Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tetris Rag Quilt

We've been working harder than ever at WOPC to bring together our two fan bases: nerds and crafters.  With that in mind, we set out to create a handmade nerd quilt just for that particular demographic.  We've also realized that many nerd crafters are of the generation who are currently having children, settling down, starting families, etc.  Thus, the crib-sized Tetris Rag Quilt was born!  Made in much the same way as our ever so popular Rag Quilt, this Tetris quilt is simple and soft enough for use in a long as that nursery is full of bright colors!

 To make this puzzling quilt you'll need:
  • 2 1/4 yd. Black Flannel
  • 1 1/2 yd. Gray Cotton
  • 1/2 yd. Turquoise Cotton
  • 1/4 yd. Orange, Purple, Red, Yellow, Green and Dark Blue Cotton
  • 36"x54" of quilt batting (or a little less)
  • Black Thread

Friday, November 15, 2013

From Concept to Completion: Bottlecapped Sidebar, Part 2

It seems like just yesterday that we were discussing the woodworking for our minibar-- Wait, Part 1 was put out in July? Before the long darkness where we just wasted your time on budget costumes? Huh.

Well, we finished it a few weeks back but we were on a roll for Halloween, so you'll have to forgive us if it took a while to show you. We haven't gotten any messages about woodworkers sitting with an unassembled bar in the living rooms waiting on us, but that doesn't mean we don't owe you any closure. So here we go: staining, bottle caps, and resin. Let's build this thing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Two-Face Costume

We've talked a little bit about cheap options for robots and superheroes, but what if you want to go a little further? This year I was interested in a costume that involved some sewing and a decent makeup project, on a somewhat more limited budget than most years. From there, I started brainstorming a concept and made my way over to Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop or Two-Face from Batman's rogues gallery. I decided the choice would be made based on finding a light colored suit vs. a blue jumpsuit. One light gray suit later, there we have it. That's practically a coin toss, right?

You'll Need (for the Suit):
  • Light colored or white suit, natural fiber (wool, cotton, linen)
  • Two dress shirts, contrasting colors. Both should fit you.
  • 2 bottles of Rit Die for color of choice (in this case, Scarlett)
  • Thread and buttons for matching the new suit color
  • Sewing machine, scissors, usual sewing stuff
  • (Optional) Serger
...and for the Makeup:
  • Liquid Latex
  • Facial Tissue or other thin paper
  • Makeup in your skin tone, plus highlight and shadow a few shades up and down from there
  • Baby powder (not makeup powder, you'll need lots)
  • Hairspray
  • (Optional) Hair color, spray or bottled

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Antique Mirror: Mirror Spray and Crackle Paint

Sometimes you need a nice antique mirror to finish off your mantelpiece or over your bed. For us, it's haunted parties. Whatever. With one specialized product (and a bunch of common household items) you can make your own tarnished silver antique mirror with a crackle-paint frame. Clear your afternoon, we're making antiques!

You'll Need:

Monday, October 14, 2013


One year today! About this time last year, A and I were in The Container Store discussing baskets or something. I laughed and said I had come up with the name for a blog and she said we had to do it. A day or so later, she'd gotten everything registered and we haven't looked back. Until today, when we look back on what this year has been for us.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lighting (Your Pumpkin) wth Arduino

Earlier this week, we showed you how to make your own eternal jack-o-lantern. You could toss some LED candles in there or you could jack that thing up to 11...

This will be the first of (hopefully) multiple posts on using the Arduino logic control platform for various home uses. I'm not a brilliant programmer, and that's kind of the point: I'm learning the system by looking at the world, deciding what I need to happen, and figure out how to get there. As I go along, I'll discuss my thought process in here. Feel free to jump in if there's something glaringly obvious that I'm missing.

What You'll Need:
  • Arduino board (I use an Uno)
  • LEDs, preferably high intensity
  • Assorted resistors
  • Wires, soldering iron, electronics tools, etc.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Papier Mache Pumpkin

We're all about saving a buck on home décor, especially seasonal stuff where you only have it out for all of October and part of September. Or, uh, a week or two for other holidays.

