Tag Archives: recycled

DIY Recycled Alphabet Book Wall Art

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We recently moved our daughter to a new room, and of course one of the first things that came to mind was ‘yay, we get to decorate again!!!’

What has been so fun about decorating this time around is that I can actually respond to her personality and likes, in addition to just doing what I want to do.

The fact is, our daughter, nearly three now (!) LOVES books. Ok, she’s a book-worm.  So, I wanted to do some wall decor that reflected that.  Normally, I would not “ruin” a perfectly good book for the sake of art, but I don’t believe I have done that here, mostly because it is actually the complete book up there on the wall, just in a different format.

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So without further ado, here is how I did it.

First, I had to find two alphabet books that were identical (since of course the book is printed with letters on the front and back of each page).  I really loved the illustrations in this book, called Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet.  Honestly, these letters are so great it’s almost a shame NOT to hang them on the wall to enjoy all the time!  I was really lucky to find both of my copies at a book sale run by my local library (for just 10 cents a piece!).  They were booth canceled copies from the library’s collection, so they had already had a long life of enriching children.

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This is a board book, so the pages are made from a thick, card stock material, which is perfect for this application.

Using an exacto knife, I very carefully cut each page from the binding.  With a sharp knife this is not hard to do.  Once I did that I had a page that had two nice rounded corners and two sharp 90 degree corners.  To make the corners look uniform I just cut the sharp corners so that they matched the rounded ones then ran some fine grit sand paper across it give it a nice, finished, and smooth look.

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When it came to hanging the letters on the wall I knew I didn’t want to do any unnecessary damage to the pages by puncturing them with tacks or or by using tape, so I found some cute binder clips in a rainbow of colors and then hung those by the smallest nails I could find.

The hardest part of the entire project was actually putting them on the wall so that they were spaced evenly.  Luckily, with the binder clips you have a little wiggle room in this area.  It didn’t help that my wall is actually an inch wider at the top than it is at the bottom.  I found it best to work from the center of the design to the outside and from top to bottom.  In the close up photos you can see my registration lines.  I still have to paint over these.

Over all I am so pleased with how this project turned out and my daughter is too!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Home, Tutorials, Upcycled

The Plarn Project; Plastic Bags Transformed

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Today I am submitting my proposal to be a part of the Akron Mini Maker Faire on November 2, 2013.

Project Summary:
By transforming the ubiquitous plastic super market sack into chic and durable handbags, Emily Lindberg is diverting hundreds of plastic bags from landfills.  The Plarn Project; Plastic Bags Transformed, showcases these creations so as to inspire others to see the potential in what can be made out of trash.  In addition to inspiration, the project educates the public about the stress that plastic bags place on our ecosystem, and Emily will be instructing willing participants how to create their own plastic yarn (plarn) out of 100% recycled material.

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(Plarn medicine bag)

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(Plarn belt pouch for cell phone)

plarn owl wristlet

(Plarn owl wristlet purse)

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(Plarn shoulder bag)

Along with actual examples of my most recent plarn creations, I will be providing key statistics and facts about the effect that plastic bags have had on our environment since their introduction in 1977.

I will also be conducting ongoing demonstrations of plarn making for anyone who is interested and will have plenty of plastic bags on hand so that participants can make as much as they’d like!

I hope that my proposal is accepted, and if it is, I hope that you can make it out to see me!

***Update***

Looks like I’ll be going to be a maker in the faire!!!  So come on out to see me and all the other makers!  Also, be sure to like my facebook page for updates on all things zween as well as reminders about the faire.  See you soon!

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Filed under Upcycled

Luau Party with DIY style

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Happy 1st birthday to my baby girl Virginia!  I can’t believe she is one year old today!

To celebrate Virginia’s first year of life we decided to throw her a Luau.  Why a luau you ask?  Well, it is July, so it seemed appropriate enough, but actually there is a funny story as to how we came up with the idea in the first place.  Back in February, when Virginia was just 7 months old, Jon bought a pineapple that sat ripening on our kitchen counter for several days.  We decided that it would be a good idea to put the whole pineapple on Virginia’s high chair tray so that she could touch it and explore the interesting texture of the pineapple.  Well, let’s just say she was a little apprehensive of this strange and poky fruit.  She didn’t cry or anything, just pulled her hands in toward her chest whenever the fruit got too near.  We have it on video and it’s one of my all time favorites.  Afterwords I joked to Jon that we should throw Virginia a Luau for her 1sth birthday.  After the seed was planted I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head, it just seemed like she was meant to have a Luau birthday, and here we are!

