Sunday, July 12, 2015

Guest Blogger

Please welcome my special guest, Jennifer Slattery.  Jennifer is a fellow author.  You can visit her author website here.  She decided to get crafty and share her results with us...

What happens when a noncrafty person determines to make something crafty for her special someone?

I wasn’t sure, but I determined to find out. I figured the worse that could happen would be I’d end up with a mess, lots of wasted material, and a few hours (or days) of lost time. Not the most positive attitude going into a project, perhaps, but my expectations going in were a bit low. Of course, it doesn’t help that my daughter is the queen of artistic expression and can turn the most mundane objects into unexpected masterpieces.  Here’s an example.

Let’s just say, her artistic ability was not inherited from me! Even so, this summer, I was determined to make my hubby something I’d seen, perhaps a year ago, in a cute, women’s boutique. Minus the pink and glitter, of course. In fact, I chose red and, well, red.

Here’s the finished project. It’s a memory holder made out of an old fence piece that once barricaded our garbage. I guess this truly is a trash-to-treasure piece! Ha!

Here’s what I started with:

I began by sanding it down using an electric sander, mainly to make the paint go on easier and get rid of any residual gook. Lucky for me, a self-proclaimed germophobe, the only real gook I saw was algae. (If there’s something I don’t know about algae and it’s gookiness, please don’t tell me.) I did find an old spider’s egg nest pocket, empty.
Which means the spiders had already hatched and likely are, at this moment, roaming around somewhere.  

Once I had it sanded, I painted the outward frame, leaving the inside unpainted. I had thought of painting the inside white, but my daughter preferred the look of the wood, and post, completion, I must say, I agree with her. Keeping it on the rustic side also allowed for more errors.

In hindsight, I probably would’ve done better to tape off the inside portion, as I did get a bit of a mess on that part, but nothing another quick sand couldn’t knock out. I also painted clothespins, though they would’ve looked fine unpainted. (If you’re making a flower or handprint design on the inside of yours, it might look nice to paint your clothespins in an assortment of colors.) I chose to pain all sides, including the insides. I worried about not being able to open them once the paint dried but found that not to be a problem.

The N posed more of a challenge. Looking at it, it probably appears easy enough to create, but remember, I’m not artistic or highly coordinated, and getting the width of each part of the N correct took some measuring then fixing. If my husband were a Texas A&M fan, I might’ve opted for stencils. Although a tape measurer and painter’s tape worked well.
Once I had my N painted—all red areas required two coats in order to get the deep red I wanted—I added screws to the sides to hold the metal wiring. (I wanted to add three rungs of wires but my husband wanted me to keep the N as uncovered as possible so asked that I only add two.) Initially I had planned on using cup hooks but thought screws would fit the style I was going for better. You could also use nails.
To get the screws in, I first used what’s called a starter nail—a thin nail you can pound in part way to make a hole in the wood, to give your screw something to anchor in. Then, I used an electric screwdriver to drill these in.

As far as chains, twine, or wires going from screw to screw, I had three options:

My favorite—a metal chain I found in my husbands “junk container” a container. Operating on a near zero budget, this was my first choice, until I tried to make it work. I simply wasn’t strong enough to open the individual links or to twist the chain around the screw. Trying to knot it looked clunky and sloppy. So I tossed this idea aside. If you have access to brute male strength, this one might be an option for you.

I also found some thick twine at the craft store, though it cost more than I wanted to pay. (Did I mention I had a zero budget for this project?)

I finally ended up using wire I pulled from old spiral notebooks, something, as a writer, I have plenty of. This worked out very well. I loved the coil, and the wire was strong enough for my purposes but thin enough to be pliable for my weak hands.

Next came the fun part—hanging some of my favorite fatherly photos and simple, bordered notes I’d made. The first says, “Fav Memories”, followed by references to memorable places and event. The second one says, “When you…” and is followed by things my husband did, since the time I was pregnant to now, that showed me his heart and drew mine to him.

So that’s my project! I must say, I think it turned out better than I’d hoped. Then again, you probably remember my hopes going in were low.

What about you? Did you make any special projects this Father’s Day? Have you made anything similar to mine? What are some fun, creative ways you’ve stored mementoes and photos? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments below.

Jennifer Slattery writes missional fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes Christian Living articles for, writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries, and writes devotions for her personal blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutloud, and Internet Café Devotions. When she’s not writing, her and her husband are probably sitting at a coffee shop somewhere, him reading a sports article on his phone while she loses herself in a great novel.
Released December 2014
When a hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution motivate her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn't sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?


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