But one thing you don't want to skimp on is jack-o-lanterns. These are a Halloween decorating classic, but it can get frustrating to find just the right pumpkins every year and painstakingly craft a new spooky face or pop culture reference. So why not make a permanent one? Yes, you could go nab one of those foam carver's pumpkins at a hobby store, but what if I told you that you can get awesome permanent pumpkins for almost nothing? It takes a little creativity, a little time, and a lot of getting your hands messy. Let's get started.

You'll Need:
  • Empty plastic bags (lots of them)
  • Masking tape
  • A permanent marker
  • Flour
  • White glue
  • Liquid starch
  • Newspaper
  • Thin cardboard
  • Hot glue gun
  • (Optional) Cellulose fiber insulation
  • (Optional) Drywall joint compound, pre-mixed
  • (Optional) Dedicated craft blender

Monday, September 30, 2013

Side Table Graveyard

Halloween season, folks. Some will say that there's only a month until Halloween, but purists know that it's 13 months until next Halloween, so plan early. If you aren't on the "But next year..." schedule like we are, now's as good a time as any to get started. For the next month, we'll be providing photos of projects, décor ideas, and DIY costume inspiration.

First up is a bit about upgrading dollar store finds to make a classy centerpiece or end table display, the Side Table Graveyard. Making use of those little novelty grave stones so popular in craft stores and dollar joints this time of year, why not have a group of them be something spookier than the sum of its parts? It might even make a good companion to some full-size gravestones in your collection.

You'll Need:
  • Little gravestones. Cheap and ugly is fine.
  • Acrylic paint. The tubes at a craft store will work great.
  • Some brushes, particularly one biggish one you don't like.
  • String of lights (blue or purple are ideal)
  • Bag of fake spider webs

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Game Day Mango Salsa

Last Saturday was game day for the WOPC household, and by game day I mean board game day!  We are lucky enough to have met some folks with a love of board games that nearly equals our own and host a potluck-style brunch whenever we get the chance.  In addition to treating ourselves to several hours of gaming therapy, it also gives us a chance to try out new recipes on daring guinea pig guests.  This month, it was J's favorite: Mango Salsa.

To make my version of this deliciousness you'll need:
  • 8 oz. canned Dole Tropical Fruit, drained
  • 1/2 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 chipotle pepper
  • 1/4 medium red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Making a Board Game, Part II

In our previous installment, I discussed material choices and card printing. I discussed some assembly of parts as well. This time, we're going to discuss a subject a little closer to restoration than original production. Today, we're replacing pieces.

You'll Need:
  • A game in need of new parts
  • A graphic manipulation program. (I use GIMP)
  • Source images
  • Printer, cardstock, spray adhesive, cutters, etc.
NOTE: With Our Powers Combined does not condone using the following methods to re-produce someone else's material for the purposes of getting things "for free." Creators deserve to be paid for their work. The techniques are offered to create new components or replace existing ones of a game you already own.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Rustic Rag Quilt

As I've expressed before, I am continually inspired by my crafty family.  Everything I know about the art of making, I learned from those I love.  This week's post is no different.  Earlier this summer, at a family baby shower, I fell in love with a baby quilt crafted by my mother.  It was soft, bright, and looked like home.  As my cousins and I oooh'd and aaaah'd over the thing, my mom and my aunt were quick to mention how easy it was to make rag quilts.  So easy, in fact, that all three of us cousins took notes that very day.  Three months later (because of procrastination and lack of planning) I have my very own soft, homey quilt!  Cat loves it, J loves it, and it keeps my toes warm while we watch Supernatural!

