About Dirt anyway.
I wouldn’t recommend watching actual news to anyone right now, except very minimally, unless you want your blood pressure to skyrocket and your stress level to go through the roof. Perhaps I should be opening a dispensary instead of working in the garden. Or just suggest that everyone start a garden. It seems the entire country could seriously benefit from having their hands in the soil right now and feeling the calm serenity of green growing things.
I actually have some GOOD news.
After over 3 years here at my new location, I feel like I’m finally starting to get a handle on things and can resume activities other than cleaning out buildings, trimming overgrown trees and mowing grass. It feels like I’ve spent three years jumping from crisis to crisis, fixing this, shoring up that, patching and praying for these things to hold until I got those things addressed… it’s been a serious uphill journey folks. Also, I’m not 20 or even 30 something anymore, so I move considerably slower than I did when I started my first incarnation of DIRT. Still, I’m making progress and that means I can finally indulge in a bit of creativity again.
If you still follow DIRT on Facebook or Pinterest, you know that I haven’t been doing a lot of sharing of projects lately. And if you’ve been here in the past, you may notice I’ve recently made some major changes to the website.
I’m a crafts-nerd. Plain and simple. I like to make stuff and I’ll make all kinds of stuff out of just about anything I find available. I’ve had people call me Jack of all trades, Master of None. Which I think is a nice way of them telling me that I never did decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’m STILL just fluttering around doing random sh*#. Perhaps I should have just said I wanted to be a butterfly. They do just that and they like flowers too, right? 😛
So anyway, I make stuff. I sew my own clothes sometimes, I made all the blinds in our house, I’ve done a bit of costuming for cosplay, I build stuff for parade floats for 4-H, I’ve made displays for teachers while volunteering at school. I’ve built fire-pits, tree houses, concrete walkways, planting beds and frog ponds. I do a lot of remodeling in our home- I’m currently tiling the floor in our utility room, just made built in wall shelves for jar storage and I’m considering doing a stained glass project for the window. I love to take pictures of anything to do with nature or just spend time out in nature, exploring new places, paths, woods and creeks. I’ve always loved art and drawing, but I also took up painting on a few things the past several years and that’s become a consistent hobby as well. I write whenever I get a chance. I guess I did decide somewhere along the way what I was going to be… an artist.
Now that I have a little time for creative ventures again, I’d like to get some of this stuff out there to share with the rest of you. We’ve shared costumes at Ren-Fest and Halloween, shown art work on parade floats, I’ve donated some paintings, made a few hand painted clothing items for my daughter, made a few things for friends and neighbors. I’m hoping to expand my love of art to an Etsy shop soon and maybe get my photos made available on something besides just Shutterstock. So I’ve changed the Dirt site a bit to allow for all of that. The blog is still there, I’m just sharing some physical stuff too!
So that’s my news and this is the next step. Now to get it all up and running before
…I forgot I need to give the dog her medicine.
I’ll keep ya’ll posted as soon as I have my shop live. 🙂
If you’re still following Dirt, then you’ve figured out by now that I’m REALLY TERRIBLE about updating stuff and it’s been almost an entire year AGAIN since I’ve made a post. I’m sorry guys, really I am. But I keep letting my brain pull me in different directions and sometimes it has the attention span a gnat. I’ve been doing lots of stuff every day, I just forget to blog about it, or haven’t really deemed it blog-worthy.
So we moved here almost two years ago. I confess I don’t really miss Lake of the Ozarks. Like AT ALL. Ok, I miss some of the people there. I miss volunteering at the school. I miss Ha Ha Tonka. I don’t miss the tourists, the traffic, the constant dead things outside my front door (animals getting run over, drunks dying in our ditch), or the constant reminders about the past around every corner. When you live in one place for 40+ years, you accumulate a lot of emotional baggage there. It’s been nice to clear all of that out and make a fresh start.
I’m STILL cleaning out buildings here. Paw Paw Max had SEVEN outbuildings on this property and every. single. one. was absolutely stuffed to the gills with… well STUFF. Some of it useful. Much of it not. So I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple years just cleaning, sorting and burning. Not very blog-worthy.
There are also about 5 acres of JUST YARD to mow. Which is freaking amazing, but also not very blog worthy.
