January 9, 2012

I made a playhouse for my cats!

As you probably know, Blog, I've always wanted to make a house for our cats to play in...and I did! It only took about five hours from start to finish, and used only materials that we already had on hand. It was fun on so many levels:
  • it required ingenuity
  • it was a project I could work on with my pets! (sort of)
  • it cost nothing but my time
  • the results will provide years of fun for the whole family!

First, I searched the basement to find suitable materials. I scrounged up a "milk crate," three cardboard boxes, carpet squares, a seat cushion, and some quarter round wood trim. I sketched out a plan and gathered tools, then set to work cutting and taping.

The basement was a bit of a mess for awhile.

I used my Dremel tool to cut the hole in the plastic crate and to cut the wood trim. Used it to sand, too...no rough edges for the kitties! 

Taken upstairs, the playhouse is ready for less messy steps.

In my design I kept in mind the amenities cats desire in their real estate: place to hide, to poke out of, to be high up, and to lounge comfortably.

There's a little window to peek out of, as Cody discovered.

The cushion is tied onto the crate with its own ties. The crate is wired on through four holes I poked through the carpet and cardboard.

It's comfy already!

I added a flap in front for paws to poke in and out after prey. I hung a jingle ball with twine outside the window. And lastly, I covered the outside with vinyl contact paper. Stylin'!

It's ready to move to it's final location, if I can just get the cats away from it long enough.... Play nice with Selke, Codes! There's room for all!

This pose suggests a declaration of ownership....

Fortunately, Selke can hide out of reach!

Now the playhouse is in its planned location, behind the couch. And here you see Cody caught in mid leap!

He's not too big for the "cage."

And it's easy to socialize or watch TV!

"Ooh, I'm cheering for the Lions! Meow!"

Alice finally woke up to see what happened during her six-hour nap.

"Holy moley, there's a new playhouse!"

She likes it too!

So there you go, Blog...another project to check off my Bucket List. And bonus that it turned out so well! I'd advise our cat-loving readers to try this themselves, I had a blast. And I guess if you have any teeny-tiny carpet squares in your basement, you could do this for your hamster, too!

January 3, 2012

Polymer clay and resin, yay!

It's 2012, Blog, and that means another year of cool new crafting techniques to try! For Christmas I asked for the accoutrements I needed to explore using resin, and I wasted no time in trying out this nifty medium. Here you see my latest creation: a Steampunk Charm Necklace using beads I made with polymer clay and resin.

I used Lisa Pavelka's product Magic-Glos, and boy howdy is it great stuff! All you need to cure it is either sunlight or a UV lamp, and this being Wisconsin in winter, I opted to ask for Lisa's brand of lamp, designed especially for use with these sorts of projects.  Those two items were all I needed to get started in resin crafting.

So, here's how I made the charms in my necklace:

There are both silver ones and copper ones, using Premo metallic color polyclay. There are also faux wood ones, also made of clay (I love making faux wood.) I cut out the squares with a beveled clay cutter, then topped them with all kinds of embellishments.

Going for the steampunk theme, I used various clockworks: springs, gears and tiny screws. I used a scrap of sheer Victorian fabric on one. I raided my bead collection for the metal scrollwork, key charm, and various beads, and my misc. junk files for gemstones and a scrap of tarnished copper. I baked the squares in the oven per usual.

Once they were cool, it was resin-ing time, Blog. All you do is put some drops of resin on top of a square, spread with a toothpick to the edges, and let the product self-level. It forms a perfectly clear and smooth dome all by itself! 5 minutes under the UV lamp is all it took to cure, and I ended up putting three coats on to give a nice, high dome.

I drilled holes and superglued in eyepins, then chained the charms together. I'd estimate the whole project took about seven hours.

Photo by Christopher Robleski

I was just thrilled with the result. You're still my best friend, Blog, but I think Uvie here may be a close runner-up. You rock, Uvie!

The mind boggles at the awesome things I'm going to be able to do with resin. Who knows exactly what...but fish and sparkly stuff will no doubt be involved at some point.

Uvie and my Magic-Glos were purchased via Amazon, but you can get them many places. For more info, best place to go is the website of the awesome Lisa herself, www.lisapavelka.com. You've got no "resin" not to!  Bwahaha, oh blorg, Blog....