Corrugated Tabletop Planter Box

I’ve seen these really cool plants around at a few places this summer. They were so interesting looking that I bought 4 of them and knew exactly the kind of planter I wanted to make for them. I don’t know what the plant is called so I can’t help you out there.

I made the planter completely with recycled materials for a cost of $0 except for the nails and screws. I did pay for the plants and the sand/stone stuff I used to cover up the dirt. I made the box of the planter with wood from a wooden palette that I got for free. These are easy to find around and most places are happy to get rid of them, but do ask before you take. The rusty corrugated metal I salvaged from an abandoned barn on the Southern Road Trip I took with my sister in December.

The sides of the planter were made from wood recycled from a wooden palette. The bottom I made from a scrap piece of plywood.

I cut out some rusty corrugated metal using a metal-cutting blade and my jigsaw. That worked fine, but I do think there’s a better tool for cutting metal than that. It made one heck of a racket and jumped around a lot. I cut a pilot hole with a large drill bit to cut out the center hole with the jigsaw.

I screwed the corrugated metal to the wooden box base, sanded off any sharp spots on the corrugated metal, and then I was ready to plant. First I filled the box of the planter with high-quality potting soil.

I planted the 4 plants evenly in the planter so that the soil came to just a little below the corrugated metal, pressing it down slightly to compress the soil.

I added some tan colored large-grained sand (or tiny stones — I’m not sure exactly what they were) on top of the soil so it would highlight the tan color of the plants interesting flowers.

That was all there was to it to make a really cool looking planter that I thought worked perfectly with these unusual plants.

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Rolling Computer Case

This is a re-post of a brilliant idea (at least I thought so) that I had a few years back. As an update, the iLugger is now available for the 27″ Mac computer at a cost of $199.00, or you can go for the gusto with the Tenba 27″ case for a whopping $654.95. Truthfully, my idea really was meant to serve the purpose of bringing my large computer safely to the Apple Store when I needed to, and for that it could be the best $20 you’ll ever spend. If you are in a situation where you have to travel with a computer of this size safely, this probably would not be the way to go. However, if you have to take your computer in for servicing or for any reason, this is a back saver.

Computer Travel Case

Originally published on November 11, 2009

OK. This was one of my better ideas.

I am extremely fortunate to have the new 27” iMac computer. My kids were using the computer so much now for homework and such that I found it hard to get some ‘screen time’. I’d been bugging my husband about it for 2 years, and we finally just bit the bullet. Fortunately for me, the new 27” iMac had just been released days before and was the same price as the old 24” iMac was.

This is the original box that my iMac came in

The problem with this big, beautiful computer is that learning how to create this web site has required weekly, if not more often, one-to-one training at the local Apple store.  Lugging this computer down to the Apple store all the time is really awkward and heavy. The box is a whopping 30” x 24” x 9.5”. I don’t even know what it weighs. They make this thing called the iLugger, but not only is it really expensive, it’s not available yet for the new 27” iMac. It dawned on me this morning that, just like on the lemonade stand that I built, I could attach simple rolling caster wheels to the bottom of the box and away I’d go.

4 rolling casters with mounting plates, bolts, washers and nuts are all you need. You may want to invest in a different handle than the one that's built in to the box; a strap handle mounted on one end of the box would be super.

Mark all of the holes for the mounting plates and pre-drill. You want to make sure your bolts aren't so long that they'll poke the computer in any way.

Attach castors to box using bolts, washers and nuts.

 A quick trip to the hardware store where I purchased 4 2” rolling caster wheels with a screw-in plate, 16 bolts  about 3/4” to 1” long.appropriately sized for the caster’s plate holes and 16 locking washers and nuts. For $19.25 and a half hour of labor I have a rolling computer case that I barely have to lift at all.

Finished rolling computer case.

Now isn’t that a good idea?
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Shou-Sugi-Ban Vertical Succulent Garden

For Mother’s Day Jim and the kids bought me a few vertical succulent garden containers and dozens of beautiful small succulent plants. I had expressed an interest in trying these gardens out, as I’d seen a few really cool ones web surfing and on Pinterest recently.

