rage in India today, just as paper-quilling has taken the DIY world by storm.

Buy a gorgeous Anarkali or saree and you can get a custom-made set of necklace, earrings and bangles or bracelets to go with it. Design has taken such a happy dimension in making clay accessories, that you can get simple work-wear sets too. Social media is abuzz with home-based entrepreneurs  giving wings to their creativity.

For the uninitiated though, making terracotta jewellery can be intimidating, mainly because of the baking complication involved. For the experts, it is a matter of getting their hands dirty and thriving on the technique.

Uma Karthik and Sankgetha Sripathy of Smudgy Trove and Mann-made Jewels are such terracotta jewellery artists who can turn a handful of clay into grab-worthy treasures. They give an easy-peasy method to get you started with the beautiful art. You do not need an OTG oven for this, because you can choose the alternative available -- air-dry clay, that does not need baking.

Here they are, materials required for the DIY pendant:

-- air-dry clay
-- a roller to flatten the clay
-- a flat surface on which you may roll it
-- nose plier
-- knife
-- cutting plier, the jewellery cutting kind
-- Nichrome wire, 26 gauge
-- cookie cutters or any cutter that will give your clay the right shape
-- acrylic paints of two colours
-- paint brush
-- black thread to string the pendant
-- an extra bead with a larger hole, to fit two strings of the black thread

Roll a little ball of clay from your air-dry clay stash. Place it on a flat surface and roll it.

You will get an irregular circle. Use the cookie cutter or other clay cutters to get a flat disc.

You may use your creativity, and give any shape to the pendant on the wet clay.

Use a knife to etch some simple design on the flat clay disc that is ready. Next, it is time to fix a little bead to the disc, to make the pendant's dangler. 

For this, get a half inch piece of the Nichrome wire from the wire role using the cutting pliers and make a bit. You can use this to loop to make a `U' shape and fix the hanging mini-bead.

Use another such U-shaped piece, to insert into the opposite end of the hanging bead.

After the disc is ready, go ahead and dry the piece in the sun, for about half a day. If you have a terracotta piece, you will need to bake it in a little clay pot with some charcoal. 

Time to paint the piece. Uma Karthik has used black paint for a start. And added some gold and red to it. A single coat is sufficient for air-dry variety of clay. You will need to let the paint dry though.

Once the painting part is done, it is time to string the black thread into the loop that you made. You can choose the length based on your preference of how it must hang. 

Use both the ends and insert them into another bead and knot. This is to help partly adjust its height when you wear it on a daily basis. 

Optionally, you can make some beads, air dry them and paint them too, to string into either sides of the pendant loop. They added a pair of earrings to the beautiful pendant and sent a picture of the elegant set.

Is the set not gorgeous! Wear your pendant for that casual do, to work, a dinner or a fun day. 

Do not get intimidated by the idea of making clay jewellery. It is all about shedding those doubts in your head about how your piece may turn out and dive right into making it. 

A big shout out to the girls for sharing the done-in-a-jiffy project steps.

PICTURES AND METHOD COURTESY: Uma Karthik and Sankgetha Sripathy of Mann-made Jewels and Smudgy Trove

Check their Facebook pages for more details.

Copyrights to the pictures rest with Smudgy Trove and Mann-made Jewels.

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Sunday, January 17

Kids' game with pizza carton: DIY

When it comes to kids' toys, parents go the extra mile to spend. Colourful toys, high-end toys, toys with wood, toys with nearly become instruments to placate their mood. Kids may hardly hold on to a few toys long-term. Often they are done with a respective toy long before you know it, leaving you wondering if those precious bucks you spent were worth the time. The truth is, it does not always take a lot of money to engage them for a while.

It only takes some quick thinking, tools an innovation around home. You can create homemade games, or even get them to make their own games using household items. I recently got a small sized pizza, and kept the carton. Now, the trouble with using a pizza box for anything crafty is that the pizza inside could have well stained the piece.

How about leaving your reservations behind and using a stained box anyways, or using the blemishes they create to your advantage if need be?

I came across how the lid of a shoe-box could be used for ball maze games in the Do-It-Yourself world.

And tried the same with the pizza carton. It turned out an earthy piece with rugged features, enough to keep toddlers and young children occupied for a hot afternoon.

