Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tutorial - Clothespin Art Hangers

Clothespin Art Hangers

My daughter, like many other preschoolers, is a prolific producer of art. The really special pictures get saved digitally, but it's fun to display as much as we can.

This is where Clothespin Art Hangers are really useful. Simple to make, reusable, and, if they're hung low enough on the wall, the kiddo can control what gets hung and when.
Clothespin Art Hangers


  • Wooden Clothespins (Spring clothespins, not old fashioned craft clothespins)
  • Scotch Command Poster Strips - be sure to read the package instructions to make sure that you are selecting something appropriate for your wall.
  • Acrylic craft paint and paintbrushes

Do It!

  1. Paint the clothespins. I like acrylic paint for this. It dries quickly, it sticks to the wood of the clothespins, and it's really versatile. Also, you can paint over the metal of the spring, which gives a nicer look (IMO). Let the pins dry.
  2. (Optional) Cut Command Poster Strips in half lengthwise. This will allow the strips to be hidden behind the clothespin, making for a neater look. You will need 1 full strip for every two clothespins. Note: If you know that you will want to be able to easily remove the clothespins from the wall, or if you know that you'll be hanging something fairly heavy, you will want to use a whole strip for each clothespin. In this case you will want one full strip for each clothespin.
  3. Peel the backing off of the "poster" side of each strip or strip half and apply it firmly to the back of each clothespin, leaving some of the pull tab below the "mouth" of the clothespin. This will let you grab the tab when it's time to remove the clothespin from the wall, while still allowing it to be hidden by any hung picture. Hold the strip to the clothespin for at least the count of 30. 
  4. Decide the placement of the clothespins on the wall, peel the backing off of the "wall" side of the poster strip, and firmly press each clothespin to it's spot on the wall for at least a count of 30. 
  5. Wait for at least an hour before hanging anything on the clothespins.
If you ever want to take the clothespins down, grab the tab of the poster strip sticking out from the bottom of the clothespin with one hand and hold the clothespin with the other. Pull directly downwards slowly yet forcefully. The strip will gradually stretch, releasing the wall as it does.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Experiment 2 - The 24 Hour Rey Costume

The Twin Cities metro area is home to so many great Sci-Fi/Anime/Fan Conventions. Now that we are back in the area, we're able to stop in and experience some of them without having to commit a full weekend and 14ish hours of car travel. Yay, indeed.

On a Thursday night, on the way to swim lessons, Miss Mads and I were talking about meeting some friends at a convention that coming weekend. Somehow, the idea of her dressing up as Rey got tossed out. The sane response would have been to say that making a costume from scratch in about 24 hours wasn't really realistic.

I won't claim to be completely sane. I will, however, claim to have watched entirely too much Project Runway.

The second we got home from swim lessons, I begged Dr_Co to take over the showering aspect of getting Miss Mads ready for bed and ran for my tape measure. Child measurements were obtained, and I got to work.

Thursday Night: Planning and Patterning. 

Since a trip to the fabric store would have to wait until morning, I used the night to plan out what was needed, sketch concepts, make simple patterns, and figure out how much of various things were needed.

  • Pants: I thought she had a pair of grey leggings that she had outgrown. Those could be hemmed up to the shorter length needed.
  • Shirt: There was a shirt in her drawer that was the approximate length and fit that was needed. I used it as the vague basis for a shirt pattern, then modified the pattern to match the details of Rey's top.
  • Belt and Pouch: These, pattern-wise anyway, were a bunch of rectangles. I was able to sketch out and figure out the approximate sizes that were needed. 
  • Arm Wraps: Could be made out of the same fabric as the shirt
  • Gauzy Loop Thing: Figured out the approximate length needed. 
Friday Morning: Gathering of Supplies

I took a peek in the bin of outgrown clothes, and did not find a pair of gray leggings. Doh! Trip to Target added to the list. Once Miss Mads was dropped off at school, I zipped off.