Jim looked around a few nurseries and decided this plastic style seemed to be the best. I liked them in the fact that if one plant dies, it is in it’s own individual cell and the plant can easily be removed and replaced, but once you’re done planting it you still have an ugly plastic container on the outside. I saw in my research for this post that Home Depot is selling a frame for these Grovert wall gardens, but at $139 a piece that’s a pretty stiff price tag for a small garden frame.

This amazing vertical garden (below) and the one shown top left is actually made from many Grovert garden panels put together into one big frame.

Jim had said that there were other options, so I went to check them out and came home with this unfinished pine wood frame very similar to a style I had seen on Etsy. It’s a hand made frame that was available at a local nursery.

Unfinished vertical garden frame

So now I had a garden frame I generally liked that was a better size, but it was still ugly.

And plain.

And boring.

In my constant daydreaming of moving to a bigger, better and larger farm, I am always working on the design of this house in my head. Not too long ago I came across a very unusual Japanese wood treatment called Shou-Sugi-Ban. I’d love to incorporate some of this into my new farmhouse someday.

Shou Sugi Ban is an ancient Japanese exterior siding technique that preserves wood by charring it. Traditionally, Sugi, or Japanese Cyprus, was used. Here in the U.S. you'll find Douglas Fir, Cyprus, and Oak species used. The process involves charring the wood, cooling it, cleaning it, and finishing it with a natural oil. Although time consuming, the final product is not only gorgeous, with its rich, silvery finish; the charred wood also resists rot, insects, and fire and can last up to 80 years!

A house using Shou-Sugi-Ban burned wood siding.

Another house constructed using Shou-Sugi-Ban burned wood siding.

This fireplace was surrounded with shou-sugi-ban burned wood siding. I love this look.

Since it’s hard to even find much information on it, and there are only a few suppliers of it to be found in the U.S., I figured I could always do it myself when it comes time to build my dream house. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

I had the hose on and ready along with a full spray bottle of water at hand for putting out any stubborn flames. Using my torch attachment and a small propane tank (you can get these at any home improvement center), I started on the sides of the frame in case it really was a disaster.

I started on the back of the frame.

It took a little playing with to figure out exactly how much burn seemed to be the right amount, but you really want it to burn the entire surface of the wood.

You really want to burn the entire surface of the wood.

When I was finished with the sides I felt comfortable enough to move on to the front of the frame.

I didn't burn the inside planting areas as I knew those would be covered with dirt and plants.

Sometimes it took a squirt or two from the spray bottle to get a fire out.

Sometimes it took a squirt or two from the spray bottle to get a fire out.

Here is the frame all burned but not yet finished.

The frame is all burned but it's not finished yet.

Using the softest wire-bristled brush you can find (I think that might be an oxymoron?), gently scrape away most of the burned ash. The next time I do this I’m going to find an even softer brush as I really loved the color of the burned wood – a black silvery gray color.

Using a wire brush, scrape away most of the burned ash.

This is what it looked like after I’d scraped away most of the ash.

This is what it looked like after I'd scraped away most of the ash.

And here’s a close-up.

And here's a close-up.

The last step was to finish it with a clear sealer. I used a clear decking stain; I’m not sure that is what you would use for a house siding application, but it seemed good enough for a garden planter. I’ll research it some more before I go finishing my farmhouse siding.

The last step was to finish it with a clear sealer. I used a clear decking stain

Now to plant it. I used a soil mixture of quality topsoil and lots of vermiculite to make it nice and light.

The finished frame is ready for planting.

All done! Now I’ve just got to figure out where to hang it. I really planted this in my head for my new farm house. I just can’t seem to find the right spot for it here.

All done!

And this is what it looks like just a few weeks later. I think we’ve had perfect weather conditions for succulents – not too hot and lots of moisture.

And this is what it looks like just a few weeks later.

I love the way such a simple treatment really changed the frame so much. Now I’m going to make some frames for the 3 plastic Grovert containers Jim bought me. There is no way I’m paying $139 for those. I’ll let you know how much I save.

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Zinc Top Table Part II

In the last Craft post I showed you the first part of how I made my new zinc topped work table for my office. I got up to installing the zinc top. Now I have to walk you to finishing the top up, distressing it and finishing it properly.