The orchard was down to 4 pear trees that last year had both fireblight and cedar apple rust, which is an ordeal that is VERY bloggable; but by the time I got the mess cut down, hauled and burnt I was so freaking tired it didn’t occur to me to write about any of it. Then I discovered that that both plum trees had gummosis, which is ANOTHER freaking bacterial infection- did I mention that fruit trees are a REAL pain in the ass ya’ll?- and then I had to cut them down too and burn that too…
And now Tom needs to move a trailer, so I’ll hopefully finish this in a bit…
Ok back. The garden here is a HUGE. I’m slowly converting it over from raised beds of tires to hugelkulture mounds, repairing the fence, etc. Sort of bloggable, but nothing really all THAT exciting or that I haven’t written about before.
I’m pretty good about sharing an occasional meme or original photo on Dirt’s Facebook page. It’s just that writing here takes time and energy- two things that I’ve really had throw at getting this place into shape for the past couple years, so not much blogging or writing getting done. Even all winter, I was remodeling INSIDE the house. Also a couple bloggable projects there… ok, maybe as a blogger I just fail. LOL
I’ll try and get at least a couple of my home projects on here soon. Or talk about the horn worms on the tomatoes or SOMETHING. Drop me a line on the Facebook page, if you’re really curious what I’m up to. Or hell, stop by the house. We can catch up and you can help me sort, burn or haul stuff somewhere. 😉
It’s that time of year folks, when every flying, creeping, crawling thing seems like it wants to dine on our blood. If you’re a lucky O-Positive blood type like myself, those mosquitoes find you extra tasty- it’s like they’re upgrading from Steak & Shake to Outback for the same price.
I’ve seen a lot of discussion on social media lately about what to use to keep the creepy-crawlies at bay without coating yourself in DEET or mummifying yourself in bug netting.
I can’t help you AS much if you’re walking game trails in the woods… you’re GOING to get something on you if you’re wandering the path of tick’s favorite food. They’ll even dive bomb your head from the trees in the woods. I can offer a couple of tips that work well for me:
1) I don’t wear long pants. I know this goes against the common suggestion of “wear pants tucked into boots” but in late July/August, it’s just too damned hot for that!
I do wear knee-high boots if I’m walking through the woods, since I don’t want to go to the hospital for a snake bite, but I wear shorts with them. Yeah, it’s not very fashion forward, but in the shorts I can FEEL what’s crawling up my legs before it reaches my waistband or other objectionable areas.
2) Carry one of those sticky-paper lint rollers if you’re in the woods. If you’ve ever had the lovely experience of touching a plant or spot on the ground, only to have your hand come away crawling with hundreds of little black seed ticks, then you know how horrifying it can be. If you haven’t, count yourself lucky and hope you never need this trick. It’s impossible to brush, wash or pick all of them off before half of them make all the way up your limb. A sticky lint roller can be a LIFE SAVER. Carry it in a baggie, so you can put the wadded up, tick covered paper in something to take back to the house and burn. (Deer get angry if you litter in the woods and will come to your yard and eat your Hosta for revenge.) Roll the lint roller over your clothes or your dog a few times before you put it in the baggie, so it won’t stick to the baggie. Tear off a fresh sheet to capture ticks.
Finally, I don’t use OFF or any other DEET preparation anymore. The CDC published an article in 2015 that said, “Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a plant-based mosquito repellent that provided protection time similar to low concentration DEET products in two recent studies…”
I’ll be adding the lemon oil of eucalyptus to my current concoction when I get it in the mail. If you don’t want all the details, skip down to where it says RECIPE. If you want to know why I use this spray and what’s in it, keep reading.
The CDC recommends use of one of these for protection against ticks and mosquitoes:
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
DEET (chemical name: N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diethyl-3-methyl-benzamide). Products containing DEET include, but are not limited to, Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon. There are rumors that DEET can cause cancer, although there is not sufficient evidence yet to classify it as a carcinogen. It does come with warnings that used improperly, it can cause seizures or have toxic side effects. It has been banned in some European countries. Can cause damage to plastics.
Picaridin (KBR 3023 [Bayrepel] and icaridin outside the US; chemical name: 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperidinecarboxylic acid 1-methylpropyl ester). Products containing picaridin include, but are not limited to, Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan (outside the US). EPA considers to be slightly toxic used directly on skin and warns you should keep it away from eyes.
