Pumpkin Carving

I’ve made many jack-o-lanterns out of real pumpkins.  This time I tried out carving a fake one, thinking it would be just the same.  It is in some ways, but the material in fake pumpkins is harder than real ones.  Cutting the hard, hollow pumpkin is more akin to carving wood. The consistency is a blend of foam and smooth plastic.  I had thought it was going to be more like the squishiness of stress balls.

Exacto knives are not going to cut it (har har). You can slice the surface with small scalpel blades, but for actual cutting, you will need a very sturdy box cutter or wood carving knife.  I found it very hard to shape the cuts, they wanted to go in straight lines.  Small cuts  were also very difficult due to the tools I had.  I did have small saws from a pumpkin carving kit, but they only work after a piece has been cut out.

Find a good stencil, there are thousands online to choose from, and tape the stencil on your pumpkin. Use a pin to punch holes along your design lines, then take off the stencil.  The pinpricks will be faint, and hardly noticeable if you decide to slightly change the lines.

The pumpkin left something like sawdust on everything.  To clean out the inside of your work, you could use canned air.

When your work is done, toss in a fake candle (real candles are a bad idea). While this was fun, I think I want to go back to real pumpkins, and not just because I love roasted pumpkin seeds.




December 20, 2014

Graham Cracker and Candy House

I’ve been doing this craft for years and years.  It started with a cute little one page idea in Family Circle (or was it Family Fun?), using individual milk cartons.  I couldn’t get milk cartons- the school wouldn’t collect them for me as the children threw them out after use. So I came up with a template for the base, using graham crackers as the measurement.  The template is four graham crackers high and a half graham cracker wide. On a side note, did you know that the size of graham crackers has shrunk in the last ten years?  I had to redo my template.

candy house template

What you need:

  • canned frosting
  • graham crackers (at least 5 per house)
  • pull and peel Twizzlers
  • cereal- Life makes great shingles
  • spray frosting (we used “Cheese Whiz” style)
  • smarties, red hots, mini marshmallows and other small candies (note, better to get less popular candy)
  • paper plates
  • knives (plastic is fine)

candy house how to 3Assemble the house out of thin cardboard.  I find the cardboard used in gift boxes is the ideal thickness.  To attach the graham crackers, spread a thin layer of frosting on the cracker and press in on to the house.  For the side pieces, carefully break the cracker in half along the break line.  There will be a bare spot above the side- it could be filled in with frosting and candy.

Decorate your house!  It is amazing to see the kids’ creativity.  No house is alike.  If doing a large class, the spray frosting will disappear fast- some kids will empty the entire bottle on their creation!  I will sometimes hold some frosting in reserve, so that everyone gets an equal chance for the supplies.

candy houses how to 5candy houses how to 4P1050852

Make sure you take pictures of their creations, as sometimes they disappear mysteriously on the way home.


December 22, 2012

   Last Minute Dice Pouch


Need a last minute gift?  Ifyou have cloth, needle, and thread you can make a dice bag.

Start with a long rectangle of cloth.

At each corner of the rectangle, fold in the sides about a 1/2 inch, sewing a straight line for about two inches on each corner.  This prevents fraying.


Fold over the top of one side(wrong sides together), and then fold in the raw edge.  Pin and sew along the hem, using either a straight stitch or a blanket stitch. You are making a tube for a drawstring or ribbon to go through, so make sure you have enough room when making your hem edge.


Repeat the procedure for the other side.


Fold the rectangle with right sides together, sew the seams along both sides.  Turn the pouch inside out.  Feed a ribbon through.  If you have trouble getting the ribbon to go through, tie it to a pen and slide that through.


Dice pouches can be used to hold many things besides dice:

  • change- fill them full of dollar coins!
  • small toys
  • small computer bits (usb cords, chargers, earphones)
  • cards
  • phone
  • small craft projects
  • glasses
  • pens
  • very small pets

(warning, some of these objects should not be combined in one pouch!)

June 28, 2011

Library craft time this week was Delft tiles.  The summer reading theme this year is “One World, Many Stories” and we are doing crafts from around the world.  The Delft style is Dutch, with predominantly blue on white color schemes, with usually a picture in the center and a design in each corner that can be continued into the next square.  What I did was have the kids look through pictures, pencil out a design on paper, then paint onto a tile.  I got them from Home Depot for about 40 cents each.  Just basic acrylic paint worked fine.  It would have been nice to have a spray clearcoat to seal them.  We had 10 kids and 20 tiles, so most kids chose to do more than one tile.

Next week we are doing weaving- I need to get my act together on that and have a demonstration craft, instructions and possibly related pictures or books.

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