DIY: Charging Station

Would you like to create a central location to charge your devices instead of having to search around your home to find where you or your family members might have plugged in a phone, tablet, etc.? I created an easy DIY charging station that I’d like to share with you.

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Catch and Release Fishing - Governors Island Inspired Craft for Kids

Since the advent of the {NewNew} Treasure Chest on Governors Island, my daughters and I have taken a few trips on the Governors Island ferry to drop off product and work at the store. My older daughter (2.5 years old) loves the ferry - her only regret is that the boat ride is too short! She was so enraptured by the boat that she is now pretending that everything is a boat - she swings her legs off her bed into the "ocean" and sits in shipping boxes that she calls her ferry. I decided she needed a fun activity to do on her sailing adventures.

It is very easy to made a simple fishing pole and fabric fish. I used one magnet at the end of the fishing line and one at the mouth of the fish so my daughter can catch fish and take them off of the line.

1. First, you'll want to draw a pattern of a fish onto paper or cardstock.

2. Next, trace the pattern onto fabric and mark where the eyes will go.

3. Sew eyes using thread or yarn. You can also cut eye shapes out of felt or use buttons.

4. With right sides together, sew along the edges of the fish with a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave one part unsewn and turn inside out. Insert magnet at the fish mouth, stuff lightly, and sew closed.

5. For the fishing pole, I put a magnet in the middle of a triangular piece of fabric, brought up all the edges, and stitched the sides and top together, capturing the magnet inside the fabric. Make sure the magnets are positioned so that positive meets with negative so they will attract instead of repel. I tied a big knot at the end of the fishing pole string and put the knot inside the fabric before sewing up the top. That way the line is held securely inside the fabric wrapped magnet.
6. Wrap and tie the end of the string to the fishing pole. You can use a stick, twig, or chopstick for the fishing pole.

This activity is great for building coordination in young children! Before giving my daughter this new toy, I read her "Curious George Flies a Kite" because the story has a part about Curious George observing a man fishing and then trying to fish for himself. I think this helped her understand how fishing works since we live in NYC and have never gone fishing ourselves!

I put a piece of blue fabric down as a "lake" for the fish. You can also make a bucket using an old yogurt container, punching two holes on each side, and tying a piece of stiff string through the holes as a handle. This also acts as a nice storage case for the fish and pole. Now enjoy a lazy afternoon fishing!


* Please note that magnets and buttons are choking hazards!

Romantic Wedding Favors

Seventeen years ago my husband and I had, apart from the keg of beer and some catered Chinese food, a completely Handmade Wedding. We had very little money but plenty of friends and relatives ready to help us out, and since I lived at the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea, a completely gorgeous spot to get married in. So I gave myself a year to complete all the tasks, which included designing and sewing the dresses for myself and the bridesmaids, making the cake, the flowers, the invites, the decorations and of course, the wedding favors.

I first looked for a nearby ceramics studio, and inquired to see if they would fire a box load of flat hearts for me and what sort of clay I needed to order. I am not in the ceramic arts, apart from taking a few high school classes, but I know that different studios use different kinds of clay and fire them at different temperatures. You don't want to get porcelain clay if the people with the kiln never fire anything that high.

I then ordered a 50lb. bag of white clay and proceeded to roll out the clay just like you would for cookies, only I had two wooden strips about 3/8" high on either side of the clay so the rolling pin would rest on them and all the hearts would be the same thickness. I then used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the hearts. I poked out a hole from front to back with a pencil, and used a small damp sponge to clean up the edges on the back, and any imperfections left by my fingernails. Clay shrinks in the drying and firing so take that into account. I let them dry on newspaper for a few days, and then took them to the ceramics studio to be fired.

When I got them back I had no intention of dealing with glazes and a second firing, for as I said before, I had more time than money. Instead I dipped them in a very, very watery acrylic bath. I mixed up three colors with my acrylic paints: white, magenta, and a little red for the warm pink, phthalocyanine blue and white for the sky blue, and ultramarine blue, magenta, and white for the lavender. I then slowly mixed in more and more water so that each was more like colored water than paint. Using my fingers, I dipped each heart in one of the colored waters and then put it on wax paper to dry, though I think I would use tweezers or tongs to do it today. It makes for a very pleasant soft watercolor effect and the 300 hearts were done in no time.

