We Make: Storage Solutions – A Quick and Easy Toy Box. And my inevitable surrender to clutter.

 

I had Montessori dreams.

The children would only have hand-made toys! From local artisans! It’d be nothing but Constructivism and natural fibres and sustainability around here, baby.

Then I actually had children. And with them came a veritable avalanche of tat.

For a long time, holding dear to my previous ideals, all of their toys were sorted into type and on display. I culled as best I could all the junk that somehow found it’s way into our home. But then they would fall in love with the most ghastly tiny wretched plastic treasure, and though it would break within a week, I still had to find somewhere to put it in the meantime.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea of a Toy Box – somewhere to throw it all! Where it cannot be seen! But recently, as I was tearing around the house in a desperate frenzy, just sort of flailing wildly at my intricate system of Piles of Associated Items Ready for Return to Their Rightful Place, and trying to prepare the house for a play-date, I was struck with the beauty of having somewhere to throw it all! Where it cannot be seen!

I found the box that had been used by the children for every purpose imaginable in the time since I bought myself a new hoover for Christmas; every purpose, except one – Storage! I threw everything that belonged in the childrens room in this glorious box and threw it all in everyones secret hiding place for what their lives really look like; the Spare Room.

It was a revelation.

 

But I believe that if you are trapped in a house with tiny dictators all day, the things your home should make you happy. Or perhaps because I have not left the house in 3 years, my Stockholm Syndrome coupled with my Cabin Fever have manifested themselves in wanting to cover everything with with a wipable surface, I naturally had to cover the Toy Box in contact paper.

I also made a fastener by punching a hold in either side of the lid and using a pipe-cleaner to hold a button onto one side and a loop of ribbon onto the other. Because if you are going to do something, you may as well do something that gives opportunity to use all those pipe-cleaners you have.

 

When I showed the children, Mabel was thrilled.

 

Theo was furious that I had defaced his space-ship.

 

You win some, you lose some.

We Make: Alt-Country Refrigerator Make-Over.

Feel constantly affronted by the tedious aesthetic nature if your kitchen appliances. Long for things that are wildly beyond your means. Remember that everyone feels better in a new outfit – surely this also applies to ones fridge.

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Procure your desired contact paper. This is usually available from dollar stores; alongside the doilies and various other wipeable housewares for the elderly. You could also use the childrens Duraseal, if you were that way inclined. The benefit of contact paper, besides its thickness and durability, is that as with most things no one wants in their home, it is cheap. Go crazy and buy two rolls in case everything goes tits up. Mine ran me around $6. The contact paper, not my actual bosoms. Those I owe to good genes.

Clean the surface of your fridge. I also pried the name badge off with a tiny screwdriver. Try not to inhale the asbestos, or Legionnaires’ disease, or whichever airborne horror came free with whiteware from the 1950’s. Dry thoroughly with the tea-towel the children have not been surreptitiously wiping their noses on.

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Now begins the maddening task of sticking that stuff on. Good luck with that. I can offer no advice other than, try not to lose your shit. Trim to size and starting from a top corner press on slowly, while keeping the tension to avoid air bubbles. There is something to be said for a busy pattern; not only will it give you a headache, it will also be relatively forgiving where it comes to accuracy and pattern matching. Distract the children from the great sweeping lengths of insanely sticky excitement by giving them the cardboard rolls to fight over. Or offer up the discarded backs of the contact paper as a treasure map; they curl perfectly and there are all those little squares. Tell them not to come back until they have discovered gold.

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Like all good home improvements, feel uncertian if your completed project is actually any improvement at all. But remember: if the internet has taught us anything, it’s that there is nothing that a bunch of flowers in a Mason jar can’t fix.

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Gingham Style.

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We Make: Christmas Buntings.