If anyone is inclined to give a project like this a shot, I highly suggest you look through the how-to videos that Rotometals has. That is the only source I used when I made my top and it worked out OK for me. I show a lot of photos because I want to show you all of the steps, but all in all this table probably took me 2 days to make of concentrated 8 hour days. It was a very satisfying project though because it yielded something that is so beautiful and useful.

Just to refresh your memory, when I decided to make my own table I started with this industrial cart:

And my finished zinc topped table looks like this:

I purchased the .027″ thickness ‘soft’ zinc that Rotometals recommended for this project, but I was surprised at how long it took to hammer down the edges of the table. I used a rubber mallet, and in order to do it properly, it just took some time and patience, and lots of hammering. Perhaps the arthritis in my shoulder made it seem harder than it really was. Because of the arthritis, I knew I had to finish this in one day because the next day I wouldn’t be able to lift my arms, so I had a lot to do.

Use a rubber mallet to slowly hammer down the sides.

You have to cut the corners with metal snips to get a clean corner edge.

Here the top edge has been hammered down all around.

All of the edges hammered down, but they can still be hammered down further before nailing.

Then I went back around and hammered the bottom edge of the zinc sheet under the tabletop.

I knew I wanted to use a nailed edge, so I marked off where I wanted the nails along every side before I started nailing the galvanized nails in.

Measure and hammer in galvanized nails to edge.

I nailed both ends first before I nailed the long sides down.

The front edge is hammered down and under and I've marked off where the nail holes will go.

Hammer down the long sides after you've hammered nails into the short ends of the table.

Once you’ve got all of your edges nailed down, you’ll want to go around and nail the zinc to the underside of the table, but you don’t have to nail as close together as you did for the decorative edge – you’re just trying to secure it to the table.

Finished top with nailed edge.

It looks great. I managed to finish it in the wee hours of the night thankfully because my arthritic shoulders were sore the next morning and my arms were tired from all the hammering. The shiny surface looked great, but I knew I wanted to put a distressed surface on it. It was quickly proven why this was a good idea.

Evan sat to do some homework at the table, and this is what the surface looked like when he was done — covered in greasy dirty fingerprints, and his hands really weren't all that dirty.

Rotometals had a good video tutorial on how to do different kinds of distressed surfaces to zinc. Most were created using a diluted solution of water and Cupric Sulfate, which they sell. Those dirty fingerprints convinced me pretty quickly that a distressed top would be great.

I mixed the distressing cupric sulfate with water and put it into a spray bottle.

I sprayed the distressing liquid evenly on the table top and edges.

I sprayed fairly even coverage of distressing liquid, but applied it slightly heavier to random areas.

Quickly lay plastic wrap over surface of table, overlapping edges of plastic wrap to keep the solution wet longer. Try not to smudge the liquid too much, A helper at the other end holding the plastic wrap tight as you lay it down is key.

Try to get as many air bubbles out as possible so the plastic wrap lays directly on the table surface and the distressing liquid.

Peel off the plastic wrap when it's either looks the way you want it to and you don't want it to darken any further, or the distressing liquid has dried, because it won't darken any further once it's dried.

This is what it looks like when I removed the plastic wrap but isn't completely dry yet.

Here it is with the distressed finish complete and dry.

Rotometals says you can finish it with a lacquer sealing spray that they sell, or you can use a clear wax sealer that they also sell. For whatever reason I decided to use both methods. It seemed to work. I liked the way the paste wax finish looked, but I wanted the extra durability of the spray finish. I was a bit worried that the wax finish would prevent the spray from adhering, but it seems to be fine.One important thing to remember is if you need to clean the surface off before you apply the wax or lacquer spray, just use a dry cloth! Water or any other liquid products will smear the finish at this point until it’s sealed.

First I applied I thin layer of the clear wax sealer.

Then I buffed the waxed surface with a lambswool buffer.

The clear wax finish has been applied and buffed. I could stop here but of course I didn't.

Then I applied the clear lacquer sealer.

Finally it's finished and beautiful if I do say so myself.

And here is the table as it looks today. The drawers and bins are perfect for storing papers and other things. It's the perfect work table for me, and I didn't see anything like it in my hunting. It also has enough overhand all around that it could easily be used as a dining table should the need arise.

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Zinc Top Table

I promised this post a long time ago. Sorry it’s taken so long.