I painted the flowers on the hearts in relatively simple shapes, using just these two kinds of brushes, a synthetic #1 round and a #8 or #10 round. The flowers and color scheme matched the wedding party and the flowers I had painted on the bridesmaid dresses. It is important, when using acrylics in this manner, not to use the colors straight out of the tubes or too thickly. My paint is always in a consistency somewhere between olive oil and water. If you are not handy with brushes, practice on paper first, and work with the pointy end of the bristle to make sharp points to the leaves or petals. The leaves may look like one brush stroke, but in fact require two to three strokes to make those shapes.

One friend painstakingly wrote our names and the date of our wedding on the back while another tied on the ribbons, and our nieces handed out the favors to our guests. Many of my friends and relatives still have them!

I think today there are many different air-drying clays you could use instead of actual pottery clay. They are available at art stores and online suppliers and would require a little research. There is certainly a greater variety of cookie cutters! You are sure to find a shape with special meaning for the special couple. For an experienced crafter this is a fun way to handmake a wedding favor that your friends will keep and remember.

How To Make a File for Your Record Collection

If you are anything like me, you have quite a few record albums sitting on your shelf. While I really love the way some of my favorite songs sound when they are played on my ancient record player, I don't really love the way they look cluttering up my shelves. I spent some time searching the internet for a great storage solution but nothing really suited my style, so I decided to create my own. Please feel free to click on the photos for a larger view.

Materials Needed
• 14" x 14" x 4" cardboard box
• x-acto knife with space blade
• Pencil
• Ruler
• Packing Tape
• Double sided tape or spray mount
• Decorative paper or fabric

Step #1. You can certainly make one of these files, from a flat piece of cardboard, but I decided to repurpose a 14" x 14" x 4" box because the folds are already done for you. Lay the box down; it should naturally fold like the diagram in step 1. We begin by cutting off the top and bottom panel on the left side (only cut the first layer of helps if you slide a cutting mat inside the box to prevent accidentally cutting the other side of the box.) Flip the collapsed box over and repeat. Your box should now look like the photo in step 1.

Step #2 Now cut off one of the skinny strips as shown by the red dotted lines in Step 2. You can then set that piece aside for recycling. Your box should now lie flat like the photo in step 2.

Step #3 Because the box we are using (14") is a little too big to fit vinyl records in snugly, we are going to trim down our structure. Measure 1.5" from the back top, and from the front Top. Make sure to mark this with your pencil before cutting. (Remember: measure twice, cut once)

Step #4 The shape of your flat structure hasn't changed much from step 2, but that is about to change. Measure 4" from the outside edges on the back panel as shown in step 4 and mark that with a pencil line. Also measure 5" from the bottom of the back panel (the bottom is where it attaches to the rest of the structure and mark that with a pencil line as well). We are then going to cut along the lines, stopping when we meet an intersecting line. The shape we are creating is reminiscent of a football goal post by removing the waste piece we just cut out as shown in Step 4.

Step #5 In order to make our file look similar to the ever-popular magazine files we need to create a diagonal cut for the sides of our record file. As shown in step 5, we are going to measure 3" from the back top and mark that with a pencil on both "prongs" of our football goal post shape. Then with your ruler and your pencil draw a straight diagonal line from the corner point, shown in diagram 4 to the outside point of your previously penciled line. At this point you may want to refold your structure into its box form to make sure it fits together, you can also then continue the diagonal pencil line onto the front top panel it matches up with. Then you can cut along the diagonal pencil lines, remove the waste and continue on to step 6.

Step #6 Your structure should now look like the flat structure in Step 6. At this point we fold together the box at its natural folds and begin to tape up the structure. You want to make sure you tape both the inside and outside edges with your packaging tape for a nice sturdy hold. Now you have your finished structure, and the finishing is all up to you! I used my finished piece as a template to cut panels of decorative paper to cover the sides of my record file. I fastened the paper with some double stick tape, but a spray adhesive would also work as well.

I can't wait to see how you decorate your new vinyl record organizer. Be sure to upload your finished projects to flickr and tag it with newnew_recordholder. 

~jen pepper