PMD (chemical name: para-menthane-3,8-diol), the synthesized version of OLE. Products containing OLE and PMD include, but are not limited to, Repel and Off ! Botanicals. This recommendation refers to EPA-registered products containing the active ingredient OLE (or PMD). “Pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus (essential oil not formulated as a repellent) is not recommended; it has not undergone similar, validated testing for safety and efficacy and is not registered with EPA as an insect repellent.
IR3535 (chemical name: 3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester). Products containing IR3535 include, but are not limited to, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart. May dissolve or damage plastics like DEET, eye irritant.
2-undecanone (chemical name: methyl nonyl ketone). The product BioUD contains 2-undecanone.
My current spray uses plain Eucalyptus oil, I’ll be switching to the Lemon Eucalyptus oil. I’ve been using this spray for years now, adding this, removing that. The current formulation keeps off ticks, fleas, chiggers, biting flies, gnats, mosquitoes, kills and repels spiders and ants. (It does not work great on Japanese beetles, unfortunately) I still get the occasional tick on me, but this was also true when I used Deep Woods OFF regularly.
Also, the OFF smells horrid to me and it didn’t seem to bother biting flies one bit.
Here’s what’s in my home-made spray : Cedar oil, Lemon Eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, water. That’s it. Simple, natural insect repellent. (The cedar oil I use contains Ethyl lactate as a carrier, a chemical compound found in alcohol, cabbages, peas, vinegar, bread… ) This stuff also smells awesome! It’s earthy because of the cedar oil and fresh/clean because of the mint and eucalyptus. I’ve sprayed it on myself, the dogs when they’ve been in the chigger and tick ridden hay fields, around the yard before we have friends over, around the patio and on plants that are being chowed on by insects. I even use it in my daughter’s hair when there is a lice breakout at school.
I buy a big bottle of this stuff from Amazon.com: It’s called Wondercide and has two ingredients; cedar oil and Ethyl lactate as a carrier. The bottle I have has lasted over 3 years now. (I linked the picture to Amazon). I have an old Windex bottle that I add about 3 capfuls
of this, 6-7 drops of Eucalyptus oil and 6-7 drops of Peppermint oil. I used to use Lemon Balm, but couldn’t tell that it did much. I added the Eucalyptus oil when I found that spiders hate it- I was bitten by a brown recluse last year and did not want a repeat experience. Fill the rest of the bottle with water and shake it up to mix everything well. Then just spray on all the things!
I would avoid getting this in your eyes, since the peppermint oil will burn if you get it in eyes. The spray doesn’t taste all the fantastic either. Best to just avoid mucus membranes period. Otherwise, spray away.
FYI, I do use this in the house to kill insects too, as cedar oil is toxic to many of them. I don’t spray it on the cats, since they lick themselves A LOT more than the dogs do. When I spray the dogs, I usually just put it on their back where they don’t do a lot of licking. I’ve read on Wondercide’s site that it won’t hurt dogs because it’s properly diluted and we always had cedar bedding in our dog’s houses that never hurt them… still, I wouldn’t want them drinking the stuff, regardless of how safe they say it is. They do have formulations on their website for animals and other specific uses. If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, obviously don’t use it… or play around with the formula and find a substitute. Many people itch or get a rash from touching cedar leaves, this isn’t formulated from the leaves, it’s made from the woody part of the tree, but some people and animals are also sensitive to the oils from the wood. Use your best judgement.
If you can’t use cedar oil, I’ve seen a couple commercial organic formulations from OFF and Avon Skin So Soft that may work for you, using just lemon eucalyptus. They’re starting to embrace the plant-based, chemical free movement, at least as a side-line.
*I would avoid the use of ANY of the chemicals listed on this page around aquatic life. Several of the commercial chemicals above warn that they will kill aquatic animals and/or amphibians. I couldn’t find anything about cedar oil being toxic to marine life, (One study I read stated little or no effect) but I still wouldn’t spray it on you hands and stick them in your fish tank.
