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moving – rediscovery of the good, the Elmer’s and the emo

For those of you wondering if I have fallen off the face of the earth, I have not. I’ve simply been moving. My boyfriend and I decided to leave behind our charming character apartment for a place with less charm but more elbow room, and a kitchen sink larger than a shoebox. (In a couple of weeks we’ll have hopefully recovered, and my blog updates will get back to Fridays, rather than some vague unspecified time in the middle of the week.)

In the course of all our we’ve-run-out-of-packing-tape-again and where-did-I-pack-the-spaghetti-strainer mayhem, we discovered we own a lot more things than we thought we did. The amount of stuff in our place (seeping out of the walls, as best I can tell, because I don’t know where else it could have come from) defied all natural laws of the universe.  For days, local thrift stores reaped the questionable benefit of all our past consumerism in the form of several carloads of donations.

Among all the old clothes, dishes, picture frames and purses (where did I get so many purses?!), I also re-discovered a number of old crafts. I share them with you now as fodder for your imaginations. Perhaps some of them will inspire creativity and give you ideas for other craft projects, since I am simply not up to creating a whole tutorial this week. I’m not even sure where my sewing scissors are right now… clearly my world is in shambles.


1) Pebble Fortress

The first thing I “discovered” was this little stone castle. I made it sometime during junior high, I think, using rocks from our driveway.

Here is a solid testament to the awesome power of plain white Elmer’s glue. I used a small box – probably a jewelry box of some kind – as a structure to build around, arranging layers of rocks around all four sides of the box, dousing the tops of the rocks with Elmer’s glue and stacking more rocks on top. Lather, rinse, repeat. I recall that it took a few days because I had to let the glue dry every few rock layers before I continued. When I was done and the whole thing was dry, I pulled the box out of the middle and cut some felt to glue to the bottom of the whole thing. I used my pocket knife to trim and shape the two twigs at the entrance, and glued them in place.

Too much glue? Pffft, what're you talking about?!

I don’t remember how I did the tower, but it’s a solid piece without any gap in the middle. There used to be a little blue fabric flag on a stick at the top, but it long since broke off.


2) Heeere, fishy fishy!

Next, I discovered that at some point in time I apparently knew how to do some embroidery, or was at least able to fake it pretty well. I bought a plain white lab coat to wear when doing painting projects (following the example of my mother in her art school years) and decided to embellish it a bit. Why a fish, I don’t know, but I think it’s pretty cute.

The eye is a little bead, sewn in place, and I remember I used some sort of thin cord for the tail and fin, sewing overtop of it with the embroidery floss. It took forever, but gave the tail that nice raised outline. This project was done sometime in my first or second year of university, six or seven years ago.


3) Déjà Vu

You may recall that a while ago I did a little tutorial for page corner bookmarks, specifically monstrous ones that appear to be nibbling on your books. I saw the corner bookmark idea online, and modified it for the monster look. I didn’t think it was an idea I’d ever encountered before. Wrong! When I was packing up all my novels I came across this:

And I then recalled making these with my friend back in junior high. I don’t remember how we made them, and I haven’t had a chance to deconstruct this one and figure it out yet, but I imagine it’s fairly simple. At the time, she and I were into making little folded paper boxes, and some of the principles are probably the same.


4) Hanging Around

Here’s a quick idea for a non-traditional card. I made this one for Jeremy on our two-year anniversary, and hung it from his present like a little ornament. On the back side of each diamond I wrote an incredibly sappy note, thanking him for being such an incredibly wonderful human being and introducing me to Buffy and making me dinners, kiss kiss gush gush.


5) Puzzling It Out

When I was probably 13 or 14 my mom got this neat idea for our church’s annual craft bazaar. She and I made “People Pins” out of old puzzle pieces, using the shape of the pieces to dictate faces and poses. I found a bunch of unfinished ones in my paint box.

The first step was to select puzzle pieces (we tried for pieces roughly 1 1/2″ to 2″ across). Then we painted Jesso (a white base layer) onto the picture side of the puzzle pieces, painted on the faces with acrylics (sometimes sketching them onto the piece first in pencil) and used fine-tipped pens to draw in details like mouths, eyebrows and individual hairs. We then painted the back side one solid colour, and varnished the whole thing. To finish them off, we glued tiny googly eyes in place and a pin backing onto the back side of the piece. My mom did a bunch of really awesome holiday ones, like witches and ghosts and at least one adorable Frankenstein, as well as elves and Santas for Christmas. She also made some gorgeous fish, but unfortunately I don’t have photos of any of these.


6) We Three Charmin’ Ultra Kings

Toilet paper rolls are one of the human race’s greatest creations, and they are especially wonderful crafting fodder. This attitude is largely thanks to my mother. When we were kids and went to visit my grandparents, we’d often complain of boredom because they lived on the edge of a smallish town, and their neighbourhood was quiet and peaceful and entirely lacking in other kids to play with. My mom made us some amazing temporary playthings out of cardboard – cars, boats, airplanes, castles, etc. – to keep us occupied. She also created a whole cast of toilet paper roll dolls, none of which I have photos of, sadly. And one year for my brother’s jungle-themed birthday, everyone’s party favours were stuffed inside little palm trees made of toilet paper rolls.

Christmas is my favourite holiday and my first year of university I decided I wanted a nativity scene. Being my mother’s daughter, I built one out of toilet paper rolls and construction paper. I think I ran out of rolls before I got to the sheep, but I was very proud of that donkey.


