DIY Crate Bookcase

diy-crate-bookshelfHi Friends! I’m finally bringing back this DIY crate bookshelf as one of my Friday Favorites. I made this for my kids when we moved to Wyoming; and it was such a quick, easy project! The kids enjoyed helping with this project, and we have used this bookcase in many different places since I originally made it. Here’s the tutorial if you’re in the mood for a quick weekend project.diy-bookshelf

Here’s what you’ll need: 

crate-bookshelf

 Let’s get to work! 
  1. Sand them down. Ugh. Sanding’s the worst part, right? My crates were pretty rough when I got them, so started with 80 grit, then 100, then 150. They’re not exactly silky smooth; my main goal was to smooth them up enough so the kids wouldn’t get splinters when reaching for their favorite book.
  2. Beat ’em up. My kids LOVED this part (maybe a little too much). Get creative here…use nails, hammers, chisel, chains, anything to make scratches and dents. If your scrapes leave any rough edges, you may want to sand them down a bit.
  3. Stain. Make sure your crate is clean and free of dust, then stain it your desired color. I used my favorite stain (Rust-oleum Dark Walnut). They’ve got these great 8 oz. cans that are perfect for a small project like this.
  4. Seal. Finish with a coat of polyurethane. I used Satin finish, because I didn’t want too much shine.
  5. Finishing touch. Screw on some corner brackets. (optional) They’re technically called “angles” and you can find them in the roofing section of the hardware store. 
  6. Configure & attach. I attached the two horizontal crates to one another with wood glue and some screws underneath. The vertical crate I left unattached so it can also double as a handy carrying crate/nightstand if needs be.

reading-cornerI designed this bookshelf so it is modular. Since it’s in multiple pieces, we can reconfigure the whole thing or add to it as our book collection expands. Now that you’re done, all you need to do is grab a comfy beanbag chair and a cozy blanket and you’re all set for those chilly fall and winter evenings ahead! 

DIY Painted Thumbtacks

Thumb Tacks2I love incorporating color into ordinary, everyday items. These thumbtacks are no exception. This project is so quick and inexpensive; and it adds a fun pop of color to your memo board. These painted thumbtacks also make great gifts for teachers and coworkers. So grab a couple boxes of thumbtacks and let’s get to work! 

Nail polish
Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Thumbtacks
  • Nail polish
  • Cardboard

PaintedLet’s get started! Stick the thumbtacks into the cardboard. I used an old piece of foam board here. I’ve also used a cereal box before. You just need something that can hold the pins upright while you paint.

Painting ThumbtacksPaint the tops with your nail polish. Depending on the type of polish and the color you use, you may need a few coats. Let ’em dry between coats, obviously. 

Desktop copyWhen they’re dry, remove them from the cardboard and put them to work! 

That’s it! 

DIY Canvas Silhouettes

Canvas SilhouettesOne of my all-time favorite craft projects are these canvas silhouette paintings of my kids. I love to look back at them to see how those little profiles have changed over the years. I originally wrote that tutorial over on my old blog, so it’s time to bring it over here to my new online home. 

DIY Canvas Silhouettes

Here’s what you’ll need to make a silhouette canvas of your own:

  • blank canvas
  • two colors of acrylic paint
  • one adhesive vinyl sheet
  • foam paintbrush
  • a photo of your subject (in profile, obviously).
Let’s get to work!  
  1. Paint the canvas. This is the color that you want the actual silhouette to be. Even if you’re using white for the inside, I prefer to paint the whole canvas white (this seems silly considering the canvas is white to begin with. But if you need to touch up any blobby areas, painting the center white will ensure you don’t notice the touch-up paint. Give it PLENTY of time to dry. Maybe like overnight…just to be safe.
  2. Print the photo on regular printer paper.
  3. Trace around the silhouette with a black sharpie. This helps you see a clear outline of what to cut. And it makes it so you don’t get distracted by little wispy hairs or shadows, etc.
  4. Cut out the silhouette along the black sharpie line.
  5. Trace the outline of the image you just cut out onto the back side of the vinyl sheet. It’s a little annoying to trace it again, but using vinyl saves you a lot of touch-up painting in the end since it adheres firmly to the canvas. The first time I did this project, I used a label sheet. It started to slide around once it got wet with paint. It’s still doable with a label sheet; but your lines are way crisper with a vinyl sheet.
  6. Paint the canvas. This is the second color you’re using. In my case, this is always a bright, fun color. Wait till the paint dries.
  7. Paint a second coat (if desired). 
  8. Remove the vinyl.
  9. Admire your handiwork. And touch up any blobs if necessary. 
 

You can find step-by-step photos here. Someday, I’ll re-photograph the whole process…but for now, if you need visuals, enjoy a trip deep into my archives. 🙂

Summer Art Projects for Kids

Last summer, I started a fun art project with my kids. We came up with a list of 50 easy, fun art projects all the kids would enjoy. We have most of the stuff for the art projects, so when we need a cure for Summer Boredom Syndrome, we pull out the art project list. (Get the printable list here!) And I’m back this summer to show you some of our favorite projects from the list.

Race Car Painting

Painting with race cars is quick and easy to throw together at a moment’s notice. Just grab some toy cars (it’s best if you can find some with different tire sizes/patterns), some craft paint (any type of acrylic paint works well and washes up easily, and some paper. 

Let the kids drive the cars around and see what they come up with! This is a project my kids ask to do all the time. 

Bouncy Ball Painting

Painting with bouncy balls is another one of our favorites. Can you tell I like to paint with toys? 😉 But my 10-year-old loves this project, too because it gets a little wild. We do this project outside on our picnic table; but the sidewalk or driveway would be perfect, too. Same thing here: acrylic craft paint is perfect. Grab some bouncy balls and a paper plate or two. Suqeeze the paint onto the paper plate and roll/dip the ball with paint. Then throw it at the paper. Somehow this activity always turns into a dodge the paint-bomb as well as creating a fun art project. If you did this with a roll of butcher or kraft paper, it would make a fun gift wrap for summer birthdays, too. 

Salt + Watercolor

And finally, we have salt paintings. This one is kind of like a fun science experiment and an art project at the same time. Start by drawing a picture with white school glue. Outlines work best. If you get a big puddle, it kind of turns into a blob. But you want a nice, thick line of glue. Next sprinkle the entire glue drawing with salt. I prefer coarse crystals; but table salt works great, too. While the glue is still wet, grab some watercolor paints and get to work! Load your brush with paint and water and gently touch it to the salt crystals. The salt pulls the water and paint right out of the brush and it spreads across the surface of the painting. Let the paintings dry overnight, and display them with pride!