PS. If you DO wind up in a nest of chiggers in spite of using sprays you STILL itch all over, we use Dr Bronner’s soap and take a shower in it from head to toe. It smells a bit strong, but it will get rid of the itch and any residual critters that are lurking on your skin. It’s also the best stuff in the world for acne- particularly the cystic kind. The bottle is covered in religious writing (which is why we’ve nicknamed it “God Soap”), once I got one covered in political writing instead… anyway, it’s wonderful stuff, weird writing on the label and all.
PPS. My site and myself are in no way affiliated with Amazon, the CDC or any of these products linked on here. I’m not selling anything, just sharing what has worked well for myself and my family. I don’t earn anything from your clicking on these links. Also, I’m not a medical doctor. If you use this stuff, you do it at your own risk and your own discretion. If you come to my house, be warned, I might spray it on you. (I usually ask first.)
CDC Adopts New Repellent Guidance For Upcoming Mosquito Season: https://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/r050428.htm
Juniper’s Toxicity on Marine Life https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20033284
Repellents for Use on Skin and Clothing https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods
I am now 15 weeks into recovery from a rotator cuff repair/arthritis removal of my right shoulder. Apparently, the last few years of remodeling house has not been kind to my joints. I built up some bone spurs on both my shoulder joint and my collar bone, which were steadily tearing my rotator cuff to shreds while I dry-walled, tiled and painted on our lake house for months, getting it ready to sell. As soon as the papers were signed, I scheduled myself for surgery. The pain had been ridiculous some nights, bad others, just general suckiness the rest of the time. The MRI didn’t show what the surgeon told me afterwards, that I had torn my rotator cuff completely through, there was nothing but a big hole and tattered edges over a nice bone spur on my collar bone. I watched the video they sent home with me and wasn’t surprised that I hurt afterwards for weeks.
I didn’t get to go to rehab after surgery (insurance issues), so I wound up putting together my own rehab schedule. Which seems to be serving me well, as I’m out and doing garden stuff I wasn’t supposed to be able to do until the end of May/June. Thank goodness for YouTube, you can learn to do anything there! I’m amazed at how LITTLE pain I have now. I still have to be careful… I’m not going to be lifting hundreds of pounds with that arm or slinging bails of hay from dawn to dusk, but I can use the weed eater now without wanting to cry, which is just about as pathetic to look at as you imagine. I did minimal gardening last year. I put in a few bulbs, grew my tomato plants, that was about it.
This year, I’ve already cleaned out the lean-to, cut down dead trees, hauled and stacked wood, burned brush piles and built a little cage to hold a bunch of kindling for the fire pit. The fenced garden here is huge. I know I’ve said this before, but it really is just HUGE. Even this year, I’m probably still only going to be using 1/4 of the available space in there. I have a pile of broken stuff in one area that I haven’t hauled off yet and might possibly, maybe in some way down the road be useful somehow. This is the stuff that will find it’s way to the dump when I’m in a purge mood, but yesterday, it got recycled instead.
I had a tire that had once been used for a raised garden bed. I don’t build raised beds in tires, I use hugelkulture mounds, so most of the tires in the garden were of no use for me. (yet) I had some welded wire tomato cages that the ground stakes had snapped off and couldn’t be used for cages anymore. There were a couple portions of chicken wire that were too small to be of much use for anything- I tried to use them to keep the raccoon out of the watermelon last year, to no avail. I took all these scrap pieces, that were already recycled from Paw Paw’s previous garden projects and recycled them again into a kindling cage for our fire pit. We had a big pile of sticks behind the wood pile, that looked unorganized and messy (as a pile of sticks will).
The tire already had holes drilled into the bottom for drainage. I opened up the two welded wire tomato cages with some pliers and re-bent them to fit inside the tire, then closed them around each other again. Now they were one giant tomato cage with no stakes on the bottom; but this was ok, because I shoved them tight against the inside of the tire, and it holds them upright and in place. The chicken wire I wrapped around the bottom of the outside, since that welded wire is pretty rusted and I didn’t want someone scraping their leg against it accidentally and having to run out for a tetanus shot. I then broke up all my sticks into handy kindling size and dropped them in the cage. We now have kindling in a neat container near the fire pit and I have several fewer pieces of junk in my garden. I figure it will be of use at least another several years and if it breaks, I’m out nothing. Maybe by then, I’ll have more scraps to build a new one with. 🙂
This week, I need to get some poop around fruit trees and cut down a dead apple up front, so nothing all that exciting or blog worthy. I do have seedlings coming through, so might write a bit on those. It’s all good shoulder rehab, have to strengthen that rotator cuff back up!
