Saturday, February 16, 2013

Craft Binge

by Shannon

If I were a better blogger, I would stretch out this post over daaaays. But I'm not, so strap yourself in. This weekend was all about wrapping up some long-procrastinated projects, plus some Lenten inspiration. I tend to do crafts all at once, rather than one new project at a time. I like to call it Craft Binging.

Lent never fails to sneak up on me. By the time Shrove Tuesday arrives, I'm running to the grocery after work on Tuesday to buy latkes mix and meatless meals, rushing to Hobby Lobby for supplies, and desperately trying to decide between which penances to juggle for the coming liturgical season. This year was no exception, but I did manage to put off the crafting until the weekend. 

Four projects, clockwise from top left: "REPENT" letters for Lent prayer reminder, no-sew purple family-altar cloths, Scrabble-tile magnets and faux pull-down map.

I bought the letters and paint for the "REPENT" letters along with an "ALLELUIA" to bury, on Tuesday after work. Between frying potato pancakes and helping Cruncher with homework, I tore down all my winter décor and put up the REPENT with some Lenten-inspired items, but I knew the area needed some work.

By the way, those crowns of thorns (or mini grapevine wreaths) hanging down from Hubert represent each Friday in Lent, and we remove one each week to help Cruncher gauge how close we are getting to Easter. 

I had recently painted some unfinished wood with craft paint, and it had and almost chalkboard-like quality to it. While the dry-look worked fine for that project, I wanted REPENT to have more pop off the wall, so we'd really stop to take notice and reflect on the redemptive nature of the season. I gave glossy craft paint a try, and it turned out well.

After painting a couple letters, I found that applying heavy paint around the edges first and then applying broad paint strokes on the fronts made the process pretty fast and easy. Probably the easiest project of the day, but not without mistakes. I should have lightly sanded before painting. You can see the finish is a bit rough. (Though, Ryan says everything should be rougher during Lent — bah-dum-chhh.) Also, I should have let the letters dry on perhaps wax paper. My handy dandy archdiocese newspaper (the only paper we receive) stuck to the backs of the letters. In the end, not a huge deal, since the backs of the letters were to go up against the wall.

Before and after. I also no-sewed a cloth for this family altar. I had to be extra careful to ensure the hems were squared up, but the cloth resulted at exactly the right size. I'm happy with how clean and simple the altar turned out, perfect for Lent. I also no-sewed a cloth to place under some other blessed objects on the bookshelf. And I might do one more cloth for the coffee table, where we have a big family bible and a pillar candle inside a larger grapevine wreath.

Next up: Scrabble-tile magnets. We bought a fancy-schmancy wooden Scrabble board a few years back (complete with engraving), so the old, sad cardboard Scrabble box has been sitting in a drawer for too long. Ryan recently started using Scrabble tiles to help Cruncher cultivate his new love of spelling, so I decided our tired plastic letter magnets had to go and be replaced with nice wooden ones. Besides, we couldn't spell anything decent since there was only two of each plastic letter. Anything decent = Shannon. No fun! 

I used a hot-glue gun to reinforce the self-adhesive on the magnet strips. The magnets were easy to cut to size with plain ol' scissors. The worst part was picking off all the glue strings after the finished product dried. Well, I guess the worst part was actually the burns on my fingers. But it wouldn't be crafting if there weren't injuries, amiright? I love the smell of a hot-glue gun in the afternoon. You know the glue is ready for action when the gun makes that "I'll burn your flesh off, fool!" smell.

Old letters versus new. We gave most of those colorful letters away to another family a few weeks ago, but they keep cropping up all over the house. We're hoping that won't be the case with the Scrabble-tile magnets, because I figured out how to hang the drawstring bag off the fridge. Badabing!

Of course, when I went to implement the new magnets, I realized the fridge was a disaster. See that heart with arms and legs on the freezer door? That's from LAST Valentine's Day. I'm the most horrible mom on the planet because I don't keep all of Cruncher's awesome artwork, so I got rid of everything you see here except for the O Antiphons coloring page he worked on during Midnight Mass. I have an accordion file where I keep his best work. I put all of the thank-you cards in a photo box, and threw out everything else. Plus, I scrubbed the outside of the fridge (it was dusty — whaaaaat?), and I added a basket up top for Cruncher's lunchbox. Now I can breathe.

The last project is one I've been putting off the longest: a fake pull-down map for Cruncher's room. We moved our old computer into his room when he started school, and I thought a vintage-looking map would really top off the desk. I had already hung a shelf (that's the other project I painted with black craft paint) and added some collected items and some organizers. 

A real pull-down map to fit above that desk would retail for only about, oh, maybe $150. Since I have gobs of cash to spend, I rather like a challenge, so I decided to instead make my own. (Lies. All lies.) I did some research months ago and decided to go with this tutorial, but use 3M Command Strips. Well, it didn't work. The 3M Command Strips made the map look super wrinkly and sloppy. So, I rolled up the map and threw it in a closet. 

Today, I tackled the map once again! It was not a project without its difficulties (though there were no injuries). I did not take pictures of the process because it went so horribly (ripping the map, running out of staples for the staple gun, Ryan buying the wrong staples, me hammering in staples, ripping off one dowel rod and starting over, blah blah blah). The easiest part was the gel stain I applied to the dowel rods.

Doesn't look super awesome there, but wait until you see the dowels hanging on the wall.

I also added a little hook to the center of the bottom dowel, to really give it that retractable look.

Before and after! I'm really pleased with how it turned out. All the colors are jiving, the textures and layers are working, and — AND! — I can finally say I have a room in the house finished! That might be a first. 

And Cruncher's response when I asked him what he thought of his new map: "That's not new. We got that a long time ago." Well. Hmm. Can't fool him. 

Did you tackle any long-forgotten projects this weekend? Did you prepare for Lent before or after Tuesday arrived? Are you a craft binger, or do you spread the love of crafts across your calendar? 

See ya tomorrow. I have no idea what I'm wearing

By the way, I've linked up with The Pinterest Challenge (CHALLENGE, Challenge, challenge, challenge...) with Sherry at Young House Love, along with Bower Power, The Remodeled Life and Décor and the Dog.


  1. Shannon - I'm in DIY heaven!!!! I don't even know where to start! I love the simplicity of your Lenten touches. They are beautiful, thoughtful and just right for this liturgical season. I also might steal your hanging crown of thorns idea - so great! Those scrabble letter magnets are nothing short of charming....and the MAP! Oh the map!!! I absolutely love that you added the hook. The stain really turned out nice...and can I just say that I love his entire desk/reading corner?! You've mixed materials and finishes perfectly here. I'm dying over that chair! And the new map just looks like it was made for that spot!

    1. I shoulda broken it up into multiple posts, eh? Totally steal any of these ideas. They're not mine. I'm just a big ol' copycat. A resourceful copycat, but a copycat nevertheless.