Archive for April, 2011

Creating Pinwheels

Spring’s gentle breezes can inspire creativity for simple projects. One such creative project is creating a pinwheel. Using the simple premise behind this long-loved children’s toy, one can craft an ornamental pinwheel for a lawn or garden. With some simple supplies, touches of color and eye-catching motion can accentuate even the most mundane lawn or garden spaces.

In addition to the simplicity and charm of this project, it’s also a great way to engage young children, not only for creative enrichment’s sake, but also as a keepsake and memento of their childhood.

Determine the size of the pinwheel. The most aesthetically appealing typically stand twelve to fifteen inches from the ground. However, there is no hard and fast rule. So long as the dimensions of all supplies, which will simply include paper, a thumb tack or prong, and a dowel, are comparable, then all creative touches are up to the crafter.

Start by using paper with a wax or metallic coating. These are best to withstand outdoor elements to which the pinwheel will likely be exposed, including sunshine, heat, rain, dew, and wind. This manner of paper may be found in a local craft store, typically in the scrap booking or wrappings section. The advantage of these sections is variety. Colors and patterns abound! Or, if solids are preferred, children can be engaged in designing and adding their own creative patterns or applying colors using non-toxic waterproof markers or paints suitable for the outdoors. It may be possible to use everyday paper, like copy or construction paper, if it is laminated.

Once the type of paper has been selected and the colors or design applied, if desired, use a ruler to draw straight diagonal lines from corner to corner. In other words, an X should be reflected in the square’s center. This is accomplished, of course, by the diagonal lines, which should extend from the upper left corner to the lower right corner and from the upper right corner to the lower left corner.

Use a pair of scissors to cut along the lines, being careful to cut only about three- quarters of the way to the center point, or the intersection of the X. This should include a total of four cuts. Then, fold each cut toward the center point, overlapping each other.

Once the cuts overlap, insert a thumb tack through them. Secure the pinwheel by pushing the tack into the very-near top section of a pre-cut wood dowel. As an alternative to the use of a thumb tack, consider the use of a metal prong instead. This is accomplished by overlapping the cut sections of paper, as described above, but instead of securing it with a thumb tack, use a metal prong to insert through the center point and then fasten either side of the prong around the dowel by encircling it.

For additional creative touches, the dowel may be painted, patterned, stenciled, engraved, or ribbon-wrapped.

When the pinwheel is completed, push the lower end of the hardwood dowel into the ground in the desired location, and enjoy watching spring’s gentle winds add a little charm to any lawn or garden!

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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Creating a Dowel Floral Arrangement

With the onset of spring come beautiful blooms. A variety of colors and scents adds a beautiful touch to any home. But if the splendor of such blooms is also a source of the typical sneezing, watery eyes, or any number of other allergic reactions, this may not be feasible. You can still bring spring’s beauty to the indoors, however. Artificial arrangements are certainly an option. But if you want to put your own personal touch into the design, try this clever take on a floral arrangement.

First, determine the overall size you’d like for the completed project to be. With that information, purchase a terra cotta planter, a 1/8 dowel, a styrofoam ball, a foam block (or another styrofoam ball, which can be halved), cuts of ribbon of varying colors, patterns, and lengths, moss, and a hot glue gun. If you choose to paint or add a design to the terra cotta planter, painting supplies, such as paint, paintbrushes, and stencils, will also need to be purchased.

If you choose to do so, paint the terra cotta planter. You may also stencil a design. Of course, you may choose to leave the terra cotta planter its natural color.

Place a foam block or a halved styrofoam ball (flat side up) into the bottom of the planter. For added stability, add hot glue to the underside of the block or ball before inserting it into the bottom of the planter.

Cover the foam block or halved styrofoam ball with a thin layer of hot glue, and add the moss to its top.

Cut the 1/8 dowel to the desired length. You may either paint the dowel with the color of your choice or use some of the lengths of ribbon to wrap a covering around it. It’s up to you. If you choose to paint the wood dowel, be certain to allow enough time for it to dry. Likewise, if you ribbon-wrap the dowel, secure it in incremental locations with a drop of two of hot glue gun, and allow the hot glue time to dry.

Once the paint or glue is dry, insert the dowel into the foam block or halved styrofoam in the planter. Then, add the remaining whole styrofoam ball to the top of the dowel. It is recommended that you insert the dowel into the ball, although without penetrating through the top, remove the dowel, and add several drops of hot glue into the hole made in the styrofoam before permanently inserting the dowel.

Using the lengths of ribbon, turn each in a circular fashion to form flowers. These can be made as large or as small, and as tightly or as loosely, as desired. Much like the ribbon-wrapped dowel, however, intermittently use a drop or two of hot glue to secure the flower designs, and allow sufficient time for each to dry.

Once the flowers are dry, begin to hot glue them onto the styrofoam ball that tops the hardwood dowel. Be creative with the design, interspersing colors and shapes to reflect those you’d see in a natural floral arrangement. Do so until no part of the styrofoam is visible.

With minimal expense and a little creativity, this clever floral arrangement can comfortably bring the beauty of spring indoors.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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Dowels and Easter Crafts

Dowels are frequently a staple when it comes to woodworking and crafting. Favorably, they may be purchased relatively inexpensively, too. This makes crafting any number of projects both possible and enjoyable. Woodworking and crafting projects that use dowels can range from simple to extravagant. With Easter quickly approaching, why not find some appropriately themed creative uses for dowels? One such simple projects is a wall display that can be used to present Easter gift baskets.

Determine the size of the wall display you would like to have, and use that information to then determine the dimensions of both the wooden base and the dowel cuts you will need.

Using a drill, drill appropriately sized holes into which the dowels will fit.

Drill hanging hardware into the back of the wooden base. Doing so at this point makes the process a little simpler, as the base will be able to lie flat. (Once the dowel cuts are inserted and glued, the process may become a little more challenging.)

Before inserting the dowels into the holes drilled into the wooden base, use sandpaper to smooth or even round the ends which will be exposed. Depending upon your experience in woodworking, as well as the simplicity or sophistication with which you may wish to craft, you may choose to apply wood dowel caps to the exposed end of each dowel. The effort and aesthetics are completely up to the crafter.

Next, paint the wood. Choose traditional pastel colors or more contemporary, vibrant colors. Or you may choose to base paint the wooden base a solid color, such as white, and paint each dowel a different color. Use your imagination!

Once the paint has dried, place several drops of wood glue into each drilled hole, and then insert each wood dowel section. Allow the wood glue ample time to dry so that the dowel is firmly secured in the wooden base.

Once the wood glue has dried, hang the completed project on the wall, and add an Easter gift basket to the dowel for a beautiful presentation.

When Easter has passed, use the completed project as a wall-hanging children’s coat/jacket rack or a backpack, carrying bag, or handbag rack.

Some variations for this project may include using ribbon to wrap each dowel with a bilateral length extending below. Visit your local craft store for Easter materials that may be hot glued at intervals on, or to the bottoms of, the dangling ribbon. Or, use pastel colors to creatively paint wooden letters which spell out the word Easter. Add painted dots in the shape of Easter eggs, small bunny rabbits, or flowers for a more seasonal touch to the project. Then, tie the letters to the hardwood dowel using either ribbon or another tying material of your choice that works well with the project. Depending upon the hanging material used, hot glue may be necessary to arrange the letters or to affix other objects.

With very little time, expense, and imagination, you can create clever projects for the Easter holiday that may be functional throughout the remainder of the year, too.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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