Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Surprise, surprise!- Hollowed-out Book Kindle Case

There are two categories of people in this world- Those who love surprises, and those who can't stand them. And although I am in the latter category when it comes to being on the receiving end, I can't get enough of being the surpriser. And I'm pretty darn good at it, if I do say so myself.

So as Christmas approached, I went into supriser mode overload. My first victim was that SBOM. You might recall that he was threatened with getting only paint chips after poking fun at my obsession, but I'm not that mean.. he's been a pretty good boy this year, and I already had an idea brewing. He's an avid reader as well as being constantly on the go, so I wanted to make his life a little bit easier by getting him a Kindle.

As I was trying to decide what to make or buy as a case, I came across this idea and decided to go for it. I mean, what's more pleasantly surprising than thinking you're getting a plain, unexciting, old fashioned book and opening it up to find one of those fancy, new-fangled e-readers? Not much comes to mind.

First thing the next morning I headed to Hastings' two-fer (2 for $1) section. I found one for practice (and ended up making a nice little hide-away book of my own) and one for the actual Kindle case. There just so happened to be one about Blackhawk helicopters (SBOM is a Blackhawk mechanic..impressed? me too :) ), confirming that this project was meant to be. Now it was go time.

Hollowed-out Book Kindle Case

On the first attempt I roughly followed this guy's tutorial and noted the adjustments that needed to be made for the actual Kindle case.

**Note: this is not a quick process, and in order for it to come out decent-looking you've got grow an orchard of the fruit of patience. Mine were quite under-ripe, and the results of rushed work can be seen in my test book's imperfections. I suggest DVR-ing a few episodes seasons of your favorite TV show or making a hefty trip to your nearest Redbox before attempting this one.

What you'll need:

  • A book thick enough for your generation of e-book reader, or sufficient for whatever you plan to store in it
  • Modge Podge or Elmer's glue-type product (I used Modge Podge)
  • X-acto knife and/or box cutter
  • Paint brush or sponge (to apply the Modge Podge)
  • Optional: something to make the case stay shut. I toyed around with ideas for this and settled on elastic glued to the outside looped around a button (you'll see what I mean at the end). You could also use ribbon, Velcro, or any number of other materials for this part, or nothing at all. Get creative

First, select the page that you want to be the first layer of the hollowed-out part of your book, and save that page to be cut out at the end. Even if you aren't planning on saving any pages at the beginning of the book, you need to set one aside. This is so that the page that is seen when you open the book will look neat and not ragged.

Next, on the following page trace the shape of your kindle in pencil, and then in dark ink make the shape about a quarter centimeter larger than the shape you traced.

Excluding the reserved first page and any other pages you don't want to be included in the cut-out part of the book, hold the rest of the pages together and apply a thick layer of Modge Podge.

Allow this to dry completely, using spacers so that the first pages and front cover don't get stuck. I used some of my most recent Sonic Happy Hour trip's complimentary peppermints, but anything of a similar size will do.

Put some sort of weight on top of the book so that the 'podged pages will stick together tightly (Mom's weird fake plant bulb-filled flower vase worked well for this task.. at least it's good for something).

Now the real fun begins- cutting out the pages.

(I had to invite my Friends Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Ross, & Joey to join me for this part)

Using a strait edge and knife, cut out along the inside of the line. Try to make the cut as vertical as possible. This is a one-or-two page at a time process, so don't try to rush it or get discouraged if it's slow-going. The more quickly you try to do it, the more uneven and jagged the cuts will be. I started out just using my cheap x-acto knife and quickly realized that it wouldn't even be ready for next Christmas if I kept that up so I switched to a box cutter. This cut more pages at a time but left the cut pages looking as if I'd hacked them up with a machete, so I eventually found a happy medium making my big cuts with the box cutter and using the x-acto knife for the corners and to trim up the pages' edges periodically.

I don't have a picture of this part because A) it's hard to hold a box cutter, book and camera all at the same time, and B) I was in the zone. Before I knew it, it was 4am and I was swimming in a sea of shredded book pages still only halfway done.

But press on, because sooner or later, you'll get to the last page. Congratulations! It's all downhill from here.

Now apply a generous coat of Modge Podge on the inside edges of the pages. Use any excess to apply a second coat to the outside of the pages.