I’m going to keep this short and sweet with lots of pictures for those of you that just want a quick reference and then are off with your shovel and to shop for plants. If you’d like a more detailed explanation of layered gardening, see my post on hugelkultur mounds.
Whatever name you give it, ‘compost gardening,’ ‘layered gardening’, ‘hugelkultur’, ‘lasagna gardening’, ‘no till gardening’ they all employ basically the same methods and mean the same thing. You’re building a raised bed garden out of several layers of material that compost in place over time. The idea has gained a lot of popularity in recent years because of how incredibly low maintenance these gardens can be. A properly built hugelkultur mound is said to even be able to sustain a garden in the middle of the desert! If you’ve had a traditional garden in the past, you know that the digging, planting, hoeing and watering can become an exhausting chore and eat half of your summer. Lasagna gardening gets it’s clever name from the multiple layers of material you build into your raised bed. You can build a lasagna garden in just about anything. A raised bed of wood framed walls, a plastic tub, on the ground surrounded by bricks, cement blocks or just rocks you’ve picked up in the woods. The container really just depends on how formal, or informal you want it to look and how high you want it off the ground… or of course if you live in an apartment or a neighborhood where you can only garden in a container.
In hugelkultur, you dig below the ground itself and your layers begin there. The base is a bit different, the results pretty close to the same. I believe if you CAN dig into the ground at all, hugelkultur is the better method, since it requires less watering and improves itself over time with little or no interference from you after the initial build.
I got this picture from the City of Cuyahoga Falls website.
So here we go, layered garden in a tractor tire. T’s grandpa had most of his garden in tires, using them simply as mini-raised beds. I’m just going to improve on what he’s done, not re-invent the entire garden.
First I dug all the dirt out of the center of a tire, just scooping it right next to it, because I’ll be putting it back at the end. I dug down almost 3 feet, until I hit the clay layer. I couldn’t do this in our previous yard, because the soil WAS clay and rock. Lots and lots of rock. I just dug it down as far as was possible to hold the logs in place. Deeper is better if you can manage it.
Next, I raided a wood pile that had been sitting for at least 2 years. There were good sized logs, already half rotten. Perfect! Don’t use logs that don’t rot or that give off chemicals to slow rot- avoid woods like locust, cedar and cherry. These logs were birch and oak and already breaking down, so they are fine.
Hugelkultur mounds are usually just free-form on the ground. I’m building this one inside the tire, kind of like combining hugelkultur and lasagna gardening. Add your logs to the hole, to the level of the soil (or in this case, almost the top of the tire). I threw in the bark that fell off and all the chips and pieces as well.
An old bale of straw or hay works for the next layer. You can also use chopped up leaves or grass clippings, shredded cardboard, newspaper, etc. I have a barn full of old rotting hay that I need to get rid of, so I used that.
Dump the leaves, hay, grass clippings on top of your log layer.
This is the layer you’ll vary according to what you’re planting. In this case, I’m planting strawberries, which are acid-loving plants, so I want the bed to stay fairly acidic. My neighbor was kind enough to send me home a load of aged cow manure; if you don’t have access to a friendly farmer, you can buy manure at most garden centers by the bag. Mushroom compost will also work well, you just want something that’s high in nitrogen so that as the logs break down, they don’t leach all the nitrogen from your soil.
For a little extra heat, I added some blood meal to this layer. It’s a big nitrogen boost too. Blood meal AND manure is really going to lower the PH of your soil and make it highly acidic, so if you’re planting things that need a bit higher PH- such as watermelon, cantaloupe, peas or lettuce you might add lime or wood ashes here instead of blood meal if you’ve already used manure. If you don’t want to guess, get a soil tester and test.
On top of the manure, I’m putting back all that dirt I first dug out of the hole, mounding it up in the center and packing the sides down a bit so it will stay in place until the plant roots can take hold and keep it there.
Add your plants… and a pinwheel if you are so inclined. 🙂
I just used more straw to mulch in the plants and then watered everything really well.
