Monday, June 30, 2014

backyard sink!

I've been thinking for awhile that it might be nice to have a spot to wash hands and clean sandy toys and shoes in the backyard, aside from the hose. After pinning a few backyard sinks on Pinterest, I brainstormed what I might build as a sink support structure. We have a scrap pile, of course, that I regularly dip into for building projects. I considered building a counter top on legs (with a bucket underneath to capture what drains out of the sink). I considered attaching a shelf to the house with a sink imbedded. And then I thought about how already full of stuff our yard is, and where I'd put whatever contraption I came up with.

It made sense, really, to use something we already had back there, and this hardwood outdoor bar was a logical choice. We've had it for about seven years now; we use it occasionally for backyard barbecues, but not much else. I talked it over with the Mr., deciding finally that adding a sink wouldn't ruin the bar's usefulness, but add to it.

After measuring the bar to determine sink size, the next step was to scavenge for a sink. Bring Recycling was my first stop; they have dozens of sinks over there, and the kiddo and I considered several hefty porcelain-coated cast iron antiques before finally choosing a simple stainless steel bowl sink for its light weight. We picked a faucet, too, then headed over to the hardware store for various connectors, a length of hose, and some plumber's putty.

It had been suggested to simply cap off one of the brass water supply hoses to avoid the added plumbing work required for two; it was a suggestion that made sense, since we wouldn't be running hot water to the backyard anyway.

Capping it off is pretty easy. We found the right size threaded cap at the hardware store, put a little plumber's putty on the threaded brass water supply line, then screwed the cap on. Easy peasy.

The hose coupler is equally simple. It has two female ends, one that fits over the other brass water supply, and the other, larger end to fit over the hose. We eventually used plumber's putty on this area as well.

I cleaned the wood with a scrub brush, water, and some spray cleaner, then I used the sink turned upside down to trace the hole we'd have to cut.

To support the lip of the sink bowl, I traced a second line about 3/4 inch inside the first. This was our cut line.

I wasn't too worried about perfection; as long as the lip of the sink bowl covers the hole and is well-supported, I'm happy.

I'm not too fond of the reciprocating saw as there's a bit too much motor movement to use a blade that big with a kid running around in the yard with me. I waited until the weekend and the Mr. ended up cutting it out for me. And it looked awesome, set in place, like it was meant for this bar.

After testing for fit, I popped the sink back out and stained the top, since the weather had really worn down the previous finish. Then I put the sink back in place so we could get the faucet lined up right.

The yellow paper is one of the paper templates that I made up for each of three faucets to test for fit, and to help drill the holes in the right places. The original faucet I'd picked out had been too wide at the base, and the faucet was a little on the short side (sad trombone).

We tried out a couple more, finally settling on a faucet that fits pretty well. It doesn't have the two-handles I'd prefer, but the base is a tiny bit narrower and the faucet is a bit longer, so it works out pretty well.

This is what it looks like underneath. The hose lead connects to a y-splitter at the house (so we can still use another hose to water the garden). The black drain pipe drains into a bucket for the time being, to be used for watering plants, etc. The Mr. has some big ideas about adding more plumbing under there and a run-off hose, but I'm happy with this set up for now.

I caulked around the sink and faucet, and also some of the crevices along the surface. It's clear caulk, but it hasn't fully cured yet. I'll try to get an update shot in here once it's fully cured, but in the meantime, here it is, all finished and useful.

Thanks for reading!

Linking up to:
My Repurposed Life 
Lou Lou Girls

Monday, June 23, 2014

straw rockets!! (quick + easy, and so much fun)

You'll have to excuse me. I write maybe two posts a week, but I work on an average of three or four projects in that amount of time. Often more. Sometimes, projects like these straw rockets from February (February, for Pete's sake) get lost in the fray. It's a bit sad; there's a lot of good stuff in that stack of bypassed blog entries.

These are fun for birthdays any time of year (as party favors or as an activity), for Independence Day, or just because it's summer! If you keep back from trees (so none of the rockets get lost in the branches), they're super impressive at the park. Whose rocket can go the highest? Whose can go the furthest? Who can hit a target?