7) Totally Tubular

A few years later, for my boyfriend’s birthday, I put on an outdoor treasure hunt for him and his friends (again influenced by the lavish birthday adventures my mom constructed for us as kids). The hunt ended at a local restaurant, where I set out individual party favours for each guest. Made from toilet paper rolls, they were each different, catering to the particular likes of each person. And the tube part was filled with candies and such. These took me weeks and weeks, but I was very proud of them, and I think many of the partygoers still have theirs. My boyfriend’s was the only one with detachable parts; it was the Master Chief, but the helmet came off to reveal my face underneath… yeah.


8) Cut and Paste

I also found one last remnant of the massive collection of magazine collages that used to literally wallpaper my bedroom. They’re mostly overwrought and such, but I did seem to have a decent eye for composition. Again, practice practice! I must have made nearly a hundred of these over the course of my junior high years. It can be a decent way to decorate, at least temporarily. Perhaps with a little less schmalz in the compostions, though.


9) Me and my pencil set

Here is where we approach the “emo” part of this week’s post.

When I was in high school I drew incessantly. I carried around a notebook and a huge box of coloured pencils everywhere I went. I’m frankly surprised I didn’t fail every class, considering how much drawing I seem to have been doing and (presumably) how little paying attention in class I was managing.

The drawing on the far left makes me laugh for being so completely over the top.

Rediscovering these notebooks is… interesting. There’s some good stuff in them. And a lot of mediocre, and a certain amount of crap. Many of the drawings I was most proud of at the time are no longer my favourites. Conversely, some that I liked less when I first drew them I now find much more interesting.

Then there was this odd experiment born out of a strange mind and some cheap, old makeup found in my dresser. I sketched it out in pencil, then filled in the whole thing using only makeup. I believe eyeshadow, blush, eyeliner and maybe even some mascara were all used.


10) Your princess is on another page…

They say life is a journey, and I say that’s a damn good thing, because sometimes you really need to get away from where you’ve been and never go anywhere near it again. I’m not talking about physical geography so much as state of mind. Like, angsty “OH the drama!” teenage states of mind.

I liked princesses. I still like princesses, I just prefer them to be a little more sarcastic now. But back in junior high and high school, I read a lot of fantasy and drew a lot of princesses, and (in retrospect) far too many of them were staring out of windows looking lovelorn. Or sometimes constipated, if my drawing hand wasn’t cooperating that day.

But hey, it’s all part of being that age.

Then I opened up a notebook from grade 12.

I hate Twilight. I hate Stephanie Meyer’s poor excuse for writing and her horrifying ideas about relationships and about women as passive, timid, bland entities waiting for something to happen to them, rather than doing any damn thing for themselves. I hate that she confuses vampires with My Little Ponies and wouldn’t know decent vampire lore if it bit her on the neck.

I do love the fact that her whole demon-baby-clawing-its-way-out-of-the-human-mother-from-the-inside is straight out of a D&D campaign I once played, whether or not she knows it. And I love the term “abstinence porn.”

But overall I loathe the whole Twilight fad, and so I was dismayed to find this depressingly overwrought, insipid sketch in one of my very own notebooks, drawn by my very own hand. A doodle that angstfully sums up the ideas and attitudes behind things like Twilight that I dislike so very much:

Alas. It just goes to show, we were all young and emo once, and we still have our moments.

As this blog is named for a phrase of my mother’s, and frequently refers to my mother, I feel it’s appropriate this week to leave you with this little family story:

When cleaning out their basement a number of years ago, my grandma found a box of her children’s old art, schoolwork and more. Among it all was a deeply heartfelt letter from my mother to my grandma, written when my mom was 13. It described in desperately moving tones how she would strive to be a better daughter, a better sister, a more loving and obedient person. How she would mold herself into that perfect person that we still believe exists at age 13. A real Mary Sue.

Something that precious deserves to be shared, so my grandma read it out to us. I had never seen my grandma laugh so hard, nor had I seen my mother (who does not embarrass easily) turn so red. It was a truly memorable family moment, and I’m pretty sure that amount of laughter adds years onto your life, if it doesn’t kill you first.

None of us can escape from our teenagehood. Burn the diaries now, or learn to laugh at yourself in front of your kids.


And that is all for this week. Thanks for reading! Tune in next time for a tutorial on how to turn dozens of heavily loaded cardboard boxes into a giant living room obstacle course. Your shins will never be the same!

Leave a comment


  1. We were cleaning because the basement had flooded without warning. I would suggest that everyone go back and check really carefully; you want to know just what you may have left hidden in your parents’ house. Tally, this means you.
    The one good thing that came from that horrible incident was that my teenage daughter could NOT claim that I had no idea what it was like to be her age.

    Love, Mom.

  2. would you be willing do a post about the tube people? i have an idea to do a captain picard one for my brother for his birthday, but i’m terrible at drawing/looking at a picture and replicating. maybe just a template of head shapes or something? lol i’m still a novice crafter! thanks, and i love the blog!

  3. admin

     /  June 21, 2011

    Jenn: Definitely! No concrete promises, but I will make an effort to post such a tutorial within the next 2 or 3 weeks.

  4. Eve

     /  September 8, 2011

    Frog prince knows his place :D

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  7. Monica

     /  December 7, 2015

    LOVED the toilet paper tube crafts. Thanks for sharing!

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     /  December 2, 2016


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  1. toilet paper tube dolls | I Could Make That
  2. Featured Artist: Tally of I Could Make That | 8Balloons

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