Here are the materials I used:

-- a pizza carton or box
-- craft glue or a hot glue gun
-- ruler to measure
-- crafting knife or pen knife
-- a newspaper or newsprint to cushion the cuts
-- a pair of scissors
-- some beads that are not so flat end, or a light-weight marble
-- keep some stickers handy to embellish
-- and a marking pen or pencil

I cut the pizza box into two for a start.

Fortunately for me the box had four holes on its base, which I decided to incorporate into the game tray.

You will need to use the ruler, get a rough measure of the thickness to match the pizza carton wall height. And cut the cardboard.

The cut piece will have two holes. The task now is to fix it as the fourth wall to the pizza box, using the protruding edges of the box.

I trimmed the flaps so that they would not interfere with the holes.

And applied glue on the edges. To these, I attached the cut piece of cardboard. You will need to let the piece dry. If it does not work, like in my project, you can resort to some transparent tape and fasten the pieces.

Once this set dries, get the pen knife. And at two point on each wall-base corner, make cuts in such a way that they alternate on either sides.

Cut the slits in such a way that you are able to insert pieces of cardboard, of similar thickness. Keep this aside and get the slide pieces ready. You can use the remaining cardboard from the box flap for this, or get some more thick cardboard from around home.

Using the pen-knife and ruler, fix the cardboard pieces in slots on either sides alternatively. This takes some effort, a bit of push andd pull. Make sure to trim the cardboard pieces a little here and there for fitting them in.

I do not like that gap between the base and wall on one side. But I let it be. To avoid it, you may have to use some extra cardboard while cutting the piece out for a start. Time or embellishments.

As usual, my stash of stickers came in handy. If you want to decorate edges on the outside, you can paint them. But frankly, kids don't care as long as they watch a ball drop on to the slides. Here I used a large bead. You could use a tiny ball. A ping pong ball will not fit into the slotted hole, so if you use it, you will need to place it on the right hand top slide.

Tilt the tray to make sure your bead or ball does not fall off the grid too quick. The one among players who can get it to fall latest in a time slot wins. Or maybe quickest. Enjoy the game with your little pals. It is not a long-lasting piece, but worth the effort. I took all of an hour to get the whole thing right. 

It's all about using a weekend morning to fix it up. 


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Saturday, January 9

Desktop paper clips stash with used ribbon spool: DIY

Holiday season usually brings with it the extensive use of ribbons - for gift wrapping, home decorations, and crafts. What do you do with left over spools from the tons of satin ribbons? Throw them? Trash them in the recycle bin?

I decided to keep use mine to stash away paper clips on my desktop. The fun part about it is that you do not have to burn your pocket for the super quick effort.

Materials that I used for the table top tiny knick knacks container -

-- a crafting or pen knife
-- tacky glue
-- some decorative ribbon
-- sand paper
-- a pair of scissors
-- some metallic acrylic paint
-- paint brush
-- Washi tape to keep handy
-- Burlap paper which is really jute cloth stuck hard on a paper
(you can use some fine quality jute fabric instead)
-- fabric flowers to embellish
-- 3-D outliner in gold colour to keep handy
-- a ball-pen, to mark out the circle on burlap card stock sheet (use an empty refill or pencil otherwise)

-- most importantly, you need the used ribbon spool which is essentially made from cardboard

For a start, use the pen knife to cut open one base of the spool.

This will leave rough edges on the other side, which you may smooth out. You can choose to sand these edges, or leave them rugged for that earthy look. After this, pick up a sheet of burlap or jute from the cardstock bundle. Alternatively, use either thick jute fabric or some patterned paper.

Use the base of the ribbon spool to mark out a circle on this, with a pen or pencil.

Cut the circle out.

Keep this aside. Now use some sandpaper to roughen the surface of the spool's base.

Stick the burlap circle on to this surface.

Let this dry in sunlight or at a window.

It is time now to decorate or embellish the container.

I used gold metallic acrylic paint to paint the protruding base and the rough edge of the cut out part of the container. And let it dry out. If you are running short of time,

The outer surface I used another piece of decorative ribbon to cover, and let some of the cardboard show to keep it looking real. A fabric flower went into the center to cover the hole. This covering is not necessary, but I wanted the effect.

Once this was done, I used the same decorative ribbon to embellish the spools inner suface too. The stash holder is ready for use. You may use this to decorate a note-board, the altar at home. As for me, my stash of large sized paper clips fit in perfectly.

Drop in your display tacs, ball pins, or maybe a key that you would otherwise forget.

Pictures courtesy: Radhika M B

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