A major part of my new office space is the zinc topped table I made. I didn’t set out to make my own work table. I spent weeks looking around for one that fit my needs. Nothing was perfect and everything was very expensive. Just to prove to myself I didn’t dream that up, I went back to one of the stores I had looked in today and took some pictures with my phone of some of the tables they had. All of them were beautiful, but I simply wasn’t willing to pay that kind of money for a work table. Heck, I’m not willing to pay that kind of money for a dining room table that my entire family would use every day.

$4,295. This one was pretty simple. No decorative edges, plain top. Nice legs.

On sale for $4236 from $5295. It had great metal industrial legs and a simple but nicely distressd top. Not nearly as big as I needed.

On sale for $3599 from $4495. I love sawhorse legs on a table, and this had an interesting cement top. The surface was too rough to make a good work surface though.

On sale for $3499 from $6500. This table was a better size, but it was just so plain - and expensive.

On sale for $2949 from $4000. I liked the industrial nature of this table and the heavy top, but again it was too small for my needs.

Finally in frustration I went home and did some research on the internet. I found a great site called Rotometals and they had a whole series of YouTube videos that showed you how to install your own zinc top.

“What the heck?” I thought to myself.

“I can do that.”

So I did.

I went back out shopping, but this time I was looking for some kind of an industrial style cart that I could use as a base for the tabletop I would build on top of it. I finally found one I loved. It cost more than I wanted, but I loved how functional it would be as a work table; with drawers and open shelving I could store baskets of papers and things right below my work tabletop. I loved it.

This is the industrial cart I decided to use for the base. It had rolling wheels that worked great.

I bought the zinc sheet and all of the supplies I needed from them, with shipping, for $241. The plywood sheets I used to form the tabletop over the base, along with galvanized nails and other supplies I didn’t already have cost me $105, and the base cost me $900 . For a total of $1246, which was more than I was hoping to spend, but a lot less than I could have spent, I was able to make a table exactly the way I wanted that fit perfectly in the space I had. This is what it looks like.

The finished table.

I had taken a round table out of my “office” area that we bought years ago as a “game” table. Occasionally the kids would sit at it, but generally it was just piled with papers and half-finished projects. And although I would be pushing the table right up against the french doors in the room, the reality is that in the 14+ years since we renovated the family room we have used those doors 2 times a year – to bring the Christmas tree in and to shove it back out after Christmas. I figured we could live without it and use another door from now on.

Cutting the plywood to size on my table saw.

I was a little limited in size by the dimensions of a standard sheet of plywood. Eight feet was as long as I could go, but that was really perfect for my needs. The kind of zinc sheet I needed only came in sheets 40″ wide and I wanted to make sure I had enough to wrap around and under the edges of the table, so I made the top 36″ wide. If I’d had a wider zinc sheet or felt skilled enough to seam two pieces together, I might have made it a few inches wider.

I pieced together two scraps to build up the base just a tad so it would be the right height.

I was given a list by Rotometals of things that could be used as a base for a zinc top and things that couldn’t be used. There were quite a lot of woods that were not acceptable, including larch, oak, chestnut, red cedar, Douglas fir, white cedar, and all woods with a pH < 5. Several of my friends at the local lumberyard were consulted on this conundrum and we went back and forth on whether MEDEX plywood or MDO plywood would be best. To get the tabletop thickness that I wanted along with the stability I needed, I ended up using two layers; the bottom layer is 1/2″ AC Fir plywood, and the top layer is 3/4″ MEDEX plywood. I’m not positive that it met the requirements they gave me, so I sure hope my table doesn’t disintegrate any time soon.

Plywood sheets cut to size on top of base.

Then I had to bring everything inside to finish it. Let me tell you, those sheets of MEDEX plywood are heavy.  I had to bring them in alone and was balancing them on these two tiny dollies I have; what a nightmare. Get help. I checked to make sure it fit properly where I wanted it, and carefully measured around the table to make sure the base was perfectly centered underneath the tabletop. Then around the outer edge of the table I screwed the layer of plywood to the layer of MEDEX plywood. On the inside I used long screws to securely screw the tabletop to the base.

Screw the plywood sheets together around the outer edge and the top to the base along the inside.

