DIY: Felted Acorns

OK, so I’m not providing directions on how to create felted acorns in this post. Rather, I am on the hunt for the “How-to”. I have been wanting to try felting so making small balls seems like a good place to start. Plus, our school’s motto is “Great oaks from mighty acorns grow” so these will probably find their way into the fall foyer design.

If you don’t have time to DIY, check out the feltjar shop in Etsy, they’ve got acorns and so much more. How sweet are those mushrooms, right? And the felted stones. Man, if only there were more than 24 hours in a day!

I found this video of a British woman named Rachel Greenland creating felt balls relatively quickly. I was left with a few questions though. What the water to soap ratio of her “soapy water” and what kind of wool did she start with. Enquiring minds wanna know! Or check out the International Feltmakers Association (yes, there is one) website that has step by step instructions.

I’m looking forward to visiting my local knitting shop and starting this crafty project.

Alison at Refurnished Living



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Delicious Tie-Dyeing

The amazing, early learning center I work at, with its Reggio Amelia-based approach, turns things around during the summer. We have a firm belief that the outdoors are an integral part of growing up and that summers should be a different experience than the school year. We spend most of day outside. We have a water slide that comes out, special, themed days and we do fun, extensive art projects. One of the projects we do every year is t-shirt tie-dyeing because the kids love it. This year I had the pleasure of leaving the office for a while to lead tie-dyeing day. I made it my mission to use natural food-based dyes that are friendly on to the planet. After a little research I settled on three items that represented a wide spectrum on the color wheel; beets, turmeric and spinach.

I bought fresh beets that I cut up and boiled. In addition, I bought cans of beets in case I didn’t have enough liquid from my boiling experiment. In the end, the combo of the liquids was perfect and resulted in a beautiful shade of pink-purple. I also boiled the turmeric and got a thickish, fragrant, deep, gold-colored dye. Turmeric is a gold, powdery spice that has been used for thousands of years in India for medicinal purposes but is also commonly used in South Asian and Middle-Eastern cuisine because of its “distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.” Lastly I boiled about 5 bags of spinach (I searched in vain for un-bagged spinach) and the result was a week, slightly brown green. (Confession: I found an old bottle of green dye under my sink and a few drops may have fallen into pot.)

The children gathered around the table and we talked about what each of these different foods were and what colors we predicted we might get from each of them.

Now for the fun part. Then, we tasted the food..well, the beets and the spinach. The turmeric we smelled – although there was one adventurous boy who dipped his finger in the powder and tried a little bit. As a result of this taste test, many of the kids, including my daughter, realized that they like beets!

I prepared two sets of bottles for the children.

After learning about the food dyes we moved to the elastic-tying table. Here the teachers helped the children create a ring, stripe or swirl pattern.

We gave the tied shirts a vinegar bath and then wrung them out very well. Then it was time to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. I gave the children the option to use one, two or three colors. Naturally, most of them wanted to try all three!

I love this image…the way the colors come together.

Tadaaaaa! Not bad, right? The children took their shirts home and many of them proudly wore them the next day. I love that at this age the boys are comfortable wearing pink. All in all, we had a great time. I’ve learned a few things and am hoping to experiment with some other toxic-free dyes next year.

Have you tried dyeing with natural foods? How did it go?

Alison at Refurnished Living

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DIY is as Easy as 1-2-3

Who doesn’t like that sense of accomplishment one gets from doing, making or creating something?  Some companies have cleverly created fun DIY kits that would also make great gifts!


1- Remember as a kid putting the seeds from your eaten apple into the ground and hoping for the best? With this kit, you might actually get a tree! Wouldn’t this be a thoughtful baby shower gift? $22

2- Artisan jewelry make Susan Ashelford has taken three of her most popular necklaces and turned them into sweet DIY kits with step-by-step directions. You can choose from “Easy P’easy” to the more challenging, “Not-so-P’easy.”  $36-$58

3- Personalize your iphone case with this darling needlepoint kit. The best part is you can change the design whenever your heart desires! $12

4- You had me at cheese! This cheese craft DIY Kits for Chevre and Ricotta/Mozzarella would make a great gift for dad. Picture step-by-step instructions available on their website. $25.95

5- OK, perhaps the plans for this bamboo bungalow might not be for everyone but when I saw these photos, I knew I had to include it in this list. C’mon, how great would this structure be in your backyard? You can get the plans for $500 or the plans and the materials for $6,500.

Alison at Refurnished Living

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Creative Distractions: Etsy Blog

I subscribe to Etsy’s blog and I thought I was clever when I set it up so that all those emails would go into a separate folder in the email inbox. That was until I looked over the other day and found that that inbox was chock-a-block full with over 500 email/new blog posts! I said to myself that I would just delete them all and not deal with the overwhelming task of reading them. Then I clicked on one of the posts to delete it and I was sucked in by the visual. Damn you Etsy for knowing how to put the right, eye-cathing image at the top of your blog!

Here are some cool things that distracted me:

How to make a Denim Arrow Cushion out of your old jeans. This inspires me.

Meyer Lemon Macaroons recipe. Look at those enormous flakes of coconut. You had me at “Hello.”

The clever embroidery art of Richard Saja. I’m in love with all of these pieces!

OK. I’m back in the room.

Alison at Refurnished Living



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