Of course we couldn’t just buy a few tiki torches, plastic leis, grass skirts, have a pig roast, and call it a day!  Read on to see how we transformed ordinary cardboard boxes, t-shirts, and produce into some pretty neat Luau decor.  I credit many of my ideas to Pinterest, where I got so much of my inspiration (see my luau pinterest board here), my husband for his amazing aptitude for drawing tiki masks and hibiscus flowers (he’s spent many hours painting signs for Trader Joe’s), and my mom awesome cake decorating abilities!

I first want to mention that this was a lot of work.  A LOT.  But it was worth it.  Just keep that mind that if you want to recreate some of the decorations that we have made, you will need a lot of time, or a lot of hands, to get it done.  So although this is a great recourse for people who want to throw their own DIY luau, it is not for the procrastinations out there.  Sorry.

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First thing’s first, when going to a party, any party, you have to know where it is. We threw the luau in my parent’s back yard (actually, on their newly finished patio!) and while many guests had been there before, some had not and I wanted to not only set a festive mood, but make it obvious as to where the party was happening. Balloons on the mailbox are an obvious choice, but in this situation I thought tissue paper flowers (made out of recycled tissue paper from Virginia’s baby shower and originally used as decor in her first nursery) and hand-painted aloha signs on either side of the driveway were more appropriate.

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The above photo is by Mary Norgard, Virginia’s lovely Great Aunt!

Once guests make their way to the back of the house they are greeted by four tiki masks flanking the begining and end of my parent’s lovely stone path, and two giant hanging painted cardboard signs.  The first sign reads “Hau’ oli la hanau Virginia” which means happy birthday Virginia in Hawaiian, and the other reads “Aloha.”

Jon gets full credit for making and hanging the signs.  Each letter was hand-drawn on cardboard, cut out, painted with acrylic paint, and then strung together with twine.   I’d also like to mention that all of our cardboard decorations were made using recycled cardboard from Trader Joe’s (actually they are twice recycled, because before we used them for decorations we made a box maze for Virginia with them a few weeks ago!).

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Hand-painted tiki masks were tied to tiki torches and trees, while hibiscus flowers were placed in potted flowers, hung from umbrellas, and tied to the legs of Virginia’s high chair.

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In accordance with Hawaiian tradition, each guest received a lei upon arrival to the luau.  Each lei was lovingly hand-made from recycled t-shirts using this tutorial that I found on Pinterest.  From experience, the softer high quality shirts yielded nicer “flowers.” To keep the leis from getting tangled, I hung them from a hand-carved wooden sculpture of a family that I bought from my mom during my trip to Ghana ten years ago. They sat next to the entrance of the luau on the table with the stereo (stocked with Hawaiian music CDs from the library) and a sign that reads “Mahalo” or “thank you.”

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I used two green recycled t-shirts and some elastic to create Virginia’s grass skirt. It was VERY easy to make. To make one yourself cut a shirt horizontally underneath the arms. Using the bottom tube that remains, cut the shirt in 1.5 inch strips from top to bottom, stopping each cut about 2 inches from the bottom hem. That will become the top of your skirt. Repeat this process with a second shirt. Put shirt inside of the other and cut slits into both every 4 inches or so. Weave your elastic through the holes and sew the elastic to itself, creating the waist band. Trim the skirt to desired length. I showed my mom Virginia’s skirt earlier in the week and she decided to make one for Virginia’s older cousin. I really liked how they both turned out!

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A wreath made from several paper drink umbrellas stuck into one of those packed-straw wreath forms from the craft store was a fun little project and another one that was Pinterest-inspired.  I thought it was a cute idea, but when I saw a box of over 100 of those tiny umbrellas for only $1 at a church rummage sale last weekend, I had to make one myself.  I wasn’t really sure where I’d end up putting it, but the gazebos door seemed to be as good a place as any.

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And what would a party be without food?  We were a little ambitious with some of our food choices, as a lot of the things were a bit labor intensive but had to be done kind of at the last-minute.  We had a veggie tray, complete with palm tree made from a carrot and bell pepper sitting on an island of humus.  A pineapple cream cheese spread that looked like a pineapple.  A fruit salad in a watermelon bowl cut like a tiki mask.  To drink we had a pineapple, lemonade punch and the main course was Hawaiian ham and veggie kababs.  Finally, the cake, made by my mother, was in the shape of a roasted pig and came out fabulous (both in looks and in taste)!

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My Mom also made a “smash cake,” which Virginia throughly enjoyed of course.

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I can’t wait to have more luaus in the future!

**This post has just been added to the Make it Pretty Monday link party over on the Dedicated house, MWC Mondays on Making the World Cuer, and Motivate Me Monday on Keeping it Simple!

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Wise Owl Plarn Wristlets

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Perhaps you are familiar with the nursery rhyme:

“A wise old owl lived in an oak.
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?”

