Monday, September 26

Musical instrument with cardboard ribbon spool DIY

Nothing beats the challenge of keeping a kid engaged. You may spend a few hundreds on the best toy in town, only to find that your child moved on to some other toy in a few hours. A homemade musical instrument similar to the 'damroo' can be made in hardly any time, with simple supplies. Let your child take to it for a while and forget later. You will not cry your tears over an expensive toy that got dumped.

My friends recently threw me a surprise party and floored me with their love. Among the party supplies, was a netted ribbon spool that got left behind. Enough reason for me to get to work. The spool was strong, yet had a temporary feel to it.

I did not want to embellish too much, as functionality was more important.

What I used:

- a ribbon spool

- patterned colour sheets

- paper punch

- a pair of scissors

- hot glue gun ( you can use tacky glue)

- pen to pencil to mark and trace

- decorative ribbon to embellish

- thick yarn enough to pass through a big bead

-- beads ...two large one with wide holes, and smaller beads to adjust the knots.

- sanding paper is optional ( I did without it)

I started by tracing out circles with the spool's base on the rear of the patterned colour sheet.

And cut two circles using the marked line.

Meanwhile, I punched a hole on one rim of the spool, and on the corresponding rim across. The hole needs to be punched with about two millimetres distance from the edge of the rim, so that it is easy to knot a thread and so that it stays strong.

The next step was to glue the cut circles on to the outward facing surfaces. But before gluing, I used my nails to peel out the glossy layer. This was to let the glue sit better on it.

I used hot glue to stick the paper. But tacky glue should do just fine.

Stick on the two ends. Use the punched hole to guide through and poke a hole using the marker, a toothpick or a sharp pencil, just enough to insert a hole.

Keep this aside.

Knot the end of the yarn and run a smaller bead. Add a bigger bead to this and using your index finger to hold, knot the thread where the bead ends.

Cut the yarn enough to knot it to the punched hole. I used to make sure the length of the beaded yarn was just enou
gh for it to flap and hit on the spool ends.

Cut excess yarn that may be hanging.

Do this on the other end too.

The beaded drum or 'damroo' is ready. Get your child to play it into a rhythm.

It is a perfect pastime for a homebound afternoon, when your little one fusses about heading out, and the weather will not allow it.

Pictures by Radhika M B

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Tuesday, September 20

Felt bookmark fridge magnet DIY

That every book should have a bookmark, has been my motto when I make bookmarks. Often friends ask me if there is any use for handmade bookmarks in a world geared towards e-books. I say, while e-books offer convenience, nothing beats the smell of a book with its yellowing paper, rustle and love. I own e-books too. But I can sleep better with real books, stocked up around me all day. And every book must have a bookmark.

This week, I tried to make a bookmark I did not have to stash away somewhere safe only to forget and bring down my house in the search for it.

I made a fridge magnet. I made a bookmark. Not really. I made a bookmark magnet.

This project is addictive for those who like working with needle and threads. You need some felt sheets in two colours or more.

- a pair of scissors

- marking pen or pencil

- a ruler

- hot glue gun with glue stick or super glue or multi-surface craft glue

- embroidery skeins of a few colours, either contrasting or complimenting the felt sheets

- a needle

- a thin strip of cardboard

- magnetic strip about four inches long or more

Mark out about six inches by one inch and half inch on a felt sheet. I chose red for the base. I preferred to mark a line using the cardboard cover of my new stitching kit.

Cut the strip out using a pair of scissors. Cut another strip of identical dimensions.

You can at this point gauge the amount of felt you need to stretch out from the thin cardboard piece. You may choose other durable materials too to reinforce the felt pieces bookmark, such as old plastic file pieces, or thicker cardboard.

I used my ring to trace out circles of one inch diameter and cut them from another felt sheet. And these circles I placed in either half of the rectangular piece and stitched on to the red felt piece, using Button stitch.

I also picked up a yellow skein and filled up the centres of these circles.

After this, it turned out to resemble a flower, prompting me to add petals with the thread.

You can repeat this design on the other circle. The next step is to insert the cardboard strip between the rear side of this strip and the second strip. Use button stitch with yellow thread to stitch them together.

Take care not to let knots show when you stitch. It is possible to start stitching with not much knotting. Finish off and cut the thread. If there are hanging ends, you can glue them back into the felt sheet. Worry not.

Bring out your magnet strip. It must not protrude over the bookmark. Get the hot glue gun ready by plugging it, or if you use a multi surface glue, bring it on.

Peel the magnet from its self adhesive tape.
Apply glue with the hot glue gun or super glue.

Quickly press the magnet over this glue.
Crease over it for it to stick better.

Let this dry for a few minutes. Or maybe half an hour.

Your bookmark magnet is ready.

You can use this, or make a few for return gifts during a party. Or gift it to that special book-lover friend of yours.

Pics by Radhika M B

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Monday, September 12

Potpourri with used festival flowers DIY

Festive season brings with it the colour splash that we look forward to, in shops, around street corners, homes, and every place that can possibly be decked up. What is sad what we end up with after the festival is over. Waste of all kinds. Of toxic idols that end up eventually in our drinking water, of decorations that end up in trash, of food that upsets our tummies, and pricey flowers that have nowhere to go but the dust bin.

