Thursday, December 31, 2020

Owl Bookends Tutorial

Here is a tiny tutorial to round out the year and allow me to get my 12 blogs in for 2020.  I got the idea for these owl bookends after seeing these cute owl push pins at Hobby Lobby.  I found them in the stationary area but later noticed that they were selling them near the cash register too!

Anyway, here is the last tutorial for 2020!

You will need:
Owl push pins (Hobby Lobby)
Tongue depressors or scrap basswood about 1/16th inch thick
X-acto knife
Sand paper (400 grit)
Acrylic paint
Small pattern paper (such as scrapbook paper)
Needle nose pliers

  • To make two bookends, cut the tongue depressor to about ½ inch wide by about 7/8 inch high (or as needed to be a little taller than your owl)
  • Cut off corners as in my photo (or you can keep the rounded end of the tongue depressor if you like that shape).
  • Cut two more smaller scraps of basswood and glue together in an “L” shape (about 3/8 by 3/8 inch).  This was used as the “base” to glue the owl to (see photos).  Sand all pieces.

  • Paint the wood pieces with a base coat that will be good under the patterned paper (I chose white).  Paint the edges and all sides.
  • Cover the flat wood sides with the paper (I didn’t cover the edges, just left those white).
  • To remove the pin from the push pin I just wiggled it a few times with needle nose pliers.  Some came off easier than others.  Glue the “L” wood piece to the shaped back wood piece.  Glue the owl to the “L”.

 Here is a tip for books:  

If you have some nice books you want to use in the bookends but you don’t want to ruin them by gluing them together, here is how I made an invisible “holder”.  You can use this with or without bookends.  I took a small clear plastic box, like the kind Chrysnbon items come in.  The narrower end of the box was about the width I needed – it nicely contained about 7 books.  The height of the box, without its lid, should be shorter than the books you are putting in it or else it will show.
Cut the box down so it is a little shallower than the books.  I used my table saw but you could also use a razor saw (fine blade with many teeth) and miter box.  The shiny glare on the bottom of the box is a piece of double-stick tape I used to keep the books stuck down. 

To use this holder, just put as many books in it that will fit.  Then stick another loose book to the outside of the box to cover up the end of the box (I stuck it there with blue-tack).

The plastic box, if cut small enough, will hold onto the books at the back and not be visible from the front. 
Books seen from the back (plastic box)

Seen from front (box is almost invisible)

Well that's it for 2020!  Whew!  Now to think...what shall I blog about in 2021?  I think I may start the year out following up with some of my readers' suggestions.  We'll have to see.  Stay tuned for what 2021 will bring!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Loft Bed Part 2 – Bedding

Here is Part 2 of the Loft Bed Tutorial.  In this part I will explain how I made the soft furnishings – the bolsters, pillow and soft pom-pom throw.  This bedding (and actually the entire Tiny House project) was a departure from my normal style (vintage, shabby, pink, ruffles, bows, glitter, etc) but I found after making this Tiny House I do like the more simple, less decorated modern style (but I'm not entirely transformed).  I got the opinion of a couple of "Gen-X-ers" on some of the furnishings since I was trying to appeal to a more "youthful" audience with this project.  They felt I did not depart enough from my normal style ("Too much color, Mom!!  Your curtains should be GRAY!).  Oh well, baby steps for this Baby Boomer... 

Supplies - Bedding and Bolsters
Faux “chamois” (soft, fuzzy wash cloths meant for cleaning the car found at Dollar Stores - see photo below)
Tiny craft pom-poms, about 1/8 inch diameter
needle, thread
Craft sand or small no-hole beads for pillow stuffing
Tiny funnel (sand art or perfume) OR small cone made from paper for transferring sand
clear vinyl tubing, about ½ or 3/8 inch in diameter (plumbing -home improvement stores)
Tiny pom-pom trim (miniature show)
Dense Fabric for pillow (that will not let sand through)
Small fabric clips (like some use for sewing instead of pins)
Fabric for bolsters
Thin upholstery foam, about 3/8 or ½ inch thick
Crafter’s Pick Ultimate (best for fabric and almost anything except wood)

Rectangular Bolsters (gray ones in photos)
These were simply pieces of thin upholstery foam, about 3/8” or ½” thick, cut into rectangles and wrapped with fabric like wrapping a package.  I used Crafter’s Pick “Ultimate” glue to seal edges of fabric where it overlapped to reduce thickness (instead of folding over edges).