First mound finished! The best part is, there will be minimal weeds, once the logs underneath are saturated, I will seldom have to water because they will maintain the soil moisture beautifully. There’s no tilling, even in the next season, you just dig and plant again. If your plants are perennials, like strawberries, you just add more mulch on top. No fertilizer is needed, the logs underneath break down and provide nutrients.
For a cleaner, or more formal look, you could edge the planting bed with blocks, bricks or stone and use a commercial mulch from the nursery.
My cost on this mound was about $3.00 for blood meal and another $4 or so for plants. Everything else was sourced from our property or our neighbor.
Now I only have a 1/4 acre of garden left to do something with…
I am getting closer to being able to post something of substance, promise! Until then, I have some pictures to share with you of all the critters that have come to visit lately. Just this past week I saw quail by the front fence, deer in the back field, a coyote playing in our yard and chasing mice, a flock of eight turkeys, loads of cardinals, a red tailed hawk and a blue heron. I’m hoping for a bald eagle soon, since it’s January!
I’ve been doing a lot of painting and little house remodeling things, but nothing worth blogging about. The garden is covered in cardboard boxes from our move and resting until spring, when I’ll be digging it up to build some HUGE hugelkultur mounds. I’ve ordered an insane amount of elderberry bushes to plant this spring and possibly wild plum, if they aren’t sold out at the nursery. We’re going to be rebuilding the orchard here. Re-stocking the fish pond and I’m hoping to get the barn cleared out and have a use for it besides storing junk soon. Lots of plans. Lots to show and write about… but right now, it’s cold, it’s icy, and I can do none of it. If only humans could hibernate until spring!
So I just realized that it’s been almost AN ENTIRE YEAR since I posted anything of substance on Dirt. Yeesh, you guys. This is what happens when life just runs over you like a freaking steam roller.
I have loads of stuff going on right now, but unfortunately, for personal reasons I can’t post much about it at the moment. I am going to start putting together some articles behind the scenes at least and I will make them public just as soon as it’s possible to do so.
I miss having time for projects. Fun projects. Ones where I make creative stuff and get covered in something besides layers of house dust, house paint and countertop coating. I’ve spent the past year cleaning, moving stuff, remodeling a house. Hence the reason my creative ventures went by the wayside for a bit. I was creating, just nothing blog worthy. I’ve been in maintenance only mode on the landscaping also, which doesn’t make for much to post about… “Mowed the yard again today, weed eating done around beds, sprayed driveway with Roundup, blah, blah, blah.” Yeah, not even remotely interesting.
I was at least posting pictures of walks with the dogs on FB in the spring, but then my knee decided to swell up like a balloon and after two rounds of shots, I’m JUST NOW getting to the point where I don’t limp every time I walk.
I looked around today after getting all the housework done, laundry caught up, can’t work in the yard because it’s been too wet this week (FINALLY!!!) and realized “I HAVE NOTHING THAT HAS TO BE DONE TOMORROW!!!!” Which is some sort of miracle and perhaps should be declared a national holiday. Probably a meteor will fall on the house while I’m driving the kid to school.
Sans meteor, I’ll be working on the kid’s Halloween costume (Tom and I are recycling past costumes this year, only had time to work on one.) I’ve also started this really cool project that I’ll be doing a post for soon. It’s an artsy thing, not gardening related, but still cool.
I’d love to talk about the rest of what’s been going on, but that must wait a bit longer.
This is just to let you all know, I’m not dead. I’m just busy. REALLY REALLY busy. But it’s all going to be worth it in the end, at least that’s what I’m trying to convince myself. =)
Pictures, art and posts of substance soon.
In my last post I talked about maker culture and how I’ve embraced the term maker and decided to start posting some of my projects on dirt that aren’t yard or nature related. This is a step by step of a door for a holiday decorating competition at my daughter’s school.
Her teacher sent me these two ideas from Pinterest, I came up with a blend of the two for our door design.
And this is our finished door:
My first step was covering the door in dark blue paper as a backdrop. I then brought in foam insulation sheets that I’d picked up at Lowes ($7 for a pack of 5 I think) and dry-fit them to the wall to figure out where my blocks were going to go. The foam is only about 3/4 of an inch thick, so it scores and breaks fairly easily and is super light to work with.