Then I wiped the surface down removing all dust and applied this nasty smelling calk glue that I bought directly from Rotometals. I spread it with a putty knife all around the tabletop and edges into a smooth layer and let it cure for the recommended time.

Clean surface completely of dirt and dust with a barely damp cloth.

Apply adhesive with a calk gun. Wear protective clothing and gloves.

Spread adhesive with a putty knife all over tabletop and edges. Allow to cure.

Then it was time to roll out the zinc sheet onto the tabletop. For this I enlisted the help of the twins. I had to make sure I was rolling it evenly down the table, that I had the same amount of overlap on each side, and that I rolled it as tightly to the surface as I could.

My silicone rolling pins were very handy in getting good contact between the glued table surface and the zinc sheet.

There was probably 18" of excess at the end after unrolling the sheet, so I measured and marked the same length that overhung the other 3 sides.

A cut the excess off with a tool I have that can do it, but you can just as easily (well, almost as easily) use straight tin snips.

Then we pulled off the protective film. Please note I did not hurt my right hand (in the brace) making this table - I hurt it in my sleep - and had to wear this for weeks. I think I would have rather hurt it making the table. Getting old sucks.

My shiny new zinc tabletop, but I had a lot more to do.

There was still a lot more for me to do, but this post is getting a little long. I’ll show you the rest of the steps in my next Craft post.

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Multi-Color Frog Batik

Batik: ba·tim [buh-teek, bat-ik]
1. a technique of hand-dyeing fabrics by using wax as a dye repellent to cover parts of a design, dyeing the uncovered fabric with a color or colors, and dissolving the wax in boiling water.

When Amanda was little I got really into doing batik for a while. Somewhere packed away I still  my favorite things I made back then, which were a T-shirt for me with a giraffe on it and a matching outfit for Amanda with leggings and a long ruffle-bottom T-shirt with a similar giraffe.

When we were in Mexico we stopped into the studio of one batik artist that was doing the most extraordinary batik pieces with many different colors. Doing multi-color batik is much more complicated than a single color process, but it inspired me to dig my batik stuff out of the basement and give it another try. It’s also something I realized I could do an ‘art class’ for my kids on, as they’ve been bugging me about doing another one lately.

When I searched online there were lots of inspiring things, but with Mexico still on my mind I found the work of Robin Zimmerman inspiring and wanted to see how close I could come to replicating this frog she had made, having never tried multi-colored batik before.

I started with a pre-washed, 100% cotton T-shirt and drew the design in pencil.

It was really nice to still have all of my batik supplies, including fabric dyes and wax, from the old days to use. A good source for batik supplies when Amanda was little, and I see now on an internet search that is still is, is Dharma Trading Co.

I cut out some cardboard to fit inside the shirt and pinned the t-shirt to the cardboard. Then, with a batik tool called a tjanting I filled in the ‘sky’ of the drawing that I wanted to remain white. I’ll admit to a little cheating here in that I drew in the black frame around the picture and outlined the frog with a black fabric marker. Hey, I’ve never tried this before and I just couldn’t figure out any other way to do it.

Then I outlined the frog with wax. This will allow me to fill in areas with dye without it running into other areas – or at least that’s the hope if I do it right.

Then I colored in the frog; Some yellow on his throat and down his legs..

Blue fabric dye for the water.

And then I filled in the rest of the frog with a green.

The first step in coloring is complete. In the morning the fabric was dry and the colors had lightened up just a bit. He’s not perfect and there were some areas where the wax wasn’t a connected line so the dye bled through, but all in all I was pleased so far.

I waxed over the blue water so that color would remain blue.

Then I went in and waxed over the frog in a random pattern, leaving un-waxed areas.

I cracked the wax up by bending it. I did this as I wanted some of the darker colored inks I was about to apply, particularly in the water area, to bleed through a bit.

I painted in an olive green dye in the areas I’d left free of wax on the frog. This will (hopefully) give him the darker green spots that frogs have.

And then I painted a dark blue over the water color in the areas I’d cracked the wax in hopes that some of it bleeds through to give the water a little more dimension and color.

When the dye was completely dry and waxed over the entire area with a brush.

I wanted to dye the rest of the shirt a citron color green. I prepared the large batch of dye in my kitchen sink. To all of the dyes I used I added sodium carbonate, or soda ash fixer, which makes the dye permanent and keeps it from bleeding in the wash.