Round Turquoise Bolsters
For the round bolsters, I cut the clear plastic tubing to about 1-1/2 inches long.  The tubing works well as a bolster because you can stuff the fabric into the center hole making very neat ends.  Cut the fabric about ¼ or ½ inch longer on each end and about ¼ inch longer around the diameter.  Wrap the fabric around the tubing and glue where it overlaps down the center.  This seam side can be glued down to the bed so it won’t show.  On the ends, just stuff the end fabric into the hole.  Use a toothpick to help if needed.  The Pom-Pom tassels will cover any hole if there was one (for instance if using thinner fabric than velvet). 


Close up of velvet bolster from tubing
Pom-Pom Tassels

Basic steps are shown in the photo below.  To make the tassel, wrap sewing thread around a piece of index card about ¾ inch wide.  I wrapped the thread about 30 times.  Use a needle and same color thread.  Run the needle under all the threads and tie a knot gathering all the loops at the top of the card.  Leave long threads here since you will re-thread and use these ties to go through the pom poms later.
With the top of the loops gathered and tied you can cut through the loops at the bottom.  Now tie another thread around the whole bundle about 1/8 inch down from the top tie and knot.  Re-thread the needle with the top ties and poke the needle through the pom poms.  Put some glue on the center end of the round bolster and run the needle through pulling the tassel up against the bolster end.  Trim the tassel to the desired length.

White Pom-Pom Pillow and Throw
The pillow was about 1-1/4 inches square.  First I sewed a pillow from dense white fabric leaving one side open (dense enough so sand won’t sift through it).  The sand or no-hole beads make the pillow much more realistic since you can sort of squash it into a nice shape (or give it that decorator's "Karate-Chop!"). I used a tiny funnel that came from one of my kid’s “sand art” craft toy to help get the sand into the opening.  The opening was sealed with Crafter’s Pick glue and clamped with little clips.  Then I glued on a cover for one side from the dollar store chamois.  Pom-Poms were glued around on three sides only so it would sit level on the bed.  The throw was made from the same chamois and some tiny trim I found at a miniature show.  The trim sort of looks like little pom-poms.  It was glued all around then I added larger pom poms at the four corners.  I draped it so one corner sort of touched the floor and glued it in place.

Dollar Store Chamois

Pillow Front (Chamois side)

Pillow Back (fabric side)

Glued and draped Pom-Pom throw

Hope this tutorial was helpful to some readers who want to make modern bedding. I will try to squeeze one more tutorial in before the end of the year (Yikes!  It’s almost the end of the year!!).  Hopefully some of the accessories you see in these photos.  If I don’t get around to it…

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my readers!!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Loft Bed Part 1 - Platform Bed Structure

Here is a tutorial for a bed that fits into the (very tiny) loft space in the tiny house.  The loft floor was only 8 inches by 4 inches.  I needed to fit a bed and some display shelving into that small space.  I made this in three pieces – two end shelf units and the platform (mattress support).  The shelf units and bed platform were built from scrap basswood and foam core.  The “mattress” was carved from a piece of ceiling tile – a technique I learned from Judee Williamson – from her “Judee’s Beds” book.

