Category Archives: use for natural stuff: vines, sticks…

MYO Charming Mushroom Pincushions Made With Recycled Shirts and Wood

I designed these charming mushroom pincushions out of recycled materials and pieces of branches. If you change the design a bit, you could make a forest of trees in a similar way. –Another day perhaps. These pincushions could also be adapted into cupcake pincushions. Just scrape off the bark and paint the stump with lines like a cupcake bottom.

I know that mushroom pin cushions are old news but I’ve put my own spin on the idea (using wood for the stumps). The wood bottm makes them very stable.

Incites on how to make your own:

Gather supplies as seen in picture. –jar lid, wood stump, fabric, stuffing, plate for tracing. You will also need needle and thread and glue. Sometimes I use wool roving for the stuffing. The natural oils from the wool help to keep needles from rusting.

First, use a plate to trace a circle on a salvaged knit shirt. You want fabric that will stretch like a t-shirt.

The size of the plate will depend on the size of the jar lid you are using, which will depend on the stump size. The fabric will need to be bigger than the jar lid by about two inches extra all the way around. Smaller mushroom tops will require less, so test it out.

Using a straight stitch (put the needle up then down, up, then down through the fabric) to sew all the way around your circle. Sew near the edge. I like to use a metal jar lid to help shape the mushroom to have a flatter bottom.

Pull the thread to gather the fabric. Add the jar lid and the stuffing and gather some more.

Knot the thread to hold the gather.

Glue the mushroom top to your stump. I used a branch that I chopped with a miter saw. You could use a hand saw. Put something heavy on top until the glue dries.

I made the tall mushroom out of a second-hand infant hat. I like to use it to hold threaded needles for quick access.

Making Fun Gourd Bird Houses

Attract birds to your yard with home-made environmentally friendly gourd bird houses. You can make several in an afternoon and have fun doing it. You can keep it simple or you can tap into your playful side.

How to:

Getting the gourd

Ask around at local farms and farmer’s markets. There is a good chance that you will find some already dried. If so, you can start making your birdhouse right away.

If you plan ahead, you can grow your own gourds. How cool would that be?!

Drying the gourd

The easiest way to dry your gourds is to spread them out in a box and place them in the garage for the winter. They are going to mold on the outside a bit no matter what you do: no worries. Check on your gourds: if a gourd is rotting (i.e. the shell is getting soft), you should discard it so it won’t spoil the others.

Cleaning your gourd

Some people soak their gourds in a bleach solution to remove the mold. I don’t like to use bleach more than necessary and I find it isn’t necessary here. Either way you will need to scrub and wash and even scrap your gourd clean. It takes a bit of elbow grease. Don’t you like the patterns left on its skin? 

Drilling the holes

Use a drill bit for the size you want your birdhouse hole to be. You can find suggested birdhouse hole size for specific birds online. I used a two inch (diameter) hole for the birdhouse seen here.

I also drilled small drainage holes in the bottom of the gourd just in case rain should get inside.

Finished birdhouse has linseed oil applied.

Finishing the birdhouse(s)

Find salvaged paint (your own or someone else’s leftover paint). I found a small container of exterior paint at the Restore and used that to paint one of my birdhouses. I also used the two hole pieces, from the door openings which I painted white, for the eyes of this amusing birdhouse. I used Gorilla glue to attach them.

For my other gourd, I applied linseed oil. Linseed oil is a natural oil used as a wood preservative and is made from flax seeds. Use a rag to rub on a thin layer of oil. If using multiple coats, allow to dry between applications. The linseed oil will give the gourd a polished look and will help repel the rain. Linseed oil doesn’t preserve your birdhouse for as long as other products but you can compost the old and make a new.

Hanging the gourd birdhouse

Use a piece of scrap rope/ string or even an old shoe lace to hang your finished birdhouse. If you want to be fancier, you can bend an old coat hanger into a hook. First drill two holes to slide the wire through.

This purchased birdhouse has an orange stain on it. Stain is nice because it gives the birdhouse a color but the natural look of the birdhouse shows through. The diameter hole for this birdhouse is 2 inches. I placed this orange gourd birdhouse outside my front door where it is sheltered by our house roof. It is hanging on the wall of our house. Despite the fact that wren birdhouse hole sizes are recommended to be much smaller, a pair of wrens moved into our gourd birdhouse and successfully raised six chicks last summer (2009).

 I hope they will be back, I do love wrens. On a side note, I’ve seen wrens go in/ out of our gourd birdhouse in the winter. I assumed that it or they were seeking shelter from the cold. This is one of the baby birds that left the nest that day. So cute!

This is a snapshot of the mother or father wren that worked tirelessly feeding all those babies!

Tree Coin Necklaces: Beautiful All Natural Jewelry

I rubbed mineral oil on this one. As you can see it darkens the wood.

Tree coin necklaces are so pretty yet are very easy to make. I call them tree coin necklaces because they are disk shaped pieces of wood cut from tree branches. Children will need to have parents do the prep work on this project but will enjoy putting the necklaces together and decorating them.

How to:

Coin shaped pieces are cut from tree branches. I use a miter saw to do this job. If you want to make many coin pieces of the same thickness, clamp a piece of wood onto the saw leaving the desired distance from the cut.

A hole is drilled into the “coins”. Place a scrap board underneath your coin while drilling to protect the surface you are working on or place the “coin” in a vice while drilling.

Use string, yarn or ribbon to tie around the neck.

They are lovely plain (I love the circular wood grain) or you can decorate with stamps or personalize with a “green” message.

St. Patrick s Day Clover Bouquet

Girl in field picking St. Patrick's Day Clover Bouquet

Have yourself a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

Find a quit spot and pick yourself a beautiful bouquet of clovers, grass and any available wildflowers. While you are there take a closer look around. You may not find any signs of a Leprechaun but you will surely discover another world filled with tiny living things such as lady bugs and grass hoppers.

Sweet Little Table and Stools Made From Logs: A Home-made Children’s Toy

lion and rabbit's tea party

Lion invites Rabbit over for tea to apologize for his behavior the previous day. All is forgiven as they enjoy the beautiful day, the smell of the Lilly-of-the-Valleys, and the delicious tea.

The log tabletop in the pictures is about 10 inches across. I got the idea for this project when my husband was recently chain sawing a tree that had fallen during a storm. I asked him to cut me a thin slice of a branch. I used smaller branches and my sliding miter saw to cut the stool tops and bottoms, as well as, the table bottom. I used a product called liquid nails (left over from a home-improvement project) to glue the top and bottom together. It was so simple to make.

log table children's toy

 

I’m going to make a few extra table and chairs sets to give away as gifts. I love toys that really spark the imagination.

tea for two stuffed animals

 

Not long after Rabbit left, Bee stopped by.