Into the dye bath it goes. Fingers crossed.

I let it sit in the dye for about 20 minutes. Let the dye drain out, and then wrung it out and hung it to dry outside.

There are several methods to remove wax. I used the clean newsprint and iron method this time and found it quite effective. I’d saved some paper from Home Goods that they use to wrap up your purchases. This was free and it worked great. As a backup I also had a roll of wrapping paper for moving that I’d bought at Home Depot in the area where they sold moving boxes and other assorted packing materials. You put several layers of paper under the waxed areas, and then on top you use 2 or 3 layers of paper, and change often. You’ll never get all of the wax out this way, but I was pretty impressed with how well this worked this time. Something’s improved over the last 18 years – the paper, the iron, or my patience. The best way to remove that last final bit of wax is to dry clean the item. You can try the boiling method, but I never found this foolproof in the past.

The final shirt. I still need to dry clean it to get that last bit of wax out.

Overall I’m really happy with how it came out. He’s not perfect. There are areas where dyes bled through, and you really can’t even see any parts where the darker blue dye bled through the cracks into the lighter blue. I’ll just say that it gives him character.

I did a few more of them this past week and I’ll share them with you as well, although perhaps not in such detail. I did want to give you the detailed steps in case anybody else wants to give it a try.

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Framed Linoleum Prints

In the hopes of selling the house we’ve lived in for the past 16 years in the near future and moving to a place with more land, there is much to be done to get our house market-worthy. There is also endless amounts of de-cluttering that needs to be done.

While we were away in Mexico for 8 days we managed to have some work done around the house. We had the floors refinished in the kitchen and family room. Although it needed to be done about 5 years ago and was literally worn down to the bare wood in places, refinishing your floors is one of those things that is never convenient to do – we are always in those two rooms and I don’t think we could live without them. But, I couldn’t avoid it any longer, so with some advanced planning and the help of my trusty and reliable carpenters, we had it done while we were gone.

The tiniest bedroom in our house is called “my office”. I don’t know why it’s called this because, although it has a desk in it, I NEVER use it and it really should really be called “my closet”, as I use it to store my shit in. It also has a small pull-out couch that serves as a guest bed on the rare occasion that we have guests. This ‘office’ was also going to be painted, along with some other areas, while we were away as well.

I wish I’d taken a picture of it the day before I went to Mexico. You literally could barely walk in the room. Because it was being painted, we were shoving thing in boxes and stacking them in the garage so they could actually reach the walls to paint them. It looks lovely now, but unfortunately I still need to go through all of those boxes and somehow get a lot of that stuff back into this room in some organized fashion.

Keeping “market ready” in the forefront of my mind, I decided to put together a series of my linoleum prints that I’ve done over the past year or so. I had bought these frames at a really good sale at the local art store.

Because I had to keep all of the prints horizontal, some of my favorite prints couldn’t be used. I may do another series on a different wall of my favorite vertical prints.

Measuring and hanging a series of prints like this is something that takes patience, careful math, and accurate measurements – especially when I only had 1″ between each frame. It didn’t come out perfect, but it’s close.

Broken Bottle Chandelier

They had these great chandeliers where we ate dinner tonight. I’ve seen similar ideas on Pinterest before, but these were unique in that they were made with old pieces of wood – perhaps Mexican driftwood — and the bottles were clearly antique Mexican bottles; thick and slightly irregular in shape. I wished I’d seen these at the beginning of the trip so that I could have been hunting for bottles like these to make my own chandelier with.

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Wyoming Motel Sign Framed Grouping

I’ve been meaning to do this since the summer, and I finally got it done. I bought a bunch of 6″ x 6″ white square wood frames on sale, had my favorite shots from the old motel sign photos I took this summer (see It’s a Sign and It’s a Sign – Part 2), had them printed by Shutterfly, had black mats cut with 3.25″ openings, and framed them all up.

I love the way they look together as a square grouping. These were squashed together so I could fit them into the photo, but they looked great with about an inch between each frame.

But this is our bedroom in Wyoming. See that blank space over our closets along that whole back wall? I think I’m going to run them along that whole space. If I ever manage to get back to Wyoming, (it’s been 2-1/2 months and it feels like a lifetime), I’ll hang them and let you see what it looks like.