Remember that one page you reserved in the beginning? Now it's time to use it. Paint a thin layer of Modge Podge on rim of the already-cut pages.

Make sure that the page you reserved in the beginning is laying evenly and smoothly and close the entire book with the weight used earlier on top. This time don't use the spacers. Let dry another 15-20 minutes.

Cut through the first page that is now glued to the top layer of cut out pages with your X-acto knife. The inside will still be wet, so let it all dry completely before moving on. For the Kindle case I wanted a little bit more of a uniform look so I repeated the last step with a black piece of card stock and trimmed it to size.

There you have it- a hollowed-out book!

I stopped there on my first attempt and made a little jewelry box that adds a little unique flair to my counter top.

(and now my secret's out- you know where I store all my irreplaceable hand candy. If they disappear one day, I'll know who to blame)

You can see the result of my lack of patience in the unevenness and jagged edges here.

For the Kindle case, I wanted to somehow make it secure so that there wouldn't be a chance that the Kindle could accidentally take a tumble. I toyed with a few ideas before settling on elastic looped around a raised button.

I secured the button to the front cover of the book with hot glue and then did the same with the elastic on the back cover.

*Note- this hasn't been a fail-proof idea. The hot glue hasn't held as well as I'd hoped and the button has a tendency to pop off if there's too much tug from the elastic. Anyone have a better idea? I'd love to hear them!
And the finished product again surpassed my expectations:

Normally when I come across a project as detail-oriented and time consuming as this it's immediately categorized as "Something someone as uncreative as me could never succeed at" and stored away in the "In your dreams" file.

And this attitude doesn't stop at craft projects.

With school it's the "degree someone as mediocrely intelligent I am could never get good enough grades for" category that gets stuck in that same file, along with the categories of "job someone as inexperienced as I am could never excel at" and "friends someone as weird and wounded as I am could never keep".

The list goes on and on, and it's this "In your dreams" file that keeps me right where I am, living unfulfilled, doing only what I know I can be good at, even if in my heart I know that Jesus desperately wants to take the plain, bargain bin cast offs that I cling to and transform them into something with a purpose, just like I did with this project. And slowly but surely, my sweet Lord is showing me that in His power I can take everything labeled as "In your dreams" and re-file it as "Been there, done that".

And I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing that feels.
I've been a Mandisa fan since she showed Simon Cowell the love of Jesus while effectually telling him where to stick it on American Idol a few years ago, and one of her newest songs, Waiting on Tomorrow, tugs at my heart every time I hear it. She asks the question, what am I waiting for? Why am I waiting on tomorrow? Why am I waiting to change and step out into my destiny?
What a good question.. one that I don't have an answer for. If our lives are but a breath (Psalm 39:5), pretty soon there aren't going to be any more tomorrows. So right now I'm going to start living today. It's way past time.

What about you? Tomorrow's here. Let's live it together


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Back in action- Paint chip calendar and True Colors card

Wow y'all.. it's been a crazy month.. an awesomely blessed, exciting, busy, somewhat stressful, crazy month. A lot has changed, most significantly my state of residence. Hello Georgia! I'm definitely loving every minute of it, and because I'm living in very close proximity to my very crafty blest flend Anna P. we've been doing  some hard-core Pinterest partying going on. The products of these wild nights will definitely be fodder for many blogs to come, but right now I have a lot of catching up to do!

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had a few other paint chip projects in the works. The first was a Christmas present for the sweetest, most inspiring little family I know.. literally (check out their blogs here and here). I've been babysitting for the P's oldest 3 boys for the past few years and grown to know and love all of them more than my heart can handle. Momma and Daddy P are two of the best parents I've ever witnessed, and their passion for foster care and adoption was one of the main things that fueled my interest in going into the field of social work. A few months before I moved, they were blessed with sweet baby M, and not getting to see that precious little boy grow up physically and spiritually breaks my heart. Thank goodness both of them are diligent picture po

Like I said, Mamma P is one of the most inspiring moms I know.. if/when I have kids of my own one day, I am already praying I get half of her patience, love, and super-mom powers. She's creative, organized, never frazzled, and always smiling, no matter what her 4 wildly energetic little boys are up to. So as one of my first real Pinterest undertakings I wanted to make something that she could actually use. I tried out a few ideas for weekly menu organizational boards (which she'd actually use, since she really does plan dinners a week in advance and stick to the plans.. like I said, super-mom), but none of them really panned out, so I took this idea here and made it my own.