Supplies for the bed and shelves:
Scrap wood (basswood strips) - mine were 3/4" wide x 1/16th inch thick
Foam core scraps
Acoustic Ceiling tile scrap (the kind used in basement ceilings)
White felt (enough to cover mattress)
Fabric to cover mattress
Paper Punch, if desired, to add some dimension and interest to the shelves.  I used Martha Stewart “Caning” all around punch (see photo below)
Gesso (paint primer)
Acrylic paint
Sandpaper (320 and 400 grit)
Wood Glue and Crafter's Pick Ultimate (for everything non-wood)

Bed Platform – 
Here are the finished measurements:
End shelf units - 3 inches high x 3-5/8" deep (projecting from back wall) by 3/4" wide
Bed platform section - 3-5/8" deep (projecting from back wall) x ~3/4" high x 6-1/2" long

I won’t give exact dimensions for cutting wood pieces since I kind of just figured it out as I went, starting with the size I wanted the mattress.   The wood used was 1/16th inch thick.  The entire loft floor was 4 inches by 8 inches.  But basically, here is how I made it: I cut a couple thicknesses of foam core as the platform base.  The mattress would lay on the foam core.  I framed the foam core in bass wood strips a little wider than the foam core so it extended above the base a little to contain the mattress.  I intended to paint the wood so I didn’t worry much about nice finished joints.  I just painted with Gesso sandable primer and sanded (400 grit) so all the front facing corners would be smooth. Then I painted with white acrylic paint.

I glued the bed frame and shelves (below) with wood glue because I had intended to sand them and you can’t sand if using the “Ultimate” glue – it just balls up and pulls out of the glued seams.


Side Shelf Units – I built these from scrap basswood – see the photo and finished sizes above.  There are two open squares, one for the headboard and one for the foot board, each with a shelf across the middle that matched the height of the bed platform.  I used just a piece of foam core to fill in the side next to the mattress and another smaller piece to square it up in the middle back– this would be hidden by the bed and walls in my loft. The idea was that when the bed was in place, items could be displayed on the lower shelf and they would not be obstructed by the mattress and bolsters.

I finished the same way as for the platform (Gesso...sand...paint).  To add some interest to the front of the shelves I applied some pieces of punched out paper using the Martha Stewart “caning” punch.  This is sort of a fretwork pattern.

Martha Stewart Punch for fretwork design

Close up of applied paper punch details

Mattress and cover
I cut the mattress from the acoustic ceiling tile to fit inside the frame of the platform (see photo a few paragraphs above).  I sanded all the edges to a rounded shape with 320 grit sandpaper so it would look like a mattress (lots of dust – use a mask if you are sensitive to it).  I covered it in white felt since the ceiling tile was sort of dark and I didn’t want it to show through the light fabric I used for a covering. I used the Crafter's Pick Ultimate glue - works great for fabric!

To cover the mattress with fabric, I just cut the fabric large enough to wrap around all sides and glue to the bottom of the mattress.  I just made sure to make very neatly glued corners.

Another view of the finished loft:

That's it for today.  Next time I will tell how to make the bedding and bolsters!

Monday, November 30, 2020

Modern Floor Lamp Tutorial

Here I am squeezing in a tutorial for November on the very last day of the month!.  Boy has this month gone fast!  For the tiny house project I wanted to make some modern lamps.  The white one above is lit with an LED bulb and uses only a 3 volt battery.   The whole Tiny House is powered by two AA batteries (total 3 volts).  See my other recent blogs about the tiny house by clicking keywords "Tiny House" in the sidebar.  For this lamp, I was inspired by this modern Trousdale lamp from

There is also a wonderful miniature version by PhillipNuveen (Etsy shop) that is very reasonably priced.

But I wanted to make my own.   I have been experimenting with the LED bulbs trying to adapt them to dollhouse lamps.  You can see some of my earlier blogs with tutorials using LED bulbs here:

This was an easier project because the 3 Volt bulbs have very thin wires with no lumps. Bulbs tht have been modified for use with 12 volt dollhouse systems or 9 volt batteries are protected by way of a lumpy resistor embedded in the wires.  That resistor makes it hard to hide the wires or thread them through brass tubing or beads.

Following is how I made the lamp from mostly wooden turned craft parts.  Except for the furniture leg, these were probably purchased at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.  The furniture leg was in a bunch of wood parts I bought at an estate sale so I don’t know the brand.  I made this lamp so that the bulb would be removable (even though they have a really long life).