To make your own quilt you will need:
  • Various amounts of cotton quilting fabrics (math comes in handy on this one)
  • An expanse of flannel equal to the total amount of square footage of cotton fabric you intend to use
  • Quilt batting (I used "Nature's Touch Cotton Batting" 1/4" loft)
  • Lots of thread, I suggest buying a new spool of your chosen color
  • Cutting implements (mat, rotary cutter, quilting square or sturdy straight edge)
  • Sewing implements (machine, scissors, pins, bobbin, etc.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Meowlnir, the Hammer of Thor

Object may not be actual size.
It's time for us to pull the curtain back a little. Our stripey little friend who has been so helpful through many of our projects (Computer Wrist Rests, Paper Holiday Wreath) is named Thor. Apparently he was an energetic little cuss who was "as fast as lightning" at the shelter and was affectionately nicknamed before we took custody of him. We liked him, kept the name, and Thor became a member of the family. (As an aside, a member of my gaming group/regular reader of the site adopted a Loki the same week. Total coincidence.) He enjoys throwing his toys, and it occurred to me: I have a Thor who hurls objects down the hallway. Get this cat a hammer of the gods! Meowlnir would be forged here in Midgard!

You'll Need:
  • Felt. I used a heather gray and a brown.
  • Pipe cleaners. Mine are brown, but technically any color works.
  • Polyfill stuffing
  • Needle and thread. I used a light silvery gray.
  • Fabric glue
  • Graph paper
  • Marking and cutting implements

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Budget Superhero Cowl

A few years ago, I was invited to a themed costume party, "Favorite Fictional Character." I was out of town, living out of a suitcase for three months, and the expectation was I would arrive to the party as Batman. This would have been impossible if I held to any reasonable standard of construction, so I built the entire outfit from a store-bought black t-shirt, a roll of black duct tape, electrical tape, and the cardboard from a Diet Coke box. The only tools used were a Sharpie and my Leatherman. The night before the party.

To make your own superhero/luchador cowl on the cheap, you'll need:
  • Trash bag
  • Duct tape: Cheapest silver you can find and the main color or colors of your character
  • Electrical tape for details (Optional)
  • Shoelaces, at least 45"
  • Pair of scissors
  • Permanent marker
  • A trustworthy assistant

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Budget Robot Costume

"The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day..."
You may have heard that I (J) was out of town for a few weeks. One highlight from that adventure was my brother asking me if I was interested in serving as a robot back-up dancer for a show he was doing while I was in town. "Sure!" says I, because it sounds like fun. "Cool! You won't mind building the robot suits while I'm at work, will you?" "Sure..." says I, because a show with robots > show without robots. Who am I to deny him that happiness? With a budget of under $30, here's how you make two or three robots of your own.

You'll Need:
  • Cardboard boxes, two per robot. Our heads were about a foot square on the ends, and around 16" wide. Bodies were bigger, but make sure that it fits over your torso.
  • Roll of aluminum foil. We used the 12" kind, but if you want to drop hella coin on the 18" stuff, you could probably get away from seams.
  • Scotch tape
  • Duct tape (silver, natch)
  • Dryer vent hose
  • Zip ties, 6 per robot. We used white, they blend in pretty well.
  • Bike helmets, one per robot. You can substitute dollar store helmets here, but my hosts had bike helmets, and the chin strap is vital to having a working robot head.
  • Assorted tools: Cutting implements, measuring stuff, wire cutters. I did these without rulers or measurements of any kind, and my main cutting tool was a bread knife. Feel free to substitute better implements, but necessity is the mother of invention.

Friday, July 5, 2013

From Concept to Completion: Bottlecapped Sidebar, Part 1

A and I were talking through a need for a space by the window for some herbs and maybe a tomato plant. By the end of the night, we'd decided to build a sidebar with liquor and wine storage, a resin and bottlecap top, and a wine glass rack. You know how it goes.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jewelry Box from Repurposed Cigar Box

We don't always make housewares that are un-geek-related, but when we do, they are classy as can be. This is the end result of having procured some cigar boxes at a yard sale (and another few for free at a cigar store!) and planning a jewelry box with the stated goal of keeping the design as related to the box as possible with minimal flourishes. We started with such a handsome box that it seemed a shame to decoupage crap all over it or cover it with Ninja Turtle stickers. Sometimes, we surprise ourselves with our restraint.