I took pictures using my phone with the foam cut to size and taped to the wall. My phone has an edit mode where you can draw right on the photo, so I marked the foam with numbers in place, then drew those numbers right onto the photo on my phone. This way, after all the pieces were painted and ready to go back on the wall, I had an easy diagram to remember where to put them. The penguin idea came later when my daughter suggested I have a penguin in the ice blocks. We toyed with the idea of doing a tree also, but ran out of time, which is why there is a tree in the planning photos, but not the finished door.
I took the foam home and drew rough ice-block shapes on it.
I used an X-acto knife to cut around the edges of my drawing, carefully pulling away the leftover pieces as I went. The rough shape shed foam EVERYWHERE, so I decided to sand the edges a bit. I used a 60 grit sandpaper and a very light touch, until the edges were all smooth, rounded and didn’t shed foam anymore.
I painted the foam blocks with white and three colors of blue acrylic. A pale sky blue around the entire edge, a turquoise shade for mid-tone highlights and a bit of navy for the shadows. Acrylic dries fairly fast, so I worked only one block at a time so that the white was still wet when I started adding color. I let the acrylic dry and used a very fine spray glitter in silver to add a bit of sparkle to each foam board.
The blocks were by far the most time consuming part of the project.
I drew the bear shape onto double-thick poster board, which is still very flat (important for fitting under the frame), but strong enough it didn’t bend when I covered it in cloth. I mod-podged the entire face and let the whole thing sit under a heavy crate overnight. The edges I folded over the back side of the face and hot-glued in place. His eyes, nose and cheeks were all cut from the same poster board, covered in cloth scraps from my scrap drawer and hot glued in place. I drew his face on the back, so that I could get an idea of placement before sticking anything in place with the hot glue! I cheated on the ears and just used a red laundry marker. (I was out of pink scrap)
The penguin was done exactly the same way, except I used a foam panel and cut him out with the X-acto knife and then covered him in cloth. His eye, beak and feet are just acrylic painted poster board, hot glued to the material.
We thought we were going to have to build a window frame, but I remembered that when we replaced out back door last summer, I hadn’t thrown the old door away. I took the window casing off, it was only light plastic, filled the screw holes with some hot glue and gave it a fresh coat of white paint. We stuck it to the door with command strips and gave it a little extra support with hot glue, since the teacher intends to leave this door up through February and not just over the holidays.
The kid’s name snowballs are just these craft foam balls. I cut them in half with a big knife and painted them with the same four-color style I used on the ice blocks, then wrote each student’s name on it with a sharpie. If I had this to do over, I would have painted them first. Because the foam is so porous, the sharpie bled a bit and the lines weren’t as crisp as I’d have liked.
We put magnets on the back so that the kids can take them home after the display comes down. Those on the foam are hot-glued of course, but have a magnet as well.
The snowflakes are just shapes cut from poster board scraps. I bought mini-led lights at Wal-Mart that are battery powered with 2AA’s, they don’t get hot, are incredibly light and have an on/off switch. One of the packs we hid with the snowman on the table, one is hidden in the light blue tulle we used for snow and the other fit perfectly behind the window frame.
For the table, I pre-measured foam and built a three sided cover for the entire bottom. I then drew blocks on it, painted and carved the edges as I did the big foam blocks. The “snow” on the table is leftover white fur from the polar bear. We added a string of blue lights underneath the snow to give it some glow. The bit of snow over the top of the door is white fur also.
So that’s it! Step by step, top to bottom. Our Pinterest project mash-up… and my first maker post. 🙂
I’ve officially started calling myself a “Maker,” since others have already bestowed the title on me. I guess I knew, but didn’t realize that there is an entire subculture called Maker Culture which centers around people creating stuff. It’s always been there, it’s just that technology and social media have now turned it into a sort of cult.
Makers are those people that generate ORIGINAL content and posts for Pinterest. Yeah, all those great little ideas you just pinned for your kid’s room… those were put there first by people like myself. Although I have to admit, many of my own project ideas come from Pinterest, it’s just that they wind up evolving to the point they’re often unrecognizable as the original post they came from. My biggest gripe about Pinterest is that there are SO MANY amazing, talented creative minds out there sharing SO much stuff and I don’t have nearly time to try even a 1/10 of what I see. I want to do all the things. I’m lucky if I get to pick a couple of the things.