Materials needed:

• large diameter bubble tea or milkshake straws (you can make two rockets from each straw)
• smaller diameter milkshake straws or regular drink straws that can fit inside the larger straws (one per person, labeled with a piece of tape)
• staples + stapler
• washi tape
• scissors

To make:

The smaller straws (not pictured) are the "launchers". Each child will need his or her own, because the rockets are fired by blowing into the thinner straws. Label each with washi tape and a permanent pen to make sure you're not spreading germs.

Each larger straw will make two rockets. Cut one in half. If your straws have a sharp point, cut that off too, so no one gets injured.

Staple one end shut. (The launcher will fit into the other end.)

Use washi tape to make tips and fins, as shown. Trim into the right shape with scissors.

Repeat for each of your other stapled straw halves, until you have a nice assortment of rockets.

To fire:

Insert launch straw into open base of rocket.

Aim at target or up into the sky, and blow! Depending on the amount of force, these can blip up just a bit, or shoot ten feet in the air; it's all in how fast air moves through the launcher.

And there you have it: one perfectly good (no dust at all, I promise) project I meant to post four months ago. Have a good launch!

Linking up to:
Lou Lou Girls 
I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Sunday, June 22, 2014

so small art benefit

OSLP held a benefit for its Arts and Culture program last month. Called So Small, the benefit was an art show and silent auction featuring works from artists across the US. Proceeds went to support low-income students' course fees.

Why call it So Small? Each of the artworks were, at maximum, four inches-by-four inches. Most were smaller.

Upcycled light bulb terrarium by Michele

 Also included were teeny, tiny performance art and itsy, bitsy music. All told, over two-hundred pieces - running the gamut from watercolor to felted wool to etchings - were included in the show.

The crowd pick up the pieces won at auction.

I submitted two pieces, both kind of last minute-y. I haven't submitted artwork to a show in quite a long time. I almost talked myself out of it, like I talk myself out of a lot of things that I'd like to do or participate in. That doubtful voice in my head excels at convincing me to quit before I get started. I was glad I followed through this time around.

Fox and Bird paintings; watercolor and color pencil on canvas. by yours truly, 2014

 One of my pieces, the fox, even sold.

I hope I have the opportunity to do more events like this in the future! Now that I have some momentum going, it'd be good, I think, to keep it up.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

potato print onesies (baby shower project)

Inspired by a similar project from Martha Stewart Living and the potato printing projects of my youth, these are a fun, fast, simple project for a baby shower. We made these at a shower I hosted for one of the moms from our preschool, expecting her second baby. 

Potatoes make good stamps for printing on paper or cloth. Cut them into simple shapes, use foam brushes to apply fabric paint (we used Kid Made Modern fabric paints from Target's selection of kids' art supplies), then stamp shapes to make pictures or scenes. After dry, heat set with an iron, and they're ready to wear!


Linking up to:
I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Sunday, June 8, 2014

little spoon mirror

Awhile back, I made a sunburst mirror out of recycled bits and silver spoons from the thrift store. My mom liked it so much that she specially requested one of her own, but smaller.

Well, it took me awhile to dig up enough baby and souvenir spoons at junk stores and yard sales, but I finally did it, just in time for her birthday this year!

It's a quick project once you have the materials. The mirror is a plastic-backed utility mirror I found at Bring, and I admit that I just hot-glued the sixteen little spoons directly to the back. Those that had dangly bits or handles that were too long or too wide were cut with tin snips first. Oh! And I alternated fronts and backs for some added interest.

I had a partial sheet of adhesive felt furniture pad that makes a good backing. It's thick, so the spoons won't be sitting directly on the wall, and soft so nothing scrapes. The hanger is made from a plastic coated paper clip sunk into the felt with the ends bent back on the other side. And then, for security, more hot glue holds everything in place.

I don't usually use hot glue so liberally in projects, but there was no place on this mirror to rivet or wire the spoons in place. In situations like this (small, light projects without an extended base) it's a good choice that'll last a nice, long time.

Happy birthday, Mom! Love you a bunch.

Linking up to:

My Repurposed Life

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

mosaic stepping stones

"Forget your perfect offering; there is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."
--Leonard Cohen

 Spotted at Bring Recycling in the garden.