Paint Chip Calendar

I was passing by the Benjamin Moore pain store the other day and couldn't help myself- I had to take a look at there selection, and boy, they had some good ones. Great colors, shapes, sizes, color names.. I was in heaven.

Aren't they great?

I know the employees must have thought I was crazy, but I grabbed handfuls of the most colorful and fun and made a beeline for the door. An idea was being formed and I needed to get it started before it was forgotten. My one-track brain doesn't hold much these days.. SQUIRREL! (An Up reference. Haven't seen the movie? You're missing out for real)

First I gathered and organized all these pretty little things into a pattern that fit my fancy. In order to accomodate every combination of month start dates it required a lot of space (a month that begins on a Friday would need a calendar with 6 weeks to fit all the dates, even though it only has a maximum of 31 days.. do the math). After over an hour of mixing and matching, this is what I came up with-

Next I took each column and attached them to the back of some ugly-colored paint chip cards just because they were ready-made, evenly cut pieces of material. For those less lazy than I am, any sturdy scrap paper strips would do. I used double-sided tape so it would be easier to un-attach and move them around if need be.

I repeated this step for each of the days of the week, but because my frame wasn't large enough to fit all seven columns, I had to make the weekend days smaller. No biggie. It actually added a pretty cool dynamic to the design. I'm beginning to love the improvisation factor in all this crafty stuff.. and if you know me at all, you know what a miracle it is for this anal, type-A control freak.

I bought this frame for under $8 at Walmart (the only real cost of the project, may I add) and lined it with a piece of poster board cut to size.

I then cut a piece of white poster board to fit in the frame and begun lining up the columns.

The perfectionist in me started rearing it's ugly head at this point as I realized there was some unavoidable unevenness in the alignment, so I used my handy-dandy paper cutter (an OCD craft-a-holic's BFF) and cut very small strips of posterboard to make some "grid lines".

After securing all of these to the posterboard, I labeled the days of the week, added a space for the name of the month, and put the family's last name at the top.

Finally, I let it dry completely before putting the frame together.

(Excuse the crappy picture quality and gross over-croppage.. all I had on hand was my I phone)

The outcome honestly surpassed my expectations. Love it!

The next project was one for that SBOM. At one point he had jokingly made fun of my paint chip stealing, so I told him that all he'd be getting for Christmas was a big pile of 'em. And I was only half-kidding

I'd seen some cute "things I love about you" projects on Pinterest that had gotten my creative juices flowing. I thought about doing this one, but after my promising him a piant chip-ified present, I adapted.

"What I Love About Your True Colors" Paint Chip Card

First I gathered up some of my least girly paint chips (I used the trusty WalMart brand again) and prepared my mental list of his great qualities, which definitely wasn't a difficult task. Then I wrote one quality on each color square, using various colors of Sharpies. To make the cover slip, I cut one chip in each of the primary colors and glued them to a neutral slip. When I'd made six or seven slips, I punched a hole in the top right corner of each one and secured them together with a thin ribbon. And he had to eat his teasing words, because it was a big hit :)

Like I said, this past month has been so good, and I know there is a purpose for me being here and now, for "such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). But I would be lying if I said that there weren't a few lonely nights that I've spent questioning if moving this far away from family and friends was such a good idea after all. I have a great friend and her wonderful husband right down the road that have gone so far out of their way to help me it isn't even funny, and I am more grateful for that than I can say. But I left a lot behind when I moved down here, and the only explanation I can give to people that ask why I did it is that God said so.. and even though it is confusing and hard, I know within my soul that it's right. This is where I'm supposed to be.

On the dark nights (and mornings.. and afternoons) that I feel so alone, unknown, and unheard, Kutless' new song "Carry Me to the Cross" floods my hurting heart with light. I have to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of their usual hard core, metal-esque material, but they mellowed out a lot on this one and it's one of my new faves. The first verse brings me to tears almost every time.. it's like they read my journal-

"When the path is daunting and every step exhausting, I'm not alone
I feel you draw me closer, all these burdens on my shoulder

I'm not alone, I'm not alone, You pull me me from this place"

Thank you, Jesus, for pulling me from the lonely places and setting my feet upon your Rock. The sorrow may last for a night but Your joy comes in the morning.