by Joe

Camper Birdhouse – Handmade Fathers Day

June 15, 2014 in Crafty Time by Joe

What does a son do when he can’t figure out what to get his dad for Father’s Day? Get creative of course!

If you do a search for Father’s Day gifts it appears that all list makers, card designers, and retail stores think every dad is only good for three things, golf, drinking, and grilling. Rather annoying when trying to get good ideas for gifts. Every year it seems I need to get creative for dad.  Getting him socks or a tie at this point, or god forbid a home brewing kit like so many shops think dads want, would be a failure on my part. This year it was time to get extra crafty and fun though.

My parents love camping and my dad loves birds. So I decided to put my artist hat on and came up with this too adorable vintage camper bird house that they can hang at home or at their seasonal campsite in Wisconsin. We were all camping together this past weekend at our seasonal campsite, Paradise Camping Resort (aka Camp Fabulous) in Garden Prairie IL and he loved the bird house!

Camper Bird House Construction

Enjoy this little photo spread of putting together this cute vintage inspired camper bird house. I hope the birds like it as much as dad does.

(click first photo to begin a slide show with captions)

I got the materials from several different stores. The wood and aluminum roof flashing from Home Depot. The wheels, paint, chimney and brake light pegs at Hobby Lobby. On my next one though I’ll be going to the dollar store or similar and look for a toy car with bigger wheels. The ones I got where too small for the camper bird house size.

Now I need to get working on one for us!




by Joe

Kickstarter Campaign

August 29, 2013 in Crafty Time by Joe

So, I’ve been a graphic artist for a good number of years. Some of it has paid the bills but most of my graphic work was for my own benefit. I’m not a master, pro, or whatever you want to throw out there, but I really enjoy  the creative process.

There has been many nights where I get so involved with what I’m doing and before I realize it, it’s suddenly 4am. At that point I have already blown my chance of getting up at a decent hour so I just continue to trudge along and try to finish up what I’m working on. Then the sun starts to come up and I realize that I must go to bed.

Something I’ve wanted to do for several years now but already had too many things going on at the time, was to start screen printing my own t-shirts. I almost bought one of those cheapy Yudu hobby screen printing machine thingies from Joans Fabric a couple of years ago. I forget why I never did. Probably because I knew I’d outgrow its limits within a week and be wanting a real screen printing setup shortly there after which equals $$$.

screenprintI’ve decided that now is the time to do it if I was ever going to. The only problem, it’s quite expensive to get started with. So I’m trying something called crowd-funding with Kickstarter to help me get started in my new creative endeavor. Not familiar with Kickstarter? It’s a place for creative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of people like you. Artists and the like post creative project campaigns and then seek out backing to enable the project. Each backer also has a choice of rewards for their pledging so nobody goes away empty-handed. It’s quite the neat idea.

Check out my Kickstarter campaign and back my project. Even if it’s just $1. If I don’t reach my goal of $3500, I get none, zilch, nadda, zero. So every dollar counts. If nothing else, you have to watch my awesomely cheesy video!

I have loads of more designs in the works but wanted my first screen prints to be on the simple side while I work out all the bumps. Please help me spread the word as every pledge is important to reaching my goal.

- Designs I’m working on -

t shirt designs

by Joe

Repurposed Empty Glass Bottles

July 12, 2013 in Crafty Time by Joe

When you’ve shaken the last delectable drop  out of that Tabasco bottle, or seasoned one last dish with a soy sauce bottle, or any other glass bottle, it usually goes straight into the recycle bin. Wait, not so fast! Here’s a cool little project you can do to make use of those used up glass bottles.

I’m not a hoarder but I don’t like to throw things away that can be easily turned into something else useful. All you need for this fun project is the empty glass bottle of your choice and some acrylic paints.

painted-bottle-projectBefore you start make sure to wash the inside of the bottle really good and remove the label from the outside, unless it’s a cool label you’d like to keep on the bottle. Hint-put a little dish soap on the label, let it soak for a couple of minutes and most labels can be washed right off along with the sticky residue. For those stubborn adhesives just use some goo-gone and a paper towel.

When the bottles ready pick your color or colors and start filling the glass bottle.

It’s a good idea to use more watery paints. If your acrylic paint is more on the thick side you can just add some water to the bottle.

When you have some paint in the bottle just tip the bottle on its side rolling the paint around to coat the inside. Shake the bottle around to mix colors. Add more paint as needed.

When the whole inside is coated I like to remove any left over paint on the inside. This will just help it dry faster. If your paint is thick, I like to “throw” the left over paint out of the bottle by grabbing onto it and make a throwing motion towards the ground to get the paint out. Obviously you’d want to do this outside. If your paint is thin enough you should just be able to tip the bottle open end down and let it drain out.

Clean up any paint that may have gotten on the outside and any at the top and let it dry. It’ll be dry and ready for flowers in a couple days and waterproof in about a week. Drying time will depend on how thick your coating is on the inside.

For some added fun, pour paint into a cup, add glitter, mix it up then pour into the bottle. Everyone loves sparkles! I added glitter to the yellow bottle but you can’t see it in the photo. A syringe or applicator bottle will come in handy for putting your custom color mixes in and then using that to squirt the paint into the glass bottle.

This would make a good afternoon project with your kids or even a great art project for school kids to give as gifts for mom.

Here’s some great giving ideas for these unique vases. Tie a ribbon around the vase, fill with flowers from your garden and put a smile on someone’s face.

  • Give to someone getting over an illness.
  • Welcome a new neighbor to the area.
  • Use as a memory vase for someone who just lost a pet.
  • House warming gift.
  • Mother’s day
  • Anniversary
  • Birthday
  • To show someone you love that you’re thinking of them.

What are some other good occasions you can think of?

by Joe

Stove-Top Potpourri

December 13, 2012 in Crafty Time by Joe

I love candles. If you saw our stash some might even say we have a slight candle hording problem. A trip to Bath and Body Works or White Barn Candle Company takes at least an hour and usually ends with a splitting headache from smelling every scent there is and then trudging bags of candles back to the car.

I’ve been wanting to try something now for at least five months but was unable to since I didn’t have a stove. Now that we have  a stove I couldn’t wait to try a different way to spread wonderful smells throughout the home. Even though we pretty much only buy candles during sales it still gets pricey, and I love saving money.

Stove-top Potpourri


Simply Aromatic

The ingredients are simple and the smells are wonderful! All you need is one lemon, a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary and vanilla extract. I’m using imitation vanilla as I don’t think it makes a difference and is loads cheaper.

Add all these ingredients into a sauce pot with water, simmer on the stove and enjoy the wonderful smells. You don’t need a lot of vanilla as a little seems to go a long way, about teaspoon or so. Just don’t forget to keep an eye on the water level and replace as needed. I’ve noticed that the smell lingers for quite a while after turning off the burner. Each batch lasts about a week.

At first I was using one of our good stainless steel sauce pots but noticed after a while of simmering the sides would get pretty nasty. Cleaning out the pot when I put new batches in was going to take a lot of elbow grease to get it clean. So the other day I ran out to Savers, which is kind of like a Goodwill, in search of a cheap pot to simmer my potpourri in. What I found is the awesome vintage enameled bright yellow fondue pot for $5. I highly recommend doing the same thing or using a pot you rarely use.

I’ve also tried different things like cloves, cinnamon sticks, and oranges which smelled just as good. If I can find some fresh Christmas tree cuttings I’d like to see if that would work in my stove-top potpourri too.

If you try this let me know what you think.