I was lucky to find jasmine and roses in the recent weeks for my festival decor and worship. For a change, I preserved them for reuse. My Ganesha for this festival was tiny and homely as usual. More about that in another post.

While roses have their unique therapeutic properties, jasmine is a fragrance unmatched. I was surprised to find dried jasmine flowers, chamomile and other flowers sold online. It's true the price of flowers has gone up a great deal. And so it makes perfect sense to prolong their use.

Potpourri is meant to permeate fragrances by mixing essential oils with herbs, leaves, flowers and sometimes spices. It works well as aroma therapy. If you are prone to allergies though, best to check with a doctor before you start.

What I had among flowers and other items:

-- roses of three colours

-- some oranges whose peels I dried

-- jasmine flowers

What I used further:

-- essential oil ( I used sandal oil, you choose your favourite)

-- mixing bowl with a lid

-- jar with lid

-- Brown paper bag or cover

I also used;

-- coriander or cilantro seeds

-- cumin seeds ( jeera)

-- cloves

-- cinnamon powder (you can use sticks too)

Cinnamon sticks or powder, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cloves are among ingredients that help lock the fragrance in. They are known fixatives that make the fragrances last, although another popular ingredient that potpourri enthusiasts head to shops for is the Orris root powder. You do not have to lose precious money over it when you have treasures in your own kitchen.

After my festival worship was done, I sun dried my flowers on a large plate till they felt brittle. I also dried peels of oranges that we used. Citrus peels are great for the mix. If you have nutmeg and other herbs, nothing like it. But use what you have and it works.

I took two handfuls of the rose and citrus mixture, threw in some dried jasmine, added a spoon of the coriander and cumin seeds and some cloves in the mixing bowl. To this lot, I added six drops of the sandal oil. You can add about six to eight drops of other essential oils too. This was my first time at a potpourri. I wanted to keep it simple. You may not get to be precise with the drops. Use an ink filler if you need to. Worry not about precision.

Use a lid to cover the bowl, hold the covered bowl between your palms and shake for about half a minute or whole. Alternatively, you can mix it all in a brown paper cover or bag.

Take this mixture and pour into an air-tight jar or container. Store it for at least a month, or about six weeks before you open the jar. It takes that long for the aromas to set.

Experiment with different essential oils and take a deep breath of the homemade fragrance.

You can display the jar at a centre table or at your office desk. Choose a cool dry place for it. Make sure the flowers have dried thoroughly before you start the mixing. You can also gift this to family and friends. Once it is ready, pour some into the tiny organza or nylon or jute sachets with draw-string, tighten and place them on shelves, near clothes, books, shoes...anywhere.

Nothing to match extended festival blessings in the form of fragrance, especially if it saved flowers from the landfills.

Pictures by: Radhika M B

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Tuesday, September 6

Tissue roll cardboard napkin holders DIY

Have you ever spent more than you wanted to on party decor and regretted it? The trouble with such decor items is their horribly temporary nature. After the show they losectheir charm unless you reuse them in some way. If you are a recycler at heart, go for decor that will not hit your pocket.  Go for something that will last.
In the past few years I have gotten into a habit I want to wean myself out...using kitchen tissue rolls.  If you are not in the habit of tearing out those tissue sheets by the half hour during your kitchen work, stay that way.
Left over tissue roll cardboard for those of you who use, can  contribute to a variety of crafts. Go grab your pair of scissors and a glue gun.

I made napkin rings in three different patterns so you can get a glimpse of how such rolls work.

You will need:

- kitchen or toilet tissue roll

- a pair of scissors

- hot glue gun

- saree border rolls that that you
Get in craft stores

- loads of cloth flowers ... about 15 of them maybe

- A piece of felt sheet

- decorative rope in golden colour or other metallic colours

- a pen for marking

Beein by cucutting a piece off the tissue roll cardboard. You can use a pen To mark out the length of the tissue roll piece. Use the hot glue gun and start applying glue to the tissue roll piece.

Quickly fix the Saree border on to the glued roll along the piece, or horizontally.

Once the roll reaches its glued beginning, apply more glue and join the ends, crease them. Cut off the border and adjust the glued ends to stick well.

Do this with as many pieces as the tissue roll cardboard will allow you. The napkin rings are ready to impress on your party table top.

Or, take another piece, grab a thick decorative rope...thick enough to hold a gift bag made of paper, but not the heavy duty twine variety. Roll the rope from outside the tube to inside, and bring it back out. Do this till you have covered the span of the tube piece.

Glue the ends inside the tube. And once it gets dry, fix a cloth flower to decorate. For the next style, all you need is to glue the flowers on to the outer surface of the tube.

Your hot glue gun comes in handy.

Similarly, use a felt piece by gluing it to a tube piece and embellish on its joint with cloth flowers.

Make a bunch of these pieces and gift them away this festive season. Feel content you gave new life to a piece of cardboard. But don't head to a store to buy a tissue roll for the project. Resist that temptation.

Picture courtesy:  Radhika M B

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