Archive for the 'The Workshop' Category Page 2 of 3

Christmas Monkey

This Christmas I made this blue crotched monkey for my baby cousin. I started out by using the bear pattern from “Kids Crochet” but I left the book at home when we went to St. Louis (Yes, it ended up being finished on Christmas Day) and besides I didn’t have enough yarn to do it their way. I finished the body and sewed on the ears and decided that it looked much more monkeyish than bearish. So I added on a braided tail and embroidered the snout monkey-like. My cousin loved it, making the sign for monkey, slamming it on the table, hugging it, and giving it drinks from his sippy. Happy Holidays!

Mario and Laura Ingalls

Continuing her tradition of choosing characters from literature, for Halloween 2008, Nettie was Laura Ingalls Wilder. She sewed the entire costume, including the bonnet, to match the description in the Little House books. She’s a whiz on her Hello Kitty sewing machine. Peabody’s Mario costume was just a little easier to put together. A felt “M” glued to an old St. Louis Cardinals baseball hat, fake mustache and overalls assembled with blue duct tape and old jeans (even Oshkosh doesn’t sell overalls for boys anymore). A¬†cardboard Shooting Star Mariokart completed the ensemble. It was a gorgeous night for a walk and the kids brought home a record amount of candy (now counted and sorted). We’re already thinking about our next costumes for next year.


In honor of our family members spending their first Halloween in Tokyo, we carved a Daruma Jack-o-Lantern. Daruma is a Japanese good-luck charm. We like him because he’s also a symbol for trying hard and being brave. Nettie carved a cat, Peabody carved a silly face and our firend Melissa carved a groucy old man using the pumpkin stem as the nose.

Duct Tape Crafting

I’ve been checking out old issues of New Moon from our library, and in the “Weird, Wacky and Random” issue there was instructions for how to make a duct tape wallet. Halfway through I kinda went off track and finished it my own way, but it ended up OK and it was really fun. Then Father and Peabody got me some colored tape and I made a small red wallet with white polka dots, a case for my DS with pockets for games, and a woven mat that I don’t know what to do with but still looks pretty cool. I plan to make many more duct tape projects!

Building a Rabbit Proof Fence

Building a fence

In addition to getting gear and period costumes ready for our overnight at Fort Ross, Nettie has been assembling materials for her upcoming presentation on the Australian rabbit population. It’s going to be a busy week.

Cell-ebrate the Holidays

Cell tags ready for baking.

Inspired by Nettie’s recent biology project and The Cell Project’s clay cell models, we spent the afternoon molding organelles and cytoplasm. The Cell Project uses Crayola’s Model Magic to make round 3-D cells that when dry, are sliced into cross-sections for examination. We made ours from Sculpey so that we could use them as Christmas ornaments. But Annabel thinks they’d make great gift tags with “Cell-ebrate the Holidays” written across in black Sharpie. For some great examples of clay cell models, check out this pool on flickr.

Tom Sawyer’s Steps

Weatherproofing the front steps

A couple weekends ago, Peabody burst into tears when I told him we had to skip weatherproofing the steps until he was over his cold. Our kids dislike chores as much as other kids, but painting falls into the category of “fun chores.” This category also includes cleaning the sink trap, turning over the compost heap, oiling the bike chain, and washing the car. Most require tools, involve water under pressure or have the potential to be gross. They’re usually non-routine and require adult supervision. That last ingredient is probably the most important. Peabody and Nettie know they’ll get to spend dedicated time with Annabel or me if they help out.

Tools for Pumpkin Carving

Tools for carving R2.

The tools I used to carve R2 included wood gouges, hole cutters, an awl and a keyhole saw. The scraper made taking off the skin very easy. Annabel picked this set up for me a couple years ago. R2 took about an hour of carving. He’s lit by an LED headlamp. I’ll try traditional candlelight tonight, but I don’t think it will be bright enough to shine through his body. The R2 reference came from one of my favorite movie art books “From Star Wars to Indiana Jones, The Best of the Lucasfilm Archives” by Mark Cotta Vaz and Sinjin Hata.

R2-D2 Jack-o’-lantern

Uncle Owen, what about that one?

Tonight we carved pumpkins. We have a nice set of tools including child safe saws. Everyone is responsible for their own Jack-o’-lantern. Nettie made a cat. Peabody made a happy face. I carved our favorite little R2 unit. It was inspired by this cool Dalek. Some more pictures of our R2 pumpkin are up on Flickr. Costumes are all done. We’re ready for tomorrow!

Crows Working for Peanuts

Crow Vending Machine at Gadgetoff

Yesterday I was at Gadgetoff. It’s an annual event in NY that brings inventors, academics and artists together to give demos of their latest projects. One of my favorites was Joshua Klein’s Crow Vending Machine. It’s a device that trains crows to insert found coins in exchange for peanuts. You can read about it here. Maybe this is a way to put Nettie’s backyard birds to work?