Punchneedle Brick Doorstop

Punchneedle Embroidery is probably my favorite form of needlecraft. While I used to do needlepoint, I found it boring, expensive and they took so darned long to finish. I don’t know how I stumbled upon this form of needlework, but it’s quick, much less expensive than needlepoint, easy, and portable. I love doing large punch needle as well, which is similar to rug hooking in the way it turns out (but much easier), but the larger style is much less portable. And, since I don’t watch TV, I find the times I’m actually sitting at home with nothing for my hands to do is pretty rare.

I’ve made tons of different things with purchased patterns of punch needle designs, and made quite a few patterns of my own, but was getting bored (that happens easily to me) with all the usual patterns, I wondered about a brick doorstop pattern. They were always my favorite kind of needlepoint pattern because the end product was something really useful – I am not the “needlepoint pillow” kind of person – but everybody has a door that won’t stay open sometimes. I had never seen a pattern for one on any of the sites I’ve typically ordered patterns from (see my “I Like” menu and go to Favorite blogs and Websites subcategory Favorite Craft Websites for a list of good internet sources), so I decided to make my own.

I measured one of my old needlepoint bricks to get the proper dimensions, and then made the design. I loved the artwork I purchased on Etsy for the signs for my chicken coop and goat house, so I used those as a starting point, and worked it until I got a design I loved.

Now punch needle is a fast needle craft compared to needlepoint, but this took me forever to finish it seemed. That said, I only work on it when I’m in a meeting or waiting for my kids at the train station to get home from school (they commute to school on the train). So all in, at best I worked on this about 2-1/2 hours a week, and I didn’t keep track of how long this took me to finish. Now that it’s finished though, I love it!

It also gave me a great opportunity to try and finish a brick doorstop myself. Whenever I’d finished a needlepoint one I brought it back to the needlepoint store to finish, and let me tell you it cost a small fortune to have done. Now I’m sure it’s a little more complicated with needlepoint canvas, and I suspect you have to perhaps put an iron-on interfacing to the back to stabilize the mesh or something, but I think you could do this with a needlepoint brick canvas as well. Punchneedle is worked on a plain fine cotton fabric, so this was easy to work with and sew.

The "working" side of punchneedle is the back.

And this is the finished side, or the "front".

I joined all four corners and sewed them together on my machine with a small straight stitch.

With all 4 corners joined to form the "box" for the brick.

I pressed the corners, trimmed the excess fabric and then sewed one long and both short excess seams down right at the base of the rectangle to hold them down flat. You

I sewed a wool felt piece onto the loose flap that would be the bottom of the doorstop. You'll also need quilt batting and a brick. (I got mine out in my yard, washed it well and let it dry for a few days before using it.)

Stick your brick into the piece and see how much padding you're going to need. I wish my brick had been slightly bigger so I didn't have to pad mine quite as much as I did.

Cut batting the width of the brick both lengthwise and crosswise and wrap the brick both ways so all ends are padded. Technically speaking the bottom should only have like 1 or 2 layers of batting and the top and sides should have more, but it was late and I was really tired so I just wrapped around the bricks and now I have a nice squishy bottom too!

Fold over the wool felt bottom flap and tuck into the sides. Pin in place and sew closed with a needle and thread.

Finished Brick

Miniature needle punch embroidery has been around for a very long time. Ancient Egyptians were among the first to employ this technique by using the hollow bones of birds’ wings as needles. The technique was used throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, often to elaborately decorate ecclesiastical clothing and panels. In modern times, it has been associated with embroidery work done by Russian immigrants belonging to a religious sect called The Old Believers.

During the reign of Peter the Great in the 17th century, the Russian Orthodox Church was going through a period of change. A new leadership made reforms, mostly to worship rituals, that some rejected. Those opposed to modernization split from the church. They were severely persecuted, first by the reforming leadership, then by the Tsars. These Old Believers were scattered into remote areas of Russia and around the world. Some settled in America. There are several clusters in the U. S., but the largest concentration of ‘Old Believers’ in the United States is near Portland, OR. In some ways, they are like the Amish. They stay mostly to themselves, and reject many things in modern culture.

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