What You'll Need:
  • Classy cigar box. This is a gloss black Cohiba Behike BHK box knock-off
  • Small wooden feet
  • Decorative jewelry chain (maybe 10")
  • Ornate mirror
  • Gold leather fabric
  • Spade bit to match small wooden feet
  • Small brass screws
  • Razor saw (that's my brand, get whatever you like)
  • Pin vise
  • The usual suspects: Drill bits, Xacto blade, spray adhesive, hot glue, wood glue

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quilting 101: A Beginner's Experience, Pt. 2


Assuming you read my previous quilting post, when we left our intrepid seamstress, she had triumphantly completed piecing the front of her very first quilt!  Then, as these things often do, the project stalled out due to a lack of patience in trying to figure out the rest of the process.  With J's promise to help and the project's deadline fast approaching (how dare my friend have her baby early!), I finally scrubbed the kitchen floor and turned it into quilt-making central!

To make the quilt sandwich, I started by taping the quilt backing to the floor, right side down.  I made sure it was good and flat, but worked not to stretch it in any particular direction.  This process is harder than it looks.

Once the backing was down, I laid the next layer, the batting, on top of it, making sure that there was enough overlapping all of the edges to trim back later.  Then I folded the quilt top in quarters, centered the fold on the sandwich, and carefully unfolded it to finish the sandwich.  The most important part of this process is making sure the backing and batting are both larger than all edges of the quilt top.

In the picture below, you can see a pattern of safety pins holding the whole thing together.  I started in the middle and placed pins no more than 6" apart.  The book I was using suggested 4", but I'm lazy and stubborn.  For the small size of the quilt, 6" worked just fine.  As you can see, I used more around the edges to keep anything from stretching or shifting awkwardly.  The pins keep everything properly together while the quilt is being tied.

Full quilt view

Up close and personal

The book I used directed me to work my ties from the center and spiral out from there.  Once again, stubborn as I am, I didn't do as directed.  I wanted two different colors of ties; therefore, I tied across the quilt diagonally to keep my organized color pattern.  Once again, this worked for me, but I don't know if that was luck or because the other process is unnecessary.

For each tie I used embroidery floss and a basting stitch in the corner where several pieced areas met.  I left long, non-taught spans between stitches which I cut later in order to tie the knots.  These spans made sure I had enough tail on each stitch to tie a proper square knot.  Honestly, tying the quilt was the easiest part of the process, save for the fact that my knees don't like my tile kitchen floor.

Once the basting stitches were complete, I cut each stitch leaving long tails on either side.  The tails were tied in square knots and then snipped to approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch.  This is what it looked like after the ties, but before I had removed the safety pins.

Full quilt view
Up close and personal

With the tying process finished, I could move the quilt off the floor and away from Cat, who was very angry with the amount of water we had used to spray him for walking on the quilt while I worked.  It was time to create my own binding, yet another process I had never attempted!  Being instructionally challenged, as those who know me have heard me explain many times, J helped me decipher the 2-D instructions into 3-D language.  The short answer for this process is that it's much easier than it looks.  Also, now that I've learned how to make binding, I plan to use creative fabrics to bind future projects instead of settling for boring bias tapes and such for edging.

The only tips I have for making binding are to pick a fabric that you really like, since it will encircle your quilt, and to carefully measure, cut and press everything.  If your edges are straight and your folds even it will make the actual binding process much simpler and quicker.  For a step by step on making binding, check out the book I was using.  It, with J's help, was a pretty good teacher.

A little more binding than I needed for a baby quilt,
but only by a little

The importance of the photo below is that this pointed tail is the end you start with when you attach the binding to the quilt.  Make sure to start with this end about 1/3 the way down one of the long sides of the quilt.  This will be important as you come back around with the other end and want to tuck it into the opening made by the diagonal fold.