Get woken up by your eldest child at 4.30am to be questioned about Santa’s current whereabouts. Fail at negotiations to return to sleep. Drink a pot of tea and stumble about in your pyjamas. Remember when 4.30am was the time you and your girlfriends would call it a day and a half after an evening of dancing like you wanted to get arrested, buy a pie and ride your bicycles home with your high heels in the basket. Be brought back to reality by ceaseless demands for breakfast, each more fanciful than the last.

Due to your early start, by 9.30am it will feel like lunchtime. Au contraire, mon petit chou! You still have hours and hours of this shit to go. Decide the only thing for it is to orchestrate a wholesome activity of family togetherness. For you to share with the internet.

Seeing as your morning has been so Christmas themed, decide to make festive bunting with the children in preperation for the arrival of The Tree. Allow them to select fabric from your hoarding. Provide them with only 2 options you have already pre-approved. Won’t this be fun! Source lengths of ribbon from wherever it is you stash it and find an uncluttered surface to get to work.

On realising that there is not a single uncluttered surface in your home, set out your project on the kitchen floor. Those of you concerned with such matters may choose to wash and iron your fabric before beginning. Or to work on the kitchen table, or in your purpose built craft room. There is no need to show off. Find a piece of card to create your template.

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Not all of their drawings will be worth millions in the future, I promise. Cut out a triangle you find pleasing in both shape and size. You could measure your ribbon and do division, but the more you insist on going on in such a fashion the less I am beginning to feel we would get on at dinner parties. Allow the children to assist you in tracing your template onto the wrong side of your fabric. This way, all of their expressionist gestures will not be visible. You could, of course, make the bunting with a back and a front, sewing the sides together to form a neat little flag, but really, I am beginning to find your overacheiving very taxing. When you have managed to guide their markers into enough believable triangle shapes to fill the length of your ribbon while leaving 5-10cms free on either end, trick the children into leaving you alone long enough to cut them out. Attempt to take a photograph that does not reveal the state of your floors.

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Have a lie down. Wonder when you last had a lightbulb in your bedroom.

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When you are feeling refreshed, move the loads of laundry from the kitchen table and set up your sewing machine. This will garner great interest from the children. Use the promise of helping you sew to get them to tidy their bedrooms. When this is done attempt to sew the bunting with an enormous child on each knee. Consider this your workout for the day. Be constantly amazed at the tasks you can now do while holding children. You may choose to pin your pre-cut triangles on to your length of ribbon, but I do not, mostly because my interest in this activity is waning by the minute. Line up your sewing machine over the ribbon, set over the triangles, and feed them through at your desired spacing. Let the children help as much as you feel comfortable. If that is to let them stand on the other side of the room so they cannot hear you ruing this excercise, I support you.

Sew triangle after triangle until you run out of triangles. Or ribbon. Whichever comes first. I actually had the perfect amount of both, but that is mostly because I have so much experience in winging it that I am now considered a professional in the field. Motherhood is the necessity of invention.

You are now finished! Praise the children for their efforts. Now send them into the garden with a sandwich so you can busy yourself with the task of arranging flowers and hanging the bunting.

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Now find something else to fill the 9 hours left to go before bedtime. Good luck.

We Make: 30 Minute Craft Projects.

Begin this project at the time of day where the children are at their most furious. The mid-afternoon lull is perfect. Especially on a hot day full of infighting and carbohydrates.

Collect something no one else likes. I have made inroads into 70’s Prison craft.

Feel overwhelmed by how messy your house is. Decide that the only thing for it is to spray paint the shit out of something. Locate, amongst your hoarding, your desired object for transformation and your chosen colour of spray paint. Realise you only have gold, because you’re gaudy like that. Read instructions on spray paint. I do not do this, but it seems advisable. Lay newspaper on your outdoor table and go wild. Be as thorough as you can be bothered being. Leave in direct sunlight.

Make a cup of tea. Shoo the children away from your project. In the time it takes for you to pace the length of the house surveying the damage and checking Facebook, the spray paint should be dry. Collect detritus from about your home. Have a theme in mind. I thought white objects might tone down the woah of the gold.

I was wrong.