  • Target: Cheap gray leggings were obtained! I did a quick swing by the toy section to see if there was either a stuffed BB-8 or a replica of Rey's staff, but no luck. There was a $80ish dollar remote control BB-8, but that seemed a bit excessive for what was supposed to be a quick cheap costume. 
  • Jo-Ann Fabrics: Found a great leather-look fabric for the belt and pouch. Gauzy tan fabric was also found. The only wrinkle was in the knit for the top. All of the whites were too white, all the grays were too dark, and all of the off-whites were too similar in color to the gauzy fabric. Eventually I settled on a white and was taking a peek over in their crafts department to see if there was anything over there that could be used to add on to the costume when my cell phone rang.
Friday Morning: Speedbump

Miss Mads' school was on the phone. Despite the fact she was feeling fine and bouncing off the walls earlier in the day, she was now running a fever. Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

That was the point when I thought about scrapping the whole thing, except that I'd already had the fabric cut. Since there was no stuffing the fabric back on the shelves, I decided to forge on! Time to pay, grab the kid, and go home. 

Friday Afternoon: To Work!

I got Miss Mads home and chilling on the couch. She seemed pretty low energy, so I let her pick a movie and got to work. 

In the interest of time, there wasn't a lot of nice finishing done. I ended up leaving the raw ends of the shirt unfinished, mainly because it wasn't vital for the knit fabric, and because I wanted to give it a rougher look. 

I finished fairly early in the evening, but after Miss Mads went to bed. I had tried a few of the individual elements on her, but the whole thing would have to wait until the morning. 

I was pretty happy with the way the belt and pouch turned out. The belt around the waist has a velcro closure. I ended up top stitching on the belt to give it a crisper and more realistic look. 

The question was, would she be able to do the convention?

Saturday Morning: Feeling Better?

Fortunately, Miss Mads was feeling much better in the morning, had no fever, and was up to a day of fun.

And a cuter Rey was never seen. 

...at least not that day. 


Miss Mads had a great time dressed up as Rey. There were a number of compliments on the costume, and considering it was about 24 hours of work, I was fairly pleased. 

Is it perfect? No. There are some things that I'm going to tweak before Miss Mads wears this again. 

To fix:
  1. Arm Wraps - They kept coming unwrapped. I need to figure out how to either make them a single sleeve, or how to reduce the amount of wrapping needed.
  2. Shirt - Finishing! It ended up a little wide across the shoulders, and needs to be cut down. While I'm at that, I should finish the neck, arm holes, and bottom. 
  3. Gauzy Wrappy Thing - The length was good, but the width was about twice what was needed. It needs to be cut in half. Also, it kept coming unwrapped. The wrap either needs to be attached to the shoulders, or I need to add velcro to keep it in place.

Based on requests, I am going to create an adult-sized version of this. That will take time. I'm also going to try and write up a tutorial for the bag. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Experiment 1 - Mango Ice Cream

Sunday was the last day of the kidlet's spring break, which also happened to be the last day of a busy weekend on call for Dr Co. In other words, it was just the kiddo and I, and with nothing planned on the horizon, Miss Mads was begging for a day of TV. 

No dice, kid. 

I pitched the idea of us planning and making dinner together, but Miss Mads wasn't into it. 

Then I remembered the bowl for the ice cream maker had been chilling in the freezer for a good long while in anticipation of finally fulfilling its life purpose. 

Miss Mads jumped on the idea of making ice cream like a 4 year old hearing the mention of the word ice cream. 

So, mango ice cream was to be the project for the day. The mango gelato recipe I had was out, since it would take too long to cool down after cooking. Plus, I didn't really feel like separating approximately 542 eggs (*cough* laaaaazy). I was striking out for a good recipe on google, though. 

Sounds like an opportunity for experimentation!! 

The recipe I came up with is below. Personally, I would say it was about a 7.5 out of 10. I enjoyed it and would make it again, but I also feel that there is some room for improvement, since I based this off of the basic ice cream recipe from the recipe booklet that came with my ice cream maker. In future trials, I think I'm going to look at reducing the sugar and tweaking the vanilla extract. 

Mango Ice Cream
Yield - about 2 quarts

2 12oz bags of frozen mango
4 tbsp mango nectar
1/2 cup sugar

1 cup 2% milk
1 cup sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Thaw the mango and discard any unripe pieces. Chop into smaller pieces (the mangoes I used were in 1-inch pieces; I went for around 1/2 inchish pieces).

Combine the mango pieces, nectar, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and let it sit for about an hour. 

Strain the pieces, putting the liquid to the side, and use a food processor (or blender, or other preferred method) to puree the mangoes. 

In a mixing bowl, beat the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of sugar until combined (about a minute). Add the heavy cream, the reserved mango juice, the pureed mangoes, and the vanilla, then stir to combine. 

Add the mixture to your ice cream maker, following the appropriate instructions for your maker.