So, as you can see below, sew the binding's raw edge to the edge of the quilt top.  If you're like me, your quilt top may not be perfectly squared with straight edges.  The reason you see some quilt top coming out from under the binding is that I had to use tailor's chalk and mark where the edge should've been, to ensure the quilt will look right after it's bound.  So, I guess I should say sew the raw edge to where the edge of your quilt top should've been.

When you get to a corner, fold the binding to make the 90 degree turn and crease all excess corner fabric upward so that it won't get caught in the stitching.  That excess will be needed to turn the corners when you roll the binding to the back of the quilt.

Here's where it really starts to get exciting! Or at least it did for me.  The binding has been stitched through all layers and trimming the excess fabric and batting makes it really look like a quilt!  Trim through all layers by using a rotary cutter and straight edge laid exactly on the raw edge of the binding.

From here on out it's just you, a needle and a lot of thread.  As for myself, it also included a television and a couple episodes of Covert Affairs.  Episodes I'd already seen, since I wasn't able to actually watch much, just listen and focus on not pricking myself.

Roll the binding to the back of the quilt and attempt to do it evenly so that it covers all previous edge stitching and layers.  Then handsew it down with a million tiny stitches.  When you get to the corners, you should be able to origami them to cover the corner while hiding excess fabric.  If you can't figure it out (because I struggled, honestly) check the instructions in the book or online.  Once again, if you can figure it out once, it's really not that difficult.

At this point I'm going to apologize that this wasn't really a tutorial in quiltmaking.  As this was my first quilt, I have no business in trying to teach others how to make something so complex, especially via blog.  My hope, in all of this, is that by reading my quilting experience you might be inspired to tackle a quilt of your own.  I'm already planning my second, and contrary to my expectations, making this quilt did not in fact scare me off of quilting forever.  The accomplishment I felt upon finishing it, and the joy I felt when I gave it to my friends and their newborn was more than worth the time and effort.  In fact, quilting may be one of the most rewarding projects I've attempted to date.

Happy Birthday, Baby Q!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unexpected Unpleasantness Bags


Everyone knows that babies are full of joy, wonder, bunnies, kittens, and anything else magical you can think of; however, they're often full of unpleasantness as well!  That's right, there's nothing magical or scheduled about diaper changes.  Therefore, for a recent baby shower I put together these emergency diaper change kits.  Reuseable, refillable, and small enough to keep in emergency locations like the glove box!

To put together one kit (and trust me, you'll probably want more than one) you'll need:
  • Fabric of choice (less than 1/2 yard)
  • 3 yds. of ribbon or shoe string (for tie)
  • Contents of bag:
    - 2-3 diapers
    - a onesie
    - travel hand sanitizer
    - small pkg. baby wipes (mine are 18 ct.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Baby Shower "Bunting"

A here, back from a much needed vacation to see the family. While I was out of town I had the opportunity to help my mother decorate for a family baby shower, a piece of which she's allowed me to share with all of you! I know I've said before that my mother is one of our biggest supporters and also where I learned my crafty ways. It's no surprise, then, when she comes up with a simple and elegant shower decoration worthy of a DIY blogpost.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hand Laid Cork Board

A here with a fun project you can work on while enjoying a glass of wine and your favorite (in my case, cancelled) TV series.  During a recent spring cleaning, J found my stash of wine corks in a cabinet and commented that they were overflowing their chosen container.  I took that as a sign it was time for a cork-based project and went shopping for a fanciful frame.  Unfortunately my imagination is greater than my penchant for alcohol, and I ended up having to buy more corks to bulk up my stash and complete this frame, but if you're smart you can choose a frame that matches your drinking habits.  The basic supplies for this project are:
  • Wine Corks (preferably ones made from real cork)
  • Large Exacto knife or box cutter
  • Photo frame
  • Hot glue
  • Cutting Mat

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Designing with Bleach: Tardis Silhouette

Combining my love of simple afternoon projects, iconic imagery, and practical application, I bring you the newest addition to my wardrobe!  I've been spending a lot of time browsing the web lately admiring the many creative items Whovians have made to show their love of Dr. Who.  Although many pay homage to specific Doctors, my favorite icon of the show is by far the TARDIS.  One search of "TARDIS" on Etsy will bring you endless pages of items, many of which depict the TARDIS spinning through outerspace.  The beauty of these galactic images inspired me to create a "starfield" of bleach spatter, unique and somewhat out of my own control (which, honestly, feels appropriate to time and space travel).  Although I chose to create a TARDIS silhouette for my shirt, this technique could be used to highlight any shape you choose.