Supplies – Lamp Base (wood parts):
Wooden thimble
Wooden turned spindle piece
Furniture leg
Drawer pull
Flat wooden circle, a little bigger than the thimble
piece of scrap wood 1/16th thick or so small enough to fit inside the thimble

Other parts and supplies:
1/16th inch brass tubing, the length of the finished lamp
3/32 inch clear acrylic tubing, few inches long (should fit over the brass tube)
LED bulb – I used “Mega” warm white 3 volt from Evan Designs
Scrap of aluminum tubing that fits over the brass tube and inside the clear tube
Spray paint, blue painter’s tape
Drill press to drill hole vertically through the wood pieces before assembly
drill bit the size of the brass tube
Razor saw and miter box to cut clear tube
Wire cutters

Wooden Parts assembled

To make the lamp base – Look at the photo for the order of the parts (thimble on bottom, finial, furniture leg, drawer pull).  I had to drill through each piece to allow for a piece of brass tubing.  I used a drill press since it had to be very straight and centered (you can see on the finished lamp some pieces were not perfectly centered).  This was hardest on the thin furniture leg.  Cut the brass tube a little longer than your base.  I used an X-acto knife and cut mine about 4 inches long. Thread the brass tube through the pieces and let it stick out a little the top.  The thin brass tubing served two purposes: 1) sturdiness in holding the parts straight and together and 2) conduit for the bulb wire. 

I also used a wood circle shape and piece of scrap wood for the bottom.  I cut the scrap to just fit inside the thimble.  I filed a small channel into the thimble and the scrap wood where it fits into the thimble for the wire to come out and so the bulb could be entirely removed and replaced.

Glue the wood pieces together EXCEPT the very bottom circle, and spray paint.  Let dry.

For the lampshade: white plastic candle socket cover (for of a full size chandelier), 1-1/4 inch diameter, Amazon).  Jewelry finding – cross shaped finding that is about 1.5 inches in diameter (JAR-JAF Item #1391 or #65 depending on the size of your lampshade). 

Cut the white candle socket with scissors to the size you want for the lampshade.  You can sand the cut edges to smooth them and square them.  Cut off the outer loops of the cross shaped finding with wire cutters so that it just fits inside the lampshade.  Use a stack of coins as a spacer between the cross piece and the work board.  This will also keep the cross piece level.  Glue the four “spokes” with white glue.

Hold your lampshade to your lamp to determine the length of clear tubing you will need.  Cut the clear tubing to reach between the top of the lamp base and the lampshade cross shaped piece.  Size depends on the size of your lampshade.  This will just be to support the shade and keep it straight. Make sure the top and bottom where tubing was cut off is perfectly square so that the shade will sit level (use miter box).  If necessary, use some sandpaper to smooth. Drill a hole in one side near the center.  The bulb will just sit next to the tube as in the photo below.  Thread the wire through the clear tube then down through the brass tube. I had to also use a scrap of aluminum tube as a spacer since the clear tube was too big for the brass tube and would have wobbled.

For the lamp shade finial – a white glass head pin, silver 2.5mm crimp tube and a piece of tubing or clear acetate rod (or Q-tip tube?), about 1/16th inch thick or plastic that will fit through the center hole of the jewelry finding and down inside the clear acetate tubing.  The finial makes the shade removable so you can get to the bulb in case it needs to be replaced.

Here is the lamp when lit.  You can see that the "mega" type LED bulb from Evan Designs is very bright.

Hope you enjoyed this modern lamp tutorial.  What shall we do for December???

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Can't Trick or Treat? Make a Halloween Party Table!

It’s getting late and close to Halloween but here is a Halloween tutorial!  Two little Halloween party tables.  Many years ago I used to make and sell miniature party tables.  These were small occasional-size tables with themed party items on the top.  I would sell them at a miniatures shop – “Through the Keyhole” in Dallas (before Ebay, before Etsy…).  The owners, Gayle and Dorothy Harrison (mother and daughter) owned the shop which was housed in a very unique rustic, even Hippie-type indoor craft mall called “Olla Podrida” (old rotten pot?) in Dallas.