Maker culture also includes software, electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, engineering, metalworking, woodworking, traditional arts and crafts, sewing, food art and any other hobbyist activity you can think up.
In short, makers make stuff.
In between renovating our house, volunteering at school and taking care of husband, child, dogs and other four-legged creatures that currently live here- I am pretty much a professional hobbyist. I’ve painted murals, decorated classroom doors, made my own clothes, created elaborate scrapbooks, sewn costumes and built furniture. My focus used to be almost exclusively our yard and anything to do with planting, landscaping and creating ‘outdoor spaces.’ Now that we’re making moving plans and my yard projects are in a maintenance only state, I’ve had to find new creative outlets. (See PS on the Dirt on Dirt page re- the moving bit)
My most recent project was a classroom door for a holiday decorating contest at school. My daughter’s teacher send a couple of ideas (from Pinterest of course!), I mashed the ideas together, added a penguin and poof! A door. This is one of those cases where I didn’t go too much outside the original post I was given from Pinterest.
This is the door I came up with from these two ideas:
The thing that I find incredibly frustrating about Pinterest is this: If this were a Pinterest post, you’d likely get a 10-15 word blurb about how it was done and then it’s up to you to figure out the rest on your own. This is fine if you’re a crafty person or maybe you’re just looking for ideas and don’t really need to know how it was done.
However, if you’re trying to get into doing metal or woodworking and you’ve never so much as picked up a woodworking kit (or in this case an X-acto knife and a paintbrush), a bit more instruction would be helpful. This particular blog entry did not start out as a post about this door, however. The door is only an example. So here’s what I’ll do… I’ll show you this fabulous door and if you want to go, “Oh, that’s cute,” then move on to the next thing, feel free. However, if you REALLY are interested in HOW I put put it together, I’ll be making another post soon with all the details and pictures.
Since I’ve decided that the Maker thing is official now, other crafty posts are likely to follow.
Right this minute though, the puppy needs to pee and I have to pick up my kid in an hour, so my Dirt time is up.
We recently acquired a new puppy from a friend. She’s a gorgeous little thing, part Malinois, part Border Collie- a mixed breed that they’ve termed online to be a Malincollie. We decided a Malincollie dog must have a Melancholy name, so we called her Lenore. She doesn’t live up to her name at all though; with two very high energy breeds for parents, she’s a very lively, very curious, very bouncing off the walls if you don’t walk her EVERY SINGLE DAY kind of puppy. My friend gave her to us because we were supposed to be moving to a place where there’d be lots of running room. That may or may not happen eventually… in the meantime I have to keep this puppy entertained so that she doesn’t eat my house or drive our older, EXTREMELY MELLOW by comparison, dogs insane.
I started taking her on walks every morning to the city parks last week. This week, I decided that I actually liked walking every morning. I haven’t been outdoors nearly as much as I would like this year due to house remodeling (again! sigh) and holding off on new yard plans due to possible move. It’s not given me much to write about on Dirt, as you can imagine. No yard, no garden, no posts. 😦
I was already bored with walking circles at the city park, looking at the same scenery and the same people that also go there to walk every morning. My husband would probably make friends. I’m not very social in that way though. I prefer a small circle of close friends to small talk with strangers, ALWAYS. I started driving out to one of the state parks instead this week. Ha Ha Tonka has a been a favorite haunt of mine for as long as I can remember. I was going there as a child to swim in the springs and walk the dirt paths long before it was taken over as a state park. Lenore needs exercise and I need something interesting to look at while she’s exercising, so I decided we would pick a trail each day until we’ve gone down all of them. I’ve explored 90% of the trails in the park and even some that aren’t trails anymore, but I haven’t’ visited every single one of them.
I went down Turkey Pen Hollow the first day and the views were spectacular, in spite of little rain this fall and the colors not being as vivid as usual. I took pictures along the way. It occurred to me today that I should be posting all these wonderful photos on here and share them with everyone, not just my friends on Facebook. These I’m posting today are of the Spring Trail, that main paved/board walked trail that leads from the parking lot down to the mouth of the spring.
Hope you enjoy the views as much as Lenore and I did.