Items I used to create my shirt include:
  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Water
  • An Old Toothbrush
  • Plastic Sheet (stencil-making material)
  • Exacto Knife
  • Waxed Paper
  • Rubber Glove

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Mandeltine

J here with one of the projects that figures in the 2013 Shared Build. Our instructions were to work towards something that embraced our recipient's love of mathematical pattern. A and I had been talking about a project that might include iron-on transfer, we wanted to play with some canvas, and I thought back to my studying math in college and one of my favorite Google Easter eggs. Once you throw in Jonathan Coulton's Mandelbrot Set (I guess it's technically NSFW?), I knew what I had to do. It was time to embrace the iconic I <3 NY and do a mathematical spin for one of our most loyal supporters, and the Mandeltine was born.

You'll Need:
-A pre-stretched canvas
-Inkjet iron-on transfer sheets
-EITHER: a stencil/cutting machine/steady hands and a razor OR stick-on letters. Or paint. Or print out the whole thing. We can't stop you.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Crafting Dinnertime

Sometimes J and I get so involved with creating that we forget to eat proper meals. When this happens, and our bodies start to get hangry (angry with hunger), we tend to come up with the least disruptive food options possible.  Tonight while crafting we opted for pizza rolls, and it occurred to me that I could share this simple recipe with you.

-Crescent rolls
-String cheese
-Pepperoni slices
-Garlic Powder
-Italian seasoning

Quilting 101: A Beginner's Experience

Growing up among talented seamstresses, I have been surrounded by the comforts of handmade quilts. I slept with miniature versions as a child. My mother even made me a quilt out of my t-shirts to fit my college dorm bed (most comfortable blanket I've ever experienced). So, I'm somewhat surprised it's taken me this long to try piecing a quilt myself, but when I saw this modern chevron pattern on Pinterest, the wait was over.
The "professional quilter" version.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Studio & Storage: J's Space

This is a post in two parts: One is about where things were, and the other is about where things ended up. A has described her work space in the living room, but we've not yet discussed The Cave. The Cave is the under-bed location which until recently housed my workspace. There were difficulties under there, not least of which included cramped height (it's two inches shorter than me. You learn to duck), limited space, and distance from the rest of the household. If we had a night to work, I'd leave and hole up in The Cave and we'd call down the hallway. That, or I'd drag all my crap out onto our little fold-up laptop desk and work from there for a night and pack it all away at the end of the evening. Hardly efficient. Really the only reason it was good to have everything in The Cave was my weekly gaming sessions where it was a good idea to have a computer in another room. It's not like I could just use the computer in the living room. Wait. What if I could?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Project Mad Lib

As we approach the 6 month anniversary of With Our Powers Combined, J and I are feeling a bit like Cat in the above picture.  We love crafting and how the blog has enhanced our lives, and hopefully we've been able to motivate you to try some DIY.  However, sometimes we get stumped and the creativity doesn't flow as constantly as we'd like.  We look to our inspiration spaces, typically the internet, and spend a lot of time brainstorming out loud about what to do next, but it sometimes leads to being passed out drunk in a craft drawer.

So, it's time for you to challenge us.  Spark our creativity!  Let the inspiration come full circle!  It's time for Project Mad Lib!  Here's where you come in:  Most of our projects could be classified by three categories, and we'd like you to provide possibilities for each. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

WOPC Attending a Convention!