I miss those days and that wonderful shop.  But before I get to the Halloween tables, here are a few of my original (1980s era) party tables.  Note that the first picture below was taken probably with an old camera with 110 type film (grainy and you can’t see details).  I loved putting lots of little details on the tables -- there are tiny rhinestone rings in the center of the birthday tables!  I also used a lot of glitter.  This was before we all had cameras in our phones – and actually before anyone had a cell phone!! (I’m showing my age!)

Here are a few more taken when I had a better camera (but still a camera, not a PHONE camera!)

But – on to the tutorial…
To make the basic skirted table, you can download these instructions.

For the Halloween decorations on each of the tables, see instructions below.

Table #1 (purple overskirt and orange underskirt)

Jack-o-lantern on a pedestal – this was a “Christmas Village / Halloween Village” resin Jack-o-lantern (not lit).  I added some details with paint and two seed bead eyes so they would “pop out”.  I added some leaves to the stem and moss to the base and a few candy sprinkle orange balls.  The pedestal is a metal miniatures item, #441 (fruit bowl and stand).  I painted it a tan color.

Cake – this was a purchased cake sitting on a pedestal made from a cardboard circle and a bead cap for the base.

Witch’s Hat – I don’t have a pattern for this.  I just rolled up a small square of giftwrap paper in a cone shape to the size I wanted and cut it off straight at the bottom.  I glued it to a circle of black painted index card then wrapped a piece of green silk ribbon around the base.  I topped it off with a silk ribbon bow and a gold oval doll buckle.  Don’t use construction paper – it does not age well and will fade in a year or two!!

Jar of eyes – this is a small vial (maybe a canning jar – Farrow Industries?).  The lid is a Halloween scrapbooking brad with the long tabs cut off.  The eyes are white seed beads with small black glass no-hole beads glued into the holes.

Candy cups and banner – see pdf file attached HERE – you can download and print the designs for the candy cups and flag banner.  The candy cups have thread handles (purple and orange thread twisted together) and are filled with Fimo lollipops, Fimo candy sticks and orange and yellow candy (cake decorating) sprinkles.  The sprinkles and Fimo candy are all sealed with a Fimo sealer but you can also use clear nail polish.  This protects the candy sprinkles from attracting insects.

Note that there is an extra pattern on the pdf file that was not used on either of these tables.  But it would make a cute bag of candy with a Halloween label – foldover type label.

Table #2 – Green top
Table Runner – instead of a square tablecloth I made a table runner for this one.  I cut a green fabric strip about 1-1/4 inch wide by about 4 inches long and cut it to a point at both ends.  I glued it on the tablecloth then trimmed the sides with silk ribbon and the front with some “buds and bows” type trim (sometimes called “rococo” ribbon trim) – look on Etsy or Ebay (see photo of trims below).  I put an orange silk ribbon bow at the bottom point.

Table #2 Trims

Jack-o-lantern on a pedestal – Same as above but I used some different looped ribbon trim (see photo above) and a silk ribbon bow inside the jack-o-lantern top and a pedestal made from beads and bead caps then painted black and white.  I also used the looped ribbon trim around the base of the pumpkin (with some added moss and punched paper leaves).

Witch’s Hat – This was the same as the one described for Table #1 above except for a small paper punched flower replacing the buckle.  I used some tiny red railroad fruit (Woodland Scenics is one brand) for the center of the flower.

Spider in Jar – this is a small glass vial (Hobby Lobby bottle earring?).  The lid is made from jewelry findings painted with green and purple metallic craft paint and topped with a seed bead and no-hole bead.  Inside the jar is a spider made from a tiny craft pom-pom with thread legs.  He is sitting on a paper-punched orange fall maple leaf.

Hope you can find something here to work on in case you (or your kiddies) can't Trick or Treat OR in case you need something to do because you HAVE no Trick-or-Treaters this year!  Keep Safe and Happy Halloween!