I recently became acquainted with this nursery rhyme from Vernon Grant’s Mother Goose, one of my current favorite children’s books to read with little Virginia.  I love the illustrations and the fact that a lot of the nursery rhymes appear in a longer form than what I remember.  I also enjoy the short biography of Grant on the last few pages which describes his long career as an Illustrator, who is best know for creating the characters Snap, Crackle and Pop for Kellogg’s.

plarn owl wristlet work in progress

You may remember my first plarn owl wristlet, which appeared on my blog just over a year ago.  Well, it was such a big hit last craft show season, I decided to make a few new ones for the Last Minute Market, which I am so excited to be participating in this December 15th!

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plarn eyes for owls

You may notice that I’ve made some changes to the design since it’s original creation.  The new version features a grosgrain ribbon for the wrist strap, which feels much better than the crocheted plastic against the skin.  The eyes and beak are a slightly different design as well.   And the over-all shape of the bag is a bit bigger and squatter than the original, making it both roomier and easier to access.

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These plarn owl wristlets are made with all recycled and re-purposed materials; plastic grocery and newspaper bags, zipper, buttons and ribbon.   This owl is wise to think so highly of our planet and you should too!

Thank you for stopping by.  I’d love to hear your comments about this project if you have a minute or two.  Happy crafting everyone!

To keep up with all things zween, make sure to follow me on Pinterest and Facebook!

This post has been added to the linky party Make it Pretty Monday on the Dedicated House, and Made by You Monday on Skip to my Lou.

****UPDATE****

The NEW plarn owl wristlet version is now available in my Etsy store!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Upcycled

Pinspiration; Men’s Shirt to Apron Refashion

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Hi all!  Well, little Virginia is growing every day and will be 12 weeks old on Sunday!  I can’t believe it’s been 12 weeks already!  AHHH!!! (see how BIG she’s getting?!)

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As my maternity leave draws to a close I thought I’d tackle a quick and easy* project that I can wear to work at the Root Cafe where I am a barista.

I first came across the idea of refashioning a men’s button-down shirt  here on Pinterest.  Although I got the gist of the idea just from the picture, I found this tutorial on the Grow and Make website very helpful.

Need a new apron?  I definitely recommend taking on this project!

To keep up to date with all things Zween, please flow me on Facebook and Pinterest!

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This post has been added to the linky party make it, wear it Thursdays on the train to crazy, Make it Pretty Monday week 18 over on the dedicated house, Make Mondays Marvelous on C.R.A.F.T. and Made by you Mondays over on Skip to my Lou, so check them out for some linky fun!

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Filed under Just For Fun, Upcycled

Chevron Ombre Messenger Bag

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Today I finished a messenger bag with a chevron ombre pattern that was made with the humblest of fiber materials; plastic grocery bags lovingly processed into plarn (plastic yarn).

Please enjoy the picture show of how this bag was created.

It all started with a ball of brown plarn…
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…and a ball of pink plarn.

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Since I had many shades of pink plastic bags I decided to incorporate an ombre design.  See how the pink transitions as I crocheted along, finishing the back panel after three days.

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After the back panel was complete it was time to make the front. I could have done the same Chevron pattern here, but I decided to enlarge it instead. This section took one evening to complete.

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Next I made a long strip of crocheted brown plarn to give the bag some thickness and then attached all the pieces together. I used pieces of yarn to hold everything in place as I worked so that all of the pieces were perfectly alined.

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Finally, I attached an old belt for the strap, since it feels better for wearing than it would had I just made the strap of crocheted plarn.

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And here is the messenger bag completed…

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I hope you enjoyed the step-by-step pictures of how I made this bag.

To keep up with all things zween, please follow me on Facebook and Pinterest!

This post has been added to the linky party Make it Pretty Monday week 18 over on the dedicated house, Made by you Mondays over on Skip to my Lou, and Making Mondays Marvelous on C.R.A.F.T. so check them out for some linky fun!

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Wine Cork Car

Sometimes I get in a making rut.  I find that this usually happens when I want to get lots of stuff “done.”

Being goal oriented is important to be sure, but usually the best ideas come out of just playing around.  I’m not saying that making a car out of wine corks is the best idea that I’ve ever had.  That’s not the point.

The point is to exercise my mind and hands by creating something new.  Maybe it will fail, maybe it wont.

What you see here is another way for me to “sketch” out ideas.  Just as not all thinking needs to be done exclusively in the brain; not all sketching needs to be done on paper.

For those of you who are wondering, yes this car actually does roll!

Remember folks; drink and craft responsibly.

*This post has just been linked to Upcycled Awesome #68 over on The T-Shirt Diaries.

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Filed under Just For Fun