Papercraft globe puzzle courtesy of Tektonten Papercraft
Hey everyone! We have been working on this for a bit, but didn't want to say anything until we got our final confirmation and now it's official: We're attending our first convention as With Our Powers Combined!

It's a smaller convention, first year of operation (since we tried to do some research, but came up empty) and we couldn't be more thrilled. It's a little out of the way, but A and I love to travel, and it's an honor to get an invite to something like this, so we really didn't want to miss the chance. Clear your calendars for July 9th for the Fiesta del Crafto!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dresden Files Personal Effects: Part 1

This post is the beginning of a longer-running idea, an ongoing look at a project I'm in the middle of. I will be refining ideas in this space, posting progress, listening to advice and ideas, and likely making some mistakes throughout.

The project is recreating some of the personal effects of Chicago's only professional wizard, Harry Dresden. If you aren't familiar with the Dresden Files book series by Jim Butcher, I recommend checking a few out if you're a fan of magic, modern noir, and sarcasm. He's one of my favorite protagonists, and while I doubt I'll ever make a book-accurate Harry Dresden cosplay or anything (I'm at least half a foot too short), I wouldn't mind making his pentacle necklace, shield bracelet, and blasting rod. You know, the stuff that easily fits in a single display case.

I'll go ahead and point out that I'm creating original props based on their appearances in the books. Nothing against the Dresden Files television series, but I just didn't click with their portrayal of Harry's world and I'd like the chance to make these things in my own fashion.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Refurbished Musical Jewelry Box

It's amazing the things you can find at a good ol' fashioned garage sale.  J and I keep an eye out for community-wide ones to enhance the variety and make early Saturday morning outings worthwhile.  On our last outing we picked up the records for our record bowl tower.  Once we even snagged a mannequin bust covered in blood - perfect for our Halloween décor (He's named Bob, by the way).  Although many people think garage sales are a great place to find cheap DVDs and secondhand workout clothes, we've learned that we're much more successful when we're looking for strange items to repurpose or refurbish.  It's just one more way we foster our creativity and protect our bank account.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Studio & Storage: A's Space

For most artists and crafters, studio space is both a necessity and an unrealistic dream.  Luckily for J and I we are currently blessed with enough space for each of us to have a separate "studio."  Granted, most nights our studio is our kitchen table or a laptop desk in front of the television while we re-watch episodes of Dr. Who or Better Off Ted.  But when it comes to where we keep all our crap (I mean, supplies) we each have a space specially designed for our individual interests.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Suede Wrap Bracelet

Inspired by a piece on Pinterest/Etsy and Hellboy's rosary, A and I built a wrap bracelet. This one is a pretty straightforward jewelry build, but there are a couple ideas we thought we could share, like the adjustable length. We prefer the look of multistrand jewelry, but thought it might look a bit crap to have many bracelets come back to one clasp. As a result, this multi-bracelet look is achieved via one strand about 32" long.

You'll Need:
  • suede cord in two colors (26" and 8")
  • chain (12")
  • 4 stone beads
  • 6 metal beads in two sizes
  • toggle clasp
  • rubbing alcohol

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Making a Board Game, Part I

Hey there, folks. J here to let you know about something that maybe crosses the line from fun, nerdy craft and into mild mental illness: designing your own board game. It's not like we're living in a golden age of board games, with fun and exciting games released every month, and new ones being written, winning awards, and getting translated into English every year. Sometimes, you have to take that DIY aesthetic one step further: I looked at the world, didn't see something I wanted, and decided to make it myself. What's the worst thing that could happen?

You'll Need:
  • Paper and cardstock
  • Thin cardboard (the ubiquitous Cheez-It box over here)
  • Foamcore
  • Spray adhesive
  • Card sleeves
  • An assortment of dice, beads, and parts from lesser games
  • A box to hide it all in
  • A printer, cutting tools, rulers or straight edges

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Record Bowls/Stand

For a little while, record bowls were the home craft. A made a dozen, we converted one into a wall clock, and then... Uh, put keys in them? Hung them on the wall? We were gonna use them as snack bowls on our bar, but the hole makes that difficult. Years later, an inspiration from Pinterest led us towards this tiered set of trays that can serve as jewelry or craft storage, snack stand, purely decorative... That part is up to you.

What You'll Need:
  • Records you don't want to listen to
  • Threaded Rod (1/4" by 12" long")
  • 1/4" Hardware (Washers and Nuts)
  • 1/4" Acorn Nut
  • Pliers or crescent wrench
  • Series of oven-safe bowls
  • An oven

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dinosaur Bookends

They took a meteor for us. Never forget.
Dinosaurs have served valuable purposes throughout human history. Our earliest phonographs, messaging systems, even our bridges were constructed with the aid of dinosaur labor. In that proud tradition, let the memory of helpful dinosaurs live on by handcrafting these fine dinosaur bookends.

What You'll Need:
  • Plastic dinosaurs, 6-8" long (Bipedal preferred. Sorry, Ankylosaur)
  • Decorative slates
  • Spray primer & paint
  • Hot glue
  • (Optional) Cotton swab
  • (Optional) Permanent Marker
  • Cost to You: $4 in materials, plus a half can of spray paint and a negligible amount of hot glue for 1 Dinosaur Bookend

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Computer Wrist Rests

As someone with mild joint problems who uses computers daily, I've spent a decent amount of time looking at ergonomic keyboards, gel mousepads and the like.  My struggle, however, was that most contraptions are expensive, and could only be upgraded on my home machine.  I highly doubt my office can afford to purchase ergonomic keyboards for everyone with ever encroaching carpal tunnel.  So, as per usual, I made my own wrist wrests for both my office and home computers!  These are super cheap (mostly just scrap fabric and rice) and, as seen above, can also make a personal statement to help spruce up your cubicle.  To make a set of your own you'll need:
  • Scrap fabric measuring 10"x20"
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Handsewing needle
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Rice
If you want amazing TARDIS fabric, like the design I used above, frequent Spacefem's shop on Etsy.  It's one of the only places I've found a good variety of Dr. Who themed fabric at a good price.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ribbon Headbands

 As a former fauxhawker attempting to grow out my hair, I've been on the lookout for interesting yet comfortable headbands.  Although I've found a plethora of options, my lack of desire to pay $8-$10 for something I most likely won't be using after this awkward hair period sparked an experiment.  I've used elastic headbands in the past, but have a difficult time keeping them on my head.  Apparently either my hair is too slick or my head is too coneshaped, or both.  To remedy both the cost and elastic issues, I decided to split the materials difference and use scrap items I had at home to make my own set of custom headbands.  To do this I used:
  • Tailor's Tape (or a ruler)
  • Approximately 2ft. of ribbon
  • One small elastic hair tie
  • Pinking Shears (or a lighter)
  • Needle and thread
  • Optional embellishments (such as buttons or paper flowers)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Zelda Valentine Build

As promised, we're going to link you to a printable version of the Zelda Valentine. This post will be pretty brief, as we're on a borrowed laptop in Arizona, but you should be able to get the help you need to make one of your own.

You'll Need:
  • Cardstock, white
  • Razor knife or Xacto
  • Burnisher or empty ballpoint pen
  • Double-stick tape
  • Quarter Page envelope (at least 4.25" x 5.5")

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Zelda Pop-up Valentine

[If you are getting here for the first time from a link on the back of your Valentine's Day card, Hi! Thanks for stopping by all the way from Alabama, California, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington!]

A and I worked for a bit on some ideas for a geeky valentine this year. One idea was sprite characters rendered in Perler beads, but that's kind of been played out right now. Then we thought about sprite art as printed valentines like the old eight-to-a-sheet numbers we used to give out as kids. Then, A remembered a pop-up card she saw on Pinterest, and it all fell together: A Zelda-themed pop-up valentine, combining old-school gaming references with paper crafting. So, this is